It didn't take me long to realize that I didn't have to drive far to discover a totally amazing, unique landscape from what I was used to. I grew up in a, by most standards, boring & average landscape... surrounded by cornfields, flatlands, maybe some woods and a river sprinkled around here and there. Driving quickly became one of my favorite pastimes, growing up. I'd drive out on the backroads of the "country" outside of town... which was really just farmland that probably doesn't seem super exciting to somebody passing through (Illinois is definitely one of those states you complain about driving through because it ALL looks the same). I'd drive the infamous River Road alongside the Mississippi river... the mucky, brown body of water us Midwesterner's are so proud of.
So I know I'm making these places sound extremely exciting aaaaand probably not at all. But they are, I assure you. Just getting out of town onto these desolate roads, that addictive, sweet smell of Midwestern plantlife in the Summer, the ability to transform the landscape before your eyes into imagining you are in another state, another country, another planet... oh yes, a gateway drug. A gateway drug to cross-country road trips and a life of forever craving adventure, that is.
I went on my first big road trip on my own as soon as I could, the Summer I turned 16. My best friend and I drove to California and it was my first time experiencing the American Southwest. I've done that drive countless times since then and it's always an incredible, indescribable experience. The types of landscapes that you encounter and how quickly they change, the feeling of being in the middle of absolutely nowhere but the most amazing place at the same time... if you haven't done it, then you don't know, and I'm really upset with you. So, do it. Please.
Anyway, I'm finally going through years of photos I've taken on these trips and realizing how beautiful this country is, and how you don't have to go across the world the find something so special and amazing. It could be a 3 day trip, it could be 10 minutes outside of your hometown. I'm realizing how much this all means to me and how it's shaped me. And I'm so lucky enough to keep getting opportunities to travel and see more and fall even more in love with the landscape of this planet and the magic it makes me feel.
I think that there's a lot more to be said here, and I'm just now stumbling into what that might be. I'm about to embark on yet another trip, so stay tuned as I open my eyes, heart and mind, grip the wheel, and...