Friday, October 26, 2012

Jason Teaching Nia on the East Coast

Yes, this site has been updated November 3.  All classes below are still scheduled to happen. You can't stop the Nia!!

Nia - with JAG
November 4 and November 11
10am to 11am
Bridge For Dance
2726 Broadway @ 104th St.
third floor

Subway: 1 train to 103rd St.


Nia - JAG & Jayne Mielo
November 7
7pm to 8pm

Teaching the Yin and Yang of the hUmaNITY routine
at Sirovich Community Center
311 East 12th St.
between 1st and 2nd Aves.

by donation

subway: 4,5,6 trains to 14th St. / Union Sq.


Nia - JAG & Nancy Hammett
Yin/Yang Nia - Dancing with Masculine and Feminine Energies
November 9

The Dance of Masculine
and Feminine Energies

with Nancy Hammett and Jason Alan Griffin

Friday, November 9th
9:40 - 10:40 (Feminine w/Nancy)
10:45 - Noon (Masculine w/Jason)
(current students:  no extra charge for Nancy’s segment)

In this playshop you will get a distinct experience of masculine and feminine energies in action and you will learn how you can cultivate and utilize each one in your movements and in your life to obtain your ideal balance

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Jason Coming Out of Retirement

You may have heard the rumors... But this makes it official.  

Jason is coming out of retirement and bringing the older Nia routines with him.

Early in 2011, JAG announced his retirement. After being in the fitness and wellness industry since 1993, it was necessary to take a break for some personal self-healing and soul searching. Living in New York City and working as an actor, model, Nia teacher, personal trainer and massage therapist for eleven years led to a bit of burn-out. Jason needed some “Jason time”. He moved to Seattle and adopted an abused and abandoned dog from the rescue shelter and spent a good year in “dog therapy”.

During this period of introspection it became clear that Nia was a passion that was calling him to teach once again. Nia has called and he’s going to answer. So now Jason is announcing a come-back.

The plan is to present his entire body of work in the form of monthly classes and learning playshops. Jason has over thirty routines under his belt, including some originals and many beloved Nia routines that teachers can no longer access from Nia. Remember Agolo?  Yulunga? Bliss? Moodfood? Commitments? Sanctuary? AO? Have you heard of Bond Girls? Rockin? ...  many, many more. He’s still learning and creating new ones, so there is well over three years of material to present. 

Once a month, Jason will teach a routine from the vaults and follow that up with a playshop for teachers interested in learning to teach the routine. Students with a passion for learning and practicing routines in great depth and basking in the knowledge and sixteen years of experience of a veteran Black Belt Nia teacher, are perfectly welcome to attend the full playshops. 

Jason will present each routine only once so jump on this golden opportunity while you can.  Watch this blog and the Nia Seattle newsletter and email for announcements of the day and time of the playshop and which routine is featured that month. 

The class is a classic Nia class and can be experienced on its own, or the class plus the learning playshop afterward is probably going to be about five hours and includes a copy of my 8BCs and the music on CD or digital format.

Jason is still in the planning stages of this very exciting idea, so we welcome any thoughts or suggestions anyone has on this.  Jason says, “I look forward to presenting this work and I hope to see you there.”

Soma Summit 2012 - featuring The Men of Nia

Horses won't eat leeks.
Soma Ranch is a Nia haven created by Helen Terry in Montgomery Texas. It’s a good drive from Houston; maybe 45 minutes. But once I start to settle into the ranch I always feel very at home thanks in large part to the gracious hosts, Joe and Helen Terry. The studio is very clean and spacious with light flooding in from a wall of windows. There’s a comfortable lounge area with a big water dispenser and chocolate, health bars, sea weed and other snacks snacks available for purchase on the honor system. Inside the 16 person dorm is a far infra red sauna. The kitchen serves three very healthy meals a day and is also well stocked with a wide variety of snacks and beverages for those who choose to raid the pantry. Out on the ranch, there are a few horses and a whole bunch of donkeys and one dog, Phelps, to oversee us all and make sure we're all herded.  It is a playful, spirited, Nia sanctuary that I thoroughly enjoyed being in this year as much as I did last year. Which is to say: a lot. 

Helen’s triple threat started the weekend. We did 5 Stages over and over again to the soundtrack of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album, while the Wizard of Oz movie was projected on the wall. I would have enjoyed the synchronicity purported to be present, but I was so involved with being Embryonic that I wasn’t watching the screen. Helen had timed it so that each transition of stages coincided with the music, so there was enough synchronicity for my liking. We ended up doing the full 5 Stages about six or seven times through.  Then the album started over and we spent the next 45 or so minutes doing a 52 Moves class to the Dark Side of the Moon.  And once that was finished, the album played through a third time and we did Helen’s fantastic choreography to the classic Pink Floyd album. 

