30 Day Project – Nature Dwellers

The capstone! It is complete! To be honest, I’ll probably keep working at it after I graduate because a couple of my subjects dropped out last minute and I’d like to expand the project a bit more.

I chose to do a photo essay, which is new territory for me, but I think as a first attempt I’ve done alright. I was particularly worried about cohesiveness because being disjointed is usually what causes photo essays to fail. It’s hard when you have many subjects and many locations to get the images to blend together naturally but still be unique. It’s a balance I struggled with, but I tried to keep it simple using shapes and framing to keep the essay from derailing.

To really tell the story I decided to include extended captions. My essay was about people who still enjoy the outdoors, either in work situations or hobbies, even in the modern age when there are more and more gadgets to distract people from exploring nature. I interviewed each subject to get a sense of why they enjoyed the outdoors so much, how they came to understand this passion, and how it has changed their lives. A few of my subjects also commented on the changing global landscape and how they think less time spent outdoors will affect future generations.

Enjoy!

Susan Hazelwood has been birding since 1980. Susan explained the difference between bird watching and birding is that birders have more expertise on the birds whereas bird watchers just appreciate looks.  She wears the title Birder with the utmost respect. But birding wasn’t always a great interest of hers, “Birding was something my husband did. I tried to ignore it, but it wouldn’t go away, so here I am!” Susan could only avoid it for so long; eventually the lure of travel and being outdoors convinced her to take it up as a hobby of her own. The farthest she’s traveled is Alaska, but she likes to go on many birding vacations with other birders around the United States. Her favorite bird is a Trogon, found in the southwest, which she proudly displays it on her license plate.

Susan Hazelwood has been birding since 1980. Susan explained the difference between bird watching and birding is that birders have more expertise on the birds whereas bird watchers just appreciate looks. She wears the title Birder with the utmost respect. But birding wasn’t always a great interest of hers, “Birding was something my husband did. I tried to ignore it, but it wouldn’t go away, so here I am!” Susan could only avoid it for so long; eventually the lure of travel and being outdoors convinced her to take it up as a hobby of her own. The farthest she’s traveled is Alaska, but she likes to go on many birding vacations with other birders around the United States. Her favorite bird is a Trogon, found in the southwest, which she proudly displays it on her license plate.

Ducks fly after being startled at Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area in McBaine, Mo. Eagle Bluffs is a destination for migaratory waterfowl birds, such as ducks and geese. There are many reasons why ducks and other birds form flocks. Being in a flock allows the birds extra protection, easier foraging, and better aerodynamic efficiency while they fly. Ducks also form family units and like staying together.

Ducks fly after being startled at Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area in McBaine, Mo. Eagle Bluffs is a destination for
migaratory waterfowl birds, such as ducks and geese. There are many reasons why ducks and other birds form
flocks. Being in a flock allows the birds extra protection, easier foraging, and better aerodynamic efficiency while
they fly. Ducks also form family units and like staying together.

Susan Hazelwood with her trusty binoculars.

Susan Hazelwood with her trusty binoculars.

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Deb Schultehenrich is a quail, pheasant, and duck hunter. Always trailing behind her is her dog, Gus, a German Shorthair pointer. Her family passed the hunting enthusiasm on to her at a young age. “Hunting is something I have always done,” says Deb. But her passion for the outdoors goes beyond hunting birds. “I like the fact that every time you go outdoors you experience something different than the last time you were outdoors,” says Deb. “Maybe there’s a turkey gobbling, or the first Dutchman’s Breeches are blooming, or the prairies have turned bright gold, or the snow is piled high on the cedar trees, or maybe it’s just the smell of fresh hay being cut. It’s the place I am most comfortable.” Deb’s noticed a decrease in environmental enthusiasm in the community however. “I am concerned this lack of interest in participating in outdoor activities is having an affect on the public’s relationship with the environment,” says Deb. “This disconnect with the natural environment makes them less likely to advocate for environmental causes or public land acquisition and protection.” Deb attributes this decrease in interest with the changing global landscape. Fewer and fewer people are growing up on ranches or farms, and therefore have less association with the land than people have had in the past.

