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

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Continually Grateful

 We joined with friends, friends of friends and land partners for Thanksgiving dinner and a brief lighting of the Menorah for the second night of Chanukah. The photo was to be for Kyle Silliman-Smith who turned 30 last week but then we got goofy.
 It's still abnormally warm here in the valley. People were downtown today in summer clothing. It is nice to have the color and the continuing gardens but we need rain and the natural seasons.
 This evening we went out to Gray Lodge with Kathy and Dale. Thousands of snow geese and ducks of all kinds fill the shallow ponds and sky above them here on the Pacific Flyway.
 We are feeling the grace of this mild and sweet time. Our gratitude spills out from Thanksgiving and heads into the new week ahead of us, a week that promises challenge. We have been receiving encouragement and courage from our friends and family and we feel supported and buoyed.  We send our love back into the cybersphere to all of you.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

 A million kisses under this bramble of mistletoe I would give to this dear man. We got a second opinion and have momentum now. We also have the slimmest of hopes... the thoracentesis will determine if we must go down that difficult path and that is scheduled for Monday.
 Today was a beautiful day. It is really quite like riding a surf board carrying this much joy and this much sorrow at the same time. You just try to keep standing and moving forward.
 I'm waiting for the food to come out of the oven then we will gather with the other Riparia folks and their guests for a delicious pot luck meal. It's dark now. The sweetness of the day is still unfolding. I wish you health, beauty, joy, productivity, and peace as well as fearlessness and what you need without excess whether you celebrate this day as a holiday or not.
 For a healthy earth too....

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Calm calamity

 The wild aster shows it's delicate sweet face in Vermillion Cliffs as well as in our back field--last dash of summer in many places. No one much here at home wants to see my photos  and I feel the need to compartmentalize what is still so fresh and vibrant about our recent Veggie Voyage looping western Wyoming and most of Utah. Those were good times. Lots of open space and relationship with great beauty and interesting people. It gives me warm and quiet joy to rethink of it.
 We came back to some mundane stuff but also to one huge shock- Michael's routine follow up CT scan showed a probable recurrence of cancer, now in the lung. Unless you have been through such a shock and know what it feels like I have little need to want you to imagine it and no need to walk you through my feelings or thoughts.
 Michael feels well in his body and has no symptoms and the main thing we are doing is all the routine things of catching up with our lives where they need us to show up. We are not as calm and sanguine as I sound writing this but we are in love with life and committed to living it fully and as normally as we can. We know we are on the cusp of more big medical decisions and procedures and I may not be posting much for awhile.
Here at Riparia Bruce has set out over 100 different types of lettuce. They gleam in the late fall sun. He's also still selling hundreds of dollars of heirloom variety tomatoes and besides asters there are still summer vegetables and flowers enjoying their time before frost. The Thanksgiving cornucopia of this valley never ceases to amaze me.
 And there is a cornucopia of work that awaits too. These poke plants are beautiful and the berries are luscious looking but when the raccoons eat the seeds they end up planting these deep rooted survivors everywhere. Digging them out in summer is something I do every year and I don't much enjoy it. Now is the time for so many things. Live. Love. Enjoy the earth we are Blessed within.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Pine Creek

 My old friend Howard seems ok in this photo but he really isn't. He's going to be 90 next month and he has been having a lot of health problems lately. We were headed out to Pine Creek anyway but a friend alerted us that his health was failing so this poignant visit coincided with our own final days of the journey. Howard owns a lot of land and has always had English Setters, like faithful Colby here. In recent years he gets around on his "mule" by what his son calls braille since he can barely see. In this photo Howard was trying to introduce himself to a new "mule" since the old one wasn't dependable anymore.
 Michael and I the opportunity and our own two feet to propel us out to catch the moon rise over by Zimmershed creek. First the sunset through one of the valley oaks....
 Then part of the autumnal acorn stash of the industrious acorn woodpeckers.
 Then finally the full Beaver Moon rising in a rather sooty sky off toward the Cohasset Ridge in the far distance and a long walk back with it's cool light to shadow us.
We had a good visit with Howard, that was what was important. To drink in the memories and one more experience of this place that has been so dear to me for so many years.
In the morning we visited the little cedar cabin a mile from Howard's house where I lived when I first came to the area and where Orien was conceived 33 years ago. It's the end of our Veggie Voyage today and we've settled back into our own home at Riparia, in Chico. The land everywhere is dry and ready to drink up winter's watering and for the leaves to return to enrich the soil. The cycle of our lives is turning and we and our friends aren't as strong as once we were but the Love nurtured from the soil of past kindness and shared experience and the love of the wild land keeps the connections strong and abiding past death do we part.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Returning, once again

