Thursday, August 25, 2011

hitching to kellogg beach

i had decided to hitch hike the day following my langlois stay, so that i could get down to arcata easily by the 18th for a show some seattle friends were playing. hitching rides is something i find a lot of enjoyment and magic in. it is a radical act that connects people and can open up the hearts of all parties involved. people often open up to share stories and details about their lives. this day of hitching allowed me to learn something of the people and places i passed through, even though i was travelling much faster.

the first ride, not exactly hitching, was with my host donna, who had to go into the larger town of Port Orford to get some pickling supplies. on the way we talked about meditation mostly. we parted with a hug and well-wishing in the parking lot of a park/viewpoint with beach access at the south end of town. a good spot to hitch from.

i spotted the second ride of the day when they pulled in for a pit stop. this young man and woman looked like good folks, and my intuition told me i'd have luck with them. before i inquired about a ride the guy, coming back from the restroom, said to me, "seen any whales out there?". he had seen grey whales at this spot a while back. none today though. they were fine with giving me a ride and shifted things around in the back of their canopied pickup. they'd just gotten two 'king salmon' fishing poles that were on sale for $40 each. they were going to learn to fish for salmon! i told them i was glad. salmon have always been an abundant food source for humans on the west coast. i shared a little of my 'Loki Fish' salmon jerky with them.
these folks said they are into permaculture and are interested in getting goats next year! they live near to the guy's mother, who is the one really into permaculture, back up in one of the coastal velleys north of Gold Beach.

the next guy i got a ride from had a nicer, larger pickup truck. and he looked pretty straight. but when we got talking i found out he is really into foragging wild mushrooms! there were some similarities to our vision of humanity's future. at first i wasn't sure we would connect so deeply. he lives in Brookings, but took me just beyond to Harbor, where i decided to try my luck one last time to see how far i could get before the evening.

next pickup was a man who lived with his wife in a trailer home that was left to them by her mother, who he had 'gotten sucked in to' caring for until she passed. he is from santa cruz and really wants to go back there. i could see his good heart shining between the negativity about his current situation. one of the last things he said was something about, 'we gotta get more localized.' and he gave an example of folks who are making clothes or printing on clothes... anyway, another connection to what this hoop tour is all about.
he took me to the town of Smith River, where he had to return a movie. at that point it was just another 17 miles to crescent city. feeling satisfied with my series of rides, i continued by bike. the coast bicycle route leaves 101 several miles after Smith River. i almost continued on 101, thinking it is a more direct route, but then felt compelled to go find a place to sleep on the beach, because i realized it might be my last chance before 101 goes more inland. i stooped at the house by that turnoff to fill my water, as i was not sure what would be available at the beach.

the folks at this house were really nice. they had chickens and several raised beds. turns out the husband has just retired from teaching agriculture to middle schoolers! when i told them what i was going to learn, about growing food and stewarding the soil, we thought it a fine coincidence. it was nice to connect over that. he said they had raised pigs in the past and were going to again. they make all their own compost and seemed really interested in responsible food production.
they also said there is this idea with their son, who just bought a home near theirs, to develop a little bicycle stop at this junction. it would be a place people could stop for water, a shower, and camping. there could even be a small garden with fresh produce to offer! if it were me i would keep a very nice composting toilet facility to harvest all that wealth from travelers.

it was a very nice evening at kellogg beach. i took a dip, walked along the beach, took another dip, and sat by the fire of a family who were having smores. i enjoyed a simple dinner of seaweed, hazelnuts, sprouted sun seeds, coconut chips, and salmon jerky. the place i picked to sleep was a deep nook between the grassy dunes, out of the wind, which was pretty mild that night anyway.

by hitch hiking this day i was able to travel about 90 miles in half a day. and i still got to interact with people and get an idea for how they are relating with the food sources in the areas i passed through.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

good folks of langlois

sometimes one wonderful host leads me to another. on the 15th i departed after lunch from lynda's and made my way by bike to the home of some friends of hers in langlois, a small town on the 101. this was only a 35 mile ride or so and i had a tail wind much of the way. soon after i started out i noticed i might have a slow leak in my read wheel's tube. i had a spare tube to put in and i'd patch the hole later at my host's.

i arrived just before dinner. the meal included mutton burger (sans bun) from one of their sheep, cucumber, green beans, and zuchini fresh from the garden. she also told me she had a little pork from a pig they raised, but i did not have that pleasure. once again i was blessed to find myself hosted by kindred spirits.

