Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Nia in Lincoln

I woke up early so that I could have my coffee and allow for traffic before getting to the studio in Lincoln for an 8:30am class. I didn't hit much traffic and got there in plenty of time to feed River in the parking lot and get changed for class.

I'm always delighted by the group that Holly Nastasi has going on when I visit Lincoln. This is my third time, and it was Fantastic. 

After class Holly and Kami and River and I stopped at Bagels & Joe for some ... well what do you think, bagels and coffee. We chatted for a long time about Nia and life in general. 

I was going to pay a visit to the Sunken Gardens in Lincoln before heading back to Omaha. And I was also planning to stop at Platte River State Park which is in Louisville, NE, about midway between Lincoln and Omaha. But when I drove by the Sunken Gardens, I could see throngs of people, which detracted from it's appeal in my view, so I drove on by. 

As I was headed back east, I realized I was very tired and thought I'd be best off just skipping the park and heading back for a nap. I thought I could take this opportunity to catch up on my blogging, which I did. Both, nap and blog. And then went to the store to get River some food, fed him, fed myself and went to bed. 

Fort Collins to Omaha - Solar Eclipse in Brule

Today was the big day. I woke up early and looked out the window. I was surprised that Babe was the only car left at 6:00AM. I guess everyone else was off to look at the sun. I took care of coffee and poop and packed up the car and was off with the throngs to gaze at nature. 

My intention was to drive to View Solar Eclipse in North Platte, NE. I was a little bit confused by all the mathematics involved with knowing how far I was driving, how fast, when I started, where the sun was going to be, and a changing time zone, to top it all off. So I was making my best guess and not getting my hopes up for seeing anything. And with this, I was off...

I saw right away that the lines in MiniNav's map were red which meant bad, slow traffic. I was prepared to join the processional, but took a wrong turn that ended up to be a mitzvah, if I'm using that right. Mini recalculated based on my wrong turn and came up with "stay on this road for 96 miles." So I was happy to take a non-highway route if it was going to flow. And with this, I was off...

But then, in the town of Ault (calling itself A. U.nique L.ittle T.own) there was some major road construction that exposed the truth of the amount of traffic using this road. So I waited for quite a long time as one by one, each car slowed to a near stop to roll over some treacherous goings on, and then gained speed and a comfortable space cushion when it emerged on the other side. Until it was my turn, and then with this, I was off....

Until I got an indication from my tire pressure monitor, which I've had trouble with in the past, many times, and it's a bit of Boy Who Cried Wolf at this point, so I just clicked "reset" and kept driving. I did this a couple of time, but then noticed something I'd never seen before, even with all my troubles. It read 0.0 psi in one of the tires.

Then it struck me that a couple of days ago I started feeling like there was a drag in the car and I thought I heard a new sound. I pulled over to the nearest gas station and dropped some quarters into the air hose vending machine. I wasn't getting a reading on the pressure from the gauge, so I just kept filling it. I knew the gauge worked; I saw it work when I first approached the machine. So it was strange not to see it respond. When I stopped pumping long enough, I noticed that the sound of whistling air was not stopping. I could hear it escaping from the tire as fast as I was filling it!

I called Mini and the nearest dealers was back in Littleton, which was at least 90 minutes, back into Denver on a good day. And with traffic today, there was no way I was going back to Littleton and then all the way to Omaha! But at Mini, she told me that I could get the drive flat tires that Mini uses at most places. So I asked at the gas station for the nearest tire shop.

He took off my tires and I was shocked to see three dime sized holes in my tire! I didn't understand how it held any air at all, but I was impressed that these really are "Drive Flat" tires. But the GoodYear guy was out of Drive Flats. And he called around to all the tire shops in the vicinity to no avail. So I had him put on a right size, but not Drive Flat tire, just so I could get back on the road. I'd already forgotten about being able to see the eclipse and was now concerned with getting into Omaha in the middle of the night.

But he was done quickly and had me back on the road within an hour. And with that, I was off...

