Friday, August 10, 2012

Going Abroad....

I was traveling on a buddy pass, from a friend of a friend who worked for the airlines.  My travels thus far had taken me to Hawaii, Washington State, Canada, and back to the East Coast of the US for my road trip.  My road trip was an enlightening experience, working through the mixed feelings that arose while traveling alone.  Mostly, I got to know myself more and felt as though I had grown having dealt with those issues, and the issues that came from family and friends related to my nomadic lifestyle.

I was in Boston, visiting my long-time friends, who remarked how much better I looked after my travels.  Remember, my travels started in a burnt out state of mind, body and spirit.  I did feel lighter, and I was physically lighter as well.  It felt good to reconnect, yet, I was also ready to continue my travels...not really ready to be back home again.

I dropped my car off, arrived at the airport, this time traveling much lighter than my original departure experience.  My first stop was in Atlanta, GA, visiting a friend before leaving for Scotland and England.  The visit was sweet and short, and I was back at the airport waiting for a possible seat to England.

The buddy pass means that your are flying standby and only if a seat opens up then you get on the plane - and it is a much cheaper ticket, especially for a multi-destination ticket.  I had only paid about $300 for all of these destinations.  A gift.  One that I am still grateful for...thanks Jeff and Olin.

It was late in the evening, and the possibility of flying out was dim.  A woman, originally from England, but living in the US now, was in the same situation as I was...waiting for a seat.  We were told that there were no available flights for that night around 11:00 pm, so we started to consider our options.  I called my friend to ask him to come back to get me, while simultaneously the woman offered me a place to stay at her home since she'd be coming back to the airport anyhow in the morning.

As I was on the phone with my friend, and, as I was receiving this woman's offer, the flight staff informed us that we were on this flight...moving us quickly into the plane, and me still on the phone with my friend, we realized that we were being put in first class, being seated with an offer of champagne.  How great is that!  This flight is several hours, and traveling first class was such a gift.  The woman (whom I don't remember her name now), quickly became good acquaintances, settled in and enjoyed our unexpected pleasures of first class.

Unexpected pleasures...I was opening myself up for them, and as I did, they were increasing in frequency.  There was such joy in that journey to the UK and I arrived in London well rested and filled with good food and champagne.  To jump to the end of my stay in Scotland, I received the second gift of traveling first class on my return flight as well.

Although, I wish that there wasn't really a separation of classes on airplanes, since I believe we all deserve to be comfortable on planes, especially with such long flights.   But, since I don't have a say in that, I was glad to have the experience and not have to pay a ridiculous amount for it.

Expect the unexpected and life is filled with so much joy and gratitude.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Eastward Bound...

My friend who was one of my greatest supporters of my nomadic life, had a friend who lived in Kansas.  I headed there, and spent a couple of days with him.  He welcomed me with a generous heart and offered me a place to stay, for the short-term.  Yet, I was heading back to the East coast to help my sister out with her kids.  I look back on it now, with regret.  I probably should have remained focused on my own journey.  I rushed my time there, in a funky area, where I could have explored and enjoyed more.  I drove through the Blue Ridge mountains in awe, but rushed.  I only remember staying at an extremely cheap and clean motel that had an amazing view of the mountains.

I arrived late, woke early, and  walked out to the misty view of the mountains and stopped in my tracks.  I realized then that I was rushing my journey, yet I had made a commitment to be back to assist. The drive through the mountains touched my soul, with the power enveloping me as I drove.  This was the most memorable part of that long drive back East.

In the end, due to my car issues, my sister had to make other arrangements since I couldn't make it back in time.  This is a regret of my travels, and have learned my lesson.  It really is important to change old patterns, and be okay with taking care of oneself and following your own was and still can be a challenge to live my life and let go of others expectations and opinions of what I should or should not be doing...and, to be okay with not doing my part.

My time back home on the East coast was short-lived.  I connected with family and friends, which was enjoyable, but, I was not ready to be back.  I dropped my car off with a friend and headed to Europe...

