The Art of Slow Travel

Santorini 2011

“Better far off to leave half the ruins and nine-tenths of the churches unseen and to see well the rest; to see them not once but again and again; to watch them, to learn them, to live with them, to love them, til they have become a part of life and life’s recollections.”

-Augustus Hare

June 12, 2013, Washington, DC: June is the time of year we start thinking of Greece. It’s the month when the heat rising off DC’s streets slows us down a notch and we start craving a more European lifestyle and white wine in the afternoon. We seek out cafes that remind us of Santorini – places like Zorba’s Café in Dupont Circle on four o’clock on a Saturday and Café Leopold stashed away in Cady’s Alley beneath a hectic Georgetown and the oh-so-Euro sidewalk café outside DC’s Willard Hotel. Though no longer students, we still instinctively let our guard down and move more slowly the moment school’s out. We become our summer selves, the version we’ve always liked best, ever since we were kids.

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Miles From Monday: Beach Camping

camping4

“Find yourself a place you belong in the universe,” she said, “a place where the dirt feels like goodness under your feet.”       -Pam Houston

Miles from Monday is a travel series focused on venturing out of the spaces we inhabit during our work week and retreating to landscapes that feel far from routine.

April 29, 2013, Washington, DC: We went camping this weekend on Assateague Island, 140 miles from our neighborhood in the city and even more distant than that from our weekend routine. It’d been way too long since we spent a Saturday night unplugged at a campsite with just the necessities — things like kitchen utensils and board games and a few close friends. It’d been way too long since we’d pitched a tent on a beach.

We’d nearly forgotten the allure of someplace where dinner cooks on the fire and the East is all ocean and the smell of morning coffee floats onto clean salty air. We’d nearly forgotten how good it feels to shuffle around in ski socks with the sand beneath our feet.  We’d nearly forgotten there are many places we belong, and that a campsite on the beach is most certainly one of them.

When is the last time you went camping? Do you find that phases of your life can be demarcated in part by the way you travel? What type of travel do you associate with each? 

beach camping, assateague island, april 2013

beach camping, assateague island, april 2013

beach camping, assateague island, april 2013

Assateague Island camping

beach camping, assateague island, april 2013

beach camping, assateague island, april 2013

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Miles from Monday, And Still Running

running

“Every mile out there is a gift.”

-Amby Burfoot, winner of the 1968 Boston Marathon

April 22, 2013, Washington, DC: Amby Burfoot was less than a mile from the finish line last Monday, ready to celebrate the 45th anniversary of his marathon win, when the bombs went off on Boylston Street. I heard him recount his story a few days later on NPR’s Fresh Air as I drove home up Independence Ave. and past the U.S. Capitol where flags flew at half staff to commemorate the victims of the Boston Marathon. When I got home, like so many others, I went for a run. Past the Capitol Police on the corner of Independence and 3rd, behind the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court, out East Capitol and around Lincoln Park. The usual route, spiked this time with an unusual sense of patriotism.

I ran a lot last week, in fact. Undoubtedly inspired by those who ran the marathon and those who cheered them on, undoubtedly motivated by the neighborhood 10K coming up next month. On Thursday, I ran my occasional six mile route home from work, through Dupont Circle into downtown and east along Pennsylvania Ave towards Capitol Hill. The pedestrian plaza in front of the White House, a highlight on the route, remained closed due to increased security, but the crowds of runners and visitors out that day detoured around it and carried on.

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NoMad New York

NoMad, NYC

April 17, 2013: Hello, NoMad! This place so deserves a shout out here on Neighborhood Nomads — not only for its name, but for that picturesque ivy that creeps around a streetscape otherwise full of cement and for the two bicycles on their kickstands in the lobby parked on those oh-so-New York City tile floors. Not to mention it’s not just the hotel, but the entire neighborhood that’s called NoMad, named for the area north of Madison Square Park. How perfect is that? Husband and I picked up some coffee and walked north up Broadway to NoMad Saturday morning, circling back through the Shake Shack in the park. How could we not? An entire neighborhood called NoMad just feels like the right place to wander.

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Saturdays in the City

nyc

April 13, 2013, New York: Early on in high school, my art teacher started taking groups of us on outings known as Saturdays in the City. Every month or two, we’d take a train trip into Manhattan to go to an art exhibit, walk around New York, and head out to lunch. They were easy afternoon trips — in retrospect, a simple way to take advantage of New York for students who lived in a nearby town but weren’t yet ready to navigate a city they didn’t live in on their own. Funny that I hadn’t given much thought to those trips, let alone noticed their presence among many influences that have unconsciously shaped Neighborhood Nomads. Not until this morning, that is, when I woke up and looked out a window onto New York and thought, This is just the type of day that reminds me of Saturdays in the City.

Whichever city we’re in, Saturdays in the City are old hat these days. But isn’t it nice to see them like we used to, full of something fresh and different that we’ve never laid eyes on?

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Miles from Monday: Expat Living in Phnom Penh

Phnom Pehn

Photo Credit: Bill Gallery

This is one in a series of interviews about the world’s neighborhoods and the people who love them. Would you like to participate? Click here for more information about contributing to Neighborhood Nomads.

March 11, 2013, Washington, DC: As someone constantly on the move, it’s strange to suddenly be the member of the family staying put. In the last year or so, several of my relatives have packed up their belongings and made a new place home, including my brother-in-law Bill. Bill and his fiancé, Laura are nomads who met in Kabul, Afghanistan working in the field of international development, and they’ve been eager to live abroad together — albeit somewhere a bit safer — ever since. In Bill’s words, their reasons for doing so were “partly for the professional experience and partly to get away from the bureaucratic malaise that comes from working in a home office for too long — and maybe partly to prove that we could.”

Southeast Asia appealed immediately, and Laura was recently transferred for work to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. They moved overseas just after Christmas and promised a Neighborhoods Nomads update in expat living once they settled in.

Read on for Bill’s reflections on life in Phnom Penh.

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Lessons in Living, From the Backcountry

This is  one in a series of interviews featuring people invested in our homes, our neighborhoods and the power of place. Would you like to participate? Click here for more information about contributing to Neighborhood Nomads.

February 27, 2013, Washington, DC: Making a deliberate decision to change where and how you live can make a world of difference. Campbell Gerrish knows this firsthand, both personally and professionally. We worked together more than decade ago as co-leaders guiding a summer backcountry trip for teenagers throughout British Columbia, hiking long days, pitching  tents, cooking dinner and sleeping soundly in our down sleeping bags. In the mornings, we’d pack up all of our belongings, heave our tents, utensils, clothes, food, pots and pans onto our backs, and move on. All that we needed we carried with us. What we packed in, we packed out.

It was serendipitous that Campbell called a few weeks ago from his home in Bozeman, Montana, the very day after the Traveler of the Year event that had prompted me to so vividly recall that afternoon pictured above in BC’s Stein Valley. Campbell and I hadn’t talked in four years, but as we caught up, it was clear we shared a continuing interest in examining where and how we live, shaped largely by our experiences in wilderness living. Living in a tent in the backcountry with just the bare necessities will change you. It will change the way you think about home and it will remind you that your exterior living space is intricately tied to your inner well being.

“It’s interesting to articulate because it’s such an intuitive thing to me,” Campbell said. “The way we live in our environment reflects our state of mind. So if I live in a room that is covered in tons of crap and I let all my papers pile up, if I live in a space that is cluttered and messy and disorganized, that reflects what I’m like inside. For me, if I let my living space get out of hand, I feel I’m not being disciplined in my thinking, I’ve got some loose ends going on.”

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