Living the beach life.

Ol’ Buttercup soaking up the salt

     I am at the beach now, and living the dream. So many wonderful moments to embrace interacting with the ocean. From droplets of water dripping off of pelicans and landing on my back while sunbathing, to making a cavitation bubble as I kick my foot in the water and think I bumped something. Not that I haven’t bumped plenty of jellyfish out there. The solitude of the water is overwhelming. The shoreline and all that happens on it silenced by the crashing of the waves. Bobbing along and riding the accumulated wind which crests at meeting the beach.

Tourists on horseback!

     My whole body is wrecked from all the maintenance and surfing over the last few weeks. My neck most of all. Holding my heavy head while surfing or laying under a car has taken it’s toll. I have been spending all the time I can at the beach, especially when there is a little wind swell to be had. I could sit in a beach chair and read for considerable amounts of time without getting bored. Intermittently I throw a ball for muddy, who is becoming fearless when fetching through ocean waves. Fish randomly jump from the gulf and the terns and seagulls comb the beach. Eastern Willets gather their food in the surf, and sandpipers scurry along avoiding the saltwater. Long lines of pelican’s will occasionally fly over, taking advantage of the wind. One day here I found a Coconut on the high tide mark. My tongue was moist at the thought of some delicious coconut water, but the vessel had travelled too far, and was sodden with seawater. Living at the beach is only possible for someone who loves the ocean. One has to become accustomed to crawling into bed with a little bit of sand on their feet. Sand certainly does get everywhere.  In Texas, at Bob hall pier,  you can also expect to see some horses strolling majestically in the surf. 

     I have gone back for a few days at a time, to Rockport, in order to make a little bit of money working for Diane, who I met through Wayne. They are a happy couple. Right now Diane is trying to get the yard ready for the hummingbird tours which encourage visitors here in the summer and fall. Wayne and I set up a greenhouse in her back yard which he will be using to get many plants started. It will aslo be used to protect some of Diane’s plants next winter if we have a hard freeze again, since this winter we had temperatures get all the way down to the low twenties. Killing many of her less hardy species. Last visit over there I was also able to change out my clutch, which I had been putting off for far too long. Jittering at intersections. I will still be able to get a few more days of work there before I leave, as they are clearing the roof of leaves and twigs, as well as building a planter in the front yard. There is something to be said for doing work that is joyful and gives one a sense of bettering the world. All those hungry migrating hummingbirds! Of course, they will also fill up on sugar water which is filled regularly by Diane. Likely it is the same hummingbirds who have this spot marked on the map in their minds as a ‘can’t miss’ stop on their annual migration. They will need the energy to flap those little wings at one thousand miles per hour.

Maintenance of the Vanagon: Changing the clutch.

     I will be excited when I get back to Colorado to do a little seed planting of my own. I am going to start by planting some desert type flowers in the swales I dug. I ordered seeds last year but can no longer remember what I bought. I harvested some giant yucca seeds from around Joshua Tree area of California also.  It is nearly time to go and get some Pondorosa Pine trees to start my grove.

     Well, the tide is flowing to low, and with it the surf will improve. It is time to head back out now for an afternoon session. Surely my shoulders will fail me soon, but who knows what waves we will have tomorrow. Have to catch them while I can.

Good Morning Sunshine!

 

    

Rockport, TX

     It has been a few days since I arrived at the boat, but my decision to see if I can’t sell her has lingered on my mind. I am putting her on Craigslist today to see what options are out there. If nothing else, I think I will come out on top financially. It is easy to write when things are going really well, but a little harder when times are tougher. Isn’t that what builds character, the hardships in life? I have been overwhelmed by all that there is to take care of on the boat. I raised all the sails to see how they look, just a few pinholes to be repaired with sail tape. The engine we got running with some starting fluid, though it had a knock and a seawater port which is clogged. The extra sails were damp from the leaking forward hatch, so needed to be aired out and refolded. It is almost impossible to get anything dry in this climate, since a misting fog covers everything in the morning. On many days the sun comes out and will temporarily make things dry. I lost another half of my potatoes to mold(should have been better about cleaning the dirt off thouroughtly). There was no propane tank or regulator, so still haven’t gotten the inboard stove working. It is hard for me to want to spend money on such things, since my income at the moment is zero (vanagons stove works just fine). I hope however to remedy the monetary situation by boarding one of the boats that takes off looking for oysters daily, and take in a small cut of the forty bags weighing ninety pounds that they are allowed each work day. The work is possible only if Muddy can come along: the crux of any work I get here. In general, boats are hole into which the amount of money which can be thrown into it is unlimited. I am getting so used to the boat, that I actually had the sensation that the van was rocking back and forth this morning while I was cooking my breakfast.

