Bay Dreams

I thought I’d only stay in California for a handful of days. Well I’ve been here a week and I’m still groovin’ heavy on some Bay Area vibes. This has been primarily due to the serendipitous  convergence of many dear friends in one glorious place. Two nights ago I sat around a table at 25th and Folsom St. with 7 of my closest buddies from university . We’ve all journeyed along our separate paths since college but from the depths of Chicago, Eugene, Portland and San Francisco we found ourselves in the same city at the same time with a fresh rack of antelope and a feast of veggies. I 100% did not partake in any antelope consumption but I was filled with ecstatic joy when I looked around at all of their faces over a bowl of curried lentils. After a sleepover and giant croissant from Tartine in the morning with the crew, I felt invigorated.

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Dinner with best buds

You see, the night prior I had consumed 3 whiskeys after 4 months without any alcohol and was plagued with a hangover from the flames of hell. I somehow managed to drag myself to a tattoo appointment where I received a very large Sri Yantra along my arm. It was an interesting experience. The tattoo is beautiful. And I got it for free. There were some issues  with the line work and the artist didn’t charge me which was very kind. But I will have to do some touch up work back in Portland after it heals. Overall, I am stoked.

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Making of the Sri Yantra

Anyways, making dinner with old friends is most beautiful hangover cure I can think of.  I will be off the sauce again for some time.

My joy has just continued to increase exponentially. Yesterday I took an epic hike in Marin’s Deer Park with a former philosophy comrade and was completely amazed by the biodiversity along the trail. White birches and twisting oaks sprinkled the blonde, grassy plains one moment and the next we’d enter a mossy emerald patch of oldgrowth redwoods.

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The rolling, Marin hills

My home base has been at Jocelyn’s and she’s been a very gracious hostess to the point of humoring my trail obsession. The other night we took a sunset hike to Grizzly Peak and it was perhaps THE MOST MAGICAL HIKE OF MY LIFE. The bay fog settled below the peak and as the sun slid down the entire sky transformed to pink mist. We found a makeshift teeter totter overlooking the hills, hung out on it for sunset and when we headed back to the Datsun, waves of cold, white fog and eucalyptus washed over the hill.

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Sunset at Grizzly Peak

The whole bay area smells sweet like the fecund, summer ocean and rosemary and bay leaves and cedar. I’m mesmerized.

Full disclosure, Oakland has a pretty distinct, unpleasant smell but Oakland’s cool, whatever.

My level of enjoyment is so heavy and so right. Tomorrow I head to the sea for the afternoon. Monday I’ve picked up an odd job in the city and will meet Grace, a soul mate since high school, for dinner.

Thus, I’m not really sure when I will leave the Bay. For now I’m just going to keep vibing. More updates soon-ish.

Mil Besos,

Elissa

P.S. I got a new tarot deck. Herbal remedies divined through tarot coming soon.

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The Herbal Tarot

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Updates: Condensed Version

I’ve made a discovery. The more time I spend hiking, the less I want to write. Or perhaps I just have less content to unpack. I can only say so much about the beauty of a wave folding into the shore or the stillness of a fern. It definitely exists but is honestly better seen than read and I wish that I could share it with you. Really. Hiking alone is incredibly meditative but at this point in my journey I’m welcoming companions. This longing for company is well-timed since I arrived in Oakland 2 nights ago and have spent a fantastic chunk of my stay with Jocelyn, one of my dearest. We’ve read tarot, burned juniper, picnicked at the park and snuggled her kitten Boris.

Upon arrival, I immediately took a trip to Eli’s Mile High Club, my favorite Oakland punk bar where Jocelyn recently got a tattoo. When I heard news that they had a  ink operation upstairs I had to go. More on that later.

Anyways, this afternoon I am headed back to Oakland from Point Reyes. The sea is very gentle in Point Reyes and I slept peacefully there, woke up, took a 5-mile loop along the coast, meditated on a sand dune and ate a tailgate lunch in the sun.

Now I am stopped in Marin for a coffee and, after a few frantic messages from my mother, figured that I’m overdue for an update.

I am alive. I am in the Bay Area and will be here for another week. Here are some highlights from the past week:

– I got in to my car in Bend and realized my brother had washed and waxed my truck, filled its tires with air and its tank with gas.  He didn’t even mention it. That’s a humble dude.

– Tomato, pepper soup expertly prepared by Andrew, an old friend from high school. I hadn’t talked to him in years and was lucky enough to stop by his Klamath Falls home for an excellent dinner and late-night campfire session. I met his wife, brand-new baby Katie and ate a chocolate croissant at Green Blade Bakery per his recommendation at sunrise. All of this was very beautiful to me.

– A gang of old motorcyclists in Crater Lake who really dug my Datsun. Also, the pure joy of eating an orange on a cliff overlooking the blue, blue Crater Lake.

