Tuesday, April 17, 2012

hostel in the forest

hostel in the forest was mentioned to me a couple times on my way east fro new orleans, and since i had a couple extra days before the vipassana course i decided to go the extra miles it required. the decision came easily when i looked at their website and found the description of their vision so strongly resonating with my own. when i arrived i felt like i'd entered a vortex of positive, creative energy. as i was given the tour i kept thinking things like, 'that's exactly how i already do things!' for example, the instructions to pee pretty much anywhere, EXCEPT in the composting toilets!

the hula hoops were leaning in bundles against the wall of the cob kitchen. i was thrilled to make a blessed batch of sourdough bread in the oven on the first day there. the hoops just sat there still most of the time, but i played with one for a few minutes and placed the largest one in the center of the library dome for song circles.

each evening we all gather in a circle before dinner to share what we are grateful for and bless the meal. each person in the circle is given time to say what they need to say. i sang 'for the golden corn...', a blessing song my family sings, on the second night. many people expressed thanks for the fire flies, which i certainly enjoyed too. i have not seen them since i was young, in michigan. one of the many radical things about this hostel is that they compost all the humanure! this is the cutting edge of sustainable living! amazingly i did not make time to inspect their bin system. it was described to me as pallet bins where the manure is mixed with straw and allowed to compost and age thoroughly. it is not mixed with food scraps, which are deposited in a separate double-bin system at the vegetable garden site. i did see these piles and noticed they could use a good stomping and more water. too large of air spaces and not enough moisture will slow down decomposition dramatically. the vegetable garden had a great vibe and was fairly tidy. one bed was planted densely with the three sisters. we ate lots of collards from one small, but abundant bed. here in the south i have eaten more collards than any other green. the lake there was a very refreshing and tranquil place where i spent a little time in the middle of each day. clothing is optional. i did some naked yoga on the floating platform. there is a nice little sweat lodge site where they have ceremonies every full moon.

one singing circle i'd called was led by izzy of the 'dharma bums' collective, who just showed up serendipitous to help make it amazing! he carries xeroxed song books to make it easier for everyone to sing along with these songs he has selected. i requested 'if i had a hammer' which is one i used to sing with my dad as a child. towards the end i had a great result sharing the song 'rainbow warriors' that i made up. some folks played rhythm or sang along!
next night i sang alone, or chanted, which made for a very powerful song circle experience. since nobody else showed up, i was given the chance to meditate in solitude, as was my need.

i donated the little pile of gloves that i had found along the way. also i donated a gallon ziplock bag full of crimson clover seeds to the garden. i had gathered these the second day after tallahassee, as i noticed there was an abundant supply of this beneficial and beautiful cover crop gone to seed along the side of the road. it was planted for erosion control there it seems, as i've seen in many places. to the new gardening boy there, E-more, i gave a 'dirt knife' i found in the shoulder and a piece of plastic-coated wire for binding purposes. the dirt knife is just a short, serrated, stainless steel blade that had lost its handle. it is useful for cutting through the roots of weeds. i like using this tool for detailed weeding around rows of young vegetables, when the hoe feels too clumsy.

this place was one of the most vibrant examples of the community in action that i want to live in. there were still many imperfect aspects that i could see would challenge my tolerance, but there were so many ways that i felt affinity for the people and place. on the last morning i shared a short yoga practice with the manager, tess, and the new cook, katie in the glass house. this is a wonderful structure devoted to healing spiritual practices that is secluded from the rest of the compound. what a wonderful way to end this restorative visit!

thank you forest people! blessings!

valdosta to hostel in the forest

41.5 miles
more butterflies, gloves, and a nice old crescent wrench (craftsman!)

stayed in argyle, GA with a very kind family. the indian woman at the gas station and the mexican woman at the little store across the street both told me that i would not find a place to pitch my tent in this town. 'people don't like that kind of thing around here'. but i followed my intuition down a street to the left and approached the first folks i saw sitting on their porch. they had seen me riding on the highway earlier, which may have helped, but i also found these folks just have good spirits.

i connected with the mother in the morning as i sat and ate the breakfast i had cooked*. we spoke of god being love, these being the last days, and the human condition. she asked what denomination i am and i explained that, though i feel the holy spirit in my life, i choose not to be part of any religion. she seemed to understand and respect that.

