Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Of Mountains and Motorcycles

One of my favs... so true ;)

9 of the last 11 days (part 2 of my motorcycle/dragon boating/mountain climbing summer roadtrip) have been spent almost wholly outdoors; hiking mountains, paddling big water, riding in the wind, and half those nights sleeping under the stars (or the rainclouds!). I’m seriously addicted to the beauties and benefits of nature, both in sunny or cloudy weather, and I feel a strong urge to promote and give gratitude for them!!

Experience is my favorite teacher, and experience in nature has been a huge part of my development the last few years, really understanding and embracing the incredible benefits I (and anyone can) get from being one with the trees and rocks and falling water and sun and blue sky and even (especially) the wind and torrential downpour rainstorms!  Turns out, there’s actual a term for it: Wilderness Therapy!!!   Ahhhh, yes, how appropriate. This works out nicely for me, this concept, that we can grow and become a better person on the inside by spending more time outside, seeing as how that is the founding concept for my whole new future business, The Bloom Woods.   And here I thought it was a novel idea;)...  not really, not at all actually!  Many many wise generations before us have sought out and found this bliss and wisdom that the outdoors shares with us.


I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.  ~Frank Lloyd Wright
It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves. -- Edmund Hillary

Truly it may be said that the outside of a mountain is good for the inside of a man.  ~George Wherry
I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.  ~George Washington Carver
I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.  ~John Muir
You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover is yourself. - Alan Alda 

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. - Albert Einstein 

One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.- William Shakespeare 

The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be. - Anne Frank


Lucky are we who are outdoorsy... or aren’t we all ‘outdoorsy’? Who doesn’t need a breath of fresh air every once in a while? Love seeing a waterfall or a gorgeous sunset? I do believe we are all outdoorsy... to what extend is only the difference. For me, my time outdoors directly corresponds to my inner peace and happiness factor, and my ability to deal with issues.  Because there’s really nothing quite like the classroom called “outside”, whether it’s along the open road, on the water, or in the trees, It’s my instant fix for everything. It’s getting away from our constant stream of technologic stimuli, materialistic pressures and social dogmas.  All that goes away. In it’s place is just you and some seriously deep introspection. Isn’t this just mediation then?  Absolutely, it's meditation in motion! The ultimate goal of course being able to ‘escape the chaos’ simply by evoking those calm emotions wherever you are, even in the midst of turmoil, and through our everyday chores. But there’s still nothing like the air in the woods:). There’s a theory going around now that many suffer from ‘nature-deficient disorder’. I concur!  No where else do I feel so alive and so energetic than in the woods. No where else do I find so many analogies for our lives. Every step is like a proverb; Flow like the water. Grow towards the sun. Embrace the rain. Go out on a limb. Bloom where you are planted. Develop strong roots. 

For example. I fews days back I saw something on FB that struck an emotion in me that has become almost non-existent in my world. It had been so long since I’d felt it, I was more surprised at feeling it than of it’s actual existence. It was jealousy;  Eww. I find this to be a very wasteful feeling, of time and energy and unsolicited, unwarranted insecurity. I tried to analyze it away, work thru it, distract it off, but it remained unwelcome throughout that morning. And then I got on the trail. (well, actually off the trail, river rock-hopping :). I came across these two trees, and they stopped me in my tracks. 

What do you see? I saw two trees that told me to knock off my jealousy, that:

“What seems perfect may not actually be, and just because something starts out crooked doesn’t mean it can’t become beautiful”

Sitting here now, I can think of many more: 

“Scars can be beautiful, don’t be afraid to let people see them”

“Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.”

“You never know what’s going on with your neighbor. Treat everyone with respect”

“Getting off track doesn’t mean you can’t get back on.”

“Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and orientations”

.....or whatever other caption you can think of!!! Was me coming across these trees happenstance? I don’t think so, it was too magical. It was just what I needed. An instantaneous fix. It doesn’t matter why or when or how you come to an answer/solution/conclusion...or if it's a long stretch or a only a whisker of remembrance... it’s just nice to get there. Open your eyes, open your heart, seek and you shall find. 
Calling the wilderness 'therapeutic' is putting in lightly... I think metaphorphical is more appropriate :).   Maybe I’ll call this philosophy ‘Wilderness Metamorphosis’. Yes, I like that :)

And that motorcycle?  That’s nature too!  The first car I ever bought was a convertible. So was my second. This is my third vehicle...  I sense a pattern, of getting closer and closer to being outside while still getting where I need to go :). I don’t think I can get much closer... When is ride naked day? ;)

Being on that bike is such a treat. I’ve driven about 1000 miles since leaving Philly, 95% of them ridden on backroads and old country highways.  Interstates are for getting from place to place, these roads are for interacting. People painting their houses and mowing their lawns and hand painted signs and yard sales and funky art and u-turns. I make loooots of u-turns :). Up here especially I feel like I’m immersed in an American history tour.  Fields and farms and dairies and country stores and covered bridges and cute fences and quaint houses and BARNS!!! I am enamored by barns!!!! and the views... the Northeast is a constant stream of eyecandy mountains and valleys and rivers and waterfalls and dramatic skies and rainbows and just pure gorgeousness. And to think I used to not like roadtrips!!!  I was just in the wrong state (florida), and state of mind ;). I really wish there was a camera behind my eyes so I could share all I am so lucky to see!!! 

I’m an excellent motorcycle driver btw, way better than a car driver. I can’t talk on the phone, I can’t eat, and I def can’t text. I can just drive. Feel the wind and smell the smells and just drive.  I’ve got caught in the rain a number of times. It’s not bad. It’s just a new experience. It brings more caution, and more appreciation for hot showers and dry socks ;). The exact same can be said for hiking.  I got caught in a crazy rainstorm on top of Mt. Marcy.  It was amazingly spiritual. It was another proverb. "Some people feel the rain, others just get wet". It’s meditation is what it is, both hiking and biking. Meditation in motion. 

I suppose the big trick to all these things is being able to enjoy time alone. You know I’m a huge advocate for that! Which comes first? The Chicken or the Egg? Which comes first, being alone or enjoying being alone? 

The interesting thing, is the more time I spend alone, the more I find excellence and virtue in my time spent with people.  Maybe because I’ve learned to be like the scarred or crooked tree and just be as I am, not afraid to stand tall in spite of the oddities??  Whatever it is, I find my encounters more and more precious. The three times I’ve been with humans this trip have been dreamily incredible. I found a random group on meetup.com, that was going to a high-ropes course in New York.  I asked to join, they accepted, and it couldn’t have been a more fantastic day. We bonded over ropes and ziplines and monkey business, and they enthusiastically invited me to come along to camp with them that night.  While they set up camp, I high-on-love-of-life floated 7 miles to Conneticut’s highest point via Mt. Brace. Good hike!  Upon my return just as night fell, they had dinner and stories and regarded me as if I was an honorary guest! In the morning we journeyed to a waterfall, hugged and had a photo shoot as if we’d been friends for years, and returned to feast on a smorgasbord breakfast of delish-ness! And then they refused to accept any donation towards all of that! What an honor to meet and bond with such people! Check out their meetup here if you are in NY! ;).  Then in Burlington, Vermont I was welcomed into the home of Gisela and Rafi, a couple I’d met at the Tampa Dragon Boat camp only once, with such warmth and generosity I didn’t even know what to do with myself! I felt loved like kid #6! And then, spent two days in Montreal, Canada, with a wonderful soul who I met randomly last year on top of Gokyo Ri, Nepal, a mere 17,575 above sea level, while we gazed upon Mt. Everest on a rare perfectly clear sky day!  You’d think we’d been friends since birth with our outrageous laughing outbursts and playful comfortableness. I’m feeling unendingly blessed and grateful to continually be surrounded by and taken in by beautiful souls.  

I theorize that being true to my real self has added bounds of joy and depth to my relationships with others. I theorize that whatever is in you radiates out of you, whether you like it or not.  I theorize that what I’ve been cultivating in myself comes from a place almost entirely made of love and happiness and appreciation. I theorize that others sense that and are attracted to it. I theorize that when you are working to grow and evolve, you attract others that are growing and evolving too. 

