tijauna

i took a leisurely morning leaving san diego, which could have been a mistake. it was only supposed to take a few hours to get over the border and then to the hostel i decided to stay at. also, i decided to go ahead and take the coronado ferry instead of  riding down the industrial coast. that was not a mistake. it was a wonderful ride, but i had to wait 30 minutes or so for the ferry. the bike ride was all on bike path along the bay and some protected marsh land until the very end.

my first challenge was trying to find the way to cross the border. there was construction and whatnot, so it took me a minute to find the way behind and around the various little buildings. then…trying to find my way around tijauana…wow! i had directions down loaded and ready to go, but when i crossed the boarder it all was gone. i had my start point and my end point and no way to connect….aaaaaand finding street names was not all that easy. i asked a few people for directions, but it was starting to get late and dark and the roads were soooo busy with no bike lane or shoulder. finally i gave in a hailed a cab.

i also realized that somehow, while on the ferry, my front wheel got bent. fuck! i’ve been trying to find a bike shop, but there is nothing around, but i found one in the next town.

today’s plan was to get up early and head to the next town, but with yesterday being the way it was, and not really having time to get to know this little area, i decided to stay another night here. everything just felt rushed and my stomach was feeling goofy and i felt out of rhythm, so i spent a full day here in tijauana.

i found a little breakfast place and then walked the boardwalk. things look a bit different on the other side of the street. i found a vegan restaurant, some coffee shops, a tea shop, and “the wall”.  it’s the opposite side of the supposed “international friendship park”. i didn’t find it terribly friendly, but the political art on this (the mexican) side of the wall is moving. i left holding back emotions as i walked away from the border patrol trucks on the american side, and the policia on this side.

i didn’t really leave this neighborhood much, but i feel like i’m getting a feel for the surroundings.  my level of privilege, my whiteness here, and so many things are coming up….like being a queer woman and vegan in this area of the world. i’m feeling better and excited for the next couple weeks. i hope to eventually make it down to the middle of the peninsula and then head east and check out the sea of cortez for some warm water to swim in.

there is art all over the place here…literally! i’ll let the pics speak for themselves.

 

burning down the grief

as the fires have been raging all around me for a solid month now, and more popping up, and the twist of reprieve with thunderstorms that bring lightning and potentially more fires, i wonder why is all this old grief coming up? i mean, my lungs hurt, my eyes burn, my throat is itchy.  then i really started digging into my education in herbal medicine (thanks arctos herbal school and so many others) and tcm as i went to some community acupuncture here in ashland. and one day, i took a deep breath and almost sobbed with so much grief that i don’t even know, and i remembered, tcm…lungs….grief…

with all the fires, mostly i have been thinking about rejuvenation and regrowth; cleaning and clearing. there are so so many things we can only accomplish if it burns first….take rage…how often have i burned all the fear and hesitation to take action via rage? rage just burns it off and all i am left with is love and care at its most rare form.

maybe today’s youth won’t see an area in the type of vastness we have seen it, but they will get to watch the evolution of a forest in a rare and wonderful way, if “we” don’t interfere (inter-fear?) too much and fuck everything up. same holds true for all the storms wiping out entire communities. maybe they can take the lessons from greensburg and rebuild in a much more intentional way with solar, wind, and water as the focus vs. capitalism and commerce.

i’ve been trying to tap into this old grief for a long time. every time i tried to go to the places that i find refuge for my grief, i’ve gotten derailed or had to take care of someone else who was maybe trying to help me too as best they could. when we all have so much un-addressed grief how do we console and care for one another? it’s not for a lack of want or desire, but maybe we no longer have the practiced skill sets for it? as a culture that likes to negate the negative and proliferate the positive, it makes it difficult to just sit with the hard times sometimes. mix that in with the bag of tricks that is customer service “smile, it can’t be that bad”, fuck you, here is your over-priced, over cultivated, over entitled raw coconut chocolate product…sometimes i really hate customer service

add to the mix one part dealing with the transformation of dream job to nightmare, two parts city life not jiving well with environmental concerns, and so many parts lots of pointing fingers with limited showing of examples on how to move forward.

i think it is this last part that has had me in option paralysis. i don’t believe that all these efforts to get governments to make agreements and such are going to have the same impact as collective individual actions….same as my feelings about legalizing “gay” marriage, or weed, or….really fill in the blank.

i don’t know what else to do. i’ve watched cowspiricy, and what the health, i’ve read the book drawdown. i walk or ride my bike. i eat as consciously as i can where ever i am at.

the hardest part of this for me is finding the community to do this work within. i actually don’t see many people in the queer community addressing these issues, and the vegan community a little, environmental, some. i have some good friends doing great work, but i am looking for a community that brings all this together, and i am not finding it. i’m sure it’s out there, i just don’t know where, and i guess that is what i am looking for. either that or a place and the people to create it with.

but some days, i feel lonely, isolated, and exhausted. i just want to lay in my tent and not move. is it the grief? is it the fear? is it all the above?

for now i’ll just keep peddling my bike down the road and stay open to finding a community.

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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gear i’ve used so far

i don’t know why it has taken me so long to write about the larger pieces of gear i’ve been using. it seems like it would have been a great thing to write about before taking off while i was being anxious and obsessive about it all.

i recently went out to a lake with some pals and managed to take some pics of some key pieces while in use, vs. on the floor of an urban abode.

first, the pack holding everything. it’s a ula catalyst made in utah. it really is a workhouse of a pack. i traded in all my other packs at next adventure to afford it. i totally over packed this sucker and it still held up super, keeping the weight on my hips. the folks over at next adventure were amazingly patient with me as we mixed up the sizes of the hip belt and the different straps. ula makes an “s” shoulder harness and a “j” design. at first i was kinda frustrated with all the different straps and such to cinch and compress, but i quickly found my way around them and appreciated every last one of them. i really liked the roll top closure with the different options of clipping it closed either with the side straps, or on top as you would a dry bag. i also used the hell out of the external mesh pocket for trekking poles, rain gear/wet gear, tent, and umbrella. the pack is still a bit bigger and heavier than i want to have, but it has been great for essentially carrying my whole life on my back.

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next let’s move on to my little home. it is a big agnes copper spur ul-1. i scouted it at pct days in cascade locks last summer. i climbed in and out of all kinds of shelters on demo. for me this tent has a really good living space to weight to price ratio. i watched for deals and sales and rei eventually had a great sale on all big agnes products, so i cashed in my rei dividend and picked one up last summer. it may look familiar because its test run was to the wallowas and central oregon hot springs. the reason i like this tent really involves the weight and living space. i did decide to get the ground cloth that goes with it vs. getting a piece of tyvak because i do like the idea of pitching it with just the fly, which i have done a couple of times when in need of some quick shelter from the wind and rain. i could also imagine using this set up if i needed to creat some shade since i can still get some good air flow to stay cool. i could also see myself using this quick set up where i wanted to go fast and light, where mosquitos won’t be an issue.

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i should say that i had and have some prickles about buying from big agnes this time around. they have always been a great company. their products are made in steamboat springs, colorado. they make high quality gear that is pricy but not completely out of range for an average adventurer. however, there is a cultural shift in the outdoor world that is annoying to me, and totally shouldn’t be. so on the side panel pockets where i usually store my glasses, headlamp, watch and such, they have added a place to run an earphone line so that you can store your device and listen to music, podcast, show…whatever. i know i shouldn’t be bothered by this, but i kind of am. i am trying to get away from all that, so why build in a way to stay connected? also, big agnes has started this mountain glow series where they add led lights to the tents and have linked up with goal zero (which i do use) to charge them via. i don’t know, i guess this is just too much for me – technology in the outdoors wise. people already use too bright of headlamps and blind me when i am out at night wondering around looking at the stars, why all the extra light? i know i should get over it. if it helps get more people out to fall in love with wilderness, great. i reckon i am just becoming a cantankerous old fart.

now, there are two things i am really excited about adding to my quiver of a good nights sleep. first, my sleeping pad. i have experimented with so many pads and up until now, i have stuck with thermolite self-inflating pads. i tried to use some of the ultra-lite like their neoair and another by nemo, all really good products, but not so much for me. so while at the same pct days i met the folks from klymit. they were super nice. they had several of their pads out to test. i had read about some of their lightweight pads that seemed kind of torturous in pics, but once i laid out on the static v, i was so happy! i can finally sleep on my side and not feel my pelvic bone get friendly with whatever rock i missed in clearing my sleeping space. on top of all that, it isn’t set up high where i feel like i am going to roll off, which i am prone to do whether its a bed or a sleeping pad. so when they told me i could get one for 1/2 price that day, i went for it. that night i rolled up my 3/4 thermarest i’d been using for years and blew this one up. it really did only take 15-20 breaths (even after a visit to the beer garden). and i slept great!

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some things i’ve learned using this now, is that less is more. i do like this pad better when not completely filled with air. also, the side rails do really work for me. so far i have not rolled off the pad unless i did so on purpose to cool my legs down on a hot night or during a particularly invasive hot flash. sure i can’t just throw it in my tent and let it self inflate while i do other chores around camp, but the good nights sleep i receive is worth it. oh, and i did get the insulated one which did pay off while in the high country a couple of times in test trips where the temp dropped into the teens and i was using 30 or 40 degree sleeping bag at the time.

now for the piece of equipment i am truly excited about, my new sleeping quilt. that is right, i made the switch from a bag to a quilt. i wasn’t sure if it was gong to be right for me at first, so i went to rei and bought and returned a couple different bags. i tested out some other bags at various gear shops and events. however, i am such a tosser and a turner, that i am never really comfortable in a sleeping bag. in addition, i prefer to sleep on my side or stomach, and bags just get all twisted up and the hood on the mummy bags have almost suffocated me a few times. however, most quilts are down filled and i just can not bring myself to do that. enter enlightened equipment! they are based (and made to order) in minnesota. so i got to pick out the colors, temperature rating, and insulation of my quilt. and to be honest, i tried to use some woman’s specific sleeping bags, but really? do they all have to be pink or pastel, or glow-worm green; so getting to pic the color was a huge plus for me.

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anyway, the quilts are super versatile. there is one small zipper at the foot box, so the quilt can be closed around the lower parts of the legs, or fully open…like a quilt or blanket you use at home. also, the foot box has a drawstring enclosure so you can still have it closed around the legs to hold in the warmth, but you can easily stick your feet out the end. this came in super handy on cold nights where i was so tired and wanted to cozy in, but my feet where on fire from the day’s walking and trying to heal the blisters. i spend many nights wrapped up, but with my feet dangling out.

another feature of this quilt is the sleeping pad straps. so there are two of them, one towards the bottom and one towards the top. the one on the bottom is great for just keeping the quilt in place. the top one i use on really cold nights when i want to make sure that i hold in all the body heat possible. mostly, so far, i don’t use the top one much except on the coldest of nights. the advantage of this system is the versatility. i don’t need a summer bag and a winter bag (well unless i go super high late/early in the season). this quilt is super comfortable regardless of what is happening temperature wise.

more pluses….it is so light! when it came in the mail, i thought the box was empty! it is easy to pack up… i just really like this sleeping situation. it is so nice to not feel like i am wrestling my way to get some rest and recovery. the only thing i am still trying to work out is sleeping directly on my pad. i don’t really like it that much. i currently use my sleeping bag liner that is stretchy, but i am looking at some of the pad covers, but some of them are made out of the silnylon too, so i don’t know. i like my liner, so i’ll probably just stick with it, but some quilt designers are recognizing this is an issue for some. mostly this is only an issue if i want to sleep naked, which i don’t do much because of night sweats and hot flashes.

the other major piece of equipment that i replaced was my cooking system. i’ve used my trusty msr pocket rocket and gsi minimalist system for so long, at least 8 years that i wasn’t even thinking of replacing it…that is until one of the folks at next adventure suggested the evernew cook system. the appalachian series is so light i can’t believe it, however what really sold me on it is that i can use alcohol, fuel tablets, or wood for fuel! so that means that i can mostly scavage small twigs and drift wood (almost always dry and ready to burn) for free! so much less fuel to carry and buy! i still have some fuel tablets from the little stove i used on the jmt a few years ago when i didn’t really cook much on that trail. i bought a little alcohol fuel for emergencies, which i did need a few (ok several) times on the rainy coast. but for the most part, if i thought ahead and picked up sticks through out the day, i could store them in places where they might be able to dry out enough to make dinner.

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i did go to antigravity gear and got their appalachian kitchen upgrade. mostly this involves a couple of cozys for soaking and post-cooking simmering, a little ring that goes under the alcohol stove for increasing its already efficient efficiency, and a container to soak your dried food while you are walking so that the cooking times are quicker, thereby using less fuel. it is a great system and i am enjoying the learning curve involved in figuring out this whole new way of cooking. and if i am too tired at the end of a day to work all this out, i just boil some water and make miso soup, tossing in some crumbled soy curls and dried veggies and nutritional yeast for a quick dinner.

the only thing i think i will change is maybe a bigger pot. the pot it comes with, 500 ml, is perfect for most meals, but if i want to cook up some pasta, or saute some veggies first, i think a little bigger pot might be nice, especially in the morning. this is the time i actually really like to use the stove most. i like to boil water for a hot beverage whether it is for coffee or tea, and then a warm breakfast on a cold mountain morning really helps warm the muscles and spirits for a day’s adventure.

shoes. so i was really trying to only get gear that was made as locally as possible. not just designed, but manufactured and made by people as close to me as i could find (and afford), and that pay people doing that work a wage that supports them beyond just getting by. the gear wasn’t too difficult, but clothing and shoes is a whole different issue. then one day i discovered carson footware. these are minimalist trail running shoes that are designed and sewn in portland oregon! so i called them up and asked if i could come down and check them out before ordering on-line. i was able to bike (also it is right off the max line, so it is easy to get to) out there. the woman who greeted me and helped me find the right size (their sizing philosophy is the most consistent i have ever found in shoes) and style, was also the person who sewed my shoes! in fact shoes were being sewn by another person while we talked. when i went and picked them up about 10 days later i got to meet the owner. he was great! i explained what i was trying to do and he was so supportive.

sliding into these shoes is like putting on a nice pair of slippers. they stretch and form to my feet even on long days where my feet really swell up. they dry quickly and are fairly breathable. the traction is fantastic. i didn’t slide once, even where the mud and landslides were happening all around me. i’ve read that they have just added a soul with even more traction. there isn’t really much padding, so if you need that, this isn’t your shoe. however, if you like zero drop and having solid contact with the ground….go get ’em!

i did get a goal zero charging system (thank you to my aunts who gifted me this in support of this venture). it has been great. i charge my phone, my headlamp (a petzel), ipod, and tablet with it. in fact i still use it even though i am in an apartment. i put it out and charge up the venture 30 and then use it all week to charge up my phone and headlamp (which i use as my main headlamp while biking around at night in ashland) also, for reading at night at home instead of turning on a lamp. there is just something comfortable about using a headlamp. maybe it is the red light that i use most often.

so i think that is it for most of the big switches in gear acquired. some other choices i made? i decided against a gps system. so much money upfront and additional investment in digital maps and batteries or charging time, and subscriptions to satellite use. yet, i did get an abc watch. it measures the barometric levels, altitude, and has a digital compass. this one also informs me of the tides; in addition it keeps track the moon phases (which helps even more with understanding the tides), alarms, stopwatch and timers, temperature sensor and some other things that i don’t understand. the barometric reading and patterns have come in really handy in reading when storms are moving in and out. it is also helping me develop some internal understanding of weather patterns. the compass is great for setting bearings and following a route, but really, on the coast…not much needed there. also, the external ring of the casio pro trek is a solar charger, so i don’t even have to plug it into anything nor change any batteries. i just have to make sure that every-once-in-awhile it is exposed to light.

