Wednesday, July 29, 2009

and Bears...OH MY!

In the last two weeks, we have seen such a plethora of wildlife it is hard to know where to begin, so I will start with the big stuff. Our first major wildlife encounter was with a Moose, who came strolling across the highway directly in front of us. Stopping 45’ combined feet of truck and trailer on a moments notice for a moose will pucker the sphincter.

Unfortunately, this graceful but oddly physically awkward creature that is a cross somewhere between a horse and a rhinoceros, moved so fast I was not able to get a picture before he headed off into the woods. But beautiful he was.

Our next major encounter was with a mama bear and two cubs. We were in Red Lodge, MT on what appeared to be garbage pickup day, and she apparently was teaching the kids to dumpster dive. This is the constant dilemma between man and nature. As the bear moved through the neighborhood checking out the garbage cans, one of the neighbors came out with his gun. While I hope he was just shooting to scare the bears, and not at the bears, I am not sure. Anyway, the bears come down to the city because the man leaves his garbage out there, so the man shoots at the bears for eating the garbage…brilliant.

I got a couple of shots of mom and the kids at a respectful distance before the gunfire scared them away. I hate to think that that is how mom is teaching them to survive when there are hundreds of square miles of forest around them, teeming with quality bear food sources including myself, but I suspect that is the case.

Survival of the fattest.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Montana & Wyoming

Montana & Wyoming are states of staggering beauty, dramatic contrasts, and unfathomable distances. If you have never been to these states you owe it to yourself to do so. If you have only been through these states on the Interstates, you have not seen the most beautiful of these places. There is not only abundant geological beauty, there is wildlife and wildflowers that although you have to look carefully in the rocks for them sometimes, they are everywhere and in variety that boggles the mind.

Today we drove by rocks that were over 3 Billion years old. Just down the road they were in the process of straightening out the beautiful curvy old road (one of the Stimulus Packages shovel ready projects?), and blasting through these 3 billion year old rocks.

Those rocks have been there for need I say it again, 3 billion years. Who are we to move them? The only comfort is that after we move them, they will still be somewhere nearby in another 3 billion years. But I suspect that we, and the nice new straightened out road will be long gone.

Victims perhaps of our own arrogance.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sustainable Practices and Darn Good Beer!!

We pulled into the Red Lodge Brewing parking lot late Friday afternoon. Lindsey, who had been kind enough to field our last minute request to do a show on Saturday, met us as we pulled in and greeted us warmly. With their permission, we parked the Airstream in their parking lot for the night and listened to the last happy patrons leave as we drifted off to sleep that night.

The next day, we did a little grocery shopping, and cleaned up the Airstream for the afternoon show. Although we were scheduled to start at 4pm, by 2 o’clock, people were asking if they could come in, so we went ahead and opened. From that point on until we closed at 8pm, there was a continuous stream of visitors. Some who had seen the sign in the brew pub, some who had gotten an email from Lindsey, and some who just caught a glimpse of the Airstream as they were passing by and had to stop. The people of Red Lodge are very friendly, and the show was a resounding success. Over the next few days as we hung out in Red Lodge to get some work done on the website, people would knock on the door and ask to see the Airstream as they had heard about it from a friend, gotten the email but couldn’t attend, or just saw the Airstream and were curious. Red Lodge is a great little town.

The reason for our visit to the Red Lodge Brewery, was their commitment to reducing their energy needs, and recycling not only their waste products, but some of their customers as well. The owner Sam has obviously invested considerable time and money to achieve this.

The first thing you notice when you pull up outside is the huge solar array. As we would find out later when Sam gave us the tour, these panels heat water that is then used for a number of purposes throughout the brewery.

The list of energy saving initiatives at the brewery is impressive. In addition to the solar array that provides warm water for the brewing process, and heats the taprooms radiant floor heating, they also operate their vehicles on bio-diesel made from the waste oil they are able to recover from their restaurant customers. This is a beautiful symbiotic relationship. They deliver the beer in the trucks that run on the bio-diesel they make from the oil they pick up when they deliver the beer! We also learned that the spent grains from the brewing process are given to a local rancher for use as feed, who then donated the barn wood from an old barn on his property that warmly decorates the taproom. Taking advantage of the cool, no, make that frigging cold Montana winters, they also keep their energy consumption for cooling the beer down by pumping cold air in from the outside. According to Sam, this cools the beer without additional energy on up to 160 days of the year.

