Monday, April 6, 2009

Seven Rivers, NM: String Theory

Miles since last blog: 17.4
Miles Total: 2793.5


I know that one of the things that fascinated me so deeply with the caverns, aside from their natural beauty, was that this was an area left for exploration. There are thousands of caves and caverns out in the world yet to discover and even those we know of are often left with question marks at the sides of the map.

It's exciting, to know there are still places you can go on this planet and be the first eyes ever to see them, the first feet ever to tread that ground. Even if it is subterranean.

By no means a I an accomplished caver now, I've just followed the path around the main cavern of CCNP like thousands of other people, but someone is out there finding new things still. Just a few decades ago they found a new cave, over a thousand feet deep with over 100 miles of passages and tons still unknown. I think this kind of excitement is part of what fueled the moon landings, there is something about the word 'explorer' that grabs your heart in your chest and says, "beat." Likewise, I think there is a part of many of us that is sad that this is no longer a viable profession, even if we are not the ones exploring, it feels good to know someone out there is.

When you explore a cave, there is danger and darkness and not much else. One of the methods used to make sure you don't get lost in the caves is simple, like a child's idea, you trail a string. The string shows you the way home and connects you to the outside world. Without that string, you may find your way out, you may even remember, but the string makes it easier and though you may have never needed it, the loss would bother you.

When I think back on my path across the country, I see it as a string. Along the string are the people I've met, people who I keep in contact in someway still and all the people who follow my blog or think about the crazy walker they met somewhere in their everyday life months ago. It's something I wouldn't have in a car, it's something that connects us all to each other, that string is our connection to the rest of the world when we get focused in on our immediate surroundings and forget, or have lost, that big world we are a part of.

It's easy to see for me, I travel the string. I met a man in Maryland who joined me on my walk, he knew a girl in South Carolina, she saw another man crossing the nation on the news. The man from Maryland and the girl from SC both knew the man walking from California home to Boston. Because they knew both him and I, we were able to meet in North Carolina. When we met he gave me a contact for a place to stay in Anderson, SC. I stayed there and was convinced by the man who hosted me to change my course to include Carlsbad Caverns Nat'l Park where a friend of his would be a ranger. And none of it would have happened if I hadn't stayed with the man in Maryland, which I almost didn't. The twists and turns and degrees of separation over states and strangers slipped away and the string connected us all.

It seems random and wonderful and strange, but it also feels somehow like the only way it ever could have been.


heather said...

I like following your story, although I just picked it up recently, and I applaud your direction. Good strings, too.

Dixxe's Doodles said...

Yes I call it the Fabric of Life. Safe Harbors on your walk today.

jim said...

What event in your life influenced you the most?

This is the second most influential event in my life:

On a perfect, early April morning some time ago, as I was preparing to ride my bike, I thought it might be nice to ride without my helmet, to feel the wind in my hair, to whiz unencumbered through the spring atmosphere and all that. I paused at my door for tangible seconds, considering, before deciding I ought to wear my helmet. Minutes later I collided head first into a car at an intersection.

I was going downhill, pedaling as fast as I could go, and the car was traveling perpendicular to me, also speeding. I do not remember seeing the car. I do not remember the collision. I only remember a distant thud. My 25 mile-an-hour body dented the shit out of his fender and hood, so much so that he almost couldn't drive away. My bike, on the other hand, didn't have a scratch on it. It never touched the car. I must have braked hard and sent my body sailing over the handlebars. I had quite a few scratches.

I was greatly traumatized, but except for my shoulder, which still bothers me, I recovered remarkably fast. I attribute this to the yoga I'd been doing just before getting on my bike. Three weeks later I was dancing at a music festival, albeit with beef jerky kneecaps.

What bothers me is that if I hadn't hesitated at my door, waffling over whether or not to wear my helmet, I'd have been through that intersection by the time the car came through. Of course, I am aware that other variables may have come into play between my door and that intersection to conspire the collision anyway. And yet, I can't help but feel that there was more to this than a bicycle safety lesson. For me, the lesson was never to hesitate.

And always wear your bicycle helmet.

srisin1111 said...

Skip, I miss your posts when something happens you don't get to make one.
I have been checking on you since you asked to surf my couch when you came through Beaumont, TX
I hope all is going well for you.
I just wanted to let you know that I enjoy your posts and look forward to your words of wit each day. You are making a difference in so many peoples lives, keep that can do attitude and go for the "gusto". I am walking with you (in spirit) daily.

Jessica said...

Holy heck Skip Potts, I'm glad I found this. You & I are both traveling across the US, and we're both blogging it, and we're both from Nevada County, and we're the same age too. Do we maybe know each other already and I forgot?

One way or another, hello. I love what you're doing, will link and be back to read more. Happy trails.

Oh - and we're both in New Mexico right now, though I'm headed to Denver tomorrow.