places in the u.s. i want to go to, in no particular order

I got married at 20, and graduated with my MFA at 24, and had two kids by the time I was 28. I was fortunate to go for two very extended trips to Yucatan in Mexico, where my stepmother is from, when I was 6 and 11 years old. These were not fancy tourist trips. I grew up poor, but my stepmother’s family was in 2nd world poverty. They cooked over a fire on a dirt ground. The walls were made of tar paper, the roofs of tin. There was no toilet. Still, it was beautiful, and I saw Mayan ruins and swam in an underground cove and learned to speak Spanish fluently (which I can no longer do).

The only trip the whole family took was to Las Vegas. My parents gambled and left us kids to wander through Circus Circus. And then we went to the Hoover Dam and fought a lot and drove home cramped together in a hostility-filled Mercury Topaz.

I worked like a maniac to get through college and so did my husband. We were barely affording food, let alone college travel. And then we had kids and that was that, though we did have a glorious five-day vacation in the Bahamas for our 10th anniversary. We did a few tourist things, but mostly we explored the island and met people and ate local food. And drank rum. Lots and lots of rum.

But now the kids are getting older and Elliott’s autism has so improved that I can see real travel on the horizon. I want to travel everywhere. Australia, Italy, Japan. But for now I am aiming small and cheaper, keeping it in the U.S.

Here are some places I have never been:

1. Austin

2. Portland

3. Yosemite

4. Yellowstone

5. Pacific Northwest Trail

6. Appalachian Trail

7. North Carolina–Why? No idea.

8. Hawaii

9. Grand Canyon

10. Florida Keys

Now, to cross them off the list.

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