Red Lodge Ales is a shining example of what a company can do to reduce its footprint. It is obvious that the investment the Sam has made here will take some time to pay off in dollars, but the payoff in karma is both instant and obvious.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Taking Refuge in Bozeman

We paid a surprise visit to Dan & Mary at Refuge the other afternoon in Bozeman, Montana. One might not think of Bozeman as a hot bed of sustainable building, but we were pleasantly surprised to find a well-stocked, beautifully merchandised green building supply here inside of a rustic barn wood building on the edge of downtown. We actually drove by it at first and had to come back around as we were distracted by the huge solar array on the building across the street that turned out to be a Yoga center that heated its hot water for their showers with solar. Not having been through Bozeman in some thirty years or so, we were impressed by the way things have changed!

Dan and Mary graciously showed us around the shop and happily took in a tour of the Flying Cloud, asking a lot of great questions. All too soon it was time to get back on the road, but we enjoyed our visit and have some new friends in Bozeman! We applaud them for their efforts to bring sustainable building to the old west.

For more information visit their website at:

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Kalispell and Indika Organics

On to Kalispell, where thirty one years ago to the day I came to visit Kate while she was picking cherries in an Orchard there. We were still just seeing each other off and on then, and I decided to show up for her birthday. She was staying in a little log cabin on the property, where I found newspapers from the 1920’s stuffed in the cracks for insulation, including one that told of the arrest of Al Capone. We spent a few nights there together sleeping in the cabin or out in the orchards under the stars. Shortly after that, she came back to my cabin in Oregon, and the rest as they say is history.

Kalispell is also the home to Indika Organics, an organic textile manufacturer whom we had dealt with through our furniture company Zola. In a small unassuming warehouse in the back of an industrial complex just outside of Kalispell, MT, Indika Organics manufactures and imports a line of custom made organic and natural textiles. We have dealt with Indika for some time as a supplier for Zola Furnishings, and it was nice to put a face with a name at last when we finally met Patti from Indika. Although they were not in production on the day of our visit, Patti gave us the nickel tour. Next to the wide array of looming, weaving and sewing machines, there were stacks of brightly colored yarns waiting to be woven, and stacks of equally bright fabrics waiting to be shipped.

Besides their line of custom woven textiles, Indika manufactures and imports a line of custom made Organic Turkish Cotton bath towels. We can tell you from experience, that these are the softest most luxurious towels you will ever experience, and they hang proudly in the Doris Mae!

Visit their website at

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Environmental Disaster in Libby, MT

On our way from Troy to Kalispell, we passed through the town of Libby and stopped there to fix a balky lock on the Airstream. Kate had done a little research on the town and found that they were in the process of cleaning up one of the worst industrial pollution disasters in the country.

The EPA had determined that the town was literally swimming in asbestos that was a naturally occurring element in the Vermiculite ore that was mined there to make among other things home insulation.

Over the years, the town had not only become permeated with the dust, but many of the homes had been insulated with it as well. Over 274 people have died, and many more are sick. W.R. Grace, the company responsible for the mess has somehow been exonerated in the matter, but has agreed to reimburse the EPA for some of the over $250 million dollars spent to remedy it.

But for a quaint little town nestled in the mountains of Montana, the residents are the ones who have really had to pay the price. Two documentary films, Libby, Montana, and Dust to Dust, and three books (An Air That Kills by Andrew Schneider and David McCumber, Libby, Montana: Asbestos and the Deadly Silence of an American Corporation by Andrea Peacock, and Fatal Deception by Michael Bowker) have been written regarding the Grace asbestos tragedy in Libby.

On June 17, 2009 the EPA declared its first public health emergency. This emergency covers Libby and nearby Troy. It will provide an additional $130 million dollars in cleanup and medical assistance. For more information on this go to: EPA to Cleanup Libby, MT

Shelter Designs-Troy, MT

We took a little detour off the beaten path to the town of Troy, Montana to visit with Shelter Designs. Here Vince Godby and Hays Daniel hand build Yurts. While many people would assume that most Yurts would fall into the category of eco-friendly design, and indeed most do fit many of the criteria such as use of small space, sustainable building materials etc. Shelter Designs is working toward taking the Yurt one step further in terms of eco-friendly and sustainable design and construction. Using as many locally and sustainably harvested materials as possible, they are carving out a niche market from people who want to know a little more about where the materials in their Yurt come from and how they are processed.

