YTT: Session 1

I just remembered I hadn’t posted recently, but I have a good excuse. I’ve been incredibly busy for the last nine days with Yoga Teacher Training at Flex here in Wooster! But lets go from when ever I left off.

I believe I had just left Chicago for Columbus. Wait, did I even get that last week of my road trip in? Did I tell you about Chicago?

I did, thank goodness. Phew.

In Columbus, I met up with my friends from AYC, the ashtanga shala I go to there, and mostly just small scale socialized around food. Totally lovely, and practice was great! Taylor even got me to drop back and pop up without much trouble. “You have to just do it.” Basically. Its the advice you need at some point. It’s starting to work. Both my dynamic and static back bends are improving and feeling better. Finding more middle back bend and a scapular scoop under the heart.

On Wednesday morning, I continued north, towards Wooster. I stopped at the camp where I worked at on my arrival in Ohio for an hour to see people, catch up with them, and catch a chicken, before making it the rest of the way to Wooster. I spent the rest of the week meeting up with Wooster friends, visiting some old sights, trying some new ones, and preparing for the teacher training which started on Saturday. That has definitely been the main sink of physical and mental energies since.

This first session of the YTT was nine consecutive twelve hour days and was at least as physically and emotionally draining as that sounds. My typical day was to wake up between four and five in the morning, head down to the studio to practice – either asana, pranayama, or meditation – and make sure I was ready to teach any classes I needed to that day. On most days, the training would start at 6:30a, but on Monday and Wednesday we started with a 5:45a class that I got to teach. One of the things that made this training interesting was that many of our practices (we had two to three per day) were integrated with our normal studio classes. We wanted to try to break them a bit – you know, push them in their physical practice while we push them mentally and emotionally in the rest of our class time. It’s hard to do when you have to keep the classes accessible to everyone. There were plenty of challenging classes, but we could have thrown more at our trainees.

Each day started either with an asana practice or meditation and reflection and was shortly followed by the other. Large swaths of each day were spent breaking down the asanas (postures) of the Flex PVF sequence and practice teaching those postures in different settings – one on one, small groups, and larger groups, with and without someone else assisting. Through this practice, and reflective journalling and discussion, our aim is to help our teachers start to find or create their authentic teaching voice. This is a major aspect of the training which Emily and I believe is very important and can be missed by trainings. We want our students to be prepared to teach a whole class when they’re done with us. To help this we have assigned homework in their off weeks to spend time taking classes and reviewing the teachers, assisting classes, and teaching others.

In addition to asana practice AND asana teaching practice, we spent time reviewing and discussing yoga philosophy through a couple books and our experience. Plus, we’ll be spending even more time on them next weekend.

We would have lunch for about an hour sometime between 12 and 2, then get back to work in the afternoon before wrapping up at 6:30p (or 5:45p if we started earlier). It was really just an incredible more than a week. To see every student grow within themselves and grow within relation to the group was just astounding and beautiful. I know I learned a lot about them as we dove deeper everyday and I feel many of them learned even more. I’m so thankful our gentle facilitation of their journey has worked out as well as it has so far. I wish my training had taken more time for philosophy than it did. The practice there was amazing, the reflection and journal time was good, too, but not enough old philosophy, old knowledge. I am so excited for more.

Now, it is time to figure out where I can live, where I am going to take therapeutic massage courses, and find people to pay me to give them massages and teach them private classes.

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

On the Road – Week Seven (the final installment)

Part XXVIII: South Dakota – Fourth of July with the Heads of State
From my overnight location in Spearfish, I drove south into the Black Hills National Park. It was delightfully quiet, which turned out to be foreboding contrast to later stops. I tried to go about taking some less traveled roads through the park to see more backcountry. As it turned out, I took a farm road. It started well – lovely meadows and trees – when suddenly there were cows everywhere and the road got really muddy. A little slipping and a lot of mud stuck around my tire wells. Thankfully no problems greater than that. Eventually I got to the lake I was aiming for, with lots of Independence day weekend campers hanging out, just waking up to get their day started. Some people fishing.
From the lake, I continued south to make my way to the Crazy Horse Memorial Monument. Things began to become a little busier. I had a strange feeling around this massive monument under construction. Or at least around the museum area dedicated to it. I could not figure out what made me feel strange. The money they are raising through it is all good – to help continue construction of the monument dedicated not just to Crazy Horse, but to all of the Native American chiefs, forgotten and not, and to build the Indian University of North America, a medical school for Native American Indians, and an artifact repository. Just got an odd vibe.
From there, I made my way to Down to pass over the Wind Cave Park and drive through the Custer Grasslands. To be honest, the bison there looked sleeker than the ones I saw in Yellowstone – both a little smaller and with smoother coats. I worked my way north through these rolling hills to arrive at Mt. Rushmore, which was crazy busy. So many people milling about, taking pictures, eating. Both of these massive mountain carvings reminded me of man’s desire for immortality. If we can’t find a way to physically last forever, we’re going to do our best to make sure things that come after know we were here. I do not relate to that desire. Yeah, they sure are some big heads.
From Mt. Rushmore, I continued east, across more grassland, to arrive at the Badlands, another stunningly beautiful landscape in the American West. I was not struck with power, the way I was in Shoshone, but I definitely was struck by something among those incredible results of erosion and weathering. The color bands of sediment are strikingly sharp and the shapes made are wild. The scale felt particularly hard to understand and appreciate. A visit to the badlands necessitated a side stop at the city of Wall and the Wall Drug Store, you may have seen signs and bumper stickers all over the world. It is pretty much a carnival of things you don’t need for sale, plus some drugs, food, and free water (what they used to begin their climb to notoriety during the depression). I continued east for a bit longer until I decided I had to stop for the night, parked next to what turned out to be a cow pasture, and got myself to sleep.

Part XXIX: Cedar Rapids, IA – A Great Night’s Rest
You might tease me for making that the section title, but after several nights in the back seat of my car, I slept like the dead in a real bed – totally unaware of an apparently vicious thunderstorm. I got to sleep in a real bed thanks to a pair of twins I rowed with in college whose family is/was living in Cedar Rapids (they were in the process of moving). One of the twins was out of town on the moving venture, but the other took me down to Iowa City to see the college town, his favorite book store, and a wacky pizza place that puts all kinds of stuff on their pies. I got a slice with eggplant parmesan and one like a black bean taco. Weird but yummy.
What everyone says is true. There is a whole lot of corn growing across the Midwest. It is everywhere.

Part XXX: Rock Island, IL – Quad Cities
The next morning I rolled out of Cedar Rapids and just a little way east to the Illinois border and the Quad Cities. There, I got my oil changed and met up with an IG friend I met in Mysore. Back in India, she was leaving shortly after I arrived, but was kind enough to show me around town and get in a little bit of acro play time! Here in Illinois, she and her husband welcomed me into their home, took me to the studio she practices at, out for dinner, and gave some suggestions for entertainment. I did spend most of my full day there putting in some work for the upcoming yoga teacher training I will be helping with in Wooster, but loved the practice, food, and made some peach and cherry cobbler for us to enjoy. Nothing crazy, but they were very enjoyable folks to spend a couple nights with.

Part XXXI: Chicago, IL – Chi Town
Next was a quick drive to Chicago for the weekend. I started downtown at a yoga studio that has created a very substantial presence on IG. The woman who co-owns and -runs the studio has an incredible practice and I wanted to see what it was all about. At The Lab, they offer hatha style classes in which you just progress from posture to posture, holding each for several breaths and building towards a peak posture, but no vinyasa between postures. I ended up taking two classes back to back with one teacher, the first focused on back bending and the second on arm balance transitions. It was good. After the second class, Carmen (the woman in charge) blew in like a hurricane to get some pictures for their IG account, granting me a brief taste of her incredible intensity. Pictures taken, I was introduced and chatted with a few of the teachers and regulars, giving a brief overview of my travels and acquiring a place to go for dinner – The Chicago Diner. Surprisingly enough, it’s a vegan/vegetarian place (as you may know, and I was repeatedly shown this weekend, Chicagoans love their meats) and it serves really tasty foods. One of the teachers, the one who got The Lab to start their IG presence as it turned out, joined me there and we had some great conversation over the delicious dinner. I got the Buddha Karma Burger – a curry spiced vegan patty with grilled pineapple and sprouts and more.
After dinner, I made my way out of the city to Aurora area to spend the next two nights at the house of Songbird, who you may remember from the camp near Wooster. She is living out there working on a master’s program and real work. I had so many people to meet up with in Chi Town! There are a lot of people there, I guess. First, the total strangers at the Lab, then Songbird, followed by a very near stranger Saturday morning who was recommended by my friend in Rock Island, then three friends from Wooster who just happened to be up for the weekend, and finally another friend from Mysore. Big weekend.
Saturday morning, I hit up a vinyasa class at the Zen Yoga Garage, recommended by the friend of a friend I was to meet up with. It turned out to be a very enjoyable class choice. I hung out with played with my new friend briefly, but she had to be on her way, so I next headed downtown to the lake to meet up with my Wooster friends randomly in town (discovered when they saw me post on IG from Chicago) to attend the Taste of Chicago food festival and West Fest – a small community music festival in West Town that they had originally come to attend. Neither festival was particularly entertaining on its own – lots of people, over-priced food – but the company was delightful and the food was rather tasty, plus entrance to both was free.
Eventually, I made my way back out to Aurora to spend another night at Songbird’s, and try my first deep dish pizza, near as I can remember. In my east coast opinion, it’s more like cheese pie than pizza, but it certainly isn’t bad. The next morning, we made our way to the Brookfield zoo with free entry thanks to her Intern pass! Spent several hours there and saw and experienced pretty much everything that it had to offer. Definitely tiring, sufficiently entertaining, the zoo has some good exhibits and excellent rehabilitation projects. It was really great having a knowledgeable companion along, pointing out some interesting behind-the-scenes information for the exhibits.
After several hours, we returned to her home, I said my good byes, and drove back downtown to see another Mysore friend. We had a nice time catching up on the last few months over a very tasty Italian dinner and under a lovely summer evening, then hit the hey early because she had to teach ashtanga in the morning, I had several hours to drive through more corn fields to Columbus, OH, where I am now! Tomorrow I’ll be back in Wooster, getting ready for the teacher training ahead of me and planning for what’s next. Stay tuned.

About 10,000 miles covered and twenty-five states (and one District of Columbia) at least passed through in seven weeks. A heck of a lot of yoga studios, new friends, and incredible sights. The one thing that sticks out to me most from the trip is just how beautiful and kind so many people are through-out this country. They’ve got to be the majority. Let us lovingly rise up to calm these loud, hateful, fearful small groups who seem to be tearing this country apart. It can be done.

