Wrestling With Rhythm

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August 23, 2010 by David Gillaspie


A man who knows better explained the difference between rookie travelers and experienced jet-setters:

The rookie starts a trip with a convenient take-off.  “I’d rather leave in the afternoon.  I have too much to do to catch an early plane.”

The experienced trans-continental flyer says, “I’d rather get up in the middle of the night to catch a plane as long as I get where I’m going early in the day.  Always travel toward daylight, not darkness.”


Circadian rhythm. 

If you don’t feel like you get enough sleep now, just tweak your body clock a little and you fall deep into sleep deprivation.  And that’s no way to enjoy new sights and sounds.  If you want to feel half-in-the-bag, stay home and hit the bloody marys early.

Circadian rhythm was on my mind between Portland, Oregon and Barcelona, Spain. 

I used the lyrics from an old 3 Dog Night song as my guide, though I scrambled the words to fit the moment.

“Well I’ve never been to Spain,

But I’ve been to Oklahoma.”

That is not the true sequence of song lyrics, but for the sake of space, it works best.

I’ve been to Oklahoma twice, once driving, once a fly in.  A group of wrestlers drove out in high school for a national tournament in Stillwater.  Years later I flew to Norman to see the Oregon Ducks play the Sooners who had a freshman running back named Adrian Peterson.  Oklahoma from the ground and air looked OK to me.

Adrian Peterson looked like a jet on the ground.

It’s worth noting that you can’t drive to Spain from America anymore than you can drive to Hawaii.  If you see a car with Hawaiian plates on the mainland it’s not because they drove over.

Also worth noting is that parts of Spain looked like Oklahoma.  The good parts in the south.  Low rolling hills tanned a nice brown in the summer heat.

You don’t lose much time going to Oklahoma, but it seems a day slips away going to Spain.  Due to good planning, not mine, we arrived in the morning and had a chance to beat jet lag.  Or at least give it a good fight. 

Is circadian rhythm a real thing?  I’m pretty sure I’d know if I hadn’t been asleep for most of three days, which means yes.

Traveling to the light on the other side of the world means flying in darkness much of the way.  Since I was aimed for the Old World, it seemed right.  Is Europe in the modern Dark Age?  Only if you try driving there.

The Old World was built before cars, which is hard to imagine.  That means the streets in inner-city districts were built for wagon traffic, narrow wagons at that.  No property owner will ever vote to have their building torn up for better roads.  And no driver will ever let the narrow streets slow them down.  It’s a stand-off with the cars leaving paint on the walls where navigating an acute angle is necessary.

How narrow are the streets? 

Sit in your car and look at your rear view mirrors.  Now reach out and fold those mirrors in.  That narrow.  The sidewalk is often disguised as a curb, which makes it a tightrope walk between a rock wall on one side and a fast moving mirror on the other if a driver hasn’t folded their’s in.

Before touching down in Spain I heard the 3 Dog Night Song. 

On the way there I kept hearing Elton John’s Daniel.

“Daniel is travelling tonight on a plane
I can see the red tail lights heading for Spain
Oh and I can see Daniel waving goodbye
God it looks like Daniel, must be the clouds in my eyes

They say Spain is pretty though I’ve never been
Well Daniel says it’s the best place that he’s ever seen
Oh and he should know, he’s been there enough
Lord I miss Daniel, oh I miss him so much.”

Daniel was a song choice in the airplane audio system.  I hit it often.

Could I see the red tail lights heading for Spain?  Of course not, I was on the plane in the pre-catatonic state you fall into on long, long flights.  But I did wave goodbye to America for a while.

Is Spain the best place I’ve ever been?  It is pretty, I’ll say that.  But best place I’ve ever been?  Tough call, since I have been to Oklahoma.  I’ve been to Texas, too. 

Since no one is singing the praises of Oregon, I’ll say it: 


If you’ve never been here, you probably won’t get it on a visit.  Just look at a map.  Is there another state or country that includes mountain ranges, deserts, valleys, and beaches, all just hours away from each other?

Look around before you decide.  3 Dog Night won’t sing about Oregon.  Neither will Elton John.  The music in Oregon comes from its rivers, its forests, and its beaches.  When you leave Oregon and come back, it tears at your heart for ignoring how wonderful a place it is. 

Spain might be pretty, and Oklahoma might be heaven, but they are no match for Oregon.  The rhythm of the falling rain tapping messages on the roof, a blazing sun driving new flowers from the earth, or a stroll down Hawthorne’s funky Portland, it’s all Oregon. 

Wake up and do an Oregon dance.  Go ahead and bust a move.


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