December 15th, 2014
Early spring in the Sonora desert of southern Arizona is a delight if you enjoy cactus flowers and bird watching. We hung around Tucson for just that purpose and we weren't disappointed. The only thing we missed was the saguaro cactus blooming. The big White blossoms don’t appear until May I guess. I saw perhaps two before we left our winter hideaway at Desert Trails RV Park in Tucson AZ. on April 10.
Leaving Tucson, we headed north to the legendary Superstition Mountains and Lost Dutchman State Park for some hiking and sightseeing. The park lies just east of Phoenix about 40 miles and is an area that was sacred and spiritual to the Native inhabitants of the region. The name Superstition Mountains was derived from those spiritual beliefs which the early explorers and prospectors thought to be superstitions. We enjoyed some great hikes and vistas while there but the lost Dutchman’s mine eluded us. (http://azstateparks.com/Parks/loDU/index.html )
From there we traveled west through Phoenix to the town of Congress AZ to have our truck and trailer weighed and evaluated for load and weight distribution. There’s an SKP weigh station there. Everything was fine except for the height of the hitch ball which was a bit low, causing too much weight on our rear pick up axel. A minor adjustment remedied the problem. We travel relatively light for full timers in our Toyota Tundra and 24 foot Nash trailer but still wanted to make sure we were safe. If you are beyond specified capacities and have an accident your insurance could be void. It’s common for RV’ers to be overloaded and unaware of it.
From Congress we traveled north for a week in Cottonwood and Sedona AZ. The beautifully sculptured red mountains and canyons surrounding Sedona are awesome and made for some wonderful hikes. Heidi’s brother, Ed, lives there and guided use to some beautiful spots. Sedona is considered a very spiritual area with lots of energy vortexes. It certainly is a magnificent place. We really enjoyed visiting with Ed and his love, Roz, and plan on returning next spring for a longer stay. ( http://visitsedona.com/ )
From Sedona AZ we headed north through Flagstaff, past Page and Lake Powell on the Utah border, through Kanab and on to Hurricane Utah for a week at Zion National Park. (http://www.utah.com/nationalparks/zion/zion_canyon.htm?sv=1 ) I am constantly amazed at the beauty of the western United States and Zion has some spectacular scenery and is a wonderful place for hiking through magnificent canyons.
After sitting out a fairly severe spring storm with low snow levels and fierce winds for a couple of days, we headed west through Nevada to Reno. We enjoyed a month stay at the Sparks Marina, RV Park, visiting with the kids and grandkids as well as a visit with my parents and sisters who live in Placerville, CA, about an hour and a half drive from Reno. The May weather was warm and much time was spent in the park pool and hot tub with the boys. It was a fun month.
From Reno we headed north to Bandon, Oregon on the southern Oregon coast. Bandon is one of our favorite summer hangouts. The weather is mild (although we’ve experienced quite a bit of fog and wind this year) and the scenery is beautiful. You can relax, walk on the beach and Bandon has a great indoor artisan and farmers market where we enjoy selling our art on Fridays and Saturdays. We arrived in June and plan on leaving just before the end of August for what we hope will be a great adventure.
Since I wrote last about our travels we decided it was time for an overseas trip and have been planning since then for a two month journey through Europe from Sept. 4 through Nov. 5. Our plan is to travel light, use the European train system and stay in B and B’s and small apartments. We will arrive in Amsterdam, travel south through Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, and Southern France to Spain leaving from Barcelona. The idea of two months in Europe is incredibly exciting and we can’t wait. I think mentally, Heidi is already there.
Keep tabs on my facebook page for travel updates from Europe. (https://www.facebook.com/billgsearle )
Once back in the States, we’ll head south again for another winter in Tucson.
I’ve had a chance to create a few new pieces of art while here in Bandon. You can see them on the web site at (www.bill-searle.artistwebsites ) or on my facebook page at (https://www.facebook.com/billgsearle )
In July I was able to enjoy a 3 day workshop with Chinese brush painting artist and instructor, Mr. Henry Lee in Portland, Oregon. We visited the Portland Rose Garden and the Chinese Gardens in Portland’s China town for some plein air painting and instruction. While there Heidi and I stayed with our new friends, Mark and Margaret and had an absolutely wonderful time discovering Portland and doing some shopping for our upcoming trip. Mark and Margaret are beautiful people and very gracious and thoughtful hosts. I can’t thank them enough.
