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“Want to see the best of the World? Ask Nature.” By Christina Nicole Rodriguez

When you are about to head out on a trip, whether it be stateside or international, you always make a mental checklist of what you want to see, if it’s not already in a planned itinerary. You already know what historical sites you want to visit, what buildings you want to see and what activities you want to take part in that will show the world that you were there. While this is all well and good, many times the most amazing parts of a trip do not have an informational plaque in front of them. They were not the creation of men from years gone by, nor do they belong to one era. The most amazing part of a trip will usually be too big to fit in one photo and even if it did your family and friends back home will probably not understand its true beauty like you will. It is the landscape of where you are. Some may think landmarks like the Grand Canyon, the Rocky Mountains and the Cliffs of Moher are the only natural places worth taking photos of but that is not the case. A place does not have to be designated as a tourist attraction in order to make it worthy of a visit, or of your attention. A simple turn of your head could lead you to find the next memorable souvenir of your trip. It could be a slow-moving creek flowing underneath a bridge that that you find soothing or the discovery of a large clearing behind some bushes that fills you with wonder. What makes these simple natural views so much more memorable than a tourist attraction is the effect and impression that they leave you with. These impressions carry on beyond the captured photo and are more impacting than any words you could use to describe them. Even if others think it looks

pretty, they cannot grasp what is means to you and what feelings are brought back upon sight of these landscapes. It may sound silly and exaggerated, but consider my own trip to Ireland. If you were to go through all the photos that I took while in Ireland for two weeks, you would clearly see that photos of the natural environment far outweigh the number of photos of structures and other landmarks. Once we left Dublin and headed west across Ireland through the County Mayo and the countryside, I was overwhelmed with the beauty that passed by my window. The green rolling hills were so smooth, and their extreme curves made them look as if they were blankets that someone had just snapped and begun to roll over a bed. Meanwhile the mountain ranges that we passed through could have broken my camera trigger considering how many photos I snapped of them. They did not have the extreme peaks of places like the Rockies or Mt. Everest, but their expansive size completely captured our attention. Despite all these descriptions it was still nothing more than a pretty sight. As with most experiences, one of the most impacting moments of the trip was also the most unexpected. It was a very cloudy, wet and drab day in an Aran Island town about the size of the Augusta Mall in its entirety. During a quick photo stop along the rocky shoreline of the island against the Atlantic Ocean I stood at the water’s edge staring out towards a group of huge boulders that were located out on the water. The waves from the ocean slammed against the rocks with full force and sprayed clouds of water all around them each time. Sometimes two waves of different direction would hit the same rock and the explosion of water would be all the larger.

In the light of the cloudy day, the entire sea looked grey instead of blue, and despite the fierce impact of water against rock, there was a calm about the place. The sound of water rumbling as it made contact with the rock and the soft spraying of water falling back on the ocean were the only sounds that could be heard in that place. There was a tranquility there that I gained by quietly watching the water attack fiercely and then softly fade away over and over again. We were not alone in appreciating the sights before us. While I was captured by the scene before me, a little seal had popped its head just above the waterline to observe us in silence. His own stillness and silence seemed to only add to the character of that place. This little spot along the back shore of the island did not have any markers. It did not contain a plaque with information about it from Ireland’s tourism department. You would not even hear a word about it in the most thorough Lonely Planet travel guide. The only indication that anyone knows about it is the worn fishing boat lying on the ground above the waterline. The place has not been marketed for tourists, it is simply there. It may not even have the same profound effect on everyone who comes by. I am sure that my fellow classmates did not gain the same impression that I did from our short time there. Some may have simply thought it would be a cool picture, took a photo, and headed back to the bus. That is the amazing thing about landscapes, scenery and nature. It does not speak one idea to every passerby. Each individual receives what they will from it in their own way and interpretation. Sure, creations of man like Bunratty Castle and the Spire of Dublin can be amazing, but if you are going to travel the world, then it would do you good to check out what nature has created too. Who knows? You may just leave with an impact and memory that will last you much longer than those photos you took.


It could be a slow-moving creek flowing underneath a bridge that that you find soothing attention. A simple turn of your head could lead you...