Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Going to California

No internet access for the past two weeks has meant no blogging. Odd, because I've found that blogging makes me more present... the witness self is more available consciously. And there's no way the magick of the past two weeks can be contained in a post, but this feels like a loose end, and so to summarize I will try, from my red couch in California.

The consistent theme of our trip has been connection. New friends, like Spider, Charlotte, Till and Charles. Old friends like Terry, Jenny, Sean. I find that my capacity to love increases with each new soul I love. And this summer has been about learning love, fo sho.

The trip from Ohio went down like this: Lothlorien in Indiana, which is the fairy sanctuary I lived in during the early 1990's... full of altars, community, trails, beads and baubles, handmade music, hula hooping, good food, shared laughing space, gardens, gifts, mosquitos chiggers ticks, rain, crystals and geodes, sharing. We spent a week or so there camping, and every time I go there (it's near Bloomington) I want to live there. Not so much when I'm not there, but somehow it draws me back again and again. Folks there live by "Keeping Each Other Alive" and it is flow and help and love. I stop wearing deodorant and embrace being hippie while there. Here, not so much.

We left Indiana in a flooding rainstorm, and then the miles started to rack up. I've found I'm pretty good at driving long distances and arriving intact. We drove to Denver, 1100 miles in thirty hours, AND we stopped to sleep and eat. Motel 6 gets points from me for being so freakin' cheep. Hot showers, cha cha cha.

Denver was homecoming... ahhhh, family. Kim and Sara and Tracy and her daughter Chelsea and FINALLY another kid for Moona to play with. Denver was all about snacks and beer... and the sweet familiarity of having a space among people who love me and I love... door is always open. My cousin Kim rocks it so hard...

And then back to Idaho. And three days camping in Pass Creek with Jon. Sigh. We found seeds and planted looksh, and harvested currants. Babbling brook (no shit!) mountains, cooking over the fire, sleeping beneath millions of stars, and that soul-wrenching deep connection that is pretty much a bitch-slap. And when I'm there I want to live there. Is there a theme happening yet?

Miles and miles of road, driving fast, excellent music (except for that Van Halen incident) and lovely phone conversations with Joel, who had my back during the trip. And pulling into Petaluma in the wee hours, home and weary. Today was weird, trying to figure out where I was. Orione and I reunited. A fight two hours later. Sigh.

I know there are reflections and perspective forthcoming, but not yet. It's just time for sleep and rest, because I leave in two days for Free Activist Witch Camp, a whole other level of intensity. I heart summer!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Out of the Attic

In the attic of my mother’s house there are many boxes. And this morning, in one such box, I found some in-roads to my past. With no logical order were things from my life gathered and contained, like a time capsule. Which ironically was one of the items in said box. And so a list, of all of this objects that hold memory, hold story, hold a map of growing up. Some brought tears, of course, and some brought surprising insight. Some I still cherish, and some I will let go. Here goes:

+crystal ball and its stand, wrapped in a velvet bag from Kimberly before she changed
+music box with blue birds from my childhood dresser
+small card that came with a flower, for starting first grade which read “You’re a big first grader now. I love you. Mommy.”
+box with Terry’s ID bracelet, that he gave me when I was 15, contained in an ornate wooden box. I put it on straightaway.
+the play I wrote my senior year of college, (more on this later)
+picture of Max, my grandmother’s golden retriever, on his one-year birthday
+Funny card from Margo, addressed to me when I lived at Lothlorien
+Letter from Matt Dube, apologizing for the way things worked out between us, saying that he “just wasn’t ready yet to hold hands in the big city.”
+Junior high yearbook
+Muppets stationary
+the rest of my piano music box collection
+time capsule I made with Kendra the summer after 7th grade which we buried in my grandma’s yard and she found eight years later
+the newspaper relating the tale of Justin’s accident, when he was trapped in the mountains during the blizzard of 1993, and subsequently lost all of his toes to frostbite. This accident was what brought us close. (Happy Birthday today, Cooter! Glad we talked!)
+scrapbook from junior high, containing all of my report cards, choir programs, playbills, +a picture of me and Robbie Hanson, and various ticket stubs and dried flowers
+a postcard I wrote in England and never mailed, but will give to Sean when I see him next week
+birthday cards for probably every birthday
+pictures of my dad as a baby and small boy
+pictures of my mom, in our kitchen in the house I grew up in
+three blank postcards from Chateau Woodland, where we vacationed in Canada. I’d written one word commentary on the back of each: “pretty,” “humor,” and “fun.”
+antique “Souvenir from Cleveland, Ohio” written in gold script on a rose colored porcelain cup, a treasure given me by my Otsie, the elderly woman who lived next door
+a note from Chuck D in college, welcoming me back and telling me he was going to call me every 15 minutes until I got myself down to Bugsy’s for “Alternative Night.”
+Philosophically Marxist letter from Chris Walker, written while we were in college.
+Grateful Dead postcard from Jenny, telling me to “Pray for Tour.”