– A moonlit walk along The Coastal Trail at Point Reyes. I was alone and could hear the rustle of elk in the trees, snakes in grass and the shrill song of crickets everywhere. The moon was just full enough to light the path and, in the absence of clear eyesight, I could hear the subtle melodies of the forest.

– Pulling up to Jocelyn’s Victorian after an 8 hour commute along 101-S. I am happy I got to see the Northern California coast… a pack of elk, the golden hills, majestic cedars: it was all beautiful. But I confess, I was elated to find civilization and a hot shower.  Jocelyn’s greeting me in a velour track suit and UGG boots was the icing on the cake. It really sent the message: treat yo’ self and I did. I showered, feasted, and slept in a super comfy, clean bed. Home is where the friends are.

– This cup of coffee in front of me. I am at an art-nouveau inspired place in Marin called the Coffee Roastery and to the naked eye, it looks like your standard rich-hippie hangout. However, the Fairfax Coffee they serve is the best cup I’ve tasted on my journey so far. True, the majority of my coffee has been poured at gas stations but this roast is smoky, rich and provides a much-needed surge of life-blood for the remainder of my journey in to the city.

Here are a few travel photos:

Crater Lake

Crater Lake

Orange & Coffee overlooking Crater Lake

Orange & Coffee overlooking Crater Lake

 

Riley in Deschutes National Forest

Riley in Deschutes National Forest

The Moon over Hwy 101 S

The Moon over Hwy 101 S

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Succulents at Point Reyes Seashore

Tonight Jocelyn and I head to the purportedly haunted Burlington Hotel in Port Costa to hang at their dive bar and see what we can conjure.  More updates soon.

Love Infinity,

E.D.

What Not to Do

In my pursuit of holistic health I become very excited about sharing positive discoveries made along the way: drink dandelion tea to boost potassium! Try some hip-opening Vinyasa pre-run! Add some cayenne to your water bottle for a happy liver!

However,  I also sometimes often learn important lessons about what NOT to do. While I usually regard my enthusiasm as an ally, it can get me in to some uncomfortable situations. Literally. Perhaps this has more to do with impatience. Either way, I try to view these as opportunities for entries on an ever-growing list of What Not to Dos. I suppose this is in the same vein as my frequent mantra “laugh so you don’t cry”.

I’ve had few lessons of the What Not to Do variety over the past few days. For example: 

Do not take a 10-mile ride on a bike with clip in pedals when you do not have the clip in shoes. It will hurt your feet. Do not attempt to ride aforementioned bike with zero knowledge about how its gears work. This could result in wipeouts due to insane ratio imbalances. Do not ride this bike in an unfamiliar city with no phone or map. Do not ride this bike uphill in the Eastern Oregon desert in the hottest hour of the hottest month of the year. And perhaps this is the most poignant What Not to Do lesson that I learned in this situation: absolutely do not wear denim cutoffs on a sweaty, 10 mile ride. These shorts? 

 

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 Good.

On the other hand; tiny, denim cutoffs will result in hamburger meat for inner thighs. While I have lived in the 3 pairs of workout shorts that I packed, free laundry facilities beckoned me. Next time I’ll just be riding dirty.

How does this relate to my health? Well by the day’s end, I was feeling pretty alienated. My mind was frustrated, my body was sore. I was in a bad place. I decided to drink some tea and take a soak. Sometimes, I put post-steeped peppermint tea bags on my tired lids. I did this but forgot I had also added cayenne pepper to the tea while it steeped. Thus, my next lesson in what not to do: Do not put cayenne soaked tea bags on your eyes. It will burn. And it will turn the flesh around your eyes bright red for the following 3 hours. “Laugh so you don’t cry” I said to my puffy-eyed reflection in the mirror. 

So, perhaps these experiences will save a reader from blistery thighs and eyelids. However, in retrospect these lessons seem like common sense. I guess my lesson here is to personally re-define enthusiasm, make it less stubborn and impulsive and more about sustainably feeling good. Patience. 

One more lesson: Do not become overzealous about inversions in yoga. I fell out of a headstand 3 nights ago and wrecked my neck for a few days. I’d recommend some guidance from a more experienced practitioner. And patience. 

Patience. Laugh so you don’t cry. Patience. 

This is my mantra for the week.

Tomorrow holds a hike and canoe trip with my brother, some sage harvesting and lots of Gentle Hatha. I will save inversions for next week. 

In Restful Spirit, 

E.D. 

This Was Good.

ImageI wrote this passage down on my first evening at Breitenbush. I had inadvertently picked up a copy of The Tibetan Book of the Dead a few days prior and, as I sat in the meadow by camp and watched the silhouette of cedar trees at dusk, I opened to this sentence. It pretty accurately set the context for the following days.

