Crested Butte, CO: Gone West, Looking East

The journey from Baltimore to Bollywood has begun, but not in any direct or linear fashion. That would be too easy and end too quickly. Rather, my vagabondage has started with a log-cabin Rocky Mountain tangent—a high-alpine, Colorado launching pad to the world, as it were.

At 9,000 feet above sea level, it is still quite brisk in Crested Butte, although much of the remaining snow is heavy and damp from so much wannabe spring sunshine. Generous familial ties of shared loved for the mountains have brought me to a veritable chateau on the hill outside town, a description of which would exhaust my superlative quota for the day and is thus beyond the scope of this report.

Suffice to say that through the massive window of the Great Room, jagged peaks are filtered by gauzy curtains of snow; coffee and mountain air course through my blood, and an enormous Rand McNally World Atlas lays open on my lap.

Yes, the grand, amorphous passage to India that has been in the back of my mind since my wife and I began dreaming it last fall, has finally begun to take shape. Guidebooks have been purchased; strange place-names fall awkwardly from our lips; herbal malaria droplets has been placed in our medkit.

Many unknowns remain, but, like sculptors sitting before a hunk of unformed granite, we have begun to chip toward our quest, delicately uncovering the route that will only be fully revealed when we are on it and it is changing from day to day.

The five-plus months we will spend volunteering in India and Thailand as representatives of the American Jewish World Service will anchor an extended expedition to The East, far from anywhere I’ve ever been.

Expect entries with titles like “Amsterdam,” “Mumbai,” “Dharamsala,” “Rawalpindi,” “Nasik, “Chiang Mai,” “Bali,” “Townsville,” and “Auckland.” Expect ice-capped mountains like the ones in these Great Room windows; expect masses of humanity and baffling holy sites; expect the wilderness of the other side of the world.

But first, I’m expecting a muddy mountain-bike ride into town. The sky has suddenly cleared and I think the snow is melting.

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Your advice, suggestions, and words of wisdom are welcome below—we’ll tuck them into our passport pouches, precious cargo.

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