Patagonia Mornings

April 20, 2012

The Chacra (little ranch) I live on is surrounded by small mountains/large hills, so there’s a nice hike in any direction you head in. Yesterday I decided to do a sunrise hike. I woke up at 6:30am and did Vipassana meditation for one hour, then bundled myself up (temperature’s in the 40’s F at night) and put my iPod, journal and Kindle into my bag.

I listened to a Philosopher’s Note on my iPod as I headed east, walking through the dry riverbed behind the house and past the Mapuche school. The Philosopher’s Note was on the book ‘The Power of Habit’ by Jack D. Hodge.

“It’s often said that habits are hard to break. This is an inaccurate statement. Habits aren’t broken; they are replaced. In other words, you replace, not erase, bad habits. This is an important distinction because if we are to change a bad habit we must carefully consider which habits we are to replace it with. Purposefully choosing new habits to replace old habits will greatly increase your chances of changing bad habits.”

So I decided to replace my habit of staying in my warm bed with taking a sunrise hike every morning. Until it starts snowing, at least.

The sun rises late here, a little after 8am, so I needed something to get me out of bed earlier – I like to get up at 6am but when it’s dark and cold out, I’m not very motivated to climb out of my Cocoon. (I literally sleep in a Cocoon, this awesome travel sheet/sleeping bag liner thing that my friend Anne gave me. It’s stretchy, so I close myself up in it to keep the mosquitos from biting my face; it’s much more comfortable than trying to keep myself covered with a normal stiff sheet all night!).

I hiked for about 30 minutes until I found a nice rock-topped hill to perch on. I wrote my three morning pages for ‘The Artist’s Way’; I read an entry from ‘A Daily Dose of Sanity’ by Alan Cohen as the earth tilted the sun into my eyes.

While I’m living here in the middle of natural beauty and space and fresh air, I’m going to make sure I get the most out of it!

I have more photos I want to share, but the crap internet connection would only allow me to upload this one; issues uploading photos has been my main delay on blogging lately. I’m hoping it’ll be easier for me to upload to a Flickr account; will keep you posted!

“Life is a fatal adventure. It can only have one end. So why not make it as far-ranging and free as possible.” – Alexander Eliot

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Boulder, Colorado: the land of dramatic clouds, pixie haircuts, and rabid bats.

I’d been wanting to check out Boulder for awhile – part of my reasoning for going on this cross-country road trip was to suss out potential places to live, and somehow I’d gotten it in my head that Boulder might be one of those places. So while Chris and Matt attended a work retreat in Colorado Springs, I headed north.

Here’s my ideal criteria for potential homes*:

1. Green/Lots of trees and plants/Easy access to nature (parks, hiking, rock climbing, etc)

2. Bikeable/Public transportation

3. Interesting/Historical architecture

4. Near a body of water

5. Good food/art/music scenes (ie, culture)

 

Boulder scored well on all points.

Green green green!

It’s an adorable little town, with quaint architecture, lots of good restaurants and cafes and funky little shops. I’m big on architecture and aesthetically pleasing buildings, but I also long to live somewhere GREEN after spending the first part of my life in desert that is Southern California. I don’t know about winters yet but Boulder seems like it could be a good place to call home. Everyone I saw looked healthy and relaxed – apparently Boulder is one of the happiest and healthiest cities in the country. Friendly people, good food, nice weather (at least while I was there), interesting architecture, beautiful natural backdrop, small town feel, and slower pace – check, check, check.

Another thing I like about Boulder is its strong bike culture. One of my goals is to live in a city where I don’t need a car to get around – for environmental, health and quality of life reasons. There’s also river that runs through the center of town that people inner tube down on the weekends.

Tuber!

One random thing I saw a lot of in Boulder that I don’t remember seeing much of in Los Angeles – Pixie haircuts. Women with cute, short, boyish hairstyles. Now I’m tempted to chop my hair…maybe when I decide to transition back to blonde from the current red. Next year?

A pixie haircut seems like it would be very convenient for hiking. My first morning in Boulder I went on a hike with a friend of a friend, Hoang, who I’d somehow become Facebook friends with. We decided on the Chataqua trail, and Hoang’s dog Banjo led the way. The altitude and steep trail made it quite difficult for me to hike and talk and breathe at the same time, but it was a gorgeously green hike with lots of interesting rock formations jutting towards the sky and an expansive view of the valley from the top.