but i digress a little for not getting a gps unit is that “they” still suggest having paper maps just in case of tech failures. plus, i have a phone with gps that shows me where i am even if i don’t have cell reception (a fun note: while on the coast it often pinpointed me as being actually deep in the ocean hahaha). if i end up getting super remote and alone i will consider getting a spot locator that will send help when needed. then i won’t have to deal with satellite subscriptions and all that. there are so many apps for smart phones now, that i don’t know how long gps units will be helpful for folks not going way off the beaten path. also…i really like maps. i love to pour over them and see what is where and what all the options are. for example, if i hadn’t had other maps while doing the jmt, i would have never found the hot springs that were just a short detour off the trail. why? because they are not on the official route. so mix and match. and have fun.

i still have not replaced my water filter system. i enjoy pumping water. i don’t like the chemical taste of treatment drops or tablets, and i don’t trust the pens. the gravity bags coming out and micro filters that are being developed are probably great, but my good old fashion katadyn has never let me down. i do keep a bottle of gse drops incase i am felling unwell, or i feel that the water may not be the best even after a filter, but i have only ever used the drops when i fee like i am getting sick…like catching a cold. i have had this pump for like 20 years and it has never ever let me down. sometimes i let it down. like when i left it out one night and the water left in it froze. and really pumping my water is a kind of meditative activity where i get to know my water source and those around it better. i really like pumping water as the sun is setting or rising. water sources are so busy during these times.

what else? most of my pics are either from my phone or a canon powershot sx160 is. i’d like to upgrade to a really nice digital slr, but that is going to have to wait until i get famous. so get use to this camera. its great. i have been using canon cameras since i was in high schools, so over 30 years, and they have always done what i envisioned.

you already know i use the pstyle as a standup urinary tool. prior to menopause, i used the diva cup for menstruation in and out of the woods. i don’t use a trowel for digging a cat hole. i either use a tent stake that i keep in the carrying case of the pstyle or a stick i find lying around. it isn’t hard to determine how deep 6 inches is once you get use to it. but also, i try to dig a little deeper hole just to be sure. i don’t use t.p. i have been working on some other techniques. some involve using smooth rock that i collect through the day, rub clean and then leave in the cat hole. i have also used a special water bottle to create a kind of outdoor bidet, which in nice and clean feeling. but i feel like these issues are super personal. there is no right way, but there are certainly some wrong ways. so study up on leave no trace principles and find a way that works for you.

if you have questions of other things i may or may not be using and why or why not, let me know. i’m not much of a gear head, but i do like learning new skills and how to use different tools. it is fun to develop the best tool to take out into the world, and that is the good ol brain. learning to adapt to different resources and situations and how to use what is handy and available to make things even more enjoyable without inflicting more human interference is a wonderful skill to continue to develop. i look forward to pushing myself even more in this area.

 

queer vegan goes to a 4th of july parade

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i am not a fan of many american holiday celebrations, but to say the july 4th is one of my very least favorites is a fair statement. i can still remember one of my early childhood experiences. we all went with some family friends to any even smaller town for a whole day shindig. i can’t remember exactly how young i was. what i do remember… a competition where they (the adults i assume) grease up a little pot belly pig for the kids to chase around and try to catch. i remember a terrified pig squealing all over the park. i don’t know what happened when the pig was caught. maybe the pig was the prize or some other equally horrific award.

then there were the horse races. for some reason i remember the adults in the group being super excited about this, maybe the reason for us going? i don’t know. what i do remember was sitting in the grandstands where the rodeo happens (i think maybe there was even a tractor pull?) and people placing bets. i remember thinking it was kinda cool that whomever picked the winning horse got the pot of money. i remember it just being mostly quarters in our group of people and that it was supposed to be a secret. but it seemed like the whole grandstand had similar little groups. i know white middle and working class folks getting excited about breaking the law out in the open…

the next thing i remember….hiding under the blankets because of the sound of the fireworks. i can still feel the shaking and tremors in my body. i remember being made fun of because my little sister was more brave than i, and she was totally enthralled with them. i remember being torn between wanting to see them and the fear of the sound. i hated it and couldn’t wait for it to be over.

over the years i mildly participated. i really enjoyed bottle rockets. going out in the country. finding a field that had recently been harvested and cleared. setting up empty beer cans and bottles with the little rockets. the cute little pop they make when they go off. the whooshing sound of roman candles. drawing figures with sparklers. but then there were the high school years of going to the fair grounds to watch the big productions. i used comic relief of the oohs, aahs, and lovely to mask my internal tremors that never really went away. i just tried to hide them. as an adult i would make it a mission to find the most remote place to see them, but not hear them. i used work as a way to avoid going altogether, or a 4 day backpacking trip. in portland i would work then usually had an animal companion sitting gig and would cuddle the dogs, cats, or chickens until the nights turned to days and all our torments finally quieted.

so ya….i hate the 4th of july and all it represents. i hate the nationalistic pride. i hate the fuck you it seems to say to the indigenous people who’s land the country we are supposed to be celebrating, enlisted genocide, war, slavery, and religion to occupy and steal. i hate the gluttony and mass consumerism that goes along side it, the eating contests, people who spend hundreds of dollars to blow shit up and then leave messes in the streets for, i don’t know who they expect, to clean it up. i hate getting caught at dusk, riding my bike as fast as possible to get home before the nightmare begins. those nights i didn’t make it and felt like i was caught in a war zone. sometimes, depending on where i was, not know if those blasts where gunshots or fireworks. many times seeing roman candles, bottle rockets, firecrackers wiz past me as i dodged through the city streets. i hate the fourth of july.

