Spending a day of silence and contemplation at Nishi-Hongwashi, Kyoto, Japan.
I’ve concluded that no photo or video can do New Zealand justice – it is beautiful and majestic beyond words and very different in way that is difficult to compare to anywhere else. New Zealand is wild and filled everywhere with dense, impossibly green foliage , except for places cleared for farming or settlements. The landscape, climate, flora, people, culture and feel of the place is unique enough that saying, “it is like” won’t work. If you haven’t been to New Zealand, you must go before you die. For me it is “that” place I was always looking for and no longer believed existed. It has the feel of a dream, an idealistic place of childhood fantasies of a world untouched by the stain of modern psychosis. The people there are innocent, and are by and large not living in any kind of fear. The “fear matrix” that is so pervasive here in the U.S. is conspicuously absent there. I saw 16 year old girls, beautiful ones at that, hitchhiking across the country for summer holiday. I picked up this young hippy fellow during my trip in the south island and mentioned that as a rule we don’t pick up hitchhikers in the U.S. It was so outside his experience that I failed in my attempts to explain it. They still allow you to pump gas on the honor system.
I was surprised at how integrated the Maori and white people are. I saw many mixed race people, some in their 60’s, and as many mixed race couples as not. Maori’s are huge Reggae fans. The entire town of Rotorua had town flags up celebrating it’s upcoming Reggae festival. On the streets, stores, restaurants and bars, nobody was is in a hurry. The mood was always very relaxed. The downside is you might have to wait 30 minutes for a “quick” order, but what’s the rush in such a beautiful place? The road on the other hand was a different matter. Kiwi’s love to speed, and cut corners. I know of no sign anywhere in the U.S. that says not to cut corners, but in New Zealand they are everywhere. I would see drivers cut corners around a blind corner with a large truck coming the other way – simply crazy. Otherwise the mood everywhere is relaxed. The kiwi people know how to have a good time. They excel at it. Everywhere I went there were fun things to do for kids and adults. I even saw a circus camp on the far end of the north island – an actual place where you could do trapeze!!
New Zealand is big. Far bigger than it looks on a map. I was surprised how long it took to go from one place to the next. The general experience is driving for three or four hours through wilderness and farmland before coming to the next town. Any place there are people, chances are the next nearest places with people is 20 or 30 miles away. My time there (3 weeks) was not nearly long enough. I barley got to see the two islands. Much of it was through the window while I drove. To do New Zealand justice I don’t recommend any time there less than a month, but two or three months is much better. If you’re on a budget, there is plenty of cheap or free camping.
One of the things I liked most about New Zealand was the landscape and a very real sense of no boundaries. There were huge stretches of land and beach that were simply wild. Even beaches near towns, like Nelson, are more or less wild. By wild I mean there are no signs, rules, fences or other constraints to wandering around. In the U.S. it seems there are very few places left that you can just wander without feeling like your are either on some one elses property or on a piece of regulated land.. In New Zealand it’s just wide open – wild in the truest sense. And with it’s relatively low population, it is very easy to get completely lost and leave behind civilization for a while. As hard as this is to believe, I had two miles of the most pristine and beautiful beach in Punakaiki almost entirely to myself. On this beach where large rock-cliff protrusions out on the beach that went up 60 feet, with dense green foliage growing on the top. It looked like something out of Pirates of the Carribean movie, and I had the whole thing to myself (I have photos and videos of this to show later). Only Phuket, Thailand comes close to how beautiful it was.
Some other highlights of my trip including visiting Yoshi’s ecohouse, the most advance of its kind in the world (in my opinion), hot water beach – where you can dig holes in the sand and make your own geothermal hot tub, the southern night sky (which is very different than here, including seeing the moon “upside down”), the north and west coast of the south island, and visiting Hobbiton (near Matamata) on my way back to Auckland. I unfortunately missed the Kiwi Burn, and the International Busking Festival.
The hardest part about New Zealand was having to leave. I wanted to stay forever. Either way seeing New Zealand helped me let go of some long-held baggage. I feel transformed.