donna showed me the pasture where the ramney sheep are, then showed me around her garden. there are fruit and nut trees and well-established herbs such as a 6' tall, 6' diameter pair of rosemary plants. she says they may be producing about 70% of their food at home! she has grown grain and dry beans, including oats, farro, and rye, which i got to grind on an old, handcranked mill for porridge! haven't had fresh-ground porridge since i left home, so this was quite a treat. and it was grown right there at the house where i cooked it up in the morning, which adds to the value for me. i decided to give them a packet of the bullwhip kelp i dried and brought along to give as gifts.
donna also saves her own seed and allows some special plants, such as a hopi tobacco, to seed themselves in a volunteer patch. she is fertilizing mostly with horse manure, along with the compost they produce from yard and food waste.
during my stay i dug the two rows of garlic with her and helped her eat some of the strawberries and blackberries. i made a nice pan of sauteed greens and zuchini for lunch.

donna has other self-sufficiency skills too. she had two spinning wheels set up in the living room. she had sacks of her sheep's wool dyed, carded and ready for sale. in her bathroom was a big jar of blocks of soap she had made. and she meditates. this is one radical lady, doing what she can to provide all she needs herself. she's done well in approaching subsistence.
her husband is a computer security specialist, but has gotten pretty good at this farming thing too. it's an unlikely combination that i kind of dig. he showed me great kindness in our brief interactions.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

coast arrival

the woman i found to stay with on the coast met me in north bend, where she was working on the 13th. to arrive in time to meet her at 4:30 i had to hitch a ride. i tried in reedsport without a catch, but then when i tried again in winchester bay i caught a ride in a bubble-gum pink pickup! this couple were from eugene and part of my tribe i would say. they are acquainted with maitreya. when we got to north bend we all did a little shopping at the cooperative natural food store there, Coos Head. i've been so fortunate to have access to natural food stores all along my way.

my couchsurfing host, lynda cole, and i shared a nice meal including foods fresh from her garden and fresh tuna from the local fish market. that evening she showed me a couple places she likes to visit on the ocean near her home. it was nice to be in the presence of the ocean and we saw the harvest moon rise. huge salal berries were ripe along one trail and i saw the biggest native huckleberry plants! there were also mushrooms fruiting that i thought might be shrimp russula, but i wasn't sure.

during my stay with lynda i was able to help out in her garden, hang some herbs to dry, do some cooking, and share with this woman whom i relate strongly to spiritually. healing with sound is a big part of this period of my life, and i believe is an integral part of healing all humanity and the earth. lynda was another affirmation of this in my life. i'm so grateful for her sharing her songs with us.

at the coop i got a dozen eggs from a local producer that have some of the healthiest-looking yolks i've ever seen from a store shelf. i also got some grass-fed beef liver, which i think really did my body good. i'd been hoping to find some organ meat!

there is a genuine bucket-toilet at lynda's i used! this is my system of choice, but is rarely an option where i stay. there they compost it along with food waste and apply it to fruit trees and such. chickens are also part of the system here and they used to have goats. lynda is open to the idea of doing more food production and animal husbandry if she could get an intern or two. she's considering getting on the wwoofing scene.

coast range crossing

these two nights (august 11th and 12th) i spent in the coast range between eugene and the coast are the first camping i've done on this trip. just as i have been graciously hosted in people's homes, nature was my gracious host these nights. my concerns going into it were that i would not have access to clean water, mosquitoes might ruin my sleep, and animals might be attracted to the food i had with me.

before i reached the wilderness area i got water at one house. it was an A-frame i was attracted to, partly because the front door was open and it seemed welcoming. i wouldn't have to knock. the guy there was really nice and we chatted for a bit about radical topics. he has a vegetable garden and he said he feels it's the best way to avoid supporting places like safeway. of his house he said, "like living in a burrito." which i found funny.
after his house was the second of three big hills on this route through the coast range, which goes south of the town of Crow, and proceeds through the hills southwest and down the Smith River valley. these hills i took slow of course, stopping to drink water and pick berries, and they were not overwhelming.
i had my first blackcaps of the trip on that second hill. at the top of the third i enjoyed my first salal berries! in these couple days i feasted a few times on very sweet blackberries.

