After spending much of 2020 at home, I have developed a rather serious case of wanderlust. I just want to go somewhere and do something — anything — that involves seeing this beautiful country of ours.
I’ve dreamed of traveling the U.S. from the time I was a young girl sprawled out on the grass and looking up at the contrails in the sky. I’d imagine the people on those flights, where they were going, what they were doing — it all seemed so exciting.
I think my folks had a bit of that wanderlust, too, considering the trips we took when we were kids. We weren’t a camping family; we didn’t spend summers at a cabin on a lake; but we would take trips to places like Wisconsin Dells, the Amana Colonies, the Black Hills, and Nashville — although the latter is not something we talk about because one certain brother of mine didn’t want to go and made the trip miserable for the rest of us.
I think that was the last “family” vacation. After that, it was Mom and Dad and me.
Our first adventure was a trip to the Pacific Northwest, back in 1996 when my Dad still did much of the driving. I saw my first pronghorn antelope in Wyoming; my first wild elk, Dall’s porpoise, harbor porpoise and sea lions in Washington; my first lighthouse, tulip field and giant slug in Oregon; and of course, my first views of the ocean.
The three of us took numerous trips together as I eagerly checked the boxes on states I’d traveled through, hoping to reach all 50 by the time I turned 50. I didn’t quite make it.
Our Autumn in New England trip with Reading Bus Lines in 2000 guided us through 15 states and one Canadian province, including stops at Niagara Falls and a ferry ride to the Statue of Liberty. That sure was fun.
A little less fun was driving through the Rocky Mountains in mid-May 2005 with snow falling and me behind the wheel — scared of heights — and getting passed by an 18-wheeler on one side, with a half-dozen bighorn sheep hanging out on the shoulder between my lane and the mountainside. I informed my parents then that any more trips requiring me to cross the Rockies would be by plane because I will not drive through them again. On that particular trip, we visited Hoover Dam, Las Vegas and at least four national parks — Arches and Canyonlands in Utah, and the Grand Canyon and Saguaro in Arizona.
So, here I am, at age 50, with seven states still to see: Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Delaware, Alaska and Hawaii. None of them are on my travel wish list this year, and I’m not sure Florida will ever be. I’ve heard the mosquitoes there are 10 times larger than Minnesota mosquitoes and, naturally, I do my best to avoid snakes and gators.
I’m taking a 10-day work break later this summer and I have yet to decide where to go after a family gathering near Park Rapids. North Shore? Not sure. Door County? Ooh, I’d like to visit the restaurant with the goats on the roof. Amana Colonies? I think I’d rather be by the water. Branson, Missouri? Too hot in the summer.
While I make up my mind, the temptations will continue to come into my inbox from travel companies who are just as eager as I am to experience the trip of a lifetime.
Alaska by land and sea? Sounds expensive. Cozumel? Not interested. Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard? Sign me up!
If you have a favorite travel destination you think I should consider, please send me an email. I’d love to hear some new ideas.