Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"I Can"

Learning to trust the Universe isn't always an easy process, yes, a process as we always grow, and lately it seems that I still have many lessons to learn.  There is the thought process about calling something forth and believing in the "I Can" that allows for greater access into the Universal Consciousness; only dampened when we focus on the "I Don't" thoughts, thoughts about not having enough, etc.  Sometimes we may not fully understand why we are led to a certain place or person, but things reveal themselves.
Enjoyed at the Free Niagara Falls, Ontario, Botanical Gardens

I had only intended to stay in Niagara Falls, Ontario, for a few nights before continuing my journey to the East; however, the Universe caused a delay.  For days I have struggled to keep my mind focused on knowing that the Universe will provide, as funds dwindled to almost decay; curious to know when I would have the funds to move forward.  Having a phone that works (being so close to the U.S) helped and allowed timely communication with some clients, learning to do without and to budget more wisely has increased my awareness, waiting, waiting, waiting.
Protected, not always remembering, by the Lion's energy.  Me at the Buddhist Temple in Niagara Falls, Ontario

Sleep evaded me for the last few nights, perhaps with the concerns of finances and how to get to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and has caused limited rest.  Believing that what I need shall arrive at the right moment has helped, spending time just walking and enjoying the sunshine, the warmth, the beauty of the flowers and plants, walking barefoot in the grass, and just sitting quietly has been the focus; along with doing some work for clients back in Austin (part of the understanding now of why I am delayed here.).
Statue at the Temple of a 1000 Buddhas in Niagara Falls, Ontario

There is a calmness about today, still concerned and researching things, but knowledgeable that things are the way they are supposed to be at this very moment in time, and also trusting that being alive and living in the moment allows for greater freedoms.  Thus, today is about believing, connecting, encouraging (I have found that when I have concerns, it helps to encourage others, as it reinforces what I already know.), and trusting.

The morrow will come, funds will be available, and forward I will go.  Forward to where is unknown at the moment, but the desire and intention of visiting Toronto and Montreal still exist, especially the desire for Nova Scotia and the Shambhala Training Center there.  However, I'm aware of the possibility of going state-side in order to access Halifax with less expense, but I hear the New England states have great Fall colors, and I've never been to those parts.  Today is the focus, improving my thoughts about things, believing, trusting.
Beauty in everything.

Thought for the day:  How do you see life?  Through the "I Can" or through the "I Cannot"?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

In-Discover - Infract, the best thing in music for the upcoming years.

Cool, damp, lushly green grass provided the seating for the free InDiscover concert here in Niagara Falls, Ontario.  It was a final competition for many of the performers and comedians, all vying for a special engagement on New Year's Eve here.  The comedians performed, the bands played, the crowds gathered and drank, everyone finding a comfortable spot on the slightly sloping lawn.  When the female MC returned on stage after the last comedian's performance, this time sporting a wicked little black leather jacket, she announced the next group by saying, "I had to put the jacket in honor of this next band, a rocking group - Infract."

Bass pounding, drums rhythmically beating, guitars strumming along with long hair bouncing, and when the attractive blond lead singer began to sing, the vocals radiated out into the darkness of the night air, much to the delight of everyone.  His mesmerizing voice quickly caught my attention, the words easily identifiable, and with a clear message in each song.  Long haired band members rocked, played, and danced on stage while the music delighted the audience.  Dancing broke out amongst all ages, even my own legs began to tap, all while the band played.

The uniqueness of this band's music should be heard by everyone who enjoys rock music.  Over the years I have listened to many rock bands, usually not being able to hear the lyrics of their songs, only enjoying the music, always curious what the words were saying.  Every song by Infract this evening allowed for the best possible mix of music and vocals, the lyrics greatly enjoyed without having to read a CD label to learn them.  Being a competition this incredible music ended all too quickly, at least for me, as I could have listened to them for much longer.

After their performance, the MC returned to talk with the judging panel about their music with the lead singer standing next to her.  All of the judges had good comments to say about the band, one was even ready to take her top off and dance, another one commenting about the effect of this "depth reaching, soul inspiring, heart warming" (my words, not the judges.) music on the audience because he could smell what was being smoked by some audience members.

Another band, with the same sound of many girl bands performed while I enjoyed conversing with two of the girlfriends of the band members, who were selling CDs of the bands music.  I agreed to purchase one but only if the band would all agree to sign the CD.  Thus, with the help of the two girlfriends and band member Bob Marek, all of the signatures were obtained, signed next to their images on the CD cover.

