I shared in our Manhattan Tales blog post last week a series of true events that happened enroute to NYC a few weeks ago. After being on the ground a mere 10 hours, it was time to head back home to South Carolina. As expected, the bus was completely full of passengers making the trip down South. Unlike the trip to NYC, we were assigned specific seats. Rhonda and I like to sit behind the driver. However, with the assigned seating, we were more than half-way towards the back of the bus. I thought it would make for an uncomfortable trip, but with it being late at night, everyone pretty much went to sleep. We left on time at 10PM, and our first stop wasn't until about 2AM. The trip was pretty uneventful as we drove into the night, through the DMV area, and into North Carolina, and then South Carolina. After dropping off a great number of passengers, we were then allowed to spread out and change seats at will. It wasn't until we left Florence, SC that another tale begins.
We just turned off of I-95 South onto I-20 West heading to Columbia when a policeman pulled the bus over. I was surprised by the stop in that I didn't think we had been speeding. Up to this point, we were a mere hour from Columbia, and was on track for an on-time arrival of 11:30AM. The police addressed the bus driver and then asked him to open the luggage storage area below the bus. The police and a dog completed a thorough search of all the stored luggage, and even came on board to check our personal possessions and ID. One young man was search outside of the bus for illegal drugs, but was released to return onto the bus. This took all of 30 minutes, yet we were still on track of making it back to Columbia by noon.
We had just reached the Columbia city limits when traffic was stopped at a standstill. There was an accident further up the interstate, and the driver was detoured to an unfamiliar road. Some of the passengers tried to steer the driver to a more direct route to our final drop-off location, but with his limited English, he couldn't understand the directions instructed to him. He pulled the bus over in an empty parking lot, and using his own phone GPS, he found the best possible route to the drop-off spot. We arrived at 12:30PM.
So the lesson learned during our bus trip to NYC and back: pack a lot of patience and best believe, you will not depart or arrive on time. This is no different than what we have experienced with air travel. We have had airport delays, missed connections, and late arrivals more times than we can count.
Have you ever experience significant delays in your travels, whether via plane, bus, train, or automobile?
Recently, Rhonda and I had a small period of time to go to one destination, return home, and head to another destination. Normally flying would make sense, but our budget was tight, and we didn't want to pay for a flight and hotel when we would be on the ground no more than 12 hours. So sis and I decided to take an inexpensive bus ride to New York City. We were enroute to NYC to attend the New Filmmakers Film Festival to screen a short film that we produced two years ago called Own Your Stupidity. The movie has been on a streak of film festival runs in New York City and forthcoming in Detroit, and we wanted to make at least one screening this Fall.
So the tale begins:
There were two buses heading to New York and both had meeting locations near each other. We initially went to one location, but was told to try another location across the street, just to be told to go back to the first location. Mind you this was during rush-hour traffic, and it took several minutes to drive back. We were so nervous about being late because the ticket said we had to be at the bus site no less than 30 minutes before departure. Needless to say, the bus left 30 minutes later than planned. After a few hours of traveling through North Carolina, we found ourselves rerouted back into South Carolina to pick up stranded travelers. In fact, we were back in not only South Carolina, but aso back at the starting location. One woman was so frantic after waking up from her nap to see herself back in familiar surroundings, that we were delayed another 15 minutes to calm her down. Apparently she needed to be in NYC by a certain time, and it was apparent she was going to be late.
All the while, the driver(s) were speeding through the night to make up for lost time, just to be constantly berated by some of the passengers. This was detrimental to the safety of all the travelers, and there were periodic concerns that a fight was going to break out at anytime. Fortunately, that never happened.
It was also during the trip to NYC that we learned of our great-uncle's sudden stroke. I remember looking towards the Washington Monument, and then looking further up to the heavens to pray to God. I remember crossing multiple bridges and viewing the expansive water. Water has always calmed me down, especially with such unsettling news. My heart was heavy but I still found optimism of what would typically be a disastrous trip. My great-uncle was unselfish in his love to help people. Much like the Wanda bus company who not only returned to pick up stranded passengers in South Carolina, but also another set of travelers in Delaware who's NYC bound bus had mechanical failure. It wasn't about the tardiness of the bus arrival to New York, it was about helping those in need along the way. Life is a journey. Be kind!! Help strangers!! Love everybody!!
Have you ever traveled to a location, and it didn't go as planned? Did you come out of it a better or bitter person?