when i entered the forest i was keeping my eyes and ears tuned to any sign of a clean water source, which would be a small streamlet coming down the slope on my left. a stream flowed on my right, but i wouldn't trust it to be safe drinking. soon i heard the sound of trickling water and when i ducked through the thick brush i was able to access the water coming down through a cluster of alder roots, like a mat of thick hair. i set my water bottle there and let it fill slowly while i enjoyed the magic of this spot. nature provides. the source was probably a spring uphill from the road.
along the way down the smith river the next day i saw many of these little waterfalls coming down over the rock faces, where beautiful ferns thrived on the moisture.

the first night i camped on a little pullout where i saw a flat, mossy spot. the second night i slept on the smith river in a spot where a big section of worn rock bed was dry. there i spent the second half of the day sunbathing and relaxing with some little projects. i drew a crayfish skeleton i found. i made sun tea with lemon balm i found growing there! in the morning i found mint too and took some of both with me.
the mosquitoes were not bad in either spot! i thought they were likely to be a nuisance on the river, but when i lay down to sleep i noticed many bats flitting about and understood that it was all taken care of by them, the birds, and dragonflies.
i kept my food close at hand and there was no sign of any animals being attracted to it. later i heard that there are lots of bears in the area right now. a rad hillbilly i talked to at the 'smith river grocery and pub' told me he sees a bear almost every day now from a lookout spot he frequents that overlooks some huge blackberry thickets by the river. he said they are so abundant you can shoot two bears on one tag (hunting license). he also spoke of the excellent blackberry wine folks make in the area. his shirt said 'i have a CRABBY attitude' around an image of a crab. there's a lot of crabbing around the mouth of the smith river i guess.
another topic i brought up was the ranching i noticed dominating the bottom lands of this valley. he said there are four or five big ranchers and their cows are sold at 6 months to slaughter houses in eugene. they are not consumed locally. i thought this a pity. he said they use a fertilizer on the pasture that is safe for the river, animals, plants, and people. sounds like marketing mumbo jumbo to me.

overall a really great couple days of camping and solitude for me.


maitreya ecovillage, whom i had called from corvallis and gotten the okay from, since i hadn't found anyone else to stay with. maitreya had been mentioned to me by a woman at twin brooks farm, the first place i stayed.
i did various little things on the grounds there to help out, though not much around food production. one night i made dinner and brought a few folks together in an impromptu potluck. the last morning there i tidied up their strawbale community house.
this place is really rad, but would benefit from more action in food production and maintaining the common buildings and landscape.

when i packed up to go i decided to leave the bible i had been given in the little room where i'd spent those couple nights. i didn't feel like carrying it on my bicycle and thought maybe someone else would appreciate having it more.

highlights from eugene:

-most awesome natural food store, sundance. also had a great experience dancing to 'digable planets' in the smaller natural food store near where i was staying, where i went to get some yogurt late the first night in town.

- grassroots garden

-camaraderie with other meditators. we didn't meditate together, but i connected with three beautiful souls who currently practice.

-a singing circle i went to my last night there. so uplifting!

Monday, August 15, 2011

grassroots garden

this urban farm in eugene is one of the most exciting projects i've seen providing food and education for urban folks. when i visited on my first day in eugene, near closing time, i was given some zuchini and onions, and the next day i was able to attend lunch and volunteer a few hours. i washed dishes and participated in preparing a couple beds by adding amendments. so many things felt right about this place. they have a public water fountain, wormbins, a composting toilet, and a cob oven! there is some great community being built here and folks learning how to grow food in a relatively holistic way.

from the Food For Lane County website:
"GrassRoots began in 1991 as a partnership between Lane County Master Gardeners, FOOD for Lane County and St. Thomas Episcopal Church. Master Gardeners wanted a training location that allowed them to be of service to the community, FFLC wanted a source of fresh produce for its food distribution program and St. Thomas had available vacant land. The two and a half-acre GrassRoots Garden is developed and maintained by FOOD for Lane County staff, Master Gardeners, school groups, youth from diverse backgrounds and community members all working to make a difference."

4,000 lb. food produced first year - 65,000 lb. produced last year!
2 paid staff - 2,700 volunteers last year

-their soil is made of leaves from the city, manure, and amendments(lime, alfalfa, rock phosphate, and green sand).

