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TRAVEL IS NOT JUST A VACATION.  It is a life education.


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Yoga has been around for 5,000 years, but to many it is still a mystery.  What is the secret to this ancient activity?  Where can you go to experience it at its best?  Before choosing a specific retreat or studio, it is good to understand what components make an environment conducive for soul stretching.  Consider these criteria in your search for the perfect yoga spot, no matter where in the world you want to practice:


1. Warm temperature:  You must be able to have an internal experience.  Extreme temperatures or intense gusts of wind are likely to disturb your focus, and bring your attention to external factors.  It is very important that you practice in an area of calm, moderate climate.  Extreme heat may be cleansing, but it is not how yoga was intended to be experienced.  Yoga was originally to be practiced twice daily; once at sunrise and once at sunset.

2. Fresh Air: Breathing is absolutely the most important aspect of yoga.  In fact, in traditional yoga classes there are usually at least 45 minutes dedicated strictly to pranayama (breathing exercises).  So the air needs to be fresh, plentiful, and clear.  Being surrounded by plants and nature certainly helps.  Any pollution, heavy incense, or bad odors will detract from the experience.

3. An experienced instructor:  The instructor is the messenger.  Their goal is to get you in touch with your breathing, keep your mind focused, and take you gently through the movement between asanas.  If you don’t connect with their energy, you will get distracted.  Their language needs to be sincere, simple, and knowledgeable, and their adjustments must be calming.  A good instructor makes careful adjustments throughout the practice and in Savasana.

4. Good energy:  Its all about the prana.  While yoga was originally intended for a solo practice, many classes today involve a group of students.  It is very important that you can tune in to the collective energy of the group.  If you feel intimidated, you will get distracted. If you sense a friendly vibe, it will enhance your experience.  A class that breathes together is amazing.

5. Flat, even surface: While many people think the beach is an ideal location to practice yoga, this is often not the case. It is extremely important to have a smooth, flat surface, especially for balancing exercises.  Yoga is very focused on balancing the body and mind, so even the slightest difference can change the benefits of an asana.


6. No mirrors: Mirrors are a distraction.  Some people believe that mirrors are helpful so that you can make sure you are doing the pose correctly, but if the instructor is good, they will adjust you and you will be able to feel the difference.  A great yoga class should actually be able to be completed with the eyes closed throughout.  Mirrors stir the ego and detract from the experience.

Yoga is an opportunity to study who you are.  It is a time to forget the past, ignore the future, and simply be present.  So find a place that is relaxing.  Keep the inner peace you create during class with you throughout the day.

Wishing you safe and Attractive Travels.  Carpe Diem!

Kelly Robinson

SEQUOIAS. STARS. COOL PEOPLE. LET’S GO camping at yosemite.  After a week in San Francisco patiently awaiting the results of a dream job interview, I felt the itch to surround myself with nature.  So Friday morning I packed up and took a solo road trip 3 hours east to check out Yosemite National Park.  Jump in, let’s check it out.  Vaminos.

Road Trips: Utterly Underestimated.

The drive is a little slow in the beginning, but for the last 60 miles you wind through an untouched land that reminds me of Australian countryside.  Vineyards whirl past, as well as herds of sheep and cows eating breakfast.  Let’s stop for a coffee in a small city called Groveland (population 1,200).  It is good to see small places.

Home in Groveland, California.

Only a dozen or so miles later, we’re at the entrance of Yosemite.  $20 for a week-long pass, that’s pretty typical.  Let’s jump out and head into the information building.  Always have to say hello to these friendly folk.  You can make their day with a genuine smile, and they are always to passionate and eager to help.  Cool, we have our map and have figured out our to-do list for the day.  First stop, Sequoias.

Welcome.

Patches of these purple flowers (Alpine Penstemon) were in bloom throughout the Park.

Great music is playing, nature is everywhere, the sun is shining, and we’re cruising over smooth roads toward seeing our first Sequoias.  I don’t know about you, but I have been fasciated by their sheer size for ages.  They’re massive!  Tuolumne Grove.  We have arrived.

