Wednesday, August 24, 2011

North By Northwest

I'm now in Redmond, central Oregon, at my friend Timo’s house.


Over a month ago, after the Rainbow Gathering, I hung in Portland a bit, staying with my friend Tsarra at the “Ninja house”, and got to know her house-mates, Ben and Hollis. I was very pleased to see my close friend Satya (who I wandered and camped with over past years) and to participate in his meditation group again. And I delved into Food Not Bombs again, seeing old friends from forest activism days, and meeting new friends. I always feel a strong sense of committed community in Portland, and I often feel torn between Portland and Moab. But it’s a bit harder living outdoors in Portland in winter rains, so I always opt for flapping south to Moab.

Olympic Pantheon

My new friend, Corwin, from Atlanta, invited me on a pack trip to the Olympic Peninsula in Washington, and I didn’t hesitate to say yes.  My friend Denise knew Corwin, and she recommended we hook up. Corwin is about as pleasant, easy-going and thoughtful of a person as you’d want to travel with. He’s so stable you can’t get him excited (which is funny, because he got a bout of hiccups for 3 days, and I could in no way scare him to cure them).

I decided I didn’t want to carry a rocket stove or pot, so I toasted a bunch of rice, buckwheat and tapioca, threw 'em together with a bit of olive oil and salt, to munch as my main staple on the trip. We thought we’d start with a simple loop trail in the Quinault rain forest, then explore other areas later. The trail started way easy, but as we reached higher elevations, we ran into fields of deep snow and lost the trail – not at all what we’d expected. It made for a gnarly and difficult hike and us bantering back and forth on which direction to take. But that’s also what made it remarkably fun. And we got through, of course, feeling good about it.  Easy things aren't memorable. 

We then decided to go to the coast, near the Hoh reservation, and do a little hike there. That ended up more gnarly than we’d suspected, too, sludging through knee-deep mud in the coastal rain forest. We ate berries galore, lots of wild peas, and I cooked and ate quite a few slugs (they’re okay if you clean out the guts and toast them well). We also ate toasted seaweed of various sorts. Funny, the whole rain forest trip had nary a drop of rain, except a brief shower one morning.

Chief Seattle
Drive 'em from their lands...
that's okay cuz we name cities & stuff after 'em

Back in the Seattle Again...
Corwin then took me to Seattle to stay with his friend Oscar at Sherwood House, a large community house with lots of pleasant people. We hung there maybe a week, exploring Seattle and doing a lot of specialty :-) shopping in the backs of stores – finding amazing quantities of food, most of which the Sherwood House gladly accepted.  Corwin’s girlfriend, Beth, from Atlanta, later came to town and hung with us for a while.

...Or Again to Oregon
When Beth left, Corwin's friend Kathryn also came to town, and the three of us went back to Portland together, with gobs of goodies to share with Food Not Bombs.  I camped in the Ninja house garden again. I read through Alan Watts’ The Way of Zen while there, one of the most profound things I’ve ever read. Not wanting to wear out my welcome at Ninja, and wanting to come here to see Timo and his daughter, Logan, I felt it time to move on.

I got a ride again with Corwin and Beth, who happened to be coming this way last week. So here I am. It’s been 3 years, and Logan is already a young woman, going into high school this Fall.

A couple days ago Timo took me to a weekly Spanish-speaking group he attends, and later to a Lakota sweat lodge near Bend – a very deep and blessed experience for me.

Now I’m reading Harish Dhillon’s The First Sikh Spiritual Master, about Guru Nanak (who lived at the time of Columbus and Martin Luther).

I’m not sure how long before I start hitching back to Utah, inshallah.

…how will all these things make our journey more comfortable?
We cannot clutter up our lives, not now or ever.
We must travel light, live simply, and not worry about tomorrow,
secure in the knowledge that God will always provide—
perhaps through the generosity of people like the good Uppals.

--Guru Nanak (p. 70, The First Sikh Spiritual Master)

Sitting quietly, doing nothing,
Spring comes,
And the grass grows by itself. 

--Zen Sage Zenrin Kushu

Let the earth bring forth grass
--Elohim (Genesis 1:11)

Ye are Elohim
--Jesus (John 10:34)