Friday, December 7, 2007

Saipan - Island of Dreams

Imagine a place surrounded by ocean as far as the eye can see. Some days it is black and glassy, some days it is frothy and cobalt, sometimes gin clear, and others, some shade of crystalline turquoise. Then picture a 50 square mile rock draped in rich, tropical green, that you are looking out from. You cannot see any distant shores, only horizon. Mainland Asia lies over one thousand miles to the west. To the east, scattered pinpoints of northern Micronesia, and then open water until Hawaii. This is Saipan – island of dreams.

Floating way out in the western Pacific, the island has endured a tumultuous history. Coveted at times for its slaves and farmers, sugarcane and coffee, runways and radios, white sands and blue waters, the island survives. In 1972 it was voted to commonwealth status. A commonwealth may have a definition, but the reality is more nebulous. Saipan today is floating in a dream, hard to define, attracting a collection of drifters and dreamers, while the indigenous people work to reclaim their homeland and culture from the plunders of the past. The population is a melting pot, consisting in roughly descending order of Chamorro/Carolinian, Filipino, Japanese, Chinese American/Canadian, Korean, Russian, Bangladeshi, Nepali, and Thai.

It is an island culture full of bananas, papayas, and mangoes, big rats and wild dogs. There is sushi flown in from Japan, local tuna sushi, and SPAM sushi. There are deserted beaches and luxury golf courses. There is a big Hyatt hotel where people take refuge from typhoons, and there are tin roofed shacks that blow away. There are nightclubs and strip clubs, and my yard has pigs and chickens wandering through it. There is even one of the tastiest Thai restaurants in the world. You can function pretty well without shoes or even a shirt, and only get rare glimpses of neckties on the misplaced missionaries. There are betel nut stains, and a case of Budweiser cans cost 24USD, and at some point, Saipan drank the most of it per capita in the world. There is poverty with some people struggling to eat, and there are riches, mansions, welfare and corruption.

The island is a microcosm of the world at large, everything is happening, and nothing is. When you stare out at the lagoon after a long day, or watch another amazing sunset, all of the negatives seem to fade like a bad dream. And when you return from the outside world, after a long flight, like going to outer space and back through re-entry - you step out of the airport, the tropical humidity envelops you like a warm blanket, and the songs of the night insects are the loudest sounds you hear.

Suspended in a dream, the clouds float by on the trade winds, and the ocean sparkles. This is the island of dreams; full of people dreaming – living their dream, escaping their dream, realizing their dream, deferring their dream, lost in their dream, searching their dreams, dreaming big, dreaming small, or not even aware of their dreams at all. When you sail away, the island dwindles to a speck in the sea, and you wonder if it ever existed. There is a small sand and coconut palm islet in the lagoon, and when you stand on its fluffy, white sand beach, you can’t help but feel as if you are in a dream. When you wander into the jungle, and realize you are lost, an eerie dreamlike quality hangs in the still air. There are spirits everywhere in Saipan, all you need to do is take a walk in the moonlight and you will find them.

Like a dream, sometimes a lot of things happen, sometimes nothing does, and when you wake up, you never are quite sure what was real and what was dream –and still sometimes, you are not even sure if you are even stopped dreaming.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Magic Island

If you are seeking true magic, you need not look further than the once and future popular Bali. Lying just below the equator, the Indonesian island of Bali assaults the senses with dazzling arrays of color, smells, foods, and spirits. Look once and it's a tourist hot spot, replete with sunburns, Bintangs, beach-front villas, and perfect waves. Look again, and you aredeep in the animist jungle, face to face with monster-like deities and mystical temples. Or were you looking at a colorful Hindu funeral procession, or waking to prayer call from the neighborhood mosque? That is the magic of Bali. The moon looks different here, there are ylang-ylang trees aromating the air, and fried shallots stimulate the appetite on every
corner. You can drive from the heavily touristed and populated Kuta beach, through the more upscale beaches and shopping at Seminyak, then suddenly you are in the hectic bustle of Denpasar, then suddenly surrounded by quiet and
vibrantly green rice paddies, then warming yourself by an outdoor wood fire on the rim of a volcano, then lost on the back jungle roads, among wooden homesteads with outdoor kitchens, coconut palms, and you realize that time
has suddenly stopped. In Bali, if you are not paying attention, you can find yourself in ten places at once, or lose yourself in one place ten times over.

