“More Stars in the Sky Than Grains of Sand on Earth.”

I have read that there are more stars in the sky than grains of sand on the Earth, and it certainly seemed to be true the night Brad and I camped at Whiskeytown Shasta – Trinity National Recreation Area in northern California. The vastness of the Universe has held humanity’s attention for eons—and tonight was no exception for me. It was a rather spontaneous stop garnered by a quick internet search earlier that afternoon.  Yes, we were able to reserve a camp spot—and even pay the nominal fee over the phone with a credit card.  That was the easy part. As was our greeting by the National Park security who checked our name off the list and gave us verbal instructions and a cryptic map which designated our “C-16” spot that would be our “home” and rest spot for the night. However, by the time we reached the parking lot—complete darkness had set in—and in spite to producing two small flashlights—the layout—the paths—the markings and the darkness made the discovery of our campsite a bit of a challenge.  Was this a metaphor for us, for humanity as well?

Our persistence paid off and after about 45 minutes, our 3-4 minute walk downhill to the water and our camp site numerous times had us somewhat settled in—tent, sleeping bags and even two folding chairs—which provided the scenic views to the heavens.  We literally tailgated on the back of the pickup truck on the asphalt parking lot finishing cold chicken and fruit and by 11:00 P.M. found ourselves back down sitting in our observation chairs—sipping a glass of wine and relaxing in the fairly quiet wilderness.  (The “neighbors” kids finally began to get quiet and the dog was at last peaceful—lol—woof-woof.) So much as a break from suburbia!

As I stared out into the heavens, I wondered, what lay beyond the boundaries of our human existence?  Who were we really, behind the cloaked veil that our daily lives consumed?  And, where did we come from?  There are many who believe that we are seeded from the stars—that philosophy, when I thought about it, felt right.  Were we seeded from the Pleadians two hundred thousand years ago?  Were these light beings our divine parents from a lineage billions of years old?   Were we the “new kids” on the block? There were many indigenous and ancient peoples whose creation story linked us to the stars—and each story to each other, even though there was no means of communication between them.  These stories were etched and painted upon the caves and artifacts over the millennium.  There were sightings of lights where no electricity existed—Mt. Shasta was certainly one—Hawaii and Uluru were other places of magic. Our knowledge so limited, and our technology still primitive—gave us little understanding of the vastness and infinite makings of the multiverses and galaxies beyond our closest frontiers.

And, so it was, as I drifted off to sleep—thinking about my adventure to east Texas to reclaim my old MGB with my friend Brad and the stars that filled my imagination and my fascination.  It had been a long hot day and we had already crossed many miles when my tired body laid upon the air mattress. What did we really know?

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Battle Cruiser

I met the truck only the afternoon before.  My friend Brad had named it the Battle Cruiser with the plate to match: BTLCRSR.  I must admit, it was certainly not a pretty sight. The yellow paint faded—exposed rust in certain places and green moss covering parts of the exterior and hood. It’s four and a half decades were evident; it was a work horse.

After some coaxing, the loyal truck came to life.  I was happy to see the life return as the deep throaty motor sounded like a tired warrior awakening as daybreak arose too early: Brad pumped the gas pedal and cajoled the old Ford pickup into being.

I had a mission—and needed the Battle Cruiser’s help.  The instructions from Brad were simply that first gear was not necessary—to low a gear to start. “Use second” he said. Easy enough I thought and nodded, as I climbed in the next morning and sat in the driver’s seat, starting the engine.  After decades of smaller and smaller cars—and trucks—this old relic was immense.  As tall as I am—and as long a reach as I have—I could not, even leaning over and stretching, open and unlock the passenger door from the inside.   Were the vehicles really this big???  Wow.

And, so it was, I shifted the truck into gear, lifted the clutch and headed up the wooded driveway finding my way to the 101 and to the Kingston-Edmonds ferry off the Olympic Peninsula and toward Bellevue; my childhood home. I thought about my mission to save the trash burner—a request out of my Mother’s house—before it’s fate met the awaiting bulldozer; demolishing it to the ground.  Another era gone.  As I pulled out of the driveway and on to the Sequim neighborhood graveled road, I felt my Father sitting in the passenger’s seat.  Perhaps, he felt my bit of nervousness, apprehension, or trepidation with the old truck?  At any rate, I felt the reassurance as the memories of familiar childhood adventures surfaced.  This time however, I was driving—and he was riding.  I continued my drive south 42 miles to the Washington State Ferry terminal; my mind concentrating on the road as I roared along feeling like something out of Mad-Max Road Fury.

