Thursday, December 29, 2016

12/29/16: Beloved Travels

I've been traveling again, but that's the gist of it.

That is: I've been nowhere "new," visiting (and yoga'ing) only the now-routine places previously catalogued on this blog. Hence, no pictures, or even a description beyond, "Been travelin'."

Though, routine or not, I must say this of my travels:

I Love

That is all.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

11/21/16: Another Holiday Norther

My latest trip: another Norther, to visit family, in the same Carolina-to-Carolina circuit I've been making for some time, with yoga at regular stops along the way.

As routine as they've become, I still love these trips, on multiple levels. However, this one proved not-so-routine.

First twist.

It started when, a day in, I received a phone call that sent me back south for a day, on some urgent and sudden business. More adventurous driving and yoga and more driving still, while parking-lot camping in my beloved van -- fun, fun. Next, once I'd done what needed doing and then headed back on my northerly ascent, I got lost -- three times, actually, having taken one wrong turn, then a second wrong turn upon trying to recover from the first, and then a third, in the same fashion, while recovering from my recovery. But that was okay, for it just meant more fun-fun driving, and I ended up in the quiet wilds of central NC, in a place I'd never been to but was glad to be in (where I did indeed van-camp and yoga).

Pictures from this leg of the trip (the only I remembered to take, as it were):

From there, it was a wonderful and uneventful Thanksgiving with my folks, up in the Applachians. And then, subsequently, an equally enjoyable and uneventful descent back to SC, again with van-camping and yoga and other assorted goodness.

It was then, on my seemingly mundane return trip, that the second twist came.

I had an epiphany of sorts, is what happened -- about this blog and its distinctly uninspired content, as it were. In a light-bulb moment, I realized just how much I delight in my seemingly dull, one-dimensional wanderings across the country. Taken at face value, my travels would be considered totally unnoteworthy to many people, especially your typical traveler -- after all, I don't visit museums or landmarks or anything traditionally considered worth traveling for (nor are my cell-phone pictures of anything but the everyday places where I perform my yoga). So, "dull" would be an understandable perception, sure; but only for the outside observer.

As the owner of the memories depicted by these rambling posts and their empty pictures, the reality of those events is absolutely priceless, as well as astounding.

It's a matter of psychology, you see. Setting out on these featureless journeys, thoroughly unthrilling and unentertaining and un-jaw-dropping, I always find myself discovering the joy of sheer existence, as to revel in the simple act of being, rather than only the rare instance of excitement or gratification. In this way, ALL is gratifying, ALL is exciting, ALL is nothing less than a thrill ride into the very essence of life itself -- "pura vida," they call it down in South America. Out in the sea of Modern Urbania and its interstate-connected strip-mall nothingness, with its artificial environment of cheap, limitless, endlessly duplicated sprawl-stores and restaurants -- there, I find something magical happening: that sea takes me, and, in my state of pura-vida dazzlement, I watch the world transform, and myself with it. Then, there is only a wonderland of being and life, bringing with it a fierce passion that is not surpassed by sex or drugs or other such pursuits. Just like the sailors of old, I experience a sea-change amidst my descent into the concrete McJungle, as to see the undying, unconditional beauty resident within it and all else.

Every faceless street corner becomes a carnival. Every Starbucks, a prized, locals-only secret. Every logo-wearing, smart-phone-staring 9-5er, simply a person, unique as a snowflake and delightful beyond words. In my travel-clarified vision, the world becomes a church, with God as life at large, and travel my worship.

Thus, my worship-voyages become absolute indulgence in this priceless-but-free commodity, brilliant and ravenous and nourishing to my soul.


* * *

So, the point of this post? Simple: this is the context of my blog and its pictures, and why I bother to share something so seemingly pointless. And, after all: to one of like mind, who also travels to non-destinations for the sheer pleasure of it, perhaps this blog isn't so uninteresting ...

11/6-11/15: The Cross-country Trip that Wasn't

This one started as a full-out, Carolina-to-California roadtrip, but somehow ended up as a confusion of un-destined exploration that spanned much of the Southeast, which would resemble a pretzel if mapped.

Don't ask me how it happened, or even where I stopped along the way (not to mention why). I started West, with every intention of continuing on that course until reaching the Pacific in some capacity; but then, a few days in, I just suddenly ... changed direction, surprising myself along with any imaginary passengers I might've had. Sure, this caprice wasn't quite as random and mindless as I'm making it out to be, for I did have reasons; those reasons are just highly personal and obscure, and hard to understand by anyone but me. So I'll just leave it at that: I had reasons, and they saw me Southeast, eventually to Florida.