Bali has so many layers that the deeper you look, the more mystery you uncover. Magic here is staring you in the face and is hiding behind every corner. You find it in the exotic, and in the ordinary. Riding in a Denpasar bemo, sarong clad passengers grin with betel stained teeth, as the wafts of durian entice you. Or you may find yourself at midnight, entranced by the sounds of gamelan, surrounded by the surreal community temple, and thousands of fruit offerings. The volatile mix of animism, hinduism, and islam, on a volcanic tropical island, flanked by crystal turquoise waves, the shoreline dotted with temples, the air fragrant with incense and flowers - this is the recipe for magic. Head out to a secluded beach, a mountain jungle, or community temple, and immerse yourself - it is very intoxicating.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Daikiretto

Somewhere in the middle of Honshu, in Nagano prefecture, Japan, lies an amazing expanse of mountain wilderness. Thousands of acres of “wilderness” spread before you punctuated by countless granite peaks. In a country with the population density of Japan, this is indeed a blessing. I call it wilderness in quotes, because in Japanese style, it is dotted with elaborate mountain huts, cable cars, and has fixed protection bolted into the granite walls with the most daunting lines. Yet, standing atop Yarigatake at sunrise the day after a North Pacific low passed through, you feel as if you are at the doorstep of heaven. A sea of gray clouds spreads beneath you, barley touched with the pink of a new day. Black peaks, jutting through the cloudy blanket, mark the horizon and it is quiet, silent actually.

Jill and I hiked over these mountains, known collectively as the Japanese Alps, and into that mysterious and sacred world that hides in these islands. Just like the temple cedars that inspire silence, a walk into the Japanese backcountry transports you to a magical world. It is a world so peaceful and profound, that just sitting in it, you know truth. All questions are answered in that silence, and everything is beautiful. This is the world of Anime, of Shinto, and of Buddha.

Crossing these mountains is the ridgeline trail known as the Daikiretto. Depending on how you count, its 5 or 10 kilometers of ridge that crosses between Yarigatake and Hotakadake. Yet, this is no ordinary ridge. On either side there is wonderful exposure, valleys plummeting down thousands of feet, the bottoms often obscured by clouds. The trail, although bolted with ladders and chains to assist the unprepared over the hardest lines, is still mind numbing. Straight up and down incredible granite cliffs, it’s hard to pick the trail, even though it’s well marked with white maru’s. We were hiking with camping gear just to make it extra special. Every couple of hours or so, we encounter a mountain hut, usually rustic and wooden, but replete with chocolate, Asahi, and even camp style cafeterias. These huts were like apparitions, forgotten as soon as they were behind us. Sitting in camp, watching the alpenglow color the clouds orange and red, and the stars blinking on in sheet of purple, devouring a bowl of instant ramen, you knew it was good. In a warm sleeping bag I dreamed of the pine trees and the granite vistas and revisited the silence. The next day, we down climbed a large avalanche chute, slowly re-entering this world. There were birds singing, the sun was warming little granite outcroppings, and the river was collecting itself from the runoff channels. Flowers were bright blue and yellow, and a few maples were getting an early start into fall. Eventually we came out to the trailhead, suddenly stepping into a quaint little town. Already the memory of that place began to fade like a wonderful dream. If it weren’t for the smiling, moss covered Buddha statue offering a wooden drinking ladle, we would have wondered if it even really existed at all.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Blue Spring


Blue Spring

The Grand Canyon - The Little Colorado River - The
Navajo Reservation - Scary drop offs - Turquoise Blue
Spring water - Anasazi ruins - soaring red canyon