-lunch is served every day with produce from the garden (in combination with foods produced elsewhere)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

corvallis to eugene

i had not found a place yet in eugene to stay, and i decided to take a day of rest in corvallis before heading on. i was still not particularly sore after another 55+ mile day, but i needed some chill time. for breakfast i cooked omelets and fried potatoes for all. it was a celebration. we had a very tasty and wholesome dinner in the evening that my hosts cooked, orchestrated by mike. they had lots of work they needed to focus on, but were still the most gracious of hosts.

corvallis is a great bicycling city, like most in oregon. cora is involved in bicycle advocacy and has this blog. they are both avid cyclists and were about to take off on a short tour/camping trip themselves.

behind their little house is a sweet little vegetable garden. cora says they want to "grow as much food as possible". but i still saw a lot of ornamental plants, so... while i was there some kale was planted where peas had finished their fruiting. there are many neighbors around them who are growing food too and they share the bounty! some hungarian hot wax peppers came to the house from one man while i was there.
the second evening i made roasted vegetables in a dutch oven from what i bought when i visited the other location of the First Alternative Cooperative (the original location). they have a great produce department and currently a good selection of locally grown potatoes and other goodies. i was thrilled and also to have a kitchen to cook in! to thank my hosts i left a bunch of good food for them.

on my way to eugene...
-visited a cool farm stand
-happened upon a cycle event snack stop
-picked fallen blueberries off the ground

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

yamhill to corvallis

after my longest day of cycling, about 55 miles rainier to yamhill, there was still no great soreness in my legs. i've been doing a little stretching here and there. keeping a high cadence and taking lots of breaks certainly helps.

yamhill county is oregon's burgeoning wine region. riding through this rolling countryside i was reminded of the riding i did in tuscany, italy. along the roads were crop lands and old farms tucked into the hills and interspersed with patches of woods. wheat was ripening and i saw some had been harvested already. there were many acres cover cropped with red clover. then there is the striking green of corn and many fields of hay. at a junction near some rows of homogenous houses i found my first ripe blackberries of the year!

as i entered the fringe of the city of Carlton i stopped at Cana's Feast Winery, the first one i've passed that was right on the road. it looked nice and welcoming. i thought i'd see about a wine tasting. so i brushed my teeth and headed in. they charge $10 for a full tasting, and refund it for every $40 spent on wine. i like this honest deal, but just wanted a free sample. they were gracious enough to give me a sample of one of their wines, i believe it was their Sangiovese. very sharp while filling the mouth with a feeling of wholeness.
the young man told me they source as much as they can for the restaurant locally and pointed out the small garden where they grow a lot of herbs. he said he wants to get involved with a food-exchange project when he moves to the area. in this one he knows about each member grows something, they pool the produce, and then split it up like CSA shares. cool!
when i was on my way out a woman asked me where i was riding to. she was from portland and said she and her family do some touring around the area. i noticed on their table was a thick-noodled pasta very similar to what i ate at a little hosteria in siena.

in Amity i got three more samples of wine from the area. this was at the nice shop across from a couple nice cafes and a bakery. it was an impressive little strip for the small town. this shop had hazelnuts in the shell and i should have bought some. but i thought to muself, "i can surely find them at the coop in corvallis." that is not the case. nor can you find them it seems at any natural food stores in eugene! i hear there is a guy at the farmer's markets... just seems silly to me in this land of filberts that you don't have the option to get them shelled or not.

i arrived in corvallis much later than i had intended to, but it was alright. i went straight to the coop and got some grass fed meat, eggs, cheese, a ginger brew, some mushrooms, a few potatoes and a yam. i was on my way to a BBQ! the warmshowers host in corvallis was cora and her partner mike. they were already at the BBQ. it was a nice time, and there were even some illegal fireworks shot off by some loony old guy. glad i could be there for this community gathering.

another thing i liked about this day was that once when i stopped to take a drink, in Rickreal, a guy came out of his house to see if i needed anything. make sure i had enough water... so i went in and had some water and used his restroom. he had done some cycle touring himself! nice guy and we really connected. this was the house he grew up in and he takes care of his old mother there. there was a nice grape vine outside the bathroom window he said was planted there for shade, and he keeps a patch of blackberries by the house so he doesn't have to go far for them.
then i stopped again later, close to corvallis, when i was running low on water and saw a guy out planting some flowers by the road. cosmos.

