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Michael Mager

Happy Journal – Nature vs. People

By 19/04/2014 Journal

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April 6, 2014

Bryce Canyon National Park opened at 8:00am so we made sure to be one of the first people there since we would drive towards the Grand Canyon that same day. The view was stunning. The rock formations formed pillars of earth, also known as Hoodoos, that made up this large canyon. The Paiute Native Americans believes that the hoodoos were the Legend People whom the trickster Coyote turned to stone.

Chris and I walked along the ridge and reach the largest Inspiration Point that overlooked the valley. We walked along the a small outstretched cliff and sat with our feet hanging off. There was something liberating about having such beauty and vastness be around you. A few Chinese tourists at the lookout point walking area took pictures of us on this ledge entertained by our risk.

We continued to Bryce point for another great view and took a moment to mediate there. When you take the time to calm yourself in such a surrounding and open your eyes again, it is like looking through a different perspective. I highly recommend it when you get a chance to enjoy the beauty of nature. Here is a short guide intro on how to mediate. I would test it 5 minutes your first time.

Chris and I decided to hitchhike back to where our RV, “Bucket”, was parked since most of the park’s paths were closed and met a friendly German couple who took us along. We drove towards Grand Canyon until Chris noticed this dome shaped house on our right. We decided to take the exit and see who lived there. A man named John and his wife Rhonda lived there. John was a permaculture farmer on his 20 acres of land. Permaculture is a method of agriculture based on the natural patterns and relationships found in nature. For example, John would have his cows eat the grass on a small quadrant of grass and then move them each day to preserve the grass. 3 days later he would release chickens on that same quadrant, which would feed on the fly larva found in the cows poop. The chickens would be fed and the cows would avoid the problematic flies as a result.

John spent 4 hours telling us about his 100% recycled, solar-powered farm and showing us everything from his dome house to his chicken coupe. He was extremely well read with shelves of books about permaculture, but also philosophy. He taught me one very important principle: “Society is far from perfect, but I believe that you should not try to change society. If you truly want to create change, create an example of the society you wish to see.” Once John completes his permaculture system, he plans to open a school to teach his perfected method to self-sustainable agriculture. His wife Rhonda gave us some of the best damn eggs and vegetables I have ever tasted. Thank you!!!

After a packed day, Chris and I continued on our journey and stopped in a town called Kanab. We talked a lady at the gas station who helped us find some free wifi at a motel. So we parked behind the motel and tapped in to send out some of our first posts on Facebook since our journey had started. We fell asleep satisfied from a nature and education filled day.

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Happy Journal – Climbing Angel’s Landing with a Hippie

By 18/04/2014 Journal

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April 4 & 5, 2014

Chris and I said our goodbyes to Ray and Gooseberry Mesa to set out on the road to Zion National Park. We took another narrow, rough, dirt path the local town nearby. We stopped at a grocery store right before the park where a person could buy a small box a granola bars for $7. How unexpected being the only grocery store in town ;)

With a little dent in our wallets, we entered Zion National Park. The mountains rose on either side of us as we entered. Stopping at the only campsite in the park, the camp host showed us to a beautiful little spot by a creek. We immediately popped out and wandered along the stream jumping from rock to rock. Some friendly next-door neighbors invited us over for dinner where we got to learn about their Mormon faith and personal backgrounds and we surveyed them for our happiness survey.

The next day we got to know another neighbor of ours named Bill. Bill was a 68 year-old, former nurse from Wisconsin who is traveling arohttp://www.happiness101.net/wp-admin/edit-tags.php?taxonomy=categoryund in his turquoise, custom, 15ft Toyota RV. We invited him to join us on our hike to Angel’s Landing and he gladly joined us. Angel’s Landing was one of the most beautiful and dangerous hikes that I have ever done. The first 4/5th of the mountain was climbing paved path. The last 1/5th was a grueling upward climb with a small metal chain attached to the wall to hang onto. People were coming up and down this narrow way where there was almost always one side of you exposed to a steep drop. 5 people have died climbing Angel’s Landing, which was a crazy thought when climbing up and seeing 12 year-old kids climbing it. It was all worth it once we all reached the top. The view was the most stunning natures I have seen in my life. Chris, Bill, and I just sat down to absorb it all in.

Throughout that climb we got to know more and more about Bill and his thoughts on life. His life was mislead by drugs, but over the years he managed to rebuild his relationship with his family and himself. Bill’s mantra for happiness is to be radically honest to others and yourself. ALWAYS tell the truth. Not only did he keep up with us on the hike at 68, but he added to our experience sharing his philosophy and advice. Thank you Bill for sharing so much with us.

Chris and I left Zion National Park in appreciation and made our way that night to Bryce Canyon National Park. We camped in a random parking lot next to Bryce since it was closed by the time we got there. It was a quite night by the road with a feeling of success felt in our bodies and hearts.

