Uriah isn’t the only one experiencing reminiscence during this trip. Haven grown up in Central NY, Florida was a common destination for us. My grandparents had a condo in Hollandale Florida, just outside of Hollywood.

All the grandkids had been sent down 1 or more times to visit them during various school brakes and being the youngest of all the grandchildren I was the last. I was in middle school at the time and the usual excursion to Disneyland was now off the list being that they had gone too many times and were getting older and did not want to go. They did take me to Sea World and another place with lots of exotic birds.  The fondest memory of that trip however was meeting my twin. Almost daily riding up or down the elevator to go to the pool people would say “hello Ellen, how are your grandparents doing?”  I was really confused at first why they were calling me Ellen until it was discovered they thought I was someone else’s granddaughter.  When they learned I was not Ellen they would all exclaim how we looked like twins, so naturally I had to meet this girl.  I’m not sure how we made it happen, but I eventually did meet Ellen and we became fast friends. We spent the rest of the trip together doing what pre-teen girls do, swimming, looking for boys, playing games and watching movies. Great times but sadly I didn’t stay in touch with her. 

Later on in high school I remember driving to Ft. Lauderdale for Spring Break with my friend Lori Marini.  We took turns driving all through the night to get there in one day.  We enjoyed much beach time, drinking in bars and sleeping. That’s about all I remember from that trip.

The memories that have really been triggered for the past month was my time working for Eckard Family Youth Alternatives in 1989.  My first career in my 20’s was working with youth. I served as a camp counselor, camp director and later the teen coordinator for the YMCA of Boulder Valley.  I always had a soft spot for kids with emotional issues or from broken homes so when a camper was getting kicked out for bad behavior, I would usually volunteer to take that kid on.  After doing this for some time and realizing that I was focused on only a few of the kids rather than the whole camp I was responsible for, I decided to go work with what was referred to at the time as ‘Juvenile Delinquents’.  I had found Eckard not long after completing my NOLS course. Though I didn’t have much counseling experience that outdoor experience came in handy and I was hired.  The main headquarters was in Clearwater Florida. This is where I went first to do my training, which included class work discussions, how to build a leanto and a river trip.  After training we got to choose where we wanted to serve. They had many camps throughout Florida, the Carolinas and Tennessee. I choose camp E- Toh-Kalu in Henderson, NC.  None of the teens had committed any terrible offenses, mostly petty theft and that sort of thing. The girls that I worked with were mostly runaways that had been sexually or physically abused. Once in the court system however, they were given the choice between Juvenile detention or Eckard’s camp so naturally many choose the camp.

It was an amazing experience. We lived in the woods in small mini-groups 2-3 counselors referred to as “chiefs” with about 12-15 teens. There were probably 6-7 small groups, making the whole camp around 100 teens or more.  In our little mini campsites we lived in leantos and the campers had various daily chores such as chopping or shaving wood, cleaning, or building something. Most meals were taken in the main mess hall except 2 day per week we planned meals to cook in our small camps. It was a pretty rigorous lifestyle especially since we worked 5 days a week 24/7. And when there were problems among the campers, we’d drop everything and go out into the woods to “work it out”. Rain or shine, day or night.  So on our only days off there was mainly only time for resting and doing laundry etc.  One of my favorite memories of that time was taking the girls on a back pack trip in Florida. I guess due to my NOLS experience that’s when my skill set really shined.  The day Uriah and I got into the Ocala National Forest, I suddenly realized I had been there before. I sent a text to my friend “Chief Laura” whom oversaw our backpack trip and she happens to be the only person I’ve stayed in touch with all these years. She confirmed that indeed we had been there and then said Juniper Springs was her favorite campsite. Amazingly we were only 7 miles from there and would be heading there the next day. Truth be known, when we got there I did not recognize being there before. One of my strongest memories of that trip was coming across a rainbow gathering along that trail. We stopped and all had a very interesting time talking to the people about what they were doing and why. I also remembered we did some site seeing on the way home after the backpacking visiting the beach and the fort at St. Augustine.

Yesterday we finally made it to Hendersonville. The Eckard camp had closed in 2009 due to budget cuts in State funding so we did not visit there. We parked at the library and I took a strole downtown. It had been 31 years and boy had it changed. My memory of downtown was just a few businesses on one main street. Now it looked like an earlier version of Boulder. Lots of cute little shops and restaurants on both sides of the main drag plus, a completely different feel!! The energy in the town in the late eighty’s was very backward such that I didn’t really feel safe. I used to drive to Ashville on my days off which felt like a safe haven to me.  Now Ashville is a huge City that Uriah did not care to stick around to see.  We only drove there to stop at Trader Joes from more chocolate bars. I guess it was a little too busy for the Sarge, so on to Hot Springs, NC and glory, leaving the memories of this wonderful time of my youth behind.


Birds of Florida

I love taking pictures of wildlife and I can’t really remember a time that I’ve encountered so many different species of birds in the US since arriving in Florida. When we first hit the Gulf Coast I started to see many gulls, shore birds, herons and pelicans. I couldn’t have ever imagined that our home base in downtown St. Petersburg was going to be a hot spot for birding. As soon as we got settled into our friend’s backyard he suggested we take Kiowa to the dog park at Crescent Lake which was about 4 blocks from his house. Naturally we did, and I was glad I brought my camera along. I was truly astounded when we got there to see the lake was inhabited by so many birds in general and such a wide variety. I was grateful that I had recently downloaded the Audubon app to help me identify the ones unfamiliar to me.  The irony is that the assignment for this months’ photo club is “birds”. I certainly have a good chance to get some good shot with so many opportunities. Since Uriah’s foot is still hurting, I had the daily job of walking Kiowa around the lake.  I honestly could not help myself and probably took anywhere from 10-40 a day! After about day 4 or 5, I had to start looking for other things to capture so I wouldn’t bore anyone following our Casita Chronicles page.  I got quite a few shots of turtles, but never did see the supposed otter that lives somewhere in the lake.  It was a bit of a challenge trying to take pictures while controlling Kiowa on his leash.  Especially because when Uriah was not with us, rather than Kiowa dragging me along on our walks like at home, I had to practically drag him around. He would stop ever 5 feet or so and look back, I guess hoping Uriah was going to catch up.

Anyways back to the birds, not only did I learn the name of many of these birds, but I also learned so much just from watching them. For example, this probably isn’t news to anyone, but I am always impressed watching herons and egrets. They are the most patient of all the birds I witnessed. They would stand still in one spot for a very long time waiting for just the right moment to catch their pray.  There were multiple sizes and varieties of herons and egrets all with a patient watchful eye.  

The Anhinga is an interesting bird that spends hours sitting with their wings spread wide drying them in the sun. Nothing seemed to deter them from this tedious task. 

There were also many species of ducks. They were often found swimming together and near the trees or hiding in larger plant growth areas.

The two strangest looking birds were the wood stork and the white Ibis.

The later seemed like a scavenger type of bird. Not only would i see them all around the lake, but I would often see them in puddles, sidewalks and lawns in the city streets or roosting in large trees.  Pelicans are so cool, I love the way they glide through the water and can make turns almost on a dime, and when they are hunting whoa look out, they dive bomb into the water with sharp precision. Crescent Lake had both American White Pelican and Brown Pelicans.

One morning when it was raining these two pelicans traveling together where both gliding with their bodies slanted at an angle, I wondered if this was some sort of tactic to stay dry.  Another thing I learned while walking in the rain was that woodpeckers came out in droves!

I hadn’t seen any all week until the rain. I even saw more than one type. I supposed the wet bark makes it easier to find food.  The Gallinule, which seem very duck like were quite loud while either mating or fighting.  Many of the waterfowl like to stand on one leg, I have no idea why. You may notice if you’ve check out my photos, that I have very few pictures of smaller birds, that’s because they don’t stay in one spot very long, they flitter about making it really hard to catch them, though I did get a few shots of blue jays. 