Posted in Ashtanga, Food, People, Road Trip, USA!, Yoga | Leave a comment

On the Road – Week Six

Part XXIV: Terrebonne, OR – Climbing the Zoo
Sunday morning, Cousin and I packed up from my parent’s friends’ house in Bend, and made our way to Terrebonne, the town adjacent to Smith Rock. There, we met up with one of Cousin’s Outward Bound instructors and another OB instructor to go climbing in a less used part of the park a little way from the main Smith Rock. These rocks have been routed recently and are called “The Zoo”. We took some dirt roads, grabbed our gear, and took about a half hour hike to our first rock “Tasmanian Devil”. That climb turned out to be a little disappointing according to the two instructors. Shorter than we expected it to be, but rock face was interesting. Not a ton of obvious hold choices. I enjoyed it.
We hiked a little further, after taking our gear down, and hooked up another climb which was longer, interesting, but pretty easy – lots of obvious holds – and it was just beautiful to look at. Really interesting erosion patterns making a honeycomb look. I played LCD Soundsystem’s The Long Goodbye from my phone while we played outside. It was an awesome middle of the day. I could definitely get into climbing more – assuming time and space availability, haha.
After climbing, Cousin and I swung by a grocery store to get some fruit to make a fruit salad to share with the OB staff for group dinner while everyone hung out on their little field and played games. We drove to the site, and I really enjoyed watching Cousin reminisce and remember as we got closer to the base camp and then walked around it. We went for a swim in the river – very refreshingly cool, but not totally freezing. Like, it just took your breath a little. It felt GREAT after a hot dusty day rock climbing. Then, we cleaned ourselves up and got to chopping fruit, and, just as I thought, outdoor instructors were PUMPED to have two big ol’ bowls of fresh fruit in front of them. On the lawn, along a beautiful dinner also including chocolate chip banana bread, leftovers, and salads, there were many games to be played. I ended up spending a bunch of the time practicing my Thai massage, which was great. I got some practice in, the instructors got some muscles relaxed, win-win situation. The games and food wound down as it got dark out, and the mosquitos (giant mosquitos) came out in more force than before. Cousin and I pitched our tent and settled down to sleep for the night so we could get an early start for a long drive the next day.

Part XXV: Portland, OR – Should we stop yet? No.
Our first aim for Monday was a stop in Portland for food and some sightseeing based on suggestions from some OB instructors. Driving through Oregon… I mean really driving through so much of the western United States, well, even the whole United States, is just beautiful!
On the way to Portland, we stopped in Salem, OR to pick some blueberries. Delicious, delicious, fresh blueberries. Only one $1 per pound! Yummy!
We got into Portland a little on the early side of lunch, which turned out to be great. We went to a place well-loved for its biscuits called Pine State Biscuits. The line was already way out of the door, so we knew we had a good suggestion. To be honest, in my opinion, the biscuits themselves that we got were chewy and not buttery enough for a biscuit, I mean, especially after the Greenhouse on Porter biscuit I got several weeks ago. Chewy means they’re definitely over mixed, and probably old. Maybe if we’d gotten there for breakfast they’d have been more better, but hey, that was my experience. It had a solid vibe to it. I got my biscuit with shiitake gravy (which was absolutely bomb), a fried egg, and some braised collard greens, which were probably the best part of my meal. Also, to be fair, that Purrito was still fresh in my mind.
We then tried to see some part of the city to enjoy. But DAMN. It was the middle of the day on Monday and everywhere was crowded. What the heck?! Don’t you people work? So, on suggestion, we tried to visit the International Test Rose Garden, but there was nowhere to park after trying for a few minutes, so we just gave up and drove on, north and west back to the coast.
Our next goal was Cape Disappointment in Washington. The drive was sunny and kind of boring… One of my favorite things driving through Oregon, though, was seeing so many smooth, flat bodies of water! Made me want to row ALL OF THE TIME. Beautiful water always makes me want to get back at it. After the drive, Cape Disappointment was… well… disappointing. So does that make it not disappointing? Was it supposed to be disappointing? It was damp and foggy, mostly. Saw some eagles, neat flowers, old WWII structures, and a light house. Not bad, but people kind of built it up for me.
After Cape Disappointment, we continued north, originally planning to spend the night in or near Olympic Park, but deciding to turn east earlier due to the time. We wanted to stop a different park about half way between the coast and Seattle. After driving east for a bit, we suddenly found ourselves in Tacoma already! We knew that was much closer to Seattle than we expected to be, and decided to call my friend from Wooster who moved there recently and said she would be able to give us a place to sleep. Fortunately, she said we could join a night earlier than previously expected, so it worked out! We rolled in kind of late, sat around her fire pit for a minute, and then got ourselves to bed.

Part XXVI: Seattle, WA – Cloudy in the Morning, Sunny in the Afternoon
Summer in Seattle is pretty great. Yes, every morning started cloudy and gray, but the afternoons cleared up to be absolutely GORGEOUS. I hear it’s not always like that, but it put on a nice show for us.
Each morning, I went down to the City Center for a yoga practice at Troy Lucero’s Acme Yoga Project, an Ashtanga based practice shala which strongly emphasizes the independent study part of the practice. Doing just the right thing for each individual. I am totally sold on Troy and his teaching method. It is exactly how I would like to teach. He had me work on a whole heck of a lot of handstand stuff – adding presses into the primary series and having me work on some wacky hand positions on parallettes, canes, and more. Crazy challenging stuff. Cousin joined me for two of the mornings. I think that yoga could really benefit him, like it could benefit everyone, because he experiences a lot of anger around things and people he can’t control – pretty much everything that isn’t him. Most noticeable in traffic. Let’s hope he finds a way!
Tuesday after practice, we returned to the house and made blueberry muffins with the blueberries we picked in Salem. They turned out delicious. I mean, fresh blueberries make everything great, and blueberry muffins rule. To top it all off, we topped it with a brown sugar oat walnut crumble. So bomb. Also, I’ve been finding that using almond meal as a partial flour substitute is freaking brilliant. Highly recommend.
After muffins, Cousin and I walked around Ballard, the neighborhood we were staying in. First, lunch at a Mediterranean place, then a walk to the locks and along the river to various parks. Lot of cool stuff going on around Ballard. So many restaurants. Really. So many! It’s a beautiful river, especially once the sun came out. After several hours of walking, we made our way back up to the house and enjoyed muffins and blueberries.
In the late evening, I went with “A”, the Wooster friend who was letting us stay at her place, to an Acro Jam at a studio in Fremont. We stopped by the Fremont Troll on the way. The Jam was fun, but I didn’t feel as invited as I had been at other jams. I still had a lot of fun playing with a new friend – trying to figure out the Barrelroll and Catherine’s Wheel, among other things.
After practice Wednesday morning, I gave Cousin a Thai Massage to try to help lessen some of his fairly chronic hip and back pain. Lots of tightness in the hips. So much! It was good practice for me, working with someone larger than me and not loose like a yogi. After massage, we got some tasty seafood in Ballard for lunch – I would highly recommend Port Chatham Smoked Seafood. In addition to carrying smoked and frozen salmon and other seafood, they offer sandwiches and wraps for very reasonable prices. Could definitely eat there frequently.
After food, we walked down to Fremont to see the troll and check out Theo’s Chocolate Shop, who makes their own chocolate. Their own really good chocolate. (And a not-so-secret secret I found out about Theo’s on Thursday night, was that they do in fact dump scrap chocolate into their compost dumpster late at night. And if you’re willing to reach in and take it, there is much for the taking. I found a whole lot of sea salt and almond dark chocolate. And it was totally delicious.) Then we walked back home.
A and I went to a Stand-up Paddleboard Yoga class in through Surf Ballard. SUP Yoga is definitely cool, and it has a whole lot of potential, but for me the class set up just doesn’t work well. The additional challenge of SUP Yoga makes just about anyone like a beginner yogi again. So, for those who are beginner yogis in addition to beginner SUP Yogis, a very basic class is needed, making it a little boring for those who aren’t. But, that is just me speaking from a single class, so, many grains of salt included. On the plus side, it was great to be out on the water and two harbor seals hung around and watched us while we practiced!
Thursday morning after practice, I returned to the house, I made some blueberry pancakes (also delicious, like the muffins). Used more of that almond meal, along with some oats and white flour, to make them and was very satisfied with the results! Then, Cousin, A, and I went to hike Rattlesnake Ledges. It was cloudy until we finished the hike, but it was still very cool. The first ledge that everyone goes to is super crowded and not very interesting. Fortunately, it turns out that there is another little ledge another tenth of a mile up the trail that is tiny and much less known, and therefore much less occupied. Beautiful views!
We returned to Seattle to start to get our things in order to leave on Friday and so I could meet with some friends from grade school for dinner at Uneeda Burger. I probably haven’t seen D and M in eight years! D was one of the first people I met when I got to Friends and I met M in day care when we were both very little. It was great to see them again and catch up on eight years’ worth of information. Plus, dinner was tasty – solid burger combinations and very tasty milkshakes. After eating, we walked down to Fremont center and then split up to go to our homes.
Late in the evening, I took Cousin to the airport so he could fly himself home. On the way back, I swung by Gas Works Park for a stunning view of downtown Seattle lit up at night, and Theo’s dumpster for chocolate. Tasty dumpster chocolate.
Friday morning, I got ample food to travel – lots of fruit and some bread – and started on certainly my longest personal drive I’ve done on this trip. Covered about 700 miles to make it almost all of the way to Yellowstone National Park!

Part XXVII: Yellowstone National Park – Shoshone is Better
I spent the night in Ennis, about an hour’s drive from Yellowstone’s West Entrance and started very early the next morning to make my way into the park. I saw the sun rise over Earthquake lake and probably rolled into the park before seven.
The geothermal activity in that place is just amazing. It was definitely what I saw the most of and makes the landscape look like a wild, alien planet. Bubbling, sulfurous mud alongside steam vents and exploding, spurting water. Just incredible. Saw Old Faithful go off, and the eruption lasted way longer than I thought it would! Like, two whole minutes! Wow.
From there I started seeing animals – pika, squirrels, chipmunks, mule deer, elk, and bison! The bison didn’t start to show up until I was north of the Yellowstone lake, but once they started showing, boy did a lot show up! I mean, surely not as many as there used to be, but I was surprised by the size of the herds. And, wow, those are some big freaking animals. They would do some serious damage if you angered one.
I continued north through some great views at Tower Fall, but the real beauty, in my opinion, started when I started east and got into the Shoshone National Forest. Of all of the places I have been on this trip so far, I definitely felt the most power here. Wyoming has continued to be incredibly beautiful. It may have helped that I was listening to a powerful episode of the Invisibilia podcast about how the world does treat people with mental illnesses and how we should. Seriously, check it out. But I got smiles and tears just driving through the country, gazing at the incredible geological formations. Huge huge HUGE rocks and cliffs. Just stunning.
I came out of that into the rolling hills of Wyoming and Cody, where I spent the night. Today, I drove from Cody to Spearfish, South Dakota, cruising across the country. I stopped at Devil’s Tower National Monument, which is definitely a damn incredible rock. So tall! And it just shoots right up. Lots and lots of tourists there. There was a big line to get in, but I was happy I did. No aliens played music. No mashed potatoes were consumed.

