the apocalypse gives me hope

welp, this is my third, and final, attempt at this post. i started it in the spring as the snow was melting and revealing what people left behind to be covered up by the snow. mostly beer cans, bags of dog poo, lost socks, underwear (?!). it was also when i heard a new, to me, definition of apocalypse.

i listen to a great many podcasts at work…so many. one of my favorites is how to survive the end of the world. i wait with great anticipation for new episodes. being in this small mountain town with few people that i feel want to delve into these deeper conversations that i am hunger and thirsty for…that i crave…so i get that with these podcasts. they are all created by people of color; black folks to be specific, mostly all women, some identify as queer. this one, in particular, is by a couple of sisters, adrienne marree brown and autumn brown. the episodes are based around octavia butler’s writings and philosophies. not surprisingly, one of the sisters coedited the book octavia’s brood. if you haven’t held this gem of a book in your hands, i highly recommend it. it can be somewhat embarrassing to listen to this as i walk around town or at work as i’ve laughed out loud, cried, and scratched my head with each one. many i think of daily until the next episode pushes my thoughts deeper than the previous.

so apocalypse…the common understanding of an apocalypse refers to the end of the world, probably involving zombies. however, the origin goes back to latin, greek, old english, and old french. but the new to me meaning is what i want to dive deeper into. and that meaning is about the uncovering, to reveal. i, and many others that i have been reading and listening to, might translate these two meanings to say that maybe if we dare to try and give voice to the uncovering of history and stories to reveal what has been left out, we might finally be able to end this chaos of a mess. the result of imperialism, capitalism, too many power hungry that have drowned out the voices that we need to hear. the voices that perhaps, if we listened could cause such cognitive dissonance that we would have to stop this insane greed that gives way to the endless destruction of the planet….the climate apocalypse if you will.

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it is also what is happening with the #metoo movement and much of our society in general. perhaps things are not getting worse, as mainstream media/social media would like us to think and fear, but the atrocities are getting uncovered, revealed. the truth of just how widespread the injustices of our society is. this unraveling of the patriarch and capitalism, of the pains caused by the few to the many, well it gives me hope.

some are afraid of just what will be unleashed. i’m curious about what we will learn about the ancestors, our neighbors, and ourselves. maybe we will learn that all our social and economic theories are wrong….once again showing us that science is ever-changing as we learn new things that prove the old knowledge is wrong…more storytelling and more myth-making…true joy.

the part of this unveiling of another meaning to the apocalypse that truly excites me, however, is the uncovering of the voices that have been vailed, covered, drowned out. something that has bothered me since i started the dive into animal liberation and social justice is this ego-centered idea that “we” are the voice for the voiceless…buuuuuull-shit. i deeply believe that everything that is of this world has a voice and uses it. but the more narrowly we define what is voice, what is alive, what has value to whom, the less we are able to listen to anything not human…english only speaking humans are probably the worse. believing that if one is not speaking english they can not communicate. i have watched how my co-workers who speak spanish and very little english are treated by english only speaking”bosses”. to be clear, i speak very little spanish, however, i am learning how to listen to them to figure out what they need me to know.

i think, and the more that i think the more i believe it to be true, that we have forgotten how to listen to anyone but ourselves. we are so ego driven in the western world that we are incapable to hear anything else. animals and trees and rivers and plants and fish and birds and….all have a voice. if we didn’t believe this to be true, disney would be fucked. and we wouldn’t try so hard to learn to understand when our companion animals are requesting something from us and us from them.

the earth is constantly trying to communicate with us. it is currently fall, almost winter here, and i see the trees getting my attention with the daily shifts in color. the flowers with their scents, berries with their sweetness.

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but this voice for the voiceless myth has so greatly affected the voices of people. we’ve started to acknowledge this in our history books, creating special courses for women, people of color, black folks, queer folks. we are starting to realize that those who won the power dynamics tell the stories of even those they have been conquered. maybe people are starting to see this in other realms as well, like in movies and music. but white cis-male voices still dominate over all the other voices out there.

there are genres of writings out there that i didn’t think i liked until i read books written by women, black folks and people of color. i hated, and i mean hated, science fiction until i read octavia butler. she led me to le quin and then neil gaiman. but speculative fiction changed everything for me involving storytelling. then octavia’s brood came out and my mind/heart exploded with possibility.

so when i was at the whitefish bike retreat for the wtf bikexplorers and there was a bipoc panel FOR bipoc people not OF. this little shift in language is so key. i’ve organized and been a part of many organization’s panels of qpoc people but, let’s be real, they were for white folks, queer or not. this panel was moderated by a person who identified in the panel’s identity, and the q&a was FOR bipoc folks. of course, as soon as the q&a opened up, a white person tried to ask a question (the question usually heard at these events asked by good white folks “what can we do for you?”). the moderator was wonderful. she said you can shut up this is not FOR you…or something very similar. my heart burst open because so often i’ve seen such panels continue to serve white folks by answering their questions.

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there was only time for 2 questions, both were great and led to wonderful conversations, but the people who organized the questions and discussions with this group was amazing. the conversations went deep. there were tears and much laughter. then a much needed and requested dance party!

for me, this panel of amazing people was the exclamation point to a heart blowing weekend. i didn’t realize how hungry i had been, and am, for these conversations and work. i listen to podcasts and read books and articles, i listen to music, and take in as much visual art on these topics as i can, but without people to share and learn with, well maybe this is the source of isolation i feel at times. these voices, these forces of life is what i am wanting to experience over the noise of pop-culture.

so for me, the zombie apocalypse is already on. it is all the people wondering around addicted to their phones, scrolling through social media looking for connection and validation that they are doing the sheep thing. but the other apocalypse is also happening, maybe on the same devices. we can start amplifying the voices that are pushed to the edges; raise their cultural dB sort of speak. put down the phone and listen to the water and trees. have a solid conversation with your cat…maybe she’ll stop pissing on your shoes.

my advice to those who ask, “what can we do to support you” google the shit out of those same people. read them, listen to the music, invest in their commerce, be a patron. because the answers are out there, we just have to be silent enough to listen. i, unfortunately, talked way too much at this event. i was so hungry for real talk that in my excitement, i forgot to shut the fuck up. i am searching for ways to apologize for that, maybe this post is a way to start until next time when i can practice active listening.

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so my personal action for increasing the momentum of the apocalypse is to amplify as many voices as i can. to share the amazing wonderfully inspiring work of people i am learning from. to stand BEHIND them as they lead the way and step in front when it is time to deflect the hatred and violence away from them…to use my whiteness as a kind of shield when wanted.

there is so much i’ve cut out of this post. so many ways that i believe that the apocalypse can help us find our way. i believe that we can all start by asking who is missing from our communities, conversations, view…how can we (re)build relationships. how many different ways are there to listen, speak, give voice to…what happens when we embrace the apocalypse to facilitate understanding, empathy, curiosity, and understanding.

so i will do my best to listen more and to sharing the voices that are being silenced, covered up and overpowered. to start here is a small list of podcasts i listen to on the regular…that are not white, cishet males. it’s a start.

