This post is in response to “30 Things Travelers Must See and Do Before They’re 30” by Lacy Morris on Huff Post. I found in by way on my friend over at Red Pen Confessions. Thanks, Brianna!
So the basic premise is that there are thirty things we should try to do before we exit our thirties. I’m 37. Let’s see how I’m doing.
1. Jump off something. This one is about bungie jumping. I’m not a big fan of heights–I fell out of a tree(about 50′ up) when I was a kid–so this one may pass me by.
2. See one of the 7 Wonders of the World. Now the only member of the original, classic “7 Wonders of the Ancient World” that still is essentially intact are the Pyramids at Giza. The rest are (more or less) lost to the sands of time. Egypt is still a bit of a scary place for pasty white Americans to visit just now, so this one may get skipped. Ok, how about the modern 7 Wonders? Well, here’s the list according to Discovery Kids–which is where I get all my information. Chichen Itza, Mexico; Christ the Redeemer Statue, Brazil; Colosseum, Italy; Taj Mahal, India; Great Wall, China; Petra, Jordan; Machu Picchu, Peru. Hmm. Honestly I don’t see myself getting to any of these short of winning the lottery to pay for it all. Ah, well.
3. Party in Las Vegas I don’t gamble. I recall my first visit to a casino, one in Atlantic City, NJ. The people playing slots reminded me of characters from Dante’s Inferno. They appeared to be psychically chained to the machines doomed for all eternity(or until their quarters ran out) to pulling the lever or pushing the buttons. Pass.
4. Take a Vacation that isn’t Spring Break. I’ve done this one plenty. However, I never really did go on a real “spring break” in college… maybe I should try that. Suddenly I see scenes akin to “Old School” happening in my future down that path. Check?
5. Go to one large Celebration. Mardi Gras, Full Moon Party, Easter Mass. I’m not a big fan of large crowds, and I’m not a Christian…must less Catholic. So these are likely out. I had to look it up but the Full Moon Party is a huge all-night beach party in Thailand each full moon.
6. Visit a Nude Beach. Hmm. I’m comfortable with my body. Ok, so maybe on this one. Have to remember the high SPF sunblock… sunburn on parts that have never seen the sun… OUCH!
7. Live out of what you can carry in a backpack for several days. I’m a guy. So what do I “need” when I travel? Very little. I’ve done this multiple times. Check.
8. Swim in the Ocean. I suppose if you grew up and live in, say, Nebraska this might be a bucket list item, but I’m in Pennsylvania. We’re just one state away from the beach. Check.
9. Sleep somewhere you need a fire to stay warm. That doesn’t sound like much fun. I hate being cold–a product of being skinny, no extra insulation. So I may pass on this one.
10. Do some sort of adrenaline sport. Rafting, mountain biking, surfing. “[D]o something that scares you.” Wouldn’t dating count as an adrenalin sport? It scares me.
11. Visit a Caribbean island. I’m a teacher not a millionaire. Skip.
12. Ultimate Road Trip. Reading, PA to Butte, Montana in 32 hours. Thank you, Insomnia. Honestly, I’d rather drive than fly to most places. When I was a kid, my dad would put all the kids in the van and head west to Santa Fe, NM. You learn how gigantic America is when you go by car. I learned to read maps and navigate. I learned patience–asking are we there yet when you are more than 1,000 miles from the destination is not a good idea. I learned to love the harsh beauty of the desert and the special shade of green that is home. Check.
13. Go somewhere alone. My plan, rough though it may be, is to walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain in a little over a year’s time. Now I’m not a Christian, but there’s something very enticing about walking across a country to really get a feel for it. The Way of St. James, as it is called in English, is a well supported route from France over the Pyrenees and across northern Spain to Santiago. It should take between 30 and 40 days to walk. The route is dotted with pilgrim hostels–called refugio or albergue in Spain–for a fee of 10-15 euros per night you get a bed in a dormitory. How many people can say they walked across a foreign country?