Deb Schultehenrich is a quail, pheasant, and duck hunter. Always trailing behind her is her dog, Gus, a German Shorthair pointer. Her family passed the hunting enthusiasm on to her at a young age. “Hunting is something I have always done,” says Deb. But her passion for the outdoors goes beyond hunting birds. “I like the fact that every time you go outdoors you experience something different than the last time you were outdoors,” says Deb. “Maybe there’s a turkey gobbling, or the first Dutchman’s Breeches are blooming, or the prairies have turned bright gold, or the snow is piled high on the cedar trees, or maybe it’s just the smell of fresh hay being cut. It’s the place I am most comfortable.” Deb’s noticed a decrease in environmental enthusiasm in the community however. “I am concerned this lack of interest in participating in outdoor activities is having an affect on the public’s relationship with the environment,” says Deb. “This disconnect with the natural environment makes them less likely to advocate for environmental causes or public land acquisition and protection.” Deb attributes this decrease in interest with the changing global landscape. Fewer and fewer people are growing up on ranches or farms, and therefore have less association with the land than people have had in the past.

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Bradford Farm is a part of MU Extension that conducts research in agricultural and wildlife studies. They also offer educational opportunities to the community about how to manage their crops and land, and how to be as sustainable as possible. Tim Reinbott is the superintendent of Bradford Farm, and wants to help educate the public as much as possible about incorporating wildlife into their agriculture.  Tim came from an outdoorsy family with a father who taught him to appreciate the outdoors for what it is: our livelihood as citizens of the planet. Reinbott says he’d like to encourage farmers and landowners to be more accepting of wildlife and plant more diversified crops and grasses so that they offer better protection for certain kinds of wildlife that aren’t damaging to their land. “Wildlife is much more than pests to farmers,” says Reinbott. He thinks the best way to share this with the community is to hold workshops at the farm, particularly with 4-H clubs and their families.

Bradford Farm is a part of MU Extension that conducts research in agricultural and wildlife studies. They also offer educational opportunities to the community about how to manage their crops and land, and how to be as sustainable as possible. Tim Reinbott is the superintendent of Bradford Farm, and wants to help educate the public as much as possible about incorporating wildlife into their agriculture. Tim came from an outdoorsy family with a father who taught him to appreciate the outdoors for what it is: our livelihood as citizens of the planet. Reinbott says he’d like to encourage farmers and landowners to be more accepting of wildlife and plant more diversified crops and grasses so that they offer better protection for certain kinds of wildlife that aren’t damaging to their land. “Wildlife is much more than pests to farmers,” says Reinbott. He thinks the best way to share this with the community is to hold workshops at the farm, particularly with 4-H clubs and their families.

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Virgil decided from a young age that being outside and fishing was what he wanted to do with his life. It was almost everyone’s way of life in his rural, farming community.  But with age came more complications and distractions. “I went through the stages of schooling, and kind of forgot what fishing was about. Then came an opportunity for me to go fishing with mentors along the way,” says Virgil. His father died when he was six, so he had to find other adult figures to take him fishing. As an adult, Virgil would take friends fishing, and one of them suggested making a business out of it.  Virgil then became a fishing guide and outfitter, traveling through Canada and Alaska with small groups. His business eventually led to him traveling abroad, which he thanks fishing for every time he goes.  But what really matters to Virgil is camaraderie. “The fellowship people have when they’re hunting and fishing has lent itself to be the best thing that has happened to me.” His favorite job is to take families on trips, which to him makes it a special outing.  Virgil says there’s more opportunities now to get families out and fishing together, but people are involved in many things in the modern age, so trying to find time is hard for younger generations to get out into nature and explore it. “A lot of people find other things to do with their time than fishing, which in my opinion is not good, because any outing you do with your family and friends is pretty hard to beat.”

Virgil decided from a young age that being outside and fishing was what he wanted to do with his life. It was almost everyone’s way of life in his rural, farming community. But with age came more complications and distractions. “I went through the stages of schooling, and kind of forgot what fishing was about. Then came an opportunity for me to go fishing with mentors
along the way,” says Virgil. His father died when he was six, so he had to find other adult figures to take him fishing. As an adult, Virgil would take friends fishing, and one of them suggested making a business out of it. Virgil then became a fishing guide and outfitter, traveling through Canada and Alaska with small groups. His business eventually led to him traveling abroad, which he thanks fishing for every time he goes. But what really matters to Virgil is camaraderie. “The fellowship people have when they’re hunting and fishing has lent itself to be the best thing that has happened to me.” His favorite job is to take families on trips, which to him makes it a special outing. Virgil says there’s more opportunities now to get families out and fishing together, but people are involved in many things in the modern age, so trying to find time is hard for younger generations to get out into nature and explore it. “A lot of people find other things to do with their time than fishing, which in my opinion is not good, because any outing you do with your family and friends is pretty hard to beat.”

