Am I provincial, territorial, unable to move beyond the physical boundaries I've so carefully constructed. As an adult I've lived in three states—all on the east coast—and for the last thirty years in the same house. I've traveled to the southwest and trekked along some of the same trails year after year, worn the same straw hat, or a twenty year old shapeless hiking hat.
I make my summer pilgrimage to the coast of Maine each summer, hike some of the same paths, sit at one particular place on the rocky shoreline. Looking straight ahead I watch waves break over large rocks. Some days the spindrift soars daring itself to reach higher and higher. I walk along the shore and take photos of cobbles or rock sculptures —high vertical stacks— stratified rocks with colored layers of quartz and feldspar.
A million years ago or at least so it seems, I traveled to Europe one summer—walked around Paris, carried a long loaf of bread and cheese, marveled at the architecture, ate fish and chips wrapped in a newspaper, saw the Mona Lisa, watched a bull fight, went to museums, churches, gaped at the flying buttresses, marveled at the size of the bathrooms in Monte Carlo, took a photo with the Eiffel Tower as a backdrop, bought books from stalls, learned to use a bidet, ate eggs cooked in olive oil, went to see Agatha Christie's Mousetrap
in London, stood in the Sistine Chapel and felt the power imbued within Michelangelo's frescoes, ate spaghetti in Rome, found bedbugs in an inexpensive room in Rome, stayed in a hostel in Florence, heard Gregorian Chants in a church overlooking the Arno River, and drank dark beer in Munich.
But never went back.
So when I read of people traveling all over the world I begin to wonder about my willingness to stay within my comfort zone. Perhaps I need to release my innermost explorer and venture to try to expand my geographic wanderings.
Yesterday's newspaper contained an article about a British explorer—Sir Ranulph Fiennes and his most recent challenge. He and his five-member team will attempt to "cross Antarctica during the region's winter".
They'll begin on March 21st and travel 2,500 miles. The temperatures in Antarctica in the winter often reach minus 90 degrees Fahrenheit. They know that if the trip runs into trouble there will be no search and rescue.
The quote in the Boston Globe
reflects Fienne's outlook, "Some people will say it is irresponsible to go unless you know everything, in which case the Americans would never have gotten to the moon. If humans are going for something new, then unfortunately there are bound to be some gray areas."
They'll not be going without specifically designed gear —heated clothing, many layers, helmets with a crevasse detection device, heated soles in their boots. Their web site indicates that a "two-man ski unit will lead the traverse while the rest of the team follows closely behind in Mobile Vehicle Landtrains.." especially equipped with fuel that won't freeze, cabooses with scientific and mechanical labs for running experiments, a heated area for living, eating and sleeping. And all the while communication will allow them to keep up with the outside world.
Yesterday I received an email, "The kids and I are heading to India at the end of January for five weeks. I am attending a Yoga course at an ashram in Rishikesh. I am going with a friend from here and her children."
I immediately looked up Rishikesh and discovered that it's located in the foothills of the Himalayas and has a population somewhere in the vicinity of 75,000 people. The Beatles visited there in 1966 and really put it on the map.According to what I found out it is "nicknamed" the world capital of Yoga as well being famous for rafting.
I'm not sure if she is going to take the Yoga Instructor course or simply improve her own yoga practice. All I could think of is how do you manage with three children ages 8—13, a husband who will visit at the beginning and end of the course and will be in New Zealand and Singapore in between those times?
How does one get to the point where they simply pick up and travel the world? Unafraid. Just get the shots and don't fret. Read the Lonely Planet and find out all the ins and outs, the dos and the don'ts. Rishikesh is New Age— so is Sedona, Arizona. If you get tired of Yoga you can learn to play the Sitar, try Laughing Yoga, or gong meditation, or get a massage. Lonely Planet
lists attending a Rishikesh ashram as one of the Top Ten Iconic Travel Experiences.
I did find one iconic experience listed that fits into my geographic territory—Archeological Research Trip at Crow Canyon. But then again I'm not certain I want to spend my days on my knees brushing dirt aside with a toothbrush. The other trips they offer look interesting, but they are not iconic.
If I scratch hard enough I must have a gene for traveling to distant places—it's just a matter of finding it and releasing my potential for adventure. Would it be cathartic?
I'm in the midst of reading Wild
by Cheryl Strayed— From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.
Cheryl goes on a solo eleven-hundred mile hike on the Pacific Coast Trail—and she'd never backpacked before the start of her hike.
Am I being prodded to move from my narrow comfortable spot by all these exploits to explore the universe? Am I depriving myself of inner discoveries? Or am I one of those people who vicariously experience the travels and exploits of others?
I do feel as if I will be supportive of the Antarctica trek by checking in on the journey and occasionally writing about their progress. I'll attempt to do another Yoga pose in my Gentle Yoga book for women and I'll vicariously hike the Pacific Coast Trail as well as increase my two mile walk each morning before breakfast.