Tuesday, July 30, 2013

JAG & River: Coming to Your Town?

River and I are hitting the road again. This time we're going from Seattle, across the northern US to the Great Lakes, then down to Texas, and then west to the Pacific Coast and back up to Seattle.

Check out our exact itinerary here:

While in town, I'd love to teach some Nia in your community.

I have put together a super-fun classic Nia routine using all Classic Rock & Roll music.  The routine has such favorites as Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and many others.

I can easily expand the format of the class to a 90 minute Master Class. I can tone the intensity down or up depending on the community I'm teaching it in. And I can also teach many different workshops while I'm in town.In the past, I've taught:

The Art of FreeDance

The Five Sensations of Fitness - Strength, Flexibility, Stability, Mobility and Agility

The Nine Movement Forms: the Healing Arts, Dance Arts and Martial Arts of Nia

Mastering Your Levels 1, 2 and 3

and many others.

A lot of times, the type of workshop I teach is based on having a conversation with someone prominent in the community. I can tailor my presentation to whatever needs the community has or to what the community enjoys most.

Typically, I like to be in partnership with one person representing the region (the "producer"). That person will secure a space and take on the task of promoting the event and filling the room with people.  I don't have a set price for my offerings, as it will be different in each community. I'll leave the pricing up to the discretion of the producer. I typically take 70% of the profits and the producer takes 30%.

Nothing is set in stone. I'm very easy to work with and I do this for the love of doing it.

River is my dog. He travels with me and comes to the studios with me, when I teach. I walk him in on leash and set up his crate. He remains inside his crate during class. Many students want to interact with him, and he loves people. That is allowed, of course. Also many students are not comfortable with dogs, or may have a fear or an allergy. I can't speak for the ones with allergies, but I do know that many people with fears of dogs have come and enjoyed my class with River in attendance and have remarked afterwards how comfortable they were.

River has a lot of energy and as I said, he loves people and wants to engage. But he is also very disciplined and minds me. I tend to guide him right into his crate before class and then back out of the room again afterwards. Meet and greet is fine at any time, but also students who don't want to interact with the dog will find it very easy to avoid.

If you see a city on our itinerary that is close to you, and you'd like to arrange an event, please contact me as soon as possible. The more advance notice we have, the more people we can typically attract.

States River's Visited


States Visited Map


On this last trip, we added the following states:

IDAHO
MONTANA
WYOMING
COLORADO
NEW MEXICO
ARIZONA
NEVADA
UTAH

We stayed in, enjoyed, or drove through such cities as:

Boise
Missoula
Dillon
Jackson
Cheyenne
Boulder
Pueblo
Taos
Santa Fe
Albuquerque
Flagstaff
Las Vegas
Zion
Salt Lake City
Pullman

I'm losing track of how many forests we've visited, and the same with rivers and other bodies of water. But we've seen and enjoyed plenty of those all along the way.

In a couple of months, we're planning to head out again on another road trip adventure.
Take a look here to see what cities we plan to hit.

Click here to see schedule for the Great Lakes and Texas Tour: 2013

If you are anywhere along the route and would like a visit from JAG & River, please contact me and we can arrange it.




Friday, July 12, 2013

Surprising Results From Some of My Favorite Foods

I’ve been toying around with more food testing.

I have to admit, I haven’t been following the program to the letter, like I was before, so any results referred to on this page must be taken with a grain of salt, as there may be many factors involved that could affect the outcome. 

I spent a day eating the way I learned to on The Plan, favoring all friendly foods and only having one animal protein per day. On the first weigh-in, I wasn’t surprised to show a significant weight loss.

The second day, I continued on the same basic trajectory, but with dinner, I had a slice of lasagna. I think it’s important to note that it was fresh-made lasagna. All of the ingredients were hand-made with organic and humanely raised, local ingredients. I was surprised to show a weight loss for that day as well.

I suspect that a similarly sized piece of lasagna from the frozen section of the grocery store may have shown different results. 

The following day, the wild card I chose was to eat Thai food from a local restaurant. Since this restaurant makes no claims to the contrary, I have to assume that neither the veggies, nor the rice or noodles were organic, nor was the meat from a humane source. 

