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

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Direct Action to Stop Drones

 Every month we (people committed to peace) go to the gates of Beale Air Force Base. We even have a website now you can look at for more information--

This time was different. Active participants had gone to Pakistan in a recent delegation and talked to people directly affected by the drone strikes. It became clearer than ever that innocents are suffering and dying due to this rogue U.S. technology and that people in the countryside are living in terror and more and more of their extended countrymen were seeing our country as without humanity.
Our commitment to peace has deepened as we realize that both Presidential candidates are willing to be war criminals-- to press forward on this short term strategy for tailoring wars and controlling other countries through the cruelest of means, without moral or legal justification.
 We were able to use our banners and our 60 or so bodies to block the Main Gate of Beale for over four hours.
 We spoke to the press, to the county police, to the media and to the base personnel about the situation of the powerless, about the immorality of drone strikes and about our concerns about the gathering international arms race in drone technology.
 Eventually we had nine arrests on federal charges-- four at one gate and these five at the Main Gate. Some of these people are luminaries of the Peace and Justice movement, others are local to our region. We are all united in our opposition to drone warfare and the need to inform the American people and the world about the current and coming terrors of robotic surveillance and murder. We hope you will join us at drone bases springing up throughout the U.S. and the world and will use every tool in your democratic kit bag in stopping this abominable menace to human-kind.

Final amazements

 It was a long warm drive from Mt. Shasta to Mineral. The Lassen National Park road was closed so we arrived at last light and made our way to Wilson Lake which still had some crusty snow on the ground. This is a very shallow lake that is often in-filled as meadow in summer. There is always the sounds of ducks and geese at the wet end of the lake. We were able to watch the full moon rise and catch the drifting mists of morning shifting and playing as the sun rose.
 We were also able to pick up 85 gallons of veggie oil at the local restaurants and catch up with the people we have gotten to know over time in begging oil from them.
 Michael processed veggie oil by Deer Creek as I wandered around looking for likely photos and thinking about our journey and the time ahead at Beale Air Force Base participating in the Drone Protest. The simplest beauty is mine.... a speckled fallen leaf tangled in a Ponderosa Pine needle cluster, a tuft of grass in the sparkling waters of the creek, the frosty dew on the last rose hips....
 We have been so lucky, so blessed, so fortified by our time in nature and on the roads. Again I have to sing Michael's praises for all the truck repairs and all the commitment to running us on vegetable oil. It's really quite amazing....

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The circle closes

 We re-entered California yesterday as the last light was making it over the Siskiyou Mountains onto Mt. Shasta and strange spaceship clouds were competing with an almost full moon for specialness privileges. The dreaded contrails trace the sky around our beloved mountain and were at it by dawn again this morning.
The weather and environment are once again completely flipped. Off come the raincoats and jackets. We were able to get bio-diesel in the little Medford addendum of Phoenix yesterday and Michael still has 15 gallons of veggie oil to process for our last legs of this journey. We have time and may pick up more veggie oil today from the mountain community restaurants that usually supply us-- it they still have been holding on to it.
 I feel very Blessed to have Good Friends. Above is my forever young friend Jan who is a pediatric nurse practitioner, musician, horsewoman and wise-woman. Despite tragic slings of outrageous fortune you can see joy in her eyes. I hope we can once again be roommates somewhere in Guatemala as we were in years past doing clinics with nursing students and Pueblo Partisans.
 And this is art historian in training, Addie. We have know Addie for most of her life and she is the daughter of our land partners and friends. She is in her first year at OSU in Ashland and we had the opportunity to go to lunch and tour town and campus with her yesterday. Her dearness as well as core strength and sweetness touched us both. She took this photo of us, old hippies, adventurers reflecting Love back to her. Seeing her made us miss our Riparia community. It will be good to see everyone.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Looping around the High Country

 We tried to navigate a short cut through to a hot springs on the Umpqua from Oakridge but by the 4500 foot level we were getting concerned as the snow was a foot deep. Just short of what appeared to be the pass we got bogged down and Michael had to do some shoveling and gunning to get us either forward or backward.... much wiser was backward and we were able to retrace our tire treads.
 Michael processed veggie oil at this pull out where the reservoir on the Middle Fork of the Willamette usually is. (All the Oregon reservoirs we've seen are very low.)
 There was only a brief respite before the rain came and lasted through the night.
 But in the morning we were far from there. (Without any solar gain we had to run the engine to recharge the batteries so we drove into the night, which we didn't enjoy doing.) We were again by the Willamette, but on the road between Oakridge and Eugene and woke to wet, mossy green again.

Many of our days pass without talking to people except in the cursory way of obtaining good and services. We listen to radio, play Scrabble, and read during the lengthening evenings. Soon we'll be with friends again though and that shift will accompany the end of one kind of adventure and the start of a new one.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Oregon's changing eco-systems

 On leaving Bend we went to the High Desert Museum where there was a butterfly exhibit and I could simply post photos of these magnificent creatures but we also walked around to check out the other exhibits. This whole trip we have failed to see a river otter so it was nice to watch this born-in -captivity lone otter but in the case of all the caged birds and mammals there was still the heaviness of their sentences.
 After leaving the Bend area we headed into the Cascades and stayed at Elk Lake where it had snowed the day before and snowed again during the night.
 In the morning we rolled over an unmarked road until we drifted lower and headed further west.
 Suddenly we were back in cedar, moss, lichen, and yellow maple. We had a great soak at McCready Hot Springs. We explored across the raging Salt Creek in our bathing suits to the hot pools on either side of the creek with the cold water over-topping our boots. It was just striking to have gone from high desert to winter snowy high country to almost coastal Oregon conditions in less than a day!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Central Oregon to Bend

