Lessons I Teach Myself
The trip is coming to an end but I am only getting started.
Packing adventures and unforgettable scenic treasures in just over a week was truly the best gift I could give myself this year. EVER, really. But this year any escape of the city, the mundane stressful every day life, and the NEWS, is very much needed.
It is two thirty in the morning and I'm writing this. But I am not ready for a re-cap. I want to soak in the last moments of being AWAY so they could linger well after I am back home.
Home and away.
Away and home.
Wish they felt the same. Wish I could take the explorer in me and let her ride in her discovery mode in my daily familiar life. Can I see my street in new fresh eyes? Can I discover areas in my home as if I've never seen them before? Can I take the sense of adventure and spontaneity into my daily routine? Can I include nature in my city? And most importantly: will I remember THIS feeling, so I will make sure I go on the road again really really really soon???
The road trip isn't over. In fact, the road trip is NEVER over.
It's the road trip of life. And the road of life is a curvy never-ending road... with many dents along the way, and yes, some rainbows. The road is always ALIVE, it's in movement, and all one gotta do... is follow it.
A week on the road.
Waking up to some 'real life' work stuff, and working them out with limited internet like a trooper.
Followed by a cheap hotel coffee that surprisingly tastes delicious with its hazelnut creamer and its day old taste and temperature.
Off we go back to the promised land, to experience yet another unforgettable venture into the astounding nature in Zion. This time: Angels Landing: An incline hike on a mountain where we walk on its narrow top holding on to chains trying not to look at the steep cliffs below, on both sides. The hike is difficult, but for me it is more of a mental challenge than a physical one. I don't fear heights, but I cringe every time I see people standing on an edge of a cliff. And standing on an edge of a cliff is pretty much what one has to do to complete this hike.
So I ace the mental challenge and make it to the top. The view is unreal. It is placed so perfectly, with an artist's eye. So deliberate to please the senses of the viewer. This gem of an area is meant to lure one, and it fulfills its purpose. I am TAKEN by the beauty of the tall red rocky cliffs, the scattered green vegetation throughout, the creeks, the colors, the deer and chipmunks that are so happy in this place they come right up to you. Humans can't scare them off in this place. They OWN this place. It is theirs. And us humans are mere visitors.
The way down is a whole lot faster than the way up.
Metaphor much? Perhaps. Nature hides in itself the most needed lessons.
Tomorrow is yet another quest into nature. What will I learn then...?
To be continued...
A morning after several short hours of sleep.
The night was troublesome, but the day was young.
Coffee with hazelnut creamer and a breakfast bag consisting of a banana, a chocolate muffin and an orange.
Loaded car with everything one will need for a a full hiking day: Hat, sunscreen, snacks, water, comfortable shoes, change of clothes, warm layer, dry bag, backpack and...face mask. It is 2020 after all.
A short 10 mile drive to the entry of Zion National Park. Before the entry - a quick stop to rent canyoneering boots and tall socks, and hiking sticks. The adventure begins at this store. The awesome helpful employee - let's call him Jake - digs right in to my fashion sense and offers me a vintage looking copper backpack to rent. I love the backpack so much I may end up buying it. I try on the canyoneering shoes and do a little runway fashion show at the store. They're perfect, I'm ready and IT'S ON. I mention to Jake that it's my birthday and he squeezes a later return deadline for the rentals. Oh, the perks of being born!
Off we go to an adventurous day of our birth in Zion National Park.
Zion is mentioned in the bible (ahem OLD testament) over 150 times. And always (don't quote me here, 'always' is a strong word) refers to the city of Jerusalem as ZION.
I know this, because my home growing up was in Mount Zion in the old city of Jerusalem.
So imagine my surprise when I heard about ANOTHER Zion out there in the world, and how GORGEOUS this Zion is. Pfffttt. No way! I thought to myself. MY Zion is the real Zion. the OG. What is that other Zion everybody keeps raving about!? Oh, the human need to be territorial. Sigh... so silly. Glad I got over that because otherwise I'd never would have had the day I had today.
