Challenge: Say “Yes” to new opportunities
Charity: The LifeTrain Trust
Total £ accrued: £6
Thoughts: Don’t worry too much about looking after yourself, the world will look after you.
The Eighth Challenge: Saying “Yes” to New Opportunities
Being me has it’s perks, and being British isn’t always one of them. What I mean is that the Brits have this incommodious way of saying “no” to absolutely everything.
There was a social experiment performed in the UK where a man tried to hand out free £5 notes to people passing by, only to be brushed off and politely declined by the public until eventually (I assume hours later, maybe even days) one woman gladly accepted. She can’t have been truly British.
So you can imagine how I felt when, after conversing with a friend of an uncle who I’d met only once, he offered me money.
Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees
The thoughts going through my head, “well, I do need it, but do I need it need it? Like will I die if I decline?”
You see, earlier on that very day I had been crying atop a counter to a very confused and bewildered salesman who did not know what to do and who offered a withheld, yet polite, pat on the back as he willed me to stop. My naive and innocent self had not realised that when you book a car rental online for $360, you should expect to pay double when you arrive due to all the “necessary” additional charges. What was already a stretch for me financially, became a “who wants to purchase a kidney” kind of situation.
Surprisingly, my uncle’s friend did not have a clue about my discomfiture earlier on. But disappointed that he had not been able to host me when I had visited his area, he wanted to make sure I could afford a couple of nights in a hotel wherever my next destination would be and perhaps have change for a bottle of wine come my birthday. An amazing display of generosity that I certainly was not used to and so, initially, I declined (that’s £1 in the pot).
I don’t wish to embarrass the culprit so I shall not name him, but I will say a massive thank you because you have no idea how timely the $200 was. ❤
Always say Yes to Drinks
One thing most people always class as an “opportunity” is drinking. And I have had several opportunities to share a drink with people I have met on the way. I have clinked glasses with an old couple in a skyrise building in Portland, with a reggae musician and local business owner in downtown Charleston, with some old boys getting away from the wives in the only [open] pub in Brunswick and even with a sailor and his too-much-money-not-enough-sense-but-got-a-big-boat employer.
Most notably, I met a couple atop the mountains of Squamish as they (similarly to I only moments earlier) toiled to capture the perfect insta-shot in the breathtaking surroundings. It was his birthday, yet he insisted on buying his girlfriend and I a drink… We obliged. And I’ve never laughed so much! After sharing travel horror stories, nearly choking on my drink over hilarious travel fails and exchanging social media details, they invited me to join them in Vancouver for a boat party then they gave me a ride home (whilst offering me peanuts in a very convincing manner).
Moral of the story: always accept drinks when they are offered, they can only lead to laughs and new friends.
Sadly, I turned down the opportunity for further drinking and partying with the old boys in Brunswick which would’ve taken me into my birthday hours – but Game of Thrones was on and I was not going to miss it! I also gave the boat party a miss… I didn’t have anything white!!
Don’t Tamper with Tampa
As part of my East Coat road trip, I made a stop in Orlando- home to all things Disney. Running very low on funds, I opted for the free version of Disney – Disney Springs! That’s not to say it’s not also a magical visit, I do recommend! But people say you can’t go to Orlando and not go to Disney world, well that’s how one friend felt anyway. He felt so strongly, in fact, that he offered to get me tickets for the “real Disney world”, only problem was I’d already moved forward by then and didn’t plan on going back! So I opted for £1 in the pot instead.
It was whilst I was contemplating my Orlando options in my hotel room that I found myself on instagram (like I’m not always on there constantly), and discovered that a friend of longer than 9 years was merely a couple of hours from me in the great land of Tampa! Well, I didn’t have a rental for no reason. Although my original plan was to stick to the coast along the East, I thought I’d make a slight detour and head to Tampa. This also happened to be terribly close to where the sailor and old man from St. Mary’s live and I had promised to stay with them if I was in the area. But I was short for time, so another £1 for Lifetrain!
So I reunited with my friend, Kim, and at the same time became properly acquainted with a family I have known of for years but never had the chance to meet. Their home was everything you look for when you think “relaxation”. Think chilled space, think beautiful weather, think gorgeous pool, think lake in the back yard… yes I’m serious.. and of course, great company! So it did not take much convincing when they offered the opportunity for me to stay an extra night whilst Kim travelled to Montana to see her family.
One of the most spectacular moments of my trip happened whilst “sight-seeing” with Kim. We decided to visit a buddhist temple despite the fact that by this point I had seen so many temples that I could easily convince buddha that I was a devout monk. They held a celebration outside the temple selling aromatic Asian cuisine and playing relaxing oriental-style songs and we sat along the dock eating our non-conventional breakfast of sweet & sour pork kebabs with beef noodles. Kim spotted them first, then I had the pleasure of seeing them; a family of dolphins were playing in the waters not far from us! It was my first ever dolphin sighting and I was so excited!
“This beats going to the aquarium to see some Manatee” Kim clearly glad our original plan didn’t work out.
But that’s not to say I didn’t see any Manatee, or Sea Cows, as they are known as. Actually, the beautiful thing about the fact that I said “yes” and completely re-arranged my plans to follow the west side of Florida’s coast, rather than the east, is that I saw things I would have missed out on had I been anywhere else.
