Yellowstone: A River For Summer Solitude

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature  may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike… the Yellowstone, Yosemite, Sequoia, etc. — Nature’s sublime wonderlands, the admiration and joy of the world.” (John Muir)

On day twenty one of our road trip. our scenic route along Interstate 90 paralleled the Yellowstone River, as we made our way west to the next destination, Big Timber, Montana. Visiting our close friend Bobbie there for the next two days, the untamed river flowing downstream behind her home soon aroused my curious interest. What kinds of wildlife/ avian species existed along this rock strewn channel? Are there hiking trails that followed along the riverbed ? Where were the best spots along the river for fishing? How did this town manage the river flooding danger at Winter’s end? What was the Indian history of this particular spot?

Yet it seemed to be a calm spirit resonating from this steady flowing river amidst its tranquil mountainside environs that most intrigued me then. For I genuinely needed a restful repose at this point of our long and arduous road trip and the sights/sounds of flowing river water behind Bobbie’s home could thankfully provide it. We would continue to follow the welcoming magic of this great river the next day, leading us South to the vast, geothermal wonders of Yellowstone National Park. Enjoy the photos.

Observe these classic views of the Yellowstone River and the scenic environs beyond from Bobbie’s back yard.

We also experienced a rare sighting of white pelicans resting quietly on a rocky mound.

Possessing a keen eye for art, Bobbie’s unique arrangements of rocks and wood from the nearby Montana landscape also captured my interest.

        I also enjoyed continuing my practice of yoga in the coolness of her outdoor deck.

Notice the appealing shades of color beyond the river at sunset each night.

Our gracious hostess and friend posed with us to create a final photographic memory of this enjoyable visit to Big Timber.

Flaneuring Not Hurrying


Flaneur – “Someone who walks around not doing anything in particular but watching people and society” (Cambridge Dictionary)

Many of us now grow weary of the enduring idleness at home because of the Corona pandemic lockdown. So let us “turn the tables” and imagine that today represents the first time since this self quarantine began that you felt safely willing and able to venture outdoors for a refreshing walk around your neighborhood. Since you are already in slowdown mode from being cooped up inside, it suddenly feels more natural to stroll casually rather than “ramp up your hiking pace today. Although there are familiar surroundings that you will obviously observe in your neighborhood then then, you may also notice unexpected images which you have never seemed to recognize before: perhaps the colors of a blossoming tree, the shape of a street sign, the smell of a rain gutter, the touch of a fallen leaf, or the sound of a flag flapping in the breeze.

As you continue on your path to such unexpected encounters, you begin to romanticize innocent memories of your youthful past. It begins to rain but you seemingly don’t care today about getting wet. Only the refreshing cool of the falling drops on your body enters your mind now. Your walk then quietly ends as you take a seat on a lonely park bench feeling a calm appreciation for the beautifully fresh greenness that surrounds you now.

Welcome to “Flaneuring” or the intentional act of aimless wandering, as outlined in Erica Owen’s novel , “The Art Of Flaneuring – How to Wander With Intention and Discover a Better Life.” So many of us today thrive on time driven, task deadlines to move from point A to point B. Yet Owen teaches us the personal value of finding slower times during our day to be outside simply for the sake of being outside. He accordingly recommends that we must maximize use of all of our human senses as we venture out to discover self- revelations of the unexpected moment encountered during such aimless wanderings.

So let’s practice our “Flaneuring” skill potential in more of an urban-like setting. Imagine you are traveling to Paris, France on your first post-pandemic vacation. As you feel relieved to be on the outside again, you’ve reasoned it best to take your time on a leisurely walk around the city. Now observe any thoughts/emotions that arise as you conduct this imagined walk via one or several of the places presented in the video below. I recommend as well that you stop and restart the tape as needed to give yourself additional time to jot down brief notes about such mental images observed for any particular photo of interest. Perhaps you will be surprised then by a strong sense of a certain color, taste, smell, sound, or even the warmth or coldness of touch. For a further challenge, you might try meditating in silence for a few minutes about a particular photo and visualize how this setting provides a positive impact to your current emotional state now. Stay safe and healthy this summer. Namaste .

