Colleen Hannegan

Finding the words....and the perfect pair of glasses.

Travel

Where We Find Us~~

marriage, Adventure, Love, Travel, Spirited LifeColleen HanneganComment

We met on a dirt trail. Me in a dirty heap, with blood oozing down my left arm, my thumb hanging by its tendon. Gravel and more dirt ground into my hair, across my legs, my bike in a heap next to me. Strangers had helped me remove my bike helmet and encouraged me to put my head between my knees to keep from passing out. I was making some jokes about my state of affairs as the crowd grew around me. Wondering, no doubt, how I could have crashed on this really flat spot of the mountain bike trail.

He stood quietly nearby, his mountain bike and his riding buddies watching over me until the paramedics arrived to cart me away. He saw me but I didn’t see him. We formally met each other two months later when I returned to the trails to ride with his group. He rode at the back of the group with me and taught me how to ride, be safe, and shared the pure joy of playing outside again with me at 50 years young and him at 58.

We fell in love while we rode into new wilderness places together or hiked new trails he introduced to me. We got married 10 years later. Third time was a special charm for both of us. Riding and hiking into out sunset years, welcoming mature love into our last chapters, we return as often as possible to wilderness places to find ourselves again and again. The best part of us. The honest, forever young, happy, spiritual seekers we recognize in each other…. out there. We always find it and return refreshed.

Last week-end we headed out to Palm Springs for a sunny pool retreat. We included a hike up the North Lykken Trail above the city. I’d been up on the trail on two other visits to P.S. I was anxious to take Al up there, knowing he would love it’s wild, rugged, winding trail and the vast view it offered of the desert floor below.

The craggy rocks and bold boulders, the zig zaggy trail required us to mind our footfalls and stay focused. Our hiking poles were keeping us well balanced. The early morning sun was warm, not hot, yet. The trail rose quickly but spread cool shadows across us, carrying us up and up. We paused to catch our breath now and again and for a chance to look how far we’d come. And to look up at the merging of bright blue above and the determined, jagged silhouette of this mountain that held us.

Hiking PS.jpg

Al always wants to go farther. I’m usually the one that says, we need to turn around now. The sun was hotter, our water supply dwindling, and knowing our knees would require patience on our part to hike down, he agreed. One hour out, would be one hour back.

On our descend, we both commented on the special feeling this trail had, how it seemed to draw you up and in it, and that only the hearty hiker would be moved to be up on this mountain as every step required attention.

Four days later, back home, we were still talking about the magical feeling this trail offered. And why it felt like I sensed a presence around us. I’d kept looking around on the way down, wondering if I heard or saw something. A coyote watching? A snake? A Native spirit? A ghost? (Albeit a good ghost.)

Al finds his confidence and identity out there where nature brings out the best of us. A quiet man, he chooses his words carefully. If I want him to talk to me more, I invite him out to the nearest dirt trails to hike or bike together. It loosens up the tightness that suburbia delivers.

He had something to share with me. “ I think that hiking out in the desert, on a trail like this, with no trees, low brush, mostly rocks with all life very close to the ground, allows our own spirit to be free. And that what we sense around us is actually our very own energy flow, our own spirit. That when we hike in a forested area, or even the other desert trail we’ve hiked surrounded by palm trees, we are aware of the energy of those trees.”

He continued. “Trees and all life have energy and we’ve never hiked such a sparse trail like this before. There are usually trees and canyons and more plants. But out on this trail our body energy was able to fly freely about, unobstructed by trees or larger boulders and such. I think we became aware of out own energy flying about us. I thnk that’s what you heard; what you sensed. And I did as well.”

And so it is. Me and Al finding us. Out there. And by the pool. And the hot tub. And the cozy, private room that afforded us a lovely leisure and resbite from the noises of a busy world.

“There, up there, that’s where we gotta go!”

“There, up there, that’s where we gotta go!”






Looking for the Pot of Gold.

