A lesson on 'deep travel' in Connecticut
By Colin Rajala - Staff Writer
Windsor Locks - posted Thu., Mar. 14, 2013
Connecticut is often overshadowed as the small state stuck in the Northeast between Boston and New York City, with many people leaving the state to go on day trips, excursions and vacations. According to author David K. Leff, people should be coming here instead to visit a state that is the perfect marriage of "nature and culture."
On March 14, Leff visited the Windsor Locks Public Library to share some findings of his book, "Hidden in Plain Sight: A Deep Traveler Explores Connecticut," and to teach people how to "see the magic in the mundane" by sharing his secrets on the process of "deep travel."
“What’s more important than any particular object, phenomenon, person or place is just to learn how to look,” Leff said. “It’s not so much about sight-seeing as it is about sight-seeking. Learning how to look will reveal more wonders than you ever could have imagined. It’s all about improving one’s ability to see things. We often sleepwalk through our everyday lives, and how much more enriching and intriguing can we make those everyday lives by understanding the wonders right around us,” he said.
Leff’s discussion on "deep travel" started with basic principles that you will not find on a map or in a tourist guide. You have to leave your home and go out and explore. Whether it be hiking in the woods or driving through a developed area, phenomena and objects pop up anywhere and everywhere. Leff added that oftentimes he goes out to see a known landmark or site and that quickly snowballs after he finds or hears about something else close by.
“Deep travelers look at things carefully, but they not only look with greater acuity but they look at context, they look at relationships,” Leff said.
Leff believes that there is a fourth dimension necessary to properly "deep travel," saying, “as much as we tend to think spatially, everything exists in time.” As you begin to hone your skills and find old road markers or abandoned missile sites, you begin to realize that these objects not only exist now, but there was a time when they were fully functional and utilized. It is understanding the object's relationship during its time of usage that can be enlightening, he believes. An example of looking at something in time rather than space can easily be a row of colonial homes in an abandoned ghost town. All look identical, until you examine the foundations and discover that one is made of brick, the other brownstone, and the third concrete. These tiny clues show that in time the three houses were not built together, but built at different periods, and that shows that the ghost town once thrived and grew.
Leff shared stories about anything from old rocks off major roads that were painted as animals in the 1930s but continue to be maintained by anonymous artists, to miniature old growth forests that exist on the rocky banks of rivers and represent trees that have never been cut. Leff’s presentation also shared tips on exploring. One of his favorites, he said, was visiting old diners because they represent "24/7 town meetings."