Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Costa Rica - Platanillo, 3/1/12

Uvita "Whaletail" beach
January was a rich month of purposeful contribution and rich community connections. February was a retreat month. We chose to rent a casita at Valle de Suenos, from our friends Glori and Gi, where we stayed last year in April, 20 minutes drive from the beaches of Dominical and Uvita. There’s not much to do there but enjoy the jungle birds and vegetation, soak in the soothing warm ocean breezes, cook yummy meals together, practice meditation and yoga, take walks in hills that put us in shape like a marathon, and write my book. I wrote the first draft of my book, Messages from Jason, and it feels so good to have met this goal for my retreat in this Valley of Dreams! I celebrated with the toucans, hummingbirds, and oro pendula birds. Next step is to send it to a friend who can review it to help me get it edited and published.

We ventured out of our retreat space a few times. We went into San Isidro to see our dentist; a crown costs $400 as opposed to $1200 in the states! We chose not to rent a car on this trip, to experiment with use of buses and catching rides with friends headed our way. It was a successful experiment and we were glad to be living more sustainably, not burning fossil fuels unnecessarily and saving $$ on car rentals. For Valentine’s Day, we took the bus to Uvita, 1 hr away, and spent the first day at the national park named after the whale tail that the coral reef formed, and at which whales can be viewed. We spent the night at the home of Flor, a Tica woman we rented from a couple of times last year, who prepared us a lovely yummy traditional full breakfast. The next day we headed to the beautiful Las Ventanas (“The Windows”) to check out the natural caves that the ocean waves explore with us. Our “cab” driver Negro, an old Tico in a very old Land Cruiser who Flor uses to help her get around. Cabs aren’t easy to find in Uvita, and our arrival at Flor’s the night before we had to walk 1 km up a steep hill because the cab we found wasn’t 4 WD; it was a fun night walk in the jungle with our headlamps!

Las Ventanas, Uvita, Costa Rica

Music was a big event for me this year in Costa Rica, as I brought my viola (now electronic!) so I could play with Dennis Gaumond and his Bhadra Collective. It was a blast rehearsing and performing! We played 2 gigs at an upscale bar called the Uvita Roadhouse, and at the Finca Fruicion Fiesta. Were were on a roll playing Dennis’ great middle-eastern and rocking kirtan and blues/rocks songs, and we both wish I could have stayed longer to continue our music collaboration, now postponed until next November. We plan to record together then!

(see Finca Fruicion blog for photo and video)

Our second side excursion our last month in Costa Rica this year was to visit our dear friends Sheya and Owl that we spent 4 months with last year in community, visioning for our move to Costa Rica. On the way, we stopped to visit the intentional community of Fuente Verde.  Sheya and Owl live 45 minutes up a windy dirt road from the “blacktop” in Tinimaste and across a river, that is low enough to cross in the dry season, in Aguas Sagradas (Sacred Waters), where they will be building their new home in this intentional community. The river skinny dip was delightful, and we enjoyed our dome-style cabina and fresh garden vegetables in this remote jungle.

From Aguas Sagradas, Sheya and Owl dropped us off at the H.O.M.E. (Heaven on Mother Earth) farm at the top of Nyacka waterfall, considered the most stunning waterfall in Costa Rica. We had fun playing by candle light, as the farm is off the grid. We enjoyed our stay in their creative cabina. The next day we hiked down to the Nyacka falls for an exciting swim, and drove back with John to visit friends in Las Tumbas before heading back to Platanillo, then off to San Jose and Massachusetts then Ashland, Oregon! Kule will be driving his car from Massachusetts to Oregon, visiting brothers and friends along the way!

Nayacka waterfall

Off the grid at the H.O.M.E. farm

Our transportation home from H.O.M.E.
The sacred Ceiba tree at the H.O.M.E.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Finca Fruicion, Costa Rica 2/3/12

I’m sitting at the Garden CafĂ© at Finca Fruicion (*finca means farm) overlooking sacred Chirripo mountain and watching the lizards slither by. It’s a modest dining area, rustic really, yet as I sit writing it feels like luxury in this mountain jungle, complete with bird music. My partner Julio and I wake up every morning to a stunning sunrise across the San Isidro Valley, to yoga in our vista loft, and to a big community breakfast. I’ve been feeling at home here, in this special place, with lots of good energy happening to create this sustainable haven that is destined to be a model for other communities.

