Casita Chronicals; Return to Kauai 2019

One of my greatest joy’s and privileges is traveling. There’s nothing better than escaping the winter for any amount of time to travel to a warm tropical island! After 4 years, I was blessed to return to the Island of Kauai, the oldest Island in Hawaii and often considered a place of healing in the divine feminine energy this Island carries.

+Cover.JPG

I love the dense vegetation, abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, the sounds of bullfrogs croaking and roosters crowing. I especially love spending time near the ocean where i can smell the moist salty air, listen to the sound of the waves crashing into shore or gently ebbing and flowing, walking barefoot in the sand, and searching for beautiful and unique seashells. These activities provide me with a limitless sense of renewal.

On the first day that I was dropped off at the beach and was heading out for my stroll, I was a bit shocked to see not the usual plethora of seashells, but brightly colored tiny pieces of plastic along the tide line. I really could not help but immediately start picking up the plastic. Even though I hadn’t brought a bag, it didn’t take long to find a larger plastic containers to gather it in. img_2739

Rather than my usual hobby of creating “love” from natural objects, instead I left this message in the sand.

img_2740

It was such an unfortunate confirmation about how I have been spending much of my time in the past few years trying to encourage myself and others to “Ditch the Disposables”. Most recently, I’ve been volunteering at the Girls and Boys Club to educate the kids by creating “trash bricks” which we will then use to make a bench. For the past three weeks, I’d been showing the kids YouTube videos about the plastic problems particularly in the ocean, then here it was right smack in the middle of my vacation!

I’d began thinking about life’s choices just before leaving, especially as a privileged white American. Our lives have been so formed by the proverbial,”American Dream”. After the Great Depression and WWII, consumerism became like a silent drug keeping us obediently buying goods. At first we were lured by making our lives easier, and as time went on we enjoyed the comfort, ease & pleasure “things” provided. However, it seemed to silently infiltrate our psyches by somehow creating the illusion of proving our worth by how much we have. This consumerism became an ingrained habit of the 1st world nations.  Habitually shopping without even thinking about whether we really “need” the item, what has gone into producing it nor what happens to it once it is doesn’t work anymore. Even in this current age where we are now aware of numerous global environmental issues, people still seem to go on with their lives  “business as usual”  buying and consuming  without thinking about the choices we make with every decision.

Even for those of us that do think about these things and care deeply for the health and wellness of our planet, we still can fall short of our ideals. Since this topic is something I do consider, before leaving I was reviewing several YouTube videos about individuals and even families living a “zero waste” life. I’d been following the single young hip Lauren Singer for a number of years with her “Trash is for Tossers” blog, but I was truly astounded by this family of four that generated only one small plastic bottle filled with trash for an entire year! Check this out. https://youtu.be/epTPhU4Hg4U

The “Ditch the Disposable Campaign” that Lucia Stanslaw of Lucy and the Green Wolf & I Initiated in Hot Springs, SD is guided by the desire to educate and inspire others to think about their daily choices and offer support to take small steps toward a more responsible lifestyle.  You can learn more about this campaign and how to create different lifestyle choices: https://www.facebook.com/DitchTheDisposablesHotSprings/

By being conscious about our choices we can easily switch from a throw- a- way society to a more responsible and balanced one.  I advocate to start small, creating one new habit at a time. This approach has helped me not feel overwhelmed but keeps me working toward a positive outcome. I started with simple things like bringing my own canvas bags to the grocery store, washing out any plastic bags I accumulate from other products sold in a plastic bag the re-using them. I bring my own coffee cup or water bottle for drinks, then later added using reusable dish ware when I go to potlucks, picnics or go out to eat in case I have left-overs. These items are all left in my car for easy access. I’ve also tried to make an effort to buy in bulk or buy products that have less packaging, compostable packaging or at least recyclable packaging. Theses efforts seem pretty minimal but if every one of us did at least these few things, wow imagine what an impact that would make.

This is a travel blog right? Really, I am sharing my real life experiences and what I think about in response to my surroundings. I can’t help but notice the challenges I feel living in our consumerist/throw away society, even while on vacation. Before we even set foot on the plane I encountered my first challenge and one of my most difficult areas. We visited some family members with a new born. It was understandable why we choose take out food to bring home for dinner. That night, I ended up eating my dinner out of a styrofoam container, one of the worst products ever made in my opinion and something I try to avoid at all costs, yet here I was. I try to avoid Styrofoam because it takes more than 500 years to brake down (if at all) and is not recyclable in most places. Not to mention that it is made from Polystyrene containing styrene – a chemical compound that some evidence suggests can leach out of the foam food containers and cups when food or drinks are hot, yuck no thank you! Nonetheless, when I’m visiting someone else’s home and am being fed, I try to focus on my gratitude for the food and for their hospitality. I often don’t speak up because I don’t want to make others feel uncomfortable. Or perhaps I feel a bit insecure that people think I’m weird or controlling or what ever. Wonder why I would feel this way? I have been made fun of by several people in my life when I try to do the right thing. I choose to put my piece of pizza on the already used and spoiled styrofoam from the salad I ordered rather than also grabbing an additional paper plate like everyone else. So what other choice could I have made? I could have inquired from the place we ordered from if they could put the salad in our own container, borrowed one from our hosts or not ordered a salad knowing that it would probably have been pre-made and already in a disposable container. When I’m on my own, I find it easier to ask restaurants to accommodate my values. Not only are they likely happy to save the cost of the take out containers, but I also feel like I am creating a consciousness for business owners to consider. Yet, when I am a guest in someones home, I still feel shy to make a deal about it. When will the social stigmas get changed so that the people using disposables are the weird ones? For the meantime however I’ll have to be more courageous or go without.

The travel industry is notorious for disposables, though I have seen a little improvement over the years. I’m prepared with my water bottle, coffee cup, my bamboo spork and some snacks from home. When we arrived in our hotel room (pre-flight because we take off at 8 am) I reflected on the habit to use and even take home the complimentary shampoos & soaps usually provided with the room. As a professional organizer and even in my home growing up, I often observed how people take these home. I’m sure guilty of that. The mentality is the rationale that we’ve paid so much for the hotel, that we want to get the most out of it. In addition, it’s always handy to have little bottles when traveling now that they have restrictions on size of liquid toiletries, right? I have also reasoned that if you open & use some out of the bottle, you may as well take it with you because the hotel will likely throw out the unused portion. Most of these little shampoo bottles are not easily refillable and most likely are not even recyclable, so this time I choose not to use them at all. Additionally, most rooms have coffee machines with little packaged coffee, with plastic wrapped condiments. They did at least have ceramic mugs rather than the usual Styrofoam. However I realized that we would be heading down to the lobby soon where they would also have coffee made in a larger container, so I decided to wait. I may have only saved a couple of small plastic packages but I was happy that I even thought about it rather than just acting out of habit. I was also really happy that the hotel breakfast was served on real dishes, way to go Hyatt! The last hotel I stayed in served breakfast on styrofoam everything, I was distraught that I hadn’t brought my own containers on that trip.

Once on the plane, I averted a plastic cup by receiving the OJ in my own mug, though it came out of an aluminum can. However I did take the little snack offered. Again, old habit…yes I was a little hungry but I did have nuts in my backpack, so it was at this moment that I realized I could have chosen to say “no thank you” to the snack like I usual do for the plastic straw. Another habit that needs adjusting is if it’s free you’re obliged to take it.

Once we were settled at our friends’ home in Kauai, things got a lot better. We rarely went out to eat, so I didn’t have to think about it too much. With so many fresh fruits and vegetables available from the land you don’t produce as much waste. They did buy cheese & granola in small non recyclable plastic bags  which seemed could have been bought in larger quantities at least. I found the courage to discuss this with my friend in which he replied that he’d look into it with the producer of the granola whom is from the island.

One way that Kauai is taking a more proactive approach to our global crisis it that they have banned single use plastic bags. I know many don’t agree that we should have laws about this, but it makes a lot of sense to me. I can imagine just how much waste is being diverted from the landfill and the oceans! Not to mention saving the fossil fuels used to produce & transport the plastic bags.

