Lift the Vail

“Got me feeling giddy like, la, la, la, la (yeah)
Struck a match it got me litty like, la, la, la, la (it’s lit)
You got the keys to my city like, la, la, la, la (straight up)
Do you second that emotion, baby? (Yeah)”

Justin Bieber – Second Emotion (feat. Travis Scott)

Here are some photos from Vail, Colorado #AdventureswithNick:

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Into the Lion’s Head
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Moose Tracks
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Closer
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Skate it with a slope back drop
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Deeper: Arch it

Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve

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Elfin Forest Overlook

I’m home in San Diego for the weekend so that means….nature time! I spent the first half of my day at the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve. I started at the Botanical Trail then went on to the Way Up Trail, then got to the Ridgeline Maintenance Road, steered off the path on Tyke’s Hike Trail, got back on the Ridgeline Maintenance Road, then continued on into Ray Brooks Overlooks, I ended by taking the Manzanita Trail into the Elfin Forest Overlook. I thought it was a pretty easy hike! It had a slow ascent and no majorly steep inclines (on the route I took and compared to other trails I’ve hiked in So. Cal). Then, I drove back to the coast and spent the evening at the beach where I welcomed the sunset. So. Cal, you can have my whole entire heart! I’ll be sharing photographs below.

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I entered the reserve via park entrance #2 as seen on this map. I ended at #22. I took the Manzanita Trail (#23) into the Elfin Forest Overlook, which is photographed in the first picture I shared in this post. {Map Source}

Here’s a little bit about the space:

“One of San Diego County’s most precious natural resources, the Reserve offers approximately 11 miles of hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian trails, as well as picnic areas and scenic mountain viewing points. In addition, the natural beauty of the Reserve includes such native plant communities as oak riparian, oak woodland, coastal sage scrub, and chaparral. All wildlife and natural resources at the Reserve are fully protected so that future generations may also enjoy these wonders.

The 784-acre reserve was developed by OMWD in partnership with San Diego County Water Authority and U.S. Department of the Interior – Bureau of Land Management, as an element of the Olivenhain Water Storage Project and the Authority’s Emergency Storage Project. Owned by the Authority and managed by OMWD, the Reserve has been designed to unify the interests of domestic water supply development, natural resources management, and recreational opportunities.

The Reserve first opened in 1992 and sits within the Escondido Creek watershed, which flows year-round from Lake Wohlford to San Elijo Lagoon. The creek runs adjacent to the Reserve’s staging area, giving all visitors an opportunity to pass over it as they begin their hike or ride from the trailhead. The Reserve also boasts six designated overlooks, each with a shade structure and/or picnic tables and views of the Pacific Ocean, Channel Islands, Coronado Islands, the Laguna and San Bernardino mountain ranges, and Olivenhain Dam and Reservoir. Other amenities include portable restrooms and drinking fountains. Whether hiking, biking, riding, or just relaxing, experiencing one of the few remaining rural areas in North County is a great way to spend the day.

The Reserve’s rangers conduct guided group tours and student exploration programs to help promote environmental awareness and preservation of local watersheds and heighten knowledge of the natural surroundings.” {Source}

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Water is Life
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Map, Collars, Leashes, Rope, Clips
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There was a sign next to this view that stated the following: “Olivenhain Dam was the first major dam built in San Diego County in 50 years. At 318 feet tall, it was the largest dam of its kind in North America at the time it was built. The reservoir holds 24,000 acre-feet of water enough to supply 50,000 families for approximately one year. Why was the dam built? The San Diego County Water Authority built Olivenhain Dam and Reservoir to protect the San Diego region from a severe water supply shortage. The Water Authority partnered with Olivenhain Munincipal Water District to build this project. Currently, the San Diego region is highly reliant upon receiving imported water from the Colorado River and Northern California. A severe drought or major earthquake could interrupt San Diego County’s water supply for up to six months. Recognizing this threat, the Water Authority developed the Emergency Storage Project. The Emergency Storage Project has created a system of interconnected reservoirs and pump stations, assuring that water flow throughout the county even if a disaster disrupts the region’s water supply.”
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Ascending
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Cracks: Arid
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Reservoir
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Cacti at the Ray Brooks Overlook
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Pacific Sunset

