Excitement at Byron

slaDE with Tall Guy and Byron fellow jumpersslaDE~s chariot arrives, delivering him safe and soundTwo days at the Yoga Journal conference wa enough for me and hubby, so we decided to spend the day with Tall Guy, skydiving at Byron if the weather was favourable. Not an easy call to make on whether to drive out there, as the fog seems to be a steady companion to the area, and lifts on a whim, with no clear patterns predicted by the Wx-man. Taking the leap (literally) we made our way out to where our Airstream was parked during our San Fran visitation, and attempted to make as many skydives as possible. slaDE~ being the braver of us two, decided to check out the DZ and serve as the first load ‘wind drift indicator’. Much to my chagrin, he opted for a more exciting venture. He ended up with a Vigil fire (his automatic activation device initiated his reserve deployment whilst his main canopy was fully functional and flying. Never a good scenario to have two canopies out; however, slaDE~ successfully landed safely off the airport, disgruntled by the surprise actuation of  his AAD. I have a Cypres 2, recently purchased, that has a better track record of sequencing properly and at the correct altitudes. The Vigil doesn’t have the same thorough reputation as the Cypres, and slaDE~ has decided to switch to an Argus. I’m grateful that he will jump with such a device after this being his second unexpected firing. Read the quote below from How Stuff Works to appreciate the importance of a skydiver using an AAD. I won’t jump without one, the wiser and older I get.

Automatic Activation Device

There’s not a lot of room for error in skydiving. Let’s say that one of the following three things happens during a skydive:

  1. You lose consciousness as you are exiting the plane or falling.
  2. You lose track of your altitude because you get distracted.
  3. Something completely unexpected happens — maybe an airplane or a second skydiver flies too close to you and either damages your equipment or makes you unstable.

In any of these situations, you may be unable to deploy your parachute yourself, and you need some help. An AAD (automatic activation device) is a small computer that constantly monitors the altitude and activates the reserve chute for you.

Catching a lift with the local trooperEver the trooper and adventurer, slaDE~ made 3 more jumps (on borrowed gear … thanks Troy!) that day, one of which I also participated in, giving my knee a test run (or should I say slide?). First jump since my injury and probably my last for the next few weeks, ever-cautious, listening to the pain that still strongly emanates through my entire knee cap. So much for kneeling postures in yoga and meditation :).

Oh, and by the way, a tremendous way to end off a day of excitement is with screamingly delicious Mexican food chased with yummy Margaritas! Try La Pinata in Alameda for a real treat!

La Piñata Margarita

  1. 2 oz 100% Blue agave Tequila
  2. 4 1/2 oz. La Piñata Margarita Mix
  3. 1 cup of ice
  4. Squeeze a fresh lime wedge
  5. Shake and serve on the rocks

Combine all ingredients in a pitcher and stir well. Serve chilled in shot glasses as a chaser alongside room-temperature tequila.

The Yoga Journal Conference, Day 2

Carrie's first yogaFLIGHTDance tranceNo expectations, that’s how we roll. And because of it, Day 2 of the Yoga Journal Conference here in San Francisco was full of surprises and delights! We languished over a restful productive morning, catching up on laundry, emails and facebook posting (truly, a full-time job!). With a luncheon date set to meet Mary-Jo and Katie, we made our way down to Pier 39 and enjoyed a lovely, albeit quick, lunch with our favourite Canadian yogis before spending the afternoon fashioning plans for a Lululemon workshop in Beverly Hills with the west coast Lululemon team. We also networked with other fabulous friends. Carrie from CJFlow and the neat yoga concept Three Minute Egg plus the girls from Fila were thrilled with our adventures on the road and shared in the joys of yogaFLIGHT. It’s meeting the terrific and generous people along our path that makes the journey so worthwhile and exciting. A special shout out to Kevin for his most auspicious hospitality.

Hula glowSpontaneously, we decided to attend the Saturday Night Dance Trance partyIgnite Your Passion‘, with Donna De Lory, MC Yogi, Shiva Rea and DJ Dragonfly. It was AMAZING. The energy carried through the whole evening, from one fabulous artist to another. I’d never heard of Donna De Lory until this evening. Turns out, she was Madonna’s backup singer for quite a few of her concert tours. That woman has talent!! And dance we did. Three hours of eclectic beats and dancing until our spirits soared into stillness.

