Pia has asked for more about my recent post about an adventure-sports writing junket to Australia that I had the good fortune to do several years back. I don't know how much more I can tell you about that - except that I spent six weeks in Victoria, traveling between Melbourne, the wild and heartbreakingly beautiful Southern coast, the lovely outlying countryside, and the ski country of the Victoria mountains. It was wonderful. I was lucky. This was just before the first tech bubble burst here in the US, and after that, magazines had a much smaller budget for freelance writers. So after that particular trip, I spent a lot less time abroad and a lot more time close to home writing adventure sports pieces on the highcountry of Colorado. OK...cry no tears for me! No great sacrifice there. Skiing, hiking, horseback treks, back-country hut trips, climbing fouteeners, redrocks...you name it, we've got it in Colorado.
But what I can tell you is a little about how I inherited this adventurous, peripatetic lifestyle that I have been fortunate enough to live....
I was born to it. I could hardly avoid it. I came from a long line of wanderers, adventurers, independent spirits. My parents road-tripped across some of the wildest parts of the US during their courtship, packing their camping gear into a tiny MGB sportscar and sleeping under the stars. When I was six months old, they set out across country with me, and we never stopped moving after that. We crossed the continent, the oceans, pulled up camp and moved to a different state or country every two years until I left home and went to college at the age of 16.
This first picture is a good representation of our usual camping style. My parents bought this trusty (if typically high-maintenance) LandRover in Europe when I was three, and shipped it back to the US on a boat. It became, with the addition of the clamshell tent, our camping vehicle.
I am particularly fond of this photo because this was Moab, Utah back when you could camp freely in Monument Valley, or anywhere you pleased. Many, many years later, my husband-to-be and I camped in this very same spot with our two dogs during our own courtship. (The dog in this picture, Kiva, was the first of my family's beloved Belgian Terveruns - a silver one, rare in the US but more common in Europe, where we found her). Since then we have returned to camp, hike and mountain bike nearly every spring season. It's a ritual.
My mother and I having breakfast in our tent - a typical scene from the road. Even when we did own a house someplace or other, we still packed up our gear and our animals (Two dogs, two cats, and two horses, typically) and hit the road every spring and fall on an extended camping trip. My parents would take me out of school a month early, and return me a month late. I would take my homework with me on the road. It worked beautifully, by the way. I always made top marks in school, and never suffered from the constant moving. Life as a citizen of the world helped to educate me.
No, I'm not drinking wine. It was bottled fruit juice. Trust me.
One of the best parts of life on the road was stripping down and stepping into any new body of water that was nearby....ocean, river, stream, pond. Every body of water has its own character, its own scent, it's own story. Each is as unique as a snowflake.
So it was only natural that in my adult life, I would continue to live on the road. This photo is from my early years with the man who would become my husband. His dog (on the left) and my dog (on the right), both rescued dogs, would develop a companionship on the road, as did we. This camping spot was in the Escalante wilderness, where few developed camp sites exist even now. I love to camp in the desert. The dry, cracked earth, the red and yellow dust speak to me. I love the hot afternoons,the dry air, and the cold nights, the crispness of the stars, far from civilization.
A shot of me that remains particularly close to my heart (in spite of the fact that I hadn't showered in a week), taken by my now-husband during our first extended camping trip together. This was in Pariah canyon in Utah, far from the beaten path.
Throughout my life, when someone asks me where "home" is, the question has always stopped me in my tracks. I stutter and falter. I'm not sure what to say. Most people assume that I will have resented our peripatetic lifestyle. That I am an "army brat", or have in some other way been forced into moving on a regular basis, that it would have been difficult for me to have awakened to a different horizon, a different school system, a different set of friends every couple of years.
In fact, I have always loved it. Adaptation is my best talent. I have not lost friends, but gained friends along the way. I have friends all over the world, and this seems like a great gift to me. I love to learn different languages, different cultural mores, different ways of living. The fact is that my home is and always has been the road. I feel most comfortable in transit - in airports or railway stations or in cars, with the landscape rushing by me. When I am uneasy or upset, my comfort zone is to hit the road. With the exits rushing by in my rearview mirror, I breath easy again.
It is only in very recent years that I have begun to learn the value of a home, a family, a consistent way of life. Marrying my husband and adopting our daughter gave me a good reason to "settle down". It was difficult at first - it was a transition. But my husband is as much an adventurer as I...and doesn't it just make sense that our daughter hails from China, a place on precisely the opposite side of the world from where we both drew our first breath?
I - we - will always travel. Our blended cultures and our various heritage just make sense for all three of us. So, if you want to know more about our collective peripatetic life? Just keep following along...it's still in progress.
OOXX - M, M & Q