Settled in Seattle


Seattle, taken from the NG Sea Lion

Yes, it’s been awhile. I haven’t written on whereonearth in several months for several different reasons. The last time I posted a blog was way back in March when I was traveling around Ecuador!  One of the reasons I’ve been on hiatus is that I recently started school again, which means that my travels and adventures have virtually stopped (although I did have an awesome two week cross-country road trip and I plan on doing many, many mini vacations!). School also magically and dramatically cuts down on free time… Another reason is that I felt like I had to write a post everyday or at least five days a week. It was a lot of pressure on myself and even though I like to write, I didn’t necessarily want to write everyday. So this time around, it’s going to be a lot less stressful. I want to write posts that I don’t rush through and not just put them up because I feel like I have to put something up. I also want to work on my writing skills because I’m taking a writing course next quarter (writing about food and health to be exact), and I would like to – maybe, possibly – start writing for magazines and/or online blogs or publications. So we’ll see how it goes!

Now for an update on where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to for the past few months. I mentioned in this post that I’ve decided to go back to school. Well, I’ve officially been back in school for three months and I love it! Bastyr is a really great school and even though this quarter has been a quarter of sciences  because I’m in the post-bacc program, I love that I’m learning (academically) again. After a year of post-bacc classes, I’m hoping to start the Master’s in Nutrition and Clinical Health Psychology.

Along with going back to school, I’ve also been exploring my new city: Seattle. Being in a new city is not so revolutionary for me (check out this series of posts), but what is new to me is the fact that I’m staying in this city, for more that a few days or weeks, at least. I love discovering new places and getting lost amid the gridwork of city streets (as long as I have a map or GPS). Here are a few places that I’ve discovered and love about Seattle:

The Burke-Gilman trail – runs from Ballad to Kenmore and connects to a number of other paved bike trails/lanes. I can bike to Bastyr almost entirely on the trail!

Sutra Restaurant and Yoga Studio – an all-vegan, set-menu, local-food restaurant. What more could I ask for? Also attached to the restaurant is a yoga studio. I’ve been volunteering at the owners farm in Monroe for one day a month in exchange for free yoga. Perfect! Here’s a pic of a greenhouse that we helped build.

Chocolati in Wallingford – my go-to study spot. Amazing almond milk hot chocolate!

Value Village – not very classy, I know, but you can find some amazing discoveries there. Sometimes. A lot of the times it’s all junk, but I’ve gotten some pretty nice plant pots and kitchen stuff for cheap!

I’m still exploring and still discovering, so these are only a few of the places I’ve found. There’s lots of great restaurants and things to do and see in Seattle, so keep checking back! Now on to studying…

Top 10 Yoga Retreats I’d like to Visit


I’ve had a lot of time to daydream and surf the net these past few days while we’ve been at dry dock in Colon. The spa is clean, the library inventoried (which took me all day to do yesterday), and disposing of the massage chair because it was growing at least 7 different varieties of mold. Everyone I have asked has said they don’t need any help, so I have been left to my own devices, which has mainly included reading, doing crosswords, and browsing the Internet. One of my favorite things to search for are yoga retreats around the world and then I daydream about spending at least a week in a beautiful places with fresh, healthy food, and practicing yoga on a daily basis – something I’ve been sorely missing. So here is a list of my top ten yoga retreats that I’d like to visit. I’d love to know of any others you have found!

1) Samudra – Dunsborough, Australia
An Ashtanga yoga studio and live food cafe set on the beach in sunny Western Australia? I can’t think of a more perfect combination.

2) Purple Valley Yoga – Goa, India
Another yoga retreat specializing in Ashtanga yoga. This one draws teachers from all over the globe for workshops and retreats and also has a wide array of Aryuvedic treatments

3) Ashtanga World – Ubud Bali
I love all styles of yoga, but as you can probably tell, my practice consists mainly of Ashtanga. So if there’s an Ashtanga retreat center or studio, it moves right to the top of my list.

4) Flor Blanca – Santa Teresa, Costa Rica
This is way out of my budget, but it looks amazing! Even despite the fact that I’ve spent so much time in Costa Rica.

5) Ak’Bol Yoga Retreat – San Pedro, Belize
Belize will always have a soft spot in my heart as a result of a great family vacation to Ambergris Caye and Ian Anderson’s Cave Branch. This yoga retreat looks just as stellar, so hopefully someday I’ll get to visit!