The following day, the scale showed that I had gained weight. 

From a purely objective point of view, I would have thought that the lasagna, with its meat and cheese and pasta and significant lack of vegetables would have been more inflammatory than the thai food, which was loaded with vegetables and free of dairy products.  But the scale told me differently. 

The next day I was back on track except that late in the evening, I ate a half a pint of Haagen Daas Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream. And the next day, the scale told me I was back to losing weight. The only logical explanation I can come up with is that the amount of ice cream wasn’t enough to counteract the positive benefits of the way I was eating the rest of the day.

As I said in the beginning of this post, these results are a bit dicey as I was not careful to control all of the possibly contributing factors, but I am very fascinated by the possibilities suggested by this initial data and will be interested to learn more through more experimentation.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

What is a Living Sage?

This Blog Post was written by Beth Waddell at my request. I am so inspired and encouraged by this woman, that when I met her, I asked her to write her story for you, my readers, because I felt she would have many enlightened insights and there could be possible lessons to be learned just from what little I knew of her experience. I honestly had no idea how deep her story went. So here it is:

Summer of 2008 I discovered Nia. From the moment I “stepped in” I felt the connection. Danielle Eastman became my Nia mentor that summer, eventually inspiring me to take my White Belt and Green Belt.  I found that Nia aided me in my continued healing following the loss of my husband. In August 2005 Rob was a vital 55-year-old psychologist at the peak of his academic career. He went in for a “ simple outpatient “, same-day sinus surgery and was declared dead 12 hours later. A surgeon’s “oops” changed my life forever.

Prior to Rob’s death I had envisioned closing my 20-year private psychology practice and had begun work toward a coaching credential. Positive psychology was much more to my liking than traditional pathology-focused psychology. I wanted to work with what was right in people, with their strengths, rather than focus on the deficits. So, following Rob’s death I closed my practice and began Phoenix Rising Coaching, working especially with widows coping with the loss of their partners. I began presenting at Widows’ conferences about thriving after loss. All the while attending to my body through Nia.

Through all these changes, Nia remained central to my own journey. Nia lead me on a path of physical, emotional, and psychological healing. Having been a dancer growing up and in college, I always found that dance was a way to connect--with others, with myself, with a cosmos that seemingly designed us to move in the ways Nia helps us move. But having two children and working on my PhD in psychology and then building a practice, the only “dance” I had done for a long time was step aerobics. I shudder even to call that dance.

For a long time, my dream has been to open a studio/workshop place to offer coaching groups, movement-focused classes, and other life-affirming activities related to positive psychology. I never had quite the right space I wanted, and couldn’t find space locally that felt right. I decided to transform an outbuilding on our property into a workshop space. We cleared out mountains of debris from decades of accumulation, and slowly the space came together. The interior is clean and simple, suited for dance as well as for programs that can help people engage their own strengths in service of their own well being.

The name Living Sage came to me in a semi-awake state. The notion of burning off bad energy to make space for good energy with sage has long been a ritual in our home. When the girls were little, we would sage the house during periods of emotional house cleaning—a practice and an attitude we embraced while also ringing bells and inviting in good juju.

Our contractor broke ground on the studio in May of 2012 in the hope of opening in August 2012.  Bill, the love of my life and I spent evenings visioning the space and the work I would do there and the work we would do there together. It was time for my yearly mammogram in July, so I went and did the yearly deed and quickly forgot about it.

We made a trip to Esalen and the vision became even clearer. While I Esalen we solidified plans for a burning pit and were anxious to get back home and dig in.

Having been in theatre I always loved call backs, but that fateful July day I got a call back from the local hospital for a do over mammogram. That was one call back I didn’t look forward to. But, for 20 of my 61 years mammograms were a yearly routine so I assumed nothing big could be going on.

Getting to the truth took a couple of weeks. The upshot: breast cancer. I had thought that after Rob died I had a karmic pass for the remaining years of my life. Wrong. So, in August of 2012 I had three lumpectomies, but the doc could never get the appropriate margins. My only option: mastectomy.  In August I decided: double mastectomy time and doing breast-conserving reconstruction, which I did in October of 2012. Recovery and reconstruction occupied the next 9 months.

