In lieu of flowers
In lieu of flowers
Travels with Jeffrey. Jeffrey had researched going through the Zion Tunnel. A long tunnel carved and blasted thru a mountain to get into the beautiful canyon from the East, the Zion Tunnel through Mt. Carmel is 1.1 miles. The info Jeffrey found said that if your vehicle was over 11'2" tall you had to pay a fee and be guided down the middle of the tunnel where there was more clearance. We carefully measured our height and width so we were ready.
We were excited when we checked through the National parks gate and arrived at the tunnel entrance shortly after. The ranger with her tall hat and clipboard stopped us and asked " how tall are you" --11'2" we said. She looked at us a little suspicious because our measurements showed we were EXACTLY 11’ 2 inches, and asked " Did they measure you at the gate?" We said "no but we measured ourselves at home and we are 11'2" " See lowered her clipboard and peered at us over her sunglasses with suspicion .... then she said "oh go on through".
I turned and looked at Jeffrey smiling and said: " I guess we have honest faces"
April 7, 2022
Mammoth Lakes, White Mountains and the Bristlecone Forest
“Effectiveness is the measure of Truth”. This was the trip that Jeffrey shared this saying with me.
It was late in October, 2018. Jeffrey was planning a trip to the Mainland and we had been planning a road trip. I knew that I wanted to go up towards Mammoth Lakes and possibly on farther towards Reno. It was Jeffrey that suggested that we stop at the Bristlecone Forest were the oldest living things on Earth lived and thrived!
I had passed by Lone Pine, California many times and had seen the sign that pointed to Bristlecone Forest. The first time was in 1979 after leaving Kauai to work in Mammoth Lakes. Highway 395 was a beautiful but desolate. At the time I wondered what a Bristlecone Forest was all about but there were so many other new experiences that the question got filed away for another day. It was Jeffrey and his curiosity that motivated us to visit this wondrous, beautiful, special place. He explained back then that Bristlecone Pines were the OLDEST living things and in The Grove of the Ancients the oldest living thing had been there for about 4500 years. He was intrigued by this and it was only a slight detour to get there on the way to Mammoth.
We made the 4 ½ hour drive to Lone Pine and spotted the Visitors Center sign right away. By now it was November 1st and the wind had a chill to it as is blew down the Owens Valley from the North. Mount Whitney the highest peak in the USA is in sight from the Visitor’s center.
The Visitors Center was very informative and we were able to check out the entire Owens Valley area and were able to plan some places to stay and hike. It was only our first day and already we were having fun! The bulletin boards outside the entrance posted the current weather and the forecast for the next few days. We decided that we could hide from the wind that was up from the north up in the valley behind Bishop. There was a nice hike that started at Lake Sabrina so that became our plan.
We arrived at Lake Sabrina at 3pm. The 6 mile round trip hike to Blue Lake was our plan for the afternoon. The weather up there in the valley was clear, calm and warm with blue skies. I remember that it was a tough hike for me. Not for Jeffrey. For him it seemed effortless. As usual Jeffrey set a steady pace and I did my best to keep up. There were still a few patches of snow left over from last winter in the shady spots.
Blue Lake was pristine! I walked to the edge and saw my first Golden Trout ever. We were completely alone there that afternoon. We both took many photos and I used my Gopro to take 360 degree video of the lake. By the time we were just about back to the camper my legs were fading. With the camper in sight they started to cramp. I was glad that with a short rest I was able to walk across the dam wall to the Lake’s parking lot.
We spent the night in an all but abandoned campground down the valley above Bishop which would have been full in the Spring and Summer. The sky was full of stars that clear Autumn night. We slept deeply hoping that the bears were doing the same!
The next morning we spotted bear tracks in one of the gravel campsites we had not noticed yesterday.
