First Time Out

It occurred to me recently that every time someone mentioned something they'd done, if I had ever been in the general location I would usually bring up that subject with the phrase "Gosh, I haven't been there since I was... about twelve!".

I'm changing that. I've lived in California since I was about 6, with visits to the relatives in Ohio for several summers, and a couple trips across the country. So yes, I have been to Bryce, Zion, Arches, Oahu, Ensenada and Niagara Falls, and to whatever place that is in the desert with the 12-or-so Cadillacs buried in the sand. But not as an adult (and not counting 3 days in Boston to look at MIT before college!). I went to school at Berkeley, got a job in Los Angeles, and since then have made a study of every coastal region between Muir Woods and San Diego. The California AIDS Ride 2 got me into the more central areas of California.

Luckily, I was able to attend the USENIX conferences in Boston (6/93) and New Orleans (1/95). My Word! There *are* places that are different than California! I thought they were just places for people to come from, not to actually live in.

So, I decided I was going to go on a trip. A month-long trip. Around the perimeter of this country (mostly) and parts of Canada, clockwise. That way I caught the northern areas earlier in the year, hopefully keeping it as warm as possible! The only time I could go was September, 1996. Actually, that turned out to be wonderful, because most people's summers end right after labor day, and the tourist stuff starts closing down.

I had a blast, and what follows is a combinations of the diary entries and pictures I took along the way. I stayed in hostels, tents, and with friends met through Berkeley or JPL over the last several years.

I understand why people disparage Los Angeles, but I have always seen California as consisting of several hundred microclimates, spread out over a large area. For the first time, I got to see what happens when you take one of those climates, and make an entire region out of it! The intensity and detail can be incredible.

The upshot is, I learned that I have to get out more often. And, my definition of "out" just greatly expanded.

I really don't believe I could ever really be satisfied without more actively exploring the world. Ignorance made me comfortable without it, but then, I always have preferred the frustration over bliss, knowledge over ignorance. Frustration makes me do more.

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