Veggie Voyagers

Couple travelled 30 states and 3 Canadian provinces between 7/07 and 5/08 running their 1987 Ford truck on straight veggie oil. The blog continues with a focus on the natural world and energy politics from a personal perspective

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Below Banff

The photos are from Jasper area except for the Athabasca glacier off the Columbia icefield. I hope you can read the print.
I tried to do my usual chatty blog entry for the last two days from Banff but the connection gave us nothing but grief.
The most important issue right now is the nuclear power plant that is being proposed for Peace River (!) Two days ago the radio news made it sound like the people of Alberta had been polled and were for it and that the mayor of the town of Peace River was excited because it is such "clean" power. It is also to be sold to a "mystery" party. I couldn't believe it! Now we are, appropriately enough, in a town called Radium Hot Springs, and Michael is picking up veggie oil while I was in the grocery store and noticed that it was front page and the governor is saying the people of Alberta will be able to decide on it. I guess I wasn't the only one to have a reaction.
We loved the Canadian Rockies but they were cold and wet. Even got heavy snow on the way back down from Jasper! On the way north we got some beautiful walks and sights in but on the return the mountains were swathed in clouds. The elk photo is one of about 20 good shots. The elk are a problem in towns now because they don't suffer predation there. My fella tourists aren't too smart about keeping their distance though so it is a major problem and the Parks administration is being roundly criticized for considering the use of an experimental birth control method that is actually a pesticide.. It's amazing that there are as few problems as there are with so many human-bear and human-elk interactions.

Banff and beyond

Jasper was the furthest point we got into northern Canada. We did a wonderful bike ride and got a lot of great interactive views of elk, who have moved into human areas in order to avoid predators. (Now, in Banff, the park officials want to try out giving them some pesticide that works as a birth control… the elk create a huge liability since some tourists appear to think you can walk right up to them.) We also camped up by Pyramid Mountain and Lake, well above the town. There was rain at night and sputterings during the day each day but it didn’t start to rain in earnest until we had started south back through the Rockies again. We encountered snow in the high country for two days and the peaks all either disappeared or were swathed in clouds.
When we got into Banff we headed directly to the hot springs with a few hundred other tourists. This made the experience a bit less wonderful than challenging but at least the rain didn’t feel so cold when we left the hot springs. The difference between us and the other tourists is they all went somewhere else that night. We stayed in the parking lot, high above the valley floor. We both agree that aqua centers are a far better deal than commercial hotsprings. We went to the aqua center in Jasper, as well as in Revelstoke, and think one would be a great addition in Chico.
This morning we did laundry and aired out the camper which had really started to have a condensation problem. Now, in the sunny afternoon, I’m ready to go take a bike ride (while, guess what?, Michael processes veggie oil.)
I’m wearing my ”Iraq is Arabic for Vietnam” teeshirt for the benefit of all the polite citizenry. Banff is beautiful but too rich for my blood and too crowded, swollen with us tourists.
I'm distressed that the town of Peace River is gladly welcoming a "mystery" buyer to put in a nuclear power plant on the Peace River, apparently one of the most beautiful places there is.
The radio presentation is very unquestioning, parroting that a poll says the people want it and that it is "clean" power... I hope this reverses.
Not able to download pictures!!!! Darn~! We have such good ones. Onward, al sur.

