“Stuff your eyes with wonder… live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds.” – Ray Bradbury
Something switched inside of me over the last few days, and suddenly I’m methodically filling my calendar with upcoming wonder. “Upcoming” is an important consideration, but “wonder” is the key word. There’s no guarantees in life, of course, but book it and it may be all that you wanted it to be. Such was the case with my train ride from Helsinki to Moscow in 1989, whitewater rafting through the Grand Canyon in 1998, my drive across Scotland in 2019, or any such “big” trip. Winging it can be magical, but booking it locks it in.
Having paid my dues in sweat equity and a mild case of poison ivy putting a fence up last weekend, I have two hikes on my mind for the next two weekends (if the weather holds out). The first is with friends who hike mountains like most people take a walk around the block. That will be a test of my fitness and mobility, but a worthy adventure in peak-bagging. The second hike is being pushed out by the threat of rain but involves a 4000 footer followed by a smaller, and possibly more exciting mountain that I look forward to writing about. Anticipation is funny that way, I’ve heard enough about the smaller mountain to know what to expect, which makes the eventual hike slightly less discovery and more experience.
Over the last few days I’ve also booked a weekend in Acadia National Park in Maine, committed to a sailing passage from Massachusetts up the Gulf of Maine to Yarmouth, Maine and booked a weekend in Stowe, Vermont in November. Adventures every one of them, and I’ve plotted drive times and reviewed what will be open and closed while we’re there, viewed YouTube videos of vloggers who have been more immersed in Acadia before me. This all borders dangerously close to the spreadsheet travel posted on this blog about almost exactly a year ago. But having a rough plan in place when youI go somewhere new is helpful. You can then fill in the blanks with discovery. For Acadia, I know what I don’t know and wanted to build some structure. For Stowe, I know the place really well and I’m leaving almost everything to discovery. For hiking, I read the trail descriptions, scanned the maps, and if possible look at street view images of where the car is going to be parked. The rest is one foot in front of the other discovery, as it should be. Similarly for the sailing passage, I’ve sailed the Gulf of Maine and on Fayaway enough to know what to expect. But once I’m past Isles of Shoals its all discovery for me. I’m trusting the Captain on that one.
Trust is an important consideration with upcoming wonder. I trust that I’ll wake up on the day that I’ve booked a cabin in Acadia. I trust that the weather will cooperate enough to make the long drive north worthwhile or make the hikes hike-able. I trust that COVID-19 doesn’t explode and shut everything down before any or all of these trips. None of us is really sure about what happens in the next ten seconds, let alone the next ten weeks. All you can do is set the table and leave the rest to fate. Ultimately we’re bit players in the game of life, but we are players. So we ought to play.