I can sum up this trip pretty easily, despite it being nearly two weeks of reasonably intensive travel: I drove, and I slept in The Horny Manta Ray (as well as ate there, and did many other things for which no minivan was designed for), and did lots of yoga. And, I enjoyed every darn minute of it. Because I went nowhere that would be considered notable by anyone but myself, I won't elaborate on where I went. Instead, I'll just do another lazy summation: I stopped at many Anytime Fitness locations, and many coffee shops, and many gas stations, with a couple cheap non-van lodgings thrown in the mix, all located within the somewhat gun-shaped SC-GA-AL-FL geographical cluster.

As for pictures, I was at the absolute bottom of my game, forgetting to snap shots of my yoga-spots even more often than previous jaunts. Here are the ones I remembered to take, in no particular order other than date and trajectory:

Underwhelming to the outside observer? Yes (and, admittedly, even for yours truly, from time to time). But, all the same, I cherished this weird, stunted trip, no less than if it had succeeded in its cross-country aspirations (or, for that matter, if it had been to the Moon and back). The travel was perfect, and I loved it, and am eternally grateful for the experience.


Monday, October 31, 2016

10/29/16: Florence -- South Carolina, Not Italy

Or, not Italy yet. I'd like to yoga it up in the Italian counterpart one day.

I had some business in Florence, SC, and so I spent the day there, my first time in the place -- a pleasant little escapade, as it were. I drove around. I bought some things. I saw the sights. I met some folks. It was a good day, and when it was through, I retired to a new (to me) Anytime Fitness location, for a workout and some yoga, and some van-camping in its parking lot.

A short trip, but a good one. I loved it (or, rather, love it). Thanks for some memories, Florence. Maybe I'll be back sometime.

Monday, October 17, 2016

10/6-7/16: North Again (Again (Again (Again))) ...

I went North again.

Yep, same destination, same route, same old dance. I dodged Hurricane Matthew, this trip did accomplish that; but it was the only difference from my past migrations.

So I won't post any pictures, or even elaborate any further. Just: North. That is all.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

9/20-23/16: The New Yorker

New York came calling (again), and I answered.

It was the coolest thing: from out of nowhere, I started seeing New York, all over the place. On the radio, on T-shirts, in random books and on signs -- often times back-to-back, such as hearing "New York" in a song precisely as, say, a car with a NY Giants bumper sticker cut me off. I even felt New York; on my last visit, I'd been left with a certain, all-over "imprint" of the city, a keenly-felt "energy," and, suddenly, in the middle of September, I was feeling this distinctive "groove," coinciding with the onslaught of NY mentions in my daily life.

I knew I had to go back, and so I did.

However, this time was a bit different: instead of staying in a Times Square high-rise hotel, the only room I could get within my window of opportunity was a Brooklyn hostel. And, what a difference. It was still New York, certainly, that much was for sure; but Brooklyn is a whole other ballgame than Manhattan, especially in the Bushwick neighborhood that housed my "hostel." Note the quotations, because this "hostel" turned out to be, rather, just a simple townhouse in an unfriendly neighborhood. I'll refrain from elaborating on the shortcomings of my lodgings; instead, I'll just say that it was a roof over my head, and I had a toilet and running water and some peace and quiet, and I was not robbed, stabbed, shot, or otherwise physically violated. Also: the hostel proved to have a private, serene little backyard, for which my room had exclusive access (neither of which were advertised when I made the booking, ironically).

And it was there that I commenced my yoga for my latest NY escapade, using a towel for a mat, among some nameless plants and a peaceful, unidentified tree. Gentle wind blowing, ethnic chatterings from the surrounding homes, a keen sense of distance from the surrounding metropolis. Lovely.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

8/19-26/16: North Once More

Super-short-blog-post -- go!

North again. Van-camping. Family. Couple Anytime Fitnesses. Forgot a couple pics. Yoga. Survived.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

8/13/16: To the Beach, with Dean the Trash Bin

I made it to the beach again, refusing to yoga on my living-room floor for the bajillionth time.

It was nothing special ... or it was absolutely special, depending on how you look at it (in an "everything's a miracle" kind of way). In any case, it was markedly different than my last beach-yoga, some days previous, in a negative sense. I had to drag myself out there this time, for one; and then, the yoga just failed at achieving the magic of my last visit, as mysteriously as the magic was there previously. Eh. Oh well. I shrug at this; my yoga was yoga, and I'm okay with it.

And, yes, that trash bin kept me company all the while. I named it Dean (just now, writing this, I bestowed it this name). Thanks for the companionship, Dean, if you can hear me.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

7/26/16: Back to the Beach

Time to break the chain of "travel-yoga" posts that have dominated this blog for some time now, with one of a "just plain yoga"-type -- back to this blog's "roots," if intangible objects can have such things.

Yes, technically I've been "back" to the SC coast for the past year, off and on. However, my recent yoga here has been confined to my lodgings, which is a world apart from being performed on the actual beach -- like I used to do nearly every morning, but from which I'd fallen dangerously out of habit.

But not the morning of the 26th. Then, spontaneously, I went back, Schwarzenegger-style.

