Category Archives: travel

The Free Fall to Beat All Free Falls (figuratively speaking)

Felix Baumgarner’s unbelievable free fall

Felix Baumgartner’s free fall from the stratosphere. It’s amazing to watch. It’s out of this world to contemplate. It gives me the chills to watch. To just think of the trust he had have in his equipment, in his team, in his self.

I was on the phone talking with a girlfriend Sunday night and she told me about this man who did the free fall from outer space. What??? I thought. But after we hung up I was exhausted from the day so I numbed out in front of the TV watching Johnny O’clock an old film noir movie from 1947 starring Dick Powell, Evelyn Keyes and Lee J. Cobb. I never finished that movie I ended up dragging myself off to bed.

When I woke this morning I thought of this man free-falling from outer space and went to the internet to check it out. I sat transfixed as I watched the grainy version of Felix Baumgartner jump off the edge of his little ship and fall through space. This version showed the full free fall clocking his speed playing incredible music by Sabrepulse – Arcanine. It was definitely free fall music only adding to the excitement and mystery of what this man must be experiencing. An added plus with this particular YouTube video is there would be glimpses from the team who assisted him in a control center and of his family and friends watching on some screens in a room.

What went through my head was unbelievablity. To think the idea up that, “Hey, I’m going to free fall from the stratosphere, 24 miles up.” Then to plan it out, find the necessary help and Do It. Some people must have said, “What? Are you crazy.” Granted he does dare-devil free falls for a living but still this one was over the top. Maybe not the first time someone did this but the first since 1960, fifty-two years ago. Amazing.

For me it shows a great sense of self-esteem. I mean anyone who would pull this off has to believe in himself. There must have been opposition somewhere. Supporters too. Of course many supporters. However, I am sure he needed to convince his supporters that this is what he wanted, what he needed to do. He must have had to let them know that he was born to do this awe-inspiring feat. Therein comes the trust. His trust and belief in himself. Trust and belief in the universe, the earth, the atmosphere.  They would support him.  The trust he needed to have in others to help him achieve his dream. The trust that he needed to have in all the complicated and scientific equipment. And of course his trust in his parachute. At any moment once he dove off the edge something could go wrong. But he persisted. He trusted.  He believed.

Makes me think, if Felix Baumgartner can believe in himself to the extent he did to carry out his mission, could I not just trust and believe in myself to carry out my few little dreams and goals, one of which is to write a memoir.

Thank you Felix Baumgartner for your inspiration in such a grand, imaginative and super sonic way, paving the way for meager dreams such as mine.  I’m bolstered.  I’m inspired.  I’m ready to believe and trust.  I’m ready to Do It!

More exciting video’s:

Related Links:
The Washington Post article.

Baumgartner free fall image from the Washington Post article.

Nothing beats the love and support of a good partner.

It is Sunday, September 30th and I am writing this at Governor Dodge State Park campsite 349 in our dark green 1999 Dodge Ram conversion van. I backed up the van to the electrical hookup just like a huge RV instead of this little van and pushed the cord to my lap top out the little pop out window. The back bench seat folds down to create a bed big enough for Mike and I to lay side by side. I am lying here on top of the sleeping bags which are zipped together to create a sleeping bag for two, typing. I am not really comfortable but not uncomfortable either. I’m alone expect for the dogs. One dog, Angie is on the floor by the bed sprawled on her pet bed. Dean-o, the other dog, is up here with me. It was a trip getting here I’ll say that, deciding whether to come here or not. First it was yes, then no, then yes again.

A few days earlier.

The Love and Support of a Good Partner

the support of a good partner“Mike I want to drive up to Governor Dodge and hike. The fall colors are so beautiful. I can leave Sunday. Spend the night and come back Monday. That will give me two days of hiking. What do you think?”

“I think that would be great.”



Of course he thinks it would be great. He knows I love to hike. He knows I love Governor Dodge. He knows I am enthralled with the fall colors this year. And most importantly, he wants me to do what gives me joy. We could have come together. We could have left on Saturday and returned on Sunday because he would need to be back for work but since his health issues of arthritis and gout in his big toe he doesn’t enjoy hiking much anymore. Plus he’s not too big on driving even if it is only two hours. So I came up with this big bright idea all on my own for myself.

