A week or so ago, me and the girl were sitting on the slopes of Mount Rainier, eating cheese and drinking a beer. Looking up at the forbidding, snowy slopes, i was reminded of the last time i’d been there.
Last time i was there, i was 21 years old, and it was the literal apogee of a lengthy road trip that started in Troy, New York a week and countless sleepless nights and gas station meals earlier. Not content with the visitor center, not content with the paved (steep!) walking paths in the immediate vicinity, we reached the end of same and kept going. At the end of a trail, we reached a mysterious outhouse, peed in it, and kept going further still. Into snowfields in the height of summer, traipsing across a glorious expanse of white at the top of the world. Later, we were called idiots who could just as easily have perished at the bottom of a crevasse without anyone knowing.
i had my trusty Crayola 110 camera with me, so this part of the adventure was even documented.
So after getting back from this most recent trip, it dawned on me that visiting Rainier with my family in 1995 made it seem like a great day trip with my friends two years later. And that golden day at the end of that most epic summer in college made me want to show the wife that kind of grandeur. Going back to places is yet another limitless gift of traveling, but going back to places that are the same, when you’re so different, warps my fragile little mind.
It’s easy for us to find reasons to go to places, though, or back to places, or some of both. A whole year earlier, i’d been out in Seattle for a World Cup qualifier. In this case, the girl and i went out there to go run The Oatmeal‘s road race. It was full of cake and Sasquatches and other good cheer. When you pick such a flimsy excuse to go visit a place, though, you’ve got other things in mind. Like a sweet airbnb above an unfamiliar town. Warm basking rocks in the middle of a gurgling river. A sunlit bar window to eat pizza and drink beer. And a nice place to eat cheese instead of an ill-advised wander into danger.
Plenty of new places to come back to some other time.