December 15th, 2014
About "Zen Horses"
In the last year I began a series of brush paintings that I entitled “Zen Horses”. I thought I would share my thoughts about the intention of the series. Many people have felt a strong attraction toward “Zen Horse” so I offer you this perspective.
The images are intentionally simple. . The simplicity of the horse images and the open space metaphorically speaks to the quiet uncomplicated, uncluttered mind and a state of presence, in acceptance with what is. The horse itself represents grace, strength, courage and endurance and the eternal one life. The forms embody stillness and calm, with an outward focus representing inward contemplation and consideration and perhaps personal growth and an evolution of consciousness towards a harmonious balance with nature and environment.
The absence of or minimal amount of facial detail represents a loss of ego and analytical mind, eliminating mans separation from the whole.
There is space within these images for individual meditation and interpretation.
Perhaps you can find an interpretation that speaks to you.
I have put some new art on the website and have started a gallery of my Chinese brush art with quotes. Check it out at www.bill-searle.artistwebsites.com
I think by now everyone has noticed that I have become somewhat erratic about my postings. Here is a short synopsis of our travels in the last 6 months. Since August when we were on the Olympic Peninsula, we spent a month in our favorite Oregon coast location, Bandon. From there we spent a month in beautiful Victoria, BC on Vancouver Island, then south through the valleys of Washington, Oregon and Northern California for a month long visit with my sweet parents and beautiful sisters in Placerville and the Sierra Nevada foothills. Wonderful harvest weather for the Thanksgiving holiday and lots of fun reconnecting with family. A week in Reno was spent with Heidi's son Diego, wife Sierra and growing grand kids. Love those boys. The end of November found us traveling south towards Tucson AZ. down hwy 395 east of the Sierras with stops at Joshua National Park and Yuma AZ. We had a big storm and cold weather at out backs and were looking for warmer weather. We luckily found Desert Trails RV park about 20 miles SW of Tucson. It's a little funky because it's an old water park that was transformed into an RV park. Aspects of the water park still remain, This is an incredibly active community in the beautiful Sonoran Desert. Mountains, cactus, warm weather, beautiful sunsets, and wonderful people have been our experience. I mentioned on my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/billgsearle that I haven"t been this socially active since preschool and I mean it, There are dances, potluck, happy hours, hikes, bike rides and all sorts of groups and get togethers. Even had an opportunity to display and sell art. For more up to date travel information keep an eye on my Facebook page.
Best regards to all and thanks for reading.
December 15th, 2014
Full time travel and the RV life has been an absolutely joyous experience and, somewhat surprising to me, this lifestyle becomes more enjoyable with the passing of time and upon each reflection. Perhaps it is because I am becoming more settled and comfortable with the lifestyle as time passes. I don’t doubt this to be relevant as there have been issues to surmount. I have certainly learned much and become proficient at many of the skills required for such a lifestyle. But in truth I believe it is because I seem to be present and in the moment so much more of my time. Appreciating and experiencing life at a different level than ever before.
It’s astounding how much beautiful country there is to see out there and how many wonders of nature abound. There is wonderment in multitudes and abundance if one has eyes to see. How often did I as many do, living and working for years in the same location, become complacent to the magnificence of my surroundings and fail to appreciate the artistry of the universe that surrounded me each and every day? The wonderful thing about my life now is that complacency doesn't seem to have time to evolve. Every day there is something new, beautiful and interesting to contemplate.
On the 24th day of July, Heidi and I witnessed the passing of and celebrated our one year anniversary. One full year of full time traveling and living in our 24 foot travel trailer. Free of the burden and responsibilities of a conventional home and community, focusing my energies on the evolution of my new occupations. That is if you can call artist and retirement occupations. Creating art and retiring into the appreciation of my days does occupy much of my time. With that appreciation I am led to reflection and introspect, and out of that reflection and introspect there is manifested growth, evolution and creativity. It is amazing to me that at this age I can find so much appreciation, growth, evolution and artistic creativity. What a wonderful thing to experience and to share with others.