Saturday night, the night before I was to leave while lying next to Mike who was also reading, I set my book down and looked over at him. I realized I didn’t want to leave him. Yes, I love hiking and Governor Dodge but I don’t like leaving Mike.

“Mike, I’m not going,” I announced out of the blue.

“Why,” he asked turning to me placing his book spread open on his chest.

“Well, this book I’m reading is too scary. It’s about a woman who survives this rapist murderer and she helps get him sent to prison. He is getting out of prison and now he is going to be after her. It’s going to be one of those on-the-edge books where she is on step away from danger. I’m sure she will come out OK but the book is just too dark for me. And it’s scaring me now. Anyway, I don’t want to leave you.”

“You’re an independent woman. You can do this.” Mike picked up right away that the book wasn’t the real reason.

“Maybe, but it’s my choice not to leave you. So, you don’t have to think I’m not going because you are making me.”

“OK,” he said knowing full well it is of little use to argue with me.

With that I toss my book on the floor vowing silently to myself not to finish it and turn off my bedside light.

The next morning at around nine o’clock all of a sudden going to Governor Dodge didn’t seem like a bad idea. The sun was up and the scary thoughts and the sadness about leaving Mike have vanished with the night. After all I have to walk the dogs anyway and the fall colors are not going to be around much longer. All we need is one strong wind storm and they will all be knocked to the ground. What the heck I should go.

“Mike, I think. I’m going to go after all.”

“OK.” and with that he immediately sets out to get things ready for me. He remembered I wanted to take my hiking boots which were out in the shed. He got those and put them in the van. He got together the sleeping bags, a folding chair, flashlights, lighters and fire starters so I could start a fire. The day before when he thought it was a go, he went to the store and bought me some red grapes, pineapple, bananas and strawberries. Now that it’s on again he cut up the pineapple and strawberries, put them in containers along with the grapes and set them in the cooler he dragged out. He packed in some bottles of water.

“Do you want your salsa and chips,” he asked.

“Yeah,” I said not giving them a thought till he mentioned it.

“What about a Coke.” I looked at him quizzically wondering, should I?. I don’t drink soda at all but once a week we have a Coca Cola in little glass bottles made in Mexico with sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. They are more expensive than regular Coke but worth it.

“Go ahead. Treat yourself.” I grinned.


I gathered together some clothes and put them in a backpack. I packed up my laptop and some books. Mike got the dogs food, their bowls and leashes. He put all this in the van. We were rushing around in a flurry to get me on my way. Within the hour I was draped over him in an embracing hug saying good-bye.

“I don’t like leaving you,” I said into his neck.

“You’ll be fine. You’ll be hiking,” he said squeezing me tighter.

As long as I thought I was just going for a hike it felt OK, but camping over night. I don’t know. We broke apart and looked each other in the eye.

“I could always come back after I hike,” I said with a sheepish grin. “Not even stay over night.”

“Just let me know so I can get my girlfriends out of the house,” he said. I punched him in the arm. “No, really, Janice, you’ll have a good time.”

“Well, you know I’ll be calling you.” I said as I got into the van.

So, I drove two hours to go hiking feeling apprehensive, selfish, guilty, silly. Many people do this kind of thing, I thought. They drive hours somewhere to do something they love to do. I don’t know why I should feel like I’m doing something so weird and crazy, so wrong.

About halfway there I smiled to myself thinking about the last-minute running around we both did just so I could go for a little trip out hiking in nature. How blessed I am. I am with a man who goes out of his way to help me get what I want out of life. I feel a fullness in my chest that spreads upward causing my scalp to tingle realizing what Mike did to help me get on my way. This is what a marriage, a partnership, is all about, isn’t it? Being a support, a catalyst for the other to ‘go for it’. Our marriage has had its ups but it is times like this that I understand how truly blessed I am. Nothing beats the love support of a good partner which colors my world as brightly as the fall colors.  My partner, my husband meets the seven qualities of an ideal partner that I found on Psychalive.    I just hope I do the same for him.  I hope I am an ideal partner for him.