And thus was the panorama awaiting me. Tourist-filled, highly warm, and a bit more humid than I'd like -- but no less wonderful for it. For whatever reason, this session was particularly magical. Maybe it was just my frame of mind, with my long-time absence making me that much fonder of the beachfront; maybe it was the negative ions that are reportedly given off by seawater. Regardless, my yoga was something like transcendent, the kind that leaves a good psychic taste in one's figurative mouth.

In a word: marvelous. Thanks, God.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

7/23-24/16: Another Quickie

I'm so capricious these days, and this is becoming evident in my travel habits.

Case in point: my spur-of-the-moment decision to pack up and take another little excursion, from the 22nd to the 24th, just cruising about the Carolinas again. Maybe it's the utter convenience (and economy) of the van-camping thing. I don't know, but I like it. Love it, perhaps.

And where else would I camp and, thus, do my yoga? Why, two Anytime Fitnesses, of course.

The first, in eastern NC, for your viewing pleasure:

And now, before you've recovered from that mind-blowing eyeful:

You might recognize the second one, because it's a re-post from earlier in the month when I camped at the same place, because I once more forgot to snap a memento-picture before jetting off (or, rather, I snapped one but it failed to upload or something, I don't know).

And from there, it was back to the beach, finishing yet another whirlwind few days of driving and sightseeing and exploration. Another wondrous and priceless experience, to join my others -- and all for the price of gas.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

7/15-16/16: A Quickie

After a week or so of being a beach bum, I got hot feet for travel again, and so the yogi was off -- though not for quite as long as planned.

Long story short: this one began as a long, regional trip through Florida and Alabama and who-knows-where, but, due to unexpected circumstances that I learned of only after departing, turned into a brief little caprice through the wilds of the South Carolina low country.

First yoga-stop: a pleasant Anytime Fitness in the south of Charleston.

With the Horny Manta Ray parked peacefully beneath a nice shade tree in the otherwise-concrete shopping plaza, I overnighted there (a sweltering, muggy night, contrasting the urbanly idyllic surroundings), then made use of the facilities for yoga the next morning. Success (albeit a repetitive, rather non-adventurous one)!

For all of the first stop's relative comfort and ease, the second was altogether different: a Wal-Mart parking lot.

It was a "going back to my roots," of sorts, since I had none of the amenities provided by my cherished gyms (not that a Wal-Mart bathroom isn't so un-luxurious; it just doesn't have a shower, or a lock on the door). Plus, this particular Wal-Mart was a totally unplanned stop, in a far-flung corner of the state, reached after a Thelma and Louise-style "pick a road and just drive." The night itself was far cooler than that previous, but only because there was a brutal thunderstorm (which, as it were, proved to be a magical experience as I camped in my van, eating and reading while inches of rain fell and fractal lightning tore through the horizon, even knocking out the Wal-Mart's power a couple times so that there were rare periods of absolute blackness -- fun fun fun). Thankfully, the next morning it had cleared off completely, such that I was able to yoga in the welcoming strip of greenbelt that circled the premises.

This yoga was, actually, a bit extraordinary, from a sheer "beautiful nature" standpoint (and, I suppose, due to my turning the heads of more than a few early-morning Wal-Mart shoppers). Though the angular hulk of the Wal-Mart loomed behind me, I was facing the other way, and so I saw this the whole time:

Groovy. Yum-yum.

And then, due to the aforementioned beyond-control circumstances, I returned once again to the SC beach, just hours away. Brief and domestic as the trip was, it proved to scratch my travel itch, and quite thoroughly as it were. I cherish the experience no less than my others, for all its brevity.

Monday, July 11, 2016

7/4-8/16: Like a Rolling Stone

You might think that, after my traveling crosscountry (in a Horny Manta Ray, no less), even a wandering yogi might settle down and rest for a while.

Not this yogi.

Okay, so I didn't turn right around and re-cross the country, for this trip was only a little business/pleasure digression between the two Carolinas, spanning a short distance in a relatively long time (several hundred miles over the course of five days). And, I did technically rest for a spell before heading back onto the road. But, still: I did wander, and sooner than might be expected, given my little marathon of yester-week.

I wandered, and yoga'd.

First yoga-spot: the top of Mt. Everest. (Rimshot) Actual first yoga-spot: the Raleigh/Durham Triangle, and another Anytime Fitness, my partner in crime these days (whatever bizarre type of crime I'm committing, that is). Yeah, really: I'm reporting more uneventful yoga in another uninteresting place (or, at least, uninteresting to most inhabitants of USA, Planet Earth). But then, that's sort of become the ethos of this blog: repetitive, uninspired, non-wowing. Dare I say, even, that this is my blog's appeal?!?

