Friday, January 09, 2009

sometimes, it's the side trips...

Photo credits are a mix on this one. Some are Rose's, some are Chewy's. If it really matters to you which is which, ask me.

Most of the time, when I'm headed off to have a vacation, I have a pretty good idea where I'm going. I have fairly well planned what I'm going to do when I get there. After all, I might not be passing back that way again soon, and I don't want to miss a gem of an experience because I didn't know it was there for the having. But I never nail my schedule to a solid surface and stretch out all the slack, either. It's a blessed thing to reach a fork in the road and have the luxury of choosing which way to go.Cedar Breaks Nap Sometimes instinct guides me, sometimes it's the allure of something shiny on the horizon, sometimes it's the promise of beauty passed in a rumor while chatting with the locals. Other times, it's a mundane highway sign, placed there by the good folks at the local transportation department purely for my edification. (Ok, for the edification of the general public, not me in particular. But it seems like they're written just for me sometimes. The universe has an impeccable timing chain, I tell you.) On the last day of my Utah vacation this summer, we rode over to Cedar Breaks National Monument as planned. I had bashed myself in the noggin with some sinus medication, so I stretched out on my bike and took a nap while the crew took these amazing photos. Medicated was better than congested, but it made me easy prey for the sunbeam-laced cat nap that came looking for me later. The vistas at Cedar Breaks are amazing, and really leave you with the impression that a Creator was looking at all those neat hunks of rock and thinking, "What if i just frosted this landscape with Cedar trees? I know! I'll liquefy the seed mix and spread it on like those Chia Pet things! This'll look AMAZING in about 10,000 years..."
Amazing Cedar Breaks
Fork in ZionChelli had things at home that needed her attention, so she left Zion in the direction of Hurricane to get a t-shirt and then to point her headlight homeward. And so Rose, Chewy, Sylvia and I found ourselves at Zion National Park in southern Utah, staring at a fork in the road. It was pretty nearly our first unplanned turn of the whole vacation, and we were about 6 days in at that point. It took us to Kanab, UT. We'd been on an ATV tour in Tropic, UT a few days earlier, and our guide had mentioned that there were some old Hollywood movie sets in the vicinity that were used to film some of the episodes of Gunsmoke and several Hollywood westerns. He lamented the fact that another set had burned down under suspicious circumstances. Falling Down Apparently the locals had recently rebuilt the set used in The Outlaw Josey Wales (and some other classic westerns) to make it safe for tourists to visit and the scuttlebutt said that extremist environmentalists had torched it because they were unhappy with the resulting traffic. This still-standing TV set was only barely holding together. The whole thing was posted "No Trespassing" but that hadn't stopped a few people we saw from sneaking in. Beautiful Even In Decay I don't know whether Chewy was more disappointed that cheaters were prospering (in that they got close-ups) or that the John Wayne set was burned down. Either way, it was easy to see why they wanted to keep people out. The gallows looked like it was being held together by the wisp of rope that was dangling from the crosspiece, and all the other buildings had the look of using their very staircases as crutches.

Camping in Kanab was just as scenic as everything else in southern Utah. Camping at the Painted Pony in Kanab, UT And I think it was staring up at that butte, sipping a beer and polishing off the last of my macaroni and cheese that I finally let go of the need to know where I was. I don't know how or when this need overcame me. I remember reading the map for my mom on long road trips when I was not more than 10 years old and not caring at all where we were. Somewhere in the succeeding 10 years, I turned into a (slightly compulsive) Navigator. In Kanab, I managed to let go of it for a while.

Lots of people have written books and sung songs extolling the idea that life is more about the journey than it is about the destination. On the one hand, I can appreciate that. But I know enough psychology to know that the sorts of people who are inclined to write books and sing songs are the only people for whom that is absolutely and essentially true. For those of us more inclined to consume art than to create it, life might be journey, destination, or some mix of the two. For me, life is HERE and life is NOW, so the destination and the journey are equally important. Yesterday is pretty much irrelevant, tomorrow is an infinite fan of possibilities that cannot be comprehended, while the present is everything. It makes me rotten at pattern recognition, it explains why I'm 10 minutes late for everything, and it makes me great at Navigation. I can limit the field of possibilities by taking a fork today. Knowing where I am in the moment allows me to foresee, insofar as one can foresee, what possibilities I am allowing or denying by making a choice. Plus, something about vacation tends to slip my inner Perfectionist a Valium Martini, letting me make Navigational choices both literal and figurative without agonizing first over whether it is the perfect choice.

So we woke up the next morning in Kanab, and instead of going home as we had planned, we looked at that fork in the road and took it to the Grand Canyon. I sure do love having some slack in my schedule, because sometimes the side trips are the best part.


Anonymous said...

I tossed and turned all night last night, unable to sleep...because I didn't know who had taken which photo. I must know!

Thalassa said...

ok, wiseacre... just so you'll be able to sleep tonight: from top to bottom - chewy, chewy, chewy, rose, chewy, rose.

if you can't sleep tonight, it's because you invented some reason to keep yourself awake! ;)

thanks for reading.