Thursday, August 31, 2017

Nia in Columbus

This is the first time it has happened this whole year, but this morning, I was awakened by a knock on the door that set River into panicked barking. I leapt out of bed and informed the housekeeper that I didn't need any service today. In broken English, I think he tried explaining to me that there is a Do Not Disturb sign for hanging on the doorknob. I did and it seemed to satisfy him. 

I made my coffee using my brand new electric kettle. It was great. I don't miss the old one at all. This one is more compact and easier to load and pack, so I'm thrilled for the change. 

I had much of the day for lazing, so River and I spent some time on the lawn outside, and hanging out like hermits inside.

I had a Nia class tonight at Mandala Center for Movement Arts but it wasn't until 7pm so I had lots of time. I went to Bexley Natural Market where I got some organic produce and healthy foodstuffs, but I forgot to fill up my water jugs, even though it was a perfect opportunity as they had a filtered water dispenser on site. I didn't remember until I was half way to the pet food store, theDogWorks/Cats2.  I got River some frozen food. I had to select an unfamiliar brand, since they didn't have anything I recognized. The woman noticed that the Best By date was April 2017, so she gave me a thirty percent discount. She explained that she was phasing out raw food, and I told her that was a shame because it was the only diet that's good for dogs. She agreed, but had to supply what the customers would buy. We both shook our heads solemnly for the poor uneducated people of Bexley, feeding grains to their dogs. 
I still have the better part of one gallon of filtered water left, so I should be OK for today, but I do need to keep any eye peeled for locations to refill. 
Around 5:45, I fed River his dinner and since I noticed he was being bitten by bugs, I thought I should give him a vinegar bath. That's heavy diluted vinegar in warm water. It just makes him unattractive to bugs, it doesn't do anything for the bites he already has. 
After that, I took a shower and headed off to class. 
The Columbus group at Mandala Center are fun to move with. They're not the most exuberant, but they can pack a room and fill it with dance. We had a great time moving our centers.
They are also a particularly generous group. I was told that one dancer who couldn't make it still insisted she pay for the event because she liked me last year. And that several of the people who did come wouldn't accept their change back and wanted to pay a full $20 rather than the set price. 
Trish supplied water bottles and tangelos for everyone. 
This is the place last year, when I had gotten a nail in my tire and had to stay in Columbus unexpectedly, that let me sleep in the studio on the massage table rather than scramble to find another hotel in the middle of the night. 
It's an all around good feeling place.
I stopped at a Kroeger on the way home and filled up my water jugs with filtered water and when I was back in my motel room, dined on a ham and cheese sandwich and hearty tomato soup and some fermented beets. I also had some Simple Truth Organic Breakfast Cookies (blueberry) before turning in.
I have a long drive tomorrow, so I want to bed down early and get an early start.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Mason to Grove City

A horrible thing happened this morning. I couldn't make my coffee. My electric kettle stopped working, so I had to pack up the car and head to the local mall where I found a Starbucks and a Target. I went in and bought a new electric kettle and a dark roast drip coffee. 

River and I stood under a tree in an island in the huge parking lot as I contemplated on the sameness of malls across the country. It saddened me that even I resorted to shopping at these comfortable homogenous institutions over supporting local business. 

I don't know if it was from going out into the sunlight before having my coffee, or if it was bad air quality in Cincinnati today, but my eyes were stinging and burning as I drank my coffee in the parking lot. 

It was just another hour to the motel and a good three hours before check-in, so I stopped at a rest area and River and I hung out for a long time. I was fascinated by the trees; especially the ones that were rotting or dying. River found a little frog (or was it a toad?).

What's funny is the name of the town that the rest area is in: Jeffersonville. It's the same name, but different state, of the town in which the mysteriously disappearing Motel 6 almost left me high and dry. So it turns out I DID get to spend some quality time in Jeffersonville. 

So then we eventually made it to our motel room in Grove City. This is the place I was staying at many years ago when I encountered some kids who were noisily playing outside my room. I went out with River and my camera so I could capture how unbelievably inconsiderate they were being, but I ended up getting roped into their fun and games. 

Strangely, now I'm sitting in the room and a bunch of guys started up a soccer game right outside my door! I can't believe how inconsiderate they are as they kick the ball back and forth amongst other peoples' cars. If it were later at night (it's only about 6pm) or if they were near my car, (I'm on the other side, near the grass). I'd go out there and tell them to stop.  But since I believe in choosing my battles and letting people do their lives, I can tolerate it for now. Plus if I told them to go somewhere else, they might go play on the grass and then I'd be worried about my car. So I'm just waiting for that ball to come through my window and end the game. 

