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The wanderlust is kicking in again. This is no mere “gee, I could use a vacation.” The call is intense and inexorable. It’s the relentless nagging of the spirit, a haunting whisper in the back of the brain, something deep – primal even – pushing, begging, calling. It’s time to pack the bags. It’s way past time to put on all five senses and be anywhere but here.
We take lots of photos when we travel, but it’s more about trying to create something beautiful than to capture some essence. Photographs simply cannot capture the grandeur, majesty and utter beauty of the Grand Canyon. But if we catch the light just right, then there is something new that is beautiful, too.
Nor do we take pictures to remind ourselves of what a good time we had. We don’t need to. We have a photo somewhere around here of a man and his adult daughter that we met in the Zaca Mesa tasting room. Their names are lost, their faces fuzzy, even what, exactly, we talked about for so long is gone. But the joy of the time spent connecting, laughing, comparing notes, debating, that joy remains and always will.
The sites stick with us because they are the first part of the experience – the ivy-covered beauty of St. Emillion, medieval, yet so modern Bruges, Belgium, and the dog sitting in the window over the canal, the double rainbow over the road leading up to Cambria’s tasting room. But we have four other senses, and we travel on those as well.
The sound of a blues harmonica rising above the clatter of an active square in San Francisco, punctuated by the singular sound of a cable car bell. A man in running shorts and shoes and nothing else playing Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring on a guitar, in a square in Sarlat, France. The roar of the ocean and the utter stillness of the Grand Canyon.
The smell of dough hitting hot fat, the diesel fumes that permeated the city of Liège, the salt of sea air, and then its absence as the boat got further out to sea.
The rough nubbly texture of hand-made lace, purchased from the woman who made it, her hands whipping threaded bobbins around pins so fast it’s hard to imagine keeping them straight. The rich feel of yarns at the shop discovered in North Oakland, next to an Ethiopian restaurant, where we had lunch. We also found a market across the street that sold green coffee beans that Michael bought and roasted.
And there’s taste – an amazing pot of mussels in Bruges, thin cut pork chops covered in a dark mustard beer sauce at a restaurant in Maredsous, accompanied by an off-dry pinot noir from Alsace. It’s the food and the wine that stays with us, and we don’t mean on the hips, although Anne sometimes feels that pain. The turkey in cream sauce in Reims, France, served with an icy cold pitcher of dry rosé. It was the dregs of what bistro had to offer since they, like everyone else in town, were making ready to go on the traditional month-long vacation. But it was so good and as Anne’s sister noted, so much better than relying on MacDonald’s. It’s dried sausages and cold, grilled artichokes on the patio of an old ivy-covered winery, sitting and chatting with friends, one of whom happened to work there. Then there was the hot, sweet taste of Mendocino pinot noir that had only been picked a few days before and was going through its primary fermentation.
It’s the moments, like Anne trying to translate Michael’s technical questions about making Champagne for the wine maker at the cave in Montagne de Rilly, France, because the wine maker had enough English to do a cave tour, but not enough to explain fermenting temperatures and what brix the grapes were picked at. Or the look of utter resignation on the face of Anne’s daughter as she got into the back seat of the car and discovered she was going to be sharing it with a 20-0dd gallon fermenting barrel of merlot grapes. Or the horror that night when we discovered that the motel next to the Oakland Coliseum had turned into Raider Nation, and the fans partied all night long. Literally.
It’s realizing that the tasting flight of five bourbons in Bardstown, Kentucky, aren’t just tasting sips, but full-two-fingered shots. Thank the lord we had plenty to eat with that one. Or running back and forth between the buffet and the sports book at the Rio hotel in Las Vegas as we ate and handicapped the ponies.
It’s all that and more.
The wanderlust is kicking in again, whispering, nagging, pulling. Walking through the tunnel at Union Station one feels the deep-seated need to hop on a train and make new memories and find new experiences and taste new foods. Yes, it’s time to go.