Travel lessons can sometimes be subtle or in this case, they can be literally swift and painful. It all began when I stopped to visit the Minuteman National Park in Concord, Massachusetts while traveling in New England to view the fall foliage. Battle Road Trail winds through the national park for five and a half miles covering part of the route taken by the British regulars on their march from Boston to Concord to seize stockpiled weapons from the colonists. Although I was in a hurry to see all of the important and historic places in Concord and Lexington, I slowed down to take some time out to walk a portion of the trail. Admittedly, I was frustrated that it was taking so long to get from one point to another. Afterall, precious time was ticking and I still had to take in the famous North Bridge, Sleepy Hallow Cemetery among other treasured stops.
As I walked along the picturesque trail on that beautiful sunny Sunday, I began to relax a little and worry less about my “To See List” and more about the significance of the trail I was on. I think I might have went into a meditation state of sorts because all I remember is trying to feel what it would have been like to be a British soldier carrying my weapon and ammunition while wearing my thick uniform marching for miles to get to Concord. As I passed where Paul Revere was captured, I got drawn more and more into this trance so much so that I forgot all about my plans to see other sights. I passed a few other travelers on bicycles or on foot, nodding hello or exchanging smiles. Finally it dawned on me that I was completely lost in the experience (arguably not a bad place to be) and had not captured any photographs. I then set out to photograph the lovely countryside, somewhat unchanged from the colonial days. I was taken in by the beginning signs of autumn and walked onto a boardwalk to take some photos of the mixed yellow, green and orange colored leaves when it happened. Tending to my viewfinder with intense focus, I sought out to capture a better photo and in doing so took a step backward right off of the boardwalk!
My descent to the ground wasn’t terrifying, I think I was in too much shock for that. My right leg (knee) absorbed the fall and all of my body weight, including those extra 10 lbs that I had resolved to lose but didn’t. I fell about four feet into tall grass without so much as a bump on my head, thanks to my knee attempting to be the hero. I laid in the grass for awhile, allowing my mind to catch up with the physical trauma. The practical side of me took a quick inventory of my camera whereabouts and my sunglasses. I marveled at how they were both safe and then began to focus on the pain I felt in my right knee and ankle. I quickly went into denial and attempted to pull myself up to a standing position by holding on to the edge of the boardwalk but nearly fainted from the intense pain. Alas, reality had finally won over and I knew I must find help.
I carefully managed to get back down into a horizontal position, propping my head up enough to look for fellow travelers on the path. At last a gentleman in a yellow shirt appeared on his bicycle and I mustered up enough energy to wave him down. He attempted to move me from peril but couldn’t as I was in too much pain. That’s when he and others that had stopped called for emergency backup. I hadn’t cried through any of this, not because it wasn’t painful but truthfully, because I was too deeply invested in feeling every ounce of the experience. I might have been delirious from the pain but I heard myself ramble on to the onlookers that I was a travel blogger and that I must capture the moment. I proceeded to begin to take a snapshot of my rescuers who then asked for my camera to take photos of me in my plight. As weird as it all seems now, it seemed to make perfect sense at the time.
Fortunately, the emergency crew got there quickly and took me away on a board to a nearby hospital where I laid on a gurney in the hallway of the ER for hours. I was wheeled away twice, once for an x-ray and second, to use a bed pan in an ER room (another humbling experience). They attempted to discharge me without being seen by a doctor until I moaned. The ER doctor gave me a brief three minute visit and then finally discharged me with crutches and my personal belongings. The real adventure began at that point since I was in Massachusetts and was supposed to be in New Hampshire that evening but was now out of commission and unable to drive. That, however, is a whole other story…
So, what was my lesson here? Well, I believe there were many and the lessons continue as I continue to heal while waiting for the results of my MRI. One of the lessons that comes to mind, is that I had attempted to pack too much sightseeing into too short of a time. My guilt for not proceeding faster coupled with my guilt for not relishing everything around me made for a heightened sense of internal turmoil. Truthfully speaking, I hadn’t been feeling all that well in the preceding weeks and had even thought of canceling this trip but didn’t. One could argue that I subconsciously didn’t really want to be there. Or I could have simply been “lost” in the moment and took a misstep. The important thing in all of this is that I am reminded of how important my health and welfare is as well as how being present in the moment is a good thing except that you must always be aware of your surroundings. The silver lining is that I now have some downtime to catch up with my website posts and to take a couple online classes. Wishing you happy and safe travels!