Bansuri Improvisation In the Grand Canyon

This was a longer video I wasn’t able to upload until now. I had found a nice, natural, overhang shieled from the wind (mostly) and with good acoustics along an ancient path to a natural spring. Animals and humans have used the path for thousands of years to access precious water in an otherwise arid environment. I commonly ran into herds of mule deer along the way while exploring this area.

A beautiful expression of faith, hope, and love

I saw the most beautiful, thougtful, humble, and sincere expression of faith, hope, and love while driving down the highway today through the Navajo nation: eight signs (below) in sequence.  I was not only deeply touched by the message, but by the genuine effort involved.  Not only did this blessed soul feel these things in their heart, but they so earnestly wanted to express this message to the world that they bought sixteen posts, eight sheets of plywood, fastened them all together, dug sixteen post holes, and handpainted each sign with care and creativity.  Seeing this actually brought me to tears, truly touching my heart, and causing me to slam on the breaks, make two u-turns to read them all again and photograph them.  As I continued down the road with still wet eyes, I looked back in my rearview mirror and saw the most magnifcent rainbow painting the otherwise bright, blue sky.  I am a spiritual person and I have the greatest love and admiration for such sincere expressions of faith, hope, and love.  Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit.  God bless this humble loving soul with all the happiness and wellbeing in the world.  

To The Arizona Canyons

On my way to Sedona I decided to go out of my way to explore Lake Havisu.  I only stayed long enough to u-turn on the main drag, so I can’t really say I got a true sense of the place, only enough to know it wasn’t for me, at least not now.  It was flat, hot, developed, and uninspiring.  I’m sure there are some good deals, good people, and pleasant beaches, I just didn’t have the will or patience to find out.  

Sedona is kind of ridiculous to me.  It is so congested and touristy, and oppressively hot.  Sure the backdrop is beautiful, but even the trails are crowded and one is never out of reach from the drone of traffic noise, the glint fabricated structures, nor the neon glow of commerce.   I like crystals and chakras and vortexes and all that, but I don’t need the commerical entity of Sedona, Arizona to enjoy those things.  Sure, the land is awe-inpsiring and sacred, but so is the entire American West.  I think the only thing Sedona has an edge on is business savvy and spiritual tourism.   Everything Sedona has to offer can be found in a much purer form if one just drives to the empty spaces on any map of the southwest.  I had a dear friend in Sedona though.  I was kind of conflicted between my desire to spend time with her, and my instinct to flee the area.  I was there for about a week.  I managed to score a spot at a sought after campground.  It was along a beautiful stream with a healthy trout population and secret meditation nooks.  I abided.  

From Sedona I headed northwest to Vegas, only to refill my stash of cannabis edibles.  I only stayed so long as to refill my fridge and do my laundry, spending the night in a Walmart parking lot in Mesquite NV along the Nevada/Utah border.  I’ve become fond of Mesquite.  It’s everything you’d expect it to be: “Hi! Welcome to Nevada!  Wanna gamble? Want a hooker? Want some weed? Need a place to stay?  We’re here for you!”  Don’t get me wrong.  Mesquite isn’t seedy feeling at all.  It just feels… practical.

The next day was an adventure.  I saw a place on the map in the middle of nowhere called Wolf’s Hole.  I had to go.  I drove sixty mile into the northern Arizona desert, missed the sign for Wolf’s Hole, and ended up with a flat tire, without a spare tire or cell service, in the middle of nowhere.  Luckily I had my motorcycle on the back of my van with a full tank of gas.  I did what I had to do.  I found a flat, safe place to pull over next to a historic schoolhouse.  I got out my jack, pulled off the offending tire, mounted it on the back of my motorcycle, closed all the blinds in my van and turned on the fans for Kody, and drove sixty long miles through the desert dust and gravel to St. George Utah where I got my tire promptly fixed.  Before heading back I stopped at a gas station to refill my motorcycle tank and to slam a couple of White Claws to make the ride back a little more tolerable.  Even though it at first seemed like an ordeal, I managed to resolve the problem quite smoothly in just a few hours.  I decided to just camp right there that night since it was so barren and quite, just as I prefer.  I checked out the schoolhouse and was pleasantly surprised.  The door was open and it had been restored in recent years, boasting a nice wood floor, a few wooden benches, and plenty of pics and memorobilia regarding the former school and it’s students.  Since there was no one around for miles, I made that little schoolhouse my temple for the night.  I did yoga and meditated in this quiet sanctuary and played my flute all night, taking advantage of the interesting acoustics of the buildling.  

The next day I moved on to the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.  I had never been to the North Rim before but was pleasantly surprised to find very little crowd, hardly any presence of park rangers or law enforcement, and beautiful vistas and enchanting trails.  I stayed up there for a whole week, never once paying for camping, just sleeping at the vista pulloffs which was technically against regulations.  While there a friend of mine from the East Coast came through for a few nights on his way out to the West Coast to do some surfing.  We had a good time exploring around and making music.  The Grand Canyon treated me well, and I’m sure I’ll be back.  I found it very cleasning to the mind and soul to contemplate such vast and beautiful vistas for a whole week.  

From the Grand Canyon I proceeded west along the Arizona/Utah border to the Glenn Canyon Recreation Area where I am now.  I spent 5 days at Lees Ferry fishing, hiking, and practicing my spiritual disciplines.  Lees Ferry suited me very well, but there was no place to camp there except for the $20/night campground.  I forked over the fee to have access to the place at night, staying out well past dark each evening.  Now I am nearby at Lone Rock campground along Lake Powell, just over the Utah Border.  This area is super mellow and has everything I need.  It is where I will hunker down for the next few weeks while America weathers the almost assuredly pending chaos following today’s election.  It’s all beach camping here along the shore of Lake Powell, very spread out with no numbered or definable sites.  There’s a dump station and fresh water, and the town of Page only 20 minutes away where I can go for supplies.  I want to spend several weeks here living quite and simply, working on a writing project, playing lots of music, doing some fishing, paddleboarding, offroad dirtbiking, and plenty of long walks.  

A West Coast Run

After taking my pistol course in Reno, accidentally driving down the main drag of a motorcycle rally on my little green Japanese 250cc bike, and taking advantage of Nevada’s legal weed status, I made my way up Grant’s Pass Oregon to visit an old and dear friend of mine who has done fairly well for himself in the cannabis industry.  Although on the surface we got along well most of the time, I could tell that time had changed us, and that he was still seeing the old me, not quite seeing or accepting the reality of the man now before him.  We had some laughs, did some stuff, took some drugs, then parted ways, both feeling a little awkward for our inability to articulate or address the new distance between us.  Nevertheless, I’m happy he is doing well for himself, and I hope he hangs onto that woman. 

After Grant’s Pass, I decided to do a run of the entire west coast from the Portland area down.  I avoided Portland itself like the plague in the light of all the “peaceful protests” in the area lately.  The Oregon coast was as I remembered it: enchanting and magical.  However, it was smothered with smoke from the intense spell of wildfires this late summer.  I had this naive beliefe that the coasts would be safe from the wildfire smoke, being west of the eastward flowing air currents.  I was wrong.  Wind currents pulled the smoke through fingerlike channels out to sea, and from there the smoke drifted southward along the coast.  Unlike my usual self, I was in no mood for gloom and fog.  I was unwilling to accept the natural balance of things.  Having much of my summer wasted in Covid lockdowns and busywork selling my house, I felt greedily entitled to a few weeks of sun, sand, and stoney leisure.  If I found myself in smoke and fog, I made it my policy to keep driving until I hit a belt of sunshine again.  The smoke did indeed stream out to sea in a veiny, fingerlike fashion; every twenty miles I drove alternated between a glistening and blissful coastal paradise, and a smothering, gloomy atmosphere of cough-inducing, dense, grey air, and hard-to-navigate, hairpin turns along coastal cliffs.  The smoke persisted in a belligerant fashion all the way down to LA.  Before I knew it I was in the misty redwoods, and soon after, the busy beaches of southern California.  I didn’t stay too long.  Along the coast, in the few patches of uncrowded sunshine I found myself in, I was in utter bliss.  But once you hit LA, the coast becomes a crowded circus, beautiful as it remains to be.  It wasn’t a horrible circus though.  The people were fine: mostly non-political, just happy southern Californians who wanted to enjoy the very things they moved there for: the perfect weather, easy living, and beautiful coastal vistas.  But there were too many of them, and I didn’t want to be another statistic.  It’s my nature to be content in the most sparse and solitary of places.  I didn’t need California.  I needed the barren solitude of the desert.  And so I preceded onward to Arizona.

John Steinbeck Quote:

This quote was a chapter in East Of Eden which I recently read. I feel it is very relevant to modern times, and well articulates the values of freedom and individuality which mean so much to me. If you won’t take it from me, take it from this incredibly gifted and insightful author who wrote this during the Great Depression:

“Sometimes a kind of glory lights up the mind of a man. It happens to nearly everyone. You can feel it growing or preparing like a fuse burning toward dynamite. It is a feeling in the stomach, a delight of the nerves, of the forearms. The skin tastes the air, and every deep-drawn breath is sweet. Its beginning has the pleasure of a great stretching yawn; it flashes in the brain and the whole world glows outside your eyes. A man may have lived all of his life in the gray, and the land and trees of him dark and somber. The events, even the important ones, may have trooped by faceless and pale. And then—the glory—so that a cricket song sweetens his ears, the smell of the earth rises chanting to his nose, and dappling light under a tree blesses his eyes. Then a man pours outward, a torrent of him, and yet he is not diminished. And I guess a man’s importance in the world can be measured by the quality and number of his glories. It is a lonely thing but it relates us to the world. It is the mother of all creativeness, and it sets each man separate from all other men.

I don’t know how it will be in the years to come. There are monstrous changes taking place in the world, forces shaping a future whose face we do not know. Some of these forces seem evil to us, perhaps not in themselves but because their tendency is to eliminate other things we hold good. It is true that two men can lift a bigger stone than one man. A group can build automobiles quicker and better than one man, and bread from a huge factory is cheaper and more uniform. When our food and clothing and housing all are born in the complication of mass production, mass method is bound to get into our thinking and to eliminate all other thinking. In our time mass or collective production has entered our economics, our politics, and even our religion, so that some nations have substituted the idea collective for the idea God. 

This in my time is the danger. There is great tension in the world, tension toward a breaking point, and men are unhappy and confused. At such a time it seems natural and good to me to ask myself these questions. What do I believe in? What must I fight for and what must I fight against? Our species is the only creative species, and it has only one creative instrument, the individual mind and spirit of a man. Nothing was ever created by two men. There are no good collaborations, whether in music, in art, in poetry, in mathematics, in philosophy. Once the miracle of creation has taken place, the group can build and extend it, but the group never invents anything. The preciousness lies in the lonely mind of a man.

And now the forces marshaled around the concept of the group have declared a war of extermination on that preciousness, the mind of man. By disparagement, by starvation, by repressions, forced direction, and the stunning hammerblows of conditioning, the free, roving mind is being pursued, roped, blunted, drugged. It is a sad suicidal course our species seems to have taken.

And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about. I can understand why a system built on a pattern must try to destroy the free mind, for this is one thing which can by inspection destroy such a system. Surely I can understand this, and I hate itand I will fight against it to preserve the one thing that separates us from the uncreative beasts. If the glory can be killed, we are lost.”

