Welcome to Chez Swell. Sand is our specialty.

In Chez Swell, located in the the San Rafael Swell in central Utah, we have a smorgasbord of sand for your delight. You can look at it, walk on it, wipe it out of your eyes and ears, shake it out of shoes, clothing, car, van, bed, dishes, brush it off your phone, wash it off your bike.

Basically it is everywhere. And the wind tunnel that is central and southern utah ( and frankly most of western USA, delivers it in very fun ways.

Up near Temple Mountain in the San Rafael Swell, Utah

The flavors vary depending upon location. The whole Colorado plateau encompassing western Colorado, southern Wyoming, eastern Nevada, much of Utah, and northern Arizona is sand in various forms. It came from ancient seas and lakes and rivers formed by the various tectonic plates moving around. 

Near Goblin Valley, Utah. San Rafael Reef in distance

How about some 2 billion year old Moenkopi sand on your plate found in Buckhorn draw?

What about Wingate sand from the majestic sandstone cliffs of the xxx period formed when seas rescinded forming a Sahara like desert in between the Rockies and what is now Nevada? These are seen everywhere.

Sandstone cliff

Earlier in the week on Monday, we were encamped in a little hoodoo like alcove across from the San Rafael reef. (Beautiful isn’t it?) 

Wind is blowing and we close our eyes, feeling like Lawrence of Ananda (haha). Such is life of the traveler. Like getting caught in a ice storm only it’s 80 outside and wind gusting to 30 as another front moves through. No wonder this place is only suitable for tourists!  

Time to entreat to the safe confines of Mighty Wonder Van where it is not so sandy. Except for the thin layer of sand on everything.

Sand on my outdoor Moon Chair


Such Tapasaya! Om Guru.

The resident gourmet chef prepares sautéed Napa cabbage with Ginger and the dishwasher pulls out his mundane Walmart macaroni salad. A few slices of pre baked protein round it out. Remember to eat your veggies while traveling. They help with regularity. 

Tuesday, the wind died down to a low comfortable breeze. Daytime Temps in 70’s. Night mid 40’s. We hiked Little Wild Horse slot canyon which is arguably the most popular hike in the swell. Two canyons go clear thru the reef the you hike in between in back side. 9 miles.
Here is link to video of the hike

Little Wild horse Canyon

Wednesday, we headed towards Capital Reef just south of the Swell. More reefs, more sand. Avast yea mateys.

We had considered heading to Bryce but decided to remain in Capital Reef. The park campground, Fruita was full of course but we did managed to dump tanks and take on fresh water for $5. Such blessings🙏🏻
We also did one brief hike of 2 hours 3 miles 

Driving thru the reef in early morning to refuel in Torrey.

Now we are encamped in a BLM area east of park up on a bluff where we have an amazing view of the east side of the reef. With its Navaho Sandstone sticking up like worn off teeth.

Capital Reef in background

No cell so will send this Thursday then route back to the Swell sandbox for some more gourmet sand.
{LATE BREAKING NEWS!}— after morning meditation and caffeine it was decided we will drive south down the Eastern back side of capital reef to Bullfrog, Utah where the Lake Powell ferry will take us across then on to Natural Bridges and Valley of the Gods in SE AZ. 😳
Not sure of cell service but will check in sometime and we will still be home on or before Tuesday. 🙄🤞🏻

Driving thru Capital Reef
Camping in Valley of the Gods near Bluff, Utah (founded in 650 A.D.)
Swimming in Lake Powell Upper end. Bullfrog, Utah

🙏🏻Blessing from the sand pile
Sraddha and Kent

Pre wash

Christmas 2020

Spoiler Alert – We are well and have been well all year.

WHAT A YEAR! For the past 276 days since Ananda Village went into “Self Isolation” due to the COVID19 pandemic it has been a bit of “rinse and repeat”. I began to keep a brief daily log on my iPad with some personal notes and task list, with some quotes I find and also stats of the pandemic. We have been doing the 5 safe practices when out in Public and our community, so far, has been spared…So far.

