Liver and gullbladder flush at Rejuvenation and Performance Institute in Sedona, Arizona


At an oasis in the middle of the Arizona desert, the health experts at the Rejuvenation and Performance Institution cleansed my liver. I’ve never experienced something like this, so I didn’t know what to expect. In the end, it was an incredible experience that I won’t forget and has forever changed how I view nutrition, and I’ll definitely be more mindful of what I eat. I guess there’s something about seeing dozens of gallstones release from your body.

After nearly 30 years of ingesting toxins, it seemed like a great idea. I also just completed more than four years at a daily newspaper in Colorado. That deadline-driven environment was usually pretty stressful, and after being in that environment for 40 hours a week each month, year after year, my body, mind and soul took a toll.

During my transition to Omaha, Nebraska, I came to RPI. This little piece of paradise is exactly what I needed to start this new chapter in my life. It was also an incredible way to end a seven-year walkabout through Korea, Hawaii and Colorado.

Nestled in a quaint, quiet grove with a creek and old sycamore and cottonwood trees, RPI is about 20 miles south of Sedona, Arizona. Although hot in early August, the trees provided shade and the center’s house stays a nice, even, cool temperature. It’s a peaceful place and exactly where’d you want to be heal your body. 

Puma, or Pu-Mama, as some at RPI call her, runs the center with Morgan, and is an expert in healthful foods. She suggested the liver cleanse for me. She said there are over 80,000 known chemicals within in our environment. The liver works hard to filter these toxins, but eventually, it becomes overloaded. 

So to begin the purifying, Meg, the center’s chef, made a smoothie for breakfast. This is my first cleanse, and I didn’t expect the smoothie as delicious as it was. In it, there were strawberries, bananas, cacao powder, etc. After that, I received supplements, which begin the process of breaking down stones in the kidneys and liver. 



For lunch, there was a great salad with spinach, cucumbers, carrots and a homemade dressing made from tahini. She also made an incredible butternut squash soup. 

For dinner, I basically had the same thing. Butternut squash soup, a salad and supplements afterward. I had these things for the first two days.

On the third day, I only ate soup. So no solids. And on the fourth day, I only had green juice, which consisted of kale, cucumbers, celery and apples. I had two large mason jars of that, and it was rather satisfying and not bad at all. Around noon, I started to feel a little light-headed, almost “high” and euphoric.

At 8 p.m. that night, I was given four ounces of olive oil mixed with Epsom salt and citrus juice. This is where the flush begins. Throughout the week, I consumed few fats, so a lot of bile, which comes from the liver and helps to break down fat in the stomach, released instantly from my gallbladder, along the stones.

And without getting too graphic, I had multiple watery No. 2s throughout the night and with that, the gallstones. It was pretty wild to see those.

And the next day, Friday, the fifth and final day of the cleanse, I felt noticeably better. My skin even looked better. I had another one of those amazing smoothies for breakfast and soup and salad for lunch. I didn’t even miss familiar food that much. The food I was eating at the center was really good and super healthy.

But it didn’t stop there. It’s typical for some of the gallstones to get trapped inside the colon during these cleanses. They need to come out, otherwise they can release toxins into your body, which isn’t good. So I performed an enema myself, which also completely new to me.

That’s when I released most of the gallstones, which was pretty incredible to see as well. And I found that enemas are really not that bad and turns out they are a healthy thing to do on a regular basis, as I was told by the people at the center.

Between this cleanse, the tranquil environment and the informing conversations I had about health with the people, like Puma, at the center, this was certainly a life-changing week for me. I had been eating a steady diet of red meat, processed food and very few vegetables my whole life. That’s recipe for disaster, and I’m definitely going to change my eating habits. I actually had bought a bag of peanut butter M&Ms on my way to Sedona and didn’t eat them for some reason. More than a month later, they’re still in my car. I can’t eat them after doing this cleanse after knowing that they basically help to form gallstones inside my liver.

I recommend that everyone does a liver cleanse. It has a lot of benefits. And if you’re ever in the Sedona area, then go to this center. You won’t regret it. Check out their website: www.rpinstitute.com.

