Conditions of Carriage | Jennifer Pritchard
The engine starts and I slide the car into reverse and think to myself, from this point on, it is forward motion only. My foot presses the accelerator and I go backwards quickly. Quickly because my interests are in going forward - to leave that which I know so well and venture out into the unknown. A road trip. In my estimation there is nothing quite so wonderful as discovery and the caliber provided by wide open spaces and a wide open calendar is the cure for a restless spirit. One cannot deny the presence required of an unknown road. Equally quickly I select drive and pull away from my rooted place, my home, the known of my life.
Travel is nothing new to me - but this kind of travel is. Years of airports and planes, of schedules and commitments, of conference rooms and meetings, and no lunches and late dinners is done for me now. Instead I choose cars that meander down endless roads surrounded by mountains and streams and deserts. I choose being untethered to experience the endless possibilities. I choose picnics of apples and almonds, and I choose the company of passengers committed to the same.
This is known in travel circles as the conditions of carriage - binding rules and regulations for carriage that are applicable to all passengers. Too many years of corporate travel have left me well seasoned in the language of the sky. But the language of the road - specifically my road - is different. Of course there is a plan. And a route. And I am prepared with shelter at the end of a day of adventure. My conditions of carriage have more to do with the spirit of my fellow travelers - their willingness to be present - be game - and go where the road takes us. To release the noise in our lives and embrace all that nature can teach us.
The cadence and vibration of space, the rhythms of the wind, the sound of the water as it runs down mountains to make its way into crystalline lakes. These are the sounds we seek. The world on the road is authentic, humble and simple - full of goodness. Our pulse quickens as we rumble down dirt roads for miles into the wilderness, deeper and removed from things on which we have become dependent. We are intrepid. We are resolute. We are present.
There is magic to be had - joy to be experienced - laughs to be shared. That is how it was on our most recent trip up the Eastern Sierras. A polarity of desolate Mojave desert vistas emanating endlessly out the windshield to the abundant lushness of the descent into the Lake Tahoe Basin. The contrast of the perspective through my viewfinder and of the view itself helped me understand my place in the order of things. Suddenly small, relative to the creatures and nature that embraced me. - the constancy of the power, truth and beauty in this natural world that is virtuous and without artifice.
I stood on the crest of the path as AW slid between the brambles to retrieve the sunglasses that had tumbled again from her brow. She went digging as much for the protection they offered her luminous blue peepers as the importance of leaving nothing but our footsteps behind. I smiled at what I call her Ann-tics and felt the simple pleasures of the melding of my worlds. With Deb at my right, the synchronicity of that moment of friendship, wonder and peace and the empowerment of three capable women on a path of their own making.