Posts Tagged ‘Orange County’

I Finally Did It!

They say my Santa Ana Canyon, early Californio ancestors were “Born to the Saddle.” Before I left Orange County, I was determined to touch the horizon that dominants the skyline: Saddleback Mountain. My ancestors and this land have lived in me as a River Beneath the River, always guiding and affecting my life. It is my destiny to record their story in the grandest novel I could conceive.

I planned the hike for Spring Equinox, the day my youngest son turned 18. It was a day to claim freedom and stability. When I heard the NFS was dynamiting historic dams and prohibiting access via Holy Jim Falls, I found another way. We hiked out of Blue Jay Campground – a 28 mile roundtrip with an elevation gain of 2,000 feet, vs 16 miles from Holy Jim and a 4,000 ft vertical climb. I made myself forget how far that distance actually was.

Two miles of climbing later, I pulled out my phone, looked at the map and had a truly spectacular hissy fit. It was too far. What were we thinking? Why didn’t we go the other way? Joey tried to help which made things worse. Slowly I pulled myself together and we started to walk again.

We passed through a pine forest and the scent lifted my spirits, along with the vibrant yellow primrose flowers and the shiny brick-colored manzanita bark with white flowers that look like tiny beads when they fall on the decomposed granite path. The blooming white sage and  century plants infused me with endurance. And then around a bend, I saw Santiago Peak. Tears came to my eyes. I was filled with such a fervent desire to stand on that mountain. The wind blew in the bucolic ranchero era that lives in me so deeply, so passionately. The ancestors and this land gave me the strength to push onward. I couldn’t think. I was like an animal, simply aware of being aware, walking mile after mile: 11 miles the first day, 17 miles the following day.

I told Joey the story of the young boy who cut a hole in a cocoon to help a butterfly that was struggling to free itself. The child did not know the butterfly’s struggle to push its way through the tiny opening of the cocoon pushes fluid out of its body and into its wings. Without the struggle, the butterfly had a swollen body with shriveled wings and would never, ever fly.

I have long struggled living on a land that does not coincide with the freedom and natural beauty that I see when I close my eyes and look inward through the memories of my ancestors. Though I love this land so very deeply the struggle is over and I see things as they are. In three months, I am moving where wildflowers grow, rivers run and stars speak and I will write a tale of family and land inextricably woven together.


Terrapsychology: Gaia Speaks

Room to Be Wild Part 2


As a child, a reoccurring nightmare was to find myself in a white room of padded walls bound in a straightjacket. My crime, they said, was that I did not understand the difference between what was real and what was imagined. I could not be trusted to behave or keep my tongue and so I was shut away. In essence, I would not be tamed. I was scared, always so afraid in this dream that I could never find ground. Every effort was spent on reminding myself that I was okay and I had not lost my mind. Sometimes the dream would morph into the trickster Wiley E. Coyote who tried to catch a ball, a symbol of solid knowing, but just when he thought he had a good grip on the ball it would slip from his fingers, circle all around him, return to his grasp only to slip away over and over again all through the night.

About this time I read a book called The White Mountains in which tripods had taken over the minds and will of all people. The main character awakens to his individuality but must keep this knowledge of his true self hidden from the electronic impulses that the machines used to control the people, as in the ancient figure of the Golem, until he could find a reliable escape route. This book further embedded a fear of becoming programmed and the loss of self, both wild and free.

oc before spanishBy the time I was a teenager I developed the suspicion that the current Orange County culture was suppressing the heart of my wildness and individuality. I remember asking my best friend if she thought I was an authentic person or whether I had succumbed to an asleep, sheeplike mentality – the true zombie apocalypse. She said I was about as unique as I could be given where we lived. My gritty, earthy personality eventually turned to a search for my Native American roots. I was dismayed by my conquering Spanish blood and wanted to find something that felt more real and deeply connected to a rock solid core that indeed connected to all life and the goodness inherent in the world.