The question was “ where to now”? We went down the valley and got back on the Highway and turned north. I wanted to show Jeffrey the Mammoth Lakes resort Lodge where I used to work in the early 80’s. The Lodge with its big veranda was open so we took a look around the lobby and headed up the stairs to the bar and restaurant –The Altitude 9000. I pointed out the big windows that looked up at the ski runs. That brought back many memories of Sundays serving countless bloody marys and the hundreds of days skiing each season I worked there. I also said that through those windows I had seen the largest meteor of my life streaking by as I was walking towards the windows from the restaurant.
Next stop was the Minaret Lookout that looked towards the back entrance to Yosemite.
I wanted to find a nice place to spend the night, as least as nice as the one we had the previous night. Jeffrey said he wanted to find the hot springs he had read about on the websites he had found. I remembered soaking in a few of them 35 years ago but had no idea how to find them.
At the Mammoth Lakes visitors Center we looked around and asked the ranger about the hot springs. Her reply was “ we aren’t supposed to talk about them” she said. Her suggestion was to go acrossnto Benton which was over an hour away or back the way we came to Keough Hot Springs which was way before Bishop.
I called a friend to get his friend Nat’s number. Nat was the head of Ski Patrol for the Mammoth Ski resort. He was super nice and told us how to get there. “ Go to Crowley Lake and turn at the Green Church. I knew exactly where he described. “ Turn right before you get to the Dump road” were his directions. He even offered his driveway but we had our minds set on a soak. Sure enough it was easy and there were a few people and only two cars parked in the area by the tub. We had heard it was bad form to park right by the pool but it was the only spot big enough for our camper. We asked one of the campers that looked like he had been there for awhile if it was okay to park there. “Why not?” was his reply. So I guess it was meant to be.
The warm mineral water in our private hot pool was completely invigorating. It soothed our bodies and lifted our spirits. I took so many video of our heads and toes bobbing above the steaming water with the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the distance. This was another classic Jeffrey and Derrick good luck story! Taking another dip after dinner, the, warm water kept Jeffrey warm enough for him to comfortably tip toe the few feet from the hot tub to the camper.
The low setting sun shining on the slopes of the Sierra’s was the backdrop to our stay at the Whitmore Hot Tubs. No bears to worry about there! We planned to head back to Lone Pine and turn towards Death Valley to get to the White Mountains and the Bristlecone Forest tomorrow.
The early morning sun lit up the Sierras like a colorized Ansel Adams landscape. It was quiet, crisp, clear and beautiful. No buildings or people as far as the eye could see.
We re-traced our drive to Lone Pine and the scenic Alabama Hills. The drive up the narrow road to the Visitor Center as other worldly. The White Mountains lie opposite the Sierra Nevada mountains as they both parallel each other to make the Owens Valley. We stopped and a look out off of the steep road towards the visitors Center. The beautiful vistas looking towards the Sierras was the view we saw. There was a bronze placard and photo that showed the name and profile of each peak in front of us. It was late afternoon when we arrived at the visitor’s center. The sign posted said it was closed for the season. There were a fair amount of people there to walk and hike and read about the oldest living things.
I took a beautiful time lapse of the blue skies and the clouds streaming from Death Valley towards the West. Slowly every car left the lot. We were left alone as the sun was setting. I thought this was an okay place to park for the night. I knew no one was going to tell us to move. As it got dark it became so quiet and the moonless night was pitch black ink dark! We sensed a deep somber vibe…. We were surrounded by rare trees that were mostly over 3000 and some over 4000 years old. I remember getting out of the camper in the darkness to use the Visitor’s center restroom just a few hundred feet away. I walked less than one quarter of the way there when the deep quiet and darkness stopped me. Short of freaking out I turned and used a bush instead. I’ll never forget that moment!
