I follow the sounds of a harmonica and banjo as I walk through the doors of Glacier Park Lodge, a 101-year-old lodge at the edge of Montana’s Glacier National Park. Greeted by a Rocky Mountain goat in front of me and three-story tall Douglas-fir columns towering above me, a fire crackles in the far corner as a male/female duo strums and sings “Wagon Wheel,” which only seems appropriate for this trip to Montana, since the song is about a hitchhiking journey through Middle America. A small group, both young and old, gathers around the couple, listening intently, while behind me, sitting around coffee tables are couples, families and kids engaging in a variety of activities, including games of Scrabble and Checkers, reading books and handwriting letters. The nostalgia and simplicity of the moment stops me dead in my tracks, where time seems to stand still, as a destination’s arts, culture and landscape intersects in a way that few destinations do.

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It’s really hard to put Montana’s Glacier National Park into words. I spent most of my week there with a pen and notebook in hand a couple weeks ago, but found it hard to put into words how stupid-beautiful it was. And to think that years ago, it had many more times the number of glaciers that it has today. Growing up in a farm in rural North Carolina and living in the West Coast’s largest metropolitan areas the last few years, it’s hard to believe something like this exists in the U.S.. But I think the beauty of Glacier National Park can be summed up in the words of a friend when scrolling through some of my photos recently, when they said, “Are those the Alps?”

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I raise my hand at the bartender, “Una mas por favor,” I say with confidence, as if it hasn’t been a while since I’ve practiced Spanish (talking Spanish at my local taqueria in L.A. probably doesn’t count). He effortlessly pops the top off a Modelo beer and sets it in front of me. All around me I’m satisfied by the sound of only Spanish, though I’m only recognizing about one out of every ten words. But this isn’t my destination. No, this is Mexico City Airport, where I’m laying over on the way to Costa Rica. The last time I was here? Three years ago when I was returning from a trip I took to Costa Rica that ended up lasting several months. Or, was it the trip that took me?

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