We had done just the Nia class to the album last year, and this was one of the things that was so inspiring to me. Upon my return home after last years experience, I set out to steal her choreography and create my own Rock N Roll Nia class.  As I did her class with her this year, I realized that I didn’t steal her choreography at all. I hadn’t remembered it as well as I thought I had, and I ended up choreographing a completely different experience for my ROCKIN routine

Rolf Erickson
The next morning, after breakfast, Rolf taught an enlightening workshop that was designed to help us communicate with our bodies on a deeper level.  As I told Rolf afterwards, “I wasn’t aware that my body had so much to say to me.” Rolf has a delightful way to being when he teaches. His limbs seem to go on forever, and he moves almost like a spider with such ease and precision. And he energetically infuses his moves with wonderment and fascination that is completely infectious. After his session, I felt like I had truly honored my body and learned lessons from what it had to say. 

Bill Stewart
After lunch, Bill Stewart taught his session on Sacred Livelihood and the role that playing has on being creative and truthful in your life. The climax of his playshop for me was when we broke into three groups and each group had about three minutes to come up with a way to tell a story. The actor in all of us came out as we presented three very different stories in three very different styles. Bill then concluded his session with his Divo routine (Debbies Diva routine set to Rock N Roll music). Another example of me attempting to steal some of his songs. He taught the routine last year, but the songs that I thought I was copying from him ended up being nothing like his. I’m glad that he and Helen were inspirational to me, but I was also thrilled to learn that I had truly made all of the choreography my own. 

After dinner we had another session.  This one was Philipe and Sabine teaching us Life as Art.  A breathtaking session indeed. An evocative movie called was Ashes and Snow was projected on the wall as we walked as slowly as we could from one side of the room to the other. Of course that’s not all that happened, but the whole experience was so spiritually charged that many of us, despite having moved for about eight hours that day, were unable to sleep that night due to being so spiritually stimulated. 

That night, I stayed up late in the kitchen and some of us were playing around with the hair clippers. I had the crazy idea that I wanted a happy-face carved into the back of my head. So it was done. 

Now I can smile at people from both sides at the same time.
Kevin VerEecke
The next morning, Kevin taught a very thoughtful session on body alignment and healing through correct usage of the body in 5 stages and the 52 moves. I’ve been teaching anatomy and kineseology for about 20 years, so it’s hard to impress me these days by teaching that stuff to me.  But Kevin’s visceral demonstration of muscles and application of his knowledge of our body’s way to the art and craft of Nia, did impress me and actually made my body feel incredibly light and powerful. He taught a truncated Nia session as part of his playshop. I think he was taking it easy on us because after lunch, we were going to do the Men of Nia jam, and that promised to be very high energy. 

teachers for the Men of Nia Jam, 2012
The jam didn’t break its promise. Kevin started off the jam with an epic warm up from the Fumi routine and Josh Barthelot and Steve, a longtime student of Helen’s, both nicely eased us into the Get Moving section with Madonna’s ‘Vogue’ and Lionel Richie’s ‘Zoomin’’ respectively. Philipe then took us to the next level with a couple of selections from the Aya routine. And Bill took his turn using ‘Satellite Rodeo’ and doing really fun movements that made me feel like I was roping a calf. The jam then took an intermission break from all the masculinity as Sabine taught an Emergence song called ‘Just for Joy’ and Helen taught to Prince’s ‘Kiss’. I then took the microphone and taught two songs from my Rockin’ routine, ‘Rock & Roll Hoochie Koo’ by Rick Derringer and ‘Highway Star’ by Deep Purple. And Rolf helped us regain our composure by cooling us down with the wonderful Leonard Cohen song, ‘A Thousand Kisses Deep’.  Helen then spent the next thirty minutes or so, capping off the experience with a community movement and honoring session that was the perfect ending to a perfect weekend. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Day 8: Home

It was a rough morning.

We woke up to the coldest temperatures we had experienced the whole week. It felt like we dropped into the 30’s over night. Of course it was the earliest we had gotten up all week, so maybe we just usually slept through this cold part. In any case, it was hard to get out of bed today. 

I had spent the night before thoroughly cleaning the motor home, and I didn’t want to get the sink and coffee maker dirty, so I skipped my coffee and just got dressed, shook the dog hair out of the bed sheets, took River for a walk, refilled the fresh water tank, unhooked the rig, packed everything up and, as soon as the engine was warm and the windshield frost free, we took off. 

The dump station was a central station for the whole campground, so I had to drive a bit before dumping. While at the station, River got really anxious when I left the cab. Even though I never went further away than the rear of the vehicle to get the tube, he was heavily shivering and whimpering--looking more panicked than I have seen him look in a long time. I had a feeling it was because he saw me packing my suitcase last night. When we’re at home, and he sees me packing, he starts to pout because he doesn’t usually get to come with me, and I take off for a week or so. That, combined with the experience of being left in the cab while I shopped at Safeway a couple days earlier, I think, inspired his anxiety this morning. He even barked at one point; he had it bad, poor guy. 

For a moment, I was  afraid the waste tanks had frozen overnight, because the cap was really hard to get off. But I finally jarred it loose and dumped for the last time.  I was glad not to be having to do that part again!