Friday, August 24, 2007

On the to Jasper way

Hey Lovies, Quick review. We are a little east of the Saskatchewan Crossing, again in a dumpsite/gravel pit but Ohhhh! So amazing. This morning we were on our second cup of coffee when 5 big horned sheep came down out of the forest to graze through some wood ash someone had dumped. We got to watch them for over an hour, even while I was frying up some oatmeal cookies and Michael was banging away with his veggie processing set up.
It’s been amazingly beautiful for this last stretch of the trip. My spirit aches to share it with you. Not in words but in great vision that is like swooping vistas of great heights and glacier blue water, IMAX from me to you but with the clear air and more frequent baths.
But, to rewind to the last entry… Revelstoke was a perfect little town on the Trans Canada Highway. (Slated for Big Development, alas.) We camped on the Columbia for two nights and were able to enjoy the aquacenter (which is housed with the senior center and library.) It has a huge waterslide, climbing wall, water course, Jacuzzi…everything for a community that has 9 months of winter. We heard music in the streets, went to Farmers’ Market, rode on the bikeway along the Illecillewaet River and got wooshed with a rain storm that issued in days of rain and clouds. After leaving Revelstoke we spent a night on a residential street in Golden. Except for its bridge along the Kicking Horse River, Golden didn’t strike me as so golden.
Further up the Trans Canada we stopped at Emerald Lake, after getting our national park pass. It was the first of the glacier fed lakes I’ve seen this trip with the ethereal blue glacial dusty water. We made our first flash as sight hungry tourists at Emerald Lake, which has a very practical and unrelenting flow of new tourists every hour, many languages and all manner of dress. We thwarted the Canadian version of crowd control…and managed to black out early and sleep in the parking lot, like maybe we were staying in the Lodge?
After that we had a brief stroll to Takakkaw Falls. ”Magnificent thing,” in Cree. No sign of any First Nations people but lots of French and other languages. I’m enjoying all the French and would learn it if there was time to stay long enough past the sign reading, sounding out phase. I’ve see 4 license plates from the US since coming into this country…
OK, then we got into the flurry of Lake Louise and its visitor center. I quickly got over the fact that we couldn’t afford the gondola ride (canoes rent for 50$ and hour!) and got a bike trail map. We rode up from the valley and my first take on this famous lake was, Wow! Look at that “Chalet!” There were teeming throngs of tourists and it was pretty wonderful but not enough to figure out a strategy for staying.
We camped at a trailhead across the valley where I didn’t sleep. That was yesterday. The day started off with that logy feeling you get when you haven’t slept but after awhile on the Bow Lake trail up to the waterfalls I was exultant. I just love these amazing places down to the rocks. The rocks are so varied and interesting I can just poke around in a foot square of them for minutes, and then your eye swings this way or that, to the dancing watercourse, the falls, the glaciers above, the incredible peaks…it just about bursts you!
After Bow Lake we had our last rush of the day which was going to Bow Pass, which looks way down onto Peyto Lake and across to the gouged vast glacier that feeds it and out onto the whole long trough that fronts on the west facing peaks that line out as far as there is visibility. The air in these high places just rings with joy. (I love looking in the faces of people on this tourist trail—those that are lit with the majesty and incredibility of what we are witness to versus those that might be passing you in a mall…)
M has just processed another 200 miles or so of veggie oil and we’ll have ourselves a tofu sandwich (we are off all but non fat dairy,) before we go on north toward Jasper.
I’m sure you have heard the glaciers are retreating. Come see them before they grind away the last tourist to feed the last waterfall and amazing lake. Bring lots of money for gas or learn how to process veggie oil….

Next day… After I wrote the above we went on and saw the receding Columbia Glacier and some playful Mountain Goats hanging out on a curb… I took lots of shots but had left the ”memory” card in the computer so now they are just, JUST?, cherished memories.

