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The Most Beautiful Places I've Been

I've seen a lot of this country. I've lived on the Pacific Coast in California and on the Atlantic in New Hampshire, and visited many places in between. I've spent extended periods of time in Vermont, North Carolina, Idaho, Colorado . . . okay, let's just say that my 20s were busy and exciting. I worked from home and for myself, so picking up for the next adventure was easy. Of course, I always came back to the place I call home. In my years of galavanting about, there are two places that I've come to love above all others—Montana and Scotland.

I first arrived in Montana in late-1999. I was not long out of high school and my mother always wanted to visit Montana since the first time she heard Dan Seals and Marie Osmond sing, "Meet Me in Montana."

We visited Montana twice and as they say, "The rest is history." Montana was very different in many ways back then. I often find myself wishing for how it was seventeen years ago, and then remember that now matter what changes, it's still the only place I've ever felt truly at home. Living in Montana inspired my first western stories. It's the place where many of my favorite memories have taken place, and no matter where I've moved to, it was never long before I returned. A friend who has lived in Alaska told me that once I go to Alaska, I'll never want to live anywhere else. We'll see . . .

Then there is Scotland.

When I looked down at the tarmac from the airplane window and caught my first glimpse of Scotland, I felt a surge of excitement. Not only was it my first solo international trip, I'd always had this romantic notion about Scotland ever since I started family genealogy and discovered branches of my family tree hailed from there and Ireland. I was originally planning a trip to Ireland, but switched plans a few months prior. I can't explain why because I've never figured it out. It was a deep-rooted feeling that wouldn't go away.

Although it was quite a bit of a culture shock, everyone was so kind and obviously used to tourists who weren't familiar with life over there. I spent all but one day in the Highlands, visiting unpopulated villages and ruins and going on a few tours of castles, but my favorite part of the holiday was driving around and soaking up the beauty of the rolling hills, gentle mountains, sheep-covered pastures, and even the cemeteries and monuments.

Given the choice, I'd still live in Montana, but it would be a difficult choice. In many ways, Montana reminds of parts of Scotland and vice versa. Both are glorious and have this wildness about them that I hope is never tamed.

What is the most beautiful place you've ever been?

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