Monday July 27th
Today marks two weeks out for the gypsy tour. I’m at the Olympia VW dealership for some Roy diagnostics on intersection stalling. The oddness started when we got to Oregon lower elevations; something I have been trying to ignore it for several days. Losing sleep last night was a good “deal with it” indicator. Other than Roy’s hiccups, all is well. I cried last Wednesday evening when I found out Javier passed, with tears thinking to try and well up only a few other times, some nerves, some beauty.
“She said she usually cried at least once each day not because she was sad, but because the world was so beautiful and life was so short.” “Story People”, Brian Andreas.
I’ve had other Roy operational jitters — little weird things such as the windshield wipers “not working” — even though I had been using them earlier same day. Day later, I figured out its something with the ignition switch – tap it just a bit to the left and wipers (and defroster) power up. Eventually, I’ll get the ignition starter replaced. For now, this just adds to the difficulty in stealing Roy – even if I was there handing you the keys. And, though not a mechanical, I’ve got to get a mousetrap because in my little Roy house there is no room for a little mouse!
(Roy update VW shop: was / is change in elevation! How’s that for Cynthia diagnostics? 2-3 hoses that connect sensors need to be replaced, and that’s it! Buy a mousetrap and back to Rainer.)
I haven’t posted a blog since Wednesday because I’ve generally been without internet or cell, let my computer run down, and, have spent quite a bit of time behind the wheel chasing off Oregon heat and dry. My route Eugene to Portland was parallel east through the Willamette and Mt Hood National Forests, and Mt Hood Wilderness Area. In the company of Mt Washington El. 7794,Three Fingered Jack 7841, Mt Jefferson 10,495, Bracket Mt. 4985, Round Mt. 4669, AND Mt Hood 11,239 (the highest point in Oregon); the McKenzie, Santiam, Clackamas, and Salmon Rivers – I am peaceful, joyful, happy. Two decades ago when first learning the Buddha teaching “that the purpose of life was to be happy”, I railed against and resented. Now I know it to be truth, for all beings.
There was amazing Liz the Owl Magic Wednesday afternoon as I was heading generally northward though the Willamette Forest. With the sun coming up over Roy’s roof, Liz’s shadow from her wrought iron sculpture (about 2 feet wide) mounted above the windshield, flew back and forth across my dash, reminding me that am not making this trip alone. Liz is my co-pilot, my angel. In the past year I’ve woken up to two angels, one each shoulder, female, with me, all the time. I see these angels as spirits from years ago possibly trying to enter as children. I had always thought I would have at least one girl, with the name Elizabeth – Beth or Liz for short.
“There is a place, where angels sing, on rays of light, on rays of light. And love pours forth, and love pores forth.” Peter Kater and Snatum Kaur, “Song of the Universe” CD, song by same name.
I am done with summer heat. Growing up in Texas, summer the season for protection — air conditioned house to air conditioned car to swimming pool or lake. Being so fair, I spent a lot of time under umbrellas, wrapped in towels, slathered in sunscreen. Reno in the mid-80s only had a few days, maybe a week, of high 90s temps. Building 530 Chicken Court 25 years ago we did not need air conditioning by following super thermal building practices. I at least need a swap / evaporative cooler to keep living in Reno, or, need to move.
Thursday was Mt. Hood National Park — east and slightly south of Portland. I stayed in the sweetest forest service campground the night before – Creek Campground – a wonderland of mossy trees and ferny forest. How to describe the light? Filtered, subtle, subdued – does not seem enough. Hued in magic light, the mossy and ferny greens and browns were beyond vibrant.
Thursday was a long hike around Lake Timothy on the eastern side of Hood, through (again) mossy ferny forest with enough lake blue to remind me of Tahoe, and, amazing views of Mt. Hood. The picture doesn’t do it justice. Mt. Hood was quite spectacular and appeared much grander. An otherwise easy 13 miles got Cheryl Strayed “Wild” un-fun towards the end with my favorite boots no longer “fave”. What did she do with that first pair? After one accidently fell over a cliff, didn’t she threw the other?
P.S. After carrying leftover lunch around the lake (and not eating), I got back to Roy and “put an egg on it. My current solution to “most things”.
I made it to Portland Friday.only 535 miles from Reno via CA I-139N, or about 1200 miles per my meandering route. “Following the gypsy love” has certainly not been straightforward or with much of a plan.
“The world is not going to come to you. The sooner you realize this, the more time you’ll have to pack. Some of the best living, the most valuable living, happens on the side roads. Uncommon Life.” Curly Girl Design, “Time to Pack”.