I thought about the laughter that ensued when I voiced my request for the trash burner; I had my reasons and I didn’t really care what anyone thought.  I pulled up to the toll booth to purchase my round-trip fare.   “Lane six”, said the woman in the toll booth as she handed me my change and receipt.  I smiled and thanked her, easing the truck back into gear and driving forward into my designated parking lane to await the Ferry’s arrival into Kingston terminal. Settled, I hopped out of the Battle Cruiser and headed up to grab a cup of coffee—standing in line—I heard someone shout—“Here comes the ferry.”  I abandoned the line and headed back to where the truck was parked.  The adventure had been so smooth thus far and all was going as planned.  Or so I thought.

Lane five moved beside me and I turned the key in the ignition to start the engine.  Nothing. I turned the key off and on once again.  Nothing. I pumped the gas pedal and tried several more times to start the engine . . . nothing.  Not even a peep from the mechanical beast from which I sat behind the steering wheel slightly panicked and watching the other vehicles and passengers drive past me and onto the loading dock—and onto the green and white vessel that crosses Puget Sound so regularly.

“Are you in trouble?” the WSF* system employee shouted, I nodded—“yes, I think I am,” I answered back.

“I’ll get someone to help you.” And, I climbed out of the Battle Cruiser wondering, what just happened?

Within minutes, another, employee named Sarah had wheeled over a portable battery charger to jump the truck.  She stopped—and pointed to the winch on the front bumper.  I turned my head and stared, “Oh, sh-t,” there was smoke coming from the winch. Whirling back towards the terminal—she said—“I’ll be right back—stand back.” I looked at the winch with disbelief, and within moments she was back with a large fire extinguisher ready to douse any flame should it appear and this situation become worse.   With the 11:55 am ferry loaded—I watched my ride sail away—wondering how long I would be sitting on the Kingston dock—somewhat helpless and wondering what was next?

Before I realized, there was more than five WSF employees who appeared from almost nowhere—pitching in to work on the truck. Now, I will tell you, that I feel I have many talents—but auto mechanic—is NOT one.  I was raised helping my Dad with horses, not automobiles and besides having the oil changed, stopping for gas or running the car through the car wash—my desire ended there.  So, the fact that this help had arrived with a positive attitude and generous giving spirit brought me tremendous gratitude to my uncertain circumstances. I explained, that I had just met the truck the previous afternoon . . . it was on loan from a friend.

And, so with an obvious quick assessment of a trauma medic, it was agreed that the winch wires needed to be cut; disconnect the source of the problem! In agreement and with a plan, we began, focused on the task at hand.  I choose to look under the front seat for something that might be able to help cut the wires to the bilious dying winch—and happily came up with a small pair of wire cutters.  Phoning Brad, I explained the dilemma and what had happened.   He offered to come save me—but I told him I thought I was in good hands; I would certainly let him know if I needed his help.

As I turned around to offer the red-handled tool to my new “pit crew” a man two rows over held a crescent wrench, another pair of cutters and gloves.  He began to disconnect the battery.  I turned back around and another lady asked for water.  I handed her mine—and she worked with precision filling the dehydrated battery cells.  I glanced over and noticed that another gentleman was leaning over the front fender and working in hyper speed skillfully cleaning contacts and then rerouting the wires that connected the solenoid, to the battery and to the ailing winch.  (Which apparently was the reason the truck wasn’t starting when jumped.)  This man, wearing a bright orange T-shirt with motorcycle designs, white hair and beard, and half smoked cigarette hanging from his mouth worked with such expertise we all sort of stepped back; everyone seemed to sense his mastery.  Before long, the “bull” arrived and another attempt at starting the disabled Battle Cruiser began.  We—the truck and I— had definitely developed a bond since I had first climbed aboard hours before.  This time when I turned the ignition—the resuscitation of the Battle Cruiser was successful and it issued it’s healthy roar.  I literally welled up as the “pit crew” and other waiting passengers in line clapped and cheered at our triumphal achievement.  I stepped out with a big smile and thanked everyone. The battery cable clips came off and the hood came down—just as the next ferry was pulling into the dock.  The lady in the car next to me handed me a wet wipe—she said, “they’re really for make-up but I think they will work great for the grease on your hands.”  I hadn’t even noticed.  Another woman came up to me—and said, “If they load and you aren’t signaled—please go ahead to me.” I thanked her too.   This was a reminder of humanity at its best.

I waved and honked in gratitude as “Sarah” waved me on . . . I was the first one on the ferry for that crossing and I felt very honored.

I reflected back on all the chaos in Washington D.C—the hatred and vitriol spewed by so many these days. There was certainly no fence sitting anymore; all was being revealed.  You could not be someone you weren’t.  I believe deeply we are all the same; okay—we may look a bit different—but we are all pieces of the divine.  I believed humanity was proving it’s chance for goodness and light; in fact we seemed to be at war with the darkness: greed and lack of integrity and hatefulness.

The event on the Kingston Dock certainly cemented my belief in humanity’s goodness—something I wished the evening news focused on more—not the inherent fear, fear and fear they sold to their vulnerable audiences daily. It is our power of intent—our desire of compassion—and our tolerances and acceptances of our differences which make us strong.  Our common goal must be one of LOVE—which if you haven’t heard, is the most powerful force in the Universe.  LOVE changes physical things and it will change our world too.  The time is now—and we are the Ones! The powerful  difference we each make based on our choices every day changes our world. And, that’s the world I choose to see and live in.

The rest of the trip was seamless and the trash burner is safely stored in Sequim—waiting for its return to service.  I on the other hand—look forward to the next adventure—whenever and however it presents itself. Namasté.

“Inspired Wellness from Within”

Cathrine Silver, HC, AADP

Cathrine Silver is a Board Certified holistic counselor with a practice in Lauderdale by the Sea, FL. She is the author of the book, Riding the Light Beam: How Any Woman Can Find the Hero Inside available at Amazon.com. She can be contacted via email at cathysilverhealth@gmail.com. For more information visit www.CathrineSilver.com.

As a post note:  I learned that the man in the orange T-shirt name was Richard.  He was a master mechanic and forensic scientist from the Tri-Cities who had been visiting his wife whose daughter was due to have surgery.  I had gone upstairs on the ferry to use the restroom and have a snack.  I purchased clam chowder and a water—and upon walking up to the cashier—made a last minute decision to add a beer.  LOL—it had been quite a morning.  I sat down—and Richard walked by.  I called his name, and asked him if he drank beer.  He replied—“On occasion.” 

“Can I buy you a beer”, I enquired? He nodded.  I got up and went back to the cashier and returned to the cafeteria where Richard sat.  “It’s the least I can do.”  “Thank you for everything” I said—“I have a feeling—I would still be sitting on the dock without you stopping by.”  He said, “I saw the hood of the truck raised.  I travel with my tools.” 

 I will always be grateful for all who gave me help that day.  On some level, we are always watched over—and he was one of my Earth Angels that day.  I was glad I could offer the simple gesture of thanks. 

*Washington State Ferry

Summer Adventures Past and Present

Sun Lakes, Washington, circa 1968, July 12th.  I am holding my birthday cake—and the picture is with my siblings. I was 11. My memory decades later is that the wind was so fierce I thought the candles would blow off the cake. Even today, as I look at the picture there are NO lit candles!  (smiling) The family vacation that year took us on to Yellowstone.  The National Park is such a unique place on earth and holds amazing memories for me; we stayed at the historical Old Faithful Inn and, of course, saw Old Faithful (Geyser) in action. In addition to the unpleasant sulfur smells coming from the hot spots which have made Yellowstone National Park so famous, we witnessed a woman positioning herself in a picture with a Mother bear and her two cubs.  Are you kidding? We saw moose strolling across the road and standing in the rivers, heard wolves or coyotes in the far distance and watched endearing critters in all forms; squirrels, crows, raccoons.

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Sun Lakes, Wa- Happy 11th Birthday!

There were other camping memories I hold including catching fish in the Big Wood River in Idaho, getting stopped in a road search for an escaped felon near Billings Montana, when we visited the Grand Tetons, and getting to stay at the “Let ‘er Buck Motel one night in Pendleton, Oregon when my Dad was just too tired to drive the five plus hours home, are my distant past adventures.   The world is full of wonderful things and it gives our lives an expanded meaning, discovery and wonder of who we are when we explore beyond our familiar “village”.