England and Scotland bound....

Monday, May 14, 2012

My journey continues...

It was difficult to leave Mystical Moab in Utah.  Yet, I was heading towards two new friends whom I met on the Big Island of Hawaii - fellow travelers.  They were living in Salt Lake City, well known as the city of Mormons, yet it has much more to offer.  My friend, was once involved in the Morman life. due to her family, but no longer participated, nor agreed with it, starting when she became old enough to decide for herself.

As I headed towards Salt Lake, my car broke down.  Bummer.  Some small town between Moab and Salt Lake is where I stayed to get it fixed.  It was a big enough town that the delay was only one night, and the hotel was not too expensive.

Driving towards Salt Lake was breathtaking as I approached the City amongst the mountains.  The traffic was horrific, delaying my arrival.  Our reunion was met with excitement and joy.  We explored the city, their favorite hangouts and the mountains by car and foot.  It was an amazing few days.

Regrettably, I put myself on a time table, wanting to be back to the East coast to help out my sister and her kids.  I say regrettably, because once again, I put someone else before me, and missed out on the experience as I rushed my visit in Salt Lake and the rest of the States that would take me back to the East coast.  I wish I had declined the request for assistance and been true to my own journey.  A lesson learned and revisited many times in my life.  Over the years, I have improved on putting my own desires and preferences before me, even though the feedback and judgment can be full of disappointment and disapproval from others, and that I am being selfish (to live my own life).

In retrospect, I should have seen my car issues that came with this part of the trip as an opportunity to put myself first.  As I attempted to leave Salt Lake, I had car problems.  A pleasant delay, since I had another night with my good friends.  I left, and headed toward Wyoming, then would head East.  I was happily driving to some upbeat music when my car just the middle of nowhere.  I looked across the street and there was a camper parked, so if I needed assistance someone was worries, my philosophy that I would receive help when I needed it was true, even on the remote highway of Wyoming.  I was able to call AAA to let them know where I was...although being specific was a challenge since in the middle of nowhere is in the middle of nowhere.  I happened to know the exit number I had last passed, gratefully.

I met Mike, a generous and thoughtful mechanic who drove me around to look for a deal on the hotel room.  We went to three hotels before I found one that gave me a deal for the three nights needed to get the car fixed.  Acquiring the car part required a three day delay since the trains wouldn't be coming into town with the parts until then.  Almost in tears to hear this...I was getting frustrated with my car experiences.  Being from Boston, with things easily accessible, meant that I was a bit spoiled. I had to adjust my thinking otherwise I would make this into more of a negative experience than it actually was.

I remember ordering Chinese food near the first hotel that I was at before I got to the mechanics, since it was too late when I had initially arrived.  Suggestion:  Don't get Chinese food in Wyoming.  I remember how awful it was, and that the Lo Mein was basically spaghetti...not quite authentic Chinese food that I was accustom to in Boston.

Mike became committed to my car issues and my financial concerns, and took time on his days off to get the parts, fix the car and I was out of there before the 3 days. I was so grateful, and it touched my heart that he was so committed and kind - which I viewed as such a gift, and still do after all this time.

With lightness in my heart from my experience with Mike the mechanic, I headed East....

Friday, February 10, 2012

Magical, Mystical Moab

Royalty Free Stock Images Image of Wilson Arch in Moab, Utah

Red Rock 4 Free Stock PhotosHuge arches, Arches park Free Stock ImageHeading North from Santa Fe, I was heading to Salt Lake City, Utah to visit friends from Kalani (Oceanside Retreat, Big Island of Hawaii).  These two friends were a great support while in Hawaii, when I started my nomadic travels.  We had lots of laughs and I was looking forward to reconnecting with them.  Yet, I had places to visit on my way - Moab, Utah.

