Naked Volleyball SuperBowl(s), and on no-photo policy at some naturist events

Naturists playing volleyball is a cliché, but I think it’s a good one! Let me know if I’m wrong, but apparently the largest naturist sport event (after the original Olympics in Ancient Greece were prohibited) is a volleyball tournament which takes place every September in Western Pennsylvania – The Original Naked Volleyball Superbowl. As its venue, White Thorn Lodge, is probably all white in snow right now, before reporting on our experience there, I’d like to announce that a similar event will take place in one month in the Sunshine State of Florida: the 14th Annual Super Bowl South Ten Day Volleyball Tournament. Well, quite a bit of information has been included in the name already, so I’ll just add that it takes place at Lake Como resort in Tampa area from 6th to 15th of March, with finals on the last day. See you there ;-)

Here is a promo video for this event. If you notice, they don’t really show much of the volleyball game itself though, and yet it’s more than the bigger event in Pennsylvania allows: although this blog usually features photos and videos to accompany most texts, absolutely no photos were allowed at the Volleyball Superbowl at White Thorn Lodge. I’d like to hear your opinions about it, but I find it unfortunate. If naturist movement wants to promote body acceptance and normality of nudity, it seems counterproductive to forbid photography and video at such a big event as Volleyball Superbowl, as it may only reaffirm general public’s opinion that nudity is something to be ashamed of or at best suitable only for private/secretive setting. Sport events make the top most watched TV broadcasts – the Summer Olympics, football and rugby World Cups, Tour de France etc. globally, and Super Bowl in USA – so it appears that naturism fails on capitalizing on demand for sport videos to popularize the movement. And it’s a pity even more so, because such videos would promote naturism as an active and healthy lifestyle.

Well, actually there is an article and a video by ESPN about the Naked Volleyball Superbowl, but unfortunately, it doesn’t do justice, in my opinion, because all photos seem to be staged and everything possible was made to conceal genitalia and women’s nipples. (Good move, ESPN, with your Body Issue series, but it’s kind of only a half-move for the aforementioned reasons…)

As a result of such policies, if you search for illustrations of naked volleyball games, as I did for the article on nudity in sports, you’ll be swamped with porn links with hardly any legitimate material in sight! Needless to say, it would send a wrong message to someone who just started getting into naturism and would look for more information and examples of naturist activities. Surprisingly, there are a lot more videos of naked skydiving and rock climbing than of naked volleyball!

Is there any solid reason behind such strict rules at the Naked Volleyball Superbowl and some other similar events? Perhaps the organizers are afraid that many people wouldn’t want to be outed as naturists publicly, and if they allowed photography and TV, fewer visitors would come and some would feel uncomfortable (which, again, is contrary to naturist philosophy of nudity’s normality). But such events as the World Naked Bike Ride attract even larger numbers of participants, and nudity is on display in front of much larger audiences in some of the world cities such as London (as opposed to private nudist clubs)… Perhaps a solution to keep ‘shy’ people happy at the Naked Volleyball Superbowl and the like would be giving out wristbands of different colors to those who are fine with being photographed and those who aren’t, and  make the photographers and TV crew sign release papers accordingly…

The only argument against photography that I personally would [maybe] accept from the organizers is if their intention were that participants enjoyed the immediacy of the event. This is how no-photo policy is explained at the ‘Output’ nightclub in New York, for example. While I don’t necessarily feel that I personally lose immediacy every time I take a picture (sometimes even on contrary, I get deeper into the moment taking a picture of it), at least such an argument at naturist events wouldn’t send you to the assumption that nudity is somehow shameful ;-)

Regardless of the photography issue, there were many moments to enjoy at the Naked Volleyball Superbowl. I went with two friends – Tam and Mat :D – and immediately upon arrival we made a few new friends. From people at the reception to our campsite neighbors, everybody wanted to make sure that we had everything necessary for a comfortable stay. It was indeed very helpful, because my other friend Don had to cancel his trip last minute, and he was supposed to bring some camping gear. In the end, everything went smoothly, and we greatly appreciated friendliness of White Thorn Lodge members and so as fellow campers who also came specifically for the event: we were offered to use the grill, a ride to Pittsburgh on the way back, and were invited to dinners and parties. Some camps, such as Quebec’ team and Tiki-Tamba, had decent sound systems and DJs, so at night the atmosphere was very much of a festival.

