New England Wrap Up


Despite a tight flight connection in Detroit, C and I made it to Vermont without a hitch. After we landed in Burlington, we picked up our rental car and headed out toward my parents house in Underhill, the day’s last sunlight illuminating the snow on Mt. Mansfield before us. We didn’t have much in the way of an agenda for the next 10 days, except for a trip up to Montreal and relaxing in front of the wood stove at home with Butters, my parents’ cat, to provide us with entertainment.

We lucked out with some nice (albeit chilly) weather, and C and I went for a few long walks in the snowy woods. I also showed him around Burlington, took him to Healthy Living and a cozy tea house on Church Street, and helped him buy sturdy hiking/work boots in Johnson. I had planned a two night stay for us in Montreal through Airbnb because C had never been to the French Canadian city, so we set off across the border in our rental Jeep. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate and it was cold and rainy the first day we arrived. We also discovered that Cirque Du Soleil was opening their new show “Dralion” the day after we were supposed to leave. So, after a delicious Ethiopian dinner at Le Nil Bleu (if you have never tried Ethiopian, I highly recommend it), we decided that we would spend only one night in the city, return home to VT, and then cross the border again a day later to watch the acrobatic performance. It was a lot of driving, but highly worth it. Cirque De Soleil is amazing! The show opened with a woman performing one-handed handstands atop a 6 foot tall pole. From there, the show didn’t disappoint with acts ranging from trampoline gymnastics, trapeze artists, clowns, tumblers, and the most impressive jump-ropper’s I’ve ever seen. You can watch the preview for the show here. I’ll definitely be going to more Cirque du Soleil shows in the future. Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour anyone?

Just as my visit in Indiana flew by, so did C’s stay in Vermont. Wanting to be with his family for the holidays, he returned to Bloomington for a few days before heading down to Costa Rica and Panama for two months on the Sea Lion (with me). Which is where we are at the moment, stuck in Newark, New Jersey because a pilot called in sick and they can’t find a replacement. Yet. The officials keep saying that they’re working on the situation, but we haven’t heard any progress updates. Hopefully, fingers crossed, we’ll be in San Jose at some point tonight. At least it’s not Detroit.

UPDATE

We’re in San Jose, at last. After spending six hours at gate 102 in Terminal C at the Newark airport, Continental finally found a crew to fly our plane to Costa Rica. I thought for sure that the flight was going to be cancelled and I was on the phone trying to figure out how we were going to get from New Jersey to Central America in time to meet the ship before it set sail toward Panama. Luckily I didn’t have to worry for long because they finally announced that they had cancelled another flight (going who knows where and stranding who knows how many other people) and brought that crew to our plane so we could get to Costa Rica. There were a lot of relieved vacationers and a lot of stressed out parents with impatient kids running in every direction.

Tomorrow we board an early shuttle that will take us to Herradura and the Sea Lion. Two months of sun, surf, and beach!

The Longest Day Ever, and then some


As an experienced traveler, I have come to expect long travel days, mindless hours spent in airports, and unavoidable delays. But trying to get back home to Burlington, Vermont from Jackson Hole was one long misadventure. Here is what I experienced:

Saturday, August 27 

4:30 am Woke up to bring my brother to the Jackson Hole airport so he could fly to San Francisco for his next medical rotation

5:45 am Dropped the car off at my brother’s friend’s house and walked 15 minutes, with my luggage, to a gas station to meet the shuttle that would transfer me down to Salt Lake City, Utah for my flight. Due to Hurricane Irene, my original flight that stopped in JFK got cancelled, so now I would be flying out of SLC at 1:00 am. The next morning.

6:30 am We began our 5 hour drive down to Salt Lake City. I tried to stay away and watch the landscape as it passed by, but my eyes just wanted to stay closed so I gave up and listened to Adele with my head cushioned against the side window.

11:30 am We arrived at the Salt Lake City airport where I checked my bag and prepared myself for a 13 hour wait. I ended up catching a bus into the city where I found an outdoor mall (see last post) with Barnes and Noble and a Starbucks. I treated myself to a nice dinner at a sushi bar called the Happy Sumo. I had the vegetarian combo and some steamed vegetables. For those of you who don’t know me, I could eat (veggie) sushi every day and never get sick of it!

Sunday, August 28

12:55 am I headed back to the airport around 8 pm and spent the next few hours lying on the floor of the terminal with a coat sleeve over my eyes. At last it was time to board the plane to Atlanta and as soon as the plane took off, I took my contacts out, closed my eyes, and fell asleep

6:30 am I arrived in Atlanta, Georgia. I only had an hour layover, so I hurried to my next gate

7:25 am My plane departed Atlanta for Detroit

9:20 am I arrived in Detroit, Michigan. This is where it gets good. I get off the plane and look at the monitors to see what gate my flight to Burlington, Vermont will be. Instead of a gate number, it says cancelled. Great, I thought. So I went and stood in line with a number of other people trying to get places that Hurricane Irene ungraciously grazed. After 45 minutes of standing in line, the counter attendant informed me that the next flight available out of Detroit to Burlington would be Wednesday! No way, I thought, but what other options did I have? The woman in front of me mentioned that people were renting cars and driving to wherever they needed to go. A quick Google maps search told me that from Detroit to Burlington would be 13 hours driving time.

