Tuesday, December 31, 2019

A Photo Journal: Flying High to Lopez Island

I like meeting new people — especially when those people broaden my horizons.

Meet my new friend, Larry. Larry literally flew me to new horizons.

Meet Larry.

Larry has an array of interests. One of those interests is piloting his Cessna 150. Larry likes to fly to places and then explore those places via land.

Suppose you were Larry. Suppose you wanted to fly your plane somewhere — let's say the San Juan Islands — to explore the isles. What might be a good way to explore once you've touched down?

Yes, you got it — a bicycle!

Monday, December 30, 2019

A Photo Journal: The Inaugural Pacific Northwest & Gulf Islands Tour

As you may recall, Don and I spent A Month Pedaling the Long Way from Montana to Washington. From Bellingham, our final destination, we would both be leading Adventure Cycling's inaugural Pacific Northwest & Gulf Islands tour.

The Pacific Northwest & Gulf Islands tour is a challenging 13-day, 595-mile route that traverses some of the most beautiful riding in the Pacific Northwest. The route includes many of my favorite places, both above and below the 49th parallel. I had waited for more than a year and a half to lead this trip. Suffice it to say that I was quite excited to get the show on the road!

This was our group of cyclists.
Front row (l to r): Greg, Barry, Cathy, me (Sarah), and Kitty.
Back row (l to r): Trina, Chris, Paul, Ron, Victor, Brielle, Don, Peter, John, and Ted.
Not pictured: Van. 

Bless the dear souls of these cyclists; these folks had no idea what they were in for when they signed up for this trip. With endless climbs, miles of hike-a-bike, and early morning ferries galore, this route is not for the faint-of-heart. Luck would have it, as there couldn't possibly have been a better combination of riders for the inaugural ride. Each and every cyclist was strong, adventurous, and impressively good-spirited.

Monday, December 16, 2019

A Photo Journal: A Month Pedaling the Long Way

When you have a whole month to get from Point A to Point B, it clearly makes sense to go the long way, especially when doubling your mileage means quadrupling the gorgeous vistas.

Me and Don, doubling our mileage to quadruple our views.

My buddy, Donald, and I staffed an Adventure Cycling trip together in Whitefish in early July. A month later, we were leading another trip together out of Bellingham. As we both share an interest in hitting the open road (albeit dirt road) on two wheels, and as we both had a month of free time between trips, we decided to cycle together from the ending point of our first trip to the starting point of our next trip -- the long way. 

This is a photo journal of the month we spent pedaling from Whitefish, Montana to Bellingham, Washington...via Jasper, Alberta.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Happy 7th Re-Birthday to Me!

Happy 7th Re-Birthday to Me! 

Seven years ago today, I fully embraced that this is it. This is the real deal. This is life. It's happening right now, and I need to fully accept responsibility for how I live that life. Seven years ago, I resolved to accept responsibility for living my own life. No longer would I trudge through the days wishing I could be someone else, doing something else, somewhere else. I was going to be that person, doing my thing, right here, right now.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Type II Fun: The Sweet Spot on Two Wheels

Not all fun is the same.

I learned this nearly ten years ago on a climb in the Cascade Mountains. I was having fun -- legitimate fun -- climbing South Early Winter Spire. It was a beautiful day, I was with a group of good friends, and although the climb was challenging, it was well within my abilities. After some time, we came to a part of the route where we needed to traverse "The Whaleback." This rocky spine entailed quite a bit of exposure, something I had not yet experienced. All of the sudden, I was no longer having fun.

Me, about to cross The Whaleback in 2010.

I didn't have time to dawdle, as there were a number of us on the climb, and we still had a long day ahead of us. And so, with little time to muster up courage, I stepped one foot in front of the other and continued to do so until I crossed the narrow spine. Despite my apprehension, I managed The Whaleback just fine. Once I passed this crux, fun returned. In fact, the fun that returned was like fun on ectasy.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

A Photo Journal: Falling in Love with Alaska - Part II

The Denali Highway

Kali Ma, The Great Protector, joined me again on this summer's ride.
She sat perched atop my handlebars and reminded me to regularly
give out a great, big, hearty lion's breath.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

A Photo Journal: Falling in Love With Alaska - Part I

It has taken me my whole life to get to Alaska. It has taken me my whole life to truly fall in love.

I felt very much in my element in Alaska,
which made me incredibly happy through-and-through.

Just a few minutes before my plane landed in Alaska, I looked outside my window and saw this: 

Triple hubba deliciousness!

