Today, Adventuring the Great Wide Somewhere turns one year old! I started this blog in part to force myself to pursue my travel dreams, and so far, it’s been a smashing success! In the past year, I’ve traveled to California, Washington and Utah, and shared details about the trip to France that spurred this whole thing into motion.
To celebrate, I want to share my top five travel memories. We’re going way back, starting at a time before I even owned a laptop or knew what SEO meant. I have to apologize for some of the earlier photos. The originals are trapped on an external drive, the power cord for which is perpetually missing. My old Facebook albums saved the day!
#1: Every Single Family Camping Trip. Ever.
When I was growing up in Washington State, our family travel was usually limited to camping trips in and around Washington. The noisy car rides to Oregon, Idaho and even Canada were something that I both looked forward to and dreaded. I have seven younger siblings, and you can imagine that led to a lot of fun and tension while on the road. We have so many inside jokes from those trips, some of which are repeated to this day. Even now, I love timing my homecoming visits around family camping trips and seeing what goofy memories we can make this time around.
#2: High School Adventuring Across the Border
I’m sensing a theme here. In my senior year of high school, I drove up to Canada with Taryn and Sarah, two of my best friends, for the sole purpose of spending the day at Playland amusement park in Vancouver. We spent the night at Sarah’s house, decorated our lunch bags with Harry Potter illustrations, and drove there and back in one day using printed MapQuest directions. The day at the park was fun, but I think my favorite part of the trip was spotting a Ford Anglia like the one Harry and Ron drive to school in the Harry Potter series, and trying to sneakily take a photo without catching the driver’s attention. I can already see the raised eyebrows. You just had to be there.
#3: The Cross-Country Trip That Changed Everything
I love telling people how I ended up in Orlando. The truth is, I didn’t want to go to my chosen college after high school, so I dropped out and joined my best friend Taryn on a crazy cross-country move to Florida. The drive took three days, crammed into an old Buick with no air conditioning. Taryn’s mom drove for the majority of the trip, and with no fancy smartphones in sight, we relied on a physical road map to find our way along the road. When’s the last time you actually held a map in your hands? Of course, the reality of sweating it out in middle America isn’t as rosy as I remember it, but to this day, having the guts to make that big move is one of my proudest moments.
#4: Getting Lost with a New Best Friend
In 2008, Taryn and I gained a new roommate. Alina and Taryn were friends immediately, but it took me a while to warm up to the idea of a third person in the house. The three of us had planned a weekend beach trip to Siesta Key, and when Taryn got sick and backed out at the last minute, I dreaded having to sit in the car and go to the beach with a virtual stranger. But I went anyway. We managed to get lost, and wound up meeting a friendly shop owner who let us frolick on her personal backyard beach, which was “even prettier than Siesta Key, and there’s no one else around!” It was very nice of the owner, but the beach turned out to be a bit icky. We finally did make it to Siesta Key, which I can vouch for as one of the prettiest beaches in Florida, and by the time we arrived home that night, we were friends at last.
#5: Leaving My Heart in Paris
Longtime readers of this blog know that my heart belongs in Paris, and I wrote in my first-ever blog post that it was the bells of Notre Dame that made me realize I couldn’t put off traveling any longer. To this day, standing atop Notre Dame as the bells rang out all around me is one of my favorite travel memories.
#6: Aimlessly Wandering Around Utah
On a recent trip to Utah, my dad and I had a free day to drive around, hike a little bit, and see a couple of sights. It turned into a day of blistered feet, driving in the wrong direction, and loitering in random stores while we waited for my sister to finish her final exams at BYU. It wasn’t the day I had in mind at all, but it turned out even better than I could have imagined when I booked that $29 airfare from Orlando to Salt Lake City. It just proves that any destination can be fun with the right people in tow.
#7: Leaving the Real World Behind
Finally, I have to include anything related to Disneyland in this post. From my 2012 visit with friends to my 2014 pilgrimage with my boyfriend Dan, it remains my happy place. On both trips, the days spent at Disneyland were absolutely perfect. Any worries about food, money, and real-life were left at the gates, and we just had a great time taking photos and breathing it all in. I go to Walt Disney World here in Orlando all the time, but actually being on vacation at Disneyland and spending the entire day in the parks was oddly blissful. I can’t wait to go back!
Of course, these are just a handful of my treasured travel memories. There are so many more I could include, such as family visits to Orlando, my own trips back home, and weekends with friends around the cute towns and incredible beaches of Florida. Cheesy as it may be, life so far has been one big adventure. I’m excited to see what treasures this year has in store!