We went with the idea to play lots of volleyball, but we didn’t realize the event was indeed that serious about the sport. It actually turned into a volleyball marathon of three full days! On Friday, we built our team with our campsite neighbor John, his friend from local community and that friend’s friend’s teenage daughter. So, our team pretty much reflected the open nature of this event! With around a thousand participants (in some years, up 1500!), Naked Volleyball Superbowl truly brings all kinds of people together. Some arrive with fully formed teams, others find teammates on the spot. This diversity is also reflected in volleyball skills, as competition includes men’s and women’s AA, A and B classes, and multiple mixed C/Novice level teams. We started as a novice team but on Saturday were upgraded to C (Novice+). Sunday was the day of the actual competition, by which we were quite exhausted. None of us had much experience with volleyball, but we did pretty well, at least better than we expected, just failing to reach the finals. It was also nice to walk around and watch other matches, which differed quite a lot, depending on the surface (grass, sand, asphalt) and levels. After corn roast in the afternoon, the event culminated with men’s AA finals. I’d never seen volleyball of such high level and was amazed that it looked like a totally different beast from volleyball games that you see at a beach typically. This was inspiring and impressive, and nudity made the whole experience only more exciting. After seeing this game, where the volleyball was certainly not the only kind of balls bouncing around, I could assure that the claim by some naturist skeptics that vigorous activities are not suitable to do naked because certain body parts would “move too much” and “get hurt” is complete bollocks! Well, perhaps such skeptics should consider the Russian version of the proverb that a bad workman always blames his tools, which is ‘плохому танцору и яйца мешают’ and literally means ‘a bad dancer is impeded even by [his own] balls’. :D

I can’t wait for the naked Volleyball Super Bowl South in Florida and then hope to practice volleyball more at Sandy Hook beach this summer to be in better shape for the tournament at White Thorn Lodge again!

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Thermen am Europa Center (and Winter Badeschiff) – amazing saunas in Berlin

We continue with Berlin series (it’s not over yet!), and here is something for winter time, and looking at the calendar – particularly suitable for Valentine’s Day, if you’re up for a hot date… Literally! I’m talking about two of my favourite saunas in Berlin (one of them doesn’t seem to be open this winter, however).

Thermen am Europa Center is located in the centre of Berlin. It’s easy to see why I loved it, with multiple types of saunas including 2 hamams, several pools of different temperatures, and large outdoor terraces with views over some of Berlin’s landmarks like Gedaechtniskirche.

naturist 0000 Thermen am Europa, Berlin, Germany

 

The biggest pool goes partially outdoors and is very warm. Due to the narrow shape of its outdoors part though, don’t expect to do laps when there’s more than a couple of people. But if you go there primarily for relaxation, you will definitely get it! Thermen am Europa Center is open throughout the year, so it can be also a good idea for a chilly summer evening, which is not a rare thing in Berlin either…

Well, the description below, is for historic reference, as of now… hopefully they’ll reopen it next winter!

Another option is was Badeshiff , which from November till the end of March becomes used to turn into an oasis of warmth with saunas and partially open-air swimming pool with transparent walls over the Spree River! This not only allows-ed you to enjoy the views, up to the tallest city landmark – Alex TV-tower

naturist 0000 Winter Badeschiff, Berlin, Germany

– but also to appreciate the warmth of saunas in contrast to the chilly winter weather outside.
naturist 0002 Winter Badeschiff, Berlin, Germany

However the water in the pool could be warmer

unless you’d swim intensely :-)

But why not, keep yourself active in winter too, and you’ll enjoy the sauna even more!

naturist 0001 Winter Badeschiff, Berlin, Germany

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Active Naturists are going to Burning Man this year! Camp announced

Active Naturists are going to Burning Man this year! More details to be released soon – you’ll hear about our camp via this blog. But if, by having read this blog for a while, you already know you’d like to join the camp, please e-mail or leave a comment here!

You only have time until THIS Saturday to create a Burner Profile AND register for ticket sale.

Only then, you’ll be able to buy tickets, which go on sale in one week! (If you think you may be eligible for low income tickets, check the website for more info on that). Ideally, you should aim at buying tickets asap. 40,000 tickets at $390 each, and they got sold out in 45min last year! You may be able to find tickets later in season, but don’t rely on it.

Our camp’s theme will be Gymnasium in its original Ancient Greek meaning, so you can go through ‘How it used to be’ sections of this website to get some inspiration for our camp, be it athletic activities 

or simply fun!

And let’s just reiterate this quote from Wikipedia:

“The gymnasium in ancient Greece functioned as a training facility for competitors in public games. It was also a place for socializing and engaging in intellectual pursuits. The name comes from the Ancient Greek term γυμνός [gymnós] meaning “naked”.

