On my fortieth birthday that happens to coincide with a pandemic that has stopped travelers like me in their tracks, I am reminded of all the adventures I have taken over the last decade. My thirties were a rollercoaster of ups and downs. At the end of such a decade I find myself feeling nostalgic. What follows are some of my best memories from a great decade.
My thirtieth birthday was celebrated in Las Vegas with my best friend. We drank and laughed together, and visited both the Hoover Dam and the west rim of the Grand Canyon. That trip made me realize that I needed to travel more and that I was unhappy with my weight. Thus started the great diet and exercise adventure of 2010.
By the time my thirty first birthday rolled around the following May, I was sixty pounds lighter and in the best shape of my life. I ventured down to Austin, Texas, a city that has cemented itself as one of my favorite smaller cities. Mexican food at Guerro’s and pizza at Home Slice. It was just a long girls weekend with some family, but I am grateful for the memories.
There is a special place in my heart for Los Angelos. This was my third trip to L.A., one where I caught up with family, my college roommate, and a couple old friends that I worked with at Cedar Point back in my college days. It was my first trip to Huntington Library and Gardens as well as Griffith Observatory. It was the trip I needed after losing my grandmother earlier that spring to a slew of medical conditions that happens in old age. I still miss her now and think of her often when I think of that trip to L.A..
As long as I can remember I wanted to visit Australia. This was the year I was finally able to afford it. Two weeks of wandering around Sydney, hiking in the Blue Mountains, flights over Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory, and getting chased by an emu. There are too many fond memories of this trip to speak of here, but I smile when I remember them. This was another trip taken after losing a family member to old age. My grandfather had passed away a month before. I miss him as well, and think of him often whenever the Tigers play the Twins (He was a huge baseball fan).
This was the year I was invited to seven out of state weddings. I had to make difficult decisions as to which I could attend, and they drained my adventure fund. Instead of my annual birthday trip, I got to watch several of my best friends and cousins marry the loves of their lives. For my birthday, I was able to spend the weekend at Mystic Lake Casino and had fun with local friends playing cosmic bingo by black light. I even won $20.
Back on the road for my birthday, I chose San Francisco as my destination of choice. Wasn’t a fan of the city itself, but I did love touring Alcatraz, John Muir Woods, and Yosemite National Park. A close relative even came up from L.A. to go on a Napa Valley winery tour on my actual birthday. There was a lot of laughter on that day.
This year’s birthday trip took me to Utah. I visited Bryce Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion National Parks. I met three fabulous, fun women who made that trip stand out as one of my favorites. It was a trip I needed as I was unhappy with my job and my bad hip was getting worse. It made me realize what was important in life, and at the beginning of 2017 I started a new job. I also had a drawing get into the MN State Fair’s art show, which is a truly difficult show to get into. So many talented artists submit their work each year and I am still proud to be featured among them.
I made it back to Las Vegas that year. I visited Death Valley and the south rim of the Grand Canyon as well as Antelope Canyon in Arizona. The new job was going great and this trip was the icing on an awesome year.
New Orleans had been calling my name for several years. 2018 was the year I finally visited. My hip was uncooperative, but I made the most of bread puddings, gumbo tastings, ghost hunting, and plantation tours. The history and the people of that great city made for a memorable vacation, and inspired several writing projects that I’m still working on today.
What a year 2019 was. I finally made the decision to get my hip fixed in the fall. I spent most of the year in physical therapy, but I was able to get in a birthday trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. I was able to do a few small hikes and even the daily late spring snow didn’t dampen my spirits. Adrenaline kept me going through the pain. It was a trip I had to fight through, but I don’t regret any of it. It made me stronger in ways I am only now realizing.
The year I am turning forty. Originally, I had planned to visit England for my spring birthday trip but needed extra time to save for it so it was moved to autumn. I also planned to visit friends in another city closer to home, but then the pandemic hit. With all of my travel plans on hold until next year, I have gotten more artwork and writing projects done in quarantine during the last ten weeks than I did all of last year. I feel creatively full of ideas and am exceedingly grateful for the extra time to work on it.
As we venture further into these uncertain times, I wish you all good health and hope that you are able to come through this year without too many physical or emotional scars. Thanks for following along on my blog the last couple of years, friendly reader. More good things are coming in the future.