Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I am Inman

I read “Cold Mountain” several years ago and I figured this guy Inman was a figment of the imagination. I mean, really, how could a fellow spend a year wandering around the Blue Ridge Mountains? How hard is it to get home? 

Well, I have to take all of that back. Here I am in Asheville, armed with a compass in the car, a more or less accurate GPS and mapping system in the form of my iPhone, and until now, a fairly reliable sense of direction. But none of that seems to be effective here. Every friggin turn I make is wrong, I have constantly had to turn around and back track, and a destination that should take 15 minutes has taken more than an hour – more than once in the day today.

Here’s part of the problem. Every friggin road has at least three names. Some regular name (that’s entirely too similar to the road that crosses it, like “Fairview” and “Fairmont”), a state road name (like 210) and some other numerical name (like 74). Secondary to that is the fact that there are no street numbers, so when you’re looking for 802 Fairview/240/74 for example, there’s no way to tell if you’ve gone past it or have even reached it yet. And even though the car compass is fairly accurate, because there’s no point of reference like an ocean or ONE mountain (there are about a million around here) and because the roads wind in every direction up and down and around, getting turned around is pretty much guaranteed.

Oh and did I mention that in this fairly small town of 74,000 people, there are about 5 highways that curve, wind, cross, circle and intersect?

So Inman, my apologies. The fact that you made it home even for a day to impregnate Nicole Kidman before getting shot by the home guard is amazing.

I wonder how the Yankees were able to capture this part of the state – how could they find their way? But then I’m guessing the rebs were equally as lost most of the time – as evidenced by Inman, who grew up in these hills.

As beautiful as it is here (and yes, it is amazingly beautiful) I could never live here – I’m not sure I’d make it home in time to get pregnant…..oh, never mind.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Charleston Chew, part deux, and adieu

I’m sure it’s 
a Wizard of Oz analogy – I finally found my Charleston Chew candy bars – right at the Charleston KOA campsite!!! I did really love it there – the lake, the fish in the lake, the rainbow over the lake, and the friendly people at the campground. The town of Charleston is beautiful. Spent a day while I was there walking around the historic neighborhoods and went on a tour of a house built before the revolution – and it had artifacts inside from that time. Amazing. And considering that there was no air conditioning or electricity, they did a great job designing houses to allow air flow and natural light. Beautiful. Despite the crowded tourists, it wasn’t hard to find quiet alleys and streets that showed whispers of a time long ago.

I have learned so much from David Kiser. He took time to show and tell all about how he designed and built out his studio. I spent hours asking him questions, and he was not only patient, he answered questions I didn’t even know to ask!! Again, I’m certain I will have a much better studio as a result of this visit. Big thanks to David for showing me his beautiful place.

Also got to see some friends from training - Rachhpal and Mani. Mani is teaching at David’s studio, and Raj is a regular. He’s not teaching at the moment, he travels too much for work to make a schedule. I love this strong community of people all over the world!! And they are cool and interesting to talk with – I’m so lucky!!!

So after a week of Charleston, it was time to go. Headed south on highway 17 to Wilmington, NC. Went past a lot of beach towns. Didn’t get to see the ocean, in fact, I didn’t see much of anything –The scrub pines get so thick when given the chance to grow unencumbered. And on a part of this stretch, there was a very distinct indication of leaving a town (no more houses) and entering a town (start of houses) and in between a whole lot of nothin’! As someone who hasn’t spent a lot of time in the south, I’m intrigued the by number of houses I’ve passed with black women sitting on their front porch with five or six kids on her lap or around her. 
It literally looks like something out of a history book. It makes me feel good to see that kind of family love. Frankly, though, I don’t know how they do it – it’s so hot, there’s no way I’d let some sweaty and sticky kid sit on my lap.

Crossed into North Carolina – That’s the 11th state since the start of the journey. Just as I paid for my 2 nights at the Wilmington KOA and started to set up, a mother of a storm came up and absolutely POURED. I’m still fascinated by these summer storms. Quick, intense, and it releases the pressure of the hot air – just a little. When I pulled into the site, there was no water anywhere, but afterward….well….just take a look.