Delicate Arch Free Stock PhotographyMoab, the land of the red rocks and Arches National Park, was an incredible experience -  magical, mystical.  I was compelled to stop along the way to take photos, so it was a long drive, with frequent stops while I headed to the small town of Moab.  I could live here, if only it were on the coast, it would be a perfect match for me.  It was a place where I felt at home.  There are only a few places where I feel at home and this was one of them.  Something called me to these rocks, to the land. It's energy enveloped me and nourished my soul, at it's core.
image photo : Cliff at MoabRoyalty Free Stock Photo Moab

Balanced Rock Free Stock PhotographySkyline Arch Free Stock PhotoI spent a few days here, hiking, exploring the rock formations, and the funky town.  I stayed a cheap hotel overlooking the cliffs, mesmerized by the ever-changing light dancing off the red rocks.  A few days was not enough, but being on a budget, I opted to head to Salt Lake City, with a place to stay where I didn't have to dish out money.  I left with the intention of returning, when I could spend more time connecting with such a reverent place.

Hiking in Utah Free Stock PhotosMagical and mystical are the only ways to describe this place and my experience.  There was nothing that happened specifically that I can share with you, nothing to detail that this or that happened, yet something profound did happen, just by being there.  Moab, mystical and magical.  Hopefully, you have had an experience such as this, and understand.

Friday, February 3, 2012 Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe, surrounded my mountains, an artist community with diversity, funkiness and a school for the Deaf (which matters to me because that is my profession - a teacher of the Deaf).  I drove through Albuquerque, with a glance, not getting the feeling that it was a place to stop.  Arriving to Santa Fe late in the day, with a chugging in my car.  I stopped at a mechanic, who said it was most likely due to the increased elevation.  My car needed time to adjust.  Okay...I probably would as well.

I had a place to stay.  A friend of a friend, was letting me stay in their guesthouse.  I had never met these people, yet they joyfully welcomed me because we shared a friend, a dear friend who is a fellow nomad.  The guesthouse was charming, southwest in decor.  It provided privacy, a place to cook and lounge and an incredible bed.  These new friends took the time to show me Santa Fe, driving me around and taking me to their favorite restaurants and treating!

My new friends were leaving for two of the 4 weeks that I was there and paid me to take care of their home and dog, (who just recently passed away, RIP Fuji).  So not only were they providing me with a place to stay, they were paying great was that!  I declined the money at first, not yet comfortable with accepting such generosity.  Then I realized that it was an exchange of service, and they would have paid someone else if I was not there - I took the money with gratitude.

I walked the streets of Santa Fe, enjoying the adobe style buildings, browsing the artists' creations on the sidewalks, driving in the mountains, and visiting the school for the Deaf.  It is a great school, despite the lack of competitive pay, with the same amount of responsibility.  I would have considered a position there if I was really looking to return to teaching, but I wasn't.

Canyon Road, Santa Fe, NM

I was there at the time of the pilgrimage to El Santuario de Chimayo, which has been called the "Lourdes of America"     I drove, heading out to Taos, and happened up this pilgrimage.  Many people walked miles, from Albuquerque to arrive on Easter weekend.  There is a hole in the Sanctuary, where the crucifix once was, that magically disappeared.  There was a line to get to see the hole, and to take a portion of the sand, precious sand.  Later, I saw them bringing more sand into this hole....which made me chuckle.  I no longer practice any kind of organized religion, yet, I could understand and show reverence for this experience and people's faith and desire to do a pilgrimage.  I have my own desire to do the El Camino de Santiago, the walk across Spain, so I could relate - it is a personal spiritual pilgrimage outside of any religious connections.

For more detailed information:

                                          Chimayo Sanctuary, In the tiny town of Chimayƃ³ is this sanctuary, which dates from the 1600s. It's a pilgrimage spot.

During my first year of nomadic travels, one of my personal lessons was to learn how to accept kindness from others, without giving in return.  I usually was the giver in most of my relationships, although with some friends that wasn't the case.  That was my comfort zone.  I gave more than I received.  That can be detrimental, often leading to resentment if one isn't careful.  My travels started to give me more opportunities to increase my comfort zone in this area.  At first, it was accepting with reluctance, with mixed emotions.  Now, years into my nomadic travels, it has become much easier to say 'yes' when someone is offering me something.  It no longer defines me, as being the 'giver' once did.

