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Thanksgiving Travels

Traveling home for the holidays.

SOMEWHERE near Albany, New York- There are two kinds of people in train and bus stations: those who are going somewhere and those who are going nowhere. As baggage-laden travelers rush around, buying tickets and searching for their gates, there are baggage-laden bums sitting all over the floor and benches . The two groups glance at each other as though apparitions before passing on to the next moment and never thinking of each other again.

Stations are the same everywhere in the world. Concurrently, they are both the beginning and the end of the road — arteries that people, goods, and life are pumped through. Sometimes I like just stopping in them, pumping the breaks and letting the masses flow around me — just taking a look around. It’s jarring.

I’ve chosen a life where I spend incredible amounts of time in these transitional zones, in these places where standing still is a sentence, a purgatory between departure and destination points. I feel comfortable here, at ease, like I’m on my home turf no matter where in the world I am. I get a coffee and just look around. I’m 38 years old and I’ve been doing this for so long that I guess it’s just the way that I live.

***

I’m on my way to Rochester to spend Thanksgiving with my family. My two girls are with me. I tell them to look out the window of the train. We are on the cusp between the beauty of the Hudson Valley and the flat plains of the Lake Ontario where I’m from.

I hopped off of a jet from Copenhagen not twelve hours before, picked up my girls, and got on a train. There was no time to unpack — I will do laundry at my mom’s house. I should stay in WNY for a week, then return to NYC, and board a jet for Hong Kong.

When I was talking to people about how I was going to rent an apartment in NYC I would say how it would result in me traveling more than ever. Nobody really believed me, but here we are: I have travels through three continents planned through April.

I’ve never been able to plan anything before.

***

Thanksgiving went well. My wife flew in on Wednesday night. We had some time to hang out together that we usually don’t have. We went to a hockey game and a drag show. We hung out at the casino down the street from where my parents live.

Thanksgiving day was like clockwork. Everyone knew their role. My role is to do nothing, which is what I’m probably best suited for. The Bills beat the Cowboys.

***

Coming back to NYC was a disaster. My wife told me that there was going to be a storm and that we should leave on Saturday. I told her that the weather people were just making it up to get viewers.

They were right. I was wrong.

We rented a car and drove for two days through a snow storm. It was normally a six hour trip. The car didn’t have snow tires and the windshield washing fluid shooters kept freezing. There were cars smashed up all over the place and marooned in ditches. One car was flipped upside down in the middle of the highway. My wife scolded me for turning our girls into rubberneckers as I pointed out the upturned vehicle.

At night, the highway — which the authorities apparently didn’t feel needed to be plowed — was so bad that drivers had no clue where the lanes were. Some chose to drive on the far right shoulder, some chose to drive in the middle, and some guessed at where the road was on the left. The lines on the highway didn’t seem to matter anymore away as there were three defacto three lanes. I drove with my right side wheels on the rumble strip — at least I would be close.

We eventually made it back to LaGuardia. I had to pay an extra $100 for getting the car back late. But we fared better than the guy who returned his vehicle behind me — the thing was smashed to shit.

Filed under: Celebrations, Family, New York

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3571 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Astoria, New York

2 comments… add one

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  • Rob December 19, 2019, 11:42 am

    “Making it up to get more viewers”. Good line!

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    • Wade Shepard December 19, 2019, 4:22 pm

      Yeah, too bad it wasn’t right in this case haha!

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