Sunday, December 19, 2010

A New Opportunity

We found a new farm to try out! It's in the Puna district, close to some interesting sights including Lava Trees State Park, hot spring pools and tidepools. We went to check it out today and we were both impressed by the existing infrastructure and orchards.

The cabin we will be staying in is spacious and features a real bed! As a couple, it is fairly important to us to have space to be together and also not feel too crowded. I am generally happier and more productive when I have ample space to inhabit.

There are tons of mango trees, avocados, tangerines, pineapples and the list goes on. Lots of weeding and cane grass clearing to catch up on. The property recently changed hands so not much has gone on in the past little while. We will most likely get to do some carpentry projects while we're there such as building a chicken coop.

I'm looking forward to getting into the garden routine and exploring the area. Lots of calm nights reading by candlelight and playing ukelele.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Every Day is an Adventure!

We're back in Hilo again! I've adopted Bob (our couchsurfing host here) as my uncle because then I won't feel so bad showing up at his door and crashing on his futon when things don't work out elsewhere. He doesn't seem to mind at all. In fact, I think he likes us!

The place we went to check out today was outside of Pahoa Town in the Puna district, the eastern most point of the island. This is what they call the "Wild West" of Hawaii, which seems counter-intuitive because it is to the east but it makes sense because it is the newest part of the islands. An undeveloped final frontier made up of intermittent lava flow over the last few hundred years. This area is world famous for black sand beaches and proximity to the volcanoes but is locally famous for the amount of hippies, squatters and organic farms! Whoda thunk it?

We were picked up in Pahoa by the proprietor and he seemed like a nice enough guy but when we pulled into "the farm" it became very apparent that this was a worse situation than the one we had just left. On the ride there he mentioned just having gotten rid of a bunch of losers and scabies. That really should have been the tip off. We should have gotten out of the car and saved the next hour of our lives.

The "farm hostel" was a bunch of open air, thrown-together, shacks with tin roofs. Basically a garbage dump with a sort of kitchen. There was a lady there covered in what they call "haole rot" and scabs from a sun burn. (Haole is the local word for white person or mainlander.) Hoooooo eeeee! Our accommodation was a platform 6 inches off the ground with no walls and a futon frame covered in moldy pillows and foam. Did I mention that we were expected to pay $20 a night for three nights before our work trade would start?

As soon as we were left alone, I started to cry. I am not expecting a hotel here but this is squalor, this is an absolute sham of a hostel or farm. I can't even believe that this place is in the WWOOF book. I was appalled and totally grossed out. Jay was trying to get me to pull it together and I was really trying but after a good look around we both gave up, put our packs on and said goodbye. We hitched rides back to Pahoa and waited for the bus while a local crack head regaled us with tales of drunk-driving and a loveless childhood.

The bright side is that after seeing this place, the gulch looks like a four star hotel! We will continue to look for more opportunities but in the meantime it is nice to know that we have a place to stay that only expects 10 hours of us weekly.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What's next?

We are back in Hilo after a brief sojourn in "the gulch". We spent the last five days at the aforementioned farmstead, cleaning up after the previous wwoofers and building a shelter for our hammocks. Unfortunately, though I really like the couple and their daughter, we might not go back there unless we can't find anything else.

I would hesitate to even call it wwoofing. The deal here was working 10 hours a week basically for a place to stay but as there were no accommodations available for us, we would be working 10 hours a week for camping and some bananas, both of which can be found for free basically anywhere on the whole island of Hawaii.

It's hard not to see the potential in a place when you want so badly to own your own land somewhere and you can see all the possibilities for experiments and adventures in farming. But when it's not your land or your capital, you just do what you're told or you break your back working for a possible outcome that you may never profit from or enjoy the completion of. And, this is my vacation, so I'm going to do what I want.

Tomorrow we will go down to the Puna district where there are apparently lots and lots of farms. So we will check out our opportunities there and hopefully come up with something a little more suited to our needs.

Wish us luck!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Big Island

We're on the Big Island in the city of Hilo currently. Shortly we will depart our couchsurfing host and head up the road to a homestead we found on the internet and have been in contact with since September or something. We're hoping to help them in their farming endeavors and to get a nice place to camp in return. Sounds good to me!

We've spent the last two nights drinking beer and watching documentaries with our host, Bob. He's got a wide selection and knowledge of music so we've got an overlap of taste going on. We chatted about X, an early LA punk band and last night we watched two docs, one on New York Doll turned Morman, Arthur Kane and another on seminal Canadian metalheads, Anvil.

I'm looking forward to being out of civilization for a while, getting my hands in some rich, volcanic soil. Once we're settled, we shall go adventuring the island looking for rainforest and volcanoes and undersea realms.

Monday, December 6, 2010

More on O'ahu...

Lemme see... what's happened since my last update?

I bought a ukelele! I am so stoked to have something to play again. I painted two snails on it and it makes me very happy even though the strings haven't set yet, so every time I go to play it it sounds silly and I have to try to tune it. I never learned to tune a guitar by ear and have always been dependent on my electric tuner. This is good though, it is forcing me to develop an ear for tuning. I can hear when it's out of tune and can locate the particular string that is wonky but it's hard to get it tuned properly. I'm up for a challenge.

We've been spending a lot of time reading and going to the beach. I still haven't gotten on a surfboard but it will happen eventually. Jay and I are very much into snorkeling though. Yesterday he got to swim with a green sea turtle at Lonnie's(sp?) beach on the north shore! I only got to see them on the beach. They are massive and mystical. On the Big Island there is a place that you can swim with manta rays and we are both really excited about that.

We had shave ice yesterday. Pretty much a snow cone but with vanilla ice cream in the bottom. We also had poke, which is raw ahi (tuna) with various seasonings. It was a tasty belly filler while we were sitting at Waimea Bay in the afternoon. It's a beautiful spot well known by surfers by it's potentially huge waves. Yesterday was a perfectly calm day and the sapphire waters were crystal clear.

