July 11, 2010

Alaska v. Arizona

Posted in Grown-Up Life, The Amazing G, Traveling 101 at 1:06 AM by TKWatson

So… Alaska.  Ya.  It’s like… Santa’s backyard, only without the cute little elves.  Thanks to the USAF for stationing my beloved in the freakin’ coldest place on earth.  (Ok… that might be a slight exaggeration…).   I have yet to actually visit during the winter, so I can’t personally attest to the harsh Alaskan winters,  but I think it’s a fairly safe assumption to say that the winters there are no picnic.  (Ya know… since, if you tried to have a picnic during the middle of an Alaskan winter, you’re drinks would probably freeze and your butts would get all frostbitten sitting on the icy ground…).

I’ve had pretty severe anxiety over moving to this giant meat freezer of a state in order to be with G.  I was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona.  Let me repeat that… I WAS BORN AND RAISED IN PHOENIX, ARIZONA.  In case you’re reading this and you’re unfamiliar with Phoenix, let me familiarize you a bit.

Death Valley.  The Sahara Desert.  Hell.  Phoenix is kinda like that.  (Side-note… those people who say “Oh… at least it’s a dry heat…” have clearly never been here on a day when it reaches 122 f*ing degrees and the sun’s death rays scorch any living creature which dares to venture outside.  Who gives a ‘flying rat’s behind’ what the humidity is when you’re skin is practically melting off your bones and the leather of your car seat is giving you third degree burns?!  How many places do you know where leather car seats aren’t so much a luxury as they are a hazard…)

Anywho… where was I?  Ah yes… I was born and raised in the giant oven state.  Now I’m anticipating moving to the giant meat freezer state.  Giant oven state… to… giant meat freezer state.  Anyone else beginning to see the problem here?  Couple this with my lack of travel experience and what you’ve got is a girl who can count the number of times she’s ever seen snow on two hands; forget ever actually been in a snowy climate for longer than 24 hours at a time.  Now I’m supposed to figure out how to dress, drive, live, and generally survive in a place that considers a warm day to be 70 degrees?  For crying out loud… a running joke in my family is that anytime it dips below 85 degrees, Nana makes you put on a hooded sweatshirt!  (You have quite the sense of humor, God.  Just sayin’.)

So… I went to Alaska this past weekend.  G and I got to spend a wonderful four days together.  We hung out, went to a BBQ, did a little house cleaning/organizing, mostly just “normal couple” things.  That might not sound like much of a vacation to some people, but for me, it was perfect.  G and I don’t get to do “normal couple” things very often, what with the 3,500 miles in between us on a daily basis, so it always comes as a small treasure when we do get to have that low key time together.  Still, I think one of the best parts of the trip for me was the realization that… I don’t hate Alaska.  In fact, I kinda fell in love with Alaska.  The scenery absolutely dazzled me; as I’ve mentioned before, a good landscape can soothe my soul like nothing else.  And let me tell you… the Alaskan landscape is un-freakin’-believably fantastic.  Here are some pictures from my trip to Alaska last September (since I’m an idiot and didn’t take any pictures on this trip…).

Honestly, these pictures don’t even come close to doing the landscape justice.  A) Because I’m hella far from a professional photographer and B) Because my camera pretty much sucks at life.  Still, this might give you a small taste of the beauty Alaska has to offer.  Aside from the gorgeous landscape, the city of Anchorage (where G lives) has just enough of a bustling city vibe to satiate the city girl in me, and plenty of the small town feel to make the country girl in me smile.  All in all, it’s a pretty cool (no pun intended… *snicker*) place.  (One thing to Alaska gets major points docked for… all the crazy dangerous wild animals that roam free (sometimes even roaming into backyards, streets, etc.).  When G and I went on a short hike, we took BEAR SPRAY. Like mace.  But for bears.)

I’m still not under any delusion that moving from the my home here in “Take-all-your-clothes-off-and-sit-as-still-as-humanely-possible-in-front-of-a fan-to-avoid-death” land to “Screw-the-trees-we-need-them-to-build-a-massive-fire-in-order-to-avoid-death” land, isn’t going to be a walk in the park (ya know… since… ya can’t really walk through too many parks when they’re all COVERED IN 15 FEET OF ICE).  But during my four days with G in Alaska, I felt more at peace, and maybe even “at home” than I have in Arizona for a while now.  I guess it’s true what they say, “Home is Where the Heart is” and my heart is definitely in Alaska with G.  Hopefully, between the sheer comfort of finally being with my love, and my new found love of Alaska, my heart will be warmed enough to melt the ice cubes that form on my nose, eyes, and ears during the winter.  Fingers crossed.