he filled my water bottle as i munched some snacks. his son had done touring like me, but had died when hit by a dump truck somewhere in ohio. the man and his wife intend to put a water fountain and bench by the road in front of their house for cyclists in his honor. i was deeply touched and thought this a great idea.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

blue dog to yamhill county

this picture is me with janis, who is holding an egg i found laid on top of an oil drum. i was wondering where these chickens like to lay their eggs. probably lots of other funny places too.

i was served a nice breakfast of eggs and oatmeal(with raw goat milk!). i got to help with washing algae out of the animal's water containers and i milked one of the several does that are in milk currently. here is my tally of the animals living on these couple acres:

60-70 chickens (at least)
7 ducks
5 guinea hens
3 geese
2 turkeys
3 pigs
around 50 goats (10 kids) la mancha/alpine/oberhasli/
15 sheep shetland/black welsh mountain
10 cats
3 dogs
a miniature horse
a jenny (female donkey)
a hinny
a miniature zebu (kind of cow)
and "some turtles and birds" in the house

this is achieved by feeding them a lot of hay and other feeds. i wished so much that these folks could have more land to keep their animals on in a healthier way. they were intending to put a fence around the back, forested part, where the treehouse is so that the animals could browse there. it just takes a lot of work. marianne had planted grass seed in one paddock that was growing nicely, and she intended to rehabilitate other areas, applying composted manure to the trampled soil.

these folks were so kind to me and i left feeling invigorated. they had told me about a spring where folks in this area like to get their water. for those travelling through this area, check it out. it is on a gravel road, just off of apiary rd, on the left near a red barn that reads 'TEEN TREES'. i filled my water bottle there even though i was still climbing. i especially enjoy this riding through forested areas. many loaded logging trucks passed me, headed for the mill on the columbia river. i might have been less comfortable if i'd been going in the same direction. as it was i felt safe even with a fairly narrow shoulder much of the way. thimble berries continued to provide nourishment and i found some good salmon berries too!

at vernonia i got on a bike trail that is built on an old rail way. it was a really nice 21 mile stretch. i met a chef from portland on the path i had seen him in vernonia and he caught up to me when i stopped to stretch. the second half of that bike path went by a lot more quickly with the conversational company. he then gave me a ride 6 miles down a boring section of highway to the city of forest glen. i gave him some peppermint a woman had pulled out of her garden by the roots for me. he doesn't have space to grow a garden where he lives, but i thought this mint would be a great potted plant!

in forest glen i was feeling kind of low. the library was closed. i wasn't sure whether to ride on and seek a place to stay near one of the smaller towns. but then some pleasant experiences lifted my spirits. i happened upon a cool little school-garden project nestled in a space between two ugly warehouse buildings. it metal gate made by a local artist and a double cob bench with green roof! a girl was there harvesting some wildflower seeds. she told me a bit about the garden and i told her a little about what i was doing. she recommended checking out a couple permaculture gardens there in forest glen. one of them happened to be on my way out of town. it is called 'B st. gardens' and it sure looked cool from the gate. but it was closed, so i headed on out of forest grove, feeling satisfied.

as i rode on i was thinking i would be okay with sleeping under some bush by the side of the road, or in a nook of some building in a town, but i could also find another place like i did the night before. so i opened myself up to that. i turned my intuition up to high and kept riding.

four miles before the city of yamhill, in yamhill county, i rode by a small home where a couple were sitting in lawn chairs at the mouth of their garage. i thought i noticed some signs of garden in the back... but anyway i felt compelled to stop and do my pitch, which in my head was something like, 'i'm travelling around the country offering my help in folk's gardens and on small-scale farms, and i'm in need of a place to stay tonight.' it came off alright, though a little clumsy, and they said i could use their guest room for the night!

at their place i was able to do justice to the kale i had carried from blue dog farm. i also enjoyed fresh mint/lemonbalm tea (mint from a woman i stopped to talk to in vernonia, LB from blue dog). they baked me a potato for the next day's lunch.
it is just the warmest feeling to be hosted so graciously by folks i just dropped in on. they seemed grateful that i had shown up too. there is something magical about relating this way.

longview to blue dog farm in rainier

left late in the day 8/4 from longview, riding through the heavily congested area felt a bit oppressive. when i saw another touring cyclist as i appeoached the bridge, i expressed this to her. she as where i was headed. she was heading accross the bridge too but was a little concerned about the narrow shoulder. i told her i'd ride behind her we headed over. it was nice to meet a kindred spirit just then, as i feel often happens when i need a lift of spirit.

