I have had such a fortunate life. Now, I want to share some of the best trips about my life and will share a bit of what makes them special.
- New York- In the picture below, it is in the year 2006 and I was 12 at the time. That trip consisted of just mom and me. That was a huge part of why the trip was meaningful to me. During this trip, my mom took me to see Wicked on Broadway. I don’t have many vivid memories of seeing Wicked, but I do remember that the song, Popular, was my favorite song from the musical. While I don’t have vivid memories of seeing Wicked, the impact clearly shows. Wicked sparked my love for musicals and it was how I started to understand complexity in musicals. It also was the beginning of understanding emotions as well and Elphaba became such a meaningful musical character in my life.
2. Next up is Alaska. This was a trip that I went on in the year, 2011. I went with my extended family. We went through a group called Tauck Bridges. We got to explore nature a lot of times. It consisted of several hikes and a “glacier and whale” tour. I got to meet husky dogs. I even went panning for gold. This trip was basically a cruise, but instead of traveling by cruise ship, we traveled by bus.
3. Costa Rica happened in 2014. I studied abroad for two weeks. Costa Rica like Alaska is another beautiful place to visit. I ended up staying with a host mom. The place we stayed at was Atenas. One special part was when we visited Monteverde.
Monteverde is a rain forest preserve. We hiked a lot when we were there. When we hiked the first time, it was fun being out in nature. The second round, I went on the canopy tour and at first, I didn’t know if I wanted to do it, but I decided to go on the canopy tour. The canopy tour is a zip-line above the canopy. Sometimes I got stuck in the middle, which was scary at times and a guide had to come get back and sometimes I had to go down with one.
We spent some time in the capitol of Costa Rica, which is San Jose. One time we spent the day exploring the place. Another day, we went to see a play, which was hard to understand since it was all in Spanish. But I was able to pick up on the fact that the show was comedy. Another thing we all did was visit a coffee plantation. Everything we did in Costa Rica was culture related.
4. The same year, 2014, I went on another special trip. In December, I went on a plane by myself to spend a week with my grandma in St. Louis. That was one special trip and one very special part was seeing Annie. Annie was my favorite musical before seeing Wicked. I think I loved Annie so much as a kid due to Annie’s optimism and her relationship to Sandy.
5. The most recent special trip I went on was England. Our church choir was in residence at Bristol Cathedral so England was a pilgrimage. The fact that the trip was a pilgrimage was a big reason why the trip was so meaningful. That year was 2015 in July and the pilgrimage began on the 31st. But the best part of the trip had nothing to do with the pilgrimage, but connected in some way.
The day before on July 30th, mom gave me a special treat. She actually took me to see Les Mis in London on the West End. It was my dream to see Les Mis in London. It was where the show truly began. At this performance, I had an understudy as Valjean. The cast I saw was brilliant and so was Adam Bayjou. I always get nervous when I hear I have understudies, but Adam has been the best Valjean I ever saw. In this cast, I finally felt for Javert due to how Jeremy Secomb portrayed him. The revolve was very effective and it helped with time change and was quite useful at the barricade. This production did make me cry and laugh and feel several emotions like I expected. Mom and I sat nine rows back from the stage.
Literally after hearing one note at this performance, I knew it was more than expected and I was speechless after both act I and act II and was one of the first ones to stand up at the end. That was how good the cast was. The entire cast was brilliant from ensemble to leads. Mom took me to the stage door afterwards and I met Adam and he signed my playbill. I think things came full circle with Les Mis because the West End is London’s version of Broadway. It came full circle because I saw Wicked on Broadway with my mom. Due to loving Wicked and Les Mis equally, it was quite fitting I saw one on Broadway and one in the West End.
Les Mis was in a lot of ways connected to the pilgrimage. Les Mis is Valjean’s spiritual journey and the Bristol Pilgrimage was my spiritual journey. We went to three castles, which were Berkeley, Windsor, and Chepstow. We visited TinTern Abbey, Stonehenge. I saw ten church services at four different places. We saw them at WestMinster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Salisbuy Cathedral, and Bristol Cathedral.
At the last service at Bristol Cathedral, I truly knew how transforming the trip was. It was during the anthem and I actually cried and that that reaction was how I knew how transforming the trip was. Stonehenge was the mountain-top moment of the pilgrimage. But the best part of the pilgrimage was not one of the places we visited. it It was actually the fellowship that was formed between all 72 pilgrims.
So all of these trips were quite special. All of these trips had some sort of impact on my life. New York was impactful due to seeing Wicked on Broadway and I think that was a big reason why it has been the most meaningful musical of my life growing up. One trip was the best extended family trip I ever been on and was inedible spending time in nature. One trip made me learn about culture in Costa Rica and made me see nature in a new perspective especially due to a canopy tour. The last one was important to my spiritual journey and my journey with Les Mis.