Wanderlust - noun - a strong, innate desire to rove or travel about
I like to think that all people have at least a little bit of wanderlust in them. I want to believe that no one person can be complacent staying in their hometown their entire life. To have the urge to travel and see other bits and parts of the world should be human, a need to expand the mind and visit other destinations, maybe gaining another point of view in the process.
I"m extremely lucky to visit all the places I have. I've traveled through so many places in the world, and I still have so many I've yet to see. I've gone through the Alps on the back of a motorcycle, traveled around Italy on a ship (twice), walked up ancient Maya ruins in Belize, toured Amsterdam one week then took a train to Paris for the next... and those are only my overseas adventures.
Yes, as much as I love visiting different countries, I have a special place in my heart for the land of the free and home of the brave. Maybe it's due to the obscene amount of variety throughout the country or just my inborn patriotism. Either way, I can't help but fall in love with little bits of America whenever I travel this glorious country. I've zip-lined across the islands of Alaska, gone bouldering on the West Coast just after visiting my family in California, rented an RV and bounced around New England, and so much more. Each one of those trips has left an impact on me, opening my eyes to other cultures, helping me appreciate the beauty of nature, or even astounding me with human ingenuity in art and architecture. But there's always been something missing.
Part of the reason I've traveled so much is due to the fact I have divorced parents. Yes, I'm that stereotypical kid of the split parents who would get two vacation trips in the summer. I'm not complaining, their divorce helped me grow as a person and now I have a lot more experiences than many of my peers. In a way, I feel like thanking them. My parents planned so many trips around what they thought I would like, or what we could do together and enjoy, but I always somehow felt like I was missing out on the experience. It was odd, I was having a great time, loving every second, but I had this strange sense of an emptiness. This past year I've realized what I was missing, a trip of my own, one I'm completely responsible for.
My solution is only two words: Road trip.
A road trip through America is not a new idea, nor is it a very original one. Still, it's becoming increasingly important to me as I realize how much my life is changing. In just over three more years I'll be out of college, choosing to either continue schooling or join the workforce. After that I'll lose freedom and summer vacations to internships, jobs, studying and the works. These next few years are all I have left as a practically worry-free young adult. Before I lose this incredibly important period of my life, I want to spend some of it on the open road.
Ideally, I'll bring with me the girl I've already traversed through France with the second time I visited the country. I'll be the driver and she'll be the navigator, no set destination in mind, just the goal of absorbing the wonders that reside in each state we pass through. Our phones will have playlists of traveling tunes, our pockets will quickly be emptied by the cost of gas and food, and we'll camp under the stars in the bed of my truck. From east coast to west coast there will be plenty of pictures and random stops as we follow the map I've spent hours poring over.
For now, all this is just a dream. I've talked to my parents and friends about it, sensing some hesitation that it will ever happen. There is the uncertainty that I'll be able to drive the entire time without coming across troubles somehow. There are doubts that I'll be able to plan out routes correctly and reach my destination on time. There are questions as to why I even want to do it in the first place. And sometimes, it's hard to answer them.
Why do I have this need to drive across America? I've already seen so many major landmarks and stayed in plenty of memorable places. What would another trip to the dossier of my travels do to improve my life?
I think the reason I have such a want is because I want to prove myself. I grew up in a family of motorheads, cars and trucks and motorcycles are our lives. My sister at my age was already driving cross-country with a friend of her own. My mom used to ride to school every day in the side car of her dad's motorcycle. My dad's visited countless countries on motorcycle trips of his own, going through somewhat unsafe countries for the thrill of the ride. What do I have to say for myself? Yeah, I was a tourist in so many places, really accomplished something for myself there.
Again, I love what I've learned from my traveling, I just want this one opportunity to spread my wings and soar down the highway in my 2000 Dodge Dakota Sport pickup. I feel like I need this experience to justify all the trips I've just been a passenger on; now I'm finally going to take the wheel and point it in whatever direction I like.