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Food, Fun & Spirits on “Distilled Weekend” at Kahneeta Resort

Looking down from the balcony of our room, I couldn’t help but marvel at the beautiful view and tranquility of the valley below. Kahneeta Resort is situated on the Warm Springs Native American Reservation and is surrounded by expansive grassy fields, red rock formations, and the crystal waters of the Deschutes River. If you’re looking for a place to get away from it all and yet still have a lot of fun activities for the entire family, Kahneeta is the place for you.

 

Distilled weekend was one of their special events, put together by their Sales and Marketing Manager, Cruz Bocanegra, who was our host for the special weekend. The event highlighted the delicious spirits of New Basin Distilling and the tasty ice cream of Sub Zero Ice Cream and Yogurt. Those partners, along with Kahneeta’s executive chef, Mike Pyell, provided us a fun filled and entertaining weekend I won’t soon forget. It also just happened to coincide with my birthday, so I, and two dear girlfriends celebrated in style and shared a lot of laughs.

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Damn, I’m 50. What an Extraordinary Trip It’s Been

Frankly, I can’t believe I’ve lived this long. For those of you that don’t know me personally, I have lived a pretty extraordinary life. I’m a preacher’s kid, and as a result of having conservative beliefs forced upon me, was a very rebellious teenager. At one point in my life I shot up drugs, ran away from home, and lived on the streets of Portland. I came dangerously close to ending my life. Yet here I am turning 50 years old. I am healthier and happier than I’ve ever been in my life. I am blessed to be living the life of my dreams, but the journey, from there to here, has been rough.

 

It’s funny what a person thinks about at such big milestones, like turning 50. I think about childhood friends, my mother who passed away from cancer in 2004. I think about mistakes I’ve made and the people who have had such a profound impact on my life. People like my brother, Brent, my business mentor and dear friend, Susan, and my editor, Sonya. These people, and many others, have reached out to me in my darkest hours when times were so tough I couldn’t manage on my own. I am so grateful for the love and kindness that has been gifted to me throughout my lifetime so far. Yes, when I look in the mirror I see inevitable signs of aging that I struggle to accept, new grey hairs, more wrinkles, spots…what’s up with the damn spots?  But I am blessed to be celebrating this milestone. Many people don’t make it this this far. I have two nephews that died in early childhood. So, for them, and for everyone who loves me, these are the reasons I’m glad I’m 50 years old.

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My Best Vacation Ever in Beautiful Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

I was reclining on a lounger in the sand, watching the waves roll in, drinking a Pina Colada, and trying on jewelry when it occurred to me. It was my best vacation ever! Where else can you drink, eat, and shop, while lying in the sun by the beach without even getting off your butt? This is just one of the many things I love about beautiful Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Here are some other things to see and do while you are there.

Shopping

I spent about $150 on a bunch of amazing silver jewelry that I didn’t need. I Bought an enormous opal ring for about $15 USD. I then proceeded to buy matching earrings, a toe ring and bracelet. It would have cost 5 times as much in the U.S.  Local vendors, selling everything from t-shirts to wood carving to jewelry, wander by all day long. But don’t worry, if you don’t want to buy anything they will leave you and your cocktail to relax in the sun.

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My Transition Home and Alarming New Observations About America

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been adjusting to life back in the USA for a while. Surprisingly, it has been every bit as difficult as my first few weeks in India. My time in India changed me, in every way possible. In fact, I’m writing a book about it. I’m not the same person that left here feeling anxious and lost a year and half ago.  I’ve grown tremendously, and as a result, I’m noticing things that I didn’t before. Here are some things that I’ve observed about Americans since I’ve gotten back, and they are some of the things that have made my transition feel a bit unsettling.

Americans are too damn busy

I came home with an extensive list of things to do because I had been gone for a long time. I had deferred maintenance stuff to take care of on my house. I had to file my taxes, get new eye glasses, go to the dentist, visit friends, etc.  But what has fascinated me most is that all my friends and family are even busier than I am. I’ve already been home almost a month, and there are many friends I still haven’t seen because they haven’t been able to squeeze me into their busy schedules. Americans are all on a hamster wheel, running around in circles checking things off their massive To-Do list. Rarely, do we just sit and enjoy each other’s company. In other cultures, people often start the day with tea or coffee and just visit with strangers.

We have become a bunch of human doings, not human beings.

In America, I don’t see many people just being in the moment, relaxed and enjoying the present. Instead, Americans are too busy thinking about what they need to do next. I find it alarming now. It causes stress and anxiety. It isolates us from one another. It’s the reason that I’ve decided to break the chains of corporate greed and work for myself again. It’s why I’ve decided to travel so much. When I travel, I feel like I am enjoying the present moment and engaging in this day, these people and this place. I’m not preoccupied with bills to pay and errands to run.

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Beauty, Fun and Tranquility on San Juan Island

I’ve been visiting San Juan Island in Puget Sound for the last fifteen years, but every time I do I find something new to enjoy. There is a little something for everyone and I guarantee you, by the time you leave, you will never forget the beauty, fun and tranquility of San Juan Island.

The ferry ride

The journey begins on the ferry ride from Anacortes. You can now make reservations ahead of time, and I strongly recommend it. You can do it easily on line with just a few clicks. The ferry ride over is beautiful, so try to make it during daylight hours. If you get very lucky you might see some orcas.

Downtown Friday Harbor

There are many fun things to do in downtown Friday Harbor. Restaurants offer some of the best seafood in the Pacific Northwest. I especially like the clam chowder at Diggers and the delicious fish and chips at Cask and Schooner Pub across the street.

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The Annoying Indian Phrase that Drove Me Crazy

Doing business in Indian takes some getting used to. Indians have their own style of customer service and it’s quite different from western standards. In America, most companies will do anything to keep their customers happy. They even pride themselves, and often share stories, of going to absolute extremes to win a customer for life. We believe in leaving them with a sense of “wow”. Indian workers take a much different approach. They left me with a sense of “wow” many times, but it was the wrong kind of “wow”, as in “wow” how do they stay in business?  Perhaps it’s because of their overpopulation, and that they try to provide jobs for everyone, that leads to their “it’s not my job” type of philosophy. For example, they have bathroom attendants and people whose only responsibility is to make coffee for the office. When I got my hair styled in a salon, one person held the hair dryer and another held the hair brush. So, quite often in India, if I asked someone to do something outside of their usual job duties, the response was generally the same. “Not possible”. The only exception I saw was at 5 star hotels and some other high-end resorts that catered to westerners.

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