Thursday, July 24, 2008

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Day 8 - Wednesday July 16, 2008

It's amazing how good bacon fat is at cooking other foods...especially foods that go well with bacon like eggs and toast! Because of the pseudo-camping that I am doing I don't have a full kitchen, therefore space is limited on the burner. Hence, I get to reuse oils like bacon fat quite a bit.

Today's eggs, bacon and toast were made extra special by the discovery of "Chipmonk" bread. A local bakery that we hit up had this loaf, more like three large chunks of seed & nut bread. dense but good. real good.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Day 7 - Tuesday July 15, 2008

I woke up today worried that the bear had visited us in the my relief this was not the case. However, my neighbors in 103 did get visited by our young, overzealous furry friend. I am going to take great care in storing our food.

I strolled to the beach today to take in the was amazing. I located a few potential spots for a day trip along the lake and began preparing. I wanted to tote my hammock and creative supplies to a single location to hang out alone for the day. Below a rocky bluff about 300 yards from the beach I saw the perfect spot.

I hiked for about 30 minutes to the location, set up my hammock looking south east into the sun as it marched slowly across the sky. I managed to maneuver between a sun bathing spot and the shady hammock throughout the day while working on my latest art exchange piece for my niece, Emy. She and I have been exchanging sketches, paintings and poems for a few months now and I want to continue the practice as I see her passion for art exploding in real time. She is truly a talented human and should be cultivated and loved as such.

I decide to sketch that which I am looking at - a series of rocky, wooded hills that fall sharply into Lake Cowichan in the center of Vancouver Island. There is a small station of islands that live in the lake so I decide to make these the centerpiece of my sketch and allow the beauty of the lake and surrounding hills make up the rest of the image. I've also decided to do this in color marker, much like water colors, which makes the task even more challenging given that I will need to work with the negative space and grey scale to ensure a clear image. Practice makes perfect.

Many passers by note how perfect my hammock set up is and from their view on the water, how nice the shade must be. I take in the surroundings, sketch, read, nap...basically live like a king on cashews and carrots.

When I've had my fill of sun I simply dive into the cool lake water to refresh myself, it's nearly 70 degrees, but icy on my skin at first...I'm such a wimp when it comes to cold water or even feeling cold...something to take note of.

I pack up my stuff (leave no trace) and make my way back to camp...there I plan to cook and prepare for the evening. Tonight I'd like to work on a short film based on some images of wheat blowing in the wind that I took in eastern Washington on our first day of driving. I'll call it Wheat and Wind.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Day 6 - Monday July 14, 2008

This morning, Ben and I packed up the van and made our way back into Sooke, BC for some food and supplies. Our plan is to fix the flat bike tire, get our fishing situation legal and to fill up on propane.

Propane offers the first "WTF" of the day - the tank isn't taking on any new liquid and I've been using the tank regularly for the fridge and for cooking. I had expected to be in need of at least a gallon. But when at the first propane fill up station (there are two) the woman managing it couldn't get my tank to take on any more gas. Huh...more later.

We head to the grocery store where we stock up on some good bites. During our shopping experience we bump into Kathy, a 46 year old soon-to-be divorced house wife from San Diego who has been living here in Sooke for 13 years. She is quite open with her life details and I notice an overwhelming sexual energy about her. In fact, her nipples rise to glass cutting stiffness within the first five minutes of our conversation. Both Ben and I notice quickly. I try to remain respectful, listen and contribute to the conversation, Ben looks ready to pounce. :-)

After loading up the groceries we head to the bike shop for repair goodies and then onto the "other" propane pump where they too had trouble putting LP into my tank...huh. We stop at the outfitters for our fishing license and then make our way to Lake Cowichan via the logging roads.

We stop at Sombrio Beach and again at the Botanical Beach on the Juan De Fuca trail...the wind is still blowing hard and the sky still socked in a marine layer. The hikes are magical, with beautifully carved wooden bridges alongside boulders and huge pieces of drift wood placed along the beach by the power of the sea. I am in awe.

Our travels take us toward Lake Cowichan where we will make our way to Gordon Bay Provincial Park for a few nights. At $24/night this is a luxury as we will have full shower facilities, onsite wood and ice and flush toilets...and yes, a beautiful lake to sit by, swim in and hopefully, if the cosmos shines on us, some fish to fry.

We settle on site 104, however, it has come to my attention that there is a bear in the park.

