The Traveler’s Curse. Or, Home is Where You Make It.

Home doesn’t have to be in one place. Home is where you make it. For some of us it is wherever we want it to be. I haven’t posted anything in awhile due to, for lack of a better term, writer’s block or maybe I should call it artist’s block. Lately I’ve been struggling to find that passion that comes from the heart. My wife and I moved back to Missouri after living in my home state for the past three years. And in the last six months I’ve been to Minnesota and back, the Smoky Mountains twice, a lovely and relaxing week catching waves at Folly Beach, a pig out session on Memphis’s Beale Street, and numerous trips to the Ozarks. Still, I am striving to find the passion and inspiration I once had. Even after all the traveling. I am a wanderlust soul and travel addict.

My parents raised me traveling. Even after their divorce, they both individually managed to make it work so we could go explore new places. The Badlands, Black Hills, Glacier National Park, the Gulf Coast, the Ozarks, Northern California, Europe, Minnesota’s north shore, and even Africa are all places we managed to get to as I was growing up. We were by no means rich, my parents just made certain financial choices. I’ve been to Norway, Denmark, Holland, Germany, England, Scotland…my life has been nothing but traveling. And because of that I have been very blessed.

While most of my life I’ve lived in Missouri (due to the divorce of my parents), I like to say a good part of my life I spent in Minnesota—my home state and home state to nearly everyone in my family. I was raised on tater tot hotdish here in the south (yes, to me Missouri is the south). As well as Nordic gløgg which we made every Christmas, along with krumkake of course. Tater tot hotdish is an unheard of thing to many Missourians. As is any of what I just mentioned. But I was raised in a family steeped in Minnesota tradition.

I have always considered myself a Minnesotan first and foremost. The cold lakes and streams surrounded by spruce, white pine and cedar. The call of the loon and howls of the wolves and the night skies dancing with northern lights. Thousands of lakes broken up by remnant rock of a retreating glacier making up what we call “God’s Country”, the visuals are beyond stunning. I’m also one of those people who prefers winter over summer. I thrive in it.

In Missouri, we don’t get winter. Well, at least not proper winter. We get cold and grey, the land is brown, not enough snow and you can’t ice fish, snowshoe, or build snow sculptures. We also don’t get northern lights, or hear wolves howling as you’re drifting off to sleep in your tent, nor do we get very comfortable summers. I will say though from fall until spring we get a fantastic backpacking season that requires a lot less work. It is easier to build a fire and I also don’t have to shovel the roof on a weekly basis. Missouri winters are something I’ve actually learned to really enjoy, if only for the fact that the temperatures are not 100º with 100% humidity as they are in summer. But I miss the winter wonderland that a proper winter provides. Thankfully though, for any folks of northern Scandinavian descent like myself, it still gets somewhat cold enough to take a sauna here. That is alright in my book.

Anyways, I feel like I’m being negative. Apologies. Missouri isn’t bad. I’m finding my places I can hope to reignite my passion. Breathtaking Ozark views during semi-stormy days can be the equivalent to the moods of the Smokies. My wanderlust soul has been searching hard for new places to photograph that can blow me away and leave me in awe much like the Minnesota has. Believe me, it is coming. It all just takes a whole lotta work and a whole lotta time. And because of my life experiences traveling to so many inspiring parts of the globe, I have gained an appreciation for anything that’s different.

The best thing is the people I have met. Most of them whom I have worked with since I started my career in the outdoor industry and growing closer to my wife’s family. Not to mention, now that we are distanced, the people I met and built relationships while living in Minnesota the past three years. There is where the passion has been reignited. I am developing a love for this area and I hope to be able to portray that in my photography in the future. Life is good. No, it’s better than good, it’s great.

After all the places I’ve been since relocating back to Missouri (and throughout the course of my life so far), there is still one place that I still want to go more than all the others. I love the moody Smokies, the glorious southern food of Memphis, the beaches and low country boils of South Carolina, the barbecue of Saint Louis, and even the Ozarks. I appreciate all of them. I appreciate the culture and lifestyle in each and every place I’ve visited. So on that note, Missouri is home. It feels good to be here. The central location to all these beautiful areas makes it a wanderlust spirit’s dream. But, there is one place I always want to go back to. That place is Minnesota, the place I’m most passionate about.

Home is where you make it. While what we feel is our true home may be far away, home is also where you are in the present. Enjoy it. Make the best of it. Travel. And if you have that one place that reignites your passion, keep going back to that place while appreciating all that you have experienced. Travel to get there. Go. Home doesn’t have to be one place.

—Jake

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