Living in a small suburban town the majority of my life, I developed an immensely bottled up desire to explore the world outside my cultural bubble. By the time I’d reached high school, I could feel the whiplash as my seemingly endless search for opportunities to travel continued, having had only minor success a priori: a few in-state band competitions and some out-of-state ski trips were all I’d compiled, and neither truly satisfied my desires (because, well, not much freedom is given to explore in middle school activities…).
Lo and behold, I found my next stage of exploration through an old interest of mine: robotics! I’d met the lead mentor of my high school’s robotics team at a summer program entering 9th grade, and so found myself rapidly entering this extracurricular activity. Coincidentally, I learned that those who demonstrated their efforts and drive throughout the year leading up to competitions would be able to travel with the team… intra-nationally! Maryland, Louisiana, Georgia were just some of the regular competition locations. I was thrilled, and ended up working with the team regularly throughout the year, and nearly excessively during the “build season,” wracking up nearly 300 hours over six weeks building our robot for the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) organized games.
I stayed with the team, FIRST Team 88 “TJ^2”, during my high school years, and was Co-Captain during my last two. Although I won’t titillate my readers here with stories of those many trips (such as a particularly reckless parking stunt in a double tree hotel), these mini-excursions to cities swelled my passion for travel: I organized ten person week-long ski trips to the northern White Mountains, and dreamt of seeing the world from above which led to my first undergraduate major selection of Aviation.
Although I didn’t continue to become a pilot (as you don’t get to really see as much of the world as I had hoped… mostly just airports and the inside of the cockpit!), I obtained my private pilot’s license and set off for chemistry studies.
In chemistry, I found myself with opportunities to travel once more, this time to research conferences across the US: NCUR in Kentucky, and ACS in Colorado and California (along others nearby the Boston area).
However, there was one trip in particular that finally released the flood gates on my growing travel-addiction… my new girlfriend at the time (and still current partner) Brooke convinced me to take a trip with her to the wonderful, tropical location of Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica! Although to the great distress of certain loved ones (with good intentions…), we took off for ten days during the winter break of my part year in undergrad. Upon our return, I was absolutely hooked (the full story will be in a future post!).
At this point, some readers have likely begin wondering… if this section is about travel and food, why has this guy only takes about travel in the intro???
Well… because it makes a better story then just “I love food.”
Seriously though, it’s because my love of food was present during my travelling experiences, but was hidden in the shadow of my desire to simply observe the world around me. Now, with my eyes (mostly) open and my travel addiction accepted, I find that I am able to appreciate my love for food more fully: even my local area is full of it’s own unique cuisines and locales!
With all this said and done, please enjoy my exposés into describing my travel experiences, and the broad range of flavors that accompany them (both local and abroad!).