A Timely Seclusion

“There is a charm in solitude that cheers.
A feeling that the world knows nothing of.
A green delight the wounded mind endears.
After the hustling world is broken off…”(John Clare)

Let’s face it. Covid -19 has required an immense personal sacrifice for over two months now. As each day’s routine now seemingly feels the same, I’ve thus dutifully followed the recommended plan to stay wisely at home, stop non-essential travel, trust shopping online, and make use of “virtual” mediums to avoid direct human contact. Yet in spite of these safeguards, increasingly it seems that I feel trapped like a prisoner in my own home. How about you? 

So many puzzling questions thus quickly arise about easing the strain of my semi-quarantine status. How can my wife and I avoid infringing on each other’s personal space to conduct our own private lives? By what means can I effectively deal with my “cabin fever” which festers negative mind distractions that are psychologically harmful? What steps can I take to avoid eating out of idle time boredom ? How can I energize my daily routine to avoid sitting in sedentary laziness on my living room couch?

So with social distancing firmly in place now and for the unforeseeable future, I’m determined to shift my awareness to finding more productive opportunities outside. Picture me then taking up bike riding again as I often did as a restless teenager seeking new adventures growing up in South Florida. Yet a spirited ride for me as I continue to endure this health crisis rut will serve as a much needed escape from home to new places of solitude/silence. I’ve thus thankfully discovered that the visually stimulating grounds of nearby Nova Southeastern University serves as an ideal destination for my daily biking endeavors. For here I can pleasantly “soak in” the subtropical natural beauty of South Florida as spring time emerges as well as reviving my “happy day” passions of my youthful college past. So join me in my quest for serenity as I pedal quietly around NSU’s main campus on a gorgeously sunny weekday morning in the following photograph display.

The NSU Taft and Rosenthal University Centers normally bustle in daytime with campus life. But as I passed by these impressive looking landmarks, the soothing presence of flowing water from a “Shark” mascot fountain seemed to take center stage” in my attention today.

This statue of famed South Florida entrepreneur Wayne Huizenga sitting under a pleasantly shaded tree tempted me to sit contentedly next to him for awhile on this shaded bench.

In the late 1980s, I taught freshman college classes as an adjunct English professor in the Parker Building below. Being no longer “caught up” in the time driven dash to and from class from those days, I discovered a freshly new outlook of these environs by conducting a pleasant walk along these lush vegetative corridors.

The current Miami Dolphins training facility prominently stands out along the northerly perimeter grounds of NSU. Yet the eerie silence emanating from these locked facilities provided a stark reminder that spectator sports might soon become for me a much more solitary hobby.

The diverse ecosystem of tropical flora at NSU’s Medicinal Healing Garden nearby the Parker Building provided a secluded place for me to quietly unwind from Corona’s life challenges. Good idea that I brought my insect repellent here today.

Self meditation also provided an inspiring activity at the NSU Healing Garden as I found the perfect flower to focus my full attention on.

I often stopped to read at benches set along a picturesque loop path overlooking Gold Circle Lake near the NSU Administration Building and Law School complex.

Plenty of hungry reptile and aviary life also congregated at Gold Circle Lake to keep me company. I never realized that iguanas love bananas.

This inviting park bench area outside the NSU bookstore provided positive memories of my youthful energy to embrace the act of serious textbook study sitting outside as a graduate student in the past at NSU. Incidentally, the need to find Wi-Fi access was not a big issue back then.

Does this open green at NSU look like a nice place to unwind from a stressful day in class? Does anyone feel like throwing me a frisbee?

 

You’re Lost: Now Become Inspired

“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves” (Henry David Thoreau)

The idea of getting lost on a well earned vacation raises immediate fears of a recipe for tourist disaster. Why would you veer off the main highway on your road trip along a unmarked country road to go virtually nowhere? Or what sense would it make on a cruise to adventure on your own into the unknown darkness of a dense, island jungle? What issues might also cross your mind on a downtown visit if you walked back to your hotel at night through unfamiliar surroundings? If you likewise faced indefinite time delays awaiting your air/land connection in passenger terminal “ limbo”, with no place to go, how would you handle the following boredom as well?