It was a clear, cloudless blue sky morning that greeted us the next day. We read all of the placards at the Center. We read that the Bristlecone Pines were slow growing and were able to survive in the rocky, alkaline, dolomite soil. Dolomite is a white, chalky mineral. Scientists had been studying the trees that only grew in one other place in California and one place in Colorado, However the oldest tree – The Methuzulah Tree – was somewhere in the Grove of the Ancients which grew along the 4 mile loop trail that started and ended at the visitors Center.
The Methuzelah Tree was determined to be over 4500 years old, The oldest living thing on the earth. It had started growing there just as Neanderthal man walked the earth in Africa, before Homo Sapiens had appeared.
After breakfast we loaded our water and cameras for our hike. I only needed a light coat or vest but Jeffrey had his many layers on including his signature hooded red parka.
This photo of Jeffrey in the foreground of a “young” Bristlecone Pine shows the white, chalky Dolomite earth. Very little else could grow there. They also grow on the steep slopes where their roots secure them well. We read that one of the ways the trees die is because the soil on the slope give way and they fall over. This young one we estimated to be only about 1500 years, young and healthy like us!
Though the hike is only 4 miles it took many hours. We arrived back at the camper way after lunch. I remember only two other vehicles in the parking lot. The beautiful views, the educational signs and the big forests of the ancient Bristlecone Pines made us stop at ever turn. The views into Death Valley and adjoining valleys - Deep Valley were also spectacular. We took photos of so many things on that hike. It had become another memorable day for two lucky guys!
As I write this here and now, composing a way to conclude this story I remember no details of the rest of the road trip. Perhaps it was uneventful or because time has a way of obscuring the clarity of the past. More likely it is a combination of both reasons. What I do remember of those and almost all of the miles driven with Jeffrey was that they flowed. They were cheerful and easy. We could talk about anything or nothing at all. We had a way of communicating that was different and on more levels than I have had with any other person. To say that Jeffrey and I were close friends paints a picture that is incomplete and unfinished. I always thought that the picture of our friendship would be completed many years in the future. However, life has a way of interfering with the plans we make. Wherever you are Jeffrey, I hope you are in peace, in the light and in the LOVE.
May 24, 2022
Here is the poem I wrote and is on the video
To my Jeffrey
Who loved beyond measure and saw with only light
To my Jeffrey
Who surfed the waves of bliss on land, sea and unseen
To my Jeffrey
Who forged a life of remembrance, where beauty abounds
To my Jeffrey
Who told stories of our divinity, our unity, our love
To my Jeffrey
Who played to the edge, to see beyond our limits
To my Jeffrey
Who poured his love into life, seeking to know the ultimate knowing
To my Jeffrey
Who shared and cared in every breath, knowing love was the way
To my Jeffrey
Who showed us dignity and praise, honor and respect
To my Jeffrey
Who embodied light from the sun, to guide his way home
To my Jeffrey. Who I will love always and forever for being MY LOVE
This is what I read out at the celebration of life on April 5th.
How do we define life?
If I was asking Jeffrey this question he would probably say:
Life is the constant flow of the eternal, a never ending expansion of experience.
When Jeffrey came to me a week after he passed in a session with Charlotte, he communicated soul to soul so clearly,
Life is about expansion, and my next expansion was to be out of the body and you still have one to go before you leave this plane of existence. Shared with such unconditional love.
The next time he came another week or so later, he said, It’s time for the Big Love..
I asked what he meant?.. he answered in feelings I guess you could say.
I new that I had channeled my love and expression out into the world through our relationship and he was asking me to expand beyond that to the Big Love…the love that is in everything in every moment. He would always talk about the Be Do Have scenario. I now interpret that as, Be Love, do loving, leads to having love in your life. Be the love in every moment no matter what you are being doing or having. Its every breath no matter who or what is in front of us, to approach it from love (Aloha). Love also encompasses gratitude, appreciation, respect, honoring, devotion, compassion, all forms of love in action…even grieving is love and praise for a time of life spent with a loved one that you so adored and appreciated for the life lived. Infuse every moment with love. That was Jeffrey’s way.
