Thursday, October 29, 2009

Why I travel and dream of traveling more...

There is a quote from some Peace Corps paperwork that I can relate to:

If we do not offer ourselves to the unknown, our senses dull, our world becomes small and we lose our sense of wonder. Our eyes will not lift to the horizon; our ears will not hear the sounds around us. We pass our days in a routine that is both comfortable and limiting. We soon wake up to find we have lost our dreams in order to protect our days. Fear of the unknown and the lure of the comfortable space will conspire to keep you from taking the chances you should take.

But if you take a chance, you will never regret the choice. To be sure, there will be moments of doubt when you stand alone on an empty road in the pouring rain, or when you are ill with fever in a rented bed. But as the pains of the moment will come; so will they ever fade away. In the end you will be so much richer, so much stronger, so much happier and so much the better person for having taken risk, and hardship.

There will be nothing to compare to the insight you have gained.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Trip to Utah

We are in Boulder, Utah. We arrived yesterday and tried to check in at the Boulder Mountain Lodge where I made a reservation back in March for 2 couples, for 3 nights. There was no record....we showed the e-mail confirmation to the competent young woman and she discerned that our reservation was at the Boulder Mountain Lodge in Boulder...Colorado! That would be 485 miles east of where we are. I was totally humiliated since I like to believe that I NEVER screw up! So, we lost our $150 deposit and now had to find lodging for the 4 of us in a "town" of less than 200 people with only 3 small hotels. There was no vacancy at the lodge, and none at the next hotel, but fortunately we were able to get 2 rooms at the third hotel and then made reservations for the following 2 nights back at the Boulder Mountain Lodge. I wanted this screw up to be the fault of someone else, but it really was my mistake.

This trip has been wonderful in many ways. Traveling with another couple is trying at times and probably not something we will attempt again any time soon, but the locations, the activities and the weather have been fabulous. I feel like a lizard sitting in the sunshine trying to absorb every bit of it before we return to the long rainy northwest winter.

The driving has provided endless amazing views - the geological history of the southwest is fascinating and the formations and colors are stunning. We enjoyed several days of riding our mountain bikes while in Moab, and had a good day of hiking in Arches National Park and today we took 2 wonderful hikes. The first was down the side of a canyon to a water fall. There were no people around and it was peaceful and so good for my soul. I could easily have sat next to the water sunning myself for many hours. Next we took a short hike on an un-marked trail and discovered some petroglyphs of antelope and perhaps goats and then about 100 handprints. It was such an exciting site to stumble on but unfortunately there were obvious signs of previous visitors. Clearly someone had tried to remove a slab of rock that had 2 petroglyphs on it, and then there was graffiti and initials dating back to the early 20th century. What is wrong with people?

There is a restaurant here in Boulder that has written up in Oprah magazine back in 2003. The Hell's Backbone Grill They have won numerous awards and the food really is excellent, but who would think there would be such a find in this tiny little corner of the world? This really is fairly close to the middle of nowhere! Anyhow, check out the link and read their is pretty cool.

Tomorrow we will hike some more and then Sam and I will part ways with Vicki and Steve and we'll head to Las Vegas for a few days with Sam's family. That will be quite a switch after more than a week in such peaceful natural settings!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Random thoughts

I have been doing an odd thing this fall. Each day I look at the photos taken on the same day a year ago, or three years ago to see where we were in either Spain or Italy. Then I choose a photo from one of those folders and make it my desktop photo on my computer.

Today's desktop photo was taken on a hike in the Alpujarra mountains in the Andalucia region of Spain. We spent a week in Ferreirola, a tiny village that was established by the Moors in 1492. Each day while we were there we took a different hike. The trails were steep, the drop-offs steeper, but the views were spectacular. We encountered very few people, but many goats grazing on the hill sides. When we stopped we could hear the sound of the bells on the necks of the goats echoing across the canyon. This photo was taken looking back towards Ferreirola. The landscape was beautifully barren.

This was the place, more than any other on our Spain trip, that we hope to return to someday.

Three years ago we were in Tuscany. The moon was full outside our room at the Agriturismo near Sienna.

There is no doubt that Tuscany has picture-book beauty and endless historic offerings to explore. We arrived in Tuscany at the end of our trip - a bit exhausted and having seen numerous cathedrals and quaint villages. We were full with so many experiences; from Umbria to Puglia, from Calabria to the Aeolian Islands near Sicily. What we had cherished most in the weeks that led up to our time in Tuscany was the absence of tourists, and specifically American tourists in the locations we visited. It seemed that in Tuscany, each time we stopped we were arriving just behind a bus load of tourists from Alabama or Texas or New York. The voices were loud and there was a frantic rush to the various shops which clearly depend on these same tourists.

Today I picked tomatoes and peppers (as it seems I have been doing for weeks!) The tomatoes have been sliced and salted and are drying in the oven and the peppers will probably get roasted and then frozen for late-fall chili rellenos.

I have just spent 4 days showing a high school classmate around Oregon and seeing my home through the eyes of someone who had never been to the northwest. It is a magnificent place to call home. When I moved here 27 years ago I swore that I would never get used to the beauty, but I did. It was renewing to marvel at the moss-covered trees in the coastal mountains, and to watch someone draw in their breath at the awesomeness of the Columbia River Gorge.

All of this reminds me that I am living a blessed life.