Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Magic Mountains -- and other stories

Mt. Shasta, from afar
You can argue with me all you want, but you'll never convince me that big mountains don't have magic. Prior to 1996, when I first experienced that magic at Mt. Rainier, I'd have probably been in the other camp myself. Magic? Hah! I'd spent two months riding my bike through Colorado's rockies, even climbed one of the fourteeners, but I'd never felt any magic.

But back in 1996 as I sat in my car in a pullout on that mountain, inside the park at the top of the road, I felt that mountain's energy. It filled the car and permeated my body. It was real, not imagined. I never saw the mountain itself -- it was shrouded in fog, but I sure could feel its presence.

Mt. Shasta, up close and personal, near Shasta City
Not all mountains seem to have that magic, or perhaps it's merely that I'm not picking up on the vibes of all mountains. However one chooses to feel about that, I personally have only experienced that magic at two mountains: Rainier, and this beauty, Mt. Shasta. I've driven past countless times, ridden past on a train, but it never fails to speak to me somewhere deep inside. Kind of hazy today, but at least not hiding in the clouds.

My craving for this baby was delayed by many hours -- had trouble finding the location in Redding, and by the time I found it I passed the entrance and the traffic was such that I couldn't get back to it without a lot more driving. I'd already driven all over town, so I gave it up, had another nut bar and some almonds for lunch. By the time I got to Petaluma, CA around 3pm I was feeling the need for food (almost 9 hours after leaving home). I am stubborn, refused to stop at any other fast food (read: junk) place, but I remembered that there was an In-N-Out on the map where I was routed to cross 101 in Petaluma, so I beelined there like a magnet. I gotta tell you, it was well worth the wait. I've eaten at In-N-Out several times in Santa Rosa, but never ventured past the basic burger and while it was OK, it was never great. This baby is the double-double animal style, medium rare with grilled onions and chiles. Juicy, delicious, my hands were covered in it afterwards. Ahhhhhh. Bliss.

Of course, Buddhist teachings would probably consider my issues finding the Redding location to be a type of karma -- a quick lesson in the suffering brought on by craving! And I can live with that.

I'm here, of course. Exactly 11 hours, door-to-door, with only a few brief stops before the 30 minutes or so for lunch.  I'm still tired, but happy. Weather is that perfect, welcome to California stuff the tourist bureau likes to talk about. Even here on the coast, the sun is warm, the breeze refreshing, and even the night wasn't particularly cold.

I've been given today as a day of rest, which is much appreciated. The others have gone into town for the afternoon. Tomorrow, I'll make that trip with Ayya, for some pindapat (alms-offerings from lay people to monastics) on the streets of Sebastapol. This is something she's started doing since I was last here, so it should be fun. It's scheduled, the route she walks is published, and people stand along the route with offerings for her bowl. This is how it's been done for centuries, in Asia, and it's a good tradition to keep alive even when it's not required.

I love my kuti. This is the view from one side in the early morning sun.  That bright spot is a bunch of Pampas grass, primarily.

So I'm here alone -- lunch is over, I've washed my hair and the dishes (although not in that order) and after hitting the 'publish' button on this, will wend my way back up the hill for some rest and reading.

A slightly closer view of the sunny area, with some detail. It's so pretty up there. A trail winds past the Pampas grass through some open areas, across a wooden bridge and to another kuti, eventually. I walked that this morning, re-familiarizing myself with my surroundings. Sat in the sun on the wooden bridge for awhile. It's nice to be here and be lazy -- rarely happens for me!

More when more happens.

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