And life keeps moving us on…. We are being lived, surrender to it’s best possible outcome for your life’s expression in this physical form... its always guiding us.
The next time he came was in Michaels Dreamweaver. I’m still interpreting it, what I can remember… our universe expands with love and contracts with fear. The universe or source is always nudging us towards the best path to our bliss… follow your bliss… and all you need to manifest these experiences will be given unto you. This expression of love expands source to keep experiencing itself in an ever expansive way. It’s a huge step in trust as we surrender the mind of belief and open to the Big Love and live our lives from the inner heart space. Life is a projection of the inner world of soul.
And now as I return to my life, now that sounds kind of funny, is it my life??… so I’m back to the first question of defining life. I sense that if Jeffrey was sharing it would be something like this…
Love never comes and goes, we are always hooked up because I, We are love and beauty is the outward reflection of sources eternal paint brush.
And so we say a hui ho to the most loving soul I’ve ever known. We know he is now even brighter and more expanded than before…shining into existence a new expression…. oh how magnificent that will be…..shine on brother J… loving you always and forever for being THE BIG LOVE.
The following is what I said at Jeffrey's Celebration of Life:
Ernest Hemingway said: In life we will be broken many times, We can only hope we will grow stronger in the broken places.
Jeffrey is inspiring me to be stronger , more aware, more free, more joyful in the broken place that is the loss of our friend.
I am here to speak about my dear friend Jeffrey. He would not want me to be sad but he knew that sadness and happiness, that bitter and sweet are parts of any truth.
I want to mention some things you may not have known about Jeffrey:
He was joyful and had a great sense of humor, however I only knew of one Joke he ever told : What time is it when you have a toothache? -- Tooth Hurty – time to go to the dentist. most of the time he ended up having to explain and tell it again. Maybe that's why he stopped telling it.
When I met Jeffrey and for many years after he loved Water Beds
Jeffrey passed his Class A Big rig trucker’s driving test on his first try
Jeffrey once talked his way through a mugging early one morning in Detroit after a spiritual seminar. The mugger showed him something menacing tucked in his belt but Jeffrey could sense his reluctance. Jeffrey calmly talked to him… after a short time which probably seemed endless, a police car approached and the man quietly slipped away.
Jeffrey was a terrific sleeper. He could sleep soundly and easily—I envied him for this –I called it the “ Sleep of the innocent”.
He also had many dreams about Flying. I also envied that
Jeffrey was very knowledgeable and gifted in so many things. One of the only things he was not great at was cooking. I actually witnessed him slightly struggling once or twice
Finally, Jeffrey was at his dad’s 60th birthday -- it was his dad’s last. He was also there for his passing –which was the next day from a stroke
It was with Jeffrey that I experienced moments where I felt MOST alive. Whether it was surfing, a moment on a road trip, on a hike or just looking at the night sky or a sunset. It was more than fun.
It was more than friendship or fellowship.
He had a way of lighting up. He knew how to be fully in the moment. I noticed it when I first met him in 1975 bodysurfing at Sandy Beach. He would be able to recall the smallest of details, how the sun sparkled on the water and foam, the spray in the tube. He was paying attention. He taught me the vlue of paying attention
I was fortunate to share many rare and amazing moments with him. I was not alone in this. He did it so many times with Hezar, with Nick, with all of you, with complete strangers, though they were not strangers for very long.
Of all the things I miss and there are many, I will miss this most of all.
The Sufi’s have songs of mystical rhapsody, of wonder and gentle generosity. They refer to this state as friendship. All things, all acts are embraced as a way to experience the unity of all beings. Friendship.
Friendship was Jeffrey’s way of unconditionally expressing his generous spirit of friendship. So in this spirit I say:
Akua welcome back the soul of our friend Jeffrey
Thank you for sharing his soul with us.
He brought us Joy
We loved him well
He was not ours
He was not mine
He was our friend