Like Eating Crab

Some journeys are a juicy strawberry, sweet and easy to enjoy. (Think beach vacation at an all exclusive.) Others are more like eating vegetables of which you are not all that fond. You know that hiking like this is good for you, but you’re not having that much fun. Then there are chocolate cake travels, and glass of champagne ones. Some of the best feel more like a bowl of popcorn and a root beer on a lazy afternoon.

I like them all. I love to travel, and I do my best to embrace the types of joys my current journey has to offer. Last week, I went on what had to be an Alaskan king crab sort of trip.

That would be a journey in which one has to work to get what one is after. Long flights, language difficulties, bumpy roads or high seas can make this a kind of vacation that many would be loathe to take. But the reward is seldom seen beauty and unusual wonders, and sometimes, a sense of personal accomplishment.

My trip to Kenya was months in the planning. The journey needed multiple immunizations, 18 days worth of Malaria tablets (still taking them) and a visa. Then came a thirty-six hour journey which included three flights, two of them over eight hours long. Fourteen crying babies, two long layovers, and five bad airline meals later left me and my friends in a position to take an eight hour drive which, we learned once we arrived, was mostly over a highly-rutted, single-lane dirt road.

Crab style journeys are prone to unexpected problems, and ours had car engine trouble seven hours into this eight hour drive. We stood in the afternoon sun while our tour guide tinkered with a mysterious electrical problem and distant zebras and wildebeests looked on. Finally, one fellow traveler began an impromptu stand up yoga class. Oh, it felt so good to stretch.

Our guide finally parceled us out into other passing vans, and bit by bit we all arrived at our destination. To our surprise, it was not the budget camp we had been promised, and had researched and deemed as okay. It was a last minute substitute.

We received the least friendly welcome any of us has ever had at a place we paid to stay, then we were shown to tents lacking a single amenity (by amenity I mean a towel, lamp, table, bench or chair –these tents had nothing) and attempted to use attached bathrooms in which neither sink, shower, nor toilet worked. When I pulled down the mosquito net to go over my bed, it was filled with fist-sized holes only partly covered by assorted pieces of old duct tape. My tent mate broke into hysterical, exhausted laughter. This journey clearly was not going to come easy.

Our trusty guide was back with our broken car having his own problems and unavailable to help us. So, options being what they were, we made ourselves a round of gin and tonics and hoped for a better day tomorrow.

The days did get better, and the total experience ended up including a wealth of high points. I’ve put some of my favorite photos from the trip throughout this post.

What do you think? Was the total experience worth the initial effort? It was to me. But then again, crab legs are one of my favorite foods.

(Read more about my trip to Kenya at Smiling my way across Kenya, Still a Sunrise?Replacing me with … and  Happy Peace Day, Chinese Person in Tent Number 59)

Greener Grass

I’ve never liked the expression “watch what you wish for”. I think it discourages dreaming, and pushes people to settle for what is, rather than encouraging them to make positive changes in their lives. It feeds that innate fear that anything we do will make matters worse.

Gathering vibes 1But there is a reason that we share this collective fear. Often we idolize what we want and once we do get it, the reality falls short of the the dream. It still may be an improvement over what we had, and it might even be a big improvement. It’s just not perfect. It doesn’t make us perfect. It doesn’t make everyone around us perfect. So another dream looms. A different job, a new lover, another town, or maybe better friends. The tough part is figuring out when it’s time to stop chasing perfection and embrace the life you are living.

Do this too easily, and you are settling for less than you should.  Never accept anything other than perfection, and you have chained yourself to a life of discontent. This living life well shit is so damn difficult, isn’t it?

Obviously this little tirade is based on my current situation. I recently quit my job and moved across country, to live in the mountains. I’m off a dirt road, surrounded by beauty, fresh air and all the time in the world to write. It was supposed to be perfect. Unfortunately, I really wanted to move to the Rockies. My life partner wanted to go the the east coast. We wanted to be together, so, we moved to the Appalachians.

There are trees everywhere. So many of them that you can’t tell where you are. It’s not quiet. This damn place is full of something called cicadas and they make a shrill racket worse than any city noise I’ve ever heard. I’m hoping I can write here, but I wouldn’t know because after two months I am still unpacking. This is not what I had planned. It is not perfect.

Pick up and move again? Difficult and very expensive, but possible. Or try learning to love this new home?

Yesterday, I learned how to use a chain saw.  It’s not complicated, but it takes a little confidence with power tools that I needed to gain. Point forward,  I’m going to take down one tree every week until I can see out in at least one direction. I like trees. But I figure that there will still be four million of them within my view, so I’m not exactly affecting the amount of oxygen on this planet.

grassI’ve also discovered that cicadas die off at the end of summer and the really good news is that summer ends here in September like it should. So there is hope for quiet. As to the writing? The stories are starting to form in my head again, in spite of the time I am spending unpacking. They’ll want to be put on paper soon.

They say the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Here in my new home, the grass is actually greenest right above our septic system. I’m not sure exactly what that proves, but I think I’ll stay put for now and try to figure it out.

(For more thoughts on making major life changes see my blog posts Wise and Quiet, Am I a Shape Shifter Now? and If You’re Going to be an Old Car.)