when the father told me he is a mechanic i jumped up and retrieved the wrench that i'd found! he accepted it and expressed his appreciation for its quality. *bacon with greens and onion over rolled oats. picked these very tasty greens from plants growing in two spots in the street gutters of homerville. they may have been some kind of broccoli. many of you will think this is not a healthy place to pick greens from... but i figured it is okay if it is only a rare practice.

nearly 60 miles

more gloves (still more left hand), good heavy copper wire, knife blade(dirt knife!)

story of the day:
as i was struggling slowly into a headwind, without much energy left, a wish that i often have at these times, for a pickup truck to pull over and offer me a ride, came true! the guy's name was Union and he was from waycross i think? anyway he was very kind and would not accept gas money.

it was like in 'the never ending story' when falcor swoops in and grabs atreyu out of the swamp of sadness.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

tallahassee to valdosta

scott of bicycle house and a riding buddy of his 'pulled me' along on an alternative route out of town, which includes the beautiful stretch, the last remaining stretch, of the first road through this area, now called old st.augustine road. we had left the shop around 5pm so i only got another ten miles along, for a total of perhaps 25, before dusk. when i passed over highway 10 i thought it might be 90, which i was going to take east. so i had to find someone to ask... tried to wave down a car without luck. i found a driveway that was not blocked by a gate and heard someone working in their shop. this was tom harmon, who i ended up staying with for the night!

this wonderful man, a most graceous, 'old fashioned' host, spoke to me about various topics, stories from his life, for the larger part of the evening. he humored me and said i could clean up the back porcha a bit. this is where the semi-feral cats get fed. i also found out in the morning that there was no compost pile, but they wanted to have one! it was the perfect opportunity, but i passed it up because i felt i needed to get on my way. i hope that my encouragement will help at least.

stuff found:
many butterflies, bungee cord, several gloves (mostly left hand)

rode 65+ miles to arrive in valdosta as the sun set around 8pm. the most pleasant section was the 'four freedoms trail' north out of madison. most of the trail is under the graceful branches of trees. i met two nice christian women who i received encouragement from and shared my blog with. when i tell people about my trip sometimes people ask if i am religious. it is a lot like a religious mission that i am on. but i choose not to put it in those terms.
i also me a guy on a walk from jacksonville to california! he shot a video of me to share on his blog. this is sure to be an interesting story. i felt a strong comeraderie with this fellow, nick. here is what he wrote about me, kind of funny:

'As I headed out of Madison I crossed a guy on a bike coming towards me. He stopped and we talked a while. He was a homeless hitchhiker and came from Washington state, riding part of the way and getting rides the other parts. He said he was doing it for love. He was a gentle spirit and a very soft spoken and quiet person. I asked if he needed anything and I ended up giving him a water. He was interesting. Said he didn't have a destination but would just circle the country a while.'

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

at home in tallahassee

when i left new orleans a little over a week before, i didn't think i would be coming through tallahassee. but i ended up spending five days in the small capitol city of florida. it has been a time of rest and recuperation, cooking and working on little sewing projects. as i am away from home longer and longer i seem to seek out and relish these opportunities to be at home in a place.

some places i make myself TOO at home. such ended up being the case with my first hosts in tallahassee. i felt like i was starting off on the wrong foot when i showed up near midnight thursday. our first day together was wonderful though, when i helped my hosts out at their full earth farm. i was super excited about them as farmers who are also into fermented foods such as sauerkraut! they had more than two gallons total of various lactofermented food in the fridge. when i found out a rye sourdough starter is also kept in their house AND they have a grain mill for grinding the flour fresh, i was all over making a batch of bread! my excitement led to overzealous use of the kitchen, which was part of the discomfort that arose between my hosts and i. the meals we shared i cooked and i ended up making a second batch of bread at the end of my stay with them. i just basically overdid it and was not sensitive enough to their need for space and their limit of what they were willing to give. i bought groceries that i thought made up for what i'd used, but they did not feel it did. major bummer. it has been a big learning experience for me.

i try to write mainly about my positive experiences, but i do have these challenging, negative experiences along the way as well. this is where i am growing most and hopefully by the time i get home i will have many things worked out so i can be a more effective member of cooperative community.