so when the calendar flipped this year, i didn’t really think much about it. after all, i am in a town where i don’t really know any one, so no bbq to get invited to (actually i began to like the vegan bbqs i went to, i just went home early), no fireworks date, no animals to watch, no big deal. i was going to go to the farmers market, get some good food and watch some movies….then my housemate said “i’m going to go to the parade wanna go?”

i didn’t think about the parade. i pictured central oregon, flag waving, patriotism, huge amounts of white people waving the flag…but i am in ashland oregon….white liberal southern oregon. at the mention of trump people shake their heads and nervously chuckle. no one here admits to voting for trump, but i also do not see/hear many clinton or sanders slogans or stickers…its kind of a weird liberal stepford-town. so i could go and see how this town is going to celebrate this day and all of its awkwardness, or i could hide away and make fun of it from afar….i went.

i have to say, i rather enjoyed myself…eventually. the crowd was full of manners (as a friend of mine would say). they didn’t pile up on each other. kids were up front as they should be. paths on the sidewalks and crosswalks were kept open with out anyone directing it. when it got hot, room was made for elders and youth in the shade… but it started for me with a little trepidation. a little after 10 some people in front of us moved into the street saying “here they come! here they come!” i thought cool the parade started on time, but nope it was the f-something-or-other fighter jets in formation making a fly over. i hadn’t heard that sound in over 10 years and i have not missed it.

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yes, it was still a very very white event

[wichita use to start the fireworks with the b1 bomber, canons, and the 1812 overture synched to the fireworks…i worked like mad to avoid these events.]

then the cops on motorcycles led the parade down the street. my heart sank and my stomach rose to my chest as i braced myself for either 2 hours of this, or a long walk home (i brought my backpack with notebooks and reading material just in case i needed to bail). then a woman walked up to me, a river rafting guide, who thought she knew me, and my guard dropped and i relaxed as the fun floats started to go by.

there wasn’t super overt patriotism. the people in the parades where on point. the environmental groups, the fire departments (for urban and wild fires), the representatives of ashland’s sister city, guadalajara in mexico, the library…the local bookstore dressed as the covers of banned books, the roller derby team, bands, silly folks, oh and we learned that the blacksheep english pub recently got new owners and will stay open!

it was actually a nice way to get to know some of the service organizations of the area. like talent (just up the road a bit) has a pollinator and bee project! i had no idea. there is one of the few health clinics here for immigrants to get the care they need for their application process. it was actually a fun day.

after the parade we walked up-stream of the people flowing to the park, as we searched for a place to have a refreshing cocktail.

when we got home, i was feeling brave, so i thought i would walk up to the movie theater and see wonder woman! maybe i could handle the red, white, and gold of a super hero movie with a woman as the lead hero. at first i was excited. the “older” women as badass amazon warriors on a paradise island?!

but then…i was heart-broken, and not just because it had to have a love story in it (why do they always have to do that? thank you once again madmax for not doing that). it felt like a feminist version of a gay film, in that we will except meritocracy and nods to issues without actually dealing with them, just for some visibility. and yes, visibility is great. i don’t want to make light of that, but….sigh. i’ll take sense8 any day over wonder woman. sure all the characters are flawed, maybe that is what i like about them. they also support one another without question or explanations: queer, trans, thief, hindi, korean female martial fighter, and the sex scenes? hot!….yes, you have to suspend some disbelief to follow, but name a show where you don’t.

so…my take away, if i may, for this “holiday” celabration…i don’t know. i like the idea of community coming together and dressing up and walking down the street like some kind of moving talent show where we are proud of what we do together. that we have a lot of work to do and so much to share. that we are imperfect and flawed, but if we can find these things that bind us together….well we just might survive for a little while. that we can share space, food, music, and good cheer. it doesn’t have to require buying or being some major consumer of capitalistic greed, hate, and delusion. in fact there were more than a few floats in this parade that called out capitalism as the major force of our current struggles in this country.

this is still not a holiday i enjoy. i don’t know if i’ll brave going out in it again. i am grateful that i got to stop at the farmers market and get fresh fruits and veggies for the week. i was able to hide out from the fireworks and snuck to work at 11 pm between the city display and the neighbors’ doing their bit. from the guests at the hotel, i heard that the jazz concert in the park was really good. and the next day when i went out, the streets were not full of firework trash.

maybe i need to make my own holiday….what kind holiday would a queer vegan on an adventure come up with…..hummmm

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.

checking some privilege 

I guess checking one’s privilege is a lot like rain on the oregon coast, it never stops. however, today was, and still is, a wonderful day. it didn’t start that way. i woke early thinking great! I won’t have to pack a wet tent. then then pit pit pitter-patter began. I held my breath hoping it would pass  nope! a deluge poured down.  I started to read but opted to set a timer for 30 minutes and buried my head!

I eventually got on my way, and by the time I finished a lunch break it was a glorious day! a rounded the bay at Waldport and across the way, the whole shoreline was full of sunbathing sea lions! maybe this is what they were barking about all morning! not only was the sun out but the wind was at my back! 

