A salmon story
On September 7th, 2012, my birthday, I walked across the bridge of the Gods and into Washington for the last 500 miles of my PCT thru-hike. Weathercarrot joined me for a few miles to celebrate my birthday. I crossed the bridge with heaviness in my heart. I had hiked up to then in a state of massive joy, but there were only 500 miles left, and I was not ready to see the trail end. As I was wallowing in a bit of self-pity about it, a man in a pick up truck pulled up along us and yelled “Hey, do you want some salmon?” It seemed like a trick question, but it wasn’t. The man handed us a large piece of smoked salmon through the passenger window and drove on. Happy Birthday to me.
September 29th, 2012. I finally laid eyes on the Canadian border, the end point of my 2660 mile journey across the western US. Deborah was by my side. We were dressed the same – same pants, same shirt – but nobody noticed. My pants and shirt had been lived in for 7 months straight (the trail took 4.5 months, but I also wore the pants in India before that). There was a hill a mile or so before the end of the trail. Thru-hikers will know the one of which I speak. I stopped with a resounding “no!”. That was it. I was done. I refused to walk up any more uphill. In fact, I planned on not walking anywhere, uphill or otherwise, for as long as I could get away with it. My truck was waiting for me in Bellingham, and I planned on driving one block to the nearest coffee shop if necessary. I managed the last hill thanks to Deborah, who bravely pushed me up its entire length. I was glad to stop walking, but I was sad to see the trail end. I still get sad about it sometimes.
Roaming, so it begins.
October. Bellingham didn’t feel like home anymore, so I drove down to Portland with full intent to settle there – settle! That’s funny – I was going to be a yoga teacher in Portland and be “normal”. You know, bills, commute, apartment, etc. But, instead of looking for work, I “helped” Weathercarrot house-sit a yurt (yurt-sit). I slept, ate, slept, ate, slept, ate, repeat for about a week, then I slept, ate, did some yoga, ate, slept, yoga, repeat for another week. I never worried about finding work. I assumed work would find me. Just before Weathercarrot left Portland, leaving me homeless, a random job found me. I drove south to Ashland and worked on a farm for a few weeks. I earned enough to continue traveling, but had no destination in mind. Luckily, before I had to make a decision, Megan from Bellingham called and said that one of my favorite bands was playing for Halloween. That was the sign I needed. I drove up to Bellingham, enjoyed a great Halloween show, wrote some stories at my favorite coffee shop and waited to see what happened next. I was in an experimental mode then. I felt that in deciding what to do, I impeded the Universe’s process of creation. I wanted to see what would happen if I wished for nothing, if I planned nothing. I assumed that if I left the canvas completely blank, the best path for me would naturally be revealed. I stayed in Bellingham a week in this state of eager anticipation. My life as a bum was not so graceful back then. My truck wasn’t setup as a mobile home. After a week, I found myself with nowhere to stay. Everybody was gone or busy. As a last resort, I slept in Priscilla’s van, outside her apartment. At some point in the night, I needed to pee. Sleeping in a van parked in the middle of a city felt pathetic, but peeing in the street behind a van in a city was what ultimately motivated me to get moving again. Bellingham just didn’t feel like home at that point.
November Summer vacation
November. I hesitated for a while about whether to go south or east. There might have been more work for me at the farm in Ashland, but, back in April 2012, I had jokingly told LB (Last on the Bus) that I would crash his family thanksgiving party in Minneapolis. I thought it would be hilarious to actually follow through with my threat, and since Jen’s birthday falls the day before thanksgiving, I had two reasons to head east instead of south. As I was preparing to leave on I90, Jimmy called. He was heading out of town, so I had his house in Livingston, MT to myself if I wished. I drove to Jimmy’s that day and enjoyed a full week of summer vacation in the middle of November. You know, summer vacation, sleep late, walk to the river, read a book, write a story. In the midst of all this bliss, I got the strange idea that I had progressed so much spiritually that I now understood what had gone wrong all these times with my ex-boyfriend. Worse yet, I thought I knew how to fix it. I called him. “Melissa Park,” he said – we hadn’t spoken since May – “what is the definition of insanity?” “To do the same thing over and over and expect the outcome to be different?” I answered hesitantly. “Riiight. So, why are you calling me?” I don’t remember my answer, but we talked for six hours that night, and four the night after. The spell was cast, the poison injected. Now all that was needed was time.