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41 months of newspapering in Durango


It’s time for a new blog post, and I’m feeling a pretty inspired at the moment. It’s pretty incredible to think how long I’ve been in Durango. So much has happened, and I’ve learned a lot about life, and about journalism, since I came here in June 2011. I’ve been here for three years and four months. That’s the longest I’ve stayed in one place since leaving my hometown, York, Nebraska, for college in October 2004.

Before coming to Durango, I had a lot of ideas of what I could do with my life, but mainly, I wanted to write more about music like I had been doing before I left for South Korea in early 2009. I’ve been doing that, and it’s been fun.

The world has changed a lot since then. People, for instance, now get 30 percent of their news from Facebook. People also now read the news on mobile devices like iPads and iPhones. I’m actually writing this post on my iPhone. I would say that’s a big change from when I began blogging after I arrived in Korea on a laptop that was pretty cutting edge at the time.

The changes in how we interact with technology are good and bad. For example, because everything is shifting to the Internet, newspapers now compete with a host of other entertainment sources, and people are getting the news for free, which isn’t sustainable. But on the other hand, a writer’s reach has also expanded immensely.

In my case, as a page designer, the amount of work goes down as people buy fewer hard-copy newspapers. That’s why design houses have become popular. Publishers can outsource page-design duties to one of these “factories” to cut costs.

So these are things that newspapers are battling across the world. My generation, the millennials, use smartphones and are adept at getting what they want on the Internet for free. That includes news, e-books, music, movies, computer software, applications, etc. If it exists in the digital form, millennials don’t see why they need to pay for it. It’s not sustainable, and they’ll live to see the consequences of this in the future (they already are) in the form of bad music, bad movies, bad software and by constantly being marketed to. But worst of all, they’re going to be silenced. Americans’ First Amendment rights are slowly crumbling.

Great journalists are leaving the newspaper profession simply because they can’t afford to feed their families. Or because they don’t have families and they like to be able to have one in the future. More than likely, fewer newspapers and fewer journalists will result in a more corrupt government.

The main goal of a newspaper is to keep our public officials in check, and when there’s less of that happening, everyone suffers. The main reason newspapers haven’t completely folded is because there’s still a loyal base of people, 50 and older, who still enjoy their morning coffee and a hard-copy newspaper. And that’s great. I’m glad. But when those people are no longer here, who’s going to fill that void? Not the millennials. Newspapers make most of their revenue from advertising. Digital ads cost one-fourth of a print ad. So that means a lot of digital ads need to sell to make up for the lost print ad revenue. But why put an ad or classified on a paper’s site if you can do that for free on Craigslist or by setting up a Facebook page for your business for free?

And there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m all for progress. But we need to do what’s right and support the people who are looking out for our best interests. And those are musicians, painters, writers, actors, poets, journalists. These people protect us by saying what others aren’t willing to say. So buy a song, a book from your local bookstore, your news (in digital or print form). You’ll feel good about owning something good and help not only the creator, but society as a whole.

Anyways, this blog post morphed into something completely different than what I had in mind, but that’s OK. I’ll save what I had in mind for the next post.

Here’s a photo I took while on I bike ride last week in Durango.

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Deja Vu in Durango


I’m back to where I started. Full circle.

A few weeks ago, I got my own place again at the old complex I lived in before I moved last summer.

In July 2013, I moved to live with my co-worker, Steve, in the basement of Beeney’s house, who is the landlord and lived upstairs. It was OK, and rent was cheap, but eventually, I needed my own place again. So I called my old landlord, Kelly, to see if she had anything available and sure enough, she did and said I could take a look at it to see if I liked it.

It’s on the Southside of Durango, or, as I like to call it, SoDo. Like SoHo, except in the high desert and with fewer people. The rent at the Southside Shanty (my neighbor, Brandon, coined that term) didn’t sound too bad at $615, plus utilities, so I snatched it up right away. At that price, I could probably get a super swanky apartment in downtown Omaha or Lincoln, but here, life’s comforts come not in the form of material possessions but in the views, outdoors opportunities and a laid-back lifestyle.

