Red Rock Canyon and Why We Travel
Sometimes, when I’m traveling, I have this moment. I’d call it a moment of clarity, but that makes me sound like I’m high on shrooms. It’s more like a few minutes of total peace and contentment. During this time, I’m not thinking about bills or homework or how many calories were in that jumbo slice of pizza I ate for breakfast.
Standing at the floor of Red Rock Canyon, staring up at the mountains while the sun crested the horizon and turned the rocks into fiery orange blazes, I felt it. Nothing mattered except what was right in front of me. My husband, my camera, and a big, red rock.
Standing there, I thought to myself, “Yeah. This is what travel is all about.” It’s taking a leisurely stroll past ancient pictoglyphs, sitting by an old roasting pit, and eating a turkey sandwich while wild donkeys run by. It’s about smelling the unfamiliar air and walking past unfamiliar plants and wondering if there’s anything out here that can kill you.
I enjoyed Red Rock Canyon. And without getting too poetic about our little jaunt through the desert, I can say that it stirred something in me. I felt that itch in my feet telling me to move. Move wide and move far, seeing everything I could see and feeling everything I could feel.
It felt like the moment after I got my first tattoo. As I walked out of the tiny building with my leg burning and plastic wrap around my thigh, all I could think about was the next design I wanted etched into my body.
As we drove out of Red Rock, all I could think about was the next trip. The next site. The next destination.
For me, travel is about stepping outside of my bubble. The one that tells me not to talk to strangers, or eat unidentifiable foods, or use public restrooms. This bubble, which I wrap tightly around myself at home, usually bursts as soon as I hit the airport. Comfort zones are only comfortable because you have control. Once you step outside of that, you sacrifice control and exchange it for an experience.
I didn’t have to go far to find contentment. I didn’t even leave the country, in fact. With just a hop and a skip (and a super sketchy prop plane), I made a memory that won’t soon be forgotten. It made me think of all the times I’d turned down an adventure. The times I’d stayed in, because I was tired, and wanted to stay in that weekend. It made me think of all the times I’d said no to a wild, beautiful memory because I simply didn’t feel like it.
Why do we do that?
Travel doesn’t have to be far away, or difficult, or involve a language barrier. Sometimes it involves nothing more than driving an hour outside of your hometown and finding a place you’ve never seen before. Sometimes it’s a new restaurant, or a new friend, or
Our trip was fast, and some of it is a blur due to half priced margaritas. But I won’t forget the feeling of a donkey nuzzling against my arm, or watching steam rise off of the rocks in the heat of the afternoon sun, or the sound of the evening rain dripping onto the barren landscape. At the end of the day, that is why anyone in the world would ever be crazy enough to venture away from home.
And we should all be so lucky to experience it, even once.