The Walkabout

“A walkabout entails a sustained and solitary launching into a comfortable but unfamiliar environment that is interesting but not dangerous…A walkabout is not a vacation but a pursuit…it must be undertaken alone because personal relationships channel so much of our capacity into established patterns…a walkabout should be longer than a month…”

Excerpts from a post by my friend Joe Ferguson, PhD.

I am going on a walkabout!

Perhaps I should call it a “chug-chug-about”.

This month long “walkabout” will begin in Moscow, in early September. After a few days visiting Red Square, Pushkin Fine Arts, and maybe the Novodevitchy Convent and the Park of the Fallen Idols, I will board THE TRANS-SIBERIAN RAILWAY and travel to Kazan, Ekaterinburg, Krasnoyarsk, Ulan Ude, where I will switch to a Mongolian train and take a short side trip to Ulaanbaatar and spend a few nights in a ger camp. Then I will continue on to several Siberian cities I had never heard of until I began making plans for this adventure. At some point towards the end of the trip, I will brave the cold and jump into Lake Baikal, the largest fresh water lake in the world! My great train adventure will end in Vladivostok. Vladivostok. I like to say it out loud with my pretend Russian accent.

I will be back in Santa Fe in mid-October.

I am seduced by the world. I cannot resist its calls to embrace and to be caressed by more and more of its familiar foreign-ness: oceans, mountains, deserts, villages, cities…and by its people and culture.

---thoughts from a shabby old journal I just found…circa 1980

I am in the process of assembling a few clothes, some odds and ends of basic travel necessities AND over one hundred small, original works of Art to give to some of the men, women, and children I will meet somewhere—anywhere along the tracks and off-track places in which I will find myself…

“find myself” Hmmm…Am I lost? Missing? Invisible? Presumed dead to the world?

All answers to the above are the same: Yes and No. Or, Yes and Know.

Knowing that I will want to engage with a wide variety of people (foreign and domestic) and knowing that it’s good to have small gifts (mementos) to offer those who have been kind or helpful or particularly charming, I asked some of my Artist friends if they would be willing to make a unique, unframed drawing or painting (no bigger than a postcard) that I could pack easily in my one small, soft-sided satchel to give to those special people I am sure to meet on my journey.

The response was overwhelming. Thank you to every Artist who sent an original work!

In a few days, I will lay them out in a long line and make a video of every piece I have received…I think I will have to bundle some of them and give them to an Art School or a writers’ group. I pledge to take every piece to Russia---even the ones I don’t particularly like or understand; even the ones that arrived from strangers…Maybe this is a true friendship trip and not just one of my selfish pack-up-and-go-for-it excursions into another unknown corner of my world and myself.


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