Jun 212014 0 Responses

One Year On the Road

Once upon a time a mentor told me about the wedding gift she was planning for a good college buddy. She wanted to give her friend an “experience” in lieu of a material gift. She was thoughtful about planning an adventure from a distance, since she couldn’t attend the wedding in person. Ideas such as a helicopter tour around the honeymoon destination or a rose petal drawn bath awaiting in the hotel suite seemed to be winning the brainstorm. As a stunted 22 year old fresh out of college, I filed away the cool ideas under “when my friends get married” and dismissed the conversation.

I am celebrating one year on the road and attempting to be thankful for the experiences that have occurred in the past 12 months (albeit rose petal drawn bath has yet to materialize), along with those to come for the next two years of graduate school. Life, and actually being able to experience it, is the most beautiful gift we are given by nature, our loved ones and ourselves. There is a sense of dread in taming the freedom I have almost begun to take for granted – a redomestication will occur soon enough… but not yet! I am relishing my last few weeks on the road – hitting the pavement hard from the Florida Keys to the islands of Maine.

I have been spending a good deal of energy into my own adventures and creating experiences for others who join me on the road. I think it’s paying off – I’ve been skinny dipping in the Gulf of Mexico and rappelling down wet rope in Vermont – and I love bringing a smile to the faces of  people around me. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to provide the environment for a fun and memorable experience, but it does take time, forethought and flexibility. A great experience is the combination of fun idea with a bit of planning and a dash of danger. We can create them every single day and at least strive to find joy – through liberated happiness we could change the attitude and outcome of a life.

Recent adventures have brought me completely into the moment and ensured I felt welcome. Here are a couple morsels for the soon-to-be grad student yearning for a taste of the open road.

Florida

Running amuck in a bathing suit or less on white sand beaches; sharing warm, salty bathes with sting rays and sharks; pink, purple, orange sunsets; tourist and hippies; proper beach living; the rum… oh the rum.

Seashells all along the shore

Seashells all along the shore

Zach and Natalie - Portland Loves - traveling through Florida

Zach and Natalie – Portland Loves – traveling through Florida

Portland roadtrip buddies found in Florida

Portland roadtrip buddies found in Florida

A beautiful beach house courtesy of some very lovely friends

A beautiful beach house courtesy of some very lovely friends

Sunsets on the Gulf

Sunsets on the Gulf

Across the street from the beach house

Across the street from the beach house

Georgia

Family; humid Atlantic coastline; pecan praline; spanish moss in old graveyards; historic homes and overpriced seafood; kayaking with mama; Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil; Casita maintenance; the smell of Magnolias everywhere.

Kayaking with Mom

Kayaking with Mom

The Flint River

The Flint River

Messy pups

Messy pups

Casita Repairs with Dad

Casita Repairs with Dad

South Carolina

Old friends reacquainted; noisy campers lurking on memorial day weekend; thunderstorms over the ocean; sunrises, instead of sunsets; riding bikes through cobblestone streets; exploring scary spaces.

Lovely high school buddies along the way

Lovely high school buddies along the way

Biking with Sprocket

Biking with Sprocket

Graveyards in the south

Graveyards in the south

Historical house walk in Charleston

Historical house walk in Charleston

Old hospital ward in historic prison, Charleston

Old hospital ward in historic prison, Charleston

Historic prison in Charleston

Historic prison in Charleston

West Virginia

Mountains – beautiful, Blue Ridge Mountains; white water; mountain biking and ensuing poison ivy rashes; hiking; surprising hipster river towns; rock jumping; waterfalls; raccoon skins nailed to outhouses; starry nights; a thousand lightening bugs in the meadow. 

Near Summerville Lake WVA

Near Summerville Lake WVA

Rock jumping

Rock jumping

Sumerville Lake

Sumerville Lake

Waterfalls in WVA

Waterfalls in WVA

New explorations in WVA

New explorations in WVA

New Jersey

My lovely wife; puppy love; Paleo goodness; colder ocean waters; long walks through the park; farmers markets and local foods. 

Jersey Shore with Wife

Jersey Shore with Wife

Brody snuggled in back

Brody snuggled in back

Camping near Jersey

Camping near Jersey

Vermont

Pouring rain; wet ropes; my loves; green mountains; friendly fire at local shooting holes; delicious food; nights cold enough to pull out wool clothes; mornings when getting up was impossibly undesired.

Rappelling in VT

Rappelling in VT

Green Mountain National Forest

Green Mountain National Forest

Exploring the national forest

Exploring the national forest

Climbing in VT

Climbing in VT

New Hampshire

Perfect weather; boat ride complete with adorable seals; lobster boil; college memories; hardy New Englanders; active people.

What's life on a boat?

What’s life on a boat?

We're having a terrible time.

We’re having a terrible time.

Lobster Boil!

Lobster Boil!

Maine

Salt air; saunas; beautiful wildflowers; island hopping; the locals; reconnecting with my parents through their friends; Acadia National Park; exploring tide pools and “mountain” tops; clear night skies with the hum of mosquitos and the howl of coyotes to lull you to sleep.