You ready to see some big fricken trees?

Let's Do it.

Let’s start down the trail.  There are a few other travelers, so I always smile and say G’day as they pass by.  Funny enough, almost all are international… I have to admit that I was kind of daydreaming, bouncing along, when all of a sudden right smack in front of me is the biggest tree I’ve ever seen in my life.  Wow!  I hugged that Sequoia like it had never been hugged before.

Tree Hugger.

As we continue down the road there is a sign that says “Tunnel Tree.”  Oh hell yes.

I feel tiny.

I had to take a seat on my yoga mat to ponder the size of this creature, taking it in.

I had to take this photo lying on the ground in order for it to fit.

Let’s wander a bit further down the path to the last sight of the trip, a fallen Sequoia.  This tree is so long that it might take a few minutes to walk it’s full height. But at the end the roots are completely exposed, and there is a cave that has been hollowed out of its massive trunk.

Horizontal Sequoia

2 can fit in there comfortably.

Goodbye for now Sequoias and thank you for being so awesome!  Let’s get a little deeper into the park.  The Information Ranger, told me about some cool tunnel views.  On the way there, we bend around a corner and the dense pine forest turns into the aftermath of a forest fire.  Crazy.  It reminds me of scary scenes in “The Land Before Time.

Its all part of the cycle.  After this next turn, the greenness is back, and we get our first view of some waterfalls.

I had to stop and get out of my car to take a picture here more times than in any national Park I’ve ever been to.  Every turn is stunning.  Dramatic natural beauty.

Imagine if everyone's commute looked like this. Traffic is no good for the soul.

Alright.  We got some great snaps, did a little stretching, and a few little hikes.  Let’s head toward the campsites to see if we can make some friends.  The rangers told me everything is sold out, but I have a feeling I can find some space to spend the night.

Lower Pines Campground.

I get to the campgrounds and drive through slowly, checking out the impressive setups.  Some people really go all out, its cool to see.  There are families with young children, the kids worn out and sleeping as the adults are clinking beers over thecampfire.  Firewood is burning, people are laughing, the energy is calm and happy.  Then I spot four young guys playing frisbee while dinner is grilling up.  One is wearing a Cubs hat. (I’m from Chicago)  Score.  Hello new friends.

Frisbee throwing friends. And their Bear Box.

I park my car, jump out with my camera, and say hello.  “Hi, I’m Kelly.  I’m writing a blog about cool travelers, can I take your picture for it?”  Soon enough we are drinking beers, swapping travel stories, playing Catchphrase, and pondering life philosophies.  These guys have been best friends since they were Freshman in college, and they keep in touch by camping for a week every year.  They do it properly too- intense hikes, tasty dinners, cold beers, and Smore’s (an American camping staple).

Cool Travelers.

As we chat, hang out, and eat dinner, Ranger Mike pays us a little visit.  He gave us a quick lecture about bears and food coolers: If they are empty you can leave them outside of the bear box, so long as you keep the lid open.  “Bears are pretty smart,” he says.  “If they can see there’s nothing in it, they’ll leave it alone.  But if the lid is closed, they get curious.”  I look around at all the bear boxes and think how cool it is to be spending the night where the Bears like to sleep.

Ranger Mike from Germany.

It’s pretty dark, and the beers have been flowing.  The energy of the campsite is pure and vibrant.  On my way back from the bathroom I wandered around a little bit.  (p.s. nice work Yosemite, a very clean and practical loo.)  I came across a lively group of 8 playing “Apples to Apples.”  Cool people alert!  They spend a Friday night drinking beers and playing board games in Yosemite.  So I went over and said hello to my new friends.  We had a very funny 10 minute conversation.

Cool Travelers.

Heading back to the campfire, the boys take me to a meadow they had discovered earlier that day.  To reach it, we have to walk across a creek on a fallen tree- an obstacle that is much more difficult in the dark and after a few bud lights.  But 5 for 5 we all make it, and when we reach the meadow I gasp.  Holy stars.  Thousands of them, impressively shiny, but dim compared to la luna.  The moon was about 3/4 full but she gave off so much light that I could see my new friends’ faces completely.  We sat in a circle laughing and philosophizing, laying back every once and awhile to be in awe.  What a great night.

