To be honest, I had never heard of Glen Canyon until we were setting up camp on the shores of Wahweap Bay, an offshoot of the iconic Lake Powell. Ironic, because the lake we had come to see was man-made, actually sitting on top of Glen Canyon and created by the damming of the Colorado River in 1963. Having just crossed the state line from Utah into Arizona, we were stopping here to wash off the high desert dust in one of America's most famous and scenic water-borne playgrounds.
Travel typically involves movement. A physical, material shift from one location to another that reveals the glory of this world. The vistas of the Alps versus the Andes versus the Himalayas. The striking contrast between the eastern and western banks of the Bosphorus Strait. The Pacific Coast Highway repeatedly taking your breath away with each successive bend in the road. But, sometimes, you can find a place that allows you to stand perfectly still and let the world reveal itself to you, with each passing moment your view morphing into something new and unique and never to be seen again. Bryce Canyon is one of those places.
Perfectly positioned between Arches and Canyonlands National Parks lies the quaint and quiet town of Moab, Utah. While it's name doesn't conjure the same metaphysical tones of a Sedona, Arizona, or a Ringing Rocks, Pennsylvania, it is a magical place nonetheless. Hiking, climbing, and photography pilgrims flock to its campsites for a taste of small-town civilization before, between, and after deep excursions into the wild backcountry that literally surrounds the town on all sides.
There are essentially three different ways to see Arches National Park and still get an idea of what the place is all about. You can drive it. You can short-hike it. Or you can really take your time and venture to some of the more remote locations.
I have to make a confession about this road trip. Apparently, I have trouble judging both linear distances and the height of mountains. Yes, we were on our way to Angela’s childhood home in San Diego. Yes, we were all excited about visiting ten national parks during the journey. Yes, we eagerly anticipated the hiking, swimming, and camping in some of the world’s most beautiful locations. But, as I've said before, I'm all about the journey itself. Especially when that journey involves some kind of epic crossing or transition from one thing to another, very different thing. And, on this trip, I just wanted to watch the Rockies rise out of the horizon as we rolled west across the Great Plains. I had this romantic notion that something so tall and imposing as the Rocky Mountains would loom over the surrounding land and be visible from a hundred miles away.
At the risk of being cliché, Kansas is flat. The kind of flat that can cause agoraphobia, with your line of sight rushing out to a blue and green split-screen, no matter which way you turn. Standing outside the ring of trees surrounding our KOA campsite in Salina, Kansas, I experienced a delicious vertigo. Like the lush infinity of the rich midwest soil could slip out from beneath my feet at any moment. A green silk scarf sliding off the edge of a glass table.
We had taken some interesting trips before, finding the lost corners and unexplored regions that could be easily reached from our home base. But we were looking for something more. It was time to pull the trigger on a family vacation greater than a weekend getaway and experience what it would feel like to be truly gone, with the very real possibility of never returning.
We were coming to the end of our travels in Greece, sailing from our secluded anchorage in Tilos, skirting along the northern coast of Rhodes, and arriving once again in Mandraki Harbor, where we had begun the whole thing. And I was already missing it. Both the good and the bad. Stolen plums, ouzo dreams, dormant volcanos, impossible stars, and gracious grandmothers in the kitchen.
Up until 2005, scuba diving was essentially illegal in Greece. In a country that boasts over 9300 miles of coastline, only about 62 miles of it was legal to dive, and that small portion was heavily guarded and restricted by the government. It made sense, really. With thousands of unexplored shipwrecks and literally entire cities submerged during ancient earthquakes, the Greek authorities were trying to protect antiquities from poachers and treasure seekers. That all changed in 2005, however...
Nisyros is one of the six currently active volcanoes in the Greek islands, and its signature as such is undeniable when viewed from above, with the whole island seeming to rise out of the Aegean only to crest at a distinctive circular rim before falling back down to sea level at the center of the caldera. And I wanted to be in the center of that volcano.