 Rainbows to the very little town of Prairie City for being the place we could finally (since entering the U.S.) get rid of our glass and other recycling! Montana doesn't take glass and forget it for recycling in any rural part of Idaho. We blew across Central Oregon like the clouds, stopping only to shop the Farmers Market in the town of John Day and take in the John Day Fossil Beds. The canyon shown here is a basalt old hotspot, like what is under Yellowstone.
 Imagine creatures 40-50 million years ago on the vast savannah of Central Oregon. After being lit with the ideas of the ancient nature of the predator/prey relationship we wandered into a film last night in Bend-- Beasts of the Wild South. It rang a bell of urgency and hope-- a confusing film with a visceral impact about marginal living, survival, self-sufficiency and identity as much as about catastrophic environmental changes.
 When we got to Bend Michael headed off to watch the Packers game and I hit the bookstores as well as listened to our home-girls (MaMuse) win the Prairie Home Companion duets competition in the truck sitting by the tamed Deschutes River. Inner City Bend felt just fine but out at the shinier REI area (Old Mill yup) I started to have one of my waking civilization nightmares although I appreciated the garbage art in the REI entrance to remind people what is floating in our waterways.
 It was walking around that got me... This is the Victoria Secrets display-- taking the baby pink, the breast cancer awareness month and the Trayvon Martin tragedy and turning them into one twisted compressed sales pitch... oh my dear sisters in Code Pink... I wish for another color!

We are in the Whole Foods Store, surrounded by beer six packs, recyclable shopping bags, Halloween kitsch, with pumpkins and snowy skies outside...insistent, loud music in our ears. Bend, our biggest city stop... It's time to leave thee.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Back in Oregon!

 We started off on the Middle Payette together the other day but the river was low, cold and submerged rocks were a constant hazard so I bailed out with Sasha and walked back to do the shuttle so Michael wouldn't have to ride the bike back (that's the odd shaped object behind him.) He did much better without my weight in the bow and I was happy to see these turkey hens as we strolled back into the Boise National Forest for the truck.
 Yesterday we crossed into Oregon. We got lower and lower until the land north of Boise was just rolling, rocky hills and dry pasture. We stayed at a "wildlife PRODUCTION unit" our last night and debated trying one last section of the Payette but decided against it and went to a Hotspring (a fancy spa, not the wild kind,)  instead.
 The most interesting route seemed to be to follow the Snake River north and then follow the Burnt River Canyon west. We stayed at a mining claim with this view of the tiny river and Michael processed 30 gallons of veggie oil.
 On my wanderings with Sasha I walked right up to this chest high sweet little nest. It turned into a rainy afternoon and we were really happy to find a comfy restaurant with wifi along our lumbers. It's getting dark now though and it's time to find our place.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

More Idaho Hotsprings

 The lakes we mentioned in the last post were at 9,000 feet. Stanley Lake (above) was at 6500 feet and it rained the night we were there. Since the weather has remained unsettled we have moved slowly west on Hwy 21. This next shot is out of sequence but it is the well-loved Kirkham Hot Spring on the Payette River. Behind these natural hotsprings you can see the results of a forest fire from 1989. Over 80, 000 acres burned this summer and over the last generation fires have become more severe... you can see how slowly the land comes back.
 We enjoyed the Bonneville Hot Springs on Warm Creek even though the pools were shallow. We were down to about 4,000 feet and back in fall colors.
 It's also a very popular place with a forest service campground and an old wooden changing building with a hot tub bathtub in it. It was great to have it all to ourselves.
 The best though was today at Pine Flats. Last night it rained like crazy and then this morning there was another good squall so we didn't hike in until about noon and were able to enjoy this wonderful shower pool. It felt like a mosaic of temperatures thudding down on your body; like a blinding massage off the cliffs above. The Payette River is about 20 feet below-- you can't tell in this photo. Amazing!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Sawtooth Mountains

 We are now in Stanley, Idaho. This area has many hotsprings along the Salmon River and we are using a book called Hiking Hot Springs in the Pacific Northwest (Litton) to help us find them. I wanted to mention last post that we bought another book called Guide to Idaho Paddling (Daly and Watters) that guided us on our route along the Challis stretch of the Salmon.
 Stanley is a cute little town... they suffered 8 weeks of fire here this year and where we hiked today had seen miles of fire destroyed forest eight years ago. We hiked to two lakes in the Cloud Mountains, across the valley from the Sawtooth range-- Fourth of July, shown here....
 and Washington. They were both beautiful with a chilly wind blowing but a warm intermittent sun. For mid-October it is pretty amazing that the snows haven't come yet.
 The earth is dry and the plants have died back. Hunters, some with wolf tags, are everywhere but this trail did not allow ATVs so we had a quiet day without them. The earth is just waiting for its blanket of snow and time of dormancy.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Salmon River near Challis

 We traveled in a golden corridor of cottonwood (and others, all yellow) and brilliant blue sky for 14 miles yesterday from the Challis Bridge to Watts Bridge on the Salmon River. It took five hours and was absolute balm.
 The water levels were low but in the inflatable we only got hung up twice. The water was still rushing and braided so there were always negotiations to be made. Because of our speed it was hard to have time for bird watching but we did see dipper, pipit, osprey, bald eagle, and of course, magpies.
 The cliffs were colorful with reds, cobalt blues, browns of every variation. The water tented and rolled and went glossy as we delighted our way along.
 The best though was this 100+ herd of elk. We'd heard them the night before-- bugling and squealing breathlessly with coyotes singing nearby. They are a haunted and hunted group with a narrow band of habitat between the town of Challis and the farms and pop-up houses and outbuildings along the way. The ranger said they have just gone through archery season and are also hunted with rifles and wolf predation. They were skittish of us even from this distance. What is called the Round Valley is at the tipping point for them.