6) Luna Lodge – Carate, Costa Rica
Another yoga retreat in Costa Rica. I’ve been to the Osa Peninusla with the ship, but it would be nice to be able to relax and do some yoga instead of helping people in and out of Zodiacs

7) Yoga Plus – Crete, Greece
Another retreat for Ashtanga yoga! This place looks absolutely amazing

8) Pranamar – Santa Teresa, Costa Rica
One more yoga retreat I can’t afford, also in Costa Rica. I can dream, right?!

9) Yoga Holidays in the French Pyrenee’s – France
Hiking, yoga, good food… I’m there.

10) Gaia Retreat – Byron Bay, Australia
Founded in part by Olivia Newton-John in 2005, this place looks like a great retreat to visit for a week. Or a month.

And now that I have spent entirely too much time looking a yoga retreats online, I have to get back to the ship. I think the galley is making us a nice meal for dinner (not sure what that implies for the vegan) and after C and I have a shopping date. He needs some black shoes, a black belt, and some t-shirts and I’d like to pick up a few pairs of water shorts. I’m not looking forward to it – Colon is a rough city and I can think of a few places I’d rather be.

12 hours in Salt Lake City


Honestly, I can’t say that I’m very impressed. Maybe it’s because I’m exhausted (after waking up at 4:30 this morning and taking a five hour bus ride from Jackson Hole down to Salt Lake City) or maybe because it’s freaking hot here and I’m in jeans and sneakers and have a heavy pack on my shoulders. The first place I found after dropping my bag off at the airport and taking a bus into the city was a sprawling outdoor mall with every retail shop you can imagine and kids playing in a jumping water fountain. Not a good introduction to the city. I found a Starbucks, though, and sipped away my headache with a soy latte. I also did a little research on things to do in Salt Lake City and the #1 attraction, according to Trip Adviser, is the library. I had plenty of time – 12 hours to be exact – before my plane departed at 1:00 am, so I thought I might as well try to find it. I hopped on the Trax, an above-ground train, and went several blocks to where I thought the library was located. After walking a few hundred yards away from the station though, I felt the sweat start to drip down my back and thoughts of the air-conditioned Barnes and Noble back at the mall sounded pretty good. I retraced my steps without finding the library and spent the remainder of my waiting game browsing the shelves.

Once again I have been very bad about updating my adventures and whereabouts. My three week contract in Alaska ended with lots of rain, a massive calving in Tracy Arm, bubble net-feeding humbacks, breaching whales, and a salmon fishing bear who wasn’t very good at fishing. The calving was actually a little frightening. I was out in one of the Zodiacs with a few of the guests and we were viewing the glacier from a safe distance amid floating pieces of ice and harbor seals. But even though we were at a quarter of a mile away, we weren’t prepared for the whole face to come sliding off! I didn’t have my camera out to catch it, but it wouldn’t have done the phenomena justice anyway. After the ice broke off we were faced with a ten foot wave slowly rolling its way towards us. Thank g*d it didn’t break, because then we really would have been in trouble. The only thing we had to worry about was the floating bits and pieces of ice surrounding our Zodiac. Several were quite large and it would not have been good if they rolled over beneath us. We made our retreat from the active glacier swiftly and stealthily, riding out the waves and dodging the ice. I’ll admit that my heart was pumping a little faster than usual. I thought it ironic too, that just a few days earlier the Captain Cook experienced a similar calving and a passenger unfortunately fell and broke her leg. Even though I didn’t get any shots of the calving, our Video Chronicler was out in a Zodiac as well, so he caught the whole even on film and I managed to get a copy of the DVD. It’s just as good on video!

After saying goodbye to the Bird in Sitka, I flew down to Jackson Hole to visit my brother for a week. I’d never been to Wyoming, so I was excited to explore a new place! Jackson is a cool town, a little touristy for me, but lots going on and some great outdoor activities. Will took me up to Amphitheater Lake, a ten mile hike in Grand Teton National Park, the first day I arrived. It was beautiful and the lakes at the top were spectacular, but I found it a little difficult to breath. 9,700 feet was a little high after just being at sea level for a month! I also went white water rafting on the Snake River, mountain biking down the steep and winding Blacks trail (which resulted in two bloody knees and a major cramp in my side), and a 7 mile hike around Jenny Lake, also in the Grand Teton National Park. I set out on the last hike by myself, but met another couple somewhere along the trail and we formed a group of three. The trail was mainly flat except for a steep climb up to Inspiration Point that looked out over the lake. At the top I wondered what inspiration the view sparked and for whom…

Will had to work at the hospital during the day, but I managed to fill in the hours with yoga classes at Inversion and delicious smoothies at Lotus Cafe, my new favorite restaurant. Lots of vegan options and mostly organic! I also spent quite a bit of time making calls on my phone and writing e-mails back and forth to the patient and ever-so-helpful office staff at Lindblad. My first day in Jackson I received an email saying that there was an opening for the Baltic trip on the National Geographic Explorer! Of course I jumped on it (check out the itinerary!), but the problem was getting a Russian visa and flights in two weeks. I got it (mostly) sorted out though, and all I’m waiting for is my passport to arrive in the mailbox! Then I’ll be off to St. Petersburg Russia, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Sweden, Poland, Germany, and Denmark on a 15 day cruise! I can’t wait! And I’ll try my best to keep everyone updated on the things I see and the adventures I come across. Not sure what kind of internet service I’ll have though…

Just curious, if you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?  

