Caves Are Wonderous Places To Visit


Caves are portals into another world whether speaking literally or figuratively.

Beautiful underground world of caves.
Beautiful underground world of caves.

Several years ago Em’, the kids and I took a road trip through Wichita Falls, into Oklahoma then across into Missouri before heading back down south through Arkansas before returning west through the Piney Woods of Texas and back home on the Blackland Prairie in Arlington. While on that trip we stopped and visited a place called Fantastic Caverns in Springfield, MO. This cave was discovered in 1862 by an Ozarks farmer’s dog who crawled through a narrow entrance it found. Seeking his dog, the farmer found the entrance but kept it a secret because it was the middle of the Civil War and caves were considered tactical places for use by the army of either side in the war. Not wanting the government to come seize his property he just kept quiet about it until 5 years later when 12 women from Springfield answered a newspaper ad looking for explorers to come investigate the cave. During the prohibition years one part of the cave was set up as a Speakeasy and illegal alcohol was served there.

Caves are like time capsules in a way. Not prone to the forces of wind, sun and erosion from rain as much as the surface means things can stay as they were for a very long time. Cave paintings, animal bones and prehistoric fossils have been found in caves in near perfect condition. Even ancient human DNA. Caves are found throughout the world, but only a small portion of them have been explored and documented by spelunkers. This goes to show how little we may know about the world that lurks below the surface, right under our feet perhaps.

Another cave we have visited in our travels was Inner Space cavern which was discovered by a Texas Highway Department core drilling team in the Spring of 1963. Six inch core samples were taken to determine if the ground was stable enough to support a large highway overpass. As they were drilling one of the test holes, the bit suddenly dropped 26ft. and the highway crew knew there was something down there besides rock. You can still see the hole in the ceiling where the core sample was being taken. Also, we toured Natural Bridge Caverns near San Antonio when we were down that way visiting.

Of course, we’ve also visited Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico which I’ve written about before. Have you visited any interesting caves?

Photo by Dave Bunnell - Under Earth Images in Lechuguilla Cave, New Mexico, USA Not one of the caves we have visited yet, so far.
Photo by Dave Bunnell – Under Earth Images in Lechuguilla Cave, New Mexico, USA Not one of the caves we have visited yet, so far.

On another note. Carrie Fisher, the actress famous for her role as Princess Leia Organa died today at age 60 with her dog at her side. 2016 has been a horrbile year for loss of artistic talents. Just the other day George Michael was lost at age 53 as well. Someone posted on the book of face that if Betty White is taken humanity will riot.


Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones however:

Keith Richards survived 2016. As of 12/27 anyway.
Keith Richards survived 2016. As of 12/27 anyway.
I bind you 2016. I bind you from doing harm against yourself and harm against others.
I bind you 2016. I bind you from doing harm against yourself and harm against others.

 

Safe passage to all lost spirits as they return from whence they came. Blessings and hope!


Welcome Home? Spirits And Bad Cops

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Multnonah Falls

These past two weeks of travel have brought us some of the most beautiful and captivating sites of our lifetimes. We have seen huge trees, mountains, waterfalls, caverns, canyons and more. We have felt the spirits of the land, spent time with family and met some interesting folks along the way. We have learned bits of history that we were not even aware of and experienced the differences in people who live in other places today.

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Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center

But, how sad is it that we can travel through New Mexico, Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah, and Colorado for a total of more than 6000 miles, yet the only place we experienced harassment from police officers of any kind is in our own home state of Texas?

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Tipis in Pendelton, Oregon

We made the mistake of thinking we would find a hotel and stay the night in Dumas (according to Wikipedia it is pronounced Doo-miss). Good advice. Do, indeed miss this place in your travel plans. After our experience we went ahead and pressed on to Amarillo to stay the night. The hotels cost on average $20 less per night in Amarillo than the ones in Dumas too by the way.