2 dope queens

sooo many white guys

snap judgment

nancy

we live here

 

apocalypse

where are they now-an update

i totally and completely fell in love with baja: the place, the people, the ocean, and even the heat. however, the one thing that i thought i could work around was kind of my downfall. and by downfall, i don’t mean physical or health or any of those things that tend to end adventures. it was language.

you may be asking yourself, language? how could that be? you have talked at length about many of the conversations you have had.

yes, but you may notice that, with the exception of some american women, these have all been conversations with men. so my whole perspective thus has been by men. there were women present in the area of these conversations. many of them looking at me, smiling, nodding their heads, smiling some more. if i learned anything at all from all the strong-minded latinx folks i’ve met and have actually talked to throughout my life, those smiles and nods are not necessarily about agreement or consent or even a friendly acknowledgment of one’s acceptance in the social situation. in fact it could mean the exact opposite.

it was after i left the cool bike cafe south of rosarito that it hit me, and my desire and need to return to kansas via texas, emerged to give a slight glimpse in helping me make sense of it all…p.s. i’m still sorting that all out.

i’ve hinted that as i approached, crossed, and descended into mexico i got the sense that i should return to kansas. as this became more and more of an internal drive, i knew that i should go via texas and get my dad and his partner involved. all this time i still felt the pull to keep going south, just a little bit more. go at least to k58.

for a while, i thought that this was just because i needed to camp at least one night on the baja beach. and this was somewhat true. i needed a couple more nights in my tent and on the ground. and i am glad i did. but there is a moment i cannot get out of my mind.

at that super cool bike shop cafe with all those great conversations going on around me in spanish, there were two women there. one the girlfriend/wife maybe co-owner who was also definitely a biker too. the other the girlfriend/wife’s mother. the one who closes up when he goes to work in san diego for his night job.

the girlfriend/wife (sorry, he said one or the other but i can’t remember and maybe it doesn’t matter and i should just pick one because who cares, but i care and don’t want to just make something up. this woman seemed strong and independent and well i’m ashamed of missing this piece in my excitement of all the other things going on), and i had some friendly conversation. when everyone was shaking my hand and giving salutations, she joined in….she was certainly one-of-the-guys and wanted me to know it.

the mother….

she sat in the comfy chair in the corner. we made eye contact several times with smiles. i wanted to ask her so many questions…really i wanted to listen to whatever story she had to tell me, but i knew that english was not going to be the vehicle for that and if i wanted her story, it was going to have to be in spanish, and my spanish is just not that strong! curse words!

the final time i looked her in the eyes and smiled and thanked her for the hospitality, in spainsh, i knew that i would have to improve my skills and that i wouldn’t return until i did. could i continue on down the coast and make things happen? yes. i could have kept riding, gotten some side jobs to keep myself fed and nourished. most people spoke english where i went. even when i went to get coffee (instant with snagged sugar packets from the oxxo store it was in front of while closed) from the women setting up stands on the side of the road. we made it work, but i didn’t want to make it work. i was in their country and i wanted to know them better. i wanted to share stories and i’ve been able to do that, but i want to be better. i should and need to be better. i’m willing to fall back on english when i need to, but i need to be able to lead with spanish.

so as you know, i caught a ride back up to playas with that surfer, rode up to san diego. while there i stayed with my amazing friends again…. their hospitality goes way beyond anything i can imagine.

so while in san diego for the 2nd time i had an interesting experience….i’ll make a separate post for. but i had some fun and some insight on still being bothered by gay/lesbian mainstream culture.

so i stayed with my vegan/activist/writing friends then caught the train up to los angelas. hung out with the union station homeless folks until the train that would take me to ft. worth, tx arrived.

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train sunset view

the days and the people who traveled with me to texas were fascinating. i met so many people in so many different situations, traveling for a wide range of reason…all of which also deserves another post of their own. but i arrived in texas. my dad picked me up. we dropped off my bike and bags and picked up his partner and headed off to a vegan diner. that is right! ft. worth has a vegan diner, and not just any old vegan diner, but a well-known one. it is the spiral diner. oh it was soooo good! we all got the meatloaf special with mashed potatoes and brussel sprouts!

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i stayed with them for two weeks. we caught up. worked on one of the hardest puzzles i’ve ever tried, and we got their house sold so that they could move to new mexico and start their for realz retirement. i’m so excited for them. i also got to really have some great one-on-one conversations with the person my dad has been with for 30 years now. i’ve always thought the world of her, but we’ve never really had the time to have some deeper conversations. gosh she is great! i can’t wait till my bike adventures take me to las cruces, nm to visit them.

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fall bike ride

my dad then drove me up to wichita so that i can winter, save money, and plan some more adventures. i’m staying with my mom, catching up with my sister, trying to catch up with my niece and nephews who are growing up so fast, and into such amazing humans that i can’t believe we are related.

so here i am. in kansas. i place i never thought i would return to for more than a week. i’m trying to write. i joined the national novel writing month hoping to get more of a story done, but trying to find a job and catching up has thwarted some of my momentum…also i have very little discipline.

however, i am outlining the next phase of an adventure that i hope helps me bring together the multiple ideas i have for connecting all the parts of me: vegan, queer, a person concerned about what we are doing to this planet, an adventurer, food lover, pro-craft/antigentrifracation /artisianalism /hipster bullshit person. wish me luck….

in the meantime, i will try to tell some good stories.

 

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chilin like a surfer

i left the super cute bike shop and did seriously consider camping close by. the views of the ocean where certainly worthy of good nights stay, but i really felt like i wanted to get down to this campground that i had heard so much about. i had already skipped a couple places that people had suggested i go to, like papas and beer. to be fair, i probably would have stopped if it were called papas y cervesa. i do love potatoes and i do love beer and i believe that they are fantastic when paired together. but it was just too much of a tourist place and not much of a visitors place.

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so i kept on peddling up hills and coasting down hills. i only had about 30 km to ride today, so i decided to take all the time that i wanted. there was a graciously wide shoulder to ride on and some damn fine nice people to return waves to. the road was hilly all the way.

hills were not the tricky part here. the tricky part was the way the highways merged traffic entering and exiting the highway. fortunately, there were signs for cyclists to watch for traffic before crossing the merging lanes. i was usually accompanied by a pedestrian or two, and i still don’t know why but i think it was to catch the bus/vans that would be packed with people going to and from the towns. this version of public transportation fascinates me! for real! it did in peru as well. there are these minivans that people can flag down, and if there is room or someone is getting off there, they stop and you get on. i have no idea how much they cost, nor where/how you get off. i wanted to test it out, but no room for a bike…also i think i need more language skills, well actually i know i need to up my spanish game.

i eventually rolled into the the little village that held the k58 campground…so many things in this area are named for their location down the coast. so k58 is at the 58-kilometer marker.  this little area also goes by the name alisitos.

alistitos holds around 4 hotels, pretty nice hotels, all of which have a restaurant and/or bar of some kind. there is also a couple convenience stores and one sells beer/wine/alcohol. somehow this little way stop has 2 thai restaurants! it also has a shit-ton of americans! more on that soon.

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there weren’t too many people in the campgrounds when i arrived, it was friday afternoon, so i didn’t think much about it, but as i walked my bike up the coastline looking for a grassy area to pitch my tent, i met a few people living out of their vans or trucks that had set up camp….all with american accents. i eventually found the smallest of small patches of grass close to the edge of the cliff overlooking the beach (this whole area overlooks the ocean with paths down to the beach. so i set up camp and then took the unloaded bike for a ride “around town”.

first thing i did was grab a cold beverage! in those 30 km i drank 2 full liters of water and was still thirsty, so i grabbed a mexican version of powerade. i was still having a hard time with the idea of buying bottled water and so far had avoided it. i was able to fill up at the hostel with “purified” water out of a refilled jug type thing. and i knew that if i kept going south i was going to have to get a couple “gallon” jugs to refill at water stations as if found them. the other option was to buy liters of bottled water to fill my vessels.

eventually, i found my way over to a courtyard and grabbed a cold tecate and sat to do some writing. i had some feelings and emotions to get out, and at some point, my phone was in just the right place to get a couple text messages! in playas i got some because, i was close to the border, but here i wasn’t expecting to get anything. so i bounced some ideas off some people about what i was thinking of doing and going. it always feels good to get some reassurance.

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i then walked across the courtyard just to see what was there, and it was a cute place with about 6 people sitting up at the bar…all americans who have been living in the area for a great deal of time. they didn’t talk to me much, just kind of looked at me funny (i had leaned my bike against a big pole in the courtyard. i don’t know that they liked seeing people that they didn’t know. also, they were all fairly intoxicated. they were talking about property, businesses going in and who owned them and who was doing the work. then this other guy came in.

the first thing i noticed about this guy was not what he looked like, but the noises he made. his first stop was at the drum kit set up on the stage. he was a pretty good. come to find out, he would be playing in the band lined up for the night. they were playing in support of an organization that he ran in the area and with just a few questions i found out a little more information.

this guy was born in the area but went to university in the u.s. and worked there until retirement and then returned to the area and eventually started this organization to help keep kids with their parents. there were a great number of “orphans” in this region, not because of death but what they called economic orphans – kids abandoned or dropped off at orphanages because the parents couldn’t, or didn’t think that they could afford to raise the kids themselves.

so this organization has a center where the parents drop the kids off on their way to work super early in the morning. they feed the kids breakfast and takes them all on a bus to school, then pick them up and brings them back to the center where they can do homework, be fed again, and also get introduced to people who can teach them various trades in a type of mentor-type program. then the parents pick them up in the evening and take them home. i believe that the organization also takes them to church on the weekends when there isn’t school. it seems that it is pretty tied to the church and his connections with various people in the united states for funding. the church isn’t you know my kind of gig. historically, i believe that “the church” has been one of the major colonizers of the americas. that being said, this projects seems to have really been effective in keeping families together and for giving young people the belief that they can do more than just run around town causing un-necessary trouble and just stealing to get what they want/need. the things this guy seemed really excited about was: keeping families together, educating and feeding young people, and helping young folks find skills so that they could work in a field that was beneficial to their community.

the other thing this guy and i got to talk about was a number of american ex-pats that lived in the area (the other americans had left by this time). i had asked him how people felt about the type of potential hypocrisy of the border issues with so many americans living cheaply in mexico. especially considering the proximity to the border (60 km is only 37 miles). he took a deep breath first.

the local people actually like it, they don’t mind it. it is good for the local economy. the local mexican people are able to get jobs in the businesses started by americans, or in their houses as cleaning or construction/repair. americans spend money here which is also good for the economy. so the locals they don’t mind, they like it. but the government. that is a different story. they don’t like it at all.

the way he talked about the government’s feelings i knew that i shouldn’t push it, so i didn’t. but it made me think some about all these things. i genuinely believe this to be true. though he is the only person from mexico that i specifically talked to about this, others i talked to encouraged me to come back, to consider moving there, and at the very least spend much more time in the area.

he told me to come back for the band later, and really i did plan on it, but then the sun went down….

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i got back to my campsite with a full belly of thai food and a soul full of good conversation, that after a wonderful sunset, i passed out…well i wanted to pass out.

the sunset was spectacular, but soon i was ready to lay down and read until i fell asleep. it only took a couple of paragraphs for me to be ready for headlamps out. then all the warnings and fears for my safety rushed into my mind, plus the ocean’s roar kept me from being able to hear anything else. normally i know that i will be able to hear some creature sneaking up on my little world, which is really only squirrels. but what really hit me was all the stories about thieve, which was only about 2% of the stories i’d read or heard of this area of the world, just came rushing into my mind.

then i would find headlights coming for me, well it felt like it anyway, but it was just people coming in late to the campground and they were clear on the other side of the park. it was making me feel like i’d completely lost myself because i never ever feel like this. the fear and anger was rising up in me in a strange storm of confusion  and bewilderment. so i took a deep breath.

in this breath i asked myself, is this my fear or other peoples’?

do i really feel unsafe?

what is the worst that could happen and then what would i do about that?

and eventually, i asked if i truly felt fear or is this just me taking on other people’s shit?

and really? i felt completely safe. everything that was playing in my head was other people’s stuff and not based at all on my personal experience. i knew my surroundings. people knew who i was and i had made myself known, in a good way, to those around me. the lot was closed off to anyone not camping there. this fear is not my own.

then i drifted off into a sound sleep.

when i woke to a wonderfully sunny but slightly cool morning, i noticed new vehicles had shown up overnight, so i stretched and headed off to get a cup of coffee and meet my new neighbors

as i walked up to the shop, i passed a guy who was getting ready to go on an early morning surf run. we chatted a bit. he was so excited to have the weekend to just surf and rest and eat and surf some more. i said that was trying to decide if i wanted to hang out here for two days, or start my way back up the coast that day, or just haul ass to be up in playas by sunday night.

he said, well stay and i’ll drop you off on my way back up to orange county. well ok sounds like a plan! and he went surfing and i grabbed some coffee and my book and that is how we spent the day. his plan was to surf all day saturday and then sunday get up early, surf some more, and then we could head out.

saturday was fantastic. i just sat and read and watched the surfers show up and head out to the beach. now to watch surfers get excited is something to see. as they changed into their wetsuits they would watch other surfers catch some waves and they got excited about what they witnessed which made them want to get out there even faster. so the campground filled with people there just to surf and have a good time.

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the surfers had some great setups. they had vans or trucks with all their cooking gear, camp chairs, food, beverages, hoodies for the cool evenings. i spent this time watching these folks and i came to understand surfers in a new way. and it wasn’t until waking sunday morning to a cold and foggy day that i really started putting it all together.

the months that i had been traveling down the pacific coast, i’d been watching surfers and the way they watched the waves. when the waves rose they ran out to catch them. when the ocean became smooth as glass, the surfers sat on their boards and chatted with one another until the swell returned.

but when i woke on sunday morning with a fog all around, i wondered what the day would hold for them, especially when i noticed that the fog was rolling down from the hills and out to the ocean, vs rolling inland from the sea, and it was beautiful. when the sun finally came up over the hills to burn off the fog, the surfers finally started stirring and walking around. what really shocked me was the fog rainbow. as the skies blued up and the fog was still hanging in the ocean, we witnessed a full rainbow from the coastline over into the ocean.

