Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Don't Disrupt Your Life With Routine: The Art of Traveling

               This entry will be very much about myself, but as always I hope my personal stories and opinions can resonate in a positive way with other people. But as Michel de Montaigne once said, "I am myself the matter of my book." Since I was infantile my life has been transient. My parents’ jobs required that we move frequently and after I left the nest I followed in their somewhat nomadic footsteps. I have lived in 9 states in 2 countries, with a total of 19 municipalities. This instilled in me at a young age a desire to understand different ethnicities and their surround social milieus. We all love being home; feeling the comfort of our own dwelling, receiving a home cooked meal, seeing familiar faces and being engaged in the comfort of the quotidian. But there is so much more out there. Caskie Stinnett so wisely stated, "I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine." I have adopted this philosophy, and try to travel any and every where I can when the time and funds permit it. However, in my quest to finish school and jump start my career I have shied away from making expensive and grandiose trips, but I firmly believe a small road trip here and there can be extremely cathartic and can (if you allow it) open your eyes to the rest of the world.

          A couple of weeks ago I decided I needed to go to Vancouver, WA so my generous uncle could do some pro bono dentistry work for me. I know historically root canals aren't micro bursts of felicity, so I decided to turn a 2 day trip of drudgery into a 5 day journey of joy. My father accompanied me (also a victim of cavities), and we decided to take our sweet time, never vacillating in the opportunity to smell the proverbial flowers. We started in Pleasant Grove, UT and made a few stops in northern Utah that I have never graced with my presence. For some reason I long to be places I have never been before, even if it is encapsulated in brevity. I like to think my urge to see even the most desolate farm towns can be best described by this quote by Lord Dunsany, "I think travel comes from some deep urge to see the world, like the urge that brings up a worm in an Irish bog to see the moon when it is full." Snowville, UT as well as Farr West, and Tremonton, UT were identified and dominated on our exit from the Beehive State. Our sojourn continued through the curious and poorly diagrammed state of Idaho. I have nothing against the Gem State or any of its wonderful patrons, but I cannot help but agree with the following opinion, "Idaho makes no sense I speak from experience, having lived in the state for twenty years. Unless you are willing to navigate a treacherous mountain pass, you can't even drive from the north to the south without leaving the state. Because it was cobbled together from leftovers, Idaho contains regions with nothing in common. They go together about as well as peanut butter and jellyfish.''

         We then reached the gorgeous state of Oregon where pumping your own gas is apparently borderline felonious. In our playful and jocular manner of driving we soon realized we were past empty and near no sizeable cities. We drove another 15 miles or so and were grateful to see an exit sign with a gas station schematic. We exited into the town of Durkee, OR. Our delight quickly turned into panic as we saw the gas station was out of business, and the closest town was 40 miles away. We perused the town, finding no other businesses besides the aptly named Redneck Café and the local church. So we drove up to a few houses and asked if anyone had some gasoline we could buy. Seeing the plethora of 4-wheelers and farming equipment we figured someone from this rustic town could help us in some capacity. A few houses later and an angry trailer park landlord led us to desperation. We finally decided our last result was to drive a little further away to an isolated barn. We assumption was that a farmer would have to have some gasoline somewhere. We were correct. Unfortunately no one was there. Fortunately the barn was open and a can of gasoline was visible a few feet in. With a few horses as witnesses we decided to “borrow” some of the gas and leave a 10 dollar bill to rectify our theft. So, we left a note with a brief explanation of our circumstances and a gift from Alexander Hamilton.

            After our trials we finally reached Washington and our destination point. Besides hurling in the chair during the root canal procedure, the time in Washington was splendid and ameliorated by the amazing family I was surrounded by. A couple days later we left again, stopping in several more cities to view waterfalls, eat amazing sub sandwiches and satisfy our capricious desires. Our desire for amazing photo opps and spontaneity led us to several more points of interests that were probably pretty unimpressive to the average traveler. But among these beautiful vistas and ordinary towns you tend to find yourself. You tend to appreciate things you hadn’t before. For as James Russell Lowell said, “The wise man travels to discover himself.”

            We could have certainly booked a cheap flight and done the whole thing in a much more “efficient” manner. But the memories we had were priceless. I agree so fervently with the famous words of Mark Twain. He said that, Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."