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Talking About Going Someplace Else, With Nathan Thornburgh Of Roads And Kingdoms

This is Wat Rong Khun in Chiang Rai, Thailand. It is extremely metal and weird.
Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images

At some point, a bigger life will once again become available. It all feels very abstract, in this grim time of multiple confinements, but this crouching age will not last forever and also the world is not getting any smaller, or less enticing or astounding or worth the visit. It just seems, and for the time being really is, much further away. I suspect that I am not alone in having spent a great deal of time in this miserable hunkering moment thinking about what that all might be like, once it becomes a thing that can be even reasonably imagined.

In this episode, we invited Nathan Thornburgh, who helped build the mighty travel/food/experience website Roads and Kingdoms alongside Matt Goulding and Anthony Bourdain, to help us begin the process of getting reacquainted with the idea of that bigger, cooler world and the challenges of navigating this smaller one in the interim.

As with all travel-related conversations, at this moment but also in general, there was a sort of wistfulness to it. It’s a good and natural thing to think about all the uncanny and unimaginable places and people and things out there in the world—Chiang Rai’s supremely gaudy and relentlessly metal Wat Rong Khun, which is the art at the top of this post, has illustrations of Neo from The Matrix and a dang Minion in its interior. But when every instance of leaving your home is fraught and politicized and multiply risky, and when every other thing in the culture feels poised on a knife’s edge, it feels different; the fascination is intensified and the strangeness is more acute. So we talked about all that, and also about the best/worst ways to make yourself sick on vacation. In its way, I found it kind of inspiring, although mostly what it has inspired in me so far is an intense nostalgia for the experience of being someplace I haven’t been before.

For the back stretch of the program, Drew and I were joined by an unprecedented second guest. This was Chris Jones, a Defector Accomplice and the first “winner” of our quarterly lottery, which meant he got the “prize” of answering some Funbag questions, talking about a couple of lousy tweets, and discussing the Golden Age Of Backup Quarterbacks. If you had been waiting for the episode in which I do a web search for Cody Carlson’s career passer rating during the show, your wait is over. If you were kind of idly dreading the inevitable moment in which that happened, I have some less good news. Either way, you’re sure to learn something about Warren Moon’s longtime backup, and that’s nice to know, right? In these uncertain times and all that?

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