I may have always been a wanderer. It’s been told more than once that my father lost me in a park when I was about two years old. The fire department found me and brought me back to Dad. I do not remember the event, but I’m pretty sure that I probably wandered away from my unsuspecting father. I do things like that.
I think it’s probably my parents who taught me to wander. As a family, we often took day trips out to the coast, exploring different locations from from San Diego to LA county. We drove so many places -- to Tiajuana, the Sequoias, Solvang, Oregon and Seattle. I remember bike rides that took us miles away from home. And drives up to Azusa Canyon to collect aluminum cans that we turned in for cash to pay for Disney trips. Often when we headed back from adventures, my parents drove surface streets exploring exotic neighborhoods (in places like Bel Air) on the way home. It was not uncommon to hear, “I wonder where this road leads?”
In grade school and later, junior high and high school, I explored all the downtown buildings, including the living quarters above the stores. They were dark, dingy and full of mystery. I met lots of interesting people and found strange hidden places. I knew every park within walking distance, and all the side trails to get there. I wandered into the empty storage rooms of the local library where I hung out during summer days. I wandered into churches (as they always left their doors opened) and roamed alone through long hallways and curtained back stages. I often walked aimlessly for hours. I did the same thing on my bike, first a ten-speed, later a beach cruiser. I wandered along creeks, lakes and reservoirs, parks and even construction sites. Later in life, as a young adult, I was again wandering aimlessly for hours but behind the wheel of my car. I drove into Los Angeles and roamed the streets of the city. During all these wanderings (in my hometown no less!) I met my wanderer in crime (my future husband) and we wandered along the trails of central California’s coast, through Indian ruins in Arizona, caverns in New Mexico, among red rocks and meadows in Utah, and various other places in Colorado, Texas and Missouri.
Wandering about “Old West” mines in Utah / late 1980s
Even during college, married and working a 40 hour week, I was wandering. I’d lace up my tennis shoes and roam the city during my lunch breaks where I explored all the skyscrapers, riding their elevators to the top. When we could, my husband and I were off on a road trip to explore new areas, or return to old ones in places like Utah and Texas. When I “grew up” and had children of my own I was still a wanderer, strapping my boys into the stroller and spending entire mornings and afternoons wandering about the beaches and harbor in our beach town. I guess it should come as absolutely no surprise to me then, that I eventually became a trail runner. I mean, it seems a natural progression really.
And here all along, through my aching feet and suffering these past few years, I’ve been clutching onto the “running” part, as if I let it go, I would lose who I am. But I am not a runner. Not really. Don’t get me wrong. I have loved running. But running is just something that happened along while I roamed. I am a wanderer. And I can loosen my grip, hell I can completely let go of the running part if I need to. I think I had forgotten that and have been caught up with the “running” part of trail running, when all along I just needed to explore new trails. I can hike to wander, I can ride, I can drive. It does not matter, any form can satisfy wanderlust. With this new revelation, I have found once again my freedom. I am free. I can run or I can not run. It does not matter either way, as long as I roam, as long as I wander.
Yesterday, I got out to do a little roaming in some of my regular stomping grounds. I ran mostly, but I hiked too, and I did not fret about that. It was just great to get out there and wander about.
With about 6.5 miles and 1,000’ of elevation gained, I got in a lovely, cool and sometimes muggy run overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It was glorious, and more than enough to qualify for a wandering.
Do you like to wander?