Dear reader, please note the ‘Random Musings’ tag on this post. No cool historical discoveries are contained herein. No trail tips, no factoids about ghost towns or Saltair or bands I’m strangely obsessed with as of late. Heck, I’ll even forgo my usual punctuation and style checks before posting. Sometimes you’ve got to jam and let the notes fly where they will.
Writing is a difficult art, especially when there are deadlines involved. But let me clarify. Deadlines get a bad rap. Deadlines are what make writing actually occur. Were I to inventory the most popular articles on this website, chances are they were all written against hard deadlines. But deadlines can also make writing seem like a job or chore, a perception that can spell creative doom. Writers begin writing because there’s something fulfilling—even cathartic—about being able to translate thoughts and concepts into paragraphs that might interest somebody somewhere. Too often, however, the creativity that spawns the desire to write is dulled by deadlines, word counts, and prescribed formulas—until the art is no longer expression of concept. The art is figuring out a way to express concept to an acceptable degree within the parameters of formula, all prior to deadline.
It’s very easy to think too much when writing. Frankly, thinking gets too good a rap. Thinking is procrastination’s lamest excuse. Over thinking during the writing process can quickly lead to over-meticulousness: Gotta word that lead just right. Gotta make sure the nut graph is placed just so. Gotta search my website the words “which” and “storied” to ensure I’m not making inordinate use of them. Because somebody will certainly notice and cynically recall it every time a new Bonneville Mariner post appears in their RSS feed.
All of this begets fatigue, which begets a weird, subconscious aversion to writing. I find that even the specter of fatigue can steer me away from journaling a thought, and that’s too bad. How many fleeting thoughts—obscure, profound, or anything in between—go completely undocumented?
Take a thought I had yesterday about Florida, for example. Somehow, amidst all the meetings and emails and errands that dominate my brain cycles, my mind turned for a vivid moment to a nondescript tract of land between the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT parks at the Walt Disney World Resort, which I’ve crossed many times but never actually set foot.
The only way to see it is to ride the Disney World Monorail between the Ticket and Transportation Center and EPCOT. After leaving the TTC, the monorail route roughly parallels the road to EPCOT, weaving in and over a thick patchwork of swamp and subtropical forest.
The scenery itself isn’t unique. Sandy ground dotted with saw palmetto, tall pines of some variety and moss-draped cypress—it’s the same flora that blankets most of the Sunshine State. The difference lies in perspective and context. These forests are usually seen from road level or from an airplane window thousands of feet in the air. The monorail cruises at a maximum of 40mph about 50 feet of the ground, often at canopy level.
The perspective isn’t mind-boggling; it’s just different. I can’t quite wrap my mind around the fact that so many acres of pristine forest exist between two of the most visited theme parks on the planet. Aside from the main roads, no public roads cross this forest; only double tracks used by the occasional service vehicle. It’s a birder’s paradise. Deer, armadillos, and even alligators can be spotted along the 3 mile corridor.
(Surprisingly enough, there’s a lot of things to do at Disney World that are entirely free. One can—and I have—spent days exploring the resort’s 21 square miles without ever entering a theme park or spending a penny. Riding the Monorail is one of those freebies, and whenever I’m in Florida I make it a point to ride the Disney World Monorail along this route.)
I’ve taken photos through the monorail’s windows, but they don’t do it justice. The part of me that automatically equates anything lush and “jungly” with happiness longs to wander through this forest. If I could, I’d bushwhack westward from World Drive 2 miles through the heart of the forest to the Port Orleans Resort. I’d start early on a spring morning with Camelbak packed with camera gear, Pop Tarts, a sidearm, and reservoir filled with slushy coconut water. I’d wear high boots for the snakes and a long-sleeve hiking shirt for the bugs. I’d fashion a makeshift walking stick from a downed slash pine branch and use it to ford the canal near for forest’s eastern edge. I might be bleeding and exhausted by the time I walked through the Port Orleans’ front doors, but I’m pretty sure I’d be happy.
I’ll probably never make that jaunt. Legal red tape aside, the logistics alone would make it darn near impossible. But a man can dream, whether from the safety of the monorail’s cabin or between meetings in Utah.
And he’d be remiss if he didn’t at least write a blurb about it on his blog.