Life Interrupted

20160125_091305My baby brother died two weeks ago. He was 52, had just gotten married five days earlier to a woman he was really happy and in love with. His youngest daughter was/is about to graduate from the Naval Academy and begin her new life. He was an amazing father and mentor to so many people in his community and he was funny and sweet and a good son. He took care of my mother these last few years.

I flew to Florida and helped his widow make “arrangements”.  Spent a few very intense days dealing with all kinds of family issues and am now trying to settle into the idea that he is really gone. Not an easy thing this grieving. It takes it’s own time.

The Monk came to be with us and I am forever grateful for his presence in my life. He guides and steadies me. We’ve known each other since we were kids so he knows me and my family as well as his own. Knows every skeleton in every closet. What a blessing. He knew my brother well and loved him.

Tearful drove across the country like a madman to be here with me. He had his own profound and solitary adventures along the way. It’s not how we planned to spend this part of our journey but here we are. We’ve come to realize this is all part of the journey. Every wonderful encounter, every devastating heart break. This life on the road has one amazing aspect I did not imagine. It makes me feel awake to every moment, good and bad. No two days are alike. It makes the world seem fresh and new and fluid.

We’ll be here for a few more weeks before we head back west. There is not much in the way of “wild” camping here in Florida. It’s the high season so all the state and county parks are booked solid. There is no boondocking to be had anywhere near where we are so we’ve been staying at private RV parks. I don’t have many positive things to say about them other than you can have all the water and electricity you want and it’s not freezing but it’s not warm enough to take advantage of the pools. On the plus side there are plenty of Latin restaurants around so I am having my fill of Cuban and Puerto Rican food.



RIP Mike. Love you forever bro.


Anza Borrego part Deux

We wound our way one mile up a fairly steep, rocky and windswept mountain yesterday to find Marshall South’s homestead. I’ve been reading his Ghost Mountain Chronicles, the account of his family’s “experiment in primitive living”. I am soaking in it.

Something about this man and his family on that wild remote mountain has captivated me. An Australian dreamer, poet, artist who had a vision back in 1932. To flee from the modern world and it’s soulless drive away from the natural world.
They lived like the Indians. They roamed the mountains naked and barefoot and made everything they needed. They wove rugs and fired pottery, made a printing press for their poetry and drawings and they raised 3 children up there. Well, mostly. The dream went south when they divorced but they lasted 16 years up there and kept a journal of sorts which was published in Desert Magazine monthly.
So it was a thrill  for me to walk the path Mr South and his family trod and even though the wind was howling and we’re both fighting off colds, I’m so glad we did. As we were exploring the homestead I spied a tiny tent  tucked in among the mescal plants and boulders. An older gentleman stepped out of the tent.  Tom who is 78 years old,  was spending the night on the mountain in his super lux Cuban fiber tent. We had a lovely chat about Marshall and his wild experiment and he told us about his trek on the PCT a few years ago AND  the AT when he was 14. The dude is hard core. I’m thinking of him up on that gusty mountain top communing with the ghosts of Marshall and Tanya because they are up there I’m sure. Tanya gave up the ghost and left the mountain once Marshall started spending more time in the town of Julian than with her and the children up on the mountain. There is almost nothing left of the homestead. Some of the water cisterns they built, part of an old bed frame and other rusted pieces of things.


Scott and Tom @ Yaquitepec



View from the top.


We came back to camp and visited with the fellow Airstreamers who are spending the holidays here in the desert.

It was a fine day.





We had little visitors for a week.






It gave me a whole new appreciation for those full timers with small children.






We’ve enjoyed this spot and the little town of Borrego Springs. I feel like a regular at the Market and the Library and this place….



which makes a fine Ketel One dry martini.


The Red Ocotillo which makes a delicious crab cake benedict and Carmelitas for Chilaquiles.

I love it here and look forward to coming back in the spring maybe but I’m ready to head out. Tomorrow we move on. West to Yuma.

I wish you all the Sweetest and Happiest of Holidays.XXOO

Anza Borrego




Monday. I write that here to remember it. Monday, Wednesday, 7, 23, April, December? It’s become irrelevant in some ways. In other ways one needs to know what day of the week it is, should one need a book or a quick run through the thrift store, both closed Mondays and Sundays. The library however has a strong enough wifi signal to mooch from and they kindly provide comfortable benches right outside their doors.

Notable times here are becoming so not by times or dates but by quality of light. Early mornings and dusk when our long shadows follow, lead or walk beside us, up and down trails, roads and washes.

