I’ve known minor Internet celebrity Ed Hirsch for approximately half our lives, since back in the day when he attempted to wear a mustache that was never entirely sure of itself. By my recollection, we’ve been on three trips together.
1) Somewhere around August of 1998 a huge group of us piled in our friend’s mom’s Chevy Regal and drove to Milwaukee for GenCon. For the three of our readers who aren’t massive nerds, GenCon is a gaming convention. People carry large bags filled with many different kinds of dice and pretend to be vampires and guys flirt awkwardly with girls who awkwardly accept or reject their flirtations as the mood moves them. I don’t remember a lot about the trip other than we slept about eight of us in one hotel room to save money, and I wound up in a bed sandwiched between Ed and another guy. This was not a bed made for three grown people, even as close friends as we were. Somewhere in the middle of the night, Ed removed himself to one of the chairs. This was quite gentlemanly of him, as it saved my arms and legs from going completely pins-and-needles and then probably turning black and falling off. And just think where I’d be today with no arms or legs. (Actually… probably the same place.)
Lesson: Choose your travel companions wisely, especially if you’re going to be in close quarters.
2) In April 2010 (Yes, that’s a long gap. Life gets busy sometimes, ya know?) I was supposed to be going to the UK to visit some friends, but then this stupid volcano in Iceland decided to erupt like nuts and stop all transatlantic flights. I got a refund on that trip, but I still had the itch to go somewhere. On the spur of the moment, I texted Ed and informed him that I was going to New York and that he should come with me. Of course, he agreed. The next weekend, we were on a plane to New York. I was pretty sure we were going to die while trying to land in a freak thunderstorm at LaGuardia, but after that, the rest of the trip was lovely. We walked everywhere and ate waaaaay too much and I made him look at flowers and go to a poetry slam and we danced to Bell Biv DeVoe. Half of my foot nearly fell off because I insisted in walking for miles around Manhattan in shoes not made for such a purpose, and Ed bought industrial-size bandaids to fix it. I think he maybe was a Boy Scout?
Lessons: Be flexible. Have spontaneous friends. And always be prepared–bring a Boy Scout with you wherever you go.
3) New York having been such a success, in June 2010 I invited Ed and two other friends of ours (and those friends’ two adorable dogs) up to my family’s mostly disused vacation house in northern Wisconsin. (Yes, that’s two trips to Wisconsin. Going to Wisconsin is what people in Chicago do when they can’t afford to go on a real vacation.) We caravaned up, stopping at Mars Cheese Castle and the Piggly Wiggly for supplies. We spent the weekend hiking to see waterfalls, walking in the woods, pretending that zombies and/or bears might attack at any moment, being legitimately afraid that zombies and/or bears might attack at any moment, cooking a ton of good food, being contemplative around a campfire, drinking New Glarus beer from boots, shooting off fireworks, and generally just having the best time ever in the middle of nowhere. The best.
Lessons: The world looks better when you’re sitting next to a campfire, and when all your foods include cheese.