What the heck is up with people in Columbus that they think it's OK to play sports and have recess in front of other peoples' motel rooms? People pay money to rest here. I didn't capture this on the video, but every few points, they all get really excited and cheer and shout in Spanish. It's annoying. Oh I just heard the distinct sound of a car being nailed by a soccer ball and now a lot of laughter. What a bunch of tools. 

Evansville to Mason - Nia in Louisville

The sky this morning was a familiar patchwork of blue, white and steel grey. It reminded me of typical Seattle skies and felt nice and comforting. I took River for a long walk around the property in Evansville first thing in the morning. I also made myself a pot of coffee in my mini French press using my incredibly handy electric water kettle. Unbeknownst to me, it would be my last cup made in this convenient way. More on that, later.

I stayed in the motel room all the up until checkout time, because I had six hours to fill and only a 90 minute drive ahead of me. Even though I was going to drive into the Eastern Time Zone from Central and lose an hour, I still had a lot of time to waste.

So I stopped at the nearest rest area and River and I hung out there for about three hours. At one point, while we stayed under the picnic shelter, the sky opened up and pour a torrent down upon us; It was gorgeous. I had left my car windows open, so River and I ran through the downpour to Babe and I rolled the windows up and then we ran back to the picnic shelter. 

Finally it was time to head to Louisville for 
Nia at Shine.

I arrived early and met my host, Maria, who had set up a beautiful room in a cool old building filled with arts. There was a full house and we rocked the place.
After class,  a student had a dinner at her house. She had made two kinds of lasagne, a salad and bread and some brownies for desert. I tried to keep River in the back yard or in the mudroom, but he figured out how the dog door worked so he kept making it back in the house. Finally, I relented and let him lie at my feet as we ate.

After dinner I drove another hour and a half to Mason where my motel was reserved for me. I checked in and crashed as soon as we were in the room.

The next morning, I went to make my coffee and the electric kettle didn't turn on. I tried other sockets, but I couldn't get the blue light to come on. I sadly had to accept that I was not going to be making my coffee in the room this morning. This kettle was one of the most precious material items of all of road trip luggage/paraphernalia. I guess this means I'll either have to start stopping at Starbucks (shudder) or finding local coffee shops every morning (cringe and shudder) or go to the store and find another electric kettle.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Edwardsville NOT to Jeffersonville: the disappearing Motel.

Today is the first day of the third week of this eight-week trip. Having just completed two full weeks last night, I noticed this morning that my trip odometer reads 3650 miles. (By the end of today it was more like 3825). For those concerned with these things, she's just reached over 66,000 miles and I'm getting an average of 43 MPG.

After teaching and shopping, my main plan for today was to drive four plus hours to what I think is a suburb of Louisville, KY called Jeffersonville, IN and stop at a forest on the way. But the night before, I was going to look up the location on the website to see if they had an onsite laundry, and the link from my reservation didn't work. I couldn't get to the information about the property, but I could on any of the other reservations. I figured it was a glitch in the website, so I went to google the location and found over 300 reviews of the property.
It was overwhelmingly one-star reviews. People were saying that the customer service was great but the place was gross with mold and bugs and stains and garbage. One commenter suggested that people of compromised health shouldn't stay here because of the high level of mold. Many people said things like, "I've been going to Motel 6 for years and I've seen some that were pretty bad, but I've never seen anything this bad." The "Manager/owner?" was often responding and being very pro customer service and assuring the complainer that it wasn't their policy.

And then, I noticed that about two months ago people began complaining about the smell of paint, and many were saying they were inconvenienced by the maintenance. The whole ground floor was closed for painting? It sounded like they were fixing it up, so I was encouraged again. But then I saw on Google that it was marked as "closed", so I tried calling them. I was directed to what sounded like a generic corporate recording "We're sorry. The property you're trying to reach is experiencing phone difficulties. Try again later."

So I began to realize that I needed to find a place to sleep tonight!
Original plan - Aborted

I was planning a visit to Hoosier National Forest on the way, but sadly, that wasn't a priority, so I didn't get there. 
What I decided to do was to set my navigation for Louisville and stop along the way if I saw a good place. I drove about two hours. We passed the town of Griffin, Indiana.

