Our travel ambitions are generally pretty far-reaching, spanning every continent and climate. But there are still some places at home that pique our interest. For this edition of the Urchin Travel Wish List, Geo and Sarah dream of the relatively tame east while Margaret aspires to the glacial wilderness of the West. Just another day at the Urchin Movement.
I lived in Vermont for two years, yet somehow never managed a jaunt across its eastern border into New Hampshire. From what I’ve gleaned, they’re pretty similar, except for a few stand out points. Firstly, and if I’m being completely honest, most enticingly, New Hampshire was where Bill Bryson chose to live upon returning to the States from England for the first time in 18 years. A native of Iowa, Bryson couldn’t have known much more about New Hampshire than I do before deciding to move his family there for an eight year stint. I would love to discover what drew and kept one of my favourite people for so long.
Aside from the Bryson Factor, New Hampshire also has the ‘live free or die’ factor, which simultaneously intrigues and terrifies me. As a citizen of New Hampshire, I think I would feel obligated to personally abide by that mantra, a much greater challenge than if I lived in, say, Michigan (‘If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.’ ‘Oh, there’s one! Great, let me grab my beach towel and a snack.’) While it might turn out that New Hampshire is more or less Vermont terrain-wise, I’d like to think that it will have a different, freer, or perhaps more deadly, air.
I’m not really a beach person, which may or may not make a lot of sense considering I’m from California. But for the longest time I’ve been attracted to beach towns in non-beach climates, or seaside resorts during the off-season. For me, there’s hardly anything more beautiful than a grey sky reflected in the water. Or the apocalyptic tranquility of walking down an empty pier. The entire atmosphere seems to lend itself to a general thoughtfulness that I find at once aching and serene.
The intrigue is doubled in Maine, considering it is the farthest state east. Again, being from California, Maine seems like yet another edge of the Earth; while Maine can get quite crowded and humid during the summer, you can bet I’ll be looking for train tickets once it starts to cool down and empty out in the fall.
It might sound cliched, but I want to see Alaska before the natural beauty that it is so well known for is gone – or at least severely diminished. Beautiful coastlines, seemingly endless mountain ranges, and all the bears you can shake a stick at (best not do that), Alaska has both the most national parks (8 of which are preserves) and perhaps one of the most fragile ecosystems of all the states.
Though I have no desire to actually get lost in Alaska, it’s far enough away to at least feel like you are. The Kenai Fjords sits south of Anchorage where 40 glaciers spill into the Harding Ice Field. Here, PUFFINS… do whatever they do… and orcas, whales, seals, and bears live in relative isolation to humanity – despite the tourists of course. Denali National Park and Preserve is home to the Denali, the highest mountain in North America. It also contains several ecosystems from taiga to tundra. Ideally, I’d like to drive through Canada to Alaska, but I’ll take a plane ticket if anyone’s offering!