The next day I toured the U.S.S. North Carolina.
My dad served on that battleship in WWII. It was a self guided tour, but there was plenty of information provided and they allowed access to almost every corner of the ship. I especially liked how they would provide information on the specifics of the thing (a weapon, the ice cream machine, the mail room) and then a story from a sailor about his experience with that thing. We went on a tour of the ship when I was about 7 – that would be 40 years ago – I got a little teary thinking of my dad, but then was happy that he survived the war and got to feel a little closer to him as a result of having been there. I was also glad to get out – after nearly four hours I had to get off the ship, couldn’t imagine being on it for 4 years. In the older photo, my dad is on the right.  The picture of the machine below it was used to calculate the trajectory of the missiles that fired off of the ship.  
My dad started off working one of the smaller guns on the deck and eventually got promoted below deck to work one of those machines.  

I was surprised at the rather large people on the very lower decks – as I 
watched a very rotund man trying to haul himself up the ladders, I thought that he might be in some serious trouble if he had a heart attack – they’d have a big challenge getting that guy up out of the ship!!
I went to Wilmington expecting to fall in love with the place. I figured it would be a lot like Charleston with historic homes and lovely tree lined streets. It wasn’t exactly like that, but similar enough. Even so, although I liked the place, I did not fall in love with it. Can’t exactly say why, it just didn’t grab me like other towns have.

I like Asheville. Haven’t even been in the town yet, but I love these blue ridge mountains. Haven’t seen mountains since I left Arizona, so this is a welcome change. It’s cooler up here too. Had another gusher rain on the drive here, and Higbee’s side of the camper is all wet. I have to get some sealant and repair the seams of the camper top. Am definitely looking forward to the adventures of Asheville.

A note on RVers. It is surprising to me to see the people who are driving these enormous beasts. Over and over again, I encounter old men with hearing aids and canes driving semi-sized RVs and towing cars behind that. Watching them climb into their rigs makes me wonder if they’ll survive the ascent. How they are able to drive those things is beyond my understanding. So while you’re driving out there, seriously, give them lots of room. Chances are they can’t see you – their cateracs prevent it!!

Sending love to all.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Charleston Chew

I've been here for four days so far, and have yet to find a Charleston Chew.  I've searched through mini-marts, gas stations, grocery stores and gift shops, but no luck.  That doesn't seem right to me.  Perhaps here, though, Charleston Chew has a different meaning.  I took Higbee for a hike around the lake at twilight on the nature trail.  Came back with giant chunks taken out of my body and a bloody back - the mosquitoes nearly picked us up and flew away with us!!!  Of course I did not even consider Off! -- again, in California, we don't have bugs.  Or at least not enough to worry about.  
But it is beautiful here.  Spent yesterday as a tourist.  Went to Boone Hall, the oldest plantation still in operation.  And no, they don't make Boone's Farm, although I have to admit, that's how I remember the name.  The house is fairly modern, built in the 1930's, but the land has
 several hundred year old oak and pecan trees, lots of fields full of tomatoes, melons and peppers, and beautiful structures. 
 Probably the most memorable sight was the 90 oak row of trees. 
 The guide said it is the only oak row with that many trees, and not a one has been destroyed in a hurricane.  I got to sit in on a Gullah presentation. 
 A wonderful man talked about how the Gullah language (a derivation of English and the Angolan language, still used today) helped to  unite the slaves and provide a common
 communication tool.  He ended the very informative presentation by having us stand up and stomping and clapping like they do at the prayer halls.  I got to use a tambourine, and I have to say, I've got rhythm!  It was so much fun!!

Then I walked over to the former storage and loading building on the river that leads to Charleston and saw a guy catching shrimp and other fish.  

Afterward a refreshing bus tour that went to the outskirts of the plantation, Higbee and I drove over to the ocean, and had a great walk along the water.  
White, sugar-like sand and warm water (but not as warm as Key West) made the ocean really welcoming, but giant signs said no swimming allowed due to big undertows.  I met a lovely family with a great dog that Higbee got to play with - and they invited me to stay with them in Asheville!!!  
We'll see if I get inland that far.  

Sending love to all!!!   

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Georgia On My Mind

July 16

I had a really nice night in the motel 6 outside of Jacksonville last night. Brought in my down comforter and giant oversized pillow to get them totally dry and cranked the air conditioner down really low. Even with them, I got cold in the night, but snuggled down and slept well. The irony is that I had just written an email to a friend about how I've been staying without air, and there I was spinning the electric meter.

