We are on the road east now, toward New England, New Hampshire, with Reno in the rearview mirror. Despite knowing better, I keep finding myself looking back.
I've written of this before, this difficulty I have letting go, this cost to having time in a place to create connection. It's been the hardest part of our time on the road for me. Three to four months is more than enough time for me to begin to dig in, to develop favorite coffee shops and take-out pizza and trail runs, and to make true friends of new acquaintances. It also gives me time to grow attached to certain winding roads, to views through my windshield...I have fallen hard for the scene before me as I turn the first curve on I-80W after crossing from Nevada into California, despite it being four-lane highway. It's the moment I always feel the Sierra rise up around me, the strength and endurance of those mountains singing a siren song to my heart.
We didn't know what to expect from Reno. When it first came up as a possibility when we were still in Texas this spring, both of us shrugged and asked if there weren't something "better" than what we imagined to be a "B-version" of Las Vegas (a city with little appeal to us). We pictured seedy casinos and dirty city streets and the general grime that underlies flashing neon lights and drive-thru wedding chapels. Which can be found here, for sure, but are hardly the defining characteristics that we imagined they would be. Instead, we found a small city tucked into a valley surrounded by golden hills that are home to wild horses, a lovely sweet river flowing through its center from the depths of a crystal blue Lake Tahoe. We found a thriving arts community and public outdoor space and festivals that range from motorcycles to hot air balloons to live music. Restaurants and bars to cater to every taste, food trucks that congregate in a public park on Fridays, farmers markets and food collectives and coffee by the river.
And access. From anywhere in the city, we can get to outdoor space in a matter of minutes, to true wild space within a mere half hour. Lake Tahoe is every bit as fabulous as the hype suggests, but it's hardly the only place to swim in clear water or view craggy peaks topped with snow. We had no idea that Reno is a launching point from which we could swim, raft, bike, and ski, that there are trails and rivers and streams to fish, that we would leave here feeling that we'd hardly scratched the surface of all we wanted to do.
What a reminder to remain open, to approach a new place without allowing preconceived notions to pollute the experience. What a reminder of what this entire endeavor was always meant to be about- being open to the unexpected, being flexible and receptive and finding beauty and space wherever we land.
As we move on, move home, for the next several months, we will work to keep our "road" mindset, to allow familiar places to become new again, to see them with fresh eyes and fresh openness, to appreciate all that they have to offer. For isn't that always the point of travel? To see all places, including home, with new eyes and an open heart?
More images from our recent road trip to the PNW...the beautiful Whiskeytown Reservoir and Redwoods National Park (whose visitors center is located on a windswept beach, our first taste of the Pacific...). I have a few more images from that trip to share with you before I'm through, and I'm already shooting up a storm as we make our way through Idaho on our way to Montana right now, so know how I'm looking forward to sharing this trip as well.