Quest is such a freighted word. It suggests purpose, a bit of seriousness, and perhaps even a smidge of grandiosity. Isn’t questing, like, for knights of yore and World of Warcraft players? No way. To be sure, travel is about relaxing, rebooting and, of course, Instagramming a continuous stream of humblebraggy pics into the grills of all your Facebook friends. But what about that sort of travel that’s arduous but rewarding, difficult but meaningful? The musty adage is that it’s about the journey, sure, but sometimes it is about the goal. Thus a resonant motif for our fifth annual travel issue: quests. In this issue, you’ll meet people whose idea of travel entails much more than jet-setting to poolside getaways. Hey, I like to kick it spa-style with cucumber slices over my eyes as much as the next guy, but there’s another kind of vacation — strenuous, jarring and fulfilling — that offers a richer kind of stimulation. From Northern Nevada, writer Allyson Siwajian searches for — and finds — one of Nevada’s richest troves of ancient petroglyphs a mere 20 miles from Reno. It’s a quest not just to snap pics of some awe-inspiring rock art. It’s a search for artistic inspiration — and for answers: What do these petroglyphs mean? Why did ancient native Americans choose this site for to place these ancient symbols? As with any quest, there’s always a twist. Read her story on page 64.
Adam Bradley took the idea of a quest and ran with it — and swam, pedaled and paddled with it too (page 60). This extreme outdoorsman literally traveled from his doorstep in Reno to the shores of the Bering Sea in a 5,000-mile trip by foot, bike and canoe. In this case, Bradley’s quest was multifaceted: He didn’t do it just to see if he could do it (an admirable impulse all its own), but also to catch a longing glimpse of wilderness and human communities that are facing grave and unprecedented impacts from global climate change. The sights, sounds and, in some cases, tastes (oh, you’ll see what I mean) of his quest make for a gripping read.
Of course, more modest trips can require as much of a sturdy spirit and unflinching constitution; I’m talking about that ritual of rounding up the tykes and teens for the annual family vacation. For clans with a yen for adventure beyond the typical rollercoaster road trip or campsite crawl, check out “A family affair” (page 34) for vacays that will have an unusual effect on the ties that bind: Shockingly, you may just like each other more after sharing some of these experiences. And if it’s a true getaway you’re seeking — that is, getting away from everyone else trying to get away — you’ll enjoy “The road less traveled” (page 52), in which we proffer quieter, saner and more affordable alternatives to classic trips. Avoid the crowds, save your sanity and come back with a treasure trove of envy-inspiring Instagram pics? The modern hallmarks of a perfect getaway.
If you’re reading this before May 5, I have a simple message for you: HURRY UP! The deadline for the Desert Companion “Focus on Nevada” photo contest is looming like that weird uncle in awkward family photos; there’s still time to enter at desertcompanion.com. Whether you’re an avid snapper or just like to gawk at glossy pics, though, our June photo issue will feature not only contest winners of every skill level, but also gorgeous photo essays we’ve commissioned from some of the best shooters in Southern Nevada. Missed the deadline? Dry your eyes — and keep shooting for next year’s contest.