Things-to-do for travel: focus on what captivates you, eliminate distractors

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By Greg Markley

This is the second of a two-part series of travel tips designed to help students and other readers who will be journeying soon. Muhammad Ali, in his great boxing career, did a lot of traveling. In fact, he said: “I’m so fast that last night I turned off the light switch in my hotel room and was in bed before the room was dark.”
In 2016, I developed a Trip Advisor rating system for one of my many car trips. I will use the example of my evaluation of attractions available that I did for a trip thru Nevada. Elko, a gold mining and gambling town in northeast Nevada, had approximately 20,000 residents as of 2018. (Opelika, for general reference, beats Elko by 6,000 or so in population.)
I rated 10 Things-To-Do in Elko. Of that, I gave positive number grades to four attractions. I never give a score below 90 percent; I simply write “No” because I will probably only have time for the items with number grades. Receiving “Nos” were Western Folklife Center, Wild Horse Reservoir Recreation Area and the Cowboy Arts & Gear Museum. All over the West, there are similar places so I could visit those tomorrow, and keep on schedule today.
The three I dispensed with were Sherman Station Visitors Center (I saw the video and found the place too small); Rolling Rock Gallery (It was not a true art gallery) and Elko Cinema 6 (I seldom see movies anyway). I do hope to visit J.M. Capriola Co., Saddlemakers, which has been open since 1929, a national forest nearby and two interesting Nevada museums.
Believe it or not, an excellent choice for an attraction to visit on vacation is a university.
What, are you saying, is he crazy? No, and you don’t need to be prospecting for a new job or graduate school to want to visit it. There are five reasons I enjoy spending three to four hours at a university when on a long trip; I have done so for 18 years.
First, I love the architecture and the historic buildings.
Second, I love walking thru the well-manicured pathways.
Third, I like the free tours of the campus for anyone interested.
Fourth, I enjoy talking to people on campuses; they can give me insights into the school, “just for fun.”
Fifth, I enjoy reading in libraries new to me as a change of pace. Odd, right?
Other places which offer fun and walks thru history are military bases. Some allow access after they scan your driver’s license. Florida has 38 military museums or ones with major national defense exhibits. The National Infantry Museum, just outside Fort Benning, Georgia, is less than an hour from Opelika and Auburn.
Louis Brandeis, associate justice of the US Supreme Court (1916 to 1939), said “The most important political office is that of the private citizen.” Now I have an unusual suggestion for a travel attraction. If there is a government building near your tourist spot, look up when a meeting is and attend it for an hour. You may be shocked by the differences in agenda and the conduct of meetings there, as opposed to where you live. Might be better than C-SPAN!
Mark Wolters is a business professor at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is best known as a travel video creator on YouTube. In a video he describes five negatives of traveling alone, and five positives. I travel solo 85 percent of the time, I love it for the independence.
“The first thing you will love about traveling with yourself is the independence,” Wolters said. “You get to do what you want, when you want, with no one saying I want to go to this museum when you don’t want to go. That’s one of the great things about it– you’re free to do what you want to do.”
One disadvantage is that going alone is “not the safest way.” My answer to the safety concern is that I don’t drink liquor, beer or wine and that keeps me in control of most situations.
I don’t go out at night alone; that’s when most mischief happens. Women are often advised to not travel much alone. By taking precautions, women can go solo so long as they are alert.
People wonder why individuals like me prefer to be independent while traveling. For me, it’s having “me” time and discovering new cities, states, and people one-on-one. I am on my own for several days or a week because I love adventure and remain as curious as a cat.
Greg Markley has lived in Lee County for 18 of the last 23 years. An award-winning journalist, he has master’s desgrees in education and history. He has taught as an adjunct in Georgia and Alabama.

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