Saturday, May 16, 2015

Mission Walker

Mission Walker


One cool thing you could do with your spare time is to walk 800 miles from Mission to Mission on El Camino Real right here in Californy-I-ay. If you hurry, you will not be alone because right now, this very minute, that's what Hollywood's own Ilia Carson is doing.

I hosted Ilia (accent on the second syllable, like Maria) through warmshowers dot org Thursday night after she blew in from Santa Cruz to see the Mission San Juan Bautista. She began her pilgrimage a couple of weeks ago up in Sonora at the Mission San Francisco de Solano. When she arrived in San Juan, she had already completed the northern section of some 200+ miles, averaging between 15-20 miles per day. Wonder Walker!

I have always thought it would be fun to bicycle from Mission to Mission and many times I have wondered why there weren't inexpensive hostels (or warmshowers hosts) at or near each one. That seems like something that would catch on with touring cyclists. It appears that a growing number of hikers is taking the challenge every year. Maybe in time my dream of Mission pilgrim hostels will take form.

Meanwhile, Ilia the Wonder Walker is getting it done. After a tour of the Mission SJB, I steered her over to Jardines de San Juan, my local go-to dinner eatery for out of town visitors. I ordered my favorite Baja Tacos; Ilia chose one of their gigundo carne burritos. When the food came, she inhaled that burrito faster than I could say "Has your hiker hunger kicked in yet?" FOOM, it was gone. I had to laugh. There is nothing better than rigorous long distance exercise followed by no-holds-barred consumption of tasty, jaw-gnoshing food. It is a savage pleasure known only to a crazy, privileged few.
Ilia hopes to use this walk as a preparation for a 2016 trek of El Camino del Santiago in Spain. She is already a bright, talented organizer. Completing all or even part of El Camino Real in California will give her yet more confidence and teach the lessons only learned by road experience: flexibility, patience, and the happy holiness of mindless repetitive motion.

After a shower, about a hundred shared stories, a deep cozy slumber on my Mission Farm Campground redneck deck, and a jumbo morning bowl of heart healthy oats and almonds, Ilia the Wonder Walker was on her way up and over the San Juan Bautista de Anza Grade to Salinas (the Salad Bowl of America) and beyond. At last word, she was resting comfortably near the Mission San Carlos Borromeo in Carmel, well into the central section of her journey to San Diego. Que mujer!
"No problem. I got this." - Ilia Carson, Wonder Walker 2015
Peace, Love, and Mission Walking,



Saturday, May 9, 2015


The Question:

To all the Mothers out there,

I salute you for taking on a forever job and handling it with grace and skill and vigilance…and pure dumb luck, too. Nobody is successful in any endeavor without a little of that.

If you could impart one piece of advice about motherhood to a teenage girl, what would it be?

Peace, Love, and Curiosity,


Waterlogue by John H. Ostdick

The Answers:

“You want just ONE piece of advice about motherhood......... That is a tall request but I would have to say unconditional love. I could write a list a mile long of other sage advice, however. Hind sight and maturity have done a great job of pointing out the mistakes I made. That list would, also, be a mile long. Fortunately for me, my children are very forgiving.”
       -       P.S. I Love You
               Plano TX

“Here's my advice:

Most important qualities to encourage and share:
  • Kindness and compassion
  • Honesty
  • Sense of humor
  • Love of reading and writing
Make sure you complete at least a BA and look for opportunities to get your education funded. You will need it to survive and flourish.”

-          The EMPress
Austin TX

“Catch 'em being good/making good choices and let them know you noticed.”
-          Cud’n Mindy
Aromas CA

“Motherhood is the most precious and challenging thing that can happen to a woman. I would tell a teenager to wait and enjoy yourself while you are young because motherhood takes all the strength and wisdom you can manage, and if you wait you appreciate it more. Motherhood is an honor and you should approach it with all the maturity you can muster. But it is worth every minute.”
-          Dinesey
Cleburne TX

“I recall the pediatrician suggesting a little sherry. I have to say friendships with other mothers have helped pull me through, because knowing you're not alone goes a long way, especially when your Mother of the Year crown slips.”
-          Roadie
Dallas TX

“My advice about motherhood would be this. Play with your kids, don't be too serious, laugh a lot, have tickle and chase times, read to your children, and get down on the floor and play board games.
There's nothing greater than a mother's love for her children!

I was happy before I had children, but I was even more so when each of my four children were born. James Taylor's song, How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You, was my motherhood theme song when my first baby, Eric, was born. I would place the James Taylor vinyl on the turntable, crank up the volume, and I'd hold Eric close as I danced around the room. I did that until he did a very special baby dance along with me. The lyrics to the song are probably for a girlfriend of James Taylor's, but I found them very fitting for my baby that made me feel so fulfilled.”

-          Marylou
Azel TX 

How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You – James Taylor
I needed the shelter of someone's arms and there you were
I needed someone to understand my ups and downs and there you were
With sweet love and devotion, deeply touching my emotion
I want to stop and thank you BABY
I close my eyes at night, wondering where I would be without you in my life
But you brighten up for me all of my days, love so sweet in so many ways
You were better to me than I was to myself
For me there's you and there ain't nobody else
I want to stop and thank you BABY
How sweet it is to be loved by you.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Beasts of the Southern Wild


This time last year I was on my bicycle in Florida celebrating Sinkhole de Mayo. If you don't know what I mean, I suggest you buy my book and find out!

This year, however, I am in San Juan Bautista, pretty much as close to Mexico as you can get in Los Estados Unidos. We "partied" over the weekend via the 31st annual Indian Market and World Peace Festival, which featured non-stop Native American dancing and music and arts/crafts booths. There was no alcohol or drugs - they are not allowed on the "Red Road" of sobriety - we "partied" family style.

This was the last festival organized by San Juan resident artist and writer Laynee Bluebird (Elayne Silva-Reyna) who happens to live down the asphalt road from me. Her daughter and others will continue the tradition in years to come.

Layne Bluebird is the author of Wolf Dreamer of the Longest Night Moon, a beautiful story/meditation that I highly recommend experiencing. As Laynee (80 years old but she can pass for 50) would tell you, the story is meant to be read in one sitting in a quiet space where you can reflect on its affect on your spirit. The sequel to this story will come out soon. Expand your natural awareness. Read for yourself.

What does this have to do with Beasts of the Southern Wild? Nothing! And Everything! I watched Beasts of the Southern Wild on DVD Sunday night after mildly freaking out at the Indian Market. I had what I call an "episode" while enjoying a dance performance in the middle of the sports field behind the town elementary school on a perfectly sunny and breezy afternoon. 
I don't have "episodes" all the time - they only happen to me once in a while, usually when I'm on my own in the woodsy woods woodsy or romping in the high country. They kind of sneak up on me and take over - not in any scary way - completely beautiful - and I get a floating sensation along with super-heightened sensory awareness. Light, color, sound, movement, and especially wind are super intensified. I am isolated for a moment or two, sometimes a few minutes before I come back to normal.
I love it when an "episode" happens. This one occurred during one of the dances at the festival. A steady drum beat - a big circle of people dressed in native garb - men and women, boys and girls - a green grassy field under a bright blue sky. One dancer was especially demonstrative. I think his "spirit" was a deer spirit (note: that's my interpretation - I don't pretend to understand Native American culture or spirituality, but I respect it nonetheless) and he was really into his movements, using ornaments that resembled deer horns in quick, rhythmic motion, bent over like a quadruped, turning this way and that with the sound of the drum, staying in time with the other dancers.
In the background, lining the field, is a long row of tall, healthy eucalyptus trees. When my "episode" happened, I became aware that the tallest tree branches were swaying back and forth in time with the drums. My focus was on the trees, no, IN the trees, from a long distance away, on the opposite side of the dancers. That is, the dancers were in the field between me and the eucalyptus grove. The whole scene kind of ebbed and flowed with the wind for a few minutes. I felt like I was slightly elevated, just a little bit off the ground.
I couldn't stop smiling.
Beasts of the Southern Wild is one of the best movies I have never heard of. It's set in the deep South, off-bayou of New Orleans I think, and it features some of the wildest, most intriguing characters you will never ever meet. Hushpuppy, the little girl that stars in the movie, around which the movie revolves, is a four-foot tower of strength and a fierce observer/participant of/in her reality. If you don't love her, you should be ashamed of yourself.
This story is raw. It's ferocious. It's wonderful.
It didn't make me have an "episode" like the Indian Market and World Peace Festival, but it made my gut burn with a love of being alive. "Beast it." It's Nature's Way.
Peace, Love, and Hushpuppy,