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then the fog returned and the surfers disappeared.

i walked around with a cup of tea watching the shifts and changes of the environment. and i caught up with my ride back up the coast. we set up a timeframe to leave our little paradise at a leisurely pace, but so that he wouldn’t be caught in a long line at the border.

as i walked around i noticed that there were people in the ocean surfing in the fog. which shouldn’t have suprised me. i watched people surf well into the end of the sunset the last couple nights, and what i way to watch the sunset…i can only imagine.

so why did i gain a new appreciation for surfers and surf culture? well there was no one out there maintaining the ocean wave so that they could have a perfect run. there wasn’t someone with an anti-fog machine to make it a perfect day, nor even a warming or cooling hut for when the water or weather was too cold or hot. you just take what you get and make the most of it. if the swell is rising, you run out and forget whatever else you had planned. if the waves disappear, you wait it out and enjoy the people around you.

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sure this is not unniversal. i’ve talked to some seriously type a people who ran people out of the way to get a specific wave, but down here, it ws so chill. they aslo sharred tips and ways that work for them, or wax that they perfered. if people gained trust, there might even be a sharing of special surf spots. and when someone else had a really nice ride, they were cheered them on.

so surfing is something that is going on the need to do list. this whole area had places to rent boards and wetsuits, and get some instruction. Next time i am sure to do this.

it didn’t take long to get back to playas (i was surprised at my ability to give directions that took us right to the hostel), but we managed to have some great conversations around mid-life and quarter-life crisis, and all the ways and reasons to step away from the race of capitalism. by the time he dropped me off, i felt like i had met a kindred spirit. who knows, maybe our waves will cross again.

 

central coast i suppose

heading out and on down the coast was an odd feeling. this past week has been full of the well usual bag of mixed feelings and observations. i actually thought it would be somewhat easy to find vegan foods in california, but nope…at least not on the coast! (i’m so looking forward to meeting up with vegan friends down in san diego)!

when i stopped in this little town for my first break/some coffee, i met some local cyclist all who recommended moro bay’s campsite, so that is where i was heading. whatever town i was in was really cute and friendly. it’s where i posted my last post from. so i point toward moro bay and started peddling.

then there was a series of little towns with names i struggled to pronounce for some reason, so i won’t try to spell them, but finally my hunger won out and i had to stop at one of them for some food. i was told there was a good taco place, but when i found it…all smoked meat! as i walked away, so did another couple (from moro bay!) who was also looking for at least some vegetarian food. i finally gave up and went into a “saloon” hoping for at least some fries. nope. just booze. damn it! so i had a beer and sat to decide my next move. iv’e found that if i just sit for a minute, things will work out.

just as i was taking my first sip, two women saddled up next to me…and we all rode the evening out together! the two women were mother and daughter-in-laws. the mother just started asking me questions and we just kept going. next thing i know she buys me another beer and then rushes us across the street to this other place that faces the ocean, so we can watch the sunset…and she wants to buy me dinner! ok!

eventually i had to pull myself away. i still had 45 minutes to a campsite and it was dark! i rolled in and found the hiker/biker area, but just pitched my tent quickly and dozed off. it was saturday night and the campgrounds were not quiet, pretty, but not quiet. there is a golf course on one side and the bay on the other, and that water just carries sound so well. so i got up and out before anyone roused and found a breakfast place in the bay and try to decide my next move….and my heart got broken!

breakfast was fine….more potatoes and toast. however, the owner (and host) moved here from china and wrote a book about his adventures. i walked around the bay for a while and decided to sit down trying to figure out how a bay that was this beautiful let a power plant be built RIGHT ON THE BAY! i mean really who thought this was a good idea. it was built in the 1950s (before the clean air/water acts) and decommissioned in 1914 by a houston based company, dynegy.

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bay side power plant

so there i was sitting and looking out over the bay at the paddle boards, kayakers, sail boats, people living on boats waking to their morning routines, and all of a sudden i heard these screams coming from behind me! i turned and saw the moro bay aquarium and the sea-lion sign. then i heard the calls from the sea lions on a pier in the middle of the bay. and then i felt the tears roll down my face. those amazing beings behind me are certainly suffering. i could hear the pain and eventually anger in their voices! and then i heard little kids laughing (they get to feed the sea lions). i can’t imagine what kind of pellet food they feed them. i immediately started searching for a way to let them out. there had to be a trap door somewhere….

i decided i had to get out of town so i just started cranking the pedals. half way up the hill i spotted a juice bar, so i pulled over and sat down and did some research…still needed to decided where i was going. i found a petition that was old, but still going and then i found out that due to the family that owns the aquarium not willing to update and improve the space, it is closing down in 2018. supposedly the city wants to open a bigger better faster aquarium, but please no! NO!NO!NO! no more aquariums or zoos, just stop! there is no need for it.

but while i was at the juice bar, i met a really nice guy who grew up in the area and was getting ready to take his two kids to do some work in community gardens and then spend the day at the beach with the cousins. i started to feel a little better about moro bay but needed a little break so i book a hostile just a little ways up the road in san luis obispo (slo). as i rolled into town, two things happened. one, i remembered the bugs bunny episode where he got lost “should have made a left at albuquerque” and ended up in slo. the other thing that happened was all kinds of signs that put to mind the industrial prison complex, like the california men’s colony…really? sometimes i let myself forget that california has a huge prison industry.

the people at the hostel were super nice. check in wasn’t until 4:30, but they said i could leave my bike there and wonder the town….wow what a town full of homeless folks right next to very wealthy. i found a little tavern to sit and chat and do some writing. there was some religious festival in the park, otherwise i would have stayed there.

when i got back to the hostel, there was a full on party going on at around the table. more than a few people were living there while they were trying to find homes….an recuring theme in hostel land these days. some already had jobs. one person was born and raised there, but couldn’t find a place to live. i got in an argument with a young guy who just graduated from college and got a job right away in the area working with satellites. our argument was about resources allocated to space vs. the ocean. i should have known better, but couldn’t help myself. he was so smug and sure of himself.

i tried to go to bed, but there was an insane snorer and the only one in the room who slept that night. so up early for the free breakfast, (the staff member was so nice), and off to pismo beach. this area is full of campsites, but no h/b so i shelled out 25 bucks for a campsite, but the place was pretty nice and a great little walk to the beach, but i was so tired that it was dinner and an early pass out for me…didn’t even get a page in the book read.

the next few nights were pretty uneventful. some long rides in rolling grass lands that look like the area of kansas i grew up in. in fact kansas has been on my mind so much lately. maybe its the landscape. maybe it’s getting closer to time to return? i don’t know, i’ve said i’ll never go back….yet i’ve returned twice. 3rd time? can i really live anywhere? i don’t know.