Where I live now is about 1 mile south of The Durango Herald and about 3 miles south of Animas City, a neighborhood where I used to live. Animas City is about as far north in the town of Durango you can live. It used to be it’s own city, hence the name, and it was annexed by the city of Durango a long time ago. The vibe and atmosphere is a little different then SoDo. It’s more peaceful and relaxed, nicer, more built for families, and it’s more green. It’s three miles closer to the forest, but that really makes a difference. SoDo feels more like the desert. And the housing in SoDo is dilapidated, old, poorly maintained and more built for college students and low-income people. But it’s easy to be the “poor” neighborhood in Durango, where homes don’t sell for less than $300,000.

Anyways, I like SoDo. I’m really glad to be back here. I’m 1 mile closer to work; closer to all the great downtown restaurants; it’s easier to meet with friends; I know my neighbors because most of them haven’t left; I have my own place again; I can crank the tunes whenever (somewhat, but more than when having roomies); if Winter 2013/2014 is brutal, the commute to work will be a bit more bearable; I’m more in the center of the city, so things I need are usually not more than a mile away; and, I have my own place! Oh wait, did I mention that?

I’d like to give you a visual tour of my pad.

I took this photo from the kitchen. In the back there is my bedroom, and the bathroom is in there, too.

I took this photo from the kitchen. The bedroom is in the back, and the bathroom is in there, too.

And here is my bedroom/bathroom. Notice the placement of the sink.

And here is my bedroom/bathroom. Notice the placement of the sink.

There's a closet-like space on the left. I really like the 10-foot ceilings in this place. In my last place, I think they were 7 feet, and a 6-foot tall guy notices that kind of thing.

There’s a closet-like space on the left. I really like the 10-foot ceilings in this place. In my last place, I think they were 7 feet, and a 6-foot tall guy notices that kind of thing.

The foyer.

The foyer.

DSC09956

I'm 412.

I’m 412.

Anyways, there you go. Plenty of room here, so let me know if you’d ever like to visit beautiful Durango and go on a hike with me or something.

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2014 Ouray Ice Festival


My friend Megan and I went to the world-renowned Ouray Ice Festival this past weekend. Professional ice climbers go there from all over to compete for one weekend each January.

The two top spots went to a Frenchman and an Italian, so I thought that was kind of neat.

Saturday was a gorgeous day to be in Ouray. That town looks like a fairy tale year-round, but more so in the winter. It’s simply spectacular. The photos don’t do it justice. You have to go there and see it for yourself.

I didn’t really know what to expect from the festival but was totally blown away. Along Box Canyon, man-made ice covers an entire wall, so there’s giant, blue icicles hanging. The climbers look like little dots on the ice.

There’s one spot in particular where spectators can watch climbers try to reach for a pinata at the top. As they get closer to it, the climbers have to use their acrobatic skills as well as their climbing and picking skills. It’s one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen.

Anyways, check out my photos. And if you ever have the chance, go to the festival.

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Happy New Year, world.


Happy New Year, everybody.

Do that thing in 2014 you’ve always thought about doing. Interact with people. Call your friends and family more. Don’t watch as much T.V. Try snorkeling (It’ll change your life. I promise). Try a new hobby.

But most of all, be yourself and be good to others.

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Visitors in Durango and a trip to Cincinnati


I’ve been lucky enough the last couple of months to have the company of a few loved ones. And even better, I’ll get to see them again soon. Soon after my family was here, my good friend, India, visited from Boston and a couple of weeks ago, I returned to Durango from spending about nine days in Cincinnati with my girlfriend and her family. Phew! Its been an exciting time for Mark Hayden. No complaints here.

Nebraska visitors

Oh, Nebraska. It’s where I’m from, it’s where I grew up, it’s what I know and what I know best, and Nebraska came to me in October in the form of two sisters, a brother-in-law and a niece. How lovely.

I was kind of surprised, but Angie told me this summer that she might be possibly driving to Durango in the fall with Kevin and Katie. They figured out a date and it worked out pretty well. Ali ended up coming, too, during her fall break from school.