I wake up with the Sun, which is early this time of year in Yosemite.  Spending the morning in a place feels like this feels like a step closer to heaven.  Or Pandora.

Yosemite at 6.30am. That's a professional photographer getting set up.

I take a few hours slowly cruising through the park, stopping here and there to take a photo.  Light happy music and generous morning sun make this drive more like a meditation.  I say goodbye for now, thank Yosemite for her unabashed beauty, and exit the park.

I will conquer you, Half Dome. 8836 ft, 2693m

My first trip was intended to be a short one, just to get acquainted.  I learned about 3 hikes that sound like an amazing experience; Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and the Mist Trails.  Consider all three of you on my to-do list.

Trout fishing in the rivers on the Valley floor is supposed to be spectacular during the right time of year.  I also heard of some intense rock climbing spots, and if you bring binoculars, you can watch climbers tackle the steep cliff faces. Add wildflowers, bird watching, and of course, bear spotting, and this amazing place will satisfy any type of traveler.  For the weary camper, they have accommodations that are basic, but dramatically overpriced.  Don’t forget reservations whether you’re in a bed or a tent.  Although you may luck out and snag a cancellation, if you’re with a group or a family, better safe than sorry.

Road tripping back to SF.

We need a little energy before the drive back.  Quick stop at Firewall Coffee House for a cup of “Good Fricken Coffee.” Drink it in house out of big cozy ceramic mugs.  Mingle with the locals.  Try one of “Kelly’s Cookies.”  Not just because she has a cool name, but because they are delicious. Choose between a tea cookie, oatmeal raisin, bittersweet chocolate, or my fav; the date nut circle.  Amazing.

Yes please.

Amazingness.

Thanks for coming on the journey.  Drive safe now!   Wishing you Safe and Attractive travels.

Carpe Diem!

Kelly Robinson

What do you think?

In case you missed it, here is last weeks ‘‘Would You Rather.

Wishing you Safe and Attractive Travels.  Carpe Diem!

Kelly Robinson

Overlooking Marigot; Dutch Side, St. Maarten.

La Napoule, France. Ah, the Mediterranean.

Key West, Florida USA

Island near Naadi, Fiji (Forgive the old Camera)

On top of Capri, Italy.

Kovalam Beach, Kerala. South India

The National Monument, Washington D.C. USA

The Bimini Islands, Bahamas

Manhattan Beach; Los Angeles, California

Sitges, Spain

San Francisco Bay, California

Winter. Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Cogburn Ostrich Farm, Arizona

Stanford University; Palo Alto, California.

Posing in front of the Eiffel Tower; Paris, France

Coastal Corsica, Amalfi Coast

Port du Plaissance, St. Maarten.

Polka Dancing Group, Central Park. NYC, USA

Porto Cervo, Sardinia

Oh, the Hamptons.

Wishing you Safe and Attractive Travels.

Carpe Diem!

Kelly Robinson

I have asked quite a few people this question over the past few days, and I’ve gotten feedback all over the board.  So I want to ask you, what would you choose?

Wishing you Safe and Attractive Travels.

Carpe Diem!

Kelly Robinson

Would you rather have unlimited cash, or the ability to teleport?

After a week, the votes have been tallied.  I also asked people that I met last week the same question:

In Favor of Cash:

“If you choose teleporting, you skip the journey.  You no longer get to experience traveling from A to B.  And that can be such an amazing part of the journey.  With the money, you get to experience A to B pretty comfortably too.”

In Favor of Teleporting

“If you were the only one in the world with the ability to teleport, it is highly likely that it would bring a you lot of money.

“Imagine being able to do a morning yoga class in India, catch up with a mate over coffee in Australia, grab a gelato in Italy, and be home with the one you love when its time to sleep.”