Today we were planning to fly to the Big Island but had not booked a flight yet due to the internet being glitch-y. We figured it wouldn't make a difference if we waited until the day of but the price went up $20 each! So annoying. So now I think we are waiting until tomorrow to fly to Hilo. Luckily, our host is sweet and doesn't mind us staying an extra night. We've been so lucky to meet Nick, his roommate Anne and all their awesome friends. Anne and her man friend, Alec, are coming to the Big Island after X-mas so we're going to hook up with them then and meet some punk rockers and farmers that they know.

Next time I'll be writing from the Big Island! xoxox!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

O'ahu you doin'? Honoluluvin' life!

Hawaii has been so good to us already and it's only been a week. We found some hosts on at the last minute and it has paid off. Not only have we had a free place to stay, we've had great people to hang out with and a lot of help with almost everything we have wanted to do.

Currently we are staying in Manoa which is the neighbourhood in Honolulu that Obama lived in. Yep. Our first day here we went for a hike up to Manoa Falls through a magical jungle. That night we were at a bonfire birthday party on the north shore of the island. We planned to camp out on the beach that night but it rained and we were taken in by an awesome surfer dude with lots of couches.

The next two days we walked, bussed and hitch-hiked along the north coast heading east, camping along the way. Then we came back to Honolulu and were so lucky that our couchsurfing hosts took us back in even though they had another couchsurfer staying with them. Linus Von Moos from Switzerland! He's awesome! This is what the girls say ;)

It's been a pretty constant party. Snorkeling, swimming and beaching in the days and painting parties and cheap beer & bourbon at night. We can't decide when we want to leave O'ahu because we've been so lucky to meet great people who've hooked us up with more places to stay here.

I want to try surfing before we head to the Big Island because the south shore of O'ahu has some of the best beginner waves. I also need to pick up a ukelele while we are staying with Nick and Anne because they've got lots of paints and I want to personalize my uke.

All in all, our adventure has been relaxing and magical so far. As soon as I glanced the constellation of Orion out of the plane window, I knew we we're being watched over and that our troubles would be few. Orion was a herald of good times for us on our last radventure too.

We don't have regular internet access, so until next time,

Aloha my friends!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Adventure, Ho!

We fly to Hawaii in two days! I can barely believe that we've been off work for only six weeks, it feels like forever. In that time we've been to Vancouver Island three times, packed and moved everything we've owned, had two job interviews and a family reunion.

I am ready to leave after all the build-up and stress and excitement! I am so fortunate to have friends and family that love me and support all my choices. I love you all more than words can express.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Already, Again

I am feeling the stress of homelessness. A rather cushy homelessness, as we have been graciously hosted by many wonderful and hospitable friends but stressful nonetheless. It's hard to be me without my own space and I find it even harder to be a good partner without space for intimacy.

The period of limbo between adventures is quickly closing and I couldn't be happier about it. I have too much time to think about the things I can't accomplish and not enough time to do anything other than what is planned.

I am feeling the pull of my heartstrings, to remain in one place and be quietly in love with all these humans who care for me. I made the choice, though, to leave again. To be constantly leaving and always returning, so that no one even says "Bon Voyage" anymore and celebratory events are pointless. It's hard not to feel the fibres of my friendships strained and fraying.

I miss all the passing moments, the being together without speaking that glues together conversations and experiences. I miss my friends already, again.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Hold Fast

I just watched this awesome documentary about DIY sailing, Hold Fast. It was inspiring and pretty exciting to watch. I love the application of DIY punk ethics to just about any venture. If you can do it for yourself, then you don't have to buy it from someone else.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sailing on the Apprenticeship

Hallowe'en was magical and glorious. I borrowed a costume at the last minute and went as a barbarian, which was pretty convincing. I kept looking around at all my friends together in the midst of a totally crazy party and realising just how lucky I am. I felt like Hallowe'en chose me.

Now we are on Vancouver Island visiting my family and checking out farms to work on next season. I will be so great to be close to my family next summer and share the bounty that we will grow.

Last year we really just jumped headfirst into our apprenticeship. We didn't have a good idea about what we wanted to learn or what was out there. Looking back over the season, I have no regrets. We learned so much, so fast and our experience at Sapo Bravo has put us in a great position to expand our skills and specialize further. Now we are an asset to whomever hires us because we need less training and have our own know-how to bring to the table.

If you are considering doing an organic farming apprenticeship I highly recommend going through Soil Apprenticeships. They are incredibly helpful and well informed about most of the farms in the program. Ask questions! Lots! Never assume anything. It's hard to explain to someone just how hard operating a farm can be and just how much and how hard you have to work.

Oftentimes you will be living closely with the farm family and it really helps to go visit a farm well beforehand to get a feel for how they operate and interact. Every farm is so different and there are dozens of ways to accomplish the same goals.

I'm really looking forward to learning about animals and bees this coming season and putting our knowledge of different ground crops to the test. We haven't confirmed our placement yet but we just visited these two amazing places: ALM Farm and Tugwell Creek Honey Farm in Sooke on Vancouver Island. Beautiful farms and people to be sure!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Less is More

We had a garage sale this weekend and sold a bunch of things we don't need. I'm in a great headspace for purging belongings. Everything has been in storage for a year and will be for another year. Why keep it if you don't use/wear it? Why keep it if it can be replaced? Now, it's time to sort though the rest and donate to a thrift store.

It's amazing how being in the city makes me want to accumulate things! I'm fighting the urge to shop and collect every time I go out. Even online! I try to ignore advertising but it still draws me in sometimes. Mostly, I just love old, antique, vintage, used, abused, second-hand, another man's trash, thrift and flea-market finds.

It is nice to think that one day I will have a house to fill with neat stuff again but for now I am liberating myself from possessions! The less I own the less I have to move around! If you haven't noticed, life is mostly moving things from one place to another (the same can be said for farming :).

