I arrived at Trestle Creek just as the sun was setting. I was keeping an eye out for a forest service road going off to the right, away from Lake Pend Orielle. At the first pullout to the right I saw a motorcycle with saddlebags, a campfire, and a man walking around shirtless. Something about that made me feel right at home. The next pullout spot was empty, and I took it.
I got out and examined the campsite. I was parked maybe 10 feet away from the creek. Huge old growth cedars surrounded me. I saw a flat spot nestled between the trees where I could throw down my yoga mat. Just to my left was a jumble of timber that had fallen in the river, creating several bridges across and a little pebble island. This looked perfect.
As I was cooking my dinner - lion’s mane mushrooms and asparagus - I thought I would go over and meet my neighbor and offer him some. As I started to eat though, the flavors were so amazing in my mouth, and I couldn’t stop. I ate it all. I was tired anyway, so I made the bed and went to sleep.
The next morning, I slept in. When I got up, I stretched, looked up at the sun shining through the trees, and recited the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic. Then while I was practicing my qigong, an old man walked up with his beagle. It was clearly an invitation to converse. I stopped and turned to him. We both remarked what a beautiful day it was, and what a blessing to be with the forest and the creek. He said, “Excuse me, this might sound a little strange, but I’d like to share something with you. I was a professional opera singer for 30 years, and the most beautiful thing I ever sang was in Hebrew. Do you mind if I sing it for you?” I said, “Yes, please!”
And so he did. He stepped back a bit, cast out his arms, and boomed out in his opera singer’s voice. I’m sure he hasn’t lost a decibel since his professional days! His eyes were bright and shining as he let one arm down, and pointed towards the sky with the other. “What I just sang means, ‘God is one. We are one with God.'”. He thanked me for hearing him, and I thanked him for sharing. We exchanged names, and I learned I was speaking with Winston. He then said, “Two in one day!” For he had talked to my neighbor already, whose name was Jake, and he said I should certainly go pay him a visit. With smiles on our faces we wished each other a blessed day, he went on up the road, and I turned to finish my qigong set.
As I was making breakfast Winston returned in a red hatchback. He handed me a book, co-authored between he and his sister. It was titled “Incidents Beyond Coincidence” and had an angel on the front, composed of colored triangles. He said he had given a copy to Jake as well, and yes, I should go talk to him. Winston left, and I went over to share some breakfast with Jake.
Jake had his motorcycle packed up when I arrived, so I was glad I had caught him before he left. I introduced myself, and noted our mutual meeting of Winston. Jake was around my age. He introduced himself as a film actor from Alabama. He had been living in LA, and decided to load up his motorcycle and head across the country, with no particular destination in mind. He is proficient with filming and video editing. At the time I met him he had been on the road for 4 months and was documenting his travels through videos and posting them on instagram.
I told Jake I was traveling as well, and had just built a bed platform for my Rav4. Jake came back to my camp to check out the Rav4, and asked if he could film a little bit as I showed him my setup. I smile thinking that it’s made its way into a clip and been observed by his audience by now. Jake doing what Jake does!
We both had no specific plans for the day, so we decided to hang out. I packed away some things and we jumped in my Rav4. Our first curiousity was the local ski resort. Jake gave directions while I drove up there. Jake has a drone with a camera, and he was hoping to find a good spot to film. As we drove we also got into various conversations about self reliance, nomadic life, politics, propaganda, and the blanket of fear that seems to have been cast over the country, and the world. Jake said he enjoyed hearing my perspective and said he’d be interested in putting some kind of video together. So we thought about where to go, what to talk about and what kind of footage and audio we would need.
We arrived up at the top of the mountain where the ski resort was located. We looked around, but neither of us felt attracted to the scene. Too commercial. We had come from the forest, and to the forest we wanted to return. We hopped back in the car and headed down the mountain, continuing to talk. We decided to take the Trestle Creek road further, maybe find a place to hike or capture footage with the quad copter.
Slow going on dirt mountain roads. It was edging into evening as we drove through the turns and twists, seeing trees, then sky, trees, then sky. I stopped at a turnout to see what we could from there, and we beheld a beautiful waterfall down below. It was unfortunate we couldn’t get closer, but I didn’t want to go much further into the forest. It was getting late and I wanted to get back and make dinner. I had forgotten though, Jake’s quad copter. He brought it out, and in short order had piloted the craft down through the opening in the trees where the waterfall was draping its long white hair majestically over the cliff. He came down to a height just a few feet above the top of the waterfall, then he began recording - the iconic swoop-over that a resort in Fiji would put on their home page.
