I am getting ready for my two week hike in Iceland, packing warm clothes and reflecting upon my travel experiences.
Occasionally magical moments come during travel; they can’t be planned for, but being in areas of natural beauty helps:
The night on the shore of Lake Champlain, when the full moon set across the calm lake, making a silver road, as my wife and I sat in Adirondack chairs listening to Moonlight in Vermont from the Basin Harbor Club.
Hiking through a vineyard outside Santa Barbara, climbing a hill and looking down across fields of lavender at the Pacific, and then turning and looking up the valley at vineyards and citrus groves and fields of flowers that seemed to go on forever.
Hiking in Glacier National Park alone on a day windy enough to raise ice caps on the lake; it was as struggle to stand upright. Coming into the Many Glacier Lodge which has a three story hall with a central fireplace. A fiddler was in the corner, playing Western waltzes. Families were in rocking chairs around the fireplace, or sitting on the hearth, playing board games. It was the sweetness of the American West, sweeter than honey.
Climbing out of Canyon de Chelley with our Navajo guide, looking down at the red rock pinnacles and the green, green valley floor, feeling how the Navajos could be sick unto death when they were exiled from such beauty.
Standing with my wife at the end of the Camino de Santiago at Finisterra, the furthest west point in Europe, as the waves crashed below us, and telling her that I was glad to be with her here, at the end of all things.
And Iceland… we shall see. Although sometimes I am attracted to warmer climes.
I should like to rise and go
Where the golden apples grow;
—Where below another sky
Parrot Islands anchored lie,
And, watched by cockatoos and goats,
Lonely Crusoes building boats;
—Where in sunshine reaching out
Eastern cities, miles about,
Are with mosque and minaret
Among sandy gardens set,
And the rich goods from near and far
Hang for sale in the bazaar;
—Where the Great Wall round China goes,
And on one side the desert blows,
And with bell and voice and drum,
Cities on the other hum;
—Where are forests, hot as fire,
Wide as England, tall as a spire,
Full of apes and cocoa-nuts
And the negro hunters’ huts;
—Where the knotty crocodile
Lies and blinks in the Nile,
And the red flamingo flies
Hunting fish before his eyes;
—Where in jungles, near and far,
Man-devouring tigers are,
Lying close and giving ear
Lest the hunt be drawing near,
Or a comer-by be seen
Swinging in a palanquin;
—Where among the desert sands
Some deserted city stands,
All its children, sweep and prince,
Grown to manhood ages since,
Not a foot in street or house,
Not a stir of child or mouse,
And when kindly falls the night,
In all the town no spark of light.
There I’ll come when I’m a man
With a camel caravan;
Light a fire in the gloom
Of some dusty dining room;
See the pictures on the walls,
Heroes, fights and festivals
And in a corner find the toys
Of the old Egyptian boys.
Travel often makes me feel, as Stevenson said,
The world is so full of a number of things,
I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.