I love Portland, having spent a week or so there last September. Given Portland’s vibrant and colorful urban life, amazing gardens and Hoyt Arboretum, it’s on my list of possible places to live. September 2014 it was a paradise “greenhouse” garden city (“Ah, the entire city is a greenhouse.”) July 2015 Portland was too hot and too sunny for me, with evidence of the longer term drought in brown lawns off water. I did my urban biz and got the sprouts outta there!
How Roy Got His Name and I Got Liz the Owl
Roy’s owner, Clint, Jackson, Wy. shared with me the following story on how Roy got his name.
“Roy’s name came because we have many friends with camper vans. For some reason they are all named after Old Men. Frank, Roy, Ron, etc. Well, one friend’s van was named “Sparkles” by his kids. The owl I had owned for a while before deciding it needed to be on the top of the van. After, the name Roy just made sense because of the owl. I like how “Roy Owl” is kinda like “Royale I always wanted to start a band and call it Roy Owl.” Me: Back in Reno I bet my custom plates “ROY95” are ready.
In sealing the Roy deal with Clint, we had the following conversation over the then-Roy owl.
Clint: “We didn’t discuss what to do about the owl.”
Clint: “The owl should stay with Roy, but I’m really attached to the owl.
Clint: “I’m really attached to the owl, but the owl should stay with Roy.”
Clint: “I know, I know! The artist (Larry) is here in Jackson. I see if he will make you your own owl.”
This is how much following my heart — for now at least – is all about mossy and ferny forests. Most precious extended family Cornia and Mitch live in Olympia. I had an open invitation to visit, stay. I could have used a shower, their darling company. I was tired from losing sleep over Roy the night before. But after Roy’s repairs, could I stay in the city, even one night? Heck no! I made it back to my Rainer campsite for a late afternoon hike to Carter Falls and bike cruising the A through D camp loops (love to see others’ camp outfits, little children, families). Beyond mossy and ferny forests, rivers and lakes, there are waterfalls, and, light.
Reverent, sacred, holy. Light. By the Grace of God. Light.
Tuesday July 28th
Saturday afternoon July 25th I made it to Mt. Rainer National Park after camping Friday night north and east of Portland along the Cowlitz River. I had debated going to the Olympia area for the weekend and jumpstarting Roy diagnostics first thing Monday morning, or, taking a Roy mechanical gamble to Mt Rainer. Run to the BIG mountain I did, ducking Roy’s idle stalling problem via country roads.
And was I that ever the right choice (even though I came into Olympia Monday for Roy anyway). What a beyond beautiful national park! A sweet campground afforded a rainy afternoon of napping, cooking, two bit hiking and bike cruising. Sunday was a long loop hike through (again!) mossy and ferny forest, climbing a lot, and finally leveled off into a stretch of wild blueberries. Grazing along, the pathway opened up and bam!, there I was face to face with (no not a bear) but Mt Rainer! So massively dramatic. For the few minutes Rainer was unshrouded I would look, then look away, look, look away. I was humbled, in awe. I’ve seen lots of big mountains (Sierra, Rockies), but nothing like this. The highest peak in the lower 48 at 14,410 and the most complex glacial system, Rainer is our largest mountain mass rising from close to sea level in a string of about sixteen volcanoes along the Cascade Range. Rainer’s west side gets about 90’’ of rain annually, and as much as 30 feet of snow pack. There’s a 93 mile Wonderland trail that skirts Rainer’s base with 23,000 feet in elevation change. Founded in 1899, Mt. Rainer National Park is our fifth national park and the first park with full master plan, setting high standards and a great template for subsequent national parks.
Today’s Skyline loop hike out of the Paradise Ranger Station started with broad, elegant, sweeping granite steps with a John Muir engraving “….the most luxuriant and most extravagantly beautiful of all the alpine gardens I ever beheld in all my mountain top wandering.” Hmmm…in starting the eight mile loop it was hard to imagine having my alpine garden socks blown off with Mt Rainer so ridiculously right there on a clear morning, but, I have to say, Muir nailed it. The hike up was amazing in getting so damn close to the edges of Rainer’s southeastern glacier fields. From the trail’s plateau, I could see a string of southern peaks — Mt. Adams, Castle Peak, Mt. Pinnacle Peak, Plummer Peak, and Mt. Hood. And, looping out, around, and down through the alpine meadows, was as Muir said, luxuriant and most extravagantly beautiful. The soft animal of my body was peaceful, joyful, happy.
After lunch I took the short (up, up, up) Pinnacle Peak trail due south of Rainer for a view into Oregon, and panoramic view of Rainer with accent clouds.