After we left St. Petersburg we stayed a night at Myakka River State park. That afternoon we took a bike ride that ended at a larger body of water. There I watched some egrets and herons fishing. The smaller heron was doing this interesting type of dance where it would spread it’s wings squawking while he waited back and forth.

I imagined it was some sort of strategy to trick it’s pray. It was here that I had my first sighting of a rosette spoonbill. They are really cool because they are pink, only flamingos match this color- at least in the Northern hemisphere.  There was a ruckus going on by humans so I went to check it out. Apparently a young spoonbill had gotten it’s beak tied up in fishing line. One of the park rangers’ had waded across the alligator infested river to rescue it and was successful! He said they only intervene when a problem was caused by humans. Another ward, if an animal or bird was hurt from a natural occurrence, they would let nature take its course, but today he got to be the hero and exclaimed “it was a good day at work.”

On the ride back we stopped off at a little tributary. Uriah took a phone call, so I went for a little explore in the woods and saw my first raptor in Florida. It was pretty far away so I wasn’t 100 % sure but the way it was soaring above the trees made me think it was. When I downloaded it to the computer I was happy to see that I was correct. The osprey seems to be the most common in these parts, though I’ll have to check my app to verify.

Over the course of the next few days we entered the Everglades; well technically we were in the Big Cypress National Preserve. A freshwater Swamp  Which contains a mixture of tropical and temperate plant communities dominated by a wet cypress forest. Home of  diverse wildlife, including the Endangered Florida panther, alligators, snakes, turtles and of course numerous bird species, many that I already saw in Crescent Lake but it was very cool to see them in the more wild environment. I took many more photos of course. It sure is going to be hard to choose the best 4 out of hundreds of bird photos.  In addition to many egrets, herons, ibis & spoonbills, I’ve also saw a woodpecker and the big thrill of the day was seeing a huge barred owl! 

After leaving the Everglades we headed to the east coast to visit Ed Greenberg, Max & Chris Fowler and then my cousin Josh Lerman.  Seems like we’ve now seeing more people than birds except the usual gulls and pelicans along the beach.  We did camp one evening a little inland in a county park that was home to a couple of Sand Hill cranes. They had a couple of chicks and apparently live there year round. However a few days later we saw a single one on the beach and then while driving to meet Josh this morning we saw a couple right next to the road.  Just after seeing a bald eagle!  It’s a bit tricky to capture those sightings as your driving 50+miles and hour down the road. I’m sure we’ll see even more birds before we’re through with this trip, but since I started this blog a week ago and we have good internet access for the moment, I’ll post and sign off for now.

02-13-21_The Gulf Coast and Hope

Consistently on our journey from South Dakota through Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida we saw numerous Trump signs.  Even when we hit the Gulf of Mexico this did not change until we hit the big city, landing in St. Petersburg.  However, one thing did change once we hit the coast that gave me a little hope. We began to see signs of humans that are actually concerned about the environment and in particular, the wildlife. Private citizen groups, non-profits and municipalities at every level seem to be taking measures to educate the public and make amends to some of the human destruction that we’ve caused particularly to the ocean environment.

Starting with Gulf Shores on the coast of Alabama, where the beaches are pristine white is where we began to see “No dogs on the Beach” signs, not even if they are on a leash!  Here I learned that the Alabama Dept. of Natural Resources, Marine Division have created manmade reefs called “Circalittoral Reef”.  These manmade reefs are made of concrete and limestone discs or modules that are anchored into the seabed with pilings. They encourages the renewal of close shore marine life such as sponges, barnacles, urchins, crabs and many types of fishes.  The sign encouraged people to report if they found fishing line, ropes, nets which they call “fouling” if they are unable to safely remove it.  Additionally there was a hot line number to report dead sea turtles or ones that get entrapped by the reef complex.   According to another sign at Grayton Beach, these artificial reefs modules are conducive to marine invertebrate growth as the limestone used is composed of natural ancient seabed materials.

In Keaton Beach, there was a sign on the fishing pier for the Sturgeon hotline if you caught one or found one dead. Apparently this species of fish are endangered. There was a separate hotline to report hooked sea turtles, sawfish and dolphins and gave fisherman tips how to avoid accidentally hooking these species.

