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

Friday, May 30, 2008

Word voyaging

We want to Thank Tang Lor for doing her article in the Chico News and Review ( and Leslie Layton for running my article about pollution in We plan to show photos of the journey at the Chico Peace and Justice Center on the 4th at 7pm. I am so happy to share the beauty of these lands (see the blog archives before May,) with folks but also need to share the alarm bells. Michael will go last as he has the details of the veggie processing that will either cure curiosity or erase it.

M is pruning privets here. Actually, it's a brutal process but keeps them from dropping seed babies.

Bruce is growing beautiful lettuce, as usual and I buy direct from him out of the field.
Sasha has had her summer "do." (Sort of privet style grooming.)

Our Costco membership is gone this weekend. No more easy (but expensive) veggie oil!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

10 Mile House

We went to a benefit performance of Jesus Christ Superstar tonight. Two friends told me they have cancer in the last 24 hours.
Things sit in me and resonate with their own weight. I’m learning to not put up insulation and to experience energy as Aliveness, whether negative or positive. My personality has definitely taken a turn to the introverted since we returned but that may be the continued lack of feeling plugged-in. The energy I feel for those I know face anxiety and pain is like a deep safe place of loving calm. I’m glad I’m not working yet so I can maintain these sensitivities unbroken.

These are photos from our walk on the 10 Mile House road down to Big Chico Creek. Bidwell Park is really an enormous park, 1500 acres. The park runs from just off mid town Chico to really wild canyon country, carved deep into the foothills. The 10 Mile House road is a good workout, not exactly the Grand Canyon trail, but hard enough for this mortal.

Monday, May 26, 2008


The electrons of the dead are in the air, soil and water that surround us. I dedicate this day to all that lives from the energy of the once dead. War being one excruciating expression of what kills us. One big senseless flap in waves of historical detritus filled with them. The push for us, who have the honor to live now amongst the beauty of this planet’s expressions, is to redirect greed and hostility, to prevent war and preventable disease so every life can have it’s natural flowering and cycle.

Yesterday we walked along the Flume in Butte Creek Canyon with a perfect day. The Silver Dollar Faire is going on and Sisko, the Drive By Gallery guy, had a billboard up along the Skyway.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Memorial Weekend

Today was graduation at Chico State. The weather man said, about 5 times, that it wouldn’t rain so I was glad I wore my rainjacket. It’s rained lightly all day. The little family groups seemed a bit dampened and the Silver Dollar Faire will be a bit of a bust today…but sorry, I’m not sorry.
I checked out student neighborhood dumpsters on my way to the Farmers Market--lots of furniture and lots of cardboard and other stuff that could be recycled. In the last Chico News and Review it was estimated that approximately half of what is coming into our almost full land-fill is recyclables, and that’s WITH curbside recycling.
On my way back from the market, peace vigil and used book store, I rode down the alleys of south-west Chico. I’ve always loved the alleys. People’s backyards are much more honest and interesting than their front yards anyway. I found a loquat tree to graze on and some photos for you.
Besides my own confusion about what to do when I grow up, my mind is filled with Memorial Day musings. I think it is obscene to purposely keep killing people in wars and then create a day to feel bad about their loss. How about not killing and maiming them in the first place! Also, our county and country are just about going belly up. The war in Iraq is costing 720 million dollars a day. That’s 4 Trillion dollars so far, (including vet benefits for all the poor souls who suffer disability as a result of their involvement.) John Kerry says to separate the warriors from the war but “Honoring Veterans, Not War” is just not enough.
Bring the Troops Home.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Upper Bidwell Park

Cloudy, cool and still! My sore allergy eyes are eased today. My energy is up and I’m ready for what comes next.

This is one of our collective fleet.
A journalism intern did a story on the veggie voyagers yesterday. Everywhere the story of global warming and energy policy and garbage comes up. I am charged up to do something but don’t have direction yet. I wrote the folks at Californians Against Waste in Sacramento but haven’t heard back from them. It seems like something is on hold. “A breath held inheld holding.”
Here are some wonderful photos from walking with my friend Laurie Niles this morning in Upper Bidwell Park. We had perfect conditions and I am grateful that we had that time together in the beauty of our gorgeous park

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Drive By Art

The weather has finally shifted to cooler and windy. The black oaks above our house are waving around in an alarming way.

We continue to deepen our roots in the soil of our home place. Michael is back working and I’ve been following up with environmental issues brought up by the veggie voyage as well as continuing to weed, water and plant.

The other night, while it was still sweltering, we celebrated the 21st birthday of Peter Tyler with his “other mom” and then I biked downtown to the Drive By Gallery.

