brni (brni) wrote,

Travelogue: Part I

So, Linda and I have been wandering around the country. I've started writing up our Grande Adventures, mostly for us, but who knows, maybe someone else will find them vaguely interesting. So, here's part one.

Day 1: Saturday, September 21, 2013

Woke up too early. Stumbled off to the train station on the former R5 line, which they now call the Paoli-Thorndale line, which seems to be far too many syllables. And somehow contrary to the SEPTA tradition of making public transit obscure to people who don't use it all the time. So, R5 to 30th St station, 30th to the airport, and then up, up, and away.

Landed in Phoenix some hours later, and found a shuttle to take me to Flagstaff. It wasn't as oppressively hot as the other times I've been in Phoenix, but maybe that's because the other times were in August. So, off we go. First thing you notice is that, unlike Philadelphia, there's actually a sun in Arizona. In Philly, we have this little yellowish grey disk that we call the sun, but it turns out that we're generally wrong about that.

The majority of people on the shuttle were locals who use the airport/tourist shuttles as a reasonable way to get around the state. One woman had taken the shuttle from Flagstaff to Phoenix to go shopping, and now was heading home. Another person was a girl in school in Tempe who was going to Flagstaff to visit her boyfriend for a day.

Distance in the west is very different from distance in the east. Some of that is that we have so much stuff packed close together that there's really no reason to drive 150 miles to New York City or Baltimore or DC. There's barely any reason to drive between the suburbs and the city. The other reason is that congestion is so prevalent that the idea of getting on a road and driving 100 miles without ever seeing another car is quite unthinkable. We count ourselves luckly if we traffic on the highways never slows to under half the speed limit.

So, anyway. The shuttle gets to Flagstaff, and Linda's there to pick me up. We drive another 40 minutes to Mormon Lake Lodge, where Linda's herbalism conference was.

Mormon Lake Lodge is this weird-ass place down by Mormon Lake (or Mormon Meadows, as Linda calls it, since most of the lake appears to have evaporated). There's RV and tent camping, and a bunch of small cabins. There's a building that is the General Store, the bar, the restaurant, and the Zane Grey museum. It was Elk hunting season, so the place is half-full of herbalists in flowy cotton & silk, and half-full of elk hunters in olive green camo. The food in the restaurant was pretty much cowboy food, but it looks like they were at least aware of organic and sustainably produced food.

That night, I met some folks I knew over facebook for the first time: Kiva Rose and Rebecca McTrouble, and met some other folks. Linda was sharing a cabin with some other women, and I ended up crashing on the couch in Jim McDonald's cabin. But not yet. There was a party that night, and then an afterparty, which wrapped up somewhere around 3am. Which with jet lag, made for a good 24 hours without sleep.

At the afterparty, I learned about humours. Questions and answers, and various herbalists discussing aspects of these things, and by the end of the night we'd all been diagnosed. Me? I'm bloody phlegm. (Actually, Phlegmatic Sanguine, since apparently order matters.)

Interesting discussion of nature vs nurture, of people who display tendencies that appear to go against their "nature." Discussion of ayervedic conceptions vs humourous conceptions. And how some things are better conceptionalized in one framework than in another. "Nature is uncatagorizable," Jim said. I tend to disagree: nature is categorizable; it's what we do, as humans, in order to make sense of our surroundings. We abstract from our perceptions and construct systems of generalizations out of those perceptions, refining as we learn. The mistake people make is confusing phenomenological truth with absolute truth. When we do that, we take our constructed systems and posit them as the only correct way to interpret the world. It's important to recognize that we generate systems of understanding for a particular utility, and not as a direct window on the absolute. The truth-value of a system is largely identical to the use-value of the system. Different systems can interpret the world in different ways, and give us differently nuanced ways of understanding.
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