Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A New Year. Do Something New. See a New Place.

Peyto Lake in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

I've never been one for resolutions. Changes in my life tend to happen at the various times when the need for change becomes apparent and I try acting on them as a result. That being said, this is the closest thing I ever have to a resolution: this year, do something new and see a new place.
Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park, Washington

As I mentioned last year at this time, one of my favorite movies is the rarely seen Ollie Hopnoodle's Haven of Bliss. Never heard of it? That's a shame, because it was a gem of a movie, written by Jean Shepherd, who also wrote "Christmas Story", the classic tale of Ralphy and his quest to get hold of a Red Ryder BB Rifle ("You'll shoot your eye out!"). "Ollie Hopnoodle" follows the same characters a few years later as they take their family vacation. The thing is, they always went to the Haven of Bliss, a fishing lake up in Minnesota somewhere. Year after year. The story was great, but don't do that! Don't get caught up in sameness and habit!
Nankoweap ruins in Grand Canyon National Park
The world is so big and there are so many wonderful things out there to explore. Some are far away, but some as as close as your own backyard. Resolve to try something new, and to see someplace new. It's now been sixteen months since I was given the precious opportunity to float down the Colorado River with my brother and his family, and every minute of each of the 17 days was a gift that I can never forget. There were moments of unspeakable terror, but hours and days of bliss as well, as I finally achieved one of the great dreams of my life. I wasn't able to duplicate an event like this in the last year, but my life was enriched by a number of new experiences and new places.
The beginning of a river trip: Lees Ferry upstream of the Grand Canyon
I explored a new corner of the world, the Pacific Northwest and western Canada (you can read about the whole adventure here). I've been to parts of the region in the past, but we forged ahead with an ambitious itinerary with my students that included some of the most spectacular scenery I have ever seen.
Exploring the Grand Canyon and Colorado River, a defining experience in anyone's life

At the last new year I had just begun to explore a whole new world just beyond my front porch. It started with a new camera that I used to take pictures of birds in the local pasture, but before long I had begun a new exploration of the natural heritage of the Great Valley: the millions and millions of migratory birds that call our valley home during the winter months. There are a series of wildlife refuges within a few minutes drive of my home where one can see huge flocks of geese, ducks, and cranes. The sight of so many majestic birds in flight is just stunning. I'm looking forward to finding new treasures this year.
San Joaquin National Wildlife Refuge, near Modesto, California

My resolution, such as it is, doesn't change: try something new and different. See a new place. It can be one of the big dreams you've always had, but never believed it could be achieved; you can start right now to make it happen. Or make a small change and discover something new about where you live, whether it's to learn something geological, or ornithological, or biological. Your life will be richer either way.
Bald Eagle at Turlock Lake Recreational Area, just a few miles from my house. It's the closest I've ever been to one of these creatures (mind you, with a big zoom lens).


Nina F said...

Excellent advice, Garry. I'll have only 8 days (I must return to my Yellowstone summer, after all!), but I've finally booked a spot on a full canyon motorized trip down the Colorado River in Grand Canyon in May. I have been waiting a lifetime to do this and am at last making it happen.

Garry Hayes said...

Wonderful Nina! You won't regret it. It was the greatest experience of my life.

Katrina said...

I love going to new places. At the same time, there are many places I've been to at least once that I haven't seen enough of. There are some places that I don't think I could see enough of if I visited them every year of my life. That always creates a conflict for me when deciding where to go.

I hope that I'll get the chance to go someplace new and different this year, but if not I'm sure I'll get to experience someplace that isn't new in a new way because places change from day to day and year to year.