Wild Adventure-Grayson Highlands State Park

For the entire month of July we were on vacation.  YEAH! We camped, hiked, swam, and visited friends as we slowly made our way up to New York City and then back down again. Our whole trip was based around my son’s acceptance into an “elite” theatre  intensive with the Broadway Artists Alliance in New York City.  On this trip, we experienced the powerful magic of nature and the crazy-making magic of the city.  A little bit of everything. Perfect Gemini road trip!

One of the most beautiful places we explored on our trip is called Grayson Highlands State Park, in Southwestern Virginia. The park is home to several herds of wild ponies.

There are signs telling visitors not to pet or harass the ponies, but in all honesty, those sweet little ponies walked right up to us and forced us to pet them! We had no choice!!! (Not sure how wild they really are, but we loved them!)

ponies

 

 

The weather on the mountain is known to change very quickly, and it did. The first afternoon we were there it was warm and sunny, but by late afternoon, and with no warning, strong winds began to blow. The temperature quickly dropped from perfect to freezing, and as the wind howled, heavy rain poured out of the sky. We huddled in the tent, feeling both excited and nervous…rain began to drip into the tent. Would our tent hold up?  Thankfully the storm passed quickly but the cold stayed with us. It was so cold that we had to bundle up in our winter jackets, the only time we needed them on our trip. IMG_4122

The air was so fresh. The views so beautiful. The energy so calm but so alive. The forest speaks a language my soul remembers.

The park has several hiking trails, there are beautiful waterfalls,  and the Appalachian trail runs right through the park too.  We spent hours skipping rocks into the river. I am certain the world would be a better place if we all spent more time quietly skipping rocks. 

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If you ever find yourself in the mountains of Virginia, go to this park, it is worth it. So beautiful.

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Beautiful waterfall At Grayson Highlands State Park

Our whole trip was really magical and I will try to write soon about each place.  

Go on a WILD  adventure~Tiff

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”~John Muir

 

 

 

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Restoring Under the Hammock

Just a short drive from the overdeveloped madness of South Florida , is a state park called Highland Hammock. The drive and the surrounding town, are not spectacular, but as soon as you enter the park, you enter another world.

Highland Hammock is one of the oldest state parks in Florida. There are trails all around the park. And all of the trails are so different. So beautiful. So healing.  There are Oak trees that are estimated to be over 1000 years old. Cypress swamps, and wildlife, we saw so much  wildlife.

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Barred Owl

Some of the park feels very prehistoric. Especially the Cypress swamp. Early in the morning on a hike, I spotted a cottonmouth, a very venomous snake, swallowing a large fish. We watched in fear and amazement, as the snake unhinged its jaw, and swallowed this fish.

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Cottonmouth Eating a Fish

 

We camped in one of the primitive campsites. As the sunset, with the clear sky, and the new moon, the stars were bright and beautiful. I saw a shooting star. I made a wish.

The whole trip was so restorative. We hiked slowly on the trails. We gazed up at the stars. We hugged trees. I did Restorative yoga everyday, (which my son called “sleeping”), and we ate good nutritious food.

 

We saw deer, pigs, hawks, osprey, owls, turtles, alligators, snakes, opossums, armadillos, and even two river otters.

Being in nature is so healing. Like a soul shower. We feel balanced.

Nature is the best teacher. We can never have enough nature.

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~Tiff

 

The Swamp to The Salty Sea:Everglades National Park

Saturday morning, I woke up feeling tired.   Even after a cup of ‘bullet coffee’, (coffee with butter, coconut oil, and a little cayenne pepper), I still felt low energy. Luckily, we had plans to go camping, and I knew some leisurely hiking would be the perfect cure.  Nature is the best healer.

We packed up and headed out for what we thought would be a camping trip in the Everglades National Park. The drive down to the Everglades, into Homestead, is one of the most awful, depressing, (what have we done to the earth?), drives one can take. We listened to Harry Potter, and The Half Blood Prince on CD, and that made the drive much better.

Slowly the concrete nightmare, gave way to large commercial crops, and then the park entrance. Once inside the park, we entered a whole different world.  Nature. Beauty.  Quiet. Healing. Balance.  MOSQUITOES…

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And Alligators-Such different, ancient, scary energy

The park doesn’t take reservations, and while the campgrounds are very rarely full, they were full. Booked, for the holiday weekend. Once again, as often in life, we had to be flexible, our plans were forced to change.

While swatting mosquitoes, and walking on a boardwalk over a swamp,  we all agreed we were a little bummed but not totally devastated, that our camping trip would become  a day-trip.