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July 7, 2010

Traveling 101

Posted in Traveling 101 at 12:15 AM by TKWatson

My parents aren’t really the traveling type.  Never have been.  Seeing the world wasn’t high on their list of things to do.  If I had to guesstimate, I’d say it fell right below “attend a treehugger sit-in” (which… would be VERY low).  Okay, fine.  Maybe one above it.  Let’s not pick hairs here, people.  The bottom line is that my parents have always seen spending oodles of money on vacations as frivolous and unnecessary. They would rather go “camping” (and by “camping” I mean hauling a 25 ft. trailer complete with a bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, and pop-out dinning room, into the “wilderness”… and by “wilderness” I of course mean a campground with trailer hook-ups and full bathrooms that are cleaned on a daily basis) than spend a ton of money on an exotic vacation.  (And by “exotic” I mean a place that requires a plane ride or more than a six hour car drive.)  I can’t say that they are wrong, or right.  That’s just how their priority list flows.  Something about paying mortgages before buying airplane tickets.  Whatev.

My parents have their reasons for not traveling much… aside from the whole “paying bills” thing… my mom hates to fly and requires about 3 suitcases per day of travel, containing everything in her bathroom cabinet, 7 pairs of shoes, 3 pillows (including a very large body pillow), a make-up mirror, a folding life raft, a partridge and a pear tree, and about half of all the clothing articles she owns.  This is just the way she rolls, yo.  My dad, I think, would enjoy traveling slightly more than my mom, but he too is quite the homebody and, I think, prefers buying shiny new toys to seeing new places.

My parents lack of desire for travel meant that my world was a very small place growing up.  By the time I graduated from college, I had traveled to just three states outside of my Arizona home, and not a single one of them required a plane ride.  (Although… we did take a plane to California… once.)  I had not, and still have not been outside of the United States.  Hell… I don’t even have a passport.  (Which reminds me… mental note… “apply for passport”… I’ve been told it’s something I should have.  Or something.)

Still, since graduating from college, I have expanded the horizons of my world, just a bit.  In the two years since graduation, I have more than doubled my “states visited” count; it now totals a whopping 8.  The states I have ventured to include California, Nevada, New Mexico, (the three I had visited pre college graduation) Colorado, Illinois, Florida, Alaska, and Texas.  In October, I will be adding one more when G and I spend our honeymoon in Hawaii.

I love traveling.  I hate flying, though not the actual flying part; I hate the plane seats.  (They don’t make those things for little people.)  But I’m willing to suffer through the plane rides (that’s why they invented pain killers) simply for the love seeing and experiencing new places.  I’m not much of an “outdoorsy” kinda girl, but the country girl in me loves a beautiful landscape; a good landscape can soothe my soul like nothing else.  The city girl in me loves exploring new downtown areas, visiting the boutiques and window shopping for all the pretty things.  I have thoroughly enjoyed each new place I have seen (except maybe New Mexico… but that’s probably because I didn’t actually see much of it, just the inside of a bus filled with a thousand sweaty, awkward high schoolers, and the inside of a building, filled with four thousand sweaty, awkward high schoolers).

But there is one thing missing.  The one thing that my travels thus far have lacked is something so totally with-in my control it is absurd.  Pictures.  As in… photos.  As in… little square pieces of paper that capture memories.   As in… things to remember the places that I’ve been when I’m old and gray and my hair is falling out and I can’t remember G’s name anymore.  I have a camera.  I know how to use said camera.  (Sorta.)  And yet I generally lack the motivation to do so.  Perhaps this stems from my utter fear and hatred of being in front the camera.  Perhaps it stems from being too lazy and/or forgetfull to charge the damn batteries.  Either way, my travels are hardly documented via photos.  I have photos from a couple of my trips, mainly Colorado and Florida.  But from most of my trips I have very little if any at all.  (Although… in my defense… I was very young during most of my pre-college trips, and probably didn’t even own a camera at those times.  Besides… capturing my chubby cheeked childhood and acne filled adolescence on film?  OhNoThankYou.)  My most recent trip to AK over this weekend (more on that later) is capture through exactly ZERO photographs.

My new goal for traveling is not to see 1,000 places before I kick the bucket. My new goal is just to capture the places that I do see on film (or ya know… in digital format… since… (hello! 1994)… film is practically an antique) so that I can share my trips with friends and family, and someday look back on the places I have been, the good times I have had, and be reminded of the zillions of dollars I have spent on airfare.  Plus, that way, if I never convince my parents to see the world for real, at least they can still see the world.  Just… ya know… in 2D format.