As we have travelled this past 1 ½ years in the U.S. and Costa Rica to find our next home, to find the sustainable lifestyle we want, and to find loving spiritual community, we have come upon several special communities. Finca Fruicion is one of them. The owners of the farm, Jason and Alana Thomas Bliss, are visionaries, doers, community-makers, friends of the local farmers, and inspirers. They are creating a home that is meant to be shared with others who resonate with this vision of building community together, with shares of land available for sale so members can live autonomously as well as cooperatively. They are co-creating models for sustainable living such as building with local materials, educating about reforestation, growing their own food, buying from local organic farmers, helping the local economy, and providing a community center called La Ceiba in the city center, which is the hub of the wheel for the mountain dwellers who live here for this type of lifestyle. It’s a gathering place to sip a cup of tea with friends, to listen to music, to have community meetings. We are grateful to Jason and Alana for their generosity in providing this space for us.

Doing Yoga and Building bunkbeds at Finca Fruicion
No one will tell you that living in Costa Rica is easy. What we are discovering is that it is key to have your neighbors be your friends and support, and vice versa. At this time of evolution on our planet, I truly believe this is the most important thing for our health and well-being. Local wisdom is invaluable in getting to know the ropes about everything here. Finca Fruicion is integrated into the village of San Augustin; one of their 3 sons is starting school there this year. They have dear friends and adopted family here. Their lead gardener and maintenance helper Albis is a friend, and his mother cares for 1 ½ yr old Cedar and calls him her grandchild. Jason and Alana are always available to help their village neighbors and San Isidro community whenever possible. They have a lot on their plate, raising children, building a farm, and managing special community and educational projects. They are manifesters, and attract support. People come and go to help the farm, and most are seasonal, which can make the rainy season a bit lonely and challenging, but I’m imagining beautiful in a different way.

Finca Fruicion gardens
We will know when we are ready to settle in Costa Rica, perhaps in another year or two or three. When we are, we will want to settle in a place like Finca Fruicion. We seek a spiritually-minded community where members communicate well, share resources well, care about each other, integrate beautifully with the local community, and take responsibility for their own triggers and challenges. We are grateful to have Jason and Alana and their family as our friends here in Costa Rica.

Gracias, Finca Fruicion.

Julio Morpho

3/1/12 addendum:
 I returned to Finca Fruicion for their Fiesta 2/25, where I played viola in Dennis’ Bhadra Collective band. A small turnout, but great community energy and excellent Tico food by the locals, and so nice to reconnect with our friends at the Finca. We were moved by the tightness, sweetness, and hard-working nature of the family of Albis (Finca Fruicion’s lead maintenance person), who all came out to cook home-grown tilapia and awesome shish kabobs. I also reunited with my Tica sister Lorna who may be living at Finca Fruicion when we return in November!

My gig at the Finca Fruicion Fiesta


Costa Rica Sustainability School - 1/2/12

KuleMichelle blog – 1/12/12 (just catching up after returning to the U.S.!)
Casa Tordesillas, Costa Rica, El Paso de la Danta sustainability school

It’s an honor to be contributing to the first sustainability school of this kind in Costa Rica, El Paso de la Danta (the path of the tapir) at our friends’ Chema and Marga’s place (http://www.casatordesillas.co.cr/ ) in the mystical cloud forest high above Uvita beach and with a view of Costa Rica’s tallest and sacred mountain Chirripo.

Overlooking the Uvita beach whale tail from Casa Tordesillas

Casa Tordesillas

It’s also a tribute to my journey this past year with Kule, that I have travelled far from my old world of consumerism, and have learned so much about sustainability myself! We are doing what we can to help make these two weeks a success – bringing special hand tools that don’t require electricity from the U.S., dome building (Kule, of course), videotaping, leading meditation and sound/music, interviewing the teachers and students to create a record of the school, picking fruit, and sweeping floors, anything to help.
Chema teaching dome building!

This group of 16-23 yrs local Costa Ricans is great; they are enthusiastic and inspired to live more sustainably, the way their grandfathers and great-grandfathers did. They want to teach this to others; this pilot program is the hub of a wheel that is turning to spread change in this country and the world. They are learning organic gardening in the tropical rainforest, ecology and biology, sacred economy (based on sharing resources, not consuming them), reforestation, building a dome with mostly local materials, and healthy daily practices such as Do-In, meditation, yoga, capoeira, and eating Marga’s healthy food. They are learning teamwork and living in community, this is the pueblo (village) model that Chema is pioneering. It will eventually be a school where people live, as domes are built around the new mandala garden.

