Well-located, the hotel features double glass windows that block noise from the adjacent high-traffic road. Maybe it was OK to kill beings that had no purpose other than to harm us — but that seemed like a slippery slope to me, as the same argument could be made about child molesters and crackheads, if one were so inclined. After that, we finally went back to camp and had our steak and wine, and it was fantastic. Despite being the lone five-star in the area it offers great value and spectacular views on a clear night. And the streetside alfresco Bangkok Beer Garden does exactly what it says with some hip-swinging live music that makes for lively evenings. In fact as I was hauling ass along the highway stuffing French fries into my mouth at a furious pace, trying to make the bristlecone forest by sunset, I passed the turnoff to Keough Hot Springs….

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But even when I walked all the way to the end of the trail and back in complete darkness, feeling my way along the path in the spooky, silent woods using just my feet and hands, I never did come to any harm. The final three-hour block of the day consisted of one last hour-long group meditation session, followed by an hour-long DVD wherein the guy who introduced Vipassana to the West, the aforementioned H-1B software-engineer-looking guy whose name was S.

Goenka , would ramble on about Vipasanna and its various nuances, techniques and applications. He struck me as a genuinely good and caring person who sincerely wanted to spread Vipassana far and wide — from the miserable stinking prisons of Mumbai to the misty, forested vineyards of the Napa Valley and beyond. Enlightenment is enlightenment…and people are miserable everywhere! After the evening discourse as the DVDs were called , we did one last quickie meditation session and then we were free to either ask the teachers questions or go to bed.

I always made a straight fucking beeline for bed — if I was really on my game, I could be under the covers with the lights out by 9: The way it works is, you get up and start the day as usual, and then Noble Silence ends after the morning meditation session.

I stayed in the meditation hall right up until lunch, and when I finally went into the mess hall it was overwhelming! As previously mentioned, I was very shy and introverted growing up, but ever since I discovered booze around the age of 23 I have worked diligently, patiently and persistently to force myself out of my shell, and have genuinely turned myself into an extrovert over time.

Thank dog they had put up all these little displays on tables around the room — the history of Vipassana, the history of that particular facility, the history of Vipassana in prisons. It gave me plenty to look at by myself, and then I discovered that book about the Alabama prisoners who did the Vipassana course which is really, really a cool story and I ended up sitting there reading that for the entire break period.

Saved yet again by books, wonderful books! OMG, I am such a total nerd at heart. But still, I was freaked out: Had all my soul-searching and navel-gazing somehow wound back the clock, so that I was once again back to square one: What is wrong with white womanhood these days that we are so unfulfilled? All snarkiness aside, I did gradually re-acclimate to the real world over the next 24 hours. After that we had breakfast….

But the hot spring was only about 90 minutes away, outside Ukiah…so before we left, my friend and I volunteered to pitch in and help clean the kitchen, which we did for about an hour and a half — him washing dishes and me sweeping up every stray lentil and grain of rice, until that kitchen was clean enough for the next crop of students to eat off the floor!

I picked up my electronic devices and turned the old cell phone back on, facing a deluge of email and messages that made the post-Burning Man flood look mild…but I made my way through them over the next several days, diligently, patiently and persistently. The place we went, Orr Hot Springs, has a peaceful, Zenlike ambiance…but they do allow you to talk, so long as you keep your voice hushed, as in a library.

Lucky for us, none of us had to work until after the New Year…so we had plenty of time to sit around yakking in all our naked, self-important glory. Washing the stench of enlightenment out of my poncho in my typical blue-collar fashion. But, as I also mentioned….

Maybe those guys do stand around between harvests talking philosophy and the finer points of bug vs. I also learned that Stash Teas will gladly send you a free catalog if you write to P. Box , Portland, OR, Hiking, camping, exploring, shrooming, boozing, dancing…..

I do it all. But every time I try to just stay home and chill, someone calls or emails with some irresistible offer of adventure: I packed a bunch of books, and planned to spend my days lounging in the sun, catching up on my reading and sleeping between therapeutic soaks. Kildare, Bongo Bennie came with his new wife, a pot farmer friend came down from Humboldt, my friend Jag cruised in from Vegas, and another friend from Napa came down with a bunch of liquid psilocybin!!!

It was a crazy crew!! The sand was blowing every which way, so hard that we could barely set up camp before making a run for the closest hot spring pool, which was already chock-full of naked storm refugees; something like 27 people ended up crammed in that pool!

We all drank and talked and laughed and smoked until the wind calmed down enough to go back and finish setting up camp, and then I passed out in my tent…but it was a restless night, with the wind whipping my tent fabric and the howl of the coyotes haunting my dreams.

