The Cusp of Felicity Part II

While my father and grandfather were accumulating mileage on the ground, I was doing likewise in the air. Air Canada changed my carefully planned out itinerary giving me minimal time in between transfers so I didn't bother bringing a suitcase. There were so many tight connections, I felt I was either not going to make one or lose the luggage altogether so I didn't bother. I could buy stuff in Louisville. Part of me though wished a rogue storm would assemble when I was in Chicago so that I could stay there for longer than 45 minutes; it's my favorite city in the U.S. I didn't even have enough time to find a deep-dish pizza joint at O'Hare. 

When I finally arrived at my final destination and got a cab, everything appeared normal but then I started reading the billboards and realized I had indeed entered the gateway to the deep south - half were promoting the gun show coming to town, some compared abortion to murder and a few others touted something called "Actors and Models for Christ". I had no idea this existed, but...why would I? The only church I attend is the Altar of Beyoncé. Arriving at the hotel (which was beautiful), I didn't even care if the conference sucked. It was autumn and they were pumping some kind of pumpkin spice scented aroma through the building and it was heavenly. They also had vanilla-citrus water available in the foyer. Automatic five star review from me.  

The conference didn't suck though. It was probably the best one I've ever been to. I met so many great, helpful people from colleges and universities across North America. I am particularly impressed with the cohesion and output of the creative team from the University of Oregon. They are what I now aspire to. I also had the opportunity to visit the University of Kentucky campus which was beautiful.

Getting back to the downtown Louisville experience mentioned, I brought the bare minimum with me and needed to purchase a few things so I wandered the streets near my hotel. It was more barren than downtown Winnipeg. There was no mall and very, very few places open after-hours. I asked a few people on the street if there was anything around and after deciphering their thick southern accents, I found a Walgreens. The most expensive Walgreens I had ever been to. They knew they had the soda, chips, Tylenol, deodorant and pantyhose market covered and they capitalized on it. Thankfully, my travel partners arrived the next day and we made our way to a big box store so I could stretch my dollar a bit further. 

I've traveled extensively with my father, but have only been on a few holidays with my grandfather. One was an extended family vacation to Disneyworld when I was 16 and then various spots in Mexico in my later teens. I enjoyed having him there. At 85-years-old, he is still spry. He loved visiting Kentucky, loved exploring Churchill Downs (and won!), loved drinking daily milkshakes and even loved walking around Wal-Mart while I shopped for Tylenol and hoseiry. I looked at him and looked at my dad, envisioning the next 20+ years where we would continue doing the same. 

To be continued...

The Cusp of Felicity Part 1

I've been meaning to write about my trip to Kentucky for the University and College Designers Association (UCDA) design conference and award show for awhile, but after returning home I received some news that overshadowed everything else and changed my life in ways that I am still navigating through and coming to terms with. 

Kentucky was never on my list of travel destinations; admittedly, the stereotype in my head was not kind. Having said that, I am a member of UCDA and was greatly looking forward to their annual design conference held in Louisville, KY this year. It is completely energizing to be amongst people in the same industry, in the same roles, and become inspired by them while learning that your problems/issues are not solitary, no matter how bizarre they may seem. I was also excited because of the corresponding design competition and gallery show. I always put 110% of effort into my work and, being a type A personality who has a mean competitive streak, I greatly savour the anticipation of being rewarded for it. Informing my father of the pieces I entered, he wisely told me to not get my hopes up too high as I would be competing against major U.S. institutions like Harvard and Yale, that politics are often involved in this sort of thing and that their budgets may be drastically higher resulting in a different scale of work. 

When I later told him that I won an Award of Excellence for one of my entries, he was ecstatic and proudly declared that he would be joining me in the bluegrass state. It was all he talked about.

Upon hearing the news, my grandfather hinted that he had always wanted to travel to Kentucky as he always wanted to visit Churchill Downs. My grandfather's side of the family has a history with horse racing and at some other time I will have to write about how his brother cheated someone at a track, got involved in the mob and then faked his death in the early 90s only to be discovered living a secret life for nearly two decades after he actually died in New Jersey a few years ago. However, I don't want that to be the focus of this passage. I'm not even sure I want to be associated with it (however interesting it is).

In mid-October my grandfather joined my father in driving all the way to Louisville and thus it was three generations of Clague that explored the city and ate more fried chicken than was necessary. Here is my grandfather Edward Clague and I with Colonel Sanders at the Louisville Visitor's Centre:

To view more images of Kentucky, click here.  

To be continued...