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Yellowstone National Park

Decades later, circa 1996, Nacogdoches, Texas, I would take to the highways once again with my boys on adventures of our own.  I still remember today that Stalactites hold tight on the ceiling and stalagmites might reach the ceiling, learned on a stop in Carlsbad Caverns while heading west.  The Grand Canyon and Pacific Coast Highway were other places of wonder. We would see Sea Lions, roast hotdogs on the beach, explore the waterfront of San Francisco, ride a cable car and enjoy a harbor tour around Alcatraz Island.  We visited Wyoming, staying in Jackson Hole, Telluride, Ouray, Durango, Silver City, in Colorado, and “happen” upon the small historic Tea Pot Dome Service Station in Zillah, Washington built in 1922. I had seen it growing up and it was such a delight surprise that I came upon it along Hwy 82 on one of those road-trip summers. Mark Twain once penned, and I would add with great wisdom, “Travel is fatal to narrow-mindedness, prejudice and bigotry.”

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Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, circa today. As the 2017 summer begins, another adventure awaits me, and looks completely different than the others.  This time, it is to retrieve my old 1970 MG.  It was my first car and one I bought in college—and has been sitting in Texas which had been my home for many years.  A friend of mine is picking me up at Sea-Tac and we are heading down I-5 into California and then ultimately east towards Texas.  Our plan is to see parts of Arizona and explore New Mexico—a place he has never been; and ironically one of my favorite states.  What lies beyond these words as my journey unfolds, as I step out of the airport, I cannot say.  However, I embrace the words of physician, philosopher and poet Debasish Mridha, “Life is a magical journey, so travel endlessly to unfold its profound and heart touching beauty.”  Inspirational writer Lailah Gifty Akita notes, “Adventure begins with a thought, decision and action.”

And now I ask, “What is your heart’s desire?”  Where does your wanderlust pull you?  Is there a place you have read about or have seen in pictures that you want to visit? If you don’t do it today, then when?

Enjoy your summer adventures—whether it is a trip to your local state park, searching for Lighthouses, an ocean picnic to a different coast or drive across the state, just because.  Pick something that sounds fun and make it so!

“The world is full of wonderful things you haven’t seen yet. Don’t ever give up on the chance of seeing them.” — J.K. Rowling

The Four Corners; Lemons or Lemonade 

My kids cringed as I pulled the Land Cruiser over to the side of the shoulder, hopping out on the long deserted windy highway and picked a handful of stray wheat stalks, that were happily growing outside the farmer’s expansive cultivated land protected by the lonely never-ending barbed wire fence. Earlier, they shook their heads while I was still navigating my way out of Texas as I made a U-Turn to get a extraordinary picture of a beautiful row of tall sunflowers—asking Joshua and David to smile as I took their picture in front of the oh-so-tall-giant beauties.

IMG_0965Ah, the memories. I look back now and marvel at the fun-filled expeditions across the United States that I shared with my boys growing up; that small window of time—still being at home—and not having summer jobs—or big plans with their friends; I valued those summer moments even today.

Much to my husband’s displeasure, I didn’t travel with reservations.  I let the road and the enticement of curiosity and intrigue of our journey be our guide.  Yea, there was a general plan and route, and we participated in all the big tourist sights over the years : Carlsbad, Hoover Dam, Jackson Hole, Yellowstone, The Grand Canyon—Mt. Rushmore—and the Four Corners, Mesa Verde National Park; I could go on, Niagara Falls, San Francisco, the Pacific Coast highway, the famous tea-pot service station were buried in there too.

Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona literally come together; intersections on the map—a quadipoint. The unique points of the compass; each state, staking their claim to the arid real estate. Four Corners, a home to one of our national parks— a piece of Navajo, Hopi, Ute and Zuni tribal Country; untamed, wild and harsh.

The long winding road that brought us in to the majestic park had been a tedious leg—as I followed behind RV, after RV up the inclined and narrow highway the 35+ miles.  I didn’t care that these folks towed their petite homes behind them, it was just a different pace for them, then it was for me.

Desolated, barren, remote and rugged, I was surprised the park offered hotel accommodations. Making the decision to stay for the night was a splurge.  We were all a bit tired, my ex-Mother-in-law in tow.  (She often traveled with me on these summer sojourns and it was always nice to have another adult in the car—although certainly not necessary or at times easy—she excitedly partook in our road trips.)  For my kids, it was nice to have “Grandma” along; a woman who always seemed to keep things interesting.

The park was home to the Cliff Dwellers and offered tours about the Hopi’s and other ancient populations who at one time had occupied the land.  We had come all this way—why not learn a bit about this unique Colorado Plateau and the Tribal Nations who inhabited it?

