Driving to and through far off lands, is for me a process in magical discovery. Having grown up traveling, without knowing what to expect, I learned to see that as the best part of a trip, as well as meeting strangers enroute. As an adult, the destination became the excuse of a goal that might bring forth some unique experiences.
Predictable vacations are tourism and that has no value to me, though I cannot deny that some of it has been an inevitable part and parcel of a whole experience. My last priorities are often to make hotel, plane, or train bookings; buy souvenirs, do the sights with a tour guide, and check it off the list. The planning, anticipation, and journey remain the most attractive features along with engaging in local cultural and food experience.
My favourite memory is from a trip where all the planning failed twenty miles short of the much talked about destination. As per the website, it was a dream place to visit with nature at its best. When I called to check on availability, a grumpy old man answered, “No one ever comes here in the summer.”
And we made a u-turn, and went the opposite way, completely into the unknown. Only one of children’s phone had some charge left, which we saved for a possible emergency.
We found an office-like building, which like many other places we passed, was closing for the day. We made a quick stop, to ask a reliable-looking man some questions about this area. He recommended going to a small hill town two-three hours away matching the description of where we wanted to be.
We had no idea how far it was and where we would stay but after some decent dinner, we drove on. As the children went to sleep one by one, I drove on the single lane highway and found myself literally in the dark.
In the dark as in no street signs and lights. In the dark as in barely a car passed us one in ten-fifteen minutes. In the dark as in confidence waning in face of the unknown!
I was sleepy but driving, and carrying on eagerly to find a good hotel to stay. At this point it was after ten p.m. It was so dark that all I had seen for miles was plain terrain, curving road, and looming shadowy trees.
Every time I slowed down, my daughter woke up to ask if I was okay and promptly went back to sleep.
Suddenly, a huge shadowy form cross the road ahead, and its eyes glowed. Now I was really awake! “What was that?” Not a deer, nor a buffalo, but something graceful with antlers.
Silence was speaking to me as a reassuring friend that would be, by my side in face of danger. Driving through the quiet snaking miles, the headlights beamed far into the end of a bend, cutting into the dark; mystery magnified, personified, and exemplified by the dynamic shadows that kept its’ creator guessing.
At one point, I just stopped, turning off the sharp lights, rolling down the windows, looking up, wonderstruck. To my left was the most beautiful sight I had ever seen.
Astral delights whole range
served on a wondrous platter,
Milky Way smiles splendour!
The stars sparkle against the clear night sky like diamonds strewn on a jewellers table of creation. The dome as fascinating as for a child of five sitting for the first time in a planetarium.
Fun Fact: Though fiction, my first book is quite autobiographical: “Terror Strikes the HoCleS” is full of personal adventures and misadventures😉