Berkeley Rose Garden Review: Good Place to Meditate, Even When Dead


Incredibly, it’s been exactly 4 years to the day since I’ve written a destination review; but November brought with it a beautiful new adventure, and I’d like to share it now.

Because sometimes a garden is still beautiful, even when most of it is dead.

Without getting into too many details about my recent move and a somewhat uncertain future, I’ll cut to the chase: last week I took a break from writing my 4th book and found myself in Berkeley, California.

I had a free afternoon, so I did some research on what to see. After weighing all the options, I decided to hike to the Berkeley Rose Garden which was an easy hike from downtown.

Or so I thought.

Turns out, the rose garden is on top of a hill, and it ended up taking me about a half hour to reach it. And when I finally did, the majority of the rose plots were quite dead. So dead, in fact, that I didn’t even bother photographing them. Perhaps if I’d felt morbid, I would have, but I wasn’t, so I didn’t.

Still, there were some verdant paths along the side, and I took one up and around until I reached some roses yet living. This variety is called Tahitian Sunset, and it was easily my favorite.

Tahitian Sunset Rose

Further down, I came to a plaque with a quote by Thomas Wadsworth, who was apparently a poet and a BIG fan of roses.

Wadsworth poem plaque

The entire garden is built on a slope and as I reached the lower part of the garden to the rear, I noticed a small bridge crossing the stream. At first, I was pleasantly surprised that someone had painted a lotus on the bridge, but then I noticed the words “goat girl” carved below the paint.

Goat girl painting on bridge

Which came first? The painting or the carving?

Based on the wear pattern, I would guess that the painting was first, but I’m curious to hear your thoughts in the comments, of course.

I crossed the bridge, finding a wooden bench near the steam on the other side. I sat down and it occurred to me that this would be an excellent place to meditate.

I closed my eyes and continually brought my attention back to the feeling of air on my nose, back to the present moment. Thoughts kept coming up, and I noticed my brain doing a good bit of cleaning house as I continually brought my attention back to the touch of crisp air on my nostrils.

I hadn’t planned to meditate here at all, and when I opened my eyes again, I was shocked to find that 45 minutes had passed! I felt incredibly relaxed and more centered than before, and as I hiked back around and up to the entrance, I thought about some teachers I’d known who had told me that every step itself could be a meditation.

After avoiding some mud and realizing I had taken the long way around the nearby tennis court, I saw the Golden Gate bridge above the horizon in the far distance and snapped the photo below.

Even though most of the garden was dead, I was still surrounded by so much beauty, and I felt warm gratitude in my heart for where I was. Recommended.

Golden Gate bridge in the far distance

More photos from this trip are in the Berkeley Rose Garden album.





Lovely Hula Dancers @ Kailua-Kona Airport, Big Island & Travel Inspiration


Today, I’m going to try something a little different. Maybe a little crazy.

I like to think of myself as a compartmentalized person, but perhaps different areas of my life bleed together more than I care to admit sometimes.

You may be familiar with my travel site. I’ve been growing it since 2007. Well today I’m excited to announce that it is, officially, going away. Much of the content on it is still relevant and useful, but I just don’t have the passion for it that I once had. Frankly, I don’t even like the name and maintaining it has become more trouble than its worth.

So, to switch things up, I’m going to do something potentially reckless. I’m going to start posting my travel videos to MYTHLI. Even crazier, I’m going to gradually move all of my travel articles over to this site, back-dated and improved, to work over here. While I’ll be killing off byteful.com, the old links will still redirect, so nothing will be lost in this transition. In fact, it’s a beautiful consolidation.

This is not as strange as it sounds. Travel has always inspired my fiction, and considering my 2nd Book heavily features a tropical environment, it is my hope that the video that I share with you today is imminently relevant (or at the very least, enjoyable). Consider that if it weren’t for my time on Hawaii, The Island on the Edge of Forever would have never been written. (Incidentally, today is the 1 year anniversary of my departure from the Big Island, and then I felt this come through yesterday, completely unpremeditated. Coincidence?)

So enjoy today’s video of Hawaii from the air and two LOVELY hula dancers I had the pleasure of watching perform in the Kona Airport.

It’s 81 seconds of island chillaxification. Enjoy: