Manufactured Loyalty

Caveat: This post is long and a bit of a ramble. It has a lot of ideas in it that aren’t fully formed and should probably be split into several distinct posts. It’s more of a thought exercise about the role of place in one’s life, which is the focus of a new writing course I’m taking. The point is to get writing and generate ideas without a lot of self-censorship at this point. I’d love to hear thoughts from my readers if anything here resonates with you.

When I was young, I thought Buffalo, NY was the absolute best place in the country to live. Some of the reasons I can remember included:

  • bars were open until 4pm
  • we had a waterfront (although it was undeveloped at the time)
  • we could use Canadian coins interchangeably with American ones
  • our shitty beer was Labatt’s, not Budweiser or Miller

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A Decade of Rocky Mountains

Today is my 10 year anniversary of living in Colorado!

loading up at jim's truck stop

In Buffalo, NY, early in the morning on August 22, 2008, making the final adjustments for the 1,530 mile drive. I’m wearing my favorite Buffalo sweatshirt. I still have it.

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Some Love for Boulder

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Boulder is the friendliest place I’ve ever lived. People of all ages and situations are polite and helpful and always have a smile for you. I’ve struck up conversations in the most random places with people I wouldn’t ordinarily talk to. But why not? Doing so seems normal to me now. Why not make connections, no matter how small, with the people sharing your space? You never know what might come of it, and if nothing does other than a good feeling, that’s great too. This post, however, isn’t going to focus on the lady behind me in the grocery store or the guy at the table next to me in the coffee shop. It’s about the people who work for the city of Boulder and for the benefit of its citizens.  Continue reading →

Eight Days in the Mid-Atlantic (Part 1)

This summer, I’m keeping my travel domestic and fulfilling some long overdue visits to friends and family. I forgot how cheap it is to vacation when you don’t have to pay for hotels and you don’t have to go out for every meal. Also, I’ve been to places I’m going this summer many times before, so I’m not running around trying to experience everything all at once. I haven’t taken a vacation that was exclusively focused on spending time with people in, well, ever maybe. But now I am. The purpose of my travel this summer is to immerse myself in the lives of my friends, experience a different America for a bit, and simply relax. As a bonus, I’m saving some serious coin for a big international trip during the end of year holidays and my big mid-life birthday next April. Continue reading →

Enchanting Rainforest Hideaway in Pāhoa, Hawaii (February, 2013)

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While You Are There: Relax! Not all trips are about what you can go see and do. If you went all the way to Big Island only to rent this place and never step foot outside it except to go to and from the airport, it would be worthwhile. This place is magical. That said, Big Island is wonderful! There is so much to do: Volcanoes National Park (during the day and at night) and the Kilauea Iki Trail, snorkeling and turtle watching at Honaunau Bay, Lava Tree State Monument, South Point Park (where I got hit by a huge wave and was almost swept out into the ocean), the coffee farms on the west side of the island, and seeing snow on Mauna Kea.

Why It’s On My List: This house is paradise. Enough said.

For this year’s A-Z Blog Challenge, I’ve decided to showcase 26 of my favorite places in the world. I’ve only been to 22 of the 196 countries, so I’ve got some more travelling to do, but these places are well worth a visit.

Cuatro Ciénegas, Mexico (June, 2002)

Cuatrocienagas

While You Are There: Everything! Check out the Visit Mexico site for what to do in this appropriately categorized “magical” town. The protected area is the main attraction, but you could easily spend many days here and not get bored.

Why It’s On My List: I lived in Mexico for five months and was lucky enough to be able to travel extensively and see a lot of the country. I adored all of Mexico and am saddened by how dangerous it has become. There’s so much history and beauty and culture. The trip to Cuatro Ciénegas stands out because it was one of the few that almost all of us teachers went on together. I taught second grade at Colegio Ingles and there were about 20 of us foreign teachers altogether. This was near the end of the school year when everyone would be leaving Mexico soon, off to new adventures. Cuatro Ciénegas was only a few hours away, so one weekend we rented three serial killer vans and all drove out there. I remember racing through the desert in those vans like something out of a movie. We rented some cabins and spent a nice weekend hanging out with each other, reminiscing about the fun we had throughout the school year, and enjoying everything the town had to offer.

For this year’s A-Z Blog Challenge, I’ve decided to showcase 26 of my favorite places in the world. I’ve only been to 22 of the 196 countries, so I’ve got some more travelling to do, but these places are well worth a visit.

Bessastaðir, the Icelandic Presidential Residence (March, 2013)

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While You Are There: Well, you didn’t come to Iceland just to see the presidential palace, did you? Here’s all the awesome stuff we crammed into a five day trip. Blue Lagoon, Northern Lights & seafood dinner tour, the penis museum, Seljalandsfoss, SkógafossReynisdrangar, Gullfoss, Geysir geothermal field, Sólheimajökull glacier, Reynisfjara, Viking horses, elves, great food, and too many people trying to teach us to say Eyjafjallajökull. Continue reading →

Sanctuary 2.0: Re-Engaging the Senses

I recently starting rereading Diane Ackerman’s A Natural History of the Senses, which I read for the first time approximately two years ago. The book is an exquisite and vivid journey through our five senses and how they guide and influence our interactions with the world around us. It’s a beautiful piece of writing that serves as a reminder of the importance of literally stopping to smell the roses. Today, I did that. IMG_6411After a morning session of restorative yoga in the planetarium that left me with an almost unbearable desire to pack up the car and drive straight to the Badlands or Moab to be alone with my senses, I settled for a three hour solo hike into the forest and canyons at the base of the Flatirons. The air, earth, and plants were still damp with the heavy spring rain that soaked the whole region on Friday. Such a rich humidity on a rainless day is rare treat in Boulder, as is the sound of rushing water and a nearly empty hiking trail only 15 minutes outside town. The luxury of the experience filled me with emotion and also got me to thinking about how my own senses have been heightened and tantalized since I removed myself from a relationship that was breaking my soul and forcing me to suppress a desire for rich experiences in order to simply get by from day to day. Restorative yoga helps you be present in your sense of self, but the other five senses are every bit as important. Here is what has been influencing mine lately. Continue reading →

13,000 Hours in the Mountains: Whose Mountain Is It Anyway?

A big cat family roams Alaska Hill. Their presence has been been confirmed. At first, the evidence was inconclusive: sounds of an animal splashing around in the creek at the bottom of the hill and a barely visible tail near the sound of a branch snapping in the dark. Perhaps a murderous mountain lion, but perhaps a charming bobcat. Then, a cache was discovered near a neighbor’s propane tank. And then a spate of sightings around the area of the cache: the momma coming up a driveway, the cub disappearing into the woods, the duo crossing the road.

I have an unjustified feeling of certainty that I will be the feline’s victim. Much the way people panic when they see a gun, I’m certain, now that several people on my street have seen the beast (and its offspring), that it’s going to eat me, my dog, or both of us. Guns are all around; we simply aren’t aware of them because the owners have concealed carry permits, emphasis on concealed. The mountain lion has always been around but its territory is enormous and it’s mainly active at night. Logic often goes out the window when confronted visually with something you don’t like. I’ve hiked these woods many times with only my trusty but useless dog for protection. Now, suddenly, the caves and pits pockmarking the land terrify me, although my rational brain knows nothing has actually changed. Continue reading →