Spiritual Congruency and Road Trips


Road to Ojai Foundation
Road to Ojai Foundation

On our road trips last summer, Scott and I developed an idea we called “spiritual congruence.”  Every place, every direction we headed, every style of experience– from rough travel to luxury— moved either toward greater congruity with the flow or time or what was needed… or away from it.  For example, spiritual congruence on a camping trip might produce a campsite like this one, on the Olympic National Park peninsula.

This was a campsite that “just happened” to be open in the busiest campground in the National Park, just when we needed it, without reservation.

Behind our campsite, Olympic National Park
Behind our campsite, Olympic National Park

We first invented the term when we landed at a cabin that looked great on Yelp, but felt really soulless. It was expensive and unsettling… it was supposed to be the “honeymoon cabin” but it was coldly over-decorated in black and grey, graveyard colors, an attempt at modernity and elegance that failed and became merely frigid and depressing. We had hoped for a cozy, kitschy, pine paneled little place. We were surprised at how disturbing it was.  After all, we had weathered true travel crises with equanimity and humor.  But the vibe was bad.  We started talking about it.  There was no congruity with who we were or what we wanted from the trip.  We sacrificed a hundred bucks, took the hit, and checked out.

The last time we experienced this deep disquiet, an anxiety bordering on fear, was on another road trip when we were heading to the Badlands of North Dakota.  We wanted to see Mount Rushmore.  As we drove, an overwhelming oppression enveloped us.  It was so profound that we decided to cancel our trip.  We checked into a motel, where we both had nightmares all night, and turned right around the next day.  Perhaps it was the blood-soaked, coal-ripped country around us, the country of so many Native American massacres.  Or maybe the earth itself was bleeding from strip mining.

road trip 10

Spiritual congruence is a flow state where outer world and inner move together. We got up before dawn to go tidepooling on Beach  4; light, water, and tidal treasures.

Sometimes it doesn’t come too easily.  We were only 10 miles away from Dungeness Point, yet could not find fresh, cooked, whole crab for a whole week.  We only found overpriced restaurants with crab salads and such.  I even tried crabbing, with no luck!  We finally found a roadside stand after hard searching.  We cracked our crab congruency and ate it without butter on paper plates… ahhh.

Sometimes you can make your own little snail shell world so you can be spiritually congruent on the beach even on a rainy day. This setup of campfire in a can, beach shelter, and lowboy chairs makes even a windy, cold day a beach day.

My beloved "campfire in a can"
My beloved “campfire in a can”


I am very interested in those states where, even where there might be discomfort, there is a larger flow or current of rightness, agreement, moving together: spiritual congruency.  How can our little lives be folded in like egg whites to the cake batter of the wide and glorious world?  I sense it more in travel than in my daily life.  But it must exist everywhere, in minor and major states of grace.  I think a lot about how to make my life more like the road trip it really is.

Orange wall, purple boots, and an open studio
Orange wall, purple boots, and an open studi

I am open for Art Trails this year in Studio 33 one more weekend, on October 17 and 18.  Come visit.  I have the Camino notebook pages up, and have decided to take the plunge and make a book.


6 thoughts on “Spiritual Congruency and Road Trips

  1. This has to be one of the best-rounded blogs EVER. However, tidepooling on Beach 4 near Mount Rushmore threw me for a loop!

    Maybe, I decided, you had made an unholy jump from North Dakota to northwest Washington, but the road signs were missing?

    Next time you’re on the Olympic Peninsula, you might look for the trail over to the beach from Lake Ozette (yup, probably still have to walk it) and take a big kettle with you, and a rake, so that you get and cook some crabs! straight out of the Pacific.

    Love, Glenna

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Really love this blog, and resonate with it. I appreciate so much that you checked out of the dismal incongruent place. I’m sending this blog over for my husband to read. We too love road trips which in Norway are spectacular! There’s something about being in motion, which gives the space for deep engaged conversation or deep calm silence as the world moves by. Our car has a glass roof so we are enveloped by the glorious mountain scenery with wondrous waterfalls. Finding picnic places is an art in itself. Suzanne, I’m so happy to hear that you’re going to do a Camino book. Bravo!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rosi, thanks for your thoughtful comment! I will always remember my own time in Norway, several months in Skien, when I lived in the middle of the city and did spectacular tours of the south, including staying in winter cabins and going out on boats. I also spent a week in the Green Arctic, the Lofoten Islands. It’s really my husband who has the most profound and witty relationships to travel.He has done epic travels to Borneo and Nepal. I agree about the space “out of time” that opens up. Thanks for understanding!


  3. Suzanne, I can say with absolute certainty that you are most welcome to come and stay with us if you would like to visit Norway again. We would love that. We have never met but of course we have! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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