Inevitably we hit that age where we look back at our past selves and wonder: what the hell was wrong with us? The unwarranted insecurities, the love of Ally McBeal, the misguided dating decisions. Oh, and the hair.
My past self wasn’t all terrible, though. She started a 401(k). She earned a masters degree without incurring student loans. She learned how cook with tofu.
Her number one accomplishment, however, was traveling solo. When you’re single and in your twenties, vacations are hard. You might be in a new place, without a circle of friends, or your friends might have different interests and budgets. But if you want to go somewhere and you’re lucky enough to have youth, time, and some extra money, it’s downright reckless to squander them for lack of a travel companion.
I mean, I didn’t have the cash to go to Tahiti or anything. But I’d never been West. Big skies, red rocks. Buffaloes maybe. Jagged mountains, not the inviting, rolling Appalachian hills. Cowboys?
So I saw Zion and Bryce. At the foot of the Rockies I watched baby elk play under a rainbow in a meadow full of wildflowers. I drove through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument on deserted, unpaved roads and saw the sun set through Delicate Arch.
I slept in an iconic Wigwam on Route 66.
I drank Polygamy Porter in Utah, ate peppery breakfasts in Arizona, and found some famous Texas barbecue.
I’m married now, to the best of traveling partners, and every year we discover new places together. But I’m also proud to have my own personal roster of destinations, the spots and moments that are mine alone.