Today I choose to celebrate life. The storm clouds have passed. I embrace the sunshine and dance as I have never danced before.
On a previous hiking trip to the Grand Canyon, I hung out at the train station in Flagstaff waiting for the shuttle back to Phoenix. At that time, I didn’t explore the area but on a recent day trip, I discovered that Flagstaff is really a funky fun town.
San Francisco Street is full of unique shops and tasty restaurants with recipes from around the world. I found a fab tea house that offers both Japanese style seating and a tea bar where I ordered a lavender mint latte with almond milk, a unique healthy option to the usual coffee blends.
Exploring the colorful city, I discovered a sound healing shop where I went on a wild musical ride in a sound chair that has built-in chimes that when played, put me into a deep state of relaxation. The shop also has a sound healing bed that is specifically built to take you on a sound therapy journey with gongs and giant chimes where you hear and feel and sense every vibration.
Flagstaff has a cool vibe and good energy with street musicians, street art, and upbeat people. The mountains are a skier or snowboarders dream and of course, Sedona and the Grand Canyon are nearby for hiking adventures.
If you are exploring Arizona, you will want to put Flagstaff on your list of places to explore.
On October 19, 2018, I ventured out on a solo hike through the White Mountains of Western Arizona. My intention was to explore the local area in search of a new trial.
It was midday and the sun was shining as I began my journey. Being alone in nature was natural for me, as my childhood was spent running through the grassy fields of the Midwest. Fear was never present when I explored, yet there was some apprehension as I began my journey this day as I knew that I was in unknown territory.
I felt excitement grow as I found beauty and unexpected discoveries along the way. The first thing I spotted were two wooden teepee type structures that were built in a secluded spot. I had no idea as to why the shelters were built or who had built them, but the discovery intrigued me to travel on. I quickly forgot about turning back and continued to hike forward, excited to find a beautiful reflective pond with a single large rock, where I sat and reflected for a period of time.
I followed trail makers as I hiked over rock filled paths. I inhaled the aroma of the ponderosa pine forest and felt at one with nature. After a few hours of hiking, I realized that my cell phone was dying and I was getting thirsty. I was not acclimated to the dry humid terrain of the southwest. I realized I had not seen a single person and noticed that my cell phone battery was dying. If it died, I wouldn’t have a GPS or trail finder to guide myself out if I became lost. I also didn’t have an asthma inhaler with me or water to drink. I had not intended to hike so far. I began to get worried and contemplated turning back, but I had already hiked several miles, so I decided to keep moving forward.
Fear started to shroud me like a dark dirty cloud. Was I lost? Did I veer off the trail? What if I had an asthma attack? What if my cell phone died and no one found me? I knew that curiosity and my sense of adventure had taken me further into the mountain than I had originally expected. I continued to follow the trail markers, but some were missing or were difficult to locate, making me question if I was on the trail at all.
My hiking pace increased as I set my intention on finding my way out of the mountains. Eventually in the distance, I spotted two people who were hiking up the mountain ahead of me. I caught up to them and shouted, “Is this the way out?” The man said that they were headed towards the parking lot. I had no idea where we were or what he was talking about. I asked them if they knew were the starting point was where I had begun my journey. The woman turned around and said, “That’s far away! You should turn around and go back.” My mouth dropped as I explained that I had traveled further than originally planned. The man generously gave me a bottle of water and offered to drive me back to my starting point. We hiked another hour up the mountain to their truck and then drove several miles down the road where they left me close to where I had begun my journey.
Being a natural explorer, the next day I went back to the same trail and hiked in the opposite direction, trying to figure out where the trail had looped together, but this time I was prepared for a long hike.
Not that I was really in any danger, other than in my mind, but I realized that the mountains are no comparison to a casual 4-mile walk in the flatlands of the Midwest. I quickly learned that when hiking at an elevation of 7,500 feet above sea level, it’s best to be prepared for the elements incluidng, hot weather, rough terrain, wild animals and thin air.
The White Mountains are a hiker lover’s paradise with thousands of trails to explore throughout the four seasons.
Check out the local Chamber of Commerce for trail guides and roadmaps to local National Forests.
The White Mountains of Arizona are full of wild natural plants to brew herbal teas or to make healthy herbal remedies. The Apache use native plants to treat ailments of all kinds for a variety of health reasons. Research indicates that approximately sixty percent of the medicines we use today come from native herbs. Caffeine free herbal teas are now commonly consumed for a variety of symptoms including insomnia, digestive issues, hormonal issues, and to enhance memory and mood.
I love herbal tea, and living in the White Mountains has opened up a whole new herbal experience for me, where I can try a variety of new teas and herbal remedies that were not available to me in other parts of the country.
I recently began to search the mountainside for my own blend of herbal teas, thanks to a couple of experienced guides who help me identify native plants. I can also buy bulk teas at Sunshine Herbs, a natural, holistic shop that sells teas and herbs to the local folk in Show Low, Arizona.
One of my favorite blends is “DeStress Tea, a combination of chamomile, hops, oat straw, peppermint, and passionflower. The combination of organic plants creates a peace and calm and is a great way to end the day.
When life gives you lemons, make tea!
Tiny living isn’t just a fad, it’s a total life change with less consumption, less materialism, and less waste. On my quest to reduce the amount of stuff I own, even after downsizing several times, I still feel the heaviness of having too much.
Recognizing my past wastefulness of excessive shopping and collecting of material goods, a growing restlessness stirred within. I had created a life that I did not intend to live anymore, and still found myself surrounded by mounds of stuff. It left an emotional heaviness on my soul as I was striving to simplify my life and veer away from modern consumerism.
The other day as I was driving, I passed a tiny mountain home village in my area. I was both excited and disappointed as I saw this cool tiny home for sale. If the house had been available when I first visited the area in July 2018, I would have purchased it, and could have lived a completely different lifestyle.
A life of materialism is an empty life. No amount of stuff can fill an empty soul.
For anyone looking, this amazing tiny home is for sale in the White Mountains of Arizona. For the right person, tiny mountain living is waiting!
I was recently honored to celebrate White Mountain Apache Day at historical Fort Apache in North East Arizona. I was given a traditional Camp Dress to wear and joined in the celebration which included cooking Ash bread, storytelling, singing songs, a women’s dress competition, watching Crown Dancers and eating fry bread for the first time. I was also given a beautiful homemade burden basket, which is used for gathering berries and wild foods.
The White Mountain Apache is a proud and powerful group of people who have a lot to teach us in ways of the world and in the ways of nature. Everything has meaning and purpose. Somehow in the west, we have lost our roots and inner connectedness with the land, plants, and animals that share our earth. The White Mountain Apache have never forgotten this.
The day was a celebration of White Mountain Apache tribal life. As the day came to an end, I left with an appreciation for tradition and for people who are holders of ancient ways.
A growing trend in the Midwest is a return to healthy living, whole organic foods, and fresh produce.
Growing up in Wisconsin, I consumed dairy products with every meal. When I developed a dairy allergy a few years ago, I struggled to adjust to both a meat and dairy free diet. Luckily for me, a vegan restaurant opened up in my town where I was able to eat everything on the menu. Since then I began exploring Wisconsin in search of vegan food and found cities like Madison to be a lively, health-conscious city that offers ethnic cafe’s, organic teas, street musicians and natural essential oils and herbs that are grown and sold locally.
During a recent visit to the Midwest, I found colorful farmer’s markets and natural good-hearted people who not only enjoy healthy whole foods but who also enjoy drinking craft beers and fresh cheese curds straight from the factory.