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park

Acadia mountain trails

Acadia mountain trails

Maine shore

Maine shore

Maine Coastline

Maine Coastline

Maine fire

Maine fire

Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park

Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park

Maine coast sunrise

Maine coast sunrise

Maine island exploring

Maine island exploring

Cold Maine islands

Cold Maine islands

May 132014 0 Responses

That Old Southern Charm

It took less than two days to realize how much I’ve missed being on the road. After countless positive experiences in Austin, I was clearly tempted to stay, but for now (and the foreseeable future) I am enthusaistically yielding to my wandering spirit.

April and May have taken me along the Gulf Coast – through southern Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida and finally to Georgia, my home state. I have teenage angst left over from growing up in a conservative and religious area that I perceived to hinder my independence. It wasn’t all my imagination, I was suffocated here, but my attitude didn’t do anyone any favors.

Kayaking the Guadalupe River near Rockport, TX

Kayaking the Guadalupe River near Rockport, TX

Kayaking map of Aransas port

Kayaking map of Aransas Bay, Texas

Traveling along the coast as an adult, I am fascinated to rediscover the Spanish moss covering the trees, the lightening bugs twinkling in the forest and cacophony of crickets, frogs and nightjars calling out in the dark. As a particularly intuitive love of mine put it, I’m old enough to “appreciate the little things.”  Timing has everything to do with it. Spring is the perfect season to experience sunny days and cool nights, green foliage and meadow flowers that embolden southern charm.

Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana

Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana

Alabama wildflowers

Alabama wildflowers

Spanish moss covered Oaks

Spanish moss covered Oaks

This part of the United States, with its mix of history, scenery and ass-backwards thinking is the inspiration of great writers Faulkner, Wolfe, Williams, Lee, Capote; and great musicians such as the Allman brothers, Nat “King” Cole, Gladys Knight, Alan Jackson and The Black Crowes. How could so many be inspired if this place was not special?

Sunset near Mobile, Alabama

Sunset near Mobile, Alabama

Forging for blackberries in Louisiana

Forging for blackberries in Louisiana

The Traylor farmstead - Property owned and built by my great grandfather

The Traylor farmstead – Property owned and built by my great grandfather in Georgia

For the past month I shared the road with two very important people in my life, Mom and Dad. They teach me everyday to be a better person, philosopher, teacher, friend and soul. I am one of the lucky ones. I can’t help but feel a little ashamed that it has taken me 10 years to rediscover my childhood stomping grounds… my baptism back into the south has been a joyous and sobering reality. There are so many beautiful nooks to explore, so many interesting characters to encounter, and so many quiet nights to appreciate.

My mom and dad at JazzFest 2014

My mom and dad at JazzFest 2014

My mother sharing her passion of birding with me during the great spring migration through southern Texas

My mother sharing her passion of birding with me during the great spring migration through southern Texas

The new family compound in Texas

The new family compound in Texas

With my parents to help me raise hell, I’ve have had a great nuclear family reunion. I have also run into a few good friends along the way, some whose path’s I haven’t crossed in a decade. Visitors to the Texas coast, friends in New Orleans for Jazz Fest and one quick side trip to Oregon has been keeping me a busy girl. I am in Florida for the rest of the month, then heading North until I hit a time crunch in July…. Wing It Year will be heading to the other side of the pond soon.

TEXAS

My love!

My love!

Near Rockport, TX

Near Rockport, TX

Birding on the National Seashore - migrating White Pelicans

Birding on the National Seashore – migrating White Pelicans

My parent's "Camp Dog." Munchkin

My parent’s “Camp Dog.” Munchkin

The accidental selfie of a sweet lady trying to help take a picture for me

The accidental selfie of a sweet lady trying to help take a picture for me

Biking in Southern Texas!

Biking in Southern Texas!

 

LOUISIANA

Crawfish boil in New Orleans

Crawfish boil in New Orleans

Old medical supplies at a museum in new orleans

Old medical supplies at a museum in new orleans

Old medicines at the Pharmacy museum in NOLA

Old medicines at the Pharmacy museum in NOLA

Running into old friends in unexpected places - this one even more so since Hugh lives in Australia!

Running into old friends in unexpected places – this one even more so since Hugh lives in Australia!

Jazz Fest 2014

Jazz Fest 2014

You drink with every meal in NOLA

You drink with every meal in NOLA

Catching some rays on Lake Pontchartrain

Catching some rays on Lake Pontchartrain

Sprocket the Explorer

Sprocket the Explorer

Finding old and new friends in NOLA

Finding old and new friends in NOLA

 

GEORGIA

House built by my great grandfather Traylor in Carrollton, GA

House built by my great grandfather Traylor in Carrollton, GA

Traylor Farmstead

Traylor Farmstead

Morning swim across lake Tobesofkee

Morning swim across lake Tobesofkee

A very reluctant Sprocket kayaking across the lake

A very reluctant Sprocket kayaking across the lake

My beautiful Schneider cousins!

My beautiful Schneider cousins!

The best of friends

The best of friends

 

 

Apr 282014 0 Responses

Adios Austin

Adios Austin – you have been a kick ass destination to reaffirm my community, goals and dreams. My experiences here have been  phenomenal – I am manifesting a way to split my future time between this town and Portland – maybe with a little NOLA and Denver thrown in the mix. Just putting it out there universe!