What to say? That I am proud of the rich, interesting and loving life it seems I’ve lead for many years. That I am so grateful for all of the deep and long-lasting connections I’ve had with other humans. How sad I am that I didn’t recognize the importance of maintaining some connections: apparently Gretchen Murphy really loved me, and my self-esteem was too low to realize it. That I’ve missed opportunities to settle in deeply with some friends, because I was too shy. That I’ve been loved so well, by many people. That in re-reading these many letters, I hear new and more subtle voices emerging, that perhaps I was too obtuse to hear back then. That my grandmother had a quirky and communicative writing style, with a wry sense of humor. That the past can hold validation of Self.

This was like a journal, except in different form. I wonder how many of us have boxes that can both bring us to new understandings of our own lives, and also are a reminder to return to our roots, our starting ground, to make sure we are moving in right directions. It seems to me that my course was set, and I can look back and see road markers along the way. I’ve surely veered, but the muscle-memory of what is correct movement feels so familiar, even as I explore the growth edges.

The most profound thing in this box was my play, “Brown Rice.” I wrote it the last semester of my last year at Syracuse, and I wrote it out of joy and compulsion. I remember sitting at my word processor, night after night, as it poured out. A lot of it didn’t make sense to me at the time. It was airy, the words that were philosophical and hippie, poetic and ethereal. There was a very vague storyline, and many of my deepest experiences were cryptically encoded within the dialogue. It’s been in this box for these past years, apparently, and when I reread it this morning, tears and tears came. It made so much more sense, in light of my attempts to learn new patterns of loving, non-attachment, and union without sticky human entanglements. It speaks of a love of the Divine that I couldn’t connect with then, at least articulately, and yet this Love shines through the text. It feels like a letter, that I wrote to me, or an instruction manual, for now. Maybe I’ll retype some of it and post it to the blog.

Oh treasures. Oh treasures. And the grace that they’ve made their way back.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Terry and Me and the drag show

Freedom Valley

Warning: this post is all about a pretty personal reconnection. It’s not a travel posting, but an intimate reunion. Read forewarned.

Breakfast, farm style: My mom’s blueberry waffles made in the 1950’s waffle iron, coffee, juice, Ohio maple syrup. It’s good to wake in familiar space, Moona happily playing in the barn all morning, and the soaking of a Midwest thunder storm. I speak to Orione on Skype, see him playing with his new toys, but he’s fairly unwilling to converse on any real level. The real scoop on what’s up comes from his Baba, who tells me in great detail all that they’ve done. Sounds like a wonder- and indulgence-filled trip.

Moona and I pull out, heading southwest of Cleveland, to visit Terry, my first love and high school boyfriend. Haven’t seen nor spoken to Terry for twenty years, and we’re going camping with him and his partner at Freedom Valley Campground, “Where Men Go to Camp!” It’s a theme weekend welcoming friends and family of the gay men who frequent this campground, and we’ll be staying in Terry and Gary’s R.V.

After dealing with attempted (yet failed) collusive homophobia at the nearby gas station when I ask for directions, we find Freedom Valley and then Terry, with most of his family. The niece I knew as a baby now has her Master’s degree and is married… all of the sisters are present, as well as Terry’s mom. It’s an incredible reunion, complete with pictures of me and Terry, much in love, at 17. What babies! How thin!

After Terry’s family leaves, we spend the afternoon lounging by the pool and catching up. There is the saying of many sweet and tender things to each other, and what surprising and rare opportunities we are sometimes given. This is the lovely man to whom I entrusted my virginity all those years ago, and the choice was solid, then and now. The memories that return are of the intentionality and consciousness around the decision to become sexually active, and the wish that it will be the same for my own children when it comes to that time. It’s an utter pleasure to see him, meet Gary, and allow his story to reweave with my own.