speaking of community! katie and aaron know the weston price foundation chapter leader in tallahassee! she was willing to have me over for a visit and helped me out big time by providing me with a quart of chicken stock and vegetables to make a hearty soup! i gave her a pint of sauerkraut and returned later with a loaf of bread. this felt like a really good exchange to me. real neighborly.

on friday night i went out at the recommendation of katie and aaron to 'first friday', where i mostly felt awkward and ineffective in my mission of selling bracelets, busking, and making connections with people. i did see many individuals with hula hoops! young, hip girls were walking around with them as accessories... i'd never seen this before. i talked to a couple of them and had really good interactions.
at the end of the night i ran into the cyclist friends of my hosts who they thought i should meet, justin and merina, who were with a couple cycle tourists. these guys also have beards and are from the NW! they are "circumnavigating the united states by bicycle". good idea. check out their blog if you like.

the folks i was hooked up with through katie and aaron to stay with after them were paul and rebecca. they are part of the emerging permaculture community of tallahassee. in september they established the first permaculture design company, edible landscapes, and recently finished their first project! they were very kind to let me camp in their huge yard and share their house for three nights. i cooked and cleaned for them too, but we communicated a lot more about this than i did with my previous hosts. i just helped out a little bit in the garden one morning, though i would have liked to do more. they are still in the initial stages and envisioning a lot more than installing.

paul shared some ideas of people and places to check out along my route up the eastern U.S. this was very helpful and may lead to some important experiences for me.

a couple mornings while meditating in the living room i enjoyed hearing paul exchange greetings with folks passing by on the street. this is a hopeful sign that this neighborhood can come together and thrive! my hosts are involved in various efforts to nurture healthy connections with people and the earth in their community, including a community garden that will be built on three currently vacant lots. they will be involved in design and perhaps also implementation.

another majorly important part of the positive experience i had in tallahassee was bicycle house, where i went for my first time on tuesday to try to solve a mysterious issue with my drivetrain. it was a little irritating grittyness that i could mostly feel when in the middle gear on my five-speed freewheel. it turned out to be a sticky pully, due to grit and lack of lubrication. it had been bothering me since biloxi beach and i was SO relieved to figure it out!(i later, in roanoke, discover the problem was a worn out chain)
the following two days i returned to the shop to hang out and help however i could. i overhauled a headset, patched a tube and adjusted brakes... helped move bikes out front at opening. they just got a huge delivery of bikes that had been abandoned at the university. sad business, but they are going to do some loving, healing work, with many volunteer hours, and get these bikes running to encourage commuting by bicycle!
one reason this is one of my favorite shops ever is that it feels like a cafe in the shop area, with a big, wooden bar and stools. there is a kitchen and place to hang out in back. their grand vision for when they expand includes a cafe and hostel. please support them if you come through tallahassee!
the last things i did there were to eat lunch (sourdough bread with hummus, raw goat cheddar, and yogurt cheese), write this blog post, and get my picture taken for their tourist page. then scott, the 'father' of bicycle house, rode with me to show me a nice way out of tallahassee towards montecello.

fully packed. dig those reflective sidewalls!

everyone notices the butt patches.

this is the helmet i decided to adopt.

below is a picture of a nice dinner paul, rebecca, and i shared. you see greens with parsnip, sweet potato sheppard's pie with local, grassfed beef, and sourdough bread topped with yogurt cheese. it is in the bowl that i made from a section of gourd at winter count.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

pensacola to tallahassee

the day i left the boat in pensacola was rainy for the first half. i had a hard time deciding whether to stay or go, but got some signs that it was time to move on. it took me long enough to get ready that the rain passed and i was given sunny weather to ride in again. i stopped and talked to the four guys at the 'occupy' camp on the way to the natural food store. they informed me that there are a few community gardens and one of them is at the food bank. i was glad to hear this, but did not want to take the time to check them out. at the store garden i made the second deposit of compost from the boat. the general manager of the store happened to walk by as i was finishing up, covering the deposit with leaves. he inquired about my story and we chatted for a while. i told him that it would helpful if the juice bar, who seem to be the main contributors, could be instructed to cover with straw or leaves every time. he appreciated the input. he was very nice and said he would be making a trip to seattle area soon actually, which was a funny coincidence, me being from there.

i reached the beaches that the folks of this area are so proud of and rode east through a landscape of white sand bar. in navarre i went for a dip in the shallow, waveless bay and then slept under one of the low stilt houses. i picked one that looked unused and where people could not see me easily from the street. i've not found opportunities to approach locals about lodging recently. i do look for them before seeking other options.