Well, keeping with that theme, I forgot even to snap a picture of my uninteresting yoga-place. And this time, I won't even provide a cute little Photoshopped substitute. (Again, to be fair: my overnight at this gym was interesting for me, as to be distracting enough to make me once more neglect my one, simple obligation to this blog. So sue me, eh?)

As for the next stop, however, I do have a picture -- though this one, too, is of an Anytime Fitness storefront, also from the Triangle area (just a different corner of it, where I washed up after some more wandering). And, once again: there's much to say about my stay at this gym ... but only if you're me. To anyone else, my delightful overnight adventure would just come off as "blah blah blah" and the like, the way adults sounded to Charlie Brown and co. So I'll spare you all but the picture, which I somehow remembered (though that's about all that can be said for it).

So, moving along the timeline of my trip: the next day, 7/6, was spent at yet another Anytime Fitness (and it wasn't even that far from the last, still in mid-North Carolina -- there are just that many in the area, as it were). That's #3 for this trip, if you've lost track (or, you just really get off on keeping tabs on such figures). Did I face peril, adversity, and certain death during my overnight at this one? No; just yoga and dinner and a good hot shower (and a comfy couch to do my computer work on). Nor did I undertake the unspeakable chore of taking a picture. (That's omitted picture #2 so far, for you tabs-keeping freaks.)

Now, for the fourth night of this strange little escapade, some change: on 7/7, I did my van-camping thing in ... an office-complex parking lot! (Dun-dun-duh!!!) Note that I said "some change," not "exciting change." And, as if this one couldn't be less notable: it wasn't even a new parking lot, but one I'd stayed at before, when visiting a doctor who's a tenant there. But all is well, my dear reader, because I'll make up for it all with a picture. Prepare for an eye-feast.

Did that bad boy fill you up, eye-wise? I hope so, because the fifth and final night of my outing went unpictured, also. Not that it really matters so much, for the night was spent at a family-owned spot in the NC mountains, which I've pictured here too much already.

So. There's my latest trip. For all the flatness it assumes when written down, I had a ridiculously good time, and wouldn't trade the experience for the world (and I am not being the least bit sarcastic here). As for you, make of it what you will; I won't try and inject interest into this post by elaborating (plus, my fingers are refusing to type "Anytime Fitness" anymore.)

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Crosscountry in a Horny Manta Ray (Or, How I Made Up for a Year of Stagnant Non-Travel)

Allow me to translate this post's title.

First, the horny manta ray -- or, The Horny Manta Ray (proper noun, since this is probably the only such manta ray you'll encounter today, virile or otherwise). AKA: my travel van, a Mercury Monterey sold by a dealer named Horne.

At first glance, I read the decal as "Horny Manta Ray." So, of course from then on it was impossible for me to know the van as anything else. Perception is a dubious thing.

As for the "crosscountry," that's a little simpler: for two weeks in June, I embarked on a crosscountry road trip (in my HMR -- call it the Hummer for short).

The trip was, for me at least, hugely ambitious, with my several health handicaps, plus several other unique logistical challenges I won't waste time listing. In a nut, to drive such a distance in itself was daunting beyond words, but then to do so in the fashion I imagined, strictly as a van-dweller, without the luxury of hotels or other third-party lodgings ... well, I was indeed daunted. But I knew I had to go, if only to make penance for my winter of stagnant lounging-around and private, indoor, non-adventurous yoga.

So I went, and I survived, and I loved every single minute of it.

Here, I'll again summarize, both for reasons of space and because it's just impossible to squeeze the enormity of such an experience into mere words. Starting in coastal South Carolina, I went West (insert obligatory "young man" quote here), and, moving in a big SW-to-NE loop, I eventually rounded New Mexico, went back through the Great Plains and the Ozarks, before eventually returning to the terra firma of the Carolinas. And, as mentioned earlier, I did so as a van bum, sleeping in a mattress in the back, mainly in parking lots of the nationwide gym chain with which I claim membership. Yes, I made liberal use of the gyms, hygiene-wise, so my van-dwelling wasn't nearly so austere as it might sound, with my having hot showers and the like (and, of course, a place to workout). Really, I was quite comfortable in this regard; throughout the trip, I wanted for nothing.

Thus, the gist of my trip was as such: drive for most of the day, then stop at the next conveniently located gym. Repeat.

And, also: yoga. At these gyms. Every day.

So, to recap thus far: Horny Manta Ray + accumulated travel-yen + lots of gyms and interstate driving and yoga = my crosscountry trip.

* * *

Now: the yoga reports, per this site's ultra-official format. That is: a bunch of gym pictures and other sub-awesome fare, all of them uncreative, perfunctory phone pictures.

Day 1: Western South Carolina

The grand departure for my voyage -- several hours later than planned, and after receiving a somewhat travel-unfriendly shoulder injury during a last-minute workout, but I did indeed depart. Leaving so late, I only had it in me to drive a couple hours west, where I gym'ed for the night and then yoga'd in the morning.

