Friday, July 8, 2011

When Piglet Travels

Have you read or watched "The Accidental Tourist"? The book is a long (sometimes boring) read, but the main character, Macon, played by William Hurt in the movie, is a lovably quirky agoraphobe [Blogger's spelling checker suggested that I really meant "Anglophobe"] who loathes travel but makes a career as a writer of travel guides for others like him. Like me.

While most of the world leaps at the chance of adventure and new experiences, I am quite happy to retrace my path week in, week out. I do like the luxuries of travel (hotel rooms, dining out), but I feel constantly unsettled when I don't know what comes next or am unsure of how to navigate my way from point A to point B.

Like Piglet, who lives in a constant state of anxiety and fear of heffalumps and woozles, I prefer the known. This leads to a certain amount of silliness.

For example, this past few days I staffed an exhibit at the Banff Centre for the Arts, a marvelous and inspiring location. Built on the side of a steep hill, there are "ground level" entrances on both the first and third floors of most buildings. Designed for guests residing on site, there are steep meandering paths connecting the architecturally sharp buildings.

On my first day, I managed to find a path from the parking garage to the exhibit hall. It was not until the third day that I discovered a more direct route - and then only because my "regular" path was blocked by construction. See? Silliness.

For people like Macon, Piglet, and me, it doesn't take much to get our pulses racing. Let me give you a glimpse inside our world.

Yesterday, I drove from Banff to Calgary, about a one-hour drive. I plugged in my GPS, set the destination and then hit the road. A beautiful drive, I enjoyed the spectacle of sharp-peaked young mountains, cliffs, waterfalls, trees and pristine mountain lakes. (Sadly, with no scenic turnoffs for photo ops.) I chuckled at signs like, "Elk crossing 4 km," which failed to deliver on its promise, or "LOGGING TRUCKS" which left me mystified as to what I was supposed to do. I can only assume that the pictograph of a flashing camera meant that I ought to smile, just in case. All was well with the world.

Then I had an Adventure.

An hour into the drive, I noticed the surrounding hills were swathed in suburban sprawl. Thinking that I must be nearing my destination, I glanced at the GPS only to find that its battery had died and it had turned itself off.

I probably would have noticed
before I reached Saskatchewan.
I think.
God only KNOWS how long I'd been driving without guidance! I could be ANYWHERE! I could've been half way to Regina. [Hello, K.B.!]

Panicked, I pulled over at a safe spot, jiggled the charger until the GPS turned itself back on and told me to take THE VERY NEXT EXIT. Seriously, I was about 200 metres from missing my exit. Can you imagine?

Breathing a sigh of relief, but with my Piglet-nerves heightened, I proceeded on my way. Moments later, I glanced again at my GPS and, AGAIN it had turned itself off! After much jiggling, I managed to stabilize the GPS and made it to my destination without further excitement. Thankfully.

That was enough for me. You may prefer to go whitewater rafting or ziplining, but I shall remain sufficiently entertained by my faulty technology and a good book.


  1. This is one of the times that I'm not like you, I love adventure! For our honeymoon Jason and I went to Costa Rica. We stayed in the capital the day we arrived, then had to get to our resort the next day. I didn't plan how to get there- from my first experience in Costa Rica I figured I'd remember enough to just "figure it out somehow." Jason was not pleased when he realized we had no specific plans for getting to or returning from the resort. I thought we'd take a bus, but Jason wasn't keen on it, so we grabbed a taxi (which included a ferry ride to the peninsula we were staying on), then Jason took charge and booked us a small plane to get back. :P

  2. The one way I've learned to cope with my travel anxiety is to over-plan. Arriving in Costa Rica without a plan to get to the resort? PANIC! But then, I did arrive in Atlanta without knowing your phone number, so I guess I do miss some details.

    Glad to hear Drew is feeling better. Hang in there.


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