It may not surprise you at this point to learn that I spent every day that I was on the beach picking up trash, mostly plastics, esp. micro-plastics. Our host was also obsessed with picking up plastic and together we filled a 5 gallon bucket each time. Even on my last day  at the beach before we headed to the airport  I intending to just relax & not pick up plastic trash. However, I was unable to stop myself and used a big buoy that had washed ashore to collect the smaller plastics in, I stuffed in as much as i could pack in there.

img_2851

Since all the plastic trash we picked up would likely just go back into the landfill, I had the idea to try to make a mosaic from the miscro-plastics. I sorted the plastic by color and used a styrofoam tray as the backdrop. I hope this will make a fun and engaging activity the kids when I get back to South Dakota.  Yup, i hauled it back. (thanks to Uriah)

So there you have it, how I spent a portion of my time on vacation. There were other more personal things I attended to and also spent time reading and relaxing.

So I ask YOU, the reader to consider these things…                                                                What habits do you have around shopping?

Do you only buy what is necessary or just habitual buy?

Do you think about ways to reduce your use of disposables?

Would you like to make a pledge?

Please check out our Ditch the Disposables facebook page for “switch to” ideas.

: https://www.facebook.com/DitchTheDisposablesHotSprings/

If you want to learn more about micro plastics, here is one of many videos on the subject

Maholo

+cover

 

Advertisements

Casita Chronicles; Northern Wyoming Loop/ Big Horn Mountains_Part 2

8-01_10Our campsite in Cody, Wyoming

Aug 2; I enjoyed another deep nights sleep, so I have no idea how long the storm lasted. We guessed not long as the land was still pretty dry this morning. After a wonderful cup of freshly grounded coffee, I got up and did my yoga practice while Uriah went for a walk. After our not so happy evening, I gained some new insights this morning during my Sadhana which inspired me back to a more positive perspective (see prologue on part 1). Mr. O worked on the lights again and got them to an acceptable working condition that we were finally able to head back into town. The main reason we are in Cody is so Uriah could visit the Buffalo Bill museum, which is housed within the Cody Museum which actually has five different museums contained within. You can learn all about it in his blog (I’m guessing). I saved the $19 entrance fee and used the time to finalize the 1st part of my blog and organizing my photos from my three different devises. I also took the dog for a walk and caught up on a few phone calls. Funny how you think you’ll have so much free time on vacation to catch up on various things, when indeed it just isn’t possible as far as I can tell.  Cody felt like the epitome of the old west, between the world renowned Buffalo Bill museum, nightly rodeo, gun shooting range, large boot factory and just the western vibe reverberating throughout the whole city that just makes you wanna go out and buy a gun, NOT! I guess since it is at one of the entrances to Yellowstone National Park, I can understand why the community took advantage of capturing the economic tourism opportunity. When Uriah returned about 3 hours later, we had a late lunch and searched for the RV dump station which was not easy to find, gassed up and finally left town around 4pm.  Cody was the farthest west we would travel and now we reached the turning point in our loop where we head a little north but mainly back east toward the medicine wheel, one of the other primary destinations of this trip. We passed through several rural farm towns like Powell & Lowell nothing noteworthy to mention. As we headed back toward the Bighorn Mountains we crossed over Bighorn lake, a damned up section of the Big Horn river used for electricity production and recreation. There was something calling me and I asked Uriah to pull over. The heavy haze from the California fires, along with the birds flying over the large body of water surrounded by mountains and this whole scene nearly devoid of any humans created a mythical feeling of peace that made me want to stay a while. Being that it was already 5:30 pm I asked if we could camp here and he agreed.

8-02

I was quickly drawn to walk along the waters edge. Beside an occasional car passing by and the sound of water fowl, it was very quiet and peaceful. My body, mind and spirit quickly relaxed into this precious moment. Before we left on the trip my friend Barb told me how sacred the medicine wheel is, so I now wondered if this longing to stop here was to create an opportunity for me to have some time to prepare myself for the experience. To ponder what I might want pray for and get clarity about, or just to clear away all the thoughts of the past several days. I don’t know how long I sat by the waters edge but I do know that this was one of the highlight of the trip thus far. When I returned to the camper Uriah and Kiowa were inside & he was on his computer. Apparently he was the one getting bitten by bugs for a change. A huge storm rolled in and we enjoyed a lovely dinner watching the lightening fill up the valley. The rest of the evening we enjoyed each other and re-connected once again. I think the storm has finally passed.

Aug 3;  I woke early 4:00am and contemplated getting up for Sadhana. Anyone that does this practice knows that contemplating is the wrong thing to do. As Sat Siri once said on a IKTYA webinar, you’ve got to let the masculine lead this one, you just get up and do it. The feminine energy will have you think about all sides.  Lol,  oh well I didn’t obey the masculine, I convinced myself in light of the past week it was better to stay snuggled in close to my lover to solidify our renewed love. 

Another wondrous coffee meditation as we discussed the road ahead. Only a few days left on our journey and I’m just now starting to really get into it. Makes me really want to get back to more traveling and less committing to things back home. The daily Hukum was so profound however that I am feeling ready for about anything. Think I’ll take a quick dip before we head out.  I took Mr. O down to gem beach, the beautiful shore I had discovered last night filled with numerous colored rocks.

We both took a ritual dip and returned to finalize repairs for returning to the road. I did a short practice while he fixed the trailer brakes, a major blessing we would realize later. After breakfast we finally started our assent back up the Big Horn mountains toward the sacred medicine wheel. If you read Uriahs blog, he’ll likely rant about how it was all made up and it was there long before the Native Americans or some kids playing around created it. I’ll never truly understand why he has so much animosity towards them, not individually but as a nation. I think it has something to do with any underdog group that has been used or abused by the white man and called out on it. For some reason he feels the need to mock them perhaps on some unconscious level to stay in denial of the past atrocities helps him feel less guilty as one. (? just a theory) Anyways, as someone whom is attuned to the sacred in life, I was very excited to have the opportunity to be there and practice ceremony. As a priestess, I would just allow myself the freedom to be a vessel of the divine to allow what is needed to move through me. At the top of the very steep Big Horns we finally reached the road to the national historic site. We dropped the camper to drive the remaining 1.5 miles to the parking lot where we would walk in my case and run in Uriahs the remaining 1.5 miles.  There was a pretty steady flow of visitors throughout the entire time we were there, both whites and native Americans. I was grateful that things lined up for me to have my ceremony. Not only was I able to get some clarity for my own life, but prayed for the Native people in general, the Lakota in particular and the health and balance of all life on earth. (no pictures except on the way up as i was totally immersed in ceremonial space)

As usual it finished in perfect timing as there were others that came to pray and it was their turn.  I returned back in the truck just when Uriah was also complete with his journey. We then drove back down to retrieve the camper, have a quick snack and return to the road. The drive through the Big Horns was beautiful. We passed through miles of pine forests, large open meadows, waterfalls and seemed to be following the north fork of the Tongue River, which had a wild feel to it. We both felt it had a familiarity to Colorado.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI would have enjoyed to stay and camp a while but our time is running out and Mr. O has some battlefields he wants to visit. By late afternoon we were driving back down out of the Big Horns. It was very long and steep, 8% grade and why it was a blessing that he got the trailer brakes working. I was griping the over door handle, tensing up and kept telling Mr. O to slow down, it was quite intense despite being on a paved road. When we finally reached Dayton a very small town at the bottom I was very relieved. We filled up on gas, water and Mr. O got some kettle corn and we continued on to Decker, Montana to the Rosebud battlefield. It was pretty country but seemed to take forever to get there and at one point we weren’t even sure if we’d make it. The gps on my phone was saying it was somewhere that it was not but Mr. O felt confident that we would reach it up ahead. Sure enough we did sometime after 5:30pm just about when huge winds started blowing across the plains.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It was in a very small State park which did not allowing any overnight camping and was surrounded by private land. Mr.O braved the winds to read the historical signs while I remained inside the truck. When he returned we discussed the current dilemma. It was really too late to try to find camping somewhere else so we’d have to take our chances either camping illegally in the State park or on someone’s private property.  The choices didn’t seem all that promising however, there didn’t seem to be any other reasonable option at this point and since we were in a very remote area the likely hood of getting caught or bothered was slim. In the familiar confident Uriah fashion he drove on through the park, just outside the park boundary was a wide part in the dirt road large enough to pull over and be out of the way of someone driving down the road. It happened to also be just below theta the area of the battle scene he wants to explore. That would have to wait till morning since it was windy and getting late. I got to work on dinner, someone did drive by us, but simply waved and didn’t stop to ask us to leave.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