And would you believe that my first day out, I forgot to take a picture? (Hey, cut me some slack: it was hard to get away, and my shoulder was pretty screwed up.) So here's a filler picture (I'm the smiling yellow character in the Horny Manta Ray's window, if you didn't know).

Day 2: Georgia and Alabama

I covered some miles this day, in a crazed day-long interstate blitz through Georgia, by way of Atlanta. By dinnertime, I'd washed up at the edge of Birmingham, AL, where I located a new gym, showered, and then retired for the evening -- this time with the picture to prove it!!!

Day 3: Mississippi and Tennessee

Another day of interstate tourism (from now on, just assume I spent the day on the interstate), taking in wonderful Mississippi before laying my gym-stakes in Memphis. I saw the faux-Great Pyramid there, and I enjoyed its splendor, Gander Mountain insignia and all.

Day 4: Arkansas and Oklahoma

I will -- will! -- refrain from all Arkansas-name jokes, and "OK is flat" ones, too. After cruising through the better part of both states (the original, larger version of the picture would reveal the HMR to have begun accumulating bug corpses on the front bumper), I bedded down in Oklahoma City, at the most wonderfully desolate gym yet. (By this time, desolation had become a big draw for me, after hours upon hours of droning highway noise and the constant company of other human-driven cars.)

Day 5: The Texas Panhandle and New Mexico

What a wonderful experience, my first sighting of the mesa. Not only was I struck by its perfectly simple majesty (and in picturesque weather, no less), but its arrival coincided with a much-needed roadside rest stop (everything looks better after a good pee). So memorable was this rest stop and the mesa it sat upon, I took the rare, non-yoga-spot picture -- which proved to be a good thing, since I forgot to snap one of the gym I did ultimately yoga at (something tells me you might prefer it this way, I think).

Days 6-8: New Mexico Layover

Here, my trip changed gears somewhat, with my taking my time through New Mexico. Rather than blow through it like the rest, onward toward California, I decided to stop the "cross" part of my trip, thus lingering in a slow northern trek through NM for three days, which would begin my slow loop back East. I was hesitant to do so, as I felt to be falling short of a proper coast-to-coast trip, but I had a good reason: I wanted to see how I felt in a dry desert region (I've had lifelong allergies while on the east coast, and it's been on my bucket list for awhile to spend some time west and see how I respond). In truth, I don't feel I failed the crosscountry-trip ethos (New Mexico is crosscountry enough, in my book).

And would you believe that, with my relatively long stay in The Land of Enchantment, I forgot to take pictures of my yoga spots (in Albuquerque and Santa Fe and Taos-ish)? I do, however, at least have another substitute, this time of the Rio Grande Gorge (which is, to me, also a substitute for the Grand Canyon, which my curtailed trip deprived me of seeing).

Day 9: The Oklahoma Panhandle and Kansas

Now homeward bound, albeit in a northerly fashion, I cruised through the part of OK I'd missed on the way west, and then through the pleasantly green wastes of Kansas. Though I'll still refrain from flat-jokes, I will allow myself one exclamation of, "Wow, Kansas really is flat." So flat, I had to take another non-yoga picture.

And this time, I remembered my proper, yoga-profile shot (of another Anytime Fitness gym, now one of two locations in Wichita ...).

Days 10 and 11: Missouri

Back through the Ozarks, enough to become fond of them. Here, I slowed down a little, resting in Springfield for a day, rather than blitzing onward as I'd been. It would set the more leisurely pace of the rest of my trip. Hence two pictures, one for each morning of my Springfield layover.

This one is of a little roadside grass-island ... because that's where I yoga'd that day, unable to resist the sun (except for a couple days in New Mexico, I'd been doing quasi-private yoga in the gyms). As it were, this place was beside the gym I'd stayed at (nope, didn't stray too far, though it was far enough to get looks from passersby, surely wondering why a half-naked man was doing yoga along a busy Springfield byroad).

The next day, however, it was back to in-gym yoga -- so, more gym-pic goodness. (A second Anytime Fitness in Springfield, as it were.)

Day 12: Tennessee Part II

I had a little adventure, for this gym -- or, rather, "gym." That evening, after descending from Ozark-y Springfield, then brief pass-throughs of IL and KY, and down into the less-Ozarky tip of northeast Tennessee, a Bing search on my phone led me to my gym for the evening, only a few miles off the freeway and pretty much right on my trajectory -- perfect. Though, having been burned by inaccurate business listings in the past, I didn't yet celebrate. After some road-construction rigmarole getting to the blue dot on my phone's GPS map, I at last arrived, and there was my gym's purple-lettered sign ... but no gym. With much circling of a big business-park parking lot, I found that the "gym" was only a half-empty building bearing some equipment and a roadside sign -- not quite open yet, this one. Thankfully, the same vast parking lot I'd been circling around made a lovely camping spot, and I had no problem with taking a rag-bath instead of a hot shower. (I'd had it too easy for too long, anyway.)