i'd decided to bicycle from longview down through the willamette valley, even though there was a place i could stay in astoria, while heading this way i had no idea where i would spend the night. i wanted to ride where i've never ridden and open my agenda up to chance.

the guy at the chainsaw carving place in rainier advised me that there is a road winds up the hill, but thought i was a little crazy to ride it. old rainier road turned out to be quite pleasant for me due to the shade of the trees, very little traffic, and abundant thimble berries. all this makes a long climb less tiring, even kind of fun! i would reccommend this road over turner rd. even thought that way may be shorter in distance.

up at the top of the hill i made my way to apiary rd. where i would proceed to vernonia. seemed kind of risky to continue onto this stretch because there are no towns for thirty miles or so and i was unsure of the availabililty of water. i have a second litre bottle, but would rather not ride with two full bottles if i don't have to. so, with a couple hours left in the day, i was keeping my eye out for a place to stay the night.

a sign in a driveway on the left caught my attention. as i slowed and took a gander my senses were filled with the presence of animals, chickens and ducks roaming the yard and more, larger animals farther back. the earth was bare from being picked over and scratched. these folks live intimately with the farm animals.
the sign said, "welcome to my farm" and was over a little egg stand with sign and small fridge containing eggs. as i pulled into the driveway and approached the gate the big, shaggy dog began to bark and an old woman came down from the house.
i told her my situation, requesting a place to stay the night. she wouldn't have me in the house, i think mainly due to her concern for the safety of her and her two daughters('just me and the girls here" she explained), but maybe it was too cluttered for me to be comfortable too? and the yard belonged to the animals. so she was suggesting the park nearby or under the powerlines, where there is an easement. i was ready to do that and said i would come back in the morning if it was okay to buy some eggs if they could be cooked up in her kitchen. but her daughters had come out by this time and the idea came up from one of them that maybe i could sleep in the tree house... but my feet might hang over the edge... i brightened up at this and so they agreed to show me back there to see if it would suit me. my gentle persistence had paid off!

that evening i helped by clearing the path to the tree house, feeding the green material to the livestock(mostly goats and sheep). i was brought a plate of food, of which i ate some homemade, soft goat cheese on rounds of summer squash. in addition to this bit of food i ate my own soaked hazel nuts, salmon jerky, baby carrot greens(from the thinning i'd done that morning in longview), and cheese. the girls had a lot of chores to do, but spent some time with me talking. i meditated and got a decent rest in the tree house. feet didn't hang off the edge and there were no mosquitos!

earlier i had been feeling like i should have taken off earlier so i could have gotten farther along, but if i had passed by here earlier in the day i might not have stopped. this was clearly meant to be, as everything is.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Twin Brooks to Longview, WA

while at twin brooks farm i had some time to relax, cook meals, engage in important conversations, and pitch in on some projects. the first day i helped build a brush pile as habitat in a stand of fir trees that was planted twenty years ago. the stand is right next to a stream and used to be pasture. another of my jobs that day was to pick pie cherries from one tree that had been netted. the next day i harvested and washed some beets, removed the netting from that cherry tree, picked blueberries, and made lunch and dinner. the white bean and vegetable soup came out really good. it is great to have some vegetables right from the garden!

two WWOOFers were there during my visit and i connected with both of them over the similarities of our interests and paths in life. Yossi has been WWOOFing for two years and, like me, sometimes imagines being a subsistence farmer working in cooperation with a property owner for mutual benefit. we meditated together the first night. my arrival was an omen for him to sign up for a vipassana course. Ginger is on a mission to learn skills that will help her live the subsistence lifestyle, in which she wishes to harmonize with the deva's (spirits, elemental, divine beings). it was very affirming for me to come in contact with these people i could relate to so strongly.
i was also overjoyed to have an outhouse to deposit my valuable humanure in while at the farm.

after these couple wonderful days and restful nights i rode off on my way to longview. in this area south of chehalis there are lots of farms and ranches mixed in with homes with big lawns and patches of forest. this time of year there is a lot of hay in various stages of harvest. used to be that bringing in the hay was something a whole community did together. now, with the use of machines, it's more often a one-man job.
in winlock there is a library where i stopped to use the internet. very pleasant to sit in the cool library on a hot afternoon. i met the nicest young cyclist there who started up conversation and chatted with me for a while as i muched on some food. she said she loves her town of winlock. she's trying to get in shape for soccer. she was so friendly! i'm finding nice people everywhere i go and this day i really noted it.