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even the sea weed is different here

when i rolled into el capitan campsite i went for a stroll. it was a long ride for me (54 miles) and wanted to put my knees in the cold ocean, but it wasn’t cold! in fact i waded in up to my waste. i wanted to jump in, but i already had tar stuck to my legs. there are 3 off shore oil rigs in sight. as i was gazing off into the water i noticed a splash, and there they were, the porpoises i was told i might be able to see! it was a joy to watch them jump and play. i decided to stand there and watch them vs. trying to go get my camera and try to take a pic that wouldn’t come out anyway. oh ya! and when the raccoons woke me up, i watched the half-moon set over the ocean-big bright pink! thanks raccoons!

oh ya! and in pismo beach, while i ate dinner, i watched hawks and estreals soar around! one buzzed some peoples’ fire rings checking out the meat on their grills.

yesterday was another 50 some odd miles to my first warmshower host. todd with sandbox coffee lets people stay in the enclosed patio of his coffee shop after they close at 8 pm. so i arrived, said hi and went to explore the area. i have to say that i really enjoyed the ride into ventura. in fact i enjoyed the ride all the way from goleta (and the university of santa barbara there has the most magnificent bike trails. infact! they roll all the way through santa barabara (though confusing from time-to-time due to construction. but portland and psu, you could learn a great deal from how they have things set up and labeled! i was giddy with all the people, of all ages, using the trails!

i actually was pretty much on a bike trail most of those 50 some miles into ventura! and i went through this amazing surfer dirtbag kind of r.v. area just outside of ventura. there was a whole area dedicated to overnight r.v. parking. people had their stuff set up! there were r.v.s and vans of all kinds. people with bikes and surfboards all just doing their things and waving and saying hi as i went by.

so i dropped my panniers off at the coffee shop and rode around town until hunger got the best of me. the two people who served me (caught shift change) where amazing. the first person was born and raised in ventura! also her former partner was in a popular punk band that i have listened to. when football came on, it was time to return to my nest at the coffee shop, plus they were having open mic night out on the patio!

it was nice to watch the sunset and listen to some kind, older, white guys play old folk songs…i did like the woodie guthrie and bob dillon. as people left, i made my bed and tried to sleep. as great as this setting seems, it was some gosh offal sleep! the patio was lit up! and is right next to a busy road. now that i’ve started to get use to as most camps are next to the highway, but the lights! so when the person who opens the shop showed up at 5:30, i was prepared. by six i was packed up and ready for the already made coffee and a bagel sandwich!

and here is where i sit now, having watched the sun come up. i’m going to go a little easier on myself today….30-40 miles. i’m excited to get to my friends and then on into mexico. its a few days off yet depending on my pace. but i’m starting to feel like i should be doing something with my time right now with all the relief needs due to natural disasters. or maybe it is time to finally do an internship with an animal sanctuary? i guess i’ll know when i know.

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really never enough sunsets…also where i saw the moon set hours later

i feel like i should mention that i haven’t listened to music at all on this trip so far (well the songs stuck in my head from who knows what), i tried to listen to a podcast but fell asleep. i do go to facebook (my friends post news i can trust) to check some news and small updates. last night i thought i might watch a movie on the ol’ laptop, but didn’t feel it. my mind feels really good. its only been 2 weeks on the road, but already feels like a lifetime. i haven’t had a day off the saddle since big sure and i’m feeling the need for it; to just be in a place for a little while. but i’m also excited. the woman at dinner last night told me there is some bioluminescence on the beaches in the area right now! hope to stay up long enough.

whatever happens – i’m having the time of my life! and with all the sweat and lack of shower, my hair is looking good! for real no sarcasm!

eclipse escape

with all the hype and cluster issues i had to listen to for the past 3 months in oregon, i wasn’t sure just what i wanted to do for the eclipse, if anything. part of me was totally just be where i am when it happens and do that then. but as it approached i started to get excited. it is a pretty big deal and i was just miles from the totality range AND  it was on my day off. i got even more excited as i found out some of the local businesses here were going to close so that their staff could take off and enjoy and adventure. in a tourist focused town, that is a big deal. then i got the text…come with us

so that is what i did. i went with some pals up to silverton oregon to experience the eclipse. i had met the people who invited my buddies and really like them, i had no idea how big the group was going to be, but it seemed like a great plan.

so i got off work sunday morning, we loaded up our gear, food, beverages, breakfast burritos and headed off to silverton. i napped in my little nest in the back of the jeep, waking every-so-often checking on the smoke and progress. when we arrived we were greeted by some great folks on some lovely land not far from the main park in silverton.

as we settled in and caught up and met all the friends of friends that brought us together, i immediately relaxed and rolled with the open plans and got excited for those really excited. it is rare, in my life anyway, that one gets to experience science nerds excited for an event, and it was easy to get swept up in it all.  my pals and i talked about setting eclipse intentions and embracing the nature and energy and history of these events while we enjoyed breakfast burritos, so while team telescope went out looking at places to set up in the morning, we sat and absorbed and explored where we were.

once everyone gathered back at our main camp, we sat in a circle of lawn chairs making conversation and learning about one another. the owners of the property and spaces we were on are so amazing. they are world travelers who tour around on bikes! yes! one of them is a teacher and the other seems to be someone who can build/fix/design about anything. we talked and shared and swapped until dinner time. our little group went up to make dinner and more conversation until the stars and planets came out. we eventually made our way out to do some more test runs with the telescope and technology. my pals and i made cowboy camps on the lawn and watched the evening sky turn….actually i passed the french toast out! 

 

IMG_2444morning brought dew and a peaceful waking. we loaded up and headed off to the pre-scouted area to make coffee and experience the eclipse. the space was great! a raised area of freshly harvested and burned fields with a 360 view to hood to the east and the peaks near the coast to the west. i stayed off to the side while the “experts” set up the technology making coffee and beermosas. we played with puppies and kids. we chatted. we rested. mostly we laughed and played. then…

the light shifted and it was on! we didn’t need to look into the telescope or put on our special glasses to look and know, though we did, but it was such a shift and so subtle. like those moments when you notice that suddenly that summer had become fall all based on a shift in light and shadow. there was a kind of collective exhale. we were going to actually see this! no smoke! no cloud cover! just clear sky. kids where running around. there was a person dressed as a dinosaur. some kids had special little masks they made because the glasses don’t come in kids sizes (notes to designers….make kid sizes).

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as we approached totality people were torn on were to focus…the fast passing shadows? the shifting of our shadows as they became less and less distinct and a little wavy? the way it passed through leaves? various holes in various objects, including ear piercings? the temperature dropping? the 360 degree light shifting that felt like both sunrise and sunset as mt. hood turned pink? so much to feel and pay attention to! so much excitement and joy!

