Climbing to the Top of a Mayan Temple At Midnight Under the Moonlight

Well, I’ve been back from Guatemala for over a week and although I could write a million things, post a thousand pictures, and share a ton of stories, I figured I’d narrow it down to one highlight from my adventure.

What's up

What’s up

After a few weeks of traveling around Guatemala, hopping around Antigua, Lake Atitlan, Coban, Semuc Champey, Lanquin, and finally making it up to Flores, I wanted to check out some Mayan ruins. Before heading to the famous ruined city of Tikal, I ended up on an adventure hopping in a van with a group of awesome UK/Aussie/German folk. We packed some camping gear and went to the less visited ruins of Yakha.

Yahka (yak-sha) is awesome because unlike Tikal (which is incredible, but can be full of tourists and has areas you can’t go) you have to rent your own bus to drive there and you get all of Yaxha to yourself. It’s the third largest ruin in Guatemala and was a bustling Mayan city by a giant crocodile-filled lake, where it gets its name. After walking up the path from the lake, you enter the jungle, thick with a heavy primal vibe and various animal sounds. A howler monkey even peed down at me from a tree. As you walk along the path, the giant ruins, pyramids, temples and dwellings start to pop up around the forest.

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Within the hour, we were crawling all over the picturesque, beautiful Mayan temples by ourselves. We were standing on the top platform where sacrifices were once made, overlooking the forest in every direction. After relaxing on the top of the stone temple, with a tree nearby full of monkeys jumping round, we walked over to “The Temple of The Red Hands,” which is the highest point of the whole city, and we watched a perfect sunset over the ruins, the jungle, and the lake.

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New Youtube Video – “Ghost”

Hey all : ) Long time, no post. Just got back to Denver from a couple excellent weeks in Austin – playing music at the Downtown Farmer’s Market, Wanderlust Yoga, the Austin Airport, and other fun and funky gigs.

I spent a day on the amazing Greenbelt and recorded one of my newer songs, “Ghost.” Take a listen. Hope you enjoy : ) Brett

 

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Why I’m Excited That I Broke My Collarbone Snowboarding

A second after I smashed my neck on the ground, felt the pop and rolled onto my back, I knew something was broken.

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Ouch. Collar bone = broken.

I had to get ski-patrol tobogganed down the mountain at night and was laid out awkwardly in the ski clinic (bone break perks – two pretty nurses took off all my clothes). When the doctor told me that I completely fractured and separated the right collar bone, that I would most likely need surgery, and that I wouldn’t be able to use my dominant hand much for two months, one of the first things that popped into my head was, “sweet, my left hand is going to get really bad ass.”

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My friend and I at the Denver “Space Prom” where I rolled up in style with my sling.

Of course I also thought “shit, I won’t be able to write,” and “crap, I can’t play guitar,” or “noo, I won’t be able to go to Austin for SXSW,” but reality is reality, and there’s only one way to move forward… going forward. Also, I could have broken my neck or done something much worse. A broken collarbone ain’t that bad.

I’m one of those cheesy, positive types who looks for the bright side in all situations. Every challenge is a major opportunity for learning and awesomeness. Actually, one of my favorite poem’s of all time is called “The Guest House” by Rumi. It pretty much sums up the mindset of positively viewing any problem and learning from it.

“THE GUEST HOUSE
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
 – Jelaluddin Rumi,   
translation by Coleman Barks”

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The Beauty of the California Coast: Riding the PCH through Big Sur and Beyond

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The PCH (Pacific Coast Highway), a.k.a. Route 1, rolling along the California Coast is one of the most epicly beautiful drives in the United States. The stretch between Los Angeles and San Francisco, which contains Big Sur (of Jack Kerouac and beat writer fame) and San Simeon (where William Randolph Hearst built his gigantic castle) is stunningly beautiful.

I started in Morro Bay, a beautiful, chilly bay town with sea lions and pelicans, ate a cup of clam chowder and then camped by San Simeon. After waking  to the cloud-covered breaking-wave beach, I walked along to a full shore of sea lions and then continued the drive.

