September 2009
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On the Road Again

This is the first of my entries while I am off to the big Pow Wow.  I told the Caretaker to post this two days after I left.  You can be the judge of whether he managed to do that or not.  Elias is a kindly diligent sort, but he is not the sharpest tool in the shed.  We can only hope he gets it right. Since I am on the road when this gets posted, I want to talk about some basic traveling skills we all learn as soon as we can walk. For the Pow Wow, it's easy enough to follow the river in canoes and know to head upriver.  You don't have to be much smarter than a stump to figure that out.  Likewise, anyone with a personal system can call up a map and have the system figure out where they are, complete with an overlay and a glowing arrow in your field of view to point you on your way.  Suppose circumstances force you away from the river and you don't have  (or can't use) a rig, then what do you do?  Land navigation is what you do.  You break out your old compass, any map you might happen to have and your knowledge of the terrain around you. Land nav is part science and part art form.  It's one thing to figure out where you are and where you need to go and it's another to get there without killing or exhausting yourself and your companions.  There are smart people in this world who will be in one spot and know exactly where they need to go and walk a straight line through thick and thin to get there.  That works and if that's all you know, it can be enough.  There are those among us though, who look at the bigger picture.  They look at the path the land offers, rather than the lines we draw in our head.  They see if they follow this ridge to the west, then cut over at that saddle, they may walk a slightly longer distance, but they will avoid a lot of up and down elevation changes, not to mention the creeks in those draws.  Experience plays into this a great deal, but I think it takes a special person to listen to what the land is saying.  It can be taught, but it can't be mastered in a lifetime. For me, being out in the woods is as close as I come to a religious experience.  The mottled light coming through the thick evergreens, the cool crisp air hidden away in little pockets, the patter of squirrels and melody of's all the voice of the forest.  I sometimes wonder why people feel the need to worship old dead gods, when the forest is a living one.  Traveling through the forest in a canoe for days on end and spending the nights on shore is the sort of experience I will never grow tired of.  Adrias says that many people in your period lived in the cities of steel and glass and never got to experience what I do on a daily basis.  That's one of the saddest stories I have ever heard.

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