This is a short post written for #NatureWritingChallenge, a weekly exercise to spend one hour writing about a specific topic about the outdoors, then participating in a twitter chat with the other participants.
This week’s topic is: experiences you hope to have on public lands in 2019, though I focused more on two major travel goals this year.
I expect 2019 to be the year that I finally(!) complete some rather large travel quests that have brought me to countless public lands over the years.
This year, I hope to finish my National Parks quest, which has entailed visiting all 418 national park units. I’m starting the year having visited 406 and should finish the remainder by June 28. I’ve been working on this for well over a decade, so well…you may have heard about it at some point. 😛
I also expect to complete two other quests related to our public lands this year. One of those is visiting all 125 national monuments, and the other is visiting all 43 of the “major” units of BLM’s National Conservation Lands. There’s some significant overlap in these three quests, but all together it encompasses 474 specially-protected public land areas across the country.
These quests have been at the center of my travels for most of my adult life, so it’ll be interesting to see how I feel when they’re officially done. They’ve played a huge role in my life—one that cannot be overstated.
One thing I’m curious about is how I’ll go about choosing future public lands adventures. For much of my life, the quests always pushed me to travel to new areas in order to mark off more national parks. Will I continue to prioritize new destinations, or will I be drawn back to some old favorites? Or will my trips to public lands slow in frequency, as I turn my focus towards the international destinations I’ve neglected over the years?
One thing is for certain: I’ll still love public lands.
Beyond destinations, one of my goals this year is to do a better job of documenting our trips—both in terms of posting photos, as well as writing. I’ve done a remarkably poor job of either the last several years.
That’s partly due to an annoying workflow for organizing and posting photos (I’m hoping a new computer will help alleviate that soon), as well as the time consuming nature of writing and editing photos. But it’s also because we tend to prioritize spending more time traveling than setting aside time once we’re home for those tasks. When we get home from a trip, I’m usually trying to catch up on things I missed, before quickly on to the next thing. And a busy travel schedule throughout the year means less time available for post-trip tasks, while simultaneously increasing the number of post-trip tasks. It’s no wonder I’ve done a poor job on it.
But I’ve recently come to see it as a more important part of the travel experience than I had previously given it credit. Writing about something always makes you consider it a bit more deeply, and I suspect that this endeavor will prove to be rewarding.
Since we prioritize travel so much in our lives, it also makes sense for us to do what we can to better preserve those memories.
Over the last few years, I’ve also slowly come to recognize that my travels have meaning for other people. Some find them personally inspiring, while others enjoy them as a momentary mental escape, and still others enjoy learning about the places I visit or the travel strategies I use. And that seems like a worthwhile reason to set aside the time to make it happen.