I have long been in love with the random, and for almost as long in love with travel. So one day in January 2012, I thought to myself “I bet you anything there’s a website out there that lets you throw a virtual dart at a virtual map.” I was right.
I found DartOnMap.net, which welcomes visitors with a beguiling invitation in just-off English: “Here you can throw a dart on a map, see where it lands and maybe you would want to go there. Enjoy!”
On the site, you can throw the dart at the whole world, just at a certain continent, or at a custom area you select yourself.
Each month, I accept DartOnMap’s invitation and draw a custom box around my home state of Utah, throw the dart, and make my way to the landing site.
On this site, I will chronicle these travels. My hope is to encourage you to visit some of the amazing places I’ve been, or better yet to encourage you to throw your own darts in your own areas of the world. Local, state, or regional darting is a simple, inexpensive way to keep travel a part of your life even when you can’t go to Zanzibar or Auckland. My trips are never more than three days, and most are just an overnight. Some have just been day trips.
Why Utah? I grew up here but beat it for the East Coast shortly after graduating from college. Nine years later I came home, and I wanted to get to know my home state better.
Why else Utah? It is a state of astonishing topographical diversity and beauty.
Why the dart? It excites me to travel to places I’ve never been, but even more so to places I had never even thought of going to before. This to me is truly exotic travel.
Behind all of these reasons is another reason: I lost my father in December 2011, one month before I threw my first dart. I have dedicated this project to him and here’s why:
- My dad loved to be on the go. His love for motion was either infectious or inherited—either way, I love motion too.
- Even though my dad was absolutely not outdoorsy, he loved Utah and saw a lot of it. He was a member of Utah Opera and traveled to schools all over the state as part of their opera in the schools program. He expressed a special affection for rural Utah, and I want to see what he saw or may have seen. I’m looking for him in the nooks and crannies of Utah.
- I don’t think I ever heard him say he hated a place he’d visited. He was open and curious. I like to think that I approach my trips with this spirit.
- I started to go on these dart trips in the wake of the worst thing that had ever happened to me—losing him. These trips, these darts, were my companions in what I call the wailing year and beyond.
Coming up next: How to Dart.