We erected a shade structure and set up a bar on the tailgate of my truck, and the party was on. One day, my Napa friend and I hiked up the wash a few miles to an old abandoned cabin. And then another day, we all piled in the back of his pickup truck and drove down the road to Beveridge Canyon, where we explored another abandoned cabin. Unfortunately, we left a bit too late to make the dunefield by sunset….

I hung up my lanterns on creosote bush branches, and we all scrounged around for twigs and started a rousing little bonfire to sit around.

Well, most of us sat around it — the guru was high as fuck on acid, and wandered off into the desert where he hallucinated he was in a vortex, and spun around and around in circles until the Earth drew him down into its embrace aka he fell on his face.

The rest of us sat around the fire, high as kites, talking and laughing to the beat of the faintly insistent music coming from the giant speaker in the back of the truck. Good times, but not very restful; the only night I really got any decent sleep out there was the night my pot-farmer friend passed out some of his special cookies after dinner.

I got so baked I had to go to bed early; I checked the time as I was snuggling into my sleeping bag, and it was 8: Somehow, I made it through the week, and we all packed up and left Friday morning. My sis, the guru and my Napa friend were all headed to L.

No rest for the wicked! But on the way out, we all stopped off to check out this old abandoned mining operation on a salt flat near the springs…and then stopped again for burgers at the Panamint Springs cafe, before finally heading our separate ways. Then I jerked off with the frosting, spurted champagne into my wineglass, and toasted the crowd. Alas, the fabulousness of the act was wasted on the drunk-ass crowd, but it was all good.

Anyway , after that I headed out to Newberry Springs, CA for a 3-day photo shoot with these two kooky artist guys who like making weird little movies of me for their Vimeo channel …. At least up there I was able to wear pajamas most of the time…. And no sooner had I driven the miles back to Vegas, than I was on a plane headed for Nashville, to party at the Charlie Daniels concert. So I was finally forced to take drastic action: I signed up for a ten-day silent meditation retreat at a Buddhist compound in the mountains of Northern California, which starts tomorrow.

Hopefully, I will emerge from the retreat a changed person — ten days of reflection, with no booze or drugs or bothersome distractions; hell, I may never go back down that path of ruin! I might be changed for good!

What do you do?! So I took my friend up on his generous offer, packed my bag and headed for Nashville. The drugs kicked in as I entered the arena, and in my fevered state it was like walking into a Cracker Barrel franchise operated by Hieronymous Bosch: Though we had, alas, arrived too fashionably late to catch the ghost of JonBenet Ramsey belting the Star Spangled Banner…we did arrive in time for the real National Anthem: We loaded up at the bar and headed down front to our floor seats, which were fabulous and allowed for an unobstructed view of every bead of sweat and spray of spittle, every Swarovski sparkle and Skoal stain.

After hee-hawing to a few rounds of Larry the Cable Guy, we were treated to a set from new-outlaw-on-the-block Chris Stapleton, followed by the mellifluous musings of Kid Rock. A show with everything but Yul Brynner! Next on the bill was ex-outlaw Travis Tritt, now 15 years sober, who trotted out a very special guest: Who knows; who cares?

Jeez, whatever happened to Christian values, Luke? Turn the other cheek, already!! And then the other…. Unfortunately, Florida Man and his wife were quickly ushered out by security, and the skirmish did not escalate into a full-blown brawl….

Boy, they talk about liberals being too politically correct — if you ask me, country folk get their bloomers in a bunch like no other! They even let Luke Bryan come back from timeout; it was the Hoedown at Appomattox! Veterans were praised, the flag was fetishized, beer was swilled…but above all, the band killed it! It may have just been the shrooms, but one of my favorite parts of the show was this long, drawn out jam session they did where every band member got a chance to solo, from the keyboard guy to the drummer to the bass player.

Not everyone felt the same, though — at one point during the jam sesh I turned around to look at the crowd, and what I saw was the opposite of Hieronymous Bosch: Shoulda had a shroom, folks! Hell, it was cheaper than Obamacare; maybe the new President will appoint Jimmy Buffett as his Secretary of Health, and there will be cheez whiz for all. But there was one chunk of east-central Nevada that I had never visited, and it was driving me nuts! So when my friend Dr. We left Vegas on a sunny Wednesday morning, heading north on U.

Especially with all the fall colors, it was un-freaking-believable — and totally unlike how most people picture Nevada. We followed this road all the way into the little town of Caliente, which is where the hot springs in question are located.

We drove over and parked in front of the resort, which is basically a low-slung motel style arrangement of stucco buildings, one of which houses three or four private indoor hot spring tubs. We were trying to peek over that wall to see for ourselves, when a young couple appeared out of nowhere: Apparently this young Caucasian couple was fixing up the resort, living onsite as they worked. They were polite, but their manner was oddly stiff: She was one of those super-gabby types, and invited us in to look around her store…and while we were in there, she gave us an earload of her personal history and all the latest town gossip.