We got the recorder the first time we called, and it looked like we might just have to roll on by. We tried again a bit later however and got Hays on the phone. After a brief explanation of what we were up to, he invited us out to see the operation. "We are twelve miles out of town on old Hwy 2" he instructed. "Just look for the lumpy straw bale house, you can't miss it". Sure enough twelve miles, two deer, and a million pine trees later, here was the lumpy house. We were greeted by a barefoot little girl who immediately asked us if were missing any goats or sheep. As we were not, we said no, but that we were looking for the "yurt guys". She offered to take us there and down a sandy little path we went, followed by the dog. "My daddy makes violins" she informed us, and we were surprised to find a violin maker in this remote location. But that's the beauty of this trip, you never know what you will find.

We soon came across a large shop with an even larger addition obviously in progress. Vince, Hays and their assistant Gary soon wandered out to meet us. Not getting a whole lot of visitors out here, they invited us into one of their Yurts that serves as their office, and we got a chance to learn a little more about them and their vision.

Not to be outdone by the Airstream, Vince offered us a tour of the "lumpy house", his straw bale home that sits nearby the shop. This was truly a work of art and love and Vince was rightfully proud of it. He took particular pride in showing us the basement, where underneath a sheet of plywood lay yet another subterranean cavern where he explained in the sub-zero weather that plagued them while they began, the only sand that they needed for the construction that wasn't frozen solid was available. The resulting hole will soon become a root cellar.

All too soon we were on the road again. To learn more about Shelter Designs Yurts visit:

Pee Like a Girl

It took me awhile, but I have finally learned to pee like a girl. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with peeing sitting down. In fact it is quite comfortable. It just takes a little getting used to for a man. After over fifty years of being a pointer, it is hard to become a setter! The other slightly disconcerting feature of the composting toilet is that because the liquid is flowing into a receptacle, it sounds like you are peeing on the floor. This is particularly alarming in the middle of the night when the darkness makes this a distinct possibility to begin with. But just like sitting down to pee, one soon gets used to the splashing sounds

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Blaggs

On the way from Missoula to Troy where we hoped to meet with an eco-friendly Yurt company, we were blessed to spend the afternoon with Cameron and Pamela Blagg.

Cameron is a well-known Western Artist that we were fortunate to have met over 25 years ago in Bend. He was touring the western art show circuit at the time, and although we barely had a pot to piss in, we were taken by his paintings and purchased two striking portraits of American Indians. One has a pure black background and depicted “Inashah”, a Yakima Indian whose piercing eyes and stern expression jumped out at you from the canvas as if he were alive. In stark contrast, the other painting of the Sioux warrior “American Horse” with brightly colored feathers braided into his long dark hair was painted on a pure white background, and the two paintings hung beautifully together.

They have been with us all these years, and now that we are on the road, they rest peacefully on the walls at our dear friends, Gary and Cheryl Plagmann. They have promised to take good care of them and visa versa.

The next year, Cameron was back and we were in the mood for another painting. Cameron is an avid Indian artifact collector, and at the time we had acquired a small Indian rug collection. He was very interested in our rugs, and agreed to come by the house with some paintings. He was soon the proud owner of a nice swastika emblazoned Navajo rug, and “The Taos Elder” had joined our group of distinguished gentleman on the wall.

We didn’t see Cameron again for about 15 years. By then we were living just outside of Denver, and happened to see that there was a Western Art show in town. Not even thinking about Cameron, we decided to take in the show. As soon as we arrived, we saw that Cameron was on display and immediately headed to his booth. We hadn’t seen him in so long, we weren’t sure we would even recognize him, however when we walked into the booth, he turned and said “Hi John & Kate, long time no see!” We were astounded, but apparently as a portrait painter, he has an uncanny knack for faces. It was a delight to see him again, and although we did not add to our collection that day, it was inspiring to see how his talents had matured over the years. From the struggling artist we had met in Bend, he was now quite well known, and his works were bringing in considerably more than we had paid. We were very proud to have some of his “early works” as they are considered quite collectable.