at a fresh fish market (storefront) in destin i got a 1/3 lb. hunk of cobia, a fish i have never eaten before. at lunch i ate it raw with miso paste. one of my favorite things about the gulf coast is the availability of fresh, local seafood.
this was the first day i did much riding in the rain. i had to bust out the oversized plastic bag and put it over the baggage on my rack. it was not pouring so i didn't put on the raincoat. have not used the coat once yet! in destin i realized i had left my new bicycle pump behind somewhere. i thought it was at the library, so i backtracked the six miles, riding into the wind, to see if it was there. it was not! i think what happened is i left it sitting outside when i unlocked my bike and somebody took it. this is the second pump i have donated to a needy stranger. it bummed me out, but i got over it.

the weather cleared after i ate lunch under the awning of a store in destin called 'haight/ashbury', which i found to be a comforting place. so i headed on and proceeded onto highway 30. this relatively narrow highway goes through some very wealthy beach communities. there was quite a crowd, like the atmosphere of a festival, in the watercolor/seaside stretch of 30 because of spring break. i ate dinner, showered and meditated at the public restrooms of watercolor. i pitched the tent and slept off a forested path just past seaside.

note to cyclists: you can find free showers at public restrooms in watercolor and another one at the public beach just after getting back on highway 98.

at one gas station where i stopped i met this guy from new york who has been traveling for 16 months by foot! we had a very pleasant exchange and wished each other well. i am always very pleased to meet others who are on this kind of path.he said he meets nice people everywhere he goes. just like i do!

when i i reached highway 79 in panama city beach i thought i should look at a map to see whether i should take that route instead of going through panama city. i went into a gas station and looked at a map. inside i overheard someone say something about a big storm rolling in. outside i noticed a guy in a pickup with his window open just texting or something on his phone. i followed the strong impulse to see about getting a ride with him. turned out he was headed to tallahassee, but not 'til the evening. i knew this would mean paying a share of gas, which cuts into my limited funds, but i remembered what i had been told earlier in this trip, that i should never worry about money as what i need will always become available. so we agreed to meet up later.
i went down to the beach and within an hour i had sold three bracelets to some wonderful girls from virginia. this was a strong confirmation. i felt elated. i set out my sign and hung out there until rain caused me to go seek shelter elsewhere. i found a church not too far away and waited out the thunder storm there. back at the beach i set up again in the same spot and met some folks from indiana. one of them took these pictures.

the guy i rode with to tallahassee was an hour late, but it all worked out in the end.
while waiting at the gas station i met another traveler who said he has been doing this for 19 years! what? i felt honored to make his acquaintance. he was handing out these little flyers, much like the ones i write on the back of scratch paper with my blog address on them, with the web address for his site. i found him to be ultra real and pleasant to interact with. he said he had spelt in some abandoned houses by the beach.

half-way recap

well folks, the idea of this HOOP TOUR is to travel in a big loop from my home in the puget sound area of washington state, down through the south in the winter, and back through the south of canada in the summer. what i set out to do is live by the law of the hoop, which is to put in what i want to get back from life. this is the golden rule and the reality of our existence. cause and affect. in my life it means helping those people who help me, sweeping the floor of the house i stay in, or doing dishes after a meal. it also means returning the nutrients that have cycled through my body back to the earth to nourish future generations. it means stewarding resources so they remain available. providing for the health of our neighbors, as we are all important to the health of the whole. love begets love, fear begets fear.

