There is a rapture on the lonely shore;
There is society, where none intrudes.
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more...

-Lord Byron

03 July 2015

Abby & Fleck

A typical Sunday morning. I turn on the TV for company as I work on my first cup of coffee. The screen shows a a couple of bluegrass players, Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn.

I've never heard of them, but bluegrass music is something I've always been interested in. Their story is intriguing, and once they start playing, I'm hooked. Their love of bluegrass music led to a love for each other, and you can feel that love when they play together.
I found that they were playing a Saturday show in Cincinnati, a town I had yet to visit. With a couple clicks on the internet, I found myself sitting in the Taft theatre, ready to listen to my first live bluegrass concert.
I simply have no words to describe how perfect the night was. From Fleck's stories of traveling across Africa to trace the roots of bluegrass influence and introducing his music to African musicians, to Abby's infectious personality and stories of corporate greed, her grandma's roller skating rink in Illinois, and how she loves murder ballard's where the woman doesn't die, it was an opening act for the ages.
I've never seen an opening act get such high praise from an audience, let alone a standing ovation that lasted forever, which led to an encore performance full of dancing and revelry.
The banjo playing was incredible, and solidified my love for bluegrass americana music.

02 July 2015

Tortugranja

The signs for Tortugranja were everywhere as I cruised lazily along the streets of Isla Mujeres. Curiosity got the better of me, and eventually I parked my golf cart and walked to the entrance of this Sea Turtle farm.

My first indicator that something may not be right here was with the admission price. For only thirty pesos (three US dollars) you could go in to see the turtle's that this nature conservancy claimed to be protecting, with the money going towards that goal (so the sign proclaimed).
I gasped at the small and dirty little pools that the turtles were living in. Bare and sterile. I turned from tourist to investigator, trying to get footage to bring back and show the world.
For an additional dollar, you get a bag of pellets to feed the turtles. These pellets were mostly floating in disgusting fashion in the water, as the turtles weren't interested in constantly eating. The sadness in their eyes, to me, looked more like a person trapped with no hope.
The unhappiness of these turtles became vividly apparent. As I was observing, two older ladies were gawking at the turtles. Being horrible tourists (and completely disregarding the signs about strictly NOT touching the animals), one of the women reached into pool to actually grab one of the appendages of the turtles, trying to swing the turtle around to face them so they could get a proper photo.

The turtle snapped and try to bite the woman's hand. She was shocked, screamed, and dropped her phone into the pool.

Karma.
I ventured outside to the ocean. They had a section barricaded off with a sharks, stingrays and more turtles.

All of the creatures were pacing along the fence line, looking for a way to escape their entrapment.

It was heartbreaking to me, but I'll let you be the judge as to whether or not you think a place like this is actually doing turtles any good.


30 June 2015

Isla Mujeres

I could see the passenger boats cruising past me, seemingly every hour or two, before disappearing into the ocean blue.

"Amigo, they are going to Isla Mujeres, the island of women. Si, you should go!"

The dock was only a mile down the road, so I stuff my pack back with essentials, and head down to the pier to catch the next boat.

The breeze cools the nap of my neck as I sit in the ocean side bar waiting to board. I see the allure of the beach life.

As the boat pushes back from the dock, the ocean water transforms into various shades of azure blue, hypnotizing me as we make our way to the Island. A local recommended renting a golf cart, as it is the easiest way to get around.
It's paradise, pure and simple. I quickly maneuver the one way streets and get my bearings straight, then hit beach after beach. A drink here, a bite to eat there, you go at your own pace as time stands still here.
Local iguanas become my fixation, as the variety here is endless. I try to count the different types I see, but the incoming lullaby of soft waves breaks my concentration.
Oh Isla Mujeres, you had me at "Island of Women".


29 June 2015

stories from the trail : Chapter Four "Broad Forks Basin"

In 2013, I started a "stories from the trail" series to track my hikes I was planning on doing along the Wasatch Front here in northern Utah. Sadly I only made it to chapter three.

But my life spent outside isn't set by timetables or deadlines, rather I pick up where I previously left off, no worse for wear.

Broad Forks Basin seemed like a decent hike to start off with for this summer. A little over three miles round trip, with an elevation climb of 1,900 feet. I should have done a little more research on that last statistic though, as the climb was almost entirely vertical, and kicked the proverbial shit out of me.

I was so sweaty initially that I was a spiderweb, flies were sticking to me and couldn't get leave.

 Case in point.....
Yet once I acclimated and hydrated repeatedly, my body accustomed itself and I could focus more on the natural beauty than my own pounding heart and lungs. When I arrived to the basin, Mother Nature stole my breath instead of the elevation.
I made my way through the brush and climbed to the highest point on a pile of rocks. It seemed to be the ideal place to read the book I'd brought.
I opened "Meaning of the Qur'an". It stated it was a guidance for mankind, but my true objective for reading came from my Qur'an Incident in 2011. It has taken me awhile to get to, but this seemed to be the prime time to delve more into that experience.
 

"Verily, We have revealed to you this Book with truth for mankind; so whoever accepts guidance benefits his soul and whoever strays away hurts his own soul. Nor you are set over them to dispose of their affairs."
(Qur'an 39:41)

With an open mind I turn page after page as clouds slowly pass overhead, the sun gently kissing my forehead and ants scurrying on the rocks below.

25 June 2015

the swagger of Father John Misty

If it's not already, I suspect Father John Misty will soon become a household name to music lovers, whether you consider yourself a hipster or not.

The former Fleet Foxes drummer just has a sound, beat and swagger that is undeniably awesome.
Which is why I flew across the country to the great State of Pennsylvania and to the small town of Munhall to be seated in the beautiful Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall on the sixth of June, two thousand and fifteen.
Beanies, tattoes, fedoras and beards of all sizes and shapes crowded the hall. The lights went dim, Father John climbed on the top of the drum set, and started to sway and swagger...

Let the magic begin.