Souvenirs. They are an important part of any trip. Or are they? I always struggle with what to bring people back from my trips. I really don’t care for tchotchkes although many people do. I like my gifts to be thoughtful rather than a generic viking that says “Finland” on its helmet.
This even extends to things like gift registries. It pains me to buy you a set of measuring cups even if it is off of a list of things you want. I’m working on that one though. However, if I can’t find something that speaks to me as to why you would love it, you’re probably not getting anything (from my trip, I’ll still buy you something for your wedding).
I went into this trip looking for some very specific things: a piece of petrified wood for my advisor, something turquoise for one of my dearest friends, and dinosaur bones for my “nephew”. For some other people that I needed gifts, I had no idea. My dad is easy, buy him some craft beer and a t-shirt somewhere and he’s happy. We managed to do that at Great Divide Brewing in Denver. He got some Yeti and a Yeti t-shirt. Here’s my dad and I ice skating before going to one of our local breweries:
I’m not sure why we’re purple. My mom, on the other hand, I struggled with. I know she dislikes tchotchkes as much as I do. She has no need for more stuff. She’s like me and enjoys the experiences more than the things. Even so, I felt quite guilty when we showed up at Christmas empty handed for her. (Editor’s note: Ryan did not show up empty handed, he brought a bouquet of Christmas flowers!) Thankfully, she said all she wanted was a trip to the Farm. We had already been planning that, so we got off easy. I apparently need to take more selfies with my mom in the woods but here we are at a wedding earlier this year:
Forgetting other people, what do you get yourself on this type of trip? Some people love collecting ornaments or shot glasses but I’m way behind on that sort of collection and feel like it’s too late to start now. When I worked in aquariums, I used to buy myself ocean themed earrings everywhere I went. When you wear a uniform to work everyday, it’s fun to have something you can change up. It got to the point my collection was so big that I made my own Pinterest Board to showcase them. You can see them here. But now that I’m back in school and not working in aquariums, I don’t wear them like I used to, so it seems a silly souvenir. Here’s the first pair I ever bought from an artist at Tamarak in West Virginia:
The one thing I wanted from this trip was a piece of petrified wood. The park had many, many, many signs up warning you against taking wood from the park. They even had a vehicle inspection at the exit. Thankfully, we had planned to visit Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Co as Trip Advisor rated it the #2 thing to do in Holbrook after the park itself. While there we found some great gifts there for ourselves and others. Ryan even found a piece that looked like North Carolina:
I had a hard time finding a piece I wanted. There were so many beautiful pieces cut into book ends and other knickknacks. However, as I mentioned, I wanted on that spoke to me. Surprisingly, it was in the bargain bin:
Do you see it? This is a piece of a branch from a tree that I thought looked like a heart! Ever since I was little, I have collected heart shaped rocks. I’m not sure what’s so appealing about them. (Apparently, I’m not the only person who does as Zits ran a comic strip about it as well.) So once I saw this piece, I knew it was mine. It ended up being the only souvenir I got on the entire trip. However, I did find a heart shaped rock the day we off-roaded near the Valley of Fire:
They join my collection of other heart shaped rocks from places like Alaska:
The other souvenir I brought back for myself was some red sand from Logandale. I started collecting sand many years ago. I used to ask my volunteers from the aquarium to bring some back from their travels. But sand makes a very bulky souvenir collection. What do you do with it all? I struggled with that for years before I realized I had the perfect solution. I have my mom’s old type tray that used to hang on our wall full of antique tchotchkes. I cleaned it, repainted it, and turned it into my sand collection:
So there are a few slots waiting for my Valley of Fire sand and other places I may go in the near future. For me, heart rocks and sand are a more meaningful way to remember my trips places and they suit my personality better than a shot glass. What do you bring back to commemorate your trips?
Here are some more examples of things I often bring back for myself: