I’ve been on a blogging hiatus since leaving Ruth Denison’s meditation retreat in the desert of Southern California- why? Also didn’t blog between Santa Fe and Dhamma Dena either. Pourquoi?
First, visiting an all lesbian encampment/village near Phoenix Az seemed private as the winter community of 300+ women seems to want to maintain a low profile. Perhaps because they do not invite men to live there, which is likely a legal violation, and because many of these older lesbians in their 60s, 70s and even 80s have life-time shellshock from discrimination against gays during the 40s, 50s and 60s. Women are dying who first came there several decades ago and young lesbians are not flocking- likely because they are not experiencing the same level of discrimination and perhaps are also less likely to connect with lesbian community. The millennial generation seems more fluid and inclusive in its approach to gender and sexual orientation.
The lesbian retirement community was an interesting experience- I left knowing clearly that I don’t want to live in a homogeneous community, whether it’s based on gender, sexual orientation or age, and I want to avoid insularity. But it was really interesting to see how older lesbians have found community and safety together in a warm spot, far from the cold! Perhaps an amazing place to visit for a month in February when there are 300 women holding dances, concerts, hikes, games and having general fun in fabulous weather looking up at the gorgeous Superstition Mountains. Rain in Portland. Sun in Phoenix. Why not?
Then camping with sister Jo and her husband Shigeto in Joshua Tree National Park seemed private somehow too.
Then I drove a marathon trip from there to wealthy Marin County, north of San Francisco for a rather spa-like silent Buddhist meditation retreat. That too somehow seemed either too privileged to mention, or perhaps too private to confess to my unspiritual thoughts and behavior on retreat! More on that soon.
Then on to meet my good friend Jean near Shasta and Tule Lake Wildlife Refuge for birding/camping and catching up. Shasta is a very “woo woo” New Age area with reputed spirits and forces emanating from this giant dormant volcano. Lots of beads and incense and Indian clothing and rough looking itinerant folks. We spent the night at a rustic and lovely mineral springs encampment, where we soaked in bathtubs filled with hot mineral water heavy with silica, followed by sauna and optional skinny dip into the ice cold stream outside! I passed on the stream and took showers instead. Then yesterday we explored the marshy expanses Lower Klamath and Tule Lake area in the northern reaches of volcanic California. More on that soon as well- interesting activities abound.
Conclusion to this phase of my adventure story: I’m sad! I’m sad that I’ll be home in Portland soon, back in the big city and traffic, back in my condo which is now shared with others (a nice man and a semi-traumatized cat!)- but mostly I’m sad to leave the vagabond life and the tiny-house life in my camper van. I love this damn vehicle. It’s just a bunch of metal and wires and wood and rubber, but it’s been a sweet safe little travel home. Dang, the bed is more comfortable than at home. I’ll be back in her next year, for sure! I’ve taken to this type of adventure very happily. Wouldn’t want to do it permanently, but it’s the best vacation I could ever have, and I want it to be longer next time!
What else will I miss? To my surprise, solitude. And the excitement of the open road, not knowing what the day will bring, whom I will meet, where I will spend the night, and what beauty awaits around every corner. And the magnificence of wild America. What an amazing land in which we live and pollute and make noise and go about our “important” lives, ignoring the lessons of the wild and the simple and the raw.
Thank you Earth for an amazing 5-week journey. I salute your resilience and your incredible history and beauty.