Chema and Marga are sustainability pioneers, having moved from Spain to buy land in Costa Rica and live off the grid for more than 20 years. They are expert horsemen, gardeners, builders, and craftpersons. They have had the vision for this school for these 20 years, and live the model. Their home is a paradise getaway for ecotourists and explorers like us.
With Lorna and Blanca in Casa Tordesillas

Living off the grid sounds too rustic for most, but at Casa Tordesillas it is elegant living. Their dome structure is large and accommodates 20 very comfortably, including the hosts who live upstairs. We are lucky to have the “pareja” (couple) room to ourselves, and all 5 guest rooms, built around a central fireplace under the second floor dome, have their own bathroom with hot showers and flush toilets. Not too rustic, huh?

The hot water is a mixture of solar and propane; the latter kicks in sparingly as needed. The lighting is provided by romantic candelabras and occasional flashlight and headlamp use. Cooking is done with propane, and perhaps in the future Kule can set them up with a solar cooker, like the one he designed and built at Lost Valley this summer. They use their fireplace in the evenings to warm up the cooler night air and to dry up the humidity of the cloud forest.  They have been able to harvest most of the wood they need by the side of the dirt road they live on, and they also have several acres of forest to draw on.

Although Casa Tordesillas is off the grid, Chema solar-charges his 3.5G cell phone, with internet connectivity, for important business communications. He writes important documents on his phone, and colleagues type them up into documents needed for the school and other workshops and the B&B business. Chema is a manifester! Not having electricity doesn’t get in the way of progress!

Being remote poses travel challenges, and most people are dependent on 4-wheel vehicles on these mountain roads. There is a bus from the nearest pueblo, ½ hr by foot, into town once a day. The 45 minute taxi ride from San Isidro costs $40, which is much less expensive than renting a car at $55 a day. However, Chema and Marga ride their horses into town to get basic provisions and take the bus in to San Isidro for other needed shopping. Visitors come and go to Casa Tordesillas, and they often bring what is needed from the city on their trip up the mountain.

Those unfamiliar with this region of Costa Rica assume that bugs must be a major issue. In fact, we are not even using the natural bug spray we travel with, and the only insects we have seen in this open-window house so far is a large spider (that does its job to keep the small pest population very low), an owl butterfly, a dragonfly at the end of its life cycle, and tiny ants that get to unswept crumbs in the dining area (no eating in the bedrooms for this reason). Chema and Marga have consciously designed their home with insect-repelling landscaping, natural insect-repelling wood materials, and EM (bacterial fertilizer) that provides a balance of nature and keeps insects out of the home.

The trick to living sustainably is to follow the natural rhythm of light, rising with the sun at 5:30 AM (to do morning Do-In and yoga), doing the day’s work before the sun sets at 5:30 PM, relaxing with interesting discussion, music, and hangout time after dinner by candlelight, and retiring by 9 PM. We’re getting into the flow, and it feels really really good and natural to follow the sun.

Speaking of natural flow, I’m doing what I’m guided to do, moment by moment. I’m enjoying writing, reading, visioning, connecting with nature, taking walks, and meditating. I’m getting a break from email and internet, and I’m experiencing what it’s like to not be in the electronic environment, with communication demands. I’m actually finding myself wishing that one of the parents hadn’t loaned them a generator (actually needed for refrigeration of the large amount of food) being used to charge cell phones and computers. Of course, then I couldn’t be writing this blog right now, and documenting daily progress of the school. Well, electronics has its place in sustainable living in our modern world!

Everyone that comes here comments on how wonderful the energy is here. The second floor dome has a beautiful view of the rainforest and the famous Uvita beach whale tale, where whale migrate in the fall months. The sacred geometry of the dome provides the perfect energy for meditation, Do-In, yoga, and workshops. The circular geometry of the first floor living room creates the perfect environment for community building and interesting discussions, with dining room views of the rainforest and the biological corridor for many birds and animals.