After the show in Denver, we once again lost track of Cameron, although we would hear tell of him from time to time. When we were getting ready for the road, it was necessary to have the paintings reevaluated for insurance purposes, so we once again contacted him. We told him a little about our trip, and he invited us to stop by if we were in Montana, or perhaps in New Mexico where he and his wife have purchased a small ghost town that they are in the process of turning into a roadside art gallery. We promised we would, and today we were able to fulfill that promise with a visit to their remote mountain top cabin near Bull Lake in the Cabinet Mountain range of the Kootenai National Forest.

After hearing that their cabin was “two miles up a narrow mountain road”, we parked the Airstream by the side of the road on the main highway and headed up to the cabin. After a short but spirited drive we saw the small hand painted sign that said “Blagg” and arrived at the green metal roofed and stone faced cabin that serves as both the Blagg’s home and Cameron’s studio. There was a spectacular view of the Cabinet Range out the front window, and besides the attraction of Cameron’ studio, the Blagg’s home was tastefully decorated with a plethora of Indian art, artifacts, rugs and of course Cameron’s painting and sculpture.

We were graciously welcomed by the Blagg’s, their dog, and Cameron’s warning that he “can’t hear a damn thing”. We had never met his wife Pamela, an American Indian of Salish decent, and a member of the Flathead Indian Nation, but she welcomed us with open arms and the pot of coffee she had promised in the emails we had exchanged.

The next four hours went by very quickly as we shared but mostly listened to some of the best stories we have had the pleasure to hear in some time, including the ceremonial purging of the plethora of mischievous spirits that apparently inhabit their property in New Mexico. They had heard from not only the previous owner, but a host of others in the area as well, that their new home in an old ghost town was full of these previous but no longer mortal inhabitants. They arranged to have Victor Mandan, a close relative of Pamela’s, a full-fledged Medicine Man and apparently quite a character, release the spirits from the town. The ceremony involved blacking out one of the rooms so that no light could penetrate, and the application of various traditional Indian talismans such as feathers, shells and tobacco offerings tied in colorful cloths. As the ceremony progressed, Cameron standing in the darkened room and now both deaf AND blind distinctly remembers suddenly seeing little tracers of light flit in front of his face and wondering what he was seeing. After the ceremony, as the group of largely Indians, some of whom had traveled quite some distance to attend sat down to enjoy a traditional meal of Kentucky Fried Chicken and Biscuits, Cameron related what he had seen. There was a bit of laughter as some of them told of the actual spirits they had seen departing the building through the “great hole that had opened up in the floor and the ceiling”, including two spirits that had “come right up and looked in the eyes” of one of the participants. My feeling is that they had a fuller frame of reference for what they were seeing, and the flashes of light were just Cameron’s way of trying to assimilate it. Either way everyone agreed the ceremony was a success.

The story continued when not long after, the Blagg’s were contacted by one of the other inhabitants of this remote part of New Mexico who demanded to know what on earth they had done! Apparently, like many of the other New Age residents of that State, she had moved there for the spirits, and now they had gone and chased them all away. Friends she complained were getting hard to come by.

After a delightful lunch of homemade chicken soup and a few more great stories, it was time to get moving, pick up the Airstream, and find a place to camp for the night. We soon settled down in a lush grove of trees on the shores of Bull Lake and relished the diversity of our friends and how lucky we are to share this planet with people like the Blagg’s.

Nearby Cameron’s place we stopped at the Bad Medicine Campground. Pamela had told us the story of how the area got its name. Seems that many years ago there had been a small Indian encampment along the lake there. An earthquake had struck and buried the entire camp save for one Indian maiden. This was very bad medicine, and the name stuck. Somehow I’m picturing years later when the white men asked the local Indians for a good place to camp, they said “right here”.

The next morning we took a walk through the Ross Creek Cedars, a rare large grove of old growth cedars that was nearby. These are truly spectacular trees, with many of them 500 years or more old. Just another reminder of why we are on this trip.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Green Light-Missoula, MT

Back in the woods again and a brief encounter with a moose, we took a couple of days camping to get to Missoula, Montana. For those of you who have never been there, this is a great little college town with more bars per capita in the downtown area than Seattle has Starbucks. The “Drunken People Crossing” sign in the Downtown also showed they had a sense of humor.

