Friday, August 23, 2013

Traveling is a mindset, not a place

It's been two years since I returned to the states. In 2012, I did not take one flight. This year, I joined my sister and friends on a short jaunt to Iceland (which I wouldn't do again- I'm no longer built for those hasty American glimpses into foreign lands, skittering along the surface and returning exhausted). Though I've visited copious amounts of our fair country since arriving back via old-timey automobile transport, I'd say the theme of the last year especially has been slowing down and traveling in place. 

Traveling has very little do to do with actual movement, and much more to do with your mindset. I can travel just as easily in the Portland metro area, as I can anywhere else. My years of actual travel have honed my observation skills and opened my mind to listening to people's stories and interacting with strangers. I find myself traveling every day, in different ways. 

It's in the small interactions with folks around town. It's listening to my patients who are from all over the world and relating to them, having been in their home post office in Phnom Penh or their home town of Saigon or Lviv. It's visiting fill-in clinics not knowing what I'll find and making friends unexpectedly. It's seeing the light change in the sky and the weather shift from season to season. It's meeting couples on the hiking trail, and having them show up in my exam room another day. It's mulling things over and working it out on paper. It's approaching each day as an experience to be had with things to learn. 

My travels have made me a better person and better able to relate to others. I've learned to appreciate simplicity and beauty. I've learned to forgo shopping in favor of wandering. I've learned to be open to chance encounters and appreciate a friendship, even if it only lasts ten minutes.

It's been a strange experience not wanting to go anywhere. I feel rooted in a way that I could not have been before embarking on my time overseas. It's taken me a while back here to feel that I was on solid ground. I have a good relationship. I have family. And I'm in a place I love. I've been able to work and enjoy my patients. And bike and feel healthy with the great food we have in the Northwest. 

Maybe it's my age. I'd spent my entire childhood and early adulthood doing everything right, moving at the fastest pace possible, crossing off all the markers of adulthood, never taking time to understand what I thought was important about life. Now that I'm back, I feel relaxed and happy to be in one place. Hugged by trees and mountains, and free to breathe the fresh air of the Northwest, I think I've found home.

[looking at flowers and light]
[my bike takes me through the world, the best form of transport]

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Columbia River Gorge trip to Hood River and back. Photos.

(I'd advise clicking on the photos and going thru a slide show- but you'll miss the captions, but I uploaded high quality photos)

First Night: Herman Creek Horse Camp. 
 Yep, those are for the horses, if you came that way instead of car.
This is a peninsula out into the Columbia River approx exit 55. And someone snuck and camped out there. We met a nice couple from Portland here - the wife was a librarian for the Multnomah county libraries and invited us to visit her branch when she was working (Tues thru Sat).  
The peninsula 
 The peninsula
 Columbia from the peninsula
 On the back road to Hood River
I was told there's usually goats out here, but today the herd was hiding. 
Oatie's peeking outside at the campers. 
The Columbia River 
I forgot the name of this area 
 Fancy historic hotel in Hood River

 Inside the said hotel.
Hood River - the town- the river is actually the Columbia here.
Poor tuckered out guy 
 driving out to our campground in Hood River
 The little boy next door making friends with Oatie on the actual Hood River
 Orchards with views
I wanted to buy this house in the orchards 
 I stole two pears from the orchards
 Damn this is crazy beautiful- Mt Adams
 And in the other direction, Mt Hood!
 I guess this is why people love mountains. So majestic.
Coffee in the morning.
Driving home along the Washington side of the Columbia. 
Mt Hood again
 After we went swimming in the Columbia- there was a nice beach.
The beach of swimming! Very calm and warm enough. 
Driving home on Hwy 14. 

 Campsite in Home Valley, WA
 The swimming beach, also in Home Valley
 Hwy 14
 The Columbia
Tuckered out at home.