As I’ve probably referenced before, I don’t exactly come from a background of people who travel the world. My childhood vacations were to Colorado and Port Aransas, Texas.
I wrote a post not long ago about my restlessness to get out and go somewhere. I did not end up leaving the country, but I did go snowboarding in Colorado with a couple of my cousins and my best friend Mary. While I was there, I realized it had been a long time since I had left my own state and gone somewhere else within the borders of the United States of America. Even when I traveled to other states in the past, I didn’t really think about it as traveling. You’re not really going anywhere unless they stamp your passport, right?
Sure, we all know the scenery changes. Waking up to see golden sunlight crowning the tops of the white mountains all around is definitely not my normal wake-up experience, nor an ordinary view. So we all know we travel the U.S. to see different types of trees, better beaches, and cities so big they have subways, but I’ve never really thought about it as “real traveling.”
However, while I was in Colorado, I was a little more observant of the people and the culture–because it really is a different culture. Since coming back to Texas, people have asked me how my ski trip was. I suppose the expected answer is “cold” or “exciting” or “a needed break,” but what really comes to mind is that the people seem different. Of course when I say that, whoever I’m talking to quips back with, “Of course, they’re all as high as their slopes” or something along those lines, but weed legalization status aside, I really enjoyed living in another culture, even if it was for less than a week.
My surface-level observations (I didn’t have time for much more) of Coloradans is that they seem open and amiable. They have a certain quality about them, just like I know there’s a sort of “average Texan” vibe here at home. I also loved the soft hues of the multicolored houses–quite different from the brick and stone houses in Texas.
But most importantly, life feels different in Colorado–just as it does in New York City, Long Beach Island, or rural Arkansas, to name a couple of other places I’ve traveled to in my own country. The language and currency may not change from region to region, but something does. I’ve never been to Yellowstone Park, the redwood forest, Niagara Falls, or Nashville, Tennessee. I’ve never seen the Northern Lights or a day with no night in Alaska, walked the streets of New Orleans during Marti Gras, camped in the Grand Canyon (you can do that, right?), or seen the lighthouses of Maine. Hey, even in my own state, I haven’t gone to some of the biggest music festivals in the country or participated in Fiesta Week in San Antonio (what kind of Spanish major San Antonian am I?).
Now I realize we as Americans need to look beyond our borders and recognize global perspectives, and for that reason, I will recommend international travel to anyone who shows the slightest inclination all day every day. However, I also understand why many Americans would prefer to fill up a gas tank than book a flight for vacation. We live in a beautiful, complex, and varied mash of lands and cultures with the convenience of a shared language and core knowledge base.
Although I am not always proud of the actions of certain institutions–governmental or otherwise–, I am intensely proud of my home, and I hope I will never cease appreciating it, no matter how many times my passport is stamped.