The view! spectacular! today the ocean was such an amazing color! maybe what some would call aquamarine? a deeper but also lighter colors of blue layered with greens tinged with more blue. and the whites of the crashing waves blowing across the tops in a strong wind. all this under a clear blue sky! I needed today. it has been nice some, but the rain has just worn me out. even when I thought I was getting a break of sunshine, it started to rain. normally I like then sunshine and rain combo. but really I just want 24-48 hours with a dry tent and dry feet. 

to celebrate I may actually stay up long enough to watch the sunset! maybe. 

the view as I started this thought

anyway, that is not what I wanted to write about today; just needed to get that off my chest. today I want to just take a moment to acknowledge and recognize not just the privilege I have just to do this adventure, but also how privilege  effects how I’m treated out here. 

for those of you who don’t know me, I’m a white, cis gendered woman/gender – queer person. I come from a mostly working-class background. I have participated in a few forms of institutionalized higher education (a debt that I most likely will never be able to pay off), I am a healthy able-bodied, fairly mentally stable, and for lack of better words right now, legal citizen of the country I’m currently in.

some other privileges I would add: I am single, queer (in more than just gender/sexual orientation, but also so many ways I move through the world), I have no children or animals that need my care. my parents and other family members are healthy, my grandparents have all passed on (I don’t think is a privilege really, but I do think I didn’t start this until the last one passed so that I could be reached if needed). I was able to acquire respectably good gear that fits me. and I’m sure I will discover more as I continue this venture. 

why does it seem important to me to recognize this here and now? one of my very first conversations with someone (a middle-aged white male from the seat of his mini-van as he was headed to the same state park as I so that he could take a shower while his bathroom ws being remodeled) approached me because I “looked like a legitimate backpacker and not just some homeless person”. .  didn’t know how to respond so I said something to the effects of yes I am backpacking. 

however, I am also basically homeless. I don’t have a job. maybe I could consider myself self employed since I hope to maybe make some money eventually from these shenanigans. but because he categorized me as someone he could maybe relate to, he decided to stop and have a conversation with me. so, yes, for now I can afford a hiker/biker camp site, some of wich have allowed me to take a hot shower and I’ve rested up in a hostel a couple times.

I think, also because of how I present myelf, I have been able to talk more openly to other queerdos, even if that’s not how they would identify. 

I think some of this hit me as I crossed the newport bridge because I had had some really great talks with some folks at the lost buoy hostel. we talked about so many things, but one thing that sticks with me is how people using airbnb are changing the ways people travel and it is making it more challenging for folks to travel simply and cheaply. to the point that people are starting to charge for couch surfing. this is a whole other tangent around a kind of exchange economy that made up couch surfing. 

anyway….I know that there are just as many things about who I am that can put me in danger, especially in certain homophobic, sexist, pro-gun, hunting /animal agriculture communities. but I wanted to take a minute to reflect and remember to remember just how different I am treated than some of the other folks walking around these coastal towns with carrying all their possessions on their backs. are there ways for me to bridge these gaps? to make connections? I know I have so many more questions, I just don’t know how to work with them.

so now I will stare off into the sunset and see if I can sort some of this out! also, if you have any thoughts on these thoughts, please do share! 

p.s. it’s been a few days now since I wrote this and I’ve had a couple other experience that reinforces my points. it comes in getting 3 lifts from people while I was stuck road walking. all 3 people stopped and offered rides and I wasn’t even trying. i thought about it, sticking my thumb out and all, but I didn’t. I’m very grateful for the rides. they all showed up just when I needed them! yes, mom, they were all very nice people trying to repay for rides they had gotten. 

caught in the newport vortex

Shoreline and tide pools

sometimes a place just pulls me in and a linger. sometimes I stay a couple hours, some times days….or years. I’ve met some super nice folks, and I finally got an chance to stay at the lost bouy hostel!
another reason for the linger is I’m trying to process some of the experiences I’ve had the past few days. depoe bay and the shoreline leading up to newport has me thinking even more about the ocean activist sylvia earle and rachel carson. cardon’s first 3 books were about the ocean. not a huge suprise when you find our she was a marine biologist. the sea trilogy was published in the 1950s. 

I’ve only read the first one, the sea around us, and was moved by the poetic way she wrote about the sea, the formations of islands, life that emerges from the ocean. 

in depoe bay, I went to the whale watching center and the folks there talked about why more whales come up and in to this bay. it seems that the shelf there is a superb deep drop off due to the volcanic history of the area, this vulcanic geology changed the whole shoreline down to newport. this geological shift gave the opportunity for life in tide pools along the sandy and pebbled beach. 

so I’ve been walking and thinking about the lessons of sylvia earle and rachel carson as well as the lessons of evolution and earth science. how life on land formed from the muck of the ocean. how, no matter where one lived on this planet, the oxygen you depend on is because of microbes (like plankton) in the sea. how our weather patterns, rain/snow/sleet is mostly due to the water from the ocean. and I ponder all this with the feelings I’m having along this journey so far; how it’s a kind of rebirth. 