After issuing the erroneously given and incorrectly filled out citation the very sleepy eyed sheriff advised us in which direction to find the hotels in the city (Yeah, like that was still about to happen.) and told us to have a good night. (We were trying to do just that in the first place actually.) But this leads me to a question. Why are personalities in general so markedly different when traveling from one region to another and could it have something to do with the spirits of the land or Kami as my friend Tommy Elf refers to them? Mayhaps in areas which have historically been the center of negative events and the spirits have not had opportunity to heal that negative energy still lingers and manifests itself in the overall personalities of the people who live there?

Of course stereotyping only goes so far. A lot of people say, for example, that New Yorkers are more rude than people from other areas. Even if my theory holds true, individuals can counteract negative effects from the energies around them through grounding and centering. People who meditate regularly, participate in spiritual activities, Yoga or walks in nature typically are happier and better adjusted people. I wonder if anyone at the Moore County, Texas Sheriff’s Department has considered a departmental Yoga retreat? Hmmmm. 😉

Bíodh sé amhlaidh,

Troy

A Night In A Cabin Near Manitou Springs

Nice Bed! In the cabin.
Nice Bed!

For our second to last night on the road and because we are in the Manitou Springs area of Colorado where Em’ and I spent our honeymoon we decided to splurge a bit and spend the night in a cabin very similar to the one we spent our honeymoon in. We weren’t able to get the very same one as it was already booked but we did get another one owned by the same couple called Deer Trail Vacation Home in Woodland Park, Colorado. Kyle, our 6 year old son, was VERY impressed with the upstairs bedrooms (our own home is single story so it was something new for him) and the hot tub. 🙂

The Leprechaun Shoppe - Manitou Springs
The Leprechaun Shoppe – Manitou Springs

We took a couple of hours in the evening and drove down to Manitou Springs to walk around and enjoy the shops and atmosphere of one of our favorite places to visit. The flooding we heard about on the news had indeed closed some of the roads in the area and a few of the shops were closed with sand bags stacked in front of the doorways but there was still plenty to see and do in town. If you ever have an opportunity to visit Manitou Springs you won’t be sorry. The town is home to an eclectic assortment of gift shops filled with upcycled items, artistic creations and antiques curiosities. There are street musicians and performers, coffee shops, metaphysical shops, taverns and diners galore. Everyone we have ever met there has been friendly and interesting with great stories to share of their lives and travels.

Tunnel Into The Mountain
Tunnel Into The Mountain

Today we will be visiting a Dinosaur Museum which Kyle is quite keen to see and a Wolf and Wildlife Center which Allyssa is looking forward to. If we are doing well on time we hope to take the kids to see the Manitou Cliff Dwellings and Cave Of The Winds as well. Also nice to see in this area is Garden Of The Gods, the train ride to the top of Pike’s Peak and Seven Falls.

Be Good To One Another!

Hole N’ The Rock, Moab, Utah

Hole N' The Rock, Moab, Utah
Hole N’ The Rock, Moab, Utah

The last time I saw Hole N’ The Rock I was ten years old and I took some black and white pictures of it with a little Brownie camera that my mom gave to me. It has changed a lot since then. There is a zoo there now and several shops and curiosities around the outside which weren’t there in the 1970s.

The interior of the home is carved from the hardest sandstone existing in the region into the side of the cliff and provides more than 5000 square feet of interior space. The temperature inside remains at a constant 68 to 75 degrees year round with no need for heating or cooling although there is a fireplace in the main room which was added primarily for atmosphere.

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Wooden Indian

You aren’t allowed to take photos of the inside of the place so I don’t have any of those to share but you may be able to see some on their website or Facebook Page. It’s pretty inspiring, I think, that someone can build such a place, working with nature rather than against it and create a comfortable home that will probably last for centuries. The family ran a diner out of the front of the home for years during the mining boom in Moab years ago.

Today, we’ll visit Manitou Springs, Colorado where Em’ and I celebrated our honeymoon 7 1/2 years ago. That is a wonderful little town outside of Colorado Springs that boasted 5 metaphysical shops in the downtown area when last we visited.

Hugs and Blessings To All!

Bíodh sé amhlaidh,

Troy

Spirit Of Albion And Rock City

Wagons Ho! Albion
Wagons Ho!

