Living a fulfilling life: my piece in an UpJourney article


I’m pleased to announce that my writing has been featured in this UpJourney article as one of several experts on the topic of how to live a fulfilling life. You have to scroll down a ways to get to my segment, but the advice from those above (and below) me is very inspiring and helpful as well; if you need a boost today, take a few moments to browse the article!

In any case, I hope you’re all leading fulfilling lives at this moment in time. All the best to you in the new year!

Want to be notified of future blog posts? Use the green “sign up” button to subscribe!

Want to support my vision financially? You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a Fairy Godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons, contributors, and godfunders!)

Celebrating life’s twists and turns in a new year

How is life treating you all? I hope you are doing great.

I’m pretty much living the life of my dreams right now, and learning more and more to be willing and able to go with the flow.

The most recent example? I’ve been getting more and more excited about my California rail adventure, which is scheduled for January 10th through the 30th. So many people to see, beaches to enjoy, a cute cat to care for, and more time riding my beloved rails…!

And yet this morning, I read that heavy rains in California have canceled tomorrow’s run of the Coast Starlight—the train I’m planning to board next Tuesday. Apparently, the rain has rendered at least one section of track impassable.

I had been carefully noting all the rain in the LA area, hoping that it would be dried up by the time I arrived, so that I could enjoy sunny skies and easy bicycling. The forecast was leading me to feel cautiously optimistic about that.

I hadn’t considered the effects of the rain on rail infrastructure, though.


I’m still really hoping that in these next five days, conditions will make it possible for me to take the trip as planned.

Because if not, I think I’ll need to make some major adjustments.

I really don’t want to fly, for multiple reasons. Adjusting to a future southbound train probably wouldn’t be possible; sleeper cars are sold out for the next little while.

So… if my train is canceled, I will sadly quite possibly scrap the whole trip.

This would be very sad… but at the same time, if that is what unfolds, then it’s what unfolds. I’ve actually been dreaming up a very ambitious future journey, and was wondering how I might be able to afford the train portion of it. (Well, actually, how I might afford any of it, but I’m trusting in the magic, once again!)

If this California trip were to be canceled, I would get a refund or credit from Amtrak for the cash I paid for the southbound leg, and presumably I could also get a credit for the miles I redeemed for the northbound return leg. That would set me much closer to my goal for this potential trip I’m dreaming up…

Which is as follows!

Take the train from Portland to Montreal in May, and see my favorite band Marillion again in one of their last remaining 3-day Marillion weekends.

Possibly stay in that area another week or two to quarantine—since I caught COVID at this past summer’s Montreal weekend, and could unfortunately do so again—and then hop a flight to London! (Yes, I prefer to avoid flying, but when crossing oceans it’s much harder to avoid.) I would love to spend June and July in the UK, then maybe a week or two in Ireland, then some time in the Netherlands, then maybe Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm, Berlin, Prague… probably a few more places in Europe, TBD… then a city or two in Spain, then maybe Portugal for my birthday in November? Then return to the US, possibly even by container ship! I see there is one that arrives in North Carolina…

I could possibly spend time with family and friends in NC around Thanksgiving, and then who knows? Maybe take the train to Florida, then back through the South and Southwest, then up the west coast to Portland again in late spring or so?

Totally just brainstorming/dreaming here… but how cool would that be??

Before I dreamed up last year’s bike and train loop around North America, I had dreamed of spending the summer before my 50th birthday in Europe. Maybe I could just do it one year later?

We’ll see… but dreaming up this new plan has me feeling a little better about possibly missing out on California. (But I still hope I won’t—I do want to go there too!)

Meanwhile, I’ve really been settling into the groove of a Portland winter, and realizing that although the weather isn’t my favorite here this time of year, it is dramatically more bearable when one doesn’t have to commute by bicycle every day in it.

I’ve been staying mostly indoors, warm and cozy with friends and various furry creatures I’ve been caring for. 

I’m really enjoying continuing to live a nomadic lifestyle, even just here within Portland. I get to check out new neighborhoods, and revisit old ones.

I’m living much more frugally than during my travels, and mostly cooking my own meals now.

