Monday, September 27, 2010
In the moment on vacation
We were, however, off on one of my favorite types of a vacation, one that can go very well or be disappointing as not much was planned. I know that is difficult for many people to do and frankly (evidenced by the large numbers of big tour buses so many places) many don't even want to travel that way. They like an itinerary and maybe some side dishes for options; but for me, it was perfect. Head down the road and trust that what will come next will be evident when it's needed. And, if it's not, then get inventive in coming up with an alternative. Although I had not thought of it as being that way, our high mountain trip was was an example of a being in the moment on pretty much every level.
Tentatively, we knew where we would stay for only two of the nights. There was one big exception-- reservations at Old Faithful Inn for September 24th. You do not do serendipity when it comes to staying at Old Faithful Inn. Well, I guess you could but you'd have to be incredibly lucky with someone else canceling or you'd not be staying there and given how popular I now know fall is at Yellowstone, you might not be staying anywhere else.
Not only tour buses with people from all around the world (you can usually tell from where they have come based on language) but also many in car rentals from other countries made it a very diverse group of people enjoying much of what we were also experiencing.
Although I have been to Yellowstone many times, I have NEVER seen more people there which amazed me given it is almost the end of its season, some places to stay have already closed, and there were only a few families with children since school has started again. I have also NEVER seen more people in places I am not used to seeing people at all. Surprisingly that didn't make it less enjoyable but rather exciting that so many, from around the world, cared about experiencing nature and had likely come there for the same reason I had.
Having been to Yellowstone quite a few times, in my opinion, it's a place not so much for collecting scenery but rather experiences. It's not that it's not pretty but probably there are many places prettier or equally so at least. Yellowstone is more about experiencing nature, not only the powers that formed this earth witnessed at geyser basins, but the force of water cutting rivers and waterfalls through rock and last but not least the animals in an environment where they don't have much to fear from man and can live mostly naturally. Yellowstone is to experience nature and in an environment most of us never have the chance elsewhere to safely do. It is not a place to take for granted as injury or death can come quickly many places.
Forget the talk that too many humans are shallow and only care about watching some silly reality television show. People who come to Yellowstone are not in that mode. Whether they are in a tour bus or on their own, they want something they hope nature will give them.
Basically because of living for the moment, not planning where we'd be or what we'd see or do, we saw so much that it's emotionally making it hard for me to write about it. It was a time of wildlife, photography, scenery, people, dreams, being, and a stream of serendipity. We opened ourselves up to whatever might come and come it did. Realistically, I recognize it could have gone a different way.
Constant traveling instead of renting a house one place had one drawback for me with the painting but we got innovative about that and I got in some enjoyable time with the oils despite the moving on.
I don't know that it's always possible to operate in the moment for any of us. We plan. We fret. We anticipate. We think too much. W e savor past triumphs.Life interferes. The world likes us making tidier plans. The risks of in the moment trips are probably why so many like tours where somebody else gets you where they think you will enjoy being. Group tours could have many lovely moments, but they are planned to offer security as well as stops others have proven to like. They also enable many people to be places they would never dare risk alone. I actually enjoy seeing them-- unless they arrive at an outhouse stop before I do.
An in the moment vacation, where we leave ourselves open to whatever a day brings, could end up disappointing as what if we don't get to the right places at the right time? Sometimes though, on one of those serendipitous trips, it all does go more than well. One thing leads to another and the whole of it is an encouragement to live life fully and as spontaneously as possible with our senses leading the way.
The bull elk in the top photos represents just one such moment from this trip. The first afternoon, shortly after driving into the park, we turned a corner in the road and saw the tip-off that something was there to be experienced-- other people getting out of cars, some stopped on the road. Once Farm Boss pulled the truck off the pavement, we saw what the excitement was-- a herd of elk on the banks of the Firehole River.
Some of the cows and calves were grazing but the herd bull was taking a nap in the sun, resting that heavy weight of antlers, and totally ignoring the people in the trees with their telephoto lenses and excited expressions. Because Yellowstone animals are generally protected, from human hunters anyway, people can get closer to them. Getting too close though can prove dangerous (nothing fun about a serendipitous event that ends up being gored-- even if it's fully in the moment).
In this case the elk appeared to not mind, and with many of today's new cameras visible, a lot of possibly beautiful photos were taken to be shared and savored later. Standing on the banks of the Firehole on a grassy bank, the sun shining down on my shoulders, was the first of what were to be many such moments.