Thursday, November 08, 2007

Travel Thursday: Places I've been (and where I'd like to go)

When I was a kid, we didn't have much money for traveling. I remember taking exactly one vacation before I graduated high school (at least, one that wasn't just going to Southern California to visit my dad's family). We went to Santa Cruz when I was seven for a weekend; I have vague memories of the boardwalk and playing on the beach in a bathing suit. Usually if we went anywhere, it was a very very long drive down to LA, and we stayed at my Grandma's house and played with cousins. We flew to Texas a few times in my adolescence to visit my mom's aunt and other relatives. The summer after I graduated high school, we went on a week-long family road trip around California, which was mostly uncomfortable with five of us in an un-airconditioned minivan in August. We camped in Lake Tahoe and Sequoia and King's Canyon and somewhere near the southernmost glacier (I think that was in Kern county). We drove through Fresno, the armpit of California, on the hottest day of the year. Being 17 and being forced to go four days without a shower was a somewhat stinky, hairy, and miserable experience, so I insisted I be given some quarters to take a shower in one of the campgrounds - only to determine that trying to shave one's legs in a cold shower proves a bloody exercise.

In my senior year of high school, a project for one of my classes included a time capsule to be opened at least 5 years later. One of the many elements of the time capsule was a list of things I wrote that I wanted to have accomplished or done or experienced by the time I opened it. On the list I wrote was a secret dream I'd been harboring for years - to go to Europe after college, on my own. I worked my butt off in college to earn extra money to pay for my trip, spent four years with the trip in the back of my head, and a few weeks after I graduated I went on the trip. I'd planned it all myself, with the help of a Let's Go Europe and the website where I ended up meeting Dan (and EEK, and QIR, and Monkey, and Cil, and Yank in Texas, and Guateholla). I flew open jaw into Paris and out of London, in between getting to experience Barcelona, Nice, Monaco, Rome, Florence, Venice, Cinque Terre, Interlaken, Salzburg, Krakow, Prague, Munich, Wurtzburg, Rotenburg, Heidelburg, Freiborg, back to Paris and the chunnel to London. Plus some day trips I'm forgetting. It was probably the most amazing experience of my life, and gave me the travel bug, big time.

Since going to Europe, I've mostly traveled around North America. I went to Michigan to visit my Europe travel friend, and we went down into Ohio to the amusement park in Sandusky. I went to Chicago, and DC, and Toronto. I've been all over Colorado, to Wyoming and South Dakota and Nebraska. When I moved to Colorado, on the trip we went to Tijuana and through Arizona and New Mexico. We've driven and taken the train through Utah and Nevada; work has taken me to Boston, Seattle, Indianapolis, and Minneapolis. This summer, we went to Kentucky, passing through Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. The list of states I've been to has grown exponentially since my paltry high school two. But there's still an entire South, most of the East Coast, and a good chunk of the midwest I've never seen. And there's most of Canada, and almost all of Mexico, and that's just this continent!

Precisely two years ago right now we were in China. Our three-week trip included about 10 days in Beijing and a week in Xi'an, with a few days in Luoyang when we went up to the Shaolin monastery. But we barely scratched the surface of China, and haven't been anywhere else in Asia (other than Tokyo Narita airport). We've never been to Australia or New Zealand, anywhere in Africa, South America or the Middle East. There's most of a world out there, actually. So many places to go, and luckily I'm marrying someone with just as much wanderlust as I have. We won't have enough time to do the UK/Ireland trip we'd fantasized about as a honeymoon, but we'll get there someday. And we've got pages and pages of blank space in our passports.


Yank In Texas said...

That's been my dream too, except I haven't been out of the country since back from Europe. We have a friend in Egypt that we'd dearly love to visit but I'm not sure how. (I don't get much vacation and the boy doesn't really get any and then there's the $$ thing. If I could cut expenses any more I would.)
I envy your China trip and your upcoming Italy trip. Someday we'll get back to traveling...

Calfkeeper said...

Do as much traveling as you can, while you can. I envy you.

If you ever get a chance to go back to Asia, go to Malaysia. I spent 2 weeks there 4 years ago. I would LOVE to go back.


Cilicious said...

It's good you've already done so much traveling.
If you are planning on having kids, I hope you two get one more nice big trip in before the babies come.
I don't think you have to worry about being young enough to travel, so much as being unencumbered and solvent.

Anonymous said...

If you do make it over to the UK, you're both more than welcome to use and abuse my spare room for free. With the killer exchange rate at the moment you'll be wanting to save all the money you can!