The sound of steady rain from tropical storm Andrea is the current soundtrack of my life, and I feel more mellow today. I thought of writing about politics, but I want to remember how beautiful this country is right now.
I find myself nostalgic and full of wanderlust. Being stationed in Florida, my heart yearns to go west.
But I want to go. Fuel prices and responsibility be damned, I want to feel the wind in my hair and the Pacific at my feet once again.
Alas, I am stuck here. So I close my eyes and remember that time when I was able to traverse the country fairly freely.
I hiked the Olympic Mountains of Washington State, a lush, gorgeous rainforest. As we hiked up to the snow-covered peaks, crossing rapid rivers of snow-melt and rain, we watched our step. The slugs out there are huge and plentiful.
I stared off at the Grand Tetons and at Jackson Lake, where I found a boat with my name and middle initial docked—just as it’s been since I first traveled there in 1982.
I’ve spent meaningful time in 47 states (Sorry to have missed you, North Dakota, Hawaii, and Alaska). I’m not talking about changing planes in Los Angeles. I lived and breathed in these places. I’m talking about driving on back roads, getting out and exploring the Cathedral of the Plains, hearing (and feeling) the hum and vibrations of the turbines at the Hoover Dam, chasing rainbows in Colorado, discovering Sioux City, South Dakota has a surprising amount of street art, and staring out at a dry but green plain in Utah, realizing it was the last place the Donner party gathered before it became infamous.
(That last one—that’s actually a rest area with small, unassuming historic sign to inform you of the significance of the place. Suddenly, the quiet green span of land looked intimidating.)
I just saw Django Unchained, and my attention was drawn to the geography. “That’s not Tennessee or Texas!” I said to the screen. “That’s Wyoming!”
I waited until the end of the credits—it was Wyoming. What a dumb thing to do, pretend that the mountains of Wyoming are in the South.
(If you’ve seen them, then yes, you know this is a dumb and distracting thing.)
Do yourself the favor and explore this country as much as possible. Go east, go south. Head northwest. Go.
You don’t have to go far from home or spend lots of money. If you travel a mere 20 miles from your home, you’ll find something of beauty or historic importance you didn’t know was there.