On to the Black Hills, Badlands, and Mt. Rushmore tomorrow. I’ll be back in Ohio in a week! Wow.

Posted in Animals, Ashtanga, Food, People, Road Trip, USA!, Yoga | Leave a comment

On the Road – Week 5

Part XIX: Santa Monica, CA – Beach Play Time
Sunday morning I got myself up to Santa Monica for yoga playtime on the Greens, a place where many yogis meet up for acro and hand balance play every day, but especially on Sundays – and Sundays get crazy busy there. I arrived pretty early and there weren’t many people, so I had plenty of space and time to warm up and stretch. Then, some IG people I really adore showed up, some of whom I had planned to meet up and some I had not. There are a lot of yogis in the LA area. I got to do a lot of acro play – as a base and a flyer, laying on the ground and standing – and some more canes hand balance play. The great thing about both of these is that there is always more to experiment with! And it is still very new to me. It is hard work and it is all going to benefit each other.
After a bit of time on the Greens, L (who I had been hanging out with south of LA, in the Huntington and Newport Beach area, walked with me down to Venice Beach. She insisted that I walk down, because nobody else would walk me down there (as in, nobody else would offer it and I hadn’t been asking for it). And boy was she right and boy was it a wild ride and incredibly different from the beaches south of LA and the Santa Monica beach. Huge quantities of people, many homeless, many random tourist pieces of shit for sale, and lots of street performers. It was quite overwhelming, but totally worth visiting briefly.
After a very full day of fun in the sun, I went for some food, amazing sushi by myself and then some ramen with IG friends I made on the greens. Sushi Roku was hella bomb. Go there. The ramen was delicious, but not subtle, just lots and lots of pork fat and salt and thick noodles. Then one of those friends was kind enough to allow me to crash at his house for the night on a futon. The most fun part of arriving in that gated community was seeing three cop cars pull up (knowing they weren’t for me, but having that worry) and then watching them remove two people with a lot of bags from the woods between buildings.

Part XX: San Francisco – Are you going?
It was a long drive from LA to SF, reminding me just how massive California is. IT IS A BIG FREAKING STATE. When I arrived, I was pretty immediately overwhelmed by the density of the city. Tall buildings, narrow streets, and electric lines over head for the buses… It was a lot. After settling my city anxiety that popped up, I made my way to Tartine Bakery (of course) for some food. As you may know, Tartine Bakery was created by the baker who wrote the bread baking book that got me into making Sourdough. I had to go. It was everything I dreamed it would be and more. So many beautiful pastries in the case, baguettes, and loaves. I got a baguette to share at my next stop, the Fromage Blanc and Banana sandwich (all of their sandwiches are panini pressed). It was amazing. Crunchy on the outside and soft and sweet on the inside. And then I wrapped up my meal with a cup of brioche bread pudding with fresh fruit – berries and peaches! It was fabulous.
After food, I cruised around town, coming to understand how windy San Fran is and being surprised by how chilly it can get over here! The lack of humidity out here keeps it interesting. I walked around Fort Mason, enjoying views of the bridge, harbor, and so many pelicans. Seriously, where do they all come from? After a good bit of time there, I made my way to the ocean side of the bridge to watch the sunset – which was incredibly beautiful. So many colors! Lots of people were out watching.
With the sun down, I made my way back to the Haight-Ashbury district to spend the night with one of my sister’s very good friends from school who is in SF working with a 3D printer company. I was just there for the night, but she gave me a great suggestion for breakfast the next day – The Mill, another bakery that mostly sells toasts and coffee for breakfast. The only downside, in my opinion, is that the bake a lot of their loaves in bread pans, which I find makes the sourdough rather dense – doesn’t cook as evenly as on a stone. But that’s me. Still has a tender and delicious crumb, though! Before I got breakfast there, I went to The Mindful Body, a wellness company, for a Mysore class with a very entertaining teacher. It was a good practice!
After practice and breakfast (with some parking challenges in between), I made my way out towards Sausalito for a morning view of the Golden Gate Bridge. After some pictures there, I made my way towards the Sacramento Airport. Not a traditional stop, but I was gaining a road trip companion to continue forward with me. My cousin was flying in from Delaware to join in the adventures. Additionally, my parents were flying into SAC at the same time for their own adventures, so we said hi to them while we were there.

Part XXI: San Andreas – Farm Life
From the airport, cousin and I drove southeast towards Yosemite, to arrive in San Andreas (on the fault, I guess?) and join a work away farm/vineyard where a friend of mine from college is managing. The farm has about 10 acres total, one acre is vineyard, probably a couple acres of vegetable garden, and then a whole bunch of various fruit and nut trees scattered over the property including plumbs, apricots, walnuts, pears, apples, and more, plus boysenberry and raspberry bushes. Everything delicious.
When we arrived, they still had their market open, so we couldn’t do much until they were closed. Got a very abbreviated tour of the space and our beds, and I helped package some house made fruit leather. Once the market closed, it was dinner time, starring lots of vegetables from the garden, the Tartine baguette, and pesto they made from their basil and walnuts. So yummy!
The next morning, we were up to work on the farm! First, I did some yoga with my cousin and friend – lots of yummy stretchy time. With R, the farm owner, my cousin and N, one of the work-away folks, we hoed some rows for planting winter squash (once the plants are ready). We also weeded tomato plants and tied them up so there aren’t so many branches falling down. In the afternoon, we cracked walnuts which had been maturing for a month so they wouldn’t be bitter. Additionally, I got to take another crack at my Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, although this time I got to make them gluten free using some homemade oat and toasted almond flour and walnut chunks. They turned out delicious! I’m going to have to make baked goods from my own almond flour more often. For being gluten free, I found them surprisingly tender. Hooray!
For dinner, we grilled a couple dozen squash from the garden to taste test the different varieties of squash at different sizes to see when they were best. For better or worse, they were all tasty. Haha! So much squash to enjoy. There were also tasty tacos for dinner. And lots of cookies.

Part XXII: Crescent City, CA – Cruising the Coast for Redwoods
The next morning, we were out early and on our way to the northern California Coast to enjoy our first redwoods! It was a long drive. Like I’ve mentioned, California is a big state. Fortunately, having a second person in the car makes the road fly by. We listened to music, books, and podcasts, talked, and enjoyed the scenery. On the way across the state, my cousin really wanted to try In N Out Burger, a popular chain in Cali that is best known for its secret menu. So, as newbies, we weren’t well versed in that. For fast food connoisseurs, I would recommend going with someone well versed in it, or studying up online. It was incredibly busy, so no time to consult with the cashier on how one should order their food.
We made it over the mountains, to the coast, and in relatively short time found ourselves coming into the Redwood National Forest. Let me just say, those trees are incredibly huge! Indescribably huge. And you really need some sort of scale to understand how big they are. Looking at a person next to the tree makes it look so much larger than just looking at it. I mean, wow. They’re huge! We took a scenic drive through the Prarie Creek park and found the tree to drive through as we got further up the coast towards Crescent City.
We got into Crescent City maybe half an hour before sunset (although all of Humbolt County seemed covered in fog by now) without knowing exactly where we were going to sleep. Cousin was hungry, so we pulled up to a restaurant in hope of first eating and second talking to someone about sleeping somewhere. In luck, the restaurant we pulled into had pair of locals walking out who my cousin asked about sleeping and gave just the answer we needed! She told us how camping was tolerated most everywhere along the coast and the 101 corridor. We then found a little spot right along a cliff which turned into an absolutely beautiful spot at sunrise. Incredibly beautiful. And it was a big cliff. Haha

Part XXIII: Bend, OR – Mountains, Rocks, and Yoga
Getting up early in our tent by the cliff, we packed up and hit the road early to work our way further up the Pacific Coast into Oregon to eventually turn east to get to Bend. The road brought some stunningly beautiful views, vistas, trees, old logging towns, smooth rivers, and lakes. I knew I was going to love the PNW, but I didn’t realize just how much! And Cousin is so over moon loving it, that is beautiful. He came out here for an Outward Bound trip last fall and hadn’t expected to return for years, but now he is back nine months later and hyped to be seeing the same places again, and even seeing the instructors again! But that is a story for later.
On the way up the coast, we stopped at some dunes. Cousin hadn’t seen any before, and I’m amazed by how many places around the country I find them! NC, Michigan, petrified ones in Utah… and many more. This country is amazing!
As we drove east, we crossed the Cascades with more amazingly beautiful forests, taking the McKenzie Pass scenic route. Up at the top, we had incredible views of the Sisters, Mt. Washington, Mr. Hood, lava fields, and mountain lakes. I’ve kind of always thought I would love to live by a mountain lake and, besides the mosquitos, I still want to! There were a lot of mosquitos though…
Over the pass, we got into Bend, where we met up with our housing for a couple nights. With them, we walked down by the river – which is still beautiful in town. Then it was dinner with lots of conversation and mostly a telling of the story of the time we saw a friend almost fall down a waterfall in Malaysia. Maybe you remember that story.
The next morning, I spent some time working on this blog entry before going to a yoga class at The Yoga Lab a good, fast flow. Then, cousin and I hit up The Pancake Wagon – a stationary food truck by a Mountain Supply store in Bend, just around the corner from the studio. We found it as we rolled into town the previous night when Cousin decide to acquire himself a pair of Chacos. We met the women who run it and were pulled in by their “Purrito” – a pancake burrito. That’s right. Pancake. Burrito. I highly recommend it if you come through Bend. Or life in Bend. The owners are absolutely lovely and make freaking delicious pancakes. We got seconds.
Then, Cousin and I made our way out back into nature for some time among the rocks. We went to Smith Rocks, where Cousin had camped and climbed while on his Outward Bound trip. It’s just a beautiful site – huge rock faces, a lovely creek running through it, and some great sunshine. Unfortunately, when we were arrived, there were two individuals being rescued. Apparently one had had a heart attack, not sure about the other. A reminder to focus on keeping yourself safe while exerting yourself. Drink lots of water, pay attention to how you feel, don’t over do it. Otherwise, we really enjoyed the visit.
Then, we returned to Bend for the evening where I went to an Acro Jam at a yoga studio in a hip downtown area. It was blast! Nine people showed up, six of whom had never done acro before. So, “T”, the teacher, taught those six some Acro basics while I and two others worked on what we wanted to work on. We did a twist from folded leaf to straddle bat called “prasaritta twist” and a standing pose called camel where the base and flyer work together to get the flyer overhead. It was a lot of fun!
After acro, several of us went over to “The Lot”, an outdoor bar where a bunch of food trucks meet for a fun evening. There were five or six trucks there and all of the food looked tasty. It was a hopping joint. Everything in that area seemed to be! Just as we arrived at the food truck rally, though, Cousin ran into the instructors from his Outward Bound trip! He had been trying, without luck, to get in contact with them for a couple days AND thought he saw one or more of them while we were at Smith Rocks, but there they all were! The universe makes everything that needs to happen, happen. After chatting a bunch, we decided to go climbing with them on Sunday. Should be a blast. On the way back to the car, we saw a donut shop just closing and got a few tasty ones cheap.