Jasper’s cute. Love from exactly here and now, Chris, Michael and Sashkatoon

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Coming into Revelstoke

We are processing on the west side of the Columbia River, too high above it to get more than glimpses through the dense trees. We have a nice flat spot, fluffy clouds, some road noise from the highway not so far above us, also cloaked by trees. It was conducive this morning to shower, do yoga with my Nancy Wiegman CD, meditate, finish the book, Floating in My Mother’s Palm (Ursula Hegi), make chocolate chip cookies in the frying pan and listen to CBC radio. (..Quote from a song called, “I Quit My Job”: “Take your life’s candle and relight it.”)
Michael is having a smooth time of it today and is finishing off 20 gallons of primo veggie motoring oil. He’s finishing My Lead Dog was a Lesbian (Bryan O’Donohue) about the Iditarod and has been quite quiet out there. There’s just the drone of the centrifuge. Sasha has been sleeping under the truck, dreaming away. This place must have been logged and used as a quarry for its fine, silty white soil, probably from some ancient glacier. This side of the lake is different from the granitic and dryer west side of the lake. It’s more mosquitoey and dense with fast growing alder.
Yesterday we came across from the east side of the lake/river on the free inland ferry. There were finally some educational materials on the water system. I never quite trust my negativity but I’ve noted much fewer birds and critters than I would have expected along these lakes. (Michael noted no bugs on the windshield, no road kill.) Apparently there were 3 large dams built along this waterway. Fish stocks plummeted by more 95% as a result, mainly due to nutrient loss as nitrogen and phosphorous were held back by the dams. Now the ferries themselves dump and scatter nutrients as they make their way back and forth across Arrow Lake/Columbia River.
One of the big summer stories up here, way to the west of us, is the collapse of the sock-eye salmon in the Fraser River. A good return was expected but less than a third of the fish returned so that the fisheries are shut down and many First Nation and traditional fisher-people are going without. Speculations are between warmer ocean temperatures and too much competition with stocked species.
Yesterday we were going to camp on Trout Lake, between the lake and the great Trout Mountain and glacier but a strong wind came up, blowing thick smoke up lake to us. Eventually we decided to make the crossing over to this side, heading up to Revelstoke, where our path will be eventually up to the high, touristy, famous country of Lake Louise and Banff.
That fire wasn’t even on the radio although two other large fires are being reported today. The fires are part of a 10 year cycle of milder winters and hotter summers. Normally larval beetles would have been mostly killed by the cold winters but now they are devastating the mature pines…I have to get a picture of that for you. In the second year of infestation the pines turn red and then by the third they are dead and grey.
Passing through the Slocan fire a couple of days ago there was a funny sign that said, “Call Memphis!” (Usually the firefighters leave messages down by the road of coordinates or other Call numbers.)
I’m glad to hear the in depth discussions on Canadian radio. One little filler show I like has “Environmental Confessions” and people call in and confess to something they are doing, like having a hot tub, throwing out peanut butter jars, loving to drive… then some little kid comes on and gives a penance which is something unrelated people can do for the environment then he/she says, AND STOP MESSING UP MY FUTURE at the end. It’s light but keeps the focus on for all radio listeners daily.Michael is tidying up and I need to go help, or offer to.
Peace whatever road we travel...

Processing Collected Vegetable Oil

In order to use our collected oil as fuel it must be cleaned or filtered and have ALL of the water removed. Any water in the fuel will destroy our fuel injector pump. Unfortunately, water in the fuel is hard to filter out because, unlike diesel fuel, water can be dissolved or emulsified in oil. The water –block fuel filters used in most diesel systems don’t work nearly as well for oil.

Fortunately, our modified Acme juicer can remove all of the dirt (larger than 1 micron) and all of the water (at least all I can detect with my crude “pan test”).

Working with a small group of veggie users on one of the straight vegetable oil (SVO) forums (www.biodiesel.infopop), I was able to modify an Acme juicer to transform it into a small but powerful centrifuge. (my posting name there is Bio-me). This is accomplished by sealing up the fine mesh holes that form the sides of the 7” diameter bowl that the raw fruit is normally fed into. Usually, the juice flows out through the mesh holes and the pulp stays trapped inside the bowl.
By sealing up the mesh holes with fiberglass resin, the dirt and water ( being heavier than oil) are trapped in the bowl but the lighter clean oil flows up the inner sides and out over the angled rim and down the drain spout ( where the juice used to exit).

