Monday, April 20, 2009

Where I've Been and Some Commentary

Via several folks on my blogroll, I have this nifty "where I've been" map generator.

First: States in the U.S.:

visited 34 states (68%)
Create your own visited map of The United States or jurisdische veraling duits?

And secondlly, Where I've been in the world:

visited 6 states (2.66%)
Create your own visited map of The World or Best time to visit Nakano

... Not nearly as extensive as my travels in the U.S., with the Asian countries from my early years growing up as an Air Force brat. Canada, however, was done via an extended road trip on a shoestring budget during my early 20s. Lots of great experiences during that trip, and much of the western US states from the first map were covered during that trip.

Some places I'd like to go:

Germany - The homeland of my ancestors. I can trace my family back to the 1790's in the Oldenburg area - the generation that left the Old Country. It appears that most folks with my family name in Germany still reside in that general vicinity. With some genealogy work, I'm hoping to find some very distant relatives and meet them. Fortunately, my last name is relatively rare. Every person I've encountered with it in the U.S. can trace their roots back to the same family in the midwest that I come from. Hopefully, the same is true in Germany. Acquiring a working knowledge of German is one of the things I want to do before this trip.

Switzerland - Renowned for its rifle shooting and marksmanship among the common population. Yes, I know they have skiing and good food, but the shooting is what draws me. My wish is to visit a hundreds-of-years-old rifle range, and do some target practice with a K31 (the first rifle I ever fired).

Thailand - This one is for the food, beautiful landscape, and culture. I don't think I've mentioned it before, but I'm a Capsaicin nut. Spicy food is the cat's meow for me. Thai Chiles are among my favorite peppers - lots of heat and good flavor. Thailand has beautiful mountains, monestaries, and people. I have no desire to visit the tourist trap areas along the coast. When I travel, I seek a route where I will encounter people as they really are, not a manufactured image for me to consume. A bicycle tour is a possibility here.

Belize - At one point long ago, I made preliminary plans for a road trip to Belize via Mexico. Now, such a plan would be foolish, to say the least. Mexico has become a very dangerous place to be a foreigner these days, especially away from resort towns. I wouldn't rule out the possibility of visiting Belize, but I fear there's no place to go anymore where I wouldn't get the tourist treatment. Still, it remains on the list, in case an opportunity falls in my lap some day.

Iceland - Its stark beauty and wilderness have been a draw to me for a long time. The prospect of backpacking through that kind of country has an entrancing quality about it.

Alaska - Yes, it's on my map of places I've been. My time there was limited to passing through as a toddler on the way stateside from Asia. There is a stamp on my old passport to prove it, but I have no memory of it. Alaska draws me for a variety of reasons. It is perhaps the only place that surpasses Texas in the qualities I value for living. Rugged self-reliance, a frontier spirit, and respect for the liberties and rights of men. The gun laws (or lack of) are icing on the cake. As I have alluded to in previous posts, I have made preliminary plans for a backpacking trip through the Alaskan wilderness. Specifically, it's my desire to travel across a large portion of the state, backpacking through Gates of The Arctic National Park and rafting the entire length of the Noatak River within the Noatak National Preserve. The Alaskan wilderness has the same kind of draw for me as Iceland. Being in a place where very few bother to venture is a desire that is simply part of my being. Visiting a remote corner of the world where people simply do not go to on a whim has some sort of profound value for me which I cannot explain - and the state is full of those kinds of places. Alaska is also a place I would be proud to call home.

Antarctica - Again, the remote, seldom-traveled road holds its appeal for me here. At one point in my life, I considered applying to work at McMurdo station in a technical capacity. The place is desolate and beautiful. Few people ever make the journey to Antarctica. Other life priorities prevented me from sending in the applications and making a serious run at it, so Antarctica will probably never be on my "Where I've Been" list. I'd still like to go if the opportunity ever presented itself.

1 comment:

  1. Switzerland is amazing. I've spent a couple of months there and, aside from the US, it is definitely my favorite country. The mountains are beautiful, the women are beautiful, and the mountains on the women are lovely, too. And! They're one of the only capitalist European countries left.