The word gymnasium is the latinisation of the Greek noun γυμνάσιον (gymnasion), “gymnastic school”, in pl. “bodily exercises” and generally “school” which in turn is derived from the common Greek adjective γυμνός (gymnos) meaning “naked”, by way of the related verb γυμνάζω (gymnazo), whose meaning is “to train naked”, “train in gymnastic exercise”, generally “to train, to exercise”. The verb had this meaning because one undressed for exercise. Historically, the gymnasium was used for exercise, communal bathing, and scholarly and philosophical pursuits. The English noun gymnast, first recorded in 1594, is formed from the Greek γυμναστής (gymnastēs), but in Greek this word means “trainer” not “gymnast”. The palaistra was the part of the gymnasium devoted to wrestling, boxing and ball games.”

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SchlagerNackt party in Berlin

Germany is a home to large naturist population that often identify themselves with the so-called ‘free body culture’ – Freie Körper Kultur (FKK), so no wonder its capital hosts a huge naked disco! The Schlagernacktparty is organised every two months in the club “Schwuz” at Rollbergstrasse 26, Berlin 12053. Its concept and original idea occurred to DJ Jupiter with collaboration of DJ Stern of Avalon and Itzy in 2003, and it has grown very fast through the last years and has reached almost 400 guests at each event!

SchlagerNackt party

Schlagernackt is a self-explanatory portmanteau name: Schlager is German pop music from the 1970-80s, Nackt means naked and rhymes with Nacht, night. As a non-German, I was very sceptical in the beginning, but as I listened to it, I found it so nice and funny that I loved it ever since… I decided to come regularly to the party and then even joined the team to help with the whole oprganisation.

The music works not only for Germans but for our numerous international guests too (reflecting diversity of Berlin’s dwellers and tourists). Also, our music is never too loud, so it creates a nice atmosphere where you can also talk to other people and make new friends, which is easy, because everybody seems to feel comfortable at our parties!

SchlagerNackt party

The dresscode is naturally naked with the exception are socks and shoes for obvious reasons (we are a busy disco after all).

So easy is the procedure: you are first of all warmly welcomed by our team at the entrance (Olaf, Wolfgang and Doris), pay entrance fee of €5 euro, then you find some benches where you can take off all your clothes and put them in a plastic bag, which you then give to the team working at the coatcheck (Michele (me), Berko, Jens, Elke, Christian, Stephane). You get a number tag that you can use to order drinks at the bar, which you pay at the end of the party. Our guests also get free sweets and typical German products.

Every time, we choose a particular theme: Easter, Halloween, Summer, Hawaii and so on. We change the atmosphere and the decorations accordingly, but always very colourful!

So, don’t miss the best party in Europe!-) The next date is the 22nd of February (19:00-02:00), then 26 April and so on every two months. Visit our website for further information. We are waiting for you!!!

SchlagerNackt party

[Guest entry by Michele]

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Orient Land Trust, Colorado

naturist 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

Orient Land Trust is an amazing piece of land between San Luis Valley and Cottonwood Peak of Rocky Mountains in Colorado; it encompasses wildlife corridor with numerous hiking trails to explore, pristine spring waters – including geothermal springs for you to relax, an abandoned mine that now hosts the state’s largest bat colony, and rustic cabins and camping area for you to stay. And what makes this place truly natural, relaxing and liberating is that it is very much nude-friendly! When we went there in July, the weather was just perfect for that – it only cools down at night, but then you’d hang out at the hot springs ;-)

naturist 0015  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

We stayed at the Oak House community lodge, but if I come again, I think I’ll go for tenting next to one of those natural hot springs.

This place is perfect if want to connect with nature at ease – it’s everywhere around you, and even such luxury as hot baths are natural there. On my first walk around, I was amazed to see several deer right off the trail that seem to be quite tame. I didn’t have my camera that time, but when I grabbed it, there was a rabbit instead, but it was a bit shier.

rabbit 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USArabbit 0001  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

I saw quite a few deer on a random trail afterwards, and it looked like they felt pretty much the same as human visitors of OLT – relaxed ;-)

deer 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

Fawns, however, seemed to be more alert and cautious,

deer 0002  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USAdeer 0003  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

so as squirrels (unlike their Central Park counterparts).

squirrel 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

As I continued going up the mountain, I also apparently scared the whole flock of grouse, as they noisily took off the ground and sat on the trees around me.

grouse 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USAgrouse 0001  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

The views from the trail were beautiful: multicolored hills and mountains,

view 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

magnificent San Luis Valley,

view 0001  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

and cute tiny settlement of Orient Land Trust itself…

view 0002  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

At the top of the nearest peak to OLT, there was a primitive stone construction by a dead tree – not sure about its purpose, but it could protect you from the wind if you decide to camp there.

view 0004  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

As I looked down at the forest on the opposite slope, it caught my attention how various the vegetation appeared to be, with patches of different broad-leaf and coniferous trees sticking to each other, and other parts covered by grass or bushes.

view 0005  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

Aspen trees with their white barks stood out in the sea of green.