Based on my calculations, I would be able to stop at a Rest Area in Ogallala just as the eclipse was starting. I didn't think I would make it into totality zone, but at least I could see it. But then I had a vision of all the (many) vehicles that were with me on the Interstate, also all knew the eclipse was about to start and that the Rest Area was ahead. I wondered if it would be a scene, if there'd be no parking, and if there'd be a line of cars backed up on the highway waiting to get in. Based on what I'd seen already, it didn't seem far-fetched, and I didn't want to be stuck in my car during the event.

It was then I noticed a sign saying Brule was that way, one mile. I thought it was kind of weird because I'd had an experience in Brule last year that didn't seem like much, but I remembered feeling an odd fondness for the little nothing of a place. Even looking at my blog about that day I glossed over the memorable hour River and I spent hanging out by that sign and watching a train go by. So I decided to re-create my last spontaneous stop in Brule and it was from the very same place that I watched the heavenly event unfold.

Afterward, it seemed eerily unimportant. All of this fuss and poof. Then it was business as usual. I did end up stopping at the Rest Area in Ogallala and there was no sign of any festivities or mayhem having taken place. People were resting.

We found a lake with a sign. I wish I had taken a picture of it.  It said "NO" on the top line in big letters and then in smaller letters the next line was "Boating" and the third and final line was "Swimming".  It wasn't really a sentence so I had to interpret it. And the way I read it was "No boating; Swimming!" Everyone grab your suit. I didn't go in, but I did let River wade in it a little bit.

Once back on the road again, I started getting a headache and checked the Mini computer to learn that it was nearly exactly six hours of accumulated drive time that day. It's starting to become a hard rule that I can tolerate no more than six hours of driving in a day. I was still two hours from Omaha.

I made it in, checked into a new location of Motel 6 and nearly gagged at the bleach smell when I opened the room to my door. I turned off the mildewy fan and instead turned on the bathroom fan. I sprayed some essential oils and went out to take River for a long walk. It had mostly dissipated by the time we got back, so that was fortunate. My headache went away eventually and I wasn't disturbed by the loud TV in the next room or the people I could hear in the lobby right outside my door. I fell asleep easily.

Nia in Lyons - Secret Park

My original plan for today was to visit Rocky Mountain National Park after this morning's class at Mayama Studio

I loved it so much when I was there before and it was only just over an hour away. But then, considering all the driving I'd been doing without a break, and all the unexpected and unprecedented crowds with Eclipse Fever, I decided against it and instead found a city park in Lyons where River and I could chill for an hour in nature.
So I got up and drove to Lyons first thing in the morning. I don't like to stop for gas on the way to an appointment, and Babe was saying she had about 100 miles in her tank. So I could go to class and back on this tank. I wasn't TOO worried. 

This system of Babe telling me how many miles she has in her is similar to that indicator of how many minutes until your download is finished. It can vary wildly depending on conditions. I can find myself accelerating up a steel incline and watch the indicator suddenly drop from 42 miles to 12 miles in a few moments. If THAT happened on my way to class, I'd be bummed and could be in trouble. Also, if I hit traffic, my gas usage estimates are higher than if I roll right through. I had heard there was a BlueGrass Music Festival in town today, so traffic was a distinct possibility.

I risked it, and was fine.

I got to class in plenty of time and we had a great turn-out. It's a lovely, bright studio and lots of happy smiling people came to partake in the mornings' festivities. 

Before class, I had set up my computer to record bits of the class. I set the computer on top of River's crate, so these videos that you're seeing of my classes are actually kinda from River's POV. If you just imagine a row of bars in front of you, that's about it. But anyway, he's developed this tendency to pull the blanket that I lay out to protect the floor up through the bars of his crate. And I also wrap this floor protective blanket around and over the crate so it serves dual purpose as a floor guard and the wall and roof to his den.  But today, as I was chatting on the other side of the room, he was working his blanket trick and scooted the computer off. I heard a crash and turned to see it on the floor. It was fine, but when I set it back up, I didn't take the time to align it properly and unfortunately the shot is half floor and half class. It's a lovely floor, though. 