Sound interesting - the trip to Blue Spring, on the
Little Colorado River is amazing, breathtaking,
nerve-wracking, and wow. My friend Dan and I set out from
Flagstaff, AZ in his Nissan pathfinder 4x4. We made
our way up through Cameron, AZ, and then crossed into
the Grand Canyon National Park at desert View. Just
after saying goodbye to the Navajo woman ranger, we
turned turned east for Cedar Mountain and Gold Hill,
two buttes that mark the way to Blue Springs trail
head, out across the stunning emptiness of the Navajo
Reservation. We passed old hogans, old cabins, stone
corrals, abandoned trucks, and even some seemingly
lost cattle. After 15miles of single track, we
managed to reach Gold Hill, the last guardian of the
plateau above Blue Spring. In all, the drive to the
trail head took about 2 hours from the pavement at
Desert View, and there we were, perched at the edge of
the Little Colorado River Gorge. From rolling green
sagebrush plains, the gorge cut like a red scar -
dropping thousands of vertical feet to the Little
Colorado River. Out here, the exposure is intense,
ravens ride the updrafts, and you struggle against
vertigo as you stare over the edge. It is a beautiful
canyon carved from red, white and yellow sandstones,
and somewhere down there is the elusive Blue springs.
We still had about 2 miles to go after passing Gold
Hill - and finding the trail head wasn't easy.
Everywhere you look likes like a suicide mission, the
edge dropping straight down through insane rock bands.
After some search, we managed to find a trail
scratched over the rim, through a small stone fence,
and basically straight down to the river. The only
thing was it wasn't really straight down. Following
stone cairns like mystical hoodoo guides, we picked
our way down rock slides, waterfalls, and one foot
wide ramps with thousand foot exposure. Some of the
trail required making climbing moves, and at these
crux spots, usually the exposure was at its
mind-numbing greatest. With sweaty palms, and racing
hearts we scrambled and worked our way through, until
we finally could see the river. Alas, we never
checked the river in Cameron from the bridge, and the
river was running muddy chocolate milk, it must have
rained in the white mountains. Dejected, we stumbled
on down to the river, and because of the high water,
had to search to find decent beach camping and even to
find the Blue Spring itself.

After dumping our packs, we found a nice beach,
replete with driftwood and tarantulas, right next to
the springs. The water seeps from limestone cliffs
along the river, and is supposed to form aquamarine
pools. Because it is a year round spring, the
temperature is supposed to be a constant 70 degrees
Fahrenheit. We got to swim in cold, chocolate milk,
with suspended sediment so fine it coated everything
like brown paint. Did I mention that drinking water
is very important when hiking the canyons of the
Southwest. The super low humidity, hot sun, and
relentless steeps, dehydrate a man pretty quickly. we
were counting on filtering water from pools in the
river, but the sediment rich runoff made this option
impossible. The blue spring water is barely
drinkable, even after filtering so we collected water
from pools of quicksand, where the sediment had
settled enough to let us drink. We also had to find
diluted areas of the spring, where it mixed with the
river in hydrodynamic eddy lines that you could watch
unroll for hours. I don't know the mineral content of
the water, but where it seeped, the ground and sand
were stained orange, green and blue. Evidence of this
occurred when we tried to mix up our powdered milk,
and it came out as a green slurry, that gagged on the
way down.

We spent a beautiful night on the beach next to a
driftwood campfire, watching falling stars until the
harvest moon rose and flooded the canyon with silver
light. I would wake periodically, warm in my sleeping
bag, and keep track of Orion as he marched across the
sky. After a morning wake-up swim, we saddled up, and
reversed the trail to climb back to the car. We knew
the way up would be better than down, but the cruxes
still loomed in our minds. On a large shoulder of
limestone, climbing the side of a big waterfall, we
had to squeeze up a crack and over a ledge all the
while staring into a thousand feet of empty space -
not for the faint of mind.

Back at the rim, at the sight of the truck and level
ground we rejoiced having survived the climb. We both
knew we would someday return to the magic of Blue
Springs, we had to see it in its full blue glory.

Trail Notes of Note

I forgot to mention a sketchy pack belay that we used
around an early crux move that proved too difficult
with a large pack. There is a rope in place, but you
need to belay from a small overhanging ledge, and
avoid knocking rocks down. There is also a 8-10 foot
crack that would be hard to navigate with a large
pack, and that would probably require a rope if
climbing alone.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Ancient Kingdom of Guge

Imagine an immense canyon system carved by the mighty Sutlej River and its tributaries, located at 12000feet above sea level, at the far western edge of Tibet. From the Zanda overlook, canyon folds stretch to the horizon, which is capped by snowy white Himalayan peaks. The colors range from electric blue sky to innumerable shades of sandy browns on the canyon walls. It for sure is breathtaking and awe-inspiring. You are on your way to visit the ancient Kingdom of Gu-ge(pronounced goo-gay), miles from any sort of civilization, a true adventure.

Prior to entering western China, I had never heard of the Kingdom of Guge. We were recovering from the epic 48-hour bus trip over the mountains from Karghilik to Ali, deep in western Tibet. We hadn’t really planned more of the trip from here, first because there were many doubts and rumors circulating about if we could actually enter Tibet from the west, and second, due to a dearth of information about what actually exists west of Mt. Kailash. But there we were, without a guidebook, until a Korean tourist said that her book recommended going to Zanda – the ruins of the ancient Gu-ge kingdom were listed as the number one attraction in all of China!

