Our Canyon Ranch Vacation, Day 4

The last morning of our trip came quickly, and we were already feeling nostalgic about having to return back to, sigh, regular life. Blah! My mom and I imagined out loud someday returning with my sister, since the three of us have always wanted to go together, yet we can never seem to get our schedules to align. My mom said maybe someday I could round up a group of girlfriends like she used to do. Apparently, if you visit with a group of friends, there is a way that the group organizer gets a free vacation out of the deal so, um, hi friends! ;) The last day was just a morning for my mom and a half day for me before I made my way back to the smoke scene of Los Angeles. Here’s what it was like:

6:15am Why are we getting up so early on vacation again?

7:00am We join the 50 minute speed and hill interval walk, which is enjoyable. We had considered taking an 8 mile scenic walk to check out a nearby canyon, but obviously that is a crazy amount to walk on a whim, so here’s a picture of it. You can imagine that we were there:

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8:00am The last breakfast! I cry into my french toast and bowl of yummy fruit muesli.

9:00am My mom does a multitude of exercises while I attend acrylic painting class. The description doesn’t tell me much of what to expect, and I’m worried it will be like one of those paint and sip parties where everyone has to paint the same thing and it’s a cherry blossom or a bridge or something else that you don’t really care about. Then I’m nervous because we start really slowly, learning about color theory by blending different quantities white and black into a single color. This lesson actually improves my knowledge of making colors, and after that we can paint whatever we want. I totally copy one of the paintings I’ve seen hanging on the walls at the Ranch, and it comes out pretty nicely.

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11:00am My mom’s flight is a few hours before mine, so we eat an early lunch and more dessert bars at the outdoor cafe.

12:00-4:00pm We’re rushed to say goodbye, but we’re both glad to have had this week of bonding together. I stay for a few more hours, enjoying the sunny desert weather, taking another Zumba class, and treating myself to one last soak in the hot tub. Then it’s time to turn in my plushy robe and slippers and head for the airport.

Between Tucson and LAX, I rope myself into helping a couple of Guatemalan women locate and reunite with their relatives, so I feel like I have done my part to give back to society after taking a week of luxuriously selfish pampering. Goodbye Canyon Ranch! I hope we see each other again soon.

Our Canyon Ranch Vacation, Day 3

Our last full day of fun! I’m not too sad because my regular life is a lot like life at The Ranch, and I’m sure my mom’s is, too. I was nervous to fly back to LA the next day in the midst of all the wildfire crises, but I am lucky enough not to live in the evacuation or danger zone. It feels extremely sad and scary to have a natural disaster hit so close to home. I feel guilty for not being in LA to endure the chaos, but thankful to be somewhere safe and flame-free.

 Paella

6:15am We wake up early again. Today is a little easier because mom agreed to turn on the heat in the room last night, so it’s not quite so chilly as we crawl out of bed and out the door.

7:00am Another morning walk. We decide to join the 50 minute power group this time. It ends up being much like the normal paced 40 minute walk because a couple tagged along who didn’t know what they were getting into. I just like walking and being outside, and I don’t wear a watch, so I don’t mind either way.

9:00am Zumba!!! I love taking Zumba and I love that the instructors here give us belly dancing wraps with fancy silver coins hanging from them. We dance and dance and dance.

10:00am I take a yoga class on surfboards. The surfboards are indoors on platforms, so it feels a little silly, but I’m pretending to branch out and try new and different things while still doing what I do every day.

11:00am My mom and I take a TRX fusion class with straps that hang down from the ceiling and heavy kettlebells. I’m a little worried since we’ve already been working out for like 3 hours at this point and it’s marked on the schedule as a Very Difficult class, but we have a good time anyway. The instructor is entertaining, and I appreciate his enthusiasm although we stop giving full effort about halfway through the class.

12:00pm We return to lunch in the main restaurant. This time, there’s a pasta bar plus the usual lunchtime offerings. I again eat everything and end up feeling much too full after. I’m glad there is enough exercise around here to balance out all of the deliciousness.