Got up in the morning, did the Higbee walk and got cleaned up. Drove into Georgia, was really pleased to see a new state. But for some reason I was really tired and felt like I had to close my eyes. Got smart and pulled over to take a 30 minute nap with the car running (yup used up more fuel) and when I woke up, I got two candy bars and a diet coke to shake the sleepies. Not a great thing to do healthwise, but it worked!!!
Drove into Savannah, and wow what a beautiful town!!! It's a fairly small town, just over 100k residents, and the historic areas are amazing. I'm certainly not the first person to say thing, but the live oaks were dripping with moss. The architecture is stunning, and the people are super nice. I was in the bank a few years ago, it was a bank that I visited often and knew most of the tellers, and the guy said, "can I help you maam?" I replied, "maam? What? I'm not a maam!" The teller then quickly replied, "Are you here with your mother, young lady?" Well, guess what? Here again, I'm a Maam again, and I actually appreciate it now and like it (maybe I’m getting old). I use it too, and it feels good.
Went on the tour of the Williams-Mercer House. The home was owned by Jim Williams (and his family still owns it) and both the home and owner were used as inspiration for the book and movie, "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil." Again a beautiful home. I love how Savannah has fairly small parks strategically placed all over the town. Maybe 5 blocks apart, there's always a park that's filled with oak trees and usually a statue or monument. Even in the heat of the day, it's relatively cool in these parks and lots of people use them.  So do dogs, but here (as opposed to Houston) people pick up their dog’s poop. And yes, I actually spotted the quintessential southern gentleman - wearing a seersucker suit and a wide brimmed hat!
I got a parking ticket -- my first traffic violation on the trip. I parked the Sequoia on a meter, but the trailer was behind it without a meter in a yellow zone. I couldn't talk the meter maid out of the ticket (she was all business) but ended up moving the rig forward and had to pay for two meters. But here's my take on the situation: I'm guessing that the ticket and the extra meter money is less than the cost of a possible smash up that might have occurred from being parked wrongly.

Higbee and I walked all over town. When I hear people say, "oh, she's so beautiful!" I tell myself they are talking about me! So when I say, "Thank you" I really mean it!! And I walk a little taller being recognized for my stunning beauty!! Hahahaha!!! We walked by the oldest bar in town, and it smelled like it – a couple opened the door to walk in and the stench of spilled bear wafted out and nearly knocked me down!
Before I left Savannah, I enjoyed a really nice meal on the sidewalk at a small restaurant near the river walk. Four giant, juicy scallops, each on a new potato cut to the size of the scallop in a lovely buerre blanc and greens. I wasn’t sure it would be enough, but I honestly had a hard time finishing the meal! Had a nice glass of wine with dinner, and then had to sit at the table for a while and wait for the effects of the wine to dissipate. That’s the problem with having this clean yoga body – I can’t drink more than a glass of wine! When I was working up in Tahoe, I had a half bottle of wine each night (with macaroni and cheese), and the only effect was a considerable “puffiness”. I don’t ever want to go back to that kind of eating and drinking again, but I would like to be able to drink more than one cocktail and be able to walk a straight line!!

July 17
Spent the night in yet another Motel 6 on the outskirts of Savannah. First time I had a run in with the seemy side. Was completely asleep and the phone rang. Groggily answered and listened to a guy offer his services in a very graphic and vulgar way. Barely got off a sound of disgust and hung up. Then woke up fully and wondered how that happened. Called the front desk, and they said someone had called in from an outside line and asked for my room number. I told her that I was concerned for my safety, and she said she’d ask the police to patrol a little closer than they usually do. I checked to be sure the bolt and latch were on the door and put my trusty dog on alert. I figured with those precautions, I’d be fine, and returned to sleep for the rest of the night.

Drove over to Beaufort – Eileen has insisted that I see the place, but I didn’t have time for much other than a drive around the antebellum homes. Eileen – I promise I’ll go back and get a Gullah tour. Then continued north to Charleston and met up with David Kiser at the only Bikram studio in South Carolina. What a beautiful studio!!!! I’m really impressed.

But more on that later.

I see fire....I see rain!

By the time the stuff dried out as much as you could expect in a very humid environment (and yup, it rained again mid-morning), it was so late in the afternoon, that I decided to back track one more time and make a last ditch effort to see the shuttle take off at 6:00. So I connected the trailer to the Sequoia yet again, and in the process, realized how many stickers I’ve accumulated. I really like it that I have memorabilia to show the miles I’ve traveled and the things I’ve seen.