I love the desert more and more. The terrain is otherworldly and can be tricky. You think you can see far into the distance but it dips and rises making things disappear and reappear like magic. We’ve come upon seemingly abandoned encampments cobbled together from hay bales, furniture, wood, old phone booths and tarps and rock gardens out where you can’t imagine anyone working that hard. The only life, other than the occasional human variety we’ve seen are rabbits, birds and dragonflies. A hummingbird visits at least once a day, peeks in the open door, flits around camp for a minute and takes off until the next day while the dragonfly perches on the tip of the van antennae. At night the coyotes yip and howl late into the night.

Endless excitement.

Meanwhile our little nest/spacepod is becoming an efficient and cozy little hang about. We organize a little more each day as we learn our new way of life. It gave me great pleasure to organize the kitchen pantry and bathroom cabinet today. I marvel at how little we need and how well this little Lairstream suits us.
The van is finally clear of all the stuff we needed with us but didn’t quite know what to do with. There is a place for everything and there has to be, it’s a tiny space and we both like keeping it neat and tidy.

There is sometimes a cell signal at our camp but mostly not so…




It’s done. We are officially homeless and jobless. Currently staying with family until we pick up our home on wheels in 2 days.

I feel about 5000 lbs lighter in my soul. Letting go of material possessions…who knew it could feel this good.

Thank you Universe.


Poor lonely little blog. Sad face.

That well I fell down, it was deep and vast. I’ve pretty much explored 1/15th of it. I’m leaving the rest for breakfast, as my big boy grandson says when he’s had enough to eat.

Since August (!) I have gone camping again, this time to the Eastern Sierras where I taught a soap making class to a group of survivalists  and herbalists and I learned how to dye fiber and comb wool and make sourdough bread and survive the apocalypse. If it ever goes down folks, you want to come with me. I’ve got the soap! No need to be dirty or stinky. And I can make bread.



I came home and began “cleaning” house. Again. After 20 + years it takes a good long while to “clean” your house and make it ready to sell. Which we did. We are now in the throes of last-minute thises and thatses. We are almost all pared down to the bone and still searching for our home on wheels where we plan on living for the unforeseeable future.

To soothe myself I have taken up long showers and baking. Not simultaneously. The long hot showers are taken in the evening and the baking happens in between everything.  It all started when I discovered the Great British Baking Show. Oh my. I’ve not gotten on the scale since starting this little obsession because I can tell it will hurt my feelings. Also I don’t care. In a few short weeks, I will be taking very short showers and not baking anything. So.

I’m still delivering things to the forest though I’ve slowed down a bit. The baking and the showers and the selling the house thing has taken up most of my mental capabilities.


Digging Deeper

I fell down a deep hole when I got back from my Monk and Me Road Trip.

I haven’t climbed out. I’m digging deeper and excavating all sorts of stuff.

This morning I was walking through a grove of young pine trees. They were so green they were practically glowing but there was one that was long gone. Gray and brittle, limbs falling, not one spark of life left in it. The unlucky one?

Joseph Campbell was once granted an audience with Sri Krishna Menon and his question to him was, “Since all is brahman, since all is the divine radiance, how can we say no to anything? How can we say no to ignorance? How can we say no to brutality? How can we say no to anything?”

To this Sri Krishna Menon said “For you and me, we say yes.”

We can go ahead and say no. It will make no difference.

Just saying.


Here’s your moment of zen.



The 15 to the 58 to the 99 to the 5 to the 46 to the 101 to the 1.

And I’m home again.

That drive through the desert to get in and out of California is brutal.

2015-07-08 08.56.48

it seems endless

2015-07-07 10.22.33

I had to stop in the middle and the middle was just outside of Barstow at the beautiful and truly scary Desert Springs RV park.

2015-07-07 10.21.32

2015-07-08 08.59.06

It was a Steven King story in the making. Scarier than the previous night when I was camped in the forest alone and thought I heard someone trying to get in the van.

And now for the truly scariest part of it all. Babysitting the grand babies for the next few weeks.

God help us.

Standing in the Need of Prayer

I’m back in the forest near Flagstaff, surrounded by tall pines. No mosquitoes!!  Drove long and hard, through Indian reservations, a thunderstorm and a place called Hot Eye,where I mean to to go back and take a soak.

It was sad to leave my friends in Colorado but that drive down to Santa Fe and the day I spent there was absolute magic.