i got water along the way at a park, two gas stations, the library, and a bar. it would be nice to have a public fountain in the middle of each town that cyclists could utilize. many towns in italy have them.

it took me about five hours to ride the nearly fifty miles to longview and up the big hill to my host's house. these are my first hosts i found on this hospitality site called warmshowers. they have been the most gracious of hosts. here i was able to help out just a little in the garden by picking blueberries from one very bountiful bush and thinning a couple rows of carrots.

NVC to Twin Brooks Farm

it was not a long ride from the meditation course to Twin Brooks Farm. the weather was fine and i was feeling great after all the meditation.
riding around in this area i get barked at by a lot of dogs. sometimes the dogs are not fenced or tethered and will come out onto the road barking. this is a bit scary, but i've found they stop short of attack, and usually will not chase. i get funny looks from other animals too, like horses and cows, and sometimes startle ones closer to the road as i ride by.
a great pleasure on the way was eating some of the richest thimble berries i've ever had! i came accross on small patch first, and later on took the time to browse a much larger patch along the road. i'd been hoping for a couple years that i would have this pleasure again, and here i was being offered this bounty! i couldn't believe nobody else was interested in eating these! they tasted like sweet tarts!

i brought some to share with the folks at Twin Brooks. i learned last year that if you pick the whole stem with unripe berries on it, and put it in water in a warm spot, the berries will ripen over a few days! wonder if this can be done with other berries?

meditation course

it was a good experience serving ('dana service') at the meditation course held july 20th-31st at the Northwest Vipassana Center. the kitchen is where i worked mostly to help provide meals for the hundred or so people at the center. three times a day us servers joined in the group meditation hours in the hall. i met some wonderful people there and overall enjoyed a very beneficial and pleasant time along with a lot of hard work.
one part of the work that was especially important to me was tending to the compost. there was a huge pile there because the regular courses at the center produce so much food waste. my assessment the fisrt time i took out a load of compost was that the pile needed aeration. it was especially wet from recent rain.
in the kitchen i noticed that we were throwing away the brown paper towels that we were required by health code to dry our hands with. it occurred to me that it could be a beneficial carbon material to balance to food waste. so i began layering in the paper, and also cardboard waste from the kitchen i tore into small pieces. normally the center draws from a pile of manure they get from a nearby farm, but it had all been used up.
so while i was also giving service in other ways, i got my wish to specifically work with giving back to the soil. there is a vegetable garden at one of the residences on the land, which can make use of some of the compost, and maybe in the future this garden will expand and provide lots of nutritious food for meditators. wherever i am i'd like to be doing my part to steward the soil so that it is there for whoever comes after me. this is for my own benefit, for i may pass through this place again one day, and if everyone acted this way, wherever i go, where others have been doing this good deed, there will be abundance for me to share in.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

tacoma to NVC

the day started at the house in parkland. i rode with my reasonably loaded bike over to my friend's bike shop, Defianace Bicycles, to check it out. it is a really cool little shop that chris kopp, a buddy of mine from high school, brought into service not too long ago. i got a new pair of bike gloves(planet bike brand) and pumped up my tires.

i took the train from tacoma to centralia. such a nice way to travel with a bicycle when they can just hang the bike up on a hook in the baggage car. the woman sitting next to me was a singer and we had a nice chat.

shortly after passing through chehalis, which i noticed has a most impressive wooden play structure in one of it's parks, i noticed an interesting garden on my right. they had built a structure with plants growing upside-down and buckets hanging as planters. there was a small homemade greenhouse of lumber and glass with raised beds of a large vegetable garden surrounding it. i decided i had to stop to chat and ask for a drink of water. i first met ryan, who told me when i commented on the garden, "we're working towards self-sufficiency. this is just a start." his wife and two kids came out and i got a little tour of the garden. these folks gave me a lot of hope for humanity. in addition to continuing expansion of the vegetable garden, they are going to get some milking sheep.

i made it to the vipassana center shortly before dark and was greeted with a table full of food to dig into as i liked. heavenly.