14. Take a train somewhere. I took a commuter train into Washington, D.C. to the National Zoo. I highly recommend it! Go early–and on a weekday if you can manage it–to beat the crowds. Check.
15. Go to a music festival. I can’t even remember the last time I went to a concert… so baby steps here. The bands I would want to see in concert almost all have a member or two dead… Beatles, CCR, Led Zeppelin, The Who. And the bands that don’t, like Cream, go on super brief tours whose tickets cost most of a mortgage payment. Pass.
16. Have one iconic Americana experience. Dollywood, Graceland, or Branson. No, thank you. Pass.
17. Go to at least one of the Smithsonian museums. There are 19, and most of them are free. I really need to go to the Air & Space museum.
18. Summit a mountain. Check. Death Valley. In August. Done. Telescope Peak is the highest point in Death Valley National Park, and has a summit elevation of 11, 043 ft. Take a read at my recap of the hike which my friend, Howard, and I made to the summit and back: Go West Young Man!
19. Be able to name your top five dream vacations. What? Does this mean a vacation I have had or one that I would like to take? I don’t think I can do either sadly.
20. See a game at a classic ballpark. Hmm. It’s getting tougher and tougher to do this one. What parks are left that Babe Ruth might have played in? Wrigley Field, Chicago. Fenway Park, Boston. That’s it. All of the other stadiums in the majors were built after 1968. This one is in the “maybe” category.
21. Visit Canada/Mexico. Canada is well within reach. I’m just not sure what I’d go see there. Need to read up on this one some more…
22. Do something so adventurous that it requires a doctor’s visit. I haven’t seen a doctor in over 10 years, so this will have to be something truly epic. Probably an epic fail where I break a bone or cut myself very badly. Can I pass on this one?
23. Save pennies to go somewhere you really want to go. I’ve been fixing my finances and saving up for three or four years for my trip to Spain to walk the Camino. I think that counts.
24. Go to NYC. It’s driving/train/bus distance, but somehow I’ve managed to avoid NYC. Despite living in a city, Harrisburg, I don’t like cities that much. They’re noisy, dirty, sometimes dangerous, and filled with, well, people. Despite all that… this’ll probably happen.
25. Sleep under the stars. Done. California 2012. Death Valley and Mammoth Lakes(2 nights). I highly recommend it. If I hadn’t done this in Death Valley I might not have seen one of the last wild/feral herds of burros inside the park. The National Park Service is working to remove them because they aren’t native–they were abandoned by miners many decades ago–and they are so hardy that they’ve pushed out many of the native species that occupy the same space in the biome: desert tortoise, mountain ram, etc. Check.
26. Eat an iconic city meal. Let’s see… I’ve had cheese steak in Philly, deep-dish near Chicago, crabs in Baltimore, BBQ in Kansas City, and why do I need to go to Milwaukee for beer? Plenty of Germans in PA that do great beer. Troegs, Yeungling, Straub, etc. Check.
27. Know all of the best places to take tourists in your home city. Well, I’m not “from” a city. I grew up in the woods. So I can show you the best places to get lost so as you can’t see any evidence of human hands, so lost that you’ll only hear birds and the gentle notes of a spring-fed creek trickling by, so lost that you won’t get cellphone reception… Check.
28. Have one close encounter with a wild animal. Wild burros in Death Valley, a juvenile brown bear in Yosemite, and a rattle snake in King’s Canyon National Park… check, check, check.
29. Do something you can’t tell your parents about. Hmm. We’re central Pennsylvania German. We don’t tell anybody anything, so… Check.
30. Know a dance well enough that you could keep up with the locals. Not a chance… I’m athletic, but I’m not a dancer. Pass.
So I’m doing ok, but not great. An interesting thought exercise… I’m good for just over a third of the items listed. Although there were a couple that you couldn’t pay me to do… Dollywood and Branson hold no interest for me whatsoever.