aspen forest 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

As aspens let a lot of light to reach the ground, a lot of other plants can grow in such a forest.

aspen forest 0001  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

And if aspens caught my eyes’ attention, my nose was pleased with conifers –

conifer 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

many of them released sap on  their young cones, and it provided a pleasant aroma.

conifer 0001  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

Too bad I didn’t see any edible fruits. This one below looked like a gooseberry, but I wasn’t sure.

gooseberry 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

This plant below had beautiful leaves,

plant 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

but the main attraction was of course flowers,

flowering plant 0006  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

which were in abundance all over the mountain but especially on non-forested slopes.

flowering plant 0010  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USAflowering plant 0009  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USAflowering plant 0008  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

Colors spanned the whole spectrum.

flowering plant 0007  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USAflowering plant 0012  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USAflowering plant 0002  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

My favorite was probably this one below.

flowering plant 0004  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

Flowers mean butterflies (and hummingbirds, in this part of the world, but we’ll get to them later).

holly blue butterfly 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

But not all butterflies were busy pollinating flowers.

butterfly 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

Cactus flowers seemed to be more popular among bees though.

cactus 0003  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

I was surprised to see so many cacti species so far up north and at relatively high elevation,

cactus 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

but they were clearly at limit of their ecological tolerance,

cactus 0005  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

as all of them were very short.

cactus 0001  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

I wonder if sticking together helps cacti survive winter.

cactus 0004  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

Well, at least some of them clearly showed their love to the place <3

cactus 0006  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

And as much as I love cacti, I don’t like stepping on their spikes… oh, have I mentioned that hiked not only bare but barefoot too?

naturist 0016  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

The terrain was quite rough even without spikes, but all that pain made relaxation in hot springs only sweeter.

naturist 0009  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

So, finally I’m getting to describe you what Orient Land Trust is probably most known for – geothermal springs in truly natural setting! There are a few pools with different temperature of water, different levels of accessibility and seclusion. The uppermost of the upper three pools has an extra feature: air bubbles seep through its bottom caressing your body on their way to the surface.

naturist 0011  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

The middle of the upper pools is one of the smallest, but its depth is just perfect to lie down and enjoy the flow of warm water over your body.

naturist 0012  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

After that, I was ready for another hike! (I’ll get back to description of other hot springs of OLT in a bit.)

view 0006  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

At around 18:00, together with many other visitors and a guide, we headed out to the abandoned Orient Mine turned home to the largest bat colony in Colorado to see the spectacle of thousands bats leaving their cave to prey on insects at dusk.

view 0007  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

The views on the way were stunning again.

view 0008  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

The excavated red earth stark perfect contrast to the green, whereas the valley literally on the other side of the road was covered by dry grass.

view 0009  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

Typically for OLT, we were greeted by a deer chilling by the bush.

deer 0004  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

I snacked on ‘Bear Naked’ energy bar (I see an ad potential here!)

naturist 0013  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

The trail was very easy, with only one decent uphill hike, after which we had a break at a cliff with magnificent view of the valley.

naturist 0003  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

The sea of dry grass  spotted by green trees and bush thickets presented a beautiful picture.

view 0010  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

Then, the beams of sunlight coming onto the valley between the mountains and clouds created yet more splendid view.

view 0011  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

As the last sun rays of the day touched our skin, we hurried to the Orient Mine cave.

naturist 0005  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

While we waited for the bats to emerge, I was try it to figure my at-the-time-new-to-me camera settings, that would work well for a fast moving small object in dark conditions.

view 0012  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

I could certainly catch the colors of sunset,

view 0013  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

and an airplane gaseous trace,

view 0014  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

but I failed to take any decent photograph of bats.

bats 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

You’ll just have to believe my word or go to OLT webpage about their bats to see photos and videos.

bats 0001  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

It was a mesmerizing nature’s spectacle! As we were told by our guide, these bats were mainly males of a tropical species that migrate there for the summer, it was funny to think of the cave as a huge bachelor resort for bats and their huge night feast in the valley.

By that time, it got substantially colder and I was the only one left naked. It was still ok for me, especially after we started walking, but I was looking forward to the hot springs. At night, we only went to the pools that were closer to the campground, and although they were pretty full, it was still easy to find a nice spot for yourself. At the biggest pool, we were treated with yet another amazing nature’s spectacle: incredibly bright starry sky and fireflies ‘dancing’ around us. Unfortunately I didn’t even try to photograph this, but the whole experience was magic.

Next morning, we went to the upper pools again and enjoyed the views from the lowest of the three. By the way, there was mint growing right next to it, so it smelled nice around too.

naturist 0007  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

This geothermal infinity pool is just priceless, and I hope I’ll enjoy it again some day!

