Do Not Hurry the Journey (Weekly Photo Challenge: Half-Light)

Remembering to enjoy the journey, rather than missing the joys along the way because of a focus on the destination, is a constant struggle.  C.P. Cavafy’s poem “Ithaka” reminds us in the most lyrical way that what fills our spirits during our  lives are all those journeys connected together, making up the memories we treasure.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.


And there is no better companion for reminding me to be mindful on my voyage than a dog.  Actually, for those you have been with me these past few years, you know I am specifically referring to a certain dog …. Corbin, my 100 pounds of black lab love. While this photo I share is not one of my best from a photographic quality perspective, it was one that captured the essence of the poetry and the half-light, as the sun set on one of our many hikes through Minnesota’s Northwoods.

Corbin turned 10 earlier this year, and he is slowing, but still in remarkable health for his size and age. It is hard to imagine life without him, although I know I will have to, sooner than I care to think about.  We have had many dogs over the years — some joined us later in their lives than others, all “rescues” adopted from the local animal humane society or shelter.  From the beginning, when we brought the 7-month old 70-pound pup into our home, Corbin and I have had a special bond.

I intend to enjoy this leg of the journey to Ithaka, however long it may last, for as long as my friend is by my side.

The full text of Cavafy’s poem, “Ithaka” (also translated as “Ithaca”):

As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

A wonderful reading of the poem by Sean Connery with music by Vangelis can be found on YouTube:

Ciao! ~ Kat

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge. “Half-Light” is this week’s theme. Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here: Half-Light.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Happy Place

Hiking along the road near the cabin in the northwoods, autumn’s golden leaves crunching below our feet as our four-legged companions gallop to their heart’s content … up north is my happy place.

Hiking up north in the Fall

Up North

It’s the place people go to escape,
a place made of cabins, pine trees and lakes.
But no matter how far you drive,
there’s no sign to say “You’ve arrived.”
So just follow your heart ‘til you find,
your special place that brings peace of mind.
As you breathe in the air and unwind,
your cares are all left behind.
It’s no mystery where the northwoods start.
When you’re “up north,”
you’ll know in your heart.

– Suzanne Kindler, 1996

Ciao! ~ Kat

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge.  “Happy Place” is this week’s theme.  Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here.

The Joy is in the Journey, Not the Destination

As fall colors start to fade, get out for a walk or a run.  Appreciate the crunch of fallen leaves under your feet, the light filtered through sparser canopies of orange and gold, and crisp chill of the air.

Joy of an Autumn Run

Ciao! ~ Kat

Sand Dunes in the Mountains

I gave you a glimpse of the Great Sand Dunes National Park in the post for this week’s photo challenge.  It is worth revisiting in more detail, starting with the sunrise at San Luis State Park, just outside the dunes.  The San Luis campground was the ideal launching pad for a day trip to the Dunes as we continued our road trip through Colorado.

Campsite at San Luis State Park, Colorado
Our campsite at San Luis State Park, outside the Great Sand Dunes

As you approach the park entrance sign, the dunes are like a mirage at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

Hiking the dunes on a summer day requires a morning start — that sand bakes in a hurry under a hot sun.  With no trees or other objects to provide cover or shade, one quickly gets a desert hiking experience.

Starting out on a Great Sand Dunes hike

Great Sand Dunes, Colorado

Sand angels are not a wise idea when you have your camera in your pocket.  Photos are great tools for capturing memories; this photo will always capture the memory of my son’s camera literally biting the dust.

Sand Angels in the Sand Dunes of Colorado

It took awhile to get the hang of climbing the dunes — there is a strategy to minimize the feeling of walking on a treadmill.

Not all came to hike.  We saw visitors with makeshift sleds, and others on skis, treating the sand like a warm weather ski hill.  No problem with congestion at this vast venue!

Climbing the dunes in Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park has such a unique setting — neverending desert-like dunes butted up against the extensive Sangre de Cristo mountain range.  Sunrise and sunset would provide for some phenomenal photo opportunities!

Hiking the dunes at the base of the Sangre de Cristo mountains

We had a goal of hiking to the top of the tallest dune, but settled for the second tallest, by our estimation.  We sat and rested for a water break before the return hike to the car.  Water bottles were quickly depleted, and sunglasses essential, as the sun climbed to its midday spot.

sand dunes hike 10 8_3_09

sand dunes hike 17 8_3_09

If you are pressed for time, even a half-day stop to wander through the Visitor Center and take a short walk onto the dunes is worthwhile.  However, spending a day or two exploring the nearby mountain trails and activities would make for a fun weekend trip.  We barely scratched the surface of this fascinating site.

Parting view of Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

The National Park website for the Great Sand Dunes National Park has all the information you need to start planning a visit to this unique Colorado destination.

Ciao! ~ Kat

Last Look at the Apostle Islands Ice Caves

Moods were lifted and everyone I encountered today had a smile on their face — amazing what a little sunshine and warmer temperatures can do to the collective spirit of a community!  The snow and ice are likely to be part of our landscape in the weeks to come … what was created over several months’ time is unlikely to disappear overnight.  So, I do not think it unseasonal to post one more set of photos from our frigid hike last Saturday at the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

Apostle Islands ice caves

Viewing winter visitors next to the rocky bluffs allowed one to appreciate the massive scope of this natural beauty.  But, the details were just as spectacular.

(Click on any photo in the galleries below for a full-screen view.)

Icy openings provided stunning views and memorable seating.

The ice and snow were not the only features of interest.  The rock formations along the shore created layered contrast and diverse textures for Winter’s artistry.

Probably the most awe-inspiring features were the massive hanging curtains of icicles and suspended waterfalls. 

For more photos and links to visitors’ information for the ice caves, check out my earlier posts:

And if you are unfamiliar with the region, here is a Google Maps for context:  Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is located in the State of Wisconsin on the “South Shore” of Lake Superior, while the City of Duluth, Minnesota is located at the beginning of the “North Shore.”

Beautiful regions to explore, any season of the year.  I hope to share signs of Spring with you in the upcoming weeks, but in the meantime, perhaps the blog will revisit some classic summer road trip destinations and dining favorites.

Ciao! ~ Kat