The Yoga Journal Conference, San Fran style

Chinatown dolphinsYoga Journal Conference at the HyattI was tickled pink at the thought of showing my husband one of my favourite world cities …. San Francisco is such a treat to behold. Can’t stop grinning at the environmentally forwardness of this metropolis. Composting, recycling, enviro green awareness. I live for this kind of earth friendly welcoming when arriving in a new city. Perhaps this is why I feel so at home in California (northern, to be specific)?  After figuring out the parking situation (we resorted to parking at the Oakland airport for the duration of our stay …. who needs a vehicle when public transit rocks?), we weaved and meandered our way down to the Hyatt Regency: home of the 2010 Yoga Journal Conference here in San Fran. The are 4 YJ conferences this year. We hope to hit at least 2 in 2010, the next one being in Boston this April. Fingers crossed that we make it as volunteers. That’s the intention.

We arrived at the Hotel early, with the hopes of: 1) checking in re volunteer status, to see if any more bodies were needed last minute, and 2) registering for Jenny and Jason‘s acro yoga workshop (limited space was open to the public last minute), which unfortunately for our sake, turned out to be full. At least we’d show up for the free AcroYogis interactive lunch time demos, and learn whatever tidbits we could absorb from the ‘masters’.  This left us with a free morning until the lunch time freebies. So wander around we did, checking out Chinatown and the local Lululemon store. Promotion, promotion, promotion! Chinatown, California style

slaDE~ flying Tyler Blank, acro yogi extraordinaireAfter absorbing the acro yoga flight experience during the lunch time rush (and with both of us being flown by acro yoga certified instructors), we wandered around the Yoga Marketplace, looking for interesting leads and experiences. Whilst I was filling out a ballot form for a free yoga draw, much to my delight and surprise, I ran into our yoga mentor Mary-Jo Fetterly’s daughter. As it so happened, MJ was there at the conference!!!! What an amazing reunion! Not knowing that we would cross paths in California, we spent some time between workshops to catch up, with a promise to meet for a meal before their departure on Sunday. This encounter made our whole conference all the more worthwhile. After meeting many wonderful people and flying a whole bunch of the Lululemon girls, we made our way back to Kevin’s via the BART, and enjoyed an evening in of 3D movies, a home-cooked meal and great conversation.

SNOT

Arising early, we got off to one of quickest morning starts yet on this adventure. The fog was dense as pea soup, which made for rather precarious driving as militant drivers grew impatient, with following behind us in the mire, and would pull out dangerously close to oncoming traffic in an attempt to bypass our rather long length. Several head-on collisions were narrowly missed, much to our chagrin. The sweep up Highway 5 to Byron was progressively more and more beautiful and rugged. So many wind turbines! We arrived safely at the DZ and spent a while choosing our ‘landing area’. Special thanks to Vic for allowing us to drop our trailer whilst we spent time in the city. Such an interesting phenomenon, finding a residence for our home when touring without abode on our adventures. I am VERY grateful to not bring our 35 foot bullet in to the city where the streets are always busy, extremely narrow and dizzyingly STEEP.

SNOT members

Tall GuyWe then made our way in to Oakland, where a good friend from Lost Prairie offered to put us up during our Yoga Journal conference. What a guy — aka Tall Guy! Not only was he the ultimate host, Kevin organized an evening out with local skydivers — aka SNOT (Skydivers Night Out Thursday). Fun was had by all. New friends were made and I was tickled to run into Tim Mattson, after so many years! Life is good. 🙂

Lady bug opportunities

Our truck was scheduled to go into the dealership early, and being that we were stationed right across the road at the complimentary Camping World RV slot, a 7am drop-off was a breeze and pleasure, given the circumstances. Hanging out at the dealership for 4 hours whilst our Dodge was being diagnosed and fixed was NOT a problem. Trying to catch up on email, facebook and all my other internet joys was a welcome diversion. In the end, 5 hours later, a faulty throttle sensor was found and replaced, all to the tune of $800+. Ouch …. but very grateful that it wasn’t the turbo which had broken down. Thank goodness for small mercies. That would have been well over $2000 to fix.

Lady bug opportunitiesInstead of racing on to Byron, we decided to spend the afternoon enjoying a little breathing space. We went on the lookout for a truck camper (topper) for our Dodge. A task which has proven to be quite difficult, in that we are looking at 3 different options of colour  — maroon, black or silver — and a standard of condition that is close to new. We just might have to custom order, having missed out on a Canadian possibility from Kijiji back in November. One thing that we’re learning … when a pleasing / wanted opportunity presents itself, JUMP on it. 🙂

My theory: Lady bug opportunities – when you stop for a second, and a moment of beauty and serendipity presents itself, enjoy the flash of brilliance and colour, and fly with the beauty that is bound to unveil before you.

