Why travel? For me it’s about seeking inspiration and exploring. It’s about challenging myself. Every so often I feel a creeping restlessness and I know it’s time to plan a trip.
Growing up we took many a vacation to visit family across the U.S. and I have many fond memories of expanding my world with each trip. The most influential trip of my childhood was a family road trip when I was fourteen through several National Parks with a stint in Alaska. Over the course of about a month, we drove from Colorado, up through the Grand Tetons, to Yellowstone National Park. We then made our way to Seattle to take a cruise to Alaska. On the return trip, we ventured into Canada to explore the Banff/ Lake Louise area, then headed south through Glacier National Park. From there we were homeward bound through some more off the beaten track places in Wyoming. This trip sticks out to me for several reasons. It was the first extended road trip we did as a family. I really bonded with my brothers and parents in those countless hours in the car, constantly asking if we were there yet while slowly learning to enjoy where we were at the time. ‘Getting there’ started to matter less and those little chance happenings and shared experiences became the moments I remember. Floating through an other worldly inlet on a foggy morning dotted with icebergs. Hiking in the Alaskan rainforest and seeing big glaciers for the first time. Sitting in the front seat of a Cessna 185 flying over mountain passes. Tent camping in the shadow of the Tetons. Seeing a bison herd stampede. Watching Old Faithful erupt just the same as when my dad visited as a kid. Family picnics at turquoise tinted high alpine lakes. Piling our life in a Toyota LandCruiser for a month on the road. Sure the trip had its ups and downs, but this is the trip that awakened my drive to travel.
During my time at Colorado State University I felt that itch to travel again. This time I wanted to go live in another country so I started looking at study abroad programs. My college experience left me wanting more so moving abroad for a semester and leaving the comforts of home became my new challenge. Since outdoor meccas caught my eye, I was draw to a program in New Zealand at The University of Otago in Dunedin. This experience turned out to be the highlight of my time at university. The most rewarding part of the adventure was what I learned about myself. My time in New Zealand and solo road trip for a month up the east coast of Australia pushed me in new ways, gave me a deeper understanding of my place in the world, and shaped many of my deepest values. There were times of pure adventure. Challenges overcome with complete strangers. Moments that restored my faith in humanity. The months flew by and I came home reinvigorated with a sense of purpose I’d never felt before. I also was set on living in the mountains after some blissful days in Wanaka. The day after graduation, I packed my car and moved to the small mountain town that has been my home base ever since. It’s an amazing place, but it’s nice to leave and come home now and again. It never fails to give me a new appreciation of place and home.
After several years of living the carefree seasonal lifestyle, ski patrolling for the winters at Copper Mountain and never quite settling on a summer gig but having fun nonetheless; I felt the calling of Alaska. Visiting during my childhood gave me a taste. I bounced the idea of moving there around for a couple seasons and it grew stronger each year. The places I had not yet been but wanted to go were described as a lot like Colorado with bigger mountains, more room to roam and fewer people. That sounded like paradise to me. So I went. Alaska also felt like a place I needed to live, and not just visit, to really get to know the place. So I took a job as a Ramper with K2 Aviation in Talkeetna. Denali National Park captured my imagination and drew me to that area. I spent my days off exploring as much of AK as I could see by road, and learned to readjust my understanding of scale. Every adventure was more of an undertaking and more remote than what I grew up on in Colorado. Alaska can be fierce. But the rewards are there for those willing to work for it. Travel often feels like that to me. Sometimes I question why I leave the comforts of home. Why I leave family and friends to go to a place where I know no one. Why I leave the mountain town where I know I could happily live forever. Why I leave all I know for the unknown. Well every time I go, I come home with a new appreciation of the simple things. I come home inspired. I come home with new stories to fuel my writing and music. I come home having met good people with perspectives that challenge and morph my own. I come home with a bunch of pictures I may never look at again with memories I will never forget. I come home with purpose.
I’m feeling that restlessness again. 🐾