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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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January 8, 2015_Casita Chronicles Hawaii Adventure

Though disappointing that Randy didn’t get elected, it wasn’t a complete loss. This means that we aren’t locked into living in Colorado for the next four years. Nor, is Randy tied into using his birth name, so from here on out I will refer to him as Uriah. Uriah has been to all 49 States in the union except Hawaii, hence why we’ve come here for our winter retreat. Through some mutual friends we met Eric Shapiro whom has a property in Kauai where he often has people come and work in exchange for a place to live. So this will be our home base for the next few months. We spent the entire day flying on three different planes to eventually make it to Kauai. Fortunately all flights and transfers went smoothly. Additionally we were met at the airport by Sherry, the manager of Eric’s property to take us to our new home and settle us in. She mentioned on the car ride home that she had to leave early to drop off Gregory, another resident on the compound (which I will now call Eric’s property from here forth) whom will be hiking the Napali Coast Trail. This famous trail is on the north shore of Kauai and one of the top hiking spots on the island. Sherry had planned to drop Gregory off and hike the first two miles with him for support. We were invited to join along which made the O’s very happy!

Late night arrival at the compound made getting a real sense of the place difficult in the dark. Despite the recent full moon, it was still challenging to make out the lay of the land. However, the O’s were too tired to care and were deeply grateful for a bed with clean sheets to slip into in our new tent home. In the morning, we decided to take our coffee mediation in the Lanai (community kitchen and socializing area) instead of our usual location, the bed. We packed some snacks and headed the hour drive north through Anahola, Kilauea, Princeville and a quick stop in Hanalei, the last town to get provisions before getting to our destination. True to what we’ve been told, there is a lot of traffic on the island! As there is only one main road that circles around the island everyone uses it, thus there are a lot of cars. The parking lot was already full when we arrived so we dropped of Gregory and his 40 pd pack and went to the back up parking lot. In a short little hike we met back up with Gregory, had a quick ritual blessing for his journey and started on our way. The trail is a well marked and a fairly easy climb up a rocky and somewhat muddy slope. It’s not long up in elevation until you can see the sea below. The sea is very wild and rough with huge waves slamming down. And the overcast day which is appreciated during the hike eventually burns off to a beautiful blue sky 70 degree perfect whether day. We took the opportunity on the 2 mile hike to the Hanakapi’ai beach to talk and get to know our new compadres. After the little bit of trepidation I felt before we left Colorado, It is such a blessing to have had this wonderful opportunity the first full day on the island. It gave me such a deep sense of peace and happiness about this new experience. Additionally, having other adults in a community setting also feels like a blessing. In a situation which would often cause me stress, Uriah wanting to take off on his own and leave me behind, was easier to swallow having Sherry to hang back with. Even though we didn’t hang out together during the hour wait for him to run up the waterfall and back, I was still comforted to know that she was around and had the keys. And if he didn’t return I would at least have someone to help me deal with any surprises. It gave me the feeling that this trip would be different from other trips.

Our second day on the Island was also very nice even though we didn’t take any great adventures. After coffee meditation, we started some lists of projects to work on at the compound. As well as making a list of groceries and other provisions we would need. Since we don’t yet have a car, Sherry offered to take us into town to get some things. First however she showed me around the property to orient me to the gardens and numerous fruit trees. There are so many varieties of things, I’m not sure I’ll remember all the names. As we walked around we did gather some fruits & nuts that had recently fallen from the trees. I’m so excited to learn more about these interesting fruits and will share more about them on another blog so stay tuned. wthe gardens and numerous fruit trees. There are so many varieties of things, I’m not sure I’ll remember all the names. As we walked around we did gather some fruits & nuts that had recently fallen from the trees. I’m so excited to learn more about these interesting fruits and will share more about them on another blog so stay tuned.

2.2.2013_Another Wild Adventure with Uriah Ouroboros

What drives some people to continual quest for places rarely gone and others content to just read about it from the comfort of our own homes? I am somewhere in between, I love a good exploration to a new place, especially in nature but rarely would venture out beyond a nice 5 mile day hike, well prepared to boot. I have married two men in my life, both the type that feel the need to look to see what is beyond the next bend. It terrifies me at times, but I am realizing that I must really like to be pushed to my edge.

