A starry-eyed, Victorian explorer lives in my soul. The world is an unwritten poem to me, with a pastoral setting, a noble personality and a love story lurking around the next bend. The thought that something mysterious and exceptionally inviting lies ahead fuels my insatiable desire to venture into unexplored regions.
My curiosity has led me down country lanes meandering along sleepy creeks. Walking barefoot and gathering wildflowers along an idyllic path filled me first with joy, and then utter panic, when a giant black gardner snake gushed from his hole to greet me. And, when my heart finally stopped racing, I ventured onward, skipping stones, picking up turtles and crossing the babbling waters on huge boulders and logs. The excitement for me was not finding the end of the little country lane, but my one-hundred-and-one experiences and observations of God’s glorious creation I found along the way.
Wonder has drawn me off-highway many times. I think of a time in Northern California when my city-girl mother and I were traveling through the Redwood Forest. I pulled off the road and parked in the midst of a dense cluster of sky-scraper trees. For Mom, staying in the car felt safe because “no one was around!” I had to bounce out of the car to hear the rushing of the water, and walk in the filtered-green light that cascaded down through those amazing evergreens turning that place into an enchanted forest. I had entered the land of the hobbits and I felt sure I was about to find a pot of gold at the end of some rainbow.
Sheer boredom has initiated many days of deliberately “getting lost” with the child-cousin in my care. He would point out a road in any direction, and I would drive until we figured out just how far that road would take us. One such adventure continued for about 12 hours, when we left the outer regions of New York City and ended up in suburban Philadelphia via country roads. Amazingly, we actually arrived very close to another relative’s house that day and we were able to join them unexpectedly for dinner. Some 20 years later we can still be tempted to get lost, even in foreign countries.
My wander-lust has inspired 18-hour day trips on Highway 101 in Oregon; an initiation to Rome by driving the day I landed, encountering every fountain and bridge in the city, saying “scuzzi” a million times to locals until I finally landed in front of my hotel; and, trekking 24 hours over potholes and crevices with shaken-baby syndrome on the 140-mile journey from Nairobi to Tanzania.
I’ve traversed the First Nation territories of Canada from Winnipeg to Misstissini hunting moose with my camera. I’ve been off-roading in a jeep on the tundra north of Denali Park in Alaska. And, I’ve ventured off on 2-day leaf-peeping escapades that carried me from New York City to Maine, Vermont and Lake Champlain and back again. I can also seem to recall a 17-hour motor-tour of Paris, Dijon, Geneva, Zurich and Lyons.
Admittedly, very few of my co-pilots appreciated the lengthy driving tours. They could not understand my driving need to find one more beautiful cluster of trees or another quaint cottage. They somehow didn’t get my obsession with taking-in every sensory image and sound
, feeling the rush of the cold breeze and caressing the textures of the world around me. It was the journey through undiscovered life that expanded my soul and freed me from the bondage of mediocrity.
Finding adventure in the journey defines a great deal of my personality. When I get way-off biblical text and far into the realms of imagination, I imagine some part of my eternity in Heaven being spent in an enterprise-like starship, traversing galaxies and universes yet undiscovered. Until then, I can dream of Patagonia and penguins, New Zealand and lazy lambs, and a world of unexplored splendor Father has created and dressed for our enjoyment of life’s journey.