Going backpacking is going to be a new lesson in minimalism. Living in the van last winter still allowed us to have more than we needed and to collect. Living out of a backpack for 4 months will not allow that. It's hard to envision exactly what I will need in Hawai'i when I'm sitting in rainy October Vancouver.

My renewed passport just arrived!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Body Workin'!

I just had a massage this morning and a hair cut last night and I feel so gooooood. Time to get out for a bike ride.

If you are in Vancouver and need a massage, please visit my lovely friend Renée LePage. She also has gift certificates! Visit her website: !

Or if you need a haircut in Vancouver visit my friend Erica van der Basch !

Also, when I ride my bike I protect my brain with a helmet I got from Prohab, a Vancouver not-for-profit organization that gives out helmets by donation. Check out their website: ! They are also selling 2011 Calenders featuring hot bikes and cute girls, with photography by my talented friend Amanda Bullick.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

My Body of Water

I had a really wonderful day yesterday. I met with two of my oldest friends for tea and conversation. Reflecting on our lives over the past ten years and re-discovering our commonalities brought a new light to why we all became friends in the first place.

I am fascinated by relationships, mine and others. What brings us together and draws us apart. I found a quote once that said everyone you meet is your soulmate simply because you have met them. I have always felt a fated quality in certain relationships of mine and often people who are important pop back into my life just when I need them most.

Being "away" so much has taught me to love my friends and family in a more abstract way. I love the idea of these people. I love that they are out there, living their lives and doing what they do. I don't need confirmation of our love, it exists without any definition.

It feels good to love and be loved. Coming back to the city has made me very aware of the true love in my life and I am oh so grateful.


Sydney gave me a 'zine yesterday that's getting me even more excited about Hawai'i. Moonlight Chronicles issue 72 is all about this guy going to Maui for the winter to camp and surf and generally live lightly. Looking forward to doing this myself! With my partner in crime of course...

I'm excited to try surfing, boogie boarding and body surfing. And after our summer at Sapo Bravo I actually feel like my body might be prepared for it. I feel physically strong in a way that I never have before. I am not particularly "body aware" and physical labour has allowed me to start connecting to this flesh machine that carries my consciousness around. I think it will be even more amazing to connect with my body and the ocean at once. Pacifica, you call me. You have been calling me my whole life.

The moon, the tides, and the ocean (as metaphor for emotion) as life themes have been illuminated through my recent travels down the Pacific Coast. I have felt the need to connect more deeply with my lunar nature and resolve my adopted attitudes towards emotional effusiveness. I must embrace myself. I can only change what I can, the rest I must accept and integrate.

Living next to the Fraser River, I formed a relationship with that body of water. She needs a woman's name but I cannot say which name. Just that she is not the "Fraser", she is a salmon mother and a passage of time. She is there and she flows into me.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Autumn Bounty

Our season finished with a bang. Literally. The last thing we did before we left was set off a firecracker! It was a celebratory moment for me even though the firecracker went off in my hand before I could drop it! It feels good to have completed the season. We learned so much and made some very solid friends though the experience.

It is a trip to be back in the gray, rainy hive of Vancouver after being on the side of the mountain for so long. I'll miss the stars tonight and the crickets too. They are replaced by streetlights and the hum of the refrigerator.

It feels good to be back in Vancouver. We went to the Farmer's Market for the first time this season and it was nice to see all the happy vegetables. Now it's raining and I'm catching up on correspondence and other internet stuff. Plugged back into the grid!

I'm excited to catch up and have Thanksgiv'r dinner with lovely people Monday. Life is good.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Visitors Finally; Cabin Fever Broken

My Dad and his Bea came to visit on Monday. It was one of the rainiest days we've seen out here so far. We had a fire going all day and sat around in the warm little cabin while the rain came down all around. It is so nice to have visitors! And we have more coming!

Erica, Mike and Mark are due to be here sometime on Sunday for a night. It is a trip being out here for so long without going back to the city. Hell, I've barely left the property for three months. Having people from our "other" life come see us at the farm is really fun. I've been looking forward to it all summer.

An old friend of Jay's and mine, Rachel, is coming next weekend and it'll be really neat to have her here for a few days. We'll get to work together and talk about all this farm stuff/city stuff. I can't wait.

The season is nearing an end. We've moved from harvesting fruits to roots. A lot of the more tropical or Mediterranean plants like eggplants, peppers, basil, are giving up and we'll either be pulling them out or nursing them along for the next few weeks. Still harvesting tomatoes but not a lot. About a quarter of what we were getting two weeks ago. Gabriel says this is one of the worst Septembers they've seen out here, at least weather-wise.

Doesn't look like that's changing either. Lots of rain in the forecast. We just keep calm and carry on.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Gold Panner

his eyes, like gold they glitter
golden cat eyes
greedy with the quickening winter
crowbar & garlic breath
down by the river
rushing cold water
teeth chatter, shoulders shiver
what mineral delights,
iron-stained, sand-mingled,
will the banks of the Fraser
choose to deliver?
or reveal...

in the instant of discovery
do waves wash over you?
does your soul,
a patient alchemist,
miss the minutes and hours
that the seeking
of precious nuggets,
flakes and flower
must (in favour of physics
and thermodynamics)

the treasure you stockpile
is weighty with value
stock market and otherwise
but money
never makes a man wise.
it is your soul
that, inlaid with gold,
can only appreciate
and never be sold.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Just a few thoughts...

Waiting for the Jay & Kevin's homemade pizza to come out of the oven... yummy. Spelt crust, sauce from scratch, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, basil, onion and garlic all from the garden.

We're moving out of the busy season now, which is a relief to me and my back. I'm ready for the rainy season; rich, hearty food to nourish and saunas to heal and restore. Kevin is leaving us on Wednesday and we will definitely miss him. He's a funny, hard-working guy, the best kind to have around. I feel lucky to have a friend to go visit in Austria now! It's not "goodbye", it's "until next time!"

