Natural Beauty, Quirkiness and All Things Water

How I Motivate Myself: As Illustrated by Cats, a Kid and a Monkey

Okay here’s how I motivate myself– to write a book, do the dishes or go to Africa. It’s super simple. All goods things are simple. Complicated things can be good too, but not necessarily.  A rectangle is not a square but a square is a rectangle. Like the song, “Waves” by Mr. Probz or anything by the Black Keys. It’s. Fucking. Simple.

There’re two main ways.

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The Kansas Game

The land stretches out forever, broken only by the geriatric bowing of oil pumps. It’s so depressing it makes me want to throw up or cry. We keep expecting to see the Rockies appear but they’re tucked into the chem haze that smears everything gray.

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Mutant Message Downunder: The Latest Book to Quake My World

In the big Before, there was nothing unusual about Marlo Morgan, who wrote Mutant Message. She grew up in the Midwest and worked in health care. But then she was summoned to Australia for what she thought was an awards banquet. The Jeep that picked her up in her high heels and pantyhose was driven by one of the members of the last wild Aboriginal tribe living in the outback. He drove out into the desert to a dark hut for her “tests.” She passed, not understanding. With no word to her children or job, rent unpaid, she left everything that afternoon to walk thousands of miles across the world’s driest continent to learn the ways of the Aboriginals– and, she later learned, to carry their message to the rest of the world.

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We have no cell phones, no Lonely Planets and no internet. But we know someone you can stay with, our friends said when we left Italy. His name is Hadley Suwell and he lives in Port Antonio. We smiled. See, I thought to myself. We got this. We don’t tell anyone and board a plane to Jamaica.

At the one story airport, the bald headed immigration officer tells us to “watch out fo dem rastas” before he stamps our passports. When we agree to a cab ride with two rastas outside the terminal, (we were mobbed, these guys were just the pushiest) they tell us to “neva trust da bald heads” and laugh. Kate and I eye each other, ducking into the car.

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Out of Luck In Kansas

We run out of money somewhere in West Virginia. Since then, we’ve been “free camping.” On BLM land, in Wilderness Management Areas where we are the only ones without a pickup, confederate flag and a rifle

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The Funky and the Bizarre: Hot Springs and Eureka Springs, Arkansas


It’s 104 degrees and there’s a bug in my shirt.

Oh. Wait.

That’s just me sweating. We pass strange bars, crystal shops, and the Gangster Museum. We’re not speaking to each other. Am I being a bitch or is it just the heat? Or the 80% humidity mixed with steam from the fountains and hot tunnel? We pass a decrepit hotel in silence. The Majestic. It’s a relic of the by-gone era of hot spring resort tourism, taller than anything else in town and all brick. There is one bathhouse that’s been preserved, called the Fordyce Bathhouse. It’s a National Park and free to tour. We part ways and I ascend the marble stairs solo, standing up straighter amidst the dapper charm. The Fordyce opened in 1915, with fountains, tubs and personal steam tanks that look like torture devices. I look up at the stain glass roof in the Men’s Bath Hall.

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What It’s Like in the Ozarks

The Pig Trail Scenic Byway dumps us into the mountains at night. I roll the windows down and turn the music off because the decibels coming out of the roadside greenery are drowning it out anyway. The headlights catch– an armadillo?? crossing the road. We drive under the dripping canopy to a campground called Redding, where we find every campsite empty. But every creature that can chirp, croak, squeak, flutter or buzz is going at it at full volume. As soon as I don my headlamp, flying creatures try to enter my eyeballs, my ears, my mouth. This is what I always thought the Amazon feels like.

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Boulders, Bunnies and a Hot River Runs Through it: Benton Hot Springs, California


The drive from Lee Vining to Benton on 120 starts off with five miles of dips- stomach fluttering waves down arroyos and up again where you can’t help but go whooooo! even if you don’t mean to. Then there’s the view of Mono Lake and it’s salt tufas like deformed white fingers sticking out of the lake, and outcrops of boulders that turn into faces and animals if you squint or otherwise stretch your brain. Boundary Peak comes into view, at over 13,000 ft- not the epic vista I expected just before skirting the Nevada state line. I thought Nevada was gonna be flat flat. It’s not. But that’s another post. Anyway then 120 descends into Benton Hot Springs, ooh la la! Besides being a relief of green in the desert, Benton is a town of living antiques. Not necessarily on purpose.

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Aquatic Adventures in Way Northern California

If you haven’t been to Stout Grove off Highway 199, you’re missing out on gargantuan redwood trees, some with hollowed out fairy nooks and a ferny understory with magical light shafts cutting through it all. No big. But what I didn’t realize is that this (free!) wonderland is also one of the gateways to the Smith River, in all of it’s Caribbean-esque glory.

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Cool Stuff To Do In Southern Oregon

So Oregon is already kick ass because you don’t have to pay sales tax or pump your own gas. (You literally can’t do it yourself, the law is you must be spoiled.) And there are hardly any cops in Oregon. And it’s full of cool shit. Here’s some of my favorites, the popular and the virtually unknown:

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