Grapevine troubles

Feeling in an auspicious mood, hubby and I set out on the road early, anxious to make our way through to Northern California, escaping the chaos of Los Angeles. The views of the surrounding mountains were breathtaking, but I could sense the impending stormy weather, The temperature was slowly dropping and rolling clouds were moving in, ready to stand fortress over Southern California. As we made our way north from Santa Clarita, we entered the Angeles National Forest. I could smell the damp mildew of the forest fires from past summer. SO much devastation, and the area remained in drought since then. However, the welcome reprieve of the past month’s rains have mingled with the fallen ash in the mountains, and so follows the smells of the ravaged forests surrounding the southern basin of California.

IMG_2531As we strode up the mountain, shining in glory and strength, we climbed from 1500 to 4100 feet with no issues or worries. However, nearing the crest of the highest peak, the Turbo sighed in release and with a lunge, we lost all power to the truck. Engine lights blazed in glory as the temperatures climbed to an alarming and dangerous temperature. Uh oh. What to do?? Neither slaDE or myself are very savvy on the mechanics of our truck’s engine. So, like our overheating issue on the Mercury Cougar that we had this past summer in Montana’s Glacier National Park, we pulled over to the pitted asphalt shoulder and waited for an hour, hoping the  engine cool down would relieve us of the flashing lights and worries which had crept into our California adventure.  Although the engine did turn over with a roar, the engine light remained alight, and I was questioning whether a continuance would be a smart move as we still had unknown mountainous terrain ahead of us. Being the safety miser that I am, I suggested to slaDE that we bank in to our CAA RV Plus towing coverage, and find a location to have service and inspection of our glorious (albeit whimpering and stoic) 1994 Dodge Ram truck. My theory: why not use our membership when we were in need? Although the truck may have carried forward with no more issues, why chance it when the outcome is unknown and potentially harmful and hazardous?

Thus began the adventures of our first towing experience (and fingers crossed, our last!). We had to use our Canadian phone for the first time in our journey. Ouch! At $3 + per minute, we were making some pretty pricey phone calls to orchestrate the necessary tow service. And that’s on a toll-free number. Egads. It’s time to get ourselves a US phone number.

Ron from Golden State Towing arrived like a hero on his white stallion. However, his initial work horse wasn’t quite up to the task of towing BOTH our truck and Airstream. We weren’t leaving our trailer behind. NOT an option. So we waited for Ron to turn around and fetch his Trojan Goliath horse. Even though he was back within half an hour, the hook up time with the rear tail lights for the trailer and the connecting of the truck (whilst deactivating the drive train) was over 3 hours. Add that to the 1.5 hours of sitting on the bustling highway, and we were ready to escape the wind and cold afternoon drizzle.IMG_2534

To say that I was neither a bit scared or stressed as we made our way through the Grapevine Pass would be an understatement. The roads were in horrible condition (concrete highways that are pitted and rattled) and although travelling at slower speeds in our steed-like Peterbuilt tow truck, the trailer jumped around like a fly on a hot plate. The swerving of the Dodge  truck did little to dampen my fright, but Ron handled the job of carrying us safely to Bakersfield with utmost skill, safety and confidence. I was extremely grateful for his professionalism! With a my nervous husband by my side, we found our way to a Dodge dealership safely in one piece and with no apparent damage beyond our roadside conundrum.

Our white chariot tow truckI actually breathed a sigh of relief once we were out of the storm and in to the flat valleys east of the Rockies.  I’m happy that I found a lucky penny on that mountain. Every bit of luck was needed on a rainy day like today.

After finding the Dodge dealership, we dropped off our Airstream trailer at the neighbouring Camping World parking lot and lucked out in establishing a free parking spot with electric for the night! With managing that, I am certain lady fortune was on our side today, oddly enough.

Road warriors

Tim's beautiful pets ... who's the boss here?Go figure. The day that we decide to leave Arizona, the weather is absolutely breathtaking! And the forecast for California? A forecast of storms, storms, and more storms (rain AND snow, believe it or not).

Such is life on the road. A gamble. Roll the dice and hope for those double digit temperatures :), with heavy doses of sun tagged on.