I've been busy with planning our trip to Hawaii and lining up farms to visit on Vancouver Island to see about our prospects for next season's apprenticeship. Even when we get an email saying, "Sorry, we're full," I can at least be happy that some person out there is learning about organic farming and that they will go on to incorporate that into their way of life.

Time to eat!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Book-fed and Sated

In between our daily tasks I take my time to look to the sky; to memorize the September day-moon in dance with the August-steeped sun.

We harvested a patch of gone-to-seed cilantro today and winnowed the coriander seeds. It was a delightful process that felt childlike and wholesome. The feeling of sinking your fingers into tiny oceans of grain. Watching the wind sweep the chaff away while the seeds chime into the bowl below. Having seeds for next year's cilantro and also the coriander to use as a spice. I love how the earthy aroma lingers on my fingers...

I've been reading a lot this summer as I am known to do. The last two books I devoured were Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut and The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. Both of these books re-affirmed my love for life (and food) and my conviction that individuals can do what they are meant to do and affect the world in small and wonderful ways.

Reading Timequake is like sitting down to dinner with a good friend (or attending a clambake with a few). Having read so many of his books and being so deeply affected by his humanism, Vonnegut has been a good friend to me as I'm sure he was to many. This particular book was written towards the end of his career and life (he's up in heaven now) and is a semi-autobiographical romp through ten years "re-lived". Heavily doused with Trout-isms and Vonnegut's special brand of humour, at the end of this book I felt happy to be alive.

In The Omnivore's Dilemma you are invited to sit down with Pollan for three meals that he details from corn-field through slaughter-house all the way to the table. I've wanted to read this book ever since I read another of his books, In Defense of Food, back in December. Pollan is a great lover of food and his journalistic research is peppered with personal reflection and musings that make his books both intensely informative and hilarious.

Reading these two books back to back and being so immersed in the cultivation and culture of food has led me to answer the question: If you could have dinner with three people living or dead, who would they be?

Definitely Micheal Pollan and Kurt Vonnegut. For the third, obviously I must choose a woman. Frida Kahlo perhaps?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A New Year

It is a gorgeous day here and is supposed to get up to 37 degrees! My birthday was this past Friday, the 13th, and it was so lovely. We had fresh garden pasta for dinner and watched the Perseid meteors fly overhead late at night.

Recently I received an email from my mum asking me what our plans were for when we are done at Sapo Bravo. In responding I realized that we didn't have to do the conventional thing, to move back to the city and get jobs and an apartment again. We can do anything!

We started talking about the possibility of doing more farming somewhere in the world where it isn't winter. New Zealand was discussed but we've decided that Hawaii is the place for us. We can fly directly there from Vancouver and as Canadian citizens we can stay for 6 months without trouble.

Now we are in the throes of planning another trip and it feels like we just got back from the last one! I love my life.

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Poem

listening to the coyotes laugh
as the night falls, soft and dark
the golden whisky in my glass
glows in the cabin's candlelight.
I stay inside, enveloped in the warmth
and shadows
they dance inside and out.

those old worn-down mountains
casting dog voices all around
like rocks falling into the canyon
and the river laps them up
a tongue in the valley
and a voice,
it speaks.

my moon winks and watches
she's most patient in the night
covering it with her light
she can see every ripple
on the silver-snake back
of the talking river.
but what does the river say
to make the coyotes laugh?

as the river flows she speaks,
the gravely voice of ancients.
in her throat rocks rub and crash
chortling and choking,
"you laugh at me, as I run fast
and slow through seasons. you,
dogs!, laugh as the mountain
crowds me with sediment
fills in my depths and
makes me brown with ages.
you laugh because you do not see
I eat the mountain
as the mountain eats me
and where will you laugh
when we have eaten one another?
when only the moon stands to see?

and the coyotes laugh
because the know, as always,
the river or the falling rocks
will set them free.

my moon winks and watches
and shares a drink with me.

Friday, July 30, 2010


We have the afternoon off after working from 6am-6pm on Wednesday and 6am-8pm yesterday! It is a smokey day, hot and hazy due to the forest fires up the valley. The quality of light is so special right now and I found myself in the garden this afternoon just wandering from flower to flower.

I am reminded by my two-year-old buddy, Quyen, to be in the wonder of the world. I must always remember.

Monday, July 19, 2010

This Little Piggy Went to Market and This Little Piggy Stayed at Home

Our lovely employers, Gabi and Katie, and their son, Quyen, went to the Trout Lake Farmer's Market in Vancouver this past weekend leaving Jay and I in charge of the farm and our new apprentice, Kevin. We've been having a blast and getting a lot done too. Always have to keep up productivity, even in this heat! (31 degrees Celsius as I write this.)

We're into a new cycle at the farm and it's a welcome change for Jay and I. On the weekends we get to try out our new-found irrigation skills and we get to re-learn everything as we teach Kevin about how things are done around here. Kevin is on vacation from studying Agricultural Science in Vienna, Austria. During the week we are keeping up on the weeding and a flurry of harvesting the day before and the morning of deliveries, Thursday and Friday. Sapo Bravo sells a lot of produce to boutique restaurants in Vancouver but is also well known at the Trout Lake Farmer's Market for our 50 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, basil and peaches. Yum!

Being in charge for half of the week is definitely bolstering our confidence and it's allowing us to see ourselves as sustainable farmers in the future. Every day we talk more and more about how we want to do things and what we would do the same or differently. We chat with the apprentices from the neighbouring farm, Stein Mountain Organics, gleaning from their added year(s) of experience and we ask Kevin lots of science-y questions. And of course, we talk about food constantly.

