Colorado and Utah where the main playgrounds for me and Mr. Lehman. The ultimate friend.
Wo. So I’ve had some amazing jobs. Building trails in the far reaches of Alaska. Tending plants, souls, and trails in the corners of an active volcano in Hawaii. Helping teach yoga, permaculture, and counseling a Prescott College. Visiting communities in Alaska with a dinosaur mascot. Dressing as a French Voyager brigade leader on the lakes of Northern Minnesota. Portage and canoeing with teenagers in the mosquito ridden forests near the boundary waters — you get the idea.
Deer Hill Expeditions is special. It challenged its participants and me on the rivers of Utah, great mountain ranges of Colorado, and in the ancient Navajo Nation in New Mexico. The staff training involved summiting the northern most sacred mountain to the Navajo (Mt. Hesperus) in considerable wind requiring serious courage on my part. It was a whole body, soul, and spirit kind of experience that brings you into the land and ancient cultures of this land in a way I couldn’t have imagined prior to it.
At staff training founder Doug Caplan taught me how to row an oar rig on the upper San Juan in Utah. Soon after I had a river crew member permit and more contracted days than I knew what to do with. The kids showed courage and willpower that will keep me going in the days of challenge that surely await me as a delve deeper into life and a career of counseling/ecopsychology. Also, Doug gifted me a book by Zane Grey — Riders of the Purple Sage — and I savored reading it in my precious bits of free-time throughout the summer of guiding. The great hippies of our time keep saying that the world is happening for us not to us. . . I might have to agree. . .
Wo, that just happened? A year of graduate school and helping to teach three courses at Prescott College (PC). Since the PC adventure began in August, I had a chance to: climb outside of Vegas and see Cirque du Soleil (all in one day!); observe elementary school children watering their school’s permaculture gardens at Tucson’s Manzo Elementary for recess; hike into Havasupi Falls in the Grand Canyon; canoe on the Colorado river just south of the Hoover Damn (almost baking to death in the August heat); “fly” in Flagstaff (it’s an Acro Yoga thing); somehow had time to visit Cristin Lambert in Colorado in the most peaceful wintery week have yet to see; visited my family in Minnestoa’s inviting -50 degree F streak and swung by my sister Ginger’s place in D.C. meeting her new cats and kind boyfriend Brian for the first time; and hung out on public transit in Philadelphia before returning to the Delaware Water Gap (where I once led a trail crew in the late summer) which was covered in melting ice not conducive to any type of climbing. And none of it happened in the order listed above.
But I spent most of this year since August 2013 in Prescott, Arizona. Prescott is a natural wonder, with the southernmost Ponderosa Pines meeting the cacti of southern Arizona. Basically, a combination of the climate found in Flagstaff and Phoenix with year round mountain biking and hiking and town square to die for. Monsoons in late summer are something to behold. Some days I felt out of place in this community of retirees and folks in drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs. But I think that was my own issues more than anything. Through my school, Prescott College, I met some of the most brilliant, creative, outdoor loving hippies around. Even so, sometimes I struggled with loneliness in my role as a Graduate Teaching Assistant and fellow student who wanted to respect boundaries of the undergraduates. Again, I think that was mainly my own self imposed barriers there and perhaps great preparation for my future career? In the end, on my last day assisting a Counseling Skills course while saying goodbye to students, I knew that none of the challenges of this year were in vain. Things that are worth doing are generally difficult. Being an active member of the Prescott College Graduate Teaching Assistant community for one year was difficult and worth doing — thank you to the students who taught me this.
Anyway, I made some incredible friends in Prescott who I already miss. Currently, I am working good long, hard, and rewarding days on an organic farm in Colorado and have a contract later in the summer with an organization that has my utmost respect — Deer Hill Expeditions. With Deer Hill, I’ll be field staff leading teens hiking in the southwestern Colorado mountains, canoeing the upper San Juan in Utah, and on a service learning trip with Navajo peoples. I hope to keep my blog more routinely updated (sorry for the 10 month break in posting of photos or updates). I’ll soon post photos of the highlights of this year and wish you the best.
Oh, and I’m learning Spanish and planning to go to Peru to help Megan start a women’s shelter in the fall/winter!! Might stay in the southern Americas for a while although I am drawn deeply to Iceland and Scotland for reasons beyond my awareness. The last sections of the A.T. with Cristin Lambert on it in the fall are also calling my name. We’ll see. . .
Many cycles have unfolded, played out, and died since I posted to this blog last. Since last summer, I’ve spent most of my time here in Prescott, Arizona. A whole new world of graduate studies, Adventure-Based Psychotherapy, cacti and snakes, teaching, and balancing people on my feet. Apologies for this laps in updates. I shall post a few favorite photos and ideas soon.
Wishing you the wisdom to sense when the opportune time is to ask the key question that will open the door in your soul that’s been yearning for a visit. I say this to you because I wish it for myself 🙂
Much love, CZ
At this point in my road biking travels, all that seems relevant to share is that at anytime in my life when I feel down or alone, I can look back at the photos in this post and be reminded that the majority of people in this world are kind, wise, and generous beyond measure and I see no choice but to aspire likewise.
This, and the various road poetry I’ve compiled, are all I have for you now. Much love from the Shakespearean wonderland of Ashland, OR 🙂
“You shall walk where only the wind has walked before and when all music is stilled you shall hear the singing of the stream and enter the living shelter of the forest.”
-John Glascock Baldwin (found on a plaque on a bridge in fern canyon)
“Choosing to be here in this body
This body holding me
remember here that I am not alone in this body
feeling eternal all this pain is an illusion
swirling round with this familiar parabola
swinging weaving round each new experience
recognize this as a holy gift
and celebrate this chance to be
alive and breathing
chance to be alive and breathing
embrace this moment and remember
all this pian is an illusion”
– Parabola TOOL, Canada 2011 (found on the inside of a bear-safe storage locker in the hike/bike campground of Elk Prarie State Park — redwoods, a fern canyon, and elk all around!)
“A good traveler has no fixed plan and is not intent upon arriving.”
– Lai Tso, Reveal Nature 2012 (also in campground bear-safe storage area)
“Within your heart, keep one still secret spot where dreams may go.”
– Found in a gallery in Newport where I arrived one morning after riding through the mist that clung to the cliffs of the Oregon coast.
“People who use more swear words tend to be more honest.”
– Facebook (comforting considering my recent vocabulary. . . )
“Somewhere in the depths of solitude, beyond wilderness and freedom, lay the trap of madness.”
– Edward Abbey, the Monkey Wrench Gang (thank you Megan Barnhart for recommending I read this book — wishing you courage, curiosity, and inspiration in your Peace Corps term!)
I’m on my way I’m taking my time
But I don’t know where
The bicycling has commenced. My butt is getting stronger with each insane hill and moan of exhaustion. Ample opportunity for practicing and teaching yoga. More updates soon, time to get back on the road!
The guy in the top picture with me is skateboarding south (started in Seattle) and trying to break the world record in distance traveled on skateboard by going 7,000 miles! He even skates uphill! There’s crazy people in these mountains.