Mountains. Cliffs. Ocean Spray. Endless Forest. Wrapping roads. Giant bridges.

If you traveled around the speed limit and zoomed through, you would probably get it done in 4-6 hours, but because you slowly saunter along, gazing at every twist and turn and breaking to get out and soak in each beautiful viewpoint, you end up stopping all the time. It took me 10 hours to get through it all.

Wrapping around sharp rocky cliffs, with giant mountains up to the right and breaking ocean coast far down to the left, all while zooming through heavy fog and cloud, was an unbelievable experience. Check out the pictures above to get a good taste. I highly suggest anyone hop on Route 1 and take the drive up the coast to see one of the gems of the American landscape.

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-Brett

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My Experience at Burning Man: An Explosion of Creativity, Connection, and Consciousness.

Burning Man.

The green man himself.

The green man himself.

How do you explain Burning Man?

I thought I wouldn’t fall into the pretentious “you have to go there to get it” type responses, but when I tried to explain it, I realized no matter how detailed I went into the story it couldn’t capture the millions of angles and facets of the experience. Even when you’re there it’s impossible to understand or comprehend what’s fully going on.

Burning Man is like standing in a pool of shotguns, which are all loaded with creativity, connection, and expression and firing at you at the same time. So much stimulation, activity, spirituality, humanity, interconnection, and entertainment goes on all at once, it completely overwhelms your senses.

If I were to sum it up in one short thought, Burning Man is the closest place in our world where imagination and reality intersect.

Every step you take leads you to a place where a person or group of people have created something purely for the sake of creation, interaction, and fun. Each smile you see (thousands upon thousands) leads you to a human connection you may have missed out in the “default” world. All the amazing people you meet are operating at a pure, open form and it feels really good to be around.

To describe burning man is to describe it in tiny, microscopic slivers.

At Burning Man, you’re surviving in a harsh, barren desert with 60,000+ other people, all while wearing crazy costumes and wrapping your face in bandanas, dusk masks, and goggles to protect from the dust storms and wind, exploring from day to night (and rarely sleeping), all while taking care of other people, yourself, gifting water, food, presents, hugs, and love for the sake of gifting, not leaving a trace of trash on the desert floor, while learning about your strengths and weaknesses and interacting with tons of people in an organically positive way, and so forth.

I could write 100 pages about the art I saw, but that wouldn’t touch on the intense human connections and relationships that unfolded. I could tell you about the powerful self reflection Burning Man creates in each attendee, but that wouldn’t touch on the non-stop partying and dancing that goes on. I could talk about the night times full of endless womp-womp electronic music, but that wouldn’t touch on the incredible life-changing discussions, the spiritual and creative workshopping, the mind-blowing art creations rolling around the desert, or the small circles of powerful conversation that leave your brain echoing off itself.

There are just too many aspects to it that speaking on any single one leaves out hundreds of others that are integrally important. So, I’ll try to lead you through one tiny thread of a burning man experience that would be exciting for someone to read. I’ll focus on the nonstop art that surrounds every burner.

Our camp's Desert Flower art car and our donut shaped tent structure.

Our camp’s Desert Flower art car and our donut shaped tent structure.

Once you pass the entrance gates, everything inside Black Rock City is free and gifted and most everything is interactive. You’re encouraged to say “yes” to everything that crosses your path and constantly break out of your comfort zone. The whole society operates on giving and it really works. It feels amazing.

So to give an example of a morning at Burning Man… you wake up at 8am because the sun is burning up your tent, you bring your cup (you MUST bring a cup everywhere), load up on a delicious Chocolate Mocha Latte at the coffee camp next door, have epic morning conversations with your camp mates and then set off on your playa bike…