It turns out that the kingdom was established in the 10th century along the banks of the Sutlej River at the bottom of this tremendous canyon system. It was an important and powerful center of commerce and Buddhism for 700 years, and then it mysteriously disappeared. There are theories of outside invasion or internal political strife leading to its demise, however, a sense of mystery still surrounds the place and the ruins left behind.

The “modern” Chinese town of Zanda is located near the site of the Tholing monastery, and the major ruins are located about 14 miles down river at Tsaparang. Guarding the bridge over the river is a small Chinese army outpost. Tholing, roughly translates to “hovering in the sky forever”, and is an ancient monastery perched alongside the river cliffs. The oldest monastery in Western Tibet, it has been renovated several times, with the main hall being the most well preserved. Outside, lay rows of brown earthen stupas, worn by wind and water erosion, and of course the ubiquitous prayer flags, adding color to an otherwise barren landscape.

The major ruins in Tsaparang are impressive. Hewn out of the sandstone, the buildings climb up a ridge to about 12,800feet. There is an entrance fee, maybe about 20USD, and much less for Chinese nationals. I can’t remember the exact amount, because in this case, it really didn’t matter. The ruins and setting are that impressive. Once you pay your fee, you can climb up stairs carved into the sandstone and explore the meditation caves, rooms that served as dwellings, temples, and even the palace complex at the top. There are several well-preserved monasteries that the caretaker will unlock for you to explore. These are rather amazing in themselves, as they contain some of the best-preserved examples of Tibetan Buddhist art. It seems that during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960’s, the Chinese left much of Gu-ge undisturbed, as it was a “dead” kingdom and posed no direct ideological threat. So luckily, we can see rare examples of a Tibetan monastic art that has not been entirely replaced or renovated.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Time Travel

What is traveling? Flying on a plane? Eating foreign foods? Seeing the Tour Eiffel, Macchu Picchu, or sitting on a white sand beach while light blue waters lap your feet? Is it flying 13 hours to Tokyo on a weekend business trip? Alone? Is it going to Disneyworld wit the kids? Or is it camping in the outback? How about getting from Hollywood to Venice beach on the bus? Or is it going to visit the in-laws in Wisconsin, or to the super Wal-Mart to get some things you don’t really need?

We all travel, in fact, some may argue that we are always traveling, all the time. We may not even have to leave our bed or our house. We travel when we dream, when we sleep, when we look out the window and daydream. We travel when we eat miso soup or pad thai out of a box at home. We even travel when we plug into the internet. Ask yourself where YOU were the last hour while you were surfing the web. It is all a virtual reality and virtual travel – no matter what we are doing or where our destination is.

In fact, as long as we have destinations, as long as we are trying to get somewhere, we are traveling. No wonder everyone is getting exhausted. Traveling is full of stress, catching buses or planes, finding meals, avoiding weather, always trying to figure out how to get somewhere, or adapt to something new.

If perpetual motion is our condition – and it makes us weary, why not rest a while, and recover some of that energy. There are always more destinations, and more trips; you cannot complete them all in this lifetime – so why rush. We have nowhere to go. We are here – Enjoy it. Take time to drink that coffee in the morning, and start the day. What is the point if we don’t even taste our food, or know what we are saying to our companions? When we think about tomorrow today, we are time traveling. Instead of being here, we are daydreaming a virtual reality.

Step back for a moment, breath in the air; look around see what is happening. Maybe we can’t stop moving, traveling, but it sure is nice to check in once in a while, and if not stop time, at least slow it down.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Road To Tibet

Tibet – a name that means so many different things to so many different people. It conjures images of prayer flags, remote monasteries, and of course the Potala. I wondered about it myself for many years, always wanting to go visit, but never having the universe align enough for me to get there. I had been within 50kilometers as the crow flies in Ladakh and Spiti, but there were always 6000meter mountains and sketchy international borders obstructing a safe passage.

Tibet is far away from everywhere, it’s cold, it’s high, and it’s clouded in secrecy and rumor. Tibet is a place known as the spiritual center of the world by many and yet its culture and religion are aggressively suppressed by China. The struggle between China and Tibet is ongoing– with Tibet fighting to keep its identity under enormous cultural pressure and oppression from China. Everyday, China is literally paving and bulldozing over any remnant of Tibetan culture and wilderness.