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Our next adventure takes us 50 miles deep back into the desert. Driving down rough dirt roads that sometimes turn to deep loose sand, that are virtually unmarked and weave everywhere. We don’t have any specific directions for this hot spring. Uriah found it on the map and has been studying it daily for about a week to get a good sense of how to get there. Funny how sometimes difficulties turn out to be blessings. When our truck broke down in Nevada on the loneliest highway, we met a man that had a place on the Baja and he gave Uriah his map. It is a little old, but has all the topographical features and turns out to be a godsend for our adventuring. Over the past week Uriah asks numerous people about the hot spring. None have actually gone there, but many have heard of it and confirmed that it does exist. All this, makes it even more attractive to the High Plains Drifter, aka Last Free Man in America, we will have to find them now!

I had a feeling this would be a long journey and suggested we get an early start. We didn’t leave San Felipe till about 11:30am with just a picnic lunch, water and our sleeping bags incase we had to spend the night out. We told our neighbors not to come looking for us unless we didn’t come back in two days. The first part of the adventure, the 50-mile drive wasn’t too bad. Other than a little difficulty finding the first turn off at the Eldorado Ranch which was now just a huge gringo subdivision, the rest of the unmarked turns did seem to follow the features we could see on the map. A bit slow going at times, but our truck did great in the sand. It wasn’t until the last turn off when we knew we were close that we just weren’t seeing any good signs which way to go. Believe it or not, there actually were a group of homes back there, mostly abandoned but we did see a few inhabited ones. The first place The Lopez’s, when we drove by and waved, did not give us a wave back, so when we backtracked passed we didn’t feel comfortable asking for directions. After a few more dead end roads and it getting late afternoon, we realized we were going to have to find someone to ask. Fortunately there were some men working on some new home sites. It was truly remarkable to us that anyone in his or her right mind would be building homes so far back from civilization. Uriah got out to ask if they knew about the hot spring. The patron, Antonio did know about the hot spring and directed us back to the road I had pointed out about 10 minutes earlier. (the second time by the way I had a hunch about where to turn, but my husband ignored me.) Antonio is building an RV park and will have that 50+ miles of road grated. Uriah and I could not believe someone would go to these lengths to try to make money, but apparently ecotourism is big and he is hopeful about his endeavor. So back down the road we head, a little farther. The last 2.5 miles we had to put Verde in 4-wheel drive. It was very rough going and at one point, it looked like the road could collapse on one of the sides. We make it as far as a dry riverbed and cannot venture further in the truck.

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We park here and pack up our daypack for the rest of the hike in. It is now 3pm, with only 3 hours of light left. We have no idea how far we have to go as we were told anywhere from ½ mile to 2 miles. The hike and canyon itself were beautiful and not too difficult terrain. There was a road that continued on, we followed it across the river several times which did have water in it by the way. We were told and assumed the hot spring would be at the end of the road. We hiked for over an hour when the road did eventually stop at a partially built but abandoned home, so we guessed that we had come two miles.

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The brick walls were very nice and again we felt amazed that someone had made the effort to haul all these building supplies all the way back in there but didn’t finish there project, why? Questions we will likely never understand. Anyways we are at the end of the road with no hot spring in sight and now it is 4pm. We continue on with not much of a trail but follow what looks like someone had been through. We have to wade through thickets of trees like tamarack. Luckily they aren’t too pokey, but now you know whom comes enters my consciousness, my old pal, Fear. I start thinking that it will likely get dark before we get back and neither of us brought a flashlight. Although it is Imbolc and a half moon, I’ve noticed the moon doesn’t rise for several hours after dark so I am not comforted. I know my husband will not be satisfied till he finds the hotspring, so I have no idea how long we will have to continue to keep going. I try to talk with my fear and ask myself what is it that I am afraid of. Was I afraid to die? No, I really don’t think I would die if we didn’t get back to the car before dark. I guess I was afraid that if it got dark, Uriah would still want to try to find his way back to the car and we would get lost. Or afraid that I would have to spend the night sleeping outside without a sleeping bag which may be uncomfortable. In the long run, none of these seem life threatening, but still I cannot help this inner feeling of distress. I try to keep my feelings inward for others fears, such as being called a complainer or pantywaist, but I cannot help myself to at least point out that if we didn’t head back soon, it would be dark before we safely reach the car. Uriah assures me it can’t be far and that we have plenty of time to get back before dark. I think he must be deluded by his overwhelming desire to reach his goal. Or as I more accurately believed that he was not planning on turning around and admitting that he couldn’t find the place. We had come a long way to just turn around and I already decided I would survive the experience even if it would be unpleasant, so I follow along and keep my mouth shut. Amazingly, we soon did come across the 2×4 foot hole in the ground, the so called illustrious hot spring. Uriah elated, takes his clothes off climbs into his little hot hole in the ground.  I, trying to release my fears and frustrations go sit in the grass and listen to the birds and look at the beauty around me. I just didn’t feel that inspired to get in. I did enjoy the hike, but my ego had got the best of me again and there was nothing left for me to do but surrender into the moment.

