Astounded, over and over again.

Oregon | Crater Lake National Park

Oregon | Crater Lake National Park

Eight years in, and I never tire of road trips. Five years have gone by since I last stepped on an airplane. This fact is both baffling and beautiful to me. Initially, air travel halted because of an overwhelming sense of missing out, while flying over smaller national park units I desperately wanted to explore. A few years later, severe food allergies prevented me from flying at all (a story for another day).

My first trek across the country was a mere five days. Intense driving, with few stops and endless highway views. Oh, I was also recovering from violent food poisoning. And my Jetta died the moment I parked on the final day. All overshadowed by the gift of sharing the trip with Mom. Talking, laughing, shedding a tear or two, comforting silence, ample snacks, her questioning my navigation decisions around sand storms, rest stops we would not wish on our enemies, and the simplicity of uninterrupted time together.

People often ask why I keep traveling, especially around the United States. Over and over again. Revisiting the same parks and forests. My answer is simple: change. The landscape changes between seasons and years gone by. I have changed from a timid driver to experienced traveler and photographer. Perspectives change, as each visit takes me closer to the land being explored, seeking the less developed overnight stay over bustling nearby hotels.

Countless places to experience, for the first time, await. Public lands deserving a longer visit fill the pages of my journal. I want to explore more with the people closest to my heart. Mom wants to look over the Grand Canyon from the North Rim. Dad wants to feel small beneath the redwoods. My brother wants to see all the biggest trees. One sister hopes to take her entire family on an epic cross-country road trip, when the babes are older. The other sister still craves a scenic moose sighting. And the list goes on.

Perhaps the luster of an open road will one day fade. Though, doubtfully anytime soon. A short six weeks back, the first view of Crater Lake literally took my breath away. I was astounded by the blue color and even looked away more than once, confirming my eyes were, in fact, registering properly. I crave these moments on the road, more than ever.

There’s no denying one simple truth. Being on the road feels like coming home.

Alaina Ann2 Comments