"Superheros do it all the time.. Break laws to defend the right but how right are they? They INFRACT. Hence the Title of This Ontario bands single and Mantra. INFRACT and they will come. This original 4 pc (now a 5) was put together by the bands founder and Drummer Joel Clausner on the premise that breaking laws of humanity would have an audience.. and an audience they do have. Rounded out by Ash Dandryial, on Vocals, Bob Marek on bass, and Darryl Jon Herbert on guitar, and they have added Kevin Gale on guitar, GOLD JUNO AWARD WINNER FROM SLIK TOXIK, to round out the assault. To define their sound would not do a band like this Justice. They have taken Rock to a new level by incorporating acoustic guitar to modern heavy rock, the sound is INFRACTious. Stay tuned...Laws are about to be broken...Or as they would say INFRACTED!"  Copied from their website - Infracted.ca

This band is a must hear, must see group!  Anyone involved with Austin City Limits music festival, who owns a nightclub in Austin, or other wise has any interest in hiring a great new band, please feel free to contact them.  I'm sure you will not be disappointed in their music, stage performance, or the delight your audiences will have while dancing to the rock music this band provides.  Not to mention the attention gathered from their very sweet black caddy will garner street passerby's, and will look great parked outside your nightclub.

You can also find them on Facebook, Myspace, Sonic Bids, Rock Hard Radio.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The experience of Living what you Believe.

From realizing the simple childish delight of the physical world to hours of Theosophical debates with a young man sitting next to me.  I've finally asked the driver if I could sit in the front seat for a time of quiet, as I could not handle any more conversations with the young man about religion.  The most troubling aspect of zealots is their lack of understanding and real life experience.  For hours the young man and I have talked, he only closed his Bible when I asked if he was capable of having a conversation about anything else, but within moment the Bible was open again an every reference point was a literal presentation of religious viewpoints without the knowledge of what he tried to present.  During the many, now long, hours, I never felt that he was able to really listen, but only interested in trying to tell me about his viewpoints.
Along the road around Lake Superior

In contrast, Hank and Kim showed more true Christ-like behaviour and belief than this young man, simply because they lived what they believed instead of preaching it.  If more people who proclaimed their faith in the Christ actively lived what they say they believe, then the world might actually be open to hearing their beliefs.  But it seems, from my experiences of being a Baptist preacher, that most that call themselves Christians rarely understand the simplest teachings of Christ.  Limited minds with extremely narrow focus seem unable to relate with others.
Sunset on Lake Superior

"He who travels far will often see things
Far removed from what he believed was Truth.
When he talks about it in the fields at home,
He is often accused of lying,
For the obdurate people will not believe
What they do not see and distinctly feel."
Quoted from "The Journey to the East"

I, myself, prefer an expanded mind, one able to see the gift of forgiveness and feel its power, fully understand grace in the word and deed, and that acknowledges truth is present in everything when an open mind really sees.
Wild geese grazing at one of our bus stops.

5:30 PM and the hours tick away, now with a bit more solitude.  Over 12 hours before my arrival in Toronto and then unknown are the hours further East, or South, to Niagara Falls.  Usefull information was derrived from the zealous young man, which information now causes some travel concerns.  I may have to purchase passage on another bus line to get fro Montreal to Halifax.
Canada on this side, the U.S. across the river.

After finishing the Shambhala book, I've discovered that their training is headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Something that caught my attention and strengthened my desire to visit there.  So now the question arises as to how to get there, since Greyhound stops service in Montreal and my flight to New York City is from Halifax.  I may have to travel down into the Northeastern part of the states through Maine and seek a ferry over, or another flight (if an inexpensive one can be found).  13 days till my due date in New York City.  Can the flight be canceled, refunded, should I not make it up that way?

Temperature is dropping, as the cold North winds blow.  Autumn is fast making itself known, even the trees attest this fact by the turning of their leaves from various shades of green to bright yellow, orange, and red.  The bus sways and rocks as we make our way along the narrow 2-lane highway around Lake Superior.  I've written much in the last few days and am eager to post it into the Blog, along with the need to check emails and connect with others.  Perhaps some time visiting the Northeastern United States is warranted, at least my phone will work again.

Winnipeg to Niagara Falls

10 PM on Tuesday evening at the Winnipeg bus station, I've boarded the next bus to Toronto, an estimated 33 hour drive.  Estimated arrival on Thursday morning 7 AM.  There seem to be a lot of people heading East, so they have added an extra bus, I'm aboard the 2nd bus, which has fewer passengers allowing for more leg room and comfortable sleep tonight.  I'll have to wait for sleep until we make a stop somewhere along the way to purchase some water to take my medications, as I had to quickly board this bus after arriving here from Snow Lake only a 30 minutes ago.  The bus is moving now, so we're off into the night, a night marked by a full moon shining brightly in the dark sky.
Scenery outside the bus as we travel from Snow Lake to Winnipeg.

6:30 AM, Wednesday, August 25th.  After a night of uncomfortable sleep on the East bound, quiet Greyhound bus I awakened, one of a lonely few, to walk off the buss at the early morning stop.  Simply a bagel, cream cheese, and a vitamin water and back to my awaiting seat.  Cream cheese spread gingerly across the warmed bagel and each bite was taken with the delight of the moment.
One of the sights at a stop on the Greyhound Bus.