BETH SAYS, REGARDING RECOVERY:


I firmly believe in the Barbara Frederickson research which asserts for every negative encounter/emotion one needs 3 positives to counterbalance it. The more positivity a person can bank the easier it is to flow with the shit life invariably sends you. So, following Rob's death I worked long and hard to increase my positives, rid my life of toxic folks, and listen to my intuition.

When first diagnosed with DCIS breast cancer I did two things: became an information hound and told my story. I have always adhered to the idea that we are only as sick as the secrets we keep. And, given I was diagnosed with cancer, I couldn't afford to get sicker, so I essentially told everyone who would listen about my breast cancer. I plastered my story on facebook, I started a Caring Bridge blog, all with the hope that other people might benefit from my story. I somehow believed that because I got yearly mammograms I would never get breast cancer. Crazy thinking, yup. So, i decided to take the negative and turn it into a positive my life became a public service announcement. Payoff ? The number of women who sent me notes or called saying they had just gotten their first mammograms. Or, a woman calling saying she had been diagnosed with DCIS 5 years previously and instead of opting for recommended treatment, she chose to do 5 years of coffee enemas. She was calling me to say that the coffee enemas were not effective and now had an invasive form of breast cancer. I kinda became to go to girl and I liked that. It made my situation meaningful in a good way.

I also scoured the internet for useful information. My main source was BreastCancer.org. What a great service that group provides. I stuck with that group and learned tons of stuff. I was ready for what happened. I also called the local radiologist to ask questions about my biopsies. I asked anyone and everyone who seemed credible and I got my questions answered. I attended two breast cancer support groups, but those groups were not for me. I did not want to be a cancer survivor. i did not want that as part of my identity. I knew this situation was a temporary glitch on my Life Screen. I hated pink. I hated all the pinkwashing. I was disgusted with the politics of the Susan B Komen Foundation. I wanted a tee shirt that said, " Yes, they're fake...my real ones tried to kill me." Several people ran the Race for the Cure in my name and I was deeply touched, however I knew that was an event I personally would not endorse.

I had my mastectomy in October, Breast Cancer Month, and was a thorn in the side of store owners who sold pink ware. I would ask what portion of that pink item really went to breast cancer research and was greeted by folks who just didn't seem to know. Yup, my rebel side go to act out quite a bit last October. And, I think that Rebel part made coping with this chapter in my life much easier. I was focused like a laser on taking care of business and taking no prisoners.

I choose to travel to Seattle for my treatment. I view myself as fortunate that I only had to have a mechanical intervention and not go through chemo or radiation. My treatment team were all women and 3 out of 4 of the women were women of color. In fact, my plastic surgeon who did the breast reconstruction was also a survivor of breast cancer. And, my breast surgeon was a Reiki master. I never tried to micro manage any piece of the medical aspect I had complete an utter faith in my Woman Power team.

So, my advice to all who will listen...stay focused, get information, be bold and demanding and don't settle for any bullshit.

The most frustrating part of the ordeal was not being able to really dance. My plastic surgeon wanted me to walk. Nothing more.  My body missed the healing properties of Nia. I missed moving. I missed feeling healthy.I missed my body. I was not at home in this new body.

Facebook became a real connection to me and I love reading the posts by my Nia colleagues. Jason’s insights and perspectives on life always made me smile. One night around midnight while investigating breast cancer I messaged Jason and he responded quickly and compassionately. I liked him immediately.

The first time I returned to Nia following my surgery was with Kristine Zakarisian. Toward the middle of the dance, I started shedding tears. I was relieved the studio did not have any mirrors, but all my fellow Nia dancers “knew” my pain. After that class, Kristine and I embraced and with the others we laughed and cried together. Ah, Nia.

In the meantime, of course, the studio was being finished--Living Sage Studio was now a physical reality, a lovely space complete with suspended floor, projection screen, and sound system. Was I really going to do this ? I mean I am 62 years old had breast cancer and reconstructive surgery in October 2012...and now this ? Am I in too deep, am I a fool to think my body will ever come back ?