Someone go down to the Holy Trees
of Oak and Ash and Thorn!
Utter a charm in the verse of three,
Till the Summer King is born! – Damh The Bard

Yesterday we had occasion to visit a lovely place in southern Idaho known as the Magic Valley on our way to visit City Of The Rocks. As we made our way to it we passed through a small historic town named Albion. Now, for those who don’t know it, Albion is the oldest known name for the island of Britain. One of my favorite musical talents, Damh The Bard wrote a song about it called, Spirit Of Albion. So, here we are driving through this Magic Valley with rolling green hills surrounding it and the occasional flock of sheep passing through the town of Albion and seeing a place with the name Carrickfergus on the gate (The same name as a castle in Antrim, Ireland, where my ancestors hail from by the way. We are going to see a rock that looks like a castle and other rocks shaped like people, an elephant, a turtle and many other interesting shapes all carved by nature.

Camp Rock, City Of Rocks, Idaho
Camp Rock, City Of Rocks, Idaho

Do you think our little Pagan hearts might have skipped a beat or two? Upon further research I also learned that Albion holds an annual art event called the Full Moon Art Gallery. Hmmmm. Synchronicity anyone? I’m thinking the people who settled this valley in 1893 might have known a thing or two about their history. Just sayin’. 😉

 

 

Camp Rock, City Of Rocks, Idaho
Fading Away at The City Of Rocks, Idaho

But, there was a bad part of the day. Apparently Google Maps thought it would be funny to send us down a very rough and rocky trail in the middle of nowhere on our quest to find the City Of Rocks. Look up Lynn Road in Almo, Idaho and you will find it. One side of it is fairly smooth and maintained for a dirt road but the part we got sent down is only passable with a four wheel drive vehicle. We got a few miles up it before we decided it was getting worse and we needed to turn around. In our efforts to turn around on the deeply rutted and littered with large rocks “road” we did some minor damage to the rental van. We have insurance that is supposed to cover up to $3000 in damages. I’m pretty sure we’re well below that but we will have to see upon our return.

Also, while stepping out of the car for a few minutes we learned that bees in the area are apparently very aggressive. One kept buzzing Em’s head consistently and in her efforts to slap it away she broke the button on her camera which controls the zoom and takes the pictures. We’re hoping a camera shop can fix it, otherwise it’s time to buy a new camera and we have only our phones to take pictures with for the remainder of the trip. The good news is, Em’ did not get stung. Oh! City of Rocks is a popular place for rock climbing and camping too. We got to see several climbers out there in precarious and life threatening positions. At least it looked that way to me. They all seemed to be taking it in stride. There is also a rock there called Camp Rock where emigrants would stop their wago trains and camp for the night. Many of them would sign their names on the rock with axle grease or by carving. I saw one signature from 1880. It was all very interesting and a great history lesson for the kids.

On The Road Again – Washington, Utah And More

Yesterday my sister took us for a tour around the Tri-Cities area in Washington where I was born and showed us the park that she and my other sisters used to play in when my family lived there.

Kyle At Columbia Park In Washington.
Kyle At Columbia Park In Washington.

My son got a chance to play in that same park but Allyssa chose to stay in the car as is her way sometimes. While in Washington, we stopped by the hospital that I was born in,  and I posted a check-in on the book of face to which my best friend replied “So they’re to blame!” LOL! After packing up and saying our goodbyes to June and Kevin we stopped by Pendleton to visit my neice at her home. They have been painting their house so all the doors and windows in front were taped up but Kyle got to play with their nice dog and his cousin for awhile as we grown up types talked about traveling and exchanged tips.

