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Malcomb column: Road trip changes reporter's life – in more ways than one

Reporter Jamey Malcomb checks out the landscape near Devil's Tower National Monument in Wyoming during a life-changing road trip. (Photo by Lisa Malcomb)

I'm so excited I can hardly sit here at my desk, much less try to type a column.

At some point, my colleague Teri Cadeau is going to look over at me and see my bouncing up and down in my chair and she's gonna look at me like I'm completely nuts.

She's not wrong. But I am also two days away from leaving the snow and cold for a full week. I think that warrants a little excitement.

(Note: by the time you read this, I'll have been sitting on a beach for several days.)

My wife and I were flying to Mexico that Saturday morning for a week of fun with my sister, brother-in-law and my nephews. Best part of that is, even now, the boys don't know they are three days away from the trip of a lifetime. They won't know they are meeting us there until they arrive at the condo we rented.

You guys don't need to hear all about my trip though — you'll hear enough about that when I get back — but I've been thinking about how much traveling I've done over the past eight years.

The first 34 years or so of my life were spent almost exclusively on the East Coast, mostly between Washington and my hometown of Charlotte, N.C.

There were a couple trips here and there, to New York, Austin, Texas and a few other places, but before I met my wife, I could count on one hand the number of times I'd left the Eastern Time Zone.

Since then, we've been to Jamaica, Iceland, Mexico, Spain and Morocco, but the thing that really opened my eyes to travel and what it could be wasn't a trip to an exotic location or the epic cathedrals of Europe.

It was a road trip. It was a pretty epic road trip, but a road trip all the same. My wife and I spent more than three weeks on the road, driving from D.C. to Yellowstone National Park and back. In fact, my first walk down the breakwall came when we stopped in Two Harbors on the way home.

I had been to California and Texas before, but it was the first time I had been to the Great Plains or Rocky Mountains.

I remember when we finally got out onto the open plains and it — man, this sounds corny — but it literally took my breath away.

I had never seen a place so open and empty. I had never really dreamed that there was another place in the world, let alone in my own country, that felt so truly alien in the world. I remember talking my wife with my face pressed up against the window of the car.

"How far away do you figure those trees are?" I asked. "A mile? Two miles?"

I remember seeing Devil's Tower in Wyoming rising up out of nowhere on the horizon and being absolutely dumbstruck.

The trip awoke something in me. It had always been there, waiting, but during that trip I realized I wanted to see it all. The pyramids of Egypt, Mexico and Southeast Asia. The man made and the natural wonders. Whatever it is, I want to see, hear, touch, smell or taste it. Maybe all five.

This trip was life-changing for another reason, too.

During our stop in Duluth and on the North Shore, my wife and were walking through her sister's garden.

I leaned over and said: "We can live here if you want."

Jamey Malcomb

Jamey Malcomb has been a reporter for the Pine Journal since October 2018. He previously worked as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle from 2015-2018. Malcomb is a native of North Carolina and holds a bachelor's degree in English and history from the George Washington University and a master's degree in education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Malcomb moved to Minnesota in July 2012 and worked as a sports clerk and news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune. 

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