Drinks with the ladies

Drinks with the ladies

The Austinites I’ve been privileged to meet are unlike any close friends I have known before. Music and art are at the heart of their domain; they became mine through a connection to these people. There was a point in my life, in the not-so-distant past, when I didn’t sing and dance. On the off chance I did indulge, these activities felt strained, awkward and forced. It didn’t always used to be that way… I played musical instruments, sang at the top of my lungs to the radio and danced at every music festival I could drive to. What happened?

It would take a novel to dive into that subject, but Austin TX, you brought soul back into my life. I woke up countless mornings with thighs aching from shaking my ass, throat dry from singing the blues, and a big smile on my face to match it.

My amazing Creative Side Crew

My amazing Creative Side Crew

Being immersed in an artistic culture allowed me to explore commonalities with people who I could never have interacted with before. One of the many things my lovely Austinites have helped enlighten are the qualities of personality. Anyone who has heard my laugh across the bar can correctly guess I am an extrovert. I thrive off interactions with others, new friends and old, meet people easily and typically make myself rather transparent.

Austin gave me the opportunity to connect with many people who would be considered more reserved in their emotions with others. Without an unyielding attraction to being the center of attention, they prefer to observe from the sidelines and can often be drowned out of a conversation by overly boisterous people such as myself. By learning to close my mouth and listen, I have met fascinating people who will share their insights in a one-on-one or small group setting.

Provided with the right environment, the introverted people I am close to have schooled me on the very principles I want to learn: patience, modesty and acceptance. They have little interest in putting their energy into a vapid or superfluous relationships, but prefer to reserve it for people who share passions and are able to demonstrate a level of aptitude on them.

I will never be considered “reserved” – perhaps that is not my role to play. It would be another facade behind where my comfort level only extends skin deep. But now that I am more at ease in exploring my own love and passions, I am being introduced to the right men and women to connect with on a much deeper level. As the sparks fly, brain synapses sizzle and grins spread, I wonder why I was spreading my energy too thin. I didn’t have time to sing and dance because I was committing too much spirit to people, ideas and objects that didn’t provide any vitality back to me.

IMG_4333

For anyone still reading this far down, you are most sincerely one of these forces to me – strong, beautiful and giving. I’ve finally updated my “Current Location” and “Road Trip Map”. If there is any chance you could join me at one of these locations, don’t hesitate.

Pup hike

Pup hike

Late night with the ladies

Late night with the ladies

Texas Retreat

Texas Retreat

Camping on the OR coast

Camping on the OR coast

Farm on in Bend

Farm on in Bend

A small side trip back to Smith rock

A small side trip back to Smith rock

Tattoo Work

Tattoo Work

Finishing Tattoo

Finishing Tattoo

Final Product

Final Product

 

Late nights on Rainey

Late nights on Rainey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mar 182014 0 Responses

The SxSW Edition

When I moved to Austin I wasn’t sure how long I intended to stay. Two months became my mantra – time enough to settle in and wait for Spring to arrive without much of a damper on my travel itinerary.

That changed my third night while visiting a friend. I was already happy with the room I rented off East Riveside in a neighborhood full of families, retired vets and young artists looking for cheap housing. My roommates had proved not to be serial murders (thank you, Craigslist), and there was plenty of space for myself, my trailer and Sprocket.

Over a drink in my girlfriend’s kitchen she mentioned her employer was searching for a public relations and marketing guru to promote a studio expansion. “What did you used to do again?” she asked.

I met with the owner of Creative Side Jewelry Academy of Austin the next day. Within five minutes of meeting Courtney I knew collaboration with this incredible woman was inevitable. We started working together on a trade basis, my writing expertise for metalsmithing classes at the academy. Within a month I was working exclusively for Courtney and loving every second of it. Enjoyment of the atmosphere and a wish to see this project forward, I doubled my time in Austin, spending four months here instead of the initial two I had planned.

That meant I would be in Austin for South by Southwest (SxSW), a tech, film and music festival that has been happening since I was born. I attended in 2013 to represent my company for the Interactive (technology) portion of the conference. It was one of the more insane weeks of my life; this year I wanted a more local experience. Instead of partying until 6:30am, feeling the need to attend every show, and hitting up all the free drink lounges, I decided to volunteer on the stage crew. My participation would earn a music badge for any shows I wanted to see, and I would gain an insider’s perspective to the chaos that is SxSW.

SxSW officially ended yesterday, and I couldn’t be more happy with my decision. I have fallen in love with the organization and the people that make SxSW happen. Last year as an attendee I was blown away by the sheer magnitude of the event. This year, I understand that SxSW is able to exist and grow through the energy of thousands of volunteers and hundreds of millions of corporate dollars. It is an extremely interesting contrast that works – build it and they shall come in droves; SxSW is now the highest income producing event for Austin.