Unfortunately our friend in Nebraska has another friend who is having surgery which suddenly got rescheduled to the day we were to arrive there to visit so our travel plans back to Texas have changed. Instead of going through Nebraska we will now go south and visit Moab, Utah where there is an interesting place called Hole In The Rock which I remember visiting when I was ten years old and taking pictures of with a little brownie camera. It will be fun seeing my kids reaction to this place in which a man literally carved his home out of the side of a cliff. I look forward to getting some color pictures as well. 🙂

I may have mentioned before that all three of my sisters are Christian and my sister gave me a set of 5 DVDs from a minister she and my oldest sister have found interesting. The two of them have been having Bible study days together on the phone and she invited me to participate. I actually believe it is good for Pagans to learn about the Bible for several reasons. One of them being, a huge portion of the stories used in it’s manufacture came from Pagan sources anyway so it’s a good historical record. Another is, like many other spiritual scriptures, there is much wisdom to be found within it although you have to dig through some skewed translations and inserted material that is clearly not of a divine source but more to suit the desires of the men who wrote and voted on which scriptures to include at the Council of Nicea 300 years after the central figure of their teaching was to have walked the earth. Pagans should not limit themselves in where they derive knowledge from though but we should use the good sense, reason and intellect which the gods bestowed upon us to interpret what we see, sense, read and feel.

No WiFi In The Forest
No WiFi In The Forest

So, time permitting I likely will check out these DVDs and see what new material might be in them that I have not already seen. That is one misunderstanding that many monotheists make however. So many believe that Pagans would not be Pagan if only they would read whichever holy book their particular religion subscribes to, be it The Bible (pick your version), The Koran, The Torah or The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. But most Pagans are quite well versed in one or more of these scriptures already. I know some Pagan High Priests and Priestesses that actually went to Seminary and studied their way right out of monotheism. To me, Paganism isn’t about limiting yourself to one book or one concept of the divine or one source of wisdom. It’s about opening oneself to the divine which is within and around each and every one of us.

Wow! I really didn’t intend to get off on that tangent when I started writing this morning but I never know sometimes where my mind is going to wander off too. Nor do I intend to leave you with the impression that my sisters are pushy about their religious views as some people are. She simply offered these DVDs to me because she knows I find all religions interesting and she’s quite right about that.  I really just started out to write about visiting Washington and seeing where I was born. I’ll write again tomorrow and tell of our adventures of today. 🙂

Bíodh sé amhlaidh,

Troy

Stonehenge and Tipis In The Northwest

Stonehenge Memorial, Washington state.
Stonehenge Memorial, Washington state.

So, over the past couple of days while visiting my sister we have had the occasion to visit a great monument built by a local entrepreneur to commemorate fallen soldiers of World War I from this area. It is a replica of Stonehenge as it was believed to have once been sitting on the 6000 acre site of Maryhill Museum. We enjoyed the day driving there and taking in the beautiful scenery of the Columbia River. My sister tells me that druids of the area hold solstice celebrations at the replica which I think would be a wonderful event to witness if we ever happen to be here at the right time.

Unfortunately, on the first morning of our visit my sister’s well pump died and we had no water for awhile until one of the service technicians informed us we could get a coupler and borrow water from one of her neighbors until her pump was fixed. One of her neighbors was kind enough to let us do that and we had it hooked up after a little hunting for an incoming faucet that didn’t come equipped with a backflow preventer. This turned out to be behind her washing machine. Interestingly enough, that morning as I did my morning ritual and pulled my daily rune it was Lagu, the rune of water that I pulled. Hmmmm.

Tipi Village
Tipi Village

Yesterday we went down to Pendleton where they are setting up for the annual Roundup and visited a Native American Museum called the Tamástslikt Cultural Institute. It was an amazing collection of artifacts and information about the history and way of life of these great people. We got to sit around a campfire and hear a coyote story, see handmade tools, toys and clothing and learn about the Umatilla’s efforts to reclaim their lost ancestral lands by buying them back.

Afterwards we had dinner at the buffet of the Wildhorse Resort and Casino where they brought us fry bread with huckleberry sauce even though they usually only have it on the line for breakfast. Then up to the grounds for the Round-Up where we saw more Tipis in one place than we have ever seen before and Kyle got to see more horses together in one place than he has ever seen. It was an exciting time for all. Well, I’m off to have coffee and frybread for breakfast.

Have a blessed day!