However, I do splurge on restaurant meals occasionally, as I find myself near different places in different neighborhoods. For example, I recently made it (finally!) to Ben & Esther’s, the vegan Jewish deli that opened here in Portland a few years ago, and now also has locations in Seattle and San Diego. 

My cream-cheese-and-carrot-lox bagel was scrumptious.

I’ve been working on editing my book, and also continuing to have magical meetings with people around the US and the world via video chats. I’m looking forward to manifesting more such meetings. (Anyone magical you think I should talk with? Feel free to make an introduction!)

Speaking of manifestation, I’ve been working on bringing about the perfect tenant for my furnished condo in SE Portland. The property has been sitting vacant since the last tenant moved out at the end of October, and I would love to get someone in there during January. I’ll share the listing here, in case you might know of an individual or couple who would appreciate a cozy furnished one-bedroom condo with central heat and internet included. (No pets allowed at this time—I’m preserving the beautiful and expensive couch the insurance money helped me to purchase after my flood!) But the place is perfect for a quiet individual or couple, and the lease could be as short as two months or as long as six months or possibly more. The building, neighbors, and neighborhood are great. Please help me to hold a vision that the perfect tenant(s) will arrive shortly.

And, if you’d like any help holding visions for yourself, please feel free to contact me for a totally free/no-strings one-hour video or phone chat. I love to help people dream big, and then bring the dreams to fruition!

All the best to you all in this new year!

Want to be notified of future blog posts? Use the green “sign up” button to subscribe!

Want to support my vision financially? You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a Fairy Godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons, contributors, and godfunders!)

Winter solstice + some updates + offerings


Wow, has it really been nearly a month since I have written to you all? I apologize for my absence. The feeling of blogging after a day of travel, vs. blogging after a day with no travel, is more starkly different for me than you might imagine. I don’t have obvious “happenings” to report (and, especially, the photos to illustrate them) these days like I did when I was on the road.

My life has been much quieter since I landed back in Portland… and then fall weather set in… and then I fractured my foot. Perhaps this season has been an energetic reset that my psyche needs after my full-to-the-brim year of travel.

I want to acknowledge the solstice, though, and I’d like to share a bit about what my life has been like this past month.

I’ve been allowing myself to sink into the dwindling light and encroaching chill. Sometimes we can’t be in warm weather and brightly lit skies. Although I wish to maximize those in my life to the best of my ability, the slower and darker times are a natural part of life, so I’ve been choosing to embrace them this autumn.

I’ve been alternating between longer-term stays with several friends—roughly two weeks at a stretch—and short- to longer-term cat sits. Right now I’m in a two-week cat sit with an elderly glamour puss named Tess.

I’ve also been able to visit my former partner, now close friend, Johnny, in the prison in Salem several times now. I’ll be going again on Christmas Day. Sadly, his clemency application (begun two and a half years ago) was recently denied by outgoing governor Kate Brown, but he continues to find opportunities for meaningful work where he is. Building on the success of the incredible Japanese healing garden he spent five years bringing about, he is now working in the prison infirmary, to bring better healthcare and more contact with nature and plants to the patients—including several hospice patients—who spend time there.

My mind and heart have been full of two main themes this past season: mild fear of my financial situation, since I’m not conventionally “working” these days and my savings are diminishing… juxtaposed with a very powerful spiritual trust that I am doing exactly what I need to be doing. Mostly I’m still not ready to speak openly about the details of this—“waiting is not yet filled,” as Robert Heinlein’s Martian character Smith so eloquently spoke in the sci-fi novel Stranger in a Strange Land—but essentially, I feel I am to connect with people to support them and link them up together, around the world, for a larger purpose. “Getting a new job” holds less than zero interest for me in contrast to this life’s work. So, I am doing everything I can to make these human connections—and I’m averaging about one per day at this point, and could probably energetically handle two—and doing what I can to offer value to the human collective in the ways that feel most powerful to me… and trusting that the money will follow in various, possibly strange and unexpected ways. (One such way that has already happened: I worked hard to win a travel prize valued at over $1000 in a raffle, participating as much as I could in the group since participation increased the odds of winning… but I didn’t win the raffle. BUT, then the winner of the prize decided to give it to me (without my having said anything to him about it)! I consider this a form of fairy godfunding, and I continue to believe that more of it is coming my way, as I stay strong on this path for myself.

I have added one new professional offering, though: travel consulting! After being approached by a few friends and clients for advice about Amtrak travels, I thought it would be a great fit to offer both nuts-and-bolts help with navigating Amtrak’s routes and website, but also advice about bicycle or multimodal travel; how to find hosts to make it more personal; and also the “service” of simply holding encouraging space for people to dream up meaningful journeys for themselves. I’ve had one really fun and productive session so far, and I look forward to more! If you know anyone who might be interested in dreaming up or executing such a journey, feel free to send them my way.

And… I’m giving myself some warmth and sunshine soon, too! When Amtrak Guest Rewards contacted me recently to let me know I was only 618 Tier Qualifying Points shy of Select Plus status (which requires 10,000 TQPs—I’ve never reached this status before, but the past year’s travels brought me this close) I decided to splurge and get a ticket to Los Angeles in January. I plan to stay four nights each with my cousin and a new friend, and then four nights caring for a cat in Santa Monica, which is one of my favorite parts of LA.

I’ll return to Portland in late January, in time for some medical appointments in February.

Before I sign off here, I’d like to share another offering (and this one is totally free!) that I’m doing again this year: an hour-long video or phone call to hold space for people to reflect on this past year, and/or set intentions for the coming year. I am offering twelve of these, and have several left, so if this appeals to you, I would be honored to do one with you! Feel free to message me to schedule.

Meanwhile, I wish you all the happiest of holidays!

Want to be notified of future blog posts? Use the green “sign up” button to subscribe!

Want to support my vision financially? You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a Fairy Godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons, contributors, and godfunders!)

New Patreon perk!


It’s been a while! I’ve been mostly taking it easy here in Portland, while my foot heals. I do plan to write more soon about some of my internal processes, but I’m not quite ready yet.

Meanwhile, though, it’s almost the end of the month, so I think this is a good time to mention (remind?) that I have a Patreon! It’s one part of the puzzle I’m piecing together to have some income while offering the healing and inspiration gifts I enjoy sharing with the world. And I’ve just added a new perk! At the $20/month level, patrons can receive up to four one-hour sessions per year of confidential empathetic listening, on any topic. (Maybe a check-in near each solstice and equinox, to reflect and set some new intentions in the presence of a supportive witness?) If this appeals to you, you can sign up—or update your existing pledge—here!)

For the past year, I was using the Patreon as an alternate platform to share my travel blog posts, and to make it easy for people who would like to support my journey financially with $5 or $10 per month, or whatever worked for them. (Thanks again to any of my patrons who may be reading this! You rock, and I appreciate you!)

This next phase of my life’s journey is a bit less clear: I’m physically grounded here in Portland for a while—possibly the whole winter—while I tend to some medical issues and do what I can to build up some income. So the photo-heavy, travelogue style of blogging isn’t as doable. But my life dream/purpose remains: to be someone who travels both physically and metaphysically/technologically, to experience and share beauty, and to offer a healing and inspiring presence to those I encounter.

As I have expressed before, the pay-for-service model for healing has never really resonated with me. I prefer the idea of offering my gifts as freely as I can, while accepting donations from anyone who supports what I do. This helps to decouple the support I offer from the support I receive; it feels more organic and heart-centered to me. (It’s not easy under our current capitalistic system, so what I’m about to share is necessarily imperfect. I’m sure I will continue to explore win-win ways of tweaking things.)

I’m not sure exactly what I will be offering on the Patreon in the next few months, in terms of writing or photography. I may lean into writing more introspective, deep-thoughts kinda stuff, about grappling with life. (I’m doing a lot of that these days, and I know others are too, and perhaps I could help by doing some of mine “out loud.”) But, I am excited to implement this one change right now, of four one-hour sessions per year of supportive and/or inspirational listening and empathy for those at the $20/month level.