In order to facilitate this centrifugal separation, I heat the oil to about 160 degrees F in a
2 ½ gal pot on a small propane stove. The oil is then transferred to a 5 gal cooler that sits on the top tray of a 5’ ladder. The juicer/centrifuge hangs inside the ladder and the clean oil flows down to another cooler on the ground below. The clean oil is then pumped directly to the veggie tank by a small 12v fuel pump.

I can process oil at a rate of 5 gal/hr. Since we have two 110 watt solar panels and two 6v golf cart batteries with a total of 220 amp hours capacity, we usually process 15 gals of oil at one time. The juicer uses 45 amps/hr (600 watts) and is run off a 1200 watt dc/ac inverter. With cleanup, the whole process consumes a good part of the morning. We try to find a good campsite (not in a campground) the night before, preferably with some privacy and a nice view.

Our whole setup is quite strange looking to passersby, and for all anyone knows we could be distilling whiskey or cooking meth. We did have one visit from a local sheriff, who did attentively approach, hand on holster, but he was friendly in the end. Now we have copies of the article to help inform visitors. Perhaps we’ll make up a sign.

One visitor we’ve yet to encounter, thanks to our vigilant Sasha’s barking, is the dreaded bear guest. I half jokingly refer to our rear racks, full of oil cans and spilt veggie, as the “bear buffet”.

We processed oil last week in Konkanee Glacier Park, miles up a logging/jeep road (there were no paved roads and few visitors). The area was full of bear scat and supposedly numerous grizzlies. We camped at the upper end of a beautiful valley at a remote trailhead below the glaciered peaks. It was just too nice to leave, so after a day hike we decided to stay another day to process oil. Fortunately, the bears were already full from stuffing themselves on thimble berries and didn’t seem interested in our Burger Hut oil.

It’s a really good feeling to have a full tank of clean veggie oil, a savings of $50-$60 in fuel costs, and another 225 miles of voyaging ahead.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

One Month on the Road!

We just had some nice days on the Slocan River.
I just wanted to share a few of the photos.
We appreciate the feedback. I wish you were here. There is a wonderful Rails to Trails bike path that we explored a few miles on today...
Also, I want to take back what I said about garbage. This loop from New Denver and back has been really pristine, except for lodge pole pine beetles and forest fires.
We head now for Revelstoke after provisioning on food and veggie oil again in Nakusp.... Peace and Open Doors, Chris & Michael

Collecting Veggie Oil

Collecting Veggie Oil on the Road Our Veggie tank holds 19 gallons, but we usually process only 15 gallons of collected oil at a time. Processing means running the oil through an Acme juicer, modified to work as a centrifuge, to clean it and remove the water. ( More on this later ).
With 15 gallons of clean oil in our tank we have a range of about 200-225 miles before I have to process more.

As we pass through small towns, we’re always on the lookout for good oil. Asian restaurants are reputed to be good sources, but we haven’t been able to collect any oil from them yet. Most of our oil has come from bars and burger joints. I look for oil that doesn’t have congealed fat or a lot of floating debris and doesn’t smell rancid.

We have two 5 gal plastic tanks strapped to our winch mount in front and two 5 gal coolers plus a 5gal metal jeep can on the rear racks. I’ve also converted one of the 10 gal camper waste holding tanks to carry yet more oil. So our total collection capacity is 35 gal.

Most restaurants have a small grease dumpster or else some 55 gal barrels out back. Sometimes they have a contract with a rendering company, which picks up the oil. In that case the oil belongs to renderer and it would be stealing to take it. But so far, most places have been happy to give us the oil.

To collect the oil, I have a heavy duty 12 volt pump with 20 feet of 1” hose. I also have some 20’ jumper cables in case I can’t drive right up to the oil barrels.
I put on my coveralls and rubber gloves and pump the oil directly into our containers. It takes about an hour.

