A Real Vacation – Part 2 (The Madonna Inn)

A Real Vacation – Part 2 (The Madonna Inn)

The other day I wrote the first part of this, A Real Vacation – Part 1 (Anza Borrego). And after three days of literally having my phone turned off I was feeling pretty good. Unfortunately with severe winds the last night, it seemed that every time I fell asleep a wind gust would smack the tent and wake me up. So while the wind finally settled down about 4 AM, I wasn’t resting well and was fully awake at 7AM. So I got up and packed up camp and was ready to be on the road by 8AM.

Given that I was about a 5 hour drive to the place I was staying that night, I decided to stay analog and pulled out my paper map of California. I took the long way from Borrego Springs to San Luis Obispo via a cruise along the coast of the Salton Sea, around Twenty-nine Palms and Joshua Tree National Park and then across Route 66 heading west. It was a beautiful drive through the desert, a beautiful and long drive. I ended up arriving at the Madonna Inn about 4PM.

The Madonna Inn is someplace I’ve heard about for a long time. It’s an old and huge hotel complex with a secret garden, tennis courts, restaurants and a spa. It has a bunch of theme rooms from Elvis themes, to lots of cave-like rooms like the room I stayed in, the Swiss Rock Room. The room was certainly a trip with stone everything, floors, walls and a complete stone bathroom. It’s an older hotel, so the wifi wasn’t great and the set up was a bit odd, but I was paying for the experience. I walked down the street and picked up some good Chinese food and had a lovely night in the Swiss Rock Room.

A couple of pictures of the room

And some shots of the flowers in the secret garden

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Happiness is Poetry: Anne Sexton

Happiness is Poetry: Anne Sexton

I’ve unfortunately gotten away from poetry over the last year.  First, in terms of my writing, I have distanced myself significantly from my muse.  Additionally, my life has been really good, I typically write from angst, anger and pain and happily there has been very little of that in my life this past year.  It seems that whenever my writing output slows, my poetry reading and exploration slows.  So tonight, I start exploring again and my search tonight brought me to Anne Sexton.

From the first poem I read I absolutely fell in love with her work.  She called herself a confessional poet and that is such a clear description of the way her words feel, no edifice, no masks just who and what she was, even where it took her to an almost longing for death.  The third piece I’ve included here, she openly talks about her upcoming death at 40, she in fact committed suicide at 45.  Below is an amazing description of a truly amazing woman and writer, I wish I’d met her.

“A college dropout turned housewife, fashion model, and jazz singer, Anne Gray Harvey Sexton is an unusual source of self-revelatory verse that prefaced an era of modernist confessional.

An ambivalent feminist, she spoke for the turmoil in women who despised the housewife’s boring fate, yet she suffered guilt over ventures into angry complaint and personal freedom.

A relentlessly honest observer capable of springing from disillusion to flashes of perception, she celebrated physical details of womanhood … Long parted from religion, she retained the fault-consciousness and self-loathing of Roman Catholicism.”

A Curse Against Elegies

Oh, love, why do we argue like this?
I am tired of all your pious talk.
Also, I am tired of all the dead.
They refuse to listen,
so leave them alone.
Take your foot out of the graveyard,
they are busy being dead.

Everyone was always to blame:
the last empty fifth of booze,
the rusty nails and chicken feathers
that stuck in the mud on the back doorstep,
the worms that lived under the cat’s ear
and the thin-lipped preacher
who refused to call
except once on a flea-ridden day
when he came scuffing in through the yard
looking for a scapegoat.
I hid in the kitchen under the ragbag.

I refuse to remember the dead.
And the dead are bored with the whole thing.
But you — you go ahead,
go on, go on back down
into the graveyard,
lie down where you think their faces are;
talk back to your old bad dreams.



Again and Again and Again

You said the anger would come back
just as the love did.

I have a black look I do not
like. It is a mask I try on.
I migrate toward it and its frog
sits on my lips and defecates.
It is old. It is also a pauper.
I have tried to keep it on a diet.
I give it no unction.

There is a good look that I wear
like a blood clot. I have
sewn it over my left breast.
I have made a vocation of it.
Lust has taken plant in it
and I have placed you and your
child at its milk tip.

