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Respite and Reflection

Travel can make you feel tiny and insignificant in the best ways possible.

Don't take things for granted

In various ways, travel has taught me to value each moment more. Inherent in the nature of each trip is the realization that I may never return to this spot on Earth, whether accessible or remote. And, even if I do return, the experiences I have on this trip will never repeat in the same way. But there are other lessons about the fleeting nature of time: Mountains, canyons, ancient buildings, and even plants can all remind me that they'll endure long after I'm gone.

A mystery in New Mexico

In New Mexico, Mike and I spent an afternoon at the Anasazi ruins of Bandelier National Monument. Climbing up ladders into the long-abandoned cliff dwellings was a remarkable experience. The sunlight burnished the cliffs with a golden glow, giving the place an otherworldly feel. On a chilly November day, we had the ruins almost to ourselves. Seeing how this lost tribe lived yet wondering at the mystery of how they vanished is one of the West's most enduring mysteries. Did they die off? Were they killed in war? Did drought or pestilence drive them to another region? As we wandered through the remarkable structures, we walked with ghosts of these ancient cliff dwellers. I had to wonder, could the Anasazi's mysterious experience happen to other pockets of civilization?

Baobab trees - an eerie lesson

Baobabs live thousands of years. A number of baobab trees still grow in Botswana and elsewhere in Africa, although many are falling due to age or elephants. Elephants ravage the trees to extract water from the bark during dry periods. That abuse interrupts the tree's ability to sustain itself and causes it to die. Standing at the foot of a baobab is a lesson in nature's dice game with time. Nature has thrown a number in the thousands of years for most baobabs. Yet, the average human life spans less than a hundred years. Standing in the shadow of a tree so huge that I felt like an ant at its feet, I knew it had been there for millennia before I was born and would likely live for another thousand years after I'm gone. What an eerie lesson in the relativity of time.

These tips for travelers are from Author Sherry Knowlton's travel memoirs, Beyond the Sunset: Volume 1 & Volume 2. Buy the book, in Kindle or paperback, today!

Also available at Sunbury Press or wherever most books are sold.

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