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and then, after so much shifting, it was suddenly totality! some people counted down, some of us just felt it and then finally looked up at the sun or was it the moon? the moon in front of the sun. it was so amazing! we cheered! we hugged! we wanted to experience so much and then, just like that, the moon continued on its path and  opened the sun back up, and the light shifted again.

and then people started leaving! all the cars and trucks that were pulled off where we were decided it was over and took off! what the hill-of-beans? to my estimation the eclipse was only half done. to me, and our crew, the excitement was the whole process. so we kept watching, and the kids in the area came to see the sun through the telescope. they were shown the sun spots and all the things visible. we all hung out and dreamed of the food we would eat when we got back to “camp”. we also talked about how we could understand why people travel the world chasing eclipses. they are amazing!

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some of us talked about how it can’t be true that indigenous people believed the world was coming to an end when the eclipse season would come. maybe the first time, but many of those ancient cultures were amazing astronomers. why is this so easy for so many to forget? what would it be like to experience an eclipse at say one of the mayan or incan areas where people go to see the solstices? what stories did they tell explaining them. i am curious and will do more searches for sure before i experience the next one.

eventually the sun was once again fully exposed and we were packed up and headed back. once we got there and our hosts arrived too, we all shared experiences and asked questions, checked traffic, and started to outline plans for the next possible eclipse chase! for the immediate plans we agreed to meet at this little pub i know about (the mom of a former housemate owns it). its off the beaten path but has a great patio so the dogs could hang out, also vegan options! yes! we hung here for 3 hours so that the traffic back to portland for our friends could have a better journey…also it was hard to say goodbye. none of know when we will meet again and there is just so much to share and enjoy.

there was just so much to this group that was hard to take for granted. so much respect for all our different backrounds, and all in our group is a nerd of some sort, one of the couples where the resident official physicists that brought the technology. even though they both study physics, they study different disciplines and it was wonderful to watch them defer to one another depending on the question. in fact the guy most often differed to the woman and she eventually talked openly about the racism and sexism in the sciences. there really didn’t seem to be anyone talking over the other, including the professional scientists vs. the armature astronomers. the whole event felt super collaborative from the making of dinner to the setting up and sharing of the whole event.

eventually we all found a way to go our separate directions, my pals and i to find a camping spot that wasn’t going to be a bunch of bucks nor too over crowded. so we went on the recommendations of the friends who invited us. and it was perfect. it’s a small campground that is converting their atv trails to mt. bike trails. and it includes a great hike that goes behind the namesake water fall! it was so peaceful! all that was going to have to wait until the next day. for by the time we got there (it was a long winding road up) we set up our tents and passed out! i woke a couple of times. the first i heard a howling that wasn’t a coyote and the second time to an owl….so deep and close and amazing! then the sun rose through the smoky haze from the wildfires. i laid there in my tent to watch the sky, listen to the silence, and read my book.

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eventually we all stirred enough to start some coffee to take on our walk to the falls. it was so wonderful to be walking on rainforest duff again! it was like having a spring in my step and the ferns and the moisture…so different from the southern oregon experience i’ve had so far this summer. i was so happy and relaxed! we made our way from the top of the waterfall down to the pool it formed and the canyon it carved. the water was cool to the touch and sweet to the taste. we all climbed over boulders and logs until our hungers pressed us on to put together a breakfast of champions. for the record! the three of us can make a good meal together!

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reluctantly we packed up again and headed south. we found out that the people who hung out with us for 3 hours at the pub made it back to portland only 20 minutes behind the other couple who choose not to join us so that they could get back early….crazy!

we took a little lunch break outside of eugen. it was a nice little break, but afterword there was talk of a special cold coffee drink and suddenly we all wanted some kind of treat. and since my pals may locate to eugen for continuing educational pursuits, we decided we should stop and get some treats.

we went to the wondering goat for some caffine….a great place to stop by the way, but as we arrived we found ourselves in the middle of a brewery neighborhood. i actually don’t much care for most breweries in eugen, but they do have this place called the beergarden! so we put our coffee drinks in the jeep and walked to the garden. what a nice place! looks like an old service station with the garage doors and such. they have really good beverages on tap and outdoor seating surrounded by food carts! we talked some more of our potential plans, and fears, and hopes, and jokes. once we hit the road again we seemed a little more focused.

the plan was for them to drop me off and then they would go find a place to camp, but as we approached ashland the smoke just kept getting thicker and thicker! i didn’t want them to camp in this air and it was going to take them another 3 hours drive to get to clear air, so they camped out in my room while i took the jeep to work. when i got back, they were ready to head off to start their next adventure, and left me to plan mine.

i don’t know when i will see these great humans again, but we have been here before, most likely we will be here again. what we do know is that there has to be a refuge/ a sanctuary for us queers to find even a temporary haven in this world of chaos and violence; of uncertain safety. we recognize that even the apparent liberal ideology of places like portland don’t really even have the illusion of safety any more. we have to arm ourselves with knowledge and skills, with reverence for nature, with empathy and solidarity. we will keep watch from our respective places, and we will love.

i wonder…what is a love that comes from fear? what is love that is based in anger and hatred and violence? as we fight for our respective rights to exist and live our lives how much is lost if it is surrounded by fear, hatred, greed, violence, dilusion….would i rather die/be killed by whatever is coming than succumb to the actions of violence and hatred? to false love? i can’t sacrifice my need for a nonviolent life for a longer life…blah blah blah.

these are the questions i find myself wrestling with as i make my plans to leave ashland and continue on my travels. i am more open to that fact that i really am in search of something more than stories to share. i am looking for some kind of connection that i cannot quantify or really even describe. i’ve been trying. but i do believe that it has something to do with a community that isn’t necessarily based on identity, but on connections…knowing that you get to one via the other. i am not a single issue activist/human and i don’t want a single issue community.

i plan on leaving ashland in the next week so i may post a few posts this week to catch everyone up on what’s happening and the thoughts i want to take as i continue to roll on.

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a queer vegan perspective on the changing climate

it wasn’t long after i stepped off the oregon coast trail that i heard about trump pulling the u.s. out of the paris accord; an accord that had no real accountability, nor does it go deep enough. when you consider that the g-20 governments still invest more in fossil fuels than in any climate initiative. i wasn’t surprised. we get what we deserve when we fall into a false sence of security that washes over us when democrats get selected for office, or for that fact believing that governments are going to get us out of a mess created by capitalism.

then consider the book i started this venture with, native science by gregory cajete; a book that outlines the indigenous scientific way of observing and participating with the world. this is a book that i had started and stopped so many times over a couple of years, not because it isn’t engaging, but because it inspired me to go out and observe the world around me and go in search of stories by different groups of people who explain their observations and how that incorporated lessons of participation with, well, everything. and then there is the influence of pouring over everything i can find by winona laduke and robin wall kimmerer. influences of black lives matter and idle no more….it is past time to take notice.

all this has led me to finally have a little better insight to address why the current dialoges of climate change/chaos have always felt empty, void of responsibility and real action. why i have tried to turn to so many different organizations from greenpeace to anarchists to work out how i want to address my contributions, my responsibility, my ability to participate as fully as possible to try to turn the tide of the warming of this planet. the fact that this is my 4th attempt to write this out means i haven’t got it yet, but i think i am finally at a place where i can start the conversation for a different way of addressing the onslaught humans (western, capitalist, imperialist, industrial nation’s humans) are having on earth.

