As this whole passing of time thing continues its unfaltering march towards infinity, I figured why not take a minute to reflect on what all has happened this year. A little notch made on the metaphysical tree bark, if you will, that perhaps some future version of myself might one day find curious.January – Cadillac Ranch – Amarillo, TX – Fledgling memories with a new troop of troubadours.February – Rialto Beach – Forks, WA – If I was looking for powerful, I found it.
My first experience with South Florida came in 2012 while I was on my way to Peru. I had always wanted to see what Miami was like, so I booked a long layover and stayed in a hostel on South Beach. I will never forget it, because unknown to me at the time, my credit card information was stolen upon check in. Naturally, I wouldn’t find out until much later while I was in a very rural part of Peru, when I had no cash left, and the bank had locked down my card for fraud. Thanks, Miami!
My second experience would come via a music cruise leaving out of the Port of Miami. You know, one of those ones where they herd you in like cattle, and feed you the most delectable seafaring sodium logged blocks of food. Moooo-ve! There is something resembling a cheesecake to be had!
I thought it was high time to give this area a redemption visit. I hate writing off entire geographic regions based off of one or two shoddy experiences. I was in Orlando for work, so I decided to get a rental car and make the trek southward. I made a rough sketch of possible destinations (thank you, friends!) and off I went.
What is this place?
I didn’t know what to expect, prior to arriving in Miami. It’s one thing to spend time online researching a destination, it’s another thing entirely to be on the ground experiencing things first hand. As with many locations, my only frame of reference has been what I’ve seen on television and in movies. In my mind I was arriving to one giant yacht party, Tony Montana, and a plethora of guayabera shirts.
I ended up staying in the Little Haiti neighborhood, and it proved to be a great jumping off point for exploring the rest of town. Since I had a rental vehicle on this trip, I decided to drive around for the sake of driving around, in an effort to orient myself and get a feel for the neighborhoods. Little Haiti, Wynwood, Little Havana, Downtown Miami, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Key Biscayne. Each one had such a unique feel, and I barely scratched the surface. The confluence of cultures is quite remarkable here, and each imparts its own particular flavor to the area. Miami felt both accessible and exclusive all at the same time.
Outside of the Perez Museum of Art.
I’ve never been attracted to the guise of opulence, but there is something so appealing about the way Miami does it.
Exhibit inside the Perez.
With the new year upon us, I thought I’d take a moment to put together a list of trip ideas. Sometimes it’s fun to not think too hard, and simply brainstorm a big ol’ batch. That’s how anything starts, right? Below you’ll find a list of 20 or so you can use as idea kindling.
- Visit a Caribbean Island. Inspired by recent photos that friends have shared, along with the fact that I will be between living arrangements come March, maybe this is the perfect time to make a jaunt. Added bonus: warmth.
- Go skiing. My sister and brother-in-law were the first to introduce me to this most excellent activity. Many moons have passed since I last found myself on a pair of sticks. If you have a Swiss friend who happens to know the ins and outs of comped Zermatt visits, now is the time to make that introduction.
- Drive the 101. Having been able to experience segments over the last few years, it never disappoints. 1540 miles of open road beckoning your name. Washington, Oregon, California. Yes, please.
- Visit Maine. I feel like this is a hidden in plain view kind of destination. Maybe those who reside in Maine like it this way? Coastal road trip up to Nova Scotia? Count me in. General itinerary consists of lobster roll stand to lobster roll stand while on mooseback.
- Drive to Key West. Perhaps the stars will align, and cheap airfares will allow a visit to Miami for a bit of sunshine and art exploring. While there, why not rent a car and dip down to enjoy a photo-op and slice of key lime pie? Plus watching the hues of the ocean change color while driving sounds quite enticing! Hemingway wants you to visit.
- National Parks. You don’t have to twist my arm all that hard to get me to one of these. It’s quite easy to find inspiration these days while online or hunched over your phone scrolling through Instagram, but I assure you the feeling you get while there, without any cell signal, is infinitely better.
- West Texas. This area of Texas has been calling my name over the course of the past year. I’ve had quite an affinity to see Terlingua and Big Bend National Park with my own eyes. Sprinkle in a bit of Marfa, and I think we’re on to something.
- Time spent with dark skies. It was recently brought to my attention that astro-tourism is very much a thing. Having gazed at a number of astrophotography websites over the past year, I want to start creating my own photos. The Atacama Desert in Chile is currently peaking my interest.
- Drive from the lower 48 up to Alaska. In my mind I envision a motorcycle or a Vanagon meandering up through British Columbia. Of course, upon arriving in Anchorage, it would only make sense to go and visit Denali.
- Motorcycle Ruta 40 in Argentina. One of the most remote roads in the world. This adventure would take a fair amount of research and planning, but I feel like it would be well worth it. Takes the idea of self reliance to a new level.
- Hike to Havasu Falls. Is this place even real? I’m not sure if it is. I should probably go to where it is purported to be, and investigate.
- Trail systems of America. Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail, American Discovery Trail, Trans-America Trail. Obviously these would be longer term trips, but who says you can’t enjoy a section?
- Travel locally. You are somewhere, aren’t you? Discover the redeeming aspects of where you are right now.
- Find the best damn gas station in America. Where is it? I want to know about it. What makes it special? Why do I need to see it?
- See the Northern Lights. I will never forget driving across Saskatchewan on a tour, and looking out the driver side window to see the Northern Lights, suspended in iridescent warble. I wish to experience them again.
- The Bronx. I wouldn’t even know where to begin. Have a friend who grew up in the Bronx? Send me their way.
- Patagonia. I’ve had a map of South America on my wall for the past two years. Every day I am home, I look at it with wonderment. For the longest time I’ve wanted to travel to Patagonia, and soon I will. The spires of Torres del Paine whisper to me in my dreams.
- Madagascar. Africa is massive. MASSIVE! I know very little about it, but would like to know more. Perhaps I could connect through Johannesburg on the way. The Avenue of the Baobabs looks absolutely otherworldly.
- Japan. My understanding of this country clocks in at around zero. Having recently read a Murakami novel, paired with a viewing of Enter The Void, I dare say I have a skewed perception of what Japan is or is not. I would like to demystify through experience.
- Let me plan your trip. This is something I’ve been knocking around in my brain for a while. An outgrowth of tour managing has been a fascination in creating trips for others. I’ve spent a fair amount of time researching routes, flights, rentals, logistics, you name it. I’d like to take what I’ve learned and apply it to bringing your trip to life. Email me.
So, in no particular order. This is where my brain is at currently. I thrive on talking about this stuff, because it eventually leads to action. Obviously there are considerations such as time and money, but I feel like if you really want something to happen, you figure out how to make it happen. Some great advice I received a while back was to look at how you currently spend your time. Those are your priorities. What are your priorities? May everyone have an excellent start to your New Year!