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Katie’s Musings: Top Ten

Cassie Williams
May 7 2018


Those “1,000 places to visit before you die” lists that always come out around this time of year kind of annoy me.  Like, a lot.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’d LOVE to visit all those places.  I’d love to meander along Norway’s coast, or take a photograph safari in South Africa, or climb up Mayan ruins in Belize, or sample the delights of Bangkoks floating market.  It’d be great.  But I also really enjoy eating food and paying rent and having a car to get around and confronting the massive pile of student debt I possess.

I’m not alone in this perspective.  An article came out recently about a trend among the millennials who are foregoing the stability of an apartment and a 9-5 in favor of buying old camper vans, fixing them up, and living in them full time while working online to save massive amounts of money and see more of the world than their tiny budgets would have allowed them to otherwise.  They vlog (video log) about it on YouTube and potentially make a little more money from ads and sponsors whilst simultaneously passing on their van-life wisdom to others who may be considering such a life.  And this trend makes sense:  for a large cross section of our population, the most highly educated and underemployed generation in memory, buying a home is a pipe dream, let alone actually having the cash to visit even one of those 1,000 places.  But a camper van makes more of those things accessible.

Anyway, in thinking about such lists, it occurred to me that maybe what matters is less the places themselves, but more the experience they provide:  the experience of getting out of one’s own comfort zone and being a part of unfamiliar surroundings.  And maybe one doesn’t necessarily require piles and heaps of cash to make those experiences happen.  So I’ve devised my own list for a new age (and less financially stable generation.)


  1. Hike to the top of a mountain.  Doesn’t matter which one.  Hike to the top, look out over the land below, and feel like a powerful lord of the land.
  2. Lay on the ground at night where you have a relatively unobstructed view of the stars.  Doesn’t matter where.  Look up and feel completely and relatively insignficant.
  3. Watch the sun come up somewhere unimpeded.  Start to finish.  And witness the glory of a new creation.  See, sunrise is about as good a reminder as we have that God is, always and forever, doing a new thing.
  4. Go somewhere you are surrounded by people.  One in a crowd.  Bonus points if within that crowd, no one looks like you.
  5. Go somewhere you cannot see another living soul for miles, beyond bugs and plants and the occasional wildlife.
  6. Do something that gets your heart racing and helps you to confront a fear you wish to get rid of.  Scared of heights?  Ride a ferris wheel.  Don’t like bugs?  Walk through the bug exhibit at the zoo.  Something like that.
  7. Meet a stranger and make them a friend.  My mom and I vacation together sometimes, and we cannot go anywhere without her striking up a conversation with someone random.  On my lone overseas trip, we were on a train from Rome to Venice, sitting in different seats.  At one point during the trip, I look over and she’s showing the Italian guy next to her pictures from our journey thus far.  He didn’t speak a word of English, mom didn’t know Italian, but we eventually figured out that he and his brother were cherry farmers, on their way to a relative’s house.  They got off the train before Venice, but not before leaving us a giant bag of cherries to enjoy the rest of the trip.  Strangers don’t have to be scary.  (But, you know, use your common sense and stuff…)
  8. Swim somewhere wild where you cannot see the bottom.  (I realize this may go hand in hand with #6, but it’s worth it.)
  9. Get lost in an unfamiliar town.  Because then you have to ask for directions.  And there is nothing more humbling than being a stranger in a town and asking for directions.
  10. Take a solo road trip.  The destination doesn’t matter.  The tunes do.  Because it’s one thing to go on a fancy, flashy adventure with someone else.  It’s quite another to be wholly with your own company.  To decide when you’re waking up and where you’re stopping for bathroom breaks.  To be unabashedly in the company of yourself.  To eat in a strange restaurant by yourself.  Bonus points if you don’t bring out a book.

That’s my list.  For now.

Gonna try to knock one or two out this summer.

But probably not in a camper van.

For now.