These are the truly epic journeys, weeks or months and thousands of miles over
deserts and tundra and snow and water. They represent the quest
to explore and discover, to ramble and, finally, arrive.
In March of 1976, I went to California on Spring Break, taking my first ride down
the Pacific Coast Highway (US Route 1) from San Francisco and Big
Sur to Los Angeles. With The Eagles' "Hotel California" just out and
was almost a mystical experience. It changed my life forever in
many ways. Although I would only live in California for a mere
18 months, the feelings of that brief journey remain with me
to this day, setting me on a path to travel that has never disappeared.
After graduation from college I traveled cross-country, alone, in a 1970 red
fastback Mustang complete with CB radio. Ten weeks, 24 states and
both Canada and Mexico, from moose country in northern Maine to
Montreal, Chicago, Denver, Tucson and San Diego, the Grand Canyon,
backpacking along the Continental Divide. Monument Valley in the
Navajo Indian Reservation illustrates the freedom
one can find from living on the road for
huge swaths of time. “I move with the cool sophistication of one who has been places only a few men
have been, and seen things that none could.” The rush to condense continents to mere days is a unique character builder.
In 1982 I journeyed to Europe for the first time, staying several weeks in London
and the UK, then Amsterdam, Paris, the Cote d'Azur and Switzerland.
Spending time in
a foreign country reminds me of the diversity of life in the world
and the shared values we as human beings enjoy. It's also fun comparing
cultural phenomena across continents. My favorite memory of this
trip is an early October hike in the Swiss mountains surrounding
the villages of Wengen and Lauterbrunnen — the Bernese Oberland — above the tree line,
with early season snow
Oh, and beware the moors!
Passages are part of life, and in 1989 I got married. Lourdes and I decided to
have a Fall wedding and go skiing in the Southern Hemisphere for
our honeymoon. When we arrived in Queenstown, New Zealand, all
psyched for heli-skiing, we found the South Island in the midst
worst drought in 20 years. There wasn't much snow but we skied
anyway, in "Tiger Country" as this amusing sign says. We then spent two weeks caravanning around the country
in a hired right-hand drive auto, without an itinerary, following
the model for on-the-road journeys I had first discovered many
in that red fastback Mustang. Ask me sometime about the aliens
at night outside Auckland.
It was to be more than a decade before my next major voyage — waiting for our son Allan to grow up enough for a serious journey. That happened
in 2002, with a 3,700 mile road trip from Denver and Aspen through
Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and through Seattle to the Oregon coast.
way we spent several days in Yellowstone National Park (my second visit),
every American should experience at least once. When you do, take
in the spectacle of Old Faithful erupting, as it is here, from
the back side of Upper Geyser Basin, away from the massive crowds
of Japanese travelers who flock to these typical tourist traps
like lemmings to the sea.