Monday, May 16, 2011

Take Half the Clothes and Twice the Money

The other evening, over Thai food, the man looked at me across the table and said, "I wish I were trekking in Nepal right now."

I can't speak for Nepal, but a wave of wanderlust washed over me, and I rebutted with, "Well, I'd like to be hiking in Denali right now." And I would, and did, and still do. The wild open desolation without human in sight, where the land is so big your eyes feel too small to see it all, where cell phones stop working and you can only get where you're going on your own two feet--that place, it sings in my chest.

Plus, truthfully, I'd like to see another bear up close and personal, just for the sheer braggadocio of the thing.

Isn't that why we travel, really? The first why--to open our eyes and souls wide so we can absorb the entirety of new. The second why--for the stories we tell the people we've left behind, and the stories we retell with the companions on our journey. We take pictures along the way, of course, so we can remember what we've seen, tasted, heard, and felt; and so we can share our adventure.

Of course, the more interesting the destination, the grander the tale. So, what if you wrote a travel blog, but you only rarely traveled, and only told a tiny fraction of the tales, and never took any good pictures?

Such a blogger would be like a bloodless Edwardian era virgin who fondles your cock, strokes 10 or 12 times out of spiteful naughtiness, and then turns her attention to embroidery. There are no bears in your pictures, Heels, and no grand tales in your blog.

When I read a travel blog, I want to be swept away to a place of spices and mystery. I want to inhale cumin and cardamom and the clean biting smell of the forest. I want my eyes burnished with the dust from a red road clogged with an infinite variety of humans. I want the flavors of a Michelin 3 star restaurant to engorge my tongue. I want my calves to burn from the western slope of Denali, and my heart to pound from a close encounter with a bear.

Camping in Heels, YOU FUCKING TEASE.

Oh, you travel some. I've seen the pictures.

But, you don't tell the tales and you take terrible pictures. You go to Spain and give us boiled dinner in a British pub and a shopping trip to H&M. You eat the Michelin dinner, but don't describe the flavors. You tell us how to save for the journey, but you never take us with you.

Apparently, you think we want to hear about you. My god, you ninny, we want to hear where you've been. We want to go with you. Or rather, perhaps not you, because you strike me as a terribly dull traveling companion who rarely leaves the beaten path.

You go to the most wild and wonderful parts of the U.S. (Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and the Olympus Peninsula--where I'll be hiking later this summer, on the beach), and you show us the Salt Lake City Airport.

Dude, really? Are you a travel blogger, or aren't you? If you are going to write a damn travel blog, then DO IT. Tell us what you saw, tasted, smelt, and felt, with details that let us experience it with you. Don't fill your blog with pictures of you sitting on a couch drinking a glass of beer, fill it with stories. Who did you meet? What did you see? How did it smell? What near-death experience did you have?

You have the ability to write, but you aren't doing it. You've created an idea, but you think it can be milked for money, without providing substance (or for that matter, sustenance).

Matt, actually, says more, with zero words, about how small and big this world is, how much we share with people a thousand miles away, and how beautiful it all is. There is wonder in that video, and mystery, and stories, and danger, and joy.

That's what a travel blog should be. I watch Matt dancing in a gorge with strangers in a land I can't even spell, and I want to grab my suitcase and go. I read your blog, and I want to take a nap.

I give you a meh.

Fix it. You have the capacity, but do you have the will?

10 comments:

  1. I love writing about my travels and usually have four or five posts outlined in my head before I even get home. I don't want to hear about the big things when I read a travel blog--I want to know about the SMALL things. There's a fine line between traveler and tourist, and I'm not sure she's crossed it yet. I'm off for Switzerland later this week and hope to return with lots of blog fodder.

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  2. Oh, LB, how I've missed you.

    I'm with HIF on the small things. It's the stuff that really sticks with you and the stuff that can really transmit a moment in time to the reader.

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  3. I always find it more frustrating when someone CAN write and doesn't take advantage of it. Well done, LB.

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  4. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzZZZZ

    Oh, uh, sorry. Too much Ambien.

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  5. In other news, she took it like a champ.

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  6. She should come back and play. I bet she would.

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  7. WHY DOESN'T ANYONE THANK US FOR OUR EFFORTS WITH VITRIOL LIKE CIVILIZED PEOPLE?

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  8. We should invite her to come play.

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  9. I totally fucking would.

    Er, lack of vitriol - Shiner, you can have it if you want - but I didn't submit to be loved, so I wasn't expecting praise. Anyone who does is practically begging to be fisted. Friends can't be trusted to call me out on my bullshit, and let's face it: I needed a massive kick up the ass.

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  10. Hooray for taking a punch! Or an annoying tap on the shoulder!

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Grow a pair.