What an unreal experience to bike through cracked, white desert and see a magnificent, 30-foot tall steel wolf statue howling at the sky, and then one hundred yards later you pull up to a giant “Char Wash Machine” where a group of people are locked in a gate and gigantic spinning metal arms rotate around them spraying out streams of fire and heating them up like a “Car wash” but it’s a… “Char Wash” …and then you bike a little further, you pass 3 naked people covered in brilliant body paint, pass a man in a glowing white fur coat with giant neon alien eyes and a purple top hat, pass a woman with multicolored hair and bright, crystal eyes, pass the most creative costume you’ve ever seen in your life, pass a 30-foot swordfish skeleton with triggers to push so people can make it move in different directions, and you arrive at a larger-than-life statue of the word “BELIEVE” which people are crawling all over and sleeping on top of, and then you look up at the enormous, wooden spaceship in the center of the entire city which has 4 levels and hundreds of people walking up inside of it to look at the giant, glowing Green man who stands on top as a symbol of the experience and then slide down the giant slides which shoot out of the structure in various directions to pop out on the thick, white desert floor…

You jump back on your multi-colored green-and-red lit up bike, pass the most beautiful 70+foot statue of a translucent dancing woman, roll across another section of desert while a giant set of glowing Lips and Teeth roll past you one direction, a large furry caterpillar with a couch and 12 electro-hippies singing and dancing on it’s fuzzy back passes the other way, a three-story mutant car in the shape of a bottle covered in TV screens rolls by with people dancing and partying on the roof (which has a full service bar on it) blasting house music, and then from the other direction is that crazy steam-punk, fiery octopus again! blasting balls of vertical fire to the beat of nearby music stages and laughing at you from it’s multiple faces!…and then a parade of naked people run by and you arrive at a telephone booth that says “Talk With God” and you pick it up and you talk with God, and then you bike back to the playa and come up to an old wooden church, which is crooked in the air because one end is lifted 20 feet high so rows of wooden seats are exposed inside and lead up to a stage where a beautiful, old organ with epic, tangled rolls of sheet music spring out in every direction skywards and anyone can come up and play an impromptu performance (they end up burning this church to the ground a few days later) and then you go back to the city and the cutest girl in the world with pink-blue-and-purple hair screams through a megaphone at you, “Get off your bike and have a coconut ice cream cone with whipped cream!!” so you jump off, hug 10 people around you, scarf down the ice cream, someone shoots whipped cream in your mouth, and then you jump back on the bike and end up at an “Accupressure Massage Workshop” which lasts 2 hours and half of that time you get massaged and the other half you learn how to give a great massage, and then it turns out afterwards they are doing an Acroyoga workshop, and then you meet a group of Russians, Kiwis, and a gal from Vancouver who all want to hop around the different camps and you find yourself at the Skinny Kitty Tea House which serves 6 different types of tea under a beautifully constructed tent structure where 3 women are doing aerial Cirque du Soleil style tricks on ribbons of fabric from the ceiling while some random guy with an afro sits at a dusty piano and plays the most beautiful music you’ve heard all day and the acrobats sync their dancing to it and you bike 3 more blocks to your camp where the most amazing people you randomly fell into camping with are building their own 30-foot tall gigantic moving Flower Art Car with 20-foot glowing petals and  a giant metal dome you can sit on as it drives around the majestic playa, but you pass it and walk to one of your camp’s three lounges that one of your campmates brought in a trailer across the country and set up full of tons of pillows and lights and couches and shade and you pass out on a large, pink beanbag for an hour before setting off again…

…and when you wake up you realize it’s only 2pm and you’re probably going to stay up until the sun rises.

One of the only photos captured of me at BM. Silver leotard on the glowing flower art car.

One of the only photos captured of me at BM. Silver leotard on the glowing flower art car.

That was about 1% of what happened at Burning Man. Next I could tell you about the personal revelations, the intense conversations and connections I made with people, the reflections on what life could be like, and the lessons learned from Burning Man which you can integrate back into the “real” world…

But…. that’s all for another blog post.

Peace,

Brett

During the 9hr car exodus at the end of Burning Man (which normally takes 20min) we had some epic dance parties.

During the 9hr car exodus at the end of Burning Man (which normally takes 20min) we had some epic street dance parties.

 

The glowing, neon-city at night with the man.

The glowing, neon-city at night with the man.