Becoming closer to the food we eat is imperative for mankind's survival. Whether you take the time to shop for local items, visit your neighbourhood's farmer's market or create a herb garden, plant a fruit tree, pull up that grass and plant broccoli! It's all a step in the direction that we should all be moving. So do it! Do whatever you can now and don't take for granted the privilege we have as North Americans to chose what we eat. Many people don't have that choice and it is because of them that we have to strive together for a more secure and sustainable food system worldwide and in our backyards.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Harvest and Heat

It's a cold, cloudy, rainy day and it happens to be our day off. I am trying to use the time to keep up some correspondence and just relax.

This past week of work has been long and involved. The temperature stayed in the 30s for most of the week and we had our first harvest for market. Thursday started at 6am and went to 8pm and was straight cherry-pickin'. I was fortunate to be on Quyen and lunch duty that day and I don't much mind hanging out with a two-year-old cutie and cooking curried chickpeas.

The long hot days are punctuated with dips in the spring-fed pond, just cool enough to revitalize the mind and body. It's the only thing that makes the heat bearable. Without it we would all wilt like neglected vegetables!

The Fraser Valley is hot and dry. Almost a desert, the arid landscape is red sandy mountains dotted with pines and covered with dry needles. It takes a lot of water to grow here. The farms are gravity fed by 3000m (I may have to fact check that) of PVC pipe from a mountain creek. We took a hike up there the other day, you can see some photos on my flickr at the side of the blog.

We spend all day turning on and off drip lines, cleaning filters and moving around sprinklers. More water means bigger vegetables but most plants have individual needs and it's not as straight-forward as turning it on forgetting about it.

Tomorrow morning we pull the rest of the garlic to start our week and before we know it, the sun will beating down on our backs again.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cats and Ladies and Cat Ladies

I have so many ideas for 'blog entries that I want to write but I never have the time and when I do there are always more pressing things to express. I'd like to write more about: food, plants, tarot, astrology, tattoos, dreams, love, friends, nature, birds and so much more...

Right now about all I can think about is the huge list of things to do while I am in Vancouver and my cat's well-being and future.

I've had Fatty since she was the smallest kitten. I remember the day she was born, August 8th, 1996. She was one of a litter of four kittens born to a one-eyed Calico barn cat named Snap on my friend Lynn's farm in Madoc, Ontario. She was the only kitten who survived mauling by the puppy on the farm. She fell from a shed loft and managed to make it to the barn, evading the puppy, other dogs and other grown cats. I took her home early because her mum wasn't interested anymore and she still suckles on fuzzy blankets because of it.

I was eleven-years-old at the time and my parents were in the process of separating. Over the next year Fatty, or Miss Kitty as we called her then, lived in Madoc, Ontario, Contre Coeur, Quebec, Cochrane and Calgary, Alberta with my mum. We were re-united in Calgary at some point and she lived with me or my mum there until I moved to Vancouver in 2006. During that time she had been hit by a car and survived a pelvis fracture as well as fallen 30ft from a tree. Three lives down.

When she first moved to Vancouver she became infested with fleas, she'd never had them before because Calgary is so high and dry. I realised that she was very allergic. So I moved to an apartment with my boyfriend at the time, Jonny. She recovered and became almost a different cat entirely. She had always been skittish and would hide under beds at the least thing but during the time we lived with Jonny she became more loving and started to hang out with us more. Her sociable personality started to come out and she started to love meeting new people, sitting on laps and licking hands.

Over the past six months I've been traveling and she has lived with my lovely friends Renée and Dustin. They liked having a cat so much they got their own kitten, Jovi, and I took Fatima to Sapo Bravo to see how she liked living in the wild again.

Things were going very well until this Saturday when a tabby tomcat stray got into our house and they had a fight. Fatty fell from the loft and is now covered in scratches and missing chunks of fur. Luckily, this coincided with our time off and a trip into Vancouver. She has a vet appointment tomorrow and is just sleeping off the stress for the time being.

I feel so helpless and terribly unable to help my cat, my little life partner. She has been a constant source of love in my life and has been with me through the hardest times ever. It makes me feel so horrible that I can't just be with her. Amazingly, my community is rising up around me to support us. My friends are fostering her until I can find a more long term situation and when I come back to the city in October I swear I will never leave her until her beautiful, little life runs out. At 14, she's already outlived a lot of cats and she is loved by many, if not all that have met her.

It is so amazing how much these wonderful little animals can affect our lives and enrich our experience of love. I am constantly thankful for knowing her love and loving her. She has taught me the practical lesson of responsibility and I know that I am a better person for it.

Here's to Fatima and all of those wonderful, furry little beasts who make our lives better everyday.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Life without power; Powerful life

One day off a week never seems like enough time to do all the things I want to do. I guess I just push myself to be productive and after traveling for so long it is wonderful to have a space to call my own and I just want to take advantage of that.

But I have realised after five weeks into this apprenticeship, that this is enough. It is enough to be completely immersed in farming. To give myself over to this is such a challenge because I forever want to be writing, drawing and painting but I simply don't have the time here. I don't even have the time to keep up with my 365 photo project.

We work until 6pm and before we know it it's 9:30 and the light is fading and there is only so much you can do by candlelight. Besides, I am in bed by 10:30 every night or the next morning isn't so great.

There is something to be said for this lifestyle though. We are oriented in a north-south river valley, the Fraser Canyon. I never see the sun rise or set, only the sun up over the mountain and the sun down over the other mountain. I see the rain clouds come up the valley and send sentinels of mist ahead, breaking news of a shower coming. I hear the wind and see its movements before I feel it on my skin. I notice every day the growth of the plants and the fruits on the many trees. I hear the birds and we look everywhere to see if we can find who is singing that song and when we do, we rush to the birdbook and seek her name.

I am trying so hard to take it all in and let my memory wrap around it, embrace it, integrate it into my being. I want to be a part of this and for this place to be a part of me. My fingers are callousing, slowly and now when my hands are clean they still look dirty. I'm taking pride in that and taking pride in my sore back and tight muscles.