I mentioned to Jasmine, the owner and my host, after class that I was planning to go to Bohn Park. She advised against it as it was under construction and sure to be packed with people. She told me about her secret spot that she takes her dogs. She tells me to drive to through this residential neighborhood to a dead end and walk through the construction site and over the barbed wire that has been trodden on. She said it would be a clear path and I'd have no problem knowing what she was talking about. She described cliffs and rocks and a river to play in and she said no one goes there. She assured me it would be our private oasis. She was so right on all points:

After playing there for a while, we went back to Fort Collins. Leaving town, there was a huge, long line of stand-still traffic trying to get into Lyons. I was glad I was going the other way, even if I was driving on fumes at this point. I passed a place in Lyons because there were already cars idling and waiting for a pump to open up. Babe said she had enough petrol to get us to our destination, so I motored on. 

It's about a 45 minute drive to and fro. I was very low by the time I got back to Fort Collins and I stopped at the first place I could find on the edge of town. Of course, I got price gauged. I did a double take when I saw that this place was charging $3.30/gallon. Thirty cents more than that place I drove away from, and sixty cents per gallon more than the average price in town. Sheesh. But it was nice to have a full tank of gas, even if it was very expensive.

I hit a bit of a highway snarl on the highway after that, and I was SO glad I had stopped to fill up. Suddenly the extra sixty cents was all worth it. 

Later that night after getting cleaned and feeding River, I took a drive to Fort Collins Food Co-op which is in a really cool area of town I'd never seen before. I don't see the best when I stay at Motel 6s all the time. But I got some provisions at this little organic shop and headed back to the room to eat and sleep.

Evanston to Fort Collins - Nia in Evanston

It got down to 44 degrees last night and I woke up cold. It's not shivering cold, but it was the first time I'd really cared that I forgot to bring my hoodie. A quick hot shower and cup of coffee later and I was fine. It wasn't long before it was in the 80's and I was glad I was wearing shorts.

Before heading to Colorado, Nia @ Body Wisdom was the first order of business. It was my fifth time visiting this group and we had a great time together today. I love it here because they always do snacks in the next room after class. 
I was impressed at how this group was able to FreeDance with ease and also fallow along with my choreography. I enjoyed all the smiling faces and the looks of satisfaction as we were finishing up. 

After class and before snacks, we all sat on the floor in the dance studio and had a long discussion about Nia and recovering from trauma and being 'in your body'. I love talking about this stuff; so I was in a little bit of heaven. We discussed how old emotional energy can linger in the tissues of the body and Nia can very often jostle them loose. It's not uncommon to have emotional releases in class and in fact, two women today did. No one would have known this was happening had they not shared it in the circle after class, but it's very normal. It's part of what Nia does.

And then we hit the road for the long, straight, dull drive eastward through most of southern Wyoming. At Laramie, we veered south and ended up in Fort Collins, CO.

I needed gas just as I was getting into town so I was going to stop at the Shell station right near the motel before checking in. I pulled up and parked at a pump and walked to the store to pay, but the door was locked. I looked for a sign saying which way it was to the entrance; no such sign. I was walking around to the other side, when I noticed there was a guy inside and he yelled at me through the glass, "No Gas! We're Out!" and giving me a baseball "Safe!" gesture with his arms.

I flashed back to the 70's when my parents could only buy gas on even numbered days because our car's license plate ended with an even number. And even then we'd sometimes have to wait in line for an hour just to fill up. It's not actually that bad here. Or maybe it is. I haven't yet tried getting gas anywhere else yet. Now that I think of it, I did pull into one place before going to the Shell station. It was the first place I saw right as I got into town. It seemed very busy and chaotic, but as usual I didn't give it too much attention. But I pulled away without fueling up when I saw the price was $3.09 and I had just checked my Gas Buddy app and knew that the going rate in town was more like $2.79. It seems like oftentimes the first gas station traffic encounters heading into town has jacked up prices.

