Oh, the tangled webs we weave

Only 11 days until we leave for Vietnam and the Philippines.

Philippine Visayas
Salagdoong beach” by Patrick120603 at en.wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 

I’ve noticed that the older I get, the more preparation a trip like this requires. Ten years ago, when I left for South America on my first big solo trip abroad, there was little that needed attending to before I left. I simply saved up a thousand bucks, packed up my camera, and boarded the plane with a clear mind. But now…

Now there are dogs to recruit care for. There are bills to pay in advance. There are projects to wrap up at work. There is a yard to tidy before spring explodes in a forest of weeds while we’re away. There is insurance to verify, medications to refill, and gadgets to synchronize. Continue reading

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Travel as a state of mind: microadventures close to home

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.
– Henry Miller

A microadventure to City of Rocks State Park outside Deming, NM a few years back.
A microadventure to City of Rocks State Park outside Deming, NM a few years back.

I love it when friends or family come to visit us in New Mexico. I look forward to these visits not only because I enjoy spending time with those I don’t often get to see, but also because playing tour guide reminds me how beautiful and wondrous New Mexico—and indeed much of America—can be.

It is so easy to get caught up in the prevailing notion that adventure is the exclusive domain of overseas travel. Let’s be honest–in our consumer culture, travel has become yet another commodity, another sign of wealth or status comparable in some circles to a Porsche or a home theater system. We tick off countries and compare our lists: I’ve been to 16 countries – how many have you been to? Our travels are material conquests, notches on our belts that are confirmed through colorful stories and exotic snapshots. Photo albums on our bookshelves, neatly labeled: Thailand 2006, Czech Republic 2008, Zimbabwe 2011, Patagonia 2013, etc. While this brand of consumerism appeals more to me than the alternative (I would much rather accumulate experiences than “stuff”), sometimes I still question my own motives and the impact of my travel compulsion on myself and the world around me. Continue reading

The Conundrum: creating meaning from chaos

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”
— Oscar Wilde

Footprints in thedust.
Footprints in the dust.

Sometimes, when my mind is idle or the weather is grey, when I am overwhelmed with my growing to-do list or discouraged by bad news, I struggle with what I fondly refer to as The Conundrum.

The Conundrum never goes away; it cannot be resolved, nor can I be effectively consoled about its omnipresence. The Conundrum is, in my view of the world, an incontrovertible fact. It is rooted in solid logic and, being an intensely rational individual (often to a fault), I cannot escape it. It is the whispering in my ear, the tugging at my sleeve, the devil dancing in the details. The Conundrum is always there.

We all stumble through life in our own ways, along our own paths. We may all be in search of the same things—happiness, love, freedom from suffering, security—but we all take a different approach in pursuit of these things. I’ve watched my few longtime girlfriends take wildly divergent paths in the past decade: one is a married stay-at-home mom in suburbia; one has a kid and a partner, but works full-time in manufacturing; one lives in her car and repairs wind turbines across the country when she’s not making music; and one got married and lives with her in-laws in England. And then there’s me. Continue reading

It’s time (again): summer travel 2013

The view from the top of Cathedral, Tuolumne Meadows, during my 2011 western road trip.
The view from the top of Cathedral, Tuolumne Meadows, during my 2011 western road trip.

I won’t lie. I have itchy feet pretty much all the time. When I’m not traveling, I’m probably thinking about my next trip, which now is imminent. Hence, time for a post!

As an adult university student, I am acutely aware of the rarity of extended free time in the “real world,” and I am amazed that more students don’t capitalize on their annual summer hiatus. Maybe it’s because they’re all so broke and in debt they can’t afford to go anywhere. Financial stability — yet another benefit of being a 30-year-old college student instead of a 20-year-old.

Anyway, this is my final summer before graduation. I’m going to make the most of it, of course. Continue reading