Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Photos As Promised

The last day of our nine week journey, in front of Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, New York.

The Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.
This is sunset on Seneca Lake in Geneva, New York.

Our campsite area in Moab, Utah, right on the bank of the Colorado River.

The view all around in Moab, Utah.

In our amazing cabin in paradise in Mountain Home, Idaho, in the middle of nowhere.

Eli's sculpture made at our campsite near Bend, Oregon.

Feeling happy and at home in big, dramatic nature.

Volcanoes, mountains and trees in central Oregon.

In a giant volcanic crater in the center of Oregon. There was black volcanic rock for miles around. When one bit of rock hit another, it made a beautiful metallic clinking sound.

In the Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon.

Quintessential Eli move.

Joshua and Eli frolicking on the Oregon coast.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

After California

What happened, you may wonder, to the Pearl Family Odyssey? After California the writing dropped off. Where did the Pearl family disappear to?

As the weeks went on, the journey became less an experience of travel and exploration and more about a search for our next home town. Never having done such a thing before, and having few references for how such an endeavor is carried out, the journey became very personal. As much as I wanted to keep up with the blogging, my attention naturally pointed inward and toward taking care of my family. Life is still tender and many enormous changes are underway, but I feel like writing again, so we'll see how I do with that as we get ready to head west very soon. Ah, but I am getting ahead of myself....let me do my best to fill you in on our time between California in August and what is now November in Massachusetts before I say more about what's next.

Let's see:

Here is where we went after California: up the coast of Oregon, back to Portland, back up to Seattle, back down to Portland, down to Eugene, across the middle of Oregon from Eugene all the way to Idaho, across Idaho, down from the middle of the northern part of Utah, passing through Salt Lake City, to Moab, Utah. Then we stayed in Boulder, Colorado for a few days. Then we drove from Boulder to Omaha, Nebraska. Then from Omaha through Iowa to just outside of Chicago. Then from the Chicago area back to Oberlin, Ohio. Then from Oberlin to Geneva, New York. Then a brief stop in Ithaca, New York and back to the home of our dear friends in western Massachusetts. All of that happened in about three weeks.

Here are some of the highlights from the journey above:
  • Florence, Oregon: We met some truly inspiring relatives we hadn't known existed before our trip. Bernie is a first cousin of Joshua's mother. He and his wife, Lucille, have been married almost 60 years and are still clearly in love. He spends most of his time painting lovely watercolor paintings. Lucille, who couldn't be more than 4 feet 8 inches tall, is full of energy and takes spin classes at the gym three times a week. They drive a Prius and wear Keen sandals and have an RV. They have traveled all over the US in their RV over decades, starting in the sixties! These two people, at 83 and 80 years old have more spunk, energy and life force than many people I know who are much younger than they are. Spending time with them helped us feel like we were on the right track, and that we are not the only artistic travelers in the family at large.
  • From Eugene to Bend, Oregon: The drive across Oregon was stunningly beautiful. We drove through a gorgeous forested area called Makenzie Pass. The van was sequestered by endless groves of pointy trees as we drove along a winding road that suprisingly took us to a gigantic black volanic crater in what felt like the middle of nowhere. When we stopped the van to take a look around, there was metallic black rock as far as we could see. The rock clinked when pieces of it rubbed against itself. The rocks must have been millions of years old. We had no idea it was there. What an amazing treat that was!
  • Paradise in Mountain Home, Idaho: After a particularly rough day emotionally, and a bit of fighting between Joshua and me, we ended up in the Idaho version of the middle of nowhere at a campground overlooking giant sand dunes. Tumbleweeds rolled by our feet (I had never seen a real tumbleweed before) and led us to the cabin in paradise. Our lovely little 8 by 10 foot cabin had five spots to sleep, a table and chairs, a porch with a swinging bench, electricity, air conditioning, and wifi! All of this fabulous luxury all to ourselves as well. All other campers were at another campground two minutes away. We had a space of 30 or more campsites all to ourselves, as well as the huge shower house and bathrooms with nice flushing toilets. Never ever would I have expected to find such a perfect place given where we were and how we felt. Our family has Joshua's persistence to thank for that wonderful surprise. I would have not had the fortitude to continue on to the second campground.
  • The Craphole Campground: Okay, that wasn't the offical title of the place, but it should have been. This campground in northern Utah was advertised as having special medicinal hot springs. The hot springs were there, but they were yucky. We didn't even consider paying the extra fee to immerse oursevles in the brown smelly pools. Instead we spent our time coping with the smell of goose poop everywhere and braving the "bathrooms" which were actually port-o-pottys. Eli had a stuffy nose that night too, which kept him (and us) awake much of the night, and if it wasn't that making sleep difficult, it was the very loud trains passing by all night, or the gunshots we heard nearby.
  • Moab, Utah (Arches National Park): Moab is like being on another planet. Huge red rock mountains are everywhere in sight and everything is beautiful. It was Labor Day weekend when we were there, foolishly hoping to stay inside Arches National Park. Apparently in order to do that you had to wait in line starting at 7am. By 6pm when we arrived, every space was full. That led to a mad rush to one of the several campsites just outside the park right along the bank of the Colorado River. We got the last available space to be found anywhere around! We set up the tent in a frenzy, in a bit of rain, before the sun went down, with several Pearls starting to get sick. It was the one place we stayed without running water so we had to bring it in from town. Our stay there was two days long. We were exhausted from moving around so much and from so much emotional stretching for the six or seven weeks leading up to that point. I will post some pictures from this truly jaw dropping place. It really must be seen to be believed.
  • Boulder, Colorado: The drive from Moab to Boulder was GORGEOUS. In Boulder we had several visits with more lovely lovely friends. I got sick for just a day. We checked out Boulder as one of the last possible places we were thinking of living. After Boulder we planned to make our final decision of where to live. Visiting with our friends nourished us deeply. We caught up after many years absence and we were introduced to pita pizzas, a very easy and handy meal to make for a hungry crowd.
  • Boulder to Omaha, Nebraska: This was one of the longest drives we did. It took about seven hours. We landed in a strange hotel. Nebraska was a long stretch of flat land that stayed the same throughout the entire drive. In a rest stop somewhere in the middle a large man wearing a cowboy hat and cowboy boots saw our Massachusetts license plate. He said, "Looks like you folks are a long way from home." I told him yes, we were. So then he said, "Welcome to America!"
  • Iowa: We passed through Iowa on our way to the Chicago area. I love Iowa. I remembered loving it on our trip 20 years ago. The green rolling hills have a lovely and friendly energy to them. Some day I would like to see Iowa beyond the highway.
  • Oberlin, Ohio and Geneva, New York: More visits with excellent friends. Geneva is right on the Finger Lakes in upstate New York. Joshua spent an entire day right on the lake. All these years of living in New York and we never explored the northern and western part of this large state. We enjoyed getting a broader view of New York as the last part of our journey back east.
  • Ithaca, New York: I had always heard very nice things about Ithaca and had a long standing interest in visiting. We went to the famous Moosewood Restaurant for our closing ritual and a very nice meal. We took some time with the kids as we ate delicious soups and salads and a very tasty chocolate cake, and talked about what the trip meant to us all, and what we learned and what was hard and what was fun. It was a lovely ending to that part of our travels, even though Eli didn't like the food and got his own pizza afterward and promptly threw up soon after eating it.
So there you have the Cliff notes version of the last three weeks of our odyssey. I will try to dig up some key pictures for you for my next entry.

It's nice to be back blogging again!
Wishing you well........Cora

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Laughing Heart

The Laughing Heart

your life is your life
don't let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can't beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

--Charles Bukowski

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Eli tired and overwhelmed during a long and intense day in San Francisco. Never too tired for a costume though.

A street in San Francisco.

A wonderful reunion with a very special friend from Japan.

Seaweed prize on the beach in Santa Cruz. This thing was very heavy!

Waves went crashing through this small space. The kids saw an octopus floating in it.

An incredible rock formation. I think it looks like a brain.
That little person in white is Joshua, walking through the luscious green plants growing on the cliff by the magical secret cove.

Paradise by the side of the road on Route 1.

We spent about a week and a half traveling in California. We went to Berkeley, San Francisco, and Santa Cruz and stopped along the way on the coast, resting at several beaches. Our family unit was so nourished by being at the beach. The crashing of the waves and the texture of the sand reliably absorbed the buzzy traveling energy of riding in the van for hours at a stretch. The promise of a beach visit immediately shifted Eli's mood every time. We eventually learned that no matter how short the visit, putting on a bathing suit was essential for Eli, since he immersed himself in the water, no matter how high his pants were rolled up.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Berkeley, California

The fabulous Pacific Ocean on our way from the Avenue of the Giants to the Bay Area.

Eating at Crepevine in Berkeley. Everyone got too hungry. We made eggs at midnight the night before due to poor planning of food that day.

A fun building near our friend's house.

Colorful Telegraph Avenue.

A bunch of street vendors on Telegraph Avenue.

We had a great time visiting the Bay Area. A good friend of mine who we would have normally stayed with, had family visiting her and some other things going on that made it complicated for us to stay with her. Thanks to her amazing resourcefulness, and the incredible kindness of her neighbor, we had a whole house to ourselves, right next door to her! These amazing friends of hers, whom we had never even met, let us stay in their home. It was a real treat to spread out like that, after such continuous close quarters in a car and tent. Not only did we all have more space, there was a piano, two cats for Eli to play with and a huge trampoline as well. We have been the recipients of such beautiful generosity on this journey. I look forward to meeting these lovely people, who we have already gotten to know on some level, through living in their house.

Our friend next door is a gourmet chef, and while we were in Berkeley, she treated us to two nights of her fabulous cooking. After all the road food we had been eating (pizza, pasta, sandwiches, pancakes) having home cooked meals of professional quality gave us lots of pleasure and energy. At the dinner table Eli said, "I feel like it is Thanksgiving!" I know what he means.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

Redwoods in California

This photo was taken at out campsite in the Del Norte campgrounds in northern California. Our tent was surrounded by these magical trees.

This photo gives new meaning to the concept of hugging a tree.

Man in bliss.

Woodland fairy.

Family in a tree.

Close up version.

Love among the trees. We felt small, but the love felt big.

See how big they are?

Being among the redwoods feels like being a hobbit in Lord of the Rings.

When I am among the redwoods, I feel like everything is okay.

One of the things I was most excited about sharing with our children on this trip was these magnificent trees. Pictures hardly do them justice.

The indoor cat has made a discovery on this journey: I like my nature BIG. Big mountains, big oceans, big sky, big prairies, big trees!

A Rough Night

Being eaten by a sculpture in Portland in front of the sports arena.

A rose petal creation by Eli made from rose petals from the Rose Garden in Portland.

My feet on the beach. This was the softest finest sand I have ever felt.

The Oregon coast. It is rougher than the California coast, but just as beautiful.

August 24th, 2009

I am in a hotel right now, and very happy about that. Last night was really really hard! I did some kind of funny body twist as I was getting into the tent last night and my lower back became the locale for a pain festival. I also ate some tomato meat sauce pasta in a swarm of bees and the food was yummy but kept me awake. On top of that I was over the top hormonal (still am) and had to pee horribly badly. It was so dark and I was afraid of bears and so it took hours before I finally hobbled out of the tent and did my business. Back in the tent I kept trying to do deep breathing and stay calm and not trust my destructive thought cycles, but the sleeping bag was so narrow and my hip was starting to hurt too, and finally, I just started sobbing. I did it quietly, however, so as not to wake up the rest of the sleepers. I used great restraint in not waking up Joshua through all of this, thinking it was better that at least one of the adults got some sleep. I kept thinking that I would just get up with the sun and maybe take a walk or something, but the sun was not there! I think I was squirming around for a good three or four hours. I finally fell asleep just as the sun was coming up.

