I was having a conversation with my physical therapist when the topic of camping came up. She was utterly shocked by the fact that I had never spent a weekend or even a night in a tent with the glow of a warm fire just a few feet away. Growing up in Queens, New York. There were always adventures to be had. Playing inside and on construction sites, fumbling through cemeteries at night and trespassing in general. Not to mention the bus trips to the Bronx Zoo where we could catch a glimpse of the burnt out buildings and the areas crack heads and window washers. who begged for money outside of the tunnels or where the bridges dispatched cars, trucks and buses throughout Manhattan.
It wasn’t until my early twenties that I began traveling extensively, skydiving, white water rafting and cliff diving. Still, there was always the opportunity to return home to a hotel or hostel at the end of the day. No disrespect to campers, tents, sleeping bags and roasting marshmallows by the campfire. Each and every one of those mentioned would be super cool. But I slept off a night of heaving drinking and hardcore in Central Park in my teens and I think my fear of being murdered by an axe or machete wielding maniac trumps that of a mugger in the park. Years, no decades later. I have a hard enough time getting my wife to join me game of Wiffle ball or Frisbee. I don’t think my chances of getting her to go camping with me are much better. People change, so who knows. Maybe my time will come.
For as long as I can remember and probably before. I’ve always been drawn to gas stations and junk yards. From a very young age I could often be found snooping around the gas station on my corner of 83rd street and Astoria Blvd. or tagging along with my Dad to collect from many of the gamblers who worked at the junk yards outside of Shea Stadium. Drawn perhaps, by the smell of gasoline, barb wired fences, guard dogs and random car parts. These places served as the keys to some of my earliest adventures.
So when my wife pulled in to the parking space across from Central District Ice Cream. My excitement regarding a sweet weekend treat was doubled by the site of an abandoned / out of business gas station. Between the antique cars parked in the lot to the hose-less gas pumps. It was all goosebumps and fist pumps. Once again, I was reduced to using my cellphone. I snapped a few shots before joining my wife for ice cream across the street.
As for the ice cream. My wife had a cup of Peanut Butter & Plum Jam. While I indulged in a waffle cone of Coconut Cantaloupe. Great stuff and highly recommended on our part. As I get older, I take a lot of satisfaction knowing that the smell of old gas stations and the taste of freshly scooped ice cream still bring a smile to my face.
As I arrived at my Tuesday morning physical rehabilitation session. . I felt the warmth and rejuvenated spirits of my therapist and the staff I have become so used to seeing since my first visits back in July. It was rejuvenation one can only get from a much needed vacation, or in this case a three day weekend. While waiting for my session to begin, I asked some of the staffers about their extended weekend and what adventures they might have gotten into. Imagine my surprise when the responses each focused on staying home, relaxing and avoiding traffic. While I was expecting detailed stories of running marathons, camping and climbing the peaks of Kilimanjaro I could easily relate to the idea of staying local and just chilling out. For, not a week goes by when I’m not asked the world’s most important question “What do want to do this weekend?” Though intended or not, and I’m sure it’s not. That question challenges me to come up with the greatest idea ever known to man. A thinly veiled eight hour trip to Baltimore for crabs. An endless drive south to Portland or north to Vancouver. Or in this weekends version an endless drive to the mountains for a runny eggs and oily bacon breakfast. Followed by a tiring ride home and a stop to find out just how bad the food at Chick-fil-A can be. Maybe, one day soon, when the question “What do you want to do this weekend?” comes up. I’ll be able to say, “Absolutely nothing.” Until then, here’s to three hour drives to the country and the mountains. Follow your wanderlust. Wherever it may take you.
For years now, I’ve tried to make meditation a part of my every day life. Quickly, I moved from one of those people who thought “How can I possibly find the time in my busy schedule?” to “How can I not?” Since my early attempts, I’ve used basic breathing techniques to conquer panic attacks, anxiety and overthinking while cultivating a sense of peace and mindfulness I never imagined possible.
Earlier today, as we boarded the Ferry from Bainbridge Island to downtown Seattle. I found the perfect opportunity to meditate. With nothing but the sound of waves crashing alongside the boat, the subtle breeze wafting through the car window and the gentle rocking of the car due to the ferry’s pushing it’s way across Elliot Bay. I found myself removed from the thoughts of the days, weeks and months that have crowded my head and battled for space and permanence in mind. The feeling was of warmth and peace. I became so completely calm and at ease. That I hardly noticed the ferry attaching itself to the dock. As I heard the announcement of our arrival over the loudspeaker. I nodded over to my wife to notice that she too had fallen into the spell. She sleepily asked, “When we could do it again?” I was quick to reply, “As soon as we can.” as we headed home from our day’s trip.
The more I learn about and inevitably embrace meditation. The more I want my friends and loved ones to join me. The most important thing I’ve learned in all this is that you really don’t need a special room, place, pillow or chant to enjoy it’s many benefits. All you need is a few minutes to allow yourself to check out and unplug. I highly recommend it.
I love Seattle, living in Columbia City, our apartment, our neighbors and living within spitting distance of Columbia Park, the Public Library and Seattle Lake. Each of which I don’t take for granted, but don’t take advantage of nearly as much as I should. As I’ve grown to understand and embrace the importance of time, how it’s spent and how to make the most of what we have. I’m finding more focus and a new found ability to properly manage it. As someone who’s dealt with anxiety, panic attacks and depression over the years. I’ve done more than my share of worrying and overthinking. Thankfully though, I’ve learned and I’m still learning how to manage if not control my thoughts. Putting things in perspective, as opposed to letting them build up and let them effect me in a negative way. I feel that in changing my environment, I became more open to shifting the way I see things. Something I see as a major positive. The pictures below were taken over the weekend at nearby Lake Washington.
After a day at Alki Beach, we were as hungry as we were pink. So a trip down Hudson Road to Marination Ma Kai sounded like a good way to fill our belly’s before the short trip home to Columbia City. Marination serves up Korean / Hawaiian fast food that is both fresh and delicious. Featuring both out and indoor seating. We enjoyed our tacos, sliders and fries while enjoying the best possible view of Seattle available. From Queen Anne to Downtown Seattle and the West Seattle bridge. I’ve been trying to make a habit of bringing my camera with me on outings. Today’s sun drenched weather proved it to be a good rule of thumb. Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. And although I rarely use one. I brought one of my tripods along, just in case. Though much of the conversation between my wife and me focus on an eventual return back east. I feel incredibly grateful for being given the opportunity to move and live out west. It’s been incredibly rewarding. A time I will not soon forget.