We enter the majestic grounds of Zion National Park and head to the park's shuttle with our gear and a healthy dose of excitement. From the window of the shuttle bus, we gaze at the red hills, lush grounds and fascinating rock formation that is in every corner of this little piece of heaven on earth. Everything we see around us looks as if nature, or someone, had artistically painted and carved this little part of the map. Sprinkled some magic dust onto this area for us all to admire. I suddenly understand why it's called Zion. The promised land. God's favorite child. How else can humans explain this astounding beauty!? Oh, I finally get it. ZION is a fitting title.
We begin our hike through 'The Narrows.' It is a long hike through cold rocky waters, up to waist deep, inside canyons of majestic cliffs and colors that change in every turn. It's a challenging hike and aside from the obvious challenge of walking against a strong currant in cold temperatures on slippery rocks, there is another challenge: the challenge NOT to constantly look down at your feet, and missing the beauty that is above you.
A couple of hours in to the hike we stop to meditate. A birthday meditation. A suitable day to GO INWARD, isn't it? I close my eyes and begin to breathe. The more my thoughts quiet down, my listening focuses in on the sound I am hearing: the water. The water is growing louder and louder in my ears. So loud I can barely make any sounds of the hikers passing by. It takes some quieting of the mind to start listening to nature, it seems.
On the way back from this round trip hike, we walk WITH the currant. In many ways this is is simpler - it requires far less strength to find balance and speed along. However, I soon learn to RESPECT the currant, because it is the boss of how this hike goes, not me. I gotta be cautious, slow and focused so I don't fall flat on my face in these cold waters. Metaphor for life in a way, is it not? Go against the currant - you'll meet obstacles and need to push well into your limits. You may get tired and give up, or push through and hurt yourself in the process. Go with the currant - you'll move faster but don't let that 'get to your head'. The currant is the leader and guide to your moves, RESPECT it and be precise and deliberate with every step, and maybe then you'll get to your destination without too much pain.
I take one lesson from my hike: Be with the currant. Let it lead you. Let it guide you. Let it support you. Because you cannot control it anyway...
We end the day in a much earned dinner at a local spot at the entry to Zion. We eat like we just has a challenging 9 miles hike through water. Because we did. And then we get back at our hotel room, and exhaust ourselves to sleep. No shower or a bath for our aching muscles. No replies to emails from the work day we missed. Nothing but immediate well deserved SLEEP.
Because this is the currant. And we are going WITH it.
To be continued...
A road trip may also include a day when EVERYTHING GOES AGAINST THE PLAN.
A tip to the road tripper: DON'T schedule any work deadline or any zoom meeting in a different time zone...
So, yeah. A continuous lack of connection and some unnecessary stress really shouldn't have a place in an adventurous road trip, but such is the way of the world. Life isn't about what you WANT to happen. It simply is life. It lives. It breathes. It changes on you in a day notice. Great lesson. Let's LET IT RIDE tomorrow as I shall sink my way deeper into the ADVENTURE part of my road trip, and veer off from the nuisance of trying to control it.
To be continued...
Some days on the road lack connection.
Connection, or the lack of, comes in many forms: A connection to a place and its history, a connection to a person - your partner for the road, or an INTERNET connection.
Today, I have to deal with the very somber reality of having no internet connection.
When did I become so dependent on my digital life?!? WHY? How do I stop this madness??
I go to nature to rejuvenate, to explore, to get lost in its mystery and discover parts of myself often unseen in my everyday life, and yet here I am - sitting on the floor in the corner of a motel room, anxiously attempting to connect to a wifi connection that is as old as the retro neon sign at the reception.
My need to connect, to be ONLINE, is as strong as the need for an alcoholic for his drink, or a pill popper for her Xanax. I am a full blown ADDICT.
"Hi. My name is Tamar, and I am addicted to the internet."