We did not let the pandemic stop us from traveling since we have our “travel-pod”. The Wonder van with self contained with toilet and shower so we were able to remain isolated and safe. Whenever we go shopping for groceries we wear the protective mask, glasses and gloves. It has allowed us to be out and feel safe. I spent much of the spring doing short videos of the Crystal Hermitage Gardens.

We made several trips this year in our “travel pod” called Mightee Wonder Van (MTV). Big Sur in January, Arizona in February then the COVID hit and all our plans for rest of year was cancelled! By mid March, our small community here is in self isolation. All programs cancelled, the guest retreats shut down, and a “New Normal” begins to take shape. We limit our trips only essential needs and wonder how long this will last.

We had campground reservations for about 11 weeks of travel all over the western US from SoCal to Utah to Idaho and Washington. All cancelled by the state and national parks.

The one which really bummed us out was our favorite spot up in Truckee. The Corps of Engineers decided to not open the campground at all! We had booked several trips there since we only live 90 minutes away. Well, there goes the summer! Well, we did get one long weekend camping trip up in the Sierra for some hiking.

We planted a garden. Initially, due to our travel plans, we were not going to do that but with the pandemic, we opened up the beds and have enjoyed a bounty all summer.

Chomping at the bit and tired of cabin fever we looked at the COVID map of the USA and determined we could make a trip out to Teddy Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota via a diagonal route across Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana then down thru South Dakota Badlands and back thru Colorado Rockies and Utah safely arriving home by end of June. We found some wonderful places to stay from Tetons National park to a little city park in North Dakota. We spoke only to 8 people the whole trip. A few campground hosts and neighbors and a couple grocery employees where we shopped. Most people were not yet wearing masks out in these areas, however we were very careful to keep our distance and wear masks. What a delightful trip.

July found us wondering when the next wildfire would begin. We didn’t have to wait long as California erupted in fire and smoke. We hunkered down thinking maybe we could escape in August back to the Rockies which we did. Except that we got seduced by a couple web cams in Ouray and Telluride which showed pretty clear air. So we headed east thinking we could find places to camp.

Not so fast! After spending a couple nights packed into an RV park with AC on for the heat and dodging people on the trails, we decided to pick up stakes and head north right thru the heavy smoke of central Colorado fires then into Wyoming where we spent 18 days in the Tetons. We delayed our return until the pending snow storm forced our hand at the end of Labor Day weekend and we headed home back to wildfire country.

Upon return we knew we had 3 months remaining in wildfire season. Our van became our “go bag”. We always had it stocked with our important papers, backup hard drives, food, water, fuel, ready on a moments notice to evacuate if needed. Our village had created and emergency radio system for alerts which i had spear headed. The radio sat next to our bedside at night in case of emergency. We had our generator ready to run when the Planned Power Shutoffs happen (and they did). Wildfire season officially was over late November this year here where we live. Still, the van serves as our backup overflow food storage and stands ready to head out on short notice.

We did one more trip in the fall, heading over to Bodega bay for a few days of cool ocean breezes and walking on the beach. What a welcome relief. We had planned a trip to Arizona for late October/November but again cancelled due to the pandemic. Still we managed to put 16,000 miles on the van since taking delivery last November back in Atlanta.

Now we enjoy the cooler, wetter days, remaining fairly quiet around the house, while active around our community, helping others in need of assistance. I cycle 60-80 miles per week to keep fit and we pray for rain and snow. Sraddha is back to cooking and baking so i have to keep cycling. Being introverts, we both enjoy the solitude and have found interesting books and streaming videos as part of our life. I wear my Seahawks jersey on Sundays in support of my team. Go Hawks!

We plan out next venture, knowing full well it may get cancelled, postponed, delayed and/or changed yet again. We have learned a lot about being flexible, understanding and respectful of others. It may be a while before we can again roam freely as we have in the past. Who knows?

We wish you all a Happy Holidays. Stay well.
We will hopefully connect in 2021!

2020 Desert Southwest

We have been here so many times and keep returning.

