Armchair Peregrinations

October 18, 1998

These are times, despite the beautiful autumn weather outside, when I feel trapped by graduate school, work and other obligations. I can't take off and travel for a few days. There are endless assignments and projects that have to be done. I am tethered to a hitching psot of my own creation, suffering the consequences of bad, but in a way, necessary decisions made years ago. So, until I have the freedom to take a good vacation, I must be content with short treks to the beach, as on this past Friday.

It was too windy to sit out on my chair, but great for walking and taking in the brisk salt air. Not too cool, either. A whole mile of empty beach. One lone wind surfer was making great speed over choppy surf as he set out to sea on the persistent force of the wind. He'd come back in almost to shore, and then head out again. Lost in his world. At one with the wind and the water, I could plainly see. I envied his freedom, agility and grace on that board. Not a false step once, that I could see.

My thoughts continue to turn to travel since my agenda is so circumscribed this fall. Also, I keep one of my old journals in front of me now. It's open to an entry from Oct. 8, 1987 written in Santa Fe: What impossibly empty yet fascinating landscapes New Mexico offers! From Carlsbad in the southeast heading northwest toward Sante Fe and the mountains stretch a series of desert plains and mesas and a sky that must be as blue and wide as any place on earth. From atop a mesa one suddenly sees the road stretch out ahead in a straight line 15 or 20 miles, and it's just an extraordinatry and awesome sight to behold. Anywhere you stop there's the utter stillness of the desert. About 60 miles south of Santa Fe, the foothills begin, and the road rolls and dips in great, gentle undulations with this ancient land. The juniper are more numerous as are cacti and brilliant, busy-yellow clusters of weeds along the road. Also, purple patches of wildflowers. It is easy to feel lost in this immense space. Each isolated ranch or house seems to defy the emptiness and make a stand.

I've traveled extensively and I miss it. I can't understand why everyone doesn't share my same enthusiasm for the open road. A journaler, writing about why he values science fiction, recently wrote these words: I also want you to reason why I've never traveled extensively. It's because my imagination is always embracing more outlandish and exotic locales than this world has to offer Well, I read this and thought to myself, That's good if you can do it. The otherworldly rock formations of the Wapiti Canyon in Wymoming, the ephemeral waterfalls of Zion National Park, the immensity of Mount Rainier and the magnificent and fearsome isolation of almost any open stretch of road in Nevada are exotic locales enough for me. I want to be in and of this world to see the streams, smell the thunderstorms, feel the wind in the palm of my hand as I drive along open roads with the windows down. To me, this world is enough. I just wish I could see more of it.

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