Commentary by Rick Rodriguez
"Thoreau had said, 'How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.' And during this time I began to wonder, was I truly living?" And so it was said and as I thought about this I asked, "Have I lived?" Well, of course, but much of what I recall is alone, a part of the landscape of my memory, dwindling away each day, fading into the archives of the past. Will I know these delights ten years hence? Or, will I only have these words to remind me of the life I once lived?
I hurry now trying to recapture the fresh thoughts of my many wanderings. On the road driving to a new destination, on trails wrapped evenly on each side with trees and foilage with little cursory evidence of new or old and unfamiliar terrain, listening to the voice, the incessant one, that calls me to walk this way, to live a new tale to be told of perhaps just to an audience of one. Even the insignificant moments, diurnal events, a morning meal, a smile of a friend, a conversation with a child, my son or daughter. I look at pictures in my mind and see young faces, shorter legs, bright smiles, and hear voices of children with calls of "Daddy!" These times come and go quickly one memory overlapping the next!
Niagara Falls was what I thought it would be, an amazing spectacle, a deluge of beautiful thundering water roaring down its descent. The cascades mimicking the currents of time, different, at each moment. "This never stops," I thought! "This water continues to flow every waking minute of my life and has since I came to be." A fascinating, prodigious thought. A rich, thoroughly, invigorating experience. I walked the length of the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, hop scotching around others accompanying me that day, focusing on the phenomenon I had longed to see all the years of my life. I had come here to see this wonder of the world and now, before me, it was mine. Yes, the memory of it, is mine! I've captured it as all should. I thought "hold the waterfall of life dear as it soon passes as quickly" as it did for me that day!
A few days later, on a drive toward the Finger Lakes region near Ithaca, New York, I crossed paths with Taughannock Falls. The juncture appeared like a fork in the road as I drove along one of the five Finger Lakes, so named for their hand like appearance when viewed from a satelite, and like so many of life junctures, something beckoned me to explore this region. Pulling off the road, I glanced a path and began a descent into a slate cut cavity formed from ages of flowing water. I followed a trail adjacent to the cavernous river bed below me walking until I came upon the falls. A lighter stream of water flowed than those I had viewed in Canada, yet, its subtle beauty engaged me. I conversed momentarily with admirers from England and Israel, here on a visit to America, showing their appreciation to a place so far from their homes. Some thirty or so minutes passed before I contemplated leaving. In fact, I headed back up the trail only to return, an instinct admonishing me that I would only come this way once and I needed to absorb this moment as much as possible.
After a well deserved lunch in Ithaca, New York, I asked the bartender, "How far to the University?" she replied "oh its right up the hill just turn left," failing to mention how steep the site of the prestigious place of learning that is Cornell University is situated. I walked briskly passing typical collegiate housing until I walked onto the grounds of the Ivy League School. Students and faculty settled around the campus as I wandered around marveling at the structures and the view of the town below. Satisfied, I headed back down the hill continuing my journey.
I kept moving thru New York, mostly on two lane highways and through small towns. After overnighting in Cooperstown, I set my sights on the Adirondacks but fortune found me in Glen Falls, New York where I stopped at St. Mary's Cathedral for a moment of thankful blessings. Shortly thereafter, I lunched at Lake George before embarking on a 153-mile roadtrip thru the Adirondacks. With little time to engage the varying terrain, I climbed toward Blue Mountain Lake, Inlet, and Old Forge admiring the scenic country only briefly. I was on a cursory mission and the drive through these mountains served as an introductory chapter to this 10,000 square mile expanse. The Adirondack Park is greater in size than Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier, and Grand Canyon National Parks combined!
Days later, unable to resist the lure of Letchworth State Park, I drove south from Rochester into the park for a glance at what is called "The Grand Canyon of the East," a gesture to the likeness of the southwest cavity known as the Grand Canyon. I hiked from the Lower Falls to Middle Falls, and finally reaching Upper Falls, after a 4.0 mile trip on dirt and rock strewn trails. Hiking silently along the trail, sounds of the flowing falls below, I yearned for something that would make this trek worthwhile, and I found it at Middle Falls admiring a rainbow that appeared suddenly to share the afternoon with me. It was a signal that the scene was destined for me. I captured it here, photgraphed, as evidence that I had passed this way, as many before me have and will......old Thoreau would have undoubtedly approved.....
Rick Rodriguez is a San Francisco Bay Area native, graduate of Saint Mary's College, and an avid blogger. His numerous interests include golf, travel, trail running, hiking, reading, politics, and writing. He lives in Danville, California with his two children.
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