I am married to a professional tourist. No, I mean this wholeheartedly. I would put him up against any traveler, on any given day. Given one hour and some good maps, and perhaps an AAA tour book, my man could plan a trip that would win in any competition.
It takes a curious person to become a true tourist genius. There must be a desire to see things that most people haven’t. True travel mavens seek out the unusual, the little known, and the quirky. For instance, your average tourist (me) drives right past historical markers. Average people find them boring. Avid tourers stop for every marker, despite the traffic behind them.
Regular folks like to go on a vacation to see a few things, eat in nice places, and soak up some good weather. Professionals pore over history books written about the destination, study maps for weeks, and surf the net for sites like www.arcanefactorytours.com. The professional tourist plans each day of the trip, only allowing for a half hour lunch break and two potty stops. Real tourists eat light and stay just barely hydrated, for fear of wasting time.
We took a day trip last week. It was impeccably planned. We began with a nice trip on back roads to our destination, Lima, Ohio. Lima is jam packed with things to see. There was a train museum, a lovely park, and a cute little town. But we spent the majority of the day at a museum where “Things People Have Swallowed” was the main attraction.
It was evident from the display that quite a few people in Lima absentmindedly put safety pins in their mouths and then forget they are in there. Another group of Lima residents seems to have a craving for buttons. I understood all the swallowed fish bones, but was stunned at the amount of jewelry and twine that Limans have consumed. And how on earth did that individual accidentally gulp down a yoyo? It was a shocker.
On the way home, we stopped at a diner that celebrated the “Fifties.” A number of items were donated by “The Actual Son of Elvis Presley, Elvis Aron Presley, Jr.” We didn’t know that Elvis had a son, but thanks to a Droid phone and Google, we learned of this scandal. The King and an unnamed “starlet” had an affair, and Elvis Jr. was the result. Wow. They had very good French fries there, too.
In the past, we have visited the Liberace Museum. It was in a fellow’s basement in Las Vegas. We spent an afternoon once in the Accordion Archives of an eccentric guy in New York City. I almost fainted in the Museum of Dental Instruments. We met a strangely fascinating and brilliant man who turned his backyard into the “Temple of Tolerance.” I absolutely loved the Tenement Museum in New York.
Have you ever heard of Rick Steves? His wife and I need to talk.