"I would rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth."
This quote is attributed to Steve McQueen of all people, and I don't know the context, but I know where I read it first: in a glorious book by Terry and Renny Russell called "On the Loose", published by the Sierra Club in the 1960s. The book was a collection of grainy pictures of their adventures in the American Outback along with quotes and statements about the value of wildness. I internalized every word during my formative years (roughly the time between my birth and yesterday), and along with Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire, I count the book as the most influential in my life.
I can get really wrapped up in the details of conducting a field studies class of nearly three dozen people, but sometimes I would realize with a start just where I was. It was late June, we were on the eleventh day of 16-day trip, and I was waking up in Arches National Park. In my perspective, it just couldn't get any better than that. Camp was still quiet but I had to get out and see the sunrise.
Abandoned Lands of the Colorado Plateau, an exploration of a harsh landscape that is both beautiful and geologically fascinating.