2:00pm I meet with Leslie the psychic for a Tarot card reading. They really do have everything here! She tells me that I attract narcissistic partners (I’m a blindfolded woman surrounded by swords!) and that my near future will contain a wonderfully sunny period followed by the image of two people leaping from the windows of a burning tower. Things are looking good…

3:00pm I’m back in the room trying to write a book for National Novel Writing Month. I’ve been sticking to the daily word requirements, and I won’t let vacation knock me off track. I will end up getting knocked off track after vacation, but that’s another detail for another time.

4:00pm We make our daily visit to the spa for a quick dip. I bounce back and forth between the cold and hot tubs, and I think I could get used to this. The cold pool is very icy, but I can definitely feel a difference in my muscles the following day.

5:00pm It’s Spanish paella night! We’re excited so we get there too early and end up having some time to kill. We look around to find the “Live Ranch Music” and find that it’s an elderly man playing piano in the lobby. We run back to the room to grab our books to read on the couch by the fireplace. Someone requests that the pianist play “Thanksgiving Songs”, but isn’t sure if there are any or which ones he would like to hear.

6:00pm BINGO time! They’ve moved the game far away into one of the conference rooms, and we walk along the winding paths to get there. The adobe buildings all look similar so it’s easy to get lost here, at least for us, but there are usually signs and friendly employees to point you the right way. We have a nice time playing Bingo for prizes, but neither of us comes close to winning unlike the group of women behind us who each win 2 times in a row!

8:00pm We have to exit Bingo early to get our second round of massages. It’s not a huge loss because our cards are all duds, and getting an immediate massage is a much better prize anyway.

Our Canyon Ranch Vacation, Day 2

Pardon the interruption as I was taking a little Thanksgiving break, but I’ll return to our detailed account of a Canyon Ranch vacay! Day 2 was our first full day of taking advantage of everything the resort had to offer.

6:15am My mom’s alarm goes off and I reconsider my level of interest in the morning walk. It’s cold! And I didn’t sleep well the night before. But I decide to urge myself out of bed so I can see more of the scenery around the ranch.

7:00am We meet in one of the gyms with a group of other walkers to split up into three groups. There are 30, 40, and 50-minute guided walks and the leaders are very peppy for my 7am self. We decide to stick to the middle and head out for a nice walk. I decide to decorate my future home in the color scheme of a Saguaro cactus desert.

8:00am The air warms up on the walk and I see some of my favorite cacti. We’ve worked up an appetite so we head to one of the breakfast options for pretty much anything we could possibly want to eat for breakfast including a fruit/yogurt/oatmeal bar, omelette station, pancakes, waffles, eggs, and other special menu items.

9:00am We take another yoga class, foregoing my promise to try new and different things.

10:00am We stumble upon some kind of cardio class that uses exercise balls and Bosu trainers. I like it and it gives me some new ideas for my own workouts. Then I head back to the room to work on a writing project for a little bit while my mom goes off to join another class.

12:00pm We visit one of the lunch and learn sessions in the demo kitchen where a chef shows you how to make yummy healthy meals while you watch him work and then get to eat whatever he’s making. We learn about brown butter shrimp and winter squash gnocchi, and I’m happy to devour it. I learn that you can make gnocchi much, much more easily by putting the dough into a pastry bag, and then squeezing out a bit and slicing it straight into boiling water. I’ll have to try this at home.

2:00pm Water aerobics! I am not usually a fan of swimming in outdoor pools when it’s below 80 degrees, but the water is heated and I’m trying new things so I join the pool full of eager classmates. It’s not bad, but too cold for me and run-swim-leaping from side to side across the pool is not enough to warm my spirits. I want to quit early but I like the teacher and don’t want her to think it’s because of her. Probably won’t do water aerobics in November again.

3:30pm We stick to our afternoon spa date and enjoy the hot tub(s). I try to master my mind and body by dipping into the cold tub. I turn my back to the clock and try to last a minute, which ends up being the longest 60 seconds of my life. I’m not sure how long you’re supposed to stay in the cold dip so I retreat back to the scalding waters of the hot tub. I think the cold helps my muscles though since I don’t feel sore at all the next day.

5:00pm We return to the room to get ready for dinner, and my mom spots a group of these babies just outside our door:

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6:30pm We eat in the same restaurant as the night before. There’s no need to branch out when the entire menu looks and is so good!

8:00pm My mom booked us massage appointments, which is one of the best ways ever to round out the day. My masseuse is a little heavy on the foot massaging, but I’m thankful for the overall pampering. I fall asleep easily again.

Our Canyon Ranch Vacation, Day 1

In case you missed it, my mom took me to the most wonderful wellness retreat in Tuscon, Arizona a couple weeks ago, and I promised I would tell you more about it. The purpose of the trip was to celebrate my belated 30th birthday. I moved to LA about a month before my b-day, so I wasn’t ready to make any travel plans to close to the move date. Luckily, my mom is retired and her golf and tennis schedule allows for frequent vacations. And, if you didn’t already know, my yoga teaching schedule does too!

I learned about Canyon Ranch when I was younger, because my mom used to go with her girlfriends for a week every year. She would come back carrying logo-bearing tote bags and fancy water bottles and tell us about pampering spa treatments, so my sister and I have always been curious. Unfortunately, Elayne the vet was busy slaving away at her internship and couldn’t join us this time. Hopefully there will be a next time when the three of us can go together.

Before leaving, I knew that we were going to a nice, outdoorsy type of spa place, but I didn’t know what to expect. My mom had revealed that there would be yoga classes and healthy cooking demos, but that’s the extent of what I knew. I imagined a bunch of older, already pretty healthy women treating themselves to spa day. But during our 4-day relaxcation, I found that Canyon Ranch actually offers a lot more than spa services. I was pleased to find a more holistic approach to health— the classes range from cardio bootcamps to lectures on technology addiction or running on an underwater treadmill. There were people of all sizes and adult ages. People suffering from loss, mental illness, and addiction. Families celebrating together. Men and women on their own learning about self-care. There seemed to be something for anyone interested in improving their physical, emotional, and mental health or simply looking to recharge and reset the system.

 Canyon Ranch yoga

Here’s a daily schedule of some things that we experienced:

Wednesday

11:00am I arrive after a quick up and down flight from LAX. Driver Dan picks me up at the airport with a sign that has my name on it. I feel very elite.

12:00pm I check into the resort and find my mom at the outdoor cafe. We split a tasty portion-controlled salmon burger and some desert bars. I learn that everything on the menu is all-inclusive, but it’s not a buffet, so you can really order one of everything on the menu if that’s your game.

1:00pm We’re early, so our rooms aren’t ready yet, which doesn’t bother us. We stop at a shoe shop in the hallway to talk to the foot specialist about my lingering foot problem (I have a bone spur on one of my heels). Before I even stand up out of the chair, she comments on my right foot collapsing inward. She watches me walk from 4 angles on a treadmill and has me step across a sensory pad. My mom and I both end up getting new running/walking shoes. Mine are meant to correct the way I’ve been compensating for the heel spur. This ends up being the most valuable life takeaway of the trip for me. I can run pain-free again!

3:00pm We take our first class— Yogilates. I realize that I miss the strength and slow control of Pilates; it was my gateway into yoga and my first teaching stint. I feel inspired to incorporate it more into my yoga classes.

4:00pm We stay for Yoga Vinyasa flow, even though I said I was going to branch out and try other forms of movement on this trip. Oh well. You can take the yogi off the mat, but you can’t put the yogi back into a room full of mats and expect them not to practice.

5:00pm We decide to skip meditation class, having just done two hours of controlled movement and breathing. We head to the room to check in and unpack.

5:30pm We visit the spa area and change into our bathing suits and plush robes. There’s a eucalyptus aromatherapy room, a regular steam room, a sauna, two hot tubs, a cold dipping pool, showers, a nude sunbathing area (maybe good for sunning the skin, but I’m with my mom, so come on…), and a room where you can apply masks and body scrubs. And if you lose your towel or robe there are about 600 other towels and robes available to you.

6:30pm Dinner time. I order almost everything, and it is all delicious.

8:30pm My mom made us facial appointments. What a treat! I would pay a lot of money just to lie down on the facial bed again because the way it is sloped and padded makes me the most comfortable I’ve ever been. Usually I would change someone’s name if I’m going to talk about them, but Euvgenia, my Eastern European facialist, has the most amazing presence and facial skills. Seek her out! Afterwards I visit the restroom where all the walls and ceilings are mirrors and there is a hanging chandelier. I can’t tell if I’m just extremely relaxed or I’ve been transported into a Las Vegas drug-induced experience. 10 out of 10 either way.

10:00pm Easy bed time.

3 Tips for Solo Camping (as a Lady)

As you know, I’ve now been on a solo camping trip to here, and I’ve returned to share some wisdom of the wilderness. These are not very gender-specific rules, and they might even be helpful for everyone, but I did take being a lady into account when sleeping in the woods alone. And I bet I am not the best person to give this advice since I’ve only done it one time, but I’m obviously very excited about it and have been talking it up a lot, so here’s what I’ve learned:

 June Lake Campground
  1. Plan ahead

    It was important to me to pick out my campground ahead of time. Even though my site didn’t end up having the best view, I was glad to be close enough to other campers to feel safe without being overcrowded. Solitude can be sweet, but for my own security, I preferred not to be too isolated. I planned to arrive with plenty of daylight to establish camp and scope out the area before dark. Years ago, I also practiced setting up my tent ahead of time just to get the hang of it.



  2. Do some activities (but not too many)

    I knew I wanted to squeeze some planned activities in—like June Lake Beach and the June Lake Brewing Company—but I also left plenty of time for lounging and breathing. I thought I might get bored in the dark and hit my sleeping bag at 8pm, but my fire kept me interested well into the night, and then I looked up and saw all the stars!

    Also, you should know how to build a fire on your own. It’s pretty easy in a dry climate. The internet has tips. Luckily, I once went on a camping trip in Austin with a mountain man and two bada** ladies who knew what they were doing, so I acted all “Oh yeah, I know about fires, too,” and observed their tricks while pretending to gather sticks and be helpful.



  3. Lie

    Unfortunately, in the life of a lady (or general person) on her own in the world, sometimes bending the truth is required. I made some friends at the brewery who offered an invitation to come out in Mammoth Village with them later that night. They seemed fun and friendly, but I fibbed and told them I had other plans and hadn’t decided where I’d be staying that night. I might have missed out on some good times, but I had a separate date planned with Nature. I think if someone is going to turn into a real friend, they would understand why you couldn’t be completely honest.



 Red Rock Canyon

That might be all I learned this trip, besides not to eat too many Hot Cheetos on the drive up. If you can get past the initial scariness, camping on your own can be a wildly empowering experience and a great way to enjoy spending time with yourself.

June Lake

Hi sweet friends!

Last week, I made a spontaneous pilgrimage to NorCal to visit June Lake, one of the places where I skied with my dad this spring. It's crazy how time slips by--I can't believe I've been out here for almost six months already! After seeing June Mountain in the winter, I knew I needed to check out the area in the warmth of summertime. 

 June Mountain

Even with the five hour drive up there, the day was full and peaceful. I found a musical road in Lancaster, CA on the way, then spent the afternoon hiking around the campground and lounging at the beach. August had made the grounds hot and dry, but the waters of the lake were perfectly cool and refreshing. And I don't think any trip to June would be complete without a stop at the local brewery

 June Lake

I drove around the June Lake Loop whilst eating too many hot Cheetos and scoping out some other more scenic campgrounds. I was pretty happy with the one I chose, but could've used more access to the water (like at nearby Silver Lake in the photo below). Anyway, mine was safe, bear-free, and with bathrooms so I really can't complain.

 June Lake Loop

The next day including a brief visit through Yosemite, and I think that deserves a post of its own. I hope you're still out seeking summer adventures wherever in the world you are!

Not-So-Dirty New Jersey

It's nice there! And there aren't many better spots to watch fireworks than a rooftop deck with 360 degree views. I've tried Fourth of July in other areas, but this one seems to be the right choice.

 LBI Sunset

It isn't too bad for sunset scoping, either.

I enjoyed a week at the beach with my mom. It was full of celebrations, sun, and swimming, with a couple of friendly visitors dropping by. I'm so glad I had the time to visit and that this place can be a special part of each summer.

 LBI New Jersey

America's Favorite Playground

Are you looking for a place where you can lose a lot of your money and where waitstaff will assume your uncle is your husband? Well, don't waste another minute, and get your not-too-fancy self down to Atlantic City.

 Atlantic City boardwalk

It's important to see your faraway family members whenever you can, even if it's for a one-day meet up in a strange state, so when Uncle Rick and I learned that we would both be in New Jersey at the same time, we quickly made plans to spend time together. I let slip that I had never been to Atlantic City, so he insisted that we drive down together and check it out. I insisted that we should not, because it would be the 3rd of July with possibly scary levels of beach traffic. But eventually he won me over, mostly due to my curiosity and extremely open schedule. 

 Atlantic City pier

And it was.. an experience! Some of the casinos were a little empty for a holiday week, but there was much gambling to be had and, of course, the beach. So we enjoyed a day of strolling and sightseeing while catching up. I can't say that gambling is a number one favorite activity of mine, but it was fun to do something new to check off the list.

High Thrills & Hot Dogs

For someone who spent the first 18 years of their life living within 90 minutes of New York City, there are many traditional New York activities that, until recently, I had never done. I'd never (still have never) been to the Empire State Building, I waited until I was 25 to visit the MoMA, and, before last weekend, I hadn't made the trek out to Coney Island.

 Coney Island beach

Well, well. Times have changed, and I'm glad they did because my friend Liz and I spent a whole day riding wild roller coasters, strolling the boardwalk, and eating our first Nathan's Famous dogs. We even ran into some friends at the end of the day, which if you ask me, is a sure sign of belonging in a place. I'm so grateful to loved ones who are always up for sharing their spaces and showing me a new side of this city.

Nice to see you again, NYC!

 Nathan's famous hot dog

Home on the Hudson

Sometimes, sadly, it takes going far, far away from a home to make you realize how big a part of you it is. When college time came, I couldn't wait to put some distance between myself and Poughkeepsie. In my search for a school, I allowed a radius of no less than 3 and a half hours outside of my hometown. If I had my wish, I'd end up in New Hampshire or, even farther, North Carolina. I didn't know about Austin yet, and wasn't quite so adventurous as to ponder the West Coast, but there could be nothing like a new state to prove my independence and maturity!

 Walkway over the Hudson

Then I got to Delaware where I cried and called my mom or my home friends every day, after walking across an unknown campus of unfamiliar faces. I even started a transfer application to Marist in a desperate moment. Between semesters, I came back for my car, so I could make the trip home whenever possible. Of course, with that ability and a little adjustment, I lost the necessity of going back to my parents' houses and slowly made my way further and further across the country.

 The Body Art Barn

I'm thankful for that tear-filled first semester, since it somehow enabled me to live with all sorts of strangers in all sorts of locations over the years. California's got the goods for now, but every time I come back to the Hudson Valley, I find that it holds a real seat for my soul.

During this visit, I got to spend time with family and friends, visit my new favorite yoga studio with the same favorite teacher, and delight in the green, rolling scenery that always reminds me there's no place like home.

 Millbrook Winery

Love New York

It's a rainy day at the beach, so I can finally tell you about all the bagels, ballgames, and ballpark-sized hot dogs I've been indulging in around the New York area. Since I'm partial to a life of leisure, I got to come home for an extended stay to visit my sister in her new Queens-Long Island apartment, my dad in Poughkeepsie, my mom in New Jersey, and many gracious friends along the way.

 Fort Totten Park

The first half of the trip started and ended in NYC and was supported by a few train rides along the Hudson plus dad's financial contributions to us attending the Yankee game. 

 Yankee stadium

And there was an epic quest for ice cream that, thankfully, ended with this:

 Grand Slam Shake

I miss sweet cacti and air that doesn't feel so much like a sticky swamp, but nowhere else smells like summer to me quite like it does around here. I hope you're making time in this sunny season for your favorite people and places.

In the Trees

Hi friends! There's a new moon on the horizon, and this week is delivering the excitement of renewed energy and possibilities. How could it not, when it started out like this? (For me, at least!)