The oil collection is one of the “work” aspects of our trip, sometime tedious and not looked forward to when we roll into a new town. To make the best use of our “town time”, Chris usually works on the blog at the local library while I hunt up the oil.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Nagasaki Day

We woke to thunder and rain fall today. Michael is out under a tarp processing veggie oil he collected at a burger joint in Nakusp. We are on Kane Creek in the Kootenays, just out of New Denver and it’s chilly, reminding us that fall will start in the high country next month. There are thimble berries enough for every fingertip on this road and we saw our first bear of the trip hanging out near here. (We sleep with a can of 15 year old bear mace and a walking pole by the cab-over door.)

Yesterday, we started off in a vacant lot by the Nakusp Esso Station. This sounds like an urban situation but actually the roar of a river and the edge of the forest were right there. In the morning the laughter of four young people tending the flower beds out front of the gas station gave the setting a gaiety I haven’t really seen in US gas stations.
We had breakfast at this little waterfall along Arrow Lake and then found the hotsprings on Halfway River after quite a bit of trial and error. Actually, we may not have found the main hotsprings but we found a pleasing hot hollow big enough for two so that was more than perfect. After the hotsprings we veggie powered south to New Denver.

The Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre, is the only such memorial in Canada that remains to tell the story of how 22,000 people, 75% of whom were Canadian citizens, were labeled “enemy aliens” and forced from their costal homes and removed to relocation camps in harsh mountainous areas like New Denver as well as in a second relocation to Alberta and other plains areas to slave on sugar beet farms. These Nikkei (people of Japanese descent) were swept up by the racist dispersal policies set off by the bombing of Pearl Harbor. People’s civil rights and property were taken from them and a hard fought campaign for an official apology from the Canadian government only was passed in 1988.

An aside on this is that we were listening to the CBC radio last night and a US film maker of Japanese descent had interviewed kids in Tokyo. The first eight had no idea about what had happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the war. He said the survivors of the atomic bombings are an embarrassment and their stories are marginalized such that it isn’t even part of the general knowledge of the young people. Meanwhile, the Bush administration is pushing Japan hard to change its pacifist constitution, imposed on Japan after the war, so that the US will have an ally against China and North Korea.

The Internment Memorial Centre was a special place to visit and I appreciated The Kyowaki (“working together peacefully”) Society that has been together since 1943 in New Denver. They are the ones that preserved the photos, documents, artifacts, buildings, peace arch, vegetable garden, Buddhist temple, and created the Peace Garden. I’d driven by Manzanar, on the desert side of the Sierra on our way to the Nuclear Weapons Test Site a number of times but never stopped. I can imagine it was just as bad but these people in Canada must have been so miserable in the winters! The first winter, of 1942-43, they were in canvas tents. There were photos of the snow dragging down the tents so they were just fabric around a center pole. The 200 tiny shacks, each one with two families with up to six children, had no insulation, just paper and thin shells of wood. Each outhouse “served” up to 50 people. This was before the time of electricity or running water. I guess the most striking thing to me was that men who spoke out were forced to wear jackets with big yellow targets on their backs. At the same time, life went on with schools and normal events. Photos showed healthy, well dressed looking people with relaxed smiling faces. It really was a wonder of community strength and resourcefulness in the face of terrible stresses. The shacks were deeded to Japanese Canadian residents by the BC government in 1957 and the last shack was occupied until 1985! (The address for the Kyowakai Society is Box 273, New Denver, BC VOG 1SO)

We hear about the stock market crashing and the frantic attempts to prop up world markets. Peace to all in this house of cards from our snail world to yours.. Sorry I still don't have the smarts to get the pictures right.
Peace to you, now from Nelson, B.C., Chris, Michael and Sasha

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Finally, British Columbia!

