My Swiss Tour Guide in America

16 08 2010

So after writing about my job/workplace once I think its time I got back to some of the more interesting things in life. Like my next vacation, starting in exactly 17 days.

The summer has been a long haul and it’s about time for another break. On the one hand SOMEone’s got to hang around and hold the fort when everyone with kids decides to take off for Rimini, St. Tropez or Ibiza. On the other hand it’s been stressful trying not to die of boredom, while sitting in an office building watching the clock tick and paint dry, looking out the window at the sun-drenched scenery below and wishing one was out there and not in here. And when I did get out there I’ve been training my tush off for the marathon (in exactly 40 days).

But soon I’ll be getting on a pseudo-psychedelically-painted plane, headed for San Francisco…. You got it – with flowers in my hair.

Photoshopped here, but this airplane also really exists.

The West is still a bit of a mystery to me, I of Yankee Mid-Atlantic heritage. Before I met my husband, my first-hand experience of the U.S. was limited to the region enclosed by the following geographic perimeter: the Canadian border to the north, the Jersey Shore to the east, the Potomac to the south, and Pittsburgh to the west. I also kind of knew a bit about South Florida, where I was born and my father had retired, and oh yeah, when I was 12 I went to Toledo, Ohio once, for my sister’s college graduation. And I once had a boyfriend who dragged me to his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. (24 hours in Louisville were more than enough.)

So I had to meet this Swiss guy when I was 36 in order to discover some of the real treasures in my own country. In his former life, R. was an adventure tour guide based out of San Francisco – nice work if you can get it. He has traveled every highway, byway and dirt road left of the Rocky Mountains. Multiple times. He is, so to speak, my personal living, walking, breathing Rand McNally Atlas of the American West.

He introduced me to some of the most spectacular natural and man-made features my home has to offer, many of which I had previously been ignorantly, scandalously unaware of. Others I had seen only in National Geographic documentaries and my parents’ large-format coffee-table books. On that first trip out west together we covered all the relevant bases, and more: We hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back up again (The Classic), he taught me how to play craps in Las Vegas (The Reckless), and we feasted on 18oz ribeyes off the Swingin’ Steak Grill at the Mexican Hat Lodge (The “Kick-Me-If-I-Ever-Contemplate-Turning-Vegetarian-Again”).

The highlight was, of course, the City by the Bay. And we have spent the past three years since then trying to figure out how we can end up there. You know, for good. So far without success, but hope still springs eternal around here. We’re working on it.

Coming soon!

This next road trip out west in (in 17 days) will be more than just a visit and an homage to the place we know we’d love and thrive in. We’ll also be taking in another part of the country I’ve always romanticized but so far never actually met – the Northwest: the northern California coastline, Yellowstone, the Redwood forests and Grand Teton National Park. We’ll stop in wonderfully-named places like Bend Oregon, Jackpot Nevada, Boise Idaho and Jackson Hole Wyoming. And once again my Swiss sweetie will be my all-American tour guide extraordinaire. Can’t wait.



One response

16 08 2010

Oh I’m sooooo very envious! If is fun to think of you seeing some of those special places for the first time and to think of your ‘sweetie’ being in the lead. I can’t help but wish we were back there and could tag along for some of your adventures. Travel mercies and keep us posted on the grand adventure!

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