Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Whirlwind Trip to the East Coast of America

10 Days on the East Coast by Train...

The Mingus Mill near Bryson City NC
Earlier this month I spent 10 days on the east coast of the USA starting from Charlotte North Carolina going through Washington DC and ending up in Boston and Western Massachusetts. I flew in from Denver Colorado where I've been the last couple of months then took the train up with a friend. We rented a car in Boston and drove to the Kripalu Yoga Center in the Berkshires where we were both enrolled in an amazing workshop by Stephen Cope. The subject was from his book the Great Story of Your Life (which I highly recommend reading) and concerns finding and living your own Dharma. More on that later...

Train Engine at the Station in Boston
The Amtrak Cars We Were Traveling on at the Boston Station

Boston Station Exterior at Night
We traveled Coach and found the seats comfy but the train packed to the gunwales. Lots of reading and peering out the windows as you might expect on a train. It's a more leisurely way of going from place to place as you might expect and although Amtrak does a great job overall, my personal feeling was that it lacked something I really really love in train travel around Europe and other places. For example, I love the train down the west coast of the USA and in the Rockies, but just seemed to miss something on this trip. The train stopped at every single place larger than a deck of cards it seemed so maybe that was it. Not sure, but it was far from unpleasant.

We had a layover of 5 hours in Washington DC and took full advantage to hoof it around town since I had never been there before. Just walking the length of the National Mall staggered my with its sheer  size. You walk for what seems like 43 weeks and the National Monument (555 feet high) just never seems to get any closer now matter how long you walk. We did eventually get there and saw many other things like the Lincoln Memorial but unfortunately our timing was off so also missed other attractions such as the Smithsonian. A return trip is definitely in order!!
Me with the Capitol behind

Me at the Lincoln Memorial

Capitol

On the National Mall. If You've read James Rollins Novels this should look familiar...

Dell at the DC Train Station

At the Lincoln Memorial with the National Monument in the background
Turtle Ride Merry-Go-Round in Boston

National Monument with the sun going down fast. Still very very hot...

After DC we got back on the train and headed for Boston. The train took all night and we both spent a pretty cramped and disturbed attempted sleep, but survived and arrived in Boston first thing in the morning. As soon as the car rental place opened we filled out the paperwork and proceeded to tear off down the road to Kripalu.... or not...

I had arranged to rent a sub-compact, but the car they gave us was a Prius. We plopped in the front seats and then discovered we had no idea how it worked, how to turn it on, whether it was even running etc, etc. Dandy... So we call the rental guy back up (we're on the 8th floor of a parking garage) and get "The Lesson". A couple of Noobs indeed. Long story short, we spent about 2 and half hours along with 5 trillion dollars in toll fees down the Massachusetts Turnpike (small exaggeration of course) and finally get to Kripalu. The area is beautiful and the little town (name??) you go through right after exiting the MA Turnpike is flippin' adorable. Something out of a Rockwell painting.


The Kripalu Yoga Center is large, well appointed and busy. The workshop we were in had about 50 people and it was just amazing. I loved that yoga sessions were part of the curriculum and you could pick the level of challenge you wanted for each one. They supplied the food and it was simply incredible!! Huge buffet of super healthy, super tasty fare. I think if I was there for long, I'd end up weighing several tons and have my own waterline, anchors and smokestacks haha... The three days was phenomenal and I really dialed in some nagging questions and answers about my own Dharma and journey. Sometimes getting a little objective perspective from someone like Stephen Cope along with other participants is just the thing you need. I think we both came away so much stronger and with better understanding of ourselves and our paths in this life. I know it affirmed and focused some critical issues for me.

After Kripalu, we journeyed back the way we came and continued on to Dell's sweet little cabin outside Bryson City NC. I was blown away by the beauty of this area in the Great Smoky Mountains of the Appalachia. I didn't know quite what to expect, but it really bowled me over. The people were fantastic, friendly and welcoming. If you ever get there, don't feel obliged to try the "Boiled Peanuts" but beware if you do. The "small bag" I bought at a roadside shack was about the size of a weekly plastic trash bag and I'm sure weighed about 45 pounds (okay more exaggeration but it was huge). I ate 3.. peanuts that is. Not keen on a soggy mushy peanut in a soggy mushy waterlogged shell. An acquired taste I guess lol. Otherwise the food there was wonderful.
The Great Smoky Mountain Railroad
Dell is working on a long documentary film project with the Eastern Cherokee Tribe so we got to spend some time in the museum and touring the area. They did an outstanding job with the museum and I learned a ton about their history - especially the Trail of Tears. Just heartbreaking, but also an incredible story of survival. I can't wait to see what she does with this incredible story. She's an amazingly talented filmmaker, storyteller and creative.




So that is it in a nutshell. Outside of several trips to New York over the years and maybe Louisiana and New Orleans, I really hadn't been to the east coast of America before. There is so much to see and experience there and so much diversity of course. This was a short but powerful trip for me and ultimately I think it was mostly about falling in love again. So much so that I have decided to move there even though I thought I would stay in the Denver/Boulder area for a  good long while. I leave in about a week. Stay tuned for more adventures...