Anthropocene

I tried yesterday to get back in the habit of writing, but after a few seperately themed introductory paragraphs I gave up. But it was some action. Impetus to get me writing today. Yesterday’s actions, for me, often drive todays choices. I have been without a post for a significant time, though I did end up posting on a friends blog about the time I was feeling the itch to write (“Seasons”). I have fallen out of the habit of regular writing, for now. There is a tendency in my life to go hard at an activity, and then jump to the next. Rafting season is now nearing the end, and climbing season looms on the horizon; following close behind is ski season. Perhaps sometime in the grey of winter writing will take hold of me again.

Partially due to money constraints, I have not made any progress on my winter structure. I also have this lingering awareness that there is very little in the means of work at this location in the wintertime. All the more reason to skip out this winter again. I don’t have my sights set, but skiing and ice climbing look really good on the horizon. Move to a ski town? I’ll hardly break even for all the time I spent here as a raft guide on the Arkansas river, but have the joy of learning a new river, with many runnable sections, as well as many new friends.

As I am developing the property the burden of realization of how I am changing this place ecologically weights on my mind. The road that I have created, solely out of use, is beat down along the path of the tire, with foot high grass going to seed down the center. The bumpy ride is a remembrance of the tufts of blue gramma that were there before I started here. I also look at the pad that I have leveled off, and see a little lost habitat. It isn’t only that I am building here, it is that I am driving every day, to and from. Deer are prevalent here, but are forced to more obscure corners as the traffic increases. Several of the surrounding properties are being developed rapidly as well, making me just one cog in the interruption of wildlife in this area. I rarely use power tools, or blast music, or shoot guns; those are some of the things that I see as most destructive to the migrating bird populations that are here visiting, or the deer and elk that I have seen further up the road. My dog will also chase anything that runs, and we have quite a perch to see from up on our little hill.

For a person like myself, who strongly believes that humans are a contributing factor to climate change, sitting in a car burning fossil fuels one hour every day feels awful. When I tell people I have a half hour commute they say its “not so bad.” I just see dead birds on the road. A week or so ago I hit a yellow Passerine with a yellow underbelly while driving to work in my truck. I saw it hit the road in my side mirror. Mountain Blue Birds and Robins regularly flutter in front of my vehicle, causing me to brake. Yesterday I nearly hit a rabbit, and last night there was a snake on the road (that I think I narrowly avoided). All these things are part of the ecosystem out here of which I am now also a part. My role however is only in devastation, but that is the social paradigm of the Anthropocene.

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

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!

 

    

End nationalism now, before it’s too late

     It’s happened. I’ve run completely out of money. Buying a clutch for my van, which I will have to put in later, and paying my property tax for the year has wiped out what little savings I have. I haven’t been hit zero for a while, and though I don’t like money in general, I also don’t care to be eating Seagulls and Mullet (which I can readily catch with a cast net now!). Potatoes and onions have been the staple of my diet for the last month. I have some buffer as I have eight days or so left in the month to figure out what the next step is. Anchoring in the bay seems reasonable, though I will need to dismantle the solar panels on the van in order to make the boat self sustainable. It has the downside of not allowing me to communicate easily with potential employers, all of which are land based. I’m starting the task now, that I should have initiated much sooner, of finding some kind of internet based employment. I am still hoping that I’ll be able to bring some kind of income from this website, though how that will work is yet to be revealed. I will certainly need some kind of internet revenue if I am to go off adventure sailing. Perhaps youtube? I did learn that a few of my facebook friends are more nationalistic than I though. I believe nationalism to be very dangerous. Sort of a blind acceptance of anything done in the name of a country, such as instigate wars with Mexico(Mexican-american war) or displace Native Americans.

      Unfortunately it takes money to get things done on the boat, so I am still in the same basic predicament. Dismantling the solar panels on my van however does not cost money, but may ultimately be a downside if my capricious self decides to just sell the boat and run back to Colorado for white water season.  

     I added a few pages on the site: short stories and original music. Now that I have no money my inhibitions of how my voice sounds or how well a story came out are much lower. I do not have any kind of editor, or peer reviewers unfortunately. I am sure some of the stories I’ve written recently would do much better with a few revisions, as directed from beta readers. Oh well. Back to the grind. Writing is a gift in itself. Looking at it any other way is just a fools game.

