Travel With RJ

Travel, Travel, Travel!


When I was a kid, I hated museums. They were boring. Just a bunch of arrowheads, and woven baskets in glass cases. If you were lucky they might have a few mannequins dressed up or something. As I said, I hated museums. That was until I went to the Chicago Museum Of Science And Industry in Chicago, IL.
In my senior year of high school, I won first place in the data processing event in Washington state in FBLA (Future Business Leaders Of America). I had earned the chance to go to the national competition in Chicago.
First of all, flying to Chicago on a DC-10 was my first time ever flying. I was the only person going from my school, so I travelled with students from another school that had a bunch of people going. It was absolute blast!
Among the things we did in Chicago were go to the top of the Sears tower (at night on the 4th of July), visiting the Field Museum, and visiting the Chicago Museum Of Science And Industry.
The Chicago Museum Of Science And Industry was like museum that I had ever been to. Instead of a bunch of junk that someone dug up, it was filled with cool technology stuff. There was interactive stuff. There was hands-on stuff. I remember one display where you could push a botton, and it would separate water in to oxygen and hydrogen. Then you could push another button, and it would trigger a spark which would ignite the hydrogen with a loud pop, and turn the hydrogen and oxygen back into water.
One of the big exhibits was a working coal mine. I am not totally positive this was there on my first visit. I know at least that it was there the second time I went. A lot of people seemed to like this exhibit, but I didn’t really get into it.
My favorite exhibit was the going through a U-Boat. They have an actual German submarine, the U-505 in the museum, that you can walk through. This was the coolest part of the museum for me. Years later I was reading Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson. This is a great book, and is a true story. The book was about some scuba divers that find a sunken U-Boat off the coast of New Jersey. One of the divers travels to the Chicago Museum Of Science And Industry, to walk through the U-505 so he could see what the inside of a U-Boat looked like. That way when he was diving into the sunken submarine, he would know the layout. The book described the walk through the U-Boat, and I flashed back to Chicago 1981, an my visit to the Chicago Museum Of Science And Industry. I could remembered my own walk through the German U-Boat.
This place was great! If you ever get to Chicago, you should visit the Chicago Museum Of Science And Industry!

I was watching TV the other night, and saw a commercial for Hilton Hotels. Apparently the series of commercials is called Hilton Journeys, and this particular commercial os named Jordan. But what caught my attention was that they used the song Landed by Ben Folds. I am a huge Ben Folds fan, and I like the song Landed which is off of his album Songs For Silverman. They used the main chorus of the song:
‘Till I opened my eyes and walked out the door
And the clouds came tumbling down
And it’s bye-bye goodbye I tried
And I twisted it wrong just to make it right
Had to leave myself behind
And I’ve been flying high all night
So come pick me up
I’ve landed…

The commercial itself is made up of animated line art and is pretty cool. They have an associated web site at It is currently playing the snippet of Ben Folds’ Landed in a loop when you visit the site. They have a tag line of “Travel is more than just A to B”.

When I was kid, my family visited some distant relatives down in Garden Grove California. This was sometime in the mid 1970’s, and I was probably around 11 or 12 years old. During our stay, we took a day trip down to Tijuana Mexico. I had never been to Mexico before. It was an interesting place like nothing I had seen before. The street was filled with small shops, both indoor and outdoor. They had all kinds of stuff. I remember seeing lots of ceramics, liquor, woven blankets, and leather goods. I also remember seeing lots of bladed weapons including switchblades which I knew were illegal in the United States.
We knew better than to drink the water there, or risk Montezuma’s Revenge. So we bought cans of Coke at one of the little stores and drank those.
My dad who loved to dicker, set about to negotiate with one of the store guys over a wrought iron stand, and a bunch of ceramic flower pots. I remember them haggling for about 45 minutes over the stuff, but it probably wasn’t really that long. Some place or other, I bought a small ceramic skull that I thought was cool. Both my brother and I bought little switchblade keychains. They weren’t actually sharp, but we thought they were cool. My dad bought some tequila at one place after the guy assured my dad that he could take it back to the US with no problems.
There was a line of cars at the border going back to the United States. Mexicans lined the street trying to sell things to the people in their cars. One last chances to sell stuff to the Americans befored they left Mexico. I think we bought a ceramic elephant or something from one of the people along the road there.
At the border, when the guy asked if my dad had any alcohol, my dad said yes. For some reason, we weren’t allowed to bring it back to the United States. My memory is a bit hazy on this part. I can’t remember if we went back into town, and the guy refused to refund my dad’s money, or if it happened right at the border stop. I do remember my dad being angry and feeling ripped off. He opened the bottle and poured the liquor on the ground. Maybe the laws, or restrictions were different then. I don’t know. I have brought various rums and things back to the US from the Caribbean with no problem. Maybe it wasn’t tequila, but some other liquor that was restricted. I don’t know. It was thirty years ago, and I was a kid.
I have never been to any place quite like Tijuana. I would would like to go back to Tijuana Mexico one of these days to see what it is like now. I have only been back to Mexico once, and that was to Cozumel. I may try one of the cruises that go down the coast of Mexico on the Pacific side. But none of those places would be anything like Tijuana. But then Tijuana may not be like Tijuana that I remember.

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