People often tell me that enthusiasm and passion are two of my better attributes – most of the time I’d agree – although sometimes I can get a little overexcited and never more so than when talking about America.
America really is my favourite topic and one of my biggest bucket list goals is to visit all 50 states. So far I’ve been lucky enough to explore 22 – and I’m always on the lookout for the next opportunity to discover another state, whether on a city break or off the beaten track adventure. And, if the chance to live across the pond for a while was there, I’d be pretty keen on that too.
But where did this passion begin and why?
Back in my early teens, my ambitions were a little less glamorous. Growing up in a rural area in West Sussex, watching Cold Feet, I thought Manchester looked like the height of sophistication and I spent the next few years dreaming of a move ‘oop north’ so I could explore the city for myself.
Fast forward a few years to my GCSE results day and I’m on a plane on my way to America for the very first time. Excited is an understatement. As I recall, my mum had to ask me to stop standing on the airplane seat as we approached Boston (I was just trying to see the skyline!)
The next week or so was spent exploring the New England states of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont – checking out cosmopolitan Boston, walking the spectacular beach in Ogunquit and cycling in the mountains. It was this trip that kick-started my love of America and it’s only grown stronger since. From my holiday choices, university course and now career, I try to spend as much time as humanely possible talking about and exploring America.
For me, the excitement of the USA is its cultural and geographical diversity. Its sheer variety of landscapes, people, politics and even weather systems means that each state feels like it has its own personality and is almost like a little country of its own.
But just which locations and trips make my top three for memories (to date)?
1. A 3,000 mile Californian road trip with my better half saw us explore the glitz and glam of LA, laid-back Orange County, San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, San Francisco’s iconic attractions, Napa and Sonoma’s vineyards, Yosemite’s awe-inspiring peaks and Highway 1 and Big Sur’s spectacular coastal scenery. For a treat, book a night at Carmel Valley Ranch.
2. Standing on the boardwalk at Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park surrounded by steaming geysers was an otherworldly experience, as was getting stuck in a ‘bison jam’ in nearby Grand Teton National Park. Wyoming does traffic jams so much better than we do!
3. A 21st birthday trip to New York courtesy of my extremely generous mum! From Broadway shows and shopping till we dropped, I came home with enough shoes to last me a lifetime (more like a few months!) As the ultimate Carrie Bradshaw fan, the highlight of the break was The Sex and The City bus tour – if you’re a fan of the show, don’t miss this!
And so my takeaway message: let passion drive you forwards. With enough of it, you can achieve almost anything in life – and I’m certainly planning to continue my goal to see all 50 states.
Where’s next? The Deep South. Stay tuned!