Fly Away

“It is a curious thing, but perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it. Those who have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, and find to their own surprise that they wear it well.” J.K Rowling via Dumbledore

The day is here! After all my work is done for the day, I’ll be off for the next 12 days using only one day of PTO. I’m grateful I’ve been given the opportunity to do the work that I do, but I’m tired. It’s time for me to get some deep rest. See some musings below:

  • The mileage shared above is for domestic flights only. I haven’t flown internationally since 2018. The only country outside of the US I visited in 2019 was Mexico. I drove. I only live 1.5 hour drive from the Baja California region in Mexico. The mileage above also doesn’t account for the number of times I landed in a particular city to drive to another (ie. Montana – Helena or Bozeman to Butte (and back), Texas – Dallas to Longview (and back), Salt Lake City, ID to Idaho Falls, ID, etc.) The graph below captures a combination of my flight and road miles. I’ll provide a true end of year count on 31-Dec-2019.

Here’s my carbon footprint information for anyone who is interested (calculated by http://www.carbonlighthouse.com – unsure of the validity of their calculations). Look at the travel bar – woo child! I’m sweating.

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  • I’m often asked why I work so hard/much. There are two reasons: freedom and peace. I don’t care much for praise nor promotions nor admiration. I care about getting things done. The sooner you get your work done, the faster you can go live your life. I work hard to pay off all my student debt and to buy myself an early retirement. I don’t desire to become a hot shot or a person in some international stage that directly or indirectly tells people how to live their lives. I don’t possess delusions of changing the world and saving the day. “Grassroots movements provide an opportunity for everyone to have a voice in what our society looks like – It’s at the core of what a democracy can and should be.” – Shannon Frattaroli, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. I don’t want to have children nor to create the traditional nuclear family structure. The only thing I want is to be my most vital self so that I can give the best version of myself to those in my community. I want to be a doula of sorts – a source of support –  for when someone has another breakdown in the name of crony capitalism. If you have the time and courage, next time a homeless person comes across your path, rather than dismissing them as “disgusting”, ask them a question that highlights their humanity.  We’re all human. We all struggle. Outside of being of support to others, I want to be a storytelling explorer – a physical, metaphysical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual explorer.
  • Is it my 6 planets in Capricorn, 5 of which are in the 6th house? My midheaven in Aries? Is it <insert something here>? How do I do it? This has been my grind since I was 17. My life has been a giant game of survival and I think I’ve done an okay job at it. I am all I have. It’s the reason why I place so much emphasis on community. I don’t want other humans to feel like they have to do life on their own because (1) we’re not designed to and (2) it sucks. I’m grateful for apps like Instacart because I can order my groceries from JIMBO’s  during flight takeoff while heading back home and have them delivered by 9AM the next morning. I’m grateful that when I get home, since I don’t have to go into an office, I can do laundry AND work at the same time. I’m grateful that I can use the internet to schedule all my car maintenance online. All I have to do is show up at the shop. I’m thankful that I can do the same for doctor’s and dental appointments. All I have to do is show up at the clinics. Online banking and bill pay portals are EVERYTHING. I’m grateful for having roommates that are awesome people – we share chores so an entire household isn’t all on me (cleaning, trash, etc.). I’m grateful for all the massage therapists, therapists (ya’ll heard of telemedicine?), hair stylists, fitness instructors, yoga & meditation teachers, and people that help me keep my physical, mental, and spiritual health in check when I come back from all my trips. I don’t want to find myself on the brink of suicide or hospitalized for my body being unable to handle the allostatic overload again.  I’m also grateful for YouTube tutorials for teaching me how to do hair and makeup on myself. Grateful for checklists for helping me keep track of all this stuff! Damn I forget shit often – lists really help. A shoutout to Minimalist Baker – your recipes give me life! Forever grateful for my pillars of emotional support and strength: Hajar (Orange County), Matt (Seattle), Nick (Denver). I may not have people geographically near me that I can text asking for favors/support directly, but somehow it all works out. And for the nosy folk out there – yes, I am single. I have certainly gone on dates, but like “Why are you doing stuff all the time?” If I don’t do it, who will? My life isn’t always going to look like this and I know that someday I’ll have a bit more balance. Sometimes you have to do less than perfect things to get to where you want to go. The climb up the mountain isn’t a perfectly curated path. I’m staying in the arena – if you don’t like it, bite me 😉 PS. Getting to live in San Diego is all the extrinsic motivation I need!
  • What do I plan to do with my time off? Rest. There will be lots of sleep, massages, extended work outs, lots of yoga, frolicking around the beach (yes – the Pacific is cold, but a sunny day is a sunny day), lots of reading, catching up with friends via FaceTime, upping the skin care routines, exploring new recipes, and local adventures. There will be one adventure from 12/27 – 12/29 that is not local, but I made sure to use my miles for a non-stop flight under 3 hours. I want to balance my beach time with some snowy mountain time 😉 I certainly had the miles to go to a fancy far-off destination by only paying taxes (flights, hotels, and car rentals would have been all on my miles/points), but my body can’t handle it. I’m exhausted. I did think about flying to Cabo San Lucas (2h 15 min nonstop via Southwest), but all of my friends are spending time with their families and such. I travel completely alone all the time. It can be lonely as hell unless I know someone in my destination city. Cabo by yourself this time of the year doesn’t sound too fun.  As mentioned before, I’ll ring in the New Year in LA! Also, I think Baby Yoda is adorable so I may make some time to watch The Mandalorian.