Struggling again with a place to stay that was close to the place we would be doing a show early the next day, we again decided to stay in the city. Finding a little backwater street behind the old train station that was now a swanky office building, we set up camp. Like most of Montana, people really don’t give a damn what you do as long as you don’t bother anybody else. It is a good policy, and it has served them well.

What we didn’t realize however until a little later in the evening, is that this parking area also served quite a few bars at night. In retrospect, I think most of the parking lots in Missoula serve bars at night, but we didn’t know that yet. Sometime around 3am, the patrons begin to file out and we were once again treated to an exuberant cacophony of noise and some nice comments on the Airstream. It was good to be back home!

The next day was Farmers Market in Missoula and we had arranged to do a show in front of a local green retailer (The Green Light) just down the street from the market. The show was a resounding success, and it was refreshing to show some of the good old boy ranchers and farmers about solar power and composting toilets. The most rewarding thing was that they were truly interested, and could actually see how those things could fit into their lives.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Pataha Flour Mill

Glancing off to the side of the road as we meandered down Highway 12 in SE Washington State, we caught a brief glimpse of a large old wooden structure with the fading sign “Pataha Flour Mill” painted on its side. Managing a quick right turn at the next intersection (no small feat when pulling a 22’Airstream), we motored in across a small wooden bridge and made our way to the gravel parking lot.

Up close, this was an imposing structure and was over five stories tall to accommodate the machinery, chutes and storage bins needed to process the grain. As we entered through the front doors we found that it now housed a restaurant. After hearing that we “just wanted to see the building” the nice young man at the front counter headed toward the back and said “let me show you the museum!”

Pushing through the wooden saloon style doors, he invited us to have a look around and be careful on the ramps. And look we did. Immediately in front of us stood the largest collection of vintage cameras we have ever seen. There were hundreds of cameras, of every type and vintage, and ranging in size from the smallest handheld to large format portrait cameras. Every one seemed in almost new condition and the scope of the collection was both unexpected and staggering.

From there it was on to what a small sign declared to be Delbert Neibel’s Branding Iron collection. While not as large as the camera collection, we can honestly say that we have never seen a larger branding iron collection, or any branding iron collection for that matter! Each one was carefully translated from Cowboy to English (S Bar S, Rocking Y Ranch, etc.) for the novice Branding Iron Museum visitor. One left the room knowing that somewhere, Delbert Neibel was smiling.

Next we began to climb a series of steep and narrow wooden ramps that led up through the various floors of the mill. As there was minimal powered equipment available at the time, the mill relied a lot on gravity to move the grain through the process of sorting, grinding, sifting and finally bagging the finished product of flour. Huge, largely wooden machines powered by leather belts strung throughout the building did most of this work and the ingenuity of the machinery was impressive. This was particularly true of the sifting machines which were large wooden beds, suspended from a frame work which were then jiggled back and forth repeatedly until the fine flour dropped out through the screens and on down into the bagging chutes.

When we reached the top, there was a small office for the mills owner, with a tiny door cut out next to the main door. Apparently the owner had been fond of Ferrets as they helped to keep the rat population at bay, and had given them full run of the place. There was also a door on the side of the building five stories up that simply entered out into space. It was marked “Mother-in Law Door”.

We finished the visit by descending through the massive “cribs” where the raw grains had been stored and excited out into a bright Eastern Washington sunshine, where the Airstream sat gleaming in the sun. The solar panels on its roof were a sharp contrast to the belt driven machines of yesterday, but once again one had the feeling that good old Delbert would be pleased.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


We made a brief stop in Toppenish, Wa. a small town known for its colorful murals that festoon the downtown buildings. The brightly colored paint was having a hard time disguising the empty store fronts however, and it was obvious that the recession, depression, whatever you want to call it had hit here as well.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sleep Tight!