I was assigned a position at the Parish, working three nights to earn my badge. The work was fun, low stress and allowed me to experience bands I would never have chosen to see otherwise. Artists from the Kooks to Bob Mould and Sean Lennon played during my time there. Having never worked in the music industry, I found a new respect for the artists and venue workers who make a show happen. If it can go wrong, it probably will – but the staff made the event appear seamless.

Unfortunately, accidents do happen. On my first night working at the Parish, a drunk driver plowed into a crowed of people lined up at a venue located a few blocks away. Two were killed and over twenty others were hospitalized. Working behind the scenes at SxSW gave me the opportunity to see a for-profit community actually give a damn about the people who consume their services. Their ideas, support and actions after the car crash at Mohawk gave me the sense of how to do right in business. I am incredibly impressed at how SxSW as a corporation has handled the situation. They have neither pointed the finger of blame nor been defensive when accused of facilitating a culture of overindulgence that led to this tragedy. Instead, the organization has name this incident for what it truly is – a terrible misfortune that we can all learn from. They have set up a fundraiser for the victims and their families called SxSW Cares, made a huge push to keep drunk drivers off the road and facilitated a festival-wide moment of silence the next evening for the two who were killed.

Being in Austin has taught me more about my career aspirations when I least expected it. Working for Creative Side and SxSW has showed me what to look for in the future organization I pour my efforts into. I will be apart of a group that cares about it’s consumers, works towards the betterment of society and knows that “work-life balance” isn’t just a HR keyword. I will be apart of an organization that thrives on collaboration and doesn’t punish people for speaking up on issues that are important. I will be apart of a team that understand that the best results and hardest workers thrive in a nurturing environment.

But before that, I need to crawl out of bed instead of writing this post and decompress from SxSW. I am sure you’ve heard plenty about the festival in the news, witnessed the blow up on Twitter and the seen the photos online. There are many generalizations about the event, including that it’s one huge party – but here is what SxSW has meant to me.

- SxSW is eating leftover, cold pea soup for breakfast – and not expecting to see a real meal for the rest of the day

- SxSW is knowing the insider’s scope for getting around the city efficiently: Bicycling

- SxSW is realizing before day 1 that comfort in foot attire outweighs any desire to look cute

- SxSW is going with the flow – you don’t have to see everything you are interested in. In fact, half the fun is wandering around aimlessly and listening to bands, attending lectures or viewing films from directors you’ve never heard of before

- SxSW is shaving one leg before you go out. One.

- SxSW is an amazing organization – volunteer and pay it forward driven – participating behind the scenes was the most fun I could have possibly had.

SxSW Survival Guide

SxSW Survival Guide

And because I can’t seem to get enough of lists these last two blog posts, I am continuing my catch up over the past few months – 25 more activities since I left Portland:

  1. I rediscovered my love of coffee

  2. I love walking the line between pajamas at 5:00pm, and party pants until 5:00am

    My dance moves made it onto a poster at SxSW

    My dance moves made it onto a poster at SxSW

  3. I snow romped with with Casita and Earl – they both did great

  4. I drank beers with my neighbor, GOAT (you have been warned! G.O.A.T. AND YOUR M.O.M. – YouTube)

  5. I embraced my awkward turtle charm

  6. I picked up my first hitchhikers (although I have hitched many a ride before)

  7. I slept in the desert with more stars than I’ve ever seen twinkling down

  8. I am finally making friends who are as outdoorsy as I am

    Hamilton Pool

    Hamilton Pool

    Hamilton Pool

    Hamilton Pool

  9. I have become closer than ever to my parents

  10. I brewed my first batch of kombucha – there is so much room for improvement

  11. I went to planned parenthood for the first time (routine check-up, people) and found the most supportive and kind staff of medical professionals I’ve ever encountered.

  12. I have lived in a house long enough that nothing I own smells of campfire. This needs to be remedied ASAP

    Pallet bed

    Pallet bed

  13. I am reconsidering the role that marriage and children may play in my future life

  14. I have rekindled friendships with the most incredible people I know

    FaceTime with friends

    FaceTime with friends

  15. I am concerned about my finances for the first time in years

  16. I purchased my own rock climbing rope and lead gear

  17. I made pizza in a brick oven in my friend’s backyard

  18. I volunteered for SXSW 2014

    My Parish crew @ SxSW

    My Parish crew @ SxSW

  19. I have met someone with a dirtier mouth then me – she is lovely in every way

  20. I have set virtue goals for myself: modesty and patience are at the top

  21. Music was missing in my life for some time – I’ve officially seen more live music in the past 12 months than ever before

    GOASTT rehersal

    GOASTT rehersal

    Roadie tasks

    Roadie tasks

    Fader FORT @ SxSW

    Fader FORT @ SxSW

    Got to play with the sound system!

    Got to play with the sound system!Loading up for the KooksLoading up for the Kooks

  22. I have spread the word on Merkins

  23. I smoked a cigarette with Sean Lennon

  24. I tattooed over half my back

    17 hours in - 3 to go!

    17 hours in – 3 to go!

  25. I have finally learned the importance of flossing

 

Meeting the bands at SxSW

Meeting the bands at SxSW

Ugh, why not?

Ugh, why not?

My secretary

My secretary

Is there someone looking at me?