Cowboys, Pistols, & Hemp

After exploring the wild northwest corner of Montana, I followed a suggestion and proceeded down to just south of Salmon Idaho, to visit the natural Goldbug Springs in Elk Bend.  I was also curious about the area after reading about it in the book “This Land: How Cowboys, Capitalism, and Corruption Are Ruining The American West” by Christopher Ketchum.  He mentioned Salmon Idaho as a hotbed of wolf hunting that holds a yearly derby to bag as many coyotes and wolves as possible.  For one, I was attracted to the fact that there are wolves about in those mountains, and two, I just kind of wanted to see for myself and understand this hunter/cowboy mentality as much as I may find it abhorent.  And man, I was not let down and shortly found myself closing down the bar with a group of local ranchers and hunters who bought me drinks all night.  Without any hint of antagonism, I confessed my love for wolves, and they responded in turn by respectfully, passionately, and articulately explaining their side of things.  We talked about all kinds of things: Indian artifact hunting, the BLM movement, Donald Trump, local history, wildlife, ranching, women, and of course, wolves.  I don’t really want to go into lengthy detail about what they had to say in particular, but I will say that I was impressed by their awareness and integrity.  They were not the thoughtless brutes I had expected.  They were good, hardworking men who knew their land well and how to thrive in it, and they were passionately and fearlessly committed to defending their way of life and living as they see fit.  They certainly have different values than I, but they stand by them.  I certainly don’t condone the slaughtering of wild canids, but I must say, these cowboys won my respect.  The hotsprings were amazing by the way, completely natural, hidden high up on the mountain.  I had a wonderfully relaxing and theraputic soak while enjoying a gorgeous vista.  The hosts at the campground were also incredibly kind and openhearted.  All in all, in defiance of my expectations, I really liked the all the people I met in the Salmon area, and the land was majestic and enchanted.  I’ll be back!

After Idaho, I spent a few days in Grand Teton National Park.  Like all the other National Parks this odd summer, they place was quite crowded, especially for so late in the season, and the park officials were aggressively enforcing covid mandates and restrictions.  As much as all that bothered me, the beauty and serenity of the land still managed to fill my heart with positivity and happiness.  I enjoyed a few days exploring around on my motorcycle, hiking backcountry trying to see bears, and playing my flute and meditating.  Then I had to hightail it back across Idaho and Nevada to make it to Reno by the 25th where I took my instructor-led, live ammunition, NRA pistol course to qualify for an Arizona conceal and carry permit.  After so many weeks of solitude in the wilderness, it was actually quite nice to sit in a room all day with 10 other gun enthusiasts.  The class was a mixed bag: a few soldiers, a gun shop owner, a latino carpenter and his young daughter, an avid female Trump supporter, a constitution loving cowgirl, and a former intelligence operative.  Despite all of us being adults, all the same dynamics of highschool were present, and I found it all very entertaining.  I passed, and really enjoyed the class.   Now I’m just waiting to hear back from Arizona and the FBI to see if they’ll issue me the permit.  A conceal/carry good for thirty or so states will simply make traveling with a pistol a whole lot less stressful.  And I do like to carry a gun in most instances.  I’m cool with open carry, but concealing suits me better and seems less likely to invite trouble.  

I’m currently camped at a resevoir about an hour east of Reno.  I wanted to avoid the city as much as I could and stay in a peaceful natural area while I took care of the pistol class.  I love this place though.  It’s all sandy like a beach with many cottonwood trees providing shade and you can camp anywhere you want.  It’s a perfect place for long, contemplative walks, playing flute by the water, and yoga and meditation in the warm sand.  Tomorrow I’m heading over to southern Oregon to see an old friend who has a hemp farm, and from there I’ll probably finally explore a bit of the Oregon coast, then proceed down to Mt. Shasta in California and visit whatever coastal redwoods are left.

Searching for apex predators and flyfishing in the smoke

My plans to head over to the Oregon Coast and down to Mt Shasta got derailed due to all the wildfires.  So I spent several days in the Kootenai National Forest in the remote northwest corner of Montana, home to grizzlies, wolves, and cougars… none of which I was able to see, although I did find wolf tracks and scat and saw one black bear.  Besides going on long walks and motorcycle excursions in search of these animals, I spent much of my time flyfishing in high mountain lakes.  I’m new to flyflshing and its a bit of a learning curve to get the hang of it, however I’m happy to say I landed my first 5 trout using dry flies and enjoyed a good feast with my dog.  It is quite exciting to watch the trout aggressively strike the flies as they float and shimmy on the surface.  I was a bit skeptical about the idea of fly fishing being this greater art than traditional spin casting, but I’m starting to see the light.  What I like about fly fishing it that it requires a good deal more concentration, and intimacy with the prey you seek.  You have to really study and watch the fish, observe how and what they are feeding on, and adjust tactics accordingly.  Setting the hook is also more important in flyfishing I’ve noticed.  The fly hooks are small enough that the trout can just spit them back out once they realize they’ve been duped if you fail to promptly set the hook.  A treble hook on a traditional lure makes this less imperative.  I will continue to flyfish as long as the weather allows to try and get ahead of the curve and get a good workingman’s grasp on the art.  I spend my mornings and evenings reading and doing yogic practices.  Fishing and observing wildlife is a great daytime occupation.

The amount of smoke in the air in the forest lately has been very impressive.  Sometimes you can barely see the sun.  You can both smell and taste the smoke, and see it sweeping through the air like mist.  The nights, especially during the recent new moon, were eerily pitch black.  The smoke hid all the stars.  During the daytime, everything is dreary and grey, and its hard to tell what the weather actually is, whether its about to rain or not.  Being in such a remote and wild forest haunted with predators, the smoke really set a spooky and mysterious tone, especially in the areas where previous fires had already decimated the forest.  I felt like I was in an Edgar Allen Poe story, walking through barren, burnt forests in a thick fog, seeing and hearing only the occasional raven or two observing me from the dead branches.  

Today I’m heading down to Salmon Idaho to check out Goldbug hot springs, a set of natural thermal pools up in the mountains.   There’s some good fishing in the area as well, and wolves also inhabit the place, though they are heavily hunted.  Perhaps I’ll get luckily one of these days and catch a glimpse of these sacred, mystical beasts.  From there I plan to sweep around the back side of the Grand Tetons and visit the park for a few days before journeying over to Reno for my pistol course so I can get my conceal and carry permit.  That course is the last obligation I have, the only item on my “schedule”.  I look forward to exploring the Redwoods of California and the beautiful rock formations of southern Utah after that.  Then perhaps I’ll start hunting for land and a cabin in New Mexico.  I had a meditation vision that told me that the place I seek will not be available until 11/12, so I haven’t started seeking yet.  It’s amazing how detailed and precise information can be transmitted mysteriously while in a quiet state.  I was sitting on the edge of a canyon in the Badlands in a state of deep tranquility, when suddenly I heard and innervoice that very specifically stated this information.  It also said that after that time, the place for me will be presented to me.