Freedom Valley Campground is a very special place. I’ve spent a bunch of time in queer communities lately, and this place reminds me that being queer does not equate with radical politics, activism or lifestyle. What really hits home is the level of acceptance and celebration of queerness. Now, I live in San Francisco and take for granted what many in America still struggle for. Yet there is a poignancy about Freedom Valley for me… I am so glad to have my daughter exposed to this, and how would things have been different for me if my dad’s gayness had been normalized in such a way? As opposed to pathologized? This place is calm and peaceful. It’s centered around enjoying community and enjoying oneself. It’s not edgy, but rather full of colorful and kitschy gardens, light decorations and RVs. The men are so welcoming and friendly, and cruise around the campground in their golf carts. As Terry says, this is not camping, but ‘gay camping.’ Moona and I get taken on the grand tour, and carted around in style. We snack all afternoon on delicious bad-for-you foods like cheese dip and BBQ chips and doughnuts. After bed for her, I get to go to the drag show with Terry and Gary, which is amusing and has one really great performer. I’m too shy to give over the dollar tips Ter has given me. Quote of the day is when Gary comments on Terry’s love of Mylie Cyrus, “How gay is that?” And I must say, it’s pretty damn gay.

Several times during the afternoon and evening, I’m taken by surprise that here I am sitting next to this person who was my first true love, and there is still so much love and connection between us, but all of the weirdness is completely gone. He’s just an old friend now, and my daughter finds him pretty top-notch. The sense I gather of Terry is that his life is satisfying. Thanks, Facebook, maybe I’ll send you a $10 donation!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

House on the Rock and Clevo

Back in the USSR

Dan’s unsurprised and welcoming face, 5:07 A.M. Cleveland. “Oh, it’s you,” he says nonchalantly as Moona and I show up at my dear friends’ door after a crazy all night drive across the mid-west. The final push to Ohio, and we leave Chicago at 10:30 P.M. after a late dinner. I stop and buy a cup of McDonald’s coffee, and a pack of Camel cigarettes, though I don’t smoke, to help sustain wakefulness in this last desperate leg inspired by Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac’s crazy all-night rides. And make it we do, as the sun rises up to the East over Lake Erie. Pulled over for speeding and set free with a warning, (a test of my own autonomy and personal agency, as I remain calm in face of a fine) I promise to drive more slowly, and indeed uphold that agreement, driving 65 MPH for the last 300 miles. As the quote of the day, Jenny offers, “Laws are for those without ethics.” Laughing, joyfulness, and then my friends tuck Moona and me into their couches, and we all return to the land of dreams.

Our last tourist destination before Chicago has been The House on the Rock: an eccentric, spooky, and wonderful testament to creativity, materialism, genius and depravity. Oddly, upon viewing the carousel with almost 300 animals, and 20,000 lights, my hurting and sorrowing heart on the human front is uplifted. Beauty is found in many forms, and such a tribute to light, to play, and to delight is odd comforting medicine. I find surprise within at this perception. Humans, oh humans, we are so multi-faceted and unfathomable.

And so it’s several hours of sleep, and then amazing homemade breakfast: homefries o’love, scrambled free range eggs, and Amish bread with pear jam Jenny made last year. O and the coffee, nectar sweet. Upon waking, Jenny and Dan’s five-year-old son Sebastian greets Moona with both the ease of an old friend, and the familiarity of a known soul, and this is the vibe that pervades the day. I get to attend flow yoga with Jenny as my kick ass rock-n-roll yoga teacher. Sun salutations done to the Beatles and U2 are a little easier to take, even on four hours of sleep. And the pigeon pose with instructor adjustment just breaks it all down and cleans house. I’m so taken.

And thus the Eastward journey ends… as we reach Mom-Lady’s farm east of Cleveland. My mom is excited to see us, and takes good care, and the familiarity of this place is sweet, as are the laundry facilities. Respite, succor, love and family. So so so blessed. And wow, we did it, all by ourselves. What a lot of tears, miles, songs, phone conversations, heartbreak, pictures, grease and grilled cheese sandwiches, friends, hugs and kisses, goodbyes, gifts, new connections, deepened understandings, road demons, pee breaks and gas stops. What utter grace. What utter grace.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Always a Party in the 'Polis

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Up and at’em. Get ‘er Done. Moona wakes WAAAYYY too early this morning, dawn’s pearly light and all that. And Mindi’s leaving, and therefore so are we… breakfast at the Seward Collective, surly punk attitude, yummy omelet. Living in Cali, I’ve gotten used to hipster wait staff and remain nonplussed.

To the library, downtown Minneapolis main branch. Too early we are, but bandwidth is like water, and so plopped down on a bench with laptop open, we wait. And meet a couple of older Japanese folks, here for the Lion’s Convention. There is to be a parade, we understand, in between showing them pictures of our travels. Into the waiting arms of the children’s library which is rockin, complete with a street view of said parade. Which begins soon thereafter, and is still continuing when we leave two hours later. Thousands and thousands of Lion’s Club members, from all over the world, mixed up with a few marching bands. I stare at the band geeks the same way I stare at nuns… wondering what really possesses someone to make those choices. Curious, not judgmental, should you be wondering.

