Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A New Year to Travel

This New Year's Eve I was determined to join my friends on their trip to Las Vegas. I am not much of a gambler or drinker, but I don't often give myself time to spend with friends and this seemed like a great opportunity to do something different for New Year's with people I care about. My two roommates and close friends, Tyler and Mike, booked a room at the Gold Coast Hotel for New Year's weekend and off we were.

Yet this was only half of our trip. Erinn, my lovely girlfriend, hasn't visited many places outside of California but we've started venturing out on trips in an effort to see the world. The combination of wanderlust and boredom with our current hometown keeps us restless and constantly looking for new places to visit. The Grand Canyon? Yellowstone? Those and many more are on the agenda.
Erinn never went many places growing up except to Disneyland once or twice a year and occasionally she went to California's Central Coast on trips with her family. Conversely, I've been on quite a few trips around the country with my family.

For my family it began, more or less, with short camping trips to the coast, sometimes just a night or two in Morro Bay or San Simeon. Then we went on longer camping trips all around California and into Oregon, once going camping for about a week in Mammoth, once camping in Oregon at Diamond Lake, taking day trips to Crater Lake or boating around on Diamond Lake. On longer trips like the one to Oregon, we would camp at various points along the drive, stopping in Eureka for a night at a KOA (Kampgrounds of America) or in San Simeon at the State Park. When I was in high school we started going on longer summer trips across the country, staying in hotels. We once flew to Washington D.C. One time we took a train from Los Angeles to Kansas City where my dad rented a car and we drove all around the midwest, visiting family, stopping at odd and interesting museums and historical sites, and just generally taking in the country. We also took my grandparents on a roundtrip drive from California to Missouri where they grew up. Looking back on it, those were some pretty cool trips.

The shame is that I never really appreciated these trips while I was on them. Occasionally we would stop somewhere that interested me (Graceland, The Parthenon, The St. Louis Arch, Mt. Vernon) but mostly I was an insufferable companion, always complaining about the length of the drive, the boring stops we had to make along the way, the heat, the humidity. It wasn't until I was making trips of my own that I began to see the fun in the entire experience. Last August, Erinn and I went to North Carolina and Tennessee and we both said something nice about the humidity. Wha?? Traveling for yourself brings a different perspective.

Being on the road is freeing. It is a pleasure just to be away from the responsibilities of home, seeing a new landscape develop in front of you as you slowly make your way down an unfamiliar road. Often enjoying the journey even more than the destination. These were foreign ideas to me as a teenager, but are very real to me now as I look forward to each new trip, big or small.

And the best part is that I get to share this with Erinn, my best friend. I am lucky enough to have seen many states with my family, but each trip with Erinn feels like I'm seeing these places with new eyes. Erinn may never have been to Nashville before we went together, but I must not have been looking the first time around because it all feels new. My eyes are open!

And so it is that I decided to start recording bits of our trips in blog form. This is an attempt to remember these trips better while still writing something interesting. Hopefully I'll be able to hit both of those notes with this blog. So, off we go! Off to Las Vegas, Cracker Barrel, and the Grand Canyon Caverns!

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