Fishing And Paddling In Montana

I started exploring Montana just before Labor Day weekend and soon found a serene and picturesque lake in the Flathead National Forest, Holland Lake. I appreciated how, unlike so many other lakes, this lake did not have wealthy lake houses all along its shoreline. It was a completely natural setting, apart from a humble lodge and marina. Due to the holiday weekend, there were many campers along the lake’s trails, and many paddleboarders, canoers, kayakers, all in light and merry spirits enjoying the perfect weather. For just a high northern lake, the water was quite comfortable, water you could play in all day without a shiver. I spent the weekend fishing, paddleboarding, and playing flute in the woods. I’ve become quite addicted to the trout fishing out west actually, especially here in Montana where big trout of all varieties can be found in abundance in nearly any stream. After a few days at lake Holland, I spent several more fishing the Blackfeet and Clark Fork rivers, both with flys and spinners, and I’ve enjoyed quite a few good meals on the freshest trout: rainbows, cutthroats, and brookies. Since I was so close to Glacier National Park, despite warnings I had heard about crowds, I also took the opportunity to visit the park and drive the famous “Going To The Sun Road”. I have to say, though the park was indeed breathtakingly beautiful, I’ve fallen a bit out of love with our National Parks. Too many roads, regulations, and tourists. At both Yellowstone and Glacier, you’re not allowed to take your dog on any trails, nor does a statewide fishing permit allow you to fish the parks. You have to buy a separate park license. All I really wanted to do at the parks was find a nice scenic pulloff to play my flute and drum, but every pulloff were jampacked with cars and a frenzy of people, and the roads were contstantly roaring with traffic. If you travel with a dog, it’s nearly impossible to find solitude in these parks. I camped nearly every night of this journey in national forests which I FAR prefer: way less people, roads, and regulations, only a thin network of dirt forest roads and the wide open wilderness without rangers constantly watching you. The forests have just as much scenic beauty and wildlife as the national parks, only less accomodations, people, and paved access roads, which makes them significantly better. The only drawback of the forests, especially here in Montana, is heavy logging. They “thin” the forests, saying it’s good for a whole list of bullshit reasons. In reality, logging interests just want a homogenized crop of profitable timber they can harvest in regularity. Whatever “good” the thinning does for the trees, it’s absolutely devastating to the wildlife and natural ecosystems of those areas. Some areas of the forests feel sad and desolate, more like graveyards than a vital and thriving ecosystem. Make no mistake, the US Forest Service does not serve to protect our forests, but to pimp them out to the highest bidder.

I’m currently at Sandpoint in Northern Idaho. It’s a very charming town that seems chock full of pretty women, however, I’m not really interested in towns, or even women so much on this journey, at least as much as I can help it, but my biological makeup has priorities of its own. So I’m just doing a load of laundry then heading back over to Montana’s most northwestern and least visited national forest, the Kootenai NF, home to wolves, grizzlys, and cougars. Being so northern and sparsely populated, this is probably my chance on this journey so far to encounter and view wolves, which is a prime goal of mine. Maybe I could even glimpse the northern lights, another goal. I’m gonna spend at least a week up their wandering around hoping for such an encounter. As of last night, I had intended to go visit the beautiful coast of Oregon, an old friend in Grants Pass, and then continue on to the holy and sacred Mt. Shasta. The unprecedented amount of wildfires has derailed that plan. Even the friend I intended to visit is under evacuation. I can’t even imagine how much smoke their must be in the air. In two weeks I’ve signed up for a pistol course in Reno Nevada so I can get my Arizona concealed and carry permits which reciprocates with 36 states and allows out of state applicants. I’ve noticed that gun courses all over the nation are sold out and its very hard to get a slot in one. As many have heard, gun sales this year have skyrocketed due to tyranny and riot fears, but their all clamoring as well to get their conceal and carry permits. I got the last slot in Reno, and if I miss it, I probably won’t be able to get the permit until after the election, and by then it will be too late when civil unrests sweeps across the nation with more ferocity than these wildfires. But perhaps by then a permit won’t be needed anyhow in such a brutal and lawless climate. Anywho, over the next two weeks I’m gonna fish my way down through Montana and Wyoming. In southern Wyoming, at the Red Desert, or Great Basin, I’ve been told one find stones of natural tourqoise. I definitely wanna check that out. From their I’ll get across Utah as fast as possible. That mormon compound freaks me out and the cops are crooked as sin. Then I get to look forward to the very long haul across northern Nevada to the Reno/Tahoe area. I actually enjoy that drive a lot. I love barren emptiness. It’s why I’m out here. It’s what I seek.

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