The most interesting of the floats is the uh, Top Hat Bellies, or the “Happy Whistlers” as they call themselves. Seeing is believing, and my words really couldn’t do justice to the utter bizarre nature of this human exhibit so you’ll just have to check out the picture. Moona is handed lots of give-aways… flags from different countries, pins, a koala bear clip-on. It’s fairly fascinating stuff, as parade’s go, just because it’s so weird.

Our loving car delivers us to the May Day Café, where we are to meet loved ones Byrd and River. And here we feel right at home, surrounded by dreadlocks and piercings and tattoos, and really good coffee and vibes. Seeing these friends is just joy. Shiny and yummy. And lunch is good too, and the hours pass quickly with fun conversation about gender and queerness and dance and love. It’s good to witness their love, and feel solid connection beneath our feet.

My travel decision of the day is to drive near Madison, sleep there, and then visit a couple of to-de (tourist destinations) nearby. Storm storm storm makes the driving hard, and while Moona dreams away the time and I use up cell minutes chatting, weariness does indeed overcome. It’s going to rain tonight anyway, and so the decision to get our first motel room of the trip is a good one… $50 for a sweet suite. My impression of Wisconsin is that it is CLEAN. At least our room is, as was the restaurant where we dined. I (almost)LOVE iceberg lettuce salads. During the meal I found my attention drifting to thoughts of succulent green beans, summer squash, ripe tomatoes, chard. Missing vegetables, lovingly cooked. The eating factor has been pretty surprising as we travel. We’re eating in diners frequently (no cook stove, remember?) and just watching what other people are consuming daily is intense. There’s not a lot of access to nutritional foods…

Too tired for more, and my double bed in this non-smoking room calls to me even more than Wi-Fi. Heading towards Chicago tomorrow, and points East.


Tee-pee, wakefulness, to-pee. And shower and swimming and packing. And bought a piece of pipestone as a gift, for who I don’t yet know. And then Pipestone latte (oh yeah) and breakfast. And the Pipestone County Museum, well worth the $3 admission. Here’s a little something and it goes like this: On the trail of glass-plate photographer David Rambow, Pipestone local and supposed Museum director. Ex-, as we later find, but that’s what takes us to the Museum, where Helen is more than helpful. She finds us David’s cell number, and hands me the phone. David is in transition to Iowa, but says “That’s exactly it, you got it,” when I say that what I see in his photos is an attempt to capture the lifetimes a subject has lived. I want him to photograph Moona and me, to mark this occasion, but alas, it is not to be at this time. But sucked into the museum we are, and here’s what Minnesota is proud of: Prince (Duh!) Kitty litter, tilt-a-whirl (which baffles chaos theorists to this day) rice cakes, water skis, and trains.

Helen also directs us to the Little Feather Indian Interpretive Center, where we meet Chuck and Gloria and spend some time communing with these magick folks. Gloria has set up an exhibit devoted to native women of all tribes, and has done so at the instruction of a vision, which also guides her to do the same work in Europe and Jerusalem. Indian dancer women, and doctor women, and earning a place of respect to sooth the gender divide. Powerful stuff. Before we leave she gives us a picture of angel wings to keep us safe on our journey. These connections are the kind that I’ve been seeking… just a open-hearted sharing of ideas, a curiosity about other lives, an unguarded appreciation for different experiences this time around. Helen tells me that recently a visitor to the museum has dissed this small-town life, but I find immeasurable value in it: in community, in daily connection and support, and of having a sense of place on this planet.

Away from the soul-sucking numbness of the highway, on country back roads, we continue eastward. I get why this part of the US is called the Heartland… it’s impossible to view these beautiful kept, aesthetically reassuring farms and not feel a sense of heart, a poignancy for this way of life that many of our families knew fairly recently. It’s still there, my friends, and though I love San Francisco and the type of community we enjoy there, this is also a very special and connected way to live. All of my interactions are tinged with a sweetness that stems from people caring for each other in ways that are necessary, healthy and sustainable. Many years ago, when I lived at Lothlorien, a fairy came through with the slogan “Keeping Each Other Alive.” This has a resonance that I long to create in my daily life.

We drive through Walnut Grove of Little House fame, and stop for an ice-cream. Again I see through Moona’s fresh clear eye as she inquires about the “water on the road that disappears when we drive up to it.” She’s talking about the optical illusion created by heat reflected on the pavement, and I’d years ago learned not to see it. I relearn today how to. And it’s magick… I invite you to try and find it. It’s quite beautiful, as road visions go. How often can we use the word “shimmering” in our daily experiences?