Throughout the day I turned over bits of my delightful Sunday morning campground conversation with Ranger Jeff. Sharing some of his discontent with working for the park service, general 55-year old life blasé, and his struggle to motivate further in positive life changes, Jeff said he was trying to be more disciplined, because, as he had heard, “Life involves pain, there is pain in regret, and pain in disciple”, so why not choose more disciple? “Well maybe so,” I said, adding singer/songwriter Beth Orton’s lyric “What’s the use of regret? It’s just lessons we haven’t learned yet.”
I could certainly write a book on the pain of discipline, having had it beaten into me from an early age of “you will suffer”. Through marriage, children, and work, I mastered discipline with pain, doing the best I could with my (then) abilities.
But does disciple have to be painful? Or, if discipline is painful, is this not a sign of resistance – a trying, pushing, too hard — swimming upstream? A two steps forward, one step (or more back) tango? Could I have accomplished more, been happier, by softening at least some of my edges? The teachings of Ester Abraham Hicks speaks to this a great deal. Thought manifests to form, positive attracts positive, negative, negative. Follow the path of least resistance. That does not mean to give up or to quit, but stay in good feeling states as much as possible and see what happens.
For many years, I have contemplated the following piece from Thomas Merton (1915-1968), drawing encouragment to approach my energy / utility work with more kindness and compassion. Not always easy particularly in my days as an expert witness under cross examination by utility attorneys with some of the tightest sphincters on the planet.
“There is a contemporary form of violence to which the idealist fighting for peace (or any other issue) by nonviolent methods most easily succumbs: activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence.
To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender oneself to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence. More than that it is to cooperate in violence.
The frenzy of the activist neutralizes our work for peace. It destroys our own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of our own work, because it kills the root of our inner wisdom, which makes all work fruitful.”
Also, this small excerpt from “Mothering”, by Thich Nhat Hanh, entitled “Being Peace”, has come to me again and again over the years to soften and turn the corners of my mouth upward.
“The peace movement harbors a lot of anger, hatred, frustration, and misunderstanding. Peace advocates can write very good protest letters, but they are not yet able to write a love letter.
Can the peace movement talk in loving speech, showing the way for peace? I think that will depend on whether the people in the peace movement can be peace. Because without being peace, we cannot do anything for peace. If you cannot smile, you cannot help other people smile. If you are not peaceful, then you cannot contribute to the peace movement.”
A couple of years ago I came to me that my energy /utility work is about deepening my practice of loving kindness and compassion. We are all in this together. We all want the same thing. For Ranger Jeff, I know he will extend the depth of his caring for Rainer to loving himself more and more.
“To your practice, and all is coming.” This is how Lynn, Yoga Shack owner/instructor, two decades ago, would end each class.
This went straight to my heart where so many times not knowning what was next, or how I might proceed, I would as with each breath, begin again.
“You should make yourself so happy, that by looking at you, other people become happy.” Yogi Bhajan.
And, so often is this not our greatest gift?
Wednesday July 29th
Definitely getting campy around here! No shower since Thursday; no change of sports bra or shirt layers since Saturday. Reminded me of picking up Ted after a week of boy scout camp – the happiest and dirtiest I had ever seen him. Me: “Teddy, you didn’t change your clothes the whole time!” Ted: “Momma, there wasn’t time!” (Certainly made camp laundry easy.)
Fan-cee me: washed my hair in camp with a jug water, sponge bathed, found some clean clothes. Good to go from my lovely four nights at Cougar campground. Off to the northeast side of the park, about 50 miles, for two more nights in White River campground.
On the way I stopped at the southern end of the park for a walk through an old growth forest “Grove of the Patriarchs” with Douglas fir and western red cedar, some a thousand years old, reaching heights of 200 feet. These ancient trees have survived a thousand years of winter storms, volcanic eruptions, floods and fires. Even though many of the tree tops have died, the trees live old.
With trees six feet and more in diameter, how could this be simply a grove of “patriarchs”? You see, I could not get my arms around my Grandma Hazel Mitchell. One East Tennessee summer visit, Grandma brought out a copy of Reader’s Digest she had been saving to discuss the article on cocaine with me. After “drugs 101” Grandma said, “ I guess I’m too big to wear hippie clothes like you!” (“Everything” I wore was denim and embroderied.) I replied, “Oh Grandma, we’ll just take this bedspread, cut a hole for your head, sew up the sides, and you can be a big grandma hippie!”. We laughed; she liked that idea.