Then I met Uncle Jimi, a Tongva spiritual leader, and he invited me to an Ancestral Walk, where the people of the Tongva and Acjachemen tribes held ceremony at several sacred sites along the Orange County coastline. We began at the ancient site for the village of Panhe, tucked into a beautiful valley where a crowded state campgrounds lead into what was now a world famous surf spot. As we stood under the shade of a tree waiting for the rest of the people to arrive he said, “We are so loved by Our Earth Mother that she will continue to provide and give her love no matter how far away we, her children, drift from her. She will always provide this shade,” He pointed to the canopy of leaves with a large hawk feather that was wrapped in leather and decorated with beads. “Her love is unconditional and forever.”gaia

This imagery of being shaded by an omnipresent tree with deep roots that offered protection and love throughout eternity regardless of how far away I strayed endeared me on a very deep level to the spirit and soul of the land. But it wasn’t just a matter of this particular parcel of land. In that teaching moment, I understood and felt the power of Gaia as a sentient being in love with her children. Just like a mother’s arms will hold firmly around her children even as they thrash about trying to discover themselves and their place in the world, so too does Mother Earth hold us. In that moment a deep desire and commitment to be worthy of that love was planted in my heart, almost like a chivalrous knight who would earn the honor of performing on behalf of his fair lady. I would apply the best of my skills on behalf of the Mother who was bestowing me and all beings with such lovinthe-giving-treeg affection, sustenance and protection.

This image of a tree aligns with The Giving Tree, a classic childhood book and one of my favorite stories. There is a young boy who loves a tree and she loves him. He scrambles and plays all around her as a child. As he grows older he visits the tree sporadically and mostly to take from her. But she is always loyal and gives whatever she can, changing form to suit his needs. She remains completely dedicated to her beloved until in his final days when he returns to her and recognizes the love that never left. I find great comfort in the stability and solidarity of the tree and I unified in love and a deep sense of family. I am drawn to tree lore and the stories of them as standing people. They are my guardians, my friends, my family.

(And for those who are listening, you will hear Gaia speaking to you even in your dreams – it’s called terrapsychology.)

Chatting with Philippe Gagnon Editor / Founder of

In the course of my research and flagship article for Edible OC, I spoke with Philippe Gagnon, Editor and Founder of I could only use bits and pieces of his answers in the article and enjoyed them so much, that I wanted to post the interview in its entirety.

What are the current trends in Orange County local breweries?

Craft beer is definitely growing quickly in Orange County. More beer fans means more sales and that’s starting to translate into better and better selections in local bottle shops. Not only are new, smaller breweries popping up in the aisles but their limited selections are as well. The negative side of that is that prices are also increasing due to more interest and hype. Not everywhere but I have seen some outrageous prices lately that are definitely taking advantage of those who are less aware.

I hear the craft beer industry is a friendly bunch that shares equipment and often brew together. What can you tell me about this?

I like to go to Old Orange on Fridays since it’s a stone’s throw from the office where I work but on numerous occasions I’ve seen and talked to Noble Ale Works brewers who were just hanging out and supporting local beer. I spoke with one of them and he talked about how they send everyone over to Old Orange on Sunday nights when they close early and on Fridays the favor is reciprocated for the same reason. There’s a real mutual respect between brewers across the whole industry. At the end of the day they’re all just beer lovers too and that kind of respect turns into everyone helping each other out.

What is someone missing who may not know much about crafted beer or microbreweries?

First and foremost, flavor, but the thing that makes craft beer special is the community. Go to any of the bottle shares that happen every few weekends and you’ll see it in action. The same people who hunt obsessively for these rare and expensive beers are the same people that open a half dozen of them at once so that everyone at the event can experience them too. Sure there’s a touch of ego involved, but this isn’t the wine world (nor do we want it to be).

