Monday, February 1, 2016

Picking Favorites

So I just finished up a week with family in Texas; first in Dallas, then in the panhandle. It was a wonderful reunion. Some family members I had seen less than a year ago, others it had been over 20 years. It reminded me of why I was doing this trip. However, when spending this much time around family I find myself answering questions about this trip. One question that I pretty much consistently get asked is "What is your favorite place that you've visited?". When I can't answer that question, it is often followed up by, "What's your least favorite place you've visited?". I can usually come up with an answer that is somewhat in jest for the second question, but the first always stumps me.

There really hasn't been a favorite place. It's all different and all of it has it's plusses and minuses (or as Kathy and the girls would say, roses and thorns). However, I spent some time thinking about it and I can provide some general comments to the question about "What is my favorite place that I've visited?".

There is more to a place than just it's geographic location, and with this in mind I've loved visiting the places that are so steeped in history: Quebec City, Gettysburg, Savanah, St. Augustine, Kennedy Space Center, and so many others. History from a book is fine, but then to actually set foot on those places makes that moment in history so much more real. Even better is discovering a piece of history related to some place that you really didn't know much or anything about such as the history of Quebec City and it's founder Samuel Champlain.
Enjoying Quebec City
I love the ocean, so I love the places we have visited that put us next to salt water. Whether it's the quiet fjord leading to the town of Hyder, Alaska, or the cold rocky coast of Maine, or a busy port in Massachusetts and Norfolk, or the sandy beaches of Delaware or Florida, all of our stays on or near the coast have been wonderful!
Enjoying the salt water in the Bahamas
I really loved the opportunities to spend time on the open road, but not the interstate. Interstates are a necessary evil for getting from one place to another quickly, but other than that they are for the most part terribly boring. It's those two lane roads connecting two places that require passing though tiny towns that I really love. I could drive all day on roads like that (and I have). When you aren't in a rush to get somewhere it's kind of fun to drive nowhere.
not enjoying the interstate highways in New York
Just as the history of a place can help increase it's value in your memory, the strangers you meet along the way can also make the place important to you. I have really enjoyed getting to meet people we've met along the way. Bart and Judy at Whistler who gave us the fidget toy (a few links of bicycle chain attached to a key chain), Peter at the RV park Prince Rupert, Clem at Younity Winery, Chris the whittling guy we met at the Amish farm, Martha at Mocking Bird Hill Farm, and the many countless others we've met along the way.

I love a good view. It might be looking from the coast towards the end of the horizon or from some high mountain pass off into the hills and valleys below, or looking down to a town from a view point on an incredible hike, or even just reaching the top of the high point on some road that wanders up and down over rolling hills. Whenever I can look into the distance with my family, I've been happy.

I especially love the mountains, whether it's from below looking up to the mountains that tower around me in the Canadian Rockies, or from some mountain top that we hiked to. This is one reason I'm particularly excited for the current leg of our trip as we have left behind the lowlands of the southeast and headed into the Rockies Mountains of New Mexico and Colorado.
celebrating a mountain top on Acadia National Park in Maine
Most of all I love visiting family and friends. There are friends I have gotten to visit with and spend time with that before this trip I thought wouldn't see again (other than on the internet). There is family that I've gotten to see on this trip that I haven't seen in at least 20 years. In the past few years, when I do get to visit with family, it often seems like it is for just a short time. With several family members on this trip I've gotten to spend several days (hopefully we weren't too much of a burden). With all of the family members who invited us into their house we are extremely grateful and hope to have you visit with us in the future.
hanging out with Baba on the St Lawrence River
hanging out with cousin Jennie Ruth on the USS Wisconsin
hanging out with friend Sophia in Nashville
hanging out with sis-in-law in Va Beach
hanging out way too long with the Micheli clan on a monorail at Disney World
hanging out with a brother
literally hanging out with cousin Hayden off Key West

hanging out with the cousins Warren, Barry and John in Dallas
hanging out with cousin Milly in Locust Grove
(Extreme apologies to all friends and family who are not represented with a picture in this section of this blog post, you are still loved just as much as those who I could find a picture of.)

There are a ton of places we've visited which I've really enjoyed, which I would otherwise never have gotten to see, either because they were so far away (even if I flew to the nearest airport then drove) or they were just not anywhere in my imagination of places in the world that I wanted to visit or they were located in what I previously considered flyover states.

This trip which is just over halfway over has been incredible. I am surprised that in 9 months of travel I feel like we are only getting the smallest of tastes of what there is to see in the USA and Canada.

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