Walking on the land is not simple. The horse pasture remains muddy and full of horseprints that make walking slow. The rainforest paths are steep and muddy, as is most of the land here. The steep dirt road that climbs down into Uvita passing groves of toucan-nested trees requires careful footing over the rocks that were paved into the dirt road for better car traction. There are numerous creeks in steep embankments, and to get to a swimhole in this water-abundant rain forest is a vigorous 30 minute hike over slippery creek boulders. However, being in the cloud forest, the mist blows through us before mid-day into the afternoon, so we never get so hot and thirsty for water immersion. It’s a different way of being in Costa Rica! I love this area, it is so mystical. If we move here, we may choose a sunnier area. However,  we are thoroughly enjoying this extended visit, much longer than the 3 days we visited for the first time in April last year when we befriended Chema and Marga.

Again, we are honored to have been asked to be part of this special and needed venture into spreading sustainability in this beautiful country, with wonderful souls, on this gorgeous land.

An evening in Casa Tordesillas with Chema and Marga

Monday, January 30, 2012

Home Back East - 1/6/12

Home Back East

We had just completed (1/5/12) a whirlwind holiday-time visit of dear family and friends in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and then headed out to Costa Rica for two months. I celebrated getting to see many, and accepting with some sadness that we won’t get the chance to see everyone when we visit.

With Jenny and Ramani in Beverly
These last 17 months I’ve been on a journey to find my new home, and I’ve eased into a new perspective about what Home means to me. For the first time since I left the home I own in Ipswich August 26, 2010, I didn’t need to look at Jason’s studio, and I felt no emotion entering or leaving the house. In fact, my experience was that I was visiting the home of our renters. It’s no longer my home.

Gloucester, MA harbor

Visiting Dianna in Ipswich

My home back East is with family in RI and with friends in Gloucester, not in Ipswich. We were welcomed into our community of friends Christmas night at Charlene’s place in Gloucester, after being welcomed at the airport with a ride from our dear friend Ed. Breakfast at Ed and Caren’s was another wonderful experience of our extended family.  We were so fortunate and blessed, once again, to stay in our sweet friends Jenny and Ramani’s place across from Fisherman’s Wharf in Gloucester. We watched the sea splash over the wall toward our living room, enjoying this snow-less winter adventure. Dinner with Liz and Alexander was a short walk away, and visits with our friends in Ipswich was a short drive. This Christmas season we decided to not drive ourselves crazy driving everywhere! We greatly appreciated my family’s understanding that we would celebrate Christmas with them a few days later, to take advantage of the sweet home by the sea in Gloucester. We hopped back up to Mass. for a New Year’s party in Newton to catch a bunch of friends at once, and then to meet with our hosts Jenny and Ramani, just back from Europe, before returning to RI.

Nephew Jeremy with Ella in RI

Niece Nicole with Ella in RI
Coming home to RI is also really sweet. I so appreciate my 83 year old mother’s decent health and cooking, and her ability to drive out 20 minutes away at our home away from home in my sister Mariana’s house. Even with a house load of other visiting relatives, there is always a place for us to stay there, and I get to spend time with my niece and nephew home from college. I have so much gratitude for their hospitality and their generous offer to store our things in their attic until we settle out west. Mariana looks forward to spending time with her sister, as do I! We have always been close, and we miss each other. I got to spend some time with my brother Michael, who is moving back to RI to teach after getting his Ph.D.
With sister Mariana and nieces Mia and Talia in Truckee, CA

Back West, we are starting a new home in Ashland. Just 6 hours away are my brother Al and his family in Truckee, another home away from home!

We are now in Costa Rica, wondering if this will be a home someday. We are visiting communities of friends that make us feel at home.

Home is truly where the heart is.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Settled in Ashland

We found our home in Ashland, Oregon. It didn’t take long since we moved here 10/19 to settle in to the great vibe here – one of creativity, manifesting, inspiration, and oneness.

I have a home with the Goddess Temple of Ashland. In the last two weeks of their season I led a sound healing circle and co-led a Day of the Little Angels ceremony, during Day of the Dead ceremonies, to honor all children who have died. Last week for 11-11-11 I started the Priestess Training with Graell at the Goddess Festival in beautiful Mendocino, CA. I’ve bonded with my sisters, found a spiritual mother in Grandmother White Deer, and joined a sacred music band with the harp goddess Indeara. It’s been truly magical. The Goddess brought me here, and is giving me many gifts.

Grandmother White Deer adopted me at the start of the Goddess festival, before she led the opening ceremony, focused on all of us being of One Tribe. We immediately resonated and discovered her connection with Jason is also very strong. She lives on Medicine Creek in Laytonville, CA, and we will be visiting each other. She loved the viola and asked me to play during the Water Blessings ceremony at the closing of the festival. It was long and very special, and I was honored to serve. My viola is happy to be playing again, making others happy! This week my viola is getting a special treat, getting spruced up and bow rehaired, and getting miked for electronic amplification!