By the time we were enjoying our dinner, the wind had died down and it turned out to be a perfect evening. We were even blessed with two large Sandhills cranes that flew into the field below us and hung out for the night. I got a pretty good look through the binoculars but it was getting too dark to get a good shot with the camera. The most exciting part however was the very unique sounds they made. At one point after I had already slipped to sleep, I though I heard them cooing by our camper.  Again the whole experience felt like a blessing, esp. since it was a pair.

Aug 4;  I heard the cranes one more time in the morning just before our coffee meditation and never heard or saw them again. I accompanied Mr. O to the top of the ridge to survey the area of carnage. He relayed the whole ordeal of the engagement which still does not peak my interest even slightly. I never have and doubt will ever be interested in the stories of war and humans killing other humans, I just don’t get it. I did however enjoy the beautiful meadows and rolling hills and being by my husbands side as he relayed the stories of his interest.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Since we have a huge day of driving ahead we didn’t dawdle. The plan was to drive to the Northern Cheyenne reservation to stop at the grave of Dull knife and Little Wolf, then on all the way north to Mile City, Montana (God knows why, but not me) then back east through North Dakota to Slim Buttes battlefield which is south back into our home state of SD, a good 300 mile day! Unheard of for he O’s. When we arrived in the Northern Cheyenne Reservation we both noted how beautiful the landscape was and it appeared a bit more prosperous than some other reservations we’ve traveled through. We were getting hungry so we asked a guy walking down the street in the town center if there were any cafes that served breakfast. He said that he thought the casino stopped serving breakfast so likely no. Uriah inquired about the cemetery in which he replied which one? then directed us right at the turnabout and then left on top of the hill. When we drove over there we only saw a college which he didn’t mention at all in the directions. We drove around for a bit looking to no avail and finally asked some other ladies whom directed us back to the general area he had tried to send us. As we finally entered the area that looked like the cemetery, whom was walking in front of us but the guy whom we had initially spoke to. We ended up spending the next two hours talking with him. He was there visiting his sons grave who had died at the young age of 22 years old. Robert Yellow Fox, or “Old Man” as people call him was a very interesting, intelligent and engaging man. He shared a love of history that impressed Uriah tremendously and earned his respect.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHe told us numerous stories of past historical events of his people, personal family experiences and some local legends and beliefs of spiritual significance. I asked him what the medicine of the Sandhill crane was and he responded “patience & perseverance”, which I found quite appropriate. At one point, I had offered him some food as we were still hungry and he said he would  not take it with his wife and son at home. So I made three sandwiches for him to take home and share with his family. After we ate our sandwiches we bid our new friend farewell with names and numbers exchanged and an invitation to come back next summer to support his Sun Dance. He intends to Sun Dance to help heal the anger he felt toward his sons’ murderer whom will be getting out of jail soon. He believed that if he took revenge upon this man he would not get to see his son again nor be reunited with his people. We took this honor of the invitation very seriously and felt compelled to support his journey. We both enjoyed talking with Old Man, though he was only 42 yrs but it pushed our long travel day back some and we needed to make up some time. Therefore the remainder of the day was spent driving long distances without brakes through the Tounger River valley and a lot of agricultural land. I personally didn’t find Mile City worth the extra drive, but Mr. O got a DQ and got to see the Yellowstone River which was pretty massive. The short drive through N. Dakota was mainly wheat fields and before we knew it we were back in South Dakota reaching our destination by 7 pm. Fortuitously there was a campground In Custer National Forest very close to where the slim butte battle took place. It’s beautiful, free and not too crowded,  which was more than could we ask for on the last night of our trip.  After diner we took a nice walk, visited with our neighbor’s and enjoyed a nice little campfire. A perfect way to end our trip.

Aug 5;  Unfortunately the reality of all the commitments I have to face when I return made for a fitful night. I awoke at 2 am and couldn’t get back to sleep for a while, then had stressful dreams. Again the contrasts I am feeling is truly telling. However since I enjoy the many things I do, I’m not sure how I’ll be able to change anything but I guess it’s a process. This place truly is a little gem in the middle of nowhere and only 3 hours from our home. Mr O plans to run down to the battlefield and do his weekly yoga practice there. I enjoyed my practice right here in our campsite then went for a little walk up the rest of the dirt road. At the end of the campground area is a national landmark called “The Castles” the purpose to preserve this natural phenomena. It truly is wondrous and we look forward to returning when we can spend more time. Mr. O was returning from his run at they act moment I was walking back to our campsite. At the camper he exclaimed that he was going to take a shower. Even though our Casita is equipped with a shower, we rarely use it. It take a lot of propane to heat it up and then the water usage. We usually find other places to shower on are travels but do use it when necessary. I think it will be a nicer drive back after his run now that “he’s a clean man.”

We finally hit the road around 11:30am, Mr. O had to make his “Sunday calls” to his family and return the other calls from messages left, why he couldn’t make them when he returned home is beyond me.  The 3 hour trip according to the gps took us 5.5 hours! And it really wasn’t because of Sturgis.  We stopped once to get something to eat, (1hr) and did take a little detour down some county roads to avoid driving through Sturgis but it just seemed to take forever. I drifted off several times.  We finally arrived home around 5ish. Though we both felt like taking naps, we got right to work unloading. We just couldn’t help ourselves.  Then checked in on the chickens, garden (all well) then the mail and the messages. The neighbor down the street where Odysseus supposedly had been seen, finally called back. I had left him a note over two weeks ago. Aparently he had been out of town and said he has a cat that looks exactly like mine, so all the people whom thought they saw Odysseus probably were just seeing his cat.  So i took this as a sign and started cleaning up and putting away all his stuff I had left out for him.  A short while later Uriahs friend Dan called and said there was a kitten found up near the VA. Apparently the VA police had a stand-off with a mountain lion and they assumed this kittens parent and maybe siblings had been taken. The employees have been taking care of it the last week. They had an adult cat that had come to them and had been living there whom also disappeared recently (which they think the lion got). However, they just didn’t feel the boiler room was a safe place for a kitten and was hoping someone would adopt her.  Probably not much of a surprise that i told Dan, yes i would go check out the cat and would likely want to take it home. And so I did. The conclusion of a wonderful journey opens a new journey with life with a kitten! We are going to name her Tania after a brave young woman explorer. This kitten is just that!!

