Category Archives: delight

Victory… and the end of a Great American Road Trip

When I set out from Washington, DC, I was unsure of where I would stay in New Mexico, mainly because I was worried about how my car (and let’s be honest, my driving skills) would do in its mountainous curves amid potential snow flurries.

Storm Trooper Regrets Decision

I had a Plan A, which was to proceed to Taos for two nights and enjoy the break from driving for a day.

And I had a Plan B, which was to stay the first night in Albuquerque on I-40, not attempting the 2 hours uphill in the dark, and if it was snowing, forgo Taos altogether and head south; if not, visit Taos for one night and then be on my merry way.

How did I decide? How did I sate that crazy monster inside that loves to hem and haw and put off making decisions that might invite regret?

I asked two natives their opinion on the day of my drive, and after both confirmed a safe route, that was enough. I pronounced it enough.

The predicted storm of 2 days later? Wouldn’t be that bad. And if it were, well, then I’d be delayed. It’s happened before and the sky didn’t fall.

So, it was a victory for me! Decision made! In less than the time it usually takes me to get to the root of the question!

World Cup Cafe in Taos NM

Following this victory, I enjoyed the atmosphere, the snow, the laid-back small-town feel of Taos.

Last Leg

The last leg of the trip involved a straight shot from Taos to San Diego, CA, where I’d be staying with a friend and basically home-free. I went from Taos, NM to Flagstaff, AZ, then from Flagstaff to San Diego, CA.

Nowhere on the trip did I experience more visible changes in my environment than in this space of time. I woke up in Taos and had to brush off the powdered-sugar snow from my car and wait for the sun to rise above the storm clouds. I drove down through Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Indian City, and arrived in Flagstaff tired enough to fall asleep Before. Eight. O’clock. With no dinner.

Mountain driving! Man, I tell ya.

Waking up in Flagstaff was similar, except instead of powdered-sugar snow, my car had frost like spiderwebs all over it. Thankfully I was parked in the sun’s rays and it thawed pretty quickly. Then I went south through Phoenix (winning a prize for Fastest-Growing-City-to-‘Out-Ugly’-Los-Angeles-in-Sprawl), and west on I-8, which, if you’ve never been on it, IS the Middle of Nowhere.

I left the snow behind, saw the red cliffs in all their glory, passed a forest of tough old cactii, contemplated the low desert, entered sand dune territory, and saw an exit market “Mexico: Next Left.” I could literally see the Border Wall, which was for some reason exhilarating.

I was at sea level, then climbed back up 4,000 feet of elevation to pass into California, cruising back down on what seemed like a cloud: the weather had changed. The arrow now pointed to ‘Perfect.’

The ten days were an adventure, but the last leg seemed like a finale, with even a cymbal-clashing finish. It all seemed to end so quickly, as I felt the California sun again and headed to my sister’s.

That was it? I felt like saying, even though the trip had been full of twists and turns and decisions and mayhem and awesomeness.

Next Leg

Today the trip goes from Stateside to Asia Edition.

Updating as I road-tripped was a little frantic, so I will be hanging this sign while I am off in Seoul and Beijing. I look forward to bringing back tales of delicacies and derring-do!

Closed for Vacation 

Images via Techneur and Designs by Mimi & Lola

Smoky Dragon Way

Boundary Line marker, Great Smokies

This epic Road Trip of 2013 has many stops in its 10 days, but only 2 that get more than one night’s attention. The first place to get such special treatment is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Why? I had never been there before, it was a vast national park full of hikes calling me forth, and it was right on my path west on I-40.

Unfortunately, it rained the 2 days I was there and I left all my winter coats hanging in the closet when I left DC.

BUT! I drove to Fontana Dam to hike a piece of the fabled Appalachian Trail (the ‘AT’ for the in-the-know).

Island in Fontana Dam reservoir

As it was going to be raining soon, I didn’t venture too far. Also, I just didn’t seem to be ‘feeling’ it. I wasn’t getting that flow of energy from being in Nature that I usually do. It felt more like a slog to beat the clock. So after an hour I re-evaluated and turned back, content with that and ready to explore a different type of activity.