The Arthur house
November 20th. I arrived in Minneapolis to find that Jen had an empty room in her house, the Arthur house. I had lived in the Arthur house before and loved it. The room was not actually empty; Derik had paid partial rent and was going to move his belongings in that weekend. I was still then trying to not wish, plan or decide anything, but my impetuous side overruled those made-up constraints and, within a day of my arrival, I knew I wanted to stay. There is always laughter and sunshine in the Arthur house, and that is the kind of energy I wanted around me. I talked Derik into subletting me his room and paid Jen in full for the month. Jen’s birthday was a blast. Thanksgiving at the Gillans’ was the best thanksgiving I have in memory. Drinking whisky with LB and Quest in sparkly polka bars and cooking delicious meals with Jen and Ethan filled my heart with joy. Life was good in Minneapolis. But, meanwhile, the conversations with my ex-boyfriend continued. “If you want to be with me, then be with me” he said. I did want to be with him, but I had already paid rent for the month. I decided to not decide until a sign made my path clear.
The cat incident
Three days after thanksgiving, As I was walking by the Mississippi, I asked the Universe for a sign, out loud. I waited for a little while but nothing happened, so I added “Oh, and make it obvious. You know I don’t get subtleties”. Just then, exactly then, my phone rang. “Hi, this is the Longmont Humane Society. We have your cat.” My cat – as in my cat who ran away two years ago from my ex-husband’s house, my cat whom I had not seen in four years. There was an obvious sign alright. I knew where I was going. I told the Longmont Humane Society that I’d be right over. I left Minneapolis the next day, forgoing about three weeks of rent and a whole-lot-of-fun with Jen and drove for two days to Longmont, CO. The Humane Society was so impressed by the story of the lost and found cat and the fact that I had driven two days to get him that they had alerted the local press. It all went very fast. I was interviewed, the fees were waived, I bought a carrier and put the cat in it. The cat was pissed, but off we went anyway. I sat in the parking lot of the Humane Society and saw my life flash before my eyes. I had a cat. I couldn’t just be traveling and living in my truck anymore. I called my ex-boyfriend. I had, by then, already decided to drive to Bellingham to be with him. He said he’d take both the girl and the cat.
The first few days in December. The cat, however, never made it to Bellingham. He stayed in Denver with Ben, and had run away again less than a week after my departure. That was a short reunion. I guess he needed to roam. That cat reminds me of me. The best part of going to Denver to give the cat to Ben was that I met Laura. Laura who is now my roommate, Laura whose sofa I am currently sitting on, Laura who turned out to be the best adventure partner I could have hoped to meet … but wait, we’re not there yet. …
22 days in the rain
December 4th – December 26th. I got to Bellingham December 4th and moved in with my ex, whom I had not seen since April 16th. We lived together for exactly 22 days. It rained incessantly – this is not a lyrical expression, the rain really didn’t stop once in those 22 days. I tried to wiggle my way into the over-saturated world of Yoga teaching in Bellingham. I contacted studios, almost signed contracts, almost got to teach, but just ‘almost’. My attempts to teach yoga were met with just enough success to keep me hoping for 22 days, but not enough to keep me there when it became obvious I had to go. Despite the passion, the intensity, the hopes and dreams, it turned out I was not enlightened enough to be in that relationship. It turned out I didn’t know how to fix it. It turned out we were both miserable for 22 days. On Christmas day, I drove down to the Bay looking for a sign of what to do next. It was still raining. I had the flu. I felt awful. This time, I didn’t ask for a sign; it just came to me. The word Arizona appeared in my head, and right as I looked up, there was a double rainbow. Yep, double rainbow, all the way. I walked down to the water’s edge and tested my sign out. I put the thought back in my head that I was staying in Bellingham, the rainbows went away. I thought “Arizona”, looked up, there they were. You think I’m making this up, but I promise it is true.