Side note: Could this count as my first I.A. meeting?? (I.A. as in Internet Anonymous)
Today, PRIOR to losing my shit over losing my life line which is THE WILD WILD WEB, I made the swift transition from Arizona to Utah. The red became redder, the coffee became better (by far), and time moved forward as I made my first stop in Utah and hiked into narrow slot canyons revealing colors and movements that are simply unreal. Unreal HOW, you ask? Well, tapping on the red rock lightly, sand began to drop. The rock was so light and frail that no wonder it curves with water so perfectly. The red clay rock is malleable and soft, as if it was a sounds stage, a film set, or a ride in Disneyland. It seems almost FAKE. That is how it's unreal.
We didn't walk too far in the canyons. They go for miles and miles... we opted for a chunk of a 4-5 miles round trip hike and veered back into a bouncy dirt road to head to the next town for the night.
My little car, a Prius C, normally stands out on the road with its light blue 'sparking sea' color, and yet today it stands out because it's covered with red sand, a sign of where we've been. Perhaps the car was feeling envious of my adventures, so it claimed one for herself. Perhaps. Perhaps my car longed for a connection of her own. Perhaps. Perhaps it sent me a message that it's a city car, and I mustn't change it. And if I really want to drive off into bumpy dirt roads in the middle of nowhere - then I should get a 4x4 already and leave it in peace at a garage with its A/C, hipster coffee shop nearby, and infinite amounts of internet to choke my soul with. Perhaps.
It seems as though when one loses a connection to something, they gain connection to... their car!??
I wonder what surprises tomorrow shall bring.
To be continued...
Driving on a sacred land. A SACRED land.
Sure, every land is sacred, but the land in the border of Arizona and Utah has been embraced by the Navajo for generations upon generations and therefore it has something extra special about it.
Is it the red rocks that curve oh so femininely as if they bend with the touch of water?
Is it the mixed cultures of Navajo, Hopi, other native American tribes, the westerner Arizonians and the travelers from every corner of the world?
Is it the colors that are everywhere? The red, the copper, the gold tones? Colors that would shame some of the best Instagram Filters?
Is it lake Powell that curves and twirls like it was a whimsical snake, bringing to it admiring travelers such as myself to swim in its water, admire its horse shoe bend, and climb its majestic canyons?
Is it the vast landscape and unique shapes of the rocks? Some of them point up like pagodas. Some of the spiral around themselves, some stand far alone from their fellow rocks, and some blend together.
I don't know what makes this land so sacred, but I happily and respectfully explore it:
We swim in Lake Powell. The waters are peaceful, calm and serene. Except when a speed boat passes by. The sand is lush and dry, almost none of it stays on my feet when I return to the car. The water temperature is perfection. And it is a blazing hot day so entering the water is even more refreshing. There are RV's and campers setting up for the night. This is quite a place to wake up in, I think to myself. One day.
Then, we hike to a nearby hanging garden through a beautiful rocky landscape. We meditate in this peaceful shaded natural "garden" and befriend a curious chipmunk. When I am still, in meditation, I often notice animals are drawn to me. Like this chipmunk. It reached close, and then stretched his back legs on the rock. Sitting by us, sending us a sort of message of unity. We made a friend in that chipmunk. A friend we likely will never see again. But a friend that sat next to us for those long few minutes of collective peace of mind.
The day flies and it's already past four o'clock. We go to Horseshoe Bend and stay there to watch the sunset as it draws countless travelers to obsessively photograph one of the wonders of this region, and to some - of the world. The view here is so captivating, that I join the other travelers and photograph constantly. As if I am trying to solidify the image I'm seeing, to make it REAL and to create a memory of it. So it doesn't end up on the cutting board of my memory film.
The day ends with a full belly of Mexican food and a gigantic glass of salted margarita at an outdoor restaurant. A re-cap of the day that includes gushing over our experiences and browsing through the photos that commemorated them. In a simple hotel room we show our gratitude to this sacred land and our visit through it. Tomorrow will present another adventure, some more sacred grounds to hike in, possibly a dinosaur track or two to walk on. But for now, with a mind blown, and a heart full, I check out towards the land of dreams and say good night.
