When we told our friends and family we were heading out as a traveling couple for the first time, we were met with a lot of excitement.
“Oh, I bet you’ll get to go to some awesome places. Can you go to Florida? What about Hawaii? Oh I bet Portland would be fun!”
Needless to say, when we scored our first jobs in central Wisconsin, people didn’t try to hide their disappointment. Some seemed a little shocked, like we were leaving our home and our friends and family for no good reason.
Here’s the thing, though.
It’s all about mindset.
One of the experiences we always go back to was when I was on assignment in Rolla, Missouri. Rolla is a college town about 90 minutes from St. Louis, and boasts a population of 20,000 people.
We were so excited because my orientation week fell the same week Keaton was on a short break between spring and summer semesters. The first week of travel orientation usually consists of a few broken up days for computer training, hospital orientation, etc. If you are a traveler that likes to go home on days off, it’s often harder the first few days because you may have to be at the hospital on several different days for short periods of time. I was super excited Keaton got to travel with me that first week because otherwise we wouldn’t have gotten to see each other for that whole week, plus we could go out and explore a bit together.
I had an odd day off, so we set out to see what we could find. We hit up a couple wineries, a local restaurant, and a tap room. (I promise, we did small samplings at each place, we weren’t driving around half buzzed from all the places we visited ;). )
At one of the tap rooms we sat at the bar, eager to chat with some local people or the bartender about suggestions for things to see in the area. We told him we had visited the two wineries off the highway, and where we planned to go to dinner.
“Well, that’s about all there is to do here.”
It wasn’t just the guy’s response, but also his tone that struck me. It was just so…negative. Yes, Rolla was a small town, and no there weren’t lots of movie theaters, or up and coming bars, or cutting edge retaurants. But to someone new to the area, there was plenty to do.
My point of this post is simple: each new place is its own adventure. It might not be the most outlandish, or mindblowing, but it can be fun if you choose to make it that way. I like to think as I’m driving down a small country road searching for an off-the-grid winery or antique shop:
How lucky am I to go to this place that millions of people will never get to appreciate or know.
This life truly is what you make it, and you get back from the world the kind of energy you put in.
Since being in Wisconsin we have visited many local restaurants, shops, a couple wineries and breweries. We took a trip to a small raspberry farm and picked our own berries straight from the vine. We visited a local cheese production factory and tried a fresh cheese curd for the first time. We happened upon a store that sold everything from locally distilled whiskey to custom flavored olive oils. We ate some of the best Italian food we’ve ever tried, and we’ve seen some gorgeous trails and fall foliage.
All of these “adventures” may seem mundane to locals, or to people who deem small, local attractions beneath them. But each day is an opportunity to see something new, learn something, or just be thankful for that fact that you have the ability to travel and grow and see more places than most people.
Travel life has its ups and downs, but take the time to enjoy the blessings it does have to offer.