Saturday, August 2, 2008 B

"Trip Beginning"

While I woke early at 2:00am, we did not get on the road until 4:12am. I don't know how Google maps figure it will take just over five hours to get to Williams, it took us a little less than eight hours! We did not make an extraordinary number of pee break stops, but we did take a long break on the last one, at the Kaibob Forest rest area off of Purple Heart Trail (I-40). Julia noticed a walking trail there. It featured informative signs, whereby we learned the Kaibob is the largest ponderosa pine forest in the world.

Ponderosa pines are low water consumers, as are cacti. However cacti would not survive the high elevation cold. The rocks here have a peculiar pitted surface because they are porous volcanic rock, some with occasional rounded splotchy green molds.

I also saw mushrooms growing:

The bark of old growth trees has a mildly sweet fragrance:

I caught a butterfly nipping at a thistle. Our notice did not dissuade his thirst:

The walk was delightful. Not long after, we arrived at Williams, a quaint little town. Several eateries awaited, two of them with live musicians. But we opted for the Pizza Factory, "We toss them, they're awesome!" Their slogan was not misleading, for I did see the cook toss a pizza, about three good flings. It was very yummy veggie pizza, string onions and circular tomato slices on generously cheesed and sauced bread.

I enjoyed the store windows and signs:

"Red Garter" Hotel and Bakery,View larger to see window detail

"Cafe 66"

"We the People...

...honor the past, protect the future"

In addition to rather patriotic ones, some windows featured signs concerning the murder of a local, hoping for justice.

We finished our tour of the town at Grand Canyon Brewery. Julia had two large mugs, one a wheat beer and one a light summer beer. No Italian sodas available, I took a Sprite. I had trouble getting up on the tall stool made from a tree trunk. Without a rung on which to place my feet, they dangled. Short legged drunks could have a fall end their drinking session.

Our hotel wasn't fall from there. It features a spacious lobby, including a two foot long train model as part of the decor, in addition to several Frederic Remington's lively bronze sculptures of horse and riders.

The hotel's restaurant also features a train model, this up high on a railing which also serve as a train track. It makes a circular path around the outer circumference of the restaurant and gift shop.

We ate potatoes au gratin, macaroni and cheese, asparagus, breaded catfish and noodles in pesto sauce. I also had a couple of bites of Julia's carrot cake. Everything was tasty.

Now we're settling in for a restful night. Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion accompanies us, whether it is a desert home or a mountain hotel.

Sunday, August 3, 2008 A

"Pay Attention"

(The middle of the night stretching the back and wakefulness.)
In the late afternoon, we enjoyed watching PBS, (the same Phoenix station we watch in Yuma). First we saw a travel feature about Ireland, and then we saw a much interrupted by pledge week feature about improving one's brain.

It is exciting to have science demonstrate the validity of so many spiritual/magical/philosophical principles. Gurdjieff speaks of 'self-remembering' as a way of improving one's consciousness. Setians, with the principles of consciousness worshiping and Xeper, "willed conscious evolution", also speak of such improvement. As the physical brain seems to be such a large factor in how we experience our consciousness, it is intriguing that it shows evidence of this. (Whether it is our 'immortal bits' doing the reprogramming, this of course they do not discuss.) In any case, the result is the same.

Our brains have something called 'plasticity'. If some parts become damaged, other parts take over the tasks formerly done by the damaged parts. They examined the brain of a man who had experienced a severe stroke. With the aid of his son, he was able to lean how to walk again and do everything he used to do, including returning to his teaching job at a university. After his death, they examined his brain. Those parts destroyed by the stroke were still destroyed, giving proof that other areas had learned the tasks which those parts had formerly done.

Also, in those who have lost their sight, the part of the brain which had received visual information now processes other info, such as that coming from the hearing and the finger tips.

I wrote down the seven tenets of brain plasticity:

1. "Change can occur only when the brain is in the mood."
If you pay attention!
2. "Change strengthens connections between neurons engaged at the same time."
3. "Neurons that fire together wire together."
4. "Initial changes are just temporary."
You have to make these changes a continual and constant part of your life.
Notice how much this is like, "I have come into being and by the process of coming into being, the process of coming into being is established." (XEPER)

5. "Brain plasticity is a two-way street, we can either change positively or negatively."
Yes, all those messages you give yourself really do count for something. Negative feedback changes your programming for nil.
6. "Memory is crucial for learning."
Again, if we pay attention, we are apt to have better memories.
7. "Motivation is a key factor in brain plasticity."

The various experts also spoke of how the training must be incremental, but taxing. Seeking 'comfort', rather than 'novelty' discourages growth.

All of this gives me great hope as I grow older. As I continue to study and learn, I improve my state of being. Doing art is a worthy challenge, even if the results are not what I'd hoped for, because in the striving, I tax my brain and make it grow.

I tested this ability of paying attention as we sat in the large cavernous eating area of this hotel. I noted the many rows of dark wooden beams above me. In addition to the moving train model, one wall features three different paintings, one of a classical canyon scene, one of a winter scene, and what was the third scene? Hmmm-m, I can improve my memory on that!
(Note of August 7th, it is of their train engine against a rural scene, with two horse and riders in front of it. The winter scene also features the train engine.)

"Pay attention, remember yourself!" Remember where you're at, pay attention to details. The experts spoke of how those who undertook brain fitness exercises become more confident, more aware, more joyful as they regained the 'spark' of their youth. Or as I read somewhere else, "It's never too late to start having a happy childhood!"

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