After the morning delight of bagel with cream cheese came the continuation of the reading of "The Journey to the East" by Hermann Hesse.  As the last chapter passed my mind, a moment of quiet reflection with the realization of something lost.  I've known for some time that I was searching for something, most would summise I was running away, for even I have believed it this way from time to time.  As the morning sun illumiates the tree ccovered hills passing silently, it also grought an illuminated realization.
Me, asleep on the bus.

I've been traveling to regain that small child's wonder, excitement, and simple pleasure of the physical world.  That child's world where magic is possible and questions welcomed and abounded, that delight in discovering everything.

Now, again, through the eyes of the gifted child I see the delight and magic again.  Yes, Lynn, Santa Claus does exist.  If only through the joyous wonder and dreams of a child.  Peaceful and excited feelings emerge from deep within, as a closer understanding of "The Great Eastern Sun" is realized.  Just as the great Eastern sun shines brightly, revealing the colors, the amusement, and even the joy of just being.

Why is it that we loose our childish enjoyment of things as we age?

The freshness, magic, and wonder renewed, awakening the love of living again.

Kakabeka Falls, Ontario, now.  Thunder Bay 30 Kilometers ahead.
White River, Canada, Where Winnie the Pooh started.

Me, at Lake Superior, one of the stops of the Greyhound bus.
Perhaps I need not always travel to keep this joyful sate of being with me, ever present in thought and deed, but it has helped.

Basic Human Goodness

It is becoming rare for strangers to open their homes to travelers, but Hank and Kim did just that.  After not finding accomodations last night in Snow Lake, I was prepared to curl up on the small town street for the night.  As Hank was talking on the phone to someone about the cost of the other Inn and their prices, the next comment was, "would you like to stay at our house?"  Hank said if I didn't mind riding with him out to the new mine, then he would take me to their house for the night.  Thus, a midnight ride out to one of the local mines, some friendly conversation, and a quick, well-witted tour of the small town of Snow Lake.
Hank and Kim

After curling up in the warm bed, I quickly fell asleep.  The morning rain assisted in making the decision to make my way back to Winnipeg, although Kim welcomed me to stay longer to experience Snow Lake.
Snow Lake is a small mining town with 2 Inns, several minds (gold, zinc, copper, etc.) and very friendly people.  This is a true outdoorsman's paradise with lakes connecting to each other full of fish (I hear the ice fishing is good also), wild life everywhere, and miles away from everything.
Snow Lake with my guide, Hank

For all of those kayaking enthusiasts, this is untamed wilderness ready to be explored with miles of lakes to explore.  Kim, Hank and I spoke about how they would make wonderful tour guides and Hostel owners, with Kim commenting that since she had so many bedrooms, she would love to do that.
Hank talking about his 36 years of Mining.

Hank took me to see the Mining Museum, the best part being having Hank as a tour guide.  He worked in the mines here for 36 years and provided detailed, funny stories about the things we saw in the museum, including him pointing out how he used to drive the small train, what it was like going up and down in the cage, and true life of working down below in the darkness of the mines.

For anyone desiring to get away and explore the outdoors, I recommend a visit to Snow Lake, but come prepared.  The weather changes quickly from warm to cold (today it is about 16 Degrees Celcius).  Bring rain gear, your kayak (or see about renting one in Winnipeg and bringing it with you on the bus), camping gear, etc.  Currently there are no places to rent things, but I'm sure Hank and Kim would be happy to assist you in locating these things, not to mention very happy to have you visit with them.  I would recommend a gift of $25 Canadian, per night, for the pleasure of staying in their friendly and inviting home.
Kim and helpers at her store.

Hank and Kim, together now for 26 years, made my adventure North a delight, especially with their friendliness and good natures.  Kim is Ojibwa, which means she is part of Canada's First Nation (I like the wording of this assembly of Canada's aboriginal tribes, as it seems correct, they were here before the white settlers took their lands).  She loves to travel and can tell you about fun places to visit throughout Canada.  She has a backpacker's heart, so I wouldn't be surprised to see a small Hostel developed by her and Hank here in Snow Lake.  Hank enjoys staying put, but oh the stories he tells.
Drawing of the Mine operation.

Hank would make a great tour guide of the area, especially if the mines resume their tours down into their operations underground (Hank shared that they used to do it but only for groups).  He also makes a great shuttle driver; he currently  runs the Grey Goose van to deliver mostly express packages, but hopefully before long more and more backpackers will to brave the northern Manitoba lakes wilderness areas will grace his van.
Core samples from the mine.

Don't be surprised, if you get invited to their house, if you get to meet any number of children they foster from troubled situations, as Kim is actively involved in several aspects of First Nation activities.

Just some NOTES:

  1. Make sure you bring cash, as the ATM's don't always work here.  
  2. Bring everything you will need - food, camping gear, kayak, etc. 
  3. Don't be shy about asking Hank or Kim about staying at their home.  
  4. Stay for a few days, even if the weather is bad, it changes.

