Summertime Rolls

Monsoon season in southern Thailand can be a strange time of year. The heavy rains can last all day, and sometimes the clouds gather so thick that high noon feels like late evening. In the process, weird things happen inside my apartment, like the swarming colony of red ants that took refuge in my bed when I was gone to Bangkok for five days, or the wooly mold I recently found growing inside my toaster.

Thus, I was amazed to wake up yesterday and gaze out my window at a completely clear sky. Not a cloud in sight. I sat down at my keyboard to get some work done, but — as hard as I tried to write — my mind kept filling up with broad stretches of blue sky. In no mood to fight the urge, I snapped my laptop shut, rented a motorbike from my landlady, and headed for the horizon.

There aren’t many roads in the jungle-mountains near my home, so I mainly stuck to the old byways built for tin mining operations half a century ago. Rainforest foliage has overwhelmed a lot of the old mining sites, and these scarred swathes of jungle can at times seem otherworldly.

Surroundings aside, however, the most satisfying thing about my motorcycle journey was the aimless, ecstatic feeling of motion itself. And, for all the beauties and rewards that come on the vagabonding road, there are times when I think that simple motion is one of the best parts of travel (I know this may seem ironic, given yesterday’s travel quote, but bear with me). It’s a feeling I’ve savored for many years’ worth of summers.

I remember a day 14 years ago when I was working as a trip outfitter for a mountaineering camp in Colorado. I was just out of high school, working 12 days on / two days off, preparing food and gear for backpacking expeditions. Some friends and I were driving down a Rocky Mountain washboard called Rampart Range Road when someone popped Jane’s Addiction’s “Nothing’s Shocking” into the tape deck. The album had been out for nearly a year, but (because I’d been living in the FM-radio wasteland of south-central Kansas) I’d never heard it before. I was enraptured from the first bass-line of “Up the Beach”, but the true clincher was during opening strains of “Ocean Size”, when the girl who was driving the car (where are you these days, Jamie Blalack?) solemnly turned to me and said, “one, two

Posted by | Comments (1)  | June 25, 2003
Category: Rolf's News and Updates

One Response to “Summertime Rolls”

  1. Greg Says:

    One of my favorite travel quotes:

    “The movement of travel is merciful.”

    -Paul Theroux from The Old Patagonian Express