Oh the blackness is murderous
and the milk tip is brimming
and each machine is working
and I will kiss you when
I cut up one dozen new men
and you will die somewhat,
again and again.



Menstruation at Forty

I was thinking of a son.
The womb is not a clock
nor a bell tolling,
but in the eleventh month of its life
I feel the November
of the body as well as of the calendar.
In two days it will be my birthday
and as always the earth is done with its harvest.
This time I hunt for death,
the night I lean toward,
the night I want.
Well then–
It was in the womb all along.

I was thinking of a son …
You! The never acquired,
the never seeded or unfastened,
you of the genitals I feared,
the stalk and the puppy’s breath.
Will I give you my eyes or his?
Will you be the David or the Susan?
(Those two names I picked and listened for.)
Can you be the man your fathers are–
the leg muscles from Michelangelo,
hands from Yugoslavia
somewhere the peasant, Slavic and determined,
somewhere the survivor bulging with life–
and could it still be possible,
all this with Susan’s eyes?

All this without you–
two days gone in blood.
I myself will die without baptism,
a third daughter they didn’t bother.
My death will come on my name day.
What’s wrong with the name day?
It’s only an angel of the sun.
weaving a web over your own,
a thin and tangled poison.
bad spider–

My death from the wrists,
two name tags,
blood worn like a corsage
to bloom
one on the left and one on the right —
It’s a warm room,
the place of the blood.
Leave the door open on its hinges!

Two days for your death
and two days until mine.

Love! That red disease–
year after year, David, you would make me wild!
David! Susan! David! David!
full and disheveled, hissing into the night,
never growing old,
waiting always for you on the porch …
year after year,
my carrot, my cabbage,
I would have possessed you before all women,
calling your name,
calling you mine.



You always read about it:
the plumber with twelve children
who wins the Irish Sweepstakes.
From toilets to riches.
That story.

Or the nursemaid,
some luscious sweet from Denmark
who captures the oldest son’s heart.
From diapers to Dior.
That story.

Or a milkman who serves the wealthy,
eggs, cream, butter, yogurt, milk,
the white truck like an ambulance
who goes into real estate
and makes a pile.
From homogenized to martinis at lunch.

Or the charwoman
who is on the bus when it cracks up
and collects enough from the insurance.
From mops to Bonwit Teller.
That story.

the wife of a rich man was on her deathbed
and she said to her daughter Cinderella:
Be devout. Be good. Then I will smile
down from heaven in the seam of a cloud.
The man took another wife who had
two daughters, pretty enough
but with hearts like blackjacks.
Cinderella was their maid.
She slept on the sooty hearth each night
and walked around looking like Al Jolson.
Her father brought presents home from town,
jewels and gowns for the other women
but the twig of a tree for Cinderella.
She planted that twig on her mother’s grave
and it grew to a tree where a white dove sat.
Whenever she wished for anything the dove
would drop it like an egg upon the ground.
The bird is important, my dears, so heed him.

Next came the ball, as you all know.
It was a marriage market.
The prince was looking for a wife.
All but Cinderella were preparing
and gussying up for the big event.
Cinderella begged to go too.
Her stepmother threw a dish of lentils
into the cinders and said: Pick them
up in an hour and you shall go.
The white dove brought all his friends;
all the warm wings of the fatherland came,
and picked up the lentils in a jiffy.
No, Cinderella, said the stepmother,
you have no clothes and cannot dance.
That’s the way with stepmothers.

Cinderella went to the tree at the grave
and cried forth like a gospel singer:
Mama! Mama! My turtledove,
send me to the prince’s ball!
The bird dropped down a golden dress
and delicate little gold slippers.
Rather a large package for a simple bird.
So she went. Which is no surprise.
Her stepmother and sisters didn’t
recognize her without her cinder face
and the prince took her hand on the spot
and danced with no other the whole day.