Wanting to take advantage of the screaming Internet connection at our friend Tim’s place, I arose early and delighted in my morning surfing tradition. Catch up on emails, peruse facebook, blog and picture posting and the reading of any interesting world news. I can spend hours (and sometimes even whole days) with this little ole’ addiction of mine.  With life on the road, I’m learning to live with my more limited WWW access, and like the curbing of any addiction, the going isn’t easy. In actuality, can I call my love of the web an addiction, if it qualifies as part of my ‘job’ description, per se? Being a web designer and a blogger / photojournalist, I suppose that I can justify my computer usage :).

Airstream warriorsIt was early afternoon when we took our flying circus on the road. Luckily, the weather remained quite palatable (low wind, high sun) and we made our way through the burbs of Los Angeles California before tucking in for the night at a WalMart parking lot in Santa Clarita. I’ve been to LA a few times before, but never really had the opportunity to drive its breadth. WOW. What a HUGE sprawling city. For two hours, we chugged along through free flowing traffic (albeit quite heavy and requiring diligence at all times) from one end of the city to the northern side. I knew LA was gigantic, but this was ridiculous! I don’t even want to imagine what traffic is like during the ‘busy’ stressful times of rush hour. Pray that we don’t encounter it on our way back through to San Diego. We may have to travel at 2am to be safe and unstressed by it all. I suppose you would classify this as a road warrior? Braving the depths of travelling full-time on the road. Egads! What have I gotten myself in to??! 🙂

Chillin’ in Phoenix

Doggles and KariFor the first time in 4 days, the Arizona sky was crisp, clear and a brilliant blue filled with glorious sunshine. Perfect weather for a few skydives. But as luck would have it, we had chosen today as our departure day for Phoenix. Catching a yoga class at the Phoenix Lululemon store and then visiting with our friend Tim and his new wife Kari (actually an ‘ole Skydive Chicago friend from many moons ago whom I haven’t seen in just as long) afterward was on the agenda. But even with the best laid plans, fate might throw in a curve ball, offering up a new course of action to follow.

slaDE, sKY & TimNavigating with a GPS has taught me a few things about trust and reliance on electronic devices. Today enlightened me on the principle to thoroughly research all possible options on our destination before actually starting up the truck to head towards our intended port of call. The Lululemon store finder page on their website offered the physical address to where they were located, but I didn’t think about the options of which side of the highway they were fronted on — west or east of Hwy 17? slaDE~ and I took a gamble and unfortunately chose the wrong locale. This in turn meant we missed our community class. Dang! I was so looking forward to a group practice. But still we went. I think it’s vitally important for uS to set up the foundation for the possibility of a near-future community workshop. And that we did! Lots of excitement generated for our return. The beauty of yogaFLIGHT once again prevails, making any and all efforts (and skydives not made) so worthwhile in the yoga journey we’re cre8ting.

Before we made our way back to Tim & Kari’s, the mandatory Trader Joe’s shop was just around the corner. Oh how I miss and crave TJs. The ultimate in specialty foods & wine. Yum!

And what a delightful evening we had, laughing, reminiscing, yogaFLIGHT, playing with the animals, eating and mucho wine :). All in all, a very enjoyable day!

Up In The Air

The Shark

Last night we saw a really fabulous movie. “Up in the Air” is a movie about the realities of life ….. love, loss, relationship, deception, passion, humour, sadness twinged with both the ugliness and beauty of life. All this wrapped up into a messy yet tidy 1 hour 49 minute movie. I love a film that questions our very existence on this earth, and the things that matter most / least to us. Where do we find our comfort zone? Can we step outside the boundaries of our beliefs, and have a new world open up to possibility? At least, this is what I came away with from another superb George Clooney movie. Yet another mirror that reflects to me the positivism behind why we’ve chosen to follow our dreams. Knowing that the existence of everything as we know it is so temporary and unpredictable, why not shoot for the skies and enjoy the chance to live each minute fully and without regret or worry?

Move, move, walk that body

I’m rather tired of feeling not moving my body as I used to when settled in Calgary. I had a regular routine of exercise and yoga that kept me alert, energized and fit. I’m feeling that slip away …. a role I’m not willing to take on. So today I started a new step in the right direction. Always one to love walking, I’ve decided to utilize my love of movement and start a daily ‘Walk Slim’ program. Following several walking dvds (Leslie Sansone’s “3 Fast Miles” & Prevention‘s  “Ultimate Walking Workout“), I have no excuse to not move my body, whether inside or outside in nature. I wasn’t sure how well that would work within the limited confines of our Airstream, but so far so good!