"Could I have this dance for the rest of my life?" - Anne Murray

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 - A Year of Dancing on the Edge

No big deal, I'll just pick a few highlights of the year and post a review. Oh boy, what was I thinking? It was not a year to review lightly. Although we traveled through only eight states, some were the biggest and arguably the most spectacular in the country. So how am I going to do this? Systematically or randomly? Thematically or chronologically? Logically or emotionally? Geez, so many choices. Well, let's see what develops if I just jump in.

We started full-timing in 2011, and we've covered much of the country, except for those pesky tornado-ridden flat states smack in the middle. Somehow we just can't seem to get to them. No offense to the Heartland, but it just isn't as compelling as those states around the edges. We covered a lot of completely new territory for us this year, in some pretty exciting and "edgy" places, many of them the least populated areas of the western USA.

We brought in 2014 on the southern edge of the country at a New Year's bash in Vermillionville, Lafayette, Louisiana, dancing to Geno Delafose's Cajun/Zydeco music

Then we two-stepped along the Gulf Coast of Texas to spend a peaceful month beach combing on Mustang Island

We salsaed down to the southernmost tip of Texas during that time to do some exotic bird watching on the border of Mexico.

Green Jay

My son Mark joined us in Texas for a chunk of the winter, and we took in some old and new sights while cooling our heals along the southern edge of Texas and New Mexico

Mark - Enchanted Rock, TX

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Early spring found us tangoing inland, making our way diagonally northwest through Arizona. While in Pheonix we hit my now all-time-favorite museum: the Musical Instrument Museum.

We crossed over into Utah to spend a glorious month at Zion National Park, one of our 
all-time-favorite places. We were joined by Steve and Wendy, two of our all-time-favorite people, with whom we waltzed in the Park.

Continuing our diagonal trek, eastern Nevada was a big surprise - much more textured and scenic than we expected. We eased on up the Great Basin Highway and the Loneliest Road, making stops at Great Basin National Park and the Bonneville Salt Flats. 

Great Basin National Park

Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah

Crystal Crane Hot Springs, OR

We tight-roped much of our Spring on the edge between the Oregon Cascades and the Oregon desert, in Bend. This started our season of dodging the wildfires in the western states

Painted Hills, OR

Two Bulls Fire, Bend, OR

We gently dropped our RV in Springfield, Oregon for some repairs, while we boogied on toward the northwest corner of the country. After a brief and lovely visit with our good friends Nick and Cindy in Gig Harbor, we burst into our greatest adventure yet - the Great Edge that is Alaska. For this first venture into Alaska we decided on two of the most popular places - the Inside Passage and Denali National Park. Anchorage served as a base for other smaller cakewalks into the surrounding areas.

Glacier Bay National Park, AK

Seward, AK

Three bull moose, Denali National Park, AK

North Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm Fjord, AK

Our flight back to the lower 48 brought us to Seattle, another visit with Nick and Cindy in Gig Harbor, and a reunion celebration with our rig. 

Gig Harbor and Mt Rainier, WA

We spent the rest of our Summer and Fall in California, swinging our way south along the eastern edge the Sierra Nevadas. It was our first time in the Sierras and after hearing so much about how uniquely beautiful that area is, we have to concur. From Lake Tahoe, to Mono Lake, to Yosemite, to Death Valley, eastern California is a real wonderland. 

Lake Tahoe, CA

Mono Lake, CA

Yosemite National Park, CA

Death Valley National Park CA

And here we are, finishing up 2014 in Southern California, krumping around the edges of Los Angeles, the largest metropolis in the country. (Well, to be truthful, we are actually on the edges of San Diego right now.) In any case, it's a pretty major change after spending so much time hiding in the hinterlands of the California mountains and deserts. 

San Dimas, CA

Guess where, CA

It was a year of extremes, ranging north to Alaska and south to the Mexican border

Glacier National Park, AK and El Paso, TX

...from the pale salt of Bonneville Flats to the textured rainbow of the Valley of Fire

...from the lows of Death Valley to the heights of Mount Whitney

...from the peopled buzz of southern California to the pristine remotes of Alaska; 

Santa Monica Pier, CA and Denali National Park, AK

...and from smoke filled skies to crystal clear altitudes.

Yosemite National Park, CA and Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, CA

It was a year for wonderful dances with good friends (Nick and Cindy,  Lynn and Glenn, Wendy and Steve, so many Chicago buddies and DMT friends) and family (The Hoyles, The Herveys and dearest Mark).

It was also a year of changes. We hugged and kissed goodbye to our foldable kayaks and Ms. Subaru, who took us 85,000 miles into our journey. We welcomed two new inflatable kayaks into our family and hope to be introduced to a new car any day now. 