As nightfall came she thought she’d better
get home. The prince walked her home
and she disappeared into the pigeon house
and although the prince took an axe and broke
it open she was gone. Back to her cinders.
These events repeated themselves for three days.
However on the third day the prince
covered the palace steps with cobbler’s wax
and Cinderella’s gold shoe stuck upon it.
Now he would find whom the shoe fit
and find his strange dancing girl for keeps.
He went to their house and the two sisters
were delighted because they had lovely feet.
The eldest went into a room to try the slipper on
but her big toe got in the way so she simply
sliced it off and put on the slipper.
The prince rode away with her until the white dove
told him to look at the blood pouring forth.
That is the way with amputations.
The don’t just heal up like a wish.
The other sister cut off her heel
but the blood told as blood will.
The prince was getting tired.
He began to feel like a shoe salesman.
But he gave it one last try.
This time Cinderella fit into the shoe
like a love letter into its envelope.

At the wedding ceremony
the two sisters came to curry favor
and the white dove pecked their eyes out.
Two hollow spots were left
like soup spoons.

Cinderella and the prince
lived, they say, happily ever after,
like two dolls in a museum case
never bothered by diapers or dust,
never arguing over the timing of an egg,
never telling the same story twice,
never getting a middle-aged spread,
their darling smiles pasted on for eternity.
Regular Bobbsey Twins.
That story.

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A Real Vacation – Part 1 (Anza-Borrego)

A Real Vacation – Part 1 (Anza-Borrego)

We need time to defuse, to contemplate. Just as in sleep our brains relax and give us dreams, so at some time in the day we need to disconnect, reconnect, and look around us. ~ Lauri Colwin

I’ve often talked on this blog about the importance of taking real vacations. By that, what I mean is a vacation that is an actual break from all of the stresses of your everyday life. I typically take several of these types of vacations every year. However, with the pandemic, I haven’t had any real time off in a year. Sure, I’ve had a couple of days here and there, I had a week or so at Christmas. Unfortunately, none of those were real breaks, I wasn’t working but I was still effectively stuck at home and doing the limited things we’ve all been able to do just like the rest of you. Over that time I had scheduled several attempts at real vacations. A couple were canceled by work, one was canceled by the re-imposition of quarantine limitations state wide.

The most frustrating trip that got canceled by the quarantine was a trip to go camping in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. I love Anza-Borrego, the high desert is warm during the day but cold at night. Borrego Springs and the desert near the city are national dark sky areas. So Anza-Borrego is a great place to watch the skies. In December I had planned to camp there for several days during the Gemonid Meteor shower. So when I got a chance to finally get a week and take a trip, I decided to head back to the desert.

<p value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">I can't tell you how awesome it was for this nomad to be on the road again. It's obviously a very different world since my last trip to New Orleans in late February of last year for <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://revkane.com/2020/03/03/krewe-of-the-bosom-buddies-2020/&quot; target="_blank">Mardi Gras</a>. It was interesting masking up at every stop and finding available restrooms. Rules were different in every county and often on the road a fastfood restaurant is really a bathroom stop. In a lot of counties, particularly in Southern California that wasn't an option.I can’t tell you how awesome it was for this nomad to be on the road again. It’s obviously a very different world since my last trip to New Orleans in late February of last year for Mardi Gras. It was interesting masking up at every stop and finding available restrooms. Rules were different in every county and often on the road a fastfood restaurant is really a bathroom stop. In a lot of counties, particularly in Southern California that wasn’t an option.

I arrived at the State Park and realized I’d actually booked the wrong campground, so I headed out of town for the Tamarisk Campground.

It’s the smaller of the two campgrounds but very nice. There are a couple of hiking trails that lead out from the campground and without the visitor center and other park attractions within walking distance it’s a much less busy campground. It felt good to be back in a tent and camping. But most of all it felt great looking at my phone and seeing ZERO bars. I was literally, electronically off the map in the campground. The campground is loaded with owls, both long-eared and barn owls. The first night laying down to sleep to the sounds of owl calls was absolutely magnificent.

I did very little while there, I hiked a bit, I read a lot, I was able to finish the second book of an incredible two book series while out there, The Parable of the Talents. I spent many hours sitting next to the fire pit at night, staring at stars and listening to music. I sleep well in a tent and after turning in every night I slept straight through til morning, something that almost never happens at home. I had planned to to do some astro-photography but had put it off to the last evening which ended up being a mistake. The wind, which always kicks up at night really kicked up that night. Constant 30-40 mph winds with gusts up around 50. So blowing dust and wind sent me into my tent early. My tent held up beautifully except for the occasional wind gust that blew sand up under the fly, through the vents and into my face.