Maybe one day someone will open a kayak and bike rental here, as this is the place to be outdoors.  Hank even told me about an old railway that was removed and now you can hike between Snow Lake and Flin Flon (this sounds like a great hike and camp trip).  

Final NOTE:  Be sure to visit Kim's store in the main part of town for gifts, a massage, reflexology, have your nails done (ladies), or even to get a tan.  The store also houses the Grey Goose package office and is located at 100 Elm Street, Snow Lake, Manitoba.

Thank you Hank and Kim for renewing my faith in the basic human goodness.  Blessings to you as you help others, such as myself, to visit, learn and explore your wonderful part of the world.  I'll be back to visit, but better prepared to stay.

Winnipeg to Snow Lake

Drops of water slowly gather into little streams as they create curved patterns along the bus' windows.  The older lady, wrapped in a light blue sweater, crotches a small doll.  Earlier she showed me some of the coin purses and key chains she hand sews and sells to tourists.  Her key chains are adorable with fur lined boots or gloves.  I've napped most of the morning and into the afternoon.  28 hours on the bus now.  I've bypassed Winnipeg in favor os discovering the lake regions of Northern Manitoba.  Passing through tows with names such as "The Pas," "Snowy River," and "Dauphin" indicate some of the history along the way.  Current intention is to travel to Snow Lake, however, I'm open to visiting Flin Flon, the small town named after the men that discovered gold and minerals in the area.

From vast open prairies the scenery grows into ever taller trees spattered about with fields of hay.  Color has marked some of the trees, indicating Winter is closing in.  I miss my flowers, my gardens, and my cabin.  Messages arrive daily lately from the Universe that I should contact my father when I can.  I enjoyed spending the last two years getting to know him; however, I could no longer handle being around the others.  There are constant reminders of what was given up, so for the moment I'm enjoying the green, the yellow, and the orange of the trees outside my bus' window.

Awakening after several more hours of sleep, I discover the delicate silver-barked birch dancing with the dark, pointed northern pines.  Through the rain there are mountains in the distance.  The sea of green trees morphs into a sea of grass with tall markers of what used to be trees.  Forest fires take their toll here regularly.  I understand that there are over 200 forest fires at this very moment in Canada.  The farmland breaks in the forest have dissipated now, the forest growing more wild.  The small tow-lane road winds along, taking our bus further North.  It's 7 PM.  There is more yellow in the trees now, mixed with lime and dark green.

The marshlands appear occasionally through the trees revealing Lake Winnipeg.  The wind blows the leaves and grass.  There is something calming about having so much water around.  Flin Flon is 238 Kilometers.
The area here is flat, not hilly or mountainous, but rivers, small ponds, marshes, and lakes abound.  The pinging sound of the rain against the glass combined with the gentle swaying and rocking of the bus makes me sleepy again.  I've already slept most of today so I'm trying to stay awake.

Sleep might win.

9:30 PM brings a transfer from Greyhound to Grey Goose in Cranberry Portage at a very small country store.  Next stop is along the side of the road to await a van to take me onto Snow Lake.  I'll depart there Wednesday, unless something else alters the intentions.  The new bus driver is a smiling, happy, blonde lady.  I'm the only person going to Snow Lake, it seems they don't have a lot of tourists up these parts.  Should be interesting.  A bit of sleep, the bus stops, I hear the driver say, this is the Snow Lake stop.  I look around and it's very dark all around the bus.  Grabbing my bags I bounce into the darkness, walk around the bus and discover the small van is already here, my large pack being transferred over, so I am introduced to the driver, Hank, and take the front seat of the van.
The Grey Goose van meeting the Greyhound bus, Hank and our bus driver.

Hank is very friendly and we talk about the town, why I am visiting here, where I'm from, that he used to work for the mines and now for Greyhound.  He takes me for a quick tour of the local gold mine which is reopening, before dropping me off at the small greyhound station across from the local Inn.  Bags slung over both shoulders, and into the bar (yes, the bar is where I had to go to talk to someone about obtaining a room for the night.) to inquire about a room.  A few minutes later and I'm walking back across the street, no rooms available, so I was getting ready to sleep on the now very wet streets of this small town.  I saw Hank still inside the station so I knocked and asked about the other Inn and how much it costs, he made a phone call and then asked me some questions.  The next bit surprised me, but reminded me of the basic goodness of people.  Hank was talking with his wife Kim, and now I am a guest in their lovely home.  Kim says I should stay here at least a few days as there is much to see, however, I mentioned if it was raining tomorrow then I would go ahead and catch the next bus out so as to not be an inconvenience to them.  We all talked for a few hours before being shown to a bedroom, provided a towel, and instructions as to how to stay warm.  I'm heading to bed here in a bit, but wanted to get this all down in writing before I forget.  This sort of thing doesn't happen every day.

