A big passion of mine is traveling. I have visited over 30 countries, 15 states and 20 United States national parks. The more I travel, the more I realize there is so much more to see. I cherish my memories I have already made and look forward to making new ones. Not all works out when traveling, but even the bad times make for great stories, and I have had my share of misfortune. For example I crashed a motorcycle in Laos, was locked out of my lodge in the Himalayas and some other stories I probably should not share. Traveling has helped me embrace being confused, out of place and uncomfortable. I have grown confident in stepping outside my comfort zone. You have to if you want to travel, because nothing can quite prepare for the culture shock that is a new country, with a new language, new laws and new people.
I have visited many national parks, my favorites being Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Lassen, Canyonlands and Zion, to name a few. The outdoors have always called to me. I always find myself in another national or state park one way or another. Nothing really compares to the clear night skies, the quiet and peaceful days and the absence of technology. I am grateful for growing up in a country and area that protects its environments and sets aside so much land for its citizens to explore. One of my dreams in life is to be able to visit all 58 national parks. I am almost half way there already!
Not all my traveling in the US has been at national parks. I have also visited several cities for sports events such as Chicago, OKC and LA, and I have also been to many historical sites since I enjoy learning about history. I have been to several Civil War locations such as Shiloh, Chattanooga, and Manassas. I have also been to some founding cities like Washington D.C., Richmond and Philadelphia.
Europe is an interesting collection of cultures and countries. Most countries there are smaller than many states in the US, yet the differences between each country are vast. My favorite countries that I have seen are Iceland and Switzerland simply due to the incredible nature they have to offer; however, I have enjoyed every country that I have visited so far. Each country has its own quarks and offerings that make it special. Italy has incredible history and food, Belgium has the best beer, England the best pubs, Greece has incredible islands and history and so on and so forth. There is something special about being able to hop from country to country with ease. In fact, Slovakia and Austria's capital cities are only an hour drive apart, imagine that! That is shorter than commuting to work in America! I hope to one day live in Europe for awhile and immerse myself in its culture and way of life.
Asia was my favorite adventure to date. It is chaotic, crazy, bustling and exciting. For starters, it is cheap. I can eat and stay like a king without going broke. It is also vastly different to western culture. Europe and America share many similarities. Whereas Asia has strong differences. Buddhism and Hinduism are the dominant religions, nothing runs exactly on time, everyone is relaxed and there are so many people! There road systems have no rules. I cannot even count the number of times people drove on the wrong side of the road. Red lights were usually ignored, and stop signs were always ignored. The people were incredibly friendly. I had many great experiences chatting with locals. Sometimes we would use Google translate for hours to talk to each other. I was lucky enough to stay with a number of families and experience a little bit of their daily lifestyle. I had the privilege of climbing through the Nepali Himalyas and even saw Mt. Everest and Annapurna in person. Next time, I will climb to the top! I rented and drove motorcycles all over the place, scuba dived through the pristine oceans in Thailand and Indonesia and so much more. The strangest and one of the most rewarding experiences for me was a three night stay at a silent Buddhist monastery in the mountains of Myanmar. Though fourteen hours of meditation a day did get a little boring after awhile. I hope to return to Asia sometime soon to explore more of what it has to offer.