I’m happy to offer one free session to pretty much anyone at any time, as a matter of principle and because I enjoy doing it. But financially, at this point I don’t think I can generally afford to offer more than one per person. I do maintain published rates on my Happy to Listen and Dream Into Change websites for those who prefer a more traditional, transactional model and would like ongoing sessions. But this new idea I have for the Patreon is that it would be kind of a “retainer” model, like you give a relatively small amount per month, and then receive sessions whenever it might work for you, during the year. Four sessions per year/$20 per month works out to a savings from my published rates, and I hope it would be a win-win for those who might like to support my vision while gaining something tangible in return. (I’m thinking it might be cool for some folks to do a session once per season, maybe around the solstices and equinoxes? Kind of like a personal reset, maybe some witnessed intention-setting.)

I’m not setting up an official Patreon “tier” for this, because I believe that would make things messy for existing patrons as well as anyone new who might like to support me monthly, but at a lower rate than $20/month. But please trust that I will honor this offer to anyone who does sign up at the $20 or greater level. (And the sessions can happen at any time; you don’t have to wait to “accrue” them. It’s all in good faith!)

I’m excited but scared to do what I can to live the life that feels most nourishing to me and to others. I want to continue to do this meaningful work, rather than getting another “day job,” as my savings dwindle.

Thanks to all who have supported me so far, and thanks to anyone who may want to support my Patreon now, at the new level or any level! If you’re interested, you can sign up or adjust your monthly pledge here.

Want to be notified of future blog posts? Use the green “sign up” button to subscribe!

Want to support my vision financially? You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a Fairy Godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons, contributors, and godfunders!)

A milestone birthday


It’s been another week since I’ve written, so I thought I’d check in. Ever since I learned that I had fractured my foot, my days have been very quiet, so there hasn’t been much to report. Under the surface, though, I’m feeling powerful, positive changes in my life.

For one, I’ve decided to quit resisting the fact that I seem to be “stuck” in Portland for a while. Do I like the weather here this time of year? As I’m sure you all know by now, the answer is no. In the past week, we have had heavy rains, as well as sunny days with highs in the 40s and overnight lows near freezing.

But this is how my life is unfolding right now, and I’m now choosing to sink into it, rather than fighting it.

I’m staying in the home of my friend Jill, on the eastern edge of Portland (not far from Debbie’s place, actually) while Jill is dog sitting for her cousin in the Seattle area. For this week—at least, and possibly longer—I have no real household responsibilities such as pet or plant care, so I am treating this place as a healing oasis, and very much appreciating it.

I have been sitting on the couch, grateful for the warmth and dryness as I watch the weather out the windows. I have been working on my book. I have been making phone calls about health insurance and various medical and dental issues. (Good news on that front—I got my permanent denture on Monday the 7th, and it fits great!) I am working on getting a primary care physician set up, although the first available appointment is February 13th. Eek! Will I still be in Portland then? Will I return here for it? Will I end up rescheduling it so that I can avoid being here then? Time will tell.

I’ve been doing Zooms with friends old and new, including talking to someone who I might end up cat sitting for in an incredible forest oasis of a home in southern Oregon, just after Thanksgiving. I’ll have to see how my foot is doing at that point, but Jane and I are both setting the intention that it will work out.

Meanwhile, on November 8th (yes, Election Day) I turned 50!

I managed to hobble out of the house and onto my bike (pedaling with my right heel, just for the five minutes of the ride) to a nearby spa for a birthday massage. I used a Groupon credit I had “earned” in Tempe, Arizona, back in February, when I tried and failed to get a massage at that time. (I then tried and failed to use the credit twice more, first in Austin and later in Ann Arbor, so it felt especially poignant to finally gift it to myself on my special day.)

As I alluded a few posts ago, my main gift to myself for this milestone birthday was a forest-goddess-themed photo shoot, outside of Eugene, with my photographer friend Marcella Dean. I was wanting to visually capture the inner transformation I’ve been feeling for the past few months (years? It’s hard for me to remember how long this has been growing.)

We did the shoot a few weeks ago—and I’m so grateful for that timing, before the rain, before the daylight-time change, and before the fractured metatarsal—and she finished the edits on the 7th, the day before my birthday, so it worked out perfectly.

I love spending time in the forest, and I’m so glad I’ve been able to do so as much as I have this past year, all around the continent in a variety of climates. And, as I turn 50, I begin to enter the “crone” phase of my life. Rather than mourning the loss of my youth, I’m enjoying choosing to embrace the beauty and strength of the wisdom that only time can grant.

