These Shoes

These shoes. I love these shoes.

They’re nothing fancy. Just some New Balance trail runners I found cheap on clearance. But they’re comfortable and sturdy and they have good grip for climbing and hiking. Yet they look like a tennis shoe so they transition well to walking around town too.

They’re like old friends, these shoes. We’ve been to a lot of places together. In these shoes, I followed my friend Johnna up giant boulders in Canyonlands National Park and waded through ankle deep sand at Utah’s Great Salt Lake. If you look close they’re still stained red from Utah’s sandy terrain.

I’ve worn them lots of other places including the gritty streets of Pittsburgh and the muddy trails of Ohio’s Hocking Hills.

I like to think that I’m carrying with me a little piece of all the places I’ve been when I wear these shoes.

Alas, their days are numbered. They’re getting enough miles on them they will soon be too worn out to be useful or healthy even though the tops still look good.

One of these days I will be forced to replace them with a shiny new pair that I hope will take me on even more grand adventures. But I’m hoping to wear them on one more big adventure to Wyoming this summer.

By the way, I’m also grateful for the feet inside these shoes that take me everywhere I want to go and occasionally some places that I’m not sure I really want to go. If you’re able to get out of bed every day, walk around and do things for yourself, count yourself lucky.

Regardless of the shoes you wear, you are lucky.

Memorable Vacation Photos

I snapped this photo in the Utah desert last summer. It reminds me a little of the show Breaking Bad. It also reminds me of hot summer days hiking through Arches and Canyonlands with a wonderful friend.

Summer is just around the corner. I’ve been busy ordering visitors guides, scrolling through the web and studying maps.

Here’s hoping for a summer of memorable photos like this one.

Serenity and the Great Salt Lake

This woman was taking pictures during my visit to the Great Salt Lake and she seemed to be standing everywhere I wanted to take pictures.

After a couple of frustrating attempts to work around her, I gave in and incorporated her into some images.

I really like this one. It’s serene and a bit haunting. She looks at peace.

This picture is a good reminder that sometimes you just have to go with the flow and work with your circumstances – in photography and in life.

Read about my Salt Lake visit here and here.

A New Road

Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate
And though I oft have passed them by
A day will come at last when
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.

J.R.R. Tolkien

Isn’t this an exciting idea? Your next adventure could be just down the road. Happy Friday, friends!

Adventures Revisited: Decorating A Travel Tree

One of my favorite traditions is to collect Christmas ornaments from the amazing places I go in this world. Each ornament gets its own postcard or tag with a trip memory written on the back. Then both the ornament and memory are displayed on a tree devoted only to my travels.

Sometimes the ornaments are actual Christmas ornaments. More often than not, they’re things that I purpose into an ornament.

A stuffed buffalo from Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake, a toy plane from the day my dad and I saw the Memphis Belle together (that was our first big adventure just the two of us), a glass sun catcher from a trip to Wytheville, Virginia with my mother and a Canadian flag from Toronto are part of this collection.

Most items are new but a few are vintage like a souvenir pennant from Hollywood. When I visited back in 2004 I wasn’t collecting ornaments and I recently found this vintage piece in an antique store.

I decorated that tree this week and had a fun time reminiscing about my adventures. It was especially rewarding reliving this year’s fun with friends – Utah with Johnna, Fallingwater with Meria, Pittsburgh with Nichola and Virginia with my mother as well as the solo adventures I had this fall made me smile.

There are a few ornaments that I was careful not to read the tags or think about too much when I pulled them from the tote. Some memories are bittersweet enough they’re best left undisturbed. Maybe next year I’ll be ready.

But this is an overwhelmingly happy tree to decorate and enjoy throughout the season. Seeing the Biltmore decorated for Christmas was a bucket list item that I checked off a few years ago. Memphis is where I paid my respects to Elvis and where I saw BB King play in his club on Beale Street. A vintage toy train reminds me of my solo road trip through rural Indiana while a toy soldier reminds me of the morning I watched the sun rise over the George Rogers Clark Memorial and the tour I had inside the memorial – just me and a National Park Service Ranger. That Hollywood pennant reminds me of one warm Easter Sunday spent at Venice Beach. That was the only Easter I’ve spent away from home. A decorative Santa Claus tells the story of road tripping through Canada and finding the unexpected in Toronto last year.

I’ve never regretted taking a trip or the occasional sacrifice necessary so I can afford to do so. This tree is a testament to why.

Travel enlightens. It reminds us of our place in this world and how small we are. It teaches us about other people, their traditions and values. It gives us a release, an opportunity to escape reality and have fun.

It’s good for us.

I’m already dreaming of the next adventure and wondering what memories I’ll add to the tree next year.