And then it’s city, and I have to remember two hands on the wheel, and can’t GPS, text and atlas while driving anymore. And it’s CELL RECEPTION, Hurray! And I’ve missed it. Arriving road-weary but joyous at Mindi’s, where Moona finally gets her screen time and is laugh-out-loud tickled at Kung Fu Panda. Thanks for the hard drive, Thibaut. Just in time. The lovely and bad-ass (!) Mindi cooks for us, and conversation with a friend is such road medicine. My favorite moment is hearing “gay married” used as a verb as in “My friend gay-married my other friend.” Love it. And sleep, no so much, but sometimes that’s fun too.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


Surprising turns

Badlands National Park by day reminds me of Bryce Canyon in Utah, but on a smaller scale. Lovely and unfathomable, nonetheless. And hurray, there is a lodge serving breakfast on premises, so that takes care of that. Have I mentioned my absolute admiration for the bottomless cup of coffee? Said in seriousness, actually, as a comfort totem, or “nonny.”

It’s strange how the days are becoming less crystalline, and there is a bit of uncertainty about events and to which day they belong. The sense is of losing perspective in the face of so much space… when I realized I still have a thousand miles of eastward travel left today, it was overwhelming. So much space gives room for lots of things to come up! But, back to today which is finishing… while Moona drifts off in the teepee we’ve rented in the RV park (oh, yes, but it is indeed true and COMPLETELY worth it) just across from Pipestone National Monument, where we spent the best afternoon we’ve had in days.

So, mid-morning I realized that many of the folks I totally wanted to visit with in Minneapolis (our next stop-over) are not there at present. Driving while looking at the atlas, I considered abandoning that route. And felt again frustration with my lack of planning, and questioned my utter reliance on magick and flow. In spite of this, to the Corn Palace we awayed, and purchased $20 worth of Corn Palace souvenirs. Magic Pen book for Moona, Snow Dome for Orione, light-up rose quartz necklace for me. And then we beat it on down the line. Corn Palace was a little over the top, but no so bad comparatively. Back to the car.

And so Pipestone? One of the Minneapolis people I most want to see called, at the crucial moment on the highway just as the turn-off for Pipestone appeared. Seemed like a good place to visit and wait a day for Mindi to get home to Minnesota. Getting off I-90 was driving north along country roads that I know in my blood from growing up in the Midwest… farms, silos, thunderheads, rain shower, ozone. Familiar, lush, and not scorching on the eyes. The town of Pipestone is real old time, not re-olded. The monument is so well done… and so accessible, and very few visitors…and is still the only place pipestone is mined, and only by Native peoples. The teepee is cheap, comes with a pool, wifi, showers, helpful staff, and electricity to plug in. Did I mention it’s a teepee? Okay, and a few RV’s about, but people are so NICE here.

No agendas, and friendly and curious and this ain’t no San Francisco. Just Real. And when we started this journey, real was on the agenda fo sho. Eavesdropping at dinner “… and so I’ll just pay my health insurance bill until Obama comes up with something better…” And dinner was pizza and salad buffet (no tomatoes, cucumbers or peppers, yes to cheese and croutons) and for both of us it cost $11. That’s what I’m talking about… nothing overblown or fake real. And so today was about remembering that in spite of Wall Drug and Yellowstone and Winnebago and Starbucks there is still real real, here, somewhere.

Tomorrow we’ll visit one of the three places a non-native can acquire pipestone, and hopefully the Pipestone County Museum to seek out this photographer whose work we saw in town. It’d be cool if he’d take a picture of us. And then on to Minneapolis, where hip and city and cool abound.

Dependence Day


Today is waking, in a canyon, sheer drop beside me. Packing the car and driving 120 miles before breakfast. Since it’s the fourth, nothing is open and we must drive to a bigger town to find sustanence. It’s a shock to sit and eat my eggs with cigarette smoke wafting above our heads. People wearing patriotic clothing. The hostess with the Kelly green highlights telling me her dream is to own a salon in Seattle, and me reassuring her that after growing up different in a small town, it’s possible to escape.

Today is the end of Wyoming, and the beginning of South Dakota. It is bypassing Mt. Rushmore, and heading to Wind Cave National Park. Which is wonderful, and Moona can’t stop pointing at all the wonderful subterranean vistas. I photograph the Yoni of the Mother. Today is baby buffalo, four hundred miles, lotsa map gazing, and rethinking plans and routes. Today is cruising past Wall Drug, and realizing how absolutely uncomfortable I am with these tourist destinations that are really only about profit.

Today is a lot of time in my head, trying to figure it all out. Watching all the hard things come up in the silence of no meaningful adult interactions. There should be a word for self-frustration. Music, not helping very much. What does help is the amazing and wonderful Rob Brezny’s podcast, eight minutes of validating optimism. You can listen to it here: http://www.freewillastrology.com/PerfectMoment.mp3

Today is a lovely garden café dinner in Hot Springs, South Dakota, where ironically enough we don’t visit the hot springs. Today is Badlands National Park by moonlight, better than the fireworks in the distance. Tonight is throwing the tent up in the dark, and moving a sleeping Moona to bed without waking her. Tonight is the full moon coming on, and over the trippy rock formations of the park at that. Tonight is the wise and sane decision to rest, instead of a manic midnight flight across the prairie. Tonight is gratitude for National Parks, and missing my NPS belt. Maybe Joro still has it somewhere, and I can retrieve it.

And even though it was Independence Day all day, and in a very real way I’m enjoying and making use of my freedom, today was ultimately about self-limitations, and the feeling of unfreedom in my soul/life/heartspace. Today was ultimately about realizing dependence on many things, and the desire to do the work to change that.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Jon and Spider and Phallus Man

Friday and choices

When many miles fall between rising and resting sometimes it’s hard to string all the events that happen into a single day. Such was today. There was a gentle, steady rain last night, that eased and soothed and gave such deep, good sleep. Dealing with a wet, muddy tent was another matter, however. Ultimately, I wrapped it up in our only sheet, stuck it into the backseat, and drove in Jackson Hole. Which should be called Jackson Hell, in my humble opinion. Laundry was fine, especially since free wifi onsite made the hour spin and tumble by quickly. And then the saga of trying to find food began. My GPS failed me, giving me a bunk or defunct restaurant. And yaddy yaddah, so it continued, driving through hugely trafficked, tourist laden streets in this quasi-quaint and rustic town that screamed big bucks. Ten dollars for a grilled cheese, no fries. Four dollars for a pastry. Uh huh, and yeah, everyone there was as WHITE as they come…

Today was the first day I really got on a deep level what Jon says frequently: how it hurts so deep to see what we truly are as a species. Jackson Hell exemplified all of it, and I just wanted to get the Hell out. But couldn’t: too much traffic. First I felt anxious, then sick, and then it just hurt. Today was not a day for feeling comfortable in my skin, and the many miles of road gave ample time for discomfort. Not only the feeling of disconnect with Terra Firma, but also the realizations about attachments to love.

Driving up to the fee entrance to the Grand Tetons National Park and Yellowstone, I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t pay my $25 to go and get my American on. Couldn’t go with the herd and ooh and ahh over the mud pots, when I was fuming about being in the same tourist category as my fellow travelers. Pulling the car over just before the toll booth (there were many: it was like the Golden Gate Bridge) I pulled out the atlas, and without hardly any thought, tracked another route out of Wyoming. No Yellowstone, but the ease of heart was immediate, and I’ve never regretted one of these hastily made decisions that go against conventional thinking. Plus, I’ve decided that western Wyoming is a total sell-out state, and what it sells is fake America. Any authentic ambience and personality has been coopted and is now just a manipulation.

And so it was through miles of Wind River Indian Reservation that we drove, stopping frequently: snow, to pray to a roadside Madonna (please Mother, teach me to love freely,) a thrift store for books for Moona, gas, ice-cream, and finally hot springs in Thermopolis, which was less than wonderful, but I did get to sigh to country heartbreak songs played over the sound system. And now, we are squeakily clean now, shampooed and everything.

Favorite visual not natural was a huge bull someone had anchored to the top of a building in the middle of the desert, and someone else had defaced with an anarchy sign. Favorite natural visual was two bald eagles in a tree. Driving the canyons was fun, listening to Jerry Garcia and David Grisman “Not for Kids Only.” The landscapes appear so alien sometimes. Lastly, we drove through Ten Spent, Wyoming, where the road we were on, US Highway 16, was closed for “Rodeo Days” and the entire town of 354 souls were in the street singing and dancing to country music. And we’ve driven out of there, and up into the National Forest on this crazy road with drops on either side, and are sleeping in the car by the side of the road. Hopefully we’ll make it.

Friday, July 3, 2009


A moose, swimming in the snake river, is our first wonder of the day. Followed by delicious breakfast at a diner in Swan Valley, after scamming bandwidth at the local RV park. We drive through the end of Idaho, and into Wyoming, the Beatles’ “Let it Be” our soundtrack, stopping for supplies, and arriving at Granite Falls in the Teton National Forest. We claim a campsite by 11:00 AM, and head up to the hot springs pool. Built by the CCC in 1933, the pool is surrounded by high mountains and a view of the valley and fast river, which I can hear outside the tent as I write.