Time Change - Winnipeg

Hank, the very friendly and helpful ticket agent in Winnipeg.

Time moves forward and backwards, or so it seems, when you travel.  What was 7 AM is now 8 AM, in less than a second an hour passed, all because of a time zone, the next moment I arrived in Winnipeg.  Curiosity and questions arose as I noticed the bus making its way away from the downtown area and towards the airport.  "Greyhound Only" signs pointed the way through the drive around the airport until we arrived at the 1 year old station, recently moved from downtown.  The concept of the station at the airport is a good one, but now this has further separated Greyhound from train services and the city’s public transit, but perhaps there is a city bus that comes out to the airport.  The greatest concern was how to get to the downtown area where the hostel is located.  Thankfully, Greyhound provides a shuttle service to the downtown area for their passengers.  Issue and questions resolved, mostly due to the friendly and very helpful ticket agent, Hank, who also went out of his way to assist me in obtaining route information to Snow Lake.  He even provided me with a useful map of the Manitoba Province.  It is people like him that make traveling on Greyhound an enjoyable experience.  The security guards and other staff here were also very friendly and helpful.

Greyhound station at Winnipeg Airport

Security is stronger here, almost like airport security, except we don't have to undress.  Bags searched, body swiped over with a wand, and into the screened area to await the bus to Flin Flan, with another transfer or two to Snow Lake.  I'm sure there will be some sort of sleeping arrangement awaiting me.  I wish I had my tent and sleeping bag, as it seems there are some great places to camp up where I'm now going.

Although Greyhound is improving their stations, even the station locations, the new designs do not seem to be designed for their passenger's comfort.  There are no electronic recharging stations, limited seating, and no Wi-Fi access.

Facebook's security protocols have reached an extreme level of frustration.  Because of the constant changes to Facebook it takes longer and longer to sign-in upon reaching a new location.  I wasn't able to access Facebook because I couldn't identify some of the photos.  What person can keep up with all of the photos of his friends, especially when the new changes to Facebook actually make it more difficult to keep up with your friends.  I sent Facebook an email about this issue, but I haven't received a response.  Why is it that when some websites or corporations make changes, they always end up making things worse?  Time to board the bus, and a new line is forming for the next round of security checks.

On the bus to Winnipeg with Sam

The need for more in-depth self reflection has come, so I'm thinking of doing a few silent days, which have always helped in the past.  A vow of silence for a day or two should do the trick and allow me time to focus my own mind.  When one doesn't speak there is the opportunity to really hear, not only your own thoughts, but the real voices of those around.  Learning to listen improves how we see the world and ourselves.
Vagabond, that seems to be a word that describes my life in general, only stopping every now and then to create something of beauty.  A part of me longs for something more grounded and long term; however, my heart is always seeking new adventures.  We never escape the past, believe me, I have tried.  Instead, we have to learn to fully embrace our past (mistakes, and good things, all of it) in order to learn and grow.  It is time to grow more.
Sam Love

Conversations with Sam, the blue and green eyed, effervescent, smiling, 25 year old, sitting next to me is at times interesting, but mostly thought provoking.  As he walked into the Calgary Greyhound station earlier with 2 young girls, I noticed him.  While standing in line to have our bags inspected, he noticed and acknowledged me.  We're wearing the same type of special shoes.  Time has passed quickly as the two of us have conversed about crystals, necklaces, energy, deities, traveling, learning experiences, and what most would label "New Age" topics.  Over the years there have only been a rare few who actually maintain eye contact when they speak with you - as Sam said, "we must have a lot of information to upload and download from each other," - so I have enjoyed the depth of our conversations.  Six hours on the bus and it only seems like a few minutes.  I could converse with Sam for hours.  Rest time for him, writing time for me, as I take the now available seat in front of us for more space.

Things to research:
Sherri Sutton (female comedian)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_owVsXwr_YU
Renee - Inner Soul Technologies.com
Neuro Linguistic Programming - Richard Bandler
Restore America
Oneness, God, Universal Consciousness and how they relate.

Green, rolling hills stretch for miles into the distance as we travel through the Saskatchewan Province on our way to Regina (make sure you pronounce the "I" in the name or you'll be corrected.)  "It's the only place you can watch your dog run away for 3 days." as one Canadian put it.  I understand the comment made days earlier.  This is Canada's farm land, resembling much of the prairies of Kansas and Oklahoma.  Everything slowly faces to black with a bit of dusky blue as the sun sets softly into the realm of night.  It's 8:45 PM, almost 9 hours on the bus, an unusually quiet and calm ride.  Another hour and a half to Regina.

