Wednesday, September 23, 2009

To Live is to Fly

Sitting under a bush on the side of the highway, in sweltering temperatures is how I found myself. It was one of those situations where I said to myself, goddamnit how did I end up like this? I could have easily asked someone to pick me up from the Kona airport, but instead I opted for the hitch/bus method to make the two-hour trek back to Volcano. From the airport I took off walking and picked up a short ride to where a bus would be coming by three hours later. Even though it was highly uncomfortable, I found myself strangely enjoying the absurdity of the circumstances. My head was still spinning from three weeks of road trips and sleeping in tents, from Portland to Arcata and everywhere in between. The sliver of shade I found gave me the chance to relax and process the past three weeks.

As I lay comatose in my tent in Jenn's backyard in Ashland, I hear a familiar voice call out "Wake Up!" What the hell, that sounds like my friend Chris who lives in Virginia. Sure enough the madman flew out to Oregon foe some adventuring, what a kick ass surprise!

(Chris enjoying the view)
Chris, Eric, and myself headed for the Redwoods and the Northern California coast. That section of the country radiates majesty, I love exploring and learning about the beauty. Feeling the brisk salty scented wind off the pacific and looking at the mountainous coastline shrouded in fog is a head rush of joy.

Down the coast we headed to Prairie Creek SP. We pulled over once in the park to check out a map and discovered a digital camera lying on the ground that sucks someone lost it. After sitting in the car for a few hours I was itching to run wild through redwood trails. We went for the Irvine trail that leads to the coast, about 9 miles roundtrip. It was out of hand how stunning and beautiful the landscape was.

I wanted to fall to the ground laughing it was so ridiculously beautiful. The trail weaved through giant trees, bright ferns, up and over gullies.
I was waiting to round a corner and see a brontosaurus grazing. We were hoping off logs, heel clicking and leaping up in the air loving it. The trail opened up and led across a foggy prairie straight to the ocean. Chris took the polar plunge and Eric worked on a Zen cairn.

(The ocean meets the sky)

(Eric's creation)
The trail back led through Fern Canyon, the walls flowing with ferns. What a stunning portion of the trail, lush with life.

The run back, my mind was off and I tried to become one with the landscape. Once back at the trailhead I noticed a familiar looking motorcycle. It was from the camera we found earlier. I happened to flip through a few photos and sure enough it was the same people. I ran over with the camera, as they were about to ride off. They were about to start backtracking, hunting for the camera. They were in shock at the sight of me running up with it, very cool how that ended up. Charged from the amazing run and frolic we headed for Arcata for pizza and pints! I love Arcata, I would describe it as beautifully fucked up. It is situated among beauty, but there are tons of people on the streets who are obviously strung out. The town definitely has a dark edge, but you can always judge a place by its pizza joint and used bookstore and it ranks high in those categories. There is a feeling of recklessness in the air with all of the beauty around. I felt like running around drinking whisky, listening to Tom Waits, and shouting at the top of my lungs. We camped at Clam Beach and fell asleep to the sound of breaking waves. The next day we hung out at Trinity Beach most of the day. Reading, relaxing, and exploring around the cliffs was a great way to spend the day.

We made an obstacle course and got really into it. It involved hoping across stones, hurling rocks, lifting logs, climbing, crawling, and sprinting. We kept adding new obstacles and rules and before we knew it we had each done the loop 5 or 6 times all out and were pretty beat.

We were thinking of camping at Jed Smith State Park but the highway sign for the Oregon Coast was calling our names and caused us to swerve lanes and head up the coast. Eric had camped at a nearby spot a few years earlier; he said we could wake up to the sound of foghorns. We threw up our tents in the harbor and looked out into the vastness, foghorns singing in the distance.
Back to Ashland the next day, stopping along the way to wander through groves of Redwoods. We rested a few hours before getting back in the car for Umpqua hot springs a few hours away. Jenny, Jenn, and Senor Ribbit joined us for the trip. By the time we made it to the turnoff darkness was upon us and the road was blocked off. There was a seedy map drawn with detour directions to the hot springs. We were looking for numbered forest service roads in the dark, no easy task. After a few hours of driving around back roads aimlessly and running low on gas we decided to backtrack and find somewhere to camp. It felt like the movie Old Joy, the characters get lost at night looking for Bagby. I love the line from it "The universe is a giant tear drop falling..." We finally ran into a campground and decided to hunt for the springs in the daylight. The temperature dropped and I didn't sleep a lick, shivering in my thin bag. The positive side of that was watching the icy sun rise over the lake with Ribbit in the early hours of the morning.

We easily found Umpqua in the sunlight. I have been two prior times and it never fails to blow my mind. The springs are perched on a cliff, cascading pools of heated water overlook the wild river below.

