Wednesday, January 04, 2012

When a 9 year old Visits

Wow, where to start? My nephew Trae and my daughter were with me here in Chicago for a week over New Years. It was a great experience. Being able to see and experience things in the eyes of a child....

This time did show me how ingrained consumerism is in our culture. At every attraction, beyond the ticket price....there were added costs for exhibits and attractions. At every stop, there is not just one but multiple gift shops...there is no way around them! At Shedds Aquarium, we went through the Jellies exhibit and the ONLY way to exit was THROUGH the gift shop. This was the case at most places.... How do you teach a child that it's not about the purchase but the experience?

We visited many of the tourist landmarks in Chicago and each and every was the gift shop that provided the most draw to my nephew. "How much can I spend", "what can I buy", "can you buy this for me?". With all the amazing sights, sounds and tastes of the city surrounding was the gift shop that pulled him in. I don't blame him, it's a way of life here in the US.

Where did we go? What stood out? What did we buy?

- The Museum of Science and Industry
What stood out for me: The massiveness of it all
What did we buy: Postcards, a toy that Trae made.
Best Moment: (sorry, nothing comes to mind)

- Shedds Aquarium
What stood out for me: Shark Tanks
What did we buy: Postcards, a penguin keychain for Trae
Best Moment: Watching Trae play with foreign children on the fake rocks.

- Sears (or Willis if you like) Tower
What stood out for me: The 'City Pass' was a GREAT buy...avoid the lines!
What did we buy: Postcards,
Best Moment: Trinity stepping out on the skywalk (she is afraid of heights)

- The Billy Goat Tavern
What stood out for me: Great food and an eclectic history.
What did we buy: Burgers!!
Best Moment: Getting our picture taken outside by a stranger

- Millenium Park
What stood out for me: NO GIFT SHOP!
What did we buy: NOTHING
Best Moment: Walking away after getting kicked out with Trae on my shoulders

- The Cultural Center
What stood out for me: People were polite
What did we buy: NOTHING
Best Moment: Goofy guy jumping on bull with Trae

- The Field Museum
What stood out for me: It was peaceful and I want to go back
What did we buy: A dino keychain for Trae
Best Moment: Pretending to run from Sue the T-Rex

- Navy Pier for Winter Wonderfest
What stood out for me: Tons of families enjoying themselves. I noticed very little to no arguing, fighting, mis-behaving children.
What did we buy: A pressed penny and some odd toys for Trae @ Navy Peir. A lightup item at Winter Wonderfest.
Best Moment: Watching Trae ice-skate without help

- Wandering Michigan Avenue
What stood out for me: Summer MUST be better ;o)
What did we buy: Hot drinks
Best Moment: Watching Trae delight in taking photographs..and telling Trinity "I want to be a photographer like you".

In addition to the above, some of my favorite moments were:

- Hearing the sound of Trae's voice, the excitement over the phone while waiting for the train to bring him to Chicago "I've got to go Aunt Candy...the train is here!!"

- Trading a frappuccino at McDonalds for cheeseburgers handed out to the homeless.

- Watching Trae's eyes light up during our cab ride and train into the city

- Huggs....goodnight kisses...and family-time!! As a full-time traveler, I miss all of those.

I know that I have left Trinity out of much of this post.... We have traveled together on multiple occasions and this trip was more about Trae and providing an experience for him. I loved spending time with my daughter during this trip, watching her interact with Trae and just being together.

When a 9 year old visits.....PRICELESS!

BootsnAll's Indie Travel Challenge 2012: 2012 Indie Travel List

BootsnAll is one of my premier go-to sites for travel related information. For anyone contemplating a RTW (round the world) trip. This is the place to start. Recently, they had a 30 Day Challenge, in which they highlighted a question a day for 30 days for travel bloggers.

I don't by any means consider myself a travel blogger....just a gal that  likes to travel and write about it. It's fun for me to be able to share my thoughts and experiences with anyone willing to listen/read. Hopefully, providing inspiration along the way. I gained so much from reading other's blogs and I am just hoping to give back a little.

BootsnAll will be issuing one challenge/task/subject each week in 2012 for bloggers to write about. The first of which is: Share with us your 2012 indie travel list.

I've already shared some of my upcoming South America list in my blog What Is My Motivation?   I'm going to break it down a little more here and add to it my other travel plans for 2012.

In February, I am heading off to South America with a very good friend of mine (a fellow Travel Nurse), Teresa. We have tweeked and adjusted the plans so many times that i am now at a point of 'whatever happens....happens'.

The current plan is to arrive in LaPaz, Bolivia. From here we are hoping to take bikes down the Worlds Most Dangerous Road, explore the Salt Flats and the Train Graveyard. Continuing our way through Bolivia, we will head to Peru. Exploring along the way to Cusco and the ruins of Macchu Picchu. I was originally intent on doing the hiking/camping trek that runs four days arriving at the sun gate over the ancient city. These plans have changed due to physical inabilities brought on by a recent foot surgery. I am very disappointed that I will be unable to hike the trail but am still very much looking forward to seeing this ancient city.

From Cusco, Peru the plans are not set in stone (not that any of our plans really are). We are hoping to make it to Ecuador and possibly explore the Galapagos Islands (money and time premitting) then on to Quito, Ecuador for our departure.

We have about 7 weeks in South America and although there is no way to explore all of this vast continent...we will see and do as much as possible.

A quickie list of the things that I hope to accomplish during my time in South America:

- Visit as many markets as possible.
- Eat cuy (guinnea pig).
- Have a meaningful conversation with a local in their language.
- Learn something about the culture.
- Observe a local ceremony/tradition.
- Experience ayahuasca ceremony.
- Explore the wonders of the Amazon Rainforest
- Complete one adventurous activity ie: biking most dangerous road, zip-lining, etc
- Complete at least on full day hike.
- Learn how something is made/cooked/produced.

After South America, I will separate from Teresa and head to Cancun, Mexico. I am attending the wedding of a good friend. I'll spend a week in Cancun enjoying the wedding festivities.

This is where it gets complicated...

I really want to go to Central America from here and find a place to plant myself for about a month, before coming back to the US and work. The budget isn't what I had hoped for at this point and I'm not certain that I am going to be able to swing the extra month off of work. If Central America doesn't work out, there might be a possibility of a US road Trip along Route 66 with my daughter.

Ulike most of Americans, I am lucky to work away from home so my working time will also be spent exploring. I'm debating at this point on coming back to Chicago (still tons to explore here) or heading off to someplace new. I'll be sure to update you when plans are solidified, probably sometime in May or June

The remainder of 2012 will be spent working with a possibility of a few short side trips within the US. Scrimping and Saving for the RTW I'm planning in 2013

What are your plans for 2012? Is there something that you have "resolved" to do/see/experience in 2012? Share them with me! If you have enjoyed reading, think about subscribing to my blog via the links on the right. It's easy. Also, I love when I hear from my readers. I encourage you to leave comments, say hello, offer advice, etc.