Thursday July 30th
Second lovely night in the northeast portion of the park, White River campground by the river same name. Hikes yesterday and today up close to Rainer’s northeast side, sunny and hot. Spectacular views to Seattle, Mt. Baker, and Cascade Peak. Dry, dry, dry. Fellow hikers telling me “it’s scary, I’ve never seen so much exposed ground.” More than scary, it’s quite sobering, consuming my thoughts, my heart. How can I better contribute to mitigating this climate mess? Is it Bill McKibben’s 350.org; campaign reform including EndCitizensUnited.org, organic sustainable farming?
Score on catching the little mouse in my little Roy house: mouse 3, Cynthia 0.
My I-Pad got hummm, a little wet Saturday during misty picinic table planks, pushups, and yoga. Overnight bag of rice all functions worked again in the morning (just like when I dropped it in the bathtub a couple of months ago); but for the bit of rice that got stuck in the charger plug. Today finally that half rice grain fell out, so I am back in music, Ted talks, etc. business!
In cleaning Roy a bit a found an ancient fortune cookie fortune: “When in doubt, mumble.” I would have thought: “When in doubt, speak from the heart.”
Tomorrow I am looking forward to a shower, laundry, internet, cell, and dinner out; though I will very much miss Rainer! To visit again…
Friday July 31st
Morning Roy view. Beautiful way to start the day…meditation, chanting and singing, prayers, writing.
Saturday, August 1st
I don’t feel like doing a damn thing today! Transition yesterday from near-week in Rainer to first Starbucks north of the park, was well, weird. Good to have internet and cell though. I put in an hour CA-consulting, posted a cache of blogs, made a couple of calls. Did you hear me say it is hot, damn hot? Old normal average temperatures mid-70’s, new normal (?) mid- to upper 90’s. Made it about 80 miles up the road (north and slightly west) from Rainer to the little urban area of North Bend (aka Twin Peaks show), Snoqualmie, and Fall City, to see Snoqualmie Falls — taller than Niagara. Impressive yes, but all I want today is a pedicure and air conditioning. Sweating just standing still! Waiting now for my burger and fries at Tweeds Cafe, “home of Twin Peaks cherry pie.
Way back to camp I stopped at a lavender farm stand. Cornia and Mitch, amazing tree snag carved into lavender gnome whimsy.
After nap, reading, and waiting for afternoon heat to abate, it was country road bike blackberry hunt — which were of course everywhere. My waking hair is resembling the masses of berry brambles, snuggling down in Roy is gooood sleepin’. Roy’s pop top creates a nice little “envelope slip bed” with canvas zip open screened windows three sides. The addition of a memory foam topper and the sweetest dainty floral cotton sheets, is simple abundance.
So I learned a thing or two yesterday in North Bend.
First, put dry clothes in with your wet in laundromat dryers. Dry clothes will absorb some moisture from damp, and in tumbling, get the wrinkles out. “Makes your quarters go further,” two nice guys told me. Compassionate pause. When was the last time I worried about stretching a dollar, much less a quarter?
Second, if Roy’s steering column is locked, the ignition switch will not turn on. Okay…so I was supposed to know that? Well, a mechanic across from the laundromat was kind enough to try and jump Roy, and eventually diagnosed the locked steering column. Dave, with a wife and two little ones, wouldn’t take $20, saying “It’s a North Bend thing.” Sure is. Everywhere I went North Bend, folks warm and friendly. As in, never has anyone – much less a woman older than me (!) – bagged my groceries so nicely and efficiently.
So I might as well keep going with true Roy-confessions. About ten days ago I was at a campground in the McKenzie national forest and couldn’t get Roy started. Family reunion camping brothers Richard and Robert tried to jump Roy. Finally, we figured out Roy has some “anti-something” brake pedal system where if the brake is not depressed the ignition doesn’t work. Okay…so I was supposed to know that also? Well, here’s the deal, it’s only a “sometimes thing” with Roy on depressing the brake pedal. And, this stuff ain’t in the owner’s manual! (BTW, one of the few times in my life I’ve ever much perused a manual, much less with my highlighter.)
Roy has had some getting used to mechanical personality. And, I am obviously outside of the fairly predictable routine and know-how of my Reno daily living. I am finding my edge, and going beyond, baby steps to be sure. Poet David Whyte in one of his CD collections speaks of the need to get so tired of our ways of being, that we break out of patterns, ruts, to take courageous new actions, directions. I have certainly become bored with my life, ever so lovely as it is. I am looking out on the world from the same beautiful windows day after day. Variations on the (same) theme are not working for me. So here I am, three weeks into the gypsy tour still facing the choice of how to react, respond. Two “air boxes” pop up: “secure” or “insecure”; secure / insecure; secure, insecure – again and again. As Ester Abraham Hicks discusses, it’s really only our feelings that we have control over. So how do I choose to feel?