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We Need to Talk About My (Deeply Red) Choices

West Virginia? Mississippi? And now Arkansas? You might be starting to wonder about my politics. Well, I can't deny that I'm partially engaging in a purging of the independent-thought-squashing, treat-anyone-who-doesn't-think-like-us-as-an-idiot, holier than thou, hypocritical NIMBY, I-hate-all-Republicans-even-though-I-don't-know-any-but-I-still-claim-I'm-open-minded-and-tolerant, ultra nonsensical liberalism of Boulder. 

Phew. I had to get that out. I've been holding it in a long time, writing it into posts, deleting, rewriting.

Seriously, I feel like I've gotten out of an emotionally abusive relationship. I was sucked in, bit by bit, and indoctrinated - like into a cult - into the "correct way" of thinking and being. I genuinely feel like I've escaped a variety of oppression. While these feelings were simmering deep beneath the surface for a while, COVID-19 broke the spell (so many people like this), cracked the fa├žade, and allowed the stink to start oozing in. I didn't realize how bad it was until I got out, but the relief I felt when Boulder was a few weeks in my rearview was palpable. If there's one thing I'm certain about in life now, it's that I will never go back.

But that does NOT mean I'm riding the crimson tide or flying the Trump 2024 flag any time soon. Absolutely not.

Oregon and California are already booked and confirmed destinations in my 2021 itinerary. Rural Oklahoma and Central Florida are not. I'd like to go to Savannah, Georgia as much as I would Brattleboro, Vermont. I'd like to spend a month each in Key West, the northern shores of Lake Michigan, Manhattan, and the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho.

dog in front of a pond with cloudy blue water

Basically, I'm not considering politics at all in my list of reasons to pick a place. In case you haven't realized, nature is my jam. So, primarily, I'm picking places for their amazing forests and mountains and trails. Or sometimes, as in the case of Coastal Mississippi, for their food and climate. I also want to go places that make me feel like a foreigner in my own country, so I can be out of my comfort zone and grow as a human. I'm going places that have their own culture so I can see what the rest of America is all about and make my own judgments based on experience, not on intellectual or political snobbery.

tree with purple flowers over a pond

So, Hot Springs National Park where I have beautifully groomed running trails literally one block from my front door and 600,000 acres of lakes and forest trails less than an hour drive away? Absolutely, unequivocally, yes. Also, did you know there's quite a bit of unique history here related to gangsters and baseball? Or that Hot Springs is the oldest protected land in America? It's been protected since 1832, but this month celebrated its 100th anniversary as a national park, a quirky little urban one.

woman in front of park celebration sign

And if I ever get that itty-bitty twinkle of nostalgia for Boulder (I did live there mostly happily for five years, after all), I can go down to the spring water fountain and fill up my jugs, just like I could in the Boulder foothills.
woman and old man at water fountain