And I continued to lie in the sand and listen. These wanderers made my oyster-piracy look like thirty cents. A new world was calling to me in every word that was spoken — a word of rods and gunnels, blind baggages and “side-door Pullmans,” “bulls” and “shacks,” “floppings,” and “chewins,” “pinches” and “get-aways,” “strong-arms” and “bindle-stiffs,” “punks,” and “profesh.” And it all spelled Adventure.
Whether people are running, hiking, tramping, commuting, wandering, they often come up with a full lexicon for them to use in the course of their journey — as if being continuously on the move were a specific way of moving and required its very own lexicon of by-passes, back-alleys and gravel words.
Suddenly, every thing usual, becomes unusual. Every thing practical, magical. Every sensation, sensational. The general rule is: Specify. Define. Pin with a word — one that spells Adventure.
All of a sudden, every night, when sipping on that last, precious, hot cup of low-quality tea, you double-check tomorrow’s hike, because you know it is not, exactly, a hike. Today’s hike was a walk; but will tomorrow’s hike be a tramp, or rather a route? One spells nuts, a pair of warm gloves, and maybe an extra layer of fleece; the other spells backcountry meals, a pair of gaiters over your Vibram-soled hiking boots, and maybe an extra layer of thermal.
A few days later (turns out it was a route), at dusk, you are negociating bedtime with yourself or with your travel partner.
You are not arguing over an “accommodation”; and the very word of “hotel” seems to be an elusive archaism, echoing from a distant past when it was glorious and useful. Will you pitch in a few extra notes to get a powered site and plug your heater, or will your muscles be content with a non-powered site and hot packs freshly filled out of the campground’s common room’s boiler? Come to think of it, if you didn’t buy but actually cooked lunch, maybe you can afford an ensuite room in a backpacker — it’ll be cheaper than a motel or an inn anyway.
While driving your non-self-contained van on winter roads, you get an acute sense of the differences between snow, ice, and grit. When walking on a narrow and icy boardwalk through a wetland, you know exactly how to tighten your gloved wrists and fists around the grip of your walking sticks — because you know all too well that falling into a wetland is very different from falling into a meadow or a swamp.
Further down the track, you know that, under the snow, a crunch is different from a crack; one spells packed snow, the other spells the bed of a still-running creek.
I have finished writing this text almost ten minutes ago. I have been staring at the empty room in front of me, feeling a gale-force wind on my cheeks. I am readjusting my neck warmer — wearing just a scarf in this weather would have been foolish.
*If you want to know more about the Tama Lakes Walk in the photograph above, you can check out the Sensation #6 post.
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