It was at this moment that I fell in love.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Introducing Shirley Too & Her New Dynamo

Sometimes the best things come in cardboard boxes. And sometimes a delay in opening those cardboard boxes makes the contents even more appreciated.

There was a long wait to get my hands
on the contents of this cardboard box.

What's inside, what's inside, what's inside, you ask? Be patient, my friend! First, some backstory...

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Reflections on My Guatemala Trip

I spent two and a half months in Guatemala earlier this year. It was supposed to be three months, but for various reasons, including the fact that I wasn't enamored with the country, I came home early. Of the twenty-four countries I've visited thus far, Guatemala ranks near the very bottom. Here's what I enjoyed and didn't enjoy about my time in Guatemala.

What I Enjoyed About My Time in Guatemala

A Little Earthquake Excitement

Located on the Ring of Fire, Guatemala is prone to earthquakes. During the first week of class, we had an earthquake that hit 6.6 on the richer scale. I was impressed to see how quickly and safely the locals responded. At the same time, it was an eye-opener for me to realize just how vulnerable I would have been, as a traveler, had the earthquake been more significant. From then on, I expanded my supply of extra food and water.

Immediately after the earthquake,
my teacher's Facebook feed was bombarded with quake-related posts.

In my remaining time in Guatemala, I was hyper-sensitive to anything that resembled a quake. I awoke on March 8th at 2:50am in the morning, thinking we might be experiencing another tremor. As I lay in bed, eyes wide awake, I tried to muster up the energy to head out to the safe zone in the courtyard. Just as I sat up and swung my feet onto the floor, I heard what sounded like heavy breathing. This was no earthquake -- the "tremors" were from my neighbors upstairs enjoying a little mid-night love makin'. Geez, Louise!

Friday, May 3, 2019

A Photo Journal: My Time in Guatemala

Here are some of my favorite photos from my time in Guatemala:

The market offerings were colorful, made more so by the dilapidated.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

A Bout of B - O - R - E - D - O - M

Many have asked: So, how was your Spanish study in Guatemala?

Here is the short answer: While I bettered my Spanish a bit, I bettered my understanding of myself a whole bunch of bits.

Before providing the long answer, I would first like for you to envision a spectrum. At one of end of the spectrum is flow. Flow exists when one is completely absorbed in what they are doing. Indications of flow include a deep sense of concentration, total immersion in an experience, and loss of the sense of time.

What it Feels Like to Be in Flow.
Adaptation from the "Flow" by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi 
Pinterest Pin by Alexius Chua 

Flow is where people are the happiest. Popularized by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, flow exists when the level of skill matches the level of challenge in which that skill is utilized. As the time in flow lengthens, skill typically increases and challenge typically decreases. When this happens, we either push ourselves to stretch our skills or develop new challenges for using these skills. Being in the state of flow thus often leads to growth and discovery -- both cyclically fulfilling developments.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

El Calcetín Rojo (The Red Sock)

I've had two teachers thus far for my Spanish studies here in Guatemala -- Cintia and Mary. Cintia did not assign homework; Mary did. I would like to share my favorite homework assignment with you.

At the end of one of my Spanish sessions, Mary wrote the following on the whiteboard:

"S/he spent an hour looking for the red sock."

My homework was to develop a story from this lead. And so that is just what I did. Later that afternoon, I sat down at my desk and flipped my brain switch to Spanish-mode. My pen began to dance across the lines on the page, spilling out ink...

that formed into words...

Thursday, February 28, 2019

No More Bitter Fruit

Within a few days of arriving in Quetzaltenango, the owner of the yoga studio, Kevin, asked me if I was familiar with bitter fruit. Hmm, bitter fruit. Like grapefruit?

Nope! Kevin was referring to bananas.

I never knew bananas could be so bitter!

Kevin then handed me a bootlegged copy of Bitter Fruit: The Untold Story of the American Coup in Guatemala, by Stephen Schlesinger and Stephen Kinzer. The book was lent to me with an open return date. Books about history, war, and politics typically don't hold my interest, and so I was afraid I would be returning the book -- unread -- at the end of my three months in Guatemala.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Reflections on My Year of Self-Love

Today marks the completion of my Year of Self-Love. Today I reflect on my intention to establish positive life habits that promote the well-being and happiness of my mind, body, and soul.

"Roots hold me close; wings set me free."
This drawing, which I made many moons ago,
represents my embodiment of self-love.