Winter in the Everglades, is said to be less “buggy,” but the mosquitoes were intense.  Not everywhere or all the time… BUT, we could be walking quite comfortably, and out of nowhere,  swarms of mosquitoes would rush out and attack us… and yes, we were all wearing repellent. We saw the sweetest (but also funniest) seeming family wearing matching mosquito suits, faces fully covered. There was a moment, where mom, dad, and kid, were all looking through there binoculars at the same time, and in the same direction, with matching clothes. 🙂 

We saw Hawks and Ospreys literally EVERYWHERE. I felt the need to be very quiet and just listen and feel. As to be expected, we saw several alligators. And in Flamingo, which is the very southern part of the park, the southern tip of the Florida, we saw two manatees.   Manatees are fascinating to watch (and swim with), so gentle and magic, and very different from alligators.. ..

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Hawk Watching Over Us-Spirit Animals

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Down in Flamingo, where we saw the manatees,. there were hundreds of birds, called Black Skimmers hanging out on a pretty shoreline,  they literally skim the water when they fly, it was so beautiful to watch them. They are beautiful and VERY loud.

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Mermaid Pose By The Salty Sea

We stayed in the park exploring, until after sunset, and Florida sunsets really are beautiful.

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Driving back, that night, we snacked on gluten free and vegan (uncooked) Smores. Dark Chocolate. Mmmmmm..  I smiled, feeling so grateful to have these moments, these memories with my kids, my family, our mother Earth.

From the Swamp to The Sea, Mother Nature, You Amaze Me.~Tiff

 

 

Strength Through Devotion

I woke up this morning to the sound of trees being chopped down. The land across the street is being clear cut to make way for a large Wellington mini Mansion. We have seen hawks and turtles, foxes and possums, owls and ospreys. Where will they go?

I don’t often write about all the sad and awful things that are happening in our world right now. Wars, mass shootings, environmental destruction,  anger, poverty, racism, and hate. But just because I don’t write about it doesn’t mean I don’t think about it, or feel it.. Because trust me, as an empath, I feel it. There is so much chaos right now that it is hard  not to feel crazy. I think we all do. How do we heal?

 

For me, even 10 minutes of yoga, deep breathing, a few juicy asanas, single pointed focus, can shift my mood and perspective, drastically!  I can transform from a place of hopelessness and fear, to a place of strength and healing. Through breathing and being mindful. This is why I practice yoga. This is why I teach yoga, even though truth be told, anyone who teaches yoga knows, you have to do it because you love it. And I do love it. It is through inner healing, realization,  and wisdom that we can create change. Sometimes while we are deep in the surrender of savasana, we truly feel and understand that all things connect.

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Putting down the shovel, for a little Asana Time

We are at a crossroads. Strange and intense times and energy. Times of transformation.  We can’t just talk about the problems, we have to start living the solution. How do we want to transform? What do we want to transform into?

My suggestion is that we tap into our higher wisdom, and transform through love, compassion, and forgiveness.

Wishing all of us a heart healing day. ~Tiff

 

 

 

Kiss The Earth With Your Feet

So I am not really sure if it was me telepathically communicating with a gopher turtle, or me having a conversation with myself imagining what I would say, and how I would feel if I was a gopher turtle. And it doesn’t really matter.  But, the other day, while hiking through one of the last remaining wild scrub areas in all of Southeast Florida, I had lasting eye contact with a large gopher turtle. In our connection, I felt a moment when the turtle seemed to be looking deep into my soul,and truly asking me to wake up and help heal Earth. Almost a “Tiffany, you see what is happening,  if you aren’t going to change, who will?”

You may have never heard of a gopher turtle. I had never heard of them before I moved down here. But, anyways, they live in underground dens. The entrance to their homes has the same sort of warm welcome that a fireplace and a cup of tea share… the entrances are cute, tidy, and decorated..

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Gopher Turtle

These turtles are endangered species. Loss of habitat.

We held hands in a circle and the Kids Started Chanting
We held hands in a circle and the Kids Started Chanting “No Cutting Trees”

Anyways, we also saw manatees this week while kayaking in the mangroves. High tide, King Tide, the power of the moon. My daughters first time in a kayak, and she saw Manatees. So amazing.

Kayaking In The Mangroves
Kayaking In The Mangroves

Manatees are also endangered species.They are gentle, beautiful, graceful-And they need our help and protection.

I want to help. I am not writing with a ‘know it all’ solution, because I don’t have one. But I know, with every cell of my body and soul, that we have to start living with the Earth.

I know if we all search deep inside, we will figure out how to help heal our planet. Our mother. Ourselves. Each other.

We have to cultivate gratitude.. We have to “Kiss the Earth With Our Feet.”

 South Florida , Yoga On The Beach..
South Florida , Yoga On The Beach.. A great way to heal! “Kiss The Earth With Your Feet.” 

Happy November 1st, Day of The Dead. Messages all around. Listen. ~Tiff