Unexpected Beauty

My favorite part of travel is the unexpected beauty. The expected beauties are great, mind you. There’s nothing like the feeling of standing at the base of a sequoia, or feeling the rumble of an erupting geyser, or seeing the Rockies is snowbound glory. There’s just not. But the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, these are places you expect the wonder. It’s a wonder that’s worth experiencing, and there’s a certain joy to standing on the edge of the Canyon and realizing millions of people each year stand about where you’re standing, and share in that sensation of that slow shifting of perception, as your little mind adjusts to accept the scale of the chasm and . . . just wow, right?

But there are also the small wonders, the ones that are limited in time, or in space, and you share with just a handful of people, or none at all. That moment you slow on a back highway to let a jack rabbit cross the road, and it hesitates, focused on your car and–wham!–a red-tailed hawk dives from the far off blue, and sends them both careening off the roadway.

It was that moment in Arkansas when there are no open campsites, and you’re too tired to go, so you pull behind the Welcome to (Whatever) State Park sign, kill the lights and . . . the trees come alive with phosphorescent light of thousands of fireflies.

There are those things in life we all second guess, those big choices where we find ourselves asking, “But what if I’d done the other thing?” This wasn’t one of those. When I left grad school in my Subaru, Wanda, I never really looked back.  I had no AC, no firm destination, and . . . I think it was the first time I ever felt like I was in the driver’s seat, metaphorically speaking, in my entire life. I’m not in the best or the strongest position right now, by any means, but this is where I was heading all along.

The half a year I spent wandering around the US and Canada is still, I think, the best of my life. If I hadn’t run out of money, I’d still be happily wandering.

As is, I’m enjoying life, but I want to make travel a larger part of it again. For a variety of reasons, I can’t venture as far afield as I did back then, but what I can do is really explore what Arizona has to offer, and when it comes to the outdoors, Arizona has a lot to offer.

Shaping Up Near South Mountain

So this should be fun! The first task, upcoming, is going to be getting back into shape. That’s going to be a lot easier than it has in the past now that I’ve got a lap pool in my community and (oh yeah!) I just moved to the foot of South Mountain.

I’ve been getting used to using Instagram. I’m a late convert, because I’ve never had a project that really meshed well with the underlying framework of Instagram, and now I do. The platform is adequate and then some.

I am practicing taking really pretentious videos, too, and I think the results speak for themselves:


(This is one of those situations where I’m secretly actually proud of the video, but recognize that it deserves to be mocked)

I haven’t even made it onto the mountain yet, but I’ve walked about 50km this week, and dropped a pants size, which suggests I may have been more out of shape than I originally thought.

I’m right down at ground zero for the monsoons and haboobs, now, too, which I’m loving.

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Wanda fears no flood. #subaru

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This is such an exciting start!

I’m looking at ways to map out my hikes and track the process of getting in shape for more difficult hikes.

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