I splay out along a swimming hole where the cataracts flow, down the craggy chasms of rock, over the moss and through the riffs and ferns, swimming out to meet the St. John’s. Beneath its glinting ripples the bass and the muskies roam free with the moose hidden in the deep green forests and lush meadows of the wilderness.
I look beyond through the dark, slick passage where mountain water meets the river. In the distance, strings of latent, steel beasts rest their bodies on the tracks by the French architecture, steeples, and plumes of smoke billowing up to the cloudless sky, under the scintillating sun and through the blazing heat. Where I sit, basking in the shade, listening to the harmony of waterfalls touch my ears, the brisk breeze tickle my arms, waiting on chips to sail me away south; this as Birdy tells it, is Shangri-La.
It’s a different country, way, way, up here as we’ve spent our past weeks wandering north to the tip. More guns occupy the state than people in these close-knit towns and communities, everyone’s packin’, even the kids. But, it’s not what you’d think, no crime, no violence, just friendly rednecks in big ole trucks and on quads, drinkin’ beers, huntin’, livin’ free, protectin’ thy neighbor. A place where its people stop to lend a helping hand to anyone in need. Crime is policed by the citizens instead of Big Brother, but rarely does it need policing; life is simple up here.
It’s paradise in these verdant hills and mountains where the rivers look like cotton candy under the splendid sunsets and the calmness of nature soothe my troubles away. In the absence of traffic, the birds sing peacefully in unison, an anomaly in centuries of booming technology and its creeping destruction upon the land. Nature sequesters to untouched spaces few and far between like vines in search of water hoping to spread life, and in these places exist Shangri-la.
Fast lane antics near the burb and prospering cities continue to burn the very freedom they create. But, when I look hard past the indoctrination of conventional lifestyles, and its burden so heavily pushed on me, I can’t help but find beauty in this peace, this magic, this random adventure.
And when it ends, I’ll be rollin’ down that janky track, clickin’ and a clackin’ between joints of steel beams, sittin’ in the corner of wood chips, gazin’ out at the canopies of birch and oak and pine and sheen sapphire bends of fresh water, with Shangri-La just a faint memory fadin’ away in the distance. I’ll find it again down the road. I always do.