Another sign in the park talked about the importance of wetlands. In the US, we are losing 2% per year of our nations’ wetlands which amounts to about 290,000 acres to agriculture, development, mining and other manmade activities.

All beaches have ropes and signs protecting the fragile sand dunes.

And in local parks we saw city ordinances prohibiting the pursuit, catching, molesting, or killing of wildlife or disturbing nests or dens. Fish were the only exception.  There was still a fair amount of trash, particularly at Crescent Lake in St. Petersburg, but even here they have a solution. Something called a “Watergoat”, a netting system that catches trash that washes in through storm drains and surrounding neighborhood streets.

Although our human habits and perpetual growth still outweigh the negative impacts to the environment and wildlife, I am glad at least to see that some people are making efforts to correct or at least decrease our impact.

1-30-21_ From Arkansas through Mississippi

We’re all settling into life on the road.  Tawnee’s still is not crazy about the car ride, often meowing while wandering around the vehicle but overall she’s managing just fine. 

We have a pretty decent mixture of walking around to check out a site, town or forest, with driving a distance. Watching out the window mostly on back roads I’ve witnessed a pretty interesting observation about the homes we’ve seen.  Huge contrasts from little shacks and motor homes to huge fancy houses and estates, and some in between. The interesting part is that they are often right next to one another. Of course the larger homes have more land surrounding them, but still the next house you might see on the same road may be a small run down one littered with old cars and trash.  Out west or in large cities these obvious wealth disparages would be separated into differing neighborhoods.  We wondered if these neighbors of vastly different means talk to one another, get along, argue or if they just let each other be.  Since we haven’t really stayed in any one place very long, we haven’t had that many conversations with locals except for some brief ones from time to time at a coffee shop or a site we’ve stopped at. 

The other main observation is the large amount of water, moisture all around.  It hasn’t rained much, but everything is always damp. There are many swamps, bogs and bayous.  I’m still trying to understand the difference between these different names and even looking it up on the internet did not make it crystal clear.

Although it has been a LOT warmer than back home, it’s still been pretty damp and chilly out.  We’ve only hit one day in the 60’s when the sun was out and it was dry and warm enough to do yoga outside, and boy did that feel good!! I’ve spent most of my down time hanging in the camper painting. 

Before we left, I signed up for my friend Lani Kai’s, ‘Creatrix Codes’ workshop. This young woman is an inspiration to me and has helped me feel safe enough to come back to a creative side that I abandoned long ago. I highly recommend her course! I’ve also been participating as much as I can in Valerie Kaur’s, ‘People’s Inauguration’ put on by Sounds True. It is a 10 day online training/exploration into Revolutionary Love.  She developed this program from her recently released book ‘See No Stranger”. I also highly recommend this work.  It is really timely and transformational. I am so grateful for both of these opportunities to deepen, rediscover and rebirth.

We haven’t seen a ton of wildlife yet, and I always enjoy this part of traveling.  We did have a red tail hawk fly in front of us a few days ago, and this morning the same thing happened with a barn owl. I wish I had a quicker reaction with the camera, but I suspect it was a more a sign from spirit than a photo opp.  That same barn owl showed up during the practice with Valerie Kaur where she led us through a guided mediation. That owl came to me as my wisdom guide and the protector of my doubt.  

We’re camping the night in the DeSoto National Forest and head to the Coast of Alabama tomorrow.  I can’t wait to see and smell the ocean!