It has been a difficult transition but not for the reasons that you might think. Living without power and modern amenities is not the challenge, even living in isolation from the people and things I know and love has not been so hard. It is the peace, the stillness and serenity that opens me to the depths of my being and allows all the passions and pains to rush back up. I am flooded with remembrance and emotions. The deluge stirring in me so powerfully that I cannot see my reflection in it. I know not who I am in this white water.

My challenge is to build a berm, with quiet strength and meditation through the hardest work I've ever done, a containing wall to pool my effusiveness and see my reflection again. By the end of this season, I think that my harvest will be great! A new peace mind to go with all of these new skills. I can't just hope, I can strive and push and work and everything will come.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Day In, Day Out

Wow! We've been at the farm for a month now and it has flown by. Our schedule is something like this:
7am - Wake up, coffee, CBC radio, breakfast.
8am - Work!
11am - One of us prepares lunch
12pm - Eat lunch!
1pm - Back to work or one of us does the dishes
6pm - Quittin' time! Coffee again and a joint ;)
7pm - Make dinner and eat

We try to be in bed before 11pm and it is damn easy to fall asleep after a day that full and six days a week, no less. We only end up with 3 hours of free time in a day!

Despite the back breaking schedule, we've been pretty productive. I've read two books since we've been here and assembled a quilt. Jay made birdfeeder, a chair, many axe handles and we've got our garden growing too.

We have a wood stove and it keeps us warm on chilly nights, we've got a big deck with a beautiful view and soon we will have all the peaches we can eat! What else do you need?

Friday, April 30, 2010

Homeless and Homesick

If you know me, you probably know that I am a home-body. I like to spend hours, days on end, alone or with others, at home. I like to putter around the house, alternately making and cleaning up messes. I love having my own space to think, reflect, create and relax.

When we started planning our road trip last year I was not so happy with our living situation and not so happy with my job and life in general. I was feeling crowded by my own involvements and emotions. I wanted a change.

I've always wanted to go on a long journey, go away and maybe never come back. I have wanderlust and desire for adventures in unknown places. I've moved a lot and felt adaptable my whole life.

And now here I am. I just got back from a 5 month trip and we've been home for two weeks only to leave again for a 6 month apprenticeship. I am so excited to go to the farm and move into our cabin but torn about leaving my friends and Vancouver. I'm tired of living out of a suitcase and having all my art supplies and sewing stuff in storage. I miss having a home!

I want to make things! I want to create and share and be a part of a community again. My challenge now is to make my life a piece of art and build a community around me wherever I go.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Orion Magazine

Yesterday I indulged and subscribed to this amazing magazine, Orion. Jay and I read a bunch of issues cover to cover at our first WWOOF farm. It is so inspiring and beautiful and they offer a lot of the articles free on the website. My favourite things about it are the lack of advertisements and the inclusion of short fiction and poetry as well as beautiful art and photography spreads.

In terms of content it is mostly regarding environmental issues but it brings these issues up in the human context and addresses community and spirituality as essential elements in our interaction with our environment. Anyhoo, I love it and can't wait to hold it in my hands. Although, digital subscriptions are cheaper and don't require paper...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sapo Bravo and East Van

We went to the farm a few days ago and it was everything we had imagined and more! Tucked into the side of a mountain up in the Fraser River Valley, the fruit trees were heavy with pink and white blossoms and the spring wildflowers were everywhere. Can't wait 'til peach time!

The farm is 60 acres split between three families. There are various houses, cabins, sheds and a large greenhouse. Curving rows of already growing garlic stretch out in terraces around the mountain slope. Commercial certified organic crops include garlic, onions, basil, 50 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, peaches, plums, and apricots. Not to mention a full family garden with everything from potatoes to kale to herbs.

Our cabin is adorable.

Here is Jay in the outdoor kitchen.

One room plus a loft bedroom, a huge deck and a little balcony. We have cold running water but no power (other than our trusty power pack and solar panel) and a squat toilet :).

We have an amazing view of the Fraser River from our deck.

We both can't wait to get out there and start growing things. We even have our own garden that is 4 times the size of our old garden at Glam Haus. There are already many herbs and flowers coming up as well as garlic and broccoli from the apprentices last year. We still have to decide what else to plant!

Now we are back in the city enjoying bike rides (I didn't realise how much I missed my bike until I was on it again!) and spending time with friends. I did my taxes yesterday... Jay is passing Elwood (our intrepid van) on to his new home today, which happens to be with folks who live in our old haus. Happy times.

Next on the block is to buy a used truck for the summer. We go to Calgary on the 1st of May for family visits and Edmonton on the 6th for Jay's little brother's wedding. And after that we go pretty much directly to Sapo Bravo with a short stop in Vancouver.

Life is full and busy. I can't complain.

Monday, April 19, 2010

City to Farm

I was just updating my flickr with some new 365 photos. I feel like I've been pretty crappy at that project because I've missed so many days and amazing opportunities for photos. I'm going to put more work into it this summer. I promise! And I am going to continue to use this here weblog to document my/our apprenticeship at Sapo Bravo. There are many more radventures to come on this road I travel.

I am elated to be back in Vancouver. Ironically, I'm so happy about it because I don't have to stay here for very long. I don't have to get a crappy apartment and go back to my job, which made me rather depressed before we left. I am going to continue to miss my dear friends but I'll be able to see them every week at the Farmer's Market at least.

The future looks bright, and green! Today we are going to the farm to solidify our "contract" and see where we will be living and working. I can't wait to go back to rural life. I love certain things about the city and I love my friends here but I think that the next part of my life is the transition from city to farm.

And moving to the country is a lot harder than moving to the city. Fewer jobs, you need a vehicle, isolation, etc. But the rewards will be worth it, eventually.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


We're home now. We had an itinerary planned for the Pacific Northwest but then we just decided to drive straight home from Portland.

It feels good to be home. I'm so happy to see my cats and friends. SO happy.

The next part of the journey is to visit Sapo Bravo in Lytton, BC. That's the farm we're going to be working on all summer learning the ins and outs of organic farming. Can't wait to get back in the soil.

