Sunday, April 19, 2015

Day 7-Sedona

I woke up to a text from Eric asking if we wanted to join him at 10:30 for yoga, uh yes! It was around 9:00 so I gathered up my tent contents, and we packed up the car. It would take us over a half hour to get down there from the mountains. A little before 10:00 we were on our way but there was a lot of traffic. The GPS said we would arrive at 10:45, nothing like being late to yoga. We curved left and right down the mountain road, trying to beat time. Arriving around 10:40, there was a note on the door that said class in session, do not disturb. Great, so do we waltz right in and disturb; or do we forget the morning yoga class? We were here and I really wanted to go in, but I also didn't want to disturb and disrespect the studio either. The windows were tinted dark and after peeking in a couple times, Surya the teacher peeked out the door. She asked if we had been here before and instructed we follow her to the back room. We slipped off our shoes outside and quietly moved through mats in the studio. In the back, we signed wavers and grabbed a yoga mat. The studio was intimate and full, I placed my mat perpendicular to the front and joined in. Spotting Eric in the middle, I gave him a wave and he replied with a wink. Class was everything I expected and hoped it would be. There were some students who were very advanced in yoga, and others like ourselves who were just scratching the surface. We practiced warrior, downward dog, and plank poses I was familiar with; and attempted peacock, head stands, and many other advanced techniques that I was estactic about trying. The classes I have taken in Connecticut have been basic, and monotonous; this was advanced and refreshing. Surya made us feel welcome and not like we didn't belong, she would come over and help us with a pose, or show us how to obtain a deeper stretch. I tried most of the poses with the exception of the wild advanced balancing ones which I enjoyed watching the advanced students obtain. The class was a little over an hour and by the end, I was utterly satisfied with my experience. I gave Eric a big hug and squared away payment for our session. After telling Surya about our journey cross country, and how I want to get certified in yoga next month, she recommended where she studied at Dharma Yoga Center in NYC, disciple of Yogi Dharma Mittra. As much as NYC doesn't sound tranquil and a place I'd like to practice yoga, she said it was the best in the country, something to look into for sure. After talking for 15 minutes or so we decided to go grab lunch at the ChocolaTree with Eric. He had taken photos for their website in the past and the food looked pretty yummy! We squeezed into the Chevy and off we went, when we got to the restaurant, we got the full tour and settled at the outdoor seating. It was a very cool spot, couches, and umbrellas, tables, hammocks, and hoola hoops filled the patio. Eric's girlfriend Kristina would be joining us later, so we decided to order three dishes and split them. The restaraunt has a lot of raw food options and they make their own raw chocolate. We settled on the raw burrito, banana bread with almond butter, and green goddess salad. I also got a glass of dance to the beet juice filled with all kinds of vegetables. Sedona reminds me of island time, and it is probably a good thing that we didn't have some extravagant day planned since the staff was very laid back and not the quickest of service. For Sedona, we wanted the experience of a local with a little bit of tourist. For the past destinations, we have mostly been full on tourist. We sat and caught up for awhile, it has been almost 9 years since I have seen Eric, we have kept touch over the years through Facebook and text; but haven't seen each other. It was cool to connect again, and it was as if no time had passed at all. Kristina joined us and we all hangout and got to know one another. Mitch, our overly excited, bold, fun personality of a waiter came and brought us our delicious food. Kristina laughed when I photographed the dishes and said it was nice to have a female version of Eric around. We enjoyed every last bite and after sitting and talking for awhile we went inside to take care of the bill. We got two free chocolates of our choice so we chose the chocolate peanut butter cup for both of them. Rosie and I shared one, and Eric and Kristina the other. It was very rich, and didn't taste like peanut butter at all; I think I'll stick to Reese's. During our earlier conversation, we discussed a bracelet Kristina wore, and one Mitch had around his ankle. They were Peruvian spiritual bracelets that he and his sister got from Puru and were selling inside. Kristina mentioned how she got hers for free, and we were intrigued with the symbolism of the bracelets. Mitch mentioned how he could get them for free and on our way out I asked him how. Straight faced he said to me, just go up and take one. I laughed and said are you serious?! He replied yes. I couldn't tell if he was messing with us, I asked what he meant by it and he's like just go take one and walk out. I told him I couldn't tell if he was joking or not and he walked over to where they were with us and said see, just take whichever one you like. When I questioned it again he assured that he and his sister bought them for 5 cents a piece in Peru but we're selling them for $16 here, a rip off in his mind. He rummaged through found one he liked and said, "see easy just walk away." In that moment someone came out of the kitchen and began talking to him. I really hope that's not his sister, as I stand with one in my hand. Rosie was very skeptical and wasn't going to take one until Mitch said, "which one do you want I'll carry it out for you." She picked one up and said I guess this one is cool. When he replied, "you guess? You can't just pick one for being cool, you have to feel it like you feel a naked man." What an interesting fun spirit Mitch was. I put mine in my pocket and we followed Mitch out to the patio where he exchanged the bracelet to Rosie. Hopefully it's not a bad spiritual omen the way we obtained ours! Thanks Mitch. From there we went to Whole Foods to pick up some chips, salsa, andguacamole for the potluck Bon fire we were going to tonight with Eric. He and Kristina have been staying at Mago's Ranch at Walker's underground hostel and it was a celebration of Walker's birthday. After purchasing our contribution we headed to the stupa. A stupa is considered