 After Reno we finished out our 395 northward trajectory at Hallelujah Junction and took Hwy 70 to pick up Bio-diesel in Vinton, stopped for a few things in Quincy where I reveled in this stunning deciduous tree still holding its leaves, then turned north again past Greenville and up around the curve of Lake Almanor. We visited a little with the folks at Childs Meadow and then spent the night at the South-west entrance of Lassen National Park. In the morning we hiked through the snowless dry meadows up and down to Mill Creek Falls.
 I'm sorry I didn't get a better photo... It is the confluence of Sulphur and Bumpass Creeks and has a beautiful double drop.
 After the hike we did our rounds of restaurants in the area and Michael picked up about 75 gallons of veggie oil. We then commenced to wind our way down into the valley.
 I don't know how well you can see the map but it shows you the loop we made between Sept. 3rd and yesterday. Coming into Chico was hard... the air quality was terrible, the town has become more intolerant since we left hiring armed guards to patrol the downtown and this city of 87,000 plus seems overwhelmingly busy in our big unwieldy veggie voyager. The good things are that scarlet and yellow leaves are still on the trees, the moon is almost full, our land looks as beautiful as ever, our daughter is well and friends are doing ok, mostly. We are having a few homeless days to curb surf for the time being.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tufa, Goblin, Gardens... 700 Posts!

 Michael needed to process the veggie oil we picked up in Ely and Tonapah and the best place for me to wander around would have to be Mono Lake. Unfortunately we didn't get to the Visitors Center to find out about the water levels. It has been five years since I've been here and the lake seemed low to me, but it is fall.
 The light kept changing and I kept shooting. Like the photos in Lehman Cave, after awhile I couldn't tell which were better but I think these are striking enough. Click on them to enlarge them.
 While I was stumbling around in the chest high sage and rabbit brush over remnants of past tufa from higher lake levels Michael was processing. He didn't get done until well after dark and then we drove to charge the battery. Surreal to be on Hwy 395 with trucks and high speeds in the dark after we were so used to being just about the only vehicle on the road.
 This afternoon we are back in the really populated corridor of 395 leading into Reno. I hold the light of the ancient land forms and carry this journey home with me-- still in awe as we pass the bare trees and their perfect form, the soft colors of the desert brush, the glimpses of the former rural nature of this route. It has been another sweetly imbued journey which rests in me with my Love and Appreciation for Michael as we close the circle at Reno.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Back into California

 There is no clear Leaving Nevada/Welcome to California sign coming over Hwy 6...just this: We miss you already. On the other side, the magnificent 13,000 foot Boundary Mountain looming up. At the western base of the mountain we took Benton Crossing road to Long Valley and there it all was - the lovely caldera with steam rising from the magma vents and the jutting snow dusted Sierra Nevada, the curve of the Great Basin.
 This was the first kiss of sun photographed from the V.V. in the clear morning. People with many cars coming and going til late had tied up the Shephard's HotSpring that Michael made  a bee line to last night. We'd forgotten it was a "holiday" weekend and we didn't know folks would be coming from a climbing competition in Bishop and partying in the hotspring, tents and vehicles right up to the rim of the hotsprings. I was resentful and then had to examine my own elite sense of entitlement about open space.
 I soaked my snit out at what we think is called Crab Pot, a short walk over the hill in the next draw from the exuberant campers. Quiet and room to spare.
 My mind shifted from the uber-campers to burn unit patients I took care of back in the day when we looked down from the Hat Creek parking lot... we used to soak here with dozens of other people 30 years ago but now I'd be afraid to...I can't shake the suffering of my patients during dressing changes. Burns are the worst! I'll love and admire Hat Creek in passing and express gratitude for the angels of the valley who volunteer to clean and maintain the hot springs out in the valley for all of us visitors. Today is Remembrance Day-- may all suffering end.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Grand Army of the Republic crosses Nevada