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Happy Journal – Riding on the Edge

By 17/04/2014 Journal

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April 3, 2014

The night had been long and cold. My toes feet were ice blocks in the cheap $30 sleeping back I bought at DICK’s. Chris didn’t sleep much better. We began our morning with some yoga, taking advantage of the beautiful view we had by the cliff of the mesa. Breakfast followed with yogurt and granola. Except when Chris dished up the yogurt, it had completely froze over the night. I never had fro-yo for breakfast, but I was pleasantly surprised. Ray stopped by soon after to join us on our biking adventure in Gooseberry Mesa that day.

I turned on my GoPro camera, attached to my helmet, and the three of us set off on a trail. At certain points the trail would venture 2-3 feet from the edge of the 500ft mesa. We rode on dirt paths, over boulders and between them, and along ridges. I felt like a kid in a giant playground jumping off rocks and maneuvering around them. Chris, Ray, and I would venture to the edge of the mesa to dangle our legs off and look out at nature’s abundant beauty. Many pictures and videos were taken. Ray was a seasoned mountain biker and had no problems keeping up with us on this 5 1/2 hour ride.

Once Chris and I got back, a camping neighbor got their car stuck on a raised rock and needed to be towed. Chris stepped to action, while “Bucket” and I did the towing to free this car again. Sweaty after the long ride, Chris and I needed to clean ourselves up. In the 55f (13c) degree weather, I decided it was time to have my first sponge bath. The check list: bowl of soapy water and a rag. Yes, it was cold, but very effective. We laughed at each other’s momentary discomfort and wrapped up in fresh clothes.

We cooked dinner for Ray and ourselves and chatted until the fire burned out and it was time for bed. Aware of the cold, we prepared for sleep with 2 layers of socks, sweatpants, a shirt and sweater, a beanie, wrapped like a burrito with a blanket, slipped into our sleeping bags, and our feet wrapped in another blanket. It helped :)

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Happy Journal – Camping in Nature’s Backyard

By 16/04/2014 Journal

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April 2, 2014

I woke up feeling relaxed and unaware of where I was with all the curtains covering the windows. Remembering that Chris and I had parked “Bucket” in a random place on the highway, I quickly got up to look outside and see where we were. I opened the side door to step out into a crystal blue day. Red mountains ranged all around us and there was nothing, but the road beside us and nature. We breathed in the fresh mountain air. It was the perfect beginning to our adventure.

We drove into town to pick up some last food supplies and then went to a bike shop to repair the wheels on one of our bikes. The store was called ‘Over the Edge‘ and a man by the name of Clayton helped us change the tire. Chris and I both had a rough memories of changing a bike tire so 30 minutes later and a tire still on the bike, we decided to ask for help. Clayton happily helped us and lent us some tools. Not too long after, our bike was back in shape and set loaded back on the bike rack.

I asked for directions to Gooseberry Mesa and we were led to the entrance of a rough dirt path. “Bucket” took a little beating bouncing around, but taking it slow and with encouragement from Chris and I, he proved his strength. We reached a map station where we met a man named Ray. A 60 year-old, retired elementary teacher from Canada. Ray showed us the best camp spot that over looked the valley. It was a stunning view. By the time we set up camp it was already 4pm so we decided to take to walk around a little and take it easy. Ray joined us later around a small fire we made and we talked under the thousands of stars that were out that night.

We went to sleep with food in our bellies and awed by the beauty of our first destination. It was weird for both of us to have been working for the past year with school, internships, tech business, and preparing for this road trip and to come to this point and have an abundance of time. We also had not internet so no Facebook or emailing! Imagine the dilemma :) Tomorrow the biking begins!

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Happy Journal – First Day… Where Are We??

By 16/04/2014 Journal

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April 1 , 2014

Today Chris and I woke at the break of dawn in Palm Desert. A beautiful sun rose behind the mountains and amongst the clouds as we packed our last belongings together. My parents and Grandma woke up to say their goodbyes as we started the engine of our RV called “Bucket” (The Bucket List) and drove away. We drove 11 hours, which took us back towards Los Angeles, through Las Vegas, and into a town called Hurricane. (The weather was fine!) 3,248 ft above sea level, we passed red mountains and plenty of Walmarts.

When we arrived in Hurricane and our goal was a place called Gooseberry Mesa, a famous mountain biking and camping area right before Zion National Park. The sun had already set and the night had come. Not able to find the mesa camp site nor another Walmart, we pulled off the side of the highway and prepared our beds. It was our first night and we did not know where we were and it was very cold.

Chris and I had been thinking about this moment for the past 2 years. There was so much I wondered about what we would face and the people we will be by the end of this. We went to sleep with uncertainty, but with a great feeling of independence.

 

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