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.