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One walk over 35 years ago led to Mike Jenner’s passion for rock climbing. Mike was a student at Mizzou at the time, hiking around Capen Park when he saw a couple of guys rock climbing. Curious, he stepped over to them and asked them about it. They were generous enough to let him make his first climb that day. Now Mike travels all over North America for climbing. He thinks that Boone County is a great place to practice his hobby, but his all time favorite is in the Sierras in California. Mike spends many resources and tolerates the injuries from rock climbing because it’s a great mix of skills. “Rock climbing allows you to focus, to drive everything else out. It takes strength, but it’s also a mental sport,” Mike says. You may be strapped into a harness but there’s a lot of courage involved in rock climbing according to Mike. Unlike many other outdoor activities, Mike believes that rock climbing is on the rise. He attributes this to indoor climbing gyms, but he thinks it’s a lot harder of a transition from inside to the great outdoors than most people think. “It’s a good thing that people are climbing more, but I also hate to be climbing in a crowd,” says Mike. Even though Mike wants some quiet when climbing, he usually climbs with friends that he’s met around the country. It’s a good idea for safety reasons, but he also just enjoys the company.

One walk over 35 years ago led to Mike Jenner’s passion for rock climbing. Mike was a student at Mizzou at the time, hiking around Capen Park when he saw a couple of guys rock climbing. Curious, he stepped over to them and asked them about it. They were generous enough to let him make his first climb that day. Now Mike travels all over North America for climbing. He thinks that Boone County is a great place to practice his hobby, but his all time favorite is in the Sierras in California. Mike spends many resources and tolerates the injuries from rock climbing because it’s a great mix of skills. “Rock climbing allows you to focus, to drive everything else out. It takes strength, but it’s also a mental sport,” Mike says. You may be strapped into a harness but there’s a lot of courage involved in rock climbing according to Mike. Unlike many other outdoor activities, Mike believes that rock climbing is on the rise. He attributes this to indoor climbing gyms, but he thinks it’s a lot harder of a transition from inside to the great outdoors than most people think. “It’s a good thing that people are climbing more, but I also hate to be climbing in a crowd,” says Mike. Even though Mike wants some quiet when climbing, he usually climbs with friends that he’s met around the country. It’s a good idea for safety reasons, but he also just enjoys the company.

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Jim Karpowicz got his start in filming from his family. His dad and brother were both in the television business and Jim spent a lot of time learning the ropes and fumbling with cameras. “As a little kid I was always drawn to the creeks and the woods, and I realized as an adult I’d have to cobble together some sort of career that paid money that would have something to do with the outdoors.” He decided that with his basic knowledge of TV equipment he could start his own business as a nature videographer and filmmaker. “I was able to take the skills I learned at the TV station and concentrate on the outdoors,” says Jim. He continues with a laugh, “I guess it sort of worked, I was able to put a few kids through college, pay a mortgage.” He takes his job seriously though, spending a lot of time while out on the job thinking about frames and setting up equipment, but he says even in that process he has to look up at his surroundings sometimes and admire the career he’s built for himself. He’s been able to travel all over from Nevada to Nicaragua, and is amazed every time that he’s paid to do something he enjoys so much.

Jim Karpowicz got his start in filming from his family. His dad and brother were both in the television business and Jim spent a lot of time learning the ropes and fumbling with cameras. “As a little kid I was always drawn to the creeks and the woods, and I realized as an adult I’d have to cobble together some sort of career that paid money that would have something to do with the outdoors.” He decided that with his basic knowledge of TV equipment he could start his own business as a nature videographer and filmmaker. “I was able to take the skills I learned at the TV station and concentrate on the outdoors,” says Jim. He continues with a laugh, “I guess it sort of worked, I was able to put a few kids through college, pay a mortgage.” He takes his job seriously though, spending a lot of time while out on the job thinking about frames and setting up equipment, but he says even in that process he has to look up at his surroundings sometimes and admire the career he’s built for himself. He’s been able to travel all over from Nevada to Nicaragua, and is amazed every time that he’s paid to do something he enjoys so much.

