Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Boxes & Boundaries

Boxes and boundaries. We've all got 'em.

Our boxes contain our current capabilities, comfort zones, thoughts, and beliefs. As it is often just outside of our boxes that we grow physically, mentally, and spiritually, we are encouraged to "think outside of the box," "push beyond our comfort zones," or as my yoga teacher says, "play the edge."

Our boundaries, on the other hand, are limits we set for ourselves. They are established as a means of self-protection and should be reverently respected.

Boxes & boundaries.

I've spent a lot of my time focusing on my boxes -- growing them, and, in turn, growing me. It's only in the last few years I've turned my attention towards my boundaries.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Bathing in the Forest

How is your Japanese? Mine is pretty lousy. I only know two terms:

yama gāru (山ガール)
shinrin-yoku (森林浴)

The first term translates to "mountain girl." It refers to a trend in Japan in which it is fashionable for young women to dress in functional and colorful outdoorsy clothing. I was told I looked like a yama gāru when I traveled to Japan for work a few years back. I was sporting my I-work-for-a-Seattle-tech-company "uniform" -- jeans, trail shoes, a merino wool sweater, and my bright red Gore-Tex jacket. I was flattered; for the first time in my life, I was fashionable.

The second term describes something I love to do: "take a forest bath." This isn't the strip-down-to-your-bare-skin-and-bathe-in-a-forest-stream kind of bath. No siree. This term refers to the medicinal qualities of being amongst trees.

I love bathing in forests.
(Photo: Ferit Fındık)

As an avid reader, I'm often surprised how certain books seem to magically appear in my life at just the right times. For the last little while, I had been grappling with the take-aways from my Baja trip: I didn't enjoy being in the desert landscape, and I didn't enjoy mountain biking. But I like nature, and I like biking. So what gives?

Sunday, April 23, 2017

On Quitting Versus Adjusting Sails

I was called a quitter for bowing out early on my Baja trip. (As you may recall, from Reflections on My Baja Trip, I left Baja a month early, after having pedaled only 600 of the route's 1700 miles.) I felt ashamed for quitting, for not sticking with the ride. After all, I had invested quite a bit of time and energy planning the trip. Plus, I had spent a good chunk of change outfitting myself with the appropriate bike and gear. Fortunately, the feelings of guilt lasted only a few short seconds.

I hadn't quit; I had adjusted my sails.

Sailing with Jake on Bonne Vie in March 2014.

The word "quitting" carries with it a deeply negative connotation. A quitter gives up easily because he or she doesn't have the strength, courage, or determination to keep pushing on and seeing a task through to completion.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A Sailing Trip to Catalina Island

Having returned to The States a month early from the Baja trip, El Mecánico and I spent the next few weeks slowly meandering our way back home. After all, there was no reason to rush back to the cold and wet winter in the Pacific Northwest.

For two years, I had been trying to arrange a sailing trip with a friend who lives in Los Angeles. As we'd be passing through LA, this was the perfect opportunity to make the trip happen. We decided to take a five-day sailing trip to Catalina Island. We ended up having such a grand time that we extended our trip from five days to nine.

Sailing to Catalina, with Salem on my lap.
(Photo: Jake Brownson)

First up...the island.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Reflections on My Baja Trip

As was alluded to in my last post, Biking the Baja Divide: A Photo Journal, my trip to Baja was less-than-inspiring. In fact, it was so lackluster that I returned to The States a month earlier than expected, having only biked 600 of the route's 1700 miles. As is the case for all my travels, the venture resulted in significant reflections and a handful of lessons learned.

I Prefer Certain Types of Nature 


Walking the beach at Los Frailes.
(Photo: El Mecánico)

The principal reason I travel is to immerse myself in nature. I love being in temperate forests -- majestic trees, babbling creeks, the sounds of forest life. I love being near alpine lakes -- shimmery aquamarine waters and craggy snow-capped peaks. I love being on the shorelines of The Sound -- the rich orange bark of madrona perched high atop the tides.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Biking the Baja Divide: A Photo Journal

At the end of January, I traveled to Mexico to bike the new Baja Divide route. This a photo journal of my trip.

Part I: Biking from Tecate to San Quintin with Ronaldo


I rode the first ~270 miles from Tecate to San Quintin with Ronaldo. We covered this section in just over a week. 

Due to recent heavy rains, the desert in the north was unusually lush.
(Photo: Ron Norton)

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Meet Duke Muir

Meet my new bicycle, Duke Muir.

Me & Duke Muir.

The story of how Duke Muir came to be is a fusion of three separate stories: Vowing to Get the Hell Out of Dodge, Applying for Lael's Scholarship, and Choosing the Hayduke.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Housesitting on Salt Spring Island

For thirty two days in December and January, I lived in a magical place. A place where arbutus and Garry oaks hold a steadfast stance on salty shores. A place where thick mossy rugs are like opium on hilltops, coaxing you to sit down for just a moment -- no, rather lie down for an entire afternoon snooze. A place where cormorants gather by the dozens to roost in treetops, noisily chattering as the sun sets. A place where time is measured only by the ferries that enter and leave the harbours.

An eagle eye's view of the magical place, looking north from Reginald Hill.
The Fulford-Burgoyne Valley, straight ahead, is nestled between
Mt Bruce (2,326 ft / 709 m) and Mt Maxwell (1,946 ft / 593 m).
If I were to turn towards the south, I would see the San Juan Islands.

If I were to turn so that the water was at my back,
I would see this soft, sunny spot,
begging for a picnic or a nose to be buried in a book. 

This magical place is Salt Spring Island. One of the southern Gulf Islands, Salt Spring is located in the Strait of Georgia, snuggled between mainland British Columbia and Vancouver Island. The Gulf Islands are close relatives to Washington state's San Juan Islands. They are separated only by an international border and distinguished by citizens who look the same but end their sentences with "eh." With 10,000 year-round residents, many of them "artist-types," Salt Spring is the most populous of the Gulf Islands. But it certainly doesn't feel that way; nature and solitude are abundant.