The one travel story you must read this week

When this blog last encountered writer Cristina Nehring, it was 2009 and Meghan O’Rourke was reviewing her Vindication of Love book.

This morning, via The Morning News feed, Nehring surfaces in Conde Nast Traveler. The headline, “Three Unique Island Escapes for the Adventure Traveler,” is SEO at its worst and gives you no indication that this article is the likely best travel story you’ve read in a while.

When Nehring sees tourists leaving a scenic high point, she writes:

Why don’t they stay? I’d wondered. After the grueling hike, why didn’t they pause and savor the scenery? I had left my sleeping girl and slithered like a snake to the edge of the precipice. There was no barrier of any kind in my way. For all the walls on Inishmore Island, there was no wall here, no fence, not even a fish line twirling in the wind. It was just terra firma and then the abyss. The Irish do not believe in safe living. I poked my chin out over the emptiness. I felt the salt air penetrate my nostrils and moisten my skin. I looked down over the backs of seagulls circling hundreds of feet below. I strained to see the water frothing over the rocks. Then I fixed my gaze on the cliff itself. It looked like a big slab of rocky road fudge. Dark, striated, rough cut, with great chunks lodged in its crevices. Good enough to eat. And yet it extinguished hunger.

My stomach turned as I shifted my attention from the rock face to the water so many worlds below. It had been years since I’d battened my eyes on such strong beauty. And yet I began to wriggle backward. People love the brinks—they love the pinnacles, the highs—but they cannot remain on them for more than a few minutes at a time. Everybody who ascends the bluffs on Inishmore takes a couple of awed glances, fantasizes about having a house here, and scampers back down again. Myself included. It is the same in love as it is in nature. We dream of summits, but we cannot reside on them.

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