I’ve recently become a fan of the Mortal Muses, nine exceptional female photographers from the USA, Canada, and Europe. Their blog offers instant inspiration via daily postings of beautiful, moving, and amusing photos. Today they’ve invited me to answer the question: What Inspires You? My answer is a post that considers where inspiration comes from when I don’t feel inspired. Please visit the Mortal Muses blog and leave a comment on my guest post for your chance to win a signed copy of my book, They Only Eat Their Husbands: A Memoir of Alaskan Love, World Travel, and the Power of Running Away. (If you’d rather guarantee yourself a book, you can order one now at Ghost Road Press.)
I only remember two recurring nightmares from childhood. In one, I was with my mom in the greeting card aisle of a store, and when I turned around she was gone. I searched for her in a series of rooms where I had to overcome bizarre obstacles. In the end, I walked out onto a sidewalk crowded with giant adults. I never found her. This is normal for a preschooler: the fear of getting lost.
“It’s not contagious,” I repeated, as friends backed away from me in horror.
I couldn’t resist telling a travel tale involving skin-tunneling parasites. In turn, my friends couldn’t resist shifting back just a hair, although they insisted they understood there was no chance of worms leaping from my body to theirs. It didn’t help to explain that I wasn’t even sure I had schistosomiasis.
I was an only child until I was 33, and when my sister was born I couldn’t wait until we could do stuff together. I pictured us playing, camping and hiking: two adventurous, muddy, scabby-kneed girls. After her recent visit, I’ve accepted reality: my almost-13-year-old sister is an indoor girl. Not that she’s always inside, but she excels at lounging. Whenever the outdoors requires effort, boldness or curiosity, she’s just not that into it. Yet we’ve discovered that an outdoor girl and an indoor girl can enjoy 10 days together without wanting to kill each other – much.
Wherever I travel, I make a packing list, and make it early — not only because it’s smart, but because it makes me feel like the heroic leader of a National Geographic expedition. I start spreading my stuff out in the basement about a week before a trip. As I survey my soldierly lineup of trekking gear, I feel empowered. Indiana Jones had his hat and whip; I have my headlamp and clothesline. With any luck, I’ll find that I don’t have everything… yet.
A fellow blogger who read my post, “The Other Lost City of the Incas,” asked if I had any pointers on high-altitude trekking. High altitude treks offer life-transforming rewards, but altitude sickness is a real danger. Continue reading