We're deeply grateful for all our new and old partners, and for our natural world that reminds us daily of the wonder and goodness all around us, and we wish the same for all of you. 

Remember, keep your dance card open
and have a Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Radical Adult Transitions

I guess there comes a time in every blogger's life when they feel uninspired about their blog. I've been trying to muster the interest in blogging about something - the campground, our RV necessities, my latest hike, the sights of San Diego, the past, the future ... but nothing is coming, and I think I know why.

I have a confession to make. I've been keeping a big secret from my blog, because I couldn't figure out how it fit in. Oh well, here I go breaking the mold.

Readers may or may not know that I'm a retired dance/movement therapist and educator. About seven months ago I got an invitation from the Marian Chace Foundation of the American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA) to give the "keynote" lecture that they sponsor at our annual professional conference. I was flabbergasted. I had actually just decided not to attend the ADTA annual conference for the first time in my memory. It's a huge honor to be invited to do this lecture, and of course I accepted.

So, for the past six months I've been writing that address. My mind has been possessed by the process needed to create the lecture, and it has been difficult to think about much of anything else.  The lecture ended up being about an aspect of adult or professional development that I called radical adult transition.  I defined it as a voluntary major change made after a significant period of stability in an adult’s life that affects relationships, identify, and life direction.

Some readers, especially those who are full-time RVers, may recognize themselves in the concept. I can't tell you how many people of all ages (not just retirees) we've met who've made radical adult transitions in their lives in order to live full-time on the road, like we are doing now. (So thank you fellow full-timers for the inspiration!)  

Interestingly, the adult development literature does not identify this phenomenon. Adulthood is seen as a period of stability, and radical change is seen as either a threat to the functions of adulthood, or something that happens to you, like an accident or some unforeseen event. Yet radical adult transitions seem to be happening more and more. People choose to make major changes in their occupations, locations, family status, religions, etc. that end up changing almost everything about their lives. Adulthood just doesn't seem to be as stable as it used to be.

So anyway, a month ago I delivered the address at the conference in Chicago. It was a true peak experience, both professionally and personally. Now I am feeling a sense of emptying out of what I'd been working on for the past half year. Certainly after the emotional high of giving the lecture itself and all the incredible feedback I received, I am feeling something of post-high recovery and emptiness. It's not a bad feeling, but it does feel odd being back in this life without that lecture running around in my head all the time.

Emptiness can be a kind of blessed quietness and a good place for something new to grow. So I'm waiting to see what comes.  I'm concerned that it may not fit with the theme of the blog thus far and I guess I'll have to deal with that when it comes up.  (We've been parked for awhile, and I do think when we get to traveling again that my enthusiasm for the road, new sights and photography will probably return full force. But we'll see.)

In a few weeks I believe the lecture I gave will be published online in the American Journal of Dance Therapy. I'll post a link when that happens.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Trying to Get Off This LA Freeway

No, we didn't fall off the end of the world and into the San Andreas Fault. We did however fall from the beauty and grace of the Eastern Sierras and landed in the sprawl that is Los Angeles. (I'm speaking for myself here. I'm sure Rick wouldn't describe it this way.)

It really is like another world and one I don't enjoy so much. The good news is that we were only in LA for one month, and now we are in the much more pleasant (in so many ways) San Diego metropolitan area. Specifically, we are at Santee Lakes Regional Park campground.

One of many wood ducks at Santee Lakes

During that month in LA, until Dec. 3 we were without our own wi-fi hotspot due to an awkward transition from Millenicom to Verizon. I'll spare you the details. But now we're back online, for the most part. We still have to take trips to the library for downloading anything substantial as our Verizon signal is sometimes pretty weak here.

It's been an unusually social month, with visits with many friends and family, including a weekend in Chicago with many loved ones in the American Dance Therapy Association, and a fun Thanksgiving with fellow full-timers Glenn and Lynn.  We even made a trip to Disneyland on the first day of the Xmas decorations. What a way to get into the holiday spirit!

The grand finale of the Disney day was fireworks followed by real snow!!! Amazing,

Much of our time here in San Diego has been filled with attention to some of the more material necessities of life. We've been doing some Xmas shopping, and car shopping!  Ms. Subaru has been letting us know that she's ready for retirement.  I know it seems early, but we each have our own sense of time, and she's saying that 85,000 miles is enough for her. She's been great car. We're not sure what new car we're heading for, but it probably won't be another Subaru. We're not happy about what they've done with the interiors of the new Foresters and Outbacks. 