I had long ago decided that The Living Sage Studio would be a place for people of all ages who want to connect with their bodies, minds and souls. My plan was and continues to be to reach out to invisible women ( post 40 year olds ), women in what I like to think of as the prime of age and wisdom who are interested in fitness as one path to greater well being. However, in this university town of hard bodies there are few safe places for them to reconnect with their bodies. I am hoping Living Sage will be a sanctuary for them.

Jason’s Rockin’ Nia tour fit into my life plan beautifully. I was pondering the best way to begin programming in the studio, and what better inauguration than Nia--the original inspiration for starting down this path ? Jason had messaged me about meeting and hoping to do his Nia class in Pullman. July 3rd is typically slow season in Pullman, WA, so when the two premiere studios in town opted not to have classes that day, I jumped at the chance to have Jason, a sweet sweet talented soul, come and break ground.

And break ground he did. He “got” who his dancers were. He laughed, smiled, and cajoled us all into being in our bodies and honoring ourselves. He reminded us to dance our bodies way while  inviting us with his own dancing eyes to move...move...move.

Who knew Living Sage Studio would open on that day, when I’d long planned a Fall opening? Twelve dancers and River, Jason’s wonderful dog, spent a delightful and energizing hour and a half dancing, laughing, and celebrating ourselves and this new beginning. So thanks, Jason, for some great timing. Living Sage is off to a terrific start. And thanks for letting us all experience our Jason man-crush.


Thank you, Beth, for such amazing, open and honest sharing. I hope your story helps inspire many people to live life playing a positive and active role in its outcome. By your very life right now, you can show others the wisdom you have earned. You are a living sage. 

Click here to check out Beth's blog


Friday, July 5, 2013

Epilogue: The Palouse in the Evergreen State

Our last Motel 6 stay of the journey, Clarkston, Washington
I didn’t expect the drive through Washington to be so amazing, but it’s clear now where it gets its nickname, The Evergreen State.

The first part of the drive was through The Palouse Scenic Byway. As near as I can figure, the Palouse is a region callously named for the native people that were murdered and robbed of their land. The land itself is mostly grass-covered hills. The vegetation that covers the hills might be hay, might be sage, and might be some other type of grass. I did pass a street called Hay Road and one called Sage Road, which is where I get my presumptions, but in any case, the hills are covered with a thick, lush grassy like plant that ranged in color from yellow, to golden amber, to light green to dark green.  I tried to capture the palouse on camera, but once again, I'm not a photographer, and I didn't seem to capture the true splendor of the grass.

When the wind hit the grass it gave it a rippling effect like liquid. It was delightful and covered hundreds of miles. I drove through these colorful hills for a couple of hours.

We stopped at a Rest Area and I saw a situation that I’ve also seen at some other Rest Areas and it rubs me the wrong way. Most of them are great, but some seem to have been built by and maintained by animal haters. Or at least by someone who doesn’t appreciate the love of pets. I tried to capture on camera what I'm talking about. Notice the lovely, green grassy area with the big “NO PETS” sign, and then compare that to the harsh, uninviting, dry and prickly area marked “PET AREA”. I protest this unfairness and demand that our pets get access to some grass instead of just wild, unkempt wasteland.

I defied the rules and we played on the grass. I picked up his poop, which is more than some previous dog owners and fellow rule-defiers had done. I suppose it is these poop-leavers that ruin it for everyone.

After playing for a while and relieving ourselves, we hit the road again.
River, asleep in the passenger seat

The green palouse spectacle ended just about the time I reached the Columbia River. And this is also the place where we officially closed “the loop” that The Mountain States Tour took us on. Three weeks ago, after crossing the bridge of the Columbia River going east, I turned left and continued north onto Spokane. Today, I approached the bridge from the south and turned left to get into it and cross the river going west.

When I first crossed, going east, I had both front windows open in the car and felt a strong gust of wind coming off the water. This wind almost took my hat off my head and I imagined how sad it would have been to be given that hat that very morning for my birthday, only to lose it to the Columbia River hours later. Fortunately, I was able to save it.  And now, today, I had all four windows down as I made my way across the bridge again. I had forgotten the hat-stealing effect and once again, felt it loosening from my head and imagined it could have been whisked out the window into the river.  But once again, I managed to keep it on my head.