Despite the missing gym, this spot turned out to be rather ideal; a peaceful, dead-quiet little oasis in the middle of the main drag of Clarksville, TN. While eating dinner and then getting ready for bed, I was even treated to an unexpected procession of bicyclists, approximately a dozen in number, which coasted past my camp several times (some kind of a nocturnal-riding club, perhaps?). So, pictured here is the lot with the phantom gym, where I camped and then, the next morning, yoga'd.

Day 13: The Rest of Tennessee

Day #13 was another freeway blitz, this time working through Nashville (which I ghosted through so transparently, I saw not a single hint of country music-ness), then Knoxville, where I overnighted at another gym, in the quaint Knoxvillian suburb of Farragut. Not much to say about this one. I remembered a picture, at least.

Day 14: Hot Springs, NC

After doing Knoxville (or one of its gyms, rather), I arrived at a wonderful destination I've come to adore: Hot Springs, NC, home of [drumroll] a famous, medicinal hot spring. When it comes to my romance with this charming one-stoplight town nestled alongside the French Broad River, I'll again summarize: besides being a generally enjoyable place to visit, the eponymous hot springs are, for me at least, every bit as invigorating and therapeutic as has been claimed. I overnighted there, enough for two soaks in the springs, and I left feeling like a million bucks -- notable in itself, but doubly so considering I'd just been on a physically punishing road-schedule for the last two weeks. Really, my stay in Hot Springs was nothing less than a shot in the arm, and I'd recommend the springs to anyone.

So soothing was my layover in the town, I forgot to take a picture of my home for the night. Please, don't cry. There're more coming. Promise.

Day 15: Asheville, NC

Next came Asheville, which, while not quite a NYC-like metropolis, certainly felt like one after my stay in the comparatively microscopic Hot Springs. There, it was back to gym land, where I took what is probably the overall least-satisfying picture of the lot, even for me. Behold, mediocre web-content made flesh!

Days 16-18: Home for Fathers Day

Okay, I don't really consider my NC hometown "home" anymore, with my being such a wanderer these days. Nor did I make it there for Fathers Day, instead landing a couple days late. But, in any case, I was in that neck of the woods, and so I dropped by for some family-visiting (and, of course, some yoga when I got the chance). That's all I'll say for this one, having tortured this blog with far too many "went North and visited folks" posts already. I didn't get a picture for this one, either, though I think this might've been intentional, due to the aforementioned "done it to death" number of postings.

So. Moving along.

Days 19 and 20: Heading Back South

This could be considered the end of my trip, since I then returned to the well-traveled circuit between North and South Carolina that I've carved out over the years. On the way, I overnighted in one final gym, of which I again somehow managed to neglect to picture (I was pretty road-weary at this point, even after my Hot Springs pick-me-up, so I'll again plead some slack-cutting). This time, however, I did remember my forgetting to remember, the next afternoon, and so I stopped and took a substitute photo, for this express purpose. As it were, I remembered while getting gas at the famed South of the Border attraction in South Carolina, and so it became the subject of my surrogate picture. Enjoy. (And, yes: that is a baboon statue in the lower-left of the frame, under the tree. If there are baboons in Mexico, I didn't know it.)

* * *

And that's my latest trip. For me, with all that was unsaid and unsayable factored in, it was a life-changing experience, to say the least. As for everyone else, make of it what you will. Amen.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

5/29/16-6/3/16: North!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So ... another trip north, again to catch up with the folks. Except, this one was special -- super special, in fact, for it marked my return to being a van-dwelling road-warrior extra-awesome nomad.

First stop: a gym along the way.

On the surface, this yoga-spot wouldn't seem like much, just a layover in the parking lot of the nearest location of my gym chain when I was ready to stop for the night. Though, note that laying over in a parking lot requires a layover-mobile, which would be my new-for-me van; and, likewise, it requires the status of van-dwelling nomad, of which mine is now officially restored (I have my license and everything). Hence, the super-specialness. And yes, I know this would all be ridiculously easy for most folks (okay, 99.9% of folks), but I'm playing this game with some weird handicaps, and after a lot of unexpected obstacles and disruptions and other rigmarole. So forgive my seemingly misplaced excitement.

There, I stayed, without incident, thus christening my minivan as a bona fide extra-awesome road-warrior nomad-mobile. And the next morning, I yoga'd in the facility's comfortable stretch area. Success!

Next stop: the NC mountains.

Not much to say, here. I stayed with the folks awhile (still in the van, but now a bit less nomadic, with the promise of a parking space every night), and for the few days of my visit, I yoga'd to idyllic scenes similar to that captured above. Once again: success (albeit of a highly mundane kind).

