As an experienced hiker, I know about the challenges and the risks of adventuring out into various locales and conditions. The importance of terrain, weather, wildlife and resources shift depending on both your point of origin and your destination. Possibly one of the most challenging settings for hiking and camping is a desert. The extremes of climate, landscape and the availability of water make desert adventures a formidable proposition.
Sometimes collecting can feel like wandering in the desert. While we enjoy the hobby, the learning, and the thrill of the hunt, on occasion we find ourselves challenged beyond expectation. We start a new specialty with great enthusiasm but suddenly find ourselves isolated or without the necessary resources to continue — or we abruptly reach a point that saps our determination. I’ve spoken with numerous collectors who relay similar frustrations arising from projects that originally were a source of great excitement.
The solution, at least this year, is to go wander in the desert. No, I am not suggesting that you head out into the wilderness; I recommend a trip to Mesa, Arizona. While I have enjoyed some remarkable adventures in the deserts surrounding this city, my suggestion is for you to attend AmeriStamp Expo/ARIPEX next month. Arizona in winter is an enticing venue for any explorer. Combine the destination with some of the best features that the hobby has to offer and you have a near perfect philatelic peregrination.
In this issue you’ll find a guide to AmeriStamp Expo/ARIPEX on page 74. As you work your way toward that section, make sure you take in all of the scenery we have prepared for you — from the philately of Cold War politics to the Arctic Circle and even a stop at the Grand Canyon, this month’s American Philatelist offers a globetrotting exploration.
One of the best prescriptions for the maladies of collector’s block (similar to the dreaded “writer’s block”) is to spend time with other philatelists. The variations in terrain (bourse, exhibits and seminars), abundant resources (dealers in stamps, postal history and more), and the assorted wildlife (other collectors) is absolutely energizing. The desert, like our hobby, is indeed a wonder to behold. The diversity offered expands a visitor’s appreciation of its features, both bold and subtle. As now we consider roaming toward the desert, let us be reminded that “…not all who wander are lost…” – J.R.R. Tolkien.
This article originally published in the January 2019 edition of The American Philatelist.