Travel is almost always at least a little stressful, but it's also incredibly exhilarating -- because with it comes the chance to experience new (or familiar) places, and to make new stories both for yourself and about the places you're visiting. In my case I'm headed to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, followed by five days in Fort Worth, Texas.
I have about two hours before I head out on the road (well, the air really) for two weeks. As usual, a few hundred thoughts are running through my head: Did I finish all the perishables? Did I pack enough clothing that will work in both climates?
Milwaukee's vibrant riverwalk and warehouses of the Third Ward neighborhood. (Photo: anaxila on Flickr)
But packing my physical bag is not enough. Mentally, the historian in me battles with my inner foodie and urbanist. I'll spend an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out what to see, what to eat, and what makes these cities tick.
For instance, did you know that Milwaukee is where the typewriter was invented? Or that Fort Worth is where 60 percent of our money is minted? Both random, fun facts that I've encountered in my research.
The purpose of both trips is not limited to vacations in disparate parts of the United States. Rather, they already include time spent on preservation and history. My trip to Milwaukee is for the National Council on Public History/Organization of American Historians annual meeting, while my Fort Worth travel involves tours and conversations regarding issues facing preservation nonprofits across the country. But outside the meetings I want to make sure that I make the most of the time away from the office.
The historic Fort Worth Stock Yards. (Photo: samuel_belknap on Flickr)
So I'm feeling the pull -- that urge to make sure that I don't miss a minute, a site, or a story, and to walk away from both these places seeing them as more than just a meeting room space.
What do you go see when you visit a new city or town? Do you look for its history? The museums, the art, the culture? Do you look for the social scene or the main street?
And -- as I blatantly use this post for recommendations -- if you know Milwaukee or Fort Worth well, let me know what the "must see" places are. I promise to report back!