Running Around Buenos Aires

Just a brief note to say I posted a story on my running blog about Morgan and me running the Buenos Aires Marathon last Sunday — check it out if you’d like to see additional Buenos Aires scenes and read about our experience running as tourists.

Also, I uploaded a batch of snapshots from our first week here to the flickr photostream (not including the pics already published on the blogs). If you’d like to view this slide show below, simply click the “play” button on it — but if you also want to see the captions that go with it, do the following:

  • click play
  • move the cursor to the bottom right-hand corner of slide show screen and push the button that takes it to full-screen mode
  • move the cursor to the upper right-hand corner and click “show info” to see the captions
  • go to “options” in the upper right-hand corner and click “slow” so it scrolls through the photos slowly enough to read the captions (or scroll manually through the pics by moving the cursor over the thumbnails along the bottom of the screen).

Sorry it’s so complicated! One of these days we’ll put our rudimentary multimedia skills to use to make a nice audio slideshow in a better interface, but until then, I hope you enjoy this.

Buenos Dias Buenos Aires

We are really here, living abroad in an apartment in a foreign-speaking country. It’s the morning of our third day, and I’m still getting used to the concept that this is not a vacation, this is not a transition in preparation for something else — this is it! Eight weeks after we left home, ten months after we committed to this outlandish odyssey, twenty-five years to the day after Morgan first reached out to touch my hand and pull me close, this trip felt as though it started for real when we left California on Monday morning and arrived in Buenos Aires nearly 24 hours later.

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So Long, Sedona and SoCal

Lots o' packing yesterday and today ... we had to put a bunch of stuff in storage, give away outgrown kids' clothes and pare down to the true essentials.

Lots o' packing yesterday and today ... we had to put a bunch of stuff in storage, give away outgrown kids' clothes and pare down to the true essentials.

I’m rushing to write this blog post while packing for tomorrow’s departure to Argentina. We traveled through Arizona less than a week ago, yet it feels more like a month has passed. We arrived in LA for a few days to take care of some business, reorganize all our belongings and — most difficult of all — say goodbye to our dog Teddy, who will spend the next ten months in the care of my in-laws. Teddy will be in very good and generous hands, but oh, it’s hard to leave him!

Our journey is shifting to a more challenging and exciting phase as we go abroad, and I’d like to say we’re ready but I don’t think I’d ever feel completely prepared. We realized today, at the eleventh hour, that some travel logistics have not been arranged or confirmed, so Morgan and I found ourselves scrambling and then consciously taking deep breaths, concluding, “Oh well, it’ll work out, or we’ll figure it out when we get there.” I have spent the weekend trying to adopt a true traveler’s mind — i.e., embracing rather than fearing the unknown — and doing my best to maintain an outwardly positive attitude for the kids’ sake. Their tears started to flow last night as the prospect of missing Teddy magnified a bout of homesickness (or rather, “friendsickness”). Thankfully, a trip to the beach with their grandparents today made everything feel better.

I had a lump in my throat all weekend because we have to say goodbye to Teddy. He is a fantastic dog, and we loved road-tripping with him the past six weeks.

I had a lump in my throat all weekend because we have to say goodbye to Teddy. He is a fantastic dog, and we loved road-tripping with him the past six weeks.

Before the memories of the past week grow more distant, I want to document our last special destination: Sedona. Funny thing is, when I paused to reflect on it this morning, an image of Kyle on a Colorado trail a couple of weeks earlier crossed my mind. He had randomly picked up a small rock and discovered a quartz crystal under the dusty surface. His eyes grew large and a smile broke out on his face, and as he clutched his little treasure, he headed down the trail with new energy.

Like Kyle bending down to pick up that rock, we made an unexpected and enchanting discovery on our way to Sedona that renewed our energy. I should be careful when talking about “energy” in the context of Sedona, however, because I don’t want to be mistaken for one of the New Age crystal-gazers who are drawn to Sedona’s red rocks and attest to the power of  “energy vortexes,” which supposedly spiral around certain points on the landscape and resonate good vibes. Then again, I did feel particularly good while there, so who knows whether I felt the vibes of a vortex or a placebo effect or just a buzz from a beer?

