Isit in awe at the feet of the travel gods. For centuries they have commanded the forces of adventure, beauty, and mystery. They bring us out of our world and into theirs, into those of all other people; they question our assumptions, they test our mettle, they expand our minds. And now they have embraced technology.
Consider: I live in Oregon. Some friends are getting together in Los Angeles the first weekend of March. It would be simple enough to buy a plane ticket to L.A., see the folks, return to Oregon. But I am a follower of the Wandering Ones. I aspire to travel which follows a general direction and encompasses regions rather than merely attaining a destination. I also have no vehicle, unless you count my Flexible Flyer sled. Thus begins the adventure: Any fool can fly to L.A., but it takes a fool like me to visit people and see sites in more than a dozen cities over two weeks on the way to L.A.
Consider again: I have now crafted such a plan, an exquisitely detailed itinerary, without getting up from my desk. All hail technology and the travel gods.
It started, as always, with a simple idea: work my way down the West Coast, see some folks along the way. In one browser window I opened a map, in another the Greyhound reservations page, and in another, Amtrak. And we're off: train to Eugene, booked, spend a night, surf for recommendations for breakfast and disc golf, e-mail an invite to a disc-tossing friend in a nearby city, send him a map to the course, then book a bus to Medford the next afternoon. E-mail friends there. Next stop: Eureka, California -- Redwoods country.
Herein lies a problem. There's no public transit twixt Medford and Eureka. No bus, no train. Not a big problem for many people, but a man without a car?
After this little gap, the trip rolls like a cake out of the oven: warm, sweet, just like you planned it. A day in the Redwoods. Bus down to Santa Rosa the next morning. Dinner with friends, bus the next day to San Rafael, do it again. Bus next afternoon to Oakland, book a Flexcar (shared vehicle service) to get around the Bay area, e-mail people proposing breakfasts, dinners, city tours. Check San Francisco music schedule. Check the schedule, fares, and maps for city buses, regional light rail, Mapquest for walking directions to and from stations, look up the commuter train to San Jose, e-mail some friends there -- ah, the 5:25 p.m. train from S.F. is an express! Book ticket.
Still seated at my desk ... Overnight Greyhound to Santa Barbara where I see that a restaurant I used to toil in is now a topless bar. Yikes. Train the next day down into L.A., at which point any damn thing is possible ... And yet there's this gap. How does one get from Medford to Eureka?
Surf to the various chambers of commerce, look for buses or taxis -- hell, limo services, whatever. Find numerous shuttle services for float trips, fishing trips, backpacking trip, winery tours ... a daily bus from Medford airport to Klamath Falls, Oregon. Check the Medford airport -- yes, they have one, and here's the daily schedule right here. Send them an e-mail. They suggest a particular bus service. Call them. $400 to Eureka. Yikes! Surf and find a one-way car rental, drop it off in Eureka ... that's $150. Yikes again. Another shuttle-service owner calls back, says why not try the airport in Redding? It's four hours from Medford but only three from Redding.
Didn't know Redding had an airport. Hardly knew where Redding was. Somewhere near Shasta, I think -- and here's a list of meditation retreat centers in Shasta! Click here to reserve a bed ...
Redding airport, huh? Wonder where they fly to? Daily flight to Portland, no help. Daily flight to San Francisco ... with a stop on the way in Arcata. Sounds familiar. Mapquest. Arcata is next to Eureka! Back to Mapquest. Arcata airport is a five-minute drive from destination in Eureka. Print out the map. Still at my desk.
Back to Greyhound.com. Bus leaves Medford 6:45 a.m., arrives Redding 10. Plane leaves Redding 5 p.m. for Arcata. Fare is $56. Booked! And what does one do for a day in Redding? Google "Redding Convention and Visitors Bureau" ... find out that you can walk the Sacramento River Trail to the Turtle Bay Exploration Park. Sounds good. Seek and receive local advice on a place for lunch -- thank you, CitySearch. Mapquest for directions twixt there and airport. Breathe.
Trip's set. Time to stand up and eat.