A Baby Boomer Crossing Over into A Millennial, iGen World and Loving It

 

I’m a  Baby Boomer (a person born between 1946-1964). I’m also a grandmother and after I visited my grandkids, I went shopping because that is what Boomers do. I live in a rural area so I decided to immerse myself in the big city life of Syracuse, NY.  I went to Barnes and Noble (my generation still loves to hold books in our hands), Trader Joe’s, Marshalls, and The Carousel Mall. Since I was 80 miles from home and it was  getting late, I decided to stay overnight in a motel.  I was headed to a  Best Western or Hampton Inn but I came upon something new.  It was sleek, modern and it was something called a Tru Hilton.  Probably too expensive, I thought, but  I decided to go in and find out.

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I was greeted by colorful outdoor furniture and positive sayings on the entrance door.

I soon found out that the average price for rooms at the Tru was in the $90 to $100 range.  I was sold plus this place was interesting. The lobby was one big room with the reservation desk and “market”, as they called it, in the center. The market was open 24 hours a day and served snacks, soda and single serve beer and wine. A sign in the elevator invited guests to come down to the lobby at any time for “work, eats, or laughs.” There was free high speed internet throughout the hotel and free coffee and tea  24/7. Near the elevator  was an interactive dry erase board where guests and staff could list  local tourist attractions, music venues, restaurants, and places to shop.  Guests were invited pick up a marker and comment about their favorites.

Someone in the Hilton organization had put a lot of thought into the design and feel of this hotel. I looked up Tru Hilton online and found that their focus was “Millennials, those in their twenties and early thirties who tend to like modern design, public spaces where they can work and socialize, and advanced technology such as mobile check-in”.

With the individualist spirit of this younger generation in mind, the furniture offered all sorts of seating styles; swinging basket chairs, places to accommodate groups, and individual secluded nooks with computer tables. A trendy bright mural on one of the walls paid tribute to the Syracuse area.

I entered my room and was surprised to see it wasn’t carpeted. There were no pictures on the wall and instead of drapes the window was cover with rolling blinds.   A space  with hangers, everything needed to iron, and a raised platform  for a suitcase offered an efficient substitute for a closet. Pegs on an opposite wall  provided an additional  place to hang things. To me, the sparseness of this room was not unpleasant. With all the stories in the news about bed bugs, germs, and longer flu seasons,  I found this new style of lodging comforting. This was a room that could be easily and thoroughly cleaned by the housekeeping staff.

 

The bathroom had plenty of shelf space and a walk in shower.  Shampoo, lotion, body wash, and condition were in ample supply in squeeze bottles attached to the wall.

The next morning I went down to the lobby for coffee and breakfast and checked out

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Because I’m a Baby Boomer, I needed to go to one more store, Pier I.  And since I love sociology, am a bit of a geek, and always have to know why things are the way they are, I drove to another Barnes and Noble a few miles down the road.  I was curious. The Hilton corporation had created a new hotel line to reach a younger generation. This made sense because Millennials are a very large demographic and”demographics are destiny”.  I wanted to know more.

I went over to the sociology section, took three books off the shelf, got yet another cup a coffee, found a comfy chair, and dug in.  I opened  iGen by Jean M. Twenge and  immediately learned that iGen (born between 1995-2012) were the generation after The Millennials  (1980-1994).

These two groups of young Americans were similar but  iGens  are more practical, career focused, and cautious. Bogged down by student loans, the ever changing job market, the threat of automation, and income insecurity, they are more logical than emotional about their choices.  They are nonconformist, less impressed by celebrities and fame, and would rather have experiences than things. Their money goes money for housing, food, education, and medical expenses.  If they do have extra money they spend it on travel, being with friends or a good meal in a nice restaurant.  Quality of life is more important to them than stuff.

The longer I live the more I see the consistency of charge. Younger people are and will change the trends and the world we live in.  But this Baby Boomer kind of likes some of the changes.  I crossed into a Millennium, iGen world at Tru Hilton, learned a lot, and left feeling good.  I’ll be going back.

