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I’m not going to beat around the bush; this is the last post here on The Traveling Philosopher. And by some definitions, therefore my last blog post as a travel blogger.
It was four years ago that I had recently arrived in Costa Rica, the first Latin America stop on what was to be something of an indefinite, long-term trip around the world. Just months prior I had started this blog, The Traveling Philosopher, as a place that I could color outside the lines. Somewhere that I could put on paper everything that was in my head, where I didn’t have to abide by a publication’s style guide or an editor’s do and don’t list. I wanted it to be an expression of my feelings. And there was a lot, like unresolved feelings about the passing of my father, anger at the loss of my dream job, disappointment at a pile of debt, and discouragement of an impending divorce.
Our tiny prop plane came to a stop at the end of Little Cayman’s Edward Bodden Airfield (located on one of two Grand Cayman sister islands) at what looked like little more than a bus stop for no longer than a bus stop to drop off and pick up a couple passengers. No longer than a couple minutes later and we were off again, but just for a grand total of six minutes before arriving at my fourth, and last airport of the day, Captain Charles Kirkconnell International Airport, on Grand Cayman’s other sister island, Cayman Brac. A destination I would later come to label as my most authentic island experience to date. I both wanted to tell everyone and no one about it.
Does travel, and more specifically, tourism, ruin a destination? This is a question I’ve repeatedly asked myself, and one that I’ve approached yet again following the big recent news that the U.S. and Cuba are restoring diplomatic relationships. As excited as I was to hear the news, what was most interesting from a travel perspective was seeing that on the day the news broke, there was an increase in Cuba travel searches on TripAdvisor by 300%. But as excited as I am about the possibility of traveling to Cuba and ordering a Hemingway Daiquiri at El Floridita, where Hemingway himself consumed many a daiquiri, my excitement is guarded, knowing what I’ve observed from destinations that have seen an influx from American tourists.
Here’s the thing. Everyone thinks their city is the best city for beer, wine and booze. I recently wrote a post on the best (and most underrated) beer cities in America and I got a lot of comments about cities I left off the list, including Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, Grand Rapids, the entire state of Michigan, Charlottesville, and a whole lot more. Evidently it should have been something like, “The 200 best beer cities in America.”
History repeats itself, so here I am again giving my take on America’s best boozy cities, except today I’m talking about what I think is one of the most overlooked regions of America, Montana’s Glacier Country, and more specifically, Missoula. If there was more in the way of wine, I might would say that it’s the most underrated booze city in America hands down, but alas, Montana’s climate isn’t so conducive for growing wine. But what Montana’s Glacier Country lacks in wine, it makes up for in craft beer and spirits.
The days between my 30th birthday last year and my 31st birthday one month ago today saw me undertake something of a social experiment, where I committed to 12 months of living experientially. Something I called, my “30 at 30 List.” It wasn’t so much a travel bucket list, since it involved a lot of things that weren’t related to travel, but rather a life experiences list. While travel has been central to my personal growth the last few years, it’s not the end, but rather a means to an end. This was a challenge to pursue dreams (both tangible and intangible), doing things that I had always said I wanted to do, but had never done. What ensued was a year of living purposefully and taking calculated risks. And I learned…a lot. I recently wrote about 30 things I learned from my one-year life/bucket list. But I’m not here to merely reflect on and rehash those things, but rather discuss how it’s propelling me in living a more experiential, well-lived life.