That recurring feeling

Souvenirs are perishable; fortunately, memories are not” – Susan Spano

I don’t usually buy a lot of souvenirs when I travel.  Everything I want to remember is in my head as a memory and (hopefully) captured within my photographs.  I may pick up something small here or there, or if I find that I need something that I may have forgotten, I’ll purposely pick up a replacement that is branded with the place I’m visiting.

That said, this trip was a little different.  Sure the 1,600+ photos instantly transport me back to that moment in time but this trip was so epic (in my mind) that I felt I needed something else.  A totem that would, with one glance, pull me back, not just to one park, but the entire region.  What could possibly remind me of all of the places I’ve been?  What are the constants?  At the very core, I decided it all came down to two things…

Rocks and sand.

As I explored the tourist trap gift shops they all had the same items.  Some stores even solely dedicated their business to selling rocks.  Kids loved the polished rocks, I was drawn to the sandstone art.  Hmm, sand and rock.  I guess you could say, that kills two birds with one…..  *puts on sun glasses*     …stone.

Yes, I know they are touristy and I know I paid way too much for a large sandstone paperweight, but the rock striations caught my eye and every time I pass it sitting on my shelf I’m reminded of hiking the canyons and the campgrounds I spent so much time in.

Another thing I have gotten in to the habit of doing is picking up a “DVD postcard”.  (See top image)  Another touristy item, these are professionally produced DVDs that are wrapped in a cardboard envelope that is designed to be written on like a postcard.  I’ve found these to be a constant at each National Park I visit.  They are nothing but scenic shots of the park with some soothing background music in some cases.  I’ve started to collect them as I hit these parks.  They come in handy when relatives visit or when I just feel like quickly revisiting the park without digging through my photos.  My disc from Acadia is absolutely beautiful.  I haven’t had a chance to watch my new ones yet.

Browsing the “book stores” and I emphasize “book store” because it seems National Parks no longer have “gift shops”.  They have changed their name to “book stores” .  They are now, and always will be gift shops to me.  I come across a book that I’ve seen before, have always wanted to pick up, but just never have.  Yes, I could have gotten it for half the price just about anywhere else, but I thought where better to buy Ansel Adams’ National Park book than inside a National Park.  It wasn’t about the cost, it was about the fact that whenever I look through that book now, I’ll be reminded where I got it and the joy that the trip gave me.

If you’ve never had the opportunity to page through this book, do yourself a favor, swing by a library or Barnes and Noble and do so.  This Google Image search will give you a taste of his talent.  In an age before digital cameras, Adams’ photographic eye was king.

Last but not least, I bought a cheesy recycled glass coffee mug.  This was one of those items that I intended to use for hot chocolate while I was camping or on the porch at night, not wanting to “contaminate” my water bottles with coco mix.  Never.  Even. Used it.

I’ve been extremely busy trying to dig out from the work I missed, but in between I’ve also started drafting the epilogue for this trip.  To say a trip was life changing is a pretty strong label.  But during all that time outdoors doing what I’ve always wanted to do, something changed in me  I’ve had a lot of time to figure out what I really want out of life and how I can go about achieving that. The blueprints of my master plan have been drafted.

Stay tuned.

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