 

70/7000 September 11, 2001

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It was a week and a half after I returned from my 70/7000 trip and I will always remember how sunny that morning was. I walked into the office of my elementary school and saw my colleagues silently huddled around a TV.  The images of the burning World Trade Towers were surreal but our feelings of fear and shock were overwhelmingly real.

I had promised my second grade class we would go to the village park to eat our lunch. My principal told me to keep the day as normal as possible and to go ahead with the plan. I watched these kids, many who were sons and daughters of  The Army soldiers of nearby Fort Drum, laughing and enjoying a glorious fall day. I knew that they would learn the terrible news from their parents and their world, our world, would never be the same again.

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I had started reading Hatchet by Gary Paulsen to my class everyday since the first day of school.  It is a story of a boy named Brian who became lost in the Canadian wilderness. It was a book about struggle, resilience, and perseverance and lent itself to wonderful insights and great lessons to discuss and learn.

“He did not know how long it took, but later he looked back on this time of crying in the corner of the dark cave and thought of it as when he learned the most important rule of survival, which was that feeling sorry for yourself didn’t work. It wasn’t just that it was wrong to do, or that it was considered incorrect. It was more than that–it didn’t work.”

Brian had “hope in his knowledge. Hope in the fact that he could learn and survive and take care of himself. Tough hope, he thought that night. I am full of though hope.”

“Patience, he thought. So much of this was patience – waiting, and thinking and doing things right. So much of all this, so much of all living was patience and thinking.”

You are your most valuable asset. Don’t forget that. You are the best thing you have.”

My students sat on the rug and as I read, the circle seemed to get tighter everyday as we all sat closer and closer to each other.  Brian had learned about courage and hope. It saved him and he survived. It saved us, too.

70/7000 Back Home, Reading My Journal

Labor Day Weekend 2001

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Strange to be home. The rooms are spread out with many steps between things but  I will get used to it again.

I called my son and daughter, relatives, and friends.  Unpacked, did some laundry,  picked up my mail and went through it.   Then I went off to school to set up my classroom.  I had a lot to do but  I took a deep breath and tired not to get discouraged.  This was part of the the plan, to really concentrate my effort in a short amount of time.  It was a small price to pay for having an almost  infinite vacation.

My journey had become a personal odyssey, a search for answers, a time to be alone and think. I sat down with my journal, eighty pages of pouring out my heart under the stars and unraveling mistakes and regrets in the shadows of beautiful mountains. I flipped through the pages, reading what I had written and realized what  whiner I am.  My thoughts had been filled with so many worries and complaints.  It was at this moment, staring down at my pen and pencil scribbles, that I learned the lesson I had traveled so far to discover. It was a subtle truth but a very powerful one. It is simply to enjoy each day, each moment and not worry about all the bad things that may or may not happen. Through my whole trip I worried that my van might break down, that something was wrong with the tires, or I had ruined the brakes when I had gone down the steep mountain. It was foolish because nothing happened. My vacation would have been much more enjoyable if I hadn’t brought my anxiety with me.

I found out that  I will be an inclusion teacher this year, something I have never done before. I’m also the new president of my local Toastmasters’ International. Again, something I have never done before. I’m not going to worry about any of it!

70/7000 Putting on Some Miles and My Last Night

Days 63-68  August 27-September 1, 2001

Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Ontario. Putting on the miles to get home before school started, I didn’t set up camp each night but slept in the van.  I used a chair by a campfire in the evenings and made coffee each morning on my vintage Bernzomatic stove. Down to the basics, my journey is ending.

On Day 66 ( Thursday, August 30) I realized I was 90 miles from home. I felt this wasn’t right. I told everyone I was leaving on the Saturday after school let out and returning on the  Saturday before school started again. I really wanted to go home but my poetic soul and my  stubborn  inflexibility would not allow it. I set up camp, tent and all.

