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

2013-08-19 10.13.11

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.

Advertisements

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? 

 

Image

 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:

Image

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. 

Image

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. 

Plans Change.

Occasionally, I suffer from a condition I call the Invincibility Complex. I read too much John Krakauer, drink too much coffee, start attending real estate showings,  apply to law school, decide to become a yoga instructor, convert to raw veganism,   accept 2 new jewelry orders,  plan a trip to Costa Rica, accept a job in Spain.  I refuse to slow down. Then something monumental and completely outside of my control occurs and I’m quickly snapped back to the present. This is simultaneously scary and humbling. It reminds me that the plans I have so frantically constructed for my life are vastly different from how life actually works out.  And I have to let go.

Such is the case this week with my plans for Costa Rica. 2 days ago I had every intention of spending August immersed in tropical rainforest and scaling mountains. Then I called Brian and the grief was audible in his voice. He’d lost a loved one. They had to close the hostel and were coming back to the US before I even arrived in Central America. Across thousands of miles and a shaky Skype connection I felt deeply for him and my plans suddenly did not seem so grand.

For a fleeting moment, I tried to be stubborn. I’ll arrive in San Jose, find a hostel, and figure it out from there, I thought. I looked up beach hostels and yoga retreats but with 2 days until departure and poco dinero in my pocket I realized: I could push as hard as I wanted against the circumstances but this simply was not the right time.

The trip was sparked by a desire to check out a friend’s project. With that off the table, arriving untethered and without contacts in San Jose seemed less Jack Kerouac and more, well, foolish.

So with a heavy heart, I picked up the phone and transferred my flight to a voucher. The airline representatives were very kind and as I sorted the cancellation details out, my heavy heart began to lift along with the burden of trying to figure everything out on my own.

In the end, I am not going to Costa Rica. However, just as the universe erects obstacles, it also clears them away. I’ve spent most of the past month winding up my life in Portland and while August will not be spent how I had initially hoped, I now have the freedom to visit friends, family and landmarks along the West Coast as a final goodbye before Spain.

After talking with Brian and the loss of my own friend this summer, this seems like a really good idea.

I will climb in my Datsun and take a leisurely 3.5 week journey to Yosemite, stopping at Breitenbush, Bend, Crater Lake, the Redwood Forest and San Francisco, camping in my pickup and staying with friends along the way.

Here’s my mantra, taken from a Gary Snyder’s Kisiabaton: 

“Beat-up datsun idling in the road
shreds of fog
almost-vertical hillsides drop away
huge stumps fading into mist
soft warm rain”

I’m going to try to keep it simple. If I’ve learned anything this week it’s that my prescriptive plans are always subject to change. I’ve been brutally reminded to slow down, wayyyyy down and that as much as I try to make the universe conform to MY time, it does not work that way. Honestly, I think that humans’ power does not lie in our ability to control, but instead with our resiliency, our ability to let go and remain vulnerable in the face of change.

This will be in my thoughts, along with Brian and the beautiful friends I look forward to seeing as I drive through the rolling West Coast landscape.

More updates to come.

In Ever Loving Spirit,

E.D.

Redwood Forest

Redwood Forest