if we are able to see that we are just another animal, another mammal, on this life-giving water ball of an organism that gives life to all the creatures who resides here. we might also be able to see that “we” are also the ones who have wrecked such havoc, causing the extinction of so many land and sea beings, we have also finally laid the groundwork for our own extinction. if we can piece these two things together, we might be able to finally collectivly take great action that may turn the tides. i want to have hope for it….yet if we can’t get over ourselves, i don’t know that i want to root for us as a whole…. again “us” being western, capitalist, imperialist, industrial nation’s humans. as many indigenous people i’ve listened to lately, the earth/water/land is not a resource to be extracted, but the source of all life.

so here is how i interpret what is happening to this planet, with my vegan and queer eyes…and heart. the planet is a living organism…THE living organisim for us and all others living, dying, and dead beings on this planet. it is the ultimate closed loop system. if you have ever watched trees grow out of “dead” aka nurse logs, you know what i mean. or closer to home…feed your garden from your compost pile often? death and life is a cycle. so anyway. the planet is a living being who is sick because of “us”. it’s immune system is wrecked and it is trying to find a way of coming back into balance. the more “we” push it out of balance, the more she reacts with greater force.

in naming what is happening, our egos call it climate chaos because we can’t control it. we can’t predict it. many scientists are now saying that the numbers they are getting are so far off the charts that they can’t really run the models for any reliable predictions. and really, i reckon there are just too many gosh darn variables. take the 3 gases that account for most of the warming temperatures of our life-giving planet: co2, methane, and nitrous oxide. most of the organizatons working on reducing the impact of global warming are focused on co2. in many ways this makes a great deal of sense. co2 is the highest concentrated gas. however, the effects of methane is 20 to 100 times stronger than co2. and get this! nitrous oxide? it is 296 times stronger and stays in the atmosphere for 150 years! these numbers i get from the fact sheets on the cowspiricy website and here they have all the scientific references.

one of the final statements they make there is

Reducing methane emissions would create tangible benefits almost immediately.

and where do these methane gases come from? industrial animal agriculture.

again from the fact sheets:

Even without fossil fuels, we will exceed our 565 gigatonnes CO2e limit by 2030, all from raising animals.

now mix this with an amazing infographic from phys.org

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now two things i want to take note of from this chart. first, this is still based on co2 and i believe that if we added methane and nitrous oxide, food and transportation would be switched. the other thing that i would like to point out is that all the things on the moderate and low impact side, are the things that “we” have been told we can do as individuals to reduce out participation in global warming. often it is mentioned to buy a hybrid car, (on this chart they encourage people to buy fully electric cars, but where is the electricity coming from? coal? solar? damning dams?). but for the most part it still takes more energy to build a new hybrid than is conserved in its lifetime. and i do not see anywhere in the u.s. where anyone talks about having smaller families, even though we know that population is a major major issue!

as for the switching to a plant-based diet, even vegans, especially today’s modern urban vegan, can make so many better choices, and i want us to talk about this. however, these choices still don’t have the same impact of not consuming animals  raised in the confines of industrial agriculture. i would highly encourage people to watch cowspiricy. they talk about the benefits and limitations of say grass/pasture raised meat and just how much land and space that it would take more land than exists to feed people of at the level of current consumption of our fellow mammals.

so what? so what do i want to do with all this information? how is this fueling me to make choices that lower my parasitic activity contributing to making our planet sick? i firmly believe that those of us in the queer community and the vegan community have exceptional vantage points, and thus responsibilities to respond to our sick planet. first, some vegans are already doing the work of intersectionality and developed ways of working together with other groups and organizations to challenge our common oppressors. the queer community has also had the opportunities to do this work, plus, many of us are members of the communities that are going to be even more effected by the government and corporate institutions that are going to amp up their violence and oppressive behaviors. those who are already vulnerable will be even more so, and also the number of groups who will be vulnerable are going to increase. we have a responsibility to be part of community organizing that challenges these institutions as well as building alternative ways of caring for and providing support for all of us. we have done this before, and we can do it again.

i don’t want us to be gentle with one another anymore. “we” can’t afford it. it is time for an intervention. i want us to be educated and informed on how we can be better citizen of this world. we need to recognize that “we” all have an addictive relationship with consumerism that leads to exploitation of land, water, plants, people, and all the other animals who depend on this planet for life. we need to let go of our personal and global egos that say we know better so it must be “their” fault; those new to the global market place – producer and consumer. it is time for brutal honesty, and we can do this with so much love. we can make different and better choices.  we don’t have to deny ourselves any pleasures, we just need to learn new ones. did you ever get to experience homemade vegan ice cream with freshly picked berries mixed in? so worth the wait!

and it’s not that hard really, learning new systems where we are inspired to make different choices, where we stop using single use anything as much as possible. get that one travel mug and water vessel. any time you find yourself throwing something in the trash, think about how you could do that differently. how about deciding to walk to the farmers market and have conversations with the people, and cats, you pass along the way. experience a feeling of less stress of not driving. too far to walk? take public transportation.

there also has to be a way where we look at the upstream and downstream effects of our choices. let’s say using compostable “to-go” things. it takes a great deal of energy to produce these items, but when they do eventually break down (which actually does take a great deal of energy and special industrial composting plants that most municipalities do not have), all you are left with is a substance that you can’t even grow mushrooms in. so lots of energy to make something that is used for a very short period of time that is reduced to nothing useful. doesn’t seem really all that “green” when put that way.

so here are some words that are being added to the r’s of reduce, reuse, recycle. those words are refuse and repair. what if we let go of buying so much…just refuse that ego response of retail therapy. go do something else instead. and then when you do need new things, like a shirt say, when it gets worn out, repair it. same with your gear. learn some skills. those are things that will truly truly fill your ego. you can even choose to buy from companies that encourage you to repair instead of replace (patagonia and osprey come to mind).

i’m starting to spin out here. this is what happens. i start going down this river of inspiration and get caught in the eddy of thoughts that make me feel preachy and not very fun, when what i want to do is inspire. making these changes can be so much fun. having canning parties and kimchi making parties. pot lucks instead of going out all the time. skill sharing and game nights. home brews and charades….

but the first step. the very very first step where no other change can happen without, is to see one’s self as just another animal. just another part of the great dynamic that is this living and breathing planet. that we are all dependent and interdependent upon each other is so key. for me, this is where queer and feminist theory of intersectionality come into play.  we have to slow down and recognize one another. we have to see, hear, smell, taste, feel physically and emotionally our way around our communities. sit by a river. listen to the rustle of leaves on a tree, the call of the early rising birds as a way of waking. drink wild water, witness a thunderstorm without fear but excitement for the cleansing it will bring, and deeply listen to the stories of people who have experiences other than our own.

this is what i wish for us. i want us to find ways to create spaces for us to openly talk about all these things without fear of so judgement and reprecution. i want a person who deeply wants to be a parent talk about it openly, and together we find ways where that can happen with out huge expenses on so many levels. where a hunter can talk about how they feed their families. how a vegan is trying to find a better source of their foods that doesn’t feed the social injustices of our global food systems.  we can do this, but we have to stop with our ego that makes us afraid to speak out, afraid of talking about our desires, afraid of being judged and ridiculed, a place where we lay our egos to the side and go deeper into really addressing the issues that are killing the one being that we all depend on for life…our blue planet.