Made the drive up to Titusville and was looking forward to stopping in for something healthy, but with the camper attached, I had to choose carefully where I pulled in. Not that I had much of a selection to choose from. Ended up at a hamburger joint – didn’t recognize the name, but apparently it’s a chain - and got four cheeseburgers the size of a coaster and about as thick. They were disgusting, but I ate‘em, along with a diet coke to cut the grease. The funny thing is that the cardboard hamburger wrappers had photos of the chain’s biggest fans and a little story that they told why they loved the burgers so much. They were mostly kids – pimply faced, obviously obese, and in my opinion, not necessarily the best image, but then I’m fairly certain I’m not the target audience for the chain – I’ll never eat there again.
I found the same spot I had on Sunday afternoon, and got my chair, binoculars and camera ready for the launch. While I was waiting, two women and a young girl came to see too. They forgot their camera, they forgot their binoculars, so I let the girl look through mine to see the shuttle while we waited for the countdown. Got the twitter message that there were no holds on takeoff, turned on the car radio and all of a sudden we were 30 seconds to liftoff.

It happened quickly – much more quickly than I anticipated. All of a sudden, you could see the big billowing white smoke all around, then fire and lots of it. And then the shuttle took off….like a rocket! It rose in no time at all, I was surprised that I got off as many shots as I did, and it was beautiful. Really beautiful to see such an amazing feat of science. Wow. Then when the shuttle was high in the sky, the wave of sound hit us. It wasn’t windy, but you could feel it. The closest thing I can use to describe it is the sound of a train that you get when there’s a tornado – although I haven’t been in a tornado since I was a kid. But it definitely was a wave that hit us all.
The little girl asked to look through my binoculars right in the middle of the launch, but I didn’t let her. I considered it for a few seconds and then I selfishly thought, “no, I drove 4,000 miles to see this, you can come back and see it again kid.”

When it was all over, I started the trip north. Guess where I’m staying? You got that right! I’m at outskirts of Jacksonville, named in many songs, I’m not sure why but the sound does have a ring to it, and hope to rise early and get up to Savannah tomorrow. I’ll get to Charleston on Friday. I’m looking forward to that!

Okay, time for some sleep. No internet here, I’ll post tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Damp, Moist, Wet, Dewy, Clammy, Drenched.....

.....moistened, muggy, pouring, raining, rainy, saturated, showery, slimyslippery, slushy, soaked, soaking, sodden, soggy, sopping, soppy, soused, stormy, teary,teeming, water-logged, watery, wringing-wet.

I'm all of that.

As a true California girl, I have no concept of summer rain.  It stops raining in California in April or so and doesn't start again until nearly Halloween.  This idea of afternoon showers has, at best, become an interesting phenomenon to me.  Not something that I consider as having repercussions.  

So the day started out on a very exciting note as my friend from training, no, not just my friend, my AWESOME GROUP ONE BUDDY Summer was driving over to the east coast from Tampa to meet with me.  I got a little computer work done and then we met at a great little restaurant in New Smyrna Beach.  As a bonus, I also got to see Carola, who also went to training with us.  We had a great lunch together, talking, of course, non stop yoga - yoga postures, yoga people, the drama of yoga training, etc.  Then Carola had to leave to take the 4pm class and Summer and I spent time talking about, yup, you guessed it, yoga, but this time in relation to the things I've learned on the road and how it may apply to her objective of starting a studio in Tampa.  I have to say that our conversation confirmed yet again the value of this trip.  Seeing other studios, learning what I want and what I don't want, how to take the best of what others have learned will help me to really get my studio going in a great direction.  I'm so excited!!!  

While we sat and talked at a lovely little coffee shop very close to the beach, I marveled at the giant black (and I really mean BLACK) clouds in the air and then when the rain came, it came in buckets - it was literally like liquid air.  The drops were not drops but baseball sized, and they were nonstop for at least 30 minutes.  It was amazing to see.  I had left Higbee in the car with the windows down, but it wasn't any huge deal to find the car a bit wet.  Guess the rain came down straight.  Had it occurred to me that anything else might have had lowered windows???  Nooooooo - not even a thought!  