I wanted to share some of the photos here. Looking at them helps me to continue feeling inspired, despite my temporary setbacks on this journey.

Thank you, as always, for following along.

Want to be notified of future blog posts? Use the green “sign up” button to subscribe!

Want to support my vision financially? You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a Fairy Godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons, contributors, and godfunders!)

Plot twist


Boy, is it rainy here in Portland. It is November as all get out around here. I have been pining every day for sunshine and warmth.

My dental work has been coming along steadily, with appointments every one to two weeks. I finally got the new denture today. It fits OK, but unfortunately I can tell I will need an adjustment in the next couple of days. I was hoping to have that all wrapped up, so that I could finally get out of this rain and gloom, by the 16th. It seemed that I was on track to do so.

But now I’ve broken my foot.

It’s not a major break; just a stress fracture, as best today’s nurse practitioner could glean from the X-ray.

I’ll back up a bit.

I had been having a cozy, very relaxing time for the past week here with my Servas friend Debbie, in outer NE Portland on the edge of Gresham. I really hadn’t been out much, because the weather has been so dismal. But last weekend, during a brief sun break, I took the bus to the grocery store to stock up on some provisions. The bus stop is about ten blocks from the house, and then I visited two grocery stores, about ten blocks apart from each other. So by the time I got home, I had walked a total of about thirty minutes. I began noticing that my right foot was hurting with each step. I thought it was odd, and couldn’t understand why that might be the case. I briefly considered that it might be broken, but concluded that must be absurd, because nothing had happened to the foot. Maybe it was gout? Or some sort of weird arthritis?

I didn’t know, so I just took it extra easy for about four or five days, barely even rising from the couch.

But today I decided to get it looked at. I went to the immediate-care place near my condo—I had been visiting my friend Greg in that neighborhood for a couple of days, so it was convenient—and after examining the foot, asking questions, and reviewing the X-rays she ordered, the nurse practitioner told me she was pretty sure it was a stress fracture. Apparently it is relatively common for such a thing to happen in circumstances like mine, without an obvious “breaking point.”

Needless to say, this is a setback. I am not happy about it.

I will need to stay in town at least another four weeks (possibly up to eight—oof!) to let it heal and get another X-ray to confirm that I’m good to go.

So, it looks like I’ll be here through the end of the month, anyway.


I guess I’ll have plenty of time to get comfy with the new teeth…

But I’ll leave you with some beauty here. The other day—before I realized the foot pain was serious—I carried my bike on the bus into Portland, and visited Laurelhurst Park. I had intended to visit this beautiful pocket of the city last month, when the weather and trees were still summery, but I ran out of time. It’s just as well, because in the aftermath of the early fall rains, the place is now spectacular.

Please enjoy.

Want to be notified of future blog posts? Use the green “sign up” button to subscribe!

Want to support my vision financially? You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a Fairy Godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons, contributors, and godfunders!)

Sunshine, a beautiful space, and warm human connections


Today we hit a high temperature of 60, with no rain! That is quite an anomaly in this season’s forecast, so I took full advantage.

I visited an incredible “secret garden” that I first learned about probably twenty years ago now: the Elk Rock Garden of the Bishops Close. This place was recommended to me by a man I was dating at the time, who sadly passed away a few years later… on October 27th, in fact, which I didn’t remember until after I had returned from the gardens. This added a layer of poignancy to my visit.

It wasn’t my first time there, but I had visited only twice before, both times in 2020, many years after I had first heard about it and put it on my “to visit someday” list.

This place is privately owned, by the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon, but they kindly make it available to the public during daylight hours on weekdays. It is a sacred space (with a cool history) with no amenities such as restrooms. Picnicking and professional/portrait photography are not allowed. It is simply a place to visit and walk through and experience the magic. It reminds me of the Portland Japanese Garden, in the sense that every few steps one is greeted with a new and different breathtaking view.

If you live in the Portland area—or even if you visit—I recommend seeing this place.