After our two weeks in BC we're heading to Calgary and Edmonton to visit our respective families and attend Jay's little bro's wedding! So exciting!

Not to mention, I want to get to the island (Vancouver Island, that is) in the next little while because my brother Joel and sister(-in-law) Jo are expecting a new addition to the Harrison clan. So exciting!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Going back to Cali... Cali... Cali...

We are back in San Francisco! We left Mullin, Texas on Saturday, March 27th and in that time we have been through New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada and Southern California.

The high desert was breathtaking. We visited Arches National Park in Utah based on the advice of our first Wwoof host, Tom and I am very glad we did. If you ever want to fall in love with Utah, read "Desert Solitaire" by Edward Abbey and go to Arches. He was a park ranger there in the '60s and has very specific views on preservation.

The Mormon State is epically beautiful. Red rock mesas, sandstone fins, and towering hoodoos everywhere. It looks something like Mars might if it had junipers and pinyon pines.

Next we hit the Grand Canyon. It is truly the grandest of canyons but unfortunately we were there during spring break and it felt more like a mall than one of the wonders of the world. It's really weird how being in America can make you feel like a consumer no matter who or where you are.

Jay and I have been reflecting a lot on the things we've done and learned on this trip. We're working on a list of things to do in/about all the cities and states we've been too. I'll be posting that soon.

We are so close to home now and have one more stop in Willits, California to visit a friend we made while in Mexico. We are both somewhat travel weary and can't wait to be welcomed back into Canada. I definitely think this trip has made us more proud of being from Canada. It is nice to have such a big, spacious place to call home.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Analogies and Cities of the South

Last night we returned to -W Ranch (that's "BAR W") and were welcomed with hugs, hurrahs and turnip wine. We said we'd be back and we drove all day from New Orleans to get here. It was a long eleven days and it went by fast. Six days in Austin with Tina during pre-SXSW madness and three days in New Orleans on Sydney's breakneck tourist schedule.

Now that all is said and done I have this to say: Austin is like the mall punk younger brother to New Orleans mysterious, hot older sister. Austin knows how to party and is proud of it. New Orleans is unabashedly friendly and uninhibited. Austin is young and clean. New Orleans is a lot older and has a lot of dirty secrets and not so secrets.

Don't get me wrong though, Austin is fucking sweet. We drank a lot of free beer and saw Darkest Hour, I Wrestled A Bear Once, and Dillinger Escape Plan for free at Emo's all in one day. Dillinger! For free! At Emo's! The city is full of tattoo shops and tattooed people. There are so many bars and restaurants you could eat somewhere different every day for a year. But it reminds me too much of Calgary to be intriguing.

New Orleans on the other hand is... sexy, mysterious, spooky and magical. Haunted mansions and centuries old cemetaries filled with mausoleums and caved-in crypts; this city has so many stories to tell. Everything about it is unique. The people, the cuisine, the heritage. The closest comparison I can make in terms of Canadian cities is Montreal, of course. But Montreal stands in a large shadow.

The number one thing that made New Orleans so attractive was the friendliness of it's inhabitants. Everyone on the street says hello and smiles without exception. The general vibe is laidback and accepting. It was interesting to be there nearly five years after the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina and so soon after Mardi Gras and the Saints Superbowl win. New Orleans has a lot to be proud of and a lot to mourn.

We spent half a day driving around the Lower Ninth Ward, which is the neighborhood adjacent to the levee that broke and hit hardest by the destruction of flooding. Some areas were completely flattened and grown over with weeds leaving only the cracked foundations to be seen. There were many houses that had been rebuilt and reoccupied as well as half-standing shells of old family homes, their front doors marked with Xs stating the day they were searched, by whom, and how many were found dead inside. It felt like walking through a graveyard, which we did a lot of in New Orleans, but there was hope and the human spirit at work here. Families and community still working hard to rebuild their neighborhood five years later.

New Orleans is beautiful and unique not despite it's morbid history (whether it be slavery, voodoo or Katrina) but because of it. It is unlike any other American city and is, so far, by far my favourite. I'd love to go back during the summer and have nothing to do. Just to laze about in the languid heat amidst palms and vines on the balcony of an old French mansion taking in the sweet spiciness of the city, with a jazz tune floating on the breeze.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Country to City

It's a hot, windy day here in Texas. It's hard to believe that it snowed two weeks ago! Well, we're wrapping up our month at -W Ranch this Friday and driving into the city (Austin) on Saturday to go to the farmer's market with our farm buddies. I'm excited to see all the produce and hopefully get some bargains!

I'm also excited to see our friend Tina, who will be in town for SXSW festivities. It's mostly coincidental that we'll be in Austin during one of the biggest music industry festivals in North America and we're gonna milk it for all it's worth. Free shows and food! Thank goodness for that because Austin is really expensive otherwise. We were there for a night this last weekend and it really reminds me of Calgary in so many ways.

I'm really excited for the next leg of our journey because I not only get to rendezvous with Tina in Austin but also with Sydney in New Orleans. I've wanted to visit New Orleans for a long time (possibly coinciding with reading "Interview With The Vampire"). I really have no idea what to expect. It feels good to be a "traveler" and not a "tourist". I think we end up seeing cities in a different way because we aren't always looking for the same landmarks that everyone else is and we are so cheap we can't afford to do most touristy things anyway.

I can't believe we've been gone for nearly four months! We've seen so much! And learned a lot. It's hard to even summarize the experience. I've barely been able to keep up with blogging because we're either on the road in between cities or we are working every day on one farm or another. I miss the routine of having a home and a job... but not enough to want to go back yet! Both ways of life definitely have their benefits.

I just had a conversation with Iris (a wwoofer from the Netherlands) about how weird America is. It is weird. As a Canadian, sometimes the differences between our cultures are hard to define but they are there. They say "pah-sta" and make fun of me for saying pasta!