I spent the fourth of July strolling through old town Santa Fe with about a million other people. Place was packed! filled with artists selling their work and a bandstand right in the middle of the plaza with four old folks playing strings. A guitar,mandolin,bass and a fiddle, playing Blue Grass and though I’ve never been a fan it was captivating and sweet and I sat and listened and tapped my feet and watched the most fascinating thing on earth. Humans. Of every sort. A woman got up and started dancing and I thought, “there’s one in every crowd”.  I watched her face as she freestyled around the foot of the stage and was transfixed by the pure joy on her face, in her hands and feet and knees. She was rapturous. I went and sat next to her and we talked about how beautiful it all was. I drifted through the crowd, had a martini at a bar and then went to church. The cathedral of Saint Francis of Assisi where I walked and sat in the Stations of the Cross Prayer garden.  Beauty and horror planted there side by side. Blooming roses and lavender and Jesus on the cross.





I’m on my way home now.


Final Days in Colorado

Crestone, Co at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, was enveloped in a cloud of voracious mosquitoes that tormented us night before last. (Actually a few nights ago. I’ve tried posting but internet signal in this valley is very hit or miss.) We were a sad little sight tucked away in the van looking longingly out the windows at the rushing creek running just through the trees next to our campsite. Our huge campsite with picnic table and fire ring. We waited thinking the cool evening air would chase them away, but it did not.2015-06-30 13.33.27

We scooted in and out of the van to make bathroom runs and once when the monk was trying to get back in, the door jammed and he started running back and forth and in circles squealing trying to outrun the mosquitoes, I was laughing so hard I could not open the door.

The rest of the evening was spent talking, reading and then quietly listening to the sound of the creek. Lovely and sad.

A few nights ago, another mineral springs extravaganza. That camp had everything one could possibly want, including bunny rabbits running wild everywhere. A storm blew through that night and the monk and I had to jump out of bed to pull in the awning. The next morning the monk informed me we were drinking Genghis Khan’s urine, or dinosaur pee. I don’t know where that came from. I thought you all should know.

We met up with two other friends, Joyce from Denver and David from South Africa. We make quite the crew. You just don’t see many 6′ + white Buddhist monks with such an entourage.

We stayed at the Great Sand Dunes National Park for two days cloud watching, eating, talking and last night a movie on my little Chromebook.

2015-07-03 15.41.22

Here we are at the lodge restaurant where we ate so many meals we were on first names basis with the supremely patient and wonderful waiter Cody.


And what are the odds….While I was cooking my oatmeal in the van this morning, the young man (top left) knocked on the cabin door where Joyce and David and the Monk were, and asked to use the bathroom. They turned out to be such a sweet group from Sri Lanka, recently moved to Denver. The guy literally took three steps back when the monk opened the door and asked him ” Are you Sri Lankan?”

One of the many gifts of travel is the people you meet and connect with.


The monk “releases” a Quan Yin statue in the wild. Members of his congregation bring these statues to his temple when they move or someone dies or they no longer want them. The monk keeps them until he finds homes for most of them and some he “releases” in the wild. This one was placed under a tree, down a dirt road not far from a farmhouse. While we were there, three very cool dogs came to greet us. They’re the only ones who know where the statue is hidden.


It’s our last night in the valley and I will be sad to leave. I’ve fallen in love with this incredibly beautiful State. I can’t wait to come back with Tearful.

Everyone heads to Denver in the morning but I am still undecided which way to head home. Southern route or northern?

Joyful Bliss

It was a beautiful evening. We let the storm wash our dinner plates at our camp in the middle of an enormous valley surrounded by mountains. Joyful Journey Hot Springs. Pools, yurts, teepees and a lodge, lured us in for the night. For $139 you can get rubbed and wrapped in sarsaparilla and espresso among other herbs while getting your scalp massaged.  Yes, it’s true.

The day before we spent in Salida, Co where the first thing we did was go into town to soak in the mineral springs and shower. After that it was food and wandering until we wound up at Joyful. In the morning we soaked again and afterwards the monk did his chanting service ending with the heart sutra while I did my practice.  I’ve discovered that practicing yoga while the monk chants is like having my soul bathed, rubbed and fed. I didn’t have the Native Wrap on offer but I’m pretty sure it could not have been better than that.

We are now in Crestone, CO, home to dozens of temples of all stripes at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. The Bliss Cafe is graciously letting us charge our various toys and providing free wifi.

Scenes from the journey…





20150628_142450 (2)




20150629_075311 (1)


Grace Just Is

We are working our way east faster than planned. Triple digit temps throughout Utah ruled out Moab and Arches NP and other spots I had hoped to explore. Instead we are powering through to Colorado. The Rockies or Bust!