It is delightful to wonder what new artistic forms and expressions are waiting the time I put brush to paper. And what marvelous wonders of nature and humanity are awaiting Heidi and me just down the road and around the corner?
Appreciating the now moments and anticipating the excitement of the next. I think that is a joyful existence.
Travel update 8-21-1013
My last update left us in Whitefish Montana just before the 4th of July holiday. Not having made previous plans and finding everything in and around Whitefish booked for the big weekend, we decided to head east on hwy 2 into north western Montana. We landed 15 miles east of the town of Libby in the small town of Troy. Once a thriving railroad, timber and mining town until the hardships of the 1930’s devastated this area, it is now pretty much just a quiet little rural town along the Kootenai River frequented by hunters and fishermen. Independence Day celebrations consisted of typical small town rituals including a parade, car show, basketball tournament, food, games, pageants, speeches and of course fireworks, both official and sanctioned and unofficial, spontaneous and unexpected.
After a week in Troy it was northwest into Idaho and the Canadian border crossing at Porthill. We had thought about heading to the Northern Rockies and the towns of Banff and Jasper but not having made prior reservations during the height of tourist season we opted to postpone that adventure until another date. Instead we headed north into BC on hwy 3A which goes for miles and miles along Kootenay Lake. This is a very desolate part of BC and beautiful with tall mountains, tall timber and lots of water and Provincial parks for overnight camping. We crossed by free ferry from Kootenay Bay to Belfour, BC. Continuing west on hwy 3A through the town of Nelson and on until we hit hwy 6 heading north to Nakusp along Slocan Lake and then south again along Arrow Lakes. These lakes were carved by ancient glaciers and are relatively narrow compared to their length so it seems you’re driving lakeside forever. It’s amazingly pleasant. We crossed on another free ferry at the town of Fauquier continuing west to the BC town of Vernon. Our goal was to hook up with our Canadian friends Gwen and Dennis whom we had gotten to know during our winter in the Baja. Our friends were kind enough to allow us to park our Nash at their home and their hospitality was exceptional. Besides tours of the highlights of Vernon and the surrounding areas we were treated to a day on Shuswap Lake in their classic 27 ft. 1961 wooden Tolleycraft boat. It was a great week with Gwen and Dennis and we are so appreciative of their kindness and generosity.
Finding Canada a bit more expensive than we had anticipated ( primarily gas and RV park fees) we decided to head south from Vernon down hwy 97 through Kelowna and Pinticton and back to the US entering at Oroville and into Washington State. Being mid July and realizing the potential for summer heat inland, which we had already experience some of, the west coast sounded inviting so we set our course for Anacortes and the San Juan Islands of Northwest Washington. Our route west took us along Hwy 20 through the Northern Cascade Range and some more incredible mountain vistas. Well worth seeing if you’re ever in this area. We spent a few days in Anacortes then went south on 20 over the bridge at Deception Pass and through Oak Harbor to Coupeville and on to the ferry and across to Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula. We found an SKP RV park in the small town of Chimacum about 8 mi. south of Port Townsend and will be here for the month of August. We’ve been creating some art, exploring the quaint and historic harbor towns and the state parks that were once military cannon battery’s against potential foreign invaders and we’ve really enjoying the farmers markets and fresh local produce. I’ve recommitted myself to a vegan diet so fresh and raw is awesome. I even hooked up with my old White Crane Karate instructor who lives near here in Port Angeles for a lesson.
From here, I think we will be traveling south to Bandon, Oregon on the Pacific coast for the month of September then north again to Vancouver Island, BC and the town of Victoria for the month of October. Plans are still in the works but we hope to be in Placerville, California to visit family there and in Reno for the month of November.
December 15th, 2014
A Ride to Enlightenment
What is it that we find so wonderfully attractive about horses? Being diverse creatures, I suppose each of us finds what we need when we need it. Discovering different aspects of what horses bring to our lives as we grow and evolve and as our needs and our lives change. Perhaps it’s a recreation, a vocation, a relationship, an identity, a lifestyle, fulfillment of a dream or fantasy, an appreciation of nature’s elegance, stamina and beauty, a method for healing, guidance towards strength and confidence or perhaps a path to an evolution of consciousness and enlightenment. A long association with horses can incorporated each of these aspects at one time or another.
