The First Steps on the Earth

I like to be where no man has gone before.



Ten years ago during the summer of 2000, I travelled to California for the first time in my life.  The plane landed in Sacramento (which ended up being the hometown of my wife, whom I would meet six years later), then I took a 3 hour bus ride north to Redding.  It was the token instance in my life where the airline sent my luggage to the wrong city.

Meaning that I, along with the group of ten or so others I was with, had to wait until the next day until our clothes and toiletries arrived.  Since that flight, I have always made a point not to bring on any luggage onto a plane other than my carry-on.  (I even spent an entire week in New Zealand in 2007 with just one bookbag of my belongings, which I was able to stuff into the overhead compartment for the flights.)

That summer, age 19, I was part of college singing group that got to spend two weeks out in the mountains of northern California as we performed songs at a summer camp and were the actual camp counselors as well.  Best I can remember, we thought we were pretty cool at the time.

Christi Soderberg, one of my friends from the group, always called me Peter Brady, because in an attempt to mock the college’s dress code, I “permed” my long shaggy hair, so that it would appear that my hair was short enough to be deemed acceptable (above the eyebrows, off the ears and collar).  And even after my hair eventually grew back straight, I was still Peter Brady.

During the weekend between the two weeks of work we were rewarded with a hiking trip to the top of Mount Lassen, which is an active volcano that’s peak is 2,000 ft high.  Because the volcano is so steep, the only safe way to climb it is to hike around and up it, which takes a good two hours minimum.  We started at the bottom in the hot summer sun, but by the time we reached the top, we were marching in snow.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Lassen

Mount Lassen

It was definitely my kinda thing.  Spending a Saturday morning hiking a volcano, shimmying up and over to the most dangerous and scenic spot once I reached the top, finding some weird satellite-type device in the process and wondering how few people in the world have been at that exact spot. That’s something I often think about.

How many people have stepped on the exact spots of the Earth I am standing on right now?  How often (seldom is the better word) do I step on “unstepped” spots?  I try to visualize all the ground around me covered in blue footprints, seeing random spots that have never been stepped on.

I realize the Earth is really old and that billions of people have lived here during its lifetime, but surely sometimes I take the first step on certain corners of the world.

The Winter Olympics is coming to an end.  These athletes (and ice skaters, whom I watch mainly to see fall after they do a Triple Axel jump and also to make fun of their sequin-infused outfits) live for the opportunity to break the current record.  I’ll never know the high that Shaun White gets to experience as he flies through the air on his snowboard.  My only experience snowboarding was in Maggie Valley, NC back in 2001 and involved me constantly falling over every 4.3 seconds.

I’m not an athlete who finds freedom and thrills in breaking records of Olympic history.  Instead, I am an explorer who finds freedom and thrills in discovering new niches of the world.  I may not be able to discover something new, but I can discover something rare.  It’s nothing impressive, really, to the rest of most of the world.  But for me, I thrive on those places and those moments.  Then I can take snapshots of the scenic route.

Related Posts by the Same Author:

The Scenic Route http://wp.me/pxqBU-pL

Parks and Rec http://wp.me/pxqBU-jw

WOLBI Florida Ensemble 1999-2000

My friend Christi Mack and I at the top of Mount Lassen in 2000 and 2001

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2 thoughts on “The First Steps on the Earth

  1. Loved that summer. Especially the two weeks in Cali. That’s so funny that you were in Jill’s hometown, not knowing you were probably just miles away from your future wife!
    Some people make a big deal about the world being “overcrowded.” But, I like your thought that there are many spots on the world no one has ever been! Cool to think about.

    Like

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