Thoughts and Reflections of My Time On Oregon Coast Trail

it should be mentioned that i have put off  the wrap-up of the oct because i still hold some frustrations. it’s not the trail’s fault, really. i’m sure if i attempted it in the summer like most people, it would have been a different situation. i do feel that walking, eating, sleeping, catching rides for a month beside the pacific ocean has been a kind of re-birthing process for me (how many times do we do this in a single lifetime?). i’ll talk here a little about the logistics of the oct and also the effects of the trail on me.

when i first starting talking about the hike around the country, i didn’t really consider this trail. i like strolling along the beach, not so much walking several miles a day with 40 pounds on my back. but early on, a pal suggested it mostly for the beauty of the southern oregon coast. i dismissed it as no, the pacific northwest coast and i are not close friends. i love the ocean and the beauty of the coast. yet, i prefer ocean shores that are more inviting for co-mingling. i love to swim in an ocean that does not require a full wetsuit.

as winter just kept dragging on and on, and spring was just an extension of a pnw winter, i caved. i needed to leave portland. i really needed to leave the co-op, and here was a trail without snow, low elevation (can not get too much lower than sea level and still be on land (yes, there are a few exceptional cities to this basic rule and more as sea levels rise). i used this trail as a tool, a resource, for taking the leap away from my life in portland.  because it exists i was able to leave…to walk away. and that was a great lesson. ya’ gotta know when to walk away. and for this, and this alone, no matter what i say from here on out, i will be forever grateful to the oregon coast trail, the national coast trail and bonnie henderson for all their work and easy access to all the resources one might need.

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before i start talking about all the reasons i hope to never hike this trail again, let me say, they all suggest hiking it in the summer. as in full on oregon summer… not april or may when winter storms are still making their way inland. summer is a great time for the coast trail whether it is for an escape on a hot weekend, or a hot month.

 

like i said, i hope to never ever hike the oct again. i would go back and do sections that i couldn’t because of landslides and closures, but as a thru-hike, it sucked. walking that many miles a day on hard-packed sand is not that much different from walking miles on asphalt, which there is a great deal of as well. add this to having sand in everyfreakingthingiown…still! i still find sand in things i have cleaned multiple times. and sand is hard on gear, especially zippers and shoes/socks (and that translates directly to the feet). most of my days were rainy at some point and almost always cloudy (for some reason the sun would come out on days i decided would be rest days). the temps stayed in the 40s or 50s most days, and that was super pleasant. i don’t remember really being cold except when i was tired or grumpy, or the wind was exceptionally harsh on my wet being.

what really got to me. what would sap my spirit…the inability to keep my feet dry and healthy mixed with all the road walking. i should have probably realized this was going to happen and had a pair of road running shoes to balance my minimalist trail shoes. but let’s face it; 10 miles on asphalt with 40 lbs (probably more on food supply days) is not a pleasant stroll. the days i got to actually walk on trail trail (like the amazing venture through cape lookout and cape perpetuai could really feel the difference. my body and mind soared. unfortunately these moments were few and far between. two of the capes i was really looking forward to were closed due to landslides and downed trees.

but i have to say, when things were nice, it was amazing! those days are engrained in my mind. why our minds remember the tough days most(i know evolution and survival and all that, but still) i don’t know. the days where i just laid in the sunshine, walked under brilliant blue skies, sat on a drift log as the sun set, went for a middle of the night stroll because the full moon kept me up, the sky alight with so many stars, the days i walked unencumbered with logistics of things i don’t really care about like a job, trump, the drama of some rediculousness. it was amazing. sure all that gets replaces with other logistics like food, water where i will sleep, does that weather and tide alert pertain to me? but its different.

you know what was great? i really never had to think about where i was. sometimes i would look at the gps on my phone, and the little blue dot would have me off into the ocean… i liked that thought. the only time i had to think about being on or off the trail was if i had to maneuver my way around town, or the sections where the cliffs made it impossible to stay on the beach. this happened more in southern oregon. that left me more open to process all the things that i had just let go of and contemplate the things i really want to focus on in my life. i could really clear all the parts of me and myself. it is super-duper duper hard to get lost on the oct.

that time and space left me to think these thoughts: why is it that those moments of important, basic life needs in today’s society become trivial, and those trivial things, like work drama take the lead roles in our energy attention? i know, i say this with a great deal of privilege, but these daily decisions, decisions i would check in on with myself and maps and various resources on a fairly regular basis every day, seemed like no big deal. i mean sometimes it was. some days i did not leave my shelter, and thanks to the pstyle, i really didn’t leave the tent! also, i went through at least one town almost every day. if i really needed food or shelter, i could find it…with enough money. i was also able to access the great shuttle system on the oregon coast! this got me though so many difficult sections when there wasn’t a good place to camp for over 20 miles, roads washed out from landslides, or the weather had been so craptastic that all my gear was on the verge of wetting through. thanks to great gear, i only had one day that this was a strong reality, and i took a shuttle to a hotel to dry it out. it had been raining for days and not letting up and the floor of my tent had finally had enough, so i made a call, found a bus, and got a hotel room. one plus for me with the pnw having such a wet and cold winter/spring? the coastal towns had a really tough winter and were willing to make great deals for rooms, and there was always a room ready no matter how early i showed up.

another plus for the oct… the people! i met so many amazing people! and i don’t just mean people who shared their precious well water, or gave me rides, bought me dinner and beers. but all the conversations and stories that went with those moments. with the news/social (suckcial? i’m working on it suckbook?) media, one is led to believe that people are horrible. that we can not find a common place to land on the major issues of our worlds. on one of those sites, an indigenous one, was a quote “what if i told you the left-wing and the right-wing are on the same bird?” and that pretty much sums up my feelings about our national politics. anyway, i was not sure how certain situations were going to go down, but the one’s where i actually got to talk with people…so good. strangers in cars with not even eye-contact…whole other story!

so… would i recommend the oct? i would if…you really really love the idea that the whole coast of oregon is open to the public! yes, this is fantastic. if you have plenty of money to pack really really minimally, or slack-pack and stay mostly in hotels and can afford the higher costs of food and such on the coast. i ate some shitty skippy peanut butter and cold white flour tortillas. do it in the summer when the coast is a super respite from the hot valley or desert days. if you don’t mind hitching or walking the long moments of road time, or picking up a shuttle. if you know people you can stay with along the way. or if you just have an itch to get going and you can hear it call your name! and you want to see alien species like this, or impermanent art.

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the ocean is great company.  the ocean is a favorite teacher of mine. i regret nothing of this adventure. i am also happy to be somewhere else.