As we were pulling out of the campsite, I felt a small stream of water splashing onto my leg. There seemed to be a small leak in the sun roof of the cab. It hadn’t leaked at all until today. It wasn’t a big deal. I only mentioned it because it was the first issue of any kind that I had with the vehicle. 

In fact, everything about the week had gone very smoothly.  Today was the first day that anything challenging at all happened. I wondered if maybe everything went a little bit TOO well. If maybe I wasn’t being filled with a false sense of security about what kinds of things to expect when RVing. My luckiness may be a double edged sword, serving also to improperly educate or prepare me for RVing.  In any case, I had definitely enjoyed it, and was getting used to maneuvering the giant vehicle like I knew what I was doing. 

Once in Fife, I put another $75 in the tank to top it off and made my way back to the rental yard. (I put a total of $175 of gas in the tank, which was about 41 gallons. Since I drove 370 miles total, I averaged about 9 MPG.) The walk-through at the end went brilliantly and there were no extra cleaning charges so I got all of my deposit back except for the $6 charge for using the generator for two hours.

I was amazed that River was able to pick out our rental car from the cars parked in the lot. We had been in the car for no more than half an hour, a week ago! I know he didn’t see me when I loaded the luggage into the trunk, because he was still seat belted in the RV passenger seat. So he either smelled the luggage in the trunk or some how just recognized or smelled the car itself. I guess it was probably the former.  But still, I thought that was pretty impressive.

It was nice to get home. River was excited but certainly tired. And as soon as I set up his crate, he crawled right in for a long nap. 

As the day went on, I thought I felt a poison oak rash starting. I felt a slight, unexplainable burning and tingling along the right side of my body. (The side River was on when we spooned at night.) I thoroughly washed River, all of our clothes and his leash and harness, and then of course myself. And as a precautionary measure, I went to the drug store and got some Ivarest and applied it to every place I thought I felt the tingling. Maybe it’s all in my head, but I’m being extra diligent and doing anything I can to prevent or minimize the occurrence of that painful, annoying rash that I remembered from my childhood. 

I had a fantastic time and I will definitely be doing it again. I want to try a class A motor home next time. I was driving a class C, which means the home section extends over the cab, providing that creepy attic space that I didn’t like sleeping in. It also blocked my view from some of the scenery stretching above as I drove. I couldn’t always see the tops of the mountains or trees because of the camper extending out above the cab. The class A looks like it’s all window up front, so I might enjoy that view better while driving, and won’t have to concern myself with trying to sleep in that cramped space.

So, it was a camping vacation done in style. But it isn’t the solution I was hoping it would be. I was hoping it would serve as a way to bring River with me on working trips since he can’t fly. But I don’t see it as a viable way to travel to jobs. I’m still stuck at the campsite or wherever I park the vehicle. So I’d either need to tow another vehicle, or use a vehicle to pull a trailer, or get picked up and dropped off from the campsite whenever I need to be somewhere, or rent another vehicle at my destination. Or maybe there’s still another solution that I haven’t thought of yet. 

In any case, I’m back to the idea board. 

In the meantime, I’m at the airport; getting ready for my trip to Houston and to Soma Ranch for the Nia Soma Summit hosted by the amazing Helen Terry. 

Thanks for going on this adventure with me. 

Day 7: Staying at Millersylvania

What a nice day we spent at Millersylvania, today. 

Last night, I was playing music so I didn’t notice when the rain stopped. But when I shut down for bed, I noticed that there was no rain falling on the roof. It was blissfully quiet and dark. 

In the morning, I was surprised to see some blue in the sky and to see that it still wasn’t raining. So we rolled out of bed and went on our morning walk. We only walked for a little while when we came to a place where the sun was streaming in through the trees. Most of the park is pretty well protected under giant trees, but we stopped in that spot and I took off my shirt and got some sunshine on my skin. Fortunately, I had brought River’s training pouch full of kibble, so I was able to entertain him as I stood in that spot for literally twenty minutes soaking up the rays.  

It was then I realized that I didn’t have my waterproof shoes on. I had worn my vans instead, which I had been basically using as my indoor shoes. I suddenly felt like I was standing outside in my slippers, so after my sunbath, we headed back to the camper to change shoes. 

Then, as if by magic, as soon as we were inside, the rain started again. It lasted for a few hours so I took that opportunity to make my lunch.  

I thought to myself, “Millersylvania” must be an Indian word for “covered with poison oak,” because it was everywhere. Of course I noticed it was all over the place at Harmony Lakeside RV Park, too, so maybe I’m just becoming more sensitized to it now that I’ve noticed it. River loves to explore and he’s been in heaven with all of the different places we’ve been going so he has had new stuff to sniff every day. But I felt bad, because today I didn’t let him go into most of the bushes for fear of the prevalence of poison oak. I figured he would get the oils on his fur and then later, when I hugged him or he crawled into my bed or sat on my lap, he’d pass the oils onto me. And I’m very sensitive to it and break out like crazy. So I’ve been on my guard. 