TravelColleen HanneganComment

I am not an easy traveler. Oh I talk about where I want to travel and how I want to get there and what I'd love to see and how long I'd want to stay; often. I dream of seeing faraway landscapes and towering natural skyscrapers that allow us to stand before them in awe and remind ourselves how majestic this world is and how small and insignificant we stand before them.

Others travel where I wish to go, and I see the beautiful places vicariously through their photos and wonder why I don't travel more often.

And here's the truth. I tend to travel more to deep and dark and miraculously mystical places in my mind, in my early morning musings, in my spiritual readings and meditations, than to physical places on a man made map. I've been drawn to the soul maps within; they are my quiet places I long to wander and discover secrets and languages so old and full of mystery, one cannot so easily decipher. But I try. 

The other part of the truth for me is..... I'm more hesitant to travel in person, by plane, auto or boat because that unknown causes me much more anxiety than the inner travels I prefer.

What used to happen when I committed to a physical travel adventure, I'd come down with some malady that either caused me to cancel the trip or made me sick while I was in the middle of the trip. On my adventure to Italy with my daughter Leah in 2006, the night before we left, I got a cramp in my neck that stayed with me the entire 10 days we were away. Too bad I remember the pain I was in more than I remember the joys of walking through the duomo in Milano or taking a bus ride into the gorgeous countryside outside Firenze. Stress. Being in the middle of a divorce battle didn't help. But I think more than facing down Mr. Meany in court, I was afraid of leaving home ( my new cozy apartment) and all its familiarity and certainty. 

Not long after,  I took a trip to meet my sister in Reno for a 10k adventure and came down with strept throat as soon as I arrived. Trips planned then frequently cancelled. The list of physical freak outs before trips away from home endured for about ten years until I decided to trick my mind into looking at physical travel as a buried treasure map.

In my mind I saw a buried treasure map, all aged and yellowed with corners curled. Mountain ranges, desert valleys, rivers curling like snakes along the trails. And there, at some spot marked with a big yellow X, was where I would find my pot of gold.

Pot of gold.

Pot of gold.

I told myself my pot of gold was waiting for me on my future trips. It could appear as an interesting person I'd meet, a beautiful vista I'd see, an incredible meal I'd eat, a wrong turn that would become a right turn into an exciting drive along some beautiful spot in nature. The pot of gold was waiting for me to discover it. But only if I bravely and fearlessly ventured out to find it. And to be open to when and where it would present itself.

That's how I became less afraid of physical travel, by creating my own magic map to my pot of gold. It's worked nicely since then.

So on our road trip last week to Susanville in northern California to ride  mountain biking trails, here stood my pot of gold in this majestic old oak tree on a quiet street near our B&B. My husband and I were out for an evening stroll after dinner, wandering the local neighborhood before dark.

We turned the corner just as sunset made its way through the autumn leaves of this beauty and deep blue day was surrendering to early night. If you'd seen me, I was kneeling in the dirt before this "pot of gold" worshiping its magnificence and taking a few closeups with my iphone of the sunset performance and the mirroring wonder of that moment.

POG as one.jpg

The bark was the darkest black I'd seen, so maybe it wasn't an oak tree. The contrast in its dark and bright and luminescent shine above was a work of nature art. I'm known as a tree lover. I listen to trees and speak to trees on my frequent walks and rides into nature places. For me this tree represented a happy life being grounded in the earth for sustenance while reaching skyward to share its beauty in reflecting the sun. 

As my husband and I both stood there appreciating its glow and grandeur, I moved closer and realized it was one big base, yet spreading out as two. 

Celebrating our wedding anniversary on this adventure made this pot of gold a special gift for both of us.

Our enticing, beautiful planet Earth is here for us to wonder, to wander and to be wowed by its richness, our physical connection it it and its sacred specialness. Here we live and here we are sure to know its treasures waiting to be discovered around the corners of our everyday lives.

Two parts of a whole.

Two parts of a whole.