Multnomah Falls – A Beautiful Place

Multnomah Falls
Multnomah Falls

Just outside of Portland Oregon heading east on the Columbia River Highway is a place called Multnomah Falls. I first visited this beautiful spot when I was ten years old on a trip up here with my mother and my aunt to visit my sisters who all three lived here at that time. If you ever have the opportunity I highly recommend seeing this beautiful and magical place.

Today my sister will take us to visit a Stonehenge replica at Biggs Junction and we will be visiting a Teepee Village in the next couple of days. In the meantime this traveler needs coffee so be good to one another!

Bíodh sé amhlaidh,

Troy

P.S.

On Labor Day in September of 1995, a 400-ton boulder, loosened by erosion, fell 225 feet (69 m) from the face of the waterfall into the upper cascade pool, above Benson Bridge. It caused a 70-foot (21 m) splash of water and gravel to wash over the footbridge, causing minor injuries to twenty members of a wedding party that happened to be on the bridge posing for photos at the time.

At the base of Multnomah Falls, the Historic Multnomah Falls Lodge awaits to offer a place of relaxation, a fine meal, the perfect gift, hiking or visitor information, or possibly an espresso or tasty treat to accompany your hike or day trip.

An Ocean and Forest and Mountain Oh My!

Hangin' With The Redwoods In The Forest!
Hangin’ With The Redwoods In The Forest!

Yesterday I rarely had Sprint connectivity or access to WiFi but we saw and took pictures of some of the most amazing things. Kyle and Allyssa got to experience the Pacific Ocean for the first time at Trinidad Beach in California then up highway 101 to experience the giant Redwood Trees at Lady Bird Johnson Grove and after that a little bit of backtracking south on 101 to take highway 299 along the Trinity River in northern California to take us ultimately to the city of Mount Shasta at the base of the famed mountain. The experience was truly awe inspiring as well as spiritually uplifting. We saw deer and goats, wood carvings of Bigfoot, mermaids, dragons and turtles, trees so big it would take 5 people to hug one and many other sites along the way.

I was asked this morning to listen at Mount Shasta and to tell what I heard and I answered that I heard the voices of thousands of ancestors whispering to one another in languages I could not understand but knew that they were speaking words of wisdom…

Bíodh sé amhlaidh,

Troy

Mount Shasta - A Beautiful Mountain And Spiritual Center
Mount Shasta – A Beautiful Mountain And Spiritual Center
Trinidad Beach, California - Kyle's First Visit To The Ocean
Trinidad Beach, California – Kyle’s First Visit To The Ocean

The Grand Canyon On Our Trip

The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon

So, if the gods themselves painted the Painted Desert then surely, too, they carved the wonder that was before us yesterday. Traveling up to the Grand Canyon I had no idea we would pass through so many trees. I had always imagined the surrounding area to look like much of the rest of Arizona with sparse vegetation and an open desert leading up to the edge. But not so! We were treated to a very scenic drive through a pine forest and the energy permeated the depths of the car as well as our spirits.

I'm not going down there!
I’m not going down there!

At one point I asked my six year old son if he thought he could fill in that big hole over there. He said he thought he could so I said. “Well, grab a shovel and get busy.” Then he told me. “No. With water.” So I said. “Well, find a water hose then.” So, if we find that the Grand Canyon has to be renamed the Grand Lake soon then Kyle did it.

 

 

Who wants to jump across to that column?
Who wants to jump across to that column?

We spent the previous night in Sedona and that too was a treat. It reminded us of our honeymoon in Manitou Springs, Colorado in many ways. Sedona boasts a large number of metaphysical shops, holistic services and health spas that made these Pagan hearts feel right at home. If you ever find yourself in Arizona be sure to make the winding road down 89a from Flagstaff to Sedona part of your journey. You won’t be disappointed. Our next stops on this adventure should include a ghost town and the Golden Gate Bridge if all goes according to plan.

Be good to one another!

Bíodh sé amhlaidh,

Troy

This was an incredible memory for my family and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to see this remarkable natural site.