Arizona the beautiful
January 4th. I left Bellingham and I meant not to return. The back of my truck was setup for an extended stay. I didn’t know where in Arizona I was going. I didn’t know anybody there and I had no job prospect. I sold some investments I had, a couple thousand dollars worth, and figured I’d live on that until I found a place to live and a job. I got to Flagstaff on January 6th feeling like an astronaut-explorer-lottery-winner. To celebrate my new free life, I dug in my suitcase for the brightest pieces of clothing I owned. I had always worn dark colors, but my wardrobe was changed for good on January 6th. I still wear bright colors today. I could see myself in Flagstaff for the long term. To make a clear break in my head, I got an AZ driver license, AZ plates for my truck, moved my storage unit to Flagstaff and opened a new bank account. I was officially completely out of Bellingham. I allowed myself time to explore my new home. I hiked, enjoyed the sun, wrote stories, and drove around the area. Although I meant to stay in Flagstaff, it was -6 F at night the first week I was there, which is pretty cold when your bedroom is a Toyota truck, so I drove down to Sedona where it is always about 10 degrees warmer. My mind was blown. I thought those red rocks were the most magnificent landscape I had ever seen. It was love at first sight.
January. Oh, January was fun and free. I met Mikhael in Flagstaff and we became instant friends, but when she offered me a room in her house until I found a place of my own, we both felt it wasn’t quite right. I was not done roaming, and those Sedona red rocks were calling me. Although I stayed with Mikhael often, I never officially lived there. Instead, I lived in the backcountry near Sedona. With endless dirt roads through the desert, I could sleep anywhere and everywhere, as long as there was a view. If I needed a bit of social time, I drove into town for the day. I found the little coffee shops, the grocery stores with the organic greens and anything else I needed there. I felt completely at home living in my truck. I woke up with a heart bursting with gratitude every day. I didn’t look for work, I felt work would find me when it was time. And it did. First, a hot air balloon landed on me and offered me a job. A few days later I followed a pink jeep back to its office and applied for a job there. As I was filling out an application, I met Mike, who worked at Pink Jeep, and eventually his wife Julie – fabulous Julie! – I now had friends in both Flagstaff and Sedona, two places to shower and do laundry when I needed. Life was sweet and easy, as good as I had ever had it.
Go find your fantasy lover
February 4th. I knew the Universe was up to something when I woke up one morning to find the “check engine” light on in my truck. My truck never had a problem before. I didn’t really think there was something wrong with it, but my intuition told me that I should take it in. My intuition was also insistent I needed to take it in in Sedona, not Flagstaff. That is how I found myself at the Java Love café that morning, just in time to witness Chris’ argument with an older man who was convinced he was an alien in a human body. I asked Chris if he made a living arguing with people about their spirituality. It turned out, he sorta did. He was about to publish a book called Unspirituality. We talked all day. As I surmised, there was nothing wrong with my truck, I was just meant to meet Chris. I had a bit of a panic moment then. You know, like the moment with the cat when I realized my perfect free-roaming life was about to change drastically. I was magnetically drawn to Chris, but he then claimed to have no interest in adventures or even hiking whatsoever. How was that ever going to work? I ran away to Utah for a canyoneering class – where I met a fun crew of canyoneers, who now live less than 40 minutes away from me – and told Chris I didn’t want to be with him because I wanted to hold out for an adventurer. “Fine then.” He said “Go find your fantasy lover.”
The Pink Jeep stint
Mid February. But, it didn’t take. The spell was cast – I blame the guitar, partially. When I drove back from Utah my truck headed straight to Chris’s house. I stayed the night. And the next one. And the one after that too. Meanwhile, I got a job with the Pink Jeep company, a dream job being a guide at the Grand Canyon. The training started promptly, so three days after officially falling in love with Chris, I had to leave for my new home in Tusayan. Tusayan – home of two gas stations, one I-max, one bowling alley, two Mexican restaurants and one pizza joint. Yikes! I didn’t last a week. After two days of training, I stopped sleeping in my paid-for hotel room and instead drove to the woods to sleep in my truck. My colleagues thought I was an oddball. That was fine with me. Chris came up to visit and told me “I’m in”. He meant, us, even if it meant long-distance, even if we seemed blatantly incompatible (though by then he had already taken to hiking. He would also later reveal himself to be quite an adventurer, but we didn’t know that yet then). We both knew it was going to be a ride given our polar opposite philosophies and lifestyles, but the pull was too delicious to ignore. Two days later, I quit the guiding position with Pink Jeep, under the flabbergasted eye of the wonderful people who had hired me as a top candidate, and drove back to Sedona. I had no plan, except to wait for another job to find me, sleep in my beloved desert and see Chris a few times a week.
