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Afoot and Light-hearted:

Ramblings of a Modern Day Gypsy

Dreaming of Meaning

    “I don’t know what to do,” Allen whined, his eyes darting between the three of us frantically. “Should I go east or west?” He asked, switching his balance from one leg to another.

    It was July, meaning it was just about time for his mid year crisis. It was not uncommon for him to ditch his apartment, move into his car, and drive across the country for a fresh star. After much debate (some would argue his mind was made up all along), he quit his job in the city of angels and rejoined our ragtag team of tumbleweeds, who were all going through forms of crisis of our own. I say rejoined because it isn’t the first time Watts, Allen, & I spontaneously left our humble lives behind in search of something new. Something different, something grander… Only last time, it truly was done at the drop of a hat.

    You see, it was a late Monday night in the midst of a New York September, meaning some days were pleasantly cool, while others reminded us we were still in the summer solstice. It had been after one of those weeks where I lost sight of life’s purpose and I fell asleep dreaming of meaning (that should be a song- “Dreaming of Meaning”. I’ll have to file that away under things to inform Watts of). Anyways, I craved finding this purpose, this meaning, drooling like a wolf does its prey. So I sent a lone message to my two gypsy cousins, at a time close to midnight, telling them I needed to leave and sought their companionship. To where? I don’t know. For how long? Well, as long as we can, of course. 

    Fortunately for me, it was just in time for Allen’s other mid year crisis, and for Watts, he was in the middle of a spiritual journey himself. Their response? No questions asked- they were in. I informed them we would be roughing it- staying in tents, no consistent access to showers, living out of our backpacks. I needed space from society and the box it crams us in. Perfect, they said. After all, Watts had just spent a few months roughing it in backcountry South Dakota with a buddy panning for gold, where he lived out of his hammock, happily surrounded by rivers and trees. My kind of people, I thought to myself.

Travels Down a Damned Dirt Path

    For twenty miles we followed that damned dirt road. My forester bounced and shook, hiccuping at every water filled hole along the way. No way in hell we’ll make it through this without a tear in at least one of my tires, I thought. But I keep my thoughts in my head- where they belong. Fickle showers bellowed through the sky all evening, each marking its turn with a deep rumble, like a stomach waiting to be fed. 
   At first we passed through what once must have been a dense and lively forest, but is now burnt remainders of aspen trees, their thin damaged bodies lacking limbs or life, surrounded by tan wiry grass and colorful wildflowers- born from the ash of the last. Colonies of hoary tansy asters- muted purple in color- fuchsia water smartweeds, white angelicas, fields of arnicas of all types- but each consistently a bold yellow… Speckling the ground, reminding us life will always prevail.
   We meant to just drive four miles down this hidden road, unbeknownst to the swarms of tourists who plague Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, overcrowding it with their ten-mile-per-gallon mighty “American” trucks and RVs. But as a self-proclaimed true adventurer with an ego paralleling the size of June Lake knows, four miles is rarely four miles. And, to me, the further down this goddamn bumpy trail, the further from that zoo of tourists that plague the roads, with their Disney shirts, gem-stoned cowboy hats, and bright red heels (I mean seriously, come on. Who plans to go to a national park and thinks
hey, you know what shoes would be best? Bright red three inch heels!)

    Unfortunately for my ragtag crew, we aren’t the only ones who see through the shams of industrial tourism, but still want to relish in the overwhelming natural beauty- so we keep trucking down that goddamn dirt road, passing all the filled lots designated for backcountry campers like us- except they are those who have a much better sense of time than we do. 

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