And just for the hell of it:

Oakland

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Ume Yoga: Yoga Studio in Oakland

[Real Life Update: Writing this from my MacBook Air! My 5 year old MacBook Pro experienced her death yesterday so I replaced her. It’s a rainy day here in San Diego so I’m taking some time to finally rest.]

For my final share of this Bay Area series we have: Oakland. It’s no news that Oakland has undergone massive changes since the 80s. Gentrification, while displacing families that have lived in the area for long, has also birthed what appears to be a new city with a different culture. As Dante Zedd said in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, “It’s like everybody dead or in prison so now it’s OK for (white people) to move back in the ‘hood,” (Here are some articles about Oakland’s gentrification: In Oakland, this is gentrification when it knocks on your door and The Forces Driving Gentrification in Oakland). I can attest that Oakland has become hip, cool, and trendy. While it was really fun to explore, there’s a question that’s still tugging at my heart strings: Hip, cool, and trendy at what true cost? Here are some snapshots:

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Nightly Views: A shot of the Oakland Tribune and a Christmas Tree (Fun Fact: The Oakland Tribune newspaper moved out of the tower in 2007. Today, it houses other businesses.)
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Friendly Reminder: Boundaries matter. I found these words on the sidewalk as I was walking around. It reminded me of that internet phrase: “Do no harm, but take no shit.” Danielle LaPorte has also shared a similar saying before. She said, “Open, gentle heart. Big Fucking Fence.
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Xolo: La Taqueria. The establishment is owned by Dona Savitsky and  Thomas Schnetz whom own a taqueria in Berkley (Tacubaya). Here’s a bit of information about Xolo from their website: “Xolo is our take on a Mission-style taqueria in downtown Oakland, California. Named after the hairless dogs that Frida Kahlo used to keep, Xolo is a fun and casual taqueria where you can eat on our patio, mezzanine, or in our large dining room, in an atmosphere that harkens an old style taqueria with touches from the 1950s and 60s. We are located in the historic Floral Depot building, next to our sister restaurant Flora, and across the street from the newly renovated Fox Theater.
We primarily serve tacos and burritos with carefully selected combinations of meats, beans, vegetables, and sauces. There are also a few other fun items like our bacon wrapped hot dog (our Danger Dog), mini crispy churros, vegan pozole, and Mexican hot chocolate. We make everything from scratch and we use local and organic ingredients as much as possible. Xolo is a great late night spot to grab some tacos and a beer or to enjoy a late lunch when everything is closed between lunch and dinner.”
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Post-gym eats. Curry Up Now is a food chain that serves Indian inspired fare. They have establishments in California and Georgia and will soon be opening additional ones in Utah. Per their website, here’s their mission: “Our founders firmly believe they were put on planet earth to bring happiness through food to the entire world.  With this in mind, we’ve created a one-of-its-kind, cutting-edge, never-before-seen menu using clean ingredients served in a unique and approachable format that supports many different diets while staying true to our earth friendly beliefs. We live by the mantra – if we don’t get better every day, we get worse. As such, every decision we make is taken with this belief in mind.”