11:00ish am I made some phone calls to the car rental agencies and took the free shuttle to the Avis lot. I was prepared to jump in the car and drive the 600+ miles. I called my folks, though, and my dad convinced me to get a hotel for the night and see if I could stand by for a flight to Burlington the next morning. I gave in to reason and returned to the airport.

12:30 pm There was another flight to Burlington at 2:45, so I hung around to see if that one a) was actually going to happen and b) I could get a seat on it. An hour before it was scheduled to take off, just when I thought it might actually happen, they cancelled it. We were all directed, once again, to the customer service desk, where, once again, they informed us that we wouldn’t be able to get a flight to Burlington until Wednesday!


1:30 pm – 4:00 pm 
Not wanting to wait in Detroit for three days, I started asking around to see if anyone wanted to drive with me to Burlington. I recruited three other people. One was a woman (Charlene) who needed to be in Littleton, New Hampshire for a business meeting. Another was a woman (Natalie) from Montreal trying to get back east after a Usana conference in Salt Lake City. And the third was a soldier (James) trying to get back to school in Northfield, Vermont. All seemed like nice and reliable characters who just wanted to get to where they were going. We shook hands, stated our names, and exited the airport (after waiting almost 2 hours to receive our bags – mine never came). We also picked up a fifth person (Stephanie) who was stranded at the baggage claim and had no way to get home. While the other waited for their bags, Charlene and I went to the Avis car rental lot and picked up a shiny new Dodge Ram SUV. Charlene had her boss rent the car on her company’s account and paid for gas on the company’s card, so all we had to was chip in for insurance! It took an additional 45 minutes to fill out the paperwork and then when we were ready to leave, the car battery was dead. Another few minutes of scrambling and were fitted with a new car and on our way

4:30 pm A wrong turn sent us traveling north, but we quickly found our way again with Charlene’s Garmin GPS (supplemented with my iPhone). Since only Charlene and I could drive (only we had the insurance), I got to sit up front the whole way. We passed through Michigan and into Ohio. Then it was Pennsylvania and eventually New York. We stopped for food and gas several times, but pretty much we just kept trucking east.

8:30 pm & on Charlene and I took turns behind the wheel while the other tried to find updates on the storm and flooding conditions in Vermont. Everything that we found online and heard over the news told us it was bad. Really bad. Southern Vermont was getting evacuated and roads were closing left and right. Not what I want to hear after traveling since 4:30 the previous morning. We decided, though, that we would continue on as far as we could get and if we had to stop and get a hotel, we would. But not until we had to. I wanted to get home!

I think we were lucky. The only trouble we came across was somewhere near Albany, New York where we had to take a detour (thank God for the GPS!) and then on Route 22A in Vermont where we had to drive through a giant puddle. That was it. I think we skirted north and west enough to avoid any of the real flooding damage.

Monday, August 29

5:45 am We rolled into the Burlington airport, where we all agreed we would disband. I called my dad to come pick me up, Stephanie called her mom. Natalie waited at the airport for her brother to come in on his plane from Detroit (we were all slightly bitter towards him) and Charlene and James continued on for another 2 hours or so towards Montpelier and Littleton, New Hampshire.

All in all it was a good road trip. I met some interesting and very nice people and I got to see a part of the country that I’d never traveled through before. Would I do it again? Definitely not (unless I had to), but it wasn’t a horrible experience either. When I have long layovers or my travel plans become disrupted, I kind of get into this zone where time doesn’t matter anymore. Whatever happens will happen, and eventually, at some point, it will end and the next adventure will begin.

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!

A Moment to Breathe


Whew – this past week has been a whirlwind! I’ve been very busy with massages (18 so far and still a day to go) as well as trying to fit my yoga practice in and still have time for the beach. I’m determined not to lose my tan before heading home to VT! Our doctor onboard had also had her hands full with guests coming down with GI (a gastrointestinal epidemic that is highly contagious). Luckily (knock on wood) I have avoided it. People having been washing their hands so much, though, that we’re nearly out of water and need to make an emergency stop at a marina outside of Panama City before we enter the canal. Again. This will be my 14th time going through. Next week will be my 15th and last for this season, then I hop on a plane in San Jose, fly to Miami for the night and then on to VT. These past six months have been great, but I’m definitely ready for some R&R at home.

I was talking to one of the naturalists the other day on the beach, sitting on kayaks, waiting to help guests in and out of the water and he was asking me where I’ll go and what I’ll do on my time off. I told him – go back home to VT and stay with my parents. We both agreed that it’s not very practical to have an apartment when you’re away half the year. But then he suggested buying a house or piece of property, that way my money actually goes toward something useful – owning a place to live in. At first I rejected the idea – too expensive, too much maintenance, not sure I want to settle in Vermont, etc… But after thinking about it for awhile, I realized it’s not that bad of an idea. I could always rent it if I plan to take off for awhile and sell it if I decide to live elsewhere. And I wouldn’t have to live out of a backpack or yellow plastic containers anymore. Hmm… Any thoughts or suggestions?