Once passing the Columbia, there was a little stretch of uninteresting farmland highway but before long, I entered the Mountains to Sound Greenway; A very appropriately named stretch of driving considering it was the exit from my Mountain Tour. And also very appropriate because of the green. Not only were the trees green, but the ground cover was a different shade of green. I had gotten used to seeing forests with a dirt and rock and dried pine needle ground cover which was basically brown. The grassy ground cover made a big difference in the look and the green was quite prominent.

As I entered King County and headed back into Seattle, I was reminded of the gorgeous region I live in. I have been gawking and enjoying the awesome splendor of all of the places I was visiting, but it is also nice to return to this unique beauty of the pacific northwest.

In the end, this trip put 4650 miles on my odometer in three weeks. I saw lots of incredible places and met lots of wonderful people and River and I had a great time. 
But, as always, it’s great to be home. 

The Great Pacific Northwest

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Playing in the Payette

Today was the penultimate leg of our Summer Mountain States tour. I’m so thrilled that I was able to pull off my goal of teaching my ROCKIN routine in all of the mountain states, ending with Boise, yesterday.

I still had one more class to go, back in Washington. A dear, passionate woman named Beth Waddell had just opened a new movement studio called Living Sage and she moved forward the date of her Grand Opening to coincide with my being in the area. I was honored to be there for the inauguration.  Well, in truth, I had a little trouble finding the address, so I actually missed the inauguration ceremony, but I was part of the symbolic ribbon-cutting in that I was the first to teach a class on the new floor.

The day before, I mentioned that the drive from Ogden to Boise was lame, but today more than made up for. The drive from Boise to Clarkston, Washington is one of my favorite drives of this whole trip. It was long; five and a half hours, but it was all beautiful, so that makes a big difference.

We drove through the Boise National Forest and the Payette National Forest as well as driving alongside the Payette River (which we stopped to play in, twice) and the Salmon River, which I was dying to stop and play in, but had to press on.

I found a place where the river was wide enough that the water wash rushing madly. It was actually a boat launch place that asked for $3 to park and use the area. I wouldn’t be there for long, but I had no problem paying to use it. This is where River really got into splashing and playing in the water. He gets really vocal and excited and at one point he let out a loud single bark and heard his echo off the mountains. He then looked around for a long time trying to find that other dog.

As I was gearing up to leave the river after having been playing there for probably 45 minutes, I saw that I only had one shoe. And then I remembered that I had seen one of them floating in the water right near the shore and didn’t think much of it at the time. So I looked down river and there it was!  It was still floating and still near the shore. I was lucky because if it had drifted out to the center of the river, the flow could have taken it far away; it was still a pretty significant flow.

So I swam after it. It felt SO GOOD to actually swim. I used to love to swim, and I haven’t in a long time. Swimming toward the shoe was easy. And then I turned around and started swimming back to our beach, and this was going against the river; not so easy. It took about three times longer and a lot more vigorous effort to swim back to where River was waiting and watching. Afterwards, I stood on the shore with my rescued shoe in hand, breathing heavily. I don’t know if we were in altitude or if my swimming muscles are just out of shape, but I was surprised at how winded I became.

When we weren’t driving in majestic forests or near picturesque rivers, we were passing by lush, rolling, green grassy hills spotted with mustard and lavender.  And the fact that the temperature was below 90 most of the way didn’t hurt either.

I took some video on this trip, mostly of the Payette River and the surrounding area, but my computer is acting strangely and I think I may have lost all of it. In any case, I certainly can’t access it right now. I’ll take my computer into ‘the doctor’ and if they can retrieve it I’ll post it. But I may have a new computer in my near future. When we were passing through the Salmon River Canyon, I was listening to music from my iPhone, so it was hooked to the car and I couldn’t access it to take video. But trust me, it was worth going back, so when I go back, I’ll take some video.  I did get some still pictures.