Climbing today and then its further north before finally turning back east!

Posted in Acro, Food, People, Road Trip, USA!, Yoga | Leave a comment

On the Road: Week 4

Part XVI: Moah, UT – Arches National Park
After I posted my last post, my aunt took me along to the lake with my cousin and two of his friends so they could practice driving the boat trailer there and driving the boat on the lake for waterskiing, wakeboarding, and wake surfing. It was evening, so under the shade it was pretty chilly! It was a lot of fun though, I even got to drive for a little while – nothing like a fast boat up on plane.
After spending the night with my aunt and uncle, I hopped in my car and headed farther west into Utah. I stopped in Moab, at Arches National Park and was, again, totally blown away by the absolute beauty of the dessert landscape and the incredible power of erosion in the natural world! I drove through, stopping for a few pictures and hiked out to the Delicate Arch. A stranger took my picture and I asked a couple other strangers to try a little AcroYoga with me under the arch. One of them agreed and nobody plummeted to their death or severe injury! So that was a success. I couldn’t stop smiling at the open skies, sandstone, scrub, and colors. It’s just incredible.
After enjoying the park so much, I continued west to make as much distance towards California as I could before I had to stop for the night. I made it a bit south on 15 before the sun started to set and I decided that a rest stop was a good enough spot as any to sleep. I hung my hammock in some trees and got myself to sleep. There are not a lot of trees in that part of Utah, come to find out. And the desert gets chilly at night – so you know. But the starts are incredible. I was comfy in my hammock, but didn’t sleep long, and I left the rest stop around 3:30a or 4:00a.

Part XVII: San Diego, CA – West Coast Begins
I found myself in the Nevada desert as the sun began to rise, so I took myself off of the highway and set up to chill to watch it come up. It was a great choice. The desert is SO quiet. Amazingly quiet. Disturbingly quiet. Especially when the wind stops. The wind is firm and consistent, and really, it seems like it has been everywhere west of the Rockies – it just does not stop! Anyway, the sun came up and it was beautiful.
I continued on to California and a stop in Joshua Tree National Park by driving through the Mojave Desert. The incredible landscape continues! It’s so different from the east coast and I have not spent enough time out here! And should definitely do again. Who wants to go with me next time? Joshua tree was wild, but, to be honest, I think I liked Arches more. There are way more colors in closer to the Rockies and it gets much less red as we get closer to the coast. However, the Joshua Trees and all of the different cacti and desert plants are just incredible. I am constantly amazed by the diversity of nature and the power of evolution on this continent, not to mention this planet!
After enjoying the park, I continued further west over more mountain ranges – there are three ranges to cross going across SoCal! What’s up with that? Over and over mountains I made my way to San Diego and IG friends. I met up with “O” in Oceanside and went with him to his gym space to do some stretch and flex work. We played with inversions, backbends, splits, and hanging core work drills. It was a good time, even though he was convinced it wouldn’t be enough fun for me. After playing, he was kind enough to let me spend the night in his house. We chatted for a while about life before I just had to sleep.
The next morning, I was up early to get myself to the Ashtanga Yoga Center in Encinitas for a Mysore class with Tim Miller, one of the early generation American ashtanga practitioners and teachers to study with Pattabhi Jois and teach here in the USA. It was a good class. Plus, the next morning, I returned for lead pranayama, kirtan, and then an “Ashtanga Improv” class which was really cool! I really appreciate seeing many different styles of teaching, it is showing me all of different things I can do with my teaching when I get back to it. It also shows me what I like, what other people like, and, to some extent, what is a good and sustainable practice. Talking to, and taking classes from, those who have been practicing for multiple decades is incredibly informative. Yoga can be so much.
After the class on Wednesday, the first one, I went to down to San Diego for lunch at Peace Pies, an incredible vegan/raw restaurant where I got a super delicious curry mango wrap. To be honest, vegan raw food does make me feel so much better than other stuff. I’ll try to not go on and on about eating vegetables like people do, but it’s true.
After lunch, I went to La Jolla (La hoy-yah) to look at tidal pools and tourists harassing seals and sea lions. I really hoped to see someone be deservedly bit, but no one did, and that would mean that they were way over harassing the animals, which would be bad. A few were spooked, which made me sad. There were also a whole bunch of cormorants and some seagulls with chicks, who were just shy of being awkward looking. The tidal pools were awesome, though! Lots and lots of crabs and snails, anemones, some fish, soft corals, barnacles, and these bright orange, slow moving creatures who look like crawfish without tails. There were a lot of dead ones around, so I thought a bunch of the live ones were dead. Seriously, they do not try to move at all! No wonder so many were dead…
After enjoying the beach, I made my way back to the Ocean Beach area for a farmers’ market and acro jam! Unwittingly, the acro jam was being filmed by a guy who runs a drone for a documentary on the San Diego jam. Also unwittingly, there were a few quite rather instafamous acro people who I didn’t get to know. I did, though, get to meet a few really cool acro people, one cool enough to give me a place to crash for the next two nights and play for a day! After lots of acro and hand balance play, I got Pho for dinner with my new friend “A”. It was delicious.
The next morning, I went back for pranayama and ashtanga. We worked on leg-behind-the-head poses, forearm stand variations (including sayanasana – just on your elbows), and delicious backbends. It was a really fun class. Afterwards, I had some acro play with a different “A”, who is an acro teacher. We worked on reverser star, croc, and low hand to hand, so a lot of handbalance work, too. I need to put a lot of work into straightening out my handstand – focusing on dropping the top of my head towards the ground and anterior pelvic tilt to get a strong hollowbody shape instead of a little back bend. I’ll get there one day, it’ll be a challenging journey, but it’ll be worth it! We played at Swami’s beach, where a lot of people meet on the weekends. It was cool to see where so many post pictures from!
After acro play, I got lunch at EVE (Encinitas Vegan Eatery), enjoying a coconut curry and a cashew cheesecake. I am definitely going to have to learn how to make these raw cashew cheesecakes.
Then, I got myself back down near San Diego center to hang out with the other “A”. We went about enjoying the outside at Balboa Park – looking at art, beautiful architecture, fountains, and gardens! Then we made our way to Torrey Pines, enjoying incredible cliffs at the oceans edge where people go gliding. The wind and view was incredible again. Coasts are amazing.
After enjoying the coast, I made my way back up the coast to Carlsbad for an acro class with the other A. She had us work toward a washing machine of her creation called “Shinderella” which was another incredibly challenging one, especially for the beginner who was there for his first acro class ever! It involved shin to foot and croc and star – all challenging poses on their own. Then it was back down to San Diego center for the night before heading north the next day.

Part XVIII: Los Angeles, CA – West Coast Vibe
In San Diego, I met up with “L”, an IG networking legend who organizes so much of the IG yoga community. I’ve gotten to hang out with her a bunch this weekend, and it has been an absolute blast, she and her family are crazy and delightful.
On Friday morning, she took me to around town a little – to see the Huntington Beach and Pier. Then a class with one of her favorite teachers, an ashtangi who has developed a vinyasa variation very focused on the breath and flowy movement. It was yummy. After class, we cruised around a little, picked up her kids from school, got delicious acai/pitaya bowls – lots and lots of yummy fruit! We took her kids home, where her daughter had me find bugs with her. It was fun! After a little home time, L took me to the Bolsa Chica Wetlands Bird Habitat. As you may know, I love my marine birds, which is exactly what this protected area is for! There was one bird I had never seen before whose appearance I was absolutely struck by. Mostly tern shaped, but larger than most, longer bill, very dark on top and very white on bottom, big red band on the base of the bill. I have got to figure out what is. After birds, we did a little acro in a park for pictures, and then went out to the house with a couch that had been found for me to sleep on AND a job offer for L. We got poke on the way. Delicious, delicious raw fish!
Saturday morning, I met up with L at YogaWorks again for another vinyasa class from a teacher with an ashtanga background who has been practicing for 40 years! Another great, sweaty class. Afterwards, L and I took pictures, then picked her daughter up for a mother-daughter date day that I was invited to join and enjoy. And I did! We went to a sculpture garden in Newport Beach, which generated some fantastic pictures, or at least picture opportunities. Then, we went to the Fashion Island Mall to check out a brain game store, have lunch and gelato, and walk around. Finally, it was time for L and her daughter to head off to other events. I took some time to work on my blog entry for y’all.
Tomorrow, I get to enjoy the massive acro and yoga jam on the Santa Monica greens! I can’t wait for it.

