This list was inspired by the book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, and the website “Bucket List Journey.” Because, as we’ve heard, no one on their death bed ever says they should have worked more. I’m no exception. Let’s face it, when you’ve been told you have 6 months to live, the last thing on your mind is how much more work you can get done. I mean, if I were working on groundbreaking research and were on the cusp of a huge discovery I might feel differently. But… I’m not. So if I get this shitty news, I’m gonna be a travelin’ fool!
I’m someone who wants to set foot in every state in the US, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I’m also someone who wants to see as much of the world as I can before I hit my eventual expiration date. Near as I can tell, even given that I have cancer, I have at least another 20 years to see as much as I can.
If I were kicking the bucket in 6 months, I’d probably not feel the need to finish checking the US states boxes, but would want to see a lot more of the rest of the world. So, here’s where I’d go, spending about a month in each place. This is assuming, of course, that all the rest of my affairs are in order.
- Ireland, Scotland England
- Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Norway
- Portugal, Greece, Italy
- Japan, South Pacific, So/Central America
- Alaska, Utah, New Mexico
- Eastern Seaboard + Nova Scotia & Newfoundland
Ireland has been on my travel list for almost my entire life. I’ve been interested in our genealogy and history at least since junior high. That was about the time I learned that one of my dad’s relatives on his mother’s side had paid a genealogist to create family tree. I have a pretty good idea where to look to find any remaining cousins in Ireland. I have friends in Scotland, and I’m also a huge fan of Outlander, which is set in the Scottish Highlands, so a pass through Scotland is all but a requirement. I also have friends in England, and who could pass up a chance at seeing the white cliffs of Dover, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Canterbury Cathedral, and Stonehenge?
Aside from the fact that many of the great classical composers were born in Europe, and just wanting to see Vienna and Salzburg, the family tree also takes me to southern Austria where my great-aunt traveled back in the 70s and met some of the family still there. When I was in high school, I had a dream to ski in the Olympics, which I now realize was completely futile. That said, I still want to spend Christmas in the Swiss Alps someday. I have a high school friend in Oslo, Norway, who’s helping me with the other side of my dad’s family tree. My great-grandmother’s family came here and settled in Wisconsin. So, the fjords are calling my name.
I’ve been to Barcelona and traveled north to Figueres a couple of years ago. About that same time, my aunt and uncle were in Portugal on a business trip. The pictures she sent me were so beautiful that I decided I needed to go there myself. My former neighbor and “other dad” is Greek, and I’ve asked him to be my tour guide. Hopefully, we both stay healthy enough to make that trip in the next few years. Italy is another one of those places, like Central Europe, that was the basis of so much great art, music and culture. I really would love to see an Italian opera in an Italian opera house.
Japan has been on my travel bucket list since I was in 4th grade. We used to do a program where our class would sing Sakura for the rest of the school. I loved the kyoto music and the image of there being cherry blossoms everywhere. I wish I still remembered the lyrics to the song that we were going to sing. They weren’t the same as the actual folk song from Japan. Having read Michener’s Hawaii and being a fan of Paul Gauguin, the South Pacific interested me from high school. I’ve been to 3 of the Hawaiian islands. I want to get to Kauai next. My next logical step was to see some of the places that Charles Darwin visited. I know, still a scientist, right? So the Galapagos and the countries around Ecuador made next logical sense on my list.
In putting this list together, I also figured by the 5th month, I’d be getting tired, so I decided to come back stateside. Alaska has also beckoned since high school. I’ve wanted to see the glaciers calve forever, and now I know that there is some urgency to seeing them before they all disappear. Denali will be a must regardless. I love mountains. I’m not wild about climbing them, but I love seeing them. The highest elevation you can get by road at Mt. Rainier is 6450 ft. At Mt. Shasta, it’s about 7800 ft. I don’t know how far you can get up Denali, but I want to find out. I’ve hiked the Wave in Kanab, UT. I haven’t yet been able to see Arches Nat’l Park, Bryce Canyon, or The Grand Staircase. My dream would be to see them in winter. Of the 11 or so states I have left to visit, the majority of them are on the East Coast and New England. While I’m up that way, I would love to see if the wonderful things I’ve heard about how beautiful Nova Scotia is are true.
I suppose I should start doing some travel planning if I want to get to all these places and more in the next 20 years. At the rate I’ve been traveling for pleasure, it’s gonna take a while.