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

Sunday, June 29, 2008


We left Chico in stocky grey with a hint of orange. The fires in Butte County had filled the skies with the sickening odor and unhealthy appearance of dullness…things seemed still and lifeless.
Our plan was to cut through to Covelo but the Round Valley Rd. was closed, as were two other back country routes. This ugly Glenn Co image reflects an indignity that’s been in a state of comparing itself to other indignities (eroded and trashed redwoods, Styrofoam packing pellets scattered along the roadway over the mouth of the Gualala River…)
It took us 8 hours to get to my birthday dinner in Elk. Buddhas and bright flowers greeted us at the coast with sweet cool air and we spent our first night on a deserted road above Alder Creek.
The next day we went to the beach north of Point Arena which was littered with festive bladder kelp. There the sculpture was more to our sensibilities.
The second night we camped on a gravel bar on the Gualala River where humans have badly eroded and trashed the unprotected redwood groves between the road and the river. Today we got some more beach time in before we came back through Mendocino fires to a slightly improved home air quality and a grateful appreciation of home again.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


It’s been a few days since the retreat. The fires that started from the lightning strikes on Friday are still burning in many counties. Many friends in Concow have been evacuated from their homes but so far it is only the dull, persistent presence of smoke that is harming anyone. The firefighters are over stretched and I’m sure, exhausted.
The old Ford truck that was the heart of the Veggie Voyager needs 950$ of back end work which we don’t even begin to have so that’s the end of that for awhile.
We are going to go to the coast for my birthday weekend in the Geo and will camp and hike and clear out our lungs and enjoy the coolness.
I decided at the retreat to stay conscious in my writing and not fall in to self censor or cliché but I think both have become natural to me. I’m going to keep working with the process despite a shifting life style. One year of retirement. That’s been an absolute dream fulfilled and now I rest in the fullness of time spoken for and my amblings curtailed. Michael is also working but he’s self employed, doing odd jobs for people and creating his own quixotic schedule.
I’m aligning with the power of presence in all of this. Futurizing does no good but I recognize anxieties running in a reoccurring thread—health care, dental care, car stuff, the quality of life in this California valley with global warming threats…blahdiblahdiblah. I’m living from the space of sensing in which all these vagaries arise.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Days of meditation and arriving in greater equanimity with the energy that all Life is. We rented a home on the bluff of Butte Creek Canyon. So different from my own world. All forms emerging from the creative force of Life.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

June moon

It’s been almost a year since I worked. Now it’s almost time to go back into that mode. I’m treasuring my last few days before things kick up in earnest.
Today we went out to the Sacramento River and paddled from Ord Bend to the pump station on Hwy 45, about 6 miles. It was a hot day, filled with bird song and we got good views of a beaver. I got photos of a canola field and the rising moon too to share with you. Also, the bank. The bank with Riparia Riparia (bank swallow) nests, showing the depth of our great soil here in this great cornucopia.

The full moon of my 61st year.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Spring Fling

Today the fire is 50% contained, 70 houses lost and most shelters are closed. Here at home the air was hot but clear for the Spring Fling. It was also Father’s Day.
We invited Sheldon to breakfast and ate the first of our blackberries with waffles. Then I went off to fill in on a radio show which went well, thanks to Debbie Santiavanez who talked about health care in the immigrant community. Our deep appreciation goes out to those who grow and harvest our food.
When I got home it was time to park cars and be life guard at the swimming hole. It seemed like a good day with especially good feelings toward the end of the day when the moon was rising and things got more magical. I appreciate that money was made for scholarships for kids in Belize and especially thank Bob (and Les) for the hard work that went into it. Bob is shown here with his daughter Kelsi and dear friend Kira. Another father daughter bond is seen here between David and Karisa. Thanks too to the folks in the bands who donated their time away from their own families. (The Steve Cook Band is shown here, folks we love to dance to and have loved for years.)
Happy Fathers Day to all good men who give all they can so their kids can become the best they can be. Love begets Love.

Friday, June 13, 2008


When I last wrote about drawing a card, it was one of these. At Weezie’s Bday we made our own tarot cards. Mine aren’t for divination. Just for creating a space to live the awareness of the day in. Today is “understanding.”
The fire in the foothills is still wrecking havoc with peoples’ lives.
Today I spent time working at one of the shelters that have been set up in Chico. Michael is still helping repair pipe that was broken by the fire trucks when we had our own conflagration.

The orchard pictured here is on Diamond Match property. Formerly there was a dump with very high concentrations of heavy metals right where this almond orchard is still barely hanging on. All the smoke from the Diamond Match fire blew right over on us as we fought the fire on our land.
Next photo is of our landfill mountain with the fire burning behind it. Another view of the fire reminded me of 9-11 in the sad and alarmed feeling that all of us in the valley felt watching it yesterday. It’s still burning today and evacuations are continuing and we still don’t know what the future holds in terms of containment.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