So, go. Go to nature. Find yourself out there. Find your happy place and then watch it grow exponentially. Anyone still reading this and thinking, ‘nooope... still not an outdoorsy person’ ... I’d like an opportunity to test that! I was just sitting next to a lady here at the coffee shop who said she 'doesn't even like going up the stairs, no way she'd like to hike',  when I told her I was hiking the highest mtn in every state. Hearing that was like a dare for me, and I rarely refuse a dare...oh time, I need more of you! It doesn't have to be a grueling all-day feat. It’s just about finding the right degree of ‘outdoorsy’ that you are ;). I’ll wager you $20 I can take you on a hike you’ll love:).    Not convinced?? I’d bet there was a bad experience that’s tainted your memory. Maybe a first hike with someone that was faster, or just impatient, making you feel inferior? Or maybe it was the peak of summer and there were too many bugs and it was excruciatingly hot? Or maybe you went on a way-too-long hike and you were exhausted for most of it, leaving a bitter taste in your mouth about it? There’s a perfect hike out there for everybody, whether it be 100 miles or 100 steps, re-open the idea about what it means to be outdoorsy. Need some help?? I’d love the chance to convert you :)... come along, let’s go outside! If not now, wait till next year and come to The Bloom Woods!!!! :) 

New Jersey... it's not called the Garden State for nothing :) 

My fav time of day :)  Early morning' at New Jersey High Point

High Ropes adventure in NY! 

Bonding always happens in the trees :) 
Camping at Bash Bish Falls, NY!

Mmmm... eggs! And awesome new friend Amanda :) 

Such a fun and fabulous group!! Thanks guys :)

Hiking up Mt. Greylock, MA

I love creeks :)

Greylock summit! 
Went for a workout Kayak in Saratoga Lake.. and finished up with some SUP Yoga :)

I pulled up to my hostel, saw this treehouse, and knew I'd love it. Best hostel ever, go stay there. It's called the Keene Valley hostel, they use the honor system to collect fees. Wow, I love humanity. 

Adirondacks, NY= amazingly rugged and awesome

I stopped to take a dip and cool off.... 
... this photo is less than 2 hours later... total and complete downpour at the summit of Mt. Marcy, NY. It was so windy I could barely stay straight.... terrible position for 'tree pose' ;) hhah
This is not a creek picture... this is the trail! Slippppperrrry! 
Trying to dry out all my sopping wet stuff.. thank goodness for a lean-to! 

Me and moto, on the Ferry from NY to VT.  

Hitting the gym for some training with USA DB teammates in Burlington! 

Dragon Boating in Lake Champlain! 

Gisela and Rafi took me out for a wonderful dinner and evening on the water!
awwwww,   awesome :) Them, and the view! 

Heading up Mt. Mansfield, VT... this is the trail too!! Love it!  It had shimmer rocks up the whole path! I love shimmer!

Mt. Mansfield, half cloudy/ half clear at the top.. I'll take it!  :) 

This was worthy of a u-turn ;) haha. Oh the things you see in rural america! 

First time to Canada ever!!!! I was naively shocked... My Canadian exposure has been on the west side.. I had no clue Quebec was sooooo French! What a trip! I felt like I was back in Paris!
Nepal reunion!! I met this awesome dude on TOP of Gokyo Ri last year!

Rainy day in Canada means movies, backgammon, yoga, meditation and lots of tea- just perfect! 

The 'insanity workout' in the park during a very short rain break...  it was def insane :) 

I got to paddle for a short bit with the Canadian women's  premier team. They were Strong!!! It'll be nice to see them on the starting line in Hungary.. but hopefully looking back at them at the finish !
I drove almost the whole way in the rain from Canada to NH... I had just decided it was getting too bad when I saw a peak of blue before me!! It was magic!!! 

Heading up Mt. Washington, NH's highest peak

Huntington's Ravine!

This hike was described as the east's "hardest and most intimidating hike".  It was AWESOME!!
Lots of hand over foot clambering = Happy Becky :)