Happy Birthday John Muir, and thanks…

muir-coinWhat a cool guy John Muir was. Not only did he have a bunch of stuff named for him, including plants, butterflies and animals, he’s even on the California state quarter.  But what’s most impressive to me, is that he was involved in an accident and lost his sight in one eye, when a metal file punctured it. Months later, he recovered sight, but then,quit his job and six months after the Civil War, he WALKED from Louisville, Kentucky, to Cedar Key, Florida. During that time he kept a journal about all the interesting plants and people along the way. And he did it again in 1868, when we walked from San Francisco to Yosemite. That takes a special kind of spirit. It must. To shrug off the everyday, and just get out onto the earth and walk somewhere. Today, people rarely even walk to the store. But then camping is the number one vacation activity in the U.S. . It’s like, there’s a part of us, that we are trying to reconnect to and it’s kind of like when you take that first sip of Coke, you know, “ahhhhh”, when you finally make it to the thick of a pine forest, or overlooking the Smokey Mountains, or just look up, in the pitch black, alongside a campfire. We’ve been programmed to forget, to want stuff plugged in, prepackaged and broadcast. But when you take a moment to appreciate the great outdoors, the smell of dirt, the feel of moss, the stars, unencumbered by flourescent light, then somehow, you feel alive. That part of you awakens. Watch an ant crawl across your finger. Check out a spiderweb. Google Yosemite. It’s out there. Don’t miss it.

“Most people are on the world, not in it. – have no conscious sympathy or relationship to anything about them – undiffused, separate, and rigidly alone like marbles of polished stone, touching but separate.”  John Muir

40’s the new 20-ish

new-coke-1985I just spent a weekend with a bunch of nieces and nephews, who, in my mind are still 3,5,7 and 9. And the 9 year old just got married! The most emotional part, of course, was the slide show. I always cry. In fact, I don’t even have to know you to cry about your rehearsal dinner slide show. It’s not because the baby is getting married now. It’s that his Mama has to think about that, about how he used to be so little with those toasty little feet and cute big smile and now he’s married and headed for Cabo. It’s heartwrenching, mostly because I know one day, when my own 9 and 11 year olds are big enough to make their own grilled cheese and put their own glass under the ice dispenser in the fridge door, and put their laundry away, and feed the dog… then I’ll be thinking the same thing. Which leads me to the second and nearly as profound realization; 40 has got to be the new 20. I mean, first of all, when I was twenty, my MOM was 43, and she was old as dirt. I know I can’t be that old, besides I recently heard that wealthy 50 is the same as 30. which, if you do a little philosophical math,  I’m only 26. And with money I’d be underage! Whatever. Who wants to be twenty again anyway? The ideal thing would be if they could microchip your brain and all the words to Eagles songs, and running a business, what’s really important in life and all those books you’ve read and just zap your face to make it “20 perfect” again. Now that would be cool.”That’s called plastic surgery, Mom”, my 11 year old yells. But it’s really not. It’s inside self- preservation, with a little outside fancy. No knives involved. That would be ideal. All this was wedding/reception/white/white/red/red/red talking. And last night, I COULD NOT BELIEVE that we can’t already do that. I mean they CAN walk on the moon and all, they can ticket you via camera at a traffic light AND they can make vegetables more attractive, they can even clone stuff, and they can’t come up with something besides exercise to get FAT off us?

 But then, later, from our room at the  Gainesville, Ga. hotel, which somehow always smelled like mashed potatoes in the lobby, I decided to check-out my Facebook page,( This should probably be illegal, or there should at least be an, “are you SURE you want to send this?” box that pops up, right after you write on someone’s wall). But there, right in the middle of my old as dirt person Facebook page, sometime after midnight, sat three very good friends, strumming guitars, in a driveway, somewhere slightly south of Birmingham, a slideshow uploaded via mobile.  And I thought,” no need for the magic, micro-chip, anti-aging thing. You just need a few good friends, a few yards of concrete and a guitar, maybe red/red/red, and before you know it, it’s 1985 again. No knives involved.

goin’ to California, maybe

california coastThis year, since i’m still worried about going south of the border, to my first love, with the perfect margarita, the neverending mariachis and the most incredible hand made couture, south of Bergdorf Goodman, I’m thinking California, especially after watching Bottleshocked. The movie really did it for me. I’ve always thought of California as a bunch of wind-generated power stations with an incredible coastline, plus a lot of pollution and movie stars, but now, I’m thinking sunsets and wine, surrounded by a lot of grapes. An added bonus is that I can get there without flying. After all, I did fly to Acapulco last time, only to drive back to Columbus. It was incredible the number of rental cars you can burn through on a trip like that. Nevertheless, we never would have stayed at Hotel Hacienda Cocoyoc, www.cocoyoc.com.mx, if we’d flown from Acapulco. But then, we’d never have been extorted on a u-turn in Mexico City, either, but still. The Coastal Starlight has all kind of cool ammenities, plus a double-decker train that hugs the Pacific coast all the way to Washington state. Check it out on www.amtrak.com. Did I mention that there are 14 day and 30 day passes, with unlimited travel? They also have cool family bedrooms that sleep 4. I couldn’t sleep at all between Atlanta and D.C., but I think it was the fact that those tracks were laid in 1869.