Nancy's Travelblogue

... there isn't a train I wouldn't take, no matter where it's going. -- Edna St. Vincent Millay

Location: California, United States

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


Tomorrow I set out in my car, by myself, to fulfill a longtime dream of a lengthy stay in northern New Mexico. As I write this I’m looking out on the San Francisco Bay from the Berkeley Hills. The bay is calm and the sky is gray, more or less the same gray as the water, with only the Marin Headlands -- a ribbon of darker gray—to define the horizon.

Bay Area skies are governed by oceanic climate patterns, which most of the time means fog, clouds, haze and generally subtle light. New Mexico skies, on the other hand, are governed by the thin dry air of the high desert, which means a well defined horizon, dramatic contrasts in color and light, and quick and dramatic changes in light. I know this because I’ve been checking the Taos webcam several times a day since I fell in love with northern New Mexico two years ago.

This journey is a treat to myself for my 60th birthday, to mark not only the chronological event, but also certain rites of passage. My youngest child graduated from law school this week-end, and my days of re-living carefree college days with my children are over. My father entered a skilled nursing facility, and my responsibilities and my relationship to him will change in ways I’m not entirely sure of. I got my first paid consulting job as an oral historian, and I’m writing a book about oral history. Two more steps toward fulfilling my hopes to end my career as an oral historian.

One of the very few benefits of age is perspective. I’m finally old enough to look at personal and public events and see patterns and cycles within it all:

  • I was born the day World War II ended in Europe. World War II is to current college freshman what the Victorian Era was to me.

  • I was a freshman in college when the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. For college freshmen in 2005, the Beatles are as much history as Al Capone or Marlene Dietrich was for me.

  • I entered UC Berkeley in 1964, the year of the Free Speech Movement. I watched from the balcony of Eshelman Hall as Mario Savio and others “went limp[1]” and I came through the social revolution of next three years with an actual college degree. Next fall, college freshman will study the FSM in their courses on social movements.

But I digress. Tomorrow I take off and here is my itinerary:

Cal State Fullerton – appointment with oral history program

Joshua Tree National Park – two days to rest, refresh, photograph, hike and write

Poston, former Japanese Internment camp, Poston Restoration

Tucson – three days to reconnect with relatives

Cloudcroft, NM – a name on the map that looks interesting.

Lubbock, TX – visit my son who is graduating from law school, visit Vietnam Archive, one of the case studies for my book

Taos, NM – my home for the next three months

[1] Young readers, this isn’t what you think. Going limp in those days was a form of passive resistance.


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