A Wealth Of Firsts With Many More To Come

12 March 2012 in Memories, Reviews, Traveling


I would argue a lasting memory is forged with the ore of firsts, the strongest and most enduring foundation. We may forget many kisses, but we will always remember the first. This is the case with almost everything. The first time you see the ocean. Or the first time you set foot on foreign soil. It is the uniqueness amongst other memories that sets these apart. Everyday life leads to routine and the cyclical nature of many activities blur both their place in time as well as the lines which divide them. One evening at your favorite restaurant blurs with every other evening at your favorite restaurant. Without an event to set any apart all coalesce into a single frankensteined evening.

But firsts are almost always present and distinctive. And when firsts are also onlys it might require some form of amnesia to wash away their fortified existence. This is part of what led me to take this trip. Life had become repetitious and memories began to lack definition. Sure I was happy and healthy. I had wonderful friends and a great family. I had an fairly easy job and a nice apartment, but I spent many of my days feeling trapped in a cycle of deja vu experiences. I wasn’t literally experiencing deja vu, but I may as well have been. I began to realize my fondest recollections were those of vacations and not just because of the absence of work or stress, but because I was always experiencing something new. Even stuck in the middle of a marathon run of 24 hours of driving I was blissfully content and enraptured in the moment, fully aware and fully engaged. My senses were taking in new data and working overtime to analyze and store it. Ascending a cold mountain pass or lounging on a warm beach I was exposed to new people, places and things not previously and passively logged.

So we’ve had more than our fair share of firsts in the last seven months, many of which were onlys as well. Here are a few:

– First time living outside of the state of Wisconsin and for that matter outside of southern Wisconsin.

– First time away from friends and family for an extended period of time, specifically over the holidays.

– First time towing a trailer more than ten miles. The day we set out would initiate a substantial jump up to 1200 miles. It was a combination of excitement and sheer terror that will always hold prominence in my mind.

– First time living in the trailer. We had never even vacationed in it before we left. Outside of spending a few evenings sleeping in it we had no experience with anything—blocking it, leveling it, hooking it up, or even cooking in it.

– First time visiting a wealth of parks: Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, Zion, the Grand Canyon, Lake Mead, Joshua Tree, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon.

– First time visiting some new cities like Portland and San Francisco.

– First time volunteering as campground hosts.

– First time seeing behind the scenes of a National Park.

– First time spending an extended period of time outside of any residential structures. Outside of visiting our friend Aaron just after New Year’s Eve we hadn’t been in anyone’s house or apartment. And since then we have only spent a brief time in my friend Cho’s apartment in San Francisco.

– First time hiking a substantial distance with full packs into the backcountry.

– It was my first time running/hiking a rim-to-rim of the Grand Canyon.

– First time being unemployed for a substantial amount of time.

– First mohawks.

– First giant beard (Lindsay excluded).

The list goes on and on. Some physical achievements, some mental. Some firsts were monumental and others trivial. But all, all were memorable. And many required us to take a chance. This new bank of memories forged by these experiences will forever be safeguarded against fading in with the rest. And besides a wonderful selection of remembrances to page through when we’re no longer able we also have a new found bravery and assurance of our capabilities. This confidence will no doubt aid us in any future endeavors like Lindsay’s first summer as a ranger. So the path of least resistance by definition is the always the easiest, but it is not always the best.

12 March 2012 Memories, Reviews, Traveling

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