The trail on the other side of the river is one of my favorite places on earth. It is so fertile and lush, radiating the life force. There is a section where water is seeping from the stone moss covered wall, I could stare at it all day long feeling inspired.

(The reflection created a glowing green hue, I felt like I was in fairy land)
The next day before going back to Ashland we stopped by Crater Lake, the beauty speaks for itself. We talked about how beautiful and how fucked up everything is. Eric recited the Oscar Wilde quote, "We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars."

(From a restroom wall)

On the drive back to Ashland an amazing incident occured. In front of a convience store two women were dressed up taking pictures with a mannequin. It was one of the women's birthday and they were celebrating by being goofy and fun. They had a car trunk full of costumes! Jenny was the first to dive in, dressing up and standing on the side of the freeway getting truckers to honk. She almost caused an accident, one trucker almost drove off the road. The next thing I knew Me, Eric, and Chris were dressed in women's clothes trying to get truckers to honk. Chris was doing one armed push-ups and Eric was standing on the trunk of his car jumping up and down yelling. It made our day that those women were riding around spreading joy, it was fun to join in!

It had been an amazing three weeks, spending time with amazing friends. I really enjoyed spending time in Ashland, it’s a great town.

Back to Kona in the bushes I notice it’s about time for the bus and I crawl out. Here it comes barreling down the highway, I have to jump up and down flag it down running after it. The driver says to me, "Buddy you are in all the wrong places." I'm right where I need to be! It doesn't matter I can rest easy knowing I am headed for Volcano.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Oregon is for Lovers

(Morning meditation, Umpqua River)

Visiting Oregon after a year on the Big Island makes me appreciate the beauty, uniqueness, and diversity of both places. For me the common threads that tie both together are the amazing trail running, farmer's markets and ecstatic dances. I came to Ashland to visit friends Jenn and Erik and Eric and Jenny, haha. After a few days of running up insanely steep mountains in Ashland it was time for a road trip. Eric, Jenny, and myself decided to take a trip to Portland with the focus being hot springs, live music, and ecstatic dances!! It was so great to be back in a big city, it had been too long. As soon as we got into Portland we headed straight for a dance. What a great way to loosen up after a long car ride. I am more sore after a few hours of dancing than I am after a long run. Participating in dances is so great on many different levels. Its great to be able to let loose and not care what others think, really we are all just a bunch of fools! After the dance we headed to the Bagdad Theatre to see Akron Family, an amazing band. One of the things I miss the most in Hawaii is the lack of live music. Before Akron an amazing jazz ensemble played. During there last song out of nowhere a member started singing and her voice was so angelic it could make rain fall from the sky. Akron played an amazing set, the perfect mix of folk/rock/noise. After the show as we were stumbling back to the hostel in the early hours of the morning,we came across an amazing discovery. Two hula hoops!! They had stickers on them saying "Ohh Yeah we are free" with a link to a flickr page to post photos using the hoops. "Hoop it Forward!!" We were so stoked! Some people made a bunch of hoops and left them all over Portland, what a way to make the world a better place! The next day it was nice just enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells of the city. We went to a farmers market and bought a bunch of fresh fruit and sat under a tree in the park most of the day enjoying it. The blasts from a mad trumpeter echoed throughout the streets putting a smile on my face. Portland is a kick ass city, from the markets to the beautiful trails in Forrest Park. From PDX it was on to Bagby Hot Springs. I have wanted to go there ever since seeing the movie Old Joy.

After a 1.5 mile walk through lush green forest and flowing streams we reached the springs. The place is just oozing with life. There are hallowed out logs you can fill with water from the springs giving us our own log tubs.

It was so relaxing to sit in a log and listen to the creek below. The next day we went to one of my favorite spots in the world, Smith Rock. It was there that I fell in love with running all over again a few years ago while I was living in Bend.

I learned to love the long steep trails up Misery Ridge, Burma Road and Grey Butte. It redefined what a hill was to me, running up became an active meditation. We took a hoop with us on a run and stopped for some hoop sessions periodically.

(Eric running up Misery)
The memory of getting lost back there came to mind. A two hour run turned into a 5+ hour run with some serious climbs. I have never ate as much pizza in one sitting as I did after that run. It was one of those where you finally make it back to your car and just collapse on your hood! The section of trail that parallels the river makes my heart fly out of my chest! The wild flowers growing along the banks, the sound of flowing water and the train whistle whooo whoooing in the distance. I love it, I love it!!! Nothing beats jumping in the cold river after a long hot run, so refreshing.

(Back of Monkey Face)

(The river is in the sky!)