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And So My Watch Ends

Yeah, I am leaving off with a Game of Thrones reference. However if I were truly in the Night’s Watch this would mean that I’m either dead or a deserter. I promise you I’m neither. I was only contracted to be at Missouri Life for the summer, and Winter is Coming.

Ohhhkayyy. You’ve witnessed my obsession too plainly. So let me continue by generically saying I’ve learned a lot this summer. About photojournalism, writing, regular office hours, how to bring lunch to work, and even editing. And all of it just reassured me that this is the path I want to take. I like being whisked around to different assignments, using my judgment to select photos worthy of my editors’ perusal, and I really enjoy getting to see places I’d never even imagine going to on my own.

The traveling I did for Missouri Life reaffirmed what I’ve thought about journalism for quite some time: it’s for those of us who didn’t get to experience it firsthand. I don’t describe the juiciness of a burger or capture a smile for my own benefit (although it is fun), it’s all for the reader who relies on my image and my words alone to share the experience. And who knows? Maybe it’ll encourage one of you to go try the new Mexican place, or take a day trip to Glasgow. Essentially, journalists are here to serve. Whether it be the hard hitting news you need right away for safety or general knowledge of your community, or the fluffier stories that just give you some hope for humanity. Each has its purpose and that gives me, the journalist, purpose. Thanks for liking knowledge and new stimuli viewers! Without you I would be even more desolate and penniless.

Here are some photos from my most recent excursion to the southwest part of this grand state.

The last courthouse in my Unique County Courthouses story: Jasper County in Carthage, MO.

The last courthouse in my Unique County Courthouses story: Jasper County in Carthage, MO.

Nathan Boone Homestead, outside of Springfield, MO.

Nathan Boone Homestead, outside of Springfield, MO.

Mo' Beef in Springfield, MO specializes in Chicago style Italian beef sandwiches, but I had to try the chicken parmigiana sandwich. Om nom.

Mo’ Beef in Springfield, MO specializes in Chicago style Italian beef sandwiches, but I had to try the chicken parmigiana sandwich. Om nom.

You can’t tell me none of those places look intriguing. I’m a foodie and succumb easily to my vice, food porn, so just looking at that sandwich turns my stomach on full beast mode. It’s embarrassing; people can hear me.

What could also be construed as embarrassing is that I took my mumsy with me on this voyage. She’s close to retirement, and likes to ask off work, and I sure wasn’t going to drive 8 hours all by my lonesome. She’s also very reasonable, a logical Spock-like creature if you will, and she decided we needed to stay overnight and drive back the next day. Praise mumsy for that insight, considering how tired I was by the end of day one. It’s always good to have a road companion, they can help you with directions, argue you with you about where to eat, stop at ridiculous antique malls that require two people to go in and joke about everything they see, and they’re someone to share the fond memories with down the line.

So I encourage everyone to pick a magazine or newspaper, and read about what’s going on around you. It doesn’t have to be in your hometown, state, or even country. (I prefer space travel.) It’s just important to see the options available to you. Looking at a computer screen thinking about how bored you are isn’t hip anymore. There really is no excuse not to experience your community. And community is in varying degrees of distance, depending on your comfort zone, but test that zone every now and then. I’m happily surprised every time I do. And if you need a little guidance, just look to the articles, they usually point you in the right direction.

The Perks of Being an Intern

My heart fluttered when I saw these gems.

My heart fluttered when I saw these gems at the Heartland Antique Mall.

Most stories you hear about internships are wrought with errands, impatient bosses, and little to no pay. While I am unpaid, I must say there’s a lot of value in this here internship, and perks besides.

At Missouri Life our main priority is the magazine, obviously, but we are also out for hire on special publications, such as books, calendars, and visitor guides. I worked on the latter two for Lebanon, Missouri, which is about two hours south of Columbia.

My main job was just to go around and see the sights and take photos of people enjoying Lebanon. That was easy enough, aside from getting turned around and maybe breaking a few traffic laws. But I didn’t realize I would be practically vacationing as well.

There was fishing galore at Bennett Springs.

There was fishing galore at Bennett Springs.

What drew me to Lebanon this time of the year was the Brumley Gospel Festival. This was the very festival that booked every room in town and caused me to seek lodging in Osage Beach instead, which is about 30 minutes from Lebanon. When writers or photographers travel to work on a story, Missouri Life tries to set them up for free somewhere by offering the establishment discounted or free advertisement in the future. A trade, as they call it. So I was set up at The Inn at Harbour Ridge, a quality bed and breakfast (or as I kept calling it, a bread and breakfast).

