Settling Back in After a Wild Journey
Here’s a secret: it’s hard to get back into things after being gone for so long.
Ok, it’s not a secret, just one of those things I don’t consider until it happens to me.
I have lots of blog post ideas but no desire to sit still long enough to write. Instead, you should all just tap into my brain and absorb anything you wish. If there happens to be anything there you wish to absorb.
So I’m back from my epic backpacking trip. I wish I had more time to travel, but at the same time, I had my cross-country move on my mind, so toward the end I was having more trouble concentrating on having fun. I know, I’m a sad person. I need to work at having fun.
When I last let off, I was on my way to visit Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee. You can’t go to Milwaukee without visiting a brewery. I had come across this one by googling “things to do in Milwaukee“. The review read “the tour is a lot of fun and you get really drunk“.
And the review was right. The tour was both hilarious and informative (I learned that hops are cousins to marijuana and that yeast makes beer by acting like an old fart), and I had to stumble my way to the bus stop afterward.
Now I’m probably going into too much detail at this point (after all, the only reason you’re reading this is because you hope to discover gossip about the bloggers I met, or to see compromising pictures of me), but I just have to share this scene.
I’m at the bus stop with Oestrus.
Me: My purse is vibrating.
Oestrus: Oh really?
Me: Why is my purse vibrating?
Oestrus: *knowingly* Hmmm
Me: I swear I don’t have anything in my purse that vibrates! I leave all my toys at home!
Oestrus: Oh really?
I dug in and found my US phone. My Canadian phone is too cheap to work across the border, so one day I bought this international phone that I carry around when I travel. As far I was aware, it didn’t work. I carry it around anyway, out of principle. I use it as an expensive clock.
Me: Turns out it was a phone call. How did I get a phone call?
Me: I didn’t know this phone worked!
Oestrus: Did they leave a message?
Me: Yes, but I have no idea how to check it.
Oestrus: What was the number?
Me: It was a 6 country code. What country code is 6?
Oestrus: Dunno. If it were me, I’d call them back, just to see who it was.
Me: I would, but I don’t have any money on this phone. I never put money on it cos I didn’t know it worked.
Thankfully the same number called again. I answered. It was Thespius! I squealed like a school girl. Half because I just found out my US phone works and half because OMG I just got a phone call from Thespius.
I made plans to meet up with Thespius and fellow guildie Arcas for drinks that night in Chicago. But once I set out for the city, everything kind of went bad. The bus got stuck in traffic (at 10:30pm!), getting me in 30 minutes late. Then I couldn’t find the trains. Then I found the trains but discovered they haven’t been upgraded since their implementation a million years ago. They work, only they work very slowly. Then I got lost on the way to the hostel. In despair I texted my lostedness to Thespius, but the text never went through (decidedly the US phone works, but only when it feels like it).
Note here that I’m a skinny white chick with a giant backpack (tourist marker), walking around alone in a big city at night. I don’t get scared (LA’s Union Station, Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and Toronto’s Church street have trained me well), but somewhere in my head a voice was telling me that this endeavor probably isn’t the safest.
But nothing happened and I got to the hostel sore, exhausted (carrying a 40 lbs backpack with a broken waist strap for an hour is tough work when you’re a skinny chick!) and frazzled. Then my phone died as Thespius was trying to give me directions to the bar. Then my internet wouldn’t work.
It took a couple of miracles before I was finally at the bar with my two Chicago guildies. It was also well, well after midnight. Bars close super early in the US, so we didn’t get much time to chat, but just meeting them was thrilling enough and I’m eternally grateful that they stayed up late waiting for me.
Despite it being a big and confusing city, I loved Chicago.
I loved the skyscrapers, I loved Lincoln Park and its free conservatory and zoo, I loved the people everywhere, I loved the pretty theaters. I got to take an architecture tour on the river (I’m crazy about city architecture, so this totally made my trip) and, just before I left the city, I went to bug Arcas as he was trying to work.
I took an overnight bus out of Chicago, and when I woke up, I was in Buffalo.
I came to Buffalo for Buffalo wings. No, they aren’t better in Buffalo. It just happens to be very cool to eat Buffalo wings in Buffalo. And going by the guides I picked up at the Buffalo tourism center, I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE. I also took advantage of my few hours in Buffalo to admire the amazing architecture (again, am architecture nerd) visit some boats in the naval museum in the harbour.
Interesting fact about the naval museum! One of the ships you visit is the USS Sullivan, named after the 5 Sullivan brothers who were killed when their ship, the USS Juneau, was sunk by a Japanese vessel during WWII. Then you visit the USS Croaker, which is the submarine that sunk the ship that sunk the Juneau. I dunno. I thought that was really interesting.
As I was leaving Buffalo, I discovered that none other than Lodur lived near Buffalo. And he would have been totally up for a meetup. “Nooooo” I wimpered (earning me some weird looks from others on the bus). It was disappointing, finding out that someone I would have LOVED to have a long chat with happened to live in the city I WAS CURRENTLY LEAVING. But I guess next time.
On my way home, I had a 2 hour layover where I got to hang out with the lovely Apple. I didn’t know what to expect. She’s quiet in the blogosphere. I’d talked to her a few times, but I didn’t know her all that well.
Well, it turns out that getting to know her is quite worth it. In person, she’s lively, creative, talented, intelligent, funny… The two hours we had just flew by as I was captivated by her stories, her songs and her endless well of energy.
Over the past two week, I was fortunate enough to meet many fellow bloggers and players in their home cities: Fannon, Corath, Vidyala, Vosskah, Oestrus, Thespius, Arcas and Apple. And the only word I can think of to describe how I feel about the experience is “grateful“.
I once teased Apple when she mentioned on Twitter how pleased she was to have found so many WoW friends she could trust enough to add to her RealID. “Contrarily to popular belief, not everyone on the internet is a axe-murdering pervert!” I said.
But after this trip, I have to say that, while I’m not surprised that my fellow guildies and bloggers are decent people, I am stunned by exactly how kind, generous, hospitable, caring, friendly these people from my computer screen turned out to be.
Fannon and Oestrus opened their homes to me (and kept me fed!), Vidyala and Vosskah introduced me to their city and later offered perspective and wisdom to me as I poured my heart out to them about the griefs, hopes and fears I had about my guildlife, Thespius and Arcas stayed up late to make sure I made it into Chicago safely and helped me calm down after my hectic arrival and Apple drove over an hour just to see me, just for a short while. The point of my trip wasn’t to meet up with anyone (the only really planned meetup was with Oestrus), but it happened and it was wonderful.
My little heart is all puffed up with gratitude and happiness and I just can’t get over how lucky I am to have found this quaint corner of the internet.