All in all my time in Anza-Boreggo was absolutely amazing, from there I headed up through the state to San Luis Obispo and a stop at the Madonna Inn for the night, then finally up the coast to home the next day. More on that soon. Remember to find time to take real vacations my friend and have a happy day and enjoy the photos. ~ Rev Kane

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Happiness Moments: Havasu Falls

Happiness Moments: Havasu Falls

happiness adventure travel

Havasu Falls

So a new little writing experiment for the blog. I’ve been wanting to find a way to do some free writing as practice. And I’ve been wanting to capture the moments in my life that have brought me true happiness. I need that little pick me up right now with everything going on in the world and no real chance to travel. So, some writing about happy moments in my life, hope they bring you a little happiness too.

The picture above is a completely unenhanced photo of Havasu Falls in Arizona.  From the first moment I saw an image of the falls I knew I had to go there.  The falls exist on tribal land just outside of the Grand Canyon National Park.  To camp in the valley at the falls you have to get a permit and the permits open February 1st and often over 75% of the dates for the entire year sell out within the first few days that reservations are open.  The year I went, I was planning to go early April, it still can be pretty cold at night in April so it’s not the most popular time.  I dialed into the reservation line like I was trying to win a radio contest for three days before I got lucky and got through.  Happily I was able to get my dates.

sunrise havasu

I spent the night in a hotel in the most middle of nowhere Arizona that I have ever been.  It was a surprisingly nice small hotel that primarily serves as a weigh station for Havasu and Grand Canyon tourists.  I got up pre-dawn and drove up to the parking area for Havasu.  At dawn the little “ranger” station opened and I showed my pass and hit the trail.  The hike into Havasu is a nice hike, about seven miles and downhill all of the way.  You start on a super steep decline down into the valley with spectacular views.  You then snake down into the valley and wind down a trail that you can tell would be a nightmare during a flash flood and as soon as the sun gets up in the sky it starts to heat up.

Happily starting early meant the heat didn’t build too much as I hiked in and at the point where it might get warm, you hit a forested stream area that is really beautiful.  After passing through that area you hit the edges of the Havasupai Village and a nice little store/restaurant.  One of the things I love is something I’ve always called momentary food.  Food that, under ordinary conditions, probably isn’t magnificent, but because of the situation is down right fantastic.  Often, it’s when you’ve been hiking on a trail for hours, or at Burning Man in the hot desert and something shows up in an unexpected way.  An ice cold beverage, a hot pizza on the playa at Burning Man, a dehydrated camping meal, etc… The best example for me has always been Monopole Pizza when I was a student at SUNY Plattsburgh.  Monopole served big slices of Sicilian style pizza for a dollar.  Late at night, usually after a lot of drinks, that pizza was absolutely heavenly.  So one night for dinner, several of us decided to go down to Monopole and get a pizza for dinner.  It was dreadful, bland except for a lot of salt and just not a good pizza.  So it wasn’t that the pizza was ever good, but drunk, hungry and the general happy environment made it seem fantastic.

Well on the outside of the Havasupai Village I had an incredible momentary food breakfast experience.  I had, what at the time seemed like, one of the best breakfast burritos of my life and ice cream for desert.  I sat there eating both with a couple of other soon to be Havasu Falls campers on a picnic table in the sun on a truly glorious morning with sterling blue skies and mountains rising in every direction.  I would leave to find my way to the check-in office and get my official passes and then hike toward the campground.  It’s not great trail from the village, in fact the landscape is a bit stark.  Then you make a turn and see the river and some minor up river falls that themselves were absolutely beautiful. But shortly after you make a turn and down to your right you see an incredible sight.

havasu falls

Havasu Falls

My three days at Havasu falls was amazing, I met incredibly cool people.  Got tossed around in my hammock during a pretty gnarly storm and honestly spent the entire time beyond belief at the beauty around me, many happiness moments every day.

havasu falls

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The Joys of Traveling Solo

The Joys of Traveling Solo

alone quote, dyer

It is far better to be alone, than in bad company. ~ George Washington

So I was reading the San Francisco Chronicle the other day and this article popped up, no friends, no problem – great Northern California trips for flying solo. I have absolutely no problem with the content of the article.  The trips they recommend are the pretty standard fare for the paper.  So a mixture of things I’ve already done, some that are ridiculously expensive or trendy and a good idea or two.

