I’ve spent the last four months traveling the world. It sounds wierd to hear myself say that, because while I’ve traveled a good amount in the past, I’ve never really thought of myself as a world traveler. In the past four months, I’ve spent about six weeks at home. No matter how exotic travelers describe it, not being at home much during an extended period of time is difficult. Your body is put under a lot of stress by constantly changing its environment. On the other hand, as long as you can sustain the will to keep going, traveling can be a very rewarding experience.
Before this past February, my travels have been restricted to a single continent, North America. I’ve been around most of the US (35 of the 50 states), and have visited Canada, Mexico, and a handful of the Caribean islands, but I had always felt that I had been missing something. After the past four months, I no longer feel that way. Sure there are still a lot of places I have yet to see, but I’m happy with the world I’ve seen for the time being.
As I mentioned in a previous blog entry, I spent four weeks in Asia, or more specifically the country of Thailand (I was also fortunate to have a layover in Tokyo, though I don’t really count that as visiting Japan which I would still like to do someday). Then, six weeks later Katrina and I took off to spend three weeks in Spain and France. Finally, after only 5 days of being back from Europe, we left again to drive across the US to Arizona, where we backpacked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back up. On the way home, we finished the Route 66 trip we started two years ago, and finally made it back a few weeks ago. Needless to say, I don’t plan to leave our local area again for quite some time.
You can’t travel like this without coming back a different person, and these trips were no exception. The depth of culture, variety of food, and multitude of people I have interacted with from all over has made a profound impression on me–both as an individual and as a member of the great worldwide society of humankind. Where I was once focused on a division of wealth between local economic classes, I have now discovered a much larger division of wealth between nations. Where I used to focus on the differences between cultures, I have found the core values that make us all the same at heart. And where I once had a temporal realization of monuments from only the past couple hundred years, I have now seen human-made things from past millenia. All of these things combine in a seemingly paradoxical way of both a bigger earth and yet a smaller human race.
There’s just way too much to tell here in one single blog post, so I might follow this up later down the road. I’m in the process of posting photos from these trips to my Flickr account, and I try to add descriptions there about each of the photos to give people the “story” of the photo. Check it out if you’re interested.