I was able to get a day off the week they were here in mid-October, so we had three full days to hang out and see the Four Corners. Between traveling around the San Juan Mountains, riding a gondola and seeing Mesa Verde the day the government reopened, I would say we achieved quite a bit.

Our first day, we rode the Million Dollar Highway, which is one of the most dangerous highways in the country, and one of the most beautiful, I’m sure. It’s between Silverton and Ouray, and it’s also used as a scenic route to Telluride.

While traversing the exciting stretch of road, we stopped here and there to take in the beauty. I’m glad they came because I knew they would like it, and I’m happy to share it with them, and I was right. They enjoyed themselves. 

One of the highlights of their trip, for me at least, was when we went to Vallecito Reservoir on their last day. Vallecito is a really small community, maybe 200 people or so, and it’s about 30 minutes north of Durango. I’ve actually rode my bicycle up there a few times, and it’s pretty awesome. The town lies on a man-made lake. It’s a very relaxing place, and we had a couple drinks there and chatted.

I also enjoyed hanging out in Telluride with them. It’s a really pretty town, and I’m glad they got to see it. I would love to go skiing up there sometime, actually. It’s supposed to be one of the best places for that in the country.

So, check out my photo gallery of their trip.

An old friend visits Durango

I really do enjoy seeing my friends and family. That’s all I really care about, honestly. As if having my family here wasn’t nice enough, I got another visitor. India is a good friend whom I met on Molokai. I met her through my friend, Rodney, and they were both teachers at Molokai High School. They are some the nicest, most genuine people I’ve met. India left the island shortly after I did and traveled Europe for about eight months. After that, she moved to Natick, Mass., s we had a lot to catch up on.

When I was on Molokai, India, Rodney and I would go to the beach, go to the bar and play pool together and, sometimes, we’d go camping at the beach. We lived like kings and queens, and it’s really nice to see someone with whom I experienced that life.

I remember one time when we were camping. There was Rodney, India, Clayton, myself and a Canadian woman who was on the island for a week. We met her at Paddlers, the local bar on Molokai. We were walking on the beach, and it was kind of a misty night, and I looked up at the sky and saw the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen. I didn’t get a photo of it because it was too dark.

This thing was so incredibly amazing that it can’t even have its photo taken. Well. It probably can if you have the right camera. It was a night rainbow. The conditions have to be just right, usually a slight mist and a full moon, but if they are, it’ll happen. Night rainbows are pretty rare, some people told me on Molokai. So I consider myself to be pretty lucky to see one. It’s basically just a completely white arc, but it was pretty spectacular, and India and I saw it. I actually had to remind her of that  when she was here.

I got a text message from India about two weeks exactly after the Paasches and the Hayden left. She said, “Hey, do you still live in Durango?” And, of course, I said “yes.” Apparently, she had taken two weeks off from work and came to the Southwest to see her friend in Taos, N.M., which isn’t far from Durango, about four hours.

So, a few days later, on Saturday night after I got off work, India came to Durango  and we met up at an Irish bar. (Starting next week, I’ll have Fridays and Saturdays off at work, which I’m pretty excited about, for reasons such as this. It’ll be nice to hang out with my friends on the weekend a bit). Anyways, had a few beers and caught up, and some of my Durango friends met up with us. It was a fun time.

India was really interested in going to Mesa Verde, so we did that the next day. About 7 a.m. on Sunday, I’m not sure how we did it, we woke up from our booze-filled night and headed toward Cortez, Colo., for Mesa Verde. Two trips there in two weeks. That’s a record for me, but it really it is pleasure to see it, so I don’t mind.

She had me drive her rental car, which was a Volkswagen Passat. I don’t get to drive too often, so it’s always fun when I do. At Mesa Verde, they weren’t giving tours of Cliff Palace, the main dwelling, but they were giving free tours of the Spruce Tree House, which was pretty sweet.

I hadn’t seen it yet, so it was a good opportunity. Later that day, I had to work at 3 p.m., so India and I made it back in time for that.

