With my affinity for walking long distances, I’m asked the question a lot. I even started to finish it myself. “Have you ever read—” “A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson? I’ve read it twice,” I’d say. “Four times if you count the audiobook.” Now I have a new response. Nearly two years ago, I received an email from the Propmaster on the set of the film adaptation of the book.Read More
I sat on a bench under the most famous ceiling in the world. My camera sat on my lap under my hat, hiding from the guards. I stared at the Creation of Adam high above the 130-foot long Sistine Chapel. A white-bearded god surrounded by nude figures and a swirling cloak reached out to Adam’s outstretched hand, fingers almost touching.Read More
Maybe I'm just too old to share a bedroom. The moan coming from the bottom bunk was gutteral. Not one of pleasure, thank god. You never know in a hostel, but this wasn't that at all. It was more like the moan of some poor soul writhing around in hell.Read More
After leaving Paris, I flew to Rome for the next stop on my grand finale tour of Europe. Had I realize how cheap it was to fly around Europe, I may have had a very different trip. My Paris to Rome ticket was just $21.80. Less than the cost of a 10-mile taxi ride in the states.
With my morning spent traveling, I didn't have time to properly see the major sites in Rome, so after settling into my hostel, I just went for a walk.
My first stop was the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs, a church built inside the 4th century frigidarium of the Baths of Diocletian.
The Baths were used until the siege of Rome in 537, and about one thousand years later, a section of the remaining structure was adapted into this gorgeous church by Michelangelo.
Just inside the doors is this sculpture of St. John the Baptist by Igor Mitoraj.
Before building up the courage to leave everything behind to have an adventure, heading out my door for a walk only ever led to cornfields and dogs chasing me. Life is significantly more interesting now.
Rome was already worth the $21.80.
Not every turn on this rainy afternoon stroll led me to something as fantastic as a basilica designed by Michelangelo, but every turn led to something interesting and new to my eyes. Like this real life Geppetto I spotted working in a toy and puppet shop.
And, although under maintenance, the impressive Trevi Fountain, one of the most famous fountains in the world.
I didn't get to see Trevi Fountain functioning in all its glory, but I found what the workers were doing to restore the 18th century fountain just as interesting.
I walked miles of roads and alleys taking photos of anything that was unlike home. Like the numerous scooters, which unlike in Indiana, are respectable forms of transportation and not just vehicles for those with one too man DUIs.
The rain never let up, but I'll take a rainy afternoon with my camera in Rome over a sunny day at work.
As much as I didn't mind a little rain, I looked for every opportunity to duck out of it for a while...
Oh perfect... a covered porch.
This is Rome's Pantheon, built during the reign of Augustus from 27 BC to 14 AD. It has been in continuous use throughout its entire history.
Just waiting to shelter me from the rain for a bit.
After a day that started with a 3 AM alarm clock and a rush to an airport in Paris, I found myself on the other side of Rome with a camera full of new memories and a long walk back to my hostel. I decided to call it a day and plan my day two in Vatican City.
Upon hearing about the 3,000 miles I've hiked in the last fifteen months, a woman asked me, "Aren't you tired of hiking yet?"
I can't imagine ever being tired of it. Tired, as in exhausted, sometimes, but never tired of it. The next day while fording a river, I thought of one reason why.
It's not only the beauty. No, sometimes the forest is ordinary when I feel my heart might burst. Beautiful, yes, but ordinary. It's the freedom of the forest I love. And the simplicity of the walk.
Just take a step... and that's it.
No alarm clocks, no phone calls.
Take another step.
No traffic, no news, no ads.
Just take another step.
At the river crossing, there are no meetings, no lunch-and-learns, no primary-action-items, no office politics. Just you pulling off your shoes and peeling off your socks. No bosses, no fake smiles, no fake laughs. Just smooth polished stones under your bare feet.
You stop for a moment to stare upstream at the perfect bend of an ancient river. Always new, but ancient. You gaze up at the valley that the water has slowly cut into the solid granite. The same cold water that flows so softly passed your ankles.
There are no computers, no fluorescent-lit cubicals, no ergonomics. Just you closing your eyes and breathing in the sweet smell of pine. No stress, no demands, no corporate ladders. Only you and the forest. And everything is beautiful. Then that feeling rises in your chest and you think your heart might burst.
All that is required is that you just look. Just feel. Just breathe. Just be... Then take another step.