Casita Chronicles; Northern Wyoming Loop/ Big Horn Mountains_Part 1

Prologue; 

There is no higher yoga than Householder Yoga. I’m not sure if any enlightened masters said this or not, but this is what I’ve come to experience in my own life. Of course without the other practices of Kundalini yoga and meditation, I may not have realized this. This current Casita Adventure has brought this awareness straight back to the center of things. As I’ve been writing this blog for five days now partially to share our travel adventures and partially for my own personal journal, In the  re-reading of my words, I’ve discovered how hopelessly human I am. I haven’t kept a journal in over a decade, perhaps it’s time to get back to this helpful practice which brings one clarity about their own mind and condition. I’ve notices my quick to judge and get annoyed when my partner does or says things I find distasteful, disgusting or disrespectful. Yogi Bhajan, master of Kundalini Yoga taught that we are all one and often told his students, “If you don’t see God in all, then you don’t see God at all.” Some of my greatest lessons of this is being married to someone with a completely different background/ upbringing, a different belief-system, different interests and way of being/ doing things. It certainly may be easier if we matched in some of these areas, however  maybe the gifts wouldn’t be as great in the long run. In an interview with my parents for a local newspaper on their 50th wedding anniversary, my father said the key to marriage is you have to want to continue to be married. At the time he said this, I thought it was a simplistic attitude. However now in the sixth year of my second marriage, I completely understand what he was saying. We can always find something to be upset, annoyed, frustrated with another, that is the nature of our ego. It is the practice of neutral mind, letting go of fear and control where the rubber meets the road and a human can elevate the spirit to that of God, as we are intended to reflect.  So it is with this awareness that I humbly bow, pray for forgiveness for my failures, and for you the reader to keep an open heart in my regard, i am trying. More importantly It is with so much gratitude to my husband, Uriah Luallin that I have the blessings of traveling the journey alongside.

7-28-18;  We left Hot Springs at 11:30 am Saturday morning.  “half the day over” according to Mr.O.  I thought we did pretty good considering we hadn’t done any packing the night before. Things have been a bit tense as of late. Between the stress of looking for my lost cat Odysseus for the past two weeks, along with the beginning of the Farmers Market season, on top of the usual busyness I’ve created for myself, then add the refrigerator going out the day before our trip & whatever else is bothering Mr.O (one can only guess) all contributing to snappy communication between the once happy couple.  I guess the honeymoon is officially over! Driving west on Hwy 18 out of town with the varied shades of green fields spotted with yellow and black sunflowers quickly washes the mind clear. Time to release all the planning, doing, worrying, reacting and replacing that with the present moment! There is nothing better than enjoying the beauty of nature and opening to the joy and excitement of the unknown. Yes, as a practicing yogi I should be able to be in this later state in my daily life. A worthy goal that I do strive for. In these moments I can recognize how far off my path I can be. I guess this is why I take these opportunities to travel as often as I can. Stepping outside my daily life, I can see and feel the contrast in my body so clearly, which ideally will help me come back home sooner.

BigHorns Day1-13

We quickly entered Wyoming and the Thunder Basin National Grasslands. Taking back roads through the rolling plains as usual, Uriahs favorite. Antelope & sage brush in every direction for miles and miles as the sound of the wheels rolling over gravel lull me to sleep. I woke when we hit pavement a few hours later almost 100 miles of driving but as the crow flys we hadn’t got that far. We stopped for a snack along the road somewhere and continued west. Not really sure and not caring if we have a plan. Even with the slippery deep mud patches along the road I barely flinch anymore, a simple chuckle to myself as I think about the numerous adventures I’ve taken with this man, ” the last free man in America” or ” the high plains drifter” to name a few of his self-proclaimed titles. It’s sometimes the case that I’ve felt some fear and apprehension about taking these journeys but in my heart of hearts I do truly love an adventure and more than anything spending time in nature.  I am blessed and grateful!!

We stopped in Wright Wyoming, not sure if we’d hit any other towns with stores to pick up a few last minute provisions. This part of Wyoming was the most uninteresting and distasteful to me thus far. The entire area was built upon the coal and oil extraction industries. Nothing more than a few stores, shops and housing for the workers. The desolate land was covered with oil rigs and machinery for miles. Every so often their were road barriers that we deduced are to prevent people from driving when there are huge snow storms, it must get pretty cold up here. Concluding that some people will do anything for work. By late afternoon we stopped once more in Kaycee, Wy. They had a general store where Uriah asked directions to get to the ‘Hole in the Wall’, where Butch Cassidy and his gang hid out. I guess there was some sort of agenda after all. It turned out that not only did he miss the turn for another site he wanted to check out, but now it appears we will be missing this one too. The women at the store explained you have to get permission to cross the private land in order to get there which just wasn’t practical this time of day. Another women in the store shopping suggested we take the Slip road as there are some nice places to camp along there. We took her advise and headed out before dark. Luckily we were able to follow the minimal instructions and found a lovely valley to camp for the night. Mr. O made a few adjustments to the pump and I made dinner before taking a short evening walk with Kiowa. It is very quiet here, much quieter than even our small little town. I can definitely get used to this.

7-29-18; A restful night sleep except for having to kick the dog off the bed at one point. Last night I realized I left my camera battery charger at home, bummer. I love taking pictures and especially with the new camera Uriah got me for my birthday last year which has a great zoom and usually captures what I want pretty good. It seems like I always forget at least one thing on a trip. Just another chance to practice non-attachment. Luckily I have some other devises, so all is not lost.  Coffee meditation was very serene and afterward Uriah went up the escarpment to do his yoga practice while I enjoyed mine in the valley. It felt so good to take my time and not feel that nagging apprehensive rush of needing to finish to get somewhere by a particular time. Another contradiction of living in a dualistic world.  After our leisurely sadhanas, I made breakfast and we discussed our options. Turns out our tire has a slow leak…par for the course on a ‘Casita Chronicle’ adventure, or should I say life with Uriah. Our spare truck tire is low as well and we have a limited amount of air in the air tank he brought along. Luckily, Mr. O realized that the Casita spare tires are the same size, this the spare trailer tire can replace the leaking tire. After discussing how to deal with that situation for a bit the subject turned to our relationship issues. With having the space, time and no commitments or pressing issues we were able to clear the air and talk about the underlying causes of our lack of graceful communication. I think we achieved an understanding and hopefully we can enjoy our vacation with a renewed sense of staring over.

Mr. O got right to work on fixing the tire with minimal assistance, I got to work on cleaning up and preparing the camper for departure, a natural rhythm of the road that brings us back to balance.  Now the only decision left to make is to continue on dirt roads forward on the spare or back track to the highway. After about 20 minutes Mr. O said “its time to go”,  onward and upward which meant taking the risk and continuing on, his sop (standard operating procedures). For those reading this that don’t know Mr. O, Uriah Luallin was in the military and loves to use the language of those times. We had no idea how upward we were heading, in about 4 miles we probably climbed about 1,000 ft in elevation. We had left Kiowa out to run and since it was so steep we couldn’t really stop so he had to run the whole way.  Finally nearing the top where it was level enough  we pulled over to wait for the dog.

I was surprised we made it and hoped the dog would too. As we waited for Kiowa to catch up, Uriah called his son while I checked out the divide. We seemed to be at the top of the continental divide and it looked like a pretty good storm was brewing. Once Kiowa arrived heavily panting I urged Uriah to get going. It was quite beautiful up there with large pine trees, rocks, short brush of the tundra but that storm was making me a little nervous. Then Mr. O noticed his truck was leaking water from under the engine. After looking that over for a minute even he felt the need to move on, so down the road we went. It took Kiowa nearly 30-40 min for his breath to return to normal.  Just as steeply as we had climbed, now we were descending down an equally pitched road. It reminded me a bit of driving into and out of Death Valley, but in this case on a dirt road, not paved.  All the while I marveled at the dramatically different ecosystems we traveled through in just a short 3 hour day. This is how long our journey on the Slip road took and as I now realize many days later, our actually time in the Big horn Mountains. At the bottom we entered a beautiful valley. There was a deep canyon to our east that we wanted to explore but it appeared to be all private land. At the bottom however, Mr. O noticed a little parking area and suggested we stop to go for a short hike. It turned out to be a perfect circle drive BLM parking area to a trail head and a perfect place to stop for the night.

BigHornsDay3

4:30pm seemed a little late to be taking a hike, but after we talked to some climbers that we’re about to leave the area and checked out the map, it looked like Canyon Creek Trail was not all that long. We quickly prepared ourselves and enjoyed a late afternoon hike. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect and the trail was a wonderland of beauty. As they warned the trail starts out very thick with brush mainly thistles, but it went along a small creek between two large canyon walls. We crossed over a little meg-shift bridge and the other side was far easier to walk. Cows rutted the trail pretty good through large tree- size sage brush. The Juniper trees had berries the size of grapes, it was truly delightful! It was the kind of magical experience that we have come to know and enjoy so well.