     There is a brighter side to life here: mainly the comfort of wearing shorts and a T-shirt all day long. I even find it hot during the portion of the day that the sun does decide to come out. Muddy may find it hot most of the time, since he’s got such a winter coat. Right now he is panting in order to cool himself off, which is his modus operandi most of the day here. I also get to go surfing and kite boarding on the regular, a consolation for not being able to ski or ice climb this year. I have had five good winters of skiing however, so it is a nice change of pace to be chilling in the warm climate here. The forcast is for a slight wind this afternoon, which will hopefully burn off this fog that has settled into the harbor. If I am lucky it will be strong enough for me to launch my kite again, and be pulled around the shallow beachside just a walking distance away.

     The birds that are around are my sole ecological companions. I was watching a great blue heron catch fish last night, standing on the edge of the pier peering into the water, then pouncing head first and arising with a fish three times the size of my thumb. He then oriented the fish in a head first manner to the back of his throat, and down it goes. I have also seen cormorants diving, and common loons. The brown pelicans are sitting at the end of the jetty where I go surfing. Grackles are continuously scouting their next meal around the van, and seagulls, which outnumber all the other birds, are similarly cruising and scavenging, often battling with one another for a coveted perch. There is a tower like fountain across from the boat which many birds frequent for water.

     If you ever wondered where the cotton for your T-shirts came from, you can bet it came from central texas. I saw plenty on the drive down to clothe the country for a decade. I also have found everybody to be quite friendly here, especially among the boat owners. I have had no shortage of advice on what to do next. I will continue to tinker, and fix things until the next stage reveals itself.

     The problems of the world persist, despite my losing track of them.  Oil money and the opinions which favor it are prevalent down here. I saw a kid, a twenty-five year old, throw a beer can into the water because “the harbor was full of junk already.” He grew up here and has the mindset that it doesn’t really matter anyhow, it will always be all polluted and junked up. He has worked on oil rigs in the past, but has also worked on fishing charters. He, and the rest of us who consume goods, are part of the problem. In the navy we threw aluminum cans overboard in burlap sacks with reasoning that the oxidation-reduction reactions with the saltwater would decompose them in a reasonable amount of time.  When far enough out, we also pumped radioactive water overboard.  Dilution is the solution!  Fukushima is still emptying into the pacific anyhow…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Striving for the simple life

     When life is broken down to the basics, it is simple. In the desert it is simplicity of life in it’s finest form: routines that melt the days into one another, scattered with hard climbs, good company, and dappled sunlight. Every night I fill the pot which holds water for my coffee before I crawl into my sleeping bag. Every morning I start the partially frozen pot on the burner before walking off for a morning constitutional. I then read in the early morning light until the sun and the cloud cover have worked together to make an all around pleasant temperature. Earlier in the week we made a run to get firewood, and filled the interior of the van to the brim. Today is the last rest day before I head back into ‘the world.’ The sun is making it through the high (cirrocumulus?) clouds that are accompanying this warm front, and at one point a thermometer on the table read seventy-two degree’s. Three games of chess, a guitar strum here and there, some spontaneous yoga postures, and two beers later the day is nearly complete. We lose sunlight on camp in about an hour, it being Three O’clock now. The migration of the sun in a more southern declination will continue for only seven more days before reaching it’s lowest point in the sky, the winter solstice. So much change is on the horizon for myself: primarily my destination twelve hours to the south in order to start fixing the boat. One thing that I can always count on is that the scenery change that accompanies the change in location will be refreshing. It also could not have come at a better time, since yesterday at the crag I stubbed my pinky toe removing the capping skin in a way that just barely missed the toenail. Tomorrow will be a test of my ability to heal as a lizard, supplemented by iodine tincture, triple antibiotic ointment, and climbing tape. I’ll have to hold off on scraping the bottom of the boat when I arrive, lest I get a staff infection. I am imagining shirtless maintenance and bike rides to the hardware store for parts. The full moon passed last night without any kind of extravagant celebration, aside from the restlessness that is inspired by a continual twilight that accompanies the moon throughout the night, exacerbated by the disseminating cloud cover. Also, I’ve got a novel that I am in peril of leaving unfinished, but can perhaps squeak into the schedule; Tom Robbins that sly sociopath. It seems to me at points that the novel may have been written “half asleep in frog pajamas.”