Is there someone looking at me?

Look at this cat

Look at this cat

Google Glass - got to play with them for a weekend

Google Glass – got to play with them for a weekend

Recording at SxSW

Recording at SxSW

Creating @ Creative Side

Creating @ Creative Side

 

Feb 282014 Tagged with , 0 Responses

Serenity Now

Hitching up the dog

Hitching up the dog

Well I have been MIA for quite some time. I have been hiding out in Austin since December 1st, and a lot has happened. Most significantly, and the reason for radio silence, my partner of six years and I ended our relationship. There are many things that happen on the road: self-discoveries, personal exploration, new challenges and eye-opening realizations. Under the category “all of the above,” I determined I had to leave the man I love in order to freely be the person who I am. Fear, hurt, sadness and depression are all emotions I am still dealing with. It is commented over and over by people going through breakups, but I feel like a stranger to the person I shared my home with for five years. I feel like a stranger to myself when the anger builds up in my throat and I storm out of the room. But never once has my conviction swayed – this is the right decision in my life.

Also categorized under “all of the above,” I have been living the best year of my life. One of the biggest contributors to my happiness is also the cause of my sadness. I didn’t know how to write when we finally hammered the last nail in the coffin that was my longest term romantic relationship, but I’m emerging stronger than ever. Being on the road with my partner gave me this strength. The realization after 28 years (yes, I had a birthday) is that things will be alright. I am not going to die, starving in a gutter; there will be hardships, but I am fully-equipped to handle them as a woman, adventurer, professional, lover, daughter and happiness-seeker.

Here I stand, at the greatest juxtaposition of my life. I am vulnerable; hating the idea of vulnerability while aware it is my greatest chance to grow if I can embrace it. I am surfacing now – coming up for a big gulp of air – and it tastes sweeter than I remember. The baggage I have picked up does not make me bitter, but in fact a kinder, more positive and optimistic person than before. This is the path I am on now.

To prove I am not broken, more to myself than you, I am compiling a list of my activities since I last wrote. For the next several posts I will include 25 to help catch up.

  • I conquered mountains (some, twice)
  • I entered singlehood for the first time in 6 years
  • I started working for a company that I love
  • I experienced a slice of heaven – soaking in hotsprings, naked under the stars
  • I have been told by a new man that he loves me, and feel the love of my friends more than ever
  • I began creating things with my own hands
  • I formed an amazing community in a new town
  • I blew out two tires on Earl in Big Bend
  • I have made new friends, gotten into hot water and had to say good bye to them – I have learned you can not just invite anyone into your life
  • I learned that respect is the #1 key to making a relationship work
  • I know I need a meditation (i.e., project) to keep me moving forward
  • I can’t get sick of breakfast tacos
  • I started smoking after 6 years, and am finding it harder than ever to stop
  • I need at least one weekend a month completely self reliant in nature to clear my head
  • I am not as good of a harmonica player as I thought I was
  • I will survive
  • I am more like my parents than ever – thank goodness
  • I need practice to not over-react when people push my buttons
  • I am happier than I have been in years
  • I am hated by someone, and for the wrong reasons
  • I am not sure I have the capacity to hate back
  • I danced naked around the fire
  • I don’t like the cold – I mean really hate it
  • I saw my dog experience snow for the first time; it was completely adorable

 

Mornings on the OR coast

Mornings on the OR coast

Keeping up with old friends

Keeping up with old friends

California coastline

California coastline

Snowing in Moab

Snowing in Moab

Sprocket sees snow for the first time

Sprocket sees snow for the first time

Camping in southern Cali

Camping in southern Cali

Meeting friends on the road is always fun

Meeting friends on the road is always fun

Still kicking ass

Still kicking ass

Thanksgiving ride in Sedona

Thanksgiving ride in Sedona

Sprocket loves to climb in Sedona

Sprocket loves to climb in Sedona

Beautiful Arizona off roading

Beautiful Arizona off roading

Beautiful views in Big Bend

Beautiful views in Big Bend

Sprocket's new love

Sprocket’s new love

Climbing in Reimers Ranch

Climbing in Reimers Ranch

Gila hotsprings

Gila hotsprings

Playing with new skills

Playing with new skills

Camping in Big Bend

Camping in Big Bend

South Rim view in Big Bend

South Rim view in Big Bend

Sun sets in Big Bend

Sun sets in Big Bend

Discovering a new craft

Discovering a new craft

Believe it or not, my first time shooting a gun

Believe it or not, my first time shooting a gun

A little oasis in the chaos that is a burner event

A little oasis in the chaos that is a burner event

Who knew the cedar pollen would be such an influencing factor in Austin

Who knew the cedar pollen would be such an influencing factor in Austin

Beautiful Big Bend

Beautiful Big Bend

Working on my Pallet bed

Working on my Pallet bed

Nature - my serenity has now arrived

Nature – my serenity has now arrived

working on my pallets

working on my pallets

Castle Hill - Austin graffiti park

Castle Hill – Austin graffiti park

Part of my wonderful community it Austin

Part of my wonderful community it Austin

My beautiful friend Jessica

My beautiful friend Jessica

Cathedral of Junk, Austin.. your Junk Queen has arrived

Cathedral of Junk, Austin.. your Junk Queen has arrived

Dec 022013 0 Responses

Peace out Portland

Whoa – Portland is a trip. I retired for a month and now plan to join the senior flock south!