Posted in Acro, Animals, Ashtanga, Food, Mysore, People, Road Trip, USA!, Yoga | Leave a comment

On the Road: Week 3

Part XII: San Antonio, TX – Surprise Friend
The ride from Austin to San Antonio was even shorter, just an hour and half – hardly a road trip worthy drive. But, San Antonio was a wonderful stop!
First off, San Antonio is just lovely, certainly compared to Houston and Austin, in my opinion. I guess mostly it just feel softer. More brown and tan buildings as opposed to grays, less imposing heights to the buildings, things like that. Just a nicer feel for me.
First thing was a class with an IG yogi “L” who is into acro, trapeze, and hand balance. Before meeting her, we had not talked much beyond a few comment exchanges and figuring out how to meet, so I wasn’t sure what was going to happen (much like in Chapel Hill, Houston, and Austin), but, like before, it turned out great! I took her class and she focused on backbends, specifically the hollowback shape, which is a tricky one used in inversions like forearm stand and handstand. It was super informative and helpful class for building that shape. After class, we had a little acro play time before her next class, which was super fun because she definitely knows what she is doing as a flyer, so we could try some pretty funky moves.
She invited me over to her house for lunch after her second class, where we got to know each other well over a meal and then had some more acro play time. She’s got a little dog who is more than happy to lick the face of someone lying on the ground, which always makes flying someone a little trickier. And of course, we filmed somethings for IG, which, of course, made things way harder once the camera was on, resulting in a whole heck of a lot of laughter.
Playtime ended when I drove up to the airport to pick up my dad, who was kind enough to fly in to San Antonio to help me with a particular long stretch of my drive from there to Santa Fe (about 10-11 hours road time). We even had a hotel room for the night, how luxurious!
L had told me about an acro class at The District, a movement gym in town that does all kinds stuff including bouldering, crossfit, parkour, and more. So, once more, I got to do some super fun acro play. There was a wide range of skill levels among the individuals present, so it was enjoyable both to fly proficient people and newbies, or to be flown myself. The teachers presented a flow that was definitely a challenge, but super cool. I had a blast!
My dad and I got a late dinner and retired to sleep because we had an early morning. L, a photographer, in addition to teacher, offered to take some pictures around San Antonio of me before we headed for Santa Fe. Because road trips are all about spontaneity, I knew this was an opportunity not to be missed, after a little consideration. Bright and early, just as the sun was rising, she took us to part of town with a ton of street art/graffiti – but the really beautiful and intentional kind, not just tags. We spent an hour trying different poses in front of different works and she displayed massive levels of excitement around the captures, so I cannot wait to see them!
Exhausted, we took a pit stop back at the hotel to clean up, eat, organize, and take off, west on I-10 and then north on 285.
On my dad’s suggestion, brilliant suggestion, we stopped in Roswell, NM, to visit the International UFO Museum. It was a worthwhile experience. While I do not doubt the existence of extraterrestrial beings or the possibility that they could be sufficiently advanced to visit other parts of the universe, the probability that they’d visit us just to probe a few people or insert implants, fly by, crash, or be incredibly humanoid in their appearance seems dramatically small. The humanoid part is what really gets me, it’s just so vain! Look at the diversity of life on our planet alone, and try to imagine the possibilities that evolution could create on different ones. It’s a really challenging thing to imagine. Also, I don’t doubt the government was covering something up around the time of all of the UFO reports in the late 40s. The government loves to hide things, especially right after WWII and entering the Cold War. Hiding military secrets is consistently considered crucial.
We also had some great sandwiches and sweet potato fries at Big D’s. Limited veggie options, but we both enjoyed our meals. I had the black bean and potato veggie burger and he had the Cuban. Then we finished our drive to Santa Fe, where a friend I met in Wooster was kind enough to take us in for two nights.

Part XIII: Santa Fe, NM – Dad Time
We rolled into Santa Fe just after sunset – it was dark and beautiful. The country out there is always beautiful! And it always smells amazing. The scent of New Mexican scrub hill country is very special. First, it reminds me of Philmont, the Boy Scout ranch north east of Taos. The scent is a soft pine carried on the breeze, accented with wild flowers. I love it. What is even more fun, is that the scent changes as you go up in altitude.
I was reminded of this change when my dad and I went for a hike from the Aspen Vista picnic ground. It was a simple hike, but lovely. The hike took us from an aspen forest, through a mixed forest with aspens and pines, and then into an all pine forest. There were a several varieties of pine, but I would have needed a book to go about identifying. Wonderfully, after a bit of hiking, we found snow! We made a snowman, of course. He was glad to be brought into this world.
Before hiking, I took my practice at home – some good ol’ Ashtanga Primary series. It was a good practice! My lotus is starting to come back, and I’m excited for it. Maybe even more so than when I started getting it originally. I’ve been going slow, opening up my hips with pigeons and figure fours, and stretching my quads sitting in hero’s pose, and more. Attention and intention make life easier and brings progress.
After hiking, my dad and I went to downtown Santa Fe to look around a little and to have dinner with the family we’re staying with. Dinner was good – Mexican at La Choza (check it out if you’re in town!). Blue corn is used everywhere around there! Back at their house, we checked out a couple houses under construction in the neighborhood that my friend’s dad designed. They are gorgeous and spacious!
The following morning, we continued north towards Denver! We stopped for breakfast in Taos at Michael’s Bakery. Huevos Rancheros for my dad and Blue corn pancakes with pinions (pine nuts) for me were both great! More of a savory pancake by itself, a touch of maple syrup or honey made it perfect.
We made it the rest of the way to big, busy Denver in the late afternoon.

Part XIV: Denver, CO – Mountain Time
Arriving in Denver, we checked into our hotel. We walked my dad over to dinner at ChoLon – which was terrific. I mean, I didn’t have much because I was then on my way to AcroYoga that night, but the tastes I had were delicious and the tea I got was nice. A green tea with toasted brown rice – wild. The nuttiness of the brown rice tempered the gentle bitterness of the tea.
I walked down Larimer street (heavily mentioned in On the Road, which made it kind of fun) to The Kompound Training Center to meet up with another IG friend “J” who had agreed to join me for the Acro class! J and I walked around, getting to know each other a bit in person before class. Walking around Larimer is neat, there’s all kinds of stuff going on there.
This Acro class was great! Going to Acro classes has been a huge benefit for me, and now I rather want to do an AcroYoga teacher training, even more than before. I’ve really enjoyed seeing all of the different ways that people teach acro, as well as all of the different things that people teach. I’ve been feeling more confident as a base, flyer, and spotter, and growing more eager to teach it! Adding lots of primal movements and calibrations to warm up was a great idea used by the teachers, Jen and Austin of Denver Flight club. Thursday night, we did a lot of star work – flyer is inverted with their shoulders on the feet of the base. I hadn’t just drilled it repeatedly before, so it was helpful in all three positions. We also tried exiting it by falling backwards, as if we had lost balance, which was new and surprisingly not quite as scary as I thought it was going to be, at least with a spotter.
After class, J and I got dinner at Bar Fausto, just next door. Apparently, their cocktails are really good (not my thing), but the food was plenty tasty, too! Farro and arugula salad with all kinds of goodness and a mind numbingly perfect caprese bruschetta. Basil, yum.
The next morning, I got my dad on public transportation to work his way home, dropped the car off for a needed oil change (bet I’ll need another right around the time this road trip wraps up), and went to a class highly recommended by L from San Antonio. The recommendation was spot on. Jack Cuneo at Kindness Yoga lead a terrific class – a very pleasant balance of stretch and strengthen, without the frequent use of vinyasa that is common in other classes. I would also highly recommend him. At class, I met up with yet another IG friend, “M”. Great people everywhere. We took some pictures of inversions and some flight.
After class, I picked up my car and drove up to Boulder to check out the town and have lunch with J! After walking around the river and Pearl St., she brought me to Shine!, a place at the level of hipster you would probably expect from Boulder, for a delicious lunch. I got a veggie coconut curry and J got some awesome tacos, one of which was made with jackfruit! What?! It was tasty. Apparently, using young jackfruit doesn’t have much flavor, but cooked up it makes a decent meat substitute that takes on whatever flavors you give it.
After lunch, I took myself over to the Flatirons – massive rock slabs on the front range which are popular for hiking and climbing. They are stunning to look at! So big and beautiful. The pine forest strongly reminded me of certain zones in Philmont. Some parts of the Flatiron trail had lovely meadows with grassy and floral under growth and some parts were more like bouldering and scrambling. Always fun.
After my hike, I got myself back to Denver for another Acro class with Jen and Austin. This was a higher level and longer class than Thursdays. We built towards a very challenging washing machine (acro flow that brings the flyer and base back to where they started) that they had designed. We worked on bicep stand (flyer’s biceps on base’s feet), reverse star (star, but facing the other way), and croc (one of flyer’s biceps on one base’s foot, with the elbow in the flyer’s belly, balancing parallel to the ground) to prepare for what they want to call “CrocPot” – camel on base’s hands to reverse straddle throne, waterfall to reverse shoulder stand, incredible transition to reverse star, to croc, back to camel. Find them and look at the video they’ll probably post.
After class, I took myself back north past Boulder to crash at M’s house for the night. Always grateful for a place to sleep!
Saturday morning, I got up early and got myself down to Boulder for a Mysore class at The Yoga Workshop with Michal that was really great. She gave me some awesome assists and tips for pose work. The part that really spoke to me was observing how others in the room practice. I mean, I know I’m not supposed to, but I was aware. Especially, because a number of practitioners took poses and transitions outside of the traditional series. It reminds me that the practice is all about the breath and not the postures. The practice is just to help you be yourself more, it doesn’t matter how you get there.
After practice, I swung by the Boulder farmer’s market and got some delicious cherries, and then I headed west to see my aunt and uncle near Aspen!

Part XV: Basalt, CO – More Mountains
I got to my aunt and uncle’s house mid-afternoon and caught up with them, one of my cousins, and his girlfriend. There was quite a bit to catch up on – I haven’t seen them at all in a couple years, and I haven’t been to their house out here in almost a decade! Located in a valley in Rockies, it’s a beautiful location and a beautiful house.
Sunday morning, I went to a nearby studio for a slow or restorative flow yoga class. Different from what I’m used to, but definitely good. We spent a lot of time in pigeon pose and twists.
After class, we picked up the girlfriend and went down to Snowmass for a little hike to “Spiral Point”, a yin and yang platform made from polished granite up on a ridge. It has beautiful views, of course, and would be an amazing place for full on yoga photo and video shoot. We took a few pictures of inversions, hand balances, and acro poses. The girlfriend was kind/trusting enough to let me fly her, and she did great! None of my family trusted me enough. Haha! I can’t wait to share a lot more of these pics.
After hiking back down, we swung into Aspen for lunch at Pyramid Bistro, a “nutritarian” restaurant. So, the goal is to get the most micronutrients per calorie consumed. Which is perfect, and it was incredibly delicious.
Later, my uncle took my cousin and me skeet shooting. I hadn’t shot anything in a while, so it was pretty challenging at first, but I did manage to hit several clay pigeons. So, that was exciting! We flung them by hand with something like those tennis ball launchers they have for dogs. That was almost harder to get a hang of than shooting the discs. Didn’t even bruise my shoulder!

Tomorrow I continue west to camp in Utah and then further on to Southern California to meet a whole lot of IG yogis!