My new doctor may not be please with me when he learns that I've stopped taking my meds.  The decision wasn't made lightly, it's just every time I take the HIV meds my body gets worse.  Even some friends have acknowledged that I do better without them.  Thus, after many nights of struggling to take the meds (the other night I just couldn't manage to swallow them), I've put the bottles away into my large pack.  Being on the go, always learning, discovering new places, meeting new people, and in general being free seems to be the key for my health.  There might come a day when it will be an immediate life or death situation, but those decisions can be made then, for now, med free.

4:15 AM and I'm awake now as we have stopped at another small town station, name unknown.  The blue letters along the tan brick spell "Greyhound".  It looks like another decently kept and staffed Greyhound station.  Greyhound Canada is more improved than Greyhound U.S.

Just before boarding, the 2 Greyhound Security Officers had everyone line up for carry-on baggage inspections.  This should be done everywhere - results:  one man not allowed to travel today and his metallic beverage container confiscated.  The sign is clearly written - No Alcohol, No Weapons, No Drugs or you don't travel.  Greyhound should improve their security everywhere all the time as it might improve the type of passengers they invite.  The reason for the bag inspection is because of a recent murder on a Greyhound bus in Winnipeg.

I can see the day when Greyhound becomes the cornerstone for a national public transit system, with incredible Intermodal stations in every major city, express buses traveling quickly from major city to major city (perhaps all with improved services on each bus - electric outlets, Wi-Fi, increased seating areas, more comfortable reclining seats that allow for better rest) and then other types of buses making regularly scheduled runs in a radius from each major city, allowing smaller towns access to public transit and connecting everyone everywhere.  The United States especially needs to see this service provided to the people, as many small towns have been left stranded, which doesn't bode well for how they can find ways to improve or relate to others further away.

Realizing that a national public transit system might not be profitable in some areas, yet very profitable in other areas, would allow for an overall better quality of service to all areas.  Express buses connecting the major cities, then the radial buses connecting the surrounding smaller towns, each of the rural connections having connections to other radial connections that then transfer back to another large city; thus creating a network of great public transit that services the needs of the people and allowing them the opportunity for growth, discovery, and education.

If the U.S. government support Amtrak, then why not invest funds to partner (yes, partner, as in become a business partner) with Greyhound to assist in funding some of the less profitable rural routes so the people will have better transportation options?  Perhaps if FirstGroup is reading this Blog, it is possible to make the changes of corporate thought which will then allow the changes in how Greyhound operates, especially in the United States; which would ultimately improve Greyhound's reputation and type of passenger.

3 more hours to Winnipeg.  It is dark outside.  To be polite to the other passengers, I'm writing by using my hand powered flash light.  Perhaps the buses overhead lights could be placed on the back of the seats so the light would only shine down into a very personal area instead of all over?  I've sat here making sketches of some bus designs, I'm curious if they could work and what the passenger viewpoints might be.

The morning light slowly illuminates the darkness beyond my window, causing distinction between earth and sky.  I've finished reading the Shambhala book and I believe I will read it again, and also search out other books about meditation, yoga, and even places to practice and learn such things.

I wonder how my friend Tom is getting along on his 10 day hike/camp trip with his ex girlfriend and her new boyfriend.

I think more sleep now.  Good night, gute Nacht, as the Germans taught me to say.

Calgary to Winnipeg, Maybe

10:50 AM Sunday morning brings sounds of thumpty-thump, thumpty-thump, soft music, German, and rustling of plastic bags.  The two German ladies sitting next to me, as we all wait for the Noon bus, are knitting and talking in German.  Waiting with us are 2 younger German girls, some young rocker types, a few Asian men, some Hispanic people, and various others with backpacks. Calm, quiet and relaxed seems to be enjoyed this morning.  We'll be boarding within the hour.  I've already placed my large pack in line for the baggage handlers to place on the bus, others soon follow suit.  Without much announcement, and very little instruction a line began to form for a bag inspection.  This lack of proper instruction, loud enough for everyone to hear, caused some confusion for just about everyone.  Eventually everyone had their bags checked, and we were ready to board the bus, one man didn't make it.
Calgary Greyhound Bus Station

Instead of staying in Winnipeg, I'm going to try something different.  I desire to make my way up to Snow Lake and spend some time exploring the vast lake areas of Manitoba.  Having a feeling that there is something there for me, I will see more of the Province, save a bit more, but might find sleeping arrangements interesting.

The waiting area outside of Gate 12 here at the Calgary Greyhound bus station begins to fill a bit more, hopefully it won't be a full bus.  Waiting, I dwell upon the events of the last few days.  I didn't enjoy the main ReggaeFest event as much as I enjoyed the all Female Performer concert on Thursday night at the Ship & Anchor.  I left early and casually meandered along unknown city streets back to the Wicked Hostel.  A good night’s sleep and I'm well rested for this long bus ride today.

What is 16 Degrees Celsius in Fahrenheit?

How far is 7 Kilometers?

