By Nancy LeRoy, Guest Blogger

IMG_0381It’s Sunday afternoon and I’ve got everything all ready to start my cross-country drive tomorrow to Big Sur, California. Lists made and items checked off. Two carry-on size suitcases, a small bag of essentials – pajamas, my toothbrush and skin creams, and computer to carry into a motel room — and a bag of books and and CDs. (Disclosure: There’s also a bottle of vodka and some seltzer water tucked into a corner of the car’s trunk next to the black highway-emergency bag that was a gift from my daughter.)
Stomach’s in a bit of a twirl, though, with pre-travel anxiety. No matter how much I travel – and as a former Foreign Service Officer, I’ve been on the road, in the air or even aboard ship (15 days from Tokyo to Los Angeles) much of my adult life – I get jittery as the time to go approaches. But once I start moving I’m OK. Life as I knew it is behind me and what’s coming up, the future, hasn’t formed in my head yet. So, my travel space seems like the one and only time I’m totally in the present and aware of it.  Oh, that the rest of my life could be so set in time and space and I could drop the baggage of past regrets and future challenges.
I plan to get to Big Sur on September 26 where I’ll live and work at the Esalen Institute for an entire month.

Last October, after years of longing to return to Big Sur,  I managed to hook three days at Esalen onto a San Francisco trip with a good friend. Esalen is famous for its hot mineral baths in rock-hewn tubs carved into the side of the mountain and for a variety of workshops, the draw that brings most guests to Esalen. But, for a price, it’s possible to stay at Esalen on a “personal retreat,” and just hang out. That’s what we did in October. A photo of me taken then shows a happy, placid face totally unlike the more edgy, tense me my bathroom mirror at home usually displays every morning.

The drive to get to Esalen will be long and boring, I know from experience.  I’ve driven across the country three times. I’m hoping my extensive collection of books on CD, motel rooms equipped with WiFi and cell l phone service that has far outpaced the old roaming system that so totally didn’t work when I needed it on my last cross country drive in 2001.
First stop: A Comfort Inn in Richmond, Indiana.