Kansas

Rolf Potts (left), travel writer extraordinaire, shared stories that made a Tuesday night memorable.

Monday was a turning point for us. Our youngest turned 16 and can now drive herself everywhere! Mr. Blog and I have not experienced this type of freedom for 19 years! So on Tuesday night, we did what any self-respecting, middle-aged couple would do. We grabbed the car keys and headed to the nearest college town. Rolf Potts, travel writer extraordinaire and author of Vagabonding and Marco Polo Didn’t Go There, was speaking at the University of Kansas.

We entered the room at the student union brimming with hip and cool students. Every head turned in our direction as we sat. “Were we Rolf’s parents?” they must have wondered. We did not care, we were free!

The moderator introduced Rolf by saying “Rolf Potts has a more interesting life than you do.” And he was right. Rolf travels the globe as a writer for National Geographic Adventure. His travel essays have also appeared in Salon, Conde Nast Traveler, and on National Public Radio.

I had never attended an author’s reading and you would think it would be a big yawn, but it was fun. He read from a few of his hilarious, insightful essays about

  • attending a Star Trek convention on a cruise ship (yes, it was as weird asĀ  you would imagine)
  • teaching English in Korea and then being taken to a transvestite musical review by his students
  • being drugged and then robbed in Afghanistan and living to tell about it
  • crashing the movie set of a Leonardo DiCaprio movie in Thailand …

You get the picture. It was not your typical night on the couch channel surfing. He also shared some insights that anyone could apply, such as:

  • Embrace the unexpected in both your travels and your daily life. For example, he went to Cuba to learn salsa dancing but instead learned how to play the bagpipes. (Evidently, playing the bagpipes is big in Cuba because of the lingering influence of early European settlers.) He went to Thailand expecting to be immersed in Asian culture and instead found himself visiting a town that recreated the life of American cowboys and Indians. (Who knew?)
  • Nearly every culture he has visited cherishes the extended family. Strong family ties are central to the happiness of most people in the world. For that reason, Rolf chose to make his home base in rural Kansas to be near his extended family.
  • Time, rather than money, is the truest form of wealth. Therefore, you have to make time for the things you value in life.

Our next weekend getaway: The Oread Hotel in Lawrence, Kans.

After the presentation, we walked down the street to tour The Oread, an amazing new hotel built at the end of Jayhawk Boulevard in Lawrence. Very cool place. That’s definitely on the list for a weekend getaway.

So what about you? What’s on your list for mid-week breaks or weekend getaways? How are you making time for a little adventure in your life?

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