I stopped at the Black River Visitor Center in New Harmony, IN and I had lunch and fed River. Then I remembered I had the Bring Fido app on my phone, so I checked for local accommodations. That's when I saw that Motel 6 was one of them. It was one I never had heard of, and it was only about half an hour from New Harmony, in the direction of Louisville. It's not as close to Louisville as Jeffersonville was, but it was open, so that was a plus. It's between 2 and 3 hours to Louisville, but my class is at 4:30pm, so I have plenty of time. I do have to take into account that I'll be crossing over into the Eastern Time Zone once I'm in Kentucky. Still, it's a leisurely drive tomorrow. 

But I still didn't even know if they had any rooms tonight. I thought I'd just show up and take my chances. But it seems like they have plenty of vacancies, so I got a good room. Small and too many flies, but it's got a roof and I don't notice any mold, so it's all relative.

Some of my friends were just hit by Hurricane Harvey and have been flooded, darkened and cut off. So I can't really complain too much. My heart goes out to them, I love them and I wish them well. 

I took River on a long walk and he was frolicking more than I've ever seen him do. Really just ecstatic jumping and running and rolling around and coming at me, but dodging me and running around me, to a tree, to the tall grass... He'd jump at a crushed paper cup and we found a long stick he could destroy. It was a nice big thick one so it kept him busy and took a lot of energy to break. With my help, he finally did. And I congratulated him and he trotted off to explore more grass. I was letting him have his dog day until it led us into the semi truck parking area of Motel 6 and River wanted to wade in a big puddle. I figured there was probably a lot of grease or anti-freeze or some other gunk in that puddle, so that's when I called him and gradually escorted him in the direction of the room. He's been asleep on the floor here ever since. 

I have no idea what the story is behind the Jeffersonville Motel 6. I cancelled my reservation online when I got into this room, and I booked a night in Mason, OH to replace the next night. I had planned to stay in Jeffersonville after class tomorrow, and had two nights reserved there. So instead, I'll hit the road after class and drive a few hours to Mason. 

So this is what I ended up driving today:

I'll also update the Where the Heck? blog to reflect the change.

Two Days of Nia in Edwardsville

I started my day by making a salami and cheese sandwich for lunch and taking it with me on a nice drive to Edwardsville for Nia at Studio Gaia.  We did the Profound routine with a focus on liquid movements.
I missed a lot of cues this morning, and I don't know why. It wasn't bad; I think it was because I was getting lost in the experience. It didn't negatively affect the class, and I didn't let it get me down, but I did notice it. I totally had fun, and I felt like the class did, too. Some of the ladies speculated that because it was a particularly gorgeous day, the attendance was lower than expected. I don't usually pay much attention to who's not here, so it didn't matter to me. I had fun with those who did arrive. And River was perfectly quiet the whole time.

After class I ate a sandwich while taking River out onto the grass to pee and get some sunshine. I took off my shirt so I could also get rays while I ate. Then, in between my class and the upcoming Creating Choreography playshop I was teaching, I had the studio to play in, so I danced for about an hour to some of the songs I'm working on for my newest routine. I'm collaborating with several other people in the USA and different countries. We are collaborating by Facebook group and while I'm on the road I haven't been working on it nor contributing much to the group, so I was glad to have the time in the studio to put myself of video to share with them.

(BTW, the new routine is going to be called Blue Earth, and I think it's going to be sensational.)

As I danced in the studio, the women gathered for the choreography playshop. They had previously chosen a song and we spent three hours using different methods of FreeDance designed for getting moves to go with music. It took us a while to get started but once the shyness was overcome, we put together a wonderful and really fun Nia song.  I told them I'd include it in the routine I was to teach the next morning. They gave me 75 minutes, so I needed to find fifteen extra minutes of material anyway as my routines is only an hour.

I included not only that, but three songs from Amazing, since they were all created using the same playshop format. I also included the Bowie tribute songs that don't correspond with the Fantasia routine. I was asking them to make the martial arts "Hya" but they weren't. So I dropped it, but I did mention, mid class that it was an important thing and if they wanted to ask me after class I'd be glad to explain why. And, to my surprise, they did ask after class and I explained to them how it stabilizes the core and centers and grounds them when done properly. I also mentioned how it's different than a celebratory "Hey!" which actually does the opposite and tosses your energy up and away. Then I gave them a challenge to explore if they could feel the difference, physically and energetically of the guttoral Hya! and the head-centered "Hey!" 