I overnighted at another parking space on the way back south, in Winston-Salem, NC, but alas: circumstances and time constraints forbade my yoga'ing there, not even a single, photo-allowing asana. So, no picture, because I hold to my own rules, even when it means depriving my huge numbers of steady readers. But that's okay. If you want some Winston-Salem in your mind's eye, just picture a big, spread-out non-metropolis with lots of history and a grid of cleverly named streets.

Okay, so this post is, like most of this blog, deserving of the "it was notable for me" disclaimer. But, well ... it was notable for me. I love my mundane/extraordinary travels. I love my life.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

4/23 and 4/26/16: More Hotels

I went up north to see family ... again. And stayed in two more hotels ... again. And did some routine, shut-in yoga in said hotels ... again.

So, to make things interesting, I graffiti'd the two hotel rooms before leaving.

Okay, the graffiti was just Photoshop'd, if that isn't obvious. But, still ... I traveled, and I yoga'd, both of which feel like enormous triumphs, these days.

In that sense, I am pleased.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

4/13-16/16: Taking It Up a Notch

So, my yoga has gone up a notch -- maybe just one notch, but a notch nonetheless.

It started with yet another, routine family-visiting trip from SC to NC.

No, you aren't seeing double; I really did just do a family-visit post (after a scattered succession of such, each more lackluster than the last). And, likewise, this one isn't too interesting to anyone but myself (until I get hideously famous and people begin buying my underwear and writing unofficial biographies of me, anyway). But, this particular trip did accomplish one thing of interest to this blog: I did yoga in public, for the first time in ... too long. (Note that I did say "of interest to this blog," by the way; not "of interest" in general.)

But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself. That picture there, Exhibit A? That's just the motel room I lodged in on the way up north, and my yoga there was totally hermetic, like the rest of my post-last-summer sessions. So, after you finish admiring my trunk of foodstuffs, let's move along.

Don't laugh (well, no, feel free to laugh), but the finger invading the picture was not intentional. I only saw it after the fact, and that picture was the only one I took, so there. Anyway, pictured is the SC gym where I -- gasp! -- did yoga in its stretch room. No, my public yoga wasn't even outside and in a conspicuous public space, but in the semi-private space of a gym. Still, it felt a bit daring for me, in the sense of "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." (As the more perceptive of this blog's readers might have inferred, my "retirement" from audacious public yoga last year was due to some serious health problems that I won't elaborate on. I mention this only to explain how doing some yoga stretches in a semi-public area can be at all noteworthy, to anyone, on even a personal level. For me, the gym-yoga was akin to taking the first steps after being bedridden from crippling injury.)

Note the van in the foreground, which is (was?) the ill-fated successor to the RV I vagabonded around in last summer. Ill-fated because, a few hours after this ridiculous picture was taken, the van broke down, seemingly for good if the violence of its breakdown was any indicator. So, in light of that, I guess this post has two (count 'em, two) nuggets of semi-interest: first, my return to public yoga (sort of), and, second, a memorial of my maybe-deceased Dodge van. Alas, we barely knew ye.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

3/25-4/1: Another Northern Trek, Another Hotel

I went North again, to visit the family for Easter.

I should start by stating, right off the bat, that this post is gonna be even more boring than whichever previous one holds the record, for this trip was, besides being one I've documented here multiple times, almost entirely uneventful (or, at least, without any non-personal, blog-friendly events). On the way up North, I overnighted in a hotel, and -- gasp! -- I yoga'd there. And, once safely in North Carolina, I yoga'd there too!!! Can you believe it?! Me either.

So, yes: I went from a totally random, capricious, spur-of-the-moment thrill-ride trip up to NYC ... to a routine back-and-forth from SC to NC (and, probably, the most-routine one of all thus far). But ... it was travel (and while Out There, with Spring in the air, I felt stirrings of last year's summertime nomad'ing around, and its more-adventurous, non-hermit yoga ...).

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

3/18-21/16: A Yogi in New York

I spent last weekend in New York City.

That Thursday evening, I was struck with the express desire to visit NYC (for the first time). I tried to come up with a reason to justify such an excursion and its expense, and failed beyond "Just because"; however, I came up equally at a loss for a reason not to go. And so NYC it was. I was on a plane the next afternoon (on a free-ish ticket, "bought" with saved-up frequent-flyer miles).

Not much to say about my NYC caprice, really. Despite the relatively exotic locale (you would see Times Square just outside my hotel window, were the snapshot not so despairingly bad), my trip, and its attendant yoga (again performed hermetically in my high-rise room), was pretty routine. I ate food from a reasonably priced market. I walked miles over the crazed streets, and was not so much as harassed (though I had my mugger's wallet handy, not so much out of fear but just to use the darn thing for once). I took a sightseeing tour over Manhattan, and indulged in much people-watching. I left intact, and quite contented with my trip (as well as well-stretched, not having fallen behind on my yoga).

