Friday, February 3, 2012

Full Circle

We have finally made it back full circle to the dry, West Coast.  Things are simpler here, more majestic and dreams really do come true.  Like in a movie, every morning we wake up to the sunrise which floods the hills with Red, always promising things which real life simply can not.

This is a place where Good and Evil exist.  A place where doing Right is far more rewarding than doing Wrong.  And there is always enough unclaimed space for the two sides to fight it out.

Welcome to my life.  Welcome to Deep Springs College.

We live simple, unassuming lives.  We don't dress well, we don't shave and many of us can't even grow a beard.  In many ways, we are the underdogs of this movie...starring only us.

The plot line to this story begins like any other.  We are twenty four normal guys, with normal dreams who live in normal houses.

But behind the simple exterior, lies a very different reality.  One of adventure, one of risk and one in need of a cleaning lady to bring our world back to the days of Eden.

And yes, there was a time when the world was a peaceful place, with nothing that went wrong where all lived in eternal bliss....albeit, an ignorant one.

Deep Springs was never that place.  It was always ugly, it was always hard....
And always truthful....whether that Truth was pleasant.

...or a bit uncomfortable.

There was always time to reflect upon what mattered, who you were supposed to be in life, and what your dreams were.

In this Oasis, Everything is possible because Magic comes from around every corner, luck is a real thing and True Love can happen...even if no girls are around.

No matter where I take you on this Adventure, know that I made it there and back in one piece.  You can Too!!!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Water! My last adventure before Deep Springs.

This is the last part of my journey as I went from the West Coast to the East Coast, from one type of water to another and from my old life to the new one.  Some take this journey many times, others just once.  But the water, the vital essence that is needed to keep all things alive can come in many forms and just as it can leave a mark with its absence, it will leave a mark with its presence.
It might take some time for you to see the mark, but once you recognize it; you will begin to notice that you are thinking and maybe even dreaming about it more and more.

These are the White Sands that have an uncanny resemblance to the white snow that lies in much, much colder regions.

The White-Sands is the most beautiful place I have ever been to, it is so calm and a word sublime.  

Not too many people know though, that underneath the beautiful exterior lies an explosive core of military weapon testing that is still active today.  In fact, the very first Atom-Bomb was set off in this very area.
After a beautiful and peaceful morning spent in this un-real place, I had to leave because the White-Sands were closing for an explosive afternoon.

Most places in the American West are dry and desolate with an occasional oasis where life can be found.

In other places however, even those with no life struggle to survive.

It is only when you reach the great divide of the Mississippi River that you leave the dust and sun-bleached skulls to find an altogether different type of America.  The American East!

There, water stretches into the distance as far as the eye can see...

A place where boats can be found in the water as opposed to withering away on the back of broken trailers.

After 2 years in the desert, it is a place where one could finally begin to breathe easily...

But this Journey is long and arduous, and the great distances involved begin to take a toll on both me and my car as the temperature gauge reads -70F, the oil gauge arrives at the boiling mark and the tire bursts off altogether to leave me with steaming shreds all over the road.

As I solve one problem another one appears as I go deeper and deeper into the ravenous East!

The wind picks up to terrifying speeds and walls of rain fall down to flood the highways and stop the traffic altogether.

Visibility approaches zero as the water completely obstructs my view.  But I foolishly press on ahead.

And 8 hours later I emerge victorious, but the effects of the storm beat me to the ground and my blood shot body can take no more and I pull over to pose with the locals.

After talking to the locals in a small unknown town, I had a chance to look around at my surroundings and take in the luscious fields of green. 

Here, the abundance of water can be seen all the way from the clouds, to the trees and on the ground.

And some of it seeps deeper still to create terrifying overhangs in the shape of rotten fish.  

Rotten fish that took thousands of years to form, and is still undergoing change everyday; no matter how small the water presses on and never gives up.  And so should I.

As I arrive to New York though I sense a certain type of artificiality and a lack of nature.

Here, nature is not King.  Instead a different type of hierarchy exists, from those at the very top of the food chain.

To those all the way at the bottom.

The Nature I have been used to is blasted away.

And all that's left is an artificial presence of what life is supposed to look life (the more East I went, the more zombie like locals I encountered).

And yet, even in the heart of this truly stifling desert a glimmer of hope and truth can be found.

The water might not be real, but it provides the same tension and relief as anywhere else.

And maybe that's why my new home has been able to survive for so long,

because it is able to provide the same emotions, the same feelings that are essential to life.  No matter how fake the intention might be, there is a glimmer of hope!

Maybe its not about the East and West and all the local patriotic or the foreign multicultural people which came to America that make it so special.