I haven’t always slept that well. Sometimes it has been the pressures of work, money, or the physical pains that plague us as we get older, but I usually would wake up a 3am or so when the voices in my head just became too loud to let me sleep. So I don’t know how much of it is the 100% natural wool bed that we now sleep on, or how much of it is the change in lifestyle we have created, but I am sleeping like a baby and it is a delightful change. Through our work on developing eco-friendly upholstered furniture, we became aware of the toxic chemicals that are present in the average foam mattress. Between the polyurethane in the padding, and the fire retardants that are sprayed on the synthetic covering materials, you are literally swimming in a toxic chemical soup. It is comforting to know that we have eliminated those toxins from our nights.

Greek Pastries

As we headed toward East on Hwy 12 toward Idaho, we came across a sign that said “Greek Pastries and Monastery”. Sure as heck, here in the middle of nowhere some Greek Orthodox monks had built a monastery that they were helping to fund by running a small bakery, gift shop and deli by the side of the road. I mean, who couldn’t stop. Inside we found a delightful array of pastries and a staff of Greek monks dressed in traditional robes manning the store. As we contemplated our purchase, we were surprised to hear the conversation they were having was about buying real estate. It seemed odd to hear such a banal conversation in this house of God & Goodies! Armed with a small tray of Greek Pastries we headed down the road and bedded down for the night in a park nearby.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Solar System

Everyday, if we listen carefully, we can hear the sound of the solar day. In the morning when the solar controller detects enough energy from the panels to activate the charging sequence for the batteries, there is a subtle “click”. Right now, in the summer, this usually occurs around 6am or so, and since the controller sits right under the bed, it acts like an electronic rooster, letting us know the day has begun. In the evening right around dusk, the same “click” is heard as the panels shut down for the day, and no more electricity is being produced. It makes us acutely aware of how much and when the sun is beaming down on us, and it sets a solar rhythm for the day.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The City of Roses

Backtracking again to Portland, we did an “Encore Performance” at Eclectic Home Furnishings. (Flying Cloud on Display at Eclectic Home)The shop is located in area known as the “Alphabet District” either for its alphabetized street names or the soup kitchens, I’m not sure which. In our efforts to stay on the cheap, avoid abusing our friends, and move the Airstream about as little as possible, we decided to just go ahead and spend our nights camped in the parking lot in front of the store. This sounded like a pretty good idea at the time, but we quickly found out that camping on the streets of a major city presents some challenges.

First, city people never go to bed, ever. Second, the later it gets, the louder they talk. Third, when drunk they think nothing of pounding on the side of somebody’s Airstream in the middle of the night and proclaiming at the top of their lungs that it “looks like a f*&#ing spaceship! And last when confronted with a tousle haired man in his pajamas carrying a large bucket of urine, they think nothing of it. We ended up staying five nights here, showing during the day and working on the website at night, and by the end we were pretty well known in the hood!

Once safely out of Portland at last, we headed back up the Columbia River Gorge and we spent a finally uneventful and quiet night by the spectacular waterfalls that grace this area. Without the buses and the sirens, it was kind of hard to get to sleep. We were forced to settle for the babbling of the brook and the hooting of the owls, supported only by the occasional train that rumbled through along the Gorge.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Computer Disaster!

Before we left Bend we had decided to upgrade our laptop with a chunk of new memory. The installation seemed to go okay, but by the time we reached Seattle the computer was decidedly not feeling well. By the weekend of the 4th it crashed completely, leaving us unable to work on the website or blog. Hence the reason you are seeing all these "catch-up" posts coming your way. Turns out the brand new memory was defective, and $130.00 later we were back up and running, but seriously behind. We appreciate your patience!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

On to Seattle

The ferry took us to Seattle for a show at One Earth One Design (Flying Cloud on display at One Earth One Design)

After the show a friend of ours invited us to stop by his condo for drinks and conversation. Lacking a place to park the Airstream at the condos, he suggested we park down on the waterfront park just below his building. He had seen other RV’s parked there on previous occasions, and indeed that night we were not alone.

When I say not alone, I mean not only were we joined by fellow travelers, we were also joined by a procession of bikers, joggers, dog walkers, bottle gathering bums and late night drunks! Unfortunately, prior to our departure from Bend, the blinds we were planning on using for the Airstream had been delayed. Thus we found ourselves on the streets of Seattle with little to shield us from the eyes of the public. It also became quite apparent that when you backlight yourself from inside the trailer at night, you put on a pretty good show. After getting up for an early morning pee, I know for a fact that there is a least one dog walker in Seattle who will never forget the Airstream.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Bainbridge, Marysville and World War III

After a night spent camping, our next stop was Bainbridge Island, just across the water from Seattle. Once again our friends Woodie and Moira treated us beyond well, and we enjoyed a couple nights of barbeque and friendship on the banks of the Puget Sound. We camped in front of an abandoned Country Store by their house, and with all the “For Lease” signs we see on empty businesses locations everywhere we go, it seemed very appropriate.