 Joshua Tree camping

The weekend took me back to Joshua Tree National Park where I camped with a new friend and got to see one of my favorite bands in funky little Pioneertown

 Yo La Tengo at Pappy & Harriet's

Yo La Tengo at Pappy & Harriet's

I have a picture of Georgia, the drummer, on my 2018 vision board and, while I will say that my intention was to play the drums like her, I will accept the universe's offering of getting to see her play the drums in person.

I can tell you that Pappy & Harriet's is a magical venue that is well-worth checking out, and if you happen to be doing so, why not stay at the Black Rock Canyon Campground in Joshua Tree?  It just might be the thing for you.

 Hi View Nature Trail Joshua Tree

Life in Laguna

Once regret that I will never leave behind (mostly because my dad and uncle will never let me live it down), is that when I was some-age-around-middle-school, my sister and I had the chance to visit Australia and we didn't want to go. I remember being at a party or a picnic where we met some of my dad's IBM colleagues who were living in Australia, and they invited us to come for a visit. Just like a few years earlier when I'd cried about being stuck visiting my uncle in Bermuda and missing the first day of our 5th grade sleep-away field trip, I was not having it. I didn't want to miss school or any chance to be cool around my cool friends, and so I was not about to hop on a 24-hour plane ride to hang out with kangaroos and my dad's work associates. No thank you.

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I am proud to say that my priorities have changed drastically since then. My dad's work associates have given me numerous tips on what to do while traveling the world, and they've taken us skiing or joined us on other adventures. Since I'm a nepotistic girl living in a nepotistic world, I was eventually able to make some global IBM colleagues of my own and visit them in cool places, too. April took me to Laguna Beach to visit my friend Steph, who I met while working in Austin and who was wonderfully hospitable to welcome me into her beautiful beach life.

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We enjoyed some much needed seaside walking and happy hour time as I got to explore another part of this new state. I'm glad I've become much more of a travel "Yes" woman, and I'm grateful for kind coworkers and friendly faces everywhere that have a way of making the whole world feel like home.

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Mammoth Lakes

Last weekend was about as good as it gets up in Mammoth Lakes, CA. On Thursday, my dad picked me up and we drove to Mammoth for a ski weekend and my early 30th birthday celebration. What a dad! He left home in NY at 5am, drove down to NYC, flew across the country, then scooped me up in a rental SUV with 4WD to take us 5 hours to Northern California. We weren’t sure if we’d need the 4WD, but were glad to have it as we drove into Mammoth in a snowstorm. I probably should’ve driven the California leg of the trip, but my dad is very strict about rules and my name wasn’t registered with the rental company. Who knows what could have happened. So I just stared out the window as we went from rain to sun and back again. I saw a bunch of rainbows, Joshua trees, and interesting rock formations. 

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We skied an amazing day at Mammoth Mountain on Friday, and another at the well kept secret June Mountain on Saturday. Sunday had us back at Mammoth in a morning blizzard, but it all cleared up by lunchtime to return us to these beautiful views. 

 Mammoth Mountain
 June Lake

My head has been pretty clear, and I realize how lucky I am to be on this life vacation where I don’t really have anything to worry about back at “home”. It feels strange calling it home since I’ve only lived there for two weeks, but I'm definitely enjoying the transition. I can't think of a better way to explore my new state and celebrate the onset of a new decade of life!

 Woolly the Mammoth

Notes from the Road (Pt. III)

Just kidding; there's not really a Part Three since the last day of the drive only took 4 hours. I just passed through a bunch of Star Wars desert, then there were some mountains where it started raining, and then I was in Los Angeles. 

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California Cori. That’s me now. I suppose I’ve read enough about spirituality to know that the place in which you live doesn’t have much to do with who you actually are, but I would like to think that I’m made up mostly of sun and sea. I hope I could be a little bit of succulents and fruit trees. And I’ll be damned if I’m not at least partly avocados and In-N-Out Burger.

I live here, and it feels like I’m wandering in a dream. It's been raining-- it rains here, who knew-- which was not ideal for unpacking a fully loaded car, but which could be symbolic of my renewal and rebirth. I'll take it.

