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

Monday, August 31, 2009


Bob and Leslie! Happy 20th Anniversary.

Greg, Happy 33rd year of Sobriety!

Baba, Happy 50th!

Friday, August 28, 2009

From the 4 percentile

My meditation teacher Don Kollmar ( was talking about the four percent of the universe that is made of matter. It must be the creative space that allows for diversity and what I call beauty.. the end product when I notice how the light hits or my eye captures, or the camera has lucked out, and that doesn’t include any thinking about the complex and miraculous structure and function of the eye itself or its relationship to Ms. brain. The emotional reaction that comes with what I call beauty comes out of a gap in thinking in that moment of perception and the catch of awe.
There are all the myriad of things that progress through our experiencing and fill our lives as the clock ticks away on the time we have here. I could tell you about health, disease, poverty, international projects, interpersonal challenges, local things that are confounding me…. There is always an emotional hook about all the problems and about the brevity of time and seeming futility of it all.
But, I am free and chose peace and can live in the moments I afford myself to wander this dry late summer time among the still blooming flowers and volunteer tomatoes. It is such a gracious ability we (all) have just to appreciate. Here, in our impersonal blogified world I share an intense soundless relationship with what pleases and captivates me about the simple beautiful things around me. No recipes.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Veggie Volks!

Late summer in the valley and Bruce has a bumper crop of heirloom tomatoes. While we have been bumper to bumper all day...
We bought a great new used car today from a nice young woman in Sacramento. It’s a 2006 VW Golf TDI that has been professionally converted by Plant Drive ( in Berkeley to run on veggie oil. It’s got manual push button controlled valves which automatically switch bio/diesel to veggie when the oil is hot enough and an automatic purge to switch back to the bio/diesel (so the oil doesn’t congeal in the lines.) It also can be run on straight bio/diesel by-passing the veggie system.

To run the car on veggie you put the veggie oil in the main tank and there’s a 2 gallon tank inside the spare tire, shown below, for starting/ stopping the car on bio/diesel.
Why these conversions cost $5000 is because the main tank requires a heater, as well as a heated filter and inline electric heater plus a flat plate heat exchanger (fphe) and 2 electric fuel pumps and electric switching solenoids.

This is essentially the same system from the same company that is on our Ford truck Veggie Voyager but this VW has heavy duty electrical fuel pumps and it has a newer, better heated oil filter.
It all intimidates me but I am glad, since I really needed to replace my Geo, which gets 40+ MPG, that I was able to get a car that gets 45-50MPG and can also run on veggie oil. I am very grateful, especially, that Michael has the expertise and the confidence to sort out the details and questions to make this alternative possible.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Coast time

We spent the weekend on the coast. Michael's total veggie oil haul was 125 gallons plus we topped off the diesel tank with bio-diesel at Real Goods store in Hopland on the way home.
I wanted to show all my beautiful pictures but this information about the plastic is more important. Infinitely more important.

Michael and I got to the youth hostel in Pt Reyes after dark. It had been awhile since I slept in one of these hostel barracks with a room of strangers but it was uneventful, except the VV had a minor tree run-in and then was invaded by raccoons. It was good to be back on the traveling side of the San Andreas. After my trainings, Michael obtained 70 gallons of veggie oil back on the Sir Francis Drake then we walked out in the scouring winds of Limantour Beach where this strange fish was gasping up on the beach. (Called a chimera, see below.) We walked up the Sky Trail at sunset and then camped outside the park at the trailhead for the Marin Bike Path.
In the morning we rode bikes to the Samuel Taylor State Park, reading the signage about the first west coast paper mill, imagining the vision, the hard work and the destructiveness of this mid 19th century undertaking, miles from the San Francisco newspapers, way before the days of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Later we wandered up to the Russian River where we camped and visited the Goat Head rock, shown here, in the morning. The best thing was very insignificant but luscious in the doing—we napped in the warm sand with the clean just-right sun and air on us. We paddled up to the mouth where the harbor seals are pupping and lounging, beset by human tourists.
The last night before turning inland at the Navarro River was camping at the mouth, except the mouth is barred by a dense strand of sand. Still, the river, visibly disconnected from the sea still rises and falls with the tides.