I stopped by Naples on the way down the west Florida coast before heading on to Miami and had lunch in the over-priced but quirky English style pub. They were randomly giving out free meals to customers, sadly I did not benefit. But, the important thing was that I decided to head back to the beach for a quick dip-my-toes-in and got more than I bargained for. A whole family of around nine Manatee were playing right on the shores of Naples beach, literally by my feet! It was the most incredible sight and I couldn’t believe my luck that I had been there to witness that!
So in the end, one opportunity turned into several as a domino effect rolled out in front of me.
Keep Your Eyes as Open as Your Options
There are new opportunities all around us, but sometimes we let ourselves believe otherwise. A little more saying “yes” and a little less being suspicious can lead to a lot more adventure, and to prove it to you here are some more adventures I have had.
VIP Football Tickets
Collecting my cousin from the emergency room after a small scare, his greatest worry was “my friend had tickets to a concert tonight and I don’t think I can still go”. “No,” I assured him, “you can’t go! But hopefully something else will come up…”
I wasn’t wrong. The next day, seemingly fully recovered, he approached me… “Sooo, my friend has a box at the Dolphins vs Ravens game and he has offered me two spare tickets…” Basically, you get the picture. It was a no brainer!
After wiping out the pretentiously small buffet of sushi, lamb cutlets and strange looking salads, we made our way to the field. Sitting in our already ah-may-zing front row spots in an exclusive area, I scouted the area for celebrities as I tried, and failed, to be discreet. We then spotted this friend in an even more VIP, VIP area (like I didn’t think it could get more VIP but it did) and were invited to join him there after doing the whole “they’re with me” thing that important customers do. This time I was on my best behaviour (give or take a few gin and tonics), because now I was certain there would be celebs around- not that I would recognise them!
It didn’t end there, though I would have been happy watching the game, periodically reinforcing my stomach lining at the buffet and then soaking it up with a few more G&T’s. We were then invited up to “The Club”, by that time, my best behaviour was thrown out the window and replaced with even more alcohol (sorry cousin!) as I got introduced to all these lawyers, ex-football players and the like.
Long story short, my cousin is unlikely to ever invite me to anything like that again, but it was a bloody fun night!
Accommodation (new friends & great company included)
On my journey, I have met several people who have kindly offered me a place to stay. If you read my previous post, you will remember Phil & Daesy who kindly offered me a room for two nights in Atlanta, Georgia. They did not just give me a room, but they invited me to join their meals, even making me breakfast in the mornings and leaving it out for me when they went out early. I so enjoyed getting to know them and their beautiful daughter, Eden!
Meeting Phil & Daesy lead to me also meeting Phil’s brother & sister in law; David & Becka. It just so happened that they live in Portland and were also happy to host me for a couple of nights when I arrived at the end of August. And what a great couple they are, not only giving me a place to stay but treating me to a true Oregon dinner out at a gorgeous food truck spot and buying me some local ale to try. We had such a laugh playing a strange “strategical” Alice in Wonderland card game where I lost miserably, and also letting my inner geek out as we spun theories about Game of Thrones!
Without giving too much away, the Oregon-Washington cruise below lead me to my third host in Seattle. It was whilst on this day trip that I met a lovely couple Bob & Liz, who just so happened to have a son and daughter-in-law living in Seattle – where I was heading later that evening. Finding out that I had not yet set plans on where to stay, they placed an immediate call to their daughter-in-law, Victoria, who was happy to host me.
Victoria had two lovely children, twins, and a lively dog who seemed to enjoy my lap! Again, it was great getting to know her and she freely offered information on the area, what to do and where to go! She even made me a tasty vegan breakfast shake which I gladly received.
The biggest thing I took from this is how kind and generous people really are, and how ready you should be to give it back should the chance ever come to you. Without these people’s generosity, I would not have been able to do some of the things I have been lucky enough to do on my travels.
Oregon-Washington $90 Cruise
So my greatest achievement in my travels was obtaining this certificate for successfully steering the Portland Spirit. I was assured it was 100% legit and I could definitely hop on any boat and be a captain… 😉 But whilst I was manoeuvring this big boat, I was also making friends with the crew as they told me some of the things I absolutely must not miss in Portland. Amongst the top 5 was an all day cruise taking me to the Colombian river and gauge guaranteeing stunning scenery. “How much is that?” I asked and then gulped when I heard the reply, “about $90”. I wrote that one off pretty quickly.
Hopping off the boat onto the shore, I said goodbye to the staff and one of them slipped me my $10 obligatory boat photo with a wink and a “shh”. Then the first mate (no idea what you call it in real sailor terms) came after me… not to apprehend me and retrieve the photo surprisingly!
“I know the captain who does the cruise if you and any of your friends would like to do it for free…” Strangely, this was my most suspicious moment as I momentarily felt my mouth fall open and I didn’t really know whether or not to believe him. “Sure,” I managed, and then swapped details with him.
Sure enough, when I showed up the next day he was fo’ real!
Success rate: 6 Failures
Cost per fail: £1
Money raised for charity: £6
What have I learned? Be more open! The world will look after you if you allow it, I have been looked after by some really great people that I came across by chance. And you will also find, one opportunity inevitably leads to more opportunities.
Next Challenge: Slow Down…