We met the Flintstones and had a yaba-daba-do-dah time.

We met the Flintstones and had a yabba-dabba-doo-dah time.

Certainly our slightly addled states of mind upon entering Sedona primed us for fun and come-what-may adventure. We had no expectations, no plans, save for a last-minute booking at a hotel. We had decided only about a week prior to go there for a couple of nights in lieu of a detour to Vegas, our forethought limited to, “It’s only 30 miles south of Flagstaff? Might as well check it out, I heard it’s nice.” We had spent the night outside the Grand Canyon in the fleabag Red Feather Lodge, which is notable for its very un-P.C. retro Indian Brave motto and its inedible breakfast buffet offerings. (But, they take dogs — the only motel in the area to do so.) I was disoriented from insomnia and the belated discovery that we had crossed a time zone and gained an hour. Plus, we all felt punchy from a brief stop at the Flintstone Bedrock RV Park, where a two-story-high Fred Flintstone appears like a bad-trip hallucination in an armpit corner of the desert.  At that point, we didn’t know what to expect next.

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Glimpsing the Grand Canyon

Our visit to the Grand Canyon was not unlike the Griswolds’.

We had never been to the Grand Canyon and always wanted to go — but our dream is to raft the river, hike rim to rim and camp for days. Alas, that was not meant to be. A variety of circumstances — including Kyle’s young age, Morgan’s broken toe and the park’s dog-unfriendly regulations — meant we settled for a drive-by visit. Here’s how we did the Grand Canyon in about five hours:

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Home on the Road: A Q&A With the BodesWell Bunch

Long-term family travel is ripe for self-doubt. We rented out our home, pulled the kids out of school, dug deep into savings, reduced our stuff to what we can carry, jeopardized professional relationships, drove away from our neighborhood, and promptly stopped hearing from more than half of our friends.

Are we doing the right thing? And what exactly are we doing, anyway?

When the circumstances and those questions haunt me on a night like this — when I survey our family and our belongings consolidated into a shoebox of a room in a dumpy motel, and I consider our plans (or rather, our lack of planning) in the months ahead — I take solace and find humor in the loose-knit, far-flung network of other families who also decided to uproot their lives and experience a nomadic existence.

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Boulder For Real

Teddy looks over Boulder from the Red Rock trail in Settlers' Park. Could it be he's sad to leave, too?

Teddy looks over Boulder from the Red Rock trail in Settlers' Park. Could it be he's sad to leave, too?

Nine days after that somewhat mawkish “love at first sight” post, I am still romanticizing Boulder. Colly recently voiced my feelings while she was in the midst of a lesson at a local gymnastics gym (speaking of which, she and Kyle helped me produce a little movie yesterday about their time at that gym; scroll to the end of this post to see).

Colly’s face, which was flushed and beaming from the discovery of the high-quality facility and friendly coach, momentarily clouded over as she said, “The trouble with travel is you find a place where you want to stay, and then you have to leave.”

I pointed out the glass-half-empty perspective (i.e. if not for travel, we would not have experienced this place at all), but I also agreed with her. The trouble with Boulder is that we had to leave today.

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Love at First Sight in Boulder

I have been in Boulder, Colorado, less than 24 hours and already feel as though I found a home away from home, or perhaps a home to move to in the future. Or maybe I lived here in a past life, about 140 years ago, when the home we’re renting was built — who knows? The fact is that even though I can’t yet find my way around town, I experienced love at first sight when we pulled into our destination.

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Magic at Mesa Verde and Along the San Juan Skyway

Looking through a window in time in Mesa Verde's Balcony House.

Looking through a window in time in Mesa Verde's Balcony House.

Morgan crawls through the tunnel exiting the Balcony House cave dwelling.

Morgan crawls through the tunnel exiting the Balcony House cave dwelling.