The day started off with nice moisture relations. My friend Sheryl and I went walking in the park and I saw my friend Lin swimming in the One Mile pool.
I spent the day shadowing another nurse for my new position as a home visiting psych nurse. She and I were coming down from the town of Paradise, watching fuel rich fire clouds headed toward Butte Creek Canyon over the Doe Mill Ridge from Stilson Canyon.
By tonight that fire had crossed the Skyway, the road I show here, and was headed to another sparsely populated foothill road called Neal Rd.
My friend Barb dropped me off at the office and I called Michael and he breathlessly told me he couldn’t talk because he was fighting a fire on the land. I rushed home and was appalled to see a long line of cars and fire trucks on our little country road. On foot I rushed around to enter our property by the creek and slowly began to figure out what was going on.
A fire was started by workers on the Louisiana Pacific rail line, west of us. It quickly spread to the Diamond Match property across from us. Meanwhile, fire had also spread south, along our property line, gobbling up our border trees and dried weeds, spreading into the back orchard and taking out the tip of the property where old oaks have nestled in peace for at least the 28 years I’ve lived here. The people here fought the flames with our hoses alongside the firefighters with their big hoses and expertise. Our fire was pretty safely contained and in ugly, smelly fire ravaged mode within two hours. How quickly things change. At least the people, animals and houses are ok. Hope the people on the ridges fare as well. Right now that fire is 3500 acres!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Today I pulled the card Celebration. It has been an important listening tool as I notice how everything can be held in a gentle full sense of celebration. This includes death, healing, job seeking hassles, the blowery wind, gophers getting the pumpkin plants, shopping frugally and drying apricots.
Just another full day in the archives of the temporarily retired. Actually, I wanted to share more photos from the weekend. It was fun to see Orien and some long lost friends, great to see kids doing yo-yo tricks and playing chess, artists painting teepees, and of course, great to watch Tibetan flags sending prayers and Celebrating their beauty

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Ema and Cedar wed

Ema and Cedar wed with all the people who love them gathered round in a heavenly venue. Orien and Ema have been friends since they were “this high” and they hold their hands apart like a fisherman describes a small fish. Now, all the kids are adults. Some come up to me like they know me and talk about things we shared, like Dreamweavers in Open Structure. I loved doing that parent volunteer session but I can’t remember the little kids in their still new bodies. They are buff or beautiful, married and sometimes with kids of their own. Some one of my age said yesterday, it’s a lot better going to weddings then all the funerals we’ve been to lately. Yes! I’d say so!!

Tang Lor’s story in the News and Review gave us a bit of rock star fame. I sound so stupid when I start waxing on about how much I love the earth and how beautiful it is. That’s how it was last night with Ema at her wedding. It was all I could say was how Beautiful she is. The emotional lexicon of my heart is small but powerful.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Land Folk

All week I’ve been sick. Here’s a poem from that—
It’s so cold in the hot center of me. The vast array of my ear is tuned to the crinkle of sounds that pulse and buzz inside my head. The little surprise internal poker spears a new sticky spring from my deaf side.
My will has washed me through the days but now sunset holds me moored to the bed while the walnut tree outside beckons me to either come out or keep my eyes open to watch the play of the light. I am here leaning into the moments as they pass gently, accumulating symptom by symptom, leaning into healing waiting for the sickness to pass.

We had lots of land meetings this week and it’s been great to be together. We missed the land’s 20th anniversary last year while we were out on the road but it seems we will never hone the agreements that will truly ease future inheritance questions. Our kids will just have to figure it out on their own. I hope the land will stay rural/agricultural as it is now but I know I can’t control that.

Michael and I also got to meet the GRUB collective who are farming on a portion of the land here. I really liked them and their enthusiasm and easy ways but didn’t get any group shots.

Bee boxes are back with lots of enthusiastic bees on all the flowers but so are the horrible styrofoam ice chests that last about one use then degrade until they are thousands of tiny beads in the soil or water or bellies of wild beings.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Pam in the Park

Today I went walking with one of my former work buddies named Pam. She is a mighty woman doing her best to protect elders and dependent adults who are at risk of neglect or abuse and she is also a social worker of great humor and wisdom.
In our county the budget is in such bad shape that nurses no longer work alongside social workers at Adult Protective Services. Perhaps if I’d stayed things might have gone differently but I might have been punted somewhere else in Public Health like the other nurse in the program was after I left. I have great respect for all my former colleagues and the difficult, critical work they do. I’ve read the national budget is “flat” for Adult Protective Services. That’s yet another thing that must change as demographics are changing…and it can’t happen too soon!
Anyway, we just wandered and enjoyed Big Chico Creek and the reflections of the sycamores, the old Campfire Girl mosaics at the fire ring, and the benches, especially this one dedicated by Soroptomists, a Global Voice for Women, (and a great group of women locally.)

Mc Queen

For some years now, on this first weekend of June, I’ve loaded up with other women to drive to McCloud for the Celebration of our Queen Weezie’s 50th birthday. This year was her 9th annual 50th birthday.
I think this year, more than any other time, I’ve just been amazed by the talent, magic, humor, hard work, political devotion, creativity and of course, beauty, of the group of women who gather to celebrate the flame of Weezie’s life.
My photos tell the story of spring not finished as McCloud is at elevation and in the shadow of Mt. Shasta. They also would like to tell of a community ravaged by doubts about its future as multinational giant Nestle is trying to tap (steal) their water to bottle and sell. (Since their mill closed tourism just doesn’t cut it to employ the small populace.) It’s a real crisis that divides the town. Meanwhile, it is a wonderful place to visit and make play in.