I grew up in the Pikes Peak region, very rural. Where the closest neighbor we had for many years was about half a mile away. Where the roads were dirt for three miles back to my childhood home. Where you could hear traffic from a mile away if you listened hard enough. Where big horned sheep hung out in their back yard and mountain lions were a real threat.
When going to school as a kid we literally lived at the LAST stop on the school bus route, for either school we went to either in Cripple Creek or Woodland Park. Both of which were a 30 minute drive in either direction.
When I was 19 (in 2010) I decided, while taking a gap year and a half, to take a trip. By myself I would go to Europe. I started in Germany and France with some dear friends that lived in Stuttgart. By the time I got to traveling alone I was in the UK and that meant a wakeup call on public transportation and how much of the world lives.
In London, I rode on my first subway, real subway- not one at an airport.
Out of London I rode on my first public train, not just a touristy trip through the Royal Gorge, to Diss in East Anglia.
In Edinburgh, I rode in my first cab, EVER….I kid you not.
Out of Stirling, Scotland I took my first public bus to Dirleton, Scotland, which quickly turned into a mess because I didn’t understand bus schedules…anyway.
Out of Holyhead, Wales I would take my first ferry and land in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland.
As a trip of firsts in public transportation and seeing the world it was a wonderful experience and preparation for moving to the city for college.
In January of this year I took a third trip to the UK with my aunt, from Kansas, who had:
- Never been in a cab
- Never been on a commuter train
- Never been on a subway
- Never been on a public bus.
It was strange to think that someone in their 60s could just be experiencing these things for the first time. Yet, when I think about how strange the mid-west and western United States could be for people, it’s kind of a weirdness that is unique to that part of the world. Growing up in rural environments means that we have some experiences with raising farm animals, or hiking hidden trails. Yet we miss out on more urban pursuits. Which, when traveling have an interesting way of sneaking in. All part of the experience.