11 August 2013

Around Mount Hood

Here are some shots of Lucas's first visit to the Salmon River and a Bigfoot sighting. ;)



















13 July 2013

Smith Rock

Here are some shots from our trip to Bend and central Oregon this past month. I ran a 1/2 marathon at Smith Rock and it was such a beautiful course and part of the country! Cheers to summer and it is amazing to be outside.









26 January 2013

Western Tibet & Shishapangma

The Tibetan plateau can be a harsh and unforgiving place. The air is dry and cold and the nights are well below freezing.  As harsh a place as it is,  the western plateau is breathtakingly stunning. The landscape resembles a high desert with few trees and open plateau in all directions.  The plateau is broken only by the majesty of the Himalayan range and an occasional land cruiser. 









The people that I encountered,  I will never forget.  It's woth noting that  facial features change dramatically as you travel west into the Plateau; My guide joked that they become very distinctly Tibetan.







The variety of wild life is stunning and although I wasn't fortunate enough to see the elusive snow leopard, I did see the very endangered black neck crane . There was flock of about 100 birds near a watering hole and as peered at them through my binoculars, I had a new appreciation of what endangered meant. 







There is a visible Tantric influence from India that runs through the art, culture, and architecture in western Tibet.  The influence is attributed to the fact that artists and scholars from India were invited to Tibet during its early kingdom. The connection between Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism is hard to miss and it's is quite literally written on the walls. :)

Tantric Temple Art





22 December 2012

Mount Everest

Here is a view of Mount Everest from a 16k foot pass in Western Tibet. Watching the snow blow off the Mountain and thinking it was still another 10k feet to the summit is humbling.  This is the second time I've seen Everest and she never disappoints. 









01 December 2012

Christmas tree

I cut down my first Christmas tree today in honor of Lucas's first Christmas. It was a decent work out and our house has the most amazing pine scent right now. There is no comparison to any tree I've purchased on a tree lot. We went to a great family run tree farm in Oregon City named Deininger Farms. They are family and pet friendly and have a great selection of trees to choose and cut.  If you do Christmas trees, support this family! The trees cost $20 and are far higher quality than anything on the lots around Portland. Bring a little muscle and some rope to tie the tree down -- they'll supply the hot chocolate. Merry Christmas ...

Before and After...






11 November 2012

Lhasa

There are places beyond words; Tibet is one of them. I consider myself fortunate to have spent some time in Lhasa and western Tibet this year.  I was excited as the plane touched down in Lhasa; Maybe it was the 12,000 feet elevation.  I was filled with anticipation all summer. The drive from the airport was my first glimpse of the Tibetan countryside and seeing the Potala palace in the distance signaled that we were approaching the once forbidden city of Lhasa. I had arrived. I was a long way from SE Portland and the journey was just getting started. Over the next three weeks, I would travel west through Lhasa into the heart of western and the real Tibet and Himalayas. 

Alchemy @ Sera 

Potala Palace


Potala Palace from the SE

The scale of the monastery complexes in and around Lhasa are epic. Many were severely damaged and rebuilt during the cultural revolution. The Drepung, Gangden, and Sera were the first ones I visited and in their hay day these monastic colleges housed over ten thousand students. Think of it as the Stanford university or CalTech of its day. At Sera, I witnessed young monks practicing debate in the courtyard adjacent to the kitchen area. It was part theater, part oral exam, and such a treat to watch.  All my senses were fully engaged . In the kitchens and prayer halls the smell of yak butter lamps and burning juniper filled the air. The monasteries are equally as engaging for the eyes. The prayer halls are filled with religious statuary, ancient scritpures, and shrines. Devout Tibetans crowd around prostrating, praying, and giving offerings in these dimly lit and smoke filled rooms.  There is also no shortage of curious looking westerners trying to appreciate all that is  happening around them as well.


Tantric Wall Art

Wood blocks for printing


Debating Monks at Sera 

Pilgrim (Kora) at Potala Palace

The Potala Palace is immense and it also felt inaccessible and a bit spiritually muted.  The security climate and restrictions around the palace are a sobering reflection of the situation in Tibet today. I hope that changes. The staircase leading up to the palace is a great cardio workout at that elevation. The outer palace wall has shrines and I sat and watched the pilgrims perform the Kora with their prayer wheels and beads.

The Kora and interaction with local Tibetan pilgrims at Ganden monastery was also a highlight for me. Seeing all the prayer flags made me pause and be thankful (for everything).

Prayer flags

Kora at Ganden
Ganden Monsatery
Kora at Ganden
Main prayer hall at Drepung 


Tantric Wall Art
Potala Palace detail
Kora at Potala
Prayer wheels
Jokhang Temple
The old Jokhang temple and adjacent Barkhor square seemed accessible and the most Tibetan place that I visited in Lhasa.  Jokhang is a sacred place for Tibetans; You can just feel it. The influx of Han Chinese is evident everywhere in Lhasa is beginning to resembles Beijing and other Chinese cities. Not at Jokhang though. The smell of juniper and incense filled the air around this small temple and Tibetan heart of Lhasa. I watched pilgrims circumnavigate the 7th century structure in the early morning Kora as they've done for thousands of years. It seemed timeless.  I followed the old women and men through tiny doorways that led to what seemed like an endless array of shrines and alters in the temple complex. One room had a line stretched out the door with people waiting for monks to pour what looked like water on their heads - almost like a baptism. I didn't have the courage to participate in the ritual; there was a nice old Tibetan woman who welcomed me into that area of the temple even though I stood out as much as I did. I regret not participating a little bit now. I'm glad I found Jokhang and what I think is the Tibetan heart of Lhasa. What I learned was that it is  hard to find the real Tibet in Lhasa; I was too late. I needed to go further west to find it and that's what I did. I'll write about that in a subsequent post. 



Jokhang temple detail
Jokhang temple detail
Barkhor Square