Friday, July 02, 2004

Someplace Else

This weekend lots of people will take to the skies, waterways and/or roads to go someplace. Where someplace? Countless different someplaces, but with one common theme: They are all someplace else.

This weekend I'm joining the masses and I'm going to go to a couple of different someplace elses for some fun and relaxation. First on my itinerary is Detroit.

Now you might think Detroit is an odd someplace choice and is perhaps one of the last places you'd pick for a someplace else. Not me. TinyTuna, GramTuna and I will be traveling with our good friend, SticksTuna who has solid Detroit roots. We're going to eat us some awesomely righteous food, and then take our Buddah bellys over to the Detroit Institute of Art to see what's new and what's old. Detroit may not be vacation-central to most people, but because we'll be visiting places that are special to Sticks, the day, and the someplace else will be special to us.

On Sunday, I'm off for a little side trip to Grand Rapids, which is (hold up your right hand with your palm facing you) from left to right -- towards the left side of your hand, and from top to bottom -- slightly above the center of your palm. Like Detroit, Grand Rapids might not be my first pick of vacation spots, but because The Friday Chef is coming to town, it's going to be a special day.

This idea of someplace else first occurred to me this summer when I was on vacation. As I mentioned earlier, one of our customary things to do is to hop the ferry and venture to Ocracoke Island. It's a nice breezy ferry ride, with a flocks of seagulls hovering at the stern ready to snatch salty snack foods out of your hand and then poop on unsuspecting ferry riders.

(GreenTuna chuckles at TinyTuna's father)

Anyway. Our visits to Ocracoke Island were always the same. Get off. Drive to the village. Get ice cream at the Community Store. Go to see the lighthouse. Go to Village Craftsmen and drool over all the art. Buy more than we could afford, drive back to the ferry and return home. It was fine, but very predictable, and dare I even utter...boring.

This year we ended up going to Ocracoke not once, not twice, but three times. We contemplated a fourth and decided we just didn't have the time. Why was this time different?

Earlier this year, Philip, from The Village Craftsmen started a blog about Ocracoke life. Because I have been leaving the occasional comment in his blog, when I went to the Village Craftsman this year, I had several people say "Oh, YOU'RE GreenTuna!" It was if we were all old friends.

We came back to Ocracoke a couple days later to go on Philip's Ghost and Historic Walking Tour. As we heard stories of Old Diver and Mad Mag and coffins that floated down the street (TinyTuna was NOT pleased at any of this, by the way), we suddenly realized there was so much we didn't know about this place. There were streets and houses and shops we had never seen. And the stories were wonderful. Some may have been scary, but all of them were wonderfully interesting and just dripping with local flavor. We felt as if we got to know the island through its many inhabitants, dead or alive.

On our third trip to Ocracoke we visited some of the "new" places. We met 83 year old Roy Parsons and heard his singing as we looked -- check to jowl -- through his very crowded shop. We saw new artisan galleries and walked down some of the streets we passed by in the dark the night before. I bought a book called The Ocracoke Walking Tour and spent a large chunk of time finding even more places on this tiny island I wanted to visit. I want to go to the Ocracoke Opry, and hear the storytellers and drink in this community of people that live such rugged, creative and close-knit lives.

Philip had summed it up perfectly at the end of the tour, when he explained that Ocracoke wasn't Disneyland. It was a real place. A vibrant island rich with history and legend, and full of people you want to get to know. And that's what makes it special.

So whether you are going near or far this holiday weekend, my advice to you is this: It doesn't matter if you are going to the seashore or a cottage, to a big city or a small town, across the country, across the street or just staying in your own back yard. To find out what makes someplace special, find the people who think it's a special place.

And then it's not just someplace. It's someplace else.


Anonymous said...

If you have some time, I HIGHLY recomend the Tunnel BBQ in Windsor, right across the street from where the tunnel comes out..over here in CANDADA (of all places! LOL) (Italics, leaned over AND Capitalized...) AWSOME chicken and ribs. Award winning also!! :) Happy Canada
Day eh?!

Anonymous said...

If you have not been, may I recomend "Tunnel BBQ" on the Canadian side. (Italics, leaned over, bold AND CAPITALIZED..)AWSOME CHICKEN & RIBS. Right outside the tunnel entrance in Windsor. Happy Canada eh!?

Philip said...

Dear Green Tuna,

It was wonderful to have you and the rest of your "tuna school" join us for the history/ghost walk. And thank you for the very kind comments. It's such a delight to share our island history and stories with folks who appreciate the charms of "someplace else."

Happy Independence Day to all!