 

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Some Writing Re-Visited: “The Thought of Time”

I wrote this prose poem a couple years back, but I re-visited and re-worked it recently so wanted to post it again. Enjoy and let me know what you think:

 
The Thought of Time.
 

In an instant, all the clocks began to chime.

Click. Click. Tick. Tick. Tock. Tock.

They buzzed and hummed at the same exact time like the collective “ohm” of a giant meditation, then stopped.

One-by-one, the glass casings began to snap and explode, spraying shards of clear glass across the room. Some pieces caught on the minute hands of opposing clocks, while others wedged into cracks in the wall or the wall itself. Still, a number of shards hung and dangled from their metal cases by a clear thread of function, waiting for the next chime to vibrate itself from existence.

Underneath all of this, a molten stream of Time came pouring through the air like an invisible lava flow. This blazing river tore through existence as a burning brand, leaving its mark amongst faded sundials, forgotten cities, and decimated books of history.

In a different realm of reality, Time destroyed everything in sight.

Yet, in this one, the world still looked as-is, unharmed.

It poured through each crack it could find, singeing the invisible atoms of air and filling each shadow with a gap of space that could only be filled by a tiny sliver of the next second’s shade.

Under the floorboards, a giant, soundless rumble poured through the mulch and dirt, slipping across skeleton bones, the skin of worms, and the rough exterior of oak tree roots. It seeped deeper and deeper, down through the mantle, meshing with the metal and orbs of stone, piercing through the solid lining until it pressed through the molten core of earth, swishing around like a baby in the womb, circling itself over and over, growing, burning, and spiraling about like a nauseous child.

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The Color and Beauty of Northern New Mexico

I’m currently in a coffee shop in Colorado. Before we move on to the adventures of CO, I need to show you some pictures of Northern New Mexico. It is so incredibly beautiful that it’s hard to put what I saw into words (perhaps that’s why Georgia O’Keeffe could better put it into paint).

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After spending three awesome days in Pecos (right outside of Santa Fe), I hit the road up north towards Pagosa Springs, CO. I passed through various New Mexican towns set against rolling desert and distant mountains. It was the type of drive you see in road trip movies. I also stopped at the famous Ghost Ranch area (where Ms. O’Keeffe lived and painted), taking a quick hike and cutting through epic rock formations, faded red landscapes, and an endless mix of color and terrain.

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I now understand why New Mexico is called “The Land of Enchantment.”

 

 

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An Epic Match of Mud Volleyball – Crazy Times in Albuquerque

Post mud-volleball victory shot.

Post mud-volleball victory shot.

What do you get when you have 1000+ people, 100 volleyball courts 3-feet-deep with MUD, a burning sun and an incredible amount of beer and vodka……

The 2013 Albquerque Mudd Volleyball event.

(which is an amazing benefit for the Carrie Tingley Hospital Foundation).

I showed up like an unprepared fool. Nice and clean. Fresh, tan shorts, a smooth v-neck shirt, and an innocent smile as I walked around an absurd event of 1000s of mud people.

I should have known within minutes of running into my friend, Erin, I would be jumped on, hugged, and smothered in a small sea of mud. I turned into a mud person very quickly…

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It really was an amazing event. I jumped in the court and helped play the Albuquerque Magazine team’s last match (which we WON). I’d say it was a 50/50 chance you either hit the volleyball or belly flopped face-first into the pit of mud.

The hot sun + the warm vodka + the cool mud + a million people = one unforgettable experience.

Albuquerque is a very cool city. Not only does it have really great people, it has a ton of beautiful adobe architecture, an awesome rattlesnake museum, some great music venues,  absurdly delicious food around every corner, secret bars, and it only took me two weeks and a determined Auto-Correct to learn how to spell “Albuquerque” properly.

And of course… Breaking Bad was filmed here.

More updates to come…

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Sneaking through Marfa, TX and off to White Sands, New Mexico

Here’s my first attempt at a slideshow. Stayed in Marfa, TX for a night at the hip camping/boutique sleeping experience, El Cosmico. Marfa was quite the cool funky, artsy town. It’s definitely one of those places that sucks you in with its vibe and I wish I could’ve stayed longer. Then I hit the road off through the West Texas desert –> Balmorhea –> El Paso –> then toured around the New Mexico mountains and the hit up the stunning White Sand desert before landing in Albuquerque. Check out the pics below. 

