"Be ready for the next sign here soon, Al," my sister called out over the music.
"Wait, the next state line is already coming up?" I thought. We just got to New Hampshire. How the hell had we driven through so quickly?
Sure enough, though, there was the Massachusetts state line, just as we crossed the bridge. I snapped a photo as we whizzed by.
Yet again, my Coloradan brain was a bit confuzzled by the Northeast, as it had been for the past few days.
Before heading back to Beijing, by way of jolly ol' England, I had flown out to see my sister's new digs in Maine. She had recently moved out there, having had her fill of the beautiful Northwest in Washington state.
"Why Maine?" I had asked.
"I don't know," she said. "It seems like a good equivalent to Washington, but on the East coast."
I'd never been — the most I'd seen in that part of the country was New York City for a week, back in high school — so I figured now was as good a time as any.
So we set out for a three-day adventure across as much of the state as we could. We hopped from trailhead to "place of interest" to roadside attraction, belting out '90s hits like it was our audition for a retro American Idol. We posed in front of a pink dinosaur skeleton, walked up to small waterfalls and gazed up at an elephant that lived atop a movie theater.
Quite the time for the Sieh sisters.
The whole time, though, I marveled at this state, this part of America I'd never even considered visiting prior to my sister's move. I listened to her stories about the locals they'd met, the way they spoke and how they viewed things.
It was completely new, and I hadn't had to leave the country to experience it.
Since I moved abroad, folks often tell me how amazing they think it all is. They look at my photos and listen to my stories and cannot believe how different my new world is compared to theirs.
"I'm jealous," they sometimes say. "I'd love to travel, to take my own adventure, but I just can't right now."
Whether it's money or time or obligations with family and work, they feel limited in what they can do.
The truth is, though, they have their own opportunities right outside their door.
I'm not going to argue my current world isn't different or dynamic or worth traveling to — it is. I'm incredibly lucky to have had this chance and the resources to make it happen.
But there I was, hiking up an off-shoot of the Appalachian Trail, gazing through trees at an incredible view of the distant hillsides. I was in an entirely new sort of forest, scrambling over giant rocks and laughing with my sister. Later that day, we would drive out to "Land's End" to watch the sunset at the tip of an archipelago.
I had made a whole host of memories right in my own country. And they were just as incredible as any I'd made abroad.
I hadn't needed a passport or guide book or visa.
All I had to do was go.