One month before embarking on my Year of Self-Love, I had an ultrasound to monitor the physical manifestation of a disease I've had for more than fifteen years. For the first time in those fifteen years, the ultrasound revealed numerous nodules of a concerning size and questionable constitution. I was certain this disease was attributable to unhealthy coping habits I had developed early on in my life. Given the ultrasound and awareness of my coping habits, I established the motivation for my forthcoming Year of Self-Love: to create healthier habits and to heal my body.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Keeping the Tummy Happy While Traveling

This is my tummy. And these are my hands makin' a heart 'round my belly. I love my tummy, and I love when my tummy is happy -- especially when I'm traveling.

I love when my tummy is happy -- especially when I'm traveling.

A couple of folks have asked how my stomach is holding up here in Guatemala; my last trip to a developing country didn't fare so well for my tummy.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Gettin' Into My Guatemalan Groove

I spent the first few days in Guatemala slowly getting acquainted with the rhythm of things. Now that nearly two weeks have passed, I've gotten into my Guatemalan groove.

A wandering jew grows in the courtyard where I am staying.

I'm spending three months this winter in Quetzaltenango. Also known by the Maya name Xela (pronounced "shell-ah"), the city is located 7,640 feet above sea level and is surrounded by a dramatic panorama of volcanoes. With a quarter of a million people, a majority of them indigenous, the city is the second largest in Guatemala. Xela is quite possibly the ideal Guatemalan city. As Goldilocks would say, the city is not too big and not too small; it's just right.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

There's No In-Between

I try my best to walk my walk and to talk my talk. Recently I had a lapse in practicing what I preach.

I am an evangelist of Mark Manson's Law of Fuck Yes or No. The gist of the law is that if you can't enthusiastically say "Fuck Yes" to something that crosses your path, then that something should not be pursued. Though Manson's law was intended to help navigate romantic relationships, the law is apropos to all aspects of life.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

A Photo Journal: Around Dharamsala

Below are my favorite photos from my time in and around Dharamsala.

McLeod Ganj, a suburb of Dharamsala, is in the Himachal Pradesh state of India.
At 6800 ft, the hill city is surrounded by a dense coniferous forest of Deodar cedars.

Friday, January 18, 2019

A Photo Journal: In & Around Dadh

While in India, I spent a month taking an intensive yoga teacher training course (see An Unexpected Takeaway from My Yoga Course).

Tara, yoga master, surrounded by his class of new yoga instructors.
This is a powerful photo for me,
as it represents an abundance of emotions.
(Photo: Siddhi Yoga)

The course was held in Dadh, about an hour's drive outside of Dharamsala. On the few days when we didn't have classes, I explored the countryside by foot. Below are my favorite photos from in and around Dadh.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

A Photo Journal: The Dalai Lama's Temple & The Tibetans

I'm far behind on blog posts. I'm about to leave the country for three months, and I have not yet shared my favorite photos from my last overseas trip. It is time for some serious catching up! This is the first of three photo journal posts from my trip to India.

Last spring I traveled to McLeod Ganj. Situated in northern India, at the base of the Himalayan Mountains, the town is the home of the exiled Tibetan people. In McLeod Ganj, I had a Meeting with the Dalai Lama  and Volunteered with the Tibetan Refugees. Below are my favorite photos from McLeod.

The Dalai Lama's Temple

The Dalai Lama's Temple is just one facet of the much larger complex known as "Tsuglagkhang." In addition to the main temple, the complex also includes the Dalai Lama's residence, the Namgyal Gompa, the Tibetan Museum, and the heart-breaking wall displaying the photographs of those who have self-immolated over the years in protest of Tibet's freedom. Tsuglagkhang is a pilgrimage destination for Tibetans and followers of the Dalai Lama.

Around the circumference of Tsuglagkhang is a walk known as the "Kora Circuit."
I had the great pleasure of walking the Kora a number of times.
The Kora Circuit is lined with messages etched into and painted onto stones...

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Seeking Ornamental Hermit Position

I am seeking a position as an Ornamental Hermit. Please spread the word.

As a self-proclaimed loner, Anneli Rufus's Party of One: The Loners' Manifesto had me hootin', hollerin' and hallelujahin'. With every turn of the page, a smile spread across my face, punctuated by frequent belly chuckles and empathetic nods.

An entertaining, feel-good read
for anyone who considers themselves
to be a loner.

Society often views loners as losers. Psychopaths. It is true, loners prefer to be on their own. Small talk bores them. Social gatherings drain their batteries. But that does not mean that loners are pity cases or unabombers. What it means is that solitude is where loners are least alone.