The sun has set out on Sugar Lake but here in the forest it’s been dark all day. I’m listening to Afro-samba and waiting for soup to cook while M is processing veggie oil. It’s our first full day in Canada. Yesterday we got through the border between Oroville, Wa. And Osoyoos, British Columbia without any hassle. The contrast was almost as dramatic as going from San Diego to Tijuana. The Okanogan corridor north of the US “boundary” is completely planted to agriculture and everything that we are used to coming in it’s own time, like first cherries, then apricots, then plums, then peaches, then pears, finally apples, comes in all at once here. U pick. Organic. Just a big yum fest. The country remained desert with sage and bare, dry, hot conditions but there wasn’t the dreary, monochromatic texture of it like there is in eastern Washington. The big outcroppings above the road were still dramatic but pushed back by human irrigation and hard work. There’s also a thriving grape growing and wine touring industry.
Further north there were a lot of cities and communities. We were bowled over by the apparent affluence. The homes seemed sensible, practically grouped (out of the traffic corridor but not dotting the mountain tops like in the US where the wealthy head for the highest ground.) The homes were dun or buff color, with more extended roofs to take better advantage of passive solar, many with porches around the perimeter, under the eaves. There was even quite a bit of a south-west adobe motif since this was advertised as “Canada’s only desert.”
One of the first things we didn’t like was that there was a profusion of billboards. Later, along the vast, long, Oganokan Lake, where hundreds of sun lovers were doing their Riviera long August weekend, we discovered a disheartening amount of plastic and Styrofoam along the waterline. Lastly, commerce was booming, with about 40% of the companies with familiar US names, but along with that was heavy gas and diesel traffic and no sign of public transportation… We were relieved to move off the corridor into rural country, onto a 2 lane road and into our “real” adventure. I felt spent and over stimulated leaving two hours on Hwy 95 north and was greatly relieved to stop swiveling my head with everything there was to see.
We stopped first on the Shuswap river where we found more dramatic garbage deposits and raggedy teens, looking like they were from an urban punk scene.. and mosquitoes. Eventually, after a night to the side of a road by the dam of Sugar Lake, a night filled with three different owl calls, we came around the back side of the lake to the most remote campsite imaginable, yet we were met with more garbage here. We spent the day with butterflies, waves, the wild wind in the trees telling of the short season. I picked up yet one more pile of garbage and M processed the veggie oil he had picked up down in Okanogan, Wa.
Yesterday was Hiroshima day. The dry rustle of my paper crane earrings reminded me that I am committed to being kind, that I have no right to judge, that I am devoted to being amazed, and picking up garbage.
Michael estimates that we are getting 400 miles per gallon, in other words, the diesel lasts us a very long way since we only use it to clear the lines when stopping or starting. The rest of the time we are on veggie. It’s pitch dark outside now and he’s still at it but reports there are no mosquitoes. Soups ready. 8/8 We are now in Nakusp, B.C. I really look forward to exploring this region. After I wrote what I did above I started to realize that Canada's prosperity is partially linked with it's control of vast amounts of water. Look at a map of British Columbia if you get a chance.
The photo of a protest on the way to Sugar Lake illustrates what a boom time Canada is in. In these rural areas the folks protesting don't have much of a chance of stopping bad projects. Thank Goodness for the folks back home who have the numbers and organization to fight for what remains to us and to Madre Tierra.
M is out gathering veggie oil while I watch darkness gather from the library.
Tomorrow is Nagasaki Day. I hope to visit the site of a former Japanese internment camp here as part of my observation and awareness of what occured then that set the stage for what is happening now. Peace to us All.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Keeping the Veggie Voyager Afloat

How it all Works ( or sometimes doesn’t). Keeping the Veggie Voyager afloat.