Tibet has long been a strong and independent kingdom, existing on the edge of nowhere, a high altitude plateau of electric blue sky, harsh winds, and endless mountains. In this stronghold, Buddhism found a foothold, and along with it, stories of Shangri-la, with pathways through the mountains to heaven, and esoteric orders of monk who levitate and feel no cold. Through some combination of these forces of deep spiritual mystery and longstanding oppression and independence, Tibet becomes a confusing place. Attracted by the spirituality, the ritual, and the clarity of vision that occurs at 5000meters on people-less plateaus, I wanted to join the Tibetan experience. Yet, travelers told tales of abuses, Chinese bureaucracy, fines and permits. They told me I would be supporting the oppression by spending my Yuan as a tourist – that Tibet is no longer Tibet.

Of course, I had to go see this mystery for myself. A place like Tibet, mythological already, is too tremendous to resist, and I had been to Dharamsala and realized that the energy of the place could not fully cross the mountains with the exiles.

Karghilik is a sort of little Chinese outpost along the Silk Road - dusty, full of grapes, donkey carts, and hidden Uygur adobe houses. The mosques lay behind a maze of alleyways and storefronts selling everything from honey to gold. The people are Uygur and Han, and I don’t really know what goes on there behind the scenes. There are plenty of trucks into Tibet and China, and the town is a main bus stop along the southern Silk Road route. The entire town has been face lifted with modern Chinese avenues, glass, and metal – and of course the ridiculously large central square, that is empty but for a few children’s rides. This would turn out to be an ominous foreshadowing of what lay ahead in Tibet – a systematic destruction of culture and place recognition by simply rebuilding modern China over modern and not so modern Tibet.

Yet still, beyond all of this, lies the mystery. At the edge of the desert, just over the mountains, lies the way into western Tibet. The edges of Karghilik stop abruptly, and the dry dusty ascent into Tibet beckons. I was a little skittish hanging around town waiting for my ride into Tibet. There were true stories of people being “sent back” to Kashgar by the Chinese PSB. There were rumors of roadblocks and bus cancellations, but all of this just added to the proper sense of adventure and intrigue on going to a place with such a reputation. And, who could doubt that the power and spirit of such a place would ever bow to a piece of paper, or a regulation set by man. Tibet’s spirit lies beyond the reach of such mundane inventions, and it continues to inspire and shine through any darkness. Of course, no papers were necessary, its just a border after all, another imaginary line on a map, and this one isn’t even on most maps.

In a cold October wind blowing dust into the sunset, I set off on the Tibetan Antelope, like an illegal immigrant, paying 700 Yuan for a bus ride into Shangri-la.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Ki Gompa - A Trip Is Born

I saw a picture of this monastery in a magazine a few years ago. I tore it out, and for a long time it hung on my refrigerator. Every once in a while I would take it down and look at it, read the brief description of the area, and daydream about an epic hiking trip to the Indian Himalaya. Sometimes I would forget about it, then something would spark memory. A dinner at the local Indian restaurant, a steaming bowl of daal, and some chai, and I was off to dreamland again, feeling the icy air rush down from the snowy peaks – a land known as the abode of the gods.

The trip would go; it just was waiting for its time. My yoga teacher has a quote about patience. He says; “patience is not waiting, it is knowing” - knowing that everything is happening, has happened, and will happen at exactly the right moment. Here’s how the pieces started to fall into place. My friend announced a family wedding in Kerala – a long way from the mountains of Himachal Pradesh, but at least on the sub-continent. Work called, I had 2 months vacation coming, as we were fully staffed for the summer. I started planning; this was my third trip to India, but one that would encompass all of its environments. Kerala is a steamy tropical coast, complete with coconuts, bananas and monsoons. Ki Gompa is situated around 4000m, in the stark, dry, cold Spiti Valley. How do you pack for a trip like that in India, where the number one rule is take as little as possible in as small a bag as possible?

The next thing I knew, we were landing in a monsoon raked Mumbai. We took a quick detour to the wedding, and then an epic train journey for 2000 kilometers to the foothills of the Himalaya. That only took about a month. All the while, hearing vague news reports that severe flooding had closed Spiti for the summer months, all roads impassable, no public transportation. The reports varied, but continued with enough regularity that we knew the completion of the trip to Ki was in jeopardy. After so many daydreams, and so many miles, we pressed on, through Manali, and over the pass, only to encounter the first of countless landslides blocking the dirt roads. Ki was still hundreds of kilometers away, and we sitting on the side of a dirt track in the mountains, trying to find a ride.