to be the living presence of the Buddha and as such represents the Mind of Enlightenment. It was in a residential neighborhood and a little hike to get to. The pathways were lined with Tibetian prayer flags, offerings, and statues. We walked around three times clockwise and stated our aspirations within. There was something very magical and surreal about this place. I would love to come and sit for hours, or meditate within if I lived nearby. Being here felt like I was in India, so much closer to the origin of spirituality. After walking around for awhile, I built a small cairn and then we headed back for the car. Today has been a magical, unforgettable experience thus far in Sedona, and it will only get better. We drove back up the mountain road to the campground to accquire a second night. It was now Friday night and the campgrounds were fillig up for the weekend. When we pulled into the campground we stayed the night beforehand, we noticed site 2 was now occupied. After talking with the staff, we were informed there was no availability. We drove down the road to the first campground we had checked out the night before that had no cellular service at. When we pulled in, and talked with the woman she asked if we were the two girls from Connecticut. Word sure travels fast here I thought; turns out, the woman from the other campground called to let us know a spot opened up back there is we wanted it. We decided to go back so I'd have service to blog. We set up our tents, staked them down, and got a call from Eric asking if we wanted to join on a hike at Bell Rock. We agreed to meet him there, and back we went. Half of the miles traveled on this trip will be that mountain road alone! Once at Bell Rock, we started hiking up, after not seeing trail signs any longer, and seeing two woman who lost the trail as well; I looked up and spotted Eric. I asked him how he got up there, and he said he would come down to us. We met below and proceeded up a different way to where he was. The red rock was gorgeous and so was the view. We walked around a bit, and decided to sit and talk for awhile just taking in the view. We were interrupted when a couple came over to say we looked like models for a hiking magazine. She asked about my camera and then asked if we wanted a photo, I handed her my camera and she began shooting at all sorts of angles. After, we talked with them asking what they were doing in Sedona and the guy replied, "her." Right on, Eric said. Apparently they were rendezvousing here in Sedona. He was from Wyoming and she, Georgia. I feel like we may have witnessed some adultery going on but that's none of my business, they seemed infatuated with one another. After realizing it was 6:30, and the party started at 6:00 we decided to take off. We followed our fellow Connecticut plate back to the ranch where we met Walker. She seemed welcoming and a very intriguing house. There were books everywhere, artwork and paintings done by her, and spiritual objects such as sage and Buddah. After plating out the chips and dip, we took a tour of the grounds with Eric. He showed us he and Kristina's cat and he came along for the walk. We saw the labriynth which was pretty awesome, the garden, the fire pit spot, and the rest of the grounds. Everyone was still arriving after us, and they were all around the age of 40-50 years old. Rosie and I decided to walk the labriynth before we ate and everyone came outside. I had remembered Jillian walking a labriynth this past year, and being jealous of the opportunity of experience; but hadn't thought much of it since. "The Sacred Labyrinth Walk, Illuminating the Inner Path, is the ancient practice of "Circling to the Center" by walking the labyrinth. The rediscovery of this self alignment tool to put our lives in perspective is one of the most important spiritual movements of our day. Labyrinths have been in use for over 4000 years." I arrived when she was already on her journey so I hit the gong and began mine. I walked and thought of aspirations and goals for my life, good health and wishes for those close to me. The sky grew darker and the solar torches came on. Rosie and I crossed paths on her way out and my way in. When I reached the center, I took a moment to give thanks and prayer, and journied my way back out. Towards the end it got harder and harder to see the path, but one way or another I found my way. As we were walking up the hill Eric called; Rose, Ashlee, dinner time! What perfect timing, funny how that happens. We stepped inside to find everyone in a circle holding hands around the kitchen, we joined in and Walker welcomed us as cross country visitors to be thankful for and the food. Another friend proposed singing something so we all joined in to sound out "Yummy." We formed a line, grabbed a plate, and filled it with vegetarian and vegan offerings. Hummus, pita, chips, Amy's pizza, pineapple, macaroni salad, coleslaw, and other "yummy" things. I am known to be the one to order a veggie burger with bacon, so I am a far cry from vegan however I cleared everything on my plate! Very good food to be had! We sat on the couch and talked with Kristina a lot, she asked about our lives and families and we talked about hers. She randomly asked if I had any Navajo Indian in my blood and I chuckled. Granted I did have my hair in braids, but for her to randomly pick up on something like that was mind blowing. As you all know from previous posts, I am not Native American; but from a young age aspired that I was. She said it shows through in who I am so that was pretty interesting to hear from a "stranger" now friend. We talked about life and theories, and felt like we were hanging out with people we have known for years. Everyone was very friendly and kind, and interested in our story. The couch sucked us in and before we knew it, it was already 10:30pm. Kristina had turned in for the night before we got a chance to say goodbye. We decided to snap a photo with Walker before we departed, thanked her for including us in her get together, and said our goodbyes to Eric outside. I couldn't thank Eric enough for our experience and recommendations in Sedona. It is really important to me that some amazing people in my life are part of this journey with me, and my time in Sedona surely will never be forgotten. We arrived at our untouched campsite, got ready for bed, and buried ourselves inside our tents on this frigid 30 degree evening.

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