And so I hiked for two days, four hours a day. I snapped pictures every step of the way. And, as it turned out, I had cell phone coverage even on the trails and called Mike often sharing little adventures with him. The first thing I did, after hugging Mike, was sit down and show him my pictures. I don’t know if they captured the beauty of what I was seeing. Being there and seeing the colors, inhaling the fall aroma and listening to the birds can’t be totally captured. I put a little slide show together adding some word values to a few of the pictures. Values that being on my hike, admiring the colors and having the support of Mike inspired. It took me quite awhile to put it together which is the reason for the lateness of the post. I hope you enjoy what I put together.

My Search for a Vision Continues

I was up around 5:30 am and itching to leave Mustang Island, ready to leave it all behind.  Well on one level anyway.  Part of me was still holding on to the disillusionment, which showed up as fear and guilt.  This trip was my idea.  We were spending money we don’t have.  If we just went to see family, then we wouldn’t have needed to go that far south.  What if the car broke down all because I had to go to Mustang Island?  This kind of reminds me of the setting my sights on encountering an owl.  I was going to do a vision quest and decided that I had to see an owl.  Again not getting what I expected was sending me into a tailspin.  I really needed to consciously breath and release because my old habits of berating myself were getting in the way.  Poor Mike had to suffer through over a hundred of miles listening to me repeat all of the above.

The drive from Mustang Island to Palmetto State Park took all of three and half hours, which means we arrived nice and early at nine in the morning.  Our spirits were back when we entered the park headquarters, well, at least mine were,  Mike was doing better because I was.  The lady behind the counter was welcoming.  I shopped cute park souvenirs while Mike paid for our site.  We choose this lovely site overlooking the San Marcus River.  Mike was happy that there was a trail leading down to the river and he could fish.

View from our chairs.

We set up our tent and screen porch.   We arranged our chairs at the cliff overlooking the river.  Our spot looked inviting.  It was calm, peaceful and beautiful.

At night we heard crickets, coyote’s, cows and owls.  On the first evening I walked up to the bathroom and heard an owl nearby.  Another night an owl perched in a tree right above out tent and hooted.

“Did you hear that,” I whispered to Mike.

“Yeah,” he whispered back.

I giggled.  “It’s right over our heads.”

We listened to it call a few times when at some point it must have taken off.  We didn’t hear it leave.  We just stopped hearing it call.  Now if you read my It’s the Owl post you’ll know that that is just what I hoped for during my vision quest.   I lay there in the sleeping bag smiling to myself.

I dozed off and woke to more owls.  This time it sounded like thee owls coming from different directions.  It was like a symphony.  I was delighted.  I knew at the time I was being given a gift but I didn’t fully take it in.  I was just enjoying the moment.

Now that we are home I looked up owl yet again.  On Daily OM: Nurturing Body, Mind and Spirit web site I found this:

Fully integrating the medicine of the owl into spiritual existence is a matter of considering how we might open ourselves more fully to the wisdom that can be found in the larger universe

The article goes on to say that if I should find my efforts blocked in integrating owl medicine that it is important to keep in mind that owls werenot always considered the icon of wisdom.   Some humans have held prejudices against the owl probably due to their night-time hunting abilities.  And to:

To reveal those hidden elements of the self that impact your life for better or for worse, you must often make your way through the darkest parts of your soul as if you yourself are the nocturnal hunter. There is indeed darkness both inside the self and outside the self, but like the owl you can transcend it by drawing nourishment from the insights you receive when you penetrate it.

I take this to mean that to fully embrace my gifts of seeing the unseen, to be able to look into another’s soul and see the truth and also to be able to see the truth in myself and embrace that I need to face my shadow side, the parts of me I have pushed away, locked away.  The parts of myself that I fear.