Before we left I helped my co-workers celebrate the birthday of the wonderful Barb Clifford... here are Elaine, DeAnne, Patty and Barb at our lunch together. Wonderful women!

Last Riparia Gathering post

So, I couldn't help but post just a few more pictures.
This is Baba and Mharia, who with daughters Ikiti and Oya, lived in the "Red House" for a number of years. Baba is turning 50 so I should have more photos of him soon from his birthday party.

Hjalmar lives in the "white house" with Wendy and Imani.

Bruce farms on the land and supplied a lot of the food we ate during the weekend, grabbed off his free table.

Finally, Rosa and Kelsi, childhood friends.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

After the gathering

Orien is in Canada with her dad's side of the family. She was our note taker for the gathering. My heart always aches a bit when she leaves since I rarely see her.
Matthew, Ruth, and Nina didn't get their photos in the last postings so I wanted to recognize them. Matthew is our oldest "kid" and he and Ruth did a good job bridging the gap among the ages and making the best of down time.

My photo of Kelsi didn't post. The most photogenic among us isn't here.
But this pumpkin squash flower made it. It seemed so quiet yesterday after Guthrie and her family left! We hardly get to miss a beat before we are off to our next adventure but the echo of faces and voices is still in my mind. Thanks to all who made it such a successful time together!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Second set of pictures from "Kids" Reunion

There were five grandkids at the gathering. Here are Erin's children, Guthrie's grandchildren, Hayley and Kirsten who are two years apart in age.
We also had partners. Ashley came from Vermont with Tiffany and watched the grandkids all weekend. Friends joined us out by the creek today for an "All Riparia" gathering and celebration of the life of Ron Alder, so I add Kathy Faith and Richard Roth in our muscle shot here with Guthrie.

There was a pretty good balance of meetings with feasting and playing, I thought. As well as time to read a good book, as Zachary is doing here. (I don't have pictures of Matthew, Ruth and Nina here but that doesn't mean they are any less photogenic.)

Our kids are adults now. Erin is a hard working mother of three. When most folks moved onto the land, some 22 years ago Erin was a teenager and the oldest resident child. Now she has her own beautiful kids like the two girls above as well as Liona.
I've left out my own dear Orien and Michael from these photos but they were here too and I think the time and activities brought us all much closer. Thanks to everyone for the sense of family and community we share.

"Kids" Reunion

Addie is the youngest member of our community. She sat through weekend meetings with the other kids whose ages ranged up to young 40s.
This was our long awaited Kids Reunion. A chance for our heirs to talk with us and with each other about our collectively held land, called Riparia Farm. Here's Leslie, Sheldon and Guthrie.

Emily was explaining some of the great possibilities for planting beneficials plants and creating habitat in the future, as well as for invaisive plant removal here.

Guthrie and her kids came out from the east coast, Tiffany from Vermont and Alek from Boston.

Bob and Leslie, our diehard activists had two of their three kids at the meeting. It was a fantastic weekend for being all together, sharing our partnership agreement and getting the kids' feedback and understanding.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Jenny and Steves' Wedding

Davis brought Orien up from SF and she jumped right in to Jenny and Steves' Wedding, something that has been carefully planned for a very long time. They had a wonderful traditional wedding that was as much for them as for their family and friends.
Jenny has been a dear friend of Orien's since Jr. High. Jenny was especially close to us during high school and we Love her alot. She and Steve have lived together for a number of years but are delighted to be married now. Very sweet and generous couple!

We also got to stay in Bayside on our way to the wedding, which was in Carlotta, with Angela and Raymond and their two amazing kids, Jet and Lin, who are growing up fast now.
I'm really glad, despite how short the weekend was, that we got to go.... As usual, it all depended on Michael obtaining and processing the veggie oil. (This and the last trip were all on veggie oil.)