We had taken the Airstream on a Ferry ride across the Puget Sound and ended up at Kate’s sister’s place in Marysville, WA where we planned to finish some work on the Airstream. Although this was rapidly turning into a “Tour De Friends” we were still kind of on a “shake down cruise”, and still working out a few bugs with the trailer.

Kate’s sisters’ place is on the edge of the Tualip Indian Reservation which is famous for its fireworks. Being just before the 4th of July, there were literally hundreds of fireworks stands within a mile or so of the house. For days before the 4th, the fireworks would begin going off around dusk and continue unabated until 11pm or so. They finally reached their crescendo on the 4th, and from what we were told, through some sort of bizarre arrangement with the State, any fireworks left at the stands on the evening of the 4th had to either be sold or “destroyed”. This led to World War III breaking out on the night of the 4th. At one point, fireworks were going off so hot and heavy that the debris was hitting the Airstream like pelting rain. Since we had had some pretty good rain, that’s actually what we thought it was until we walked outside into an unmistakable cloud of gunpowder and a torrent of ash. Finally around midnight, somebody signaled a truce, and we got some sleep.

When we drove by the stands the next morning, they were completely abandoned and tons of fireworks debris was strewn everywhere. Perhaps a little odd when you think about it, Indians celebrating the 4th of July, until you learn that this is where they are forced to make the bulk of their income for the year.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Agri-Plas, Hood River

Stopping on our way to visit Agri-Plas (Eco-Discovery Tour visits Agri-Plas), a company that recycles plastics into oil, we headed down the road to our good friends Ed & Christy who live in Hood River. Hood River is a magical little town east of Portland, and is world-renowned for its first class wind-surfing. The hospitality flowed again and all too quickly morning came and we were back on the road.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Continuous Traveler

On the way out of Eugene, we had stopped at the Oregon DMV to change our driver’s licenses. Kate had discovered a little know fact that the State of Oregon has an official designation of “Continuous Traveler” Even the woman behind the desk had never had to do one before and it took her and her supervisor some time to figure it all out. Soon we left clutching the coolest drivers’ license in the world. Emblazoned on the front where one would expect to see an address, is the classification “Continuous Traveler”. Makes it kind of fun when people ask…”So, where do you live?” We just whip out the old drivers license and say “Well...right here…for now.” Zaphod Beeblebrox would be proud.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Start

When we were planning this trip, we weren’t really sure where we would end up staying most nights. Part of the “plan” was to have no real plan. As it turns out, this plan seems to be working pretty well, but it has led to us staying in some rather interesting locations. Needless to say, some have been better than others, and some we have simply had to say “it is what it is” and enjoy it for just that! We will try and share the highlights with you.

Things started out on a pretty normally. We left Bend early that first morning with hardly a glance back. Without getting into details, Bend has proven to have a bittersweet relationship with us twice now, and we were ready to bid it farewell again.

The first night on our grand adventure we stayed with an old friend of Kate’s who had 40 acres outside of Eugene. Coincidentally, it was only a few miles from where my first off-grid handmade cabin that I lived in when Kate and I first met was located. Barb was a gracious host and pampered us with dinner that evening and breakfast the next morning and we were both thinking “boy, this is going to be easy!”.

The big breakfast prepared us for the show we had planned at the King Estate Winery that day. This certified organic vineyard and winery that also boasts 30 acres of organic vegetables and fruits, sits in an absolutely beautiful setting nestled in the rolling hills outside of Eugene. The weather was perfect and we had a very good show (Flying Cloud on display at King Estate Winery)

From there we kind of backtracked up the McKenzie River to attend a memorial party for a close friend of mine who had recently passed away. We got to say goodbye to him, as well as a number of good friends who attended as well. We spent the night in a lovely campground on the McKenzie, one of the more beautiful rivers in the world.