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Snow Day

It's snowed two inches last night and today, so we're sitting inside watching movies today. Jay's cooking a deer roast. Karen, the other woofer from Virginia, made deer sausage and is now drawing. I'm knitting a blanket for my upcoming niece's arrival.

The snow finally caught up with us and even though we've been evading it for months, I am happy to see it. I can't help it, I like snow. Maybe it's a Canadian thing...

We've been eating really well. There's spinach, collards, turnips, and new garlic in the garden and a freezer half full of wild pork and deer. I think we've had turnips for more than one meal everyday for the past week.

We had planned to woof at another farm in Texas but we like this one a lot, so we decided to stay here for the full month. It will be fulfilling to see all the things we've planted start coming up and we should get to harvest some stuff if the snow doesn't stick around. It's fun to talk about produce, I know a lot about it and I'm learning a lot more. I'm getting more excited about growing it and looking forward to doing an apprenticeship this summer in BC.

I'm really trying to just go with the flow of things and let life grow around me and take me where it will. Trying to shed preconceived notions of success and just do what is simple and feels good.

A shot of Belle the beagle.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Texas is the shit.

It feels good to be on a real farm. -W Ranch is home to a herd of Texas Longhorn cattle, a beagle, two cats, three ewes, and seven people at the moment. Our first night here, we drove to a neighbouring ranch for a fireworks extravaganza in celebration of Chinese New Year, although it seems merely coincidental.

Everybody is great! We work hard, eat well and drink 'til bedtime. Tonight we're having jack-rabbit stew, last night was venison chili and the nights previous involved wild hog tenderloins. Jay's down at the small lake fishing with Billy and Karen right now. So maybe we'll have some fish too!

Today we dug furrows and planted potatoes. I imagine we'll do some more of that tomorrow!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

My legs are covered in bed bug and mosquito bites and I´ve been awake since 4 this morning because Jay and I missed our bus stop in Tulum and ended up in Playa del Carmen. But really what do I have to complain about? We sat on an abandoned coral sand beach and watched the sunrise over the azul Carribean Sea.

The last few days in Mexico have been wonderful albeit itchy. The day after we got to Merida we took a bus with a fellow Canadian from our hostel in Merida to Cuzama. The bus ride was followed by a bici-taxi ride and then a horse drawn cart on rails set in a dirt path to the Tres Cenotes.

The cenotes were breathtaking. Crystal clear, kool-aid blue water in a cave! As soon as I was in the water and swimming around I couldn´t stop yelping with simultaneous joy and fear. We´ll post those photos and more as soon as we´re back in the U.S. with our laptop.

The next day, Friday, we missed our tour to the Ruta Puuc ruins but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it rained off and on all day. We did catch it on Saturday and saw five ruin sites just south of Ticul, where my grandparents lived for 30 or so years. Xlapak, Labna, Sayil, Kabah and Uxmal, the last of which is truly elegant and awe-inspiring. I´ve been lucky enough to see most of these on my previous trips to the Yucatan when I was 5 and 18 years old but it was awesome to be with Jay on his virginal excursion into the ruins. And no one got sacrificed!

Now we are at our intended destination of Tulum at a backpacker´s hostel, very close to the ruins, mingling with folks from all over the world. It´s packed, for what reason I do not know, although Carnival is this week, so that could be why... Well, I gotta pee, so farewell.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sunrise in Merida

After two bus rides of about 35 hours total, we stepped into the colonial jungle of the Yucatan this morning and watched the sun rise over steamy Merida.

We got fed up with the cold front in Texas and decided that our trip wouldn't be complete without travelling into Mexico. We have two weeks to see the ruins from Ruta Puc to Chichen Itza and Tulum and to enjoy the hospitality and cuisine of the Mayans.

Expect more updates soon and some retrospective on the last three weeks. We haven't had a steady internet connection for a while but we have plenty of pictures to illustrate our journey from the Californian desert through Arizona, New Mexico and finally Texas.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Dumpster Diving 101

So this is Jay here again. As the title of this post divulges I am going to write about the wide and wonderful world of dumpster diving.

I like to think of the practice as "urban foraging". It's a great way to keep the cost of traveling down to an affordable level. While Elwood chugs gas like it's going out of style at least our food budget is extremely low. Last night was pretty much the first time we had to actually go and buy food since we left the Ranch ten days ago. Besides beer most things we require can be found for free.

I started the practice a couple years ago when I began my bike resuscitation business in Calgary. At the time almost all of my parts came from alleyways or the local dump. In Vancouver I continued with the bike biz and expanded to other items that I required as I had ditched most of my worldly possessions in my move to the west coast. I learned that you can easily furnish an appartment over the span of a couple months for almost nothing. I never really had to look for edibles at the time as Janet's job at a grocery store conveniently provided us with all the free food we could eat.

Now that we have become detached from this steady supply of goodness we must find our own sources of free foodstuffs. I've learned through friends and people I've met along the way some of the best spots and stores to check out for dumpster delights. Trader Joe's is by far the number one most reliable source I've found so far. They are pretty much everywhere in the states, barring southern Oregon, which is more or less empty of human civilization. They can let you down from time to time by locking their dumpsters (which is a total dick move) or kicking you out if you get caught poking around.

Even so I've scored tons of rad shit at their various locations including mountains of fruit and veggies, cheese, eggs, cookies, cereal and pretty much anything else that might have had it's packaging slightly damaged during transport. We once lucked out huge and found a tirramasu chocolate cake that was still perfectly sealed in it's wrapper and was absolutely fucking delicious. Google maps is also your best friend when seeking out local dumpsters. Search for "organic grocery" or "bakery" within your area and you'll be sure to find some goodies.

The waste that occurs within the food retail industry in the western world is really quite disgusting. There is so much that is simply trashed due to cosmetic damage that could feed all of the hungry within our own continent, never mind the wider world that consistently goes without. As far as I'm concