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, August 31, 2014

Awakened State of Wonder?

 I was just listening to a travel show and a discussion between travelers Pico Iyer and Rick Steeves and they mentioned this feeling I always get when we travel... this ecstatic but calm awakened state of wonder.. We travel for this and find it constantly.. I also know about wanting to hold onto it when I come home and how it dissipates... the sweetness drains away when the natural world is not part of the play of a day.
 Our trip last week meandered back through Childs Meadows, Mill Creek and Mineral to pick up veggie oil then down to the Sacramento River to join our friend Luisa for her 55th birthday potluck and chocolate truffle cake on a (sand)bar at dusk. Still had the beauty of beaver, egrets, the glassy feel of the river as the light departed.
 As the week passed Michael followed his own agenda and I followed mine and for him the quest to find an ever more perfect boat was answered by buying this little inflatable kayak. My week is a blur... really, I'd have to march it out like a tin soldier from the pages of my day planner.
 Meanwhile, trust me, I was doing my usual many things, including tabling for Frack-Free Butte the theater presentation called The Butcher Shop, down the road from us but on the land of our adjacent neighbor.
 All the while we have been able to enjoy the richness of summer... many of the tomatoes and peppers shown here were raised by our neighbor Bruce here at Riparia. I caught them at the very end of Farmers Market yesterday... still a glorious display.
 Then today, to round out the week from where we started up at Crystal Lake last Sunday, we went out in the new boat on the Thermalito Forebay... enjoying how it moved, what there was to see, the sense of freedom in being somewhere we don't usually go.
 But also seeing the risks... a tiny snake of tar sands bearing rail cars in the distance below Table Mountain emerges from the Feather River Canyon... a canyon that carries precious water down to millions and emerges from the high country we visited with our unlimited sense of amazement last week. Somewhere between enjoyment and responsibility the amazement slinks away but really not the wonder.. it can remain even watching slow death roll by in the distance.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Escaping to a Different Reality

Every other week we go away. Its not easy getting out of town but we push to do it. This week was no different.. but we left home Thursday night, ate bad food at a biker bar and ended up by the side of the road to Greenville with traffic all night long and fitful dream chased sleep. In Greenville we went to the Rangers Station and got a detailed new map that gave some indication of some tiny lakes we might visit. The Ranger gave us good driving tips and so we made it to never imagined Taylor Lake... alone up there for the night we simply released a lot of what burdens us just in the act of being in the beauty of where we were.
 The area between there and Antelope Lake, where we went next to boat and swim, has been burned repeatedly in three different fires.
 Sometimes the snags, which remain, remind one of the old reasons for superstition and sometimes they are comic reminders of our fears.
 There's no way to Thank the land or the sky for the release of care... it's just in being physical, inquisitive, appreciative... in the day, dusk, night and rotation of time. A wonder.
 After our afternoon boating and swimming on less photogenic Antelope Lake we stayed at a Trailhead for Clear Creek and walked awhile up into the burn then back down to Indian Creek, the major tributary through the Genesee and Indian Valleys.
 In Taylorsville, looking for our next adventure, we came on my brother's name twix there and somewhere else. (I look forward to sending him this.)
 And, not without a climb, we arrived at Hough Mt  Lookout and the volcanic vent of 500 ft. deep Crystal Lake below it and the little town with the Warren Nelson intersection far, far below that...
 The lake was just one quick swim away from an early sunset but we camped on a terrace above it and the next morning headed out with some swaying, dust and tank-prowess to our final destination of veggie oil collection in Mill Creek and Mineral. A very rewarding four days for the Veggie Voyagers team.. a great relief and a huge inhalation of beauty and peace and a bit of dust. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Almanor area lakes

 As usual it was hard to get out of Chico. We camped on the north end of Almanor behind the airport and where the lake has filled in with meadow and stumpy mudflats. It was a beautiful place nonetheless.
 The next day we went to Bodfish Bikes and Quiet Mountain Sports in Chester. We got the name and directions for a clear mountain meadow Willow Lake and we headed up there. There were others camped there too but few enough that we had the lake to ourselves for swimming and later this moonlight walk with cranes making their odd honking and an easy meadow trail to follow.
 We stopped at Bodfish again to ask about another lake and this one is sacred to the Mountain Maidu people and no photos are to be taken so I have none. That was an incredible place... Up against the Keddie Ridge.. a 2.8 mile walk in, icy waters and amazing rocks. The views out from the ridge saddle are to Mountain Meadows in one direction and down to Indian Valley and Greenville to the other side. We had two days of hiking up there and some excitement with rain, thunder and lightning but otherwise very infrequent humanity and a great sense of peace.
 Then we came back down to Almanor and put in at the south end of the lake.. the clouds were amazing and we almost got loaded up unscathed but ended up soaked in the fierce squall that swept through.. which we didn't much mind.
 Soon after, the sunset was purple but brief and closed in 4 days of swimming, hiking and boating without using fossil fuels...thanks to Michael's commitment to processing  veggie oil before we came. Today he is back to chemo but we are still partly back up there in the high country through the soreness of our muscles and the dry sleek feel of our skin.