The house is a testament to putting full faith in Craigslist findings. I had only seen it and met the roommates via FaceTime before driving out here, but so far everything seems to be surpassing my expectations. I had wished for down-to-earth people, in-home laundry, and an included parking spot. I arrived to find that the room is bigger than it looked in the photos. The whole house is brighter. Outside there is a patio, a garden box, and a lemon tree. The backsplash in the bathroom makes it look like a hotel and makes me feel like my toiletries aren’t nice enough to be there. The roommates have a friendly dog and cat that kept me company while I hung up clothes and shifted boxes.

On the first full day, I went out for breakfast with my new roommates. There was vegan cheese, avocado toast, and $7 lattes, and it felt like I had officially woken up here. Later, I ran to the park, past a man screaming at the top of his lungs in the street.

Notes From the Road (Pt. II)

(6:50am)

It’s 24 degrees when I start the car. I tiptoed around the ski cabin, careful not to wake anyone since we started drinking yesterday around 2pm when the ski area handed out free PBR’s after the races. Most of us didn’t stop until about 10pm.

Hour 1- I’m tired. Possibly too tired for an 11 hour drive. At least the visions of mountains are enough to entertain my mind.

Hour 2- The sun rises over the mountains. I breathe deeply. Everything’s going to be fine.

Hour 3- I stop at Chick fil A for breakfast. Starbucks and Panera are right next door, but Chick fil A is my road trip food and I think this is the only one I will see.

Hour 4- Why have I done this to myself?

Hour 5- I call my dad to tell him how we went skiing one day and hiking the next. He says maybe I should be moving to New Mexico instead. I tell him New Mexico might be too weird for me. He says Austin is weird, California is weird. I say Yeah, but New Mexico is weird in a trailer park with meth head neighbors way. He has been here. He agrees.

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Hour 6- Two of my best friends now live in NM. They’re from Texas and Tennessee, and I think they are reconnecting with their southern roots. Everyone I met was from Texas or Oklahoma and I said I was from New York, but not in the proud way like I sometimes say it. I said it in the way where I quickly follow up with, “Upstate, not the city” like when I want the listener to know that I’ve gone fishing and ridden four wheelers through the woods.

Hour 7- 468 miles of I-40. Dear God.

Hour 8- I call my grandma. She is excited that I’m going to stay with her brother tonight. I haven’t seen him in about 20 years. She asks what if I have so much fun that I want to stay another night and postpone my drive to LA. We’ll see.

Hour 9- There is another Chick fil A in Flagstaff. Soon I will be moving in with two vegetarian girls and will probably become a vegetarian, so what’s one last chicken sandwich? I ask my great aunt for their address and discover that they live another hour past Vegas.

Hours 10 & 11- @#*/>!

Hour 12- My car climbs the mountains over Las Vegas. My grandma calls again and tells me about her visit here and says I have to visit Death Valley. Later, her brother tells me that they ran out of time to take her to Death Valley. I’m not sure who to believe.

I’m in Pahrump, NV. It’s 74 degrees.

New Mexico True

After the 12-14 hour first day road trip, I woke up in Red River, NM. It was a ski day where the sun was shining and the tickets were half priced for me, since I was there to visit my friend who is working as a ski instructor. I was thrilled to have ski friends because I hadn't had any of those since at least early college. I was on my own on that first morning while everyone else clocked in for work. The chairlift was slow and quiet. The trails were uncrowded and groomed. My headphones were back at the apartment, so it was just me and my thoughts.

 Skiing in Red River, NM

I got a satisfied feeling like when you gaze around and life looks the way you used to dream of it looking. Here I was skiing at an almost-empty mountain on a warm day, my friend is working at the resort and she knows all of the ski crew and bartenders in town. 16 year old Cori would be proud.

Notes From the Road (Pt. I)

(6:20am)

Today is the day where I leave Austin and I don’t come back. I don’t have plans to come back. I drew the Cloak of Christ card from my roommate’s Rumi deck. I held my hands up to the barely lit sky asking for universal protection on this journey. It’s the longest I’ve ever driven on my own.

Hour 1- I listen to 102.3 The Beat radio station to see how far it goes. I cry, not in a heaving, debilitating way, but in a gentle, nostalgic way that comes with an accepted goodbye. Austin deserves a good cry.

Hour 2- 102.3 The Beat makes it farther than I was expecting-- all the way north of Austin where there’s nothing left but churches and cattle fields, and probably much less interest in urban hip-hop radio stations.

Hour 3- I have to pee already, but can’t let myself since it’s only been two hours. My friend Brianne calls me from Argentina. We’ve lived far apart for 8 years but she continues to get me.

Hour 4- I stop to pee and get coffee. I try to leave it black like a healthy person who is bothered by all the nasty stuff in Coffee-Mate, but I see they have pumpkin spice and I pump away.

Hour 5- I listen to Radiohead and the new Khruangbin. I’m dance-driving.

Hour 6- I stop at Torchy’s Tacos in Lubbock, TX and the line from the counter out the door takes my breath away. It’s my last Torchy’s though, so I have to stay. I sit at the bar, but it takes a while for anyone to come for my order. I go back to the line. It moves quickly and soon my tacos and I are back at the wheel.

Hours 7 & 8- Lots of windmills. Very flat. I decide to definitely go to see the Cadillac Ranch art installation outside of Amarillo.

Hour 9- The terrain gets more exciting. The dirt turns red and starts forming into mounds and swirls. I see the car art.

 Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, TX
 Cadillac Ranch Amarillo TX

Hour 10- The terrain turns back to flat nothingness.

Hour 11- I call my grandma. She tells me she went to her first chair yoga class so she would feel connected to me. She asks if I will get together with my aunt and cousin when they’re in LA next month. I say yes. She asks me again ten minutes later.

Hour 12- I make it out of Texas. The time changes. I call my dad, my mom, my sister. The Torchy’s and the Cadillacs and the peeing have set me back 2 hours. I don’t mind.

Hour 13- I listen to mp3s from my life coaching course. I see that the sunset is putting on a show for me right as mountains appear on the horizon. Perfect timing. I am thankful.

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Hour 14- It’s dark and the road is winding through the mountains. I discover that I can make a cool buzzing sound if I bend my tongue in a certain way and hum behind my teeth.

I arrive in Red River at 7:20pm. That wasn’t so bad.

Hanging On

I'm back in Austin, and desperately clinging on where I can to the memories of days that were too hot for sleeves and the only decisions were which attractions to walk to and what flavor of smoothie to order! Not that we are really suffering much on those fronts here in Central Texas, but we surely are driving a lot, talking about jobs, and, maybe for a month or so, wearing sleeves.

It's so easy to fall into the same old routine once we're back on our home turf. And it's usually the little changes that help us slow down and step out of that big familiar picture. I kept the mild weather, maximum relaxation lifestyle alive by making chia pudding that reminded me of Bali and Nicaragua, and green curry that reminded me of Thailand. It could happen with food, music, or souvenir reminders hanging around to bring us back to the sweet memories of those wonderful places, but all it takes is a little effort to make sure the feelings aren't all lost once we step off the plane.

 chia pudding

New Traditions

Actually, this should really be called "no traditions" since we are still figuring out all these new things and haven't developed a routine about it at all. Like I told you already, this was the only year that I didn't go home to see my family for Christmas. One reason was because I scored a remarkable yoga teaching job in Nicaragua, and the other was because Christmas for us has changed a bit over the past couple years.

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Growing up, my sister and I were lucky that our parents kept living near each other after they split up. We always spent the Eve with our dad's family and the Day at our mom's house, and everything was equal and easy-peasy as far as broken homes go. Then everybody got remarried and changed houses, our mom went to live in the Deep South (I guess I did too?), and my aunt and grandma stopped coming down for the holidays. Travel plans to see the whole family became a little more complicated for my sister and me. There was a little bit of a break that probably happens for us all as we age. Christmas wasn't as much "ours" anymore.

But we still wanted it! We're merry and young, and just trying to come up with a way to reconcile all these new schedules and locations. So, last weekend, Elayne and I came together in Boston to turn on Christmas lights, make Grandma's cinnamon rolls (pretty well, I might add!), and pop bottles to celebrate her passing the veterinary board exams. Space was held for yoga, brunch, pedicures, and all those things some sisters do when together. It was a relief to hang onto some traditions, even when the inevitable winds of change have been sweeping in around us.

 Cinnamon rolls