I’m blessed with such beautiful nature here – the mountains surrounding the valley, the rivers, beautiful downtown Lithia Park, the hot springs. Hiking on the mountain paths is magical. The snow up the mountains looks so beautiful and close, but doesn’t accumulate where we live and drive, what a blessing. The fall colors have been so beautiful, I didn’t have to miss New England! Visiting the mystical ocean in Mendocino was such a gift; I know the ocean is not too far when I want to visit. I had a special connection with the cliffs, the crashing turquoise waves, the Dr. Seussian kelp, sounds of seals, grazing mother and baby deer, and the sunrise mist on the beach where I collected pieces for my altar for the new era.

I feel a shift since 11-11-11, since the end of the Mayan calendar. There is almost no resistance left on my path, following my truth as a Spiritual Guide, helping others connect with their Spirit Guides. I am working side by side with Jason, who is doing major clearings and activations on everyone who makes an appointment.

Our small studio apartment has amazing energy; the woman we are renting from (from the Ecstatic Dance community) went away 2 months to lead a spiritual journey to Peru for 11-11. I am also renting a healing space in a farmhouse (also from someone in the Dance community!) that is special, and gives me the private quiet space I need to do my work on the phone and in person. We will rent the house starting in March after our Jan-Feb trip to Costa Rica; finding our home has been effortless!

The Ecstatic Dance Community also hooked me into coming to Ashland over the summer. I am reminded of how special the dance community was for us in Massachusetts. Sunday morning Dance is my church. I go to commune with Spirit, with Love, with One-ness, inspiration, passion, and bliss. We warm up, we circle up and connect with community, we hug, we massage, we dance, we drum, we do sound healing with our voices and crystal bowls, we share announcements and celebrations. There is a dance event almost every night, including Thursday night with Graell, my priestess teacher.

There is an abundance of spiritual groups and events in Ashland. The Zen center is two doors down from us (we had our meditation training, it’s a beautiful space), and Dances of Universal Peace is a couple of miles up the road (nothing is far in Ashland!). Kule discovered the Deeksha blessing and a special Satsang teacher (Bob Nickle). We haven’t even gone to the bigger guys, James Twyman and Neale Donald Walsh, yet. There’s so much here.

I immersed myself in sound healing as soon as we arrived, attending a special event by a didj wizard (Scott Miller), sharing sound healing with the Goddess Temple and the Dance community, jamming with a percussion sound healer in his studio with his friends, and finding amazing sacred musicians everywhere here. The Tuvan throat singers from Russia (Mongolia) were an amazing performance, and perfect for 10/28, last day of the Mayan calendar. Indeara and I will be performing and recording improvised sacred music. Skya Indigo, a beautiful Japanese drummer from LA that played with me at the Goddess Festival and was one of the men who held a great space for the festival, invited me to record sacred music with him. There will be many opportunities for me here.

There is an abundance of creative people and events in Ashland, especially with the Shakespeare Festival that runs March-November. We attended some world-class performances, and enjoy the financial wealth (a result of the Shakespeare festival) of the small town, with its wonderful restaurants and stores. I discovered a great hemp clothes store, and I also have benefited from great finds at the Goodwill store down our street.
Ashland bike path

Ashland is sustainability and health-conscious. The bike path through town along the railroad tracks is amazing, and there are buses every 20 minutes! We have the best, cheapest whole foods store Shop ‘n Kart a walk from our house. We buy our shampoo, olive oil, teas, and almost anything in bulk. It’s totally awesome! There is yoga, zumba, massage, healing, etc galore. We just finished a massage-for-couples class and are enjoying each others’ massages even more now!

Kule is making some good connections with green builders and university folks interested in solar energy, and he is inspired to launch his growth facilitation work here. We are both inspired to do the work we love, making the money we need, following a simple healthy lifestyle here in Ashland. It’s more expensive to live here than up north, but there are more opportunities here, and the weather is much more sunny and beautiful here!