At one point the population was over 7,…but these days only around 1, people live in the area; it kinda reminded me of Goldfield, NV…with a dash of Jerome, AZ. Anyway, we went into the saloon and ordered drinks; there was only one other customer in the place, so it was pretty dead. This was the night of the final Presidential debate, but the TV was tuned to a baseball game — and the bartender and the one patron looked at us like we were nuts when we asked about it.

I guess they were trying to prevent arguments or bar fights! Really nice people; he used to be in a well-known rock band, and was best friends with legendary guitarist Randy Rhoades growing up…but now they run this amazingly funky little cafe in Pioche, out of a drafty old shack that used to be a blacksmith shop.

We spent a couple hours bullshitting with them, then headed back to camp, promising to come back in the morning for coffee and burgers. Apparently town books up fast during hunting season! After freezing my balls off all night, we packed up camp and headed back into town.

Unfortunately it was locked up too tight to get into, but I had a lot of fun snooping around the perimeter:. The place was jam-packed with locals, tourists and hunters; the only other cafe in town is closed on Thursdays, so they were slammed. One party in particular really intrigued me: Anyway, we finished our burgers and then headed on our way back down south.

Kildare had arranged to tour the hot springs resort officially this time, but before we hit Caliente we made a slight detour through Panaca, the only other town in the area. A different bathhouse, long abandoned, in nearby Moapa by Shutterbug Studio.

This time, when we pulled into the hot springs resort, the young couple was waiting for us — and they had dressed for the occasion! The guy was still in his basic rural bro uniform, but the woman had dressed up in a blouse, slacks and kitten heels, as if to make a good impression. They both made good eye contact with Dr. Kildare, but neither looked at me once, even when I spoke…and even though Dr. Anyone wanting to operate a wellness retreat here has their work cut out for them! Finally, they even showed us room 15…which was where Warren Jeffs supposedly conducted his group weddings.

I hardly even took any photos! Kildare and I were on the same page vis-a-vis that place being worth leasing: I had barely unpacked and recovered from Burning Man, when a friend invited me on another irresistible adventure: Yosemite, where he was planning to hike Half Dome with his soon-to-be-ex-wife!

Anyway, not really knowing anything about the hike or what I was getting into, I packed my gear and cruised back north up U. Well, the Half Dome hike is about Second, there was apparently some kind of extra-burly steep portion at the end that required hauling oneself up steel cables bolted into the rock face. So I hit the sack early, and the next morning awoke before dawn to prepare.

I did briefly consider bringing more water — they recommend carrying 4 liters per person! And besides, my friend had a water filter with him…and assured me that I could use it to refill my pack along the way. So, we set off from our campsite just after dawn — around 7am. It was chilly, so I wore a long-sleeved flannel shirt, which I later tied around my waist; I did not bring any other type of warm clothes, although come to find out the risk of getting caught in a storm is very real up there.

I guess I was lucky!! If you are planning to attempt this hike, I recommend coming sometime after Labor Day…but before Columbus Day, when they take down the cables for the season. The last time I did the Grand Canyon, I thought my younger attorney buddy might finally top me — but I ended up smoking his ass on the ascent.

Anyway, my hiking style is to attack the shit out of the difficult parts — just blast up the steep sections full-bore, so that I get my heart rate going and can take advantage of my momentum, such as it is. But the friend I was hiking Half Dome with was a special case: Lucky for us, we were attempting this summit on a weekday at the very end of September; if you try hiking Half Dome on a summer weekend or even a summer weekday , the crowds can be unbearable…and we would never have been able to shoot any nudes as was the case when my sis and I hiked in Glacier and Yellowstone this summer.

Also, when you get to the top there can be a minute wait to climb the cables — the hike is so popular that it creates bottlenecks at the very top. To alleviate these bottlenecks, the park service now requires every Half Dome hiker to get a permit for the cables portion of the hike, and they only issue a certain number of permits per day.

I thought I had brass balls….. Basically, the last vertical feet of the hike require you to sort of hoist yourself up along a degree slope of granite that has been weathered very slick by the thousands of people who have climbed it; the aforementioned steel cables are strung along each side, about 3 feet apart, so you can hang on for dear life while you pick your way up.

I had planned to wear my tennies for this portion of the hike…but upon further inspection, I felt it would be easier to just do the cables barefoot; it seemed much grippier that way.

So I tied my flip flops to my Camelbak alongside my tennies, and hauled ass up the mountain…trying not to look down behind me. I just wanted to get to the top as quickly as possible and get it over with!!! But here in the U. I mean, they did have several warning signs posted along the trail…. Anyway, my friend and I eventually hauled ourselves to the top of the cables….

