Cruising home on an Interstate highway a couple weeks ago, it occurred to me that I've enjoyed -- more to the point is that I'm drawn to -- two things in my travels: water and music.
Some of the contact with water is happenstance. When following either of the Subaru Motorsports teams, I go where they go. By good fortune in 2011, I've followed Subaru Rally Team USA to the Pacific coast in Washington state ...
On a recent test drive of the new 2012 Subaru Impreza, I was able to choose my destination. I chose water (to drive beside, not in!). Rather than heading inland from the Philadelphia area, I drove north to Maine, to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. I reasoned that the mountainous coastal area would be fun to drive, but it was the proximity to water that clinched the choice. (Read driving impressions of the new Impreza in the next issue of Subaru Drive magazine, which will be posted on www.drive.subaru.com December 15, 2011.)
I grew up in the Midwest, at least 150 miles from the nearest large body of water (Lake Michigan). My family visited the lakeshore only a few times. It wasn't until I was in my 30s, when I vacationed on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, that water -- the Atlantic Ocean, in particular -- got into my head. I'm not sure what arrested me more: the constant, roaring waves; the horizontal vastness; the ever-changing color and light; or the changing tides. I think it was all of that.
If you live near a large body of water, this viewpoint may seem juvenile. However, emotions caused by the oceans are heartfelt and stirring, nonetheless. Water continually beckons me to return.
Music is another Siren that calls me with the power to alter the course of my travels. Sometimes finding it is serendipitous, as it was on the Impreza drive.
In Portland, Maine, I chose a waterfront seafood restaurant that had seating on a pier. Expecting good food and a few seagulls, I was surprised by a three-man band warming up -- acoustic guitar, mandolin (plus a fiddle), and bass. My half-hour meal lasted two hours because I stayed to listen.
A couple nights later, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, I was directed to a downtown restaurant that happened to be holding an open-mic night. Again, I dallied with my meal to hear some amazing electric guitar music, including an incredible set by a 14-year-old young man who has been playing only four years. He sounded like he had considerably more experience. Yet it wasn't his age that commanded attention; it was his skill.
Both groups of musicians intrigued me, because they were talented, yet generally unknown and tucked away where most people wouldn't find them. At one point, the lead guitarist in the trio played solo, losing himself in the music, much as the young guitar player did two days later in Pennsylvania. Hundreds of miles apart, these two played with similar musical intensity.
I felt fortunate to enter their musical worlds.
-- Ric Hawthorne