When I create art involving the image and essence of horses there are so many things that I am aware of. I see a diversity of strength, integrity and resilience against a level of fragility and vulnerability. Always grace and beauty, often fierce emotion, independence contrasted with a need for community and companionship and I see a powerful connection with source and presence.
In the piece “Retired” I see the image portraying a restful meditative and internally reflective state of being. The degree of empty space is representative of a quiet mind or a state of presence. I feel that it captures the comfort and ease of a loving and respectful relationship. It embodies the joy of closeness and relaxation surrounded by simplicity with a focus on eternal oneness with being.
In the contrasting image of “Wind Fire” I recognize that fierce emotion that I have so often witnessed in horses. It is an emotion that occupies the moment with great concern perhaps over the whereabouts of a beloved companion. The silence and calm is broken with vocalization and urgency. There is nervous energy and movement and a desire to return to a place of inner peace and well being.
Within the human experience we often become distanced from that connection with source and that ability to be present in our now moments. We reside within our ego minds and wander the illusions of past and future. Horses are always in the present moment and in so many ways can help us to regain our connection and refocus our minds into the reality of now.
The essence and spirit of the horse as I have described it is a metaphor for that to which the universe aspires for us. That evolution of consciousness that frees us from our ego mind, connects us with the “eternal one life” and allows us to reside in a state of inner peace and well being. Horses represent the body and soul of this journey towards enlightenment and that is why we are drawn to them, to help lead us, more correctly perhaps, to carry us along this journey of awakening.
We've been traveling in the high country of New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana lately. This is gorgeous, awsome country. The elevations can take your breath away but the freshness of the alpine air is restorative, and the beauty of mountains, meadows and pines never becomes tiresome.
We found a little jewel of a community in southern Colorado called LaVeta and stayed there a couple of weeks. It's a small yet beautifully cared for town shadowed by the snow covered Spanish Peaks on the Cuchara River. Deer roam freely through town and cinnamon bear visits were common in Jay and Denny's Circle the Wagons RV Park where we stayed.
From LaVeta we traveled up through the Eastern Rockies to the Rocky Mountain National Park. We were fortunate to see lots of elk and some moose. The elevations reach near 12,000 feet and vistas can make you feel lite headed.
A full day of travel from Northern Colorado, north into Wyoming landed us in Buffalo just in time for a series of severe thunderstorms with wind, lightning, rain and hail. No damage but certainly exciting. Thunder storms would continue sporadically for the next couple of weeks.
From Buffalo we traveled east through the Big Horn Mountains to Cody and the eastern gateway to Yellowstone National Park. We laid up in Cody for a week and toured eastern Yellowstone, Chief Joseph scenic highway, The Bear Tooth Mountains and over to Red lodge, Mt. This area is spiritually inspiring with it's abundant wildlife and scenic beauty.
From Cody we continued north into Montana up to Helena with a stay overnight at a NF campground on the continental divide. Then on to Flathead Lake and White Fish Montana. We plan on being here a week, touring the area and visiting Glacier National Park. After departing here, plans are to head north into Canada along the east side of the Canadian Rockies up to Jasper. But severe weather in Southern Alberta has caused a lot of flood damage and closed a number of campgrounds, so plans could change. We may forge on and just see what happens....
December 15th, 2014
We left La Paz, Baja Sur on Easter Sunday as our caravan leader had returned with another tour group. The journey back to the states took seven days with stops in Mulege, Bahia de los Angeles and the wine country south of Ensenada. The boarder crossing was simple enough at Tecate into the states but as we traveled toward Yuma, AZ we encountered one of the worst wind and dust storms I've ever seen. Now I have a more real idea of what the great dust bowl during the depression era was like. Dirt and dust everywhere. Other than a little blowing gravel damage on the truck finish we arrived in Yuma unharmed. We heard latter that our Wagon masters, Dan and Lisa, had the rack blown off their van and their very nice kayak was destroyed.
We spent a few days in Yuma cleaning the dirt and dust out of everything, collected some items we had stored before going to Baja, enjoyed some great black bean burgers, fries and IPA's at a local pub and then headed for Tucson.
We spent a week at the Catalina State Park situated just northeast of Tucson. We did some great hikes in the Catalina mountains, stocked up at Trader Joe's and visited with Heidi's sister Mindy and husband Fred who live nearby in Saddle brook.