Right before our departure, I found hummingbird trapped in the bathroom.

saving hummingbird 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

Luckily, I have a lot of experience handling birds,

saving hummingbird 0001  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

so I easily caught it while it was bumping into the window and set it free outside.

saving hummingbird 0002  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

I must say that I myself felt pretty much free as a bird at Orient Land Trust, I wish there were more places like that!

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Camping On Georgian Bay, Canada

There are about two hundred and fifty thousand lakes in Ontario, and about one hundred thousand kilometres of rivers. If I could, I’d explore it all. In the southernmost part of the province, where most of the people live, the landscape has long been clear-cut, land-filled, and turned into pasture – and is now being swallowed up by suburbs and roads. But go north of the southernmost ten percent of Ontario, into the vast Canadian Shield, and small towns and cities sit like islands connected by bridges of asphalt amid an ocean of water, rock, and endless forest.

001 Distance Picture 0000 Georgian Bay, Ontario, Canada

At the very northwest edge of that southernmost, densely-populated part of Ontario begins Georgian Bay – the name of both the enormous bay itself, nearly the size of some of the Great Lakes, and the land immediately surrounding it. This part of Massasuga Provincial Park is a favourite area of mine to go camping and canoeing. While it can get very busy during the spring, summer, and fall on cottage- and fishing lakes, especially toward the south end of the bay, the farther you continue north, like the rest of Ontario, the wilder it becomes – and wild is the way I like it. So this year I went with my better half during the middle of the week, and we planned on a few hours of paddling and a couple of portages to find an entire lake to ourselves. We were not disappointed.

Isolation was especially important because, inspired by this site, I hoped to spend as much of the trip as I could in the buff. (Bear in mind that nudity and “indecency” are illegal in Canada, but the laws, confusing and open to interpretation as they are, appear classically Canadian: Please don’t offend anyone, thank you. Steer well clear of other people and you should steer clear of the law – though don’t mistake my advice for a lawyer’s.) Little did I know that my account of it would end up here, so pardon me if the pictures are more illustrations of what I saw than a documentation of the trip itself.

After a long drive through rain we came to our launch point and the clouds blew away as if the sun knew we were coming. We had arrived in the confluence of the northernmost reaches of the great eastern forest of North America -with its sprawling hardwoods and firey fall colours – and the southernmost edge of the continent’s boreal forest, characterized locally by towering windswept white pines that spring as if by magic from cracks in the earth, with blankets of ripening blueberries

002 Blueberry 0000 Georgian Bay, Ontario, Canada

wild strawberries (now past their peak)

003 Wild Strawberry Picture

and juniper berries around their roots.

004 Juniper Berries 0000 Georgian Bay, Ontario, Canada

From this edible welcome mat we set off under the warm sun into lakes that were, considering the brutal arctic vortex winter that lasted well into spring in the area, surprisingly warm. Conscious that other paddlers use the launch – and being a little on the bashful side by nature – I left my swimsuit on as long as I was in the canoe.

The canoeing was, as ever, superlative, though we struggled at first against a quixotic headwind, from the port one moment, from the starboard the next. The landscape was pure Canadian Shield, a geological formation that extends far into the Arctic, created during a span of about two billion years beginning over four and a quarter billion years ago, about the same time life and liquid water were forming on Earth.

From under the thousands of lakes around Georgian Bay, the Canadian Shield wells up as sometimes-solitary, sometimes densely-packed islands in the water, like the backs of great stone whales – streaked with the pinks, blacks, and glittering whites of the planet’s younger days. We wound among those islands, marshes full of songbirds and basking turtles, and, in a bit of good luck, got to take some shortcuts through wetlands where the water was exceptionally high.

008 Canadian Shield 0000 Georgian Bay, Ontario, Canada

A quick note: Experienced canoers and back woods campers will enjoy adventuring out into Crown Land around Georgian Bay – leaving the busy cottage lakes and fishing lanes for bear country feels like heaven to me – but the less experienced have a bevy of Provincial Parks (clothes required) and naturist resorts to choose from in Ontario that offer a lighter introduction to the wild.

For me it was, as ever, a spiritual experience to explore the quiet coves and calm waters of the lakes and rivers we paddled through, each bent by eons of geological forces and scoured by receding glaciers into a kaleidoscope of shapes, like sworls and splatters on the map. There’s something sacred about them, a reminder of my place on this planet, a passing, precious second in a story longer than I can truly understand.

When we put in for our first night, it was in an out-of-the-way spot with a broad rock beach and a thick row of oaks, white pines, and juniper bushes that blocked the breeze from reaching our tent and provided privacy from the sum total of two canoes that passed by all day.