I won’t attempt to unpack any spiritual investigations right now. It would be difficult for me to articulate and likely very dull for you. I will say that my stay at Breitenbush was magical and that this magic is potently expressed in the surroundings: the quiet pools of steaming, mountain water; the quiet magnitude of Doug Firs, Hemlocks and Cedars towering in every direction; the lodge’s quiet, warm glow. I guess what I’m trying to say is, it was very quiet. Trees may not speak but man do they have spirit.

Initially I thought that I would be quiet as well and I was, relatively, but my vow of silence was promptly broken at community meal times and in the soaking pools. In general, my mind slowed, my movements slowed (Qi Gong taught me a few slightly painful lessons in stillness) but this reverence for my surroundings invited some really wonderful exchanges with like-minded campers.

There were too many to list at length…Rowan, a joyful 12-year-old, Reiki healer; Will a gentle, elderly artist investigating intuitive empathy…everyone was a blessing.

My first day there I took an epic, solo hike around the Emerald Loop Trail and attempted to capture a few moments where I felt particularly overcome with forest bliss.

Floating Web

Big trees.

Big trees.

A modest channel of Breitenbush River

A modest channel of Breitenbush River

 

However, after the hike a powerful wave of exhaustion hit me and settled in for the duration of my visit. Marta clarified, “of course you’re exhausted, you’ve been working 3 jobs for the past year at 100 percent”.  I suppose that my body recognized an opportunity to chill out and wholeheartedly grabbed it. I napped every day I was there: on a couch, in the library, legs half sprawled out the back of my truck, in a meadow, ANYWHERE I could have a moment’s peace. All of my over-exertion finally caught up and this was good. In the intervals between sleep I felt a great sensation of joy and relief.

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

Of course, I was also very active, just in an intentional manner. I practiced yoga every day, often multiple times, tried Qi Gong and EDGU, rejuvenated daily in the hot springs, drank about 100 gallons of peppermint and rooibos tea, and read as if I had just discovered written word.

There were a few obstacles: hungry late-season mosquitos and a nasty case of sausage -finger following a wasp bite. But you know, whatever, becoming one with nature.

Overall, I found a staggering amount of peace in the past 3 days and accept it as a wonderfully-timed gift for my journey’s beginning. Now I’ve put my clothes back on both literally and metaphorically and will attempt to ride this chill wave through my next week in Bend. So far? It’s been all  babies, bike rides, cool rivers and good food with family so I’d say it’s working out well.

Thanks to Marta King for the visit and deep forest/soul explorations.

With Heaps of Magnanimous Joy,

E.D.

On the eve of my departure…

…I am debating whether to bake banana bread or not. Last night I made banana flax bread with molasses but I couldn’t find the cinnamon and it’s bland. Laundry is still in the dryer, my poor retinas are going to shrivel on the sun drenched drive because I’ve lost my sunglasses whilst moving and I still haven’t checked my oil. Al fin, no me importa.

Tomorrow I will head to Breitenbush and put some faith in the strange bliss of the universe working itself out.

What I do have prepared are a sleeping bag, , some primitive cookware, a backpack full of clothes and a hell of a lot of books.

On my birthday eve, I illustrated a recent meditation. It’s what I’ve been projecting for this journey and the coming year’s journey. And the many, many journey after that. So it is what I will leave you with before I go:

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A few more hours of procrastination +  a few minutes of packing and I will be on the road. I think I will skip the banana bread.

Please note however: no internet or cell phone coverage exists at Breitenbush so I will be out of touch for 4 days. I say NO WORRIES, just skinny dips and yoga for days. But if you can’t reach me, that is why.

See you on the flip side.

xo,

E.D.

Ode to My Pickup

Last fall as I awkwardly boarded the bus with 2 heaping bags of vintage, a backpack full of electronics and books and a bag of groceries slung over my arm, I had an epiphany: my lifestyle demanded a vehicle. 

I’ve always respected bag ladies but as I slowly began to become one, I realized I just wasn’t cut from the bag lady cloth. 

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Day 1 of my Datsun love affair.

So I found my magical pickup and while I didn’t know how to navigate a stick shift upon purchase, I quickly learned in the throes of Portland rush hour. I’ve come a long way from stalling mid-intersection on W Burnside or hydroplaning over the Hawthorne Bridge. I’ve camped in the back, stuffed it full of bikes, vintage, people and fishing gear and I have one final journey left. 

I look forward to many long, bumpy day rides and shag-carpeted nights with the ol’ Datsun this month. 

Here’s a basic route map:

 

I love Google Maps.

On monday, I leave for 4 days of yoga, meditation and, hot springs and hikes at Breitenbush. More on that soon. 

<3, 

E.D.