Day of Clay and Play in Kathmandu Nepal 

****~CLICK HERE to SKIP to MINI MOVIE~****


Spiritual awakenings are expected on visits to Nepal. (Have you had one? I’d love to hear about it). I think most of us imagine these bright moments of contentment, clarity and oneness to occur as they have for many others before, on beautiful mountaintops with endless vistas of peaks and fluttering prayer flags. Standing before the face of God. 

Mine was on the back of a motorcycle in heavy traffic. On the way to a kids’ camp, an invite from a new friend and local potter, my heart nearly exploded as I listened to him share his most sincere and lovely thoughts on the true meanings of life and purpose. 

Hope you enjoy my mini movie ~CLICK HERE~from that day. In the beginning you’ll ride with me down narrow streets and alleys of Bhaktapur, through its majestic gate and then on to Kathmandu. I took out the main highway and the traffic jams we endured but I do show a bit of winding around through a more affluent neighborhood on the outskirts of town, getting lost a little and needing directions. 
The rest of the film gives an inside look at a private winter break camp enjoyed by some of the wealthier kids here. It was a bit like going through the looking glass. My friend’s role in this is to share his love of mud and pottery with the children. Ceramics is a very significant part of their heritage and culture. 


I had a fantastic time and may go on another outing with him to donate art supplies to a school that can really use them.
Here’s a little more about him and his story:
Seventeen years ago, my friend, Srijan Prajapati’s father and provider was in a terrible accident at the age of 35 and lost his ability to walk and work. 
This brought great challenges to the family but they managed to survive and continue the family pottery business of several generations. 
Opportunities in Nepal can be hard to come by but Srijan was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship and spend six months in China to learn Mandarin Chinese, a very useful language here in Nepal for both business and tourism. China is a neighboring country with considerable wealth. 
Many of his peers were seeking higher-paying jobs and opportunities abroad but he realized the best option for him and his family was to stay home and bloom where he was planted. 
Over the years his love of pottery and mud has continued to grow and he and his brother have very ambitiously met the challenges. 
They’ve done their own rebuilding post earthquake and have taught themselves many skills useful in creating a very appealing and successful shop.  
Genuinely warm and friendly people when they welcome you in to not only see their wares but also to try your hand at making one, you can tell that they share in your delight. 
I was caught very much by surprise when Srijan invited me to join him on this adventure as we had just met but he told me later that when he mentioned in conversation that he would be going, he saw the light flash in my eyes and he knew that I would love it. 
It’s that kind of open heartedness that I love discovering. This day of clay and play with kids in Kathmandu was a really special one for me. A peak memory. 

****~CLICK HERE to SEE MINI MOVIE~****


setting: Pottery Square Bhaktapur Nepal, Bhaktapur ride through town, Kathmandu Neighborhood, Pragya Kunja School Winter Break Camp 

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Board the ferry from New Orlean’s French Quarter to Historic Algiers Point for affordable adventure

On a hot muggy Sunday afternoon in New Orleans, finding a refreshing adventure can be challenging!  Lucky us, locals had recommended this authentic experience as an affordable treat and the moment felt right.  All Aboard!

this ferry crosses the Mississippi for just $2pp each way to historic Algiers Point

this ferry crosses the Mississippi for just $2pp each way to historic Algiers Point

We fearlessly hopped aboard the ferry that soon arrived.  Watched the attendant expertly stuff our $2 each down into a see through box with jaws and a handle that helped it progress down its metal throat.  The ferry’s interior seated area was significantly cooler than the steamy reality we had just come out of.

famous muddy water

famous muddy water churning as we quickly rumble away from the French Quarter

But unable to resist the view, I scurried across the lobby and exited out onto the deck, watching and listening in awe to the groaning heaviness pulling away from the dock surrounded by deep churning brownness.

The endless action on and in the powerful Mississippi seen all around us bordered by stunning sky lines; the ride was over way too soon.

you can ride inside or on the deck- it's a quick trip

you can ride inside or on the deck- it’s a quick trip

you'll see lots Mississippi River action

you’ll see lots Mississippi River action

With no sense of our destination when boarding we were deposited at the edge of Historic Algiers Point.  What a treat.  A lovely riverside village with its own history and independent spirit, it’s a community well worth visiting.  I suggest allowing a few hours at least to stroll the lovely neighborhoods and visit some of the scattered local hangs.