Love and other disasters
The rest of February to June 12th. But, that’s not what happened. When I drove into Sedona, Chris had just gotten a job building a flagstone patio and needed some help. I needed a job, so he hired me. We did not leave each other’s sides for the next three weeks after that. We worked, lived, shopped, talked, showered, etc. together 24/7. I came from unbridled freedom; he had been single for 9 years. It’s actually a small miracle we lasted three weeks at this rate. He tried to fire me several times in order to save our relationship, but I had fallen in love with the patio as much as I had with the man, and I would not budge. We learned a lot about each other during this time, and built a fabulous patio. After the patio job was complete, we tried on a few types of relationship. 24/7 was too constrictive for our big wings, but we were too magnetic to be casual. We tried various levels of freedom withing a relationship. All in all, I think we had four or five completely different but consecutive relationships without breaking up in between. We both grew tremendously from the experience. After a few intense months, we found somewhat of a middle ground in our philosophies and lifestyles, and worked tirelessly through whatever our relationship stirred up as a team. It was a healing relationship by all sense of the term.
I want to see Mountains, Gandalf, Mountains!
June 12th. But, after 4 months in the desert, I became restless. I was homesick for mountains, green, wet. Chris’s and my incompatibilities were magnified in the lens of my restlessness. Around late march, I had started writing my book, Crazy Free. The first four parts of the book flowed out of me effortlessly as though from some deep place in my heart where they had been waiting to be released, but by part 5, I felt a little dried up. I sensed I needed to get some movement in my life again to get some movement in my writing. It was time to go. Chris understood. On June 12th, Chris and I walked hand in hand to my truck, kissed goodbye, cried and said thank you. I drove away with a heavy heart. I stayed at Mikhael’s house in Flagstaff for a few days, just long enough to sort out my storage unit and get my truck ready for the journey. By then, my truck was more than just a camping truck. It was equipped with the most comfortable mattress I’ve ever owned, a set of shelves Chris made for me, and everything I needed to live. It was (and still is) a better bedroom than many fixed-place ones I’ve had.
June. I had earned enough money working with Chris to write full time for a few months, but I knew I would be short on cash to make it all the way to my destination, Banff. On the way there, I meant to cram as many mountain ranges in one trip as I possibly could. I didn’t know at the time if I was leaving Sedona or simply traveling for a while then coming back. All I knew was that I needed to see mountains. I drove without a look through Monument Valley, Moab and all the Utah red rocks – I had seen enough red rocks, thank you very much. I did not stop until I reached the Rockies. My first dinner in the back of the truck was in a green forest of pines. Delight! I was even wearing a fleece. Heaven! I drove to Laura’s for a visit and ended up staying two weeks. I never felt like a visitor though, Laura treated me like a roommate from day one. Through her, I met David down the street. David restores historical windows for a living. That sounded fun, so I asked if I could work for him, and I could. I started the next day and for two weeks I restored historical windows. Working in a hundred degrees on top of a ladder with a heat gun made my heart sing. The physicality of the job reminded me of my beloved patio-building days, but window restoring had an added element to it, a certain fragility, elegance, permanence, I’m not actually sure what. I earned enough money working for David to carry me all the way to Bellingham. I called that part of my year “the mountain tour”
July 4th. Laura and I had so much fun living together that we were reluctant to part, so when I decided to head north to Jimmy’s house in MT, she packed up her motorcycle and came with me. Our traveling styles were a perfect match, stopping by the side of the road to sleep and taking the most scenic side roads we could find. We drove/rode along the spine of the Rockies, the Tetons, through Yellowstone and to Jimmy’s. When we got there, we took an entire day to lounge by the Yellowstone River. Unfortunately, Laura had to return to work, so the next day she rode back, covering in one day the distance we had explored in two. I felt lonely for a few hours after she left – not a feeling I’m accustomed to -, but Steve, Jimmy’s brother, promptly whisked me away on a hike. I meant to be writing my book, but figured a hike in the mountains would lubricate my creative juice. What it lubricated was my desire to hike more. The next day, Steve and I went on an even more spectacular hike in the Crazy Mountains. Montana was so beautiful. I fantasized coming back to Livingston after the mountain tour was over. I told Jimmy I might, and he said I was welcome anytime. That conversation took place on July 4th, as we were sitting on a bale of hay outside a bar downtown Livingston, drinking beers and watching cowboys and cowgirls find their way from the rodeo to the town’s bars. There was a live band playing blue-grass. It was a warm evening, perfect in all ways.
