Sunday, August 20, 2017

30 Days of Gratitude: Prompt 26

It's Sunday, I just finished cooking up a stomach-filling breakfast and I've got the Ja Rule station playing on Pandora. Don't judge haha...late 90s/early 2000s hip-hop is legendary. By the way, Ja Rule, where are you? Please return to the scene and deliver. How's your weekend been thus far? Mine has been absolutely splendid. It's been loaded with hanging out with best friends and diving-deep into my hobbies. Yesterday, I finished re-doing and upgrading all the suspension on the front of my project car (I'm convinced I can fix anything now haha), did some serious planning and research for my upcoming Colorado trip (so flippin' stocked), steined-it-up at the beer garden and then spent the evening watching the Packers preseason game with a bunch of folks in Bay View.

Thanks to everyone again, who continues to follow my blog and reach out to me with all sorts of compliments and feedback. Love you all. The goal of these posts is to encourage and spark thoughts and reflection of what important aspects in your life you should really appreciate. Let's get to the gratitude prompt for the day:

Day 26: What Piece of Art Are You Most Grateful For?

Okay, to me, a map is art. Hands-down. I really like maps and keep a box of them in my gear closet. On the walls in my apartment are various photos printed out from trips I've taken, a series of picture frames with vintage national park postcards, various rustic/antique metal signs I've had gifted to me over the years and two paintings of trees hanging up in my bedroom. But the piece of art I have that I'm incredibly grateful for is my map of Iceland, seen above at the top of this post.

Back in the fall (start of winter for them) of 2016 before I picked up my rental 4x4 in Keflavík, I bought this big, detailed map of Iceland to use over the course of the next two weeks. I'd be driving thousands of miles, across the entire country, exploring its vast, intriguing, wild terrain. From venturing to the far east fjords, up to the northern most point of the island, out and about in national parks, in the volcanic Mývatn areas, navigating through Reykjavik and cruising around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula on the east- this map was like my bible for the two-weeks I was there. I never once used a GPS or smart phone, solely just relying on this big map, my guidebook, street signs, word of mouth and a compass that occasionally sat perched atop the Suzuki's dashboard. I never, ever got lost driving around in Iceland. I treated this map like a brick of prized gold. It showed me where the nearest gas stations were, off-road 4x4 detours that took me through even more scenic, adrenaline-filled terrain, and I was able to plan out each day's itinerary by laying out the map and connecting the dots. Oh the tedious, yet doable challenge of trying to navigate your way on a paper map, shifting gears, and gawking at all the scenery out each window.

This past Christmas, my mom surprised me like no other, when I opened up a wrapped gift certificate to get my Iceland map custom framed. It was a gesture that meant so, so, so much to me. I couldn't believe it. When I went to the framing shop, and the owner wanted to see what he'd be working with, I proudly laid the map out on the drafting table and smiled. I picked out the type of glass it'd be sitting behind and a clean, wooden outer frame. A week later, I got a call and sped to the shop to see the finished result. He brought it out of the back workshop, took it out of the protective foam sheet and my jaw-dropped. There it was, my beloved map, behind glass like a museum piece. I just couldn't stop shaking my head in disbelief and awe. I took it home carefully and hung it up on the wall in my apartment's living room. What's the best about this map, is that it's been used, weathered and abused. Through the glass, you can see wrinkles, hash marks of pen, slight tears at some of the fold-line intersections. I enjoy staring at this map and tracing with my finger the exact route I drove across Iceland, sharing stories and showing friends and family where I went. I'm very grateful for this ragged paper map that guided me through the best adventure I've ever gone on. I often honestly find myself too, standing quietly in front of the map just taking it in, reminiscing and dreaming of a return.

Oh- I watched the mountaineering film "Meru" on Friday night. WOW. Now all I want to do is pack up my bags and go travel. Thankfully, my core group of backpacking companions and I, just gave the green-light to a trip to Perrot State Park on the western side of Wisco for a weekend in September. Yesssssss.

Have a great day and cheers,
Robby