A Journey to Experience - My Family Travels


“It’s scientific name means ‘food of the gods’, and this heavenly food is an ancient favorite, a business for inventors, and causes major health benefits to your heart, teeth, blood stream, and brain!” With a quick spray of a can, the ethereal smell of chocolate wafts through the air as I continue my speech. The smell quickly fills the room, saturating it with its delightful aroma.
At Bob Jones University in South Carolina, I competed in the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association National Championship Tournament. Competing in speech is my passion, and sometimes even takes over my life. Nevertheless, it broadens my scope, and allows me to meet wonderful friends and enjoy wonderful food. Above all, it gives me the privilege of experiencing the National Tournament. 
When I received the email saying I was going to Nationals, I felt ecstatic. Two weeks later, my brother, my dad and I jumped in the car, and drove two hours from our home in Sacramento, California, to San Francisco International Airport. After changing planes in Chicago, and seven hours in the air, we touched down on the blacktop of Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina. It was midnight! After even more driving, we reached quaint and congenial Greenville, South Carolina at two o’clock in the morning. I was exhausted. Yet to my chagrin, I could not fall asleep! I still had to articulate the health benefits of chocolate at eight o’ clock next morning too.
Despite my deficit of sleep, the speech went exceedingly well. In between my talks, I made new friends and met old ones. We conversed about speeches, our lack of sleep, our nervousness, and the caffeine we continuously drank. Speech topics ranged from cooking “mistakes” turned successful, to cows, to the American Dream.  The hospitable buildings of bucolic Greenville patiently accommodated us as their guests, while the town’s amiable people applauded. The humidity evoked warm, rainy thunderstorms. Time flew. It always does when you are with friends.
During lunchtime, I was still speaking to various audiences and judges. I missed lunch completely! My dad rescued me by buying me a lunch I will never forget. I still rave about the soft bun-perfectly moistened by the humidity of the climate-the crunchy breading, and the luscious chicken of my Chik-Fil-A sandwich! Someday, some doctor x-raying my brain will find a silhouette of a chicken sandwich lovingly etched into my hippocampus. I also asked a good-natured hotel clerk what “grits” are. After advising me, “Never ask a ‘southern person’ what grits are, because they will laugh at you!” she explained that grits are coarsely ground corn that is boiled, and eaten for breakfast with salt and butter. Then, she laughed!
Besides all the friends and yummy food, there was a deeper feeling. This was the feeling of experience. Commercials like, “Experience the thrill of an ocean front beach hotel!” rhapsodize about their locations, but don’t truly understand what an experience is. I do. A real travel experience involves the thrill of accomplishment. I felt complete satisfaction in my achievement of going to Nationals. I didn’t have to win. I did my very best. That is a truly satisfying travel experience.
At the end of the weeklong trip, I was exuberant. My experience had been more than positive, more than lifelong, and more than my wildest dreams. I felt effervescent at the thought of my accomplishment. I did not win, nor did I advance to another round of speeches. Instead, I made friends with people (and food too). I felt the Nationals experience. Achievement is the most satisfying feeling ever.

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