The van at firewood capacity. Ana, Birch, Muddy, and myself glowing proudly over our stacking job.

 

First morning back after my two day hiatus

     Today the contrast to the morning I arrived is unmistakeable; red rocks holding out in the desert sun longer than the snow. The desert has many natural forms, none of which are any less mystical or inspiring than the others. At the crag we see frequent ravens, and hear their caws among the cliffs. The rock wrens will visit from time to time during a belay to check out what everyone is up to, and a flock of Stellar’s Jay’s were leap frogging between juniper trees in a group of nearly a hundred (definitely over fifty). It also is fraught, in these cool temperatures, with crusher climbers pulling themselves around by their fingertips, another doubtfully natural phenomena that accompanies the aesthetic cracks(at least beautiful to a certain breed). Some of the aforementioned being recipients of climbing specific grants and gifts akin to the Mugs Stump award. Birch is among them: Alix, Mike, Dave, Arron and Kyra, John, Kelly, Brian and Bailin, Vitelli, Sean, Mayan Smith-Gobat, and Brette Harrington. Doubtlessly one of the most grand aspects of climbing is that you are able to climb at the cliff right along side the climbers you see in magazines doing record speed ascents and finding new routes in Alaska or Pakistan.

     Thoughts go out to Ana who rolled her car twice when leaving to make a phone call, luckily without injury. Such an event is life altering for somebody who lives out of their car to climb continually. I trust in the universe to clear a new path for her to trod this spring, perhaps taking that Tacoma she always wanted to Bishop.

San Diego-Joshua Tree-Zion

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    So much has transpired over one week. The full moon in San Diego was spent with all the yogi’s of La Jolla at an up and coming yoga studio/restaurant, Trilogy yoga. The drums played while the innermost workings of everybody’s body compelled them to throw their hands and feet about, a violin adding some color. I left at eleven o’clock, before the moon was at it’s zenith, for Blacks Beach. Down the long stairway of sand and two by sixes fortified with rebar there were many groups of three or five who were walking along the beach; partygoers. Right at the bottom of the stairs was a girl with a fire, and we chatted late into the evening about full moon intentions and our society which is struggling to leave behind the fossil fuel paradigm. I said my goodbyes to the ocean, and was drowsily on my way the next morning.

     Upon arrival at Joshua Tree National Park the friendliness and companionship that I have grown accustomed to rose quickly to the surface. img_0026So many travelers who find their way to Jtree. The first night there were still residual folk hanging around who had come for the full moon, one of which enjoyed playing with fire. She spun her fire staff for us all, igniting the night and enthralling everybody. The Skippeh’ and Birdy were the first two that I met, and played for me a few of their songs, Skippeh playing ukulele and Birdy playing the violin. The songs were well practiced and I was sorry that I didn’t have my recording equipment. The two hailed from Hawaii, and though Birdy climbed a lot in the past, she was really there to spark the interest of the Skippeh’ for the same. He was lanky and light, and will make an excellent climber after some practice with the shoes that he was gifted by his new friend Ray.

