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Troll Trip with Yoga on Wheels

At the beginning of October, one of the yoga class members mentioned the new Pacific Northwest troll installments by Danish recycle artist Thomas Danbo.

Some in the yoga class that October day knew of the installments. Some did not. We all talked about the trolls and the idea of them brought energy into the room.

Danbo has been working to make connections and build installments of giant trolls made of recycled materials around the world. He creates his trolls together with indigenous people like the Coast Salish tribes in the Pacific Northwest. With his partners, Danbo designs and creates these enormous works located at publicly accessible places, and I'm especially impressed with how many people and organizations he connects with in his projects.

In the yoga class, I was filled with the idea that I should take the class on an adventure and the group did nothing to discourage me at all. Reverend Margaret Gilliken, the pastor at the church where we practice, approved the trip a few weeks later and even offered us the 12-passenger church van. The class made plans to drive together to see Pia the Peacekeeper on Bainbridge Island.

I chose Pia largely because I knew the traffic would be less stressful when driving around the Olympic Peninsula compared to driving up into the Seattle corridor to see the Way of the Bird King Northwest Trolls in Issaquah, Ballard, or West Seattle. Vashon Island had a ferry I didn't want to navigate or pay for, and I also loved the idea of going to the island where my family once visited my maternal grandparents. (The two and a half hour drive to Portland was just too long to consider and I bet it would have involved traffic too.)

The side of a van with a gas nozzle and reflections of trees with blue skies
The Van on the Gas Run

We met in the church parking lot and fit the ten of us into the van without too much trouble. (A few in the back swore to me that it was not too crowded in spite of the close-together faces I saw from the rear view mirror. I got to drive up front with Linda navigating in the other bucket seat to my right. I was rather glad I had the extra elbow room there.)

The experience reminded me strongly of all the group trips I took while driving international students from Japan. There was also one especially long trip where I drove fifteen somewhat cranky church teenagers and their chaperones in a 15-passenger van to Juarez, Mexico, on a mission trip to build houses. (Yoga students were not, thankfully, at all cranky.)

Looking back, I'm not really sure how I did all those miles of driving across multiple state and international borders. I feel especially grateful to my then-boss Carmen who gave me the weeks of leave I needed to travel all the way to Mexico and back again. (Thanks, Carmen!)

After days of Northwest rain that fell in great big bursts, November 8th turned out to be full of sparkling sunshine and golden leaves. We experienced many small and miraculous moments of good fortune on our outing but the weather was one of the best.

We made it to the island without trouble aside form a pesky roundabout that helped me understand why semi drivers do not like them. I only wished I could have gazed out over the glittering water on Agate Passage as we crossed the bridge on the north side of the island. Linda had to drink in the sights for me so I could focus on the road. I parked the behemoth vehicle in an empty parking lot moments before a herd of cars came to fill up the lot—another stroke of good fortune.

After we unloaded, we made our way to the portable bathrooms at Sakai Park. I knew we would find Pia at this park in my pre-trip searching online, but we stressed for a minute about just where we would find our beautiful troll. Fortunately, kind people on the trail pointed us back to the van. That's we noticed the small signs pointing us to our trol

We sweet-talked a couple of ladies into taking our group photo and did the same for them. I forgot I wanted us to try tree pose in our group shot but I think we all look pretty good in our leaning Mountain Poses while Pia sat in Easy Pose.

Group photo of the 10 women on the yoga trip

Next, we loaded back into the van and made our way to a restaurant I had found online in Silverdale. I picked it because the menu looked amazing and it was a ways back on our journey to break up the drive. The Oak Table Cafe had amazing food and was just a bit hard to find up at the top of a hill, surrounded by condominium-style housing. The view was incredible, they had gluten-free options for me, and the portions were enormous.

The final leg of the journey went by quickly in a much quieter van as the people in the back fell into food comas and nodded off. (We had all been looking forward to a long stretch of talking with each other and the beginning of the trip was rather loud with our chatter!)

As we piled out into the church parking lot, I heard Terrie say the trip "lived up to expectations."

It sure did for me.

We'll need to ponder where to go next for Yoga on Wheels. I'm working on a full overnight retreat next fall and considering another road trip in March. But wherever we choose, I'll keep holding this first excursion in my heart. I'm grateful to all who made it such a grand outing—to the troll recycle artist, to the church, and to the yoga students who cheered on my driving and took each minute as it came, mindfully.

Visiting Pia the Peacekeeper was a wonderful way to take our practice off the mat and into the world.

Troll with woman in a knit hat smiling
Pia and Dena

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