First stop

My first month of down-time since leaving Boston was spent in one of the most beautiful places on the planet—uncrowded, sugar-white beaches that stretch for 30 continuous miles, crystalline emerald waters teeming with tame dolphins—a little-known paradise that everyone backpacking around Thailand is looking for.

It’s funny, then, that I’m sitting on a plane now headed to Southeast Asia in search of sights and smells and sounds that, for me, won’t ever quite top that place—my hometown, the Gulf Coast of Florida.

Nothing can ever replace the feeling of stepping onto that warm Gulf sand and breathing in the wild, salty wind after being away for far too long—or watching a fiery Florida sunset melt into the ocean for the thousandth time.  An almost too-perfect background for the past month of relaxing with my amazing and charmingly wacky family and digging into those old childhood favorites like the chili cheese pie at Tom’s Hot Dogs and yes, even Taco Bell (twice…).

Maybe travel is not about replacing, then; it’s about learning, growing, and sometimes even being more appreciative of the places we are from when we finally return home.

And I know that when I’ve seen whatever it is that I need to see, and done whatever it is that I need to do, the Emerald Coast will be there waiting for me, beckoning me home like it always does.

Gulf of Mexico, Panama City Beach, Florida

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