011 tent 0000 Georgian Bay, Ontario, Canada

After paddling in the sun for the whole afternoon, and the wind having died back for the last hour, I was ready to swim as soon as we stepped out of our canoe onto the warm rock shore.

Still a bit skittish, and despite not having seen a human at least an hour, I got into the water with my swimsuit on after we set up camp. As soon as I got into the water I could feel my body asking me “what are you doing with these stupid shorts on?” So I took them off.

Bliss.

Well, bliss until a snapping turtle surfaced from the deep, I panicked, and in the confusion lost my rather expensive new swimsuit. I spent about an hour looking for it – which, as it consisted of swimming and diving for an hour in the summer sun in an isolated lake, was not any hardship at all – before my co-adventurer offered kindly “Maybe this is the universe’s way of telling you you’re not meant to use a swim suit for this trip.”

I choose to believe he was right, and dried off on the wavy slab of rock that sloped into the water where we set up camp. Sitting on that rock that was warm from the sun, that had sweetgrass growing from the cracks, that was older than the the oceans themselves, while feeling and watching the same breeze blow across the lake, the forest, and me, was a sensory experience I that I just can’t do justice to with words. If I wasn’t a naturist before, after that moment I don’t know how I couldn’t be.

007 Sky 0000 Georgian Bay, Ontario, Canada

In the evening that first night, when the mosquitoes came out, I laid in a bowl in the rock, where I could see only treetops and sky, and where the gentle wind and emerald-coloured dragonflies kept the bugs at bay. The next day I woke up first and followed a brook back through the melange of maple, beech, and red and white oaks, and stands of enormous white pine and hemlock. The mix of forests makes the area great for tree lovers like me, who could spend hours wandering the woods and identifying species. In the quiet of the morning I felt more comfortable naked and confident that I was alone than I had the day before, and I worried only about the last of the mosquitoes that come out around dawn.

We spent the morning swimming and exploring the hills behind our campsite, and when I put a pair of shorts on again before we got in our canoe to move on through the wilderness, I must admit clothing felt entirely unnatural.

005 Hemlock Forest 0000 Georgian Bay, Ontario, Canada

We settled down in a bay that day high on the Shield, set back in a forest of hemlock forest.

006 White Pines 0000 Georgian Bay, Ontario, Canada

We shared the beach with turtles, crickets, various birds, and even a rare eastern ribbon snake.

010 Ribbon Snake 0000 Georgian Bay, Ontario, Canada

009 Butterfly 0000 Georgian Bay, Ontario, Canada

After hours of swimming and exploring the woods we had dinner and, tired from the day, strung our hammocks just back from the tree line. After dinner we read and talked until the mosquitoes came out to play.

That night the weather turned fickle again, and the unusually cool air returned. We canoed back to our car early in the morning, sad to go but with many stories and pictures to bring home.

Any many, many memories.

Perhaps my favourite is of lying on those warm rocks as the last light of of our first day seeped from the western sky and the stars revealed themselves in great swaths; of listening to ethereal loon song as the silver light of the moon held me, and knowing that I lay skin to skin with one of the most ancient places on Earth.

 

[Guest entry by Jacob]

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[interactive] arts rock!

Lately, there’s been a lot of discussion whether New York City has lost/ is losing its artistic scene and innovative atmosphere – see if this New York Times article can convince you otherwise. However, I’m happy to be involved with two local artists – Andy Golub and Shungaboy – who have a unique approach to art, which allows people to participate in art rather than being its passive consumer (not that there’s anything wrong with that, though).

Andy Golub is a renowned artist that often uses body as canvas, and he often makes a performance of the process itself too by painting bodies of (often non-professional) models at public places in New York. This is probably as interactive and public as art can get: you yourself may be transformed into a piece of art, in the middle of a busy street! Nudity certainly draws attention, but it also certainly makes people think and re-evaluate their attitude towards human body, such as what can be considered ‘beautiful’ or ‘appropriate’, and this is when art becomes meaningful.

I’ve already written up on two events organized by Andy Golub – body art at Times Square in 2013, and the 1st NYC Bodypainting Day last year. You got it right, that was the 1st Bodypainting Day, so the 2nd must follow and so forth ;-) This year, Andy plans to double the capacity for the event in New York some time in July, but he’s also announced a date for the Bodypainting Day in Amsterdam on the 15th of August 2015! You can hear more about these events and Andy Golub’s ideas during his interview as well as see or even participate in nude body painting demonstration this coming Saturday, 24 Jan, in Nyack, NY.

 

Andy Golub has interviewed himself some of participants of his event (check out his Vimeo channel), here are just two of those.

Felicity from Young Naturists America tells how she feels becoming an art object,

and Sidney loves the public aspect of it.

