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.