Hit the Road Jack

       I am currently living the long term dream of making a pilgrimage to the New Orleans Jazz festival. I started in Seattle 3 weeks ago and am now in Phoenix, less than a week away from kickoff. I started by having a great time in Portland, an absolutely  magical city bursting with Life. Thanks to my friend Diana and her cool roomies for puttin’ me up. Tons of great music/art spaces hidden in the woodwork, some great clubs (Medicine hat, Good foot, Conans, Om), and plenty of natural spaces to explore. I climbed a waterfall ovelooking the Columbia Gorge and spent a few days at the Ocean with my ridiculously cool friend Kyrstyn. Ended up at some crazy goth party, took in a great film festival, and was thoroughly entertained by the obsession Portlanders seem to have for Pabst Blue Ribbon. For a second I thought I was back in Wisconsin.

       The best music I saw while there was LTJ Bukem(slamming drum and bass, got in free and to hang with the master afterwards) and Wil Bernard’s band(sick jazz-funk). (Hey Sawka-Bukem said to send those beats you were gonna send). Both turned it out in top form and kept us movin’ non stop. I saw some cool films at the film festival. One was “Haunters”, a hilarious documentary about the eccentric freaks who put on haunted houses. The director was from Portland and at the show and was a super cool cat. (Yo Bryan Theiss, Scarecrow could really use a copy of this). The most powerful film I have probably ever seen though was Civilian Casualties:fragments from the war on terror by Frances Anderson. This film picked up where Bowling for Columbine left off. The director traveled to Afghanistan with 4 people who had lost family members on Sept. 11th. The deeply human experience and bond the Americans shared with the Afghans who had just been bombed by the U.S. was incredibly powerful. For anyone looking for a constructive way to combat the rampant ignorance in the U.S.A I recomend setting up a screening of this film at a nearby theater or campus. I doubt any human being could see this film and not be somehow changed.

       Following Portland I made my way down the cost to the beautiful and hip town of Ashland. A nice place worth stopping through. I then went through Northern Cali which was more lush and alive than I have ever seen it. I hit a blizzard by Shasta(I thought of you Bongo!) but made it right through. I stopped in Sacramento at this great Rastafarian restuarant and then headed for Tahoe. I almost made it there when another snow storm hit. It was bad, low visibility and treacherous mountainous roads and me with no tire chains. I decided to reroute and save Shasta for another day. Flexibility and non attachment have been key to this trip. In the book Hagakuri:way of the Samurai they talk about determination and if you have decided to do something to let nothing stop you from attaining your goal. My goal had been to be in Vegas by that evening anyway so I went the long way back through central Cali and made it by mid evening. The drive was great from the springtime lushness of central Cali to the barren beauty of the Mojave desert.
       Vegas was a trip. If I could sum it up with one symbol it would be that 20 foot bronze statue of Sigfried and Roy, those blond German dudes with the albino tigres. Make mine a SCHMALTED. Any way saw lots of little old ladies, mob guys, buffets(I sure do likes me a good buffet!)alcoholics, and blank eyed tourists. The funnest part was finding this incredible old school funk band from Boston. They were ripping it up in the lounge of this casino with tons of people watching. There was this fat empty dance floor and I was like not gonna let that injustice stand. I started funking out and then these older black ladies got up  and started busting these way back in the day moves I had never seen before. Damn they could dance! Pretty soon we had that whole floor turnin it out. Having helped spread the funk in Vegas I felt it was time to move on. I headed for the National Park system in Utah.
       I made it to Zion which was gorgeous and then crashed out at the end of a warm and beautiful day. By morning there was snow on the ground and the temp was way cold. I made my way to Bryce canyon(also beautiful) only to find out a big snow storm was on the way. Not wanting to get caught in that mess I decided to leave and head south, giving up my plans to hit Arches and Canyonlands. As soon as I went to fire up the van, it would not start. I was very cold, wanting to get out b4 the storm and feeling a little stuck. I meditated and had a vision of the native spirits that watch over that land. For them song is a way to connect people to the Earth. They said they knew this was the intention of my quest and wanted to help. They put horses and fire into my engine to make it run. They gave me a name that means “Dreams like mountain” and renamed the van Spirit chaser. After the meditation my van started right up with renewed vigor.
       The whole time on this trip I have been having the deepest connection with the spiritual power of this amazing land we live on. There are so many sacred places just waiting to teach us the lessons of life. When I studied shamanism I learned it was common for them to communicate with the spirit of animals, mountains, etc. I have learned through experience that this is available to anyone who is sincerely open to it. In fact it is a historical anomaly that we are so far from the natural wisdom of the Earth. It is alive and well though and wants to share itself with us. All we need do is open ourselves to it.
       After leaving Bryce I drove all night long with a gorgeously full moon through mysterious southern Utah and Northern Arizona. I made it to the Grand Canyon as the sun was rising at one end of it and the moon was setting at the other end. Wow. After that I kept goin til I got to  Flagstaff. Flagstaff definitely goes on the list of hip little college towns worth  dropping by if you’re in the area. Even more amazing though was Sedona. For years I had heard about Sedona’s natural beauty, but nothing prepared me for what a special place it really is. The Earth radiates intense life wherever you go there. I heard several people talking openly about “vortexes” that were there. I wanted more info about these “vortexes” and asks a guy at the healthfood store “so what exactly is a vortex?” He pointed behind me and I turned around to see a brightly colored book entitled”what is a vortex?”. It talked about a place where natural energy of the Earth is abundant and that it has definite effects on our state of mind/being. As far as I am concerned that whole place is a big ass vortex. It is just incredible and a great place to lose oneself for a while. I connected with good friends, climbed a mountain, hiked trails, set up my gear in the desert, and played to the mountains there. Yeah! After Sedona I stopped by Jerome, a trippy little mountain artist colony south of Sedona. Probably the most unique place I have passed through yet. Then I drove to sunny and warm Phoenix where I caught up with some old friends from IN. (Thanks Mike and Maria! for puttin’ me up). I am leaving for Austin shortly and then on to Noleans. Til next time,
Live out Loud,

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