After lunch, in another case of perfect timing, the rain had stopped. So we went out again. This time we explored Deep Lake and the hiking trails. We found some open grassy, picnic areas and did some running. At one point on our walk, we happened upon a group camping section, with a big covered picnic and fireplace area. And as we were exploring the surroundings of that area, I noticed that the lake was showing signs of raindrops. And yet none were reaching us. We were dry under the cover of the giant pine trees. 

Eventually, the rain grew in intensity and finally started to find its way through the trees, so we ran for cover in the picnic area. We ended up hanging out in there, waiting for the shower to pass.  At one point, the sun broke through, but the rain hadn’t let up, so we go to enjoy a gorgeous glistening sun shower from the dry safety of the group camping spot. Once the rain let up enough so as not to soak us, we finished our jaunt. 

It was late in the afternoon by the time we finally got back to the camper. River cleaned himself and then curled up for his afternoon nap and I started writing. Soon I’ll start dinner.

I am getting up early tomorrow and emptying the tanks so we can hit the road between eight and eight thirty. I have to refill the gas tank and be at the rental center to return the vehicle by 10am, so depending on how long the check out process is, we should be back home before noon tomorrow. 

Our camper tucked into the trees

Our shelter from the showers

Watching a sun shower

River is fascinated by things that stick up out of the water. Luckily he didn't make a jump for it.
It’s been an incredible week. I have experienced and learned so much, and we’ll definitely be doing this again. It’s not over yet, though. I’ll write one more entry tomorrow about the process of getting home and maybe some final thoughts about the whole week. 

Day 6: Harmony to Millersylvania in the Rain

This morning we woke up and I did my chores. River had a rough morning because I couldn’t take him with me into the laundry room. But we have to get used to the reality that some things I’ll just have to do without him.

We did walk around the grounds this morning before taking off, so here are the pictures of Mayfield Lake and Harmony Lakeside RV Park. 
This is the "Natural Area"

The leaf-covered trail leading down to the lake

Our first view of the lake

River finally managed to stay on top of this mossy log

Is this poison oak?

River checking out the rocks


Mayfield Lake and its mossy rock shore.

Then, in a case of perfect timing, as soon as we unhooked and drove off, the sky opened up and we got our first real good rain of the season in the Pacific Northwest. It was pouring like we don’t often get around these parts. Really really raining. 

After driving for about fifteen minutes, I stopped for gas and put $100 in the tank, which took it from just over 1/4 full to just over 3/4 full. River was alone in the cab while I did that. Then we stopped in Centralia because I saw a Safeway from the road and needed to restock my refrigerator. River was alone for that, too, and when I came back probably twenty minutes later, he was howling like a wolf at the moon. What a dramatic guy. 

We stopped for the day at Millersylvania State Park this time. I wanted to avoid RV parks and go back to the wilderness. This place is similar to Yakima Sportsman in that it is very natural and yet provides full hookups. This park, though is more forested, although I don’t think we’re actually in a national forest. 

It looks beautiful here, but we haven’t seen much outside the camper because of the rain. I’m also a little paranoid about poison oak. I keep thinking I see it everywhere and I don’t want River to get near it. I haven’t had it since I was a kid, but I used to get it fairly frequently and I remember it being a hellish experience. 

I decided to stay two nights here. As of yet, we haven’t had the experience of waking up, spending the day and then going to sleep in the same place. So tomorrow we’ll have all day to run out in between cloudbursts to try to enjoy some of the beauty we’ve only seen from the windows of the motor home and our occasional pee walks. 

I’m having an issue with the black tank monitor that’s supposed to tell me how full it is; it seems to be stuck. I have emptied it a number of times, but it never registers being less than 3/4 full. I’m just going to stop relying on it and keep emptying it every day or so because its so much fun. Not really. It’s easily the least enjoyable and most disgusting part of RVing. 

We spent a lot of time at Millersylvania looking out the window and waiting for the rain to stop
I also don’t know how to tell how much propane I have. I was told not to worry about it because I have enough to last for 7-10 days and I’m only taking it out for a week. But I’m wondering if anyone cooks in these things. I’ve been cooking on the stove two meals a day, and that uses propane. I don’t suppose it would be the end of the world to run out, but it would mean taking cold showers and munching raw vegetables until I can refill it. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Day 5: Harmony Lakeside RV Resort

Last night I tried sleeping in the bed over the cab. 
I originally intended to rent the smallest size motor home that they offered: a 23’ that sleeps three. But they only had the 27’ that sleeps five.  Last night I was sitting here thinking about that. Five? The living room table swings down to sit flush with the benches and the cushions slide flat, too, so that could be slept on. They don’t mention that that fifth person would have to be under four feet, or sleep with bent legs all night. And that that person could never use that bed during the day unless the other four people didn’t want a living room. 

Anyway, my point is, I guess that extra four feet is the bed in the back. So if I had gotten the model I wanted, I’d be sleeping in that thing that looks like an attic space over the cab. I wondered if it was worth the extra length and weight just to have that bed. 