After living in the center of the city, I headed to the southeast side of the city to park my trailer and live indoors for a few weeks. I am blessed with amazing friends all over the world, but two of the most special live near Powell Butte in a beautiful home that they love to share. E and H have lived in Portland for nearly a decade and love the city they reside in. I was overwhelmed by their hospitality, warmth and energy – they are exactly the type of people you want to visit with. The home is a a few miles from downtown, so Earl was pulled out of retirement and driven almost daily. It wasn’t a problem since the home we stayed in was so incredibly welcoming and a great place to chill out.

I continued to explore the city and beyond. Eugene for Halloween and Hood River for a mountain bike ride and brewery tour – Oregon has so much to offer people who like the outdoors, great craft brews and a relaxed atmosphere. The music scene here is world class – amazing local bands play every night, and Portland is always a destination for big and small groups touring. I saw Elephant Revival live at Aladdin’s Theater and was completely blown away. The folks/free grass/roots music here is outstanding.

I am sad to leave, but it’s time to hit the road! Coastal tour followed by some Southwest exploration. I am off!

Best Music Venues

Mississippi Studios (http://www.mississippistudios.com) – Awesome Northeast venue that is always hopping. Check it out for nightly live music and good, strong drinks.

Aladdin Theater (http://www.aladdin-theater.com) – The venue is in an old school theater with a decent sound system. The beers are ok and so is the food, but their lineup is phenomenal. Definitely work checking out their schedule it you’re in town.

Best Cheap Eats

Double Dragon (http://www.doubledragonpdx.com) – Ok, Pok Pok is down the road and pretty incredible/adventurous for a good night out. But they do not take reservations, and it’s always packed. I mean really really packed (3-4 hour waits). Double Dragon is much more low-key and both the food and the cocktails are delicious and cheap. Try their pork rice bowl and jimica salad – for under $15 you won’t walk away disappointed.

The Screen Door (http://www.screendoorrestaurant.com) – you must eat here, and you must order the pecan bacon. Enough said.

Pine State Biscuits (http://www.pinestatebiscuits.com) – This place doesn’t have gluten free buscuits, so I’m just running off their sans-wheat menu and how awesome those biscuits looked. Cheap and satisfying – perfect for a hungover morning.

Food trucks – there are too many to name, but here are my top 3:

Kargi Gogo (http://kargigogo.com) – Authentic Georgian cuisine (from the country – not the state). Try their dumplings and cheesy bread.

Year of the Fish (http://www.letseat.at/yearofthefish) – Gluten free fried fish. YES.

Mai Pho (http://www.yelp.com/biz/mai-pho-portland) – cold and rainy in Portland (probably) – get some tasty soup from Mai Pho! Good location and awesome, spicy broth.

 

Best Happy Hour

Swift Lounge (http://www.swiftloungepdx.com) – centrally located to everything, drop on by after 4 and get a mason jar filled with the Stone Finch. Two may be too many … Also an awesome brunch spot on the weekends.

Crow Bar (http://crowbarpdx.com) – A dive bar with decent nachos and a pool table. Why go here? Cheap, strong nightly drink specials and an awesome crowd on Mississippi.

Hopworks Urban Brewery (http://hopworksbeer.com) – there are too many great brewery’s in Portland to name, but this one was pretty cool with a bike theme (that’s why I love it). Good food as well, but packed on game days!

 

The Alberta Pub (http://albertastreetpub.com) – a recent redesign has left this place stylin’ with a cool, large patio and tons of options. Make sure you come hungry, the menu is priced right and the food is delicious.

 

Best Places to Stay

AirBNB  (https://www.airbnb.com) – Tons of options all over Oregon with prices cheap to expensive. Definitely worth going through them over trying it on your on via craigslist, or a hotel.

Couchsurfing (https://www.couchsurfing.org) – There is a great community of couchsurfers in Portland. Make sure you email folks ahead of time, but you can definitely find a free place to stay for a few nights.

 

Best Markets

Alberta Co-op (http://www.albertagrocery.coop) – I have walked into Natural foods heaven – not to mention a fabulous loose tea selection. If you are in the NW, this is the only place to shop.

Nov 072013 Tagged with , 0 Responses

Portlandia

This is my life now:

Yes, in all it’s glory, Portland is more than I could have hoped it would be. To kick off my time here, my closest friend (or Wifey, as I fondly call her) dropped in for a visit. It was so much fun to explore this fun city with a sassy east coaster.

Fall in Portland

Fall in Portland

 

Voodoo Donuts - a must stop!

Voodoo Donuts – a must stop!

 

I am staying in a central location called the Lloyd district, about half way between the two best neightborhoods, Alberta/Mississippi and Hawthorne. Both are a bit of a walk, but having my road bike makes all of the city easily accessible. I love how bike friendly the city is, with dozens of bike shops, bike lanes and pathways, conscious drivers and plenty of sweet 2-wheeled machines to ogle.