Uninteresting? Perhaps, to the outside observer. Worth blogging about? Well ... for me it is.

Monday, March 14, 2016

3/7-11/16: Hotel Tour

Last Sunday afternoon, I surprised myself with an odd road trip.

The surprise: that I was taking a trip at all, totally unplanned as of that morning. The oddity: that I had nowhere to go. Upon departing the beach, I literally just drove west, "go West, young man"-style. From there, things only got odder, when I was equally compelled to stay in an unfamiliar and unnotable town in the middle of the South Carolina swamp lands.

Enter hotel-yoga #1, a Traveler's Inn and Suites (my first TIaS, as it were):

And still this spontaneous trip grew odder, when I decided, on yet another uncharacteristic caprice, to drive a few hundred miles north, to NC, where I would pay a surprise visit to some family. I took my time, however, and so on the way there, I laid over in hotel #2, a Super 8 on the non-luxurious outskirts of Charlotte:

Here, I have something of a confession to make: my yoga at the Super 8 was ... minimal. That is, I had time only for a single (albeit important) asana, due to the unrelenting loom of the 11 o'clock checkout -- ironic, given the highly yoga-y lotus picture commanding the room. But, unquestionably, yoga did occur in this place, hence I am legally entitled to include the picture (just you try and stop me!).

Next up, I returned to my favorite "visiting family in NC hometown" layover spot: a wonderful (and curiously cheap) Sleep Inn, which the huge crowd of this blog's regular and rabid followers will recognize from past snapshots (all of the hotel's king suites are, apparently, identical):

Unlike my last two stops, I hung around the Sleep Inn for two nights; and, unlike the Super 8, I got to genuinely yoga there (and quite extensively, as if making up for my non-session).

And, last but not least, hotel #4 -- well, actually, this one was the least, being a mere motel, and of somewhat lesser quality than my prior lodgings. Nestled in a small, name-place SC town that just happened to appear along the freeway when I was ready to retire for the evening on my return trip south, this last layover was a sixties-era brick ranch-style affair, a rather different animal than the handsome, earth-toned structures I'd been staying in. The less-appreciated might've called it a "dive"; and, I must admit, when I entered the room and was smacked with the reek of spilled whiskey, and then found the shower stall pocked with cigarette burns, my optimism did fade somewhat. But, nonetheless, the room was functional enough, and bug-free, and the motel proved to be serenely quiet. In the end, I was even rescued from the whiskey smell, for I just happened to have with me an oil diffuser and a fresh bottle of orange-blend essential oil (thanks to a complicated and ironic series of suspicious coincidences that some might have attributed to exaggeration or divinity).

So, there, amidst the small-town silence and the friendly odor of orange, I yoga'd. After that, it was back to the beach. Amen.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

2/18-20/16: Doing the Charleston ... Again

Yep, again: a doctor-visit trip to historical Charleston, SC (and, again, after a stretch of totally unmentionable shut-in marsh-side yoga).

First up: a studio apartment (photographed only inside, as to keep with the blog's poor-picture theme).

The initial two nights of this escapade, I stayed in a wonderful little AirBnB bungalow in the middle of the city (hotels are cool, but I like to switch things up every now and then). I found the cozy backyard apartment endearing from the get-go, but that went double after my first yoga there, when I realized just how secluded and quiet the property was. Once again, I felt to be anywhere but the heart of a beastly city (yet I was, minutes from about anything I could need or want; talk about having your cake and eating it too). The place had a prominent chemical odor, thanks to its in-apartment washer and dryer, but this failed at ruining the stay for me. At the end of my two days there, I left only hesitantly.

 Next, a Holiday Inn.

Okay, so my third night, in this hotel ... Yoga-wise, it was pretty routine: I did it, and it was good, God in his Heaven, etc. As for the hotel itself, however, it started on a disturbing note.

The Holiday Inn in question was sandwiched between two other, less-handsome hotels, and when I pulled into the parking lot, a police cruiser appeared beside me. The next thing I knew, two officers were informing me that they'd seen me driving around (in my conpsicuously expensive rental car, a Nissan 370z that I'd been upgraded to when no economy models were available), and that the hotel I was parked at was "okay," but that the police "had a lot of problems" at the two on either side of it, so I'd be best off staying here at this one, in such a criminally attractive car. I thanked the officers and we parted ways, but soon afterward, as I stood within spitting distance of the two "problematic" (read: cheap and crime-ridden) hotels, my thankfulness turned to alarm: a sports-car thief wouldn't discriminate between the parking lot of the uppity Holiday Inn and those of its seedy siblings, each of them being un-fenced and open to one another. I considered leaving altogether ... but I needed a hotel, and these were the only ones for miles. (The next morning, the car was still there, unmolested.)

And now I'm rambling. My awkward little anecdote is the closest thing to some interesting substance, I suppose.