Julie McCoy of the West

The un-official el presidente of my OFC (Over Forty Club but very soon to be Over Fifty Club with one junior member) called me The Julie McCoy of the West when I was describing our plans for the latest adventure. I like it. There’s a reason he’s in my club. Thumbs up. Fist bump.

Folks in Rhode Island joke about how we hate to drive “all the way to the city”. I’ll bet 50% of Rhode Islanders haven’t been to Block Island (fools). But seriously, in the name of whatever is most important to you (God, Allah, Buddha, Haven Brothers, Gansett beer, Tom Brady…), you gotta go west.

I’m not saying it’s better. I love RI. I chose to stay. The west is a totally different landscape, a new perspective. A reset button.


First of all, it is so goddamned huge. You are a tiny speck. You want to talk about “the big picture”. This is where I’m horribly un-eloquent. I’m not a writer. I don’t have beautiful words to match my thoughts. What I know is that these experiences take me out of my little, suburban world and give me a new frame of mind and it is a very pretty picture.

Maybe you need help choosing. It is daunting, not knowing where to go because the choices are endless. I’ll admit to major FOMO when it comes to traveling out west. Here are some tips to help decide:

  • Research that place you’ve “always wanted to go see”. I know you have one.
  • Visit a national park. You can’t go wrong.
  • Call a friend. We all have a friend that lives out west somewhere. Depending on how good that friend is you can stay with them or just use them as a tour guide or jumping-off point.
  • Visit a family member (see “Call a Friend”)
  • Pull out a map (paper or computer screen), close your eyes and point wildly. Maybe you need to do a best of three on this method.

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JUST GO. No matter where you end up, I promise you won’t be disappointed. OK, OK, you just want me to tell you where to go…

  • Seattle and Olympic National Park
  • Loop Northern Oregon coast, Columbia River, Mt Hood, Bend/Sisters, Portland
  • Northern CA/Oregon Loop: Redwood National Forest, Mt Shasta, Klamath Falls and Crater Lake
  • Napa, Point Reyes National Seashore and San Fran
  • Pacific Coast Highway (high on my bucket list)
  • Lake Tahoe (could combine with Yosemite and Mono Lake)
  • Vegas, Death Valley, Mammoth Lakes
  • Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon
  • Jackson Hole, WY, Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone
  • Zion and Bryce National parks
  • Moab: Arches and Canyonlands National Park
  • Vegas, Hoover Dam/Lake Mead, Grand Canyon
  • Denver: Rocky Mtn National Park, Breckenridge, Vail, Aspen, Pikes Peak

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This list doesn’t even touch Arizona or New Mexico because I haven’t been but New Mexico is the next stop on the MishPerceptions Tour; Santa Fe and Taos in February with my bestie and my dentist 🙂

Life is short. Don’t wait for retirement. You may be hurt or sick. Your parents will most probably be old and sick. Your kids will be amazed and love every minute of it (talk about getting their heads out of their devices!). My boys claimed that this last trip to Zion National Park was BETTER than the cruise we took in the spring (love my boys because I’ll never cruise again. I should write a blog on that experience).


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