I was at an event recently whereas I was told that there would be a vegetarian option. Needless to say, the salad was load with bacon and ham. No biggie, I'll eat the dessert. I was then informed by one of the organizers that I, along with two other attendees, will be provided a meal from a nearby local restaurant. Being familiar with the location, I knew that the restaurant had very limited vegan/vegetarian options. The other two attendees were not familiar with the restaurant and quickly became skeptical. After some discussion with the hostess and kitchen staff, it was determined that the choices would be slim because many of the vegetables on the menu were either cooked in chicken broth or had meat in them. I chose a pescaterian dish with grilled fish, mixed vegetables, and kale salad; one chose a chef salad (the kitchen staff removed the chicken strips); and the other event attendee chose a large order of kale salad.
Needless to say, there are plentiful of apps and search engines to find vegan/vegetarian restaurants, but very few "last minute" options when eating out at traditional restaurants and fast-food chains. Upon my initial search, the apps were very limited. I expected them to share with me the menu options at popular restaurants that are vegan/vegetarian. But to no avail, there was limited information as these apps are supported by customer reviews. This was discouraging to me. So I came up with a list of options to do when you are considering a restaurant and not familiar with their menu. More importantly, you want something to eat other than a salad.
#1) Call ahead and speak to the Chef or head cook. Find out the options, and if applicable, have a meal already specially prepared prior to arriving to the dining establishment.
#2) Check out the menu on line before you visit the location. You may find that they have a seperate menu for vegan/vegetarians or symbols to indicate it is a specialty meal.
#3) Order sides. Often I find the healthiest options from the side menu such as sweet potato fries, mixed vegetables, and baked potato. Consider combining 2-4 vegetables on a plate as a meal.
#4) Substitute some of the common ingredients to make it vegetarian/vegan friendly. At a burger place, I'm always looking for the black bean or veggie burger option. I also remove the cheese and mayonnaise, and request avocado, if they have it. Tofu is also another option to look for in the entree selections.
#5) When eating at Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Greek, French, and Italian restaurants some options includes eggplants, artichokes, vegetable soups, vegetable spring rolls, pasta, hummus, veggie platters, and vegetable fried rice. In a traditional American or BBQ restaurant, seek out the sides items as noted in #3. To make it vegan, request no mayonnaise, butter, eggs, or cheese. Indian, Ethiopian, Jamaican, and Mexican restaurants also have viable vegan/vegetarian options that centers around vegetables, rice, bread, and beans.
Do you have any other tips on eating vegan/vegetarian at local or popular chain restaurants?
Created by NOMADNESS Travel Tribe, Audacity Fest is the largest gathering of black and brown travelers from around the world to build on ideas, meet travel influencers, and experience the world via site activations. The weekend fest included panels, music, celebrity appearances, food, vendors, and a community of like minded travelers filled with love. Memphis was 2019's gathering spot and it didn't disappoint.
We ate at several restaurants including Rum Boogie Cafe on Beale St; Flying Fish on 2nd St; Fam on Madison Ave; and Blue Plate Cafe on Court Ave. We also feasted on a tofu kabob, rice, and vegetables from the Stickem Food Truck during lunch at the festival location at Beale Street Landing. Seafood and fish was the winning combination during most meals, but we balanced it out with a tofu dish from the food truck and a vegetable rice bowl from fam on our final evening.
There were a multitude of panels jammed packed within 8 hours to choose from. Between the two of us we attended the following panels/workshops: Remote Working Lifestyle; Travel Culinary; Budget Travel Hacks; Social Media to Curate Trips; Volunteering Abroad; Studying Abroad; Sustainable Travel; Solo Travel; 6 Figure Blog; Black and Burning Man; Learning A Language; Year of the Return; Travel Therapy; and Content Creation. Whew!! We ended our evening attending a play at hotel for Audacity Festival goers. AfroRoma: A Love Story is Pan-African love and travel narrative written by Dr. Kimberly C. Ellis aka Dr. Goddess. It tells the story of an African-American woman who travels to Italy to study the African Diaspora, and she falls in love with a Senegalese man. It was the inaugural reading of what will be a featured play reading in Ghana in December 2019.
During these sessions we met so many wonderful people that we consider newfound friends and future travel buddies. A few worth mentioning are Dr. Nadeen White of The Sophisticated Life; Rashell Evans of Statement Junky; Diamond Butler of Global Kids; Tiffany Heard of Tiffany Travels; and Dr. Goddess.
Audacity 2020 has been announced and it's back we go to the city that's becoming almost like home- New York City!! We'll share details when the tickets open, and there's a feeling it's going to sell out since more than a quarter of the travel influencers reside in the NYC area.
Are you planning to attend Audacity Fest 2020 in New York City next Fall??
Rhonda and Sharee
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Rhonda & Sharee Washington