BigHornsDay2_25

An easy way to get us back on track as the loving couple we once were. This is the life we had envisioned for ourselves and where all our differences are swept away in the wind. The simple pure joy of being outdoors is our recipe for love and happiness. After a nice dinner Mr. O falls fast asleep before nightfall. 

BigHornsDay2_23

7-30-18;  A much needed deep sleep. I think I dreamt most of the night and didn’t wake till around 7am, that’s sleeping in for the Os. Even after coffee meditation I wasn’t jumping out of bed. Every once in a while a hard working girl needs to lounge and linger. It felt so good to just relax!!   Yes, friends and family, I’m listening. Mr. O took off on his Monday morning run up the canyon he wanted to explore last night, a predictable move. I stayed behind and did my yoga practice in the parking area. It was a little more challenging in the full sun, but I made it through with even a few insights for my upcoming workshop. Mr. O returned right about when I was finishing up, in perfect timing another par for the course with the O’s. Upon their return Kiowa found something in the bushes and pursued a hunt. I quickly found myself being annoyed again that Mr. O wasn’t controlling his dog. I know it must be instinctual for the dog,  but he had a full bowl of dog food at the camper so I felt bad for what ever prey he was after.  We packed up and headed down the road and after only a few minutes the dog was whimpering to get out. We pulled over at the nearest pull out where he jumped out and searched for grass to settle his tummy. I wondered if he was ill from what ever critter he went after and perhaps killed and ate.? Our first stop for the day was in Ten Sleeps, a small town population 260 and the home of Jalon Crossland, a local favorite musician. There wasn’t much there but a few hotels and shops, no real breakfast place to speak of, so we kept going. It did have a real nice vibe though kinda reminded me of Crestone, Co.  On down the road the landscape turned back to brown desolate rolling hills where the grass and sage brush struggled for survival. It was about 30 miles of not much but oil rigs. It didn’t appear that many were even operational. I wondered if the oil extraction made the land dry and harsh or if it was already that way and why they chooses that area to drill being that it was not good for anything else. We reached the town of Worland, Wy. in about thirty minute. The population here was more in around 5,000 plus, so a few more options to get breakfast/brunch. We eat at a place called Maggie’s, down home cooking and very filling. I also stopped at the BeeHealthy Health food store, for a few specialty items. It’s starting to feel hot and the combination of a full belly and heat slipped me off to sleep as we headed toward Thermopolis, Wy., the home of the worlds largest mineral hot springs. It’s time like these that I am very grateful for Uriah whom does all the driving. We arrived at the state park around 2pm and found a nice shady spot to rest and nap. The large state park is a beautiful sight with three different mineral springs pools to choose from, two are more developed with slides that cost money and one is free to the public. The only caveat in the well kept free one is that you can only soak for 20 minutes at a time with at least a two hour brake in between, apparently “for our safety”‘ as the pools are 104 degrees F. The main mineral in these hot springs is sulfur but it is not as smelly as some others we have visited in Colorado. We soaked our 20 minutes at the very end of the day before they closed at 5:30 pm and finished with a nice clean shower. Back at the camper we just relaxed and read for a bit. I can’t remember the last time I did this and again am appreciating and listening to how much my inner being is loving doing not much of anything. The dog whom had been tied up was getting antsy so I took him for a little walk around the park. It truly is a gem!! Not only are there huge sections of green grass spotted with large shade trees, there are numerous picnic benches, places to park, bathrooms, playgrounds, volley ball and horseshoe pits, walking trails, gorgeous flowers beds, an amphitheater, which by the way is hosting a free concert tomorrow night so we’ve decided to stay another day.  I walked Kiowa around the back of the two pools and discovered that the outflow poured into a informal soaking pool which eventually poured into the Bighorn River. The parking area back there that we hadn’t even noticed you could tell was a favorite spot among locals. The dogs were all off leash and the kids we happily playing in the confluence of the warm water joining the cold.

There is also a walking trail that follows the river which we did not take, but likely takes you into town. When we returned and checked back in with the Sargent, we decided that we were so relaxed and full from our brunch that we didn’t much feel like cooking or eating a big meal, so we just had a snack and relaxed some more. Actually, I had no energy at all and just wanted to go to sleep by 8pm, which is more Uriahs typical behavior. This is when he realize that it was time to find us to find a campsite for the night. The only amenity not available at the park is camping.  The park ranger at the pool had given us numerous tips of where we could camp free, but in the end Uriah used his usual instinct and followed a county road and in this case deadened at private property with a turnaround. It was so isolated, that we just camped there at the turnaround for the night. I felt hot and drained and quickly fell asleep, only being woken up once with the dog barking at a car that drove by.

7-31-18; We awoke early to the sound of our loud barking dog, the same truck I assume heading in to work for the day. Again, I didn’t feel too motivated to jump out of bed and probably went back to sleep for another hour or so. Mr. O made a stiff pot of coffee after my yesterday’s complaint about it being too week. After an enjoyable coffee meditation we packed up and headed back out the county road. The plan was to head back to the park, drop the camper and scout out a new campsite for tonight, however on the way out, Mr. O’s natural curiosities got him checking a few more roads one in particular that seemed like a perfect camp-spot until we realized we were back in the state park. It turns out that the park has an addition 600 plus acres that house a heard of buffalo, hiking trails and lots of pull outs for viewing, but you aren’t allowed to camp anywhere in the state park. We couldn’t help but wonder if the Buffalo came from our Wind Cave herd. We followed another county road that went along the Big Horn River and indeed we found a suitable pull out about 5 miles out of town. With that figured out, we headed back to the park. I suggested we find a place a little more secluded so that Kiowa wouldn’t bark at every passer by and for a change he conceded to my idea. We found the perfect out-of-the-way spot with some huge trees to do some more resting and relaxing. Actually, I decided to do my yoga practice first, while Mr. O did his upper body exercises. We finally got around to eating our first meal of the day close to noon, then took Kiowa on another walk around the park. This gave me the opportunity to show Mr. O all the lovely places I saw yesterday plus we also checked out the river trail for a tiny bit. On the trail i was delighted to see that Thermopolis also has a Rock painting & hiding group.

Back at the camper we hung out some more writing and enjoying our shady spot at the park. I may have forgotten to mention the main reason we decided to hang out in Thermpololis one more day, was because the beautiful state park has a very nice amphitheater & stage which will be hosting a free concert tonight. ‘Socks in the Fry Pan’ they call themselves, a bluegrass band from Ireland, with a name like that it is sure to be a fun time. Soon we headed back to soak before Mr. O goes for his massage. I hadn’t realized it at the time, but the musicians were there soaking. I thought I detected an Irish accent but wasn’t in an outgoing mood at the moment to strike up a conversation. After an hour or so, I did end up having a conversation with some other travelers from Portland Oregon. They were with a group of women rock climbers that camp for weeks in an area near Ten Sleeps. They along with a few others ignored the 20 minute rule as by now we all felt like regulars. Uriah never did come back as was the plan, so I eventually headed back to the camper were he sat typing on his computer. After a nice meal out, we headed to the amphitheater to hear the live music. They were much better musicians than I was expecting for a free show and I couldn’t help but wonder how they were able to bring a band of that quality to their small town. I inquired during the brake giving me some ideas for our farmers market gigs. The three or should I say, “tree” as they pronounced & made fun of themselves were very funny in addition to being very talented players. The fiddler and button accordion player were apparently brothers and the “terd” played guitar. Check out our Casita Chronicles facebook page https://www.facebook.com/CasitaChronicles/ for a short video of one of their songs or alternately you can find their page directly on facebook.