The Mountains Tour
First week of July. As if my life wasn’t crazy enough, things really accelerated from there. From Livingston, I drove up to Glacier National Park to visit Tickled Pink. Hiking in the snow in Glacier NP left me with a perma-grin for the rest of that month. A few days in Glacier and I was off to Banff. **Banff** Is that word magic to anyone else? I had met Leslie on the PCT for 5 minutes – that is all it takes to make life-long friends on the trail -, and I was eager to see her again. Both Leslie and Keith were at work when I arrived, but the house was open. I walked around and laughed. The whole house was bright and orange, the same orange I wear. I knew I’d fit well with them. Banff was spectacular from any viewpoint, but with a local as a guide, it was mind-boggling. I had to find muscles I had forgotten I had to run up behind Leslie’s long legs as she led the way from one spectacular peak top to another. I could not have dreamt a better trip. I loved Banff so much that I wished I could stay. I fantasized about coming back there too. Keith and Leslie would be out of town later this year. Maybe I could come back and live there after the mountain tour was over. I started to see a pattern. There would be no return to Sedona. I was staying in the mountains. I just didn’t know which mountains yet.
Second week of July. I took the Canadian 1 highway until my credit card was cancelled because it was maxed. I had a little money left in my bank account, but no Canadian cash, and my phone wasn’t working in Canada. I had visions of running out of money and having to hitchhike back to the states. Now that would have made an interesting story. I decided to keep it safe and drove straight down to Twisp, WA. At least, if I failed there, I could call for help. Driving through Twisp was the better route to Bellingham anyway, as it allowed me to drive through the North Cascades. As I approached Washington pass, the song “Welcome Home” by Radical Face came on my I-pod. It was right on; I was home. I cried in gratitude for all the green, the jaggedness, the beauty, the grandeur and the vibrancy of my mountains. And, it only got better from there.
Yogoman BB and other experiences
Third week of July. Oh Bellingham. I fell in love with Bellingham all over again. I ate at my favorite restaurants, saw my favorite band (Yogoman Burning band, one-time only show at Boundary Bay Brewery), climbed my favorite mountain with some of my favorite people (Baker!), and hiked in lush green forests. I was home indeed. I wondered why I had left Bellingham in the first place. It is so easy to forget what the rest of the year looks like in Bellingham when it is the middle of July. That time through, everything worked out for me, even though I initially rolled into town with $10 left in my pocket. Yogoman BB was playing that night with a $7 cover, but I decided to go anyway. Right as I got there, the girl at the entrance left for the bathroom and I was able to casually walk in. I danced until the last note of the last song and still had my $10. I had never been this broke before, so I decided to fully experience it. It’s the curious scientist in me. Sometimes, I can’t help it. The next morning, I went to the farmer’s market, bought a basil-blueberry lemonade, one samosa, one spring roll, one raisin nut bread. My last $2 I put in the hat of Strangely, a fun street performer who made me laugh with silly juggling tricks. And that was it, for the next week, I had no cash whatsoever. I had Deborah’s bicycle and cabin, and there was food in the fridge, so in the end I didn’t feel I lacked anything. I just didn’t go out or drove anywhere for a while. I met a man at the Yogoman BB show who offered me a job as a painter in his remodeling company – jobs find me! – but he seemed to “like” me a little too much. The next day, he sent me a text calling me “his beloved”. That was the end of my potential painting career. Instead, I sold a little more of my investments, and spent most of my days in Bellingham hiking and working on my book.
Stupid happy awesome perfect-for-each-other couple
Fourth week of July. On the fourth week, I rested. I hid in Ana’s apartment, walked to the Kirkland library every day and wrote my book. It felt good to be writing full time again, but my writing time was cut short by a text from Cheetah: “come do some PCT trailwork in the Oregon Sisters area with me. We’ll climb the South Sister on our day off.” It was too good of an offer to pass up. That same day, a woman offered me a job as an anti-GMO campaigner. Another job I turned down. I lingered in the Seattle area just long enough to see Priscilla and Trevor get married. This was the second time I felt lonely that year. Stupid happy awesome perfect-for-each-other couple! I left the party in the middle of the night and drove towards Bend until I was too tired to drive. I think it was around 3 am or so when I finally pulled into a rich neighborhood in a small town off the freeway and found a spot for the night. By then I was an expert in the art of finding inconspicuous places to park my bedroom. I lay awake for a while evaluating my future options. Bellingham felt like home, but I sensed it was not time yet for me to come home. I was not going back to Arizona, of that I was sure – breaking the news to Chris had its ups and downs. In truth, I had no idea where I was going, or what I was doing, or how I would afford doing whatever I was doing, which involved writing a book either as a main or side activity. I contemplated this complete unknown with heaviness instead of exhilaration for the first time since embracing an “alternative” lifestyle, two years prior. I met several people at Priscilla and Trevor’s wedding who seemed inspired to live life more fully after hearing of my adventures. I wondered if I was leading them astray.