But I thought I could just go check into the room and then get gas later, maybe in the evening when it was more calm.

I've never seen a Motel 6 lobby so busy. It was a little hectic with all the checking in, and people were coming back saying "There's a guy in that room already." and "This key doesn't work for that door." The two clerks kept their heads down and got it done! And they still managed to be polite to me.

I guess a lot of people are in town for the eclipse? I hope the stores don't run out of food. I was planning to shop tomorrow, I'm running low on provisions and I've heard stories. I planned ahead though, and I have a stash of four days worth of food in Babe's secret below-the-boot storage. If need be, I can also survive on that until the trucks came back into town with more fuel or the National Guard air-drops provisions into Colorado.

Fort Collins is about 5000 feet above sea level. Evanston is over 6000. But I haven't felt any effect, except that I notice the car doesn't run quite as well in the higher elevations.

River was very quiet today. We went for a few walks, but nothing too strenuous. At one point, he was really hesitant to jump back up into his seat in the car. He ended up just putting his front paws up and then attempting to get his back leg up. I put my hands down with interlaced fingers to 'give him a boost' and he stepped up into my hands and kicked up into the car. He turned around and gave me a sheepish look.

Maybe I wore him out at Bear River State Park yesterday.

Riverton to Evanston - Bear River WY State Park

Today is my first day off from teaching since leaving Seattle. The shiny pants that I've been wearing, require hand-washing, so my laundry doesn't accumulate like it did when I was wearing cotton Chubbies shorts for class. But I did a small load of laundry in Riverton before we hit the road for Evanston.

The drive was mostly uneventful. But when I was almost to Evanston a guy at the gas station noticed my license plate and said, "You're a long way from home!" I laughed and said I guess I was. He asked where I was headed and I said, "We're driving all around." Then he warmed, "If you want to see some of the worst snarled up traffic, go on up to Jackson Hole." He explained how everyone was gathering there to watch the eclipse.  I told him I was going to be in the middle of Nebraska for that and he said that was probably a good idea.
The Motel 6 in Evanston is old and tired but still going strong. I've stayed at this one several times.

Once we checked into the motel and rested from the road for a bit, we went out again, in search of Bear River State Park. We found it, and spent an hour frolicking in the park until I got hungry and we headed back to the room to eat.

Wyoming is truly cowboy country. They literally say "howdy" here. A guy said "howdy" to me at the park and then another guy said it as I was walking River through the parking lot.

Already, yesterday's grisly burn on my finger is now appropriately healed enough that I think I can share a picture without grossing you out too much.

It doesn't hurt, but it's still raw and moist. That stash of band-aids that I haven't had the need to use until now really came in handy. But I'll have to ration them, as I have a feeling it will be a few days before this is healed enough to expose.

When this happened before, it was also at the very beginning of a long trip. But the other one was much worse. The leash was more tattered and it was flat. This one today was newer and it is round. Also, I think I let go a lot sooner this time. I learned. It burned for hours afterward and seemed to grow in intensity and come in waves that were excruciating enough to make me cry out.  I also remembered that from before so this time, I ran to the car right away and stuck my hand on some ice until my fingers felt cool.

I'm keeping the wound covered and doing my best to keep it clean and dry. It's a fairly wet and dirty lifestyle I'm living, so it requires a lot of attention and daintily sticking my little finger out to keep it safe and away from any hard lifting or wringing.

I went to bed early and both River and I slept like rocks all through the night.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Billings to Riverton - Nia in Billings

We woke up and went for a morning walk in Billings. In the parking lot across the street, I saw a rabbit bouncing away from us, but River was so preoccupied with whatever he smelled in a bush that he didn't see it. When he was satisfied with the bush exploration, I led him in the direction of the rabbit. I found it crouched down, playing dead. I pointed River at it, but he never even saw it. Kudos, Mr. Rabbit; your camouflage technique really works.