He is an adolescent roughly 4 feet tall when on all fours and abut 6 1/2 feet tall when standing. Heather, the camp manager, says that he is not aggressive and that he simply wants food. Oh, and that he looks like Baloo the bear in Disney's version of the "Jungle Book" - small head and big body.

All along our path the residents have a story to tell of the bear visiting their campsite. They had one thing in common, they all had a cooler outside for him to be curious about. (Note to self, bring ALL food items into Annabelle Lee for the evening.)

One lady, outside the washroom, is telling this lavish tale of the bear sitting in my site (before I moved in) going through a load of coolers that he had dragged there. In one he found a gallon of milk, she witnessed him pick up the gallon, smell it, bite a hole in it and drink the entire gallon down in nearly one swill. When did bears begin to like cows milk?? Anyway, the image of a bear drinking a gallon of milk out of a hole he bit into the carton makes me giggle.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Day 3 - Friday July 11, 2008

Writing every day has been quite the chore. Made more so because I am still working out the details of the dual battery set-up that I have. I am hoping to have enough juice to keep my batteries running every day so that I have time to write and work on creative projects. I'll have to get my solar powered trickle charger up and running today and do some tests.

I woke in French Beach and realized very quickly that the family nature of the campground would not be relaxing to me. So we quickly packed up our things and headed toward the Juan De Fuca trail head.

We didn't get more than 3km before we found a Ministry of Forrest campground at Jordan River. It was perfect. Our spot was private and right at the river mouth where we could watch the men work on the log boom. We'd have plenty of sun and the straight makes for great sunsets.

We set up the rig, folded out the AWESOME Kelty shelter that the Mombre crew bought for Annabelle before I took off. I set up the solar trickle charger, set up the solar shower and began to familiarize myself with the life of living out of my van.

One question that I have was how long the 12L LP gas tank would last while I am cooking 3 meals and running my fridge...I'm hoping about a week.

One major breakthrough for the day was the coffee. I had bought a bag of local roast from the Strawberry farm off WA 20 and this was the first I'd dug into it. Fuck was it good. Hints of berry and chocolate and since it was french press I was able to keep the acid to a minimum. I think I am going to like this coffee.

I read the day away - lost in the wondrous world of Paganism. I find it deplorable that the Goddess is not revered in our culture as she once was and believe that the way out of our current strife is to find and balance the female energy...but this is a topic more easily if you're interested hit me up sometime. In the meantime, I'm going to learn more and report back.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Day 2 - Thursday July 10, 2008

Diablo Lake turned out a great nights sleep. The morning was moist with dew on ground and Ben was fast asleep. We had to make the ferry in Anacortes by noon and with Annabelle averaging roughly 40mph it would be a few more hours on WA 20 before we got there.

If you've never driven WA 20 I suggest that you do. It is an amazing journey across the Cascades with many places to stop and get fine crafted goods, foods and conversation. We stopped at a Strawberry farm that has been in the same family for nearly 100 years growing organically. (Although General Mills bought them out 20 years ago)

Nonetheless, they are managing the farm and doing so in a very positive way. They were supporting a local roaster so I thought I'd buy a bag of coffee since I'd run out of my Stumptown and an americano to get my day going. Of particular note was the old growth from the farmland used to make the buildings for the farm and the wash rooms. Large curved cedar logs formed the arched, almost Asian, roof line of these buildings, with cedar siding and shingles. Gorgeous.

We made it to Anacortes in plenty of time to have doughnuts at the should be world famous doughnut spot in Anacortes. I LOVE their raspberry glazed bow-ties. Money.

Next we had to get rid of the weed. This was a humorous process as we needed to either smoke a copious amount or we needed to decide on a place to stash what we had left for the trip back. Either way, this was going to be an adventure...for someone.

We headed to the ferry the requisite 2 hours before schedule and found that we were simply WAY too early. Fuck, I am always early. So we headed out to one of my favorite spots on Anacortes, Giuseppe's for lunch. Mike the owner is a trained butler with worldly flare and a wicked eye for good Italian cuisine. He makes his own sauces and pasta and serves up huge Sammy's on fresh baked focaccia bread. We buy some pasta and sauce for the evenings meal and a mountainous meatball sandwich for the ferry.