In other news, I stopped by my old workplace again today, and finally got to visit with my previous coworker/assistant—now successor—Keith, as well as my old boss, Steve, who was visiting Portland for the Halloween season at the store. It was great to see the two of them, after more than a year, and to catch up on our lives.

And, today I completed my Trusted Housesitters profile (with help from three friends who reviewed my recent cat sits with their furry friends) so I’m excited to see what kinds of house and cat sits this might lead to, in my continued travels.

Tonight I had dinner with my wonderful friends/hosts Meghan and Doug, and tomorrow I’ll be bicycling eight miles (hopefully not in a soaking rain, but it’s entirely possible) to outer NE Portland, to stay a while with my new Servas friend Debbie.

Want to be notified of future blog posts? Use the green “sign up” button to subscribe!

Want to support my vision financially? You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a Fairy Godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons, contributors, and godfunders!)

Struggling with seasonal gloom as the rain returns


I’ve been back here in Portland for the past week. I departed Eugene last Tuesday, in the smoke and fading warmth.

For most of the time since then, I’ve been house/cat sitting for my friend Deanna’s feline companion Mimi, as the rain and cooler temps (highs in the 50s) have returned.

I’m back here to take care of some dental work, which will take a few more weeks.

That presents an emotional challenge for me. I find it quite difficult to be in this weather. A huge part of why I embarked on this journey in the first place was to avoid rain, and any temperatures lower than about 50 overnight and mid-high 60s during the day. I find that my mood has become mildly depressed since this traditional fall weather has set in.

But there are some benefits to the downtime. I have errands to catch up on, such as studying my ballot and preparing to vote. Tonight I even attended a Zoom session led by my friend Albert to help familiarize a few dozen of us with some of the candidates and local ballot measures on the ballot, which was very informative.

I’ve also decided to spend a good chunk of time and effort this coming year on editing the draft of my book about helping my then-partner Johnny to build a Japanese healing garden inside the maximum-security prison in which he remains incarcerated. I began drafting the book more than eight years ago, and I now have nearly 1,000 pages to sift through. It is a daunting task, on multiple levels, but how cool would it be if I could actually complete that this year? What if I could actually publish the book? I think I would feel very proud of myself if I could accomplish such a thing. It is a compelling story that I hope and believe would inspire readers.

I’ve also managed to get outside on a few occasions, for dental visits, a flu shot, and various walks around the neighborhood. October is beautiful around here, and the rain does enhance the magic of the colors, especially during the sun breaks.

Want to be notified of future blog posts? Use the green “sign up” button to subscribe!

Want to support my vision financially? You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a Fairy Godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons, contributors, and godfunders!)

Eugene’s glorious October


Wow, another three days in another wonderful place, surrounded by wonderful people! My time in Eugene has been incredibly beautiful, on every level.

I got to spend time and catch up with my wonderful hosts Mike and Jaimari; meet up for lunch and catching up with my longtime friend Drew; meet in person for the first time with my amazing former Portland neighbor Marcella; and have a delicious dinner and chat with my friend Gordon, as well as meeting his wonderful new partner Karen.

It even turned out that many of these people had met each other before, in various contexts, some of which they could not remember! Seems like my connector magic is working overtime in this place; it was fun to see people being surprised to recognize each other.

Marcella is an incredibly talented and passionate photographer, and I had hired her to do a “forest goddess” themed shoot for my upcoming 50th birthday. I hope to share some photos from the shoot in a later post, but they are not quite ready yet. But we spent the whole day together yesterday, cooking up visual magic while getting to know each other. (And we used props from Karen, who herself is an extremely talented photographer, who also used to do forest-goddess-themed shoots! Again, the “small world” within the vast world of my life fascinates and delights me.)

Meanwhile, while I traveled to and fro to meet up with these various folks, I got to enjoy the perfect weather and autumnal splendor of the riverside bike path here in Eugene. The path is beautiful in all seasons, but these past few days really looked spectacular. I’ll share the highlights in these photos.

Tomorrow I’ll be boarding an Amtrak bus back to the Portland area, for a few more weeks of dental work before I head down toward the redwoods in California.

The adventure continues!

Want to be notified of future blog posts? Use the green “sign up” button to subscribe!

Want to support my vision financially? You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a Fairy Godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons, contributors, and godfunders!)