 

     If all the world had the same mentality as the climbers who frequent Joshua Tree, the worlds problems would be solved inside of a year. Loving kindness and a giving attitude prevailed, and even as conflicts arose, they were handled with compassionate communication, sometimes with the helpful intervention of third party mediators-thanks Mateo!

     The first day climbing in over a month I ended up bouldering, and perhaps inflaming a tendon in my knee heal hooking, then jumping on a low 5.11 and top roping a 5.12. 5.11 was my limit when I was climbing my strongest, and the specific climb was not so bad until reaching the thin crux, where I struggled and failed. My intention for the climb however was to try hard and take a whip, having another stronger climber clean up the mess. I do wish my head was a little more in it, as I sat and struggled too long on small holds, causing lactic acid to build up in my left forearm, rendering my hand useless. How important it is, the mental climbing game. The second day we climbed ‘walk on the wild side’, a 5.8 runout slab, which was bolted on lead by the first ascensionists.

     I simg_0056topped for a short stint in Zion National Park on my exit from Joshua Tree, but was unable to really explore due to restrictions on dogs. I did have a cool moment watching an American Dipper take a bath, as well as watching img_0037the moon set in the morning over the bright red rocks. There certainly is a lot to be explored out there.  I look forward to hiking angels landing or one of the other premier hikes sometime, while my pup gets a babysitter.

  

 

     The bonds created in the realm of traveling are somehow stronger than other parts of life. Perhaps because the need the ego feels to present itself is buried in the newness of the experience. I am grateful for all of the people that crossed my path this trip, and I look forward to seeing them again in another dirtbag daydream. As for now, it is time for me to get my affairs in order for a journey to Indian Creek to see all of the fabulous friends from the front range and elsewhere. Really living the dream right now!

     Love and light to Jeremy, Sarah, Frank, Ray, Elise, the Skippeh, Birdy, Mike, Jim, Morgan, Jordan, Disco, Andrew and all the others that I brushed shoulders with, but am not remembering.

Fighting the good fight.

     Enjoying the farm life for a little longer now, I have a December fifth appointment with the Mesa County Justice System for driving my Vanagon without registration. Despite how inconvenient this is in delaying my plans, I am finding things to get done. I was adamant that my Vanagon was my “domicile” and not my “motor vehicle” since there is absolutely no commercial purpose that I use her for. That combined with my right to travel freely as mentioned in Thompson vs. Smith, 154 SE 579 stating “The Right of the Citizen to travel upon the public highways and to transport his property thereon, either by horse drawn carriage or by automobile, is not a mere privilege which a city can prohibit or permit at will, but a common Right which he has under the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Now you may think that this is just a fight over me paying my one hundred dollars a year to have a sticker on my van, but the real issue is the constant overreach of the government into our pockets, and the acquiescence of the public to allow it. The revolution starts with yourselves, despite how inconvenient it may be to give up a days work to show up to a court hearing. Maybe refuse to pay your obamacare penalty for not purchasing health insurance FROM A PRIVATE ENTITY! The fact that health insurance is mandated to be purchased and is subsidized (money going to the insurance companies-from tax dollars) by the Government is criminal. Too many people are busy in their daily lives to give a hoot anyhow. Our national debt is up eight trillion in the last eight years; Arriving at twenty trillion dollars to date. Perpetual war(terrorist farming), corporate subsidies, tax loopholes, and bureaucracy overgrowth are the cause. Maybe if there were more people like Henry David Thoreau around, who refused to pay taxes to fight the mexican-american war and was subsequently jailed, we could fight this thing together. I know that Adam Kokesh at least has the right ideas anyhow. We just need a nation of moral character again.
     Woke up to rain this morning, wet bike seat on the way to the head, but compensated by the aroma of fresh rain. I have been harvesting my pot plants the last couple of days! Hooray Colorado! I opted to trim the plants initially while they were still in the ground, then chopped them for drying. This img_0017is my first harvest so I’m learning as I go. I used the trimmings to make oil, which is better than clogging up the alveoli in your lungs by smoking it. The whole process has been fun and interesting; just as watching any plant take form over a season. First the plant is scraggly and weak looking, then beefs up the stem as a response to being rocked by the wind, finally to bud out with blossoms ever filling with THC and CBD’s. Interesting fact: cannabis was fist made illegal due to competition of hemp in the paper industry with the cutting of forests for the same(pulp): it was a backdoor move by William Randolph Hearst to solidify his power and to push his own ideologies. How did the legislation get past the doctors and farmers who then relied on producing cannabis plants, species with and without THC, for paper pulp, clothes, seed oil, etc.? Manipulation of a word was the culprit. They called it marijuana. Seems commonplace today, but everybody referred to it as cannabis in the day, and so the alarms were not raised. Remember, it is through words that laws have their power. i.e. motor vehicle. I will not delve into how the word “income” has been twisted and manipulated over the last two hundred years, perhaps another time.

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     I did get a nice four day retreat over the last interval of writing. I was planning to spend some time alone bouldering and hiking, I ended up meeting an Australian that was on a sort of extended holiday in order to pay for his kids college tuition. He put his house up for rent ,and his indoor plant business was running well enough that he could take care of anything that came up from the road. Dave referred to it as “fucking off” in his native dialect. We had some great hikes together, with many beers and much laughter to follow each day around the campfire. He had a lot more hope in the ability of humanity to change things for the better and curb our destruction of the planet, and spent a good part of the weekend trying to convince me of the possibility. Certainly anything is possible. It is really just a consciousness shift, people understanding that they need to enact changeimg_0004(now) to protect the prospects of their children: to leave a habitable planet. One thing that we both agreed on was that “free time” is the most honored of all our possessions. It is something that money can never buy back. To surf, ski, snowboard, kite, spend time with loved ones, bicycle, play music, and all the other infinite possibilities of things to do while creeping toward death are much better use of time than busting your ass to make a dollar. Happiness is an internal circumstance, it does not have to yield to externalities, though it often does. The only picture I got of Dave was when he was climbing a tree to check out a nest, I thought a Raven. Pretty agile for being over fifty!

    All I see currently is a continuation of daily life as if we were all going along on a fine path. Off to work again today! Maybe you can legislate people into being greener? That is the method used in the past when concerned with a “tragedy of the commons”-a resource that would otherwise be abused if not for judicial action. Examples include grazing on BLM land, where perhaps the land would be abused, grazing too many cattle per hectare, if not for legislation. The same goes for fishing, legislating a catch limit based on fish availability in order to ensure everybody gets a bit. Dave and I talked a little about how, maybe it would be good to have a benevolent dictator. We can save this resource, planet earth, together. Lets build bullet-trains, mag-lev transport, and more solar infrastructure. I personally am a proponent of a ten dollar per gallon gasoline tax which goes wholly toward renewable transportation. Then we will see how many people drive across state lines for the weekend. We were late to save the Great Auk and the Passenger Pigeon was thought to be impossibleimg_0018 to drive to extinction until we shot them all down. Currently we are dealing with the collapse of the Atlantic Cod fisheries due to overfishing. Not on your radar? Well it is now. Go and do something about it. Grow a carrot!

 

 

     The secretary of state crushed initiatives 75 and 78 this year, which would have let local communities decide how their public resources are being developed, including fracking on public land. Tell me again how voting makes a difference in a corrupted and divided society?

     If you can’t tell, the climate has weighed heavily on my mind lately. It often does. Thank god for weeds ability to allow us to forget. It doesn’t help that the climate wasn’t even mentioned in any of the debates that were “performed”.

     On a positive note, the birds that still are finding this planets resources sufficient to avoid extinction are migrating, back from the boreal forest in canada to the deep amazon in brazil. There are several mallards who have stopped by the pond at the back of the farm on their way back. I have seen many dark-eyed junco’s here around the orchard, checking me out while I trim. A Cassin’s Finch stopped by to say hello as well. Yesterday while I was driving into the orchard there was an American Kestral on the power line eying his next meal. It gives me a little hope that all of these beautiful birds are flying around and managing to be a beacon of beauty to the world out there.