This February has been a bit more chilly than previous years, however with Mighty Wonder Van, we have remained warm and cozy when needed.

In previous RV travels with our bigger Class A rig, we tended to live from the inside out.

Last year out teardrop trailer experience taught is the value of nimble living from the outside in.

Now, we have, what we consider the best of both worlds. We have nimble easy travel yet can tuck in when weather necessitates.

Early Feb saw me riddling icy roads to head over Donner pass to take a shorter route thru western Nevada to Sedona AZ for a model Railroad meetup with some buddies.

Christmas Letter 2019

Christmas Card 2019-42019 rolled through like a freight train, didn’t it? Began with me getting all excited about buying a teardrop trailer, working all winter and spring on the photos and admin for our new Temple of Light in preparation for the largest event ever at Ananda Village in June. Then coordinating some amazing creatives for a week of photography and videography of an event with 1000 people

Christmas Card 2019-5Late January I headed to Tucson to run model trains and see my long time buddies.Joined by Sraddha who was helping one of her best friends move up here to the village.Hiking into a deep canyon near where we live and getting drenched in springtime snow without a jacket.

Christmas Card 2019-14

Our annual hike thru the oak savannah to hidden falls then the annual 40 mile bike ride around Sutter Buttes in the valley before it gets to hot .

img_3411Drove up to Portland to take delivery of Ladybug, our new custom built teardrop trailer and driving it home then traveling up in the remote NE section of California to experience the forests and desert and quietude.

Christmas Card 2019-19Spending several week long trips up in Tahoe/Truckee area hiking, cycling, trying out eBikes, sitting around campfires while the valley roasted in 100 degree temps.Hiking in High Sierra’s is an amazing experience.

Sure can see why indigenous people spent summers there. Fortunately we live at 2700 ft so are somewhat acclimated.nevertheless, hiking up a hillside at 8,000 ft takes your breath away even before you get to the view.Sraddha got an eBike in between everything. Takes the hills out of the ride

Christmas Card 2019 FreezingWe discovered that it can get real cold up there in late September,like down below freezing! We also learned that we prefer a bit more warmth.Ya think? Yup, we love the teardrop camping experience in warmer weather, however….

Christmas Card 2019-33We decided to see how well we could travel with the teardrop behind the subaru. (Hint, It travels well, but we don’t when weather turns cold). Nevertheless we headed to Utah for two weeks in early October.Saw a new niece, and some tall ones too. Had fun with some wonderful family.

We had scored a reservation down in Canyon lands National Park for 4 Christmas Card 2019-35nights.First 3 nights we great then weather turned as forecasted to freezing temps and 30 mph winds.brr. We bolted out of there to Zion, spending a few nights in motel due to no campgrounds available. A good lesson which we learned that is was time to move up from small trailer to something that is warm inside. The question was bigger trailer or camper van.

Christmas Card 2019-44Long story short, we found the van of her dreams in Atlanta of all places. Flew out the week before thanksgiving, bought it, and drove it 3000 miles back home. We had planned to drive over I-40 to Grand Canyon for Thanksgiving but the weather turned real freezing harsh so ended up traveling I-10 thru Tucson (in stealth mode) and LA then up I-5. Happy to tell you story in person.

Our new rig is called Wonder by Leisure Travel Vans. Only 24 ft on a Ford Transit chassis with diesel engine. We call her “MighTee Wonder” (MTW) and she drives like a dream. Already planning our 2020 trips.

We wish you all a very happy holidays and look forward to seeing ALL of you in 2020.

Some photos below of new rig. PS She loves driving it!!!

Link to Kent’s Christmas photo album

Sunset at Temple of Light

Last night I scooted over to the Temple of Light at Ananda Village near my home to see if I could capture the colors of sunset with the Mavic Drone.  Bear in mind the sensor is really small.  I flew up and scouted a few possibilities.  The other challenge is location of trees to the east of the temple discourages a roaming drone so I carefully maneuvered Hawkeye (name of my Mavic Pro I) to see what I could get.  Took a few shots in Raw (DNG) and also some B roll video for future.