I needed to refill, so on my way out of Edwardsville I stopped at the Dierbergs to refill my water jugs, and Green Earth Grocery to restock the cooler. I would have gotten River's food at the local business, Four Muddy Paws but they didn't open until 11, and I wanted to get on the road. Petco opens at 9AM so we went there.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Cedar Rapids to Hazelwood

The first thing I did today was drive through a dead zone. I woke up and got out of Cedar Rapids early enough to stop and visit Wakonda State Park for lunch. I was listening to a Spotify playlist as I drove, but somewhere around the Iowa-Missouri state line, I lost service and was driving in uninvited silence. The silence wasn't irksome or unwelcome, just unexpected. 

We stopped and had lunch on schedule which was nice, but I kept it brief.

Nothing much else of note happened along the drive. The weather was nice; it didn't feel too hot and sweltering. It was in the mid 70s and slightly humid, but there was a nice grey cloud layer keeping things from baking in the sun. It was especially nice when I drove under a green canopy of trees, but those were few and far between.

I had read about the Motel 6 I was headed to, so I wanted to get there right at 3pm, when checkin hours begin, so I could get first choice of the available rooms. And sure enough when I got there, there was only one door near parking. I took River for a walk all around the property, casing the joint before I checked in, so I knew to ask for room 120, which was the one right near the one door. But before I could ask, they handed me a key for room 311. I explained my situation and asked if we could change it. The guy behind the counter, who was by the way, about 6'5" and standing on a raised platform, told me he'd have to get the manager to help him change my room and I said fine. She was able to get me into room 124, which was just a few doors down from the one entrance near parking> So I was delighted and we moved into the room with much of the day still ahead of us. Now that I have no driving to do, I'm not sure what to do with myself.

I took River out for another long walk around the property. There were some grassy hills and my feet slipped out from under me and I slid down the grass on my butt. It was fun. I hope someone saw so they could laugh at me, it was pretty funny, I'm sure. River didn't even notice, he just kept on sniffing right beside me, and we broke into a run together as I recovered to my feet.

We found a shady spot and sat there for what seemed like half an hour. I promised myself to let him have his moment, however long he wanted it for, because he was in the car all day without fussing; he's earned this. Eventually, River got up and started indicating he was ready to go, by sauntering toward the door of the motel. When he reached the end of our 30' leash, he slowly circled back around to get by my side. I knew exactly what he was saying but I motioned toward the car, which was a necessary detour before we went back into the room. He then picked up his pace and trotted over to the car. He hopped right up when I opened 'his' door, which I only opened because I thought the black asphalt might be hot. So I switched leashes, he drank some water and we walked back into the room where he konked out on the floor.

I got another room with a microwave and refrigerator so I'm all set for meals here for the next two days. This Motel 6 is obviously a former La Quinta. It's got the yellow and gold paint job and red Spanish tile roofs. And the furnishings are more lavish than the austere utilitarianism I'm used to at the 6. I wonder what Bob Bodette would say about this?

Whenever I come to St. Louis, I always remember Yosemite Sam in the Ballot Box Bunny episode. At one point Bugs Bunny tells Sam someone's at the door asking for him and "she said to mention St. Louis. (pronounced Loo-ey)" Yosemite Sam hears this and leaps into the air screaming "St. Looey??!! Yahoo! EMMA!!!" and runs out the door. Of course, Bugs had fooled him, it wasn't Emma.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Nia in Coralville

My big plan for today was a playshop on Nia FloorPlay at Body Moves in Coralville, which is 25 minutes drive from here. And that wasn't scheduled to start until 5pm, so I had all day to chillax.

Months ago, when I was planning this road trip, I scheduled myself for a visit to Lake MacBride State Park, which might have been lovely. But I failed to estimate the need for rest. It doesn't seem like I'd need that much, because all I do is drive and teach Nia, but both of those things cost energy in different ways, so when I have a day like today where I'm not required to do either one, I tend to not want to do anything else but rest.

So I slept in today and caught up on my Facebooking and blogging. I answered my emails and took River on a walk around the property. Since I had stocked up on food yesterday, and I have a microwave right in my room, I didn't need to leave. But I did; as I said, we spent a nice long time on the Motel 6 lawn.

