Now, remembering California…
My excursion last fall was unplanned to say the least, so when I ended up at a yoga retreat tucked away in the Sierra Nevada Foothills, I was less than surprised. At this point, I was just putting one foot in front of the other, my direction lead only by intuition.
I traveled for 12 straight hours from the coast to the mountains, first by bus, then bus again, then train, and at last a car. I have to say, my experiences thus far of traveling by bus in the United States have not been the most pleasant, but as a traveller you learn to put on your head phones, prop up your feet and ignore the crazy banter from the man sitting two seats back and focus on the next destination. I switched buses and stations, waited for departures and ate trail mix while sketching and reading. The day slipped by as I sat in various seats with friendly or unfriendly neighbors, but I just stared out onto the passing landscape with my sunglasses gently slipping down my nose.
I had enjoyed the train ride into Sacramento, but after arriving found myself sitting in sweltering heat on the steps of the train station, hoping desperately that my ride would recognize me as the girl from Wyoming or Colorado, or somewhere around there…a girl who was traveling in California without direction, and who wanted to come stay at the yoga retreat for a time. After reading The New Yorker, finishing my trail mix and watching the sun slowly slip behind the glaring skyscrapers of Sacramento, I spotted her…my wonderful, sweet host, standing by the Starbucks, with large dark sunglasses, and a hand-written sign reading, Gabrielle.
Pleasant Valley Sanctuary was more to me than a resting place, it was solitude and silence, nights of laughter, mornings of peace, long conversations in the afternoon and endless cups of tea accompanied by wonderful books. As part of the intern experience, I absorbed as much as I could about meditation, yoga theory and concepts of spirituality.
This is a part of the country where the energy is different, people look you directly in the eye, you can feel the sincerity and trust in their voices. You can go swimming in the river in late October before driving into the nearby town and meeting people with names like Distance and Starlight Compost at the laundromat. I left Pleasant Valley on a bus heading towards San Francisco, wishing I could stay longer but knowing I had do move on…I was filled with the bliss of a child.