My friend known by his artist name Shungaboy has just started a group for nude male figure drawing. What I like about this group is that everybody joining the group is expected to participate both as an artist and as a model. This creates a friendly atmosphere, and it also must be useful for models and artists alike to try both roles.
nude male drawing 0000 New York, NY, USA

I am certainly not the only one with this impression, as  Shungaboy’s MeetUp group has proved to be very successful from the first class. I actually had never modeled for a drawing or a painting before that, and it was also nice to brush up my painting drawing skills.

nude male drawing 0003 New York, NY, USA

The workshop allowed 15 minutes for each sketch, and with 14 participants, most models were paired.

nude male drawing 0001 New York, NY, USA

What’s nice about sketch format, is that we could put up our works on the wall for immediate discussion, which kept the whole atmosphere stimulating and interactive.

nude male drawing 0004 New York, NY, USA

Having my photo camera handy, I couldn’t resist taking some pictures

nude male drawing 0005 New York, NY, USA

of the painter and the painting process. Now, that I look at these photos, I think the scene of a nude artist painting nude models itself is worth painting too!

nude male drawing 0002 New York, NY, USA

You can see this and another works of the group clicking on the image below.

 

So, whatever you may think of the art scene in New York these days, if you consider yourself an active or artful naturist, you should definitely check out these groups!

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Dream Canyon in Colorado

naturist 0008 Dream Canyon, Colorado, USA

We had a very short hike last summer in Dream Canyon, west of Boulder, Colorado, but it was clear why it was called so – breath-taking views awaited us there, and to add some more dreamy atmosphere, we hiked in the buff.

Dream Canyon has a bit of history of nude outdoor recreation probably thanks to the fact that it’s somewhat complicated to navigate there while also being close to Boulder, one of the hippest cities in America whose dwellers love outdoors. It took us a while to find a convenient parking lot with numerous trails coming down. 

view 0000 Dream Canyon, Colorado, USA

At first, the beauty of the canyon was  concealed by the pine forest. We took one of the least used trails, and after just a few minutes of pretty steep descent

naturist 0001 Dream Canyon, Colorado, USA

we got to an open space with the view over the canyon.

naturist 0007 Dream Canyon, Colorado, USA

But not only the majestic views impressed me, it was interesting to see such a multi-colored plant! (Which I later found out was Oregon grape holly.)

Oregon grape holly 0000 Dream Canyon, Colorado, USA

We continued our hike down, however,

naturist 0006 Dream Canyon, Colorado, USA

and found even better spots to enjoy the views and have our lunch, somewhere midway between the top of the canyon and the creek in its bottom.

naturist 0002 Dream Canyon, Colorado, USA

This place is well-known among rock climbers, and it’s obvious why!

naturist 0003 Dream Canyon, Colorado, USA

We didn’t have any climbing equipment, but it was also fun to run down and up those steep trails without it, and any clothes either.

naturist 0004 Dream Canyon, Colorado, USA

It certainly helps being flexible, and I can see why Mateo has a nickname of Spider-Man in some circles :-)

naturist 0005 Dream Canyon, Colorado, USA

Next time we should spend a bit more time there and perhaps find a place for [naked] bouldering. When in Boulder… ;-)

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Polar-ish Bare Plunge at Fort Tilden

You may have heard about polar bear plunges on New Year’s day that are popular throughout North America, but apparently my favorite local beach at Sandy Hook hosts a special edition, Polar Bare Plunge. I only had heard about this tradition as a rumor, there’s hardly any info online, but then a friend of mine confirmed that it is indeed held on the first Sunday of the year at noon… I really wanted to go, but in the end I couldn’t make it on time and decided to go with another friend, Miguel, to a closer beach, at Fort Tilden, for our personal Polar Bare Plunge.

Well, it was unfortunate that last Sunday was the warmest day in weeks, with the maximum temperature at +13˚C (55˚F), but nevertheless it seems crazy to me to think I went skinny-dipping just 3 days ago, that it’s -13˚C (9˚F) right now…

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 1.01.40

 

It felt nice to undress outdoors for the first time in a while, and it didn’t feel that cold, I [almost] enjoyed the ocean breeze… We were not sure about the water though.

naturist 0000  Polar Bare Plunge, New York, NY, USA

So, we warmed up by running and jumping.

naturist 0001  Polare Bare Plunge, New York, NY, USA

Miguel rightfully noticed that the more we’d wait, the colder we’d get and ran into the ocean…

naturist 0004  Polar Bare Plunge, New York, NY, USA

I couldn’t figure out from his screaming whether he was in pain or in joy,

naturist 0003  Polar Bare Plunge, New York, NY, USA

but as soon as he ran out of the water, I went in.

naturist 0005  Polar Bare Plunge, New York, NY, USA

Believe it or not, it didn’t feel that painfully cold… perhaps because the water was so cold that the body just got numb immediately :O I ran out after a few seconds, and we repeated the whole thing a couple more times.