Back on the trail
First week of August. But, all doubts about my lifestyle dissipated the next day as I set foot back into the woods. The PCT felt even more like home than Bellingham had. The trail was instant-happiness. I spent a week sleeping under the stars by beautiful Mirror Lake in the Sisters wilderness area, surrounded by like-minded outdoorsy people. All day, we shoveled, dug, carried rocks, and made the trail beautiful. I loved being part of the creation of a trail that means so much to me. I loved saving the plants from certain death in the process. I loved breathing fresh air and coming back to my bivy bag exhausted and covered in dirt every night. I just loved everything about it. On our day off, as promised, Cheetah and I climbed the South Sister. The way up was easy and expected, but we made our own way down, scaling scary sheer cliffs of crumbly rocks and frozen patches of snow. It was ridiculous and epic, and I felt more alive than I had in a long time. That afternoon and the next three days brought serious thunderstorms. On two such occasions the lightning was so close that the air above our heads was still crackling as we dropped our metal tools and ran for the woods.
Second week of August. I loved trailwork so much that as soon as we got into town, I signed up for another week with the same crew of leaders, Katy, Mike and Dan. I followed Katy home to Bend, OR and parked my bedroom/truck in the driveway of an abandoned house across the street for a few days. I had a good time in Bend. I spent my days writing at the library and hung out with Katy and Mike in the evenings. We played pool, drank beer, saw live music. I felt happy there. I was also offered a job in Bend, working at a bakery. One more I turned down. Instead, I drove north to White Salmon, on the Columbia River, to visit my friends Anne and Del, whom I hadn’t seen since I drove south to Arizona. Then, I was off to Portland to immerse myself in thru-hiker world and spend almost an entire day with Dacia. Portland is such a treat with so many friends there. I felt welcomed, loved, and even a little spoiled. After a few days in town, I followed a group of Portlanders to the PCT for a night of trail magic. And, the next day, I joined my crew for another week of delicious trailwork.
The tree whisperer
Third week of August. Just as with the first time, I felt happy the moment I set foot on the trail and for the rest of the week even though the work was more challenging emotionally than in the Sisters. Fixing the section of the trail through the Jefferson Wilderness required cutting several trees and killing too many plants for my taste. The trail took precedence. I had to adapt my worldview quickly and find ways to justify these deaths to myself. Eventually, I began speaking with the trees, and discovered that I could feel their answers energetically – yes, I know how that sounds, as I said, I’m okay with being an oddball. Some trees reassured me that they did not mind the sacrifice, but others, especially the young ones, didn’t want to die. Those are the ones I concentrated on saving, mostly successfully. I had never conversed with trees this deliberately before. I felt I learned a lot that week. The rest of trailwork was a dream. I slept under the stars right at the foot of majestic Mt. Jefferson, enjoyed good company, swam in the lake and relished the physicality of the work. By the end of the week I was determined to pursue trailwork for a living. I still have this idea in mind. The application process starts in February of next year, so, I’ll see where I am by then, but I feel this could be a good career move for me.
A shower (hey, don’t knock it)
Last week of August (home stretch). Oh man, as if this post wasn’t long enough, that last part of my 42nd year was actually the most eventful of the whole year. I had a three-hour turnaround time between getting off the PCT and heading on the next adventure, Burning Man. Thanks to Katy, in these three hours I was able to shower, do laundry and get a good meal. Yay for trail angels! I met Margaret along I5. After a stop in Oregon to visit Frieda and pick-up a playa-worthy bicycle, Margaret and I (M&M is our collective playa name) made our way together to Reno. We got lost, found, lost again, found again, waited in line for a few hours and finally we were “home”. Home on the playa.