Standing there atop Half Dome was a pretty cool feeling! Of course I had to get naked and go pose for a nudie on that!!!

Even better, my friend did the same — to celebrate his remarkable weight loss, he also dropped trou and posed for a triumphant nude on the diving board technically I think they call it the Visor; the diving board is somewhere else on the mountain. It was really exhilarating!

But , as exhilarating as it was hanging out on the top of the world, there were clouds gathering in the distance that were making me kinda nervous…. He blew me off repeatedly, assuring me that the clouds were too far away to hit us…but finally around 3pm he gave into my incessant nagging, and we began our descent. A few raindrops did fall on us, but we finally got back down off the subdome into the forest without incident — and now I just wanted to haul ass back to camp and beat up a second tri-tip and some wine that my friend had brought!!

So we switched on our headlamps and hiked along in the dark, which admittedly was fairly treacherous on some of those steep stone stairs and switchbacks…maybe especially so in flip flops. Best of all, when we got to the stairs beside Vernal Falls, we encountered an adorable dad and daughter who were camped out for the night at the side of the trail — snuggled up in their sleeping bags, boiling water on a little campstove by the light of their headlamps.

As it was, I had to wait another 2 days before returning to Mono Cone on my way home which I did, and it was fabulous. The day after hiking Half Dome, my friend and I did a shorter hike up Lembert Dome; we wanted to stretch our muscles, to keep from getting stiff — and it totally worked; I never really did get sore at all, except for a bit in my calves.

After that, we finally went back to camp and had our steak and wine, and it was fantastic. We happened to be camped next to a really cool guy named Greg, and he joined us by our campfire and we all had a fine time. Alex said that if I asked the valet attendant, they would point me in the right direction of this secret trail. So my photographer friend and I drove over to the hotel, and I asked one of the valets for directions. Finally he coughed up the info, and my friend and I headed up what was indeed a very steep trail, which led to a little rock outcropping a few hundred feet up the side of a mountain.

This clearing is one of the few private places in the Valley that gets full sun, so is a popular sunbathing spot for employees and locals…and indeed there was another kid snoozing there on his lunch break. Anyway, it was really hard to leave this beautiful place — especially as the leaves were just starting to change, and I would have loved nothing more than to hole up in a cabin there for another month or so, and watch the show.

I got there just in time to haul ass around the 4-mile loop trail in search of the elusive Methuselah, before it got dark and I had to head back to Vegas.

But it was totally a worthwhile stop…and besides, it helped me digest a few of the 10, calories I had just stuffed in my face while driving down U. So anyway, that was my Yosemite adventure.

I am now officially obsessed with Yosemite, and with the whole U. In fact as I was hauling ass along the highway stuffing French fries into my mouth at a furious pace, trying to make the bristlecone forest by sunset, I passed the turnoff to Keough Hot Springs…. But if you want more information….

But at least it was a beautiful plateau — with an amazing view!! Luckily, it towed like a dream! I think the trailer weighs around pounds, which come to find out is well within the towing capacity of my year-old, mile transmission. I only got about 15mpg while towing it, but still. We stopped halfway up and camped overnight at fabulous Walker Lake, and everything was great…except that I started my! Now the only question was….. How to set this Burn apart from all the others?

I did have a few Firsts this year: But lest you think I was camping with some douchebag Silicon Valley turnkey camp, rest assured…. This was just the rough-and-tumble crew of Playa flotsam and jetsam that my good friend Dr.

To be honest, I was a little apprehensive about joining their ranks — these are people who shit their pants and fall asleep in their own piss beneath RVs!! In return, I was expected to help with meal prep at one meal, and to serve one 4-hour bartending shift.

The main challenge is rolling in and finding a spot to set up; once you find that, everything is easy. But the BEST part was waking up every morning or afternoon and having a giant carafe of piping-hot Kona coffee from Dr. Like I said, I was kinda apprehensive about camping with this group, as my own freakiness is mostly shtick — but it all worked out great.

So setup-wise, everything worked out great. But like I said…. The shower broke after I only got to use it once, I missed half the meals, and the bar was down to nothing but Fireball and low-cal margarita mix by Friday.

As mentioned, it was a really diverse group. With all this entertainment going on at camp, it was honestly kind of hard to leave…and that was the main downside about staying with the Subset Lounge: But I was also pretty busy with my own art; I had several performances lined up throughout the week, which also kept me busy.

In addition to reprising my role as co-host for the annual Porn Star Dating Game show on Wednesday night, I also brought back my world-famous Electric Vagina and whipped up a batch of Vagina Coladas that same afternoon. This professional makeup range is simply the best available on the market. Mehron is a New York based company started in to cater to the makeup needs of performers in theatre, vaudeville, burlesque, opera, ballet, and silent films.

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