Satisfied with that, Jake began to navigate the copter back up out of the trees, which turned out to be more difficult than getting it down there. At some point though, once he was confident he was in the middle of the clearing, he hit the “return home” button, relying on the built in collision avoidance to stop if the craft encountered any trees.
We came back down the road, and decided to consolidate our camps. Not that that involved a lot of effort other than me parking in a different place. Jake made a fire, and I started to cook the rest of the lion’s mane and asparagus. While I cooked, Jake documented the process, getting shots of the food and the stove and me cooking.
As we ate by the fire, we recorded our conversation. I don’t know if we said anything insightful, but we had some wine and a good time! After that I brought out my Rav drum and played some of the tunes I have discovered through my experimentation. It’s my first instrument I have earnestly wanted to learn, and music in general is a new experience for me. Jake was curious, so I handed the drum off to him, and he improvised while I shared some poetry that’s come to me over the last year. We eventually wound down and called it a night.
I stayed up for a bit longer and started reading the book Winston had given to me. It turned out to be a recording of the many encounters both Winston and his sister had had with higher consciousness throughout their lives. Through the experiences of growing up, raising families, and getting old. Sometimes as a knowing, sometimes as a voice, sometimes as direct interventions that had saved their lives or those of loved ones. Remarkable. This comes to me at a time when I have been seeing many of these occurences in my own life, where my connection to what you might call my soul, and higher, more connected states of consciousness has been deepening. I remember now as I was driving up to Trestle Creek, thinking that I would like to see some confirmation that this connection is real, that I am not just making things up… And I happen to have chosen a place to stay, where I would meet Winston, and some knowing would occur far beyond the words that were spoken. And he literally put a book in my hands that was an answer to my request. I shook my head and turned the light out. Another magical day on planet Earth.
The next morning Jake and I had breakfast together. He had a woman interested in spending time with him, so after breakfast he was out and away. I bathed in the creek, then gathered some things and hiked directly up the thickly wooded mountain. I saw on my map there was a road up there, and I was curious how long it would take to hike, given that it was such an indirect path to take by car. Well, the slope was about 45 degrees all the way up, so I can see why they didn’t put a road up that way. I stopped when I found a flat spot to sit. It was my birthday, and there was a 3 hour meditation that I had been wanting to do, and had not been able to set aside the time, free of distractions. So I did that. No grand insights came to me, but I felt at peace. I continued up the mountain when it was done. I wanted to see if I could find that road… but going was difficult. I made it up to a clearing where I could see out over the valley. I think I was close to the top, but I decided that was enough. I was expending a lot of energy for every foot gained.
On the way back down I saw another clearing off to my right, near the elevation where I had done my meditation. I decided to go check it out. It was carpeted in honeysuckles and alive with bees on their daily mission. Some dirt tire tracks ran through it, and it appeared to be a track cut into the side of the mountain, possibly for logging. I saw some flowers growing on the downward slope and went to take a photo, then I saw another plant I recognized as mugwort. Nice! I took some cuttings, and some of the pods that were there. I didn’t have reception at the time, but I later used Google Lens on the cuttings to confirm that they are an artemesia species. It’s hard to find information on whether these variations are safe to consume or not though, so I didn’t risk it, and ended up throwing the samples away. I also see that it is considered a weed and an invasive species, so… hmm. I need to take an herb class to have more confidence in this area. It would be lovely to be able to source things like this myself. And “weed” just means that it “grows and propigates readily without assistance”. Which if you’re doing permaculture or otherwise trying to have a light touch on the land is not a bad thing. I think in these next few decades our perspectives will shift on many plants and their utility to ourselves and to nature.
I was grateful for an easy day, surrounded by nature. I felt nourished by the experience, and glad of the synchronicities of meeting Winston and Jake. A funny time to meet people too! In the middle of a pandemic, we had no hesitations about extending warmth, gratitude and friendship to each other.
The next day, I packed up and got in the Rav. On my way out I saw Winston standing by his shed, his red hatchback parked nearby. Winston was wearing ear muffs and overalls, and I wasn’t sure it was him at first, but I stopped anyway and rolled down the window. As he walked up I saw that it was indeed Winston. I handed him a thank you note that I had written. His voice was soft as he said “My, that was thoughtful.” We both smiled, and I reached out and squeezed his shoulder. He said with a grin, “I have to go murder some weeds!” and I let him go. Another car was waiting, and I was on the wrong side of the gravel road.