I became an aunt really early… first niece was born when I was 15 years old. So I learned to drive a four-speed with a babyseat in the back. Still remember what it felt like when I took a corner a bit too fast and didn’t have power brakes to help a girl out. Sure was nice for a farmer to tow me out of that ditch we landed in. It was a tough lesson for my ego, but luckily we were all fine. Even were able to laugh at it a bit later.
Years later as my nieces were growing up and I lived far away, I thought about how I could celebrate a birthday with them, really give them something they would never forget. I came up with quite a plan.
I decided 16th birthdays sounded good… would be old enough to be responsible enough, understand a neat experience, etc. And with my love of travel, it sounded like the two could come together. I talked with my sister about the idea and she agreed it sounded like a memorable birthday gift and more importantly, it was something that could never get lost and nobody could take it away.
Making 16 a Year to Remember
As my oldest niece entered her teens, I couldn’t wait to talk to her about the idea. Knowing I had others to come, I decided I better figure out a way to be sure I could do this several times, so I decided to have a few basic points:
- The trip is just my niece/nephew and I
- We have one week’s vacation together
- The 16-year-old picks where we go & helps plan the trip
- The geography in play is the contiguous states
And what’s been awesome is so far, I have been on three incredibly unique trips with three totally awesome nieces!
- My oldest niece Georgia chose Seattle. It was a big scene at the time with grunge music and we both love Eddie Veder. We spent time in the city doing things like wandering around, eating sushi, going to a theater performance, etc. And we had time at Mount Rainier and a wildlife park nearby and even went to the Hoh Rainforest and the beach at Moclips! It was as busy as that sounds! One of the adventures Georgia got into was while we were hiking at Mount Rainier, she wanted to get the view from the Nisqually River. She said she wanted to go out on the rocks to see. We were up an embankment that was at least 25 feet high and let’s just say, Georgia isn’t always sure-footed. I said ok but know now, I don’t want to call your mom and tell her I lost you in the river cause I’m not coming down there! Everything was fine of course and I got an incredible photo of her.
- Next up with my niece Corey…. we went to Colorado together! We spent a good bit of time in Denver seeing a variety of things from brew pubs to art museums to ball games to the US mint. We also took a little time in Boulder, seeing the market, the tea house, and we even drove to Colorado Springs to see the Air Force Academy and Pike’s Peak. With Corey, a couple of things stand out in retrospect. Since we were going somewhere I had college friends, we had the chance for her to see things from locals perspectives too. A sight I don’t think I’ll ever forget is the two of us looking at a moose herd in Rocky Mountain National Park. We got a bit worried about the rental car when we were at Pike’s Peak (didn’t want the brakes to get too hot) and we shared a moment of silence as we passed Columbine High.
- Alicia was the last one I’ve traveled with (some of you know her from her first trip to pick cotton and the fact she was my roommate for a while). She had lots of time to think about her trip since sisters are older. We went to Southern California together. We spent time in LA, Orange County and San Diego seeing a variety of the things there. Like the other girls, we combined city and nature…. had a great day at the beach in La Jolla, went to Universal Studios, saw the pandas in San Diego and we visited dear friends of mine too. Navigating the intense traffic was interesting to say the least but I’ll never forget when she was looking at a sign and a bird scared her! I am not sure I could have laughed harder!
Celebrating My Nephew’s Birthday
Now its time to travel with my nephew! And while I’m not sure exactly what all we will get into, the destination makes it an automatic win. It will be his first trip to New York (and a much needed return trip for me!) The difference is he’s not been to New York before and wants to go there and really soak the place up, where each of the girls wanted to see several different areas. My beautiful boy is following the words of one of New York’s most well-known immigrants, John Lennon saying “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” And while we are not going to plan for everyday, we have pulled out a couple of things that sounded most interesting to him.
- Sailing in New York harbor — A friend I haven’t seen in a long time has been offering to take me boating next time I got to New York. When I mentioned the idea to my nephew, he had to agree it sounds cool. I’ve been out on ferries and the Circle Line but a sailboat sounds like a greatly different experience!
- Lots of Great Food — He’s the normal 16-year-old boy….. he may not know what we’ll be doing most days, but he does know there is a lot of great food to be had in New York! I’ve already asked several friends for tips since its been a little while since I was local or spent much time there. If you have suggestions on this, feel free to add them in t he comments!
The conversation about what to do in New York was started with the timing and the immediate need to arrange for flights and the hotel. We are planning it a bit faster than the other trips, but I have to admit it was strange to place something as close to my heart as the State of Now Conference alongside touring Wall Street. Remember, months ago I was telling people if you ever have a chance to go to a State of Now 140 conference, you should go. Well, when the rubber hits the road, this trip is about what both of us may want to do and me willing to do things he wants to do whether I do or not. It’s not a trip for the adults to set the agenda. That happens all the time before a kid turns 16 and this trip is to be a game-changer. They have equal input in what we see & do.
So when I finally put all the pieces together that this New York trip would coincide with the State of Now, I was unsure what my nephew would think about it. He’s on Facebook but he doesn’t post a lot. My guess was if it appears to be a “Twitter conference” (which it is not), he’d rather pass and I had to be absolutely alright with that. I explained that I had been to a few of these and they have rocked! I have met awesome people from around the US (I told him about Jeff Pulver specifically!) and shared things people are truly passionate about. We talked about some of the folks who would be there — Deepak Chopra & family, Carlos Delgado, Kevin Slavin, Becky McCray….
It has been people that have made my previous experiences and although no two of these are ever the same, I am so pumped Kazu said it sounded cool to do for a bit. Jeff’s presentation about “Simply Become Who You Are” really moved me and seems perfect for this trip. I am asking Kazu to watch it and you should too…. just give it some thought.
- Each event is different based on the characters who share their thoughts and stories.
- Each of us have different mindsets from day-to-day and I think that can impact how you participate.
- The time spent in the hallway visiting during lunch can get you in touch with people one-on-one and take connections further.
- With other people willing to share their stories in a personal way, it helps you think & grow.
- Just look at the topics being discussed! WOW!
- And some of the people who will be there! HOLY MOLY!
You should register for the State of Now June 19-20 today (the same rules don’t apply since you aren’t planning your 16th birthday trip 😉 )! But don’t wait for that to join the conversation…. the comments section is just below!
We are going to have an incredible time, walking the neighborhoods, eating the awesome food, gliding across the water and experiencing the State of Now — life happening and the conference!