River, the Payette River and the Payette National Forest

cows in the distance

That's a scary smile

Payette and environs

Big Pit Bull smile, taking a break in the shade

A rest near the Salmon River Canyon

Train trestles from the 1800s

It’s a good thing I passed from the Mountain to the Pacific Time Zone on this drive, because without that extra hour I wouldn’t have had the time to shower and shave before heading to the studio for my class. As it turned out, the address I had for the studio, when entered into my GPS, brought me to a whole different area of town, and I was about half an hour late for my scheduled arrival. I usually like to arrive early, so I can leisurely set up River's crate and play some music to set the mood, while I soak in the atmosphere of where I'm teaching, but this time, I hurriedly got River set up, plugged in my iPhone and immediately started teaching. Not that it didn't go well (it went great) but it's just not how I prefer to do it.

There were ten dancers in class and I don’t think it could have gone any better. I set the focus of class on "Appreciating and Being Grateful for Life" We all had a good time dancing and I know the studio is going to have a wonderful, productive and positive future. I'm so grateful to Beth for setting it up and for all of the students for sticking around and waiting for my arrival.


Tomorrow, I head back home. I managed to cover new ground every day. I won’t officially close the loop until I get back on I-90 tomorrow. I’m very much looking forward to being home tomorrow. I don’t know if it’s just because I’m scheduled to be home, but I really feel the urge to be home. It will be interested to see what happens when I put together and pull off my Autumn Tour of the Great Lakes and Texas.  That’s a giant loop and is probably going to take at least six weeks. I hope I’m not three weeks into that one and thinking I wish I were home.

I guess only time will tell.



Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Cheryl and River: BFFs


The drive from Ogden to Boise was B. O. R. I. N. G. and long. How many farms can one drive past?  There were no interesting rest areas, either. The best one was just a shelter with some grass.  And to add insult to injury, the grass was marked as off limits for dog. The “Pet Area” was some dirt with occasional dried up shrubs in it. I didn’t have the heart to walk River in that, so I broke the rules and took him to the human picnic area.

I did some stretches on the grass while he sniffed a little bit and rolled around a little bit. No one seemed to care or notice.

The most interesting thing I saw on the drive was in this shelter. There was bird poop on the wall. I was wondering how it got there. There was no place for a bird to be perched above these droppings, so I figured they must have been released in flight. Even so, I couldn’t figure out how so many different birds managed to get this trajectory just right.

The highlight of the day was certainly meeting up with my friend, Cheryl. We met one summer when she and my best friend, Kurt were an item. I was 12 and she was 14. We recently re-connected on Facebook and still got along great. 

She and River became fast friends. He really took a liking to her and vice-versa. Within an hour of meeting her, he was lying on her foot, which is something he does when he likes someone and doesn’t want them to leave.

When she went into the Chipotle to buy our dinner, River and I waited outside, and he sat in rapt attention, looking at the door until she came back. He really loved the backyard, as that’s something we don’t have at home. And Cheryl even had some dog toys. They actually belonged to her pooch, Jack, who was off on a camping trip with her husband while we were there, but River loved playing with them.

Although River is house broken, he did have an accident in her home. I felt terrible, and actually, I think River felt pretty bad about it, too. It doesn’t make any sense to me. He doesn’t pee indoors at home; ever. The only time he’s done that is while visiting somewhere new. He’s actually done it in two friends’ homes and in one Nia studio. I wish I knew what triggered it. The weird thing is that he had just peed when we were leaving Chipotle. And we drove straight home and were upstairs chatting when he just decided to let loose without warning. But I had my pee-kit in the car. I used some rags to soak it up, and then sprayed Red Juice in the spot to clean it. I wiped it up with another rag as best I could and then sprinkled liberally with baking soda. After giving that a chance to soak it up, I vacuumed it with a handheld wet/dry vac. By the time I was done, no human could have detected it was there (although I wouldn’t be surprised if Jack picked up on it right away).

We stayed up way too late, but had lots of fun catching up and chatting, so it was all worth it.

As she left for work the next morning, River and I were in the garage and he walked out the driveway and wouldn’t budge until her car was out of sight.

She took this picture of us sitting on the stairs at her house.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Enjoying Utah and Rockin Salt Lake City

Last night I slept with the window open and it was so nice to feel the cool air this morning. It was a mild 70 degrees at 8am, but it started rising quickly. It was over 100 degrees by 10:00.