There was no dancing until the last song back at the camper, what ever happened to our perpetual honeymoon? Exhausted from what I don’t know, soaking for an hour in sulfur hot springs I guess, I was all too ready to pack up and head to our pre-scouted campsite. However, Uriah wanted to check the camper lights to see if they were operational but they were not. After about 30 -40 minutes of fiddling in the dark, I suggested that perhaps I could ride in the back of the camper and shine a flashlight out the back window in case anyone was behind us. This gave Mr. O the idea that we could probably just leave the flashers on since they were working. Flashing the entire 5 miles down East River Rd we traveled to sleep on some BLM pull-out. It seemed a lot nicer that the shooting range a few miles closer to town. Come to find out however that it was a dead animal dump as Kiowa quickly found and rolled in. This made for a smelling nights sleep, but luckily I was too tired to notice.

August 1; According to the Irish brothers, summer is over! I’m glad I don’t live in Ireland and still have a least a month to enjoy it. Despite having a stomach ache last night, Uriah got up and ran the draw we camped in. I did my yoga practice far from the carcasses amidst mainly dirt, rocks, sage and cheat grass. When the boys returned I was just finishing up and we headed back to the park for one more soak before grabbing some coffee and heading out of town. Uriah reported he had found a sickly fox with cub up the draw, I knew just whom to tell. After two days and many conversations I felt that I had gotten to know Cathy, the seasonal state park employee whom runs the spring. Though initially she and Uriah had been talking up a storm about where to camp and other sites in the area, it was I that had the continual personal conversations where I learned that she was a lover of animals. She has 5 cats,  a couple dogs, horses, ginny pigs, a pet skunk and apparently used to have chickens until someone called the cops on her. They don’t allow chickens in the city. After I told her about Odysseus, she even offered to give me one of her cats, a year-old grey one that she claimed was a trouble maker. She reminded me a little of my last cat Cougar, but Mr. O said “NO”! When we arrived to soak one last time before leaving we told her about the baby fox that probably wasn’t going to make it unless someone would go get it and bring it to some type of rehabilitation center, she knew just the person/place to take it, if she is able to retrieve the animal. It may seem cruel to take the pup from its mom, but after hearing Uriahs account of the mother fox not moving an inch when he went up toward it, we were all pretty sure it had a disease and was not going to last or be able to raise its pup, so it seems like the right thing to at least attempt. I thanked her and gave her my contact number to let me know what happens. We drove into town for coffee at the Storytellers bookstore. The coffee was pretty good, they had internet and a clean and pleasant atmosphere. We didn’t dawdle too long as the dog was in the truck and it was starting to get warm. Uriah headed directly back to the truck as I took a quick stop into the local health food store, Natures Corner as I had promised the owner of Beehealthy in Worland. She was right, it was a very nice store with a huge selection including a little cafe in the back. I grabbed a few things and kept moving as quick as possible. When I got out to the camper, Uriah was talking to the sheriff! Oh no, I could only imagine that someone called the police on us for leaving the dog in the car, even though it was a short time, the windows were down and we left him water. By the time I reached them they were discussing politics and it seemed like a very friendly chat. I found out afterwards that some guy whom saw us camping thought we stole his dog. Uriah said the Sherrif thoroughly checked our camper, tags etc. but after we were cleared their conversation turned to politics. Next stop Legend Rock Petroglyphs. It was way out on some BLM roads and not a huge site, but the various petroglyphs from various time periods were pretty interesting. (photos of the actual petroglyphs will be posted on the Casita Chronicle page, taken with Uriahs camera.

It was pretty hot so we didn’t stay long. Driving on toward Cody  we made one more stop in Meeteetse, Wy. Pop 327. Yup that is the real name of the town but we never learned how it got its name. We visited the museum which mainly had photos and items from a massive wealthy ranch and also the world famous Meeteetse Chocolatier. It was started by a young cowboy whom needed some money to ride in the rodeo. His successful business bodes organic chocolate with no preservatives and an environmental mission statement, my kind of place. The walls were lined with his mothers beautiful mosaic art.

 

And yes the chocolatet was to die for! They were so fresh that they don’t keep well, so sorry we didn’t buy any to bring home. We finally made it to Cody about 4 pm. We stopped at a big city grocery grocery store for water and a few more groceries. Then looked around for a camp spot. We settled on a dirt road just over the Shoshone River & highway leading toward Yellowstone. It wasn’t my ideal spot next to other campers, the power lines and sound of the rodeo echoing in the background, but it will do.

2018-08-01_10

After a nice home cooked meal, I took a walk on the horse trail as Uriah worked on the lights. When i returned at dusk, he was still hard at worked.  I offered to help and did my best to obey his every request, but apparently not as quick and as efficiently as he’d prefer. You have to remember that Uriah’s vehicles are one of a kind. He has prefabricated, “jerry-rigged” if you will,  all seven of his vehicles in one way or another. Between turning on blinkers, hitting the brakes, etc.. i was writing this blog.  On his last request with the engine still running, i didn’t hear him and when i didn’t respond the volcanic angry Uriah came out. It was at this point where I really wondered what we are doing together anyways. It seems like both of us continue to react and be frustrated by the other for one reason or another.  When it really became dark, he finally conceded to stop and come have a little desert and get ready for bed.  A wicked lightening storm came in so Kiowa jumped on the bed and we allowed him this luxury for his safety & comfort.

Stay tuned for part 2 upon our return.

   

 

Making America great again?

With only a few weeks left in Nicaragua we finally broke away from Esteli. After the long goodbyes we missed the small van to Leon and spent 4 hours waiting at the bus station. While there we met several international travelers, first a couple from Germany whom are traveling through Central America for three months starting in the south In Panama and working their way north to Guatemala. Ironically, the husband sprained the same leg as Uriah a few days before they left for the trip. They received excellent medical attention in Panama for a mere $200 and he has healed well. Also waiting was a young Frenchman that we didn’t speak to much and the Brits that Uriah already wrote about. Despite the growing horrible reputation the US is gaining around the world, people have been very friendly and kind to us. We can’t be sure if this is due only to people feeling sorry for Uriah. The Brits learning we had no room reservations anywhere in Leon offered to share their cab to their hotel to see if they might have room there since the bus to the beach stopped running before we arrived. We graciously accepted and though we didn’t get a private room, the beds were comfortable, the dorm was actually quiet and we enjoyed a nice dinner out with our new friends. The $10/ night bed also included individually prepared breakfast in the morning. During our morning coffee we met some more travelers, particularly a couple with a small child. The husband was from France and the wife from Italy. He had been in the oil business and she a humanitarian. She relayed many stories, but the one that really shocked and disturbed me was her recent experience trying to fly to Nicaragua. Her flight had a two hour layover connecting flight in Atlanta. Since one of her work assignments had been in Iraq many years ago, she was being required to pay extraordinarily high additional fees to obtain some type of background check and obtain a special visa. In the end they either denied her or she gave up with the hassle and had to re- arrange her flight through Mexico. For our safety? She was a humanitarian for godsake. She wasn’t even going to leave the airport. Although she was pretty disgusted with the US, they ended up giving us a ride to the bus stop. As soon as we got dropped off, I left Uriah on the sidewalk to inquire about which bus to take. I hadn’t even walked a few steps when a Nicaraguan man asked if we needed help. I asked if he knew which bus to the beach. He didn’t know but told me to wait, got on the bus to ask and came back with the info where, when and even how much the bus was. I’m so grateful for all the angels watching over us. Once on the bus, we met a young couple from Canada, we shared stories and information about places to visit and they gave us the low-down about the beach area, buses and potential places to stay. Fortunately, I had taken the Brits advice that morning and booked a room somewhere. This saved us from walking up and down looking for a place with all our luggage, not to mention that many places on the beach fill up fast. The room we ended up in wasn’t that great, but we were thrilled to finally be at he beach. The next morning we met another Canadian, he just bought property near here and is fixing it up for his future retirement home. He also relayed many stories but the one he was most animated about was his recent trip back to Nicaragua. He’s flown back and forth for years but on this flight connecting though Houston, TSA pulled him into a room to interrogate him. Apparently he had a drug charge over 5 years ago which he had paid his penalty. After detaining him for quite some time they denied his entry into the US, even though it was just a connecting flight mind you. He missed his flight and had to rearrange the flight at great expense and hassle. He was furious. So I ask, is this how we make America great by isolating and alienating others? I think not!