The problem I have is the title of the piece.  The title reinforces the ridiculous idea that the only time anyone travels alone is if they are some kind of weirdo who has no friends.  It’s this kind of limited thinking that keeps people from doing things on their own.  One of my sisters won’t eat alone in a restaurant because she fears people will have this very thought.  I know lots of people who travel alone, as a matter of fact my friend Bubbles, not her real name, but what I call her is quite possibly the most social human being I’ve ever met and she often travels alone.

I’ve written before about hiking alone, and tonight I just really wanted to remind people to ignore the sentiment, I’ve written blog posts before on hiking alone and traveling alone.  I’ve even written about the joys of being alone.  Time with yourself can be some of the best time you get, in a world where we are constantly bombarded with people, emails and social media, (see my post from last night), it is really wonderful to have some time just to yourself.  There are lots of articles about why you should spend more time alone, and the benefits that come from doing just that.

So take some time alone my friends and have a happy day. ~ Rev Kane

alone quote, marilyn monroe

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Happiness is Emma Dumont

Happiness is Emma Dumont

emma dumont, happiness

THE GIFTED: Emma Dumont as Polaris/Lorna Dane

Tease hair not homos ~James St. James (Emma Dumont’s favorite quote)

So tonight I’m going to go a little bit fan boy on you my friends.  I’ve talked about this before, I’m a TV watcher and a science fiction fan and so when Marvel announced a new TV series I knew I had to at least check it out.  So I launched into the first episode of the Gifted and immediately was drawn to the character Polaris.  The character is pretty cool, but the real shot was the actress, Emma Dumont.  She has an amazing stage presence and is absolutely stunningly beautiful as the picture above demonstrates.

Now it’s rare, but all that unusual to find a beautiful young actress on a TV show.  But there’s something really special about Emma and I decided to Google her.  I was suddenly even more impressed.  Not just an actress but a classically trained ballet dancer as well.  Even more impressive she’s also working on a mechanical engineering degree through Olin College.  So she’s intelligent, beautiful, physically and artistically talented, talk about your total package.  At that point I started to think that Miss Dumont is going to be a huge star.

emma dumont, happiness

Talk about your double threat, ballet and engineering

I was kicking around the web looking at her previous work on IMDB and then saw her Instagram address so I kicked over to take a look and noticed she was doing a live feed.  So I followed her page and dropped into her live post on Instagram.  Now, I’ve seen some live feed posts before and I’ve never really been all that impressed by them.  That changed watching Emma Dumont’s live feed, she was absolute captivating, genuine, kooky, she bursts into song sometimes for a reason, sometimes not.  She truly seems like a nice human being, she seems to genuinely care about her fans and makes an effort to acknowledge them.

emma dumont, happiness

Emma Dumont has a great smile

As I said, she’s an impressive woman, smart, talented and willing to take a stand.   Whenever I see her on live I try to jump in, like I said she’s a ton of fun to watch doing these.  While watching one she mentioned a trans issue and some of the fans starting making anti-LGBTQ remarks.  A lot of folks would have just ignored the comments or cut the session but she didn’t .  She went at the comments and pointed out it wasn’t cool, she pointed out people are people, she re-iterated her favorite quote.  She addressed that she realized some people are raised with hate and need to get more educated.  And although she was standing up for herself, she was also apologizing for being direct and a little confrontational.  Now that’s a great PR move, but in no way did it seem like a calculated act.  She just truly seemed like a nice person trying to stand up for her values and feeling bad that she might be making someone else feel bad.

It’s this genuine niceness, her relaxed demeanor and nervous energy that makes her incredibly approachable by her fans and I count myself among them.  Check her out, remember her name, she’s gonna be a major, major star and have a happy day my friends. ~ Rev Kane

Other  Happiness Posts!

Acceptance is the Way

Simple Lessons in Happiness

Happiness is Yasmin Hamdan

Happiness is Van Gogh, Monet and Picasso

Happiness is Blue Poop

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Some of my favorite posts

Some of my favorite posts

uncle, tshirt, rev kane

I prefer the simple things and I love walking in the countryside, or going camping… but simplicity is hard. It’s easier to over-complicate things. ~ Bill Bailey

So currently I’m on vacation in the desert hiking and camping, so a little bit of a lazy post tonight, some of my favorite posts with an emphasis on my Appalachian Trail posts, it was six years ago that I was struggling with my first weeks on the trail.