As you exit the ferry in Algiers, watch for a big walking tour sign on the wall straight ahead.  It’ll give you a good feel of which way to head out.  We laced all in and out around the town and enjoyed all of it.

arriving on the Algiers side

arriving on the Algiers side

easy walk from the ferry to neighborhood hangs

easy walk from the ferry to neighborhood hangs

edge of neighborhood very near ferry landing

edge of neighborhood very near ferry landing

Algiers Point sign

Robert E Nims Jazz walk of fame is right near the ferry landing

Robert E Nims Jazz walk of fame is also quite near the ferry landing- just up a ways to your right along the river

stuff to see along the Algiers Point side of the Mississippi

stuff to see along the Algiers Point side of the Mississippi

beauty every way you turn- hard to go wrong

beauty every way you turn- hard to go wrong

strolling through the neighborhoods of Algiers Point

strolling through the neighborhoods of Algiers Point be ready for color

beautiful Algiers Point

the king is loved

the king is loved

we just followed the trail of sweet sweet shade

we just followed the trail of sweet sweet shade

view of New Orleans from Algiers Point across the Mississippi

view of New Orleans from Algiers Point across the Mississippi

the Algiers Point ferry landing

the Algiers Point ferry landing

sunset over the Mississippi Algiers Point

sunset over the Mississippi Algiers Point

Remember…check the ferry schedule before you go…http://www.friendsoftheferry.org/

If you do mess up by chance and miss the return ferry, the uber solution ended up costing us about $20 to get back to the French Quarter.  There were really no walking options as it’s illegal to walk across the bridge.

check the ferry schedule or you'll have to uber it back like us

check the ferry schedule or you’ll have to uber it back like us

A White Christmas in Whitefish Montana

About a month ago, the winds of adventure blew us to the beautiful Montana Flathead Valley where we are overwintering as house and cat sitters (for Ryan’s mom- she’s in Hawaii! …another story).  The Big Boy (our camper home) lives in the driveway and days are spent enjoying life’s flow.

Ryan has taken a job as a lift attendant at the nearby Whitefish Mountain resort and Christmas day was his first official day.

It was a dark and long drive through the valley.  We arrived just before sunup to drop him off and while kids everywhere delighted in opening their gifts, I was delighting in nature’s glory.  As garlands sparkled in twinkle lights so did the fresh snow glisten and glow as the morning arrived.

It’s a seven mile winding descent that affords amazing vistas down on the village of Whitefish and across the Flathead Valley.  To be above the cloud like mists tucked among the farms and checkerboard downtown with its little dots of light gives the sense of a magical enchantment, as though a toy train’s village had been brought to life.  Deer stroll about with a calm as still as the carpeted snow.  The woods are dotted with alpine style chalets picture perfect with their white trim and traditional Christmas decking.

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Ryan all decked out in his official Whitefish mountain jacket, vest and beanie. Day one of actual duty at the lifts landed on Christmas Day! The mountain was rocking with lots of fresh snow and a fresh stream of excited skiers. He enjoyed it.

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Whitefish Montana Amtrak train station

My first white Christmas in decades could not have been more beautiful. PUW_6696PUW_6704PUW_6707PUW_6713PUW_6714PUW_6716PUW_6724PUW_6726PUW_6728

Where in the world has Big Boy been? Here’s a glimpse…

Over hill and dale, hither and yon, our home away from home, “the Big Boy” has rolled and rolled and rolled. This links to my facebook “Where in the world is Big Boy?” album. You have to look closely in some of the pics haha