To say I was getting the royal treatment would be a cliché but it would be fairly accurate. We arrived and one of the owners immediately showed us around, describing all of the freebies and amenities we were receiving. Then we rested in the room titled “Love’s Nest”, ate dinner there, and returned to Lebanon to cover the festival that had put me at this lovely B&B. When we returned the bed was freshly remade, the lights were dimmed, and our trash had been cleared away. We had only been gone two hours! I felt almost guilty since I wasn’t technically paying for the room, but they treated us as any other guests.

Did I mention there were cookies and chocolate already in the room? Fresh too.

You live the good life at The Inn at Harbour Ridge.

You live the good life at The Inn at Harbour Ridge.

Even if I hadn’t gotten to stay at such a fine establishment, I would have enjoyed the trip nonetheless. I enjoy traveling, especially if my gas is reimbursed, and I’m taking photos of new things. In my 21 years I had only been to Lebanon once before, when I was rather young. And it’s only two hours away from my hometown. It’s an antiquing/thrifting haven; how could I have missed that?

I wanted to buy up the whole store, all 40,000 square feet of it.

Oh Heartland Antique Mall; I wanted to buy up the whole store, all 40,000 square feet of it.

Another cliché but often true: if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. Now I may have been walking around in the sun, crouching in corners, standing on chairs, and doing just about everything else to get the shot, but I can truly say that I didn’t feel like I was working that much. “Take photos,” they say, “but of course!” I respond. It’s what I do, and I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t enjoy it, perks or no.

Glasgow Greetings

I’ve mentioned before that small towns creep me out and/or sadden me. This is still largely true, but small towns such as Glasgow threaten that notion of mine.

The town story for the October issue of Missouri Life is about Glasgow, Missouri. It’s a town of just over one thousand people along the Missouri River that Missouri Life editor Jonas Weir and myself literally passed by in a matter of minutes. But we would have been the ones missing out if we had truly passed this gem by.

A somewhat sudden turn on the right and we were on the main street, aptly named First Street. It was morning and neither Jonas nor myself had eaten breakfast, so the first necessary stop was at Riverbend Cafe, conveniently owned by the town’s mayor. When one hears the word “mayor”, the image of a staunch businessman with a crisp suit comes to mind. He would have a solemn voice and serious demeanor, and use words such as “ordinance.” But the diner owner that came from behind the counter seemed just that, a diner owner. His t-shirt and jeans more than suggested a casual air, and he greeted us with a friendly and easy-going voice that said he was more our equal than a political official.

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After a conversation with the mayor, we made our way to all of the local sites. Perry’s for a quick ice cream, the Glasgow museum, the library, the Rolling Pin bakery, Glasgow Trading Post, and Henderson’s Drug Store. Each place seemed more historic than the last, but there were renovated buildings with newer businesses that suggested a recent revival in the town.

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A few different townsfolk said that Glasgow was in a state of disrepair not too long ago. The First Street shop windows were vacant and boarded up and the life seemed to be draining from the struggling town. But somehow the people rallied and Glasgow was the better for it.

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Each citizen we spoke to say their reason for staying in Glasgow was because of the people. No one is a stranger in Glasgow. Small town courtesy and friendliness seems to be true in this case; it’s not so uncommon to ask a neighbor for a cup of sugar. I find that refreshing. Business owners spoke of the people not as customers, but as supporters of their livelihood. The townspeople want to help out the local businesses, which is probably why there are hardly any chains in Glasgow. The nearest Wal Mart is in Boonville, and you’ll find no golden arches even on the outskirts of town.

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The camaraderie is striking; even compared to a very small city such as the one I grew up in, Columbia, Missouri. I don’t know my neighbors, and there isn’t a cashier at the grocery store that I could name. I can’t help but think the whole world would be a bit better off with some small town loving. It reminds you that the people who serve you, who live next to you, and who are the bosses above you are all humans, and they all have stories to tell and secrets to keep.

It was a humbling experience. Despite my “city girl” upbringing, great education, and travel experience, I in fact had not seen it all. I had not seen pure contentedness before I went to Glasgow. I certainly had not seen it over an entire town. Small towns need not breed morose emotions. They have great potential to connect us to others, and can inspire passion in your livelihood and home. There’s a general feeling around Glasgow, which makes the people refreshed and the air easier to breathe. It keeps the local businesses open and the franchises at bay. It’s called respect, and we could all use a bit more of it.