In each of the above cases, however, we might look at losing our way from a new paradigm in the following quote of James Redfield, author of the renowned novel, The Celestine Prophecy; “Inspiration is what keeps us well.”Thus instead of habitually pre programming ourselves to avoid/control our adrift wanderings, then why not just “let go” and simply learn to embrace “moment by moment any unfamiliar travel    setting as a self learning lesson? Considering my own transformations from feeling lost to choosing self growth along the way of unknown travel, I thus offer the following examples.

“Utah Canyonland ( Trust Your Senses )

At first glance as we first entered Goblin State Park, in South Central Utah, we noticed the odd presence of gnome twisted, rock formations in the vast, canyon basin below. Descending steeply to this mystical rock field along the poorly marked Carmel Canyon Trail, we soon became directionally disoriented as the path grew progressively narrower and darker. Searching for an exit path uphill in such dire circumstances, we spotted a narrow opening to the terminus of this trail. Yet the urgency of finding firm foot grips and clear visual sightings to the top along this improvised route would immediately became a major concern. Who would have thought that this trail designated as only moderate by the State Park Service would require us to (1) undertake a risky crawl on hands and knees, (2) pull each other up steep canyon sidings, and (3) endure limited sight vision amidst unfamiliar surroundings to complete this arduous effort?

 

Sedona, Arizona Vortexes (Find Nature’s Energy Flow)

The Celestine Prophecy discusses the need to observe energy fields existing in the environment surrounding us that enhance our inner psyche. Feeling the need to explore the immense power of such vortex energy in sighting Courthouse Rock towering above the harsh desert below, our ensuing walk through such unknown environs provided a much needed meditative calmness as we drew closer to this mystical rock presence.

New York City – Midtown (Being Different is Ok)

A self guided walking of Midtown, New York City on a recent cruise brought welcome relief from the “cattle car” privacy invasions at sea. Enjoying a spontaneous slowdown at Times Square on a busy midweek afternoon, I thus sensed that no one seemed to care who you were or what you were doing amidst such urban frenzy. The unkempt appearance of an old man in the following picture surprisingly did not draw negative crowd attention to his deeply depressing plight in the following photo.

Las Vegas Strip (Cash In On Youthful Identity)

With so many visual reminders of youthful hedonism surrounding me when feeling trapped inside the cavernous corridors of Caesar’s Palace and its indoor pedestrian mall, I really did tend to feel younger there. Yet such “Fountain Of Youth” illusions to stay up later and more playfully indulge typically invoked havoc on my “spending pocket”.

Lost In the Jungle – Dominica (Go Back To Basics )

The critical need for basic, self survival strategies surfaced as we cautiously trekked through the dense island jungles of Dominica on a recent cruise excursion. Some life sustaining thought adaptations immediately surfaced then. A map of iPhone or map seemed useless to strategize a path ahead, so I imagined my ability to handle brush clearing sickle. Predicting that my rising thirst would not be eased by potentially poisonous waters in a nearby stream, I eagerly drank coconut water from an island tree. Admiring oily vine extensions from a practical perspective, I envisioned myself “playing Tarzan” by climbing vines as the most efficient way to escape a charging predator.

Train Station Europe (Cure Time Deadline Obsessions)

European rail stations typically adopt rigorous time schedule standards, yet the reality prevails that a given train can still depart or arrive late for various reasons. So in contrast to those time conscious passengers clearly fretting their impending delays in the following photographs, I chose to engage my idle time in quiet, self meditation.

Italian Riviera, N. Italy (Imagine History As It Really Was)

As a past World History teacher. I enjoy getting lost while meandering through “0ld Town”, paths of medieval Europe to see history from a more intimate, non- textbook perspective. By conducting such aimless walks within the walled confines of five towns in the Cinque Terre region, I thus obtained a close up look at authentic medieval life often centered around the castle, cobblestone, church and open market square.

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