We then headed north east to the small southwestern New Mexico town of Silver City. It is situated just south of the Gila National Wilderness area and offers lots of hiking, western history, ancient cliff dwellings and it's an avid art community. While there we participated in the local farmers market and art sale, selling a few pieces. Heidi did very well with a couple of recently created water color landscapes framed in saguaro cactus wood frames we found in Baja. A really different texture and patina. I really love participating in the local art fairs and markets. They're so much fun and you meet so many neat people. After a month in Silver City and deciding that the weather was warming in the northern latitudes we packed up and headed north. We circled around the Gila National Forest and spent a couple of nights in a forest service campground at Apache Creek. A really beautiful area with tall ponderosa pines, rim rocks and open skies. We arrived in Santa Fe, NM a couple of days ago. The weather has been cool with quite blustery winds but we've been doing some site seeing and restocking and plan on continuing north to the Taos, Cimarron, Angle Fire and Eagle Nest areas tomorrow. I've heard these areas are really beautiful and I can't wait to see them.
December 15th, 2014
In the last blog offering I left you with the statement: What is true? That which does not change, all else is relative.
Do you enjoy art? What does the art you enjoy say about you?
In this life experience “The only thing that doesn’t change is the fact that everything changes”. So, by virtue of that statement, and if one believes that the only thing that is absolutely true is “that which does not change”, then one must conclude that there is no real truth to this mortal existence. It’s all an illusion, a dream. Within this illusion there is truth however, but it’s a different kind of truth, it is relative truth born from your experience and analytical thought.
So, if what truth there is here in this mortal life is relative, meaning it relates to something, then your truth is relative to you. It all depends on your perception relative to where you stand, from your experiences, from the conclusions of your analytical mind. Change your position and your perception changes. Realize a different experience and your perception changes. Change your thoughts about something and your perception changes and when your perceptions change, truth changes. It’s about your perception and it relates to absolutely everything. It relates to life. It relates to art. What truth do you find in the art you enjoy? Does it say anything about what ideas and thoughts you believe to be true, about who you believe yourself to be, about the manifestations you have created, about the relationships in your life experience?
Art can be a metaphor for life, so in life as in art, find things that have meaning to you, discover your own truth. Your essence resides within so find meaning from within not from the externals. It is from within that you travel the nearest to absolute truth. This mortal life may be an illusion but you have the power to create, to manifest, every aspect of the dream from your own imagination and intent and “that” is the universe experiencing itself as form and consciousness through you.
Did you ever realize that you were that important?
December 15th, 2014
I’ve mentioned my interest in the evolution of human consciousness and I’m sure many of you are wondering just what that means. I have no doubt that what I say here will raise more questions than it answers but that is part of the process. If I could define it in a single sentence it would be: To awaken to your indestructible connection to the Eternal One Life.
The Buddha once responded to the question, “What is enlightenment?” by saying “It is the end of suffering.” To end suffering, one must go within and awaken to their true essence. Through introspect, the awakening process begins. A crack in the shell of the unconscious exterior is created and a few rays of light begin to filter through. A questioning of reality begins to emerge. You ask yourself, “what about me is true and what motivates my existence.” “What motivates humanity?” There is the awareness that the ego plays a greater part in suffering than ever imagined before. There is a realization that what appears to be normal and right is in fact dysfunctional and that much of how we respond to and live life is a result of programming, conditioning and addiction. A desire to remember and reconnect to a deeper meaning and greater sense of responsibility to our true selves emerges. It is an awakening to your indestructible connection to the Eternal One Life, your essence of being. An evolution of consciousness is occurring on a scale of increasing dimensions never witnessed before. The survival of the planet and the human race depends on it. What a wonderful time to observe and to be experiencing.
What is true? That which does not change, all else is relative.
December 15th, 2014
February 24, 2013. Today we left Cabo San Lucas. The caravan we originally traveled with to this point in Baja has returned to Cabo with a new tour group. We decided we might enjoy a change from Cabo San Lucas and have picked up again with the Baja Amigos Caravan. Dan and Lisa Goy are fantastic people. We will be with them again for the next few days as we travel to Pescadero, a beach and farming area NW of Cabo on the Pacific. From there to the small town of Todos Santos and then NE to Lapaz, once more on the Sea of Cortez where we will drop off for another month. We have heard that Lapaz is a wonderful town with lots of Mexican flavor and my observations of the weather in the States indicates there is no reason to start heading north.