So, I thought last night I’d sleep in the attic and see what I was missing. 

It wasn’t so bad. I’m not the fussiest sleeper, actually. The thing I dislike is a soft mattress. And the attic bed was definitely not soft. I was quite firm, actually, but I didn’t mind that. It wasn’t hard, it was cushioned, but it was no spring mattress. 

I could sit up, but not straight up. I had to slouch something terrible to sit, so that won’t be happening. Not that I’ve spent any amount of time sitting on the bed in the back, so no big loss there, I guess. I don’t know that there’s ever been a time in my life when I’ve sat bolt upright in bed, which could hurt if it happened in this attic bed. 

I imagine in the summer it might get stuffy up there, but with the temperature being in the high 40’s last night, it wasn’t colder than the downstairs bed had been.

The drawbacks have to do with it being so high. For one, it’s a climb to get up and down. And not a nice step ladder, either, but a parkour kind of climb down the back and seat of the chair to the floor. First thing in the morning, it isn’t the easiest nor wisest thing to do, especially before my morning stretch, which I can’t do in the attic.

And because it is so much higher than the center of gravity of the vehicle, I can feel the whole motor home rock a little bit as I move around in the bed. I don’t remember feeling that quite as much in the master bedroom. 

WOW. Didn’t mean to write so much about the bed!  But this is something to consider, seeing as how this trip is supposed to be a test drive, of sorts. 

So anyway, after my impromptu gymnastics session getting out of bed, a walk with River, my coffee and my shower, we flushed the tanks, returned the bathroom key to the office and then sniffed around looking for those giant squeak toys we saw last night. But they were nowhere to be found. Finally we decided to hit the road, knowing that the sooner we get there, the sooner we can eat, since I don’t feed River until we’re done driving for the day and I don’t like to eat in front of him without giving him anything.

The vehicle comes equipped with a phone book sized “US and Canada RV Guide”. I looked through it last night to find a nearby Good Sam Club RV Park because I had a 10% off coupon courtesy of Camping World.  (haha, not really. 10% off anything makes me laugh.) Actually I wanted to experience a Good Sam Club RV Park. These were supposed to be the top drawer, with the highest cleanliness ratings and amenities and services. Good Sam is like the Good Housekeeping Seal for RV Parks. So I found that there was one about fifty miles from Packwood in Mossyrock, WA and it was right on the shore of Mayfield Lake. Which was good because we hadn’t done any lakes yet, only mountains and forests and rivers. And creeks. 

I love being in nature. Here at Harmony Lakeside RV Park we have 19 cable channels and wi-fi and manicured gardens. I’m not saying I hate these things, but they’re not turning me on as much as those alpacas (or whatever they were) staring at River as we walked by -- or the calm fury of Hause Creek. 

It’s good to have them, but I wouldn’t want to go to this kind of place every time. I was really loving the campsites, but so far, the RV parks are good for the convenience. I think maybe a good plan would be something like ‘dry camping’ for two or three nights and then hitting an RV park to refuel / recharge / restock and do laundry.

When we first got here, it was the first place that was totally clear what I should do. Park here. Register inside. A live person. Here’s a map to your slot on Carson Drive. Here’s the rules of the park. As I was registering, the wall behind me was full of RV supplies I could buy if I needed. I’ve needed toilet chemical since day one, so I finally got some. By the way, even with the 10% discount, this was still the most expensive site we’ve been in at just under $40. 

After eating, River and I explored the grounds. As I said, there was a manicured garden, which was cool for about ten seconds. It felt like the grounds of a resort hotel. We walked to the lake. (We could have paid extra to park near the lake, but I thought I’d want something to do later, like walk to the lake.) We walked all the way out to the end of the boat dock and were the only ones out there. The lake was gorgeous, but I forgot my phone so couldn’t take any pictures. Then we walked through the vacant campsites on Terrace Lane and found a gravel path to another lakeshore. This one was really cool because it was all mossy rocks. It was like a whole beach of mossy rocks. 

River learned two lessons on this walk. One, it’s hard to stand on moss covered logs. Two, it hurts to hurls yourself into blackberry bushes. I tried to warn him, but he just had to smell it. 

I see on the map that they gave me at the registration desk that there is a designated Natural Area. So that intrigues me; we’ll have to check that out tomorrow. I’ll bring my phone and also revisit the spots we saw yesterday so I can get some pictures. Unless it’s pouring rain. Then I don’t like to take my phone out. 

I want to do laundry while we’re here. And after that I plan to take us to Millersylvania State Park. Its about fifty miles from here and about fifteen miles south of Olympia. Hopefully we’ll be back to being more rustic there. And my intention is to stay there for two nights. It will be the first place we stay more than overnight. 

As soon as we got back home from today’s walk, it started raining. It’s been raining pretty steadily for hours now, except for a few pauses, during which we took the opportunity to go out again. In the next hour or so, River will need to take his ‘before bed walk’. So I’m listening for our next cue. More tomorrow. 

