Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Go West (Part I): Three Girls, a Prius, and a Running Retreat

I was ready to lose myself. On the trails. In the mountains. Through the canyons. Running. Hiking. Walking. Swimming. Sitting. Giggling. Talking. Listening. Watching. Contemplating. Learning. Loving. I just wanted to lose myself. In all of it. In an adventure.

The plane touched down in 107-degree Las Vegas that Wednesday afternoon, and as I patiently waited for my bag to make its way back to me, the inevitable fogginess of airplane travel quickly lifted, replaced by giddy excitement for the 10 days ahead. I’d see things I never saw. I’d meet people I never knew. I’d think about things I never considered. I’d be challenged and humbled. I’d be amused and awed. I’d be tired and rejuvenated. I’d be completely grossed out by more than one hotel-room comforter.

I couldn’t wait.

Part One of this expedition was a journey across the Nevada border, into southern Utah to explore Zion, Bryce, and then northern Arizona’s Lake Powell, before two of us planted ourselves in Flagstaff for Part Two: a week-long running retreat. Alissa pulled up to the airport curb, KC and I loaded our bags into the back of the trusty Prius, and we took off down the Strip, toward the highway east. We were on our way, already engrossed in about 15 different conversations before we even hit the fountains in front of the Bellagio.

It didn’t take long until we lost track of time. Literally. Three cell phones, a watch, and the car clock couldn’t agree on a time zone. One was still on Eastern. Another on Pacific. And yet another declared Mountain. And if you’ve ever experienced a trek across the Nevada-Utah-Arizona region, you can commiserate. It took three women with a plethora of higher-education degrees among them, a Google search, and one comical call home to a confused brother back in New York to figure it out.

Not that it mattered. It seemed we really had nothing but time on our hands—the way vacation always feels in the beginning. It’s liberating, being off the clock and out of touch for a little while.

And there is something about heading west that instantly relaxes my mind and puts me at an ease I rarely achieve in my everyday eastern existence. Maybe it’s the mountains. My eyes can never get enough of them. I stare and admire and gawk and I never tire of their majesty. They make me feel so small, in every good way possible—in a way that the concrete and steel monstrosities of the city never could. I look at the peaks and want to run to the top of every one of them in search of whatever’s up there, and to look through clouds at the towns below, making up stories in my mind about what’s going on down there. Mountains give me fresh perspective and imagination and curiosity. I can’t get enough.

And so we began on our journey unaware of what it would become. What conversations would be had, what mysteries we'd solve, which sites would be seen, what characters we’d encounter, which stories we’d tell when it was all over, and which ones would remain our little secrets.

It was the perfect summer excursion: Three Girls, a Prius, and a Running Retreat. Enjoy the ride.

(To be continued...)

1 comment:

Jane said...

Thank goodness you were blessed with the gift and sharing your beautiful thoughts on paper...uh, in written word! Enjoyed the read ;>)