Early Exploration (minor spoilers)

I have a bad habit in open world games of ignoring the main questline to do literally everything else first. I've explored three quarters of the map (leaving the green zone where Meridian is located) untouched. I'm about to find the last vessels/flowers/datapoints, I've cleared all the corrupted zones, finished the hunter outposts and found all of the vantage points. I'm five or six flowers, a couple of vessels and a few vantage points from completing all of the collectable stuff (minus datapoints, as I'll be running through for all of those after the completion of the story)

I noticed when I reached the Bryce Canyon outpost (the one with the Arena) that there seemed to be some sort of story exposition where someone else is communicating with you through your Focus, and I triggered a few cutscenes while in the town. I assume that I was supposed to reach certain story points before this happened, as there hasn't been any lead up to these events.

I have a feeling I messed up as far as story progression goes by being overly exploratory before I was supposed to. I'm still on the quest that first sends you to meridian and I haven't so much as touched that section of the game, favoring instead, clearing everything else. I'm wondering if anyone else made the same decisions I did and if they had any effect on your storyline playthrough. I'm not looking to reset or anything, as I'm certain the minimal exposition isn't going to get in the way of understanding the overarching story at all, but I am curious as to whether or not this was intentional, or purely accidental, wherein the devs didn't expect you to go gallavanting around the world before you were supposed to. I've already cleared the Makers End, where the first instance of my Focus talking to me happened, and a name, the Exiles, was given to a group of bandits using corrupted watchers as guard dogs. Should I have stuck to clearing the world along with the story, or is finding all of the collectibles and opening up the world map before entering Meridian going to have only a minor effect on my run?

Also; exploration discussion general.

(As a side note, being a native of Arizona and finding Lake Powell as my last vantage point before starting to delve into the meridian corner of the map was exciting. I have yet to make my way south from there, but I'm psyched to see what the devs made post-apocalyptic Arizona look like. Any major landmarks I should keep my eyes out for?)

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