the trip began in august with serving a meditation course at the NW vipassana center. i proceeded south through the willamette valley of oregon by bicycle, to eugene, and then out to the coast, continuing south to arrive at Green String Farm for a three month internship september-december. after a short stay in oakland i made my way by public transit to santa cruz. i visited some farms around there and then bicycled the big sur coast, hosted by nature for three nights under trees. i spent christmas with my dad's buddy larry in ojai/santa barbara area. took the train to L.A. and spent new years there with my aunt karen. i found a rideshare out to phoenix from L.A. and then bicycled down to tucson, where i spent about a month. after that i visited arcosanti and attended the winter count primitive skills conference near phoenix. i got a ride with new canadian friends from tempe to fort apache, where i stayed almost a week. then i bicycled and hitched my way through the mountains of the arizona/new mexico border down to silver city. rode and hitched over to the city with the weirdest name, Truth or Consequences, and from there got a ride with my kind host down to las cruces. another craigslist rideshare brought some items i had left in L.A., picked me up, and dropped me in Austin, texas. there i stayed in the apartment of my sister and saw her off at the airport when she moved back to washington. craigslist rideshare came through again to bring me to new orleans. there i stayed and did some satisfying work, both internal and external, before taking off on the bicycle again. it took me five days to get to pensicola, where i was blessed to stay on a tall ship for a couple nights and help them out a little with their work. i continued riding along the gulf coast, found a ride in panama city beach, and arrived in tallahassee late in the night on thursday, april 5th to the welcome of a couple young farmers with sourdough starter, sauerkraut, and kimchi in their fridge! because i had accepted this ride i was able to spend friday helping at full earth farm. it also meant i got to spend thursday relaxing and taking dips in the beautiful waters at panama city beach. both were heavenly days for me, full of positive interactions and blessings.

this feels like the half way point to me, but i have traveled less than half the distance in more than half the intended time. probably i will be returning a little later than i originally thought, to arrive back in washington in late september or october, as the weather will still be tolerable for traveling by bicycle. i could even travel by train or rideshare the last bit. i would like to be back home before my next birthday, on november 25th, when i will be completing my 30th year! i want to celebrate with family and friends in the place of my birth, in the house where my dad and step mother still live.
on april 18th i will be sitting a ten day vipassana course at the SE vipassana center in georgia. there are more centers along my route and i will be serving and sitting a couple more courses when i come to them. i may finish my trip with a course at the NW vipassana center.

what i have found all along the way so far have been just the experiences that i needed. i have seen how beautiful things happen when i engage in life with love and openness. there have been many challenges helping me grow into a more resilient and effective person, able to take responsibility for my own well being. i've encouraged people in their good work and helped with earth and soul healing through gardening and singing circles. there is much more of this to come as i continue up the east side of the U.S. and back across through the north. hope you will follow this story and allow it to inspire you in your own awakening.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

positively pensacola

after the night in mobile i spent some time at the library and then tried a little busking in downtown. people were very kind and gave me a few bucks in the first ten minutes. but then a couple of cops showed up, ran my id, and told me to move on. it is a friendly street, but they have had problems with disturbing individuals in the past. i decided it was time to head out of town and that night stayed at
maeher park, where i met some friendly bicycle campers. i camped next to them and they shared soup with me. their names were louis, george, and 'mom'. i was charged up by their kindness. george said of their lifestyle now that they had more time than money, so they decided to travel by bicycle and live out of a tent.

note to cyclists through mobile. you don't have to fill water before going over the bridge. there are plenty of places to get water on the way to spanish fort.

from there i rode to pensacola the next day. i especially enjoyed riding through this baldwin county countryside. smaller roads, well kept, and flanked with green!

i had difficulty getting hold of the folks i was hoping to stay with in pensacola, but it worked out because when i came across this tall boat called the peacemaker i ended up being able to stay with them for a couple nights and help out a little on the beautiful vessel! i learned a bit about the twelve tribes commonwealth and the individuals currently on the boat as crew. it was nice to be among people with a strong sense of spirituality and purpose. when we shared meals we linked hands around the table. this is one of my favorite ceremonies.
these folks drink a lot of mate, one of my favorite drinks! twelve tribes partners with folks in south america who produce it and send it to their packing facility in vacuum-sealed blocks. their brand is 'mate factor'.
since their compost (besides spent mate leaves which were being saved in a tub by the sink) was being deposited in the trash i saw an opportunity to find a better solution. i ended up finding that at the ever'man natural food store, where the first staff member i talked to kindly directed me to their little garden with pallet compost bins. it is not that common for a store to be so accommodating of community compost deposits. i was thrilled. there were two big loquat trees dropping fruit by the front of the store. i harvested some of these and also some kale, chard, sage, and mint from the garden. while picking loquats i was inspired to share the fruit with other customers on their way out of the store who had never tried them before. i love these kinds of spontaneous interactions and i sensed that these folks did too. one woman i noticed eyeing the fruit, but she couldn't reach them. so i got up on the newspaper box and got some for her. she showed me how she peels them before eating. at dinner that night i cooked up the greens and shared them with the others.