Friday, August 8, 2014

One Mile between Hiroshima and Nagasaki

 Every year we commemorate the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Every year it is the hottest time of year and usually the energy of the town is lethargic. I think back on our commemorations and do not find that that was always true but of late nuclear war has faded from the criticality list of people concerned about the loss of life in Gaza or hundreds of other worries.
 This year the call came out subdued and last minute but with the quiet resolve of Diane Suzuki's voice. We met here at One Mile in strange post rain humid but cool weather and walked a little bit upstream to where two Tai Chi practitioners were completing their forms.
 In the quiet, almost still waters of our drought quieted Big Chico Creek we stood and rang bells at the time of the Hiroshima bombing... we didn't face East, we faced our life giving endangered water.
 We spoke of the inspiration of Ancestors and closed a small circle with the surrender to time and the visage of perhaps more war and suffering to come as balanced by the beauty and nurture we experience in the earth around us... the Good so palpable and available.
 On Saturday, tomorrow, people will meet again... for Nagasaki a busy street corner before our regular Peace Endeavor Vigil... the bells, the cranes, the thoughts and prayers winging on concrete, surrounded by the structures of commerce.
 We read a children's book about the Cherry Tree of Hiroshima, how burned and wounded it was, yet how it has blossomed and created new cherry trees. The legend of the Phoenix, the story of earth, always remaking itself after every seemingly terminal event. All our planet has to do is stay in alignment with its sun and what we do may not matter so much in the very long run.
 But we are here now. Witness to the beauty and seeming stillness within the incredible energy of Livingness and also witness to the degradation, forgetfulness and outright determination to destroy. We are hinged between catastrophes as well as celebrations and ride the solemn peace train forward to the next bend in the river of our lives. We continue to write our wishes on the wings of paper cranes as they fly all over the world. In Loving Memory of all those who have suffered.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

It's Raining in August!

 It has been a very hot summer with blow torch days and all life sending out little shoots of ourselves toward the water, shade and coolness. My datura glorify in it though and send back a dazzling response to the sun...or they used to. As of yesterday they have gone.
With the dryness the old black walnuts become brittle under the weight of their limbs. We were picking through gorgeous tomatoes Bruce had set out for the community the other night when Kelsi set off with a joyful Howdy in her car with a friend. Sixty seconds later I heard a small crack... I know my CRACK sounds and started hollering for Michael who was messing around with Selkie who was looking around for her ball. Then another small crack as they joined me in the open then Whoosh and Whack! and a big cloud of dust and two tons of black walnut was on the ground where Kelsi and her car had been. When I told the Riparia community about this the very next day the arborists were out here and unfortunately it's not looking pretty. Many of my drought hardy but pampered plantings are buried under slash and the datura are all broken off which means no seed for next year. They are a magic (and poisonous) plant and showed up on their own... maybe they'll be back someday.
 With the heat I've been in a lot in the late afternoon... mostly wasting time but I just wanted to say something about this hand sculpture that Orien and I had made for my mom. My mom always hated this Mothers Day gift because the truth was there in my big strong ravaged farmer hands... the complete lack of delicacy and femininity that she always hoped to deny. I, on the other hand (!) love this sculpture and always delve into it like there is a fortune to discover-- I love the light and shadow of it too.
 On Sunday we had a special Land Work Day and this photo only shows a few of us water-worker bees... Some started down by the swimming hole, like Zenon, Bob, Emily and Sheldon with the canoe and others of us-- Leslie, Joey, Billy, Mattie, Michael and I started further upstream but we took out huge amounts of garbage from the creek and got further along with considering how to make our section of creek more floatable for these hard summers.
 Then it started to rain last night. Usually I could dry three loads of laundry, if I had that many, in one day but now the limp line is a happy reminder that we have had sprinkles all night and all day. What a glory this "monsoonal moisture" is!
I know Bruce's tomatoes may split but I'm sorry... I'm too happy with the rain refreshment to have even one small complaint. Thank you Mother Nature!