“slip sailing” in the right direction

My blue heron friend on the pylon at dusk

     Being the master of my own domain is about the best thing in the world. The boat is coming along day by day, step by step. I got the propane stove/oven going last week, and was able to bake a butternut squash. Still have some soup on the stovetop now, which includes potatoes from the garden, as well as kale of course. I need to start breaking into the Quinoa stores that I brought on board, but maybe when I am able to sail her away. Got the radio working, procured some anchor chain, lubed up the pulleys that were sticking a bit in the traveler, and many many other things mostly small, some big. I also tuned the standing rigging myself, which most people would shy away from, and leave to the profession of the rigger. But I came here to learn all I can, and I have youtube. If the mast doesn’t come down it will be alright. I also spend lots of time tracing wires and tubing around the boat like a dog chasing his own tail. My surrounding boat mates have been very generous with allowing me to borrow any tools I need: routers, sanders, punches, or whatever fits the job.

Isis. The protector of many a ship at sea.


*got interrupted while writing to go for a daysail on the bay with a new friend on his 22 ft sloop-that was fun!*

     I am bleeding money like a stuck pig. Today I threw down for a marine toilet, one hundred and fifty dollars, and two winch handles, sixty dollars. All things that the boat needs, sail or sell. The more I work on her the less I feel like I need to let her go, and the closer I feel to Belize (oh colorful reef fish and crystal clear water). I do not want to pay a February slip fee here, so I’m trying hard to get things going. Tomorrow I will throw down another hundred dollars on plywood and fiberglass for a lazarette hatch and the forward hatch which are both slightly rotted. I also need to get the fire extinguishers recharged/re-certified, and have a few lighting issues in the bow to deal with to comply with coast guard regulations for motoring. Speaking of the coast guard, I have still not gotten my paperwork as a US documented vessel, so am not even able to sail her legally within twelve miles of land, though once I’m outside of twelve miles I am in international waters(freedom). I do have a 12 gauge shotgun and a 9mm handgun on board to deter pirates, which can be a problem in the haven of the Caribbean. Other things that are on the list are a handheld GPS unit, a small power generator (so I don’t have to take the solar panels off the vanagon), a flare gun, and a manual desalination unit for emergencies. Worked out how to take a sighting with the sextant after my sail. Maybe I don’t need a GPS after all.

     I was unofficially adopted by a couple who are living here in Rockport: an ex bull rider,now rancher, and a photographer who owns a shop here. Wayne I met when I helped him free a cast net from the rocks near the boat one evening. “I saw the surf board on the van and thought, this guy must like water” is how he explained his coming to my boat and coaxing me into my swimming trunks. I was happy to help, and have been rewarded ten times over for my slight effort. His girlfriend, Diane, and himself have similar sentiment toward the environment and the state of the world, and so we have grown close in the short time we have been acquainted. Both are just genuinely great people, and are in the early stage of their relationship, so emanate the puppy love that they are experiencing. Wayne’s years trying to make it big on the bull riding circuit has softened his heart to the kind of people that chase their dreams on a shoestring. He keeps bringing food by(delicious slow cooked meat!) to make sure I don’t starve, and even brought by a few batteries today which he has ingeniously finagled from the auto parts stores when novice mechanics bring in the good ones as “cores”.

     I have been honing my guitar skills a little in the evenings, doing research on the internet, or watching a movie on youtube. I am such an misanthropic isolationist. I am scheming to put a Paypal button on the site to take donations, and make my free music recordings available as value added. I brought the recording equipment down, but have yet to set it up. Most songs that I’ve written were inspired from heartbreaks in my navy years, and so are a little on the down side. They were my way of passing the pain when there was nobody to look to. There is also the problem of background noise, which I found quite perturbing when recording on the ship: muddy’s breath, his collar, a car passing, a firework(just now), a drip of water into the bilge, a halyard line banging against the mast next door, or a heron’s caw would all be picked up by my sensitive mic. Late, and calm, nights may be the only time to record, since it does seem quiet then.

     My favorite Blue Heron still comes to visit me every evening to catch his dinner. I got a shot of him tonight at sunset. If you look closely at the pylon on the pier, you can see him. What a beauty he is. I guess I am in a routine now, and more comfortable. Isn’t that what we look for? I’ve been good at keeping comfort on it’s toes. We will see what the month brings.

I’ve died and gone to Ocean Beach

     Of all the places in the world to leave, Ocean Beach, California may be the hardest for me. Or perhaps it is just that happens to be where I am at in this moment. I am sitting now at a cafe, Jungle Java, within the first block of the beachside that I used to frequent when I needed some reading time while I was in the Navy, and happened to be in port. Inside they have created a wonderful array of img_0010welcoming plants, as well as inviting the House Sparrows to flitter about due to the strewn bird seed. Such a place is Great for spending some time out of the water and off of the beach. After my surf session yesterday, which I was still having trouble getting in a rhythm with the ocean swells, I swam away from the cliffs for my life for about three hours, with intermittent time waiting far outside where the swell was breaking. I can’t say whether the large swells that arrived with me are a boon or bane, but I did learn a few things while I was out there watching the experts catch long rides, such as to weight the front of the board when standing up. All my time on the long board never really taught me this, since I had so much buoyancy that it never did really matter where I placed my hands to transition to standing.

     When I was stationed here you could walk the the beachside grass parks any day of the week and find yogi’s doing acrobatics and hula hoopers. I was told, by some slack liners that I fell in with, that the yogi’s still appear on Sunday’s and Wednesdays, so today I’m going to see who all is still around.

     There is something magical and powerful about the ocean, and that in itself makes it hard for me to want to leave. Last night I watched the sunset turn the clouds a deep red while the ocean waves pounded the unstable cliffside, at times shaking the ground under my seat. The cliffs which undulates in and out of the ocean created these pockets where just the right series of waves would make for one that was cresting as it was about to smash the cliffside; the result being a sort of sonic blast of sound accompanied by a spray of salt and foam thirty or forty feet into the air.

     I’ve become kind of a birder, which I would have been embarrassed to say not that long ago, knowing so many quirky and eccentric birders myself. As far as birder go, I am a poor one. I cannot identify every bird that I see to species, nor see immediately that this bird is a juvenile or that bird is in his img_0003winter plumage. I appreciate each bird however for the grandeur of it’s very existence among the cliffs and waves. I have seen the Grebe’s floating for rest far from the shore. I also keep seeing deep black Cormorants(pelagic?), but am a little unsure since they are always in flight with their long necks. The terns make wild moves in the air, dropping several feet sometimes, perhaps looking for Clupeiformes, which will be seen occasionally cresting the surface of the water. The pelicans are traveling in groups out in the surf, feathers skimming the water at times as the waves crest. The seagulls will visit, but are best seen when they are sitting still on the cliffs edge, if Muddy doesn’t see them first. This morning as I decided to skip an early surf session, so I watched Willet’s and a Whimbrel who was playing along with them on the sandy shoreline in one of the Highest tides that San Diego has seen in a while, over 7′. I was told by a passer by that it was as close as the moon has been since 1948, about seventy years. Perhaps a Blacks Beach full moon extravaganza is in order?

     Perhaps why I love the gypsy life most, is that my life is quite uncomplicated. In fact, yesterday I had to deal with one of the more taxing problems that I have had this week; repairing a hole in my sleeping pad. After several nights of broken sleep, two pad-pumping sessions per night, which developed into a routine, I found the source of the problem. I originally thought it was a leaky valve, and had been making amendments, including teflon tape, o-ring tinkering, and the like. Only after I soaked the pad down with soap and water(which was inconvenient given my surf, beach, and img_0018reading schedule) did I actually find the culprit, a small hole. Last night my pad was as firm in the Am as it was when I lay down my head. Other than the trying turmoils of sleeping pad woe’s life goes on free from the typical world nonsense. I make a large dinner at night, and go to sleep with a full belly. In the morning I surf or walk the beachside, working up an appetite to finish what I couldn’t the night before. When my body is tired I sit and read on the beach, or do restorative yoga in the grass. When my eyes are heavy I lay on a towel and let my head fall into wandering, ending in sleep. Muddy plays with all the dogs at Dog Beach, and his endless energy seems to be waning a bit. The socialization aspect of Dog Beach for him is also wonderful. The end of each day creeps up on me unexpectedly, and I resolve that I need to head to joshua tree soon, as the month is flying by, but can’t find the mental gumption to do so.

Wrapping up the summer

Well, today was the very last day that we had any peaches in our cooler: I loaded the last twenty boxes up for a farmers market that we sell to in Cedaredge Colorado. I am sitting roadside now for the first time trying to push pears, with not too much luck. I’ve made thirty dollars in the last hour and a half at the intersection that I’m on. If I can get rid of the twenty boxes of pears that I have I’ll be looking real good, but It does not seem that it can happen at this point. The thought is crossing my mind already that I need to get my truck loaded up with pears and head toward Texas where the first boat that I want to look at is located. I’ll at least be able to eat unlimited pears then. I plan on sleeping in the back of the truck, or otherwise on the road. I was thinking that I would return to colorado for the fair weather rock climbing that is abundant from September through November, probably shifting toward Utah in November. It is very cheap to camp and climb there, at least when your not renting a slip for your sailboat in a far away land.

Uncertainty abounds. There is a certain level of expedience to get down to Texas to look at the boat in order to determine if it is truly what I want to purchase. I am almost certain however that I will want it, the 31 ft yawl by seafarer. Thick fiberglass and strong hull will make for a safer passage across the gulf of mexico. Oh man I can’t wait to be sailing again. There is much work that she needs done that is visible from the pictures that I saw on the listing. The wood on the outside appears to be worn and weathered, in need of sanding and oiling. The jib was replaced but according to the owner the mainsail has been stitched a few times and is also in need of replacement. The bottom also needs a paint job, as it has been three years plus since it was hauled and painted. Why am I so hell bent on diving into a project that will most certainly be a monetary catastrophe?

Elections to pacify the public!? Banks and the Corporate powers that be

I see the light at the end of the tunnel! We have about eighty boxes of peaches left, though I took it upon myself to make sure that we picked through the pears. Grandpa gave me the liberty of picking them and selling them for myself, and my sailboat trip. Grandpa didn’t spray the pears this season, aside from neem oil, which is the reason that I get them. Many of them have visible rust colored scaring(grandpa says rust mites), which harden the outer peel. But you already know what I think about defects and fruit. Grandpa calls them organic, since he didn’t spray for the coddling moths. A quick bit of arithmetic in my head makes me think I could come out about one thousand dollars on top; free boxes help, as well as no pruning or thinning bill, though I cut slightly into my profits to give the workers that picked for me a living wage, fifteen dollars an hour. My total expense for the pears was two hundred and seventy dollars. I hope that this does not extend my work period too much, but It may be harder than I think to get rid of eighty plus boxes of pears. Inevitable that sitting roadside under a shade cover and pushing pears in my near future. They will last in the cooler for a while anyhow, so I need not worry about getting rid of them expediently.

Lots to get ready for the trip away. Moving all my stuff into a storage unit in Salida, gathering some firewood for my use there to heat water and a canvas tent, changing my trucks timing belt, and redoing the gas piping from the isolation valve through to the regulator on my VW vanagon. I’ve thought about scrapping these financial burdens and just taking off, but the wiser side of me pushes strongly to have these problems remedied so that when I return dead broke I wont also be living with faulty vehicles and an inadequate housing situation.

The presidential race may be the single biggest news piece these days in the mainstream media. Of course as far as most are concerned there are only two candidates vying for the position, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Both are unfit to lead the country: Hillary is a crook and Trump is an egocentric maniac. No mention of Gary Johnson the libertarian candidate who’s common sense policy procedures call for a flat tax reform, balanced budget, and an audit of the Federal Reserve. His opinions on most other main contention points are in line with the educated portion of society. Same story for Jill Stein the more environmentally motivated candidate. All of this of course is inconsequential as far as i’m concerned, because in reality there are many corporate entities which control things behind the scenes. Mark Twain, Howard Zinn, and Ron Paul have the same opinion that I do, elections exist to pacify the people. Everybody spends all of their time and energy bashing this candidate or canvasing for another, such that nobody has any time to spend actually making a difference in how the world is structured. After six months of being bombarded by news coverage and trying really hard to convince other people that they should vote for the candidate that the person in question supports, there is no energy left for actual social changes, or worse yet, it is the candidate that said person wanted that actually gets elected so every action that is taken by the representative is viewed through rose colored glasses(see president Barack Obama’s “legacy”). We are ruled by the corporation, which distorts the rule of law in order to thrive. Citizens United vs FEC is a prime example of the courts eroding the meaning of law and granting power to the corporation: in this decision it was granted the a corporation is a “person” that has unlimited donation potential to political candidates. Vast tracts of land being handed over to railroad companies in the name of progress, tariffs on sugar, copy-write laws written into “free trade agreements”, and just straight up donations by the government to banks in the form of bail-outs. Oh my, the banks do not have enough liquidity! Give them more money! The assets that are on the banks balance sheet count for nothing, all of us in their pocket with our mortgages and loaned cars. I think this is half the reason why social change cannot move forward, people are servants to the goods that they could not live without, and would not have if they didn’t get the loan. Drones in their jobs making record profits for the banking cartel.

The burden to change the system is on my own generation, and what a monumental task it is. How do you stop the corporate steamrolling of our laws and infrastructure? How do you reform a city built with an industrial center and an outlying suburban housing development into something sustainable and self sufficient? How can we slow or stop our use of oil? All the while more and more children are being raised in the concrete jungle, and go their entire childhood without developing an appreciation for the natural world, further hurting the possibilities for change.