I had to check out of the motel at noon, but class wasn't until 4:30, so I had time to do some food shopping and fill up my water jugs at the local food co-op and get dog food at a boutique pet food store.
Food @ Good Earth Market, Billings
Dog Food @ Lovable Pets Bakery; 1313 Grand Ave.; Billings

Inside the pet store there were at least three off leash dogs that came to greet us at the door. The smallest of the dogs yipped aggressively, which panicked River. I had to pull him away to a corner of the store and appease him, while the clerk picked up the offensive dog and  held it behind the counter. Other big dogs moseyed over but sensed River's tension and didn't stick around. 
As I paid for my purchase a man came in with a small dog on a leash. That dog wasn't in the least concerned with River, which allowed him to calmly sniff her. It warmed my heart to see River actually interacting with another dog in a normal, socially acceptable way. 
We paid and left and I gave him lots of praise for being a good dog. 

We still had lots of time before class, so I stopped at the nearest park and we hung out on the grass under a tree for about three hours. 

At one point, a dog from on the other side of a fence saw us and engaged River in a barking contest. River bolted toward the dog and I reflexively grabbed his leash, which ripped through my hand, giving me open, wet third degree burns on the fingers of my left hand. Luckily, I travel with a small supply of band-aids, so I was able to cover it up while the skin grows back. I"ll spare you the visual. 

Nia @ Sky Studio: Billings
Finally, it was time for class. We had a nice passionate group of dancers and had a great time doing the Amazing routine. It is one of only two times I'm teaching this routine on tour this year. It felt good to bring it out again.
After class we returned to the same park so I could have a meal. I ate some of the salami I got at the store that afternoon, with bread, avocado, and sauerkraut.
It was about 7pm before I got back on the road and a good five hours drive to Riverton. But we puled into the Motel 6 at midnight.
They were all out of downstairs rooms, and the one room they had was on the other side of the property from the spiral staircase. Fortunately, I discovered a back lot with a hidden staircase leading right up to near the door to my room. Score!
Once we were loaded into the room, I ate and showered and fell right to sleep.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Butte to Billings - Nia in Helena

Nia at Gentle Healing 

Butte to Helena is a relatively short drive. I allowed myself two hours and was plenty early. 
We parked nearby and sat in the sun until it was time to head to class.
Kathryn Kelley, who set me up in her space, had a client and couldn't be in my class, but she was there to greet me and introduce me to the class, and I had a designated assistant, so all went smoothly. 
We had a full room and a lot of moving centers. 
No pictures. 

One student was a sister of someone who had taken my class in Hayden the day before. She called her after my class and told her she HAD to come. She did, and she said afterward that she loved it. "It was exercise and it felt good!" I think she might have become a regular at Gentle Healing.

And there was also a guy in class. He was glad to see me, and I was glad that he was a part of the Nia community there, in Helena. And I think they like getting some male energy in there for balance.

The long part of the drive was ahead. From Helena to Billings is a long haul.

I broke it up with stops every two hours or so.

About an hour out, I stopped for lunch in Townsend and River and I ate in the pristine Veterans Memorial Park.

I stopped two more times at rest areas we both walked and stretched and shook and ran and peed (in different places) drank some water and relaxed in the grass under a shady tree.

The smoke-filled air made for a pink-and-orange sunset as we pulled in the familiar Motel 6 in Billings. I'm not sure if River realizes it when we go back to locations we've been at before. And if he does, how it affects him.

I feel it. When we pulled into this one it felt a lot more homey. Of the three Motel 6s we've visited so far on this trip, this is the first one that we've stayed in before.  So I can compare the feeling of driving up and explore a new location, and the feeling of driving up to a place that looks familiar before I even get to the property. I recognize the neighborhood and start to feel all welcome. I'm not saying the exploring feeling is better or worse than the comfortable feeling. But they're different. And I don't really notice any behavior in River that would indicate its a big deal for him either.