A Full Day of Yoga and Such


As part of our volunteer benefit package, we each get one full free day to experience Wanderlust as we wish, without having to stand on the sidelines watching a yoga class or pick up trash. Yesterday was my free day and I took full advantage of it.

My morning started out with a Mysore Ashtanga practice. Because I had taken a class with the teachers (Kristin and Barbara from The Shala in NYC) the previous day, they knew I practiced Ashtanga and thus placed me and another girl at the front of the room so those who didn’t know the sequence could follow our movements. I know I’m supposed to be moving beyond the ego, but it felt good to lead the class.

After Mysore, I grabbed a coffee and settled into the Omega Speakeasy room to listen to Adam Kelinson talk about how a diet of good, fresh, local whole foods is essential for optimum health. It was interesting and informative, but I didn’t learn much apart from what I already know – processed food is bad!

My second yoga class of the day was with Byran Kest from Santa Monica, California. Before I go into detail and the class, I forgot to mention that I ran into someone who I haven’t seen for six years! When I was in Kenya with the St. Lawrence program there was another girl from Vermont – Kristi Post – and as I was doing my Greening shift, she and I ran into each other. It was great to catch up and hear about her travels (Vietnam and Tanzania). We both took Bryan’s Power Yoga class, which was challenging , but hilarious. He is an amazing teacher and the jokes he cracks in class help you to forget the burning in your legs and arms and the sweat dripping down your nose.

After Bryan’s class I moved to the Kripalu yoga space for a workshop on pranayama, or breathing, exercises. It was relaxing and made me motivated to pick up my own pranayama class again. My goal is half and hour every morning!

Finally, my last class was a goal setting lecture back in the Speakeasy room. It was led by a Lululemon ambassador who challenged us to think about where we want to be in ten years and how we want to get there. It was helpful to map out our goals and make plans as to how we want to get there. I’m sure you’re all wondering what my goals are, so my biggest one is to get an apartment or space of my own within a year so I can stop living out of a backpack 🙂 I just need to figure out where I want that place be…

I had a few hours to relax and walk around (and have another go at slacklining) before the music events started. First on stage were the Mayapuris, a group of drummers, dancers, singers, and symbol bangers who got the crowd pumped up and dancing, despite the light drizzle. After them, Shakti Sunfire came onstage with two fire-rimmed hula hoops and performed, without flaw, a spectacular routine.

Finally, after a long wait, Michael Franti and Spearhead took the stage just as the clouds cleared and the stars came out. As much as I was looking forward to seeing him and as much as I enjoy his music, I was a bit disappointed. It was SO LOUD and I couldn’t make out any of the lyrics. He had a lot if energy on stage and was fun to watch, but I left after a few songs with my eardrums throbbing. I guess that just emphasizes my dislike for large crowds and loud places!

All and all, though, it was a great day. No surprise I woke up stiff and sore the next morning!

Wanderlust Day 2


The great thing about volunteering at the Wanderlust festivals, I’ve noticed, is that when you’re not working a shift, your pink volunteer wrist band will pretty much get you into any yoga class, workshop, talk, or event. Yesterday I arrived at the mountain around 9:30 and dropped into a 10:00 class held in the huge Gaiam tent. It was led by Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman, two very influential and well known yoga teachers. The class was good (it was entitled Grounding Through the Proper Use of the Legs and Feet), but more workshopy than I would have liked. My ideal class is a nice flow with less talk rather than one that focuses mainly on alignment. After class I wandered over to the PrAna yoga room and dropped into a beginners led Ashtanga class. It was a good contrast to Rodney and Colleens class because Ashtanga is all about flow! We only did the first half of the Primary Series and the finishing poses, but I was still sweating and tired by the end!

Then it was time for me to check in at the volunteers tent and receive my instructions for the afternoon. I was on the Greening Committee, which basically meant that I walked around the grounds for four hours, making sure people were recycling and picking up any trash I came across. My partner in crime was named Macin (pronounced Marchin) – a tall, bald, very friendly Pole who was visiting his sister in New Jersey. The hours went by quickly (although we were soaked by the end), especially since we stopped and watched a Nimble Arts performance of a woman “dancing” on a hanging length of red silk and had a go at slacklining with help from a few YogaSlackers.