The Veggie Voyager, an ’87 Ford F-250 four wheel drive ¾ ton pickup with an 8’ cabover camper, is a multifuel vehicle, able to run on diesel fuel, bio-diesel, or straight vegetable oil (SVO). Our fuel mileage varies from 12-15mpg.
Diesel fuel has been cleaned up considerably in the past year with the removal of most of the sulfur, but is still a dirty fossil fuel when used in older vehicles like ours, so we only use it for the first few miles while waiting for the SVO to warm up enough to burn.
Bio-d and SVO are both derived from vegetable oil, but Bio-d requires a complex chemical process using methanol and lye to strip off the sticky triglyceride part of the oil molecule. It would be difficult to do while on the road.
SVO only needs to be cleaned or filtered and have any water removed. In order to burn it as fuel we have to heat it up to ideally 150-170 degrees F.
To heat up our veggie oil we have a heater hose from the engine that heats up an oil pick up tube in our veggie tank, then goes to a heated filter and finally to a small heat exchanger box. The veggie line is sandwiched between the heater hoses, so it gets warmed all the way to the fuel injector. A temperature gauge tells me if its hot enough to burn. If its not, there is an electric heater that kicks in.
There is no obvious difference in engine performance when running on veggie. We do lose the nauseating diesel smell, the black soot on hard acceleration, and we have the good feeling of not burning fossil fuel. The gas mileage, unfortunately, is about the same.

The above is from Michael. He hasn't had time to post before and this isn't really complete but it's a start on the info you'd want if you were going to convert your diesel vehicle to veggie. He said the place you'd really learn the most is at biodiesel.infopop

We just came out of the hills from beautiful Blue Lake where we got some time to just read, play Scrabble, nap, canoe, bird watch (Loons!) and not fuss with maps, truck business, or the long unknown of the road ahead. Now I'm in the OROVILLE, WASHINGTON library looking out through hollyhocks to the main road (to Canada) ahead. I can tell that most of the weekend traffic are the summer people the librarian told me about. The town (really the lake it sits on,) was "discovered" by investors two years ago and the town, which was about 1200 people, now has 950 new condos on it's lake, taxes and problems have gone way up and the county has responded with a moratorium on building but the city council is still making unwise decisions. She said you can see the greed around them and it's really disheartening for the townspeople. We are just here to provision ourselves but one of the things that I miss on this thread of roads we have been travelling, that we found a small sample of at Blue Lake, is open space that doesn't have to be shared with other humans or isn't posted off by private property. Our human population really is pushing its limits...

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Okanogan, Wa.

We are in Okanogan, Washington and will head into Canada in the next day or so, through a town called Oroville that I can't wait to see.
Michael's veggie processing has gotten a lot easier as he has problem solved to modify the various glitches that have come up. He is always working on the truck and hasn't had time to write. He's out tracking down veggie oil right now. The responsibilities for the physical maintenance of this trip are exclusively on him and I really appreciate the knowledge it takes to work through all he has had to just to get us this far. Hopefully he'll write sometime.

I see the beauty around us like photographs and have my own delight and yours in mind when I take the pictures. (I wish I knew more about how to transfer them into this narrative so I could show you more...maybe I'll catch on to all this eventually...)

The natural world is so precious, fragile and hardy, all at the same time.
Yesterday a woman had arrested in the Safeway in Lake Chelan. That was a picture I didn’t take but the ring of shopping carts and the eyes of the paramedic when I asked if I could help were a huge impression on me. The woman was beyond help and it was such a public but sanctified little spot that was established for the drama and loss of her life, the Safeway chapel of Chelan. The bustling store and the calmed corner where death had visited in such stark contrast. I was reminded to be alert for grace and the power of such impressions on reminding me of gratefulness and connectedness.

The poor are really evident here on the east side of the mountains. The pickers, mainly from south of the US border live in shade less tent concentration camps, white poor travel with small children, rats, bunnies, cats and dogs and sleep in tents (in the shade) along the river. I didn’t get pictures of them either… Nature I’m safe with and it obliges me with images that 'please' but don’t necessarily burn their way into my consciousness as much as these others I mention.
We will be in western Canada for a week or two, or more. It will be interesting to observe the differences and similarities between our countries. If I don't write again for awhile I hope your Hiroshima and Nagasaki commemorations will be solemn and lead you toward deeper peace and commitment, as well for us.