Travel – excluding being stuck in traffic – can be a great experience. Occasionally, travel isn’t quite as terrific as non-travelers think. As examples:
- Stuck in a motel in Gander, NFLD after a snowstorm which caused Air Canada to cancel all flights into and out of Newfoundland for three days and that had closed parts of the TCH
- Intentionally taking a 5-hour, 167 km, train ride east from Winnipeg across prairie, swamp, and Canadian shield to Shoal Lake (and back the next day)
- Forced into a 10-hour layover in Barbados because Air Canada had cancelled a scheduled direct flight from Port of Spain to Toronto (because ‘Sorry sir, we have no idea why’) and a two airline two hop journey was the only way to get home for Christmas
- Unplanned 18-hour layover in Barbados because BWIA plane had ‘broken a bit’ on a scheduled landing there en route to Trinidad.
- Unable to leave Hongqiao (Shanghai West) airport because our destination was ‘fogged in’ and being compensated with a free night at a half-star hotel where ‘ladies of the night’ had thoughtfully distributed illustrated welcome brochures to every room
- Almost everything about the travel from Trenton (Ontario) to CFS Alert in Nunavut
- Explaining the ‘purpose of our visit’ to US Customs at Buffalo – that we were visiting the Tonawanda Sewage Treatment Plant – and being allowed entry by the Customs officer telling us “Nobody would make up a story like that! OK, guys, off you go.”
After I emigrated at age 26, a lot of the travel I’ve done has been to places nobody really wants to go to. A lot of the travel I’ve done has been paid for by other people. My advice to the younger engineers that I’ve been asked/voluntold to mentor is that if somebody asks you “Are you willing to go to …”, that it’s usually a good idea to say “Yes”.
Fortunately, time spent at the destination is the high point of most trips and travel is the price we pay. And the best thing about travel is that when you’re done you get to go home – just make sure to follow the signs!