Finally, mid- afternoon, I showered and got ready to go to Coralville to teach at BodyMoves. I'm pretty pleased with myself that I finally figured out how beneficial it is to travel with two crates. For days like this, when I'm staying in the room before and after going to class, I can leave that crate set up and just walk River into the car and drive. It's not a big deal to set up and break down the crate, but it's more of a deal sometimes to carry it.  But it is definitely super nice to avoid that step when possible.

I taught a two hour FloorPlay workshop at Body Moves to a full house. I honestly wasn't expecting many attendees because of the controversial nature of FloorPlay. But I was delighted to see that not only were there plenty of participants, but at least seven or eight of them were Nia belts. So it was a good crowd and they were very receptive to the work.

I spent a bit of time last night and this morning, writing out an outline of what I was going to do for the two hours. But I left it in the motel room. And this is not the first, nor even the second time that I have done this. It is almost as though I'm doing it on purpose. I do get the benefit from creating the list and formulating the plan, but then I also get the benefit of flying off the cuff in class. Rather than be drawn into depending on what I had written, I'm able to be focused more on the students and on what's happening in the room.

I started out by asking them what they liked and didn't like about FloorPlay. And certain things that they said triggered something that I had written down, so I'd stop and address that point and then open the floor up again. We went back and forth like that for most of the first hour.

I spent a good deal of time, too, on the Nia Five Stages, taking them through a mini version of a Nia 5 Five Stages class experience. When I got back to the motel room, I checked my forgotten list and saw that I did cover everything I wanted to.

And the second hour I put on music and created a playful Nia FloorPlay class. I incorporated all the things we talked about, like how to get up and down from the floor, all the choices you have as a student, being childish and playing, stretching, getting strong, relaxing and taking care of yourself.

I felt really good afterward and I got the impression that the students did, too. I'm sorry, I forgot to turn the camera on, so I didn't get any footage of the class. Trust me though, it was beautiful and looked like so much fun. I had them making monkey noises and playing like sexy lizards. They were sliding around the floor on blankets and doing impressive acrobatics that they didn't even know they could do. I gave them a nice long relaxing self-guided meditation at the end.

After class, I took River for a few sprints around the front lawn. We found some sticks for him to destroy and a flat rock he could hop up on and bark loudly. His tongue was flapping as we drove back to the motel room.

This weekend I'm going to St. Louis (actually Edwardsville, IL) and the gang at Gaia Studio and I are going to create some choreography in a playshop I put together for the Community Network Synergy project which became the Amazing routine. So they just sent me the song they're going to use and I'm going to spend tonight with it, being relaxed, but alertly listening and waiting, and counting to eight and drawing bars. 

St. Paul to Cedar Rapids - Nia in Minneapolis

Today started in the dark as I woke up before the sun so I'd have enough time to enjoy a leisurely coffee and get from St. Paul to Minneapolis in morning commuter traffic to teach Nia at Sattva at 8am.
And to make the morning just a little bit frazzling, I can thank Motel 6 for putting me in the middle of the hallway on the second floor, so every load I had to carry from the room to the car took not the few seconds that it takes in a proper motel, but over a minute, since I had to walk halfway down the second floor corridor, open a door, go downstairs and open another door and then walk through the parking lot since I was unable to get the only good parking place, right by the only door.
Even as I type it out it sounds so petty to get frustrated over, but I do anyway. I detest this indoor corridor set up. And what's extra frustrating about is that I can't complain to anyone.  No one is at fault and no one can do anything about it. All I can do is write about my experience in my Motel 6 Experiences blog so that I know better than to stay here again.

When I made my reservation I specifically requested a "Ground Floor Room near the Exit due to my dog." But the Motel 6 reservation system is flawed in that no one really sees my special requests until they look at my reservation, which they don't seem to do until I'm checking in. I hate to hear the clerk, upon checking my reservation say, "Ok, we have your reservation... unfortunately...." ugh. That means I'm going to be hiking with armfuls of luggage and toting a nervous, sensitive dog through stinking, mildewed corridors sprayed generously with disinfectant. Whenever we enter these indoor corridors, he immediately starts to 'sneeze'. I don't think he's actually sneezing as much as he's forcibly pushing the scent out of his face. I don't have his super smelling and even I'm disgusted whenever we go into an indoor corridor.

Anyway!! The good news is, that was the worst part of my day and it only gets better from here.