Then we went to the Port Orange studio, which is owned by Traci, who also has the New Smyrna Beach studio.  It was a nice place, and Carola did a great job teaching.  I'm so excited to see all my peeps from training as such strong and wonderful instructors.  Very different from each other, but really great.  It's so heartwarming to think I'm part of such a great group!!!! 
After practice, we went to dinner together and again, laughed and talked yoga.  We recalled some of the funny things we experienced in training and, interestingly enough, although you'd think the 4th woman who was with us and who had just got out of training could relate to our stories, she didn't laugh nearly as hard as we did.  A perfect example of "you just had to be there."  

We said some heartfelt goodbyes and I drove back to the campground.  It did not occur to me until I pulled into the site and saw the GIANT puddles along the road to the camper that I might be in trouble.  I had left every single window panel open, and when I approached the pop-up, I knew I was in for a wet night.  The cooler, that had the lid on, was about half way full of water, I opened the camper door and the water started to run out, the beds were literally sponges, and the bedding was drenched.  The good news in all of this is that the microwave, radio,
 fridge and other electronics were fine.  No shorts or electrical problems.  Whew!!!  

So I spent an hour using the blow dryer on the less moist mattresses (note to self - memory foam dries faster than egg shell carton foam), pulled out the dry sleeping bag packed away and reserved for colder climes and had a damp and humid night.  Ironically, I woke to dreams of being surrounded by snakes in the desert.  Haven't given that a lot of thought yet.  
So this morning, everything is out and trying to dry, but like in Acapulco, it can only dry to the extent of the humidity.  It's still pretty clammy here, so I'm not expecting everything to get solidly dried out before it gets compacted.  Hopefully farther north I'll have the chance for that.  

I'm wet, moist, clammy, starting to get moldy, but the concept of warm afternoon rain is still fascinating to me.  

Monday, July 13, 2009

Last of the Key West Photos

Have been on the Space Coast for two days - catching up on chores, getting some internet work done.  The shuttle launch last night was scrubbed, so I'm heading down for another attempt this evening.  Got to practice at the New Smyrna Beach studio this morning - great class!  Small, but well done by the studio owner Traci.  She is certainly loyal to the dialogue and I like that.  

Here are a few more photos from Key West - then hopefully I'll be posting images of the shuttle launch

Okay, it's nearly impossible to set these photos in a particular order and forget about getting captions with each one.  Way too hard to manage with this program.  If anyone knows how to do that, let me know.  So here's a quick description of the photos -- First, my buddy Danny.  He has become a very dear friend and one I will cherish forever.  Thanks for showing me your fabulous life Danny!!!  Second, that's me at the zero mile marker for highway 1.  Maybe I'll make it to the top in Maine, and get another shot.  Won't that be fun!!!  Then some extra photos of the fishing expedition.  Danny was great with Higbee - she really enjoyed playing with him.  Next is the lemon shark -- you can't really tell how friggin big he was, but you can get a feeling for his lemony color.  Next one of the bonefish I caught.  He's fairly small, but he put up a really good fight.  Then on to the cat pee smelling Hemingway house.  Wonder how Pappa himself would feel about that nasty smell?   The colorful black servant statue is one of a pair that used to sit outside the front door.  Its opened hands were used for placing calling cards before phones were invented.  Pretty cool idea.  Then just exterior shots.  Okay - gotta run.  
Sending love to all.  