But rather, its the hope that we were able to make it this far not in spite of everything that came down our path, but because of it.  And even though we must sometimes part with what we loved so much,

There is always hope that we can do it again even better very, very soon.

Now, I can finally return to Deep Springs to tell you my story!!  Come with me to Death Valley Big Mouse!!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Cowboy Feels The Impact

Time is but a portal through which we can remember the past, think about the present and be blind to the future...  If that sounded cliche, its only because this picture begged to be cliche.  In the middle of the desert with literally miles and miles of nothingness all around, I found this building that had a picture-perfect view of the desert.  There is really no purpose to this wall's existence other than to make a commentary on the fact that we come to the desert for picture-perfect views, to see something special and to think about how it relates to our lives.  In much the same way, my trip existed for the sole purpose of seeing something new and interesting - but what I concluded from what I saw went far beyond.
That being said, I wish there was something special I could have learned from the Hoover Dam.  But really, like most things in America it was just very, very Big and was built during a time when Bigger was Better.
It is very difficult to believe that the Hoover Dam was built on something as unstable as the red-rock all around.  As soon as I tried to parkour that white rail behind me, the rock crumbled beneath my feet and left me in a world of pain.
This new bridge was constructed just across from the Hoover Dam less than a year ago in order to make travel from Nevada to Arizona more tourist-free.  It too is built on a very unstable surface, however, its shape represents quite different values.  Instead of being massive and capable of holding back millions of gallons of water - this bridge shows its power by appearing light and working along with nature, as opposed to being able to withstand it.  This bridge is an artistic rendering of what America should be striving for.  
But like everything in America, it comes in a dichotomy because these two bridges exist side by side to this very day.  On one side are the powerful energy producing giants that use the Dam's immense water supply to provide power for millions.
On the other is the Double Rainbow which represents the times when nature was treated quite differently and apparently had a different purpose.
But let's get away from the philosophical and back to me and my journey across America.  This is my car again.  Clearly, it does not try to oppose nature with its great power, but rather, it shows its strength by seamlessly blending into the nature's surroundings.  And the surroundings are none other than Sedona, a place where you can stay, eat, shop, dance wild all night and still meet the sunrise afterwards.
The rocks in Sedona are of a brilliantly luminescent hue of Orange that appears to glow during a sunset. 
Little do people know that these giants are located in an environment more similar to a rain forest, than to a desert.  To get here, I had to drive down some beautiful precarious roads that weave their way through a forest - this is the closest I have ever come to driving through the rain-forests of Chile or Panama.
But before long, I was reminded that I was still in America; a place filled with inexplicable oases that exist in a world of their own. Two Guns! This enigmatic place in the outskirts of Sedona has immediately become my new destination!
This is how this same road looked from above.  
My search for two guns led me into the Giant Hole. This  hole in the ground happened to be the Meteor Crater, formerly known as Canyon Diablo Crater. There is absolutely nothing in it. No gold, no precious metals, no vegetation,  no life at all ... except for a giant American Flag. On the perimeter, the Hole is surrounded by welcoming peach rails,  another good spot to practice parkour!
This is what you see when you look down: absolutely nothing!

Even though the meteor's initial power is long gone, the impact it left still scars the earth to this very day.  Five minutes after leaving the Crater, I came across a scene of a devastating car crash in the middle of the empty desert. I missed it by a minute or so. Four cars were involved (two heading to the Diablo Crater); and two fatalities were the outcome. I was so disturbed by this awful scene that I sped as fast as I could towards the Petrified Forest.
The Petrified Forest is a keen refuge for an injured soul. It's a lovely place to stop and to catch your breath. And to look around in peace. The trees that you may see at the bottom of this hill, lived in late Triaasic, about 225 million years ago. While the pit houses came up much later, about 8,000 years ago. And then the Climate changed again.
How did these once powerful trees turned into stone? What will take us turn to stones and how long will it take? Will it be painful? It's +110F in the shade this afternoon and my car is losing oil pressure while still retaining its ability to run ...  I still have about 8,000 km to go.
As we go deeper into the Indian Land, a heavy storm is brewing above our heads.
The Indian blankets are being sold for only $4.99 on both sides of Route 66. Foreigners are buying them in bulks. Blankets, beads, metal objects, clothing, ammunition, jewelry, and tobacco - everything is for sale. European and American explorers are crowding the stores in search of another bargain.
Tobacco and cheap alcohol - all of this reminds me of the olden days in sweet America... 
... about those days when you could easily take time to think about the past without being distracted...
... when you could think about the present without regret...
... and about the future without immediate inclination to remodel it, to redesign and to reshape it. Those were the times where you did not have to fight the future,  but instead could welcome it with whatever it may deliver or not, with an open heart.