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Sometimes, Happiness is Avoidance

Sometimes, Happiness is Avoidance


Happiness depends on ourselves ~ Aristotle

Here at the Ministry of Happiness we have talked often about the necessity of facing your issues and dealing with them straight on. This is almost always the option and particularly at the times when we least want to do it. So for the truly important things in life that are diminishing your happiness this is still my best advice.

However, there are small things in our lives that can suck away our happiness and for many of them it would take more energy to confront them, than it would to simply avoid or ignore them. One way I’ve done this in my life over the last year has been to avoid the news. This was not an easy thing for me, I’m a news junkie, I like to know what’s happening and have some deeper understanding of the why of the world. A female friend once joked, you’re the only guy who I ever leave alone in a hotel room and when I come back he’s watching the news instead of sports.

Watching the news however was doing less to inform me that it was to inflame my emotions and annoy me. So, I essentially banned news channels from my viewing habits and have chosen to get my news from less inflammatory sources. Something else that wasn’t easy! My go to news sources include the New York and Los Angeles Times, the BBC and my absolute favorite news source, The Christian Science Monitor. I find that the Monitor does a good job of analyzing the news without much spin to the left or the right. Of course the tradeoff is, that unlike CNN or USA Today you don’t get new headlines every 20 minutes but you do get more depth.

I will still scan through the headlines on CNN but if I want more in-depth reading I’ll dig into the web for the information. I have to say that this change has made me less politically oriented and less likely to jump into political arguments on social media, again a very good thing as all of this has lowered my stress level which increases your happiness.

The inspiration for this piece came today from a very conscious decision to walk about 2 minutes out of my way to avoid having to face an employee. This person is utterly fragile, prone to exaggeration, passive-aggressive and any contact just fuels her fire for drama and conflict. So sure, I walked a few extra steps, but in doing so got a little more exercise, lessened my stress and had a happier day, hope you’re having one to my friend.

~ Rev Kane



Happiness is reducing stress

Happiness & Selected Families

Happiness, Simplicity & Letting Go

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Happiness & Natural Quiet

Happiness & Natural Quiet

Copy of ireland first bryce shots 598

A moment of silence is not inherently religious ~ Sandra Day O’Connor

Today I want to talk about quiet which in itself sounds a bit contradictory.  The other night I was at a meeting and the facilitator decided to start the meeting with a couple of minutes of silence.  At first it was very strange, sitting in this room, most of the people unknown to me and just sitting there my mind wandering.  Then I turned inward, took a deep breath and relaxed and just sat for a minute letting things from the day go.  In thinking back about this today I was reminded of a fabulous hike I took once in Tennessee.  My friend Andrew and I were working together at Oak Ridge National Lab on a project that was focusing on environmental values.  Andrew and I often hiked together and usually took very interesting hikes, one particular hike we took had a single purpose, to hike far enough out to actually find some natural quiet.  This is not as easy as you might imagine, natural quiet means that the only sounds you can hear are the sounds of nature.  No dogs, no cars, no planes, trains or automobiles.  Our hike was a bit arduous but finally we had gotten into a valley where we thought we had found our quarry. We’d basically hiked out onto a piece of the Appalachian Trail.

We settled down and laid back against our packs and for a half an hour enjoyed just the sounds of nature.  It was incredibly calming and wonderful at least right up until the 747 came screaming overhead, at which point we both burst out in laughter.

The link below can provide you some more information on the idea of natural quiet and our national parks:


Since that hike in Tennessee I have been fortunate to find other places of natural quiet during my travels in Utah, Alaska, Nepal and Scotland and each instance is etched in my mind like a precious jewel.  But we don’t need to travel the globe to gather the benefits of silence.  It’s important each day, (preferably at the beginning or end of each day, best at both), to take five minutes and just sit quietly and let the world melt, just another little tool on your quest for happiness.

