Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Is anything ever what you expect it to be? Especially trips and/or vacations? They seem to veer off course and have a life and direction of there own, much as the recent Hurricane Charley. Sometimes these fateful changes can be delicious and rewarding and worth a mound of gold for every unexpected surprise detour. At other times, they can be challenging, shocking and eye-opening. For me, just back from a 12 day journey to the Mainland, I would say that I experienced a little of both. I will nickname it my Heaven 'N Hell Tour.

The reason for the vacation began nearly a year ago when I read on the internet about a special event/gathering in Morrison, Colorado called the Celtic Cauldron. The theme of the event was to explore the relevance of the returning Tuatha de Danann (Dana)energies to the world. I had an intense desire to attend this event, and so I began organizing the trip with two other people in mind, my partner and my daughter. Getting three people organized to travel together is a toughie, not even taking into account airline timetables and prices, accomodations and so on. But I did it with the always available help of the angels and off we flew to our first stop, Las Vegas.

Adjusting to the pace of the mainland, the frantic energies and particularly Las Vegas was my first hurdle. Ok...good enough. I took along my arsenal of items to assist: my Tesla Philip Stein watch, my aromatherapy titled "Clear", my necklace medallion to repel negative energies and so forth. I was prepared, having traveled and throttled by these chaotic energies from prior trips. This first leg of the journey went fairly well, but there was one oddity that struck us. Has anyone ever had a taxi driver that refuses to lift a bag in and out of the trunk of the taxi? This was our FIRST experience as the driver folded his arms and commanded Bob to do the lifting of the bags in and out of the taxi. Gen and I were shocked as Bob meekly and efficiently did so...and then Bob EVEN tipped this arrogant, lazy taxi driver, much to our amazement. Was this taxi driver an off-duty lounge-act hypnotist testing his skills in the real world Vegas? Were there hidden cameras watching us and observing our reacions? Very mystifying!

The first day in Las Vegas we made our ritualized rush to the China Grill at the Mandalay Bay Resort. The crispy spinach on the menu of this restaurant is to die for. We were the second group to be seated because Gen and I were frothing at the mouth for this famous delicacy and couldn't wait. Everytime we visit Vegas this restaurant is the first thing on our minds. The gorgeous restaurant is never a disappointment, and the spinach serving is as succulent and sensual as any dish I can recall. I have a jones for this crispy spinach as apparently do a lot of others. What do they put into this dish? I have tried to recreate it at home using what I imagine might be the ingredients, but my spinach turns out to be soggy and limp. The waiter told us that people come back again and again for this famous dish...imagine a journey to Las Vegas for food! Yes, that's right, and one of the main reasons why Vegas isn't just Sin City anymore...unless lusting for spinach is termed a sin in the fine print on the lists of sins. Shopping and food are the main reasons for me to even want to put a big toe into this energetic mud pool of a city.

The second reason for the journey was to determine if there was going to be sizzle or fizzle with a man that my daughter has been corresponding with on the net for many years. She knew this lovely man many years ago when she attended art school in Denver. His 'pros' are huge, and the hopefulness we all shared for a union with J. and G. was immense. Quite simply, Bob and I imagined him as a possible future son-in-law. He offered to let us stay with him the first night, giving Bob and me one of his bedrooms and gallantly sleeping on his couch and letting Gen take the bed in his master bedroom. He cooked us a delicious dinner and took Bob golfing the next day at one of the best golf courses in Denver. All good! EXCEPT...HOWEVER...BUT: these are the words everyone knows from the reality shows on television that something is NOT quite right. And for me, the moment I pulled up to Johnny's apartment building which was an old building in a shabby part of Denver and walked into see the red-flocked wallpaper and tacky entryway with plastic flowers, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Gen could never be with a man who would accept such a living condition. The stark reality of how others live set-in with a ferocity. Horror! We found out that J. was one of the few young people living there, and most of the people were retired oldsters. His apartment/condo that he rented was just as scarifying as the lobby. Dust everywhere...yukky decor...plants dying....even the cactus looked like it wasn't going to make it. As a poignant reminder of life, J. had one pitiful tomato plant growing on his deck. Quite obviously, the man was depressed.

Gen and I knew it was going to be a very LONG five days for her as she had already obligated herself to spend the time to explore the sizzle/fizzle factor with Johnny.
I slept fitfully that night on the lumpy bed provided as did was almost as if we had cold water dowsing us both. Our dreams for a union for the two had revealed themselves quite clearly to be pipe dreams. Reality crashed in hard. No wonder this great'catch' of a guy hadn't been caught! I imagined the moment that women saw his apartment they ran for the hills. However, as a good houseguest, I decided to clean his place while the boys were out golfing, the least I could do after having written on his dusty television screen in my mischevious fashion: "Clean This!" The next morning Bob saw the writing on the dusty televisin screen as he turned on a sports game. Johnny never noticed, or if he did, he didn't feel like cleaning it. It's one of the saddest things in the world to see a divorced, depressed, overworked, lonely, underpaid, kind man.

After cleaning his place somewhat (I refrained from throwing out the fading red Christmas bow that was decorating the dying cactus), Gen and I drove to the Cherry Creek shopping mall, supposedly one of the upscale malls in the Denver area. Once again, the sense of unreality struck us hard. For all the world, the mall looked like a cardboard cut-out stage front for some movie set. As soon as we walked into the mall and were surveying the layout of the mall printed on the large screen, a kindly security officer straight out of central casting approached us and asked us if he could assist us. Gen and I felt like we had dropped into the "Matrix" movie set, and we couldn't shake this feeling all the time we shopped there. The only comedic relief was when I decided to have a wash and blow dry by a hairdresser that didn't have a clue. Seriously. As my daughter watched with increasing panic, this hairdresser transformed my hair into a frizzy gigantic mop at the same time he was giving us his home-boy rap about the years he spent defying the fat Samoans on Oahu.
We left there barely able to contain our laughter, and we rushed to a department store bathroom to do damage control on my hair. We continued our journey through the Cherry Creek Matrix Mall observing the weirdest things: in the pricey Neiman Marcus store, there was a gathering of make-up artists/cosmeticians working en masse on around forty women.

Bob and I left Gen behind with Johnny and journeyed on to visit our old friend Shanti who had moved off Maui last year and had settled into Boulder, a college town known for its drunken party students. Lucky for us, Shanti had made reservations for us at a motel on the EDGE of town. I had already done 'my time' in Boulder when I lived there during my hippie days in a commune. In those days, Boulder was a 'happening' place, like Haight-Ashbury. I picked up a large free magazine outside one of the health-food stores that prosper in Boulder, and I was amazed at all the alternative practioners advertising their wares. I suspected that many of these were the old hippies that had discovered their path and had meandered into careers after graduating from their hippie years. Like Maui, Boulder is a place for healers and those that need healing...a meeting place for reciprocity. We ate with our fingers at an Ethiopian restaurant that evening, a restaurant that Shanti is very fond of. The cooked vegetables are laid upon a soft bread which you pull off the sides and swipe up the vegetables in the center. Very Boulderesque.

The next day we headed for the Rockies and our reservations at a fine Beaver Creek lodging. The plan was for Shanti and Bob to play golf every day while I hiked, did the spa-trip, swim, read, shop and meditate. And this was the part of the vacation that truly lived up to my expectations. Beaver Creek is one (if not THE) of the most upscale ski resorts in Colorado. You enter the village through a guard gate with a security attendant that gives you a paper to put on the dashboard of your car. The tall flagpoles flying with the flags of many countries line the roadway as you enter the manicured grounds of this posh village. Everything spells Money. The hotel attendants are super nice and friendly. The accomodations, spa and restaurants are gorgeous. At night there is an ice rink in the middle of the village filled with skaters of all ages. The sense is that you have been twirled over to a quaint European village. Even though Beaver Creek is super quiet during the summer months when we visited and is primarily a winter destination, we enjoyed the fairly empty swimming pools and the easy availabilty of restaurant reservations. We enjoyed watching the red foxes that make B.C. their home. One evening after a long hike, a red fox came out to enchant us and do a roll in the grass right in front of us in a playful way. This was the closest any of us had ever come to a fox, and we were all expanded with this connection.

Bob & Shanti golfed every day at a different golf course, one of which was the highest golf course in the North American continent at nearby Leadville. They were snowed on in the middle of August. Each night we dined at another fabulous restaurant. Mirabelle was totally charming. Their Grand Marnier souffle for dessert was one of the best I've ever tasted. I loved it so much that I wolfed mine down and finished up the one that Bob & Shanti shared as they said it was much too rich for them. The Riverwalk shops (one of the main shopping areas for the Beaver Creek crowd) were way overpriced but typical of the prices in this elite neighborhood. These shops in the nearby Edwards township were where I was stuck for many hours one day as I had dropped Bob & Shanti off at a golfcourse down the way. I shopped because there was nothing else to do until they finished their golf game, and this spell of shopping finally finished me off shopping forever....well, almost. My eyes were agog at the prices on the items they displayed. Where did they get their nerve to charge these prices for goods that were clearly not worthy?

One day the three of us sampled the vapour caves near Glenwood Springs, a drive down the I-70 freeway westward. The underground natural formation had been discovered and utilized by the Indians in former times and was being used as a local spa. The grey-walled steamy caves had many nooks and benches to sit upon while inhaling these vapours. Little pans were provided to fill with cold water from a hose to cool yourself down when the heat became too much. Then one by one we padded upwards to cool air and lounged in the calming solarium to await our massages. I chose a massage that was invigorating and relaxing at the same time: an aromatherapy salt scrub. We were all relaxed and had that wonderful Rockie Mountain High, a wonderful high that makes you feel peaceful, giggly and convinced that all is right with the world. We drove home to the exclusive Beaver Creek, and for awhile, all was perfect.

The next venue was the seminar and Denver while Bob and Shanti headed northwards towards Estes Park. I drove by myself through a blinding rain storm to the Holiday Inn where the conference participants stayed. Gen joined me in the afternoon after Johnny dropped her off; I listened while she explained to me that he wasn't the One. Love and chemistry is a funny thing and certainly not within our logical control. In many respects, Johnny had so much to offer and share, and Yet, But, However! Those three famous words that define that something is missing between two people! Gen has more frogs to kiss before she meets her Prince, and who knows when that will happen?!

That evening we drove to the home where the conference was to be held, near the bustling village of Morrison. In our written instructions it said to park down the road because there wasn't enough parking space near the house.Unfortunately, the rain was pouring down upon us...we didn't have an umbrella...the red dirt driveway was full of deep puddles, and by the time we entered into the house, Gen and I were thoroughly drenched and our feet were covered with red mud. Even though we were fifteeen minutes early, the circle on the floor had already been filled-in with people who glared at us. No one rose to greet us, and when we tried to squeeze into the circle, one of the three workshop leaders, a lady, hissed at me to move away from the spot we were struggling to squeeze into. So Gen and I tiptoed back into a corner of the room behind the circle where we could find a place. Were it not for the kindness of one participant, Erin, who offered to move to open us into the circle on the floor next to her, we would have been totally shut out. This was certainly not an auspicious beginning. The generosity of the 'dana' energies that the main workshop leader wrote so eloquently about in his last book were not present to be sure. Gen and I felt this horrible feeling that you get at the first day of a new school where everyone else seems to have already formed their little cliques.

Gamely we attempted to merge with the group, and except for a few of the younger cute girls, we were unable to do so...and certainly not for our lack of aloha. The negative energies flowing our way from some of the thirty or so participants kept me dabbing on the "Clear" aromatherapy and putting on my auric armor. Since Gen and I are very strong 'sensitives' and are used to the aloha spirit, we were really quite appalled at how the gathering was being conducted by the three leaders. None of them ever greeted us personally and thanked us from coming from afar to join them. I didn't take this personally, as I observed they didn't greet or thank others either. Their false egos and sense of self-importance were much too large for their knowledge, teachings or sharings. A pity. I was disappointed, even though I really should have known better, having seen this behaviour in all too many gatherings and so-called high mukety-muck spiritual teachers who really need some serious humblings.
Afterwards, Shanti said in his own funny way with his Indian wordings: the group is "way too baby for you". Genvieve said that I taught her this stuff when she was seven years old. Oh well. Lesson learned again. C'est la vie!

I had taken my monies and credit cards and placed them into a safety deposit box at the hotel. I asked Gen to give me hers too. She thought she had given me everything, but when we decided to bail out of the bummer of a seminar and collect our goodies from the box, Gen realized that she had left her Master Card in her wallet in her purse. That was when the light went off, and she realized it has been lifted from her purse sometime during the gathering. So she had to call the credit card company and alert them to the fact that it had been stolen. I called the main lady where the gathering was taking place and left a message about the missing credit card. To this day I have yet to hear back from her acknowledging our departure from the conference. Sad to say, but there are lots of jealous bitches, egotistic leaders and unfriendly people out there in the world. It's my great good fortune and discernment that keeps them away from me the majority of the time.

In the next installment of this blog, I will write about the next leg of our journey.

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