01-26-21_The Other Hot Springs

In 2017 when I was trying to create an email address for the farmers market,  HotSpringsFarmersMarket@gmail.com, and was told that email had already been taken, is the first time I realized there was another town called Hot Springs. This one was in Arkansas.  I’d never been to Arkansas so I began to wonder about it.  Over the years I occasionally would be contacted by someone on Facebook about our farmers market only to realize they were referring to the one in Arkansas. Then this summer while soaking at Moccasin Springs I actually met a couple from Hot Springs, Arkansas. I don’t recall the entire conversation, but I think they said they liked our Hot Springs better because it was outside and the ones in Hot Springs, AR were inside in bath houses.  So when Uriah said that Hot Springs, AR was on our route, we both were curious and wanted to check it out.  I always imagined that it was a small little town like ours but it’s actually about 10time more people than our town. And the most shocking part for me was the fact that the entire town of Hot Springs Is in a National Park! How do you have a whole town in a National Park? For the details of historical reference, I’ll let you read Uriah’s blog (assuming he will write about the history per usual). From the perspective of a simple observer, lets start with the fact that their really isn’t an entrance to the National Park as you would imagine. There are signs but no official entrance. In fact, we pulled into the National Park campsite off the main highway and used an automated machine to pay for our camp site. Later on we drove into town to find the Hot Springs. We drove about 7 miles on a highway to the main downtown part of town where the “Hot Springs Row” is. That is the several blocks of large buildings that held the various indoor bathhouses to soak in the Hot Springs water.  A few are still open but some have been converted to hotels, restaurants, and the like.  Across the street from these buildings are all the smaller shops, restaurants, gift shops and everything you would expect from any tourist town. The highway between is busy with cars driving from one side of town to the other. Both sides of the streets are lined with metered parking.  All of this IS the National park!?

It was already afternoon when we headed to the only pubic bathhouse open, Quapaw. The other open bathhouse was only offering packages that included private soaks, massages and other various spa services, we opted for the less expensive version.  After going through the covid procedures of identifying ourselves, that we hadn’t had any symptoms and verified we didn’t have a fever we were okayed to enter the building and on to main desk for more identifications and making payments, determining if we had suits and appropriate footwear. Uriah didn’t have footwear but was lent a pair.  The all indoor bathhouse included 4 pools ranging in temperatures from 98 to 104, though it felt a little hotter. All the pools were generous in size and could accommodate many groups with plenty of social distancing; we were 1 of about 4 other parties in the place.  It was an enjoyable experience but no where near as nice as we’ve got it at Moccasin Springs!! Mainly due to ambiance, being outdoor rather than indoor and the little bit of freedom to be oneself.  The Moc certainly has a few rules, but this place had an employee station just there to mop the floors, hand out water and make sure everyone followed the rules. You so much get out in the wrong place and she very kindly comes over and corrects your actions.

After a few hours of soaking, we walked over for a bite to eat at the Grateful Head pizza shop. It had been a very long time since I’ve enjoyed one of my favorite foods so I went along when Uriah suggested it.  It was simple but tasty and apparently we got there just in time before close. They were closing early due to a slow night.

The next day we spent hiking the trails In the National Park.  There are many small winding and intersecting trails. We took the longest one, just over a mile and ½ to the downtown bathhouses. We enjoyed the nice hike after sitting in the car for days, the warmer weathers and even had a nice conversation with Arkansan, Charles a retired nuclear plant worker. Despite the 50 degree weather, most of the leaves have fallen just like everywhere else, except one tree in the forest, which we’ve learned is an evergreen magnolia tree. We certainly enjoyed our time here, but I would agree, there’s no place like home and this place has nothing on our little Hot Springs.

01-24-21_Settling in

I guess the birthing theme is still lingering as I awoke at 2am with this acrostic poem floating to the surface.

Breath deeply

Into new possibilities 

Resolving the past

Together we remember, grieve and heal

Holding each other accountable with love.

We camped on the border of Kansas and Missouri at a rundown roadside park, a perfect place where we’re usually left undisturbed. With the freezing temperatures now behind us, we were able to fill up with water and now completely self sufficient. We pulled in close to dark, had a quick light meal then without the distraction of the internet, gave me the perfect opportunity to work on my painting. Though I do consider myself creative, I mostly express it through cooking or rearranging my home or some other crafty projects like weaving or collaging. Its been years since I have painted with acrylics. I’m really excited that i decided to take a friends workshop “Creatrix Codes”.  So far I’m loving this reconnection with the more free creative side of myself that doesn’t always get a lot of play time.

