Posts tagged “united states

A Place Is What It Is

Posted on 14 March 2017

Alaska in winter. Skeptical and bemused expressions acknowledged my plans. “What will the temperature be? Will there be any daylight?” Interesting questions and yet, the answers don’t matter. My friend alerted me to an airline ticket sale to Fairbanks, where she lives. I could get cheap tickets through February. So, I went when I could go and I was glad. February is a reality. Winter in Alaska is a longer reality. The point is: I’ll go at any accessible time. The corollary is: I want to see a place for what it is, not what I want it to be. Of course, everyone has a mental filter through which their impressions fall. What is called reality is only a part-truth, for no one can…

A Storm in the Desert

Posted on 22 February 2017

I had never been here before. The excitement of the new sprung out at me and I sprung back. And a rabbit sprung near me as I plunged down a hill, exclaiming at each new variety of cacti that I saw. The sun was strong and light and in the distance the cliffs of Sierra del Carmen rose above the border. The cacti distracted me from the greyness approaching, but then I felt a raindrop in the desert. And another. And I covered my camera with my arms as best I could and galloped back up the hill toward our vehicles as the drops became steady and hard. We huddled in one of our cars as the steely blue sky swirled above us, and…

Borderlands

Posted on 18 January 2017

Ink, after drawn, can blur, but a pen can tear through paper. Borders are a human invention. At times, they stand in the way of geography. But like many other abstract human creations, they have great and terrible consequences. I’ve passed through many borders. Some hardly seem to exist: you’re riding down a road and, at some point, unnoticed, pass over an invisible line. One country to another, passport still tucked away. Other borders are chaotic: long walks over dirt roads, popping in one building after another, unsteadily securing visas, customs forms, stamps. There are other borders, torn down borders, whose remains I have stared at: a concrete wall which held a no man’s land, crosses line the grass today. Some borders kill slowly,…

A Year of Washington Hikes

Posted on 11 December 2016

A beautiful thing about living in Washington is the myriad hiking possibilities. One can head to enormous mountains, temperate rainforest, beach, or dry canyons – there are endless options. Living in Seattle means I can enjoy the cultural city life without giving up on outdoor activities. In fact, outdoor recreation is emphasized more here than in many more rural places I’ve lived. This year, I both cross-country skied and snow shoed for the first time, hiked quite a bit, camped several times, and collected mushrooms and berries. The following is a summary of the hikes I took this year – hopefully they’ll give you some ideas, whether you live nearby or are visiting. Paradise, Mount Rainier Hiked in February. Variable distance. This one requires…

Glimpses of Slaughter and Silence

Posted on 20 November 2016

There was a wall before me. I ran my hands along it. I peered over it. I spent months perched on top, dangling my feet over the edge, observing. I scraped my elbows and palms, gathering glimpses at foreboding pasts and awful alternative presents, collecting calluses. The wall is cracking beneath my palms. Genocide seems far away. Even when standing on its grounds, an inexperienced mind, sans memories, isn’t elastic enough to fully accept this truth. When I was there, I tried, I really did. I looked at everyone my age and older: Which side were you on? What memories do you hold in your body? Around me, motortaxis zipped by. Rwanda truly felt safe to me. Reconciling pleasant Kigali with what I knew…

The Crowded Wild

Posted on 21 September 2015

The photos may convey an untamed wilderness, but that’s not really the case – at least in these spots. On the Fourth of July, hoards of people descended upon Yellowstone’s lodges, its sprawling parking lots, its shops. With our car packed full to the windows with the last items of our prolonged cross-country move, we navigated our way through the park, winding around RVs, trying to see what we could, while we were there. I can’t begrudge the other people, who were doing something similar to what we were – though I will project negative energies at those who strolled off the walkway in places clearly labeled Sensitive Ground, Stay on the Trail. A national park is a funny thing. Wilderness preserved and displayed in this…

The Shock of What’s Real

Posted on 7 September 2015

The magnificent Grand Tetons faced us on the road and I faced them right back, unwilling to look away. As we crossed into the national park, a moose balefully stared at the crowds huddling along the banks of the river, in whose cold water the moose was sheltered. I looked around balefully too, shying away from the hot dog toting crowds. I wanted to get out and camp in the mountains’ shadow, not sit under the eaves of a park convenience store. Feeling mildly claustrophobic, we drove past the already-full tent-only campsite, aiming for another at the far north of the park. A more serene scene greeted us: a spot on the edge of the campground, bordered by a lake and hedged in by…

Disappear into Earth

Posted on 31 August 2015

When I travel, I revel in the crazy encounters, in the soft souls that hold me for a time. And sometimes, I revel in their absence. Wyoming. It’s vast. The sky pools overhead and the hills undulate on and on and on, spotted with scrub, never quite hiding how far the landscape can stretch. For all the millions of people in this country, it still has its empty places. I peered out of the car windows, looking for prairie dogs. We stopped in a small town, population less than a hundred. A visitor information office sat sentry, housing maps for the nearby national forest. We were given our directions, and water from the house out back, from an enthusiastic and helpful lady. I pet…

Poems, Mountains

Posted on 16 August 2015

We exited Rocky Mountain National Park, snow splotches fading in our eyes, winding down the road toward Wyoming. I had a red eye flight out of Seattle. Equipped with my not-at-all stuffed to the gills backpack (truly, it wasn’t), I sat on the bus, off to the airport, chatting animatedly with the bus driver who asked where I was going. I told him about my upcoming road trip, my home-in-the-making, and he told me about his job, how long he’d been a bus driver, previous travels, and his desire to get out somewhere soon, over the holiday weekend maybe, Canada maybe. Do it, I said. Just go. Never has going been a bad idea. I trod into the Denver airport at around 2am but…

A Loud Silence

Posted on 4 March 2015

The earth is bigger than we are. Nature is mightier than we are. When you’re on the ridge with your partner, though, doesn’t your love feel huge? Even though you’re dwarfed by everything around, somehow, your lives together feel more important. They swell. All that is delicate inside shapes us stronger. My chest expanded with my breath and more. The clouds rolled in and over us. The sky was hidden and then shone gold. What can I say? What can I say? Mountains speak louder than words.