Day 4: Over White Pass to Packwood RV Park

When we arrived at Hause Creek Campground yesterday afternoon, we were the only ones there, but throughout the afternoon and evening, more and more campers showed up.  It wasn’t full by any means, but there were probably five campsites taken by the time it was dark. 

I left the shade up on the window near the bed last night. It was still pitch black except for the gentle glow from a campfire. My plan was to be awakened by the sun, get in an early workout by the creek and hit the road. But the clouds moved in over night and so the only thing waking me up was a soft grey light. I might have scrapped the idea of working out because it was so much colder than I had planned, but last night I ran the generator for about 45 minutes just so my laptop would have enough of a charge to record it, and that cost me about $3, so that was impetus enough to get me to brave the temperature. 

First, I made my coffee and took River for his morning constitutional while it brewed. Or so I thought. I forgot that the generator is required for anything that plugs in, so there was no coffee waiting for me. No big deal; I flipped the generator on and brewing began. 

One thing that I had thought I was packing, but somehow it didn’t make it into my luggage, is a pen. The need for a pen has come up more than once. In fact, I was intending to make a list of things that I noticed I needed during the trip so I can be sure to bring them next time. And it turns out that one of those things is a pen.  And of course there is no list without it. 

I bring this up because I always like to write down my workout before I do it. Once I’m in the midst of the action, its so easy for me to forget what I had planned, so writing it down is one less thing to think about. Sans pen, I pondered on the workout while I sipped my coffee. I decided to keep it brief, simple and spontaneous; more of a flow workout.  I don’t know if I’m at a high elevation or not, but I sure seemed to run out of breath quickly. My workout was awesome and casual and River joined in quite a bit, too. I’ll have to go back and look at the video, but I think I surpassed my 10 second freestanding handstand goal today!

If you're interested in seeing the full-length version of this video, you can download it for only $9. Click here to purchase: 

After working out, I showered. When in the comfort of my own home, I don’t appreciate the luxury that a warm shower provides. But WOW. I sure felt like a million bucks after a little exercise and a shower. Then, I cleaned up the home, put everything in a secure place and hit the road. 
He doesn't ride up there, but he likes being up there

My destination was unknown. I just knew I wanted to go over White Pass on Highway 12 and I only wanted to drive about 30 miles today. I’m learning that 60 miles per day isn’t really enough; next time I’ll opt for a higher mileage plan. I stopped at an RV park only about six miles up the mountain because I wanted to buy some chemical for the toilet. They didn’t have any, but the lady recommended the RV place in Packwood. 

“Is it nice?” I asked?  I could tell by her expression that she was holding back from telling me exactly how she felt. 

“Oh, it’s a town.” was her diplomatic reply. “But they’ll have a full grocery store. I only have a convenience market here.”

So, we got back on the road. And, except for pulling off the road once for a scenic view that was supposed to be Mt. Rainier but was only fog, we drove straight through to Packwood, which was about 35 miles from Hause Creek. It started raining as we were coming down the west side of White Pass. 

The town of Packwood is one of those places that just seems like it exists to serve people driving through. There is minimal commerce bordering the highway and some residences behind that, but not much else. I saw the Packwood RV Park sign and the place looked like a grass field. But as I drove cautiously along the gravel road, I saw some posts in the ground with numbers painted on them.  Upon closer inspection, I saw that they were hookups. Again, I carefully chose my spot to allow for easy departure in the morning. 

So here at the Packwood RV Park, I have city water and electric hookups, but no Internet or phone service. I finally got a chance to put on my new waterproof shoes that I got at REI for the trip, and my fisherman’s rain hat, as I took River for a walk through ‘downtown’ Packwood in the rain. We stepped into a hardware store because his long leash is starting to fray in the spot where he treads on it with his back paws. But they only had small ones.  There are no pet stores in town either, so I guess we’ll wait on replacing that and just hope it lasts.

I’m doing OK on food still, so there’s really no urgency in going to a store; it’s just a shame to pass up on going to one while I can because I don’t know when I’ll be around another one.  Besides, when I was at the convenience store earlier, I told the woman I had this whole list of things I needed, but now that I was in the store, I couldn’t remember any of it. Oh, except a pen. Which I didn’t get because I was planning to shop here in Packwood. Maybe in the morning, the rain will have stopped and I’ll feel more like going out again. But for now, I’m going to hole up here in my motor home. 

There is an alpaca farm nearby.  Or caribou or elk or deer.  I’m embarrassed that I don’t know my cervine fauna by sight, but I took pictures and hopefully someone can enlighten me. They’re running free at the moment, but it looks like they all belong in this once fenced off area. They make a funny, unexpected squeaking sound like a dog chew toy and they leave enormous turds on the grass, which make it humorous that there are signs everywhere saying to please pick up after your dog. 

