Missions, polluted waterways, and infinite mechanical noises. Get me out of here!

Remnants of the wall’s protective facade at the San Jose Mission

     Tomorrow will make a week of being stranded here, last Wednesday night being the first. My bike got stolen Saturday night while I slept. Federal police interrupted my nap outside the San Jose mission and told me if they saw me again I would get a ticket for loitering (this was the first time they saw me). They thought I was homeless, which I basically am right now. The stench of cars and exhaust is thick. The people swarm around like a hive full of angry bees. I try to write, or read, or play ukulele in the park, but the day stretches on so long there is always too much time in it. Sometimes long walks help. It is four miles to the Blue Star brewery. Yesterday I walked/skateboarded to the center of the hive to tour pawn shops in order to see if I could spot my yellow bike, which one of the species was obviously attracted to. What makes one accepting of living in such an environment I wonder? The river walk, which is the main path to move up and down the city, is filled with trash to the high water line. There are many areas of the walk where it looks like a bulldozer just drove through. Ecological devastation for all those poor birds migrating through the central flyway. Myself, I would rather walk back to the shoreline of Texas and sleep in the dunes with the coyotes than spend another month here. Fortunately, my hub assembly is due to arrive today.

The gates at San Jose

     Oh the exhilaration to be moving through the thick Texas air again, I can feel it now. First chance I get I’m ditching off onto a backroad and busting out that solar shower. I did manage to sneak one here, but I am right next to the road. I don’t think any passers by noticed my soapy naked body crouched and partially concealed by my van, the building, and a dumpster.

Mission Conception

     The historic missions, which must be the most alluring part of San Antonio, were nice to visit (when I wasn’t being accosted by officers). I made my way to the two nearest me: Mission Conception and Mission San Jose. One thing that stuck out however is that the winner writes the history books. Since nobody knows how to fashion a bow anymore, you can guess who the winner was. It was certainly portrayed that the Spanish were helping the Indians, by teaching them animal husbandry and farming. The ones here were foragers in place, but apparently dealt with mobile tribes as well that would also want to use some of the surrounding resources, fish and game. The Spanish integrated the Indians into their workforce of blacksmiths, masons, and farmers. Much faster to build the stone walls with all these Indians stacking the stone! They turned them into Christians and Tax Paying Citizens(truly civilized then). The Indians really having no choice, since the Spanish just came in and set up shop like they owned the place. The Spaniards had the superior technology of muskets and cannons, which helped. They could promise protections from the pesky mobile aboriginals

Mission San Jose

     At any rate, I’ve cleaned the van, and am ready to embark again on my journey to Colorado. I will be happy to have to get into my heavy sleeping bag at night, and enjoy the warming sunshine on the cool sixty degree days to come. Surely I will find sand in the van here and there for a very long time.  The small spots of rust that sporadically appeared will always be a reminder of my wonderful month surfing and living on the beach in Port Aransas.

Roadside havoc in the Alamo city

Metal and cement mesh at highway speeds.

 

 

 

 

     Stuck in San Antonio. Something that can always be expected with the Vanagon is minor road problems. In this case, my bearing failed on the rear driver side, causing the retaining nut for my rear wheel to come off allowing the tire with brake drum the liberty of traveling down the highway unaccompanied by myself. The sudden loss of stability and metallic sounds that erupt when you suddenly go from traveling on four wheels to traveling on three wheels is something I hope not to experience too many times in my life. The brakes go soft as fluid all oozes into the pads that have nothing to push against. The sparks visible from the driver’s side mirror are evidence of the problem if one were deaf to the noise. I reacted by yanking the emergency brake and downshifting, slowing myself just enough to get out of the traffic on highway 10. After three hours of waiting on the highway I finally got a tow truck driver competent enough to get the rig onto a truck. Unfortunately the mechanic that I was towed to, who has been in the shop here for forty years, is past his prime, and unable to take on as much work as he would like. His normal four day work week is being cut to three on this occasion and he is taking a four day holiday. I may get the parts I need, a hub assembly, from Oklahoma tomorrow, or Saturday, or Monday. What more can be expected from life than uncertainty? I am not in the best part of town, quite a run down section I’m told with crack dealers and prostitutes, I was told by the gentleman here that I am more than welcome to stay until the parts come in, at which point we will transport the van to his friends shop. Until then, I’m told there is a river walk a few blocks over which I will likely check out this afternoon.

My home for an indeterminate time

 

 

     It is hard to leave the beach, and all the people that I’ve met there. Wayne and Diane were wonderful friends to have especially with their love of gardening. As luck would have it, I met three kindred spirits a few days before taking off. Kandice, Sarah, and John will hopefully pop back up in my life again at some point, perhaps next winter if not sooner. I feel for Tom, my boat neighbor, who is now eighty years old, as we were great companions during my time there. All the days talking politics, bullion, guns, and drag racing will live on in my memory though he may be gone in a handful of years. Isn’t that how all of our society is constructed? From stories. We learn how the world is from the generations before us, and are almost bound by tradition as we head of into the future. Putting kids behind the wheel of a red bodied, yellow roofed, foot powered plastic play toy comes to mind. Just getting them used to the fact that cars are an essential part of our life.

     Right now I’m trying to redesign my own life, into one that is not so dependent on fossil fuels. Going back to my property feels like the only way I can go back to the land. My plight is more in line with the Native Americans however, being driven to the fringe of habitable environments to survive. All the fertile floodplains and creek sides have been gobbled up by the affluent, who no more care to garden than they care to change their own brake pads. I will have to haul water in until I can build a well, or catch what rainwater falls from the sky. The desert landscapes that I have seen rejuvenated with the techniques of permaculture give me hope.

     It will be nice to lay down some roots. I look forward to developing lasting friendships with my neighbors and coworkers. I will be isolated without cell phone service, but also removed from the incessant noise of our news and culture. I think it will be a great chance to just go off and be myself, without outside influence for a little while. I am a little nervous, but in a good way.

    Everything is rusted in TX. Starting day two of looking for parts. Wishing I was at the beach, and not in the mechanics yard.

A group of parasailers

Surfing, reading, and avoiding current news.

Children on their way to school

     I spent the last three days at the beach in Port Aransas, surfing and reading mostly. The pier there has quite good surf, for a long board, and has been going off that last couple of days with all the east wind that we have recieved. The gulf doesn’t get much ground swell that I can tell, but when the wind is right and the tide comes around it can be a really fun time. The beach in Port ‘A’ allows camping for a few nights out of every twenty consecutive days, though it seems poorly enforced, which is good for me since I could stay there for a month if I wasn’t hassled. My vanagon is back up to traveling standards, having the solar panels wired back into a new marine battery and fridge, and propane tank filled.  Going to change the clutch this week, which should be interesting.
      I came back to the boat today to dump some of the excesses that I have in the van, so that it is less cluttered on my adventures. I am still using the boat as storage until I drive back to Colorado. I will also be helping Wayne set up a greenhouse. It is great to see that somebody down here is very enthusiastic about gardening and starting their own seeds. I will be interested to see how some of the plants that we propagated last time are doing. The environment is so humid here that it must be very easy for these new plants, with their limited and weak root system, to get much of the moisture that they need through their stomata.
     To get to Port Aransas you take a ferry. I am told that they talked about building a bridge, but decided against it due to the fact that the “tourists love the ferry”. There are fifteen or so orange vested workers at each end directing cars, not to mention the ferry captains, and two workers per ferry riding along to chock the wheels. You would thing that a bridge would pay for itself with all that overhead to continuously operate a ferry. From the ferry you can see drilling rigs which are parked on shore for maintenance. Yesterday I also saw one rig being towed out to sea, soon to be returned to service.
     Coming back from solitude and isolation at the beach is interesting. Though there are many people around, I only strike up a few conversations each day, and am free to enjoy reading or playing guitar or body surfing. The heat is striking mid day, and the water is quite refreshing. At the boat I have so many friends from my time here that I get people stopping by often just to chat, especially after a short time away. It is both enjoyable and a nuisance. The grocery store felt a bit overwhelming: music and the hustle and bustle of people going every which way. I am happy that I decided to skip the Oyster fest, and instead isolate myself at the beach.  It was nice to avoid the current events, which highlight the gutting of the Environmental Protection Agency fiscally, and general removal of long standing protective legislation.  I should just not pay attention to the news, I’m much happier oblivious to what is happening.
     More reading, more writing, and more surfing are on the agenda. It’s time to line up a job as a raft guide again this summer.  I will be excited to get into my kayak when I get back to Colorado and whitewater season. It is a tough life!

sunrise at the beach!

Family time and preparation to embark

 

     “the world” seems as artificial to me as if I was in a play with a bunch of bad actors and an unruly president who doesn’t stick to the lines. Though not confirmed in the senate, the CEO of Exxon, the oil company, was nominated to be secretary of state. Grand Junction’s newspaper, the Daily Sentinel, was littered with articles that touted the rise of fossil fuel production and exploration they expect from the new president. Donald Trump continues to avoid the pathways of press conferences and news releases, opting to communicate with the public through the prescribed number of characters allowed in a Tweet, the media on both sides covering them extensively.

     The thing that is most perturbing about the state of the world is that the social paradigm is in such a fossil fuel rut that it seems impossible to pull out. On friday my mom and stepdad were driving four hours to Boulder to see a lyme’s disease specialist, after which we went go to visit my sister; the very reason that I went along for the ride. Climbers will frequently drive six hours for one route, my mom will drive six hours for one evenings visit. Who can blame her? My sisters kids are probably the most adorable pair in the world. The real problem is that all the loved ones have scattered themselves across the map, far away from their inception. Reasons such as a good job, a mild winter, a distant lover, or pleasant climbing temperatures scatter the masses, only to be brought back together by the breaking of carbon bonds in the engine of a car or airplane. We need systemic social change, in a community focused direction, I believe. Bring on the Permaculture!

     It feels great to be master of my own time, a condition which allows me to go on single day journeys such as the aforementioned.  Last night I racked the peach and concord grape wine that I made from grandpa’s fruit in order to ‘get it off the lees’, the yeast giving the wine an unpleasant bready flavor.  I’ll bottle it when I return in the spring. Thursday I dug the remainder of the potatoes I had in the ground, about fifteen feet. I lost a third of them to the cold, having a spongy side as a result of a freeze. The potatoes at the base of the plant however were still in fine form, and I look forward to supplementing my diet over the next few weeks with them. I still have a formidable pile of dried pears, peaches, peppers, and tomatoes along with a pile of australian butternut squash. Going to have to get the oven working on the sailboat quickly so I can do some brown sugar baked squash. One of the first news items I got on the radio was an industrial chemical spill in the Corpus Christi municipal water supply. Luckily for me the city of Rockport gets its drinking water from a different source. A reminder of the perils of the industrial age; rampant water contamination. Just because we can make something with the parts found on the periodic table doesn’t mean we should.

     Just about everybody I know is traveling by airplane somewhere for the holidays: Hawaii, Texas, Some other week long holiday. Will next year be different? Will the masses change their ways in the face of an extinction (this era is being geologically recorded as the sixth great extinction)? No, probably not. Well, got to go change my oil. Vanagon is going to south Texas in the AM: yeah I’m embarrassed by that, and you should be too in regard to your own fossil fuel squandering actions.

     I had two things I wanted to do this morning, finish this write-up and head for Texas. I can at least do one of those, but am in no state to travel since I got a stomach virus from my sisters kids and have been dry heaving bile once an hour since ten thirty last night. Still worth it to see the fam.  I’ll continue to fight the nausea with tylenol and sips of mountain dew.

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.

More creekin’

     Climbing, climbing, and more climbing. It is a wonder that I made it back to yesterday’s court date at all, seeing that there is so much red crack to img_0022climb south of Moab. I ended up forfeiting to the state my right to travel freely since it was becoming quite troublesome to fight, having perpetual future court dates which interfere greatly with my pursuit of happiness, namely fixing my sailboat in south Texas. I registered my van, paid the state patrol, and filed a motion to change my plea to Nolo Contendere, which allows for conviction while still maintaining the distinction of not being guilty of the crime. I hope that the judge sees it fit to grant my motion, otherwise I may have to file further motions to avoid showing back up in Colorado at the end of February. In the motion I stated that “I was acting img_0045within my rights as a natural born person to travel freely on the public highways pursuant of Shapiro vs Thompson. The state converted my right into a privilege contrary to Murcock vs Pennsylvania 319 US 105. I acted in accordance with Shuttlesworth vs City of Birmingham 373 US 262 and ‘engaged in the right with impunity’, since charging a fee (registration fee) for a right is in violation of constitutional law.” I did register my van in hopes that some leniency would be rendered. As my monetary situation slips, I can neither afford nor have time to return in February.

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Muddy sticking his tongue out at the man!

     Enough about being bullied by the state, oh the climbing! Thanksgiving was a feast, and all the wonderful souls that showed up hammered out a great dinner in the desert. We had stuffing, creamed green beans, mashed yams, turkey, pumpkin pie, and many other great small dishes that topped off our bellies. Thanksgiving celebrations in the creek have grown exponentially in recent years(to the dismay of local BLM authorities who tried to put a damper on things by enforcing two car limits at camp sites-so everybody can poop in the bush separately, because that makes ecological sense). Climbers from all over come together to be with their climbing family. Regular families are not radical enough; anti-establishment enough; anti-corporate enough; or so enlightened as to know all of the tragedies of modern society. This is the family that wants to fix things, but partially forgoes working within the system (maybe just me). Patrick recited to me one of his children’s books about water, encompassing the hydrologic cycle and the importance of conservation; certainly he will be a beacon for a change of heart of future generations.

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Ice tool shenanigans

     Climbing shenanigans persisted: Ralph sauntered in his underwear, Kyle lied back through many hundreds of feet of climbing, Muddy was happily tired daily, and we all soaked up the sun in large clusters on the red rocks.  On one rest day ice climbing tools came out in order to traverse the downed cottonwood tree in camp.  We played hammerschlagen, and filled the campfire with friendly banter. There were many pounds of vegetables to eat, and all of us had wonderful BM’s img_0013for the duration. Sometime in the middle of the trip, the cold and snow came to meet us. Despite the flurries of large flakes, the remaining crew was not disheartened, and we stayed warm around campfires and cookstoves. Today is bitter cold, and cloudy, img_0052though the forecast calls for a warmer change. As such, I have no problem getting laundry done and preparing to go back. Yes, I must delay my return to the boat. Sometimes you enjoy the company of another so much that rational decision making goes out the window. A couple of extra bucks in gas and I’ll be off to spend another ten days climbing, high on the rocks. I feel that it may be exceptionally lonely heading down to Texas for a solitary christmas afterward: a stark contrast to all the love and laughter that I have had the joy of being immersed in over the last two weeks.

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Thumbelina

img_0076     It was nice to come back to news that the Army Corps of Engineers refused the easement for the Dakota access pipeline per president Obama, but over time the news was somewhat overshadowed by the prevalence of Donald Trumps tweets in the media, this time aggravating a nation, China. The Dakota access partners will likely drill anyhow, perhaps under president Trump, or will be forced to reroute the pipeline(is that a win?).  I found a segment on NPR glorifying live feed prison visits in lieu of hugs and other contact with family members particularly disturbing, especially given that the privatized prison systems are also charging up to a dollar a minute for at home live feed visits.  Can’t wait to be out of the loop again, and dependent only on the changing sky.  Gifts of tobacco to the gods bestow sunny days.

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.

Port call Phoenix, and San Diego sunshine

     Made it to the ocean, the pacific this time. There is a west north west swell that is arriving today, growing in the afternoon. The gods are favoring me. Needless to say, my surf skills are not quite honed right now, having not surfed for over a year. I caught three waves, and I lost track of how many waves caught me. The surf was double overhead as measured from the front img_0015of the wave, but the periodicity was very manageable. The surf is supposed to continue to build throughout the day, so I will make another effort, but this time with my short board closer to the jetty at Ocean Beach. Definitely easier to get out with the short board, being able to duck under the crashing waves. As long as I get one good wave every time that I go out, it is a good session. There is a certain sense of spirituality in surfing that not everybody understands. I enjoy sitting and watching the pelicans roam the curling crests as much as I enjoy the feeling of being taken down the face of the wave by the energy of the wind carried molecule by molecule over the vast distances of the pacific ocean only to meet the shore and go vertical; or the feeling of the water moving under your feet as the big swells approach. I got out just after first light, and kept the session under two hours. From past experience going from no surfing to surfing every day, it is better to ease into the rhythm of the ocean.

     The weekend prior to this was the reunion with all of my San Diego navy friends, and I couldn’t have enjoyed myself more. I was referring to the weekend as a port call, either Pheonix or Tucson, as we changed cities mid reunion; referring to the atmosphere that we recreated from so many different stops on the USS Ronald Reagan. For port call Phoenix we all stayed at the Mariott at Tempe Buttes, which was perhaps one of the most extravagant hotels that I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying, rivaled only by what I saw in Cancun, Mexico. I slept in my truck, since my budget is not even close to on par with the others. There were various pools connected within a compound that was built over a rock outcropping in the middle of the city. We swam, we drank, we drank some more. Not too far off from the hotel life in singapore, thailand, south korea, or dubai. It had been many years since I met up with many of them, and the atmosphere was intense throughout. We talked of old stories and shared many of the new life experiences that we had enjoyed since our last meeting. Being in the nuclear field, all of them are very very smart. One had been doing seismic monitoring in Alaska over the summer, another had been doing some serious music editing for some high falutin artists, and still another was working to build and repair electron microscopes. I think it’s safe to say that they ill all have a seriously large difference in lifetime earnings than my own rebellious self. Talking with all of them does give me a push toward a “career” in the corporate world: I am constantly deterred from such a career by the way that we all live on the planet(rampantly using resources), and the fact that if I make more money than I do now, I will certainly join the masses in their drive to cut down every last tree. Will we make the same mistake as the Easter Islanders? During our time in Tucson we participated in the all souls procession, a sort of remembrance of those that have passed in the last year: similar to the day of the dead in the Mexican tradition. We all painted our faces and one of the group brought a giant paper mache raven head, which was especially appropriate giving the role of the bird in the tales of the native americans. It was a powerful experience for myself, since my grandpa had passed not too long ago. We all were able to write notes to those that had passed, and the urns into which they were deposited were all lifted by a crane and burned, giving the message the flight that it needs to reach the other realms. The Buddhists believe in bardo stages, where a soul can linger, sometimes for several months. My message to my grandfather was in the bhuddist spirit: it included guidance and a reminder of our love for him. My eyes tear now as they did many times throughout the procession. Some of the most powerful moments were when you saw a sign and a family of a loved one that was lost way before his/her time. You could see the anguish in the faces of the “survived” that continue to walk the earth with their memories of loved ones lost. One deep connection that I had was with a woman in the line for the cajun food truck who had lost her husband “eighty-two days ago”. I gave her a long hug and we chatted for the duration of waiting in line: it was powerful. The whole event was an excellent reminder that we should cherish every moment. Walking a few miles with your face painted as a skull is a great way to get in touch with your own mortality.

     Muddy has been enjoying the constant travel and excitement, though I have had to put him in the truck a few times, which upsets his anxious personality. With all the driving that we have been doing I think he must be sleeping for fifteen hours a day, including the evenings. There were some particularly exciting views img_0007 between the indian reservation south of the Utah border, and around Globe, AZ. Surprisingly impressed by Arizona; not one of those states that I had given credence to such a grandiose landscape. All the potatoes, carrots, and onions that I dug just prior to departure are providing an excellent supimg_0014plement to the food that I need to buy, and fit well into my budget plan. I woke up yesterday in the Sonoran de sert among saguaro cactus and ubiquitous creosote. The twelve hours of rest was well needed after such a weekend, and the potatoes and carrots that I had for a casually late breakfast were all that I needed for the long journey to San Diego which lied ahead.  The colony of ants nearby were happy I stopped in.  I captured a picture of one of them laboring to remove a piece of onion and a few granules of rice.  We should all take the time more often to appreciate the small stuff.  

     Oh, and I woke to the Donald Trump presidency: This should be interesting. If there is a way to collapse the whole system faster, I can’t think of it.

  

Oh wanderlust

     I will be taking a leisure day today, packing for my new destination, San Diego. It does feel really nice to have the freedom to go galavanting around. Some of my good friends from the navy are having a reunion in Pheonix, AZ, so tonight I will head off in that direction, arriving sometime tomorrow mid day. I need to dig some more potatoes for the trip, since I won’t be coming back from California until the end of November I am thinking. This is my favorite way to travel anyhow: No limits on how long your staying here or there, free to change plans and move in a different direction at will. I also had a facebook friend from my San Diego days who needs some help taking down a five year project Goat Farm in Joshua Tree, so I am going to make an effort to stop by and help. I would also just like to chat with him a bit, because what he was doing out there is similar to what I want to do on the land that I bought a few years back in Cotopaxi, CO. I want to find out what his biggest hurdles were, and what hardships I get to look forward too. Climbing ain’t bad in Joshua Tree either. My first big mission after the reunion will be to surf my face off in Ocean Beach. Probably head to San Onofre or Black’s Beach afterward.

     Even with all the farm and travel tasks I have to do, my family has needed help and kept me busy. My dad is framing in a trailer to insulate it to provide shelter for one more homeless veteran this winter, with a dog. If the guy has an address then he can get food stamps, and stretch his meager seven hundred dollar income further. I told him it was a bad idea; a waste of resources and time; not worthwhile to do whatsoever. I also told him that seeking out the homeless as tenants is probably not a good for a multitude of reasons. Most people are harimg_0003d headed, and my dad is no exception. He has had luck with being a landlord, and want’s to maintain that residual income in as many places as possible. Talking with a contractor friend, it is not the first time anybody has tried to improve or salvage a structure that didn’t merit it. He told me of a barn that took so much wood to reinforce the rot that they could have just built a whole new structure. I see renting as a nearly immoral thing to do. Get a loan on a property(the value of which is inflated due to loan availability) from a bank and then have somebody else pay the mortgage, often while the landlord/owner allows the residence to fall into dilapidation. Rarely is it insulated properly, which increases the resources used to heat the homes, and eats into the pocket books of the tenants.

     I just got back from Paonia yesterday, where I was helping the big hearted farmers, who donated to me all of the tomato and pepper seedlings I used on the orchard, dig up some tuberose bulbs. There was one flower in bloom in a hoop house nearby: Ohhhh the fragrance! Potatoes, dahlias, tuberose, all have to be dug up, overwintered in sawdust(to keep from rotting), and replanted in the spring when conditions are amiable for the bulbs and tubers. img_0011All this to keep a few flowers around! Farmers are giving the best of gifts to the world by continuing to provide everybody with fresh healthy good food and flowers. They are the least lazy and the most hopeful bunch I have met. There is so much behind the scenes work that food prices should really be fifty to eighty percent higher than what they are. We were also finishing up taking down the drip tape for watering and the black plastic weed barriers that are put up to save on cultivation time. I wish I could have seen Zephros farm mid season when everything was full on, but It’s easy to not find the time. It is rare that I ever leave Paonia short of feeling spiritually fulfilled. I have read that there are antidepressant microbes in the soil, perhaps this is why. Paonia is one of the places that I could see myself settling down, but don’t ever go there, you wouldn’t like it.

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.