I’ve been saying that I decided to start with the coast trail because it’s the only one without snow, but I’m suspecting there is another reason, something I don’t exactly understand yet. 

starting the sharing 

seems funny that i have only been doing this for around 10 days now, but so much has happened, and also not much because well rain and wind and rain and rain. the oregon coast is rainy, i know, no shit it’s rainy! i was prepared, and yet somehow not. i’ve had so many great experiences already, and i’ve been cheating.

when we left of, i was at seaside taking a break. since then i have made my way down the coast and am lodged up in lincoln city; swapping out gear and drying out all the things. also, i promised my tent a break from those winds.

so the weather has been super craptastic, but i am not going to complain about the life force of water, however, it shifts logistics a little. so between that and realizing that the coast trail is freaking expensive, lots of road walking (hard on the body), and some of the northern parks are closed due to landslides, i’ve decided to take the amazing coastal shuttle/bus system. yes, i will happily pay you $4.50 for what would have coast me 40 to 50 bucks in boat shuttles that may or not have been happening due to the weather. plus, saving that money helped me get a salad and a pint while waiting for a connector bus.

i have to say, taking these buses has left a soft spot in my heart for the coastal communities i have been passing through. many people use this public transportation for many reasons. they know the bus driver’s name and the driver knows the passengers names. they don’t treat the people with special needs any differently. they are kind. they seem to watch out for each other. maybe this is a piece of what i am searching for.

i’ve already met so many nice people. i was at bill’s tavern in cannon beach after getting blown off the beach. me and my pack were soaked and we really hadn’t gone more than a mile. this woman sitting in the booth next to me asked to join me. we had a nice conversation that finally came around to my feelings about the book/movie wild. i know i’ve already written my feeling about it, i probably will some more. anyway, she had this look on her face that seemed pained as she asked the question. so i took a minute and responded in a way that surprised me.

i told her that we can’t really blam this book/movie on the increased traffic on delicate land. that maybe people are searching for something anything that helps them feel connected to something, and this has been a tool to help with that. i can’t really blame that book/movie on the increased use of the pct (a kind of gentrification of the trail systems) anymore than i can blame the influx of people to portland on the show portlandia (yes, i said that). people are searching for places that they can experience life differently, more fully perhaps? these forms of popular culture give insight into some options that maybe people haven’t thought of until this introduction.

she seemed relieved at my response. maybe she too is searching for something. i don’t know. she was very present and thoughtful. she reminded me of my dad’s wife. anyway, she came back later with a generous gift that helped me pay for an over-priced camp site that night.

a couple days later i met 2 super nice guys outside the coffee shop in manzinita. i figured with the money i saved from not paying for a boat shuttle, i could splurge on a cup of coffee and fresh o.j. we were sitting outside talking about the super sweet dogs and life. they are from portland, just quite their corporate jobs and are trying to decide what’s next. when i was explaining what i was doing, i started tot tear up for some reason (and actually am again as i write this) and i’m not sure why. sometimes you meet people who you can tell the story you’ve already been telling, but you get to be more vulnerable, maybe? i don’t know. i think i’m starting to let go of some of my own bullshit. i hope one day i find out what they decide is next for them.

then i finally got some forest hike in after i hide in the hiker/biker camp of cape lookout. geez how i love that park. it was super great! and super muddy! thank goodness for carson footwear. the mud may have sucked off my shoes, but those shoes kept me from sliding off the trail! when the tide kept me from crossing the lake, i had a long and sideways rain come down on me. my walking day ended up being around  9 hours and 15 miles. i did have a nice layover at the sand lake gas and shop! as i put my things on the counter, i saw the rebel flag sticker and some other very similar sticker on the counter and took a breath. but when she found out i was walking and not biking, she started telling me about the last person that came through there a few years back who was walking with a pot belly pig! we laughed. i sad on the porch ate some snacks and watched the rain.

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cape lookout!

 

when i finally rolled into pacific city to a super over-price hiker biker campsite, i was a little not grumpy, exhausted. road walking is exhausting and hard on the body! so i set up my tent and walked across the street for a cold beer and a basket of fries! and i met my first fellow vegans!!!! they were a super amazing couple with their own amazing story. we had such a nice chat. i look forward to meeting them again some where some time… and maybe get to see the tiny house they built!

so, to get back to where this post started with the idea that we are all looking for some kind of connection; community maybe or a tie to the nature… some combination of family, what’s another word for tribe, that binds us together in the ways that we have empathy and compassion and some other feeling that maybe has no word for all those around us: the 4 legged, the winged, the creepers and crawlers, the swimmers, the trees, the plants, water and air, and even us 2 legged animals. i think we can do this. we can do this, but it is going to take some not-working, some un-working?

anyway, i can’t wait to see who i talk to next. its hard to meet people on this trail…not a lot of people on it. i meet folks when i stop into towns and chat on the buses.

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cape lookout hiker/biker camp. my little home is in there somewhere!

seaside sideline

yup, so here i am in seaside at the international hostel. they give a discount for oct hikers! some of these folks have been on some great journeys. one guy, when i listen to him from the other room, reminds me of utah phillips! anyway, this morning it is pouring out and i am supposed to get back out there and climb up a muddy rainforest path. soooo i’ll have a hot cup of coffee first.

hostel greeting

yesterday i managed to cut some weight out of my pack, but i’m not sure how much further i can go. i did actually get rid of one of my drinking vessels, and for those of you who know how much i love to have my vessels you know how hard this was to do, and i’m contemplating switching another one out for something lighter. why i can get rid of all these major things in my life, but my vessels….whole other story. i think it goes back to my year of package free. i don’t want to use disposable bottles and cups.

anyway, so the adventure up to astoria, staying at sou’wester, then taking one more day and camping at ft. stevens was super exciting. the guys helped me do a couple of shakedowns, kept me calm when inside i was kind of freaking out about how much shit i still had/have, and bought me an afternoon beer to calm my nerves. they really are the best.

they took me to the mouth of the columbia river and the south jetty where the oct starts. we shared some hugs and tears (there really is no way to thank these two so much for, well not just the last couple days but all the years we have been building our relationships). then i was off!