Posted in Acro, Ashtanga, Food, Mysore, People, Road Trip, USA!, Yoga | Leave a comment

On the Road: Week two

Sorry for the delay! Its been busy and fun

Part VII: Satellite Beach, FL – Let’s Talk About Life
Monday morning, I took off further south for Florida to meet J, a good friend from IG. She has two teenage kids who are definitely teenagers. Over the two nights I was there, we had a lot of great conversations about growing up and life and so much more.
Monday night was mostly spent hanging out, meeting the peeps, having dinner and chatting, plus, a little walk to show me how I could get down to the beach the next morning for sunrise. Early on Tuesday, I got myself up, out, and down to the beach in time for sunrise which was, of course, absolutely lovely. Clear sky with just enough clouds to add some color. The only downside were the no-see-ums which bit my ankles all up – they still itch a little! Later in the morning, we drove up to the Canaveral National Seashore and the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge to see the scrub land and some other coastal ecology zones that are out there. It was hot and sunny and mostly quiet, but I did see some lovely birds – cranes, ducks, ospreys, spoonbills, and more! After checking out a couple trails, we went to a beach to spend a little time cooling off in the ocean (surprisingly warm) and do a little beach yoga, of course!
That evening, J and I went to a yoga class in Melbourne (a short drive and not half the world away), which was a lovely, gentle flow. After, I flew her and another lady from class briefly while we talked to the teacher. We got dinner and then we were home and I was asleep so I could get going early.

Part VIII: Fort Walton, FL – Gulf Coast
Wednesday morning, I was back on the road, heading west, to meet a friend from college who is now an air force midwife a little east of Pensacola. (I hope that means she gets to catch babies fall from planes, too.) It was probably tied for my longest drive on this trip so far with Chapel Hill to Atlanta by way of Asheville, but it went quickly and smoothly. Plus, when I arrived, I went straight to a beech on Okaloosa Island! Pretty darn great way to end a long drive, if I do say so. All of the beeches I enjoyed in Florida this round had incredibly fine sand. More fine than granulated sugar and almost as fine powdered sugar. Plus, the sand on Okaloosa was about as white as sugar, too! It was just beautiful and the water felt great. I met S, my college friend, at the beach after she got off of work to swim. Then we went for dinner at a tapas place in town with some really fabulous scallops, among other delicious dishes. Back at her house, we watched The Bachelorette. To be honest, there is little I enjoy making fun of more than reality TV shows. To make it better, her boyfriend is good friends with one of the contestants. Drama is funny when I’m thoroughly distanced from it and nobody gets hurt.

Part IX: New Orleans, LA – NOLA
Thursday started with a relatively short drive from Fort Walton to NOLA. On the way, on a suggestion from S, I stopped at a biscuit place – The Greenhouse on Porter – next to Biloxi, Mississippi. It was a pretty damn amazing biscuit. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend it.
Then, I continued on to New Orleans to meet up with more folks. First, I met up with a “C” a good friend from our church community in Baltimore who came down here for college and has stayed down to work for a start-up for now. We met for lunch at a pretty dang hipster restaurant in St. Claude called the “Sneaky Pickle” – obviously hipster with a name like that. But they also serve mostly vegan/vegetarian fare in a place like NOLA, so that status is solidified. And it was delicious! It was also great to catch up with some I haven’t seen in probably a decade!
After lunch, I found the guy I whose apartment I would be staying in while in town, another Baltimore family friend, “J”. J came down to work the oil rigs in a more supervisorial role after college, but has unfortunately been laid off recently as happens. Lucky for me, that means he has more time to show me around. Thursday afternoon, we walked from his place in the Garden District down to and around the French Quarter and back. Saw most of the important stuff. There was street music, lots of homeless folks, beignets from Café du Monde (now available 24/7, if you didn’t know), and chargrilled oysters at the Blind Pelican. Both delicious. In the evening, we drove over by the Audubon Park, Tulane, and Loyola. The parks around here are beautiful and have some lovely trees! The shaggy hanging moss is so definitively south and very stately.
On Friday, I found an Ashtanga studio and went to their Mysore class. After a couple pictures, with some of these beautiful trees, I was back at the apartment to clean up before breakfast. We went around the corner to great little place that is packed, has local art on the walls for sale, and hardly enough space for the all of the tables in there. Simple and delicious with lots Cajun inspired breakfast foods. After food, we walked to the National World War II Museum and spent several hours there. It was heavy, dudes. Heavy. The two main thoughts that I came away with are the resiliency of human kind in the face of unimagineable horrors and the tragedies which result from not recognizing the humanity of people different from oneself. It’s well made, though. Lots of personal stories and a lot of information. Five hours there, and it was off for more food. Thankfully, our server was an absolute sweetheart who called everyone “my babies”. Got myself an oyster po’boy – tender fried oysters in chewy, crusty baguette! Yum! A little more walking and we made it back just before the rains.

Part X: Houston, TX – Entering Texas
The drive from New Orleans to Houston was a fairly uneventful one. The clouds darkened and drew close as I approached the boarder and there was plenty of rain to drive through (and a massive puddle in the rest stop parking lot), but once I arrived things started to clear up. I went to Sugar Land immediately to meet up with a few IG yogis who I was somewhat familiar with and a few more I didn’t know at all for a small meet up to play with a little acro and some inversion and hand balance. It was a blast, as it always is. Got some people to fly who don’t typically trust enough to do so and some who are usually bases. I had missed the class they all attended before play time, so after everyone went their separate ways I got to stick around and practice on my own – a slow, stretchy flow which was exactly what I needed.
One very entertaining thing happened just as I began to practice by myself. We met up in the yoga room of a large, popular fitness center in Sugar Land, of which I am obviously not a member, and they had me enter by a back door. During my first sun salutation, the door to the room, which I had closed, opened and in came a staff member with a small group touring the facilities. It was apparent neither one of us expected the other to be there, but I just kept on practicing as he discussed the use of the room and the classes available to members. I was grateful my face was away from the group when the guide said that I “was doing chaturangas and things” because it seemed like such a silly situation and I couldn’t help but giggle.
After practicing and taking some pictures, I cleaned up and found my way to a meeting point for dinner. A few of us met at a very large movie theater in Richmond, TX which has columns like the Roman Coliseum. It was a very grand exterior (everything is bigger in Texas, right?). Inside, there was a food court, bowling alley, arcade, and bar. That’s right, bar in the movie theater. Brilliant, right? The bartenders, who were two of the yogis from playtime, said that when Magic Mike came to town, business was very good. Seeing alcohol served in everyday locations is still slightly strange for me because in Baltimore, liquor licenses are difficult to come by, so it’s not available in things like gas stations and movie theaters, not to mention the drive through liquor stores which are popular elsewhere. From the theater meeting point, we drove into downtown for their favorite Asian restaurant, supposedly Vietnamese themed, but offering everything you would expect at an American Asian restaurant. It was certainly tasty and loaded with vegetables, which is always a hit on the road, plus the conversation was delightful.
One of the yogis graciously offered a couch for me to crash one, which I took too gratefully. The next morning, I was up and on the road early.

Part XI: Austin, TX – Bhakti Yoga
Houston to Austin is a quick drive, maybe 2.5 hours. I was there with ample time to get to a 10:30a class with a highly recommended teacher. It was wonderful and choosing to go to that class at that studio set up much of my brief visit to the city.
Being there significantly early, I saw a large group gathering outside the studio early as well. It turned out they were a YTT (yoga teacher training) class who would be there for the day. One particularly friendly member introduced herself to me and we had a little conversation, and then after class she invited me to join her and others at a Bhakti Yoga Kirtan nearby that evening. And then, at the Kirtan she invited me to crash at her place. The universe works in simple and beautiful ways. Put gratitude out there and everything you need will come to you.
Back to the yoga class, it was awesome. The teacher has a very strong room presence and gave an insightful and entertaining dharma talk to open the practice. The flow included a lot of longer holds and lot of time focusing on one side at a time. No poses that were too crazy, plenty of modifications, and it felt great. Good for the heart. I would definitely recommend Erinn Lewis and Sukha Yoga if you’re in Austin.
Before the Kirtan, I had several hours to burn, so I ate a little, relaxed in the parks along the river, and reorganized and cleaned up my car/home a little bit – it was definitely time. Being a Sunday afternoon, there was a lot going on big open green, which was where I stopped. I didn’t realize until later how much more of the parks I missed. Austin would be a city worth returning to explore much more deeply, despite how busy it is.
In the evening I went to an apartment on West side of the city for the Kirtan. Bhakti yoga focuses living one’s life for Krishna, one of the Indian gods who is really THE GOD for them. (Whatever I write here comes from a very cursory understanding of the practice and study.) Everything you experience, you experience for him. They physical world is not real because it is temporary, not permanent – think of waves on the ocean. The ocean is real because it is permanent, but the waves are not because they are only temporary. They physical world has been created because we want to provide experiences for Kirshna (or something like that… it gets tricky only hearing it once or twice.) So, devotees to Krishna will dress beautifully, surround themselves with good smelling flowers, eat things that are sweet and delicious, and chant all for Krishna to experience. So, at the Kirtan, we chanted/sang, had discussions on Bhakti yoga, which was my first real exposure to it, and then ate a meal together. The people were delightful, the food was delicious, and the chanting was a little challenging because it is a kind of call and response, but when you surrender to the song and let it flow through you, it is powerful and moving.
The thing that strikes me most about all of these different paths to enlightenment, to Samadhi, to god, to heaven, to whatever you want to call it, is that they call claim to be the only way to get there. This often leads to getting way too caught up in the path to either actually live your life or to move beyond the path, whichever path it may be. Besides, they all teach mostly the same thing at the very core. Live intentionally without attachment and without expectations of rewards for doing good. Live with compassion and truth for yourself and the whole world around you because that is how we should live. At least, that is the impression I get so far.
At my new friend’s house, I ended up staying up late talking to her and her neighbors about life and their lives. I also met a cat that likes to rub its face in your armpit while it drools. So that was fun. The next morning, I was up and out early again, on the road to San Antonio.

