Saturday, April 27, 2013

In Search of Xanadu


Ok, you darn A-to-Z Challenge, do I really need to blog about the letter “X”?  Well, here it goes!

Xan·a·du (zn-d, -dy)
An idyllic, beautiful place.

Most RVers, and certainly all nature photographers, are motivated to travel by one compelling reason—the (seemingly) endless pursuit of that “perfect” place.  Our Utopia.  Our Xanadu.

When I took my first big cross-country RVing trip with my T@B trailer back in 2007, I remember visiting Montana del Oro State Park on the central California coastal bluffs overlooking the Pacific ocean one cloudy afternoon.  The scenery was pretty nice, but as I started shooting a particularly nice little cove, I couldn’t help but wish something would make it “spectacular.”  God must have been listening to photographers that day, because within a few minutes, he poked the sun out from behind the clouds, rolled a perfect wave onto the beach, and I got my Xanadu!


A few years later, I was at Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, and had driven past the island at Lake of Two Rivers at various times during the week.  It was pretty, but I’d seen islands in a lake before, so no big deal.  Until the last morning of my trip, when a layer of ground fog floated across the lake at sunrise. Ok, now THIS was looking more like the Xanadu I’d been searching for!


As thrilling as it is to see a landscape transform itself from “just pretty” to “pretty spectacular", I’ve more often had a different feeling when traveling to beautiful places, especially if I’ve lined up a long consecutive itinerary of pretty places.  Pretty gets boring.  The “wow” factor, that Xanadu moment, becomes increasingly elusive. Now, that long journey starts feeling like endless miles of pointless searching.

Perhaps the frustration comes from the realization that Xanadu doesn’t always require a physical place.

Monks and priests seem to often find it within the walls of their monastery.  Homebound-people sometimes describe the same feeling from just sitting at home.  They don’t need to travel long distances looking high and low to find it.  Their Xanadu is found from within.  A virtual Utopia!

Are we travelers and RVers the unfortunate few who have yet to discover this within ourselves?

Or do we simply have the bar set that much higher because of all the spectacular places we’ve experienced in the past?

Perhaps Xanadu is ultimately the combination of both our physical and spiritual worlds.  The idyllic place cannot give us complete serenity until we can bring to it our own serenity.

Where is your Xanadu?


  1. You did a great job capturing those two beautiful photos!

    I think Xanadu, is different for everyone. For me personally, I like to look for beauty in just about everything.


  2. For me, it seems to be different each day. One day it may be a very scenic location. On another day it may be a feeling of contentment while drinking a glass of wine on my patio and reading a good book. Somedays it's just in my recliner, sharing a good movie or tv show with my family. A new tasty recipe will do it too. I think it's good to learn to appreciate both the simple and majestic moments of life.


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