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Miami's Nice! .......Mostly

A very exciting and wonderful couple of days! On Thursday, Bishnu Gosh day, the Key West Studio was closed, so Danny took me fishing. He is a seasoned captain and has a reliable boat he named after his grandmother. She’s a tough old gal.  Higbee, Danny and I set sail in time to meet the incoming tide at the major channel.  That’s where the tarpon feed. Tarpon are the giant game fish that everyone goes for in south Florida. They are real fighters and like to jump out of the water. They’re also beautiful and big and silvery in color. 
We saw several arcing over the crest of water and were hopeful. We made several passes drifting from the red buoy to the green one, but alas no one hit the line. So we sped off in a westerly direction to the outer islands. Danny found a spot that’s been reliable in the past and it did not take long for the line to start tugging. I caught several beautiful silvery bone fish (which we released), 
and Danny caught some other type of fish that was quickly dispatched and used as shark bait. In no time, the shark pole (which had been sitting in a brace against the back wall of the boat) emitted that telltale “zzzzzzzzzzzzz” sound of the line zipping out against the drag. Danny helped me out initially, and then using the waist pocket thing that helped me to steady the pole, I pulled in a GIANT black tip shark! We got some good pictures – while Higbee was peering over the edge of the boat, the shark rose up and showed us his giant teeth – I’d heard about the set that go inward so that when a doomed victim tries to pull out after an initial bite, shredding of the flesh is guaranteed. There’s nothing about those shark teeth that I’d like to experience up close. Had seen a bit of “Jaws” on the 4th of July, and that was good enough. Of course, it didn’t take long after releasing that nasty beast that yet another was on the line. It was a lemon shark, aptly named for its beautiful yellow coloring. I didn’t a good shot of it, but Danny estimated it was over six feet long and about 75 pounds. It was a workout to bring it in, but it snapped the line before we could get it close enough for good pictures. That’s ok.
After I caught my breath from all that fishing work, we moved over closer to an island and spent the afternoon relaxing in the water. While Danny scraped the moss off the bottom of the boat, Higbee and I played near the shore – the tidal pull was really strong, and you didn’t have to be out too far to realize that it wouldn’t take much to get dragged out to where those sharks were. So we stayed pretty close! The sun is fierce out there, so I kept my shirt on and lathered up with sunscreen often. The water felt and tasted really salty – I’m guessing with water temps at around 85 degrees, evaporation explains it. Before I knew it, it was after 7pm, so we motored back in to the channel to get a second shot at the tarpon at the next tide. Again, we saw huge schools of fish rising and even saw a few people in other boats hook a few, but we did not get one. That’s okay – I was pretty tired, and frankly didn’t need to work the rod for another 45 minutes. Danny said that big tarpon can take hours and hours to reel in.

A quick note – Higbee is a great boat dog. I was really surprised at how calm she was during the bumpy ride out to the far islands and how she behaved while fishing. This dog is really impressing me during this trip!

On Friday morning, I packed everything up, and made one last bike ride over to the Hemmingway house. Went on the tour and heard some great stories about the writer, who, in my opinion, has done some amazing work (Old man and the sea) and some not-s0-great-stuff about the drama of drinking (Sun also Rises). I could take or leave his writing, but the house – well, the house I would take in a second!! What a beautiful place – well designed, lots of windows, lots of space, just need to get rid of those smelly cats. Apparently Hemmingway’s boys brought home a lucky 6-toed cat for helping out at the docks one day, and that one cat has multiplied to 44 on the property, many of whom carry the extra-toe gene. Despite its beauty, the place smells like cat pee, and that has to go. The hotel staff said the neighbors have called in animal control to get them to reduce the population, but those lucky cats are lucky. Despite several attempts with several agencies, they are still there and thriving (and peeing).

Took the afternoon yoga class from Terry, and I was so happy that I had such a strong class! Drank a Zico before class and it gave me that little extra zip required to rise above the humidity. I was strong and had relatively good balance – especially when you consider that I was swaying on a boat for hours the day before, I was happy that I was able to hold the poses most of the time.

After a tasty dinner at a Cuban restaurant with Danny, I reluctantly departed the island. I figured I had to get going – otherwise I’d never leave!!! It was a great trip, and I’ve made a wonderful friend in Danny. He’s someone I’ll know for the rest of my life.

Barely got off the keys alive that night – a little too late I realized that I didn’t have much gas left in the tank and rolled in on fumes to the first open station on the mainland. Strange, when I had filled up before going out, I encountered a couple in the midst of a heated battle. She was telling him to turn over the keys, he nearly beat her up. It was ugly but they eventually drove off in separate directions. Then when I was gassing up on the outbound trip, I heard another couple arguing, and then out of the dark came two people screaming and yelling at each other. She stormed into the station store, and when he came in shortly after, I decided to get out and away from that place. It seemed like that area had bad couple juju. Danny said later that the heat and humidity set people off.

Spent the night in a really nice Motel 6 – the nicest one I’ve been in yet – it must have been another hotel before. The plan was to skip Miami and head straight up to the space coast to see the shuttle launch. The launch was delayed a day due to lightning strikes in the area, so I drove around Miami Beach to see the Art Deco architecture and outrageously dressed people and then took a relaxing ride up the coast. Am now in New Smyrna Beach, and will be here for a few days to practice at the nearby studios, meet my friend Summer and tonight, watch the shuttle!!

Okay, time to get some errands run and go find a good spot for the launch!!