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And only on Saturday, September 1, 2001, did I allow myself to go home.

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70/7000 Reflections in My Cabana

Days 61 and 62  August 25&26, 2001

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Put on some miles today, stopped at a campground, and put up my “cabana” (an open sided tent). I love my cabana.  In storms I cover it with a very large sheet of blue plastic and it becomes a waterproof shelter, dark and cozy like a cave.  I lit a candle,  made coffee on my gas stove, and sat in its opening just beyond the raindrops with a book. It’s a rainy day today but a good day. “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.”

The journal and the journey are not done yet. I’m taking a step back on this page and recording some thoughts about just how incredible this odessey has been. This trip has been an outstanding feat and I do have a lot of courage. Maybe there is nothing to be afraid of.  Can I take this courage and apply it to my life back home? Can I take my faith and have it be an all encompassing power that will come to my assistance 24-7? I hope so because I believe that when I’m in this state of balance, I’m filled with joy and light. I  feel it when I’m teaching my students or when I make a connection with people. I want to expand this  feeling to my dream of being a writer.  I know I will have to be even stronger because I will be criticized. I read somewhere that if we listen to our intuition and our hearts  they will reveal to us what needs to done next.  I’m ready to take the risks. I am ready to take more steps and, as I do, my  faith in the process can only become more intense. The words and the wisdom will come.

I took this journey not knowing if it would turn out okay. (Or maybe  in my heart, I did). Something tells me that the journey ahead will be okay, too. I have known adversity and I understand its function because it propels me forward. “Be not afraid”, I now whisper to myself.  The promise has been made. Even in the “shadow of the valley of death”, I will be protected and even when I fall I will get up, bounce up. And as I do, I will learn the lessons. Everything is going to be okay.  Be a survivor, I will tell myself,  and, for heaven’s sake, don’t be afraid to thrive.

Copyright 2018@The Autonomous Traveler

 

 

 

 

 

70/7000 Flying Insects, Thin Tent Walls, A Flood, and A Bag of Jewels

Day 61  August 25, 2001

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I stayed in a campsite in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Two unsettling things happened there.  First, the whole campground was filled with all types of flying insects.  I asked  if this was the norm and the people in charge just shrugged their shoulders.  Forest fires were popping up all over The West and I wondered if insects, like other animals, migrated to escape the danger. I never considered that before but it seemed to make sense.

My second situation involved the married couple with their two small kids who had the site next to me. Sometimes campgrounds are like mini suburban housing projects, one dwelling almost on top of the other.  This family’s tent was about a foot and a half from my tent.  I guess their kids were sound sleepers and wouldn’t hear any love making sounds.  What this couple didn’t realize was that I, inches away, wasn’t a sound sleeper and that I had very good hearing.

The next morning I went into Grand Forks where in 1997 The Red River had flooded the city. It was interesting to actually be at a place that had gotten so much coverage in the news.

I stopped at a craft shop on the main street and immediately rummaged through their clearance table at the front of the store. Nestled in a basket was a collection of shiny plastic jewels in all sorts of colors. There must of been close to a hundred of them. I asked the saleslady how much she wanted for all of them.  I guess she just wanted to rid of them because she let me buy them for almost nothing. I walked out of the shop triumphant as I listened to the jewels jumbling around in the bag.  I knew my  second grade students would love them as rewards. These magical pieces of plastic were far better than stickers.  I was so excited about the smiles and motivation I knew this treasure would bring to my classroom.

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70/7000 A Bar in a Church and a Grizzly Bear

Days 57-60  August 21-24, 2001

Heading home but still taking in the sights.

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I took this picture of  The Mint Bar built inside a church in Sundance, Montana.  Ironic? Amazing?  Amusing?  “The Wild West” is quite the place!

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I stopped at the Cabela’s Store in Billings, stood under a stuffed grizzly bear, and learned that adult bears average 8 feet tall and weigh 900 pounds. I think what upset me the most were the very long , sharp nails on the paws. So glad I never met one of these creatures.  I now have a very healthy fear of them.