Inside a cave perched high on a cliff face in Mesa Verde National Park, where remnants of rooms built from stone have stood for more than 800 years, I got down on my hands and knees to crawl through a dark tunnel only a few feet high and barely wide enough for my shoulders. I crept forward on all fours like a baby in order to follow an exit from a cave dwelling known as Balcony House, which Ancestral Puebloans built under the overhang of a massive rock. Soon — thankfully — I reached a point where a shaft of light filtered in and the passageway opened up nearly high enough to stand, and I gazed up at a perch where the park’s archeologists theorize a person would have sat guard to stop or allow those who tried to enter the pueblo. Then the tunnel narrowed to a crawl space again, and I took a deep breath to keep claustrophobia at bay before pushing through to reach sunlight and a spectacular view of a canyon.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from our trip to Mesa Verde, but I didn’t expect this: to squeeze between rock crevices and climb up 30-foot ladders, and then to walk through the homes and gathering places where people thrived and a society developed to surprising sophistication in this spot for some 700 years, around 600 – 1300 AD. Never before had I experienced such an intimate and not-entirely-safe visit to a national or state park.

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36 Hours in Telluride, CO

Subtle graffiti on this sign on the way into Telluride ("pricy" conditions may exist) signal locals' ambivalence toward the town's growth and gentrification.

Subtle graffiti on this sign on the way into Telluride ("pricy" conditions may exist) signals locals' ambivalence toward the town's growth and gentrification.

This weekend, Sept. 4 – 7, Telluride’s annual film festival will transform the town. Its population of about 2200 will triple and its main street, Colorado Avenue, will be packed with visitors. I’ve never actually been to Film Fest but hear the scene is undeniably cool, and my family got a kick out of spotting Ken Burns outside of our favorite burrito place (La Cocina de Luz) the other night.

As a quasi-local lifelong lover of Telluride, I can’t help feel some reverse snobbery and sadness that a lot of these festival-goers — like a lot of skiers who briefly visit in winter — miss out on some of the more authentic, historic and out-of-the-way treasures that make Telluride what it is. For them, I offer this alternative weekend guide to Telluride, with apologies to The New York Times Travel Section for copping its “36 Hours” format. (The Times published its own “36 Hours in Telluride” in January of 2005, which was geared toward winter activities and dining and shopping downtown.)

Friday afternoon: Arrive in Telluride. Got that? TELLURIDE, not Mountain Village. I have heard dear misinformed friends say, “Oh, I love Telluride!” and then reveal that they spent a week in Mountain Village over Christmas break, as though the two towns were synonymous. They are not. Mountain Village is an oversized, overpriced and soulless master-planned golf and ski village-with-no-sense-of-community carved into the mountain above Telluride in 1987 and connected to town by a gondola.

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Transitioning in Telluride

the cabin 2009The rectangular, one-story cabin six miles from downtown Telluride still looks pretty much the same as it did in 1975, when I was 6 and my parents hired locals to build it from a Lincoln Log-style kit on a five-acre piece of ranchland.  This morning I woke in one of the cabin’s four small corner bedrooms and looked out the window to watch the sunrise move shadows over the two mountains dominating the view, Wilson and Sunshine, which sit side by side like thrones and peak around 14,000 feet. Rolling meadows and aspen groves blanket the land near us, and only the ongoing construction at the nearby Telluride Airport blemishes the view.

Then I lay back in bed and studied the swirls and knots in the cedar log walls, seeing patterns and faces in them just as I did as a kid, and contemplated what we’re doing here.

It’s been one week since we left home, and we’ll be here another three weeks. We’re living with my brother and sister-in-law here on Last Dollar Road, where I spent every summer of my childhood. Morgan started coming here with me when he was my boyfriend in high school, so it feels like a second home to him, too.

Morgan and me on the back deck of the cabin in the summer of '85.

Morgan and me on the back deck of the cabin in the summer of '85.

Some people have wondered why we’re starting a round-the-world sabbatical in a place so familiar and not exactly adventurous. Let’s see if I can explain.

We gave a lot of thought to making the transition away from regular routines  — from a well-off, large-scale, high-speed way of life — into a simpler, more transient lifestyle. We felt the need to unplug, decompress, and adjust to a more flexible and natural way of life. So we came here, to a place where the weather sets the agenda and water from the well is never taken for granted; where laundry is hand washed or taken three towns away to the nearest Laundromat.

The cabin, now home to my brother, David, and his wife, Karen, promised to take us in and help us recalibrate. They did not disappoint.

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