After visiting my maternal grandparents in my hometown in Northern Minnesota last week, Papa and Gram are the last family to visit before I depart. And, after reflecting, I realize this is an appropriate place to take off from, as this is where my perspective started to change during a trip here back in February. See, that particular visit was a wake up call for me. Though all of my grandparents are healthy and independent (a true blessing, to be sure), age is causing their worlds to become smaller, not extending beyond their physicians reach or ability to travel comfortably. And these are folks (along with my parents) that inspired travel in me in the first place, as they've explored Canada, China, Alaska and more.
I think, in that moment of recognition of my grandparents' globetrotting days coming to a close, I realized that I wanted my world to be big. Giant. As huge as possible before it has to get smaller again. In that moment, I realized we have a limited number of days on this earth, and no guarantee that they will be in good health. What's really scary to me is that none of us knows when either will run out.
Wowza. How's that for a kick in the pants? There was a sudden urgency for me to see and smell and taste and feel as many of the countless variations of beauty this world has to offer before, well, I can't. I want to share what I see with them, since they're not able to go themselves. I want to get out there, outside of comfortable and safe, to explore and experience and enjoy. To see what I've got in me, what I'm made of, but also to see what humanity is made of as well.
Friends, your outpouring of love and support has been overwhelming, and I can't thank you enough for it. Many have also expressed concern for my health and safety on this journey, which I'm grateful for as well. Please know that I go into this with eyes open- the world can be a tough, ugly nasty place. But, to fear the bad that could happen or avoid what makes me scared or uncomfortable limits my world too. Bad things can and do happen. So do amazing and wonderful things. I'm okay with risking the bad (minimizing that risk as much as I can), but ultimately trust in the good in people, in the world, and in myself. I'll have faith that I can handle whatever is put in my path on this journey. I'll be smart, aware, and ready to experience all the amazingness this world has to offer. If either my health or safety is compromised, I'm on the first plane back home. I promise.
I'm packing up all of your smiles, encouragement, care and concern and taking it with me. I'm also taking all of your love, all of my courage, and this little blog so we can stay in touch. If I'm lucky, with all of that, I can tackle these Natural Wonders and share them with you, and with my grandparents. Time to get packing! Let's hope I can get this all to weigh in under 50 pounds ;)
Two days until departure. I'll post first-leg itinerary before I leave. Until then, happy trails!