The next day, I also had to work at 3 p.m., so we decided that we were going to go to Trimble Hot Springs. I get free tickets from work, so we thought we could grab those at my office and head up there, but it didn’t quite work out. We ended up going thrift-storing instead and got some green tea at an interesting cafe downtown that I’ve never been.

The next day, India left Durango for Utah, and I thought, well, we thought, that was going to be our last goodbye. But she only left for a day and spent some more time in Colorado and Utah before coming back to Durango. So we hung out again. It was funny. She noticed that Durango is a vortex. It just sucks you in.

We hung out again that night and checked out some live music at a local downtown  bar and went to pub trivia. I forget how we fared, but we may have won. Not sure.

Anyways, lots of laughs during India’s visit. It was just like old times, and it was really great to see her.

Seeing the “Queen City”

And after all that fun, I still had some energy leftover for my trip to Cincinnati to see Megan and her family in mid-November. I spent about nine days in the “Queen City.”

DSC09106Megan was a good host and showed me around the city. It was pretty weird to be in a big place with lots of people. Durango has about 15,000 people or so. There’s about 2 million in the metro area of Cincinnati, so that’s a few more.

I liked it. It’s a neat city. Lots of history there. Lots of cool old buildings and stuff. It kind of reminds me of Omaha, actually, but maybe a bit more hip (no offense to the Omahans). It also has more hills and is more diverse, which I liked. It also has two professional sports teams, which is pretty cool. We walked around the Great American Ballpark a bit. It was really nice there. Megan said they revamped that area recently.

That night, we went out with her sisters and their husbands, and her parents, Cheryl and Gerry, watched the kids, so that was nice of them. We went to a couple of breweries, one of which is in a former ghetto, so there were a lot of jokes about that floating around that evening. The brewery is called Rhinegeist Brewing Co., and it’s inside an old factory, so that gave it an interesting atmosphere. It had a good vibe, and the beer was awesome. Nice to finally meet Megan’s people and see where she came from.

The day before that, we saw a concert in Covington, Ky., which is across the Ohio River from the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge:

If you look closely, you'll see that this bridge forms an optical illusion with the blue skyscraper. The architect designed it to look as if the bridge and the skyscraper are "one." It's a great way to connect Cincinnati and Covington.

If you look closely, you’ll see that the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge forms an optical illusion with the blue skyscraper called The Ascent at Roebling’s Bridge. The architect, Daniel Libeskind, designed it to look as if the bridge and the building are “one.” It’s a neat way to connect Cincinnati and Covington.

The concert in Covington was at a small place called the Madison Theater. We saw a couple bands called “Capital Cities” and “Fitz & The Tantrums.” Both of them are on fire right now and have had a lot of success with their latest albums.

I wasn’t familiar with the opening band, Capital Cities. I really enjoyed them. They are dance, rock, alternative bands. Pretty hard to describe, but they put on really good shows. There were a lot of people there. It may have been sold out.

Another one of the days I was there, I shot guns with her brother-in-laws, Kevin, Ben, and his friend, Mark, at an indoor shooting range. It was pretty fun. We shot AR-14s and a couple Glocks. I hadn’t had experience with either, so I had to be taught a little bit, but it was pretty easy. I think I still need some practice! I only hit the bulls-eye once. Nonetheless, I had a good time.

That night, Megan and I went downtown with her good friends from high school. It was really cool to meet them because I had heard so much about them. We went to her friends’ apartment and hung out a bit before going to a couple of bars downtown, which was fun. It was actually pretty warm that night, which made it even better. I got a chance to talk to her friends and get to know them a bit, and vice versa.

The next day was her niece’s birthday party, so we went to Ben and Melissa’s, and I met a lot of people, even Megan’s grandmother, Peggy, who was really cool. It was a fun family gathering and even included taking shelter from a possible tornado in their basement. Luckily, a tornado never hit. We ended the night with a fun card game. I’m actually not one for that kind of stuff, but we played Apples to Apples, which I actually like.

So yeah, great to meet Megans family. Great people. I enjoy their company.