There was very little traffic, so I got to the space in plenty of time to walk River around the block so that he was all taken care of and could relax in the crate while we danced.

I was teaching Orchestra this morning, and hadn't taught it in about a year. But I didn't review my music or my bars before class. I just didn't have the time and thought sleep was more important. So I winged it and trusted that since I created it and taught it plenty of times that it would still be in my body.  It was. I nailed it, as they say. And it seemed to go over well. We danced in a small but gorgeous health and wellness movement boutique with the sunrise streaming in the big windows.

Show your Strength!
Act Silly!
Do your best Butterfly! 
Amy is the teacher of this group, and she was the one I set up the engagement with, but I didn't realize she wasn't going to be there. Thinking ahead, she elected one of her students to be my erstwhile host. She did a fine job taking care of me and helping me get organized in the room and get class going. She also handled the payments and fund distributions. 

After class I made a stop at the local food co-op called The Wedge Wedge Community Co-op. I dropped a good $90, but my cooler and 'pantry' were overflowing. It's a good feeling to be stocked with food.
Then I hit the road for my next stop, which was Cedar Rapids, Iowa. 
This is the map I had made for myself weeks ago when I was planning this whole trip, but I'm finding that the plans I make in advance more often than not, don't pan out. Such was the case today.
In the moment, I really just wanted to drive long enough to get out of the urban surroundings of the twin cities and then to stop at the first park I could find to eat lunch.  
So this was my plan:

But when I got about an hour out of town, I entered "Parks" into my MiniNav, and she gave me lots of options. I chose the closest one and she navigated me to a hidden little gem in a tiny town just off the main highway. The town was called Oronoco, MN and the park was called Allis. I was just expecting to see a small patch of grass and, if we were lucky a table I could eat at. But not only did this place offer a table, but an outhouse and access to a rocky riverbed. We were in heaven!
So our route looked more like this:

I ate lunch and we climbed on rocks, ran through tall grass and destroyed some sticks. After about 90 minutes of Allis Park, we got back on the road and drove straight through to the Motel 6 in Cedar Rapids. 
The last time I stayed at this location, there had just been a major event. I learned that a guy had been stabbed and his room caught on fire. The fire destroyed a good portion of the building. And today I noticed that the entire building was gone. This was a huge, two story wing of rooms. Probably almost fifty rooms--now it was a patch of grass. I asked about it while I was checking in and the clerk told me that because it was rainy season when the damage occurred, it added to the destruction to the point that it was going to be too costly to repair, so they just tore it all down. 
It was time to do laundry but this location has no on-site facility, so we took a little trip to the Walmart Supercenter where we were told to find a laundromat.
While I was loading the washer with my clothes, River, waiting in the car, got into the ice chest that contained his next four days worth of food. He seemed pretty pleased with himself when I got back. I can't blame him or get upset when he does these things. I take responsibility for putting him in the situation and I give him a big hug and a scratch behind the ears for being a dog. Now I know to make that ice chest a little more difficult to get into while he's alone in the car. The good news is, he doesn't seem to mind being left alone anymore. I think he looks forward to me walking away and as soon as I'm out of sight, he's figuring out how to get more of that forbidden food. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Omaha to St. Paul - Nia in Minneapolis

Google had suggested two ways to get from Omaha to St. Paul; both of them right angles. One was through Des Moines and the other was through Sioux Falls. I was planning to take the Sioux Falls route, but Mini had a different idea, so we went diagonally through Iowa, taking US Highways instead of Interstates.
I drove by a lot of corn.
And places like 
Vail: A Little Town With a Big Heart 
Lake City: Everything Except a Lake. 
We stopped about halfway through the five hour drive to eat some lunch near some corn.

It was my least favorite kind of day. When I wake up in one city and have to drive a long distance to another city and teach a class that night. This was a 7:30 pm class so it gave me a long time. And I hit no traffic or mishaps, so I had enough time to check into the motel, and feed River before heading back out to class. There was a touch of city rush hour traffic, but I allowed for that and was fine.

 The Center for Performing Arts is a cool, artsy old building with lots of activity. We were in the sunroom, with all the windows. Once again, my camera aiming isn't too swift, but you can get an idea of how much fun we had.

We were going to stop for some tapas after class, but we took too long getting out of the studio and by the time we got to the restaurant, they were closing up the outdoor seating. So we hugged and parted ways. I had my dinner in the motel room and went to bed.

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.