Click here to go to the album

The Creation Station strikes again

When I take a job, I’ve always enjoyed going the extra mile. Here at the KOA when I saw that the primary bulletin board had gotten rather tired, I asked permission to redo it on my off time. The previous focus had been tidbits about many different area attractions but always being marketing minded I saw other opportunity. (Plus that need is already being met with many handouts in the lobby area ) This bulletin board is located right between the men’s and women’s bathrooms. I asked the owners what additional business would they like to attract and they said off-season especially in the fall and spring. I did some research visiting the local Visitors Bureau and speaking to someone from the local Chamber of Commerce and discovered this very innovative promotion that Lincoln City has called “Finders Keepers”. I made that the primary message of the bulletin board and then used novelty and 3-D effects to draw additional attention. The bulletin board encourages current visitors to make reservations for a return trip later on. It was a lot of fun. Everything I used came out of my “Creation Station, our little pull a long trailer. The crabshell is one of several that have been in my art supplies since the late 90s when I picked them up on the beach in Maine. The orange kite was made from a bit of fabric that was a scrap from circus costumes that my girlfriend Heidi Herriott gave me a few years ago. I painted on the back of round glass craft pieces to simulate the floating glass orbs that they hide on the beach here. The owners haven’t seen it yet but I hope that they are happy with it.
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America’s Magical Soaks: #1 in a series of articles about our adventures finding natural hot springs

A Hot Soak in a Crashing Waterfall!  Are you kidding me?  

This wonderful place is just straight up on another level.

 

An easy hike with an exciting reward!

An easy hike with an exciting reward!

 

The scene is a beautiful cascading waterfall

crashing down on series of small falls and pools at the base of a red rock canyon in Utah.

Yesterday I had the peak life experience of sitting comfortably nestled in a tumble of rocks, slightly reclined with my eyes closed and only my nose and mouth exposed to the delicious mountain air.

Perfect, soothing, hot mineral waters cascaded over me enveloping me in the most incredible embrace.  The light danced through my eyelids.  My nose was filled with strange and comforting smells coming from the water.  The wet magic not only rained down on us from the falls, but was joined by hot rushing springs at the face of the waterfall creating a thermal blend as it found its way down to us.  My left arm experienced a steady cascade of brisk cool mountain stream as my right enjoyed a nearly too hot light liquid pounding.

I felt as though I had become part of the waterfall.

Just move around the pools until you find the perfect soak for you.  Ry likes to start out in the hottest he can take then cool down gradually.

The spot just above Ryan is where I sat for the longest time.  If you want to totally relax, just move around the pools until you find the perfect soak for you.  They vary from make you hot enough to make pink quick to brrrrrrr. Ry likes to start out in the hottest he can take then cool down gradually.

 

While there was no steam, as it was a fairly warm day, there were other visual clues as to where the hot waters joined in and this special spot had several of them as well as several spots built up with rocks to create soaking heavens of different temperatures and depths.  Incredible.

These visual clues are primarily in the form of sediment of minerals and the various alien looking forms possibly mosses that apparently prefer these hot waters and gather around the openings.  There was a great rainbow of buildups here that leads me to believe that these springs may be richer in minerals than the others we’ve found.

I’ve always loved to float in the ocean on a warm calm day (like you find on the sound side of Pensacola Beach where I grew up).  Leaning back into these warm spring waters brought back those happy memories of buoyancy.  All you have to do is close your eyes and breathe deeply and slowly.  The mineral rich water does the rest.  Weightlessness feels so wonderful and healing.

Our daughter Vail and her boyfriend Blake who joined us on this and several other adventures.  They also brought along the delightful pair of 4 month old puppies, Melon and Bear.

Our daughter Vail and her boyfriend Blake who joined us on this and several other adventures. They also brought along the delightful pair of 4 month old puppies, Melon and Bear.

 

The hike to get to this delightful

soaking paradise was easy and short.

Easy mostly shady hike along a beautiful waterway.

Easy mostly shady hike along a beautiful waterway.

This great spot is a short drive from Salt Lake City followed by a gentle hike speckled in shade and banked by the babbling waters of the Diamond Fork in the Uinta National Forest. It was recommended to us by a local but for actual written out directions and more info check out this link: http://www.utah.com/hike/fifth-water-waterfalls-and-hot-spring-trail

Looking forward to coming here many more times in the future.

Next time I’d like to go at sundown and bring a bunch of votive candles.  There are little waxy puddles about on the rocks and I can just imagine how incredible it must be to soak the night away by the light of candles and starlight.

Aaaaaaaah.  Lucky Utah. 

 

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This place was recommended to us by a local but for actual written out directions and more info check out this link: http://bit.ly/1ldm1XU

This is where you're going in the Uinta National Forest.

This is where you’re going in the Uinta National Forest.