Today is all about self-care and healing. Healing the hurt of loving and leaving, healing the exhaustion that’s plagued us for days as we’ve gotten little sleep, healing our sore bodies and mosquito bites, and finding center with each other. Our traveling vibe is so sweet: Moona commends me on my status as driver, and I commend her on being a passenger. We are in flow.

After setting up our tent in what has to be the most scenic and quiet campsite of all time, and using Spider’s ten dollahs to pay for it, we take an extended afternoon nap in the coolness of the tent. Buying the foam pad was a wise choice, as we’ve already used it a lot. Sleeping in the car last night was a little rough, and it’s definitely worth the effort to install the tent, even with the repacking necessary. The system is working, although it requires quite a bit of maintenance.

After napping until 7, we return to the pool where there are just a few remaining soakers. It is quiet and so pleasant, and we drift and dream in the warm water for an hour and a half. There is this moment for me in the pool when I realize I am totally content, and that there is no one in the world I would rather be with than Moona at that time. Such peace, and unexpected at that: how amazing the effects of sleep and warm water on the soul, and these were God today. After our second soak, we both notice that we finally feel clean. It’s been some long while since our last bath with soap, but we seem to be doing okay. Laundry will be in order soon, however. A small fire is made upon our return, and we eat cheese and crackers for dinner. Perhaps that camp stove is still in order, but who knows when we’ll come to such a store. Tomorrow is more hot springs and the Grand Tetons.

It’s funny how the spirit of movement takes over… I’ve no desire to stay too long anywhere.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Sleep is hard to find, when the sky of Idaho beckons with moonlight. Jon and Spider have shown up at our campsite by the river after the slowest sunset I’ve witnessed. Hours of color across the sky, the mountains. They arrive in the dark, following the little lantern light I’ve lit for them.

Waking this morning, Spider drives off to find coffee as we pack up camp. He returns with, as he says, “the longest drive for the worst cup of coffee,” but it’s wonderful because it’s him who delivers it. Pulling out, we head to the mountains in search of the petroglyphs he’s seen there four years ago. This journey takes hours, and Spider reminds us that anything worth having requires an input of energy. We’ve drawn spirit cards at the start of this work: Moona gets a black panther, and I get a dragonfly, suiting the theme of grace that’s been in the air this morning. So it goes like this: we drive up as far one canyon as is possible in his truck, get out, hike steep inclines, to find we’re not in the right canyon. After one such hike, Spider hands me a Calling Rock, and explains its use… to call spirit through the river, and allow anything which does not serve to be carried away and purified. He and I share the love of picking up unusual stones, but pockets begin to drag! Many unmarked roads through national forest are followed, with open grazing cattle disturbing the landscape and soil everywhere. The Rewilders hate these cattle, who destroy the native plants with their grazing. And indeed, they seem quite stupid as the don’t even get out of the way when the car almost hits them. More roads, more canyons. Finally, we find the right road.

My car is scraping bottom on the mildest of these gravel roads, and is terrified by inclines. We come to the bottom of such an incline, and Spider has driven ahead and tells us to hike to where he is. Which is not that far ahead, but the grade is substantial. Although I’m not very good at estimating these things, I reckon it was between 35-45 degrees. The scenery is stunning, but hiking up the gravel path is an exercise in caution and breath management. We reach him, and he is able to drive us maybe another tenth of a mile, before we all have to get out and walk. The climb is long and hard. Jon gives Moona a piggyback for part of the time, but even he can’t sustain that. Along the way, we sample many of the wild plants and seeds, and plant some seeds as well. My companions know so much and know it not only in English, but in Latin and the Indigenous names as well.

Hiking up maybe a mile or two, at a point where the object of this climb is visible, Moona gives up. She just sits down, puts her head in her hands, and sobs with huge silent shakes. Returning to her and pulling her into my lap, my own sobs follow. We sit and cry, at the difficulty, the beauty, the heartbreak and our own fear of failure. The connection is silent and we witness each other as brave, vulnerable warrior women. She is the one who turns the moment, as she begins to plant seeds that she’s found, emulating what she saw our friends doing earlier. The care that she takes, offering each one water from her water bottle, and her invitation to me to do the same, reclaims the energy of the creatrix, the Mother, and us as her tenders. And it’s hard to sob and be afraid while doing that work. Her intuition astounds me. From that moment, we joyfully climb the remaining last bit, splashing cold water from small muddy springs on each other. Finally, we come into the grotto in the canyon where a waterfall welcomes our hot and exhausted bodies. We strip and play in the water, which is beyond cold. Our song comes, and we sing spontaneously together the song of the waterfall, and it echoes through the walls. Peace is restored in our hearts and bodies. Dressing, we offer the space to the boys, and eat apples. And go to look, finally, at the petroglyphs which are, as one would expect, haunting and too beautiful to stare at for long. There is one in particular that is under a small ledge, of people dancing towards the shining sun. And here we are, worshipping that same sun. While taking a slew of pictures, we celebrate this canyon, this waterfall, these ancient drawings, our love for each other in community and friendship, and our own good fortune to have completed this long climb. My pride in Moona is beyond words… she has grown so much in just these past few days.

