Are you free? Do YOU KNOW that feeling? The last 48 hours in NYC have weighed on my spirit. In that short amount of time, I have been marginally estranged from my easy-wild coloradan gait and fallen for the New York minute. I have felt rushed and as a result out of balance and rhythm. I truly couldn’t exist in a city like this. I could never feel free always running towards, for or away from something.
That feeling of being Free is akin to the first taste of Spring. For me, that feeling is as close to levitation as my spirit can imagine. And as much as it can be elusive in the bipolar April weather tendencies of Colorado. I finally reveled in that spring vibe this past weekend. The resulting healing still lingers within me.
I spent the Friday night and Saturday morning enamored by mt. Princeton and the collegiate peaks in Buena Vista, before driving down to the village-town of Crestone in the northern part of San Luis Valley. This Saguache county town is renowned as a spiritual micro-mecca of sorts. The spiritual centers in their diversity are almost as many as the townees and the diversity in their peculiarity. The greatest spiritual center offering boasted by Crestone is undoubtedly the great outdoors in the western slopes of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range.
Like most alpine-glacial lakes, Willow Lake is a site to behold. Nestled in the Sangre de Cristo mountain range close to Crestone Colorado, Willow Lake is surrounded by majestic 14ers ( fourteen thousand peaks ) and 13ers: Kit Carson, Challenger Point and Mt Adams. The lake overlooks an enigmatic valley that stretches beyond into Crestone and the San Luis Valley. From lush forests to wildflowers to marmots, pika, and bighorn sheep, this 9.6 mile hike this 11,598′ thousand in elevation lake zigzags through beautiful nature and stretches through wondrous pastures. It is ideal for Day hikes, but better for camping in my opinion. One night spent at the Lake could afford one access to the 14k peaks of Kit Carson and Challenger for short day trips the next few days.
Get out this weekend. Capture that feeling of being free and do not rush anything. Take your time.
DJI Mavic Pro 4k footage of the Hip RINO ( River- North District ) of Downtown Denver. Larimer St is riddled with some of the hippest watering holes, breweries, boutique stores, cafes and eateries that denver boasts. The Populist, Finn’s Manor, Infinite Monkey Theorem, The Central Market, Crema, MatchBox, Il Posto to name a few. If you are looking for a taste of the NEW DENVER, this is the best place to start. And you really cannot beat the views of the downtown skyline against the backdrop of the mountains at sunset.
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Of the tens and hundreds of mountain towns in the Colorado Rockies, Buena Vista lives up to her name in all ways. Situated at the junction of US 24 and US 285, Buena Vista is endowed with a majestic panorama of the 14 thousand ft towering Mt Princeton’s peak and the Collegiate Peaks.
Buena Vista is neatly tucked in my back pocket as a quick, sweet escape to sleep under the stars and reset. It is on a lonely night above this town that I figured out that I can squash and defeat any of my anxieties. Simply by taking off my shoes, wiggling my toes and rolling my feet, clockwise then anti clockwise. Then inhaling and calling on to the familiar feeling of freedom as I exhale.
Unlike getting to most of the nature oases west of Denver off I-70, there is barely ever traffic if you cruise down US 285 which uniquely magnificent going over Kenosha pass and crossing the great Colorado Trail.
Click this link to watch 360 degree view of Buena Vista and the collegiate peaks.
Pack light, glamp, bring some firewood and your favorite bourbon and enjoy waking up here. I typically like to escape here by myself, if thats not your style, bring a friend or two and share yourselves honestly. On this quick pitstop towards the town of Crestone in southern Colorado, I brought Rafiki ( means friend in Swahili )
As you are driving north on US 24 into Buena Vista, turn right onto Main St, the left onto Colorado St which then becomes RD 371. Continue on 371 until the road turns into a dirt, shortly before you get to a tunnel, turn right onto RD 375. There is plenty of camping all along 375.
I was deeply moved the first time I visited the Garden of the Gods. This National Natural Landmark provoked imaginations of what the planet looked like in prehistoric times. The larger than life red-orange sandstone rock formations that stood boldly in the the shadow of Pike’s Peak 14 thousand feet prominence are a delight to behold.
It is nature at its grittiest. Let your eyes wonder on this slice of nature’s splendor in colorful Colorado. Be moved to spend your days under the blue sky and do not be afraid to get your hands dirty. This is Nature porn.
Earth day is an annual event that is observed and celebrated on the 22nd of April across all continents. On this day, individuals and communities of diverse identities demonstrate their commitment to sustainable environmental protection and conservation. For example, this year’sEarthday.org’s campaign is to End Plastic Pollution.Unfortunately, plastic does not have a monopoly in the polluting and harming of our environment. It is paramount that all major pollutants, drivers of climate change, are weeded out (Pun). We should all be activated towards all environmental causes. From saving our marine life, to protecting our rainforests and ecosystems, to clearing the smog blanketing our towns and cities. The chief goal being surmounting climate change.
Behold, Earth day is upon us this Sunday. If you are anything like me, the aromas of Friday and the promise of the weekend get you excited at the prospect of spending time outside. If you aren’t like me, one guess is that your occupation is cool enough to afford you opportunities to enjoy the outdoors during the workweek. Whatever your occupation is, I hope that when someone asks you, “What do you do?“, you answers default naturally to those things that greatly animate your spirit. Be they your jobs or not.
What do I do? The things that I do are many, but most fall under one bucket which I own proudly. I do outdoorsy shit. I enjoy snorkeling to trippy fish and enigmatic coral. I find it hilarious when my dog Zizou relentlessly chases burning ambers in the veil of a starry night scored with whistling trees and chirping crickets. Its oddly refreshing to wake up to my pungent smell of fireside smoke and trail body odor. I savor the peril of grizzly bears in the back country. I love, Love, LOVE curving fresh deep POW powder, bobbing in and out of trees. Reader, this is a light sampling of my outdoorsy shit, and all of it is threatened.
While the threat to our winters ‘weakens the gnar’ and the POWder isn’t as good as it could be for shredding purposes, there are far greater implications. For example, dwindling spring snowpacks and shortened winters directly impact the snowmelt runoffs that make up streams and creeks. These streams and creeks, quench the thirst of the perilous bear, her cubs and her food chain. They water the valleys and the plains and sustain an entire ecosystem.
The diminishing spring snowpacks also result in longer than usual fire seasons prompting Forestry, National Parks and local authorities to impose fire bans as a preventative measure. Now, Zizou doesn’t get to battle fire ambers and I don’t get the joys of smelling ‘blackened,’ even charred. And while I can contend with a night without nature’s television, a fireless night, the unnerving forces of fire have dire implications. Forest fires are leaving ecosystems desperately fighting for survival.
I live in Colorado, it doesn’t get more landlocked than this paradise of a nest in the mountains. Because my early life and travels have gifted me many thrills on coastlines of 3 of the 5 oceans, I am drawn to crashing waves as much as I am to the frosted mountain peaks. I even have a Wes Anderson fantasy in which I play Steve Zissou in Life Aquatic. Its 100% self serving. One of the greatest thrills of aquatic life is coral and the countless life that is nestled in and within it. Rising temperatures have resulted in large scale bleaching and eventual death of coral with dire implications beyond subpar snorkeling opportunities. Aquatic ecosystems are desperately fighting of survival.
Reader, this is a light sampling of implications of climate change as they relate to what I do.
I urge you to challenge the value you create to your spirit and the environment outside of your 40hr work week.
When you are outside this Earthday, be mindful. Be mindful everyday. If you see a clif bar wrapping flirting with the wind, pocket it. Trust yourself to carry that responsibility. Whatever you can do, do it. Post your #Earthday instagram photo and get your people on board this wave to be stakeholders of mother Earth. The effort to protect mother Earth is an aggregate of individual accountability to her sanctity.
Get on a trail this Sunday and brush your fingertips against tree barks as you walk along the trail. Create awareness around the sources of the streams as you skip across them. Express your appreciation the ecosystem, in your own way and feel its health.
Drive somewhere. And like my brother and good friend Mo says, ” Take impromptu turns onto backroads because you are enamored by the framing of the mountains”. And there is delightful simplicity in that enamoration. Take those backroads, find yourself a slice of road shoulder to colonize, be aware of the privilege of pristine wilderness which a lot of people are not able to access or have lost. Enjoy the vistas. Rationalize them. Romanticize them. Awe at them. Inhale them. Promise to protect all of it. Be one with Earth.
You out there – Somewhere in the world. Planning to visit this chunk of paradise, here is a little taste of the mile high city. Down below, recreational marijuana dispensaries are stacked next to Artisanal Farm to Fork restaurants and Craft Micro Breweries.