We enjoyed Cabo tremendously with many beach days, snorkeling, and whale watching and browsing the many shops in town and around the marina as well as visiting with the vendors on the beach. Heidi’s fluent Spanish has really been an asset. Our situation excludes us from buying much of anything as there isn’t room in the trailer for nick-knacks and such, but it’s always fun to browse and visit. I have developed a particular fondness for fish tacos available at a small stand down the street, and large fresh pacific shrimp, purchased from a vendor who visits Villa Serena, our rv park in Cabo, that I would cook on the grill. We also discovered the Baja Brewing Company who makes an outstanding IPA, a beer variety you don’t find much of in Baja, as well as other great hand crafted brews. I will miss the place I found to do my morning workouts of karate and tai chi. It was the tiled rooftop of a two story palapa at Villa Serena that looked out over the ocean. Many mornings I meditated as the sun rose, birds sang greetings and whales swam by in the distance. I had several art days while in Cabo and was able to mount a few pieces and include them on the web site. I did sell one piece of original art to a lady horse enthusiast staying at Villa Serena. I look forward to finding time in Lapaz to create as well as discover more wonderful things to like about Baja, Mexico.
December 15th, 2014
Chinese Brush painting was born of ancient Chinese Calligraphy and has evolved through the centuries. In Japan it is known as Sumi-e. The single most astonishing fact about Chinese Brush Painting is that each brush stroke is a defining move that produces a portion of the painting that is neither improved upon nor corrected. In spontaneous style, no sketch is prepared and often, no model is used. The artist paints with rapid, mentally constructed strokes transporting a 'mind image' to mulberry or rice paper. From first to last stroke, the artist must 'get it right' while in Western watercolor corrections and over painting are a part of the technique.
Chinese Brush Painting is meant to be more than a representation of an object; it is also a symbolic expression. This is why a full plant is never painted, but rather a few blossoms which will represent the plant in its entirety, and in fact, all of life - a TAO principle. Rather than looking at the subject as you paint, you bring it forth from your mind and heart, connecting with the essence of the subject and becoming part of its nature.
In my works I attempt to capture the spirit or essence of the subject yet retaining a meditative spaciousness. I prefer not to get lost in detail. My art is evolving as is my life. It draws from my past supported by a foundation of exploration and seeking yet allows me to reside in the now moments of my continuing expansion. A part of that expansion is that I now travel full time. I create while traveling and within the limitations of travel. How I present and sell art is changing and evolving. As an aspect of that, this continuing blog will be about my art, my travels and my search for and observation of the evolution of human consciousness and perhaps how they relate to each other.
December 15th, 2014
When I was about 12 years old I found an advertisement for a manual on karate in a comic book. I ordered it with money earned from my paper route and when it arrived began to study the pages. I remember demonstrating my new skills on my friend from across the street, a boy about my same age. I can still remember the look in the poor lads eyes when I threw him over my head with an arm bar throw. I was a bit amazed at the result myself. This is my first recollection of a fascination with Asian cultures. A serious study of Karate was destined to wait for some time but the fascination remained.
A pivotal point in my shift came when I realized that I was very uncomfortable with the idea of a god that I had to fear, a god that would find it necessary to judge me. I should say that I was given a modest amount of Christian education. My mother was Lutheran and I can recall attending some Sunday school. I had pretty much rejected religion and even the god I was familiar with at one point. I even argued against a universal intelligence, suggesting that everything was a product of random circumstance. Somewhere in this period of time a serious exploration of eastern cultures and the spiritual wisdom inherent within them began to flow to me. Many of the teachers that were presented to me incorporated eastern philosophy into their knowledge of western spirituality. I realized that God and I were not separate. That the only reality lies in this now moment, that who I believed myself to be was not this physical body or the voice inside my head. I found Buddha. I found Lao Tzu. I found Zen. I found truth I had never known before. And along the way I discovered Chinese brush painting, the artistic medium that I had been looking for……