The ferry ride was momentous for Ben. I slept. Ben took what seems to be 1001 pictures of the San Juan Islands as we weaved our way to Sidney. I was happy for him, this level of excitement was new for me. I could only hope that he'd find some sense of clarity on this trip and possibly find something that he is passionate about. More than anything, I hope he finds some clarity and sense of independence.
We arrived in Sidney with little trouble. The customs officer in Sidney didn't seem that interested in us and we moved through the process quite quickly and made our way to Victoria for a stop and then off to French Beach for our first night on the Island. We whipped up our fresh pasta and roasted red pepper sauce and called it an early night given the miles that we ticked off today.

I slept very well, very well indeed.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Wheat & Wind

Day 1 - July 9, 2008

[ is taking me quite some time to get to locations with WiFi...I will post what I can, when I can - dc]
It took a while to get on the road...per ushz, Ben was not up and ready, but asleep in the hammock, oddly, with a wad of cash in his hand. I gazed at this scene for a bit curiously, wondering what in the world his evening would have consisted of for him to fall asleep, here in the backyard hammock with a fist-full of dollars and the eastern Washington sun beating down on his body.

He rustled when I called his name aloud...and on the third try he was capable of opening an eye, upon doing so I queried regarding the money and he took in an image of himself and giggled at his sight and promptly, per ushz, fell back asleep. Fuck, am I ready for this shit?

I ground the last of the Stumptown that I had stashed and brew a perfect mug of coffee. I'm packed, Ben is nearly there...I hope as it's nearly 9:20 am and rearing to go. I'm on a schedule people!! Wait, no I'm not! ;-)

We hit the road a bit after 9:30 am...I've delegated to Ben the job of navigator - one that I covet and secretly keep an eye on. As we begin to pull out of 2210 Washington Court, I feel the wind of freedom blow through my hair. I ask my trusty navigator how he plans to get us to Washington State Route 20 and he hesitated, looked blankly at me and in that moment a great deal of frustration mounted.

I was so disappointed that he had not memorized this first leg, that his enthusiasm was not off the charts (as I felt mine was) that again I was second guessing my decision to bring Ben along on this sure-to-be epic journey. In my frustration I pulled over, snapped the map from Ben and began the process of mapping out our route. It would be WA Route 17 north that would take us to Twisp, WA where we would eat a late lunch and then onto Diablo Lake for a night of camping before we made our way to Anacortes the following morning to catch the ferry to Vancouver Island, Canada.

The drive began like any would originating from eastern Washington - hot and HOT. We stopped at a general store along the way that ended up being more Mex than general, but with the large population of immigrant labor here in eastern WA, it wasn't that surprising. Along with the fresh produce and bread we picked up some hand made tamales for dinner.

WA Route 17 turned out to be absolutely gorgeous, winding along the Grand Coulee, past Moses, Lenore and Banks lakes, we stopped to beat the heat by swimming in Sun Lake State Park. Be warned, the lakes of the northwest provide bathers with a fascinating parasite which results in what is commonly called "swimmers itch", however, easily avoided by simply drying off completely and not allowing the little buggers to burrow into your skin. The water was refreshing and made more so by the two pre-teen boys playing gleefully in the summer sun. I am quickly reminded of the joy that a youthful attitude can bring and dive headfirst into the cold lake water, beating away the sweat from the sweltering summer heat.

Annabelle Lee charged on for most of the day as we logged nearly 9 hours on the road, slowing to climb, speeding with gravity and sputtering once on a long (high g) right turn that has both Ben and me a little nervous given the mechanical failure that resulted from a similar symptom. I'll be keeping a close eye on it. We arrived at the Diablo Lake campsites just as the dinner bells in my belly began to ring.

Ben set out to build the fire as I began to prepare for dinner - Tamales and BBQ sauce (closest thing we had to a spicy sauce). To cook we simply wrapped the tamales in foil and placed them over the fire to the future I'd sprinkle a little water into the foil to add to the steaming effect and to moisten the cornmeal wrapper a bit. All in all, I would sell these on the side of the road they were so easy to heat up and tasty to the tummy.

We rounded out the evening with our first venture into the world of two man Catan...yep, Settlers of Catan in a card game form that two players can enjoy. However, this was too much an undertaking for me given the hour and the level of my exhaustion, so after about 90 minutes of learning and playing, I called it quits and headed in for bed. With Annabelle Lee all set up for sleeping, I was sure to dream away my fears and frustrations of the day and lock away the beauty and bounty that presented itself to me.

I am truly in awe of our world.