The next day, we went to Lexington, Ky., about an hour and a half south of Cincinnati, to hang out with her good friends from college. Megan attended the University of Kentucky, where she got her bachelor’s in architecture. Megan, her friend, came from Louisville, and Caitlin came from Knoxville, Tenn., which is kind of a far drive, so that was nice of her. We met them at a cool pizza place and had dinner. They were pretty much what I expected. I’ve heard a lot about them, so again, it was finally great to meet them in person.

Lexington is a neat town. Megan showed me all the places she lived. We didn’t walk on the campus, but it looked pretty nice from the car. She also took me through an old neighborhood with a bunch of old southern houses, which was cool. I guess there’s a lot of old money in Lexington from horse racing. There’s a lot of that going on there.

We looked at a horse track called Keeneland: www.keeneland.com.

I really want to see a race sometime after hearing Megan’s stories. They seems like a blast. It sounds like races there get treated like Nebraska football games.

So yeah, that’s what we did. Kentucky is a pretty state. I’d like to see more of it sometime. Louisville sounds like a cool place, too. So many things to do, so little time.

The rest of the trip consisted of a bike ride with her friend on a cool bike trail that runs from Cincinnati to Dayton, Ohio. I also tried White Castle, which wasn’t too bad, but good thing we rode bikes afterward. 

That night, we ate a cool Korean restaurant with her friends Bill and Allison. They are really into trying new food, and they had actually been to the restaurant before. I was really glad for that because I would not have known to go there otherwise. It was called “Riverside Korean Restaurant,” and it was in Covington. Probably the best Korean restaurant I’ve been to in the States.

Of course, I loved it because it reminded me of the old days. It was very authentic. We even sat on the floor and drank OB. It’s a good beer, and I drank my fair share when I lived over there. We all ordered bibimbap and sure enough, it was the real deal. Great stuff. I want to go there again.

And, I’m glad I saw the IRS building on our ride home that night. Wouldn’t have been a trip to Cincinnati if I didn’t.

It was a great time. I hope to do it again soon.

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Boating at Navajo Lake in New Mexico


I wish I would have taken my camera with me last Thursday, so that you could see the beautiful lake in New Mexico I visited. Navajo Lake Marina is only a 45-minute drive south of Durango, and it’s absolutely awesome.

There’s just so much fun stuff to do in the Four Corners, it’s unbelievable. I consider myself pretty lucky to end up here a little over two years ago, but here I still am, just working at The Durango Herald and having a good time. I think the fun levels are rising each month I’m here, and that might have something to do with the connections I’ve been making.

In last the year or so, it seems like I’ve met a lot more people. Not sure why. It may be that I have figured this small town out better and found a niche. Last week, I went out with my friends Sarah and Oscar, who are both really nice people. Oscar is from the L.A. area, and Sarah is from the Denver area. Anyways, Oscar asked if I’d want to join him with some of his friends on a boat the next day.

I actually thought about it for some reason, and then I said “Sure, why not?” Anyways, we met his friend Justin who has the boat the next morning, which was already at the lake, and then picked up some more of their friends and headed south.

Justin’s boat was really nice. It felt like sitting on a floating living room. The seats were really nice, we had a plenty of beer, and the stereo sounded awesome. One of the main goals that day was wakeboarding. I had never done it before, and regrettably, I returned to Durango still not having tried it. More people met up with us at the lake, so there were eight or nine of us on the boat. Several people wanted to try, and I didn’t really put myself out there enough to do it. Oh well. I’ll give it a shot next time, which I dislike saying, but hey, it was still a blast.

I met some new people and had a great time in the sun on my day off, which I can’t really complain about.

Last night, I saw a huge black bear on my bicycle ride home from work. He was about a block or two directly ahead of me, so I stopped in my tracks and started turning around. About that time, he turned his head around and began staring at me. I then started pedaling pretty quickly and took a different route home.

Fall must be on the horizon. Food sources are running low in the mountains, and the bears are coming into town to eat before they hibernate. What a life.

Sometimes, they knock over trash cans and eat that stuff, but most people have bear-proof trash cans nowadays. That, I heard, has been pretty effective in keeping them away.

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