I could have taken I-15, but it looked like such a straight shot and I had lots of time today, so I decided to take a less direct route. I turned on I-70 and I’m so glad I did.

The first place I saw a brown sign was some kind of historic fort. I didn’t know what to expect, so I took the detour. The sign said it was only a mile. It was a fort. Nothing too exciting. I turned around and got back on the highway.

The next brown sign was for the Fremont Indian National Park. And that was well worth the detour. The craggy rocks were such pretty colors. I’m running out of words to describe the feelings I got from seeing the beauteous nature. But I took some pictures, so if you think of some words, you can leave them in the comments below. 

I also took a little detour on a dirt road toward Castle Rock Campground. It was just staggeringly awesome.

I’m not sure if camping would be the way to go. I dont’ know how long the awesomeness of the beauty would last with nothing to do. Without lakes or something to swim in, I may lose interest pretty quickly. But who knows? It’s pretty fantastic.

I’m always disappointed in the videos. They just don’t capture the majesty and grandeur of the sights I’m shooting. Sometimes I look at them afterward and think, “Why was I so impressed by this?” I hope as you watch the videos you get a feeling for what I’m seeing.

So then we got back on I-70 and drove more. Once we got out of the Fish Lake National Forest, the scenery was back to the typical (but still jaw-droppingly gorgeous) mountains I’ve been seeing for the past weeks.

I stopped when I saw a brown sign pointing toward Yuba National Park. Fortunately, it wasn’t a long drive, because it was sort of a bust. It was flat and dry and hot and boring and the lake was mostly dried up.

I had the urge to stop for coffee, so I went to a Starbucks drive through in Draper, Utah. The woman at the drive-thru window saw River watching our transaction from the passenger seat and she asked if he wanted a Pupacino. I asked what that was and she said, “it’s just whipped cream, but they love it.”  I said OK. And when she brought my coffee she also had an overturned lid with some whipped cream piled on it. There was no one behind me in line, so I stayed there and let her watch him eat it. He gobbled it up and we laughed. “You were right, he loved it!” I said. As we drove away, I thought, I hope he doesn’t get diarrhea now.  (he didn’t)

We drove past Salt Lake City and checked into Motel 6 in Ogden, Utah. I did this to shorten tomorrow’s drive to Boise. As it is, it’s 4 1/2 hours. Driving from Salt Lake City would have been over 5 hours. 

So I had about an hour and a half to chill, shower and give River a walk before taking off for Salt Lake City. I was sweating the whole ride there, even with the air conditioner on. 

We got to the Sugar Space and met Brittany who runs the place. It is more of a theatrical space than a typical dance or exercise studio. She showed me around and as she was about to show me the lighting options I could choose for class, she disappeared. She came back a few minutes later saying that someone has just smashed the window out of her car and taken her purse, in which she had about $1000 of cash!  What a terrible thing. I didn’t know what to say. I only hope the person who stole that money gets what they deserve.

Seven people showed up to dance with us. Two of them came only because they wanted to dance to some Rock & Roll and had never even heard of Nia. There was a guy in class, too. Renee Podunovich is a local teacher and she brought her partner; a male, who was interested in the whole male teacher and rock music thing.

We had a rockin good time and I think we have a couple of new Nia fans in Salt Lake City. After class I was closing up the space as Brittany had shown me, and as I was about to lock the front door, I saw that she was still outside talking with the police. 

I have to say, that sort of left a bad taste in my mouth. I guess it could happen anywhere, but it always surprises me that people actually do stuff like that.

On the drive home, River was looking weary. I got the feeling he was getting tired of the heat (as was I). I had been making a strong effort to make sure he was happy and comfortable the whole trip, but there’s only so much I can do about the heat.

By the time we got back to Ogden, the sun had set and it was much cooler, so I took him to a grass park and we ran and played and he rolled in the grass. He seemed to be spent, but it was so nice to sit there, we just hung out there until the sprinklers came on and forced us to run back to the car.

That seemed to perk him up.

I only have two more stops, and two more classes before we’re home.