What the gallery owner, Sisko, does is to have a self promoting fundraiser (to pay the gallery expenses) every year. It is really a wonderful idea and community event. He and his artist sons each come up with a wall size design in plywood, then they cut it in puzzle pieces. Community members pay 10$ for the pieces then over one hundred people set to making creative art on their individual plywood piece. The artists reassemble the completed pieces and invite the public to silent bid on the pieces. The puzzles are unique, beautiful and outrageously creative. I’m including some photos so you can understand what the heck I was trying to write about.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Work Day

It’s been a hot week with temperatures over 100 degrees, which is really nothing compared to how hot it will be during our true long summer.
We finished getting the garden set up this week. Some seeds are in the ground, some on the planting table and we are buying some starts. I have to show off how beautiful the flowers are of the gorgeous matilla poppy, a California native.
Our neighbors Wendy and Hjalmar make regular use of their solar cooker throughout the year so I’m including that in case you don’t see these where you are—they work well.
Today we had a “work day.” We decided to walk our borders and do some weeding and clearing but mostly we just talked about work that needed to be done like invasive plant removal, where trees need to be planted to increase density to our green border, and where to put brush piles. Michael and I got to hear about what was envisioned and what’s been done since we were gone for so long. We ended the hot, itchy exploration with a breathtakingly cold dip in Comanche Creek, first plunge of the summer.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Colby Meadows

Yesterday we headed up to Colby Meadows for a wander. We usually go up there to ski. It’s about 45 minutes from Chico through Butte Meadows on the way to Humboldt Summit. Michael picked up small quantities of fry oil from the two bars up there which paid our mileage.
We hiked along the creek then crunched over surprisingly deep snow patches in a large loop around the swampy meadows. I saw a little black bear scooting away from us at top speed. The loop was maybe 5 miles but it reminded us what a good work out a wander can be, plus it was great to be out of the valley in an area that is still enjoying spring moisture and growth.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Very Belated Mothers Day

The valley was already summer bleached flat when I drove to SF to be with Orien for Mother’s Day. My baby Geo gets 42 MPG when I am a good human and not running the air conditioner and drive 55.
You will never believe me again about staying home. OK. With the summer heat I’m not going to apologize for any mountain or beach trips, until the energy crisis worsens thanks to me and everybody else.

Mother’s Day was wonderful. We were joined by Suman, Orien’s friend and roommate, and her parents Gita and Chondu. We took the Muni to the Pier on the San Francisco Bay and then the ferry to Tiberon for lunch outdoors overlooking the harbor. If you don’t know the area, you cross the bay between the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate near Alcatraz and Angel Islands. After the spill last summer I was glad to see thousands of cormorants and the sea lions at Pier 39. For now, there must be some edible fish for them.
Today I accumulated 80$ in parking tickets due to my bumpkin ways and got frustrated and irritable with my dear daughter who had other priorities than her very special mother. Now that I’m miserable on the I-80 corridor I have other sources for being cranky, like too much coffee and not enough non-sweet, non-fat nutritious food. This jumble jungle of ugly consumerism around here leaves me lost even as I know that following the 6 lane yellow brick road out there, beyond this Starbucks, will lead me back to Riparia, AKA Home. Once again, I just need to get over myself and get going in whatever order I can.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Chico Veggie Men

Carl is a local Chico man with an interest in straight veggie oil processing. Before him a collective was making biodiesel but one of the members had had liver damage requiring chelation therapy due to poor ventilation with the methanol recovery aspect of biodiesel production. Our local weekly had coverage on a new
local biodiesel producer that came out the day we returned so that made us think some of the issues on veggie oil acquisition had been solved.
Carl has been a great person for Michael to converse with and bounce ideas around with so Michael did a demonstration for Carl at his shop. I got some photos. Obviously Carl isn’t getting rich experimenting with veggie oil.. but, I do believe in these men and what they are doing and appreciate very much their willingness to try to implement their own independent energy policy while the country is still in thrall to export oil and corporate greed.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Sacramento River

Michael calls the modified truck his “sports car” because it is so easy to drive.

On our one week anniversary of being home we went out to the Sacramento River to check in with wildness. Here are some swallow and tern pictures.
Our northern Sacramento valley river cuts through some of the deepest soil in North America. It is our Nile. Now it is controlled by Shasta Dam above, near Redding, as well as a diversion dam in Red Bluff. Further south, before it gets to the Delta it is almost canalized. There are a few sections where there are ripples but mostly it is fast moving, wide, shallow and cold. The biggest risk to humans are snags which appear when trees are washed in to the river during the annual floods. It’s mostly mellow and beautiful with a narrow band of mature deciduous trees flanking it before the tree farms behind them.

I’m very disappointed to read that Fish and Game will allow a salmon season that includes catch and release which often means catch and die. Too bad they are such wimps!

After we canoed a few miles he rode the bike back up to the put in place. Once we were loaded up we went to Scotty’s which is a river dive with a beautiful sunset view from its deck. It's the best place to eat bad food.