“Teleport.  Imagine the money you could earn transporting insanely expensive things.  The money it costs to insure large diamonds is crazy.  You’d be saving people thousands if they trusted you.”

“Definitely the money.”  -Hardworking man sitting next to me on the plane to Chicago

What this question ultimately boils down to is pretty simple.  Time vs. Money.  Which is more valuable?  Sure, with money you can buy anything you want, and go anywhere you want.  But don’t you think that would be a burden, having unlimited money?  Imagine the responsibility and obligation that would come over you.  But then again, maybe you’d be motivated to use it for making the world a better place.

Too often people think that if only they had all the money in the world, everything would be fine.  But it is surprising how often those with indispensable incomes are unhappy.  Happiness is peace of mind.  That’s exactly what it is.  You can ease your mind no matter how much money you have.  Don’t believe me? You should see how much happiness exists on the streets of India.  It is inspiring.

Wishing you Safe and Attractive Travels.  Carpe Diem!

Kelly Robinson

WHETHER YOU’RE A SKI JUNKIE, A SNOWBOARDING FIEND, OR JUST A PARTY-ANIMAL, Highland’s Closing Day in Aspen is simply not to be missed.  Lovingly saying goodbye to 5 months of extreme skiing, the Aspen locals, seasonal workers, and visitors come together to celebrate the closing of the chairlifts.   The result is one of the best parties I’ve been to in America.


Hundreds of extreme skiers rock impressively creative costumes, and most are more than a few beers deep by noon. It is an international mix of attendees, as many travelers from all over the world flock to Aspen to work the ski season.  In just this one day I met people from Norway, New Zealand, South Africa, and Australia.  Everyone is healthy, happy, and fit, and everyone is celebrating the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next.

Power Ranger awesomeness.

The celebration is spread across 3 different parts of the mountain; The base, the middle, and all the way at the top of the highlands bowl.  To get to the top, you have to take two lifts, and commit to a 30 minute hike.  But it is well worth the view- you feel like you are on top of the world.

The middle of the mountain is perhaps the most famous Highlands Closing Day activity.  Here you will see:

  • A huge pool that has been carved into the ski slope
  • A lineup of some very ballsy skiiers and snowboarders
  • A rowdy group of onlookers, beer in hand, watching the wipeouts

The finish line.

He didn't make it.


The onlookers.

On the way down I was lucky enough to be under the care of some locals, who took me to see a secret spot.  The Monkey Lounge is tucked away in a small forest halfway down the slope, and we skied through a skinny trail to find a few others who also knew of its location.


Shhhh. This spot is secret. For locals only.

At the base of the mountain is the big party that rocks on until the sun goes down.   Beer stands, DJ’s, and costumes galore.  Everyone perks up to watch the ski patrol team gracefully take the last run of the season, clinking drinks all around to celebrate the end.  Ages and nationalities vary greatly, but everyone is in ski boots and high spirits.


Highlands Closing Day veterans.

My new English friends, capturing the moment.

Abe Lincoln (my CS host) and another really tall guy.

The madness begins to die down when the sun sets, but various bars and restaurants stay open to feed the crowd.  Skis and snowboards are everywhere, and mayhem is unavoidable.  To give you an idea:  A few days earlier, I had asked a local for advice about attending the Highlands Closing Day party, and she said, “Keep track of your skis.  Every year people put them somewhere, forget where, and lose them.” I am embarrassed to admit that I misplaced my rentals despite her poignant advice.  The next morning, precisely at 9am I called the lost and found at Highlands, and had a good chuckle with the guy on the other line.  After searching for my skis with no luck, he said, “If it makes you feel any better, I just got off the phone with a guy who lost his snowboard, his wallet, his phone, and the keys to his car.”  HAHAHA.  For some reason, that did make me feel more responsible.


Whose is whose?

If you get the chance to experience this Party in the USA, I highly recommend it!  This year it was held on April 4th (Easter Sunday), but it varies from season to season.

More Parties to Come.  Wishing you Safe and Attractive Travels.

Carpe Diem!

Kelly Robinson