I don’t plan on dying any time soon but bucket list in my opinion is a good thing to have, not so you can just rush through life checking things off a list but rather so you can sit down and thoughtfully come up with things you’d like to experience and over the course of your life make a conscious effort to do them. I have never made such a list but now that I’m more than a quarter of a century old it might be time to do so. Traveling has always been a great love of mine so I think it’s fitting that the first portion of my list focus on places I want to travel here domestically in the United States of America. The guidelines are simple; it has to be somewhere that has never before been my destination (just passing through a place on your way somewhere else doesn’t count as visiting), and it has to be somewhere I can go without a passport. That seems simple enough right? Let’s see if I can narrow down my long list of places I’d like to visit to five top priority destinations before I die.
These are not in any particular order of importance, but that being said I didn’t have to give much thought to the first place on my list, San Francisco. On the recommendation of one of my favorite American authors, Jack Kerouac I need to visit the city on the bay sometime before I die. The eloquence with which Kerouac describes different aspects of the city are enough to make a hermit come out of hiding to experience all that San Francisco has to offer. His words are so descriptive that I’ve seen the city in my mind but before I kick the bucket I NEED to experience it in person. The second destination where I’d like to spend some time during my life is Alaska, Barrow specifically. Barrow is the northernmost town in Alaska and this is a place I would like to spend a month or so during the period of complete darkness for a few days and then the transitioning of days into 24 hours of light. To me that seems like one of the coolest things to live in complete darkness or complete light for months at a time and I would probably feel different if I lived through that every year but I just want to visit and experience it once. Another thing I’d be able to do that far north is see the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights, an incredible show put on by nature like nothing I’d ever seen before.
The third city on my list of bucket list places to visit in the United States is Boston, Massachusetts. North Carolina is the furthest North I’ve been on the east coast and I would love to spend some time in the New England area especially in Boston. Not only would it be absolutely beautiful if I could go there in the fall and see the famous colorful leaves changing and falling to the ground but there are so many cool and historical places and artifacts there, like the liberty bell (kidding) that I would love to spend a week or so exploring and taking in. Fourth on my list is Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania which being known as the Steel City may seem like an odd choice of vacation destination but what I’ve seen of Pittsburgh looks absolutely beautiful. I would love to go in the early spring and see a Pirates baseball game at PNC park. There are more than four hundred bridges in the city and for someone like me who admires them it just seems like it would be a lovely week of strolling through the city and checking out bridges and enjoying all of the great food that made them the number one food city in Zagat this year.
Last but certainly not least on my list of domestic bucket list of destinations is New York City. I have been there once, briefly for a layover at JFK on my way to Rome and I got out of the airport and did see the Statue of Liberty from afar but that doesn’t count as visiting. The city that never sleeps would be perfect for me as my insomnia hates the ritual of just lying in bed and searching for the impossible relief of dozing off. New York City is the center of the world and there is so much I want to do there that it might be better if I move there for a couple of years rather than visit for a few weeks. I would spend hours walking along the city streets beneath iconic sky scrapers and through Central Park comparing it to and judging it against the park I work at in Memphis. I would go see a show on Broadway, visit the Bronx Zoo, and stand where the World Trade Center was hit by a plane. I would get on stage and do an open mic at a comedy club that Jerry Seinfeld started at. I would visit in the winter so I could sip hot chocolate as I watched the ice skaters in front of Rockefeller Center skating in front of the biggest Christmas tree I’d ever seen. I would take the Ferry out to the Statue of Liberty and properly learn about this iconic piece of America. There are so many great places across this country with many different things to experience and people to meet and I would love to try all of them, however these are the five that I would choose to experience over all the others.