The photo below was taken of me around 9pm (sun was setting around 9:45pm) in Tairua. A sleepy little beach town on the east coast of the north island.
Awww… to be back in my home town of Laguna Beach again. I grew up here in the late 60s/early 70s before it got expensive. Growing up so close to the beach was pure heaven, and I am reminded of why I love Laguna every time I come back – the weather is almost perfect, the place is very laid back, and it’s so beautiful and green. The foliage here is stunning. I took this chance to catch some waves, small though they were. It was the happiest day I’ve had in a long, long time.
I’m in the northern part of Iceland right now doing a Vivation training, and the place here is spectacular and beautiful, fantastically green and desolate. Although it’s one of the greenest places I’ve ever been, there are almost no trees. To change this Icelanders have over the last 30 years been planting trees all over the country. I saw over a million trees fully mature trees spread out over several square kilometers near Akureyri. It was an impressive sight to see a regrown forest that wasn’t there 30 years earlier! I’ve taken almost 400 pictures so far… too many to share (so I’ve put them up on Facebook). In Sauðárkrókur, where I’m staying, the whole town goes to the beach to June 20/21 to watch the sun almost set, then rise back up again for a day that never ends. It’s 24 hours of daylight, and the first day of summer. This “afternoon” party starts around 9pm and goes to 6am. They watch as the sun goes half-way below the ocean horizon before rising again into the “morning” sky.
I got back last week on a 5 day trip over the holidays to visit family. Driving out of my way and taken random turns up a winding mountain road I came across a most lovely town called Idyllwild. It’s got to be one of the “grooviest”, most heart warming places I’ve been to. Here are some photos I took:
Having spent the day there it’s easy to see that the majority of the residents are artisans or “creative types” and other folk just looking for a warm community to live in.Lots of neat and unexpected shops including restaurants like GastroGnome and stores like Lady of the Lake Soaps. It felt like a little nordic hippy town that has escaped some of the hustle and bustle of the world below. The people were incredibly friendly and ‘different’, even exceptional in their funky spark. There were many dome houses and other alternative types of architecture there. My family and I are seriously considering moving there once we complete our current work.
I just got back from a lovely trip to the pacific coast in Mendocino. On my way I passed through Clear Lake, which is a place I spent many summers growing up in the 1970’s. It was there in 1973, when we were way out on the lake late at night, that my father and I saw a UFO. There was no moon, so magnitude 6 stars could be seen. At about magnitude 4, we both saw a point of light traveling in a very erratic and fast motion. It then zipped across the sky and disappeared. That experience left a deep impression on me. Here is a picture of the lake from the East side looking north where I saw this:
Later that day we arrived at the cost of Mendocino. There is only one word to describe it – PERFECT.
I went to visit my old stomping grounds in Tucson last week and had a chance to visit the Biosphere 2 project again. My first trip there was back in 1987 before they broke ground on the actual biosphere. For the first time they are starting to letting people go inside to take a peek. My wife and I went into both the savannah and desert regions. Here are a couple of photos we took while in the ocean and rain forest sections.
As a physics student at the University of Arizona, I had friends who were directly involved with the Biosphere 2 project back in its infancy. The magic and excitement around the project at that time was intense. I went there several times in 1987, years before they began actual construction of the biosphere complex itself. During that time there were the opulently designed and furnished administrative “ranch” houses, some hyper-modern research labs with some smaller closed-biosphere experiments, as well as a very large greenhouse, where they were accumulating plant/tree species from around the world. In 1987 it was like stepping into the future. As a space settlement advocate and L5 Society member the chance to see this project take shape up and close and personal was exhilarating.
Many people say the project was a total failure – but I could not disagree more strongly. Sure mistakes were made, but isn’t that the whole purpose of an experiment, to see what happens, and adjust accordingly? An enormous amount of knowledge was gained in the so-called “failures” of the first Biosphere project, and our knowledge of both small-scale closed biospherics and the large one that surrounds the earth has increased considerably as a direct result of this project. Columbia University is currently running the project.