While I’ve never left one of River’s poops on the ground anywhere, I’ll admit I do feel silly scooping it up when we’re out in the wilderness, because I know that feces is one of the richest sources of nutrients for the soil. But I realize that if everyone just left their dog business lying around, it would quickly add up before it had a chance to amalgamate with the earth. 

This shot was taken from inside the motor home

Day 3: Hause Creek National Campground

Last night got pretty cold, and I didn’t want to leave the heater on over night, so I let River sleep with me under the comforter again. I hope he doesn’t get too used to this; he’s going back to his crate as soon as we get home. 

As the sunlight began to tease me awake, I thought I heard raindrops on the roof. But I lifted the blind and didn’t see anything, so I don’t know what it was. Maybe dew was dripping off of the tree that was over us. 

With a bit better planning, this morning was a lot more comfortable than yesterday. I hopped out of bed and switched the heater on and then got back under the down and waited until the house was heated enough for the thermostat to kick it back off. Then I got up and switched on the water heater as I took River for a stroll. When we came back, I made my coffee. By the time I was done drinking it, the water was sufficiently heated for a nice, warm shower and a shave. 

I had to remind myself that my showers weren’t to make me clean, but just to keep my filth levels down to only one day’s worth at a time. As soon as I step out, I start getting dirty again.  Once my bathroom duties were complete, I had the not-so-delightful chore of emptying my waste tanks. I won’t go into details. I washed my hands afterwards.

The next dirty thing I did was a lot more fun. I took River on the Yakima Sportsman State Park hiking trail. For anyone who is really into hiking, this would have been a huge disappointment, but for River and me, it was ideal. We ran and walked, smelled things and chased each other, and worked our way to the flood-control dike. But it was dry. We ran back to the camper. 

Yesterday I had put $30 in the envelope, even though the rate for the night was $28, just because I didn’t have the right change. Today, the park ranger came by and gave me my two dollars in change. 

I unhooked all my wires and hoses and shut and locked all my valves and doors on the outside of the coach. I swept the floor and wiped off the counters and put everything in what I thought was a safe secure place. I was still a bit nervous as I pulled out of the slot that something wasn’t right. As it turns out, my computer wasn’t so secure and not only fell onto the floor as I was driving over the mountain roads, but also later, when I opened the door to the house, it took another tumble to the ground. With all the abuse this laptop took today, I’m lucky to be typing this right now. 

I wanted to make today a short drive, so I headed for the Wenatchee National Forest, which was about thirty miles from Yakima, and started looking for camping. The first place I found was called Windy Point Campground. It was a tricky maneuver making that left turn off of a 50 MPH mountain highway with traffic behind me, but I made it. And then, taking this monstrous vehicle over bumpy dirty roads through this campground, even at 10 MPH was treacherous and nerve-wracking. But I saw that the campgrounds had no hookups and no real ambience unless you’re into dirt and being near the highway. Also, Windy Point got it’s name for a reason. Wow. Why would anyone want to camp here? You’d have to hold everything down all the time. So, I started her up and drove out of there, back onto Highway 12 West. 

The next place I came across was Hause Creek National Campground. At first it seemed just like Windy Point, only without the wind. And the roads were paved, so I drove further in just to check it out. I passed a power plant. (?) Again, I wondered, why would someone camp here? Who wants to camp next to a power plant? I kept driving, though, because you can’t just make a U-turn in this thing. 

I’m so glad I did. The campsites are right on the shore of a rapid river. Or I guess it’s Hause Creek, but I always thought creeks were small. Once I saw that rushing water, I knew I was home for the night. I found a slot right at a turn in the road so I could back straight out fairly painlessly in the morning. 

I’m really off the grid now. No electric, no water, no internet, not even AT&Ts 3G network. So it looks like tonight I’ll be relying on my batteries, propane and generator. 

River and I spent a couple of hours just walking around and being near the creek. I was transfixed and found a spot where I could sit on the ground just feet from the rushing water and meditate. I sat there for probably close to an hour, taking it all in. The longer I sat there, the more stuff I noticed. It was nice not having any responsibilities or duties for the rest of the day. I knew I could sit there as long as I wanted. In fact, even if I wanted to get up, I couldn’t because I was so entertained by the glorious nature before me. 

I don’t know why this is such an issue for me, but again, I’m having a quandary with the self-registration system. The fee here is $10. I have a handful of $20s and six $1s. I couldn’t take the chance that the ranger would empty the box and be able to make change for me, so I put the $6 in the envelope with a note saying I’m in slot 20, and I have a $20 bill and to come and get me if you have change. Geez. I’m probably going to get a reputation as this guy that camps and doesn’t pay. But I did learn something. It’s a good idea to bring a checkbook when camping (who knew?), or at least a lot of small bills. 

The sun just went down here. So, I’ll probably make my dinner, clean up, take a long walk and go to bed early tonight. It’s funny how living ‘self-contained’ makes me so aware of using energy. As soon as the sun went down and the lights went on, I could feel it. 