 With Veterans Day coming on we didn't know that this longest transcontinental route across America was named to honor Civil War veterans.  We just picked it because it looked the most remote. It turned out to be really beautiful... your eye always rests at the horizon line on shimmering valley dust or the dark lines of mountain ranges marching out with new summits, all above 6000 feet. There's a few cattle, a few ranches, a few oil and gas rigs, a few Dept. of Defense holdings, some mining but mostly nothing but the subtle living earth and the geological features of its outline.
 It's 168 miles without gas or services of any kind so M pumped veggie oil in at Warm Springs. He remains in prospector mode--we never found his razor cord but he's getting more and more ruggedly handsome as he grows more shaggy.
 Warm Springs, boarded up and posted to keep us out, was really a beautiful little spot. Here's an investment opportunity for you folks... the water was perfect for soaking but I was too chicken to slip through the fence.
 In late afternoon we got into Tonapah. Michael found 25 gallons of veggie oil and we got a movie at the grocery store and hauled out to a BLM road for the night. The morning shows the same struggling unique town with downtown tailings, plastic bag jellyfish, glinting broken glass, casinos and hard held lives here on the sweetly traveled Hwy 6. Even Sal Paradise of On the Road wanted to try Hwy 6 but he never did and we got to. We'll cross into California on it later today-- back to "the mother ship."

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Great Basin National Park

 My friend always talked about Great Basin National Park and we wanted to see it but winter had closed the mountain peaks, lakes and bristlecone pine hikes and only one campground was open but oh so beautiful! Aspen, rosehips, ice laced rocks...
 We thought everything was closed but by serendipity we were down at the Visitors Center before 9am and able to go into the Lehman Caves with a small group and a ranger and see this incredible feat of nature. You see the jelly fish shaped things in the shot below? The round flat top is called a Shield and no one has yet figured out how they are formed.
 The limestone features of stalactite, stalagmite, pillars, drapes and the whole fairy tale reality is formed by water, weak carbonic acid and time. Apparently Las Vegas wants the water from these northern Nevada valleys so the caves themselves are at risk. I'm reading a novel based in these valleys and the survival of ranchers and the water war is the underlying topic of the book... because of the book I had an inkling but the thought of this living wonder dying compounded my anger and sadness. Northern Nevada and Northern California have these two threats in common.
 Last night we camped at Cleve Creek in the Schell Creek Range and Michael processed veggie oil (35 gallons.) Great clouds formed to give him the honor he deserves.

Cedar Breaks to Baker

 Cedar Breaks is over 10,000 feet and it was frigid when we were the only ones at this National Monument before heading down to Cedar City before snow fall. Some say it is like a mini-Bryce and that the colors are even more radiant. All I know is that it was beautiful and somewhat unexpected.
 We went north from Cedar City to Parowan Gap, a gap in a mountain range the ancients moved through. It seems that the petroglyphs were much different than elsewhere. Everything seemed to be about distances, or sizes, or numbers or directions. Ancient geometry.
 The over-all effect of the cold and the ancient communications was to make me fill with wonder all over again at their lives lived within such harsh conditions so many years ago.
 We traveled a long while, angling up to the Great Basin National Park but in the valley below there was something called the Baker Archeological Site where a community of ancients had thrived in distant time past, their buildings oriented to the sun and solstice. We had not seen ancestral dwellings in the middle of a vast valley before so it was another wonderful thing to read about. Now we are in Nevada where the islands of mountains run north to south with these wide valleys in between. Our eyes are adjusting to the new beauty.