Although, I was pleased with this quiet high plateau desert stop—my kids were not so much.  This was one of the few room sans TV.  They survived amidst their mild protest.  I laughed about what a rut and routine we often find ourselves in; sympathy without television was not high on my list. We we here to explore and discover.  I remember the ruggedness of the views from the small balcony—sun setting.  The isolation. The apparent acerbity. A very different life. One that had not been easy and one without our modern conveniences or luxury; I appreciated the ease by which we traveled and filled our bellies.

The night had been restful. The solitude and stillness amazing and rejuvenating for me.  The sun welcomed us to the new day. With our belongings loaded in the back of the Toyota, I made my way back down the blacktop towards the office—reservations and checkout.  With everyone waiting in the Land Cruiser—I skirted in to check out.  We would be on our way to see the ancient ruins and history contained within the park’s borders— of Mesa Verde and all it had to offer. It gave us a chance to speculate on the mysteries and disappearance of an entire race. This much I knew. Included in my plans was a tour to learn more of the Native peoples in antiquity— known as Anasazi, and Pueblo and predated our current Native culture by several millennia.  Our plans were in place for the day . . . or were they?

My usual dress at the time was a pair of Ralph Lauren shorts—with the side pockets—causal Polo style shirts and sweater or sweatshirt when necessary—leather topsiders and my leather backpack.  I mentioned this only to illustrate the vast number of places a set of keys could hide.  Upon my checkout I trotted back to the vehicle.  I needed to re-park the Toyota as the tours’ of the ruins would take 4-5 hours.  Yet, I could not find my keys.  I checked and rechecked my pockets.  I asked the boys and Grandma patiently waiting in the car.  No keys. I returned back to the hotel front desk twice, even making them look behind the computers to see if the keys had inadvertently fallen between the higher check-out counter and the screens from which they worked.  Nope, nowhere—a dilemma at hand! Where could they have gone? I even questioned myself.  Yes, I had to have the keys—after all I had driven from our room to this point where we sat . . .  This time on my trip back to the Land Cruiser, my mind raced for solutions.  A thousand or so miles away from home—and no keys!  I went to the glovebox.  Maybe there was a number of a ‘local’ Toyota dealer who could somehow get us a key?  I started digging.  Glove boxes, or at least mine, are like that;  You never know what you will find.

Within minutes, of searching the Toyota literature, I came upon a very small, yellow plastic key—stuck on a card—as I remember the 5 x 7 size—Stuck with those glue globs that usually free things come with in the mail.  I peeled the flat plastic key away from the card.  “We can get home” I said with a smile, holding up the tiny treasure.  “Let’s go.”  We left the car and went to catch the shuttle—the driver delaying—I believe in hopes we would find our keys.

About four and a half hours later—our tours complete we returned to the car.  I must say we had had a terrific time. As a matter of fact, I had completely forgotten all about the missing keys and had just enjoyed settling into the “Now”; the sights and the history.  We would be back in the Land Cruiser soon, on to parts unknown and enjoying what cool things and other sights this country had to offer. Our summer journey matching on, uninterrupted.

But, what greeted us was another astonishment. There, taped to my door was a white paper; a note from the front desk which said: “WE HAVE YOUR KEYS!!”  How about that—I shared with the boys and my Mother-in-law.  They found our keys!  I opened the vehicle and told them to climb in—I would be right back.

I presented the note—and they presented my keys.  “Wherever did you find them?”, I asked.  The young gal holding the keys looked at me.  “A man took them, thinking they belonged to his daughter—and then was embarrassed to bring them back”, she shyly confided. Well, whatever the reason, I was indeed happy to be reunited with my ring of keys.

It had been a good adventure.  Quite happily, I had been able to enjoy the days plan—despite the monkey-wrench concerning my keys.  I didn’t look quite as crazy to the front dest, I thought, smiling to myself as I walked back down the path towards the truck.

Today, as I write and recall this story, I am not sure whether it was a “test” of living in the moment.  Part of a life puzzle of handling unforeseen circumstances . . . or a debt of karma. (Unfinished business with another) It really doesn’t matter. Whatever the moment, or circumstances, we are always at choice-point of how we handle the up’s and down’s of life and our day(s).  When we come from a place of trust, things usually have a way of working themselves out.  It seems it’s all a matter of perspective and how we react or don’t react. Whether we believe we can or can’t, we’re right.  What do you choose to believe today?  . . . .  Well, You’re right!  Happy Summer trails and adventures!  Make them GREAT!

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