Sending love to all.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Key West - the key to my heart?

July 8, 2009, 8:30 am

The Douglas House – room #15

I’ve been in Key West for four days. I love it here! Danny, my friend from training, has been my local connection, and he has been a fabulous tour guide. His friend set me up at a dog friendly hotel a half block off of Duval Street, the main drag (and that is meant in many ways) in town.I moved this morning from Room #7 to a smaller, less lit and more expensive room. I understand that it is considered nicer because it’s been upgraded, and it is lovely with new slate floors, a granite-topped wet bar, and a lovely bathroom. This room, however, doesn’t have the kitchy kitchen and wonderful windows that I had in room 7.  But it’s still very nice and Higbee is welcome, and that’s enough for me.

Key west is really wonderful, and about half of it is for sale. Seriously, nearly every other house in old town has a for sale sign on it, and Danny said that the prices have dropped by about half. The local residents are once again able to afford to buy a home. That’s good! But I’m not quite sure who’s going to buy all this very hurricane prone property – at its highest point, the island is only about 10 feet above sea level.
I practiced at the Bikram studio on White and Truman yesterday and the day before. Danny taught a good class – he is definitely true to the dialogue and used it well! I understand where he gets his guidance, as yesterday I took a class from Terri, the studio owner and she kicked. my. ass. Between her strong encouragement, the heater beating on my back throughout the class, and the intense humidity, I was really overwhelmed. I sat out several poses – I can’t remember being that affected since training! Terri went to training with Diane Ducharme and wow, she teaches a very strong class. I’m impressed and am convinced that Danny will grow with Terri’s encouragement in his teaching and in his practice.

Took the day off of yoga today and spent the morning with Higbee swimming in the Atlantic.  She really had a good time until I made the mistake of pulling on her tail while she was swimming back to shore. I used to pretend I was drowning with Ripper and she would swim out and then let me drag behind her. I guess Higbee is not a lifeguard – she was miffed and wouldn’t come back in the water for a while! Well, I won’t do that again! Came back to the hotel, gave Higbee a bath and then swam in the pool. Read under the tree and then cleaned up myself and while Higbee slept, I went for a bike ride around the island. Even though it was super hot and humid, it was nice to be on two wheels. I was too late for the Hemmingway house tour, I’ll make sure to do that before I leave this place, but I did make it to Mallory Square for the sunset. Everyone on the island goes there to watch the sun set in the ocean, and cheers when it hits the water, but at this time of the year, there’s an outer island in the way. Even so, it was beautiful, and some lucky girl got an airplane proposal just a few moments before the moment!!! I wish I could have seen the couple – I’ve never seen (or participated in) a proposal.
Met Danny for dinner for a vegetarian lasagna – it was made with the meat of Brazil nuts, and lots of vegetables. Delicious, filling and good for you! By the time I rode home, it was dark, and I was able to smell the night jasmine – there’s something magical about the pungent smell of flowers at night – only to have it ruined by the equally pungent smell of rotting garbage. The beauty of a hot and humid place!!

Here are the things I love about Key West and I would like to have in the place I choose to live and open a studio: First, the colorful atmosphere – the buildings are friendly and cute, there are bicyclists everywhere, and the people are relaxed and happy. Second, the gay population. I know I’m generalizing a lot here, but I really enjoy being among a community of artistic, strong, and intelligent people who are often DINCs. Danny put it well when he said that the transvestites in town have suffered so much in the past, they just don’t give a shit and they’re out to have a good time.” I’m not happy that anyone suffers, but I am glad for the resulting attitude of enjoying life. Third, the wonderful flora – there are orchids growing in the trees, there’s lush growth (and in the evening, lushes) all around. It’s so comforting to be under beautiful trees and plants. Fourth, the sense of community this place has. Having the advantage of being with a local, I can see how everyone knows everyone else and gets along. Last (for the moment), the ocean. It feels so good to have a large welcoming body of water nearby. Of course I know that all of these observations are made as an outsider and I am not involved in the details and dramas of day to day life here. But it feels good at this place. I’d like to find something similar to this somewhere else. The strange thing is that I was driving around a few days ago and realized that this place reminds me of Sausalito! It’s obviously a lot cooler there than here, but there are a lot of similarities. So who knows? Perhaps this great big trip around the US will land me back in my own back yard. We’ll see.

Sending love to all.