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The Beauty of West Texas: Marathon, Terlingua, and Big Bend

This adventure started off even weirder and more awesome than I thought it would.

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Hiking through 100+ degree heat at Santa Elena Canyon.

Waking up on the roof of my car in Terlingua, a desert ghost town outside of Big Bend.

Waking up on the roof of my car in Terlingua, a desert ghost town outside of Big Bend.

I set out a day late from Austin so I had to cancel my original plan of staying in Marthon, TX for a night. BUT I was extremely happy that I stopped by to meet my almost host, Mike Campbell, an old Austin street busker with long white whiskers hanging from his chin and a million amazing stories. This guy was bleeding emotion – from stories of happiness to extreme anger, he was one of the best storytellers and emotive people I’ve met.

Chill area at La Loma del Chivo with awesome art creations.

Chill area at La Loma del Chivo with awesome art creations.

La Loma Del Chivo is Mike Campbell’s creation in a small, texas paradise. With the help of friends, volunteers, and WWOOFers, Mike has created an artsy, multi-housed, handmade paradise of a hostel. Mike gave me a small tour of the grounds as well as a quick visit to “Barton Springs West” with his 3 dogs (including one dog who he busked with for years and made him nearly $40/hr). With the epic views of the Glass Mountains and Big Bend in the distance, every night offers a perfect sunset from his handmade viewing station.

Next, I entered Heaven. Big Bend is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to. Driving at the heavily enforced 45MPH speed limit takes you through 1.5 hours of the most epic, outstanding mountains of all styles and types. It is impossible to describe the beauty of this national park, especially during the light rain with the blades of sunlight shooting downward a couple hours before sunset. You just have to go visit to get the full effect.

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Hiking out of the epic Santa Elena Canyon in BB.

After driving straight through Big Bend, I arrived in Terlingua, an incredbly cool old ghost town at the base of the national park that used to be a hot place for Mercury mining. It was abandoned in ’66 and then now is becoming a very cool desert destination.

Upon arriving to town, I picked up a local hitchhiker  who was going to meet a friend for a beer at the awesome, local bar/music venue The Starlight Theatre. When I got to the hostel I was going to pitch my tent at,  ”Las Ruinas,” it turns out they were closed for the hot summer so with no place to stay, of course… I went to the bar.

As I usually do when traveling, I decided to get drunk and hang out with locals until I found a place to crash. It always works.

While drinking bourbon on the porch and watching the sun set over all of Big Bend in the distance, I learned about the best hobby ever. “Mine Shaft Fireworks” – people take fireworks and instead of shooting them into the sky, they shoot them down into old, abandoned mine shafts and watch the blazing flame bounce down the corridor. It. Was. Awesome.

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A different landscape view in Big Bend.

So, I drank with some awesome local peeps and upon recommendation, I pulled my SUV 50 feet down the road and slept on the roof of my car. It was truly amazing. There were endless miles of desert in each direction, culminating in the epic mountains of Big Bend wrapping around fading the skyline. I passed out fairly drunk and woke in the morning to an orange and blue haze of sunlight coming up over the Big Bend silhouette at 630am. I felt like I was still dreaming.

All in all, I wish I had more time in Big Bend and West Texas. It’s absurdly beautiful… but I got gigs to play in Albaquerque. I’m writing this in Marfa ( a very cool, little art town in West Texas… but I’ll write more on that later). Off to the road…

Barton Springs "West" - a beautiful naturally fed spring pool outside of Marathon.

Barton Springs “West” – a beautiful naturally fed spring pool outside of Marathon.

Driving through Big Bend.

Driving through Big Bend.

Another building creation from Mike Cambell at La Loma Del Chivo
Another building creation from Mike Cambell at La Loma Del Chivo

 

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Hiking through the thick mud to get to the Canyon.

 

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