Museum of Ice Cream, San Francisco

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Pinkmas with Nicole

I’ll open this post off by stating that I’m not the biggest fan of ice cream, but I’m always up for a creative adventure. On Friday, Nicole and I decided to go to the Museum of Ice Cream. I didn’t learn much about ice cream nor its history, but I certainly experienced an immense amount of joy. The entire museum was a pink-themed sugar wonderland. The experience felt more like an interactive exhibit than a museum. As a participant, you walked through various rooms where you partook in a creative endeavor and a treat was offered. Per their website,

“Museum of Ice Cream transforms concepts and dreams into spaces that provoke imagination and creativity. MOIC is designed to be a culturally inclusive environment and community, inspiring human connection and through the universal power of ice cream. Museum of Ice Cream is a Figure8 brand.

We believe in creating beautiful and shareable environments that foster IRL interaction and URL connections, providing fun, multi-sensorial expressions of ice cream that cater to the appetites of our generation. With 4 locations under our belt, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Miami, MOIC is just getting started.” {Source}

Website| Instagram | Pinterest

Here are some snapshots from our visit:

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Call me, beep me if you wanna reach me

One of the rooms contained a camera to capture a filtered Boomerang like video that you could email to yourself. Video below:

At the Unicorn Stable – a small opening allowed you into a room covered in pieces of mirror:

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After you went through the multiple rooms, you ended the experience in a room with a large sprinkle pool (photographed below), a slide, and a diving board. This room also contained a two swings that matched with the overall pink-theme (photographed below).

The room with most information about ice cream was called Marye’s Diner. In this part of the exhibit, you received a menu that contained tidbits of information about ice cream. After reviewing the “menu”, you’d share your favorite ice cream fact with the person behind the counter in exchange for a mini strawberry milkshake. My favorite part of this room was the pink jukebox, surrounded by Christmas trees, playing tunes.

“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”

Your life is your life. Don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission. Be on the watch. There are ways out. There is light somewhere. It may not be much light but it beats the darkness. Be on the watch. The gods will offer you chances. Know them. Take them. You can’t beat death but you can beat death in life, sometimes. And the more often you learn to do it, the more light there will be. Your life is your life. Know it while you have it. You are marvelous. The gods wait to delight in you.” The Laughing Heart, Charles Bukowski

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Holiday Trolley on Powell Street: I first visited San Francisco in 2017. As a child, I always admired trolleys.  Getting to see one in action was exhilarating even for the second time.

Happy December! My return flight from San Francisco (SFO) to San Diego (SAN) was cancelled. I was immediately rebooked via Oakland (OAK) and I’m now writing this post from the comfort of my bed, under my weighted blanket. My time in the Bay area was magical. In order to give each experience the honor it deserves, I will be sharing each experience – Portola Redwood State Park, Museum of Ice Cream San Francisco, Legion of Honor (Museum), and Oakland – as its own individual posts. The sharing of these experiences will be largely be communicated via images in the form of a photo diary. Of course, I’ll include words and stories to accompany the images, but I want the photos to be as important as the words. I will be going back to Denver this coming Wednesday night and have not decided if I’ll be interrupting the flow of my Bay area stories to talk about the current real-time reality of my day. We’ll see!

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Street Intersection, San Francisco, California

Gratitude. 2019 has been the best year of my life (thus far), particularly since this past August. My life has flourished and expanded in ways that I could have not foreseen. As we transitioned from from summer to autumn, my heart was filled with an immense amount of gratitude and joy. The arduous road to get here made sense. Getting to this place has taken effort from every ounce of my existence down to the deepest part of my soul, every piece of my heart, to every cell that composes each of my bones. Today I can say with deep conviction that the effort has been worth it. Because my life wasn’t easy from the get go, I’ve been able to grow strong, resilient, compassionate, understanding, and boundaried.

During my time in the Bay Area, I stayed with my friend Nicole. I met Nicole via one of my best friends, CMack (Caitlin). Nicole moved to the Bay Area 3 weeks ago after living in Vermont for 5 years. Because I’ve experienced the deep pain of spending a holiday in loneliness, I decided to join her for Thanksgiving. I’m on a mini-mission to ensure that human beings don’t spend especially social days on their own. My point/miles accumulation makes this mission a little easier to follow-through on.