We done good moving here. I am so grateful. Come visit us! Best time is after March when the weather gets good, the snow melts, and the Shakespeare festival comes alive with free outdoor concerts.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Reflections of Lost Valley

Lost Valley Educational Center has given us a great experience of living in community with awesome people who care for each other and the earth. Being on this beautiful land in the ideal Oregon summer climate has been magical. The sunny flowery meadow will be with me always, and when I close my eyes I will feel the warmth on my body and the soft earth under my feet. When I take a shower, I will visualize being in the solar shower, bathed by the creek warmed by our dear sun, and walking out into the meadow to air dry. When I miss our community here, I will close my eyes and feel the hugs and the smiles, and come into the lodge for hangout time. I will meditate in the sacred yurt with Kule and Justin and others, sending good energy to our dear earth, and I will eat the food with that energy. I will even miss the rains, when the lushness takes over my senses and lulls me into dreamland.

The magical camas meadow

Music with Chris and Melanie

The deer check out Kule's solar cooker site

Our Network for New Culture dome at night
 We enjoyed our tiny Cabin 6 with a kitchen, a hammock on the porch, and the community lodge next door, so we could socialize easily whenever we wanted to, and retreat to ourselves when that felt right. We were so fortunate to have one of our favorite community events (Network for New Culture) come to us at Lost Valley, and we gladly worked hard in August to help make that a success. Being on the Zegg Forum facilitation team was an incredible experience for me and Kule, the workshops were rich, and we enjoyed being co-hosts at our home community.

I am so grateful to Lost Valley for what I have learned here about permaculture, organic gardening, and living in community. I greatly respect what everyone here have done to create a community that works well together, where people take responsibility and there is effective group process for transparency, conflict resolution and making sociocratic decisions. I am grateful to have shared dance, hikes, healthy food, fun, massage, movies, music, meditation, spiritual guide sessions, and sound healing with my friends in Lost Valley and Eugene. I am grateful to have felt support during some challenging times of evolving personally and in relationship with my partner, which has been a beautiful process.

Lost Valley seems to accelerate evolution, so be prepared if you decide to live here! It’s all good!!

There are always challenges living in community, but Lost Valley has taught me that it is a way of life that greatly appeals to me. We have been guided to move to Ashland for many personal and business reasons, and our hearts will always be with Lost Valley. We’ll be back for visits, and we welcome visits in Ashland as well!
Massage fun in the sacred yurt

Hanging with Ava


One of the things we love most about the west coast are the mountains and open vistas, in addition to expansive stretches of wilderness in the valleys.

Mt. Rainier, Washington
We finally got to see Mt. Rainier (above) on a sunny day! Kule has been waiting for this for years, after several trips to see his brother Joel’s family in Seattle. The mountain has a beautiful majestic yet peaceful energy. If my knees could handle it, I would love to climb to the top, a doable climb for many. We spent some special time in an old-growth grove of giant trees.

Mt. St. Helens. Washington
We couldn’t go back to Eugene without stopping out of our way to see Mt. St. Helens. The visitor centers’ movies are so worth seeing, to get an appreciation for the incredible geological shift this mountain and its valley underwent in the minutes after the 1980-something eruption. Trees were ripped out with the atom-bomb-like explosion, lakes were displaced, and the molten bolders and ash raced down the river, flooding the valley and creating vastly underestimated destruction. There’s a stark eeriness about the mountain; my son Jason would have gone wild photographing this!

Three Sisters, Oregon
I had the opportunity to hike with our Eugene friend Cedar to a stunning and diverse trail up to South and Middle Sisters near Bend, Oregon. From the peaceful colorful meadows to the lifeless lava beds to the glistening obsidian decorating the cliffs, ledges, and scree,  the Obsidian trail is on of my all-time favorite trails. The ten miles and 1400 ft change in elevation were gentle on my knees, affording me the kind of hiking experience I have been missing when I can’t do steeper hikes with my knees. I love the west!

Tahoe National Forest, California
It’s always a treat to visit my brother Alex’s family in Truckee, CA to be in the Tahoe mountains. We camped out in a remote campsite that his massive sportsmobile could reach on its huge 4WD tires, climbing over boulders on something that looked like a dirt path in the pines.

Our peninsula site hosted beautiful scenery with snow in nearby peaks, mountain-clear swimmable water (I wasn’t numb), a cozy hammock, and great campfires and cookouts.

My morning ritual was a kayak around the lake exploring waterfalls and receiving visits from the river otters that are making a comeback in the area.

I got to sleep in my sister-in-law Nancy’s bivouac, with some space for my head, arms, and a few belongings, and the rest of my body in a snug cocoon.

Nancy and I took a hike up the mountain to step on some snow in July!