We tried to find a tortoise preserve in St George Utah and found goats instead, grazing along a long and winding washboard road. We never found the tortoises but we did find a delicious breakfast for lunch meal at the Black Bear Diner where one of the kitchen staff came out and asked, through an interpreter, to take a photo with the monk. Celebrity monk.


We pressed on to find a camp at higher elevation and found one in a valley surrounded by giant rock formations. Utah has lots of those.


It was a fine camp for one night.

Last night we made camp in a hotel and we watched the President of the United States sing Amazing Grace. Yes. It was amazing and yes we are filled with grace, whether we deserve it or not. Grace just is.


Viva Las Vegas


It’s 6 ish am and it’s 109 degrees here in Las Vegas. The Monk is doing his morning service, chanting in Chinese and next door the Australians are having an argument. What is there to argue about at 6 am? Nothing. Consciousness has barely taken a foothold. In my world no words should be spoken above a soft whisper before 8 am.

Yesterday we went to Walmart and a young man carefully approached us in the hardware aisle and asked the monk why he was dressed that way. This happens wherever we go and it always surprises me. Not that people are curious but the people who muster up the courage to ask are always a little…strange.  This man made me feel like we should maybe leave immediately. I think it may just be the after effects of recent events AND we watched Nightingale the night before and David Oyelowo’s brilliant performance was still swirling in my brain. The idea that people in such excruciating pain are walking among us shopping, going to church, pumping gas and all the while they are sinking into a deep madness.

And we’re in VEGAS! I’m going to breakfast in my jammies. Then we’re off to Zion National Park. This WOULD be the week for a heat wave and by heat I mean fucking outrageous 3 digit temperatures. We have lots of water and my hope is that the temperature will plummet down to the 80’s by this evening. Wish us luck.


Monk and Me (Chanda) Roadtrip 2015

This year’s annual Monk and me road trip has officially begun. We’re in LA at the lux and fabulous home of my cousins. Eating gourmet food and swimming in the pool under the clearest blue skies imaginable. This is why people live in LA. The weather. That and Sprouts! My favorite supermarket because they make a tasty cranberry and walnut bread and they have Dr Bronner’s Patchouli moisturizer.

We head out in the morning, in a northeasterly direction with the intention of meeting up with friends in Colorado, camping along the way.

The Monk tells me that the Buddha had a driver when he ventured out from his childhood home. His name was Chanda so I’m adopting that name for this trip, especially after I looked it up and found this:

Scenes from LA…

20150622_162954 20150622_125503 20150622_125340


Last year’s trip:

I spent the last week up in Reno/Truckee with my beautiful daughter and her savage crew. It was exhausting and lovely. Those boys are a handful. Baby boy likes putting a colander on his head and running around.


He’s got two speeds blur and coma.


His brother only has one speed. It is decidedly NOT coma.

On my way home I stopped for lunch at Panda Express. You might think the eggplant and tofu with a bowl of brown rice a healthy and tasty choice if you’re that kind of crazy. I don’t recommend it, it was about as tasty as soggy cardboard. But.My fortune cookie clinched the deal when I was trying to decide which way to head home with a misbehaving van.


I took the long and scenic route down highway 395 which is absolutely as spectacular as everyone says it is. Unfortunately, the Sportsmobile was not happy and it made for a kind of nerve twisting road trip. I was planning on stopping at Mono Lake and Mammoth Lake and several other spots along the way. Instead I stopped at Tuttle Creek Camp at the foot of Mt Whitney. It was late ish evening when I arrived so I made myself some dinner, popped open a bottle of wine and feasted and then lay down on the picnic table and watched the stars light up the night sky. It was grand and it drained all the worry from my tired bones. It’s a beautiful spot. I can’t wait to go back.


I managed to make it back to the coast in one very tired sweaty piece and even managed a “release” in one of my favorite spots along the Kern River.


This morning the Ommobile II was dropped off for inspection and repair before I head out again next week for the annual Monk Road trip.

Fingers crossed.


Owl’s Roost

Another one of my girls is set free. When I started these little stitched pieces my daughter was somewhere around 9 or 10 ish? I would stitch a little portrait and ask her to write a small story to go with it and then I’d stitch the story to the portrait. I sewed a few of these onto pillow covers. Sadly, these are gone. Somewhere. I have one left. It will eventually find it’s way out into the world along with the others.This one never got her story told.

Until now.

She wore the dress every day for months. She rinsed it in the bathroom sink every three or four days, depending. She would fill the bathroom sink and use some of her lavender soap to wash the armpits then hang it in the shower to dry. Some mornings the dress was still damp but she would put it on and let the heat from her skin do the rest. It would be dry as a corn husk by the time she got to the Owl’s Roost.