IMG_1897
As I experienced my first morning Sadhana on the beach, hearing the waves crash, feeling the ocean breezes, watching the brilliance of stars fade as the light began to illuminate the birds soaring over the exquisite ocean waves everything melted into a moment of pure ecstasy and love. The contrast between the perfection of nature and the ignorance of mankind is dramatic. Is there hope for us to merge and become one? It doesn’t seem likely but I will continue to imagine the possibility.

Making America great again?

With only a few weeks left in Nicaragua we finally broke away from Esteli. After the long goodbyes we missed the small van to Leon and spent 4 hours waiting at the bus station. While there we met several international travelers, first a couple from Germany whom are traveling through Central America for three months starting in the south In Panama and working their way north to Guatemala. Ironically, the husband sprained the same leg as Uriah a few days before they left for the trip. They received excellent medical attention in Panama for a mere $200 and he has healed well. Also waiting was a young Frenchman that we didn’t speak to much and the Brits that Uriah already wrote about. Despite the growing horrible reputation the US is gaining around the world, people have been very friendly and kind to us. We can’t be sure if this is due only to people feeling sorry for Uriah. The Brits learning we had no room reservations anywhere in Leon offered to share their cab to their hotel to see if they might have room there since the bus to the beach stopped running before we arrived. We graciously accepted and though we didn’t get a private room, the beds were comfortable, the dorm was actually quiet and we enjoyed a nice dinner out with our new friends. The $10/ night bed also included individually prepared breakfast in the morning. During our morning coffee we met some more travelers, particularly a couple with a small child. The husband was from France and the wife from Italy. He had been in the oil business and she a humanitarian. She relayed many stories, but the one that really shocked and disturbed me was her recent experience trying to fly to Nicaragua. Her flight had a two hour layover connecting flight in Atlanta. Since one of her work assignments had been in Iraq many years ago, she was being required to pay extraordinarily high additional fees to obtain some type of background check and obtain a special visa. In the end they either denied her or she gave up with the hassle and had to re- arrange her flight through Mexico. For our safety? She was a humanitarian for godsake. She wasn’t even going to leave the airport. Although she was pretty disgusted with the US, they ended up giving us a ride to the bus stop. As soon as we got dropped off, I left Uriah on the sidewalk to inquire about which bus to take. I hadn’t even walked a few steps when a Nicaraguan man asked if we needed help. I asked if he knew which bus to the beach. He didn’t know but told me to wait, got on the bus to ask and came back with the info where, when and even how much the bus was. I’m so grateful for all the angels watching over us. Once on the bus, we met a young couple from Canada, we shared stories and information about places to visit and they gave us the low-down about the beach area, buses and potential places to stay. Fortunately, I had taken the Brits advice that morning and booked a room somewhere. This saved us from walking up and down looking for a place with all our luggage, not to mention that many places on the beach fill up fast. The room we ended up in wasn’t that great, but we were thrilled to finally be at he beach. The next morning we met another Canadian, he just bought property near here and is fixing it up for his future retirement home. He also relayed many stories but the one he was most animated about was his recent trip back to Nicaragua. He’s flown back and forth for years but on this flight connecting though Houston, TSA pulled him into a room to interrogate him. Apparently he had a drug charge over 5 years ago which he had paid his penalty. After detaining him for quite some time they denied his entry into the US, even though it was just a connecting flight mind you. He missed his flight and had to rearrange the flight at great expense and hassle. He was furious. So I ask, is this how we make America great by isolating and alienating others? I think not!

IMG_1897
As I experienced my first morning Sadhana on the beach, hearing the waves crash, feeling the ocean breezes, watching the brilliance of stars fade as the light began to illuminate the birds soaring over the exquisite ocean waves everything melted into a moment of pure ecstasy and love. The contrast between the perfection of nature and the ignorance of mankind is dramatic. Is there hope for us to merge and become one? It doesn’t seem likely but I will continue to imagine the possibility.

Finding Beauty, Joy & Pleasure

Finding beauty, joy & pleasure in every thing is my intention for 2018.

As the new year began I was absorbed in getting ready for our two month adventure to Nicaragua, a step into the unknown. A few days before we left I had a relapse of Vertigo, a very ungrounding experience. I’d only had it one other time in my life, seven years ago and wasn’t sure if traveling to another country in this condition was a good idea. Time was running out to make the decision to go or cancel the trip. I did the best i could to self remedy the issue and proceeded with getting ready. With all of this and dealing with the transition of living in completely new and different environment i hadn’t even thought about my intention for the year. Instead I’ve been focusing on riding the waves of trust & surrender to move through the fear and discomfort I’d been experiencing on and off.

During our first three weeks in Nicaragua we settled into a simple life in Estali, a fairly large city in the northern region of the country. The upside of being here is that it is a bit cooler and we’ve had the opportunity to assimilate to this country by living with a family, In what you would call a “home-stay”experience.

The downside of living in a large city is the intrusion to the senses. When you practice a lot of yoga, you become even more sensitive to sensations and the environment around you. My comfort zone of peace, quite and fresh air seems a million miles away. There is a constant stream of sounds that infiltrate every space. Everything from neighbors loud speakers booming latin beats, the cars with massive speakers on the hood announcing some product to buy or upcoming event, taxis & motorcycles honking, engines rumbling, roosters crowing, dogs barking neighbors talking, and Carlito crying or screaming for hours at a time is the daily norm. In addition to the noises, the smells have been particularly noticeable. As I mentioned in my first blog, one of the first things I noticed upon entering the country was a thick smokey pungent smell in the air. Though Managua was noticeably worse pollution wise, my nose is still bombarded regularly with this vile smell.  It seemed like the excessive smoke was from burning trash but Martha and Heyling assure me they do have a landfill or at least I think that’s what they said, and they pick up trash once week.  Where it actually goes remains a mystery, due to communication issues. Still I smell smoke several times a day and it’s not the pleasant smell of grilled meat. The neighbors apparently cook on a fire every day and I’m certain they burn plastic along with wood, because it’s the kind of burning smell that screams of toxicity. I’ve also seen large burning fields when we’ve hiked above the city. It’s  been confirmed by an english speaking friend of Heylings, that most people burn their trash.  Then there’s the smell of emissions from all the vehicles. Though many people walk, bike and ride horses, there is the usual city traffic but without the emission protections required in the US. One of the many regulations my husband is against and I am grateful for. The final disturbance to my senses is seeing excessive trash strone everywhere!! Along the streets, rivers & nearly every nook and cranny is trash. Though the small towns have waste baskets and I’ve seen signs telling people “no botemos basura” Don’t litter, it’s pretty much universally everywhere in Nicaragua. The cities, small towns and even in the remote mountain trails. I’ve actually watched people young and old simply throw their wrappers on the ground without a second thought.  The prolific use of plastic to this earth lovin’ momma is atrocious, even plastics bags are sold in plastic! Everything sold from a donut, piece of chicken, hunk of cheese are all sold in a plastic bags which of course end up as trash on the ground.

So let’s get back to my New Years intention. All this habitual noticing things that are displeasing to my senses have distracted me from the intention. It wasn’t until one afternoon after our usual morning routine we decided to take another walk to the east. We headed up the road that Uriah thought would take us to Jinotega, when he was still considering walking there over the mountains. Once we entered new territory heading up the hill, we began to see larger than normal amounts of trash. Apparently people were using this road as a dump, and by the smell this likely included dead carcasses. The smell was putrid, yet it was a pretty nice day out and we were happy to be walking and getting out of the house for a bit. It was on the way back when spirit sent me a message. I was gazing at all the trash and a dead skunk when all of sudden I see a heart shaped rock in front of me admits all this trash. There it was in plain sight to remind me, thank you spirit!