Towards the end of my shift I meandered over the the Gaiam tent to watch Deepak Chopra give his talk. Unfortunately I didn’t get too much out of it because I was sitting on the floor towards the way back and couldn’t see him on the stage. Andrew Bird was on next, but I was cold and damp and tired, so I headed home after the first song. I needed my strength and energy for a full day of yoga on Saturday. It’s my free day to take any yoga class or workshop – a major benefit for volunteering at Wanderlust!

Day 1 at Wanderlust


I took my brand new shiny (rental) Ford Focus for its first long road trip yesterday, making the three hour drive from Underhill to Stratton, Vermont where Wanderlust is being held. A few weeks ago I had made arrangements (via good old Facebook) to rent a room in a woman’s house in Manchester, so I stopped off there first to drop off my bags before heading up to the mountain. Wendy and her small dog, Spanky, live in a really cute log cabin house located on a quiet dirt road. I didn’t have much time to chat because my first volunteer shift started at 12:15 and I wanted to look around a bit first. As I slowly ascended up Stratton mountain, the weather continued to get decidedly worse until it was a full-out downpour. I was glad I had remembered my rain jacket!

For those of you who haven’t been there, Stratton Mountain is a bona fide ski village. Beautiful lodges, signposts pointing you in the right direction, cute coffee shops, retail stores, and a cobblestone street. Of course everything was geared towards yogis rather than skiers (I’ve never seen a carton of soy milk on the coffee station at ANY event) and I wistfully meandered through the vendor tents looking at Buddha inspired clothing and colorful yoga mats. Finally, after five-too-many loops in search of the Volunteers Tents, I managed to locate it (it was a non-descript white tent that I passed five times). I checked in for my shift, which wasn’t for another hour, and got my green volunteers t-shirt then went to warm up with some coffee.

It was still raining when I returned to the Volunteers Tent to get my assignment and they sent me to the Gaiam tent to help sop up the rainwater that had seeped in. The previous class had been evacuated because of thunder and lightning, but the next class, led by Seane Corne, was still on schedule. I was handed a clipboard and list of names by a frazzled British-Asian woman and told to check people in and make sure they had a wrist band on. I did, then stood back and watched the class. I could have participated, but I was in jeans and didn’t have my mat with me. Plus it was cold, so I was content to sit by the big hose that blew hot air into the tent.

Later that night there was the opening ceremony held in the chapel (it was supposed to be outside by the pond, but the pond was flooded and it was still raining). They did a great job with the chapel, though. Pink and blue lights shone on the walls and star-like white lights made it seem like we were outside under a clear sky. The first performer was Garth Stevenson who is a young musician and composer and is incredibly talented on the bass. I would definitely recommend checking him out. Then we watched an equally impressive performance by Shakti Sunfire and her “flaming” hula hoop. Can you imagine dancers pose with a hula hoop twirling around the standing leg? She is pretty incredible.

The evening ended with everyone lighting candles and placing them on the alter as a symbol of something they want to let go of or leave behind. It was a nice was to wind up the first day as well as kick off a weekend filled with yoga, music, and fun!

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Wanderlust


Hi everyone! I’m back! As I was driving down route 89 early this morning, I was thinking about how I should start up my blog again. I kind of lost motivation these past few months, but now I’m ready to get back into it! Part of this renewed interest is inspired by a new blog I found called Choosing Raw. Ever since I got home from Alaska in early June I’ve been experimenting with raw foods – dehydration, soaking, sprouting, etc… pretty much turning my (or my parents) kitchen into a science lab with all the glass jars and bowls of soaking nuts sitting around. Anyway, this blog I’ve been following has been really informative and helpful in my quest to make (and eat) good raw food and it has also inspired me to pick up my own blog again.

But raw food is not (entirely) what I intend to blog about, although I may share a recipe or two in the near future. Instead, I’m going to document my next few days of volunteering at the Wanderlust Festival in Stratton Vermont. The Festival is a “revolutionary yoga retreat and music festival” – “a place to root down and rise up, to get centered on your yoga mat and get funky on the dance floor”. There will be big name yoga teachers like Seane Corn, Rodney Yee, John Friend, and Bryan Kest (among many more), and larger-than-life music stars such as Michael Franti and Spearhead, Andrew Bird, the Mayapuris, and Krishna Das.

It may be raining and thundering, but I’m sure this weekend will be a blast and I’ll have many stories to tell. I’ll keep you posted!