This past summer, I took my boys on a cross-country road trip.  We drove from New Jersey, cross-country to Yellowstone National Park, San Francisco, Yosemite National Park, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon (North and South Rims), and through Texas to Florida, and then back to good old New Jersey.

beyond by Genista, on Flickr
Our home state of New Jersey has the highest population density of any state in the Union.  We like it here, but we wanted to see what the rest of our country looks like.
This trip was a long-time goal of mine.  I’m a college professor, and I have been studying, teaching and researching continuously for almost 20 years.  I love my job, and I really love accounting.  I enjoy spending time with my fellow professors and my students.  I love my work.  But why do I do it?  I became a college professor not so I could work hard, but rather so that I could enjoy life with my family.  I felt it was time to take a break and spend time with my boys.
We had several sub-goals along the way: Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and more.  For months, I planned the trip.  Got maps, planned routes, set up a calendar, booked campground and motel reservations.  Prepared the minivan.  Bought gear.  Being an accountant, I budgeted.  All of this planning served the goal and the sub-goals.
On the trip, sometimes our plans worked.  Sometimes they didn’t.  I planned to drive 600 miles/day.  Not easy, especially for three days in a row.  I didn’t plan for crossing time zones, and a few days that were supposed to be 600 miles turned out to be more like 700 or even 750.
We made detours: Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza, Badlands National ParkLombard Street in San Francisco, a brief stay in Beverly Hills, my old stomping grounds at UT-Austin.

We made many new friends from all over the world. Each night we saw stars in the sky.

In campgrounds throughout the American west, I think we met more International tourists than Americans.  It seems sad to me that Americans work, while European and Asian tourists enjoy our country.
After six weeks, we drove home tired, but with the happy and satisfied feeling of having accomplished one lap of America.
What are your goals?  How will you achieve them?

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