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Chinatown, San Francisco, California

Spending time with Nicole was wonderful. Astrologically, Nicole is a Cancer Sun which lies in opposition to my Capricorn Sun. While I have my Ascendant (and South Node) in Cancer and can understand the mechanisms of the Cancer constellation, I also have 6 planets in Capricorn. It is always a good refresher to look into a mirror that highlights your blindspots. Cancer is the archetype of the mother in the zodiac. Capricorn is the archetype of the father in the zodiac. Nicole walks through the world from a place of compassion, empathy, understanding, and undying love. I walk through the world from a place of structure, leadership, and “whipping things into shape”. She embodies the realm of the emotions. I embody the realm of material structure and logic. Because I have a Cancer ascendant, I have the capacity to deliver hard truths with sweetness, compassion, empathy, and diplomacy. However, six planets in Capricorn are still six planets in Capricorn. The Universe had to balance those 6 planets in Capricorn out with something sweet and fluid! (I also have a Pisces Moon that adds to the compassion and empathy). While with Nicole I found myself reflecting on the following questions: Where can I add more sweetness in my life? How can I be more understanding, compassionate, empathetic, and loving? How can I lead from a space of service and tenderness? How can I be more nurturing rather than strict with those that are close to me and going through difficult periods of time?

If you’d like to know your zodiac constellation opposition, refer to the list below (there’s quite a lot you can learn from your opposite sun sign!):

Aries – Libra | Taurus -Scorpio | Gemini -Sagittarius | Cancer – Capricorn | Leo – Aquarius | Virgo – Pisces

As I conversed with Nicole (whom is a keeper of motherly wisdom), about the trajectories of our lives, I suddenly came to realize that my heart was feeling lighter. Earlier this year, I let go of someone I was once close to. We had a toxic connection.  Retrospectively, I can say that I don’t think neither of us are bad people, but the entity that was born out of our interactions (the chemistry of Person A  + Person B) was toxic. I still remember how much anger and resentment I felt towards this individual on the day I decided to cut him out of my life. It was while being in the Bay Area with Nicole that I realized that the healing was almost complete. I’m of the belief that forgiveness is a process rather than an event. I’m also of the belief that you can forgive someone without that individual having to be physically present in your life. You can go to therapy, meditate, set intentions in your spiritual practices, journal, meet new people that help re-wire your neural pathways, etc. While with Nicole, a deep sense of compassion (as well as a deep realization) was born out of my heart – I now realize he was acting from a space of deep wounding. This doesn’t mean I want to be part of this person’s life or want them back in my life in any capacity, it means that I can understand and accept why they behaved the way they did and thus continue moving forward. I have can now say that I have fully integrated the lesson this individual came into my life to teach me: Do not be afraid to shine and let the world know that you stand in your power and your worth.

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Bay Area Views: San Francisco Belle, San Francisco, California

Prior to getting on my flight today, Nicole and I went to the gym (a big hell yes to guest passes!). After our workout, we went in the hot tub then the steam room then the sauna. Gratitude amplified! To this day, I have yet to find medicine as good as a workout. A good workout re-aligns my entire life – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. Sweating is God’s gift to humanity. I swear that sweating and exerting your muscles inches you closer to heaven. After the gym, we shared a meal, talked some more, FaceTimed Cmack, and then made our way to the airport. I’m grateful for the people I have met on this path. They have been my saving graces again and again and again. As I wrote on 20-Nov-2019: The Universe (or anything “out there” for that matter) isn’t coming to save us, but with a little help from one another, we can save ourselves.