friendly foot prints

it was a fine sunny sunday, and being a fine sunny easter sunday, i wasn’t sure just how crowded the beach would be. it was fine. i quickly put the hood up on my wind jacket over my cap to keep that southern wind from blowing it off and sand and wind out of my ears and set my pace. my pack is too fucking heavy.

i make it to the eroding ship that is 3.5 miles down the coast in pretty good time, so i stop and dump sand from my shoes and check my feet. all seems well. when i cross the parking  lot i spot 2 folks at the back of a pick-up tuck loading up a pack. huh! i didn’t think i’d actually see another backpacker out here. we wave. i would have stopped, but i thought they were just rearranging for camping, but at my next stop i saw one of them hiking right past me…that pack looked big and heavy!

rotting ship

 

the other thing i didn’t think i’d experience on this trail was people offering things. but not a few miles in and i had 2 offers and conversations about hiking and such. people were really into it.

when i stopped for dinner, i realized i was in a little trouble feet wise. i was not able to keep the sand out of my shoes and ended up with some serious blisters. i tried to clean them up, but the wind would blow sand into everything. i wanted to set up my tent, but camping isn’t permitted in the area, so i just tried to dig in out-of-the-way. also, i wasn’t just sure how high the high tide would be. yes, i have a fancy watch that has the current tide info, and a tide table, but just how high is 280′?

i was tired and frustrated (my stove/dinner blew over and spilt twice even though i had put of the wind screen and dug a little safe place for it. so i set up my tent with just the fly and groundsheet incase i got tossed out our the waves came up close, i could bail quickly. i placed things around me to keep the wind/sand at bay, set my watch alarm to about 1/2 hour before high tide (1:30 am) and rested. i woke up a few times to flashes of light. what could it be? not lightning!? nope. cars! they just don’t stop. i thought after sunset, they would go away, but no.

when the sun did set, the wind died down and i got some rest. my alarm went off. i check the ocean. it was far off like i had thought it should be and went back to sleep. but the stars…the night sky….wow! clouds and stars and the lights of ships off in the horizon were amazing!

all of a sudden i felt a huge blow and gust of wind and my shelter was trying to take flight! what the… as the sun started to break around 5:30, the wind also decided to rise, and rise it did. i packed up everything i could as fast as i could, using the weight of us all to hold down the shelter. i then broke down the shelter trying to keep it from becoming a parasail. i hungered down behind a log, swigged some water and started down the trail.

i was told that there was a little r.v. camping place with a general store at the end of the beach access road, so i head that direction. once i got out of the wind, i took a deep breath and sat behind the pit toilets for a minute to make sure everything was intact. all was good. feet where good. just needed water, so i headed up to find the r.v. park. it was early, like 6:30/7 am early and as i walked into the park, i thought oh boy, this is going to be interesting. this wasn’t really an r.v. park for travelers and campers. nope people lived here. the store was closed and as i looked around i saw all kinds of no trespassing signs with the names of the people who will call the cops. a sign on the door said where the bathrooms and portapottys were located, so i walked around a minute. as i rounded a corner there was this older guy putting coolant in the radiator of his truck. we looked at each other. i smiled. he smiled. mornin’. mornin’. you doin’ the pct? eventually. i’m on the oct right now. cool. great. whatch doin’ here? looking form some water. bathrooms should be open. great! thanks! take care. you too.

i headed into the bathrooms. one faucet leaked all over the floor instead of coming out of the tap. the second one was just fine! i drank up and filled up and headed down the trail.

the wind was something! i mostly kept my head down, but you know, they say never turn your back on the ocean, so every-once-in-awhile i looked up and over. oh one thing. before the sun had come up, i was able to hike without a headlamp. didn’t think much about it. no one was around, but then headlights! so i walked to the left of the headlights. then the car shifted heading right towards me, so i moved to the other side, and it moved! this went on for a bit. i was about to pull my headlamp out and flash it up at them when they finally moved to the far side but with their high-beams on! they then circled around me and started asking me questions. between the wind and the waves i said i couldn’t hear them. finally they headed off.

i knew i had to get 12 miles in to reach seaside where i was going to get a room at the hostel and shakedown again. my body was feeling great, but my feet! oh my golly! i wanted to chop them off. i couldn’t find a good place to care for the blisters that started forming, so i just kept trying to soak them in the cold ocean. i finally waddled into town where i still had about 4 miles to walk all the way across on concrete! oh that did not help! when i go to the hostel, the folks were so so so nice and chatted me up a storm…it was painful. all i wanted was to get out of these wet cloths (yes, it had started raining a couple of hours before), wash the sand out of all the cracks and crevices of my body, and sleep! finally after the tour, i dropped my pack on the floor, showered, and slept for hoooouuuuurrrrs, went to the brewery, came back and slept some more!

the morning was warm and sunny. i drank a nice cup of coffee on the porch but knew i could not walk on these feet, so i spent the day resting, reading, and tending to my feet. it was a super nice day! everyone here is so friendly! they ask your name and remember it! i highly recommend staying here.

today is going to be a challenge, but i think i only have to go around 7 miles to the hiker “cabins” at tillamook head in ecola state park, and once i am in the forest, the rain won’t be as bad, but i do have a 2 mile section that is straight up with a work-around a landslide from the winter storms. aaaand this is why i got good rain gear!

p.s. park is closed due to winter storms and landslides, soooo, new plans. at least it’s not snow!