To be continued...
*Photo by Tamar Pelzig
Our eyes change when we travel:
Suddenly we notice our partner's toothbrush, although they've used it for a couple of months now.
We notice the moon as it shifts positions as we drive along the route. Does it always move so seamlessly?
We gaze at the stars as if we've never seen stars before.
We see people and wonder 'where are they from?' 'Have they been to where I'm going?' 'Can we become unexpected life-long friends?'
We look at time as what it really is: an illusion, a made-up agreement us humans have with each other in order to have, well, order.
We gain perspective on our miniature lives, and our worries seem so trivial. So banal. So unimportant.
Day 2 is spent mostly on the road. On the path, and off the beaten path.
On route from a small town in south Utah where we stayed the night, to the impressive and less touristy part of the Grand Canyon - The North Rim.
When one visits a place they've heard of their entire life, one's heart immediately beats with unstoppable rhythm. As if it will soon burst out of one's chest.
So there I am, standing in front of a view so captivating, so massive, so filled-with-perspective for the mere ant that I am, that I am motionless and still. Like a master yogi who has perfected the art of relaxation. I am far calmer than my usual state: My mind goes blank. No thoughts are valuable when one is simply mesmerized.
After the initial awe, I start feeling my body again and get used to the gorgeous surroundings, and we hike a bit to see more of this enormous canyon. Some travelers are walking by us, masks on, eyes eating up the scenery. 'Where are they from? Have they been here before? Where are they headed to next?' I wonder when my mind shows signs of returning thoughts.
We find a shaded view point, and get settled for some outdoor meditation.
A quick one. Ten minutes peace of mind on top of the world.
As I am sitting cross-legged on a rock, eyes closed, palms up to the heaven, I hear the wind as it creates the most beautiful melody. (If you listen closely, the wind is an orchestra, well conducted and filled with drama and 'pizazz'.) I start following the rhythm of the wind with my arms, as if I was its conductor, or as if it was conducting my own movements. The wind grows louder, it turns soft, it stops, and then again. With passion, energy and drive, and then into calmness and peace. And again with energy and drive, and again into serene quietude. The wind echoes through the canyons as if it was serenading to it. Or performing to its vast valleys and rivers. It is a key player in this majestic top of the world. I am an audience to this brilliant performance. Bravo, dear wind. Bravo.
We drive off fulfilled from our short unforgettable stop.
We bounce in between the state of Arizona, and the state of Utah, and I watch as the time on my Iphone switches back and forth. How interesting it is to travel through time? I wonder to myself. And soon more wonderings follow suit. I wonder about the land, I wonder about its inhabitants, I wonder about its past, I wonder about its future....
That is the way we change when we travel: We wonder as we wander.
And WONDER is key for life to be more WONDERFUL...
To be continued...
Three face masks hanging near the wheel.
New cut-out tree car deodorant. ‘Royal Pine’ scent.
Plenty of snacks for the road. Two salads. Three Lara bars. Three left over Taiwanese dishes from take out from the other night. They get eaten up by the minute.
Lover at the passenger seat, with his headphones on.
I am singing out loud some rock & roll tunes. Drumming on the wheel, speeding on the highway. I’m practicing my drum beat until I feel a sweat dripping from my arm pit. That’s how focused I am. I make myself sweat and then gush about it with pride.
It’s Day 1 and already an adventure. The road is trafficked. And then it isn’t. Once again it’s trafficked. Until it’s clear again. I drive us all the way to Vegas. Vegas is a complete zombie town. We make a quick stop in awe of how empty it is. Sad, but also wonderful. Seeing Vegas full of people is actually quite sadder than this, I think to myself.
We scroll through the Venetian. The gondolas are parked. The stores are closed. The staff is bored. But the skies are still blue, and the casinos have some people in them. The REAL gamblers. The ones that won’t let a pandemic stop them from playing their money away. There are better ways to spend money, I think to myself.