Maybe I’ll be able to post on Sunday or Monday this time – we’ll see

Posted in Acro, Ashtanga, Food, People, Road Trip, USA!, Yoga | Leave a comment

On the Road: Week One

It’s only been week and so much has happened that I feel like I have been going forever! Haha. Fortunately, it’s all great! 😀

Part I: The In-between time.
After returning from abroad, I was home in Baltimore for a little while. I returned to Charm City Yoga, now fully YogaWorks, for their Mysore practice, I spent a good bit of time in DC hanging out with my sister and some yogis I met abroad, I went to an O’s game with a really good friend from Middle and High School and Boy Scouts who I hadn’t seen in ages, and I spent a lot of time with my family. It was a wonderful time to recharge and prepare.
As my departure time approached, I acquired road trip food supplies including large quantities of peanut butter (smooth AND chunky), a big ol’ bag of apples, an assortment of nuts and dried fruits to make lots of trail mix, a 3lb. loaf of bread, dates, and I made myself some granola and cookies. The bread, fitting expectations, is the only one to show problematic wear so far – it started to mold and stale about a week in. Everything else remains in excellent condition (knock on wood). I’ve also brought a tent, a hammock, a sleeping pad, and a sleeping bag, a bag of clothes, a bunch of books, my laptop, and all of my yoga supplies. Road entertainment includes podcasts on my phone, music CDs, and several audio books on CDs. So far, from the Audio books, I have been trying to enjoy Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” and greatly enjoying assorted readings from David Sedaris.
With my car (Toyota Highlander ’03) loaded, I left Sunday evening to deliver my sister back to DC and the plan to leave from there in the morning. Which is exactly what I did, after one last Mysore practice with YogaDistrict.

Part II: Chesapeake, VA – The Young Family
Most of my stops on this road trip are aimed to help me meet people who I have become acquainted with through Instagram (IG). When getting to know people through social media, I have found that most of the time we tend to view them as if they live in Narnia, basically. They’re far away and inaccessible. So, I am very excited to pull these friends out of the wardrobe, so to speak, and be able to view them as real people in real places who I can hang out with.
My first stop was in Chesapeake, VA, just outside of Norfolk. Here, I met a man who I have become fairly well acquainted with through IG. (I will refer to him as “M”.) We’ve both been involved in a number of the same challenges and he has shown himself to be a very kind soul and dedicated yogi. We are about the same age and he has a wife “S” and two incredibly lovely children, “E”, a boy who will be entering kindergarten this fall, and “L” an ~18 month old girl. Luckily, wonderfully, beautifully, they both decided to like me very quickly and I spent a delightful two nights with them.
Much of that time was spent entertaining the kids around the house – favorite TV shows and movies (I don’t know how many times we watched Transylvania Hotel 2, but it was at least 3 times), toys, toys, toys, iPad games, and lots of pretend. E has a powerful imagination that he puts to good use all of the time, adding story to whatever we’re doing. We played with his toy cars and transformers, largely, pretended we were driving my car somewhere, drew with chalk, played with water guns, and lots more. On Tuesday, one of the first beautiful days in the NE in a while which turned into a beautiful week, we all went to pick strawberries at a farm nearby, which was lovely. Next door to the strawberry patch was another farm with some animals. It was closed, but nobody stopped us walking around and looking at the chickens, horses, goats, ducks, and pigs. L is beginning to get a grasp on some words and very affectionate, not to mention totally adorable, and thus is impossible not to love immediately. She is becoming a little addicted to using the iPad for videos and games and is shockingly adept at using it.
I practiced Ashtanga with M both mornings that I was there and did a little yoga play after. M is very tall and long of limb, and while it is always interesting to see how other people practice, it is especially interesting to observe people at the size extremes. On Tuesday night, M, S, and I spent some time flying and working on various Acro things, which was great fun!

Part III: OBX, NC – First Flight
From Chesapeake, I made my way to the coast of North Carolina. All of the way to the Outer Banks. This was a late addition to my itinerary, the result of some last minute shuffles, and hearing that one could try hang gliding on the dunes there. Writing from my third beach town on this trip – there are a lot of similarities between them. If you ever been to one, you know what someone means by “beach town”. Sure, there are some differences based on the income bracket, but they’re mostly the same.
Hang Gliding was a great experience. (Hang gliding is where you hang from a pair of wings with a little cross bar to steer with.) Before going about flying, obviously they have some introduction course and video to show you so you can hear the same basic words about how to fly a hang glider several different times. Like any new skill, it is tricky to pick up at first, and, lucky for us, when we started trying to fly the conditions were such that you really had to know what you were doing to take off in them. They were light, and not coming straight at us. After a few tries in that wind, it shifted enough that we could take the glider to a different dune and try some more. Here the winds were much more favorable and we found some solid success. We only flew several feet off of the ground for a several seconds, but feeling the rush of take-off and the excitement of being able to move yourself in the air, even just little bit, not to mention the thrill of succeeding at a new challenge, is frequently enough to bring many people back. I would certainly give it another go! The day was bright and clear, and the sands were soft and hot, couldn’t ask for much else.
That evening I faced a little challenge figuring out where I would stay. It was the middle of the week before Memorial Day weekend and I was in a community where people have enough money that they don’t really want nomads just hanging around, even if it is just for the night. Additionally, all of the campsites are designed for RVs and there is little to no shade anywhere. Fortunately, I found a little space to hang my hammock and was not disturbed between arriving and leaving early in the morning. And I even caught a beautiful sunrise.
I made the debatably poor choice of driving all of the way down the Outer Banks to the south end in the morning to ride the ferries to get back to the mainland. Boy did that turn out to be way more time consuming than expected. I probably spent three hours on the water between the two of them. On the upside, it was a great opportunity to nap after a not so great night’s sleep. Back across the Intercostal Waterway, I struck out for the “Research Triangle” and promise of yoga and Acro.

Part IV: Carrboro and Chapel Hill, NC – Franklin Street Yoga
I traveled to Carrboro to meet another IG yogi, we’ll call her “K”, who’s Acro practice has drawn my attention quite a bit. Previous to meeting, we had not talked and acquainted ourselves as much as I have with other yogis, but she welcomed me in with incredible warmth just the same. It turned out just fine that I spent so long on the ferries, because I arrived just around the time she got off of work. We met up, swung by the Weaver St. Market to get food for after yoga, then went to class at the Franklin St. Yoga Center.
Before K’s AcroJam class, one of the FSYC teachers was leading her last class before moving several states away. The class was packed, the vibrations were high, and flow was just awesome. She was all about encouraging everyone to take their practices where it needed to go that day, take the variations you need. Her sequencing and words were absolutely on point. Then, after 75 minutes of that, it was time to fly.
About ten to twelve people showed up for the Jam. (So, an AcroJam, as opposed to a regular class or workshop, is not led and is just an opportunity for those who are interested to show up and play and work on what they want to work on in a supportive environment.) We warmed up, although those of us who had just been in class did not need too much warming, did some partner drills, and then got to work, trying whatever we wanted to. One of the challenges for a person like myself showing up to an AcroJam is that you have to be able to just go up to someone and ask them if they want to fly or base or work on X or Y. Fortunately, it’s getting easier the more I do it, mostly because Acro people are always absolutely thrilled to work on whatever you want to work on. It was a ton of fun. I got to base and fly with several different people, worked on a variety of moves and postures, and found a lot of success! It was a very good time, and a lot of time. K and I ended the AcroJam session (having been yoga-ing in various ways for 4 hours by that point) by exchanging some Thai Massage, which is really the best way to end Acro.
All cleaned, up we went back to her abode to eat our food and chat about yoga and life. The next morning I was up with the sun and on the road to Atlanta. I decided to take the long way around so I could pass through Asheville, which I have heard so much about. I took a little walk in a park and got a yummy salad, but did not get to spend as much time as the town deserves. Then, south I went.

Part V: Atlanta, GA – Hot-lanta
I rolled into ATL in the late afternoon, just in time for my host, “D”, to get off of work. D is another IG yogi who I have become very friendly with through the social media platform and talk to regularly. She introduced me to her 3 month old kitten – a voracious predator of hands and fingers – and helped me settle into her apartment before we headed off to the evening’s activity.
“G”, another IG friend in ATL, who D had not met in person yet, told me about an AcroJam at The Space – a circus and movement center in the Atlanta area. The three of us met up there and had an absolutely incredible time. Definitely the largest bases who I have met in person were there, and a number of very skilled folks were there to play, in addition to some younger, new players. I base and flew all kinds of poses with a lot of different people and worked on hand balance for three and a half hours! It was amazing and beautiful. The most incredible part, for me, was being flown in hand to hand for the first time and taking it into one of the most open hollowback handstands I’ve ever hold. It was a magical night. Totally worn out, it was home to bed so we could start early on Saturday.
We began the next day with a “slow flow” class at D’s preferred studio, which, while slow, was still definitely challenging – plenty of plank holds and the like. But it was definitely needed after two nights of AcroJams for me. After Yoga, it was off to G’s apartment to play and take pictures. You see, G has a pole and enjoys pole dancing for at least the physical challenge of it (which is very substantial) and probably many more reasons. She tried to give D and I some lessons on how to climb it and pose on it, but learning is hard! Plus, only dry skin has much of a chance of sticking to the chrome-coated pole, and my hairy legs and sweaty palms are excellent excuses for poor performance. We also took some group pics in a variety of poses.
Exhausted and hungry, the three of us headed downtown to the Beltline (a foot and bike path under slow construction to connect the city) for culture and food, but mostly food. We ended up choosing ice cream and Mexican food. It was all great. Plus, it was really good to see a lot of people out walking around on such a beautiful day. Well fed, but with muscles very sore, D and I returned to her apartment to rest and recuperate – play with a kitten, watch movies, and foam roll – quite frankly a good end to any day.

Part VI: Hilton Head Island, SC – Tropical Storm Bonnie
Sunday morning started early as well, D and I drove across Georgia to get to Hilton Head Island to see another IG friend, another “K”. To get there, we had to drive through at least some, but what felt like very large portions, of Tropical Storm Bonnie. It was a rather wet driving morning. Arriving late morning, we talked with K for most of the afternoon and interspersed our conversation with some acro play and posing, mostly more therapeutic options, but some fun flying shapes, too. In the later afternoon, D made the trip back to Atlanta to care for her kitten and I spent the night on the Island with K and a lot of conversation.

Tune in next time to see where I go next! And follow me on IG @fullybakedyoga to see pictures from my adventures.

Posted in Acro, Animals, Ashtanga, Capital Area, Food, People, Road Trip, Yoga | Leave a comment

And I’m Back

Traveled halfway around the world again this week to bring myself back to the USA. But lets go back to the beginning of the week.

Sunday was another delightful, relaxing day in Chiang Mai. Mostly spent getting food that might not be available at later points in time to me. Fresh fruit from the market in the morning with some really amazing fresh fried bananas. Hot, crunchy, juicy, and sweet. Sooo good. And in the evening there was a trip to the night market, of course. I got fried grasshoppers and a foot massage. The grasshoppers were really salty and crunchy and the foot massage was awesome.