We eventually made it to Ki Gompa, and all the way around through the Spiti Valley and out to Sangla, in a year where the area was closed by Mother Nature. A Tibetan lake flooded, causing massive road damage and flash flooding along the Sutlej River. When we crossed the checkpoint in Thangi, the logbook listed only three other people passing south for the entire month. Ki Gompa is perched high on the side of a valley, with stunning views. We stayed on location with the monks, eating thukpa, and drinking butter tea to ward off the evening cold.

I stared at that picture so long that an epic trip was born, unfolding in ways I never imagined. I didn’t wait to go to Ki, I just knew I would be there, and yes, it was worth the trip.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

The Infinite Napali Coast

In James Gleick's, Chaos, there is a segment relating fractals to coastlines. When we look at a coastline on a map, we see a line, purely imaginary - for as we go out and stand on that shore, we realize that the line expands exponentially, infinitely, the closer we look. It is 11 miles to hike the Kalalau trail on Kauai, but if we actually measured each cove and inlet, the trail would be much longer, and if we measured the irregularities on each rock along the coast, it would be even longer. If we keep going to a molecular level, and then some more, we end up with an infinite coastline. Whether from a satellite image from space, a blimp, a six foot person, or a microscope, the coastline repeats itself in similar detail, just on differing scales - similar to how a fractal behaves. As we physically walk the coast, we lose touch with this degree of scale, while in the mind's eye, we can endlessly explore new inlets and points. Imagine if Google Earth could zoom down to a micron scale.

Travel becomes like this as we explore further. As we see more unfamiliar lands and cultures, we lose our sense of familiar scale, and life experiences begin to expand.
What we do in a month or week at home, we do in a day or hour on the road. When we look from a different perspective, everything seems different. There are endless experiences to be had, depending on the scale in which we live and explore. That's why when you get back from a trip, and ask people what has been happening, it seems like you were gone for a month when it was only a week. We can do this from home, travel just facilitates the experience, because we are no longer where we think we know, and when we think we know, we are looking from a different scale - looking through a different lens. If I am trying not to slide 1000 feet into the Pacific off of a narrow trail of volcanic soil, while Humpback whales are breaching in the distance, I am using a different scale than walking to the corner store for a coffee.

Enjoy those coastlines!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

We have noWHERE to go because WE ARE already there.

What is wanderlust? Why do some of us have such a strong urge to keep moving, wandering, and seeking? What are we looking for? Why are running all over the place searching for something, experiencing something? The feel of a Micronesian breeze, the taste of a Uygur flat bread, the color of ancient Navajo sandstone, the sound of the roosters in the morning, or of the traffic at midnight; the senses are overwhelmed, but we always crave more.

And there are more questions…Why are we here? Where are we going? What are we doing?

I have spent years moving from the biggest cities, to the highest Himals, to the sands of isleta Managaha, in a quest for something - something I sensed was missing, something that felt true. Like a nomad, stopping here and there to farm, or fatten the herd, or pick the mangoes when they were ripe…sometimes wondering where should I settle down, where would I call home. Yet, inevitably, I would see a picture of a far off monastery, or a double humped camel, or a sailboat floating on clear blue lagoon, and my bags were packed. I didn’t set out to find treasure, or to become anything - I just kept going

Then one day, sitting up around 16,000 feet on the Tibetan plateau, it seemed there was actually nowhere to go. All I had seen for days were snow capped mountains and glacial rivers. The landscape was endless - no cities, no cars, not even people. Just ear ringing quiet and endless blue sky…There will always be more mountains, more rivers, more towns, more people, but nowhere to really GET TO. I was already there, and I was already here. So I lay down my stuff, lit a little fire, and watched the sunset.

We are all on this journey together no matter what we start out looking for. We can find counties and countries, mountains and oceans, highways and trails, tile roofs and tin roofs, cacti and coral, sticky rice and smoked salmon, tortillas and chapattis, and tsampa and corn flakes. And we can find ourselves, and each other.

True nomads, going beyond vacation, beyond travel, beyond experience, searching for meaning, searching for truth. Eventually we realize that the world is full of sameness, of humanness, and belonging. Everywhere is home, and when the lighting is right, and we know where to look, we find truth everywhere.

As humans we are nomads, as souls we are always home.

Shangri-la Calling