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I tried to understand the question that I started the blog with, “What drives some people to continual quest for places rarely gone while others are content to just read about it from the comfort of our own homes?” As we eat our pb & j dinner, I ask Uriah the question and of course he misunderstands my genuine inquiry and feels like I am psycho analyzing him. He gets curt with me and we quickly get up and leave. The pace back is much quicker than I am comfortable with. But my desire to get back before dark is even stronger, so I push on to keep up. On our hike back I contemplate Uriah’s favorite quote from the bible “There is no Fear in Love”. I find it so interesting that on one level I am trying to spread love, yet over and over again, I am experiencing fear. Somehow this must be a part of my journey, to understand some deeper truths about these two very basic and primal opposing emotions. I also start thinking that being with Uriah is the ultimate Kriya. In Kundalini Yoga we often do postures that are very challenging to the ego, like holding your arms or legs up for several minutes, thus we push ourselves beyond what we think we can do. But ultimately when you are doing yoga, you also know that if you had to you could put your arms or legs down and rest and then try again. Or know that at the end of an hour or so, you will get to relax to the sound of the gong in Shavasana and maybe even afterward be offered some chai tea and a treat. Out here on our Wild Uriah Adventures there is no guarantee that there will be a warm and cozy finish. So far however, we have been safe and it is always warm and cozy to be with my beloved. I can’t help but think that these experiences are like sandpaper rubbing away at my ego. Polishing me up so that I one day may become like a strong and shiny diamond. Who knows, but really folks, I am enjoying the ride!

Freedom of the Road

The greatest gift of this life and especially noticeable with the freedom of the road is that it matters not the distance traveled, nor the accomplishments of the day. It is how present you are to all the precious moments in your life that makes life a true wonder and blessing. Yesterday we only traveled about 40 miles however, my presence to each moment was extraordinarily heightened and I felt so profoundly happy. From the comfort of waking in my husbands arms, to the smell of freshly brewed coffee, to the raw vulnerability of feeling and seeing my insecurities and witnessing our human nature, to the moments in between to rebound, forgive & rebuild ones center, to sharing simple words of support with a friend, to letting go a little more, to making the best of waiting in a parking lot, to enjoying the passing scenery, to visiting and learning about a lost culture, to hiking the treacherous “Rim trail” to view some ancient petroglyphs, to setting out to places unknown, to realizing that there are no real grocery stores in the middle of Utah and you need to make due with the convenient mart, to exploring a hotspring in the middle of a vast farmland, to the amazement that this free and uninhabited place held a mystery of a deep cavern that you could not even see the bottom, to moving beyond the fear of the unknown, to the pleasure of enjoying it’s warmth and quiet beauty under the moonlit starry sky and a moment later being joined by a large boyscout troop, to enjoying the comfort of a delicious and nutritious meal, and adjusting to cleaning up in our little space, to the deep appreciation of a loving massage before bed. Could life get any better than this? I think if we could hold this presence even in the most mundane parts of our day and slow down enough to realize these simple moments are really a gift, how much more could we feel, enjoy and appreciate this life.

Rajni Ouroboros, November 29, 2012