I read somewhere that the impact of a vision quest can go out as long as a year or more.  I am thinking that this trip is a continuation of my search for a vision, an answer or awareness to how my life may eventually be of service and what my inherent gifts are that I can make use of for the benefit of life on this planet.  I can see more and more that the owl is my guide.  Now all I have to do is accept the challenge the owl is giving me, face my deepest fears.

Learning the Dolphin way

Note:  I couldn’t get this out in a reasonable amount of ‘wordage’ so I did the more tag thingy.  This way you can read half or go the for full reading.

Our dream beach vacation

After leaving Caddo Lake State Park, TX heading for Galveston Island we were feeling life sure was grand.  What with the great day mining for crystals in AR and our luck at getting a campsite at Caddo lake, we were sure we were leading a charmed life.

However, it took longer than we thought to get to Galveston Island.  We were hot, tired and crabby.  I was so done with driving.  The terrain was flat a few smallish trees scattered about.  Depending on one’s mood the landscape could be considered as desolate and bleak as the drive across North Dakota on Highway 2.  But our moods were still up so it felt like an exotic tropical locale.  The campsites at Galveston Island were not fantastic but acceptable.  Each site had a stone shelter over the picnic table.  We didn’t pitch a tent. After all we were only staying for one night. Our van has a bench seat that folds down in the back and is just big enough for the two of us.  I am about 5’7” and Mike is a bit shorter than I so it works for us.

It was three o’clock in the afternoon and while the other people who pulled into the campground the same time as us were setting up their tents, we went on the beach.  The surf was gently rolling.  The beach was clean and went on for ever.  The sky a perfect blue.  Angie loved the salt water.  We romped and ran in the water together.  It was good.

That nightwe set up our chairs and watched the stars looking for constellations, however, we’re clueless when it comes to astronomy.  It seemed the big and little dipper were everywhere.  The air was moist, salty and with a slight breeze.  We slept with the back door open in the van to bathe in that cool breeze, that is till it got too chilly.

We were up before sunrise ready to begin our grand adventure to Mustang Island but first we sort of wandered back to the beach.  I took a bazillion pictures of the sunrise.  Angie found a large ball and was chasing it.  Everything looked good.  We should have stayed there.  But no, we had to go to Mustang Island.  We had to revisit happier times when we were there 15 years ago when Mike said, “When we come back, we are going to ride horses on the beach.”  And now I was saying, “This time Mike, lets rent a four-wheel drive and drive on the beach looking for the ship wrecks.”  Yeah, we had stars in our eyes.  We left Galveston Island smiling all dreamy-eyed.

It took nearly 8 hours to get to Mustang Island.  We went through Houston and took highway 59 which is being worked on to become the new Interstate 69 corridor.  Around Sinton we veered off to highway 181 so we could take the free ferry over to the island from Port Aransas.  The ferry was fun.  We laughed about how cool it was and I kept saying we were at Port Your Anus because that was what it sounded like when Mike pronounced it.  Mike spotted a dolphin.  I looked over and saw it before it was never to be seen again.  According to the Working With Animal Spirit Guides web page, some of the wisdom that dolphin brings is:  change, wisdom, balance, harmony, communication skill, freedom and trust.  I think the dolphin was bringing us a message.  We were not thinking of that now, for now seeing the dolphin only meant the beginning of great adventures to come. Continue reading

A Charmed Life?

Note:  I found Internet access at Palmetto State Park in TX.  It is slow going but I managed to get this out.  I will be able to post more when we get to our son’s place.  Thanks for reading.

We pulled into Lake Catherine State Park in AR Friday night. I originally thought we were going to soak in the hot springs. Time was of the essence so I told Mike I didn’t care about soaking that what was more important to me was mining for the crystals. Mike said that was fine with him. I found this place that was at least an hour west of Hot Springs. That whole day it seemed as if lady luck was shining down on us.

To start the day off Saturday, we took a hike on the falls branch trail. It said it was the “easy” hike. By WI standards it would be considered strenuous. There was an upward climb and it was very rocky. Considering we didn’t eat breakfast it went well. After the hike we packed up and were on the road by nine heading for the mines.