Today when I woke up I could hardly move. Fiona had to help me pack up and put my shoes on and Joshua had to help me lift my legs into the car to get in my seat. I couldn't even walk to the bathroom. He had to drive me there. Once I was still in the car the pain wasn't so bad, so long as I didn't twist or move much. We drove to Talent, Oregon where of all people, we were meeting a friend from Woodstock who is now living there, who is a body worker/healer! He did some EFT on me and some other strange healing thing involving an invisible green dragon and I have been a lot better since. Still in a little pain, but much much better.

So I went from hell and misery and despair into a whole lot better in less than 24 hours. It can happen. I wouldn't have believed it last night though!!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Portland, Oregon

A giant fly on a roof of a restroom somewhere in Oregon.

In Portland, we ended up staying with some new friends that we met through a connection of Isaac's. I am just so impressed and floored by the amount of generosity that we have received on this trip. So many kind and wonderful people have opened their homes to us on our journey. What a huge contribution to the odyssey. A huge thank you to everyone who has hosted us and shown us around.

We had a great time in Portland. The weather was constantly changing: rain, sun, clouds, warm, cold. The air crackled with crispness and the colors were very pretty. And of course, there was Powell's City of Books, the largest independent booksellers in the country with a gigantic store that occupies a full city block. We were browsing the stacks at Powell's within hours of arriving in the City of Roses.

I wish we had taken more pictures in Portland. I guess we were too busy doing things.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Seattle, Washington

View of the lake from one of the parks we visited in Seattle. There were so many parks and beautiful views of water all over the city.

Cora playing scientist at the lab in the university.

Bob and Joshua together again.

Bob's gig at Slim's Last Chance. That's Bob on drums. The next night Joshua recorded Bob's playing inside the empty Odyssey for a recording project.

Pearls sitting on the Fremont troll.

Isaac in contemplation by a lake.

Eating ramen in downtown Seattle with the lovely Mariko.

Uwajimaya, the largest Japanese grocery around. What a treat.

After the long stretch of nature and camping, and then the gentle reintegration into culture in Bellingham, the urban environment of Seattle was a shock to the system. It took a few days to get used to so many cars and people and sounds, but after a day or two we found our groove in Seattle. I was surprised that when we were in the downtown tall building area of Seattle, my body suddenly relaxed in a ripple of familiarity. I felt strangely at home among buildings that blocked the sky. Even though I have lived in the rural countryside for over a decade, apparently my New York City roots are still in tact.

We spent the whole time in Seattle visiting with dear old friends and it was such a joy to finally see them in their home town. Although I love being able to see good friends as frequently as possible, I really appreciate the resilience of a true connection with a loved one. Even after years of not seeing these wonderful people, it was so easy to jump right into knowing and loving one another. We have reconnected with so many lovely friends on this journey so far and have plans to visit with many others.

A good friend of mine mentioned to me the other day that all of these posts seem so upbeat and happy. Her comment really got me thinking....why is that so? This trip is not without its challenges, but mostly, it has been a very joyful time. The movement is good for our family. The adventure. The teamwork. I continually have a sense that we are on the right track with our lives. I guess it comes through in the documentation of the trip.

Another friend reflected back that we seemed to have planned this journey out quite well and that we seem to have so much intentionality around it. I would say that her comment is true. An interesting thing I keep noticing is that Joshua and I have a cellular memory of doing the same kind of trip together twenty years ago. On that two and a half month journey back in 1989, we developed cross country traveling chops that are still with us. Yes, it is different and more complex to be doing it with three children in tow, but we also have amazing technology this time, such as computers, an iPhone, a GPS and a comfortable vehicle which make it all so much easier. This type of travel is in the DNA of our marriage. In fact, the intensity of spending so much time in a car and getting to know each other through the built in situation of constant decision making by living on the road, is what made us decide to get engaged. We felt that if our relationship could withstand such continuous close quarters and we could find such cooperation and partnership and still laugh and have fun that it was time to take our relationship to the next level. Our very engagement was born out of life on the road. And here we are again, together with our children, engaged once more.

Next stop, Portland, Oregon.

(Posted by Cora, even though it says Father of Pearl at the bottom. There was a small technical difficulty.)