Monday, February 11, 2013

I Wonder What My Favorite Place to Travel in the World Is . . .

Where is my favorite place to travel?  Oh dear.  Oh dearie me.  This is a tough one.
The way I interpret it, this question is NOT asking where would you go if you could go anywhere in the world.  Instead, it’s asking me to think about places that I have already visited, and asking which is my current favorite place to travel, and why.  This is a more complicated question than it sounds: Am I looking for a place that’s easy to enjoy, where English is the spoken language, public transport is easy to figure out, the food is palatable, it’s safe?  Or am I looking for a place that takes me out of my comfort zone, and causes the most personal growth-by-adversity?  Do I need to relax, or do I need to be worn out, body and soul?  Do I seek beauty and “soul-food,” or do I need a reminder of how much of the world is suffering deeply?  Travel serves so many roles in our lives - which is my “favorite”?

So obviously, this answer is going to change for any one of us from time to time – even minute to minute.  Some minutes we need quiet time, and in those moments I’d tell you that hot coffee on the private balcony of our room in the beautiful Inn on the Alameda in downtown Santa Fe is what I need.  When I’ve been trucking along with my daily schedule, feeling in a rut, approaching a mid-life crisis, then I’d tell you that fumbling with Portuguese on the quick-moving streets of Rio de Janeiro is where I need to be, learning that I am not locked into one kind of life.  If my ego’s getting big, then a quick jaunt to any landscape in the West of the United States would cut me right down to size.  And if I start to feel sorry for myself, that the bite of the payroll tax hike (excuse me, the “expiration of the payroll tax holiday”) is cutting into my discretionary budget, then a trip to the missions of downtown Oakland will probably re-set my perspective and remind me of how much more I should be serving my fellow humans in the world.

So even though this answer will necessarily change, I will go ahead and answer for right now.  My favorite place to travel as I sit here, right now, on the morning of Monday, February 11 (Lundi Gras, for those of you in areas that celebrate Mardi Gras) is . . . the beautiful natural wonders of northern California, including Muir Woods, the redwoods, Bodie Ghost Town, Mono Lake, and Yosemite National Park.

When I was twenty-five years old, I spent one glorious summer as a “trips leader,” driving a few different groups of a dozen or so twelve-year-old students in an enormous van all over Northern California.  I started with each group in the Marin Headlands, and headed out on epic journeys that each lasted two weeks long, pitching tents and cooking over open fires, sleeping under the stars on nights it wasn’t raining, fending off bears and gorging on Mike n Ikes and Diet Cokes, and teaching these kids to revel in the glory of natural wonders and unnatural junk food. 

Today, this is my favorite place to travel.  I long to immerse myself in the dripping green dignity of the redwoods; the mossy, carpeted quiet of Muir Woods; the scale and glory of Yosemite valley; the haunted human history of the desolate Bodie Ghost town.  I would happily trade wireless internet and climate control for a tent, sleeping bag, Therma Rest, and open campfire.  I need to work this old body, and the hike up to Vernal Falls or Yosemite Falls would be perfect.  A little more interaction with the natural world would please me very much.  I could use a reminder of how little I need to survive.  And I’d like to expose my children to these wonders, while they still find the world so awe-inspiring.

Where is your favorite place to travel?

1 comment:

MSO Rin said...

You vixen! This is going to be a wonderfully written week ... started off gloriously! Thank you.