I have this dream though, that when I receive my abundance of money, that I will be able to retrace my steps to meet up with those who gave to me freely, unconditionally, and return their kindness.  And, if that it isn't possible, I would like to 'pay it forward' in their honor, because I believe that will add in the serendipity in their lives, bringing them unexpected treats, kindness, abundance.

My car didn't adjust.  I visited a couple of mechanics during my stay here, and each time, the problem seemed to be rectified.  I was learning to let go and surrender to the fact that I would be okay no matter where I was when my car decided to not work properly.  This is only pertinent in this story of my journey because I defined myself as independent, and getting stuck somewhere was incongruous to my being.  It tested me, and was actually helping me become more trusting, reminding me that I didn't need to do all the work, to be in control - that I was being taken care of, no matter where I was on this planet.

Saying good-bye to my new friends was more difficult than I had expected, and driving a way after the second visit to the mechanic, I headed farther Utah.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Gila Wilderness

Gila Wilderness/National Forest, NM
After my 'escape' from the hostel in T or C, I found myself heading towards total wilderness to Gila National Forest.  It is a protected forest and absolutely breathtaking.  It has plenty of hiking trails, a catwalk, cliff dwellings and canyons.  After hours of driving I gratefully got out of the
car and walked the catwalk which took me deep inside the forest, where I could explore cave and the forest.  However, the catwalk barely scratches the surface of what Gila has to offer.

Cliff Dwellings
 Some say the best way to do it is by horse, if you ride a horse that is.  A backpacking trip, hiking the scruffy jagged terrain along the canyon, amongst  the wilderness would have been heaven.

Yet, I was alone, and I was new to this traveling and being spontaneous, and I was so unprepared for a long term hiking trip.  So, I did the catwalk, and soaked up the energy of the land shaking off the negativity that came with some of my experiences in T or C....things that actually just triggered emotions, which made the situation feel worse than it was.    I felt the freedom creep back into my body and I was thrilled to be on my own again, without be accountable to anyone or having to work.

I spent the day at Gila, a much too short of a trip, and headed on the long road to..wasn't sure where, I just knew it was going to be long and desolate.

Traveling alone on the highway for hours, through ghost towns, surrounded by the white satellite dishes, made it a bit creepy, eery.  Yet, I kept a look out for anything peculiar...alien, UFOs since this was the area.  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing, just me on the road until I came to the town of Soccoro, NM.  I checked into the newly renovated Econo-lodge there, and was so delighted with the quality of mattress, the cleanliness of the room, the breakfast they provided, free internet, etc., for an incredible deal of $35.  Of course, things may have changed, but it was an incredible deal.

Socorro, New MexicoI took the night to rest, weary from my driving, requiring time to reflect on my own state of mind, my next destination, and as always dealing with the question that haunts me through this journey, 'What am I doing?'.   Sadly, the answer is 'I don't know.'  It is foreign to me, this traveling solo, with the intention of being spontaneous, letting the road guide me.   Deeply desiring to my core that I become able to surrender to this journey, developing the trust that is needed to know I am on the right path for me, and I am okay, no matter what.  To be consumed by the feeling of peace and freedom, not fear.

Socorro, New Mexico
These times when I found myself in true solitude, I could connect with my inner guidance and I knew that this was a process that would lead me to the feeling that I was seeking - peace and a deep rooted sense of trust.   I felt as though I was wasting time, letting my fears creep in, consuming me, robbing me of that trust and peace, and joy.  I am then reminded, this is a process, albeit slower than I would have liked. And a gentleness envelopes me, allowing me to be kinder to myself as I would be if this were someone else.  Sleep overrides any need for contemplation, and oh what a great night sleep...I have to say, a good mattress is priceless!  I awoke with renewed enthusiasm and I get in the car and just drive....heading North.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Truth or Consequences

Leaving Austin, Texas was bittersweet.  I had enjoyed my time with my friends, yet I was ready for more adventures.  I also wasn't heading towards anyplace where I knew someone, so I was feeling alone, the fear emerging as I headed onto the long highways of Texas.  It took work, but I kept the fear at bay.

