Today we left Minnesota and headed for South Dakota to spend the night in the badlands, which gets its name from the extreme temperatures and lack of water, but looking past those of course... It doesn't seem like bad land to travel through at all.
Even the drive through South Dakota was amazing, several people may say that all you will see is nothing but fields for miles and miles. Which is true, but to me that is fascinating and truly nothing like I have seen before, at least not since I started this trip. Driving across each state you really get a perspective of how big the U.S is and how many different the landscapes there are.
As I sat driving for 300+ miles I couldn't help but look around constantly, my eyes were of course on the road... But I realized that this may be the only time I will see this state. I have driven hundreds of miles in my lifetime but as you do the same route everyday you stop appreciating your surroundings. By the age of 8 I knew where everything was in Fairfield, there wasn't much else new for me to see. I walked by the same old run down community theater hundreds of thousands of times. Yet some days as I drive by it now, I almost forget that it's there. Everything we see on a day to day basis becomes boring with time, to a point where you just forget that it's there.
From the second we left Minnesota's corn fields and entered South Dakota I saw grassy hills as far as the eye could see, with hundreds of cows spread across them. It was truly a "Post Card Image" with it's inviting soft grass and a bright blue sky filled with cotton candy clouds. In that moment I knew I needed to take a minute to appreciate this once in a lifetime opportunity.
I want to remember what it was like to experience seeing little towns every 30 miles and that every 15 miles there would be an exit with just a small gas station, nothing else. All the Firehouse brewing company billboards with old fashion fire trucks parked next to them, or even the Wall Drug signs that I still have no idea what that is. I will never see the blue and yellow old buggies parked on some guys acres of farmland, so I have to take a moment now to acknowledge it. I think we all have to do that more, it's easy for me to say we need to look up from our phones and see the world around us when I have the gift of driving anywhere. But even in your hometown or your college campus that you see everyday, just spend a moment even if it's just a split second in time find some beauty in the world and appreciate it. Don't let your daily routine forget that it's there.
Once and a lifetime opportunities have that name for a reason, and I think we have to jump on them when life gives us that chance. The second I knew I could take a gap year and do something different from my siblings who went to Norway, I knew I couldn't pass that up. I want to be able to do more, to see more, and that's what I did.
My friend called me last night and she told me something that stuck with me... I am writing about this because I know she won't read it. But she mentioned to me that a fellow classmate in the same major as her took a semester off to work as a civil engineer for Disney. To me that is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I 100% think anyone should jump on that if they had the chance. Everyday so many people pass up these chances to learn more and see the world outside of their bubble because it’s scary. I say take the risk, that you don’t always have to have a plan but if you just plan to work on yourself and fill your life with amazing opportunities I think you will be pretty successful in the end.
So that’s what I am doing, jumping on every opportunity that comes my way. I hope all of you out there take a moment and do the same. Don’t let years go by and you ask yourself “what if.”
Greta Ann Vanderblue.