Sunsets are tricky timing especially when you are flying a drone with finite battery power.  I edited it a bit in Lightroom and photoshop including straightening the trees (Free Transform) because the wide angle lens distorts the edges.  adjusted the clarity, and levels.  The noise in silhouettes and shadows was due to high ISO needed.  I reduced a little in LR.

Here is finished shot.

sunset over temple 2019-01-05

Looking Back

2018 was _________ (fill in the blank).

Learning experience, Whirlwind, Unexpected, Delightful, Challenging, Full filling, Gone. You fill in the blanks. Certainly not boring.

Living a very active, yet reflective, life filled with new projects is challenging. Being “retired” hopefully allows one to have a little more say over not only what you are involved in but when.

For me, it is more a when since another aspect is living as service filled life. Sometimes the service is requested. Sometimes it is just a feeling that this is what is to be done. Sometimes I even say yes. Other times… well, let’s just hope I reflect on all of it.

Can’t say any major accomplishments this year but some progress and satisfaction from living a directional life.

Many photos and videos. See my youtube channel and website. Photo exhibit at Expanding Light guest retreat. Many greeting cards sold in boutiques. Good health for both of us. Even lost some weight and improved fitness. The Ananda Library working well, The Ananda Bell phones and internet systems are running fine and improved. A bit of travel to see family Wonderful garden House still standing (we live in a major wildfire risk area).

Much gratitude for friends, God, Guru. It’s all about relationships. Within and without.

Other than helping to celebrate Ananda Village 50th anniversary with new temple I am gonna get my General Amateur radio license, a trailer and do some local and perhaps western US travel. Maybe even some more photo/video

The adventure continues…and could even be fun

A Little Hawaiian Interlude

Perhaps you haven’t noticed but it’s been a while since last post. no excuses although I can think of a whole bunch. Used to post regularly while we were traveling around full time in the RV but since we moved into house, it has been busy.

Oh, you say, “thought you were retired?” Riiiigggghhhhtttt. “Retirement” means you have, or least you think you have, a little more say about how you spend your time. Could be true unless people think that, since you are retired, you have lotsa time to spend on their projects….

So we took a little time away to celebrate our 20th anniversary. Time flies.We flew to Maui. So here we are in “paradise” which translates to wonderful temperatures, tee shirts, shorts, island time, no worries. Everyone has their picture of what it’s like. It is pretty neat in some ways.

We have enjoyed our hikes and visit to Haleakala National park, the walks and morning swims on the beach, the temperatures, and exploring. But we prefer a more secluded quiet areas less touristy. Guess that is what we have gotten used to over the years. It’s always fun to people watch and there are all forms. At least everyone we have seen/met are pretty relaxed here.

We are ready for the comforts of home tho.

  • Take home lessons:
    • Research your accommodations more carefully if comfort is important.
      Move around more often if exploring is important.
      Pack less stuff
      Be open to what is next rather than fixed while traveling
  • Not sure this is clear but more meanderings.
  • Iao overlook back towards Kahaluhi

    Life’s a Beach

    Calling CQ on Haleakula Summit

    On the Halemau’u trail at Haleakula

    Looking into Haleakula Crater

    World Market Day

     

    Some long time Ananda folks organized and World Market Day here at Ananda Village during this summer’s Spiritual Renewal week.

    Be The Change Theme for Ananda Worldwide this year
    Be The Change Theme for Ananda Worldwide this year

    The intention is to provide an opportunity for an interactive event for guests and gurubais to: Represent our various communities and tell folks about Ananda’s work and offerings in their area; Sell products, crafts, artistry and services; Build stronger communication and relationships among individuals in Ananda worldwide family

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
    Artists from many walks of life offered their work for sale

    I went out with quadcopter to show a friend how it works and got some fun footage.  We had to find a good spot to take off then flew around.  Didn’t have much time to do justice to this delightful experience but did manage to capture some footage

    2 minute aerial video below.

     

    Enjoy!