Looking With New Eyes

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. 



We were hysterical with laughter when a windy, somewhat uncertain backroad spit us out here as our welcome to Redwoods...it was definitely NOT what we expected the entrance to a park renowned for giant trees to look like!


But fear not, we certainly found the giants...and fell instantly in love.


The mighty Pacific...our first sight of the sea since leaving Maine and the North Atlantic behind in January...


For The Trees

The trees. We were definitely in it for the trees.

It began with towering red firs and western white pines and mountain hemlocks in Lassen Volcanic. They greeted us along the winding two-lane highway as we approached the park and with every rustling wave of their limbs, we were welcomed, waved in with a ruckus as if returning weary from the wars. We breathed in their scent and lingered in their shadows and felt the first stirrings of release in our too tight shoulders.


After taking that respite, on we searched, until the cool of coastal fog and deep shade heralded giant country. There we laid our cheeks against the redwood ancients and felt the fingers of time draw us closer for embrace. In the damp crumble of rotting timber, we witnessed new life spring forth from the death and were reminded of the inescapable nature of cycle and season.  In the perpetual gloaming cast by these great elders we found sanctuary and belonging and the whispers of home, wisdom sought and found.


We traveled on, as travelers do, and we came to the places where fire turned us back. Heat and milky smoke blocked our path forward and we paused to grieve the fallen armies of douglas fir and white pine even as we acknowledged that some beauty, some life, can solely be forged, be born, of fire.

We veered back to the west, to the water, fleeing the flame and the smoke. Through Pacific mists we saw the great Sitka spruces and patient western hemlocks teeter on the cliff edges as the mountains rose out of the wild sea. Unable to resist the siren's call of forest floors carpeted in sword fern and narrow trails winding through soaring spires, we ran. Clumsy, heavy steps lightened as our own rhythms began to fall into sync with the endemic cadences enveloping us, and we felt leggy and fleet as the deer as we moved. 


And north we continued until we came to rest among the silver firs and yellow cedars and white pines and mountain hemlocks growing in the shadow of the mighty volcano. Among the huckleberry and Sitka valerian and Seussian pasqueflower pods we laid down our burdens and leaned our backs against fat trunks. We found there, among Patriarchs and young friends both, a renewal of courage and faith and timeless devotion. And it was there, among sentinels standing guard against the fallacy of thinking ourselves important, that our shoulders and our humor and our creative spark fully shook loose. 


We were definitely in it for trees. And like any travelers in search of Avalon, we met mystery and fire, solace and water, magic and healing along the way. For the trees are nothing if not arcane. And in their shadows, in their depths, our follies and triumphs fade allowing us to begin again and begin again. And still begin yet again.