If someone offered me an all-expense paid trip to the Greek Isles, I would turn it down. Not because I have anything against hillsides of white houses, gyros, or the clear Aegean Sea, but because there is no way any trip to Santorini could possibly be better than my first. I’m afraid that going back would taint my memory of that first time.

Some places are just too good to return to. Some trips are so perfect that it would be foolish to tempt fate and attempt to duplicate.

Most perfect trips are only partly about the place. The great meal you had, the unexpected sunny weather, the crazy guy you met, the friends that you were with, and your prior expectations all factor into the success of a trip. I definitely enjoyed New Orleans more when I was there with my two girlfriends compared to a later solo trip. I enjoyed my first trip to Kansas City more than my second just because the city surprised me so much – I had no idea it was such a cool place.

My family’s (family = mom, dad, brother) second favorite vacation spot is Custer State Park in South Dakota. I was ten when we stopped at the little park on a long drive between Seattle and Wisconsin. I vaguely remember swimming in a pond and admiring buffalo, but I clearly remember laughing uproariously over buffalo burgers in a Custer lodge about a silly joke that has since worked it’s way into our permanent family lingo. You never know which seemingly random experiences will stick with you, your family, and your group of friends. A mention of “Custer State Park,” at a family dinner instantly evokes laughter and nostalgia.

And for this reason I bypassed the park on a recent trip through the Black Hills of South Dakota. Much like Greece, Custer State Park is just too good to return to, and I certainly couldn’t go back without my parents and/or brother.

I’m aware that comparing the Aegean islands and a small park in South Dakota may seem a little crazy, but that’s the thing about traveling. You never know which corner of the world will resonate with you in a new and unexpected way.