But I’ll tell you what hermits realize. If you go off into a far, far forest and get very quiet, you’ll come to understand that you’re connected with everything. ~ Alan Watts

Other Posts You Might Enjoy!

Great Hikes & Treks

Happiness is Taking Risks

Fear is Killing Your Happiness

Happiness is a Choice

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Happiness Moments: Storms and Rain

Happiness Moments: Storms and Rain

thunderstormLet the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby. ~ Langston Hughes

So a little writing experiment for the blog. I’ve been wanting to find a way to do some free writing as practice. And I’ve been wanting to capture the moments in my life that have brought me true happiness. I need that little pick me up right now with everything going on in the world and no real chance to travel. So, some writing about happy moments in my life, hope they bring you a little happiness too.

I love the rain, there is nothing more calming and relaxing to me then to lay in bed and listen to the rain hitting the roof.  When I was a child we had a large picture window in our living room.  It had a shelf in front of it and when I was a small child and there were thunderstorms, which in the Northeast we had plenty of, I would sit in the window inside the curtains and watch the storms.  I especially loved watching lightning at night, as the bolts would crack across the sky over the mountains it always looked to me like our very universe was cracking open and showing us the tiniest glimpses of alternate dimensions.  I read a lot of science fiction as a kid.

But it wasn’t just the lightning, the thunder was amazing.  Literally feeling the air rumbling with sound to the point you could feel it vibrate through your body was always amazing.  I grew up in Washington Irving country, the nearest bridge to my childhood home was the Rip Van Winkle.  So early on I was told the story that thunder was just the sound of dwarves bowling in the mountains, I always loved that explanation, it brought an almost cartoon wonder to nature.

In the summer as a kid, you could feel a storm coming.  First the day would be incredible warm and close, then you’d start to smell the rain on the air.  The smell is a combination of ozone, rich soil and is utterly distinctive.  That would put you on edge and as soon as you felt that first hard blast of cold air come down you would head for home, a covered porch, a doorway and the rain would explode into a downpour.  Then you’d wait for the really important part, the pause, storms would ebb and flow and after the initial raging downpour it would slow to a light drizzle and we would all head back into the street.  We always had Popsicle sticks in the summer and you would race to the gutters.  I lived on a street that ran downhill towards the river for several blocks and the water would come flying down the gutters, especially if a sewer got blocked and we would drop our Popsicle sticks into the raging gutter rivers and race down the street with them, slipping down and plucking them out right before they’d get sucked into the next sewer grate.  It was the most ridiculous bit of fun as a child.

Later in life I would be reminded of those days while teaching Ecology courses.  When we covered water quality assessment we would do a lab on how we evaluate streams and rivers.  A component of those assessments would be determining the flow rates of those systems.  Now there is lots of fancy equipment that exists to measure flow rate in a stream or river, but these were entry level courses and we didn’t have huge budgets.  So we did a lot of really simple methods.  To measure flow rate we would split the students into groups of two.  We would measure the distance between the students and then to get the rate, it’s a simple matter of calculating how quickly the water flows that distance.  We’d do that by by tossing an Orange in and timing how long it took to cover the distance.  It was no Popsicle stick but it did the trick.

Rain, like everything has its positives and negatives.  The one time I didn’t like rain was on the Appalachian Trail when it would rain so often, over so many days that you would spend a week or more completely wet.  Even a day in town wasn’t enough to dry out all of your gear.  At one point, being wet and cold for twelve days I almost quit the trail.  Happily I didn’t, but three months later in a massive storm I would destroy my left knee and have to quit.  It seemed like rain was always part of the trail experience.

But that negative is balanced out by the sweet memory of a date in Knoxville, Tennessee.  We had decided to go to a sushi place and were far too focused on each other to pay any attention to a weather forecast.  We found a parking spot a couple of blocks from the restaurant and just as we were about to get out of the car, the sky opened up in a complete downpour.  Of course, we had no umbrella and the only cover available was the dog towel in the backseat.  You know you’re smitten when you’re willing to run down the street in the pouring rain under a stinky dog towel just spend time with someone.  It was ridiculous, we were soaked, we had an amazing dinner, the kind of night where the waitress feels the energy and plays along with you, then understanding the situation and leaves you alone until it’s time to go home.  We walked slowly, happily back to the car in the rain that night, I really like the rain.

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