I love the sound of the river outside. Earlier, I kept hearing it and thinking that I had left a fan on somewhere. If it’s nice tomorrow, I’d love to get up and do my exercises by the river/creek whatever it is. 


some mushrooms growing out of a fallen tree

a burned tree decorated to look like a sea monster

River jumped up on the table to get a better view of the river

a power plant?!

Day 2: Yakima Bound

I woke up this morning in Crystal Mountain Resort. At some point during the night River must’ve gotten cold because when I woke up, we were spooning. It’s the first time since I’ve known him that he hasn’t slept through the night in his crate, (the door is always open).

We got up and I took a cold shower. I have a water heater, but it takes half an hour to get the water hot, and I didn’t want to wait. I went all through high school taking cold showers after wrestling practice, so I was no stranger to the experience. 

Then I took River for his morning play. There really wasn’t much to this place, so we basically just revisited all of the places we liked from yesterday that were close by. I unhooked and put everything away. I never saw anyone around that looked like they were manning the place. I did see two other motor homes parked there, but never saw any people. The only people around were doing maintenance on the gondola and painting the chalet. 

Chalk it up to inexperience, but I didn’t know if I should pay. There was a booth and envelopes, but I felt weird about leaving cash in it. I kept checking back to see if there was anyone there, or any evidence that someone was there. Was I wrong? Should I have left money in the envelope? It’s weird how, at the time, it seemed weird, but in retrospect, it seems like I should have. Oh great. Now I’m a thief. And someone probably came by in the morning and took down my license plate and now I’ll get a ticket. Anyway. We hightailed it out of there. It wasn’t that impressive of a place. 

I was more impressed with the drive to and from. Highway 410 is just a brilliant winding stretch through two national forests, and it is just more spectacular after every turn. In an evergreen forest, I was shocked by how many fall colors I was surrounded by. And then, after we exited the forest, the river started to take center stage. A few times, I passed a perfect scene, but couldn’t brake in time to safely make the pull off.

I felt like an idiot because I pulled the RV over to the side of the road, just to stop and take in the view, probably more than six times in the half hour we spent on 410.  At this point I was thinking, “This RV is ridiculous.” It’s no small act just to pull it over to the side. And then pulling back out into traffic is another major ordeal. I thought having all that vehicle behind me was sort of cramping my spontaneity. If we were in a small car, we might have stopped ten or eleven times, or more; but it wouldn’t have seemed like such a fuss. 
view of Mt Rainier from one of our rest stops

River looking regal at another rest stop
I think he's getting sick of these photo ops
Eventually I found a nice big pull off next to the river. I pulled off and we got out. It was beautiful, and it looked like there was a place we could climb down to the water. But first, I went into the house and flipped the generator on, got out my coffee maker and made myself a cup of coffee. I sat on the stoop, looking at the river, and watching River investigate all he could in the 30 foot radius his mega-leash gave him. It was at this point that the motor home totally redeemed itself. How nice it was to sit and sip my morning coffee at the perfect little crook we found in the Natches River. 

After I finished about half of my coffee, I topped off my cup and took River climbing down some rocks to get to the shore of the river. We made our way in and, following River’s lead, I rolled up my pants, and took off my shoes and socks so we could wade out to the big rock and be right in the middle of the water. It was awesome. 

I just want to take a moment to brag about River’s manners. I could go on and on, because he’s so well behaved, but this is amazing: He sometimes gets carsick. He has a lot of tell-tale signs, so it’s no secret. But, two times on this trip, he has vomited immediately upon being let out of the passenger side door.  Like he didn’t want to barf IN the car, so he was holding it until he was on the ground. Actually the second time he wasn’t quite on the ground yet, but from his seat in the car, he literally turned his head so he could vomit into the dirt. 

So we pull into the Yakima Sportsman State Park around 2pm. It’s a nice, state campground with plenty of open spaces. I pull into a good one and once I could locate the hose, hooked up electrical and water. Tomorrow, I’ll empty my sewer tanks. (In RV parlance that’s known as a “Full Hookup”)

This park has bathrooms and showers, and a jungle gym (so I can do my workout tomorrow). Lots of grass and trees and bugs and billions of stars in the sky at night. I saw a hiking trail but it was already dusk, so I guess that’s what we’re doing in the morning. 

The biggest thing I worry about is that River is so fascinated by the grasses and vegetation. I feel like he’s asking to be picking up ticks or poison oak or something. I thought poison oak wasn’t found this far north, but I’m seeing a lot of plants that look suspicious, and River is running all through them. 

I figured out how to get food. I placed an ad on Craigs List saying I’d exchange a massage for bringing me $50 worth of groceries. So that worked like a charm and now my fridge is stocked with organic produce and a few cuts of meat. I even got some paper towels, drinking water and some cookies. It’s nice having a skill that’s totally mobile. 

All in all, a great day. Tomorrow we’re going over White Pass and through another forest. I don’t really have any specific plans for the next couple of days. I know I want to swing through Olympia before heading back, and I’m aware of keeping the whole trip under 420 miles, lest I pay a whopping forty cents a mile after that.