Why do we travel? To see the beauty of places we’ve never seen with our own eyes, to taste the deliciousness of exotic food made in foreign places, to experience and learn from cultures other than our own, to do our favourite sports in new, maybe better locations, or simply to explore; to fulfill our imagination’s deepest dreams and desires; to experience; and to create memories.
But what happens when you get to your destination and you somehow feel a little, well, disappointed? The landscape isn’t what you thought it might be, the food isn’t great, the people not that friendly, or the experience just didn’t work out as planned?
Some might say we need to let go of expectation, to experience a place for what it is and to see the beauty in everywhere you go, no matter what.
After spending the last few weeks hopping around from place to place during my summer vacation, more than once, I experienced that feeling of, well, mild disappointment.
In July I arrived in California by air. It looked like a desert from the plane (and it is one). There was little green to be seen from the plane, the mountains looked brown (and sadly dry from long-term drought) and smaller than I expected.
In August, I arrived on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state, the long sandy beaches with their rising sea stacks were breathtaking, but the road to get there seemed a little, well, flat.
Did I enjoy and have fun in San Diego? Absolutely. Did I have a great surf vacation in Washington? For sure. But what struck me was that the problem is not those places, they are beautiful in their own ways; the problem is the fact that I live in beautiful British Columbia.
Perhaps it is not so much a problem as it is a blessing; I live in North Vancouver where I paddle by spring and summer in Deep Cove; the mountains rise majestically from the deepest and southern-most fjord of North America.
I hike and bike regularly in the temperate rainforest of the North Shore mountains and the Sea to Sky area. I ski by winter in the coastal mountain range around Whistler and I spend long weekends exploring the Sunshine Coast, Tofino and the Okanagan throughout the year. And yet, there is still so much to see and do in BC. My list of places to visit in this province isn’t getting shorter. As the saying goes, the problem isn’t a lack of things to do, but rather finding the time to do it all.
I know I am not the only one who feels this way. As one my girlfriends said to me,
“This is the problem when you live in vacationland.”
In short, I feel so fortunate to live in North Vancouver, such a beautiful part of Canada and the world.
Am I glad we vacationed on the Olympic peninsula this summer? For sure. We will probably go back to some of those surf breaks, and I still plan to drive down the coast to California from Vancouver one day. I know there is so much more to see.
Maybe the ‘trick’ is to adjust expectations, or to find beauty in the places you go and not compare them to where you come from. Or perhaps the truth is that the beauty and the destination you seek is not in some faraway land, but rather it is in you and where you come from. Sometimes, there is no place like home.