Why doesn't the United States teach the Metric system instead of the Imperial measurements?  I know the Metric system is much easier to use, but it is difficult to only understand one type and the rest of the world uses another type of measure.  It is past time for the United States to stop hindering the American public from being competitive with the rest of the world and start teaching the Metric system in our schools so our young people will grow up with a system of measure that can be used all over the globe.

There are several thoughts invading my mind lately - find a place to rest for a bit and paint and sculpt a lot OR go back to college.  We'll have to see where the Universe takes me, for now, time to finish my Lemon Poppy muffin.

Last Day in Calgary, ReggaeFest

Sitting in the coolness of the soft, green grass surrounded by others here to enjoy the Calgary Reggaefest, and having second thoughts about attending today, mostly because of the cost involved; however, I'm happy I did attend.  Just after entering Shaw Milenium Park a beautiful young lady came up to me calling "Lynn."  I didn't pay much attention, until she touched me.  Megan and Tyler were traveling through Central America the same time I was, so we would often run into each other.  She is working here in Calgary and about to start back to school here.  Surprised to see her, but now I have another friend in Calgary.  She handed me a free Redbull as I had to ask for her name; the face was recognized, not the name at first.  We talked for a bit and then she was back to work promoting Redbull.
Megan and I in Calgary, Thanks for the free Redbull.

Smells of Jerk Chicken, Jamaican meat pies, and other spicy Jamaican foods abound.  Reggae fans come together, it is one type of music that doesn't know race, although some with limited minds might see differently.  Young, old, black, white, Asian all dance together to the music, sit back on blankets, and enjoy the soulful sounds of the current performer from Jamaica, Nesbit.

Something amazing happened today that brought back memories and a re-connection with some wonderful people I used to know in Washington D.C.  Amazement and questions about how and why Dwight found me on Facebook ruled the feeling barometer, but a few clicks later and the Friend Request was confirmed.  After a quick search of his friends, a Friend Request sent by me, and a re-connection with Rob.  Over some 14 years ago I worked for Rob, made some big mistakes, and his kindness shone through a dark period of my past.  It is good to re-connect with these men.

"One love, one heart." the band sings, the crowd yells in response, "let’s get together and feel alright!"  
Claudia returns to the stage to announce the next band, the DJ plays and people walk about, others dance to the DJ's music.  My mind still trying to grasp what the Universe is bringing about for my life with all of these re-connections, people I have thought about but wasn't sure if such re-connections were possible.
I'm not enjoying the performances that much for some reason, but dance a bit while standing in the crowd, and after walking around a bit decide that I'm ready to go back to the hostel.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wicked Hostel, Calgary

Lately I've been concerned about finances for this trip, as Canada is very expensive compared to the states; it's probably comparable to Europe.  After sleeping late this morning to rest up after the exhausting, yet fun-filled, time in Banff, I was just relaxing on the hostel sofa when one of the young men that works here asked if I could fix the flooring problem.  I agreed.  Four hours later and the bulge in the engineered flooring was removed and repaired.  Having to use tools that weren't designed for the job made it interesting; however, the end product was neat and clean and as soon as the glue dries the small gap won't be noticable.  One of the benefits of doing this favor is that I'll be staying a few more nights here in Calgary.

Calgary's Regeafest is happening this weekend and it is something I would enjoy attending.  There is something primordial, soothing, and healing about Regea music for me.  Thus, five nights in Calgary altogether.  This means I'll have to spend less time in other areas in order to make my way to NYC for the Uptown Express concert on September 9th.  A woman from San Francisco area arrived today so she could attend the Regeafest as well, so I asked if she wouldn't mind an escort.  It will be interesting to have someone to enjoy the music with.

The Wicked Hostel here in Calgary is very new, Jeff, the owner, is still putting things together.  He's very friendly with a calm, gentle energy.  The hostel has some very colorful paint - hot pink to funky blue.  The atmosphere here is one of fun, especially since it is located just across from the Calgary Stampede Park.  There are some people who are residing here for short periods for either relocation or vaction-work experiences.  Chloe, the 18 year old Australian, assisted me today, along with Luke and Will (a few of the others staying here and working).  Chloe is a delight, very friendly and outgoing.

People move about, some sleeping, some cooking, some reading, and others browsing the Internet.  One young man found a Gay Calgary magazine on the table and set about making fun of it.  I was tempted to say something but soon realized from listening that he was just having fun with the guy that had the magazine and not being rude.  Ops, the glue between the repaired flooring boards has dried and reduced in size, so now I'll have to get some colored caulk and fill the area so it won't cause any problems.

Thoughts whirl inside my head as I watch the various characters here go about one thing or another  What are their stories, why are they here, and who are they?  Most of the ones here helping Jeff don't seem to really know anything about construction, but they work at it until they find the solution.  In time I'm sure Jeff will slowly begin to get things together and will have a very nice hostel.  I really like his food cubbies for guests to store their food.