Base of the hike. Nice rocks!

I’m glad I had my Camelbak with me – much better than lugging a water bottle around.

Steep stone steps, purdy trees.

View of Boulder from between to boulders.

After the hike we stopped at the awesome Boulder Farmer’s Market. Apparently Colorado is famous for its peaches, so I bought a big juicy one for breakfast. It was gloriously sweet and messy. Looking around at the crowd, I felt like I fit in more with the people surrounding me than I had in LA.

Fantastic Farmer's Market.

Bright beets!

Peachy peaches!

The Farmer’s Market surrounds one of Boulder’s landmarks, the Dushanbe Teahouse. I read about this place on TripAdvisor’s Top Attractions in Boulder (I’d recommend checking TripAdvisor’s list for any city you’re visiting). The astonishingly intricate, handcrafted tea house was built in Tajikistan and shipped over as a gift to the city of Boulder. It’s absolutely gorgeous on the outside and the inside. I got myself a cup of tea and sat on the vine-draped terrace.

Outside of the tea house.

Inside - gorgeous ceiling.

From Wiki:

“Forty artisans from Tajikistan hand made the teahouse over a period of two years, took it apart, and then packed the pieces into about 200 crates to be shipped to Boulder. The trades used by the artisans were passed from generation to generation within families, such as the use of nature, and repetition of patterns, descendant from traditional Persian design. Also, no power tools were used in the original construction of the tea house.”

Detail of wall.

That there’s some pretty interesting/historical architecture!

 

So the only thing going against Boulder at this point is the rabid bats. But then again, now that I’ve gotten the rabies vaccines, I’m immune for a few years. So I guess I’m covered!

You can read more about my encounter in this blog post. I’ve done a bit of research since the incident, and I’m pretty this is the guy I saw, 4 inches from my face, when I looked down at my arm:

Kinda cute, but pretty creepy when it's hanging on your arm.

 

Good times.

In my  next few posts I’ll be sharing about my CouchSurfing experience in Boulder, and some of the nommy nommy Italian and Creole food I had there!

 

* If we’re talking ideal ideal, like dream ideal, frogs and fireflies would be abundant too.

Climbing higher.

May 16, 2010

Oh, man. What a weekend! What a month! So many things to write about… I wish I had more time to write. As in, I wish I had a ton of money and could sit around all day and write. Hopefully I will someday. Where’s that rich hubby? 😉 KIDDING. I’m working on writing and getting paid for it…

Regardless, I have been making progress in my goal to creating more time in my life for writing. Not drinking alcohol (no going out and getting drunk) or caffeine (can’t go out and stay up late using caffeine to keep me up or to artificially “wake” myself up in the morning) has helped that. As was true of last time I did no booze/no caffeine, I miss coffee more. Oh, I miss having a nice glass of wine or a beer while I’m out with friends, or if we have a dinner party like we did on Friday night. But it’s ok, probably because, like I said, not wasting time with intoxicants is enabling me to spend more time on writing (and hiking and cooking and yoga…and my other focuses for 2010). Also, I simply haven’t felt like going out dancing. I know there have been a bunch of good djs around this past week, but when it comes down to it, I don’t want to go out. I’d rather stay home (in my beautiful room or living room or dining room) and work on all these awesome projects I have going on. I think I’ve danced enough hours away over the past 13 years…I think I can take a break. Maybe I’m getting “old,” or my priorities are shifting – ok wait, that’s not a maybe; that’s a fact. And actually I DID get to dance in the yoga class I go to on Saturday mornings at Yoga Bhakti Shala. Govindas is the most awesome yoga instructor ever (hmm him and Colin Kim), and this past Saturday we danced and shook and jumped and shouted and HUGGED. I think I got about 16 hugs in class, and probably about 4 more later that day. Hugging actually has a bunch of psychological and physiological benefits. I told that to some friends that I went hiking with today, so we had a hug fest, and I think I got another 10 or so hugs. HUG IT OUT!

So: I really want to write about my and Katy’s New Mexico trip…I’ve got photos too. Kick-ass photos. Of llamas and chili peppers and skulls.