IMG_1239

I’m grateful for this little reminder and all the moments in natures glory that help me to see how beauty can be found anywhere even amongst the trash. I can see it in the faces of the people, in the painted murals everywhere. And of course there is Mr. O by my side, always trying to make sure I’m okay, giving me a smile, cracking one of his usual jokes.  I’m truly blessed.

Since writing this blog, a week or so ago we had an incident. If your not following my husbands blogs, the short of it is that we finally left Estali to head out on the motorcycle to experience the last month driving all over the country and exploring the many beautiful locations this country has to offer. Unfortunately on our second day out, we tried to take a less traveled back road to short cut to the next town rather than backtracking to the highway. We accidentally took the wrong road and found ourselves in a very dangerous predicament which we survived but caused my husband to brake his ankle. IMG_1350

This was by far my most trying experience thus far. I honestly didn’t know if I had it in me to do what i needed to do to get out. It required helping push the motorcycle out of a spinning rut in the dirt on a 60 degree grade road, carrying my and his backpacks back up an extremely steep road! Since we were in the mountains and yes it was beautiful, I tried to concentrate on this and my mantras to give me strength. Spirit sent us an angle, a Nicaraguan man whom appeared out of nowhere when the motorcycle feel on my husband and he heard & felt the click of his leg braking and yelled out. I threw down our bags and tried to run to help him, but I was slow on that steep sloop and by the time i could see him, I saw the man helping, so I went back to get the backpacks. As I have a spine injury, just carrying  my own backpack was a struggle, adding his was nearly impossible but i kept moving. Once Uriah and the man navigated the motorcycle up the steep dirt road, he offered to pay our angle to come back down and help me carry up his backpack.  We made it out and spent the night in the highest town in Nicaragua. Did I find joy in this experience? No, just relief that we made it out alive and appreciation for those sweet souls that helped us.

IMG_1359

(the proprietor of the place we stayed whom gave us a ride back down to a lower elevation town, about half way to Estali.)

We are now safely back in Estali. Uriah’s leg is broken, he now has a cast and needs to rest for the next three weeks, nearly the rest of our vacation.

IMG_1363

(Francis, Martha’s sister that helped Uriah get medical attention promptly)

Although i had surrendered to this fact with peace, I began feeling some other emotions bubbling up under the surface. I won’t go into detail here, but let’s just say I hit an all time low Sunday evening. After expressing those feelings to a friend, and picking myself back up with my yoga practice, a shower and some determination, over the past few days I have been receiving many insightful blessings about myself interacting with others, and our human predicament.

Beauty, joy and pleasure can be experienced in many ways! It doesn’t always show up in a fancy package or an ecstatic feeling. It can be as simple as the satisfaction that you feel trying to communicate, accept and share with another human being with totally different ideas & ways of being in the world. It can be as simple as finding a heart shape rock in the dirt, a rainbow in the sky,

IMG_1257

and asking a stranger how to say rainbow in Spanish “arco iris”, a bird landing on the clothes line, discovering painted murals around town, Murals of Nicaragua, sharing a meal with your new family, tending to your injured loved one, calling a friend or family member to tell them you love them, and on and on… You just need to be open to listen, see and feel these blessings in your heart. I’m grateful for this intention for 2018, I know it won’t always be easy to remember in difficult times, pero yo estoy feliz!

Managua to Estali_1/11-12

As we flew into Managua at night, I could see the immense sprawl of city lights. In the center were brightly colored lights of red, blue, yellow and green. I wondered if this was left over from Christmas or if they were a permanent fixture in the city. I’m not sure the size of they city, but it looks highly populated. Not surprising as it is the Capital.

Our entry into the country was flawless. We moved through customs very quickly and simply walked across the street to the Best Western hotel. Since we had such a long trip and arrived so late, Uriah sprung for this more expensive and nice hotel that Carlos recommended. This will likely be the one and only time to enjoy such creature comforts that most of us Americans take for granted. We luxuriated till the last moment, check out time 12 noon the next day!


We took a cab to the bus station where we intended to take a bus to Estili. The taxi drivers at the hotel charged $9 for the ride, Uriah haggled with a taxi driver on the road for $7. My husband always the frugile spender. One of the things I appreciate for this is how we are able to travel in the winter. There are many buses to many places, by which is how most people travel here. Some buses are express and some stop at every little town. Estali is about two hours north east of Managua on the express bus, I have no idea how long it would have taken on the other bus perhaps 4-5 hours. With God’s grace, as we walked toward the ticket counter, the bus driver looked at us and said express bus to Estali and tried to take my bag. I have no idea how he could have known that is where we wanted to go and I was amazed how quickly and simply it all happened. Before we knew it, we were sitting on the express bus ready to go. 


Behind us in line for the ticket and next to Uriah on the bus was a young woman from Austria. She was traveling alone. She had already traveled to Cuba and was heading to Costa Rica next. I didn’t get many details as they were behind me. I was sandwiched between a young man on the seat to the left and two other men sitting in the isle of the bus on little plastic stools. Being seated between these men made it more difficult to look out the window, but I did my best.
In Managua, the city looked crowded, dirty and very poor. The streets were filled with cars, trucks, buses, motorcycle taxis-consisting of a wooden seat attached to the front of the motorcycle, and horse drawn carts. All the houses and stores are pretty much the same concrete blocks and or bricks with a tin roof. Each small store primarily sold separate items from shoes, tortillas to auto parts. There may be and likely are some parts of the city that are nicer and more beautiful but we didn’t see any in our short stay.
As Uriah had told me before we came, there was much trash along the roads. However what was/is even more disturbing to me is the constant smell of smoke which I believe is from people burning their trash. Even when we were at the hotel I could smell it. At first I thought is was a forest fire or just car pollution, but it’s everywhere. I can’t believe I’m admitting this, but I actually preferred the smell of chlorine at the hotel pool over the constant smell of burning trash. I can’t imagine how people with asthma could deal with this. Nobody else seems to notice or be troubled by it but me. When we got out of the city and I started to see larger expanses of land, trees and green I immediately felt better. I started to even breath easier. However, every once in a while I would smell it again. A big swafting smell of something burning. Somthing I guess I will just have to get used to.
I didn’t try to talk to anyone on the bus, but I notice that I am now constantly thinking in Spanish. When I have a curiosity about something, I practice how I would ask in Spanish. Unfortunately when I do begin to speak, even though I think I know what to say, I get a confused look on the receivers face. I know that I have the correct words, so perhaps my pronunciation is way off.
It was very hot and humid in Managua and on the bus, so I was relieved to be going to Estali. It is a smaller city and in the mountains so it will be much cooler there. We arrived at about 3pm and asked a man to borrow his phone to call Martha, Carlos’s wife. We are renting a room and living with her and her two children Heyling (19yrs) and Carlito (2 yrs.) for the first part of our journey.
As we waited, Uriah went to buy an apple and I sat down next to an old women with some open seats for Uriah. As soon as I sat down, three young men whom looked like they were up to no good sat down surrounding me. There was something about the way they looked at each other and then me that seemed like they were targeting me. I said good afternoon and left. Now I want to make something clear and especially after I read Uriahs post this morning. My expressing thoughts and feelings of fear on my previous blogs is not about an unreasonable paranoia. I think my fear is similar to many people. I simply was expressing my inner process as I am a person whom is always trying to push myself to grow and expand. So although my intuition was telling me the boys were up to no good, I did not in fact feel afraid. I simply was aware.


After about 30 minutes or so Martha arrived. She doesn’t drive, so her neighbor and Carlitos God father, Alberto drove Carlos’s truck. We exchanged hugs and greetings and spent the rest of the afternoon and evening becoming acquainted with limited communication skills. The girls want to learn English and we want to learn Spanish, so with the help of our translator tools and our limited knowledge, we had a good time in our attempts. A note about translator tools. Just because the tool gives you a translation, doesn’t mean it’s the correct one. The online Spanishdict.com seems to be the most reliable. The Google translate App on my phone is fine for single words but sentences are problematic.
More about Estali later, time to go ex

Previous Older Entries