People are friendly here – probably because most are transplants and know what it’s like to be new here. There are so many affordable places to eat, drink and party – plus plenty of places to relax and people watch. The music scene is diverse and always happening.

The city is especially beautiful during this time of year, with many trees changing colors and clear, sunny, fall days. It gives me a chance to breathe and reflect on the changes that have occurred in my life. I recently earned a degree in Hipology (the definitive degree on really “hip” shit). To receive this accolade, I’ve undertaken the following:

  • Brewing my own kombucha in my truck
  • Riding my bicycle to rent a sewing machine so I can make my own curtains
  • I have been offered, and accepted, food and beverages from strangers on a nightly basis
  • I wear make-up and deodorant so infrequently that I can’t find either…
  • If it isn’t local or organic, I’d rather starve
  • I have officially lost connection with days of the week
Fall Hike in Portland

Fall Hike in Portland

If Portland is the place young people come to retire, I have landed in the right environment for the time being. However, this place is a dangerous vacuum… November 12th is my departure date. I am currently looking for some light and fun employment in Austin to ensure I stay motivated and to help ease the pocket dumping that comes with city living. Eats, markets and coffee to come!

 

Stumptown Coffee

Stumptown Coffee

 

Portland Totem

Portland Totem

Portland Wall Mural

Portland Wall Mural

Portland Bathrooms - I can see you...

Portland Bathrooms – I can see you…

Meatball specific restaurants - yes please

Meatball specific restaurants – yes please

Portland Library

Portland Library

Beach Mural

Beach Mural

 

Oct 242013 Tagged with , , , , 0 Responses

Where to in Washington

After one night on the Oregon coast, Portland is on the destination list for my next long term stay. Before then I want to experience Seattle and the Olympic Peninsula prior to weather turning cold. I spent one night in Portland to see a great friend and old coworker N who was in town with her husband J, and meet some new people. We went to a funky Asian-fusion restaurant and had a fire under the stars at the Little House Hotel. Portland is a quirky, young community that I can’t wait to be in for an extended period of time…. but first, north!

The drive to the Olympic Peninsula from Portland is beautiful in it’s own right, and a great reminder of how open much of the land in the United States is. It took a few hours of single lane roads to reach our destination, the beautiful driftwood filled sand of the Washington coast.

Driftwood on the beach

Driftwood on the beach

 

Moon rising on the Washington Coast

Moon rising on the Washington Coast

Sun Setting over the beach

Sun Setting over the beach

I camped two nights on the Quileute Reservation, right now the LaPush beach (for all of you Twilight fans, we didn’t see any vampires or werewolves). It was cold at night with warm, sunny days. Campfires at night and exploring the coast during the day -  heaven on the sand. I had heard from several people that the Ozette Triangle hike is supposed to be spectacular, but with the national park closure I was unable to make the trip. McB took a fire road two wheeling adventure and ended up seeing a herd of moose and a black bear – so jealous! Instead of getting some dirt on my boots I took Sprocket up to Cape Flattery, the northwesternmost point on the Olympic Peninsula. My cell phone kept thinking I was in Canada, and wouldn’t work for most of the day!

After two nights I drove to Seattle, where I promptly stuffed myself with fish for two days. I ended up finding a cheap place to stay on Airbnb outside of the city with trailer parking and a more quiet atmosphere. The city was fun, but two days is hardly enough time to explore. Seattle has the best coffee, sushi and live music scene I’ve ever witnessed; the cloudy weather (even though we had unusually warm days) is enough to deter me from making this a future desired home, but wouldn’t be out of the question for the right job. It is the first time since the trip started I’ve been in a city this big – it was quite a change from farm life.

Portland, here I come!!

 Best Coffee: Jasper’s Coffee - seriously, there is a lot of good coffee in Seattle (duh) – so we couldn’t hit up every place in a few days. However, this was the best coffee I have had to date, with an extremely knowledgable and courteous barista who explained all the nuances of brewing a good batch.

Best Sushi: Mashiko – Best. Sushi. Ever. Any I’ve eaten a lot of raw fish. Excellent, innovative menu with fish so fresh it was swimming this morning.

Best Market: Pike Place Market – Do you have an image of seattle where the fish mongers toss their daily catch to impress their customers? This is the place. There is also a giant gum wall (ew) along with tons of fresh flowers, baked goods and farmers markets.

Best Happy Hour :  Fogón Cocina Mexicana – Stop here for happy hour and you won’t be disappointed. Delicious margarita’s on special, along with tasty dips and food.

Oct 192013 1 Response

Preparing for Portland & the Casita Surprise

I am so excited about the next leg of our trip, which will allow me to stay in Portland for a few weeks. Portland is one of my all time favorite cities – so much food, culture, music and naked ladies, there is really something for everyone. When I first moved to the Bay Area, I spent several long weekends in Portland trying to figure out how to find a job out here. During the recession work was scarce, even though the cost of living is significantly less. My fantasy move never ended up happening, but now I get to spend a few weeks food cart, strip club, wacky bar hopping… I’m going to make up for it.

