No matter where you are or how awful the place seems,
there is always something beautiful to see.
You have to constantly search for the beauty in our world.
Most children get advice like “Don’t talk to strangers– unless they’re in an ice cream truck,” “Look both ways before crossing the road– you don’t want to end up like that chicken!” I received that advice from books I always had my nose in so my mom and dad didn’t really have the opportunity to plaster my life with life-saving sayings. This one, though, my mom came up with herself and she made sure to hammer it in.
My first memory of her actually saying this was in northern California on our drive from Wheatland to Beale AFB (Air Force Base) in the summer. The fields were dead, the asphalt seemed to be melting the tires, and it was too hot to even remember correctly. “Mom, this is such a boring, ugly drive.” Then she tells me I need to look for the beauty in everything, no matter where I am. For some reason, at the ripe age of 10, it sunk in instantly. I couldn’t believe how quickly the world had changed. The fields weren’t dead, they were reflecting the sun’s golden gift of Vitamin D and warmth. The road swam with mirages of water so magical I hoped to see a mermaid appear. And…well, it was still too hot. This moment and my mother’s constant reminder of the earth’s hidden beauty continues to bring the world alive for me to this day.
My travels through a back yard desert infested with prairie dogs and trash in Idaho; exploring a fairy creek hidden in a Kentucky holler (hollow); being a passenger for SEVEN round-trip cross country road trips before the age of 16; finding joy in a child’s face who lives in an Ecuadorian trash dump; experiencing…well, California; having to put all my detective skills to use to find beauty in Florida and Texas; learning history from someone else’s eyes in Japan; being immersed in loss and triumph through Afghanistan; taking Bali the tourist way and still coming out a better person; and still being amazed at the magic surrounding me 10 days into driving from Tennessee to Fairbanks, Alaska with an 8 week old puppy are just a few of the travels and adventures I will allow you to relish in.
I wanted to start this to help others know the trials and errors of making a long trip to Alaska and now it has become a desire to help others know the trials and errors of making long trips through life– with what will also hopefully amount to some helpful advice for travelers and adventurers alike. I can’t wait to hear some of your adventures as well!
By the way, I talk to strangers and don’t always look both ways when crossing the road, so even if your kid reads a lot and seems to have some common sense, you should probably still hammer these life-saving tips into their head. (But make sure they’re not scared of the ice cream man because he’s the one person from childhood to adulthood who will constantly remain magical).