I'm a bit more rested now, so tomorrow I hope to explore the city some.  There seem to be a good number of parks and other things to enjoy for free.  For now, more rest.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Banff to Calgary on Greyhound

Banff Museum, where it all started, they even had a small zoo onetime.
Sitting in the Greyhound bus station in Banff, located inside the train station, there was a delightful attendant from Australia, Ben, who not only provided a nice accent, but also was very friendly and helpful.  I watched as he assisted other customers, always greeting them with a smile and an Aussie "Alo".

For such a small station there is more seating here than in some of the larger Greyhound stations.  The station is neat and mostly clean, it could use some brighter colors and better outdoor signage, as the only way to identify the station was to notice the Greyhound Package Express trailers.  Ben continues to provide great customer service for passengers and the customers for the Package Express.  Ben and Jesse's kindness, gentleness, and great attitudes provide for a pleasant atmosphere and great customer service.  Greyhound could use more employees such as these two, and especially more like Lydia in Salt Lake City.  Why is it that difficult to hire, train, and retain such employees in the United States?  It seems that most of the Greyhound employees in the United States hate their jobs, are not trained properly, and in general just are mean, rude, and unfriendly.  Greyhound, I would recommend letting these bad people go and finding good people, but make sure you compensate the ones that do great jobs to keep them.

Another 30 minutes before the bus arrives and the station begins to fill.  WOW!  Here is my friend Tom with his backpack pulling up to a seat next to me.  This morning he showed me some Yoga moves and then showed me some type of active partner Yoga.  I really enjoyed experience with him as he lifted me up into the air by his feet and then proceeded to put me into new positions, stretching and moving my body to open its energies.  Afterwards I felt a bit dizzy, but wanted more.  There was such a personal connection through this type of Yoga and I will be seeking to learn more.  Tom tells me that his friend from Houston had arrived and informed him that they had to catch a bus to Canmore, where the trail head was located for the start of their 10 backpacking, hiking, and camping adventure.

I enjoyed talking with Aly as she talked about her work in remediating chemical and oil spills for large companies.  Her boyfriend, no not Tom, will be meeting them there later tonight when he flies in from the states.

They departed and I noticed a man in a wheel chair waiting to board the bus.  I looked about and didn't notice one of the chair lifts on this bus, so I was curious about the situation.  A bit later after talking with the bus driver, the man put his wheelchair in motion and began to head back into the station.  I suppose since this bus didn't have a chair lift then the man couldn't ride the bus.  I do believe in order for Greyhound to better serve its customers that all of their buses should have a chair lift, not just some of them.

Now, a bit sad from leaving Tom, who gave me a big hug before leaving, I am accompanied by an older lady, who I noticed outside the bus.  Something about her caught my attention, so when I saw her walking down the isle, I moved my back to open the seat.  She sat down and a bit later we were talking.

Ann, the Irish lady now sitting next to me (at the tender young age of 63), is from Comber co.down Northern Ireland (just outside of Belfast).  She and her sister, sitting in the seat behind us, were here to visit her son and attend a nieces wedding.  She commented about how beautiful the wedding was with it being outdoors at Talking Rock in Canmore and presided over by an Indian Chief, the maid of honor in yellow, the bride in white, with bunches of daisies gathered for center pieces.  She talked about her life and that her sons all lived in the states because they couldn't find work in Ireland after college.  One lives just outside of Calgary and the other one lives in NYC.  She said she had been to the States before but did a Tour Bus to see Nashville.  She didn't like the strict and full day schedules of such tour companies and asked if there were other less strenuous type of tours.  I commented that I believed most were just like that and how nice it would be for our older generation to have better organized tours based upon their age and abilities.

A note for Greyhound:  The Calgary station was the first station where I could find a map for the city, someone there to answer questions about how to get around, and it was clean.   

I believe every Greyhound bus station should have a large map of the area with a large city view map so travelers can learn how to get around a bit.  It would be great to have an Information attendant at every station, but I know that isn't always possible.

The other note for Greyhound is that their bus stations should work with the local transit authorities to have the city buses stop at the Greyhound station; and there should be a schedule for the local city buses posted at every Greyhound station.

I really liked the Intermodal stations, as a customer can from one point take a city bus, a taxi, a Greyhound, or a Train without having to walk far for any of these services.

Greyhound, it would be great if you talked with the Banff Transit and worked out a way to get one of the two buses there to make the small loop over to the bus station to pick up passengers.

I am now in Calgary, have walked a bit, taken a city train (free in town center), and walked a bit more.  Now I am resting in the Wicked Hostel (only been open for 5 months now and owned by Jeff, who promptly introduced himself).  It is colorful, but the furniture arrangements need some help.  (Thought Bubble = could be there a way to travel by offering my services to the various hostels to assist them with better arrangements and adjusting the energies?)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Photos from the top of the Canadian Rockies in Banff

I took these photos while visiting Banff's Sulpher Mountain.  The views were incredible.

From here you can see the distance to every country in the world, these were just the next few cities in Canada I will be visiting.