This was certainly not the coldest time I’ve been skinny-dipping – I plunged into an ice hole in Moscow on a proper Russian winter day… but then I was just few steps away from a sauna! This time, we could only get dry with towels and warm up by running, so I think it was fortunate after all that the day was warm (for January in New York).  I think I have luck with visiting Fort Tilden on those freak-warm days in otherwise typically cold months – I was there once in the end of November and also in the beginning of April. Next year, I’ll try to make it to Polar Bare Plunge at Sandy Hook though. My friend who made it there this year said there were around 30 people testing the water. We have a year (minus one week) to spread the word, so maybe next time there’ll be a lot more – the more the merrier for such an occasion!

 

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Nakation at Guysers in Rotorua, New Zealand

Preamble: Sorry for not having blogged much lately (despite having lots of materials, as always), but here’s our New Year’s treat, a guest entry about ‘nakation’ (naked vacation) at a clothing-optional bed&breakfast with lots of options for outdoor activities in New Zealand, a country that welcomes New Year among the very first ;-) Happy Nude Year!

Peter and Mike are owners of a men’s clothing optional bed and breakfast in Rotorua, New Zealand called Guysers Gaystay. In 2009 they met each other in Wellington at a ‘men’s symposium group’ which was a group of about 20 guys who would meet for naked pot luck dinners once a month.

Peter and Mike have a lot in common – they both have a love of travel, in particular to Bali and all things Balinese, and a love of naturism and entertaining. Mike’s skills lie in hospitality after working in major hotels and Peter’s skills lie in graphic design, interior decors and gardening. These skills combined proved to be the perfect mix to own a bed and breakfast catering specifically for the gay male naturist (or guys who occasionally like to hang out nude with other men if they are unable to do so in their own lives).

naturist 0005  Guysers Gaystay, Rotorua, New Zealand

Guysers Gaystay B&B is clothing optional and while not all guests choose to go naked, most do, even if its just in the spa pool. Some guests have never tried nudism in a social sense before, but once they give it a go feel very comfortable with it. Men who appear quite shy at first about sitting in the lounge naked or nude sunbathing outdoors with other men quickly become at ease and wonder after an hour or two what all the nerves were about!

guysers-spa

Thus Guysers Gaystay B&B, with its stylish and well-appointed rooms, private outdoor area and spa pool is a great starting point for male nudists to the district of Rotorua, which is a major tourist town in New Zealand offering amazing geothermal parks, lakes, rivers and forests as well as a multitude of recreation, sightseeing, adventure activities and Maori cultural experiences. Beautiful nature walks with amazing scenery are just a short drive away.

naturist 0003  Guysers Gaystay, Rotorua, New Zealand

The geothermal area of Rotorua and surrounds offer some amazing and unique bathing experiences, such as Kerosene Creek

naturist 0002  Guysers Gaystay, Rotorua, New Zealand

and the streams and waterfalls at Wai-O-Tapu – all of which are flowing with hot mineral-enriched thermal water.

naturist 0000  Guysers Gaystay, Rotorua, New Zealand

Unique thermal waterfall provides a hot shower with a great shoulder massage!

While these rivers attract a number of visitors during the day, because they are not commercialised and are very natural, nude bathing is possible here and is quite accepted even amongst those that choose to wear textiles. (But like any nude activity in a public place, discretion and common sense is required).

Exploring some of the lakes in the district it is possible to find secluded bays which are perfect for a naked sunbathe or picnic. One bay in particular is on the northern side of Lake Rotoma located 30 minutes from Rotorua City and then by travelling on an unsealed road for about 6kms (hence its seclusion).

naturist 0004  Guysers Gaystay, Rotorua, New Zealand

Rotorua is located inland about 1 hour drive from the nearest coastline, but it’s certainly worth visiting local beaches! The beach at Papamoa near Tauranga is probably the most recognised nude beach in the Bay of Plenty and the NZ Naturist Federation Sun Clubs of Katikati and Rotota about equal distance from Rotorua (these sun clubs offer day visits for non-members, men and women).

naturist 0001  Guysers Gaystay, Rotorua, New Zealand

There are also some Department of Conservation walkways in the Rotorua region where nude hiking is possible. Usually cars in the carpark at the start of any of these walkways is an indication as to whether people are using the tracks. If yours is the only car there chances are you will be the only ones there and so it should be fine to embark on a naked hike.

If you would like to know more about Guysers Gaystay B&B or any information about Rotorua or naturism in New Zealand in general feel free to contact Peter or Mike by e-mail.

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