With an extra layer of cushion, Kiowa has been staying on his bed at night, so my fears about being claustrophobic and not having room to sleep have been averted, Life is good. Even Tawnee seems to be adjusting to life on the road better be than I expected. In the morning as we prepared to leave, I went to throw something in a trash can, only to be surprised by the sight of a possum sitting looking up at me. Out of instinct I screamed but then went back to check it out. I’ve had very few if any experiences with a possum so I didn’t know what to expect. We figured it had probably gotten stuck in there for God knows how long, so naturally we tipped the barrel over so it could be free. It didn’t run or scurry as most wild creatures would. As a matter of fact, I went to get my camera to take a photo and couldn’t find it for quite some time and by the time I did he was still there! Ok here’s the part that some of you may disagree with, I couldn’t help being concerned about it’s well being, assuming that he had been weakened or in shock from being stuck in that barrel, so I put Tawnees’ wet cat food she wouldn’t eat in a little dish I found on the ground, and Uriah found it some water which we left to give it a fighting chance.

Off we went towards Hot Springs, Arkansas by way of Eureka Springs, the Gem of Arkansas. It was a cute little artsy town very much little Bisby, AZ. We had one of the best brunches I’ve ever had! However, they didn’t have any springs to soak in or camping sites so with no place really easy to park we carried on after brunch through the Ozark mountains. The curvy roads that ran up and down like a ribbon made me a little nervous with Uriahs speeds. No wonder the cat was meowing so much, even I was starting to get a little car sick after a while. We found a nice campsite before dark in the forest and seemed to be the only ones for miles around. Uriah made a campfire then we feel asleep to a nice gentle rain.

  1-22-21, Birthing a New Paradigm

January 22, 2021
We finally left Hot Springs, SD our home yesterday in the midst of the pandemic and the day after our new President and Vice President were sworn in! The word “birth”, recently came up in a woman’s group I’m a part of and it feels so perfect for these times! Despite the rampant fear and division that persists on the planet, I also feel and am experiencing a new pulse, inspiration and birth of consciousness, if you will amongst our humanity. I am so very blessed to be engaged with many progressive and spiritual communities whom are walking the path of courageous love. We can not do this alone, we can only co-create the New Earth with our collective wiliness, vulnerability and action. Just as some believe that if enough of us take the vaccine we can combat the corona-virus, I believe that if enough of us take the journey within to look at our shadow selves, the part of us buried deep within to face and accept it, collectively we can heal and move forward to birth this “New Earth”. Many cultures have some form of belief, legend or stories about this time, the Aquarian Age where collective consciousness comes together, rather than a time of individualism. It appears we are birthing this new paradigm. From the words of our oldest elected president during his inauguration speech focused on us setting aside our differences and coming together as a nation to solve our many challenges, to a poignant poem from the youngest speaker at the inauguration, that inspired us to imagine and create the kind of world we long to live in, to an invitation from another young evolutionary activist Valerie Kaur, to participate in a people’s inauguration, an opportunity for all of us to engage in this process together. I’m excited to be a part of this birthing process, by taking personal responsibility to do my part. I hope you will join me.

I don’t claim to have the answers but I have the wiliness and courage to take steps everyday. We all have our own path to follow. When we listen deeply and follow that guidance, we know we are on the right path. So that is how we set out on this journey well into winter and during a pandemic. There we’re plenty of reasons to stay home such as staying in the comfort of our little cocoon, to concerns about what others would think about us traveling during a pandemic, fears of claustrophobia of traveling in our little 17 ft. Casita with a large dog and semi wild cat, and finally guilt about having the luxury to take such a trip while others are just struggling for survival. My internal compass said to push through all of these doubts and fears. Like traveling through the birth canal, moving forward into the unknown, facing these feelings by acknowledging them and being curious. I know from experience a journey like this offers so many rich experiences just by being, observing, interacting with others and the natural environment along the way. These experiences always expand my perception which in turn help me to see more clearly just as Valerie Kaur asks us to practice ” See others, even strangers, as a part of ourselves we do not yet know.”

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.


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.


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.


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




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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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. 


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.


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.



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