Salem: Old stomping/new chomping grounds


I spent the last three days in Salem, Oregon. It was a wonderful time, with beautiful weather, lovely fall foliage, and heartfelt get-togethers with several friends.

On Wednesday, I biked from my Portland friend’s house in SE down to Union Station. I had three great conversations on the way: one with an old friend I ran into on the street, one with a former coworker when I popped into the store once more, and one with someone new at the train station who admired my rig and struck up a conversation. (Kalena, if you’re reading this, hi again!)

I loved the aesthetics of the Steel Bridge on my way to the station, and as always, I loved the aesthetics of the station itself.

The train ride was pleasant, and it felt good to step out onto the platform in Salem again. Some of you know that I used to visit Salem twice a week, for seven years, when I was together with my amazing former partner (now close friend) Johnny, who was and is incarcerated at the Oregon State Penitentiary. He and I worked together for five years to build a Japanese healing garden inside the prison—Johnny’s brainchild, a first in the United States, and an unprecedented half-million-dollar project for which the incarcerated men raised all the money, using no public funds to build it—which was one of the most meaningful experiences of my life.

When I used to visit Johnny, I often traveled by some combination of bicycle and train, so this was a fun reminder. And I’ve always liked Salem’s quaint station.

I stayed in Salem with my friend Kristi, with whom I also stayed last year in my travels. I’m really enjoying how this new year’s loop is giving me new experiences as well as wonderful reconnections with people and places from last year, and from my past. I’ve known Kristi for more than ten years, and I got to meet some of her other friends this time.

I also met up with my friend Robert—whom I’ve also known for probably at least five or six years—to tour the new Chomp! chocolate factory. It was a really fun tour, and I loved visiting a local, all-vegan chocolate company who are committed to using fair-trade and sustainable practices to make their delicious confections.

I also got to support another of my favorite Salem businesses, Infinity Room, where I ordered a to-go wrap for dinner as soon as I arrived in town. The co-owner/kitchen goddess/my longtime friend Summer met me outside to hand-deliver the wrap along with a hug.

I enjoyed some beautiful weather, and a handful of lovely parks in the area, during my short visit.

Probably the highlight of my Salem time, however, was my reconnection with Johnny—two three-hour visits, on back-to-back days—after not having seen him in person for two and a half years. Our last visit had been in March of 2020, right before the prison shut down visiting for the pandemic. Shortly afterward, we ended our romantic relationship, and then the prison kept visiting shut down for most of the rest of the time before I embarked on my travels in September of 2021. Over this past year of my travels, we had been able to keep in touch by phone to some extent, but seeing him in person made my heart happy. He is one of the most remarkable people I have ever met. I’m sad that I probably won’t see him again in person for the next year, but who knows?

We took a photo, which I wish I could share here, but unfortunately since the last time I visited, the prison photo process has become much more convoluted and time-consuming, so I probably won’t see the photo for another couple of weeks. Maybe I can share it then.

Johnny shared his excitement about his new “venture,” which involves bringing elements of the healing garden and nature/the outdoors to the patients in the prison’s infirmary, some of whom are in hospice. The infirmary is a very bleak space, and Johnny has ideas for adding outdoor access, plants, art, and various other tools to support a better healing environment. I’m excited to hear how it all unfolds.

Today, after Robert and I visited the chocolate factory, he dropped me off at the train station, where I saw Kevin, the staffer whom I had seen and chatted with many times over the years. It was serendipitous, because he said he will be retiring in 289 days. (But who’s counting? I thought with a chuckle.) So, I might not ever see him again. He was tickled to see me after such a long time, and it was cool to catch up a bit.

The train ride to Eugene was scenic in the afternoon light.

When I disembarked, I made my way over to the iconic all-vegan Cornbread Café for an early dinner, and then wended my way along the beautiful riverfront bike path to reach the house of my friends Mike and Jaimari. I had stayed with these two several times in the past as well, including on last year’s journey.

I love keeping up all these community connections as I travel.

Want to be notified of future blog posts? Use the green “sign up” button to subscribe!

Want to support my vision financially? You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a Fairy Godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons, contributors, and godfunders!)