Truth or Consequences, NM : truth or consequences, nm
New Mexico was my destination.  I had heard of a town called Truth or Consequences, named after a popular radio show in the 1940s and 1950s.  The town had changed it's name for the sake of a contest.  I also knew the place I was searching for, a hostel-like accommodation, the Riverbend, that had work exchange possibilities, with hot springs, on the Rio Grande.

The drive was interrupted by car issues.  In the middle of nowhere-ville, Texas, my car started to die.  I would pull over and wait, and it would start up again.  I could go only so many miles before the process repeated itself.  Okay...the next town is only 150 miles was nerve-wracking to say the least.  Trucks flew by me, and not one person stopped.  Eventually, I made it to the next town, to a mechanic that was willing to look at it the next day.

At my hotel, I called Ron, my trusted mechanic in Boston.  I described the situation and he diagnosed it on the spot.  "Bring it in.", said Ron.  "Ummm, I'm Texas...I'm calling for a consult.".  He laughed, and was a great support.  Its been years since I left Boston and I still miss Ron.   Finding a great trustworthy mechanic is such a blessing.

Truth or Consequences: One of many spas by the Rio Grande
T or C, New Mexico
Yet, the Texas mechanic couldn't find the problem even though I had given him the information from my mechanic.  The details gets foggy here, but I remember him fixing something, charging me almost nothing for his time and work, and off I went.  I was so glad to have not been ripped off, because, honestly, I was alone in Texas, a single woman, and in a very small town where he could have taken advantage of the situation.  He didn't.  I was grateful.

Truth or Consequences: Sunset on Caballo Lake near Truth or Consequences, New MexicoComing into Truth or Consequences was mixed with excitement and disappointment.  The surroundings are breathtaking.  It is a funky town, which I loved.  It is run down.  It is meth-lab central.  The Rio Grande is not so grand.  Yet, here I was.  I found the funky hostel, and paid for 2 nights, and then asked to do a work exchange.  In doing so, I was initially a guest so I didn't stay in the dorm, but a guest room.

At the Riverbend
Due to the dysfunction of the place, I was able to stay in the private room while I did the work exchange, whereas most went to the dorms.  I missed the details of what was happening behind the scenes until my last day there.  By then, I didn't care that they had wanted me to be out of the guest room and move to the dorms.  They also didn't want me to leave since I was such a great worker.  Ten days into it, I knew I had to leave.  Dysfunction.  Ugh.  I crept out at sunrise to begin my drive heading towards the Gila National Forest.

Truth or Consequences: The Butte at Elephant Butte
Elephant Butte
Hot Springs, near
the  Rio Grande
What I remember most of T or C is that I loved the funkiness.  I spent hours, upon hours in the healing waters of the hot springs, alone or chatting with whomever was there. I made a few acquaintances who made my time there worthwhile, just to be connected to others, to share our life experiences, yet none became long-time friends.   I hiked the mountains and along the river.  I visited Elephant Butte.  I was thrilled to see a body of water.

The work at the work exchange was so minimal in comparison to what I did as a career.  It was mindless.  I met a variety of different folks from all walks of life, of different ages.  We gathered for meals and laughed and shared stories.  Everyone was different, yet accepted.  It felt comfortable.

Yet, that morning I was ready to leave.  I snuck out at sunrise, escaping more of the 'last good-byes' and the pressure that I was getting to stay on.  We had had celebration of sorts the night before, which was enough for me.  I was ready for the green and lushness of the Gila National Forest, and the feel of freedom on the road that would take me there.