Now, this may sound impertinent. It may sound downright stupid. But I’m going to say it anyways.

Once upon a time I really enjoyed exploring the creeks of the Dallas area. They were the only thing left of wild lands in a cityscape filled with concrete, cars, traffic, people, and endless buildings evincing indifference to aesthetics. To me, it was just a place to exist.

But look, if you like Dallas or Chicago or New York, fine. To each their own – truly. The older I get, the more I see that joy can be a fleeting thing, and that those who are wisest are those who are happiest. If you are truly happy in a megalopolis of 21st century America, more power to you. I wouldn’t call you a liar for saying you’re happy there.

However, I know the way I feel. I prefer seeing as much of the natural world as possible. Cityscapes depress me. They make me feel trapped. They make me feel I’m missing out on life. I’d almost say I feel like I am not as close to the Creator because his workmanship is so obscured by artificiality.

And I’m not saying God’s not present in cities. Of course he is. Of course, “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” This includes demonic Hollywood.

Nonetheless, I’d rather live in a trailer in South Texas than in mansion in Dallas. I’d rather see brush and yuccas than cars and crowds. This is how I really feel. Thus, when I tell you that there was a deep solace and even exhilaration exploring the Trinity River country – and all its tributary creeks – of Dallas County, I’m serious.

I wanted to know where the streams flowed. I wanted to see what old and tall trees could be found in Garland. I wanted to find deep pools at the base of Austin chalk bluffs rising dozens of feet above Spring Creek. Hell, it’s not exaggeration to say that one of the most enjoyable days of my entire life was canoeing the Trinity River a dozen miles from downtown Dallas to South Dallas. Walking creeks and canoeing rivers was quite the unique way to escape the Metroplex.

I thank Henry David Thoreau for inspiration – his essay “Walking” in particular. There was an unconventionality to his life. His words reflected deep curiosity. That curiosity yielded a man intent on questioning the order of life most people take as an eternally fixed thing. As wondrous and inspiring as Nature is, how can we so readily ignore it? How can we spend so little time letting it direct our attentions to some of the most beautiful things imaginable? I mean, how can landscapes not mesmerize you?

Truly, I don’t get it. But, again, to each their own.

However, I soon got too bored with DFW. Thus, I moved to Austin, and then the Texas Hill Country. God’s artistry is in the Hill Country. It possesses a beauty unique to America. Seeing as many cypress-lined rivers as possible flowing blue and cold out of the Edwards Plateau brought deep joy too. The Guadalupe, Frio, Sabinal, so on and so forth, are some of the prettiest streams on Earth. The mystery of why bald cypresses grow in an isolated bubble on Hill Country rivers, away from swampy rivers, I’d still like to know the answer to.

Truly, truly, many warm days under the sun in Texas I could write glowingly about. In addition to inspiring me to read Thoreau and other Romantics, those days also inspired me to read books on land itself. I wanted to know nitty-gritty details of what I was looking at. Thus, Taxodium Distichum, East Texas Pines, the Brazos River, the Texas Colorado, Blackland Prairie Clay, Post Oak Belts, Llano Uplift Granite were all subjects I read much on.

Thus, in Texas my passion for land was born. Now, I didn’t become one of Humboldt’s Children, that is, some wild scientist-explorer curious to explore the Andes and Amazon. Nonetheless, this passion did take me West, where many of Humboldt’s Children did go. It took me to Arizona. Today, it had taken me to California.

Thus, on Wednesday the 13th of June in the year of our Lord 2019, I woke up in the Miner’s Motel in Sonora, California. The same excitement that moved me to explore Texas once upon a time was now manifesting as an excitement to drive CH 108 from Sonora over the Sierras to their brown, eastern side. Thereafter, I’d go north on US 395 to US 50 to Lake Tahoe.

Of course, you already know that east of the Sierras is the Great Basin country, which is comprised of many endoheric basins bunched up to each other. Well, how had man captured the water to maximize the growth of towns? How big were those towns? How cultivated were the surrounding areas? What would life be here like?

However, the biggest curiosity was how deep and blue would the sky be at 10,000′ in the Range of Light?