Traveling and Being a Miser

So as you’re probably aware of by now, I’m an intern at Missouri Life Magazine in Boonville, MO. Since it’s a statewide magazine that covers every corner of the state, a certain amount of travel is involved. Now it’s not the size of Alaska, but Missouri is no pipsqueak either. Luckily most of my drives have been in the two to three hour range, although I do have at least one coming up that will be more along the lines of four hours, but I don’t have to think about that just yet.

On my last excursion I compiled three different assignments into one trip, so as to save on gas monies that I desperately lack. I went to Lexington for a house story and took pictures of their courthouse, and then I went all the way to Kansas City, which is about 40 minutes from Lexington, to do a wine tasting and snap some quick photos of the Amigoni Urban Winery.

The Amigoni Urban Winery is located in downtown Kansas City. It occupies the old Daily Drover Telegram building which was built in 1909.

The Amigoni Urban Winery is located in downtown Kansas City. It occupies the old Daily Drover Telegram building which was built in 1909.

This home was constructed on top of the foundation of another home that was destroyed in the Civil War. The King family occupied the house from the time it was built in 1866 to 1949.

This home was constructed on top of the foundation of another home that was destroyed in the Civil War. The King family occupied the house from the time it was built in 1866 to 1949.

I’ve always been a thrifty, if not miserly so I’m all about consolidation and use as few of resources as possible to get a job done. So when my mumsy said I was crazy to do three assignments in one day I just said, “psssh, mama please.” Granted the next day I was slated to photograph an outdoor wedding all day. It proved to be a tiring, if not emotionally reassuring weekend. I was doing what I loved (and getting paid for part of it!) which was a great reassurance that I was going into the right line of work.

The Lafayette County courthouse in Lexington, MO is the oldest courthouse in Missouri still being used as a courthouse. A cannonball from the Battle of Lexington in the Civil War remains in one of the front columns.

The Lafayette County courthouse in Lexington, MO is the oldest courthouse in Missouri still being used as a courthouse. A cannonball from the Battle of Lexington in the Civil War remains in one of the front columns.

Traveling itself is tiresome, but it is also exciting. I love seeing new places, no matter how small or outdated the locale may be. Just seeing the world from a different perspective is enough to draw me away from home. Since I’ve lived in the same place for most of my years, it’s refreshing to go to a small town, or a big city, and ask them why they do what they do. People’s motivations are one of my biggest interests. It’s great to know who’s doing what, but it’s even better to know why. You learn much more about them and the world we all live in. It helps you form your own opinions on life, and may even sway you in the future when deciding where (or if) you hunker down.

For instance, I would live in Oregon in a heartbeat. I’ve been there a couple times, visiting family that lives in the center of the state. Everyone that I came across was just happy. A funny notion, isn’t it? There were all the large trees everywhere, the average person seemed to have a canoe or kayak on the top of their car, and despite the rainy weather in Portland, everyone had a smile on their face. I heard no complaints and saw no one experiencing road rage. I’m sure these things do happen, but at a much lower frequency.

When I commented on this to a family friend, she said, “Of course we’re happy to be here, we’re surrounded by the majesty that is nature! It’s no wonder we have an appreciation for the planet with evidence of its greatness everywhere we go.” I thought that summed it up perfectly. I feel my happiest in Missouri whenever I’m out on a trail hiking, overlooking vistas or when I’m dipping an oar into a flowing river, wildlife enveloping me from all sides. It really does make you consider Earth more carefully whenever you’re, well, surrounded by earth.

So I encourage everyone to travel. Even if it’s just around your home state. I’ve lived in Columbia, Missouri for 15 years, and I haven’t seen even a fourth of this state. I’m surprised every time I take off in a new direction. You don’t have to go to Paris or The Great Wall to see how truly amazing the world is, it’s just outside your door, waiting to be explored.

My Plan to Run Out of Money

I think it’s time I really sat down and made a list, cause that’s what I do best, of all the things I’d like to see and do in this lifetime. Yes, a bucket list friends. It’s cliche and damn necessary all at the same time. I apologize to those of you who think they are only cliche, but hey, whether you actively think about it or not, you’re always saying, “I should do that some day.” That’s essentially a bucket list, you hater, you.