I had to ask myself many times whether that was what I really wanted to do, wanting to make sure I didn’t regret the decision. When you see you’re not realizing your potential, how long does it take to switch course, and what do you do to ensure you’re making the right decision?

I drove to Cherokee, NC to see The Museum of the Cherokee, since I realized I associated the Cherokee Indians with Oklahoma, which wasn’t their native area at all. I learned about the Eastern Band, those that hid in the Smoky Mountains to avoid the Trail of Tears.

Smoky Mountains and their Hair

Ever notice how mountain ridges with trees look like skin with hair?

I wound my way through the “Tail of the Dragon,” an 11-mile stretch of road in the Park containing a purported 318 turns. Twice.

For some reason, I left feeling a bit unsatisfied. It could have been the rain. So I was glad that the forest gave me one of my favorite things as a farewell: fog.

Foggy Mountain Road

Maybe I delight in fog so much because it reflects uncertainty, radiates romance, invites mystery… it’s a hard-working meteorological phenomenon! And one I’m sure to get my fill of in Portland…

The other thing the forest left me as a ‘farewell’ was not as much to my liking. I’ll give you a hint: it went ‘bunk-a-chunk-CRUNCH.’ More on that sound in the next post…. stay tuned!

Feel free to leave a comment if you have something to share about the Smokies, love/hate fog, or have an awesome decision-making process- share with TLT!

When in Doubt, Part 3: Write A Novel, Or Two

Part 3 of the “When In Doubt, Do Everything At Once” series on Taste Life Twice. See Part 1 and Part 2.

This series of “When In Doubt” posts will deal specifically with how to get happy when you feel like you’re drowning in more questions than answers. I have frequently been in dips like this, as you can see from many of my posts. Sometimes I work out a problem on the blog here with you, but often it is expressed in activity in another sphere. Here is where I’m showcasing those other activities, and how I deal with uncertainty every day.

writing desk at a window

So with traveling and decluttering behind us, what else have I been up to that helped me get through the long period of uncertainty? Writing: it’s what I do to keep myself from going crazy.

I wrote two novels.

Let me explain. This series is titled “When in Doubt,” but I haven’t fully explained the doubt piece. It’s one most of are probably experiencing right now:

Is this my life’s calling? Is this what I really want to do with my life?

It’s either an impossible question to answer, or an incredibly simple one. Impossible if you think there is one true answer; simple if you approach your life as a big experiment.

Let’s look at it the Experiment Way, which has helped shape the direction of Taste Life Twice over the past year. The new philosophy:

“Just try it, you might like it.”

steamed broccoli

This may sound like a familiar line from childhood, but I’m not talking about broccoli (ick) or brussels sprouts (yum) here. I’m talking about those activities you want to try, but there’s an inner voice telling you “Too risky” or “Too much effort.”

What is life but risk and effort?

So you might as well take the risk and make the effort for something you think is worthwhile to spend your life on.

That’s how I came to start writing a novel in February of 2011. I had an idea for an opening line, and instead of conveniently submerging (read: drowning) it in a hefty to-do list, I started.

I took Ann Lamott’s credo of The Shitty First Draft to heart and just kept going. I’d always wanted to be a writer; what was really stopping me? Just me.

So I kept at it, eventually telling a few people that I was writing a novel, and then even setting up accountability buddies that would keep me on task to finish.

Almost as important as starting.

September 30, 2012 I finished that S.F.D. and made the decision to jump into NaNoWriMo to keep the mojo going. This meant that for the month of November, I got up before 6 AM, cut out any guilty thoughts of jogging, and trained my laser focus on writing 1,800 words every morning before work in order to complete a novel (defined as 50,000 coherent words strung together).

Just like the Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Race goal I’d set myself, I took to the challenge and felt invigorated by the sense of purpose it gave me, so lacking in other areas of my life. Now I’ve got two novels to edit!

Important Lessons to Draw from this Experience:

1) When In Doubt, Try It. You Might Like It.

2) Start.

3) Finish.

Basically, if you feel called to do something, give it a shot, and make it your best shot. Otherwise, you’re spending your life on something you’ll regret. Don’t be that person! Embrace the life you are meant to live!

What have you always wanted to do or be, but didn’t think it was possible? I bet there is some way you could give it a trial run…