While my father and grandfather were accumulating mileage on the ground, I was doing likewise in the air. Air Canada changed my carefully planned out itinerary giving me minimal time in between transfers so I didn't bother bringing a suitcase. There were so many tight connections, I felt I was either not going to make one or lose the luggage altogether so I didn't bother. I could buy stuff in Louisville. Part of me though wished a rogue storm would assemble when I was in Chicago so that I could stay there for longer than 45 minutes; it's my favorite city in the U.S. I didn't even have enough time to find a deep-dish pizza joint at O'Hare.
When I finally arrived at my final destination and got a cab, everything appeared normal but then I started reading the billboards and realized I had indeed entered the gateway to the deep south - half were promoting the gun show coming to town, some compared abortion to murder and a few others touted something called "Actors and Models for Christ". I had no idea this existed, but...why would I? The only church I attend is the Altar of Beyoncé. Arriving at the hotel (which was beautiful), I didn't even care if the conference sucked. It was autumn and they were pumping some kind of pumpkin spice scented aroma through the building and it was heavenly. They also had vanilla-citrus water available in the foyer. Automatic five star review from me.
The conference didn't suck though. It was probably the best one I've ever been to. I met so many great, helpful people from colleges and universities across North America. I am particularly impressed with the cohesion and output of the creative team from the University of Oregon. They are what I now aspire to. I also had the opportunity to visit the University of Kentucky campus which was beautiful.
Getting back to the downtown Louisville experience though...as mentioned, I brought the bare minimum with me and needed to purchase a few things so I wandered the streets near my hotel. It was more barren than downtown Winnipeg. There was no mall and very, very few places open after-hours. I asked a few people on the street if there was anything around and after deciphering their thick southern accents, I found a Walgreens. The most expensive Walgreens I had ever been to. They knew they had the soda, chips, Tylenol, deodorant and pantyhose market covered and they capitalized on it. Thankfully, my travel partners arrived the next day and we made our way to a big box store so I could stretch my dollar a bit further.
I've traveled extensively with my father, but have only been on a few holidays with my grandfather. One was an extended family vacation to Disneyworld when I was 16 and then various spots in Mexico in my later teens. I enjoyed having him there. At 85-years-old, he is still spry. He loved visiting Kentucky, loved exploring Churchill Downs (and won!), loved drinking daily milkshakes and even loved walking around Wal-Mart while I shopped for Tylenol and hoseiry. I looked at him and looked at my dad, envisioning the next 20+ years where we would continue doing the same.
To be continued...