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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

It made my day to discover that my favorite design website, Design*Sponge, just published a City Guide for my beloved former hometown, Northampton MA. It’s worth checking out if you will be in New England anytime soon. And be sure to read the comments, which offer additional tips.

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Someday, I’d like to do the drive across the United States with more time – and without my two wonderful but stressed-out cats sharing the journey. Of course I’d stop at every national park, every mountain range, every trail to be biked or hiked, river to be rafted, and lake to be kayaked that caught my eye. I’d also stop at several cities along the way. It was painful to drive past my beloved New York without stopping for a visit, especially since I knew it might be a long time before I found myself there again. There were also many other cities, large and small, that I blew by at 70 mph with just a wave and a picture snapped out the window without looking. Here are few that grabbed my attention:

New York City skyline from the George Washington Bridge

New York City skyline from the George Washington Bridge

Detour through Wheeling, West Virginia

Detour off I-70 West through Wheeling, West Virginia. A really interesting town on a river with lots of character. I wanted to stick around and explore it for a while.

St. Louis and Gateway to the West in the far distance

St. Louis and the Gateway to the West in the far distance. I was tantilizingly close but didn't have time to stop, and didn't manage to get a good picture. I took the beltway instead of the direct route through the city to avoid rush hour traffic. Next time.

(The inset is by jimcchou.)

Kansas City, Kansas at dusk

Kansas City, Kansas at dusk. One of the other new faculty members I met this week just moved - reluctantly - from Kansas City. It sounds like he misses it a lot.

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Ventura State Beach

Ventura State Beach

I moved into my apartment in Ventura a couple weeks ago, and started my new job last week. I’m becoming more rooted by the minute, and loving every bit of it. Those hot days in the flat states are a distant memory now. But I’m determined to revisit them (the memories, not the states!) and record the story of my trip as I’d planned. It turned out to be an incredible adventure, so I hope you’ll stay tuned even though you know the narrative ends with my arriving safe and sound at the Pacific coast. Keeping the blog going as I traveled was more difficult than I’d anticipated. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t have an internet connection along the way (some hotels offered free wifi & some didn’t, and I was able to borrow my friends’ connections where I stopped). It was more that I was exhausted by the end of each long day of driving or visiting. I managed to take some photos and videos along the way, though, so stay tuned…..

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Flat

Somewhere in Illinois

Somewhere in Illinois

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Tornado country?

Hartford, CT

Hartford, CT

Near Hartford, CT

Near NYC

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Not in Kansas…yet

It took me a day and a half longer than I planned to pack up the rest of my belongings and load the car. I’d seriously overestimated what would fit. But seven big, heavy boxes worth of stuff to be shipped later, I finally hit the road on Wednesday. Aside from wondering whether the cats would fray my already move-frazzled nerves by meowing the whole time, the only part of this long, solitary roadtrip that caused me any real anxiety was the idea of being swept away by a tornado in Kansas. So there was something darkly humorous about the tornado warnings in western Mass and Connecticut that interrupted the serene music serenading me from the radio as I rolled out of town.

In the midst of everyone’s wishes for a safe journey, the warnings reminded me that none of us is ever really “safe” in the way we crave or imagine ourselves to be. The out-of-the-ordinaryness of this adventure brings into focus all the horrible things that could befall a solitary woman and two cats traveling 3,000 miles in an 18-year-old car. But really, life is as full of horrible possibilities as it is of wonderful ones. And happiness comes – as the smiling Buddha on my dashboard reminds me – from being fully present and awake for all of it.

No actual tornado encounters tested my equanimity that first day of my journey. But then again, I’m not in Kansas yet!

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It looks like this blog, which started as an exercise for a 23 Things class, is going to get a lot more personal. At the request of several friends and colleagues, I plan to document – sometimes in words and sometimes in pictures – my next big adventure: moving from Western Massachusetts to Southern California.

This is a journey of rebirth in so many ways. For starters, for the last 20 years or more I’ve been telling myself and anyone who would listen that I’m moving “out west” someday. In the ’90s I spent all my vacation time in the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia, the California coast, New Mexico, the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, and the mountains of Colorado, backpacking, mountaineering, rock climbing, biking, and visiting friends and family. When any opportunity to hop on a plane and land myself in the western wilderness presented itself, I took it. The first time I flew to Washington I glued my face to the window from the Rockies westward, hoping for a glimpse of Mt. Rainier. When I finally saw it, glowing pink in the 10 pm dusk, it’s 14,411 feet looking close enough to reach out and touch, I burst into tears. From that moment on, the west was more home to me than was Boston, where I lived at the time. The light was different, and the size of things, and the sense of space. I felt more than the usual post-vacation disappointment each time my return flight made its decent toward Logan Airport. I promised I would stay out west someday – right after after I finished school and found a career that really fed me and found love and had kids and…..you know how it goes.

And suddenly, over ten years passed. Over ten years filled with moving to Western Massachusetts, finishing my college degree, getting a job, being laid off from a job, changing careers, going to grad school, getting married, being diagnosed with cancer, getting divorced, getting another job, getting well slowly, etc. etc. And in the midst of all that, the West faded into dream and memory. I couldn’t seem to find the time or money or physical stamina for vacations there anymore. Not to mention the stomach for visiting a place that tugged at me painfully every time I had to leave it to return to “real life” in the East.

And then, just as suddenly, something clicked and I realized it was time to resurrect the dream. I was ready. I was established in my career. I was healthy and ready to get back to the mountains, back to the physically active person I used to be. My life was stable enough that I was ready to shake it up a bit. I was ready for change! Or to begin preparing for change anyway. I developed a relocation plan. A five-year plan. Five months later, I’ve quit the job I’ve had since 2005 and I’m poised to start a new one in California in August. Another reminder that you can’t control the pace of rebirth – or the magic of it. I’m sure there are adventures to come that I can’t even imagine. Stay tuned to hear all about them!

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