Monday took me up to Pai, a smaller town in the mountains with hot springs, waterfalls, elephant meeting areas, and a surprisingly large number of tattoo shops. Its popular among tourists, especially western tourists. Compared to Chiang Mai, which felt like it had a lot more eastern tourists, in addition to fair numbers of western tourists. Just a noticeably large number of white people walking around in Pai.

To get to Pai, most people take a 14 passenger van from Chiang Mai or other nearby town up windy mountain roads, driving faster than most people would drive up windy mountain roads in a 14 passenger van in the west. There is a lot of line crossing. Unfortunately, that means some people don’t really handle the ride too well. Amazingly, the smell of vomit didn’t really spread through the van and my stomach survived without trouble. There is a stop half way up at place that sells some food and has bathrooms (its a three hour drive), but not too many people go for the food options…

Once in Pai, I had to try to find a place to stay. Through social media, I had heard about the Pai Circus School and Hostel and  really wanted to check that out. Unlike a number of other hostels, hotels, and resorts, the circus school does not advertise, show up on tourist maps, or even really post signs to help you find them, which did make it a challenge. So, I walked around the walking street area to both orient myself and to try to find the school without a lot of luck. Eventually, I stopped for a fruit shake and wifi so I could use my phone to find it successfully. With it in my sights, I walked over and got myself a bed in a dorm. They’re located a little outside of the main town area, across the river, and have a pool, a restaurant, a bar, circus toys, and music. And a lot of probably 20-something party-seeking hostel goers. It was very different from most other places I’ve been on this trip. It was cool! Great to have a pool to swim in, people juggling and hooping and fire spinning and more. Managed to convince some people to acro with me and otherwise just played with my hand balance stuff. Head back to the walking street for dinner with positive results. Yum. They’ve got some great options.

On Tuesday, I swung into town to get breakfast (wok omelet is always amazing), walk around to see what else is going on around town. I tried, without luck, to find a park, but did see a building for sale and was tempted, but resisted. Thought about doing a cooking class, but it was going to be just me and cost a bit, so I didn’t. Additionally, I wanted to find a waterfall and thought I wouldn’t have time if I went to a cooking class. So, I walked back to the hostel to get more water and set off to find a waterfall. Google told me there was one about two kilometers from the hostel! How exciting! Well, I walked over there and it turned out that the mark was just the trail head and the waterfall itself was another four kilometers up the river/creek. “Cool!” I thought, “That’s just an hour walk or so. No problem.” Well, you know how we usually mark distances by how far you have to travel as someone who is walking? Apparently, that is not the case in Thailand. This I learned two hours later when I found a sign that said the waterfall was still another hour’s walk away. They must mark the straight line distance instead. Luckily, when I got to that sign, two people arrived from the other direction and told me that the waterfall was only a half an hour walk. From the sign, one did have to go up the side of the valley to get around a particularly tricky section of the creek. The valley wall was very steep. Finally, I made it to the waterfall and was a little underwhelmed… So it goes. It was a fine waterfall, but not grand, and the repeated confusion about how far away it was only added to disappointment. So it goes. I was glad I took the afternoon to get back into nature a bit. On the hike along the river, I saw a ton of beautiful bugs, some river crabs, a single astoundingly large fish for the size of the creek (only half of it fit in a time going through the rapids), and a lot birds including a hawk and what I’m pretty sure was a racket-tailed drogo (very distinctive tail feathers – look it up). Then, I walked back and fortunately found some more direct routes along the way, cutting about half an hour off of the walk. Spent a little time at the hostel, played with my hand balance game and helped another guy staying there give some inversions a try. Ended the night back on the walking street for dinner and enjoyed more great food!

Wednesday morning I got myself back down to Chiang Mai by minivan because it was time for my trip to end! Back in the old town I got my last fruit shake from the awesome fruit shake lady, a curry, and some more delicious fried bananas (the bananas are just so much better over there!). I got all of my things packed up and made my way to the airport for about 36 hours of travel back to the states. A little time in the Chiang Mai airport, then I slept very well on the plane to Bangkok. I had about five hours there where I did a little yoga, walked around looking at nothing, and just waited. So much waiting. From Bangkok to Abu Dhabi took about seven hours and the movie watching began. A few hours in Abu Dhabi was mostly taken up by getting from the airplane, through security part one, then finding my way to the right gate and going through the USA pre-clearance, so that I would not have to go through customs when I got back to the states – time saving! A little chilling at the gate and finally the long flight began. 13.5 hours through the day, crossing a lot of time zones. to eventually arrive in DC Thursday evening where my parents met me. Movie thoughts from the flights… Deadpool was great, Zoolander 2 is at least as stupid as you think it will be, but still plenty entertaining, and that’s all that really sticks with me. A delicious dinner with a great cheese plate in DC and I spent two nights there for a job interview and some social fun on Friday. Saturday morning brought me back to Baltimore and now I’ve got to figure out health insurance, moving possessions around, and more planning for my road trip in addition to seeing people.

Happy Mother’s Day to mine and all of the mothers out there! You keep us whole.

Posted in Capital Area, Food, International, Road Trip | Leave a comment

Two Weeks in Chiang Mai

My second week in Chiang Mai passed rather similarly to the first with the addition of quite a bit of friendly fun!

Class this week was focused on techniques for a client lying on their side or belly, and sitting up. A lot of the techniques were very similar to the ones from the first week for the prone position, with small adjustments for the position change. Along with a number of new techniques. It remains a great practice and a wonderful massage that I look forward to sharing it with many people! The teachers were just delightful and entertaining throughout the whole two weeks, and they topped off our time with a great little graduation ceremony.

Now, onto the rest of the week which you will find undoubtedly more interesting (unless I’m actively giving you a Thai Massage).

Most of the fun that I got to get up to this week was mostly in the Buak Haad Park in the southwest corner of the old city square. I’ve had a ton of fun playing with my hand balance practice, AcroYoga, and a little bit of slack line play. Two particularly special moments in the park this week. Early in the week I went to the park to meet up with some friends, who turned out to be a little late, and while waiting a tall Italian dude came up and asked if I was into acro and wanted to fly. He was a great base. Then, in the middle of the week, late night in the park, a group of AcroYogis showed up from their week long retreat/workshop a little south of the city to the park for the acro jam time which was supposed to be going down then and there. Nobody else was really there jamming, but I managed to build up the courage to ask to join in. It was so worth it! I played with a couple of them, and they were awesome. Took one of them through ninja star roll, star, reverse star, and some therapeutic fun. Then she flew me a bit in reverse star (my first time!) and worked on some four step to near success. Also got to fly and play with the friends I’ve been playing with from the massage school, and its been terrific to see them progress in just the last week! The best part of the night, though, came when another stranger came up to ask to play with us. She was an individual with an extremely bright spirit. So eager and excited to learn new things! Earlier in the evening she tried slack-lining for the first time with a Thai Massage friend. Then, she came up to us flying and slightly shyly asked if she could join us having never tried anything like it before. Obviously, we happily consented. I got to be the one to fly her and it was just magically joyful as she lit up with her first, slightly terrified, time in the air. Just took her through bird, throne, and a side plank. Simple, each a little more challenging, all fun, and all of them bring a big smile to your face. It was a really beautiful reminder for why we do this, why we play this way. So much fun!

Wednesday night, and through out the week, I and some other massage students have been trying to try Mango Sticky Rice dishes from as many different stalls restaurants as we can. Partially, with the goal of finding the best Mango Sticky Rice in town, but mostly to just eat a LOT of Mango Sticky Rice because it is incredibly delicious. The sweet, melt in your mouth mango, the slightly salty sticky rice, the sweet and creamy coconut milk, and, occasionally, the crisp and crunchy split mung bean bits sprinkled on top. A simple, magical dish. Everyone’s got their own preferences, but, for me, the best has the rice should be cooked with coconut milk served hot, or at least warm. The mangoes here are all amazing – green or yellow and ripe – but there are some different varieties, some sweeter and some a little more tart. Again, all good. Always. A little tart does make a nice contrast, some other flavor beyond just sweet. I like it then fairly bathed in coconut milk and definitely sprinkled with the crispy crunchy mung bean halves for texture contrast. The key is the mango, though, definitely. Our findings, otherwise, show that street stalls offer a much greater portion of mango for lower price – gotta love me some street food.

Thursday night, the school took us to an annual party to honor all of the Thai Massage teachers of the city (which, it turns out their are many). There were some dance performances, speeches and blessings from the teachers (heads of schools), and lots and lots of food that each school brought. Best surprise, for me, was the Rose Apple, a fruit I hadn’t had before. Similar texture to an apple, but a little softer, with a waxier skin, and more mild taste, shaped more like a cylinder with one bulbous end.

Saturday became an afternoon and evening of great adventure. The morning was spent simply and pleasantly enjoying a cafe with a really cool and lovely garden. The food was tasty, too, but it was really nice to sit somewhere cool and green for a while. Then the rain started to threaten, which was worrisome because we had afternoon plans for a bike ride down to the “Grand Canyon”. Fortunately, it only rained briefly and cooled off the air, which ended up making the 15k bike ride significantly more pleasant. But, a single gear bike is still not the best option for a 15k ride, except for just how flat the land is here. The ride went surprisingly smoothly, except for one little incident.

The screw that gave me a flat.

The screw that gave me a flat.

I got a flat. Of course without any sort of measures to fix it on our own (four of us went). Luckily, I noticed it right in front of a motor bike shop which pointed us back up the street to a guy who had cycle shop. Of course, by cycle shop I mean a garage with a bunch of tires and inner tubes, a compressor, and all kinds of tools that you need for fixing bikes. 20 baht and maybe 5 minutes he had the inter tube patched a refilled with air. Boom, just like that. Even better, the rest of the ride went smoothly. The “Grand Canyon” is a quarry here, now full of water.

The "Grand Canyon" quarry near Chiang Mai

The “Grand Canyon” quarry near Chiang Mai

The water is quite warm for a quarry, at least compared to US quarries. It was perfect for swimming. Plus, there are platforms to jump off of. It’s a cool place. At the quarry, we met up with some other massage students who house/pet sit near the Canyon (the internet is an amazing place). When the swimming closed down, we rode our bikes a few k back to their house for a yummy pad thai dinner they made, and then rode back to town noticeably after dark. It was a great fun night!

Planning to make it up to Pai early this week before flying out too soon, but not too soon. Talk to you in a week once I’m home, ciao.

Posted in Food, International, Yoga | Leave a comment