First off, I must say that a trip to India has been on my mind ever since my dad told me about the trip he took in the 80’s. I’m not naive enough to think that this trip would be glamourous or “easy”. One has to be careful in foreign countries, especially countries that are radically different from your own. I’m an outdoorsy person, so seeing the Himalayas and Kashmir would be my No. 1 priority, as well as kayaking down the Siang River, but I’d like to see the cities as well, despite my overprotective father’s admonitions. I wouldn’t be the dumb tourist, waving around my American money, sporting a visor and fanny pack while complaining about all of the elephants in the road and the unbearable heat. No, I would obviously be foreign, but rather a curious visitor wanting to soak in the culture, than an obnoxious tourist that just wants to see the Taj Mahal and then quickly flee back to the States. Indian food, music, dress, and religion all fascinate me. And I’d like to see it all first hand, and experience some of it for myself.

Next on my list is the Pacific Crest Trail. It’s a trail that runs all the way from Mexico to Canada, obviously through the furthermost Western states in the U.S. I don’t think I would do the entire trail at once, but bits and pieces here and there would be enough for me. I love my hiking, but camping for extended periods of time gets to be a bit tiresome, that and I doubt I’d be able to take off work for such a long period of time, (it would take months). I’ve always been a fan of hiking and nature, and the West has always held some sort of fascination for me.

Sky diving. It has to be done. If there’s a chute and plane and land to, well, land on, I’m there. ‘Nuff said.

Road trippin’. I have always wanted to just get in a car and go, with only a vague sense of where I’m going and lots of great songs to listen to. A buddy would also be a great addition. Someone that doesn’t care that we don’t have an itinerary and likes how many diners and weird thrift stores I stop at. Oh, and they not only have to tolerate my belting of songs, they MUST join in.

Living somewhere abroad for awhile has always been on my mind. I wouldn’t want to plant roots there permanently, but a nice year or two just to see how everyday life operates in some other part of the globe would be ideal. Vacations, as nice as they are, don’t really leave that much of an impact on you. A week or two isn’t enough to really feel a city, country, or culture. It’s important to see the touristy things, like the pyramids in Egypt or the Taj Mahal in India, but it doesn’t do the host country justice to see that and assume that’s all they have to offer.

Marathon. But not just any marathon, a marathon in a foreign country. I would be ambitious and say in several countries, but I don’t want to assume my body will tolerate all that travel and running, (not to mention my pocketbook). So I’ll just be conservative and say one foreign marathon for now.

This may sound a bit posh, but I’d love to do a bike tour of New England and/or the British Isles (Ireland, Scotland and such). The routes normally take you through picturesque forests and cute towns with hidden treasures and adorable bed and breakfasts. What more could one need than some fresh air and exercise, followed by a comfy bed and delicious food? (I’m a foodie, so anywhere I go I’ll be scouting out the delish eateries.)

MOTHER RUSSIA! I love doing Russian accents, well almost any accent, but Russian is my favorite. I’d love to see the architecture of St. Petersburg and Moscow and go to a Russian ballet in Russia. Not to mention get in on that vodka action.

Skiing in the Andes Mountains. I’d love any excuse to go to South America, and the Andes Mountains are it for me. Skiing isn’t something I can get a lot of in Missouri, so if I’m going to travel to do it, it might as well be on some of the prettiest mountains there are.

There’s a theme with my bucket list, I know. So I continue the pattern and say I want to hang glide in New Zealand. Gorgeous country, thrilling sport, need I say more?

I’m a roller coaster buff. Literally the majority of our family vacations have had to include at least one day at an amusement park for me so that I could get my roller coaster fix. Disney World was by far a trip planned to appease me. So it’s natural that I’d want to do a worldwide roller coaster search. What I have planned is like the American Idol of roller coasters. I would have a wide variety to choose from, many would be mediocre, just plain bad, or almost there. But they would all be worth it for me to find the BEST roller coasters in the world. I would document my “studies” and publish them (on the web most likely) as a paved road, if you will, for future adventure seekers. You’re welcome.

I have many more bucket list items, of lesser or equal value, but I will conclude with one that I think would be amusing to most. At some point in my life, I will don a white bra and underwear and play Janet in Rocky Horror Picture Show. The venue could be as small as a living room for a couple friends and as poorly prepared as 30 minutes would allow, but it shall be done!

 

 

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