We climb down, with lots of gathering along the way: Jon returns with his shirt stuffed full of stinging nettle and his feet bare, and Spider has sage stuffed into all of his pockets to use as gifts of smudge. I’ve found a few more rocks, one with a perfect circle drawn on it which resembles a fish eye. There is the loving return to Arco, to leave Jon and begin our eastward movement. Jon gifts us with an ammonite fossil that he found, and it’s wrapped in a beloved cloth. Lots of hugs and laughing, and it’s time to go and oh how I will miss these folks, and yet it’s so intense here too, and Moona and I have more miles to discover. Now I’m sitting in the car, where we are sleeping tonight, in the national forest near Swan Valley. We’ll leave for Wyoming in the morning. And the quote of the day is from Moona, upon learning we’re still in Idaho: “Idaho, I want to hug you!” and she raises her arms and does just that, as the mountains float past the car window.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009



Dawn wakes us with the need to pee. Moona and I trek outside, pee, and return to the cabin. With the thought that sleep, though much needed, was now impossible, I drop off quickly. Dreaming of a red velvet Ganesh (!) I sleep until high sun, around 11:00 or so. Shared dreams as we wake, then the routine of oatmeal. Cleaning dishes by the handpump in the yard is an interesting challenge.

The people I’m staying with are wonderfully crazy. Calling themselves “Rewilders,” (www.pullingforwildflowers.org) they walk the Sacred Hoop of the native people, planting, harvesting, and gathering indigenous foods. Thimble berries, pinon, breadroot, bitter root, camas, white onion. The knowledge they possess is as ancient as humans on this land. Living in relation with the natural world, and walking reverently upon her, they live in a way of heart and dedication. Traveling seasonally, they move with the food sources. And yet there is the expected tension of any people trying to live in a way that falls outside of societal norms. It’s funny to hear people arguing by cell phone about traditional practices. Finisia Madrano, aka Tranny Granny, teaches, preaches, rants and passionately speaks the truth, no dissension allowed. You can watch and listen to her on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4z_PPpnXCg

And though our time at the cabin has been a cherished gift, it’s also an intense and filthy place to be. I feel the call of the road. As we are packing, our new and much beloved friend Spider is giving us farewell gifts. He asks me to hold out my hands, then touches each item four times to my hand before dropping it into my palms, thereby allowing any attachment he possesses to the object and how I will use it to be broken. He gives me a sandpainting his parents gave him years ago, a beaded sacred spider for my classroom, smudge from Wolf Creek, ten dollars, a San Francisco tee-shirt, and a General Mao picture to hang from my rear view mirror. To Moona he gifts a stapler (her FAVORITE thing) a roll of tape, construction paper, an art box, and many glo-sticks. How he had just the right things for each of us is the Magick. What love in gifts freely given. He freely gives advice too, and offers to help us pack. I gift him my favorite pink sparkle scarf from Winter Camp, and he’s delighted with his new drag. Sacred Clown, Switch Hitter, Coyote, trickster, teacher of ASL and of the deaf, this in-between Winkte is a deep well of wonder and joy and giggly irreverence.

The plan is to stop for a bite, find wifi, and head out the Big Lost River to camp before visiting petroglyphs in the morning. We stop at the Mountain Man Trading Post and meet Mel and Showana, friends of Jon’s. Instantaneous heart connection with these fine folks who walk in Spirit. I tell Mel the truth when he asks about this journey, about the search for God and connection and he absolutely understands and takes me deeper into my own understanding with his questions. How to sustain Grace? What is the Grace of each thing in the world? Of a dancer? An onion? We help them unload their weekly truck of produce, and after sitting down for some social time, he hugs me firmly for a long time, kisses my cheek, and delivers this zinger which is also the quote of the day; “Anytime you’re in this area, and you will come back, you can stay in the room over there. We can look deeply into the truth together, if you’d care to. We could all use a little more of that.”

Driving out of Arco after lunch at Pickle’s Place, we find our spot along the river, at the base of the mountains, and set up camp amidst tremendous wind. Moona is asleep beside me as I write, and I feel I’m not long in joining her. Jon and Spider will arrive soon to camp with us, and we’ll make an early start of it in the morning. Love, so much open-hearted tearful joyful painful blissful Love. It will be hard to leave, and I’ve already cried about it. And yet the road continues for us.