Another Apology to My Readers-September 2018

My apologies to my readers because I am interrupting the flow of my 70/7000  saga but this autonomous traveler needed to get away alone this  week.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a wonderful summer with camping, friends, home improvements, fly fishing, grandkids, and my first endeavor as a blogger.  But whoa, it got way too busy and  I needed some time to slow down and reflect. As Henry David  Thoreau said “Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.” And so following his example, I got myself a cabin among the trees at KOA in Westfield, NY for six days and vowed to live life as “deliberately as nature”.

 

 

They know me here, I’m a return customer.  Dennis, the owner, greeted me when I arrived. He knows I  walk the beach in nearby Barcelona, NY on Lake Erie to collect beach glass and said the shore had been waiting for me.

My friend, Thoreau, said, “A lake is a landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.”

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I walked this segment of the”earth’s eye” everyday and with each day I walked farther and farther as my body welcomed more steps and my spirit freed itself from the details of everyday life.  And things became simple and wonderful; the rhythm of waves, and the sound of the pebbles under my feet, and the colorful bits of glass that chose to reveal themselves to me.

My high school friend, Pat, who shares my birthday, joined me for a day.  We walked the shore and engaged in great conversation.  To our delight, we both found rare pieces of red glass.  Stopping in nearby Fredonia, we went to The Lady of The Lake Shop. It is owned by  another Pat who goes to Alaska, works with the crew from “The Deadliest Catch” and brings back Alaskan sea glass to sell at reasonable prices. I couldn’t resist buying two pendants and a pair of earrings.

 

Again I apologize for taking a break from my blog but as Thoreau said,  “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”

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70/7000 An Anguished Transition- Heading Home

Days 55 and 56   August 19 & 20, 2001

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Stopping to camp in High River, Alberta for few days and realizing I’m getting anxious about going home.  I had learned so much about myself on this trip.  Would it stick after I got back to the real world? When I get back to my teaching job? When I’m throw into the world of workplace politics?

I need a good self help book but I left my collection at home. I always enjoy reading books by authors who have things  figured out or biographies of  people who have overcome obstacles.   I saw a book in Jasper about a woman who hiked The Rockies all by herself but I knew I shouldn’t buy it because I’m getting close to running out of money.

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I heard someone say that we all  have the answers to life, we just have to be reminded. (I’m making myself a list on a fresh, clean page.)

What is a person who can successfully take on life?

  • An optimist
  • A risk taker
  • A person with a stubbornness of conviction
  • Someone with  intelligence, a degree of wisdom and understanding
  • Someone not afraid to be different, not a crowd follower or people pleaser
  • Someone passionate, who has enough drive to put dreams into actions, who keeps climbing and plugging away
  • A person confident but not to the point of arrogance
  • A person who stands up for herself as she voices her feelings, opinions and boundaries; strong but never to the point ruthlessness

ANXIETY! I have fallen short on each one of these points many times during my life. Am I really going to be better?   The reality of day-to-day  life will be a challenge.  All of this isn’t even a matter of courage, we are all afraid. Do I have enough faith to believe everything will be okay? I know I have gained much on this trip but will it be enough?

I closed the journal, thought of my mom, and wrote her a letter.

Dear Mom,

You always ask me to write you letters, well, here I  go. I want to make sure that you know I admire you. You are strong and have always managed to overcome the challenges life has given you. I’m really proud of the joy and adventure you now have going on senior citizen bus trips with your friends. You did this change on your own and took this risk to have more fun in your life. I know the other ladies are really enjoying your company.  I’m very proud of you.

Love always, your daughter

I will send out the letter when I cross the border into my home country once again.

Here at sunset in The Canadian Rockies, I am feeling nostalgic, sentimental, and weepy but also grateful.

Mom Blog

( My mom in later life. She lived to be 96)