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SF Ferry Building, San Francisco, California

As soon as I landed in San Diego, my sense of gratitude deepened just a bit more. The warm particles in the air provided for a cozy and welcoming embrace. Instead of driving to the airport, I took Uber this time. When I went to catch an Uber to return home, I realized Uber was using a new Pin system for pick-ups. I made my way downstairs and instantly connected with Mike whom was just as equally confused as I was. Just when Mike and I tried to figure out what was happening, three Uber employees approached us and directed us to catch our rides. As my Uber driver was putting my suitcase in her trunk, Mike came over and told me it was nice to meet me. He too had just landed from San Francisco. His driver was ready to leave. My driver was ready to leave. Thus, we didn’t get to exchange phone numbers nor social media. Have you ever come across someone you just instantly hit it off with? As we were both about to get into our respective cars, he came over to me: “Hey! It was really nice to meet you. Good luck with everything.” He pulled out his phone as if to try to get my number, but his driver called. Instead, he gave me a hug and we went separate ways. Mike, if by some odd happenstance you happen to read this, it was nice to meet you too! I’d love to connect. *Considers posting a Craigslist missed connection ad*.

It’s always the interactions that I have with others that makes life worth living.

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SF Ferry Building (Inside), San Francisco, California

PS. The title of this post refers to the new Mister Rogers film featuring Tom Hanks. It’s certainly worth your time! I used it as the title of this post because the trolley toy models used in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe always reminded me of SF when I watched the show as a child.

PSS. A very special thank you to the company I work for truly respecting their employees time off. This was the first time in my adult life, I felt that I was able to truly enjoy a holiday. I didn’t receive emails nor texts from the any of my direct team members. Joining this company was certainly the right decision. My quality of life and health have both improved since making this change.

Flowing in a Winter Wonderland

I arrived to my hotel around 10:30PM. Denver accumulated between 10-15 inches of snow overnight. When I awakened it was about 5:30AM. I looked out the window into what were supposed to be the Rockies that were entirely invisible due to the low visibility conditions. I got ready to head to the clinic by 8:30AM. Fifteen minutes prior to leaving, my site alerted me that that the clinic was closed and the visit had to be rescheduled. I spent the morning polishing off my reports and finished off whatever work was remaining. Then, I met up with Nick. For what it’s worth, it took me 45 minutes to dig my car out from under the snow! Road conditions weren’t too terrible – I think the issue was the snow accumulation – it was a large amount of snow fall overnight (It might just be my inner former upstate New Yorker talking). Cleaning snow off my car brought me an immense amount of joy. I’d like to think I felt that way because I knew that by the end of the night I’d be back in sunny San Diego.

Nick and I wanted to go to the art museum, but it was closed. A lot of facilities were closed. We ended up going to the Aquarium since it was the only indoor facility that was open amidst the weather conditions. I recorded the jellyfish video above while at the Aquarium.  Did you know that the Denver Aquarium has tigers in it? I’m not sure how healthy it is for tigers to inhabit in a small Aquarium – so I was ethically torn. However, I must admit I was also in a state of awe. Marah (the tiger pictured below) along with his brothers Jalan and Besar are the oldest male Sumatran tigers in the United States. Nick and I spent the majority of our time around the tiger. Marah was strong – when he walked his muscles were visible. He would pace around his space container and move around while occasionally sitting to self-clean. It was fascinating to watch him – many of his mannerisms were reminiscent of Swami, the black cat that I live with.

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Marah, Sumatran Tiger, Denver Aquarium

Nick and I took a break and had lunch. I’ve mentioned Nick on this blog before – there are not enough words in my vocabulary to express how grateful I am for him. Nick has been one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever been given. He’s a brilliant individual with a strong follow-through game. I admire him and I’m beyond glad that he came into my life. As I’ve expressed before, his presence has been very healing for me. Seeing him is always a delight. We had lunch, saw the tiger once more, then I headed to the airport to fly back to San Diego.

Gratitude. I’m currently sitting at the San Diego airport waiting for a flight heading to San Francisco. Given that it’s Thanksgiving (in the US), I’m looking back at the past year with a deep sense of gratitude. It’s been a long road to get here – and an even longer, but exciting road lies ahead. Today I’m grateful that I have been given another breath. Another day as an embodied soul.  Looking forward to spending the next few days in the Bay are with Nicole. I haven’t been to San Francisco since 2017! It’s been a while. If you’re reading this today, I want to thank you for taking the time to read this. It’s my hope that you have a beautiful day regardless of where in the world you might be!

Adventure Time NW Edition
Adventure Time – Nick and Wanda edition: Nick eating a gator and shrimp taco. “I don’t like that photo. My hair looks like a fish tail.” (Nick)