Saturday, October 29, 2005


I have arrived ~
and am here in Monterey ~ dittadhammasukhavihari.
Dittadhammasukhavihari means 'dwelling happily in the present moment' in Pali.

A ponderosa pine outside of Flagstaff, AZ.

Elyse is my friend from junior high, highschool, and Flagstaff. We've known each other since we were 11 years old.

The Chapel of the Holy Dove is a non-demoninational interfaith chapel on Hwy 180, the route North to the Grand Canyon from Flagstaff. The chapel is just outside of Flag. People reserve the chapel for weddings by pinning a handwritten note to the inside log walls. You can also place your handwritten prayers into a little box and the chapel people (I don't know who they are) will pray for you/recite your prayer.

We camped at Mather campground--Yuki, Jesse, and I. The sky was clear at night with zillions of stars; the temperature fell to around 32ºF (0ºC). We were toasty in my tent--too warm even--because I slept in my flannel pajamas, inside a sleeping bag, and with a down comforter over me, next to a furry black cat and a furry white dog.

I enjoyed walking along the rim trail and revisiting places I'd been many times before. I never get bored of being at the Canyon, not even at the heavily touristy South Rim. Though I've been down on the river camping and walking for many days at a time, I can enjoy what the rim area has to offer. At the Kolb photography studio, built on the edge of the Canyon, there was a magnificent gallery exhibit of paintings and sculptures of the Grand Canyon created by various artists in many different mediums. In the Bright Angel Lodge area I visited an exhibit showing the history of Fred Harvey and the Harvey Girls, Grand Canyon tourism, and the visionary architect who created many of the structures at the Grand Canyon, Mary Colter.

I asked Yuki to pose--this is what I got.

Nice to enjoy tea while travelling...and while not travelling.

I took this photo of Jesse with one hand, shooting backwards while driving on the highway through the Mohave Desert.

On our way to The Channel Islands National Park Visitors Center in Ventura County, I saw all these orange pumpkins in a field. At the Visitors Center I looked at exhibits about the islands. I learned about the Channel Islands' flora, fauna, sea life, and the Chumash Indians, the former inhabitants of the islands. One day I'd like to visit the Channel Islands when I don't have Yuki and Jesse in the car with me.

Morro Bay is one of my favorite stops going up the coast.
I like the look of that big rock in the water. It looms large from wherever you are on the bay. I took a walk with Yuki on a trail near our campground. The trail went past an area of many tall eucalyptus trees with hundreds of birds high up in the branches. There was a sign nearby that said this was a protected area, the only blue heron rookery left on the coast of California. I went back to the car to get my binoculars. Besides the blue herons, there were what looked to be turkey vultures perched among them. And in the background, that big rock in the bay. I don't know why, but I love that rock in the water like that.

Big Sur

What else can I say--this is one view, at one moment in time, from a digital camera, under that particular lighting as framed by my eyes. The Big Sur coastline.

This is at Asilomar in Pacific Grove.

I met this painter at Asilomar on my first day back. She told me that she comes every year for a week just to paint.

I saw these birds one morning on Monterey State Beach.

Outside, I was eating breakfast in the cool morning air while Yuki and Jesse were taking in the scene. We are on the porch looking out on the courtyard of the apartment complex of a MIIS friend we stayed with for a while.

* * * * * * * *

One of the highlights I didn't photograph occurred at a vista point between San Simeon and Big Sur. I saw three whales on the horizon blowing water from their blow holes. I saw their bodies lift up into the air from the water followed by their flukes. I watched them do this several times. My first night's sleep in Monterey brought a dream in which I saw a dolphin face smiling at me and at the same time it felt like I was the smiling dolphin.

In LA, I stayed the night with my cousin in West Hollywood. Carol has lived in the same apartment for nearly 30 years! In the morning, I left in the dark, as Carol leaves for work at 5 am. Driving through the Hollywood Hills I saw the still full moon in front of me, hiding behind the clouds, and turning with me as we drove. There was a light misty rain. In the dark clear spaces between the clouds, stars were shining in the sky. As the road curved around the hills, lights from houses built into the hills sparkled brightly.


Akshay said...

a nice vactation by the sea.
you're knowledge of Pali is impressive even though I'm Indian and I live in India I don't know a word.

Nicole said...

Hi Akshay,
Not too impressive, really. It's fun, though. I have been learning some Pali and Sanskrit Buddhist terms and phrases along with my meditation practice. Someday I intend to study more Sanskrit/Pali. As I study with different teachers, and read many Buddhist writings,I learn some Tibetan, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Sanskrit, and Pali.

Pinch of Jazz said...

hi Nicole,

liked your pics. the journey must have been some experience.

since you read abt Buddhism, read Thich Naht Hahn if you can.


Nicole Raisin Stern said...

Hi, pinch of jazz:

I love Thây (Thich Nhat Hanh)! I consider Thây to be one of my teachers. I have read about 10 of his books and been on retreat with him and the monks & nuns of Plum Village. Thanks for your comment :)

Pinch of Jazz said...

Glad,Nicole!! Wonderful that you have met Thay. Keep in touch. My blog at