After about an hour and a half drive west of Hot Springs and stopping for breakfast, we pulled through the gate of Wegner’s mines which was a stone arch made out of crystal rocks around 11:30. Wegner’s has been open for 28 years. There brochure reads:

Our exceptionally beautiful mountain valley is peaceful & in harmony with Mother Nature.  Since 1981, we have been your environmentally friendly source, working consciously to keep our water clean.  we reclaim out mines for Mother Natures’ benefit and future use.

I thought this was a great place to gather crystals. When I shut off the engine the first thing I noticed was how peaceful it was. No freeway traffic.

We checked in at the office and was told the next trip to the mine wasn’t leaving till 1:30. But as it turned out a group of five were waiting so they would do an earlier time so, they took us all right away. The best of all Angie could come to the mines with us. I brought her out of the van and she met all the dogs and they got along famously. We got our gear, two large 5 gal pails, two trowels, two garden hand rakes, two sets of gloves and one crow bar. Three other people joined our group so the 10 of us loaded into the back of this beat up old pick up truck that had bench seats lined along the back. We headed off for the mines and what a trip that was. I thought we were on a ride at Disneyland. We were jostled around like on a roller coaster. Over big rocks, down into big ruts. Up down, back forth. Angie did well considering how bumpy it was.

We got to the mining area and our guide gave us some instructions on what to do in case of emergencies. He showed us a container that held all the first aid one would need and a cell phone. (The guide was leaving us there.) The area was bulldozed out to unearth crystals. We were instructed we could dig for an hour and a half. It was hot, the sand was red and crystals were everywhere. Not that they were spectacular crystals but they beautiful none the less. The guide said digging around the base of trees might yield some good results. I got some pretty nice crystals and for extra measure I just got some really cool rocks. We boxed up our loot and by the time we left it was nearly four. There was no way were going to make Caddo Lake State Park in TX before night fall. To Mike’s credit he didn’t once mention we needed to get going. He got into the moment and allowed it to flow.

We took the scenic route following Hwy 8 for 45 miles which let us out by Arkadelphia and I 30 around 5:30. Mike remembered this restaurant in Arkadelphia that we went to 15 years ago (Mike has a tendency to remember what he ate and where he ate it on trips) called the pig pit. As long as we were in Arkadelphia we thought lets see if was still there so we pulled into a gas station and Mike went in and asked. The Pig Pit was now called Fat Boys and the new owners followed the original owners recipes. Mike said it was just as good. Now with full belly’s we were back on the road headed west on I 30 for Texarkana and then Caddo lake.

It got dark and the roads leading to Caddo Lake State Park, TX were narrow and winding. I white knuckled it for what seemed like hours but was only about one hour. Finally, we saw a sign saying Caddo lake turn here. We turned and with it being so dark we missed the entrance. I pulled into this bar called Uncertain Tap in the town of Uncertain and we were feeling a bit uncertain ourselves. Mike went to find out where we went wrong (who says men can’t ask for directions). When he got back in the care he smelled of smoke. “Wow,” I said waving my hand in front of my nose, “You were only in there for a second.” Laughing Mike explained that we overshot the entrance. We turned around and lo and behold, there it was.

At the park office, there were people milling around outside. We got out to discover the office was closed. All the people were checking reservation list finding their sites. We didn’t have a reservation. We hung around watching and listening feeling, yet again, uncertain. Finally, Mike said we don’t have reservations to anyone in general. A park worker materialized and pointed to the paper wall saying which sites were still available. There were no tent sites, no electric sites, no cabins but wait. There was one site with a screened shelter. It was site 13. We went off in search of site 13 hoping no one was occupying it. When we turned the corner and found it still available our uncertainty vanished and jubilation took its place.

What luck to get a site and then have a screened shelter to put all of our stuff. We stayed there for two days and enjoyed the convenience. When it rained Saturday night all of our stuff was safe. It looked like it was going to be a great trip. Well, anyway, its good to have hope. It turns out the next couple of days were diametrically opposed.