We're also getting ready to look for a new dog. That's a biggie. Some readers may recall our dog Kona, who we still miss. It's been over a year now since we lost her, and we're easing in to the idea of another one - probably a golden retriever puppy.  We'll get serious about that after Christmas with relatives in South Carolina.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Little Petroglyph Canyon

About 45 miles north of the desert California town of Ridgecrest, hidden in the confines of the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station (which happens to be larger than the state of Rhode Island) is one of the best preserved and most extensive examples of Native American petroglyphs in the country.  If you want to see it though, you have to go through quite a rigamarole via the local Maturango Museum and the U.S. Navy. As I'm sure you can imagine: if it's governmental, it's complicated. 

Once you've jumped through the hoops and reserved a spot on one of the tours, gotten up before dawn to meet at the museum, carpooled with other excited folks, passed through a complete inspection of the vehicle, shown your legal ID and auto paperwork, and wound your way through the twisting-turning dirt backroads of the Naval Base, you will finally arrive at Little Petroglyph Canyon for a real feast for the eyes and imagination.  Phew!

Every tour is accompanied by several highly informed volunteer tour guides. Here's Tom, one of ours. I tried to stay close enough to him throughout to hear what he had to say about all we were seeing.  Here he's telling us about the little dots above the heads of some of the figures, symbolizing power. 

There are hundreds and hundreds of petroglyphs in just this canyon alone, and there are many other canyons with petroglyphs out there as well. This however is one of only two (I believe) that are accessible to the public.  Here's another one our guides and a view of the canyon.

In some places the canyon got kind of narrow and required scrambling over dry volcanic rock waterfalls. The guides were very helpful in those spots, if help was needed. Even without the petroglyphs the three mile (round trip) hike would have been interesting.

There were two groups out there that morning. We got a little backed up at times as some folks needed to navigate the dry falls a little more slowly than others. There were some visitors who opted not to negotiate the dry falls at all and stayed back to see what they could closer to the canyon entrance, and there was plenty to see. The speedier types quickly passed by and were on their way down the canyon in the blink of an eye. Except for those few times it never felt over-peopled, and didn't interfere with viewing the petroglyphs in any way. 

Now, for the petroglyphs themselves. Most of what is "known" about them is hypothesized by various experts, and the subject matter, artists and ages of the glyphs are still in question.  The most ancient are thought to be as old 3,000 years.  Some think they are made by the ancestors of the local Paiute-Shosone tribes, other hypothesize that they are an altogether different group. It's possible they were made by several different groups of people as they were created over a very long period of time and have clearly different styles and subjects.

Many images are anthropomorphic, that is of human-like shapes. Some are identified now as "shaman" figures because they are highly complex and uniquely decorated, looking like they are dressed in ceremonial regalia. Others are humbly human (center and right below), with a few exaggerated features, like arms, hands or feet. In the bottom left is what looks like a 1:1 bow and arrow battle.

This one is known as "Bad Hair Day" by the frequent visitors.

Many others are abstract, or symbolic of unknown subjects, many one of a kind.  Enthusiasts like to hypothesize about what they represent, but it's all guess work. 

I think that by far the most commonly depicted are animals, especially long horned sheep. But there also seem to be a few mountain lions, deer, dogs, thunderbirds/eagles and maybe rabbits and turtles. Who knows?

In a few places there are images of what are thought to be "medicine bags."  It's interesting how things are often represented in collections, possibly returned to over time and recreated there for some reason.

There are quite a few "atlatl" collections. The atlatl is a spear throwing device, the hunting weapon used before the bow and arrow. The bulb-like object in the center of the all the atlatls (below) is supposedly an exaggerated rock that served as a counterweight.

Of course no one knows why the rock is made so much larger than it would be in the actual weapon, (if that's what it is at all) but there seems to be clear agreement among the artists about what it should look like.  (The images seem to be of only the atlatl, without the spear part.) Why are there no bow and arrow collective images?

This is thought to be a picture of a man hunting with an atlatl. It's the only picture of its kind. The descending wavy-lined image below him supposedly represents rain. It's one of the more commonly seen symbols.

Some interesting anomalies can be found as well, including this singular image of a human footprint...

…and this modern petroglyph. It was actually made by a scientist participating in the development of US nuclear weapons at this site during WWIII. Interesting how "primitive" his artistic methods are compared to the older petroglyphs. Was it meant as a joke, or a profound statement of one of the most powerful symbols of our time? It too is now protected as one of the historic petroglyphs, even though it's only about 60 years old. 

It was a fascinating day, and I recommend the outing to anyone who's interested in anthropology, history or art. It's a real eye-full and so thought provoking.