One week, out of linear time. Burning Man. So many stories. I met unbelievable people, laughed inhibitedly, got completely covered in dust, joined the golden parade, found old friends, climbed and played on grandiose art structures, did some acro-yoga, missed the naked yoga class, took workshops (the human energy field, enhanced manifestation, sacred masculine- sacred feminine, developing one’s inner erotic self, etc), met a man (a handsome, fascinating, complex man), almost fell in love, stayed up all night for his birthday, enjoyed snuggles and kisses, rollerbladed, danced at one, two, three, … seven parties, was moved to joy by one live singer, was moved to tears by another, had my chakras realigned, went through a couple of spiritual epiphanies, took a shower (yay), discovered it’s a bad idea to follow the water truck to cool off (it’s sewage water – ewwu), rode in a Star Trek vehicle, danced under the watchful eye of a 55-foot tall metal hot chick, ordered several hugs at the hugs deli, took naps in hammocks under a sputnik replica, found inner-peace in the temple, spent a few hours comforting grieving people with quiet hugs (and found I gained much more than I thought I gave), celebrated the burning of the Man like a wild thing, mourned the burning of the temple (still mourning), was stuck in line for 7 hours (way more fun than it sounds), and finally left the playa with a sense that I had just been kicked out of paradise – because paradise was just burnt down and closed until next year … And that doesn’t even start to describe the incredible spiritual, emotional, physical, mind-boggling experiences of that week. May I return to the playa as soon and as often as possible.
Attacks and massacres
Birthday week, first week of September. Are you still reading? Holy smokes you are dedicated! I still had time for a few adventures before turning 43. Margaret and I stayed in a hotel near Reno before parting ways. That night, a man went bezerk and tried breaking into people’s rooms. The alarm was set off, a woman screamed, a lamp was thrown, cops came, the man was taken away, and the rest of the people were hysterical. I woke up in the middle of it all and discovered that Margaret is a very good friend to have around in time of crisis. It was all pretty surreal to me. From there, I set on “the loneliest road in America”, which joins Reno to Denver. And yes, it is lonely – nothing for hours and hours, flat dirt to the right, flat dirt to the left, flat dirt ahead. It makes Death Valley look like a lush jungle. I enjoyed the open space, and was glad to see a small town every now and then. I slept by the side of the road. I was too tired to continue driving, even after I realized I was parked at the site of the Gunnison massacre. That night, my dreams felt like trances. I believe I went on several shamanic journeys in a row. By morning, I had acquired a completely different world view on several major arcs in the story of my life – once again, I could write a whole post on just that. It was intense. After two full days of driving, I made it to Denver, to Laura’s place. I pulled my fancy mattress up to her loft and slept soundly in the comfort of her warm welcome.
Broke, time to stop.
September 6th, 2013. The day before my birthday, I checked my financial status. I had $30 left in my bank account, my credit card was still maxed, I had three bills coming up, and I had already sold the readily sellable investments I once owned, so yes, I panicked a bit. This was a new record for low finances. I let the panic move through me, and when I got out the other side, I remembered that the Universe always provides, and that I’d be just fine, somehow. I put some photographic equipment for sale on eBay and within 20 minutes had made $265. Strangely (or maybe not so strangely since this is my story), this was exactly the amount I needed. I made another $8 selling books to a local used bookstore, with which I bought a mocha and breakfast for Laura’s birthday (September 10th). I met with David, the historical window restorer for whom I had worked on my way to Banff, and he had work for me. I started last Monday, and all was well, as always.
No way. I’ve just only started …
September 7th, 2013. For my birthday, Laura and I packed our sleeping bags, hopped on her motorcycle and drove to the Rockies. That night we stopped in the tiny town of Jamestown, home of a little café/bar where a talented local string band was playing. Everybody in the café/bar was local, except for us. There was only one item on the menu, enchiladas. So, we had enchiladas, listened to music and felt incredibly lucky to be there. We then rode on in the dark until the road turned to dirt, parked the bike, jumped a barbed wire fence, climbed up the hill to a flat area and fell asleep surrounded by wonderful pine trees under a million stars.
Here is to 42. Thank you. Now let’s see what 43 has up its sleeves.
Thanks to all who have crossed my path and made this year such an amazing journey.
Thanks to you my readers, for your visit.
XOX – The Bobcat.
“The Bobcat is a way of life, a title, and not an individual. Kinda like the Dread Pirate Roberts.”