I think pretty much everyone who knows me, even the least little bit, knows that I LOVE to travel! Seeing the world, or at least parts of it, is by far one of my most “FAVORITE THINGS”! For so many years I dreamed of seeing so many different places, but I put it off for various reasons. The primary reason being that I had no one to travel with, this all changed a few years back when an angel descended unto me… all the way from Carrollton, GA. I have heard it said that success happens when preparation meets opportunity, and I had been preparing for this for quite a while. What was I preparing for you ask? Well, truthfully at the time I didn’t know exactly what I had been preparing for, now I know that for all those years I had been preparing to live! And, when I met opportunity (a.k.a. my travel buddy Mary-Alice), I was at just the right place in my life to pursue my dream of seeing the world. She selflessly jumped on board the crazy train and our travels have been a successful venture ever since. Well, except that time we almost contracted scabies in LaPush, WA… or the time we were approached in a state park by a radical evangelist who wanted to sell us a book, from his trunk, the same trunk that I’m convinced he planned on stuffing us into and hauling us away in to his “shack of terror”… oh, then there was the night we narrowly escaped death by the gang from “The Fast and the Furious” in SanFrancisco, CA, only to later witness Sammy Davis Jr’s illegitimate son pimp out his “lady friend” in a public restroom while waiting for a street car. But, unlike usual, Joel and Torey were with us on all of those occasions, so I blame them for our series of unfortunate events:)

Since October of 2009 when Mary-Alice & I took our first trip together we have been to New York City, Washington, D.C., Biloxi, Chicago, Seattle, Forks/LaPush, Portland, SanFrancisco, Las Vegas and a series of tiny nameless towns all along the pacific coast… oh and let’s not forget the grand canyon! I will never be able to thank Mary-Alice enough for always being up for all of my craziness, if it weren’t for her I wouldn’t have been to half the places I have been because I simply wouldn’t be brave enough to face down gang wars, serial killers and the american sex trade alone. We have seen some amazing things together over the past 2 years and we still have a lot of things to check off the “thirty30” list, I can’t wait to see what 2012 will bring and better yet, where it will take us!

Quite simply I love everything about traveling! While I always stress about the size of my suitcase and the thought of leaving something behind I still enjoy planning out my outfits and pondering over which accessories I may need for the trip.

I also love the airport, even though it’s often uncomfortably hot and we usually end up having to walk all the way to the last terminal, there’s something exciting about being there with all the other travelers rushing to their destinations, knowing that you are all about to fly off to the place of your choosing. The plane ride is equally enjoyable for me, well usually, if there aren’t three idiots behind you enjoying a rousing game of YAHTZEE while the rest of the plane tries to sleep! On the plane there is nothing that immediately needs your attention, there’s no TV, no phone (thank god there IS wifi), it’s just you with your favorite music, books, magazines and if your lucky an ipad. It’s the ultimate downtime and really strangely relaxing to me… as long as there’s no yahtzee, or in Mary-Alice’s case large dread locks creeping over the seat immediately in front of her:) Plus you never know, you just might meet a cute guy for Mary-Alice to chat with… then again you might just get a little internal bleeding from being punched in the side because you (the single one) are not chatting with the cute guy:p I even love landing in a strange city at 3am and dragging ourselves to the car rental counter only to wait in line for 30 minutes and laugh ourselves silly as we watch Joel collapse on a bench and Torey walk into walls because we are so deliriously tired… I do not love arguing with the car rental lady! I love that Mary-Alice always lets me have the aisle seat and always helps me with my bags (cause I’m a wuss)… I love waking up in a new city and going for a jog (I don’t accomplish this nearly enough), it’s such a great way to see things unique to that particular place (like wear the crazy man lives in Seattle). I love it all, ok well maybe not the exhaustion of it LOL. Then of course when you don’t fly there’s the unique joys of the road trip… Seattle to SanFrancisco in 5 days flat or if your with Lori, Atlanta to Memphis in 9 hours flat (that’s typically a 5 hour drive:)). Either way I love these rides too! You just can’t get killer mosquitos, screaming Torey’s, off key Eagles singing hiccuping Lori’s or the infamous Clampett’s chinese fire drill at the five star San Francisco hotel on an airplane… that my friends is the good stuff, these are the stories I will tell my grandkids when I am old and gray.

I hope that 2012 affords you all the chance to get out and see a little more of the world, if you haven’t a clue what you would like to see then I recommend picking up a copy of “1000 Places to See Before You Die”. I purchased this book probably 10 years ago, when my travel dreams were just that, dreams. There are so many natural wonders to be seen in this world, you can walk just outside your door and see millions, if you walk a little farther you will see millions more! The beauty of this place is endless, if I devoted every moment of my remaining life to seeing something new and amazing all across this world there is still no way I would see it all, the wonders are just too vast for the human life span. Go buy the book, if you can’t afford it then look online, pick up an encyclopedia if that’s all you have access to but search out some places you want to see before you die. Start with one, and make it happen, it doesn’t have to be half way around the world it could just be a 2 hour plane ride away, but do it! I promise you will never regret the money you spend seeing something that takes your breath away… and when you get home from that place, pick another and then another, and then write me and tell me all about it:)

Now lets get down to business… for today’s lucky winner, although I would love to send you on a magnificent trip some place spectacular, I can’t. I can however provide you with a years worth of travel inspiration via the “1000 Places to See Before You Die” desk calendar… and the winner is… Caroline Hughes! Congratulations Caroline!!! I hope you enjoy your daily trips to a fabulous destination via your calendar…

Check back tomorrow to see if you are the next lucky winner!!! Happy travels in 2012!!!