#indie30 day 9 – What was Your Best Travel Experience?

BootsnAll stumped me on this one today. I have literally been thinking about the answer to today’s topic since 5 o’clock this morning!

I wracked my brain…

When I found freedom in London? Visiting my mother’s hometown of Cartagena de Indias as an adult for the first time and holding a sloth mama and her baby? Hanging out with locals in Ireland? Having a dream I went to Belgium and loved it, so I went to Belgium three months after my separation by myself (for Christmas) and loved it? One of my thirteen trips to the Hawaiian islands? Partying at the Playboy Mansion followed by more partying (and snorkeling) in Cancun? Cross-country road trips? Broadway plays in New York City? Sailing in Chicago? Feeding tigers in Tampa at Big Cat Rescue? Seeing an impromptu performance of the Sardana outside of the Barcelona Cathedral? Ramen in Japan? Beach trips to Jamaica? San Francisco and Sonoma wine tasting? How can I possibly choose?! (Keep scrolling and reading…Don’t give up on me LOL).
Beautiful Belgium

Quiet island of Lanai
The only picture of myself partying in Cancun I want to show LOL and snorkeling in those crystal clear waters!
Big Cat Rescue, Tampa, FL USA
Dublin Castle. I’m that tiny person.
In Cartagena de Indias – my mother’s homeland
San Francisco and Sonoma – when I was on my “record everything” kick

I may have cropped this one a little 😉
The Sardana
There is one thing I know! I am so damn lucky to have HUNDREDS of experiences from which to choose.
So I thought about it. Then I thought about it some more…And then some more…

I was REALLY thinking…

So make a decision already, Heather!
I have concluded to choose my best travel experiences based upon journeys that involve more than just various modes of transport.
  • Before I met my husband
  • After I met my husband
Moving to San Diego
When I  met my ex-husband I moved across the country to the Seattle area for him. I hated living there. We ended up moving to my hometown of Miami. He hated it. So we moved to Tampa Bay. Fast forward five years. After our divorce I became involved in an abusive relationship. After I finally got the strength to leave, I relationship hopped (but that is whole other post for another time). I had been out to San Diego on business a few times and several of my friends had moved to America’s Finest City. I decided to spend a week in San Diego for my 32nd birthday. I asked myself, “Why am I not living here?” I went back home and announced I was moving. I think a lot of people were surprised. No job. No real plan. No place to live. I just knew it was the right thing to do.
The trip to San Diego outrunning Hurricane Ike (I was a day ahead of him) was one of the best of my life. Pudgy and I arrived safe and sound. It was the first time I made a HUGE move for myself. It was all about ME. It was empowering. It was scary. I arrived, was at peace and after some time, I found myself. I learned to truly be on my own, not without definitely stumbling a few times, but the journey to making an amazing life in San Diego has been nothing short of incredible. I love what I have made of my life here.

Pudgy fit right in in San Diego
The view from my first place in San Diego
Arkansas & the hubs
I know a lot of people will look at “Arkansas” and do a double take. First, Arkansas is a hidden gem. The Natural State is beautiful! Fall in the Ozark Mountains is second to none! 
The irony of my marriage is that I never wanted children and if a man had kids it was a deal-breaker. Please don’t think me an evil child-hater. I just never saw a place for them in my life. I always joked my sister’s kids got all my money anyway. Then I met the hubs – a man with three daughters – and I was a goner. 
The girls live in Arkansas, where the hubs is from. I was SO beyond nervous flying out there to meet them. He kept telling me not to be. I had heard SO many horror stories about kids meeting their dad’s girlfriends and I was scared. 
Then I met the girls. And I saw this… and the absolute Love they have for their dad. I fell in Love. It was an amazing trip that changed my life. I HAD NO IDEA my heart could feel the way it did during that trip. 
Truly, one of the absolute most profound ‘travel experiences’ I have ever had. Brings tears to my eyes as I type this.
Maui with kids
We went the nontraditional route and took the girls on our honeymoon. A bonus familymoon, if you will. Crazy? Maybe. Awesome? ABSO-FREAKIN-LUTE-LY!
Maui was my thirteenth trip to the Hawaiian Islands, but it was like being there for the first time seeing the island through their eyes.
There was so much excitement and wander. To give them the experience of travel – to pass on one of the greatest loves of my life to my new bonus daughters – there are no words to describe that experience. 
But I can tell you, it was beautiful: 
Daddy and his girls

Her first time snorkeling. It was awesome.

I learned to love myself. I learned to love in ways I didn’t know possible, and then I paid it forward. Best.”Travel”.Experience(s).EVER.