You down there, if you’ve been here a little while, here is a fresh look. Stay positive, the rent won’t go up exponentially.
I’ve lived in Denver for close to five years now. In that time, I have often found myself perched on a cloud of disenchantment whose bubble I get wrapped into when I think of the fact that I know what lies around every corner. Even as the cranes in their teens and twenties marionette and animate concrete and steel on a daily basis, the exciting feeling of novelty can elude. And as such the sense of wonder can only be sought in the wildernesses out west.
How powerful is a shift in perspective?
During a recent trip in San Francisco, I had a spur of inspiration. A cocktail of day dreaming about my upcoming journey back to East Africa ( Kenya ) and urges to create. I stood at a stop light waiting for the walk sign to illuminate with my eyes closed. I inhaled the smell of fresh mango, and piles of second hand clothes. I listened to the roar of a 250 cc motorcycle buzz by and the splashes of a mud puddle. I imagined myself a raven gently hovering past, witnessing life.
In the hours that followed, I reiterated that vantage point and awareness of life in the many other settings that evoked fiery nostalgia. In the countryside herding cattle, at the township football ground, by the river skipping stones and perched on a guava tree.
The Bird’s eye vantage provokes thrills!
I cannot wait to take this dji mavic pro back to East Africa and approach some of these settings as a bird would. I am thrilled to notice all that is unnoticeable here on earth. I wonder what I will perceive in spatial deliberateness and unconsciousness. I wonder what I will deduce from the rhythm of life depicted in movement.
I flew the dji mavic pro in downtown Denver and captured some amazing stills.
What do you deduce from the rhythm of life depicted in these photos? What do you perceive in spatial deliberateness or unconsciousness? Do Images like this refresh that your appreciation and curiosity for a place?
Engage me with a line or two.
Also, follow my IG to keep up with a fare share of some of the shades of ME.
…The truth is my spanish is shit! It is utter garbage! While it is not entirely non-existent, it is just plain and simply shitty! However, three hours into arriving in one of the most populated cities in the world, I experienced a linguistic breakthrough albeit catalysed by an unfortunate event.
“No Mames!”… I screamed frantically grabbing my pockets, eyes bulging in a blend horror and angst. …”Pinche Chilangos!No Mames, Guey! “ I continued and sealed the curse!
Picture the dumbfounded visages in that train car, with mine the most distinct in hue. On one hand, there were the faces shocked at how Chilango-like the accent in my curses’ tongue had pierced the air and on the other, there was my face mourning the loss of an extension of my ‘SELF’. I had been liberated from my precious iPhone.
The irony of it all is that from the moment I descended into the subway underground, on my way to Zocalo, I acknowledged to myself that the conditions were prime and perfect for anybody to be pick pocketed, especially me, the eager visitor whose perceptions were tuned in to all the novelties, therefore distracted. It was about 4 pm and the trains were pouring over at every station. I in fact had a nerdy statistics hard-on when I thought to myself how interesting it would be if the percentage of people with communicable illnesses was almost equal to the number of occupational pickpockets in every train car at any given time. And how shitty it would be to catch the flu from the same person that picks your pocket. I even chuckled when I thought that a foreigner such as myself must have been like a game of Pokemon GO for a pickpocket.
For as long as I incubated my medley of thoughts, I exercised extra caution. Sometimes a bit too dramatic as I changed trains clutching desperately at my pockets and hugging worrisomely at my backpack. I thought of BBC’s, Conor Woodman’s SCAM CITY; a television serious founded on unearthing the most prevalent of scams in popular tourist destinations.Predictably, pick pocketing reigns supreme in swindle kingdom. To accompany those thoughts, my eyes darted back and forth endeavoring to savor the sight of a hand in action.
Suddenly, there was some unnecessary aggressive shoving and pushing at the Pino Suarez subway station while boarding the blue line to Zocalo. I raised my hands in the air, gesturing my American goodwill in the peaceful transcendence into every and all spaces as my precious iPhone ascended from my pockets. How stupid was that! Word of advise, if a situation looks like a pig, its probably a pig. I knew what was happening but somehow I convinced myself that I had a bias worth muting. I even looked at the bitch that did it in the eye as she retreated from boarding the train, thinking, yeah good idea, this is a mess! It happened so fast! It infuriated me! I sneezed! It was poetic! And now I sit with a sense of liberation that has been long estranged from my ‘SELF’.
A sense of liberation that was bought by a communion of mezcal and tacos coupled with an audit of pequeñahardships and pequeña blessings of my iPhone-less state. I took out a piece of paper and said to myself, “well, I guess now I’ve got to write shit down. ” Undoubtedly, in the 24 hours that have passed, I have enjoyed looking at the different aspects of my personality through my handwriting. I have scribbled a lot of meaningful and meaningless things. I have scribbled on receipts, on the back of my hand and I think I almost scribbled on a spare tortilla at a taco stand. I stopped myself short after considering foldability.
Not having a cellphone means that I had been stripped off my Uber superpowers. Now I am forced to power up my shitty Spanish and haggle with drivers in a taxi industry that is riddled with unregulated operators. On the upside, I cannot hide behind my Black Mirror for the next 8 or so days. And I have to be cognizant of directions, time and my surroundings in general. There is no precision to my sense of direction or time at the moment and there need not be. I am neither here nor there and the time is not now. I can best sum up my spatial disposition as an approximate actuality. For example, I am writing this from a taco stand in La Condesa. 3 tacos in with 2 left to go. I am approximately 150 pesos ( my willingness to pay as a function of my perceived distance ) by taxi to my next destination: Somewhere in Polanco where I intend to continue illuminating the night with La Comida y las Bebidas. The food and the drinks: The chief of all my reasons to visit Mexico this time around.
The inconvenience of not having a phone means that I am liberated form the persuasions of the barrage of notifications I suffer on an hourly basis. Not having a phone means that my first instinct is to experience and reflect rather than capture and share.
It’s not just wishful thinking. Someday, I’ll giving Anthony Bourdain and his Parts Unknown a run for their money. Credit to that is the fact that, akin to Mr. Bourdain’s travel exploits, I too have become a self proclaimed connoisseur (of sorts) of great but cheap eats in the course of my comings and goings.
Eating is the easy part. Try grabbing a hearty meal for under One US dollar. The dollar meal in Africa today is becoming increasingly elusive as food prices continue to soar. By my own admittance, the endeavor of finding this meal requires no mastery. Such meals are simply a function of the compositions of the meal itself and the location. Therefore, if you don’t mind sometimes sharing dining space with things that crawl or if you can look past the luxury of eating while sitting down (for example), you could turn an empty stomach into an nourished one a dollar later.
Dollar meals shouldn’t always constitute an evocation of the ‘big M’ and its mc nuggets, mc doubles etc.
Here is an example of my culinary adventures with sub-dollar meals.
Chapati-Matumbo na Mchicha
Chapati-Cow Intestines with Spinach
Price: 90.00 Kshs 0.98 Dollars
Location: Likoni-Mombasa, Kenya
In a little wooden shack in Likoni, right after you get off the ferry, a man endlessly rolls fist size balls of dough into flat disks; mechanically. There is half a meter stack of cooked chapatis on his right and a charcoal stove glowing in the dimly lit cooking area right in front of him.
Samaki Mkavu, Chapati na Maji ya Maembe
Fried fish, Chapati with Mango Juice
Price: 100 Kshs 1.09 Dollars
Location: Lamu, Kenya
If Kiswahili words meant nothing, one would still find endless strings of poetry in the effortlessly melodious accents of the patrons of Hamza’s little restaurant tucked away in the paved shoulder to shoulder streets in the maze that is Lamu town.
Maize Polenta with Beef
Price: 1500 Tshs 0.83 Dollars
Location: Kigamboni-Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
I was half kidding when I requested, even demanded, that I get an extra piece of meat. My excuse was that great things come in threes. And how was it that I had ordered Ugali with beef, yet my plate had more beans than meat. She pointed out the extra sardines and vegetables that come with the meal but my smile brightened when a third piece of meat dropped into my plate splashing delicious beef stew onto the sides of the partitioned silver plate.
Urojo na Chapati
Urojo (mixed vegetable, meat and egg soup) with Chapati
Price: 1800 Tshs 1.00 Dollars
Location: Zanzibar, Tanzania
I haven’t the slightest clue as to what my meal constituted in its entirety. On one hand, I had a chapati rolled like a scroll. On the other, my spoon was pointed downwards into a concoction of a potato, a hard boiled egg…etc.
I stand accused of eating, praying and loving. Perhaps you yourself have thought of my travels and likened them to that very tale of a lonesome Elizabeth Gilbert. I claim neither innocence nor guilt as I am still faced with six more months of deliberations with roads, time, people and places unbeknownst to me.