Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Get Ready to Be a Tourist at Home

As soon as I get organized, I’m going to start telling you about my Tourist at Home thing. Right now it’s a thing, because it’s too small to be a movement, and too undeveloped to be a project. My Tourist at Home 30-Day Challenge is going to be a blast, as soon as I can stop having so dang much fun myself to stop and tell you about it. To coordinate other people’s fun, apparently you have to stop gallivanting around town yourself.

The idea is to spend 30 days exploring your city, whether you’re a newbie or a lifelong resident, and discovering all the things that tourists find fascinating. Sometimes, especially if you’ve lived in the same town for many years, you might be even less acquainted with what is around you. There is fun and adventure, history and uniqueness right under your nose. Too often, the only people in on the action are visitors and people who have just moved in.

When we lived in New Jersey, just outside Philadelphia, we must’ve gone into the city to see the Liberty Bell at least eight times, not counting the times we took visitors. My next-door neighbor, Gina, would call out to me as we were filing into the mini-van, “Going to the Liberty Bell again?”


I’d invite her to come along and she’d laugh and go back in the house. Gina was born in South Philadelphia and had lived within a 20-minute drive from Independence Hall her entire life, and she had never seen the Liberty Bell.

“Gina,” I’d tell her, “you realize, don’t you, that school kids from all over the country come here on buses, full of teen BO, spilled juice boxes and tears, just to see the Liberty Bell. Teachers and chaperones risk their lives and sanity to see the Liberty Bell. Hell, even I have to close my eyes and floor it to get into the right lane after I cross the Ben Franklin, just to see the Liberty Bell.”

Gina would look at me with pity and a little derision, laugh and go back into the house.

I was used to teasing for being a “tourist in my own backyard.”  Because we were constantly moving, we saw each new city, in its turn, as an exciting adventure just waiting for us to explore. We would see all the interesting places, start bragging about what a great city we had just moved to, and then the visitors would start arriving. And we’d be in a good position to show them around.

This week our Florida friends came to visit and we did many of the obligatory San Francisco tourist spots. I don’t know who had more fun, our visitors or my husband and I. The giant camera I carry around completes the picture.

In the next couple of weeks I’ll be unleashing my Tourist at Home 30-Day Challenge. So here’s your heads-up: Check out the list and start planning your 30 days of adventure. Post photos on our Facebook page or on Twitter using the hashtag #touristathome. I hope to see photo evidence of your fabulous views, museums, historic sites and monuments. And could someone in South Jersey please go into Philadelphia? I want to see my old friend the Liberty Bell.


If you like Diane's humorous take on moving, you'll love her book Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves.

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