This week I was invited by the Daytona Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau to ride along with their JetBlue Media Tour.
Growing up is a trap, and not the kind you worried about as a kid.
These kinds of traps are more subtle and happen over time. You could get locked into a job with no passion, or tangled up in a relationship that isn't healthy. And if you're really not careful, you might turn into someone you hate.
Though they might not be as initially terrifying as falling through a trapdoor, I can assure you these traps are just as scary.
I recently had a realization that I was falling into one of these adult traps: I stopped exploring.
My obsessions with Indiana Jones and Nancy Drew fueled my inner investigator and love for adventure as a child. But as an adult, I seem to find all my adventure from my couch, watching "Law and Order."
And when I go out, I never go anywhere new. I frequent all the same places all the time, to a point where the drive thru attendant at Chick-fil-A recently gave me a rewards card and said, "You need this. You come here a lot."
After a few days of fumbling over ideas and trying to find a solution, the universe presented me with an opportunity: to tag along with the Daytona Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau's JetBlue's Media Tour. I would be visiting some of DB's best spots with a group of travel writers. Score.
I met up with the group of four writers, all from New York City, at the Daytona Beach International Speedway. At first, I wasn't sure if I could find anything in common with these people. They all had written for big-name publications, had second houses in Italy and had travelled to places I had to pretend I had heard of before.
I was officially out of my league.
But isn't getting out of your comfort zone what sparks some of the greatest adventures? I mean, I can guarantee the only adventure I've had on my couch was losing my cell phone in the crevice of the cushions.
So I attempted to refocus my mindset, and get comfortable with the uncomfortable. And let me tell you, it worked.
I rode around the speedway way on a cramped tour bus with Mo, who was traveling to Belgium next week, and talked about how the track reminds us of that scene from "Grease," where Danny raced Leo on Thunder Road. I also got to explain to her how Florida rainstorms work, and how to prepare for a 20 minute torrential downpour followed by 20 minutes of sun.
"This is the most American thing I've ever done in my life," she laughed as we finished our tour.
I sampled beers at Daytona Brewery, owned and operated by Ormond Beach couple Allen and Mer Fawcett, and officially discovered that I do not like IPAs (sorry John Walsh). However their Trioval Tripel and Ocean Breeze will definitely have me coming back.
I explored stores on Beach Street that I had walked passed a hundred times, like Carl's Speed Shop. If you're like me and have no need to visit a motorcycle dealer, I'd stop in just to talk to Carl's wife, Diane. I don't want to give it all away, but she has some killer stories about Evel Knievel, Jesse James and the king of Monaco.
I sampled a delicious chocolate potato chip at Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory, and learned how all their goodies were made. I may not be traveling to exotic destinations for work just yet, but at least my snacking is getting more glamourous.
And after almost being washed away by a classically random Florida thunderstorm, I met back up with the group for dinner at Martini's Organic. I expected to hear a lot about their travels and all the adventures they had had, which I did. And they were crazy. But what I didn't expect was for these people to be asking for my stories. All the adventures I had in Ormond Beach.
I was telling them about the unsolved mystery of The Casements tunnels and how our mayor has a super-famous son, when I realized something. Even though they have (literally) been everywhere on the map, they still found adventure and a taste of the unknown in my little corner of the world.
So while I may not be flying to Prague this weekend, that doesn't mean having an adventure isn't on my schedule. After all, you don't need a plane ticket to be an explorer.