Life in Hell: Traveling for the Great Event

I got up today all ready to write something about the upcoming US presidential inauguration (Tuesday, for those living under a rock). Bafflement was going to be my main focus. Here in New York’s Hudson Valley I am surrounded by two political types: hard-core Republicans generally populated by the area’s many military families, old-style independent farmers (increasingly few), and migrants from Queens and Brooklyn; and hard-core Democrats populated by … well, pretty much everyone else. Anyone who’s read this blog for longer than a minute can probably work out which group comprises most of my and my spouse’s friends.

Not that I’m a Democrat. I’m way more liberal than that. Which is why, despite being very pleased that Barack Obama was elected president, I remain absolutely incredulous at the number of my friends and acquaintances who are schlepping to Washington, D.C., this weekend so they can be present at one of the most historic moments in US history. Being part of something great I can understand. But spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars, not to mention vacation time, to stuff yourself and your kids among heaving crowds of likely hungry and chilly people in a place that is almost guaranteed not to have enough Port-a-Potties, that I have trouble getting.

Events seem to me to be one of the worst reasons to travel. My family once attended the Winter Olympics in Calgary, and the family consensus at the end was that you could see a whole lot more of the slalom racers slaloming on the TV at home, and get better hot chocolate.

So I got up this morning to write about it, and found that Tom Swick, over at his new blog on World Hum, had trumped me. He’s got a great posting today not about people who travel to an event, but people living in event areas who make travel plans to get away from it: the inauguration in D.C. next weekend, for example, or Mardi Gras. He calls it the Inoculation Vacation, or travel of negation, pointing out that by traveling to get away from an event you inevitably become what you’re trying to escape. That is, a tourist.

As usual, Tom reaches great literary heights with this posting, overshadowing any attempt I can make to be glib about people traveling to (or from) the inauguration. But I still think my friends are nuts.

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