Before arriving in Portland, McB, myself and Atmosphere from Denver all drove to the Oregon coast for a little beach campout. It’s so cool how I am meeting people all over the country and then meeting up later to travel together. This is exactly how I hoped things would go.

Playtime on the beach

Playtime on the beach

 

Friends building on the beach

Friends building on the beach

 

My friends wanted to visit Cannon Beach and explore the Orgeon coast, so we all hopped into the adventure mobile and took off. The National Park closure is putting a huge damper on roadtripping, but fortunately there are still State parks and BLM land we can camp on. Nehalem State Park is located about 10 miles south of Cannon Beach, right in the city of Manzanita and on the water. As we drove into the park we saw a sister Casita! What luck – I love talking to other Casita owners who are some of the nicest and liberal folks I’ve met on the road. As we continued into camp we saw another Casita – then two Scamp trailers side-by-side… this was strange. Fiberglass trailers are somewhat of a rarity, so to see several in one location is a bit uncanny. 19 Casita, Scamp and Escape fiberglass trailers later, we realize we have stumbled upon a Casita meet-up. Everyone is waving, smiling an drinking beer; I had heard of these type of events before, which are typically regional and happen a couple times a year. This was one big check off my bucket list.

The meet-up provided me with an opportunity to mingle with other small, fiberglass trailer owners and talk shop. There are so many cool modifications that can be done, and the attention to detail is amazing. I got tips on curtains, water tank holders, door upgrades, flooring and storage. I’m motivated! I’ve bought material for curtains, hung new blinds, purchased and installed new storage solutions for the closet, bathroom and kitchen. Plus, I’ve got a new to-do list to make the living situation even better. I can’t wait to show off the mods in this blog.

Rocks at Cannon Beach

Rocks at Cannon Beach

Playing around on the beach

Playing around on the beach

Driftwood at Cannon Beach

Driftwood at Cannon Beach

Oct 102013 Tagged with , , , 1 Response

The Farm that Innovates

I can’t believe we’ve been at the farm 3 weeks! The experience is priceless, and I’m contemplating how to fit this type of work in my life more permanently. I could work on a farm during the summers… or, more realistically, I’m making a goal for a backyard garden the next time I’ve got a little soil to call my own.

However, it has been toe numbing, finger freezing, nose dripping COLD outside. I haven’t spent any expended period of time in mid-40s to 50s degree weather for years, and this old warm-blooded soul is feeling the icy chill. Time to get moving soon, but not before I get my hands dirty for a few more days.

Rainshadow Organics is the only certified organic farm in central Oregon, and as such sells to local stores, restaurants, co-ops and directly to the consumer at farmer’s markets. They also have a work-share program, CSA and numerous one-off connections with locals in the community. I am still not 100% sure how the farm makes all of it’s money, but these folks are veggie and meat hustlers – in the best sense of the word. It takes constant vigilance to get what is in the ground sold and into the hands of the right people. Sarah and Tall work from sun up to night fall; in addition to regular farm duties, they are constantly looking for ways to innovate, make the farm more sustainable and create more efficient processes.

Rainshadow Organics at the Bend Farmer's Market

Rainshadow Organics at the Bend Farmer’s Market

Whole Foods is a large purchaser of the goods that we produce, but are picky and don’t always want the weird stuff we grow (pineapple tomatoes – which are mouth-popping tasty, heirloom cucumbers, celeriac root). The CSA gets most of the overflow items, but these are always what is best in season, even if they are a bit unusual. Restaurants have a specified ingredients list based on what they can get their hands on for cheap. So how do you get rid of everything your farm grows before it turns bad? Plans for the farm include more specified vegetable production, with a focus on what has sold well in the local market. Construction will hopefully begin next year on more greenhouses to extend production earlier and later in the season.

It’s not just the veggies getting the attention – there are rumors of a year-round meat CSA that will require an extended animal protein program (more pigs, cows and chickens to harvest). In true “hustling” fashion, there are some off the wall ideas too – the farm recently acquired a pair of oxen. Oxen, I know – what the hell? There are trails up in the mountains that need to be cleared that no truck can get to and is much too far for someone to lug tree cutting equipment – could the solution be  a pair of oxen to clear the path? Perhaps. Zeus and Hercules must first be trained, so there is opportunity more permanent farm hands.

The WWOOFers, like myself, don’t necessarily help the innovation process, but we certainly thrust Sarah and Tall outside of the box. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to constantly be teaching while trying to get actual work done that one’s livelihood depends on. We volunteers can sometimes cause trouble (I pretty much killed a patch of arugala by trimming it too short – a bad haircut), but the farm would not be able to operate without our harvesting hands. And really, the input I contribute is minimal and quite enjoyable. It’s great to have a daily schedule and something to do in the mornings that get me out of bed. Having the afternoons off means time to ride, climb, run and explore Bend. The evenings are full of delicious food and great times around the campfire. I feel relaxed, recharged and comfortable in ways I didn’t know I was missing.

Climbing Mecca

Climbing Mecca

 

Smith Rock Friends

Smith Rock Friends

 

Climbing Smith Rock

FInally climbing a pitch at Smith Rock!

 

 

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