How would you describe the “beer geek?” (a term I heard in the tasting rooms)

The beer geek in my eyes is someone who actively seeks out new and interesting beers that they haven’t had before for the enjoyment of trying something new and finding a gem. There are many levels of involvement from the person trying Arrogant Bastard for the first time to the people tasting three different years of Black Tuesday. But at it’s all about passion and that comes in many different ways. Also, in my eyes, it’s important to keep the snobbery out of it otherwise you might get labeled something else.

Is there beer tasting etiquette?

There is definitely a “proper” way to drink beer but it doesn’t involve holding out your pinky out or knowing any fancy terms. When I write beer reviews I look at four distinct “experiences” which to me are the beer’s look, smell, taste, and feel. Tasting quality beer should be appreciated and done slowly and if tasting a lot of beers in one session, less is always more. You only make that mistake once (well, maybe more than once).

Please name the breweries that brew in OC and have a tasting room. I’ve got The Bruery, Anaheim Brewery, Bootlegger Brewery.

Newport Beach and Huntington Beach both brew on site and serve their own beer and I came up with a list of a few more. Orange County has a surprising number of breweries and an even more surprising amount of excellent breweries. Aside from the ones you mentioned, you should take a look at these:

Tustin Brewing Company (smog city brewery)
TAPS which win a lot of awards and are always talked about
Old Orange
Noble Ale Works
Pizza Port San Clemente

If you were to choose only 3 breweries to highlight, which would they be and why?

No question, The Bruery has to be on that list. Not only are they one of the best in the area, they are straight up world-class. Their beers are unlike any others that you’ll find and they’re always releasing small batch beers and seasonal variations which makes each trip exciting.

Old Orange is a great one too. They’re the new kid on the block but have been putting out some killer beer and they’re located in a business park warehouse so the vibe is very craft beer. Pair that with cool brewers who pour your beer and it’s a spot that you’ll want to check out. The new smudge pot Imperial Russian Stout is to die for as are both of their IPAs.

In the 3rd spot I’d go with either Bootleggers, TAPS, or Anaheim. I’ve only been to Anaheim of the three but I hear TAPS is amazing and I’m a sucker for Bootleggers Knuckle Sandwich. Anaheim Brewery had some great beer though and it’s in an exciting developing area. Umami burger is opening next door so it’s definitely an up and coming neighborhood.

Notable mention: Newport Beach Brewing Co – this article speaks for itself. I had a great time when I was there last

Thanks, Philippe!! Brost!Cheers! Salud! Bottoms Up!

Welcome to my world

I’m starting this blog to record and share the adventures that make me feel alive and sometimes even a little scared. I hope to connect with others who also think it’s important to feel uncomfortable and uncertainty from time to time. Some I talk to don’t consider wearing a black tutu and pigtails to a roller derby bout or snow camping or picking up hitchhikers as normal, but to me, I’m just scratching the surface. There’s so much I want to experience that I kind of see myself as the archers arrow – seeking out the best the world has to offer, while riding the backside of the wind.  I love that some of my friends have these fabulous stories of their first meeting with me. Jumping in the ocean in formal attire during a work holiday party or carrying a kid on my back from a rope swing into a river, barely making it. Mudsliding in Fiji, peeing on fire hydrants, riding shopping carts down hills, I enjoy the absurd, the spontaneous, the original. 

Though I truly hope one day to settle in a community other than Orange County, California, I am eighth generation in this place. My ancestors, the Yorbas and Peraltas,  were the first to call this place home.  I feel such deep and abiding connection to the landscape and the history that even though it has changed twenty-fold from what it was when the blossom scent from the many orange groves combined with sultry Santa Ana breezes sent me into an ecstatic frenzy to kiss the cutest (or nearest) boy every autumn.  Saddleback Mountain to the east, the San Bernadino Mountains, sometimes capped in snow, to the north, with the beach to the south and west has been home for many years.

And yet, this gypsy blood gets those feet itching and I seek a wanderlust adventure. And so for now, this is my home base from whence all my wild and crazy journeys begin.