But I also want to write about my awesome weekend. It encapsulated pretty much everything I love – a dinner party, meditation, yoga, dancing, talking with friends, laughing with friends, Indian food, writing, Flight of the Conchords, The Office, 30 Rock, the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market, dates (the fruit, not the other kind), hiking, more laughing, taking pictures, climbing rocks, climbing trees, wearing my Vibrams, a waterfall, collaging, cooking, eating an artichoke, driving around on a gorgeous day with the top down, blueberry corncakes, introducing friends to new music and a new nommy restaurant, talking about Don Miguel Ruiz, more laughing… Ok, there are more things that I love, but that’s a damn lot for one weekend!

Rock climbing...

If I had four more hours in this day I’d write more, but I only have one and a quarter, and I still need to make dinner (sauteed swiss chard from the farmer’s market and wake up early enough to fit in a jog and more writing before work. I hope your weekend brought you as much happiness as mine did!

Today I saw a rattlesnake. I also saw Ghandi.

I got the day off of work since we didn’t get home from San Francisco until 2am…

(five hours each way…not bad).

So, per my usual, I took full advantage of the day off.

First up was a hike in Pacific Palisades. When you turn off of Sunset, if you go aaaall the way up, there’s a little parking lot & an entrance to the Temescal Hike.

I think Topanga joins around there too…anyways, the trail takes you to these rocks that I love called Skull Rock. Perfect for a bit of rock climbing/bouldering. Me on top of the rock (you can’t tell but there’s a 40 ft drop to my right):

Skull Rock has a little cave in it. After meditating on top of the rock for about 20 minutes, I climbed into the cave and found a notebook.

It contained about two months of people’s notes – one couple got engaged up there. Another girl had recently seen her soul mate die and had moved to LA. Another had missed his flight back to Hong Kong so had gone for a hike with his cousin. I liked this one, written by some hiker on my birthday.

Most people commented on how beautiful and peaceful it was up there – which it was. I saw only one person for the first hour and a half, and they didn’t see me since I was on top of the rock. If I was a mountain lion I totally could’ve pounced on their head and eaten them.

One thing I can assure you of is that we’re not having that missing-bee problem in the Palisades. Part of the hike takes you through a narrow path with tons of bushes and wildflowers on either side. And swarms of buzzing bees. It was a bit disconcerting, and I had to focus on staying calm, cuz I didn’t want the bees to smell my fear or pick up on my vibrations or…whatever it is that bees can do. So that part wasn’t very relaxing. The second thing that wasn’t very relaxing was that I almost stepped on a rattlesnake. I was walking around the backside of Skull Rock, intent on climbing another rock formation, when a fatty lizard, doing push-ups on a rock to my left almost at eye level, made a quick movement that caught my eye. I stopped and looked at him for a second. As I was stepping forward to continue on my way I looked down at the trail ahead of me just as a rattlesnake started buzzing his tail. Luckily he was a foot or two ahead and facing away from me; I froze immediately as he was already slithering away. No more rock climbing for me!!! Back through the bees and to the car!!!

On the way back I found this cool high-tech lookin’ dandelion; each seed had what looked like an airplane propeller on top.

So after the rattlesnake incident, I decided to stop at the Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine to calm down a bit. And to say hi to Gandhi.  Apparently he was buddies with Paramahansa Yogananda and a portion of his ashes are interred there.

“Life is an aspiration. Its mission is to strive after perfection, which is self-realization. The ideal must not be lowered because of our weaknesses or imperfections.”  – G-dhawg

I love the Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine. It’s like Disneyland for meditation. Or spirituality, or whatever. It’s just gorgeous and lush and peaceful. There are deities and shrines for five world religions (Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism and Islam). So it doesn’t matter what religion you are, or if you’re any religion at all (which I’m not).

Here’s the Christian rep (Joseph? St. Frances? I dunno who this is):

And Buddha, of course:

Me and some dancing, jazz-flute-playing god (Hindu?):

Some of the biggest mofoin’ koi fish I have ever seen in my life (and swan):



And the Windmill (which doubles as a temple):

After enjoying some more peace and greenery, I went to Ritual Adornments and bought beads for some of the Tibetan Prayer Wheel necklaces I’m making. Then I went to write for the iPhone app project; then grocery shopping at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s before coming home to cook some veggies for dinner. I’m on day 5 of no alcohol, and day 3 of no caffeine or processed foods or refined sugars. Been a bit tired without the caffeine or sugar (and now I’m up late writing this post, so I’ll probably be a bit tired tomorrow), but so far so good!