We head out amazed and ‘over it’, walking back to the car and listening to crickets on the way. When Vegas is empty of people- the crickets come out to play.
The few people we pass by are a combination of homeless zombie types sinning in sin city, random hikers on their way somewhere else, families with small children, groups of young people that are clearly anti-maskers, and occasional adorable couples.
‘Take pictures’ we may never see Vegas like that again.’ I say. And then I wonder to myself if that’s true. Maybe Vegas will file for bankruptcy like so many other businesses. Maybe it will die like the American dream. Maybe I want it to disappear for good with all it’s consumerism and gaudiness.
It’s Day 1 and I already see the value in coming out of my shell. Seeing the Effects of the pandemic up closer. The good, the better, the ugly, and the uglier.
Traveling during this time is something for the books. Something for the soul. Something for the blog. A way to connect, and feel, and conquer the fear. If this is an apocalypse, I might as well explore it on the road...
To be continued...
It has been said (don't ask me who or where or what or when, just roll with me here k?) that when one prepares for a trip - he/she/it experiences more joy in the preparation and the weeks leading up to the trip - than in the trip itself. The sweet spot is apparently two weeks prior to a trip. That's when the most amount of dopamines spread in our brain, making us happy travelers, even though we might be in the vicinity of our mundane lives, doing no more traveling than our daily commute to work or picking up cat food, or grocery runs in whole-foods, or whatever it is that we do in our everyday lives.
If you asked me how I felt two weeks ago - I wasn't particularly joyful. But that is because I am a fairly spontaneous traveler, and I don't take too much time making travel plans. And this time - I have given no more than a week thought into my appending travel plan. And now here I am, spending the night before my travel adventure - stressing, packing, writing to-do lists to make sure I get everything I need for my trip. This time it is extra stressful since Covid-Era has placed travel restrictions and not to mention fear of 'what if?' has taken over any shred of dopamine spread in my brain.
I wonder, will I ever chill-the-fuck-up before a trip and let the cards fall where they may?
Will I allow mistakes to happen and yes maybe forget to pack this thing, or to do that thing or to talk to that person prior to the trip...? Does my perfectionism have to follow me so loyally even when I am supposed to relax and enjoy a little entry into the unknown!?
May I face adventures with more WELCOME and a little less stress.
With more WONDER and a little less planning.
With more SURPRISES and a little less expectations.
~A wish for myself, on the night before a road trip~
Floating down to a giant pool of water.
It is a never ending abyss.
With no hesitation or any concern, I am sinking down carrying a heavy backpack.
What does the bag carry in it? I have no idea. My subconscious doesn't reveal that fact to me.
I am floating down quickly, passing the point where I could see the light above. Where is the light, I wonder?
I see blurry images of people above the water, waving their hands, I hear their frantic sounds. Are they calling ME? A hand reaches out - who is it? Is it myself? The hand has reach me, and in an instant - it pulls me out. Me, and the backpack. Its reach was effortless and strong enough to carry us both safe and sound to the top.
Up there, outside the water - there is an excitement around me; a celebratory feel.
And yet I am in a daze, wondering what the fuss was about. As if I am floating once again. This time - in a sea of an uncertain mind.
I could analyze this dream to death, and would likely come to many conclusions...
But I rather just let it be, let it float as what it is: A message from my inner world. A wave of 'Hello' from my subconsciousness. A friendly nudge to go deeper, with no fear and no concern, and know that my own force would carry me upwards safe and sound and cheer me on with love. Inward and upward!
Tamar Pelzig pledged to write something every day, even if it's only a word, so she welcomed to the world a daily blog that may, or may not be, of any significance to anyone other than herself. If you found her lil' life lessons, stories, poems and blurbs meaningful to you, well that's f**ing amazing! Comment and share so she can pat herself in the back - she doesn't do that nearly enough. Cheers.