June 9, 2008

nostalgia, travels

When I was about seven, we went on the first of our trips to Yellowstone. My mom bought me Naya Nuki from a park gift shop, and I read it cover to cover countless times, wishing more than anything that I was that girl: shrewd, resourceful, and so loyal that she trekked through sickness and snowstorms, past grizzlies and enemy tribes, over mountains and through valleys to get back to her family.

While we stayed in cabins and lodges (and not makeshift shelters of fresh buffalo hide), those were always my favorite trips: Teton, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon - but best of all, Yellowstone. They were unbeatable experiences: A caravan of bison ambling through a lodge parking lot as if they owned it (because actually, they did); sneaking many a marmot my leftover dining hall breadsticks after dinner; witnessing a shimmering myriad of blues, purples and greens within one small hot spring. I've never since felt quite so at home among absolute wilderness. (Okay, the wilderness wasn't absolute - we were tucked into the sturdy Old Faithful Inn, which featured modern plumbing, a gift shop that sold polished geodes, and a cafeteria that featured processed breadsticks perfect for feeding twitch-nosed marmots. But animals roamed in abundance - buffalo by the side of the road, squirrels and marmots underfoot at a geyser stop, so many deer and moose that I grew bored of stopping to take pictures of them.) I keep urging S to consider Yellowstone for at least one leg of our honeymoon - because I know if we are fortunate enough to experience half that much wildlife, I'll never again take it for granted.

I always liked pretending I could hold my own in the Wyoming wilderness, like Naya Nuki and Sacajawea - nevermind that I have been known to get hopelessly lost on my way back to the table from the bathroom at Buca di Beppo. I wish I had the book with me (it's packed away - locked away - in my recently-cleaned classroom.) It's one of those books that had the power to sweep me away from a long car ride, a long time-out, a long afternoon back home in my rainy valley when none of the other kids on the block wanted to take out their bikes or play Wilderness Girls or build things out of wood and scrap metal in the garage.

It must be my personal connection with the story that made it so readable for me. Every year I do a book talk on it - read the opener, give sporadic teasers, bring photos of my own trips. The kids haven't bitten yet. They seem to prefer the made-up worlds of Eoin Colfer, K.A. Applegate, and C.S. Lewis - worlds I, too, love - but I want to expose them to natural beauty and history beyond their backyards, as well.

Speaking of science fiction and fantasy, Gregory Maguire's children's biblio is high on my summer reading list.

In terms of reading material, I always overpack for a trip. Currently shoved into the nooks and crannies of my purse, carry-on, and check-in luggage:

Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe, Bill Bryson
I'm a Stranger Here Myself, Bill Bryson
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
September Vogue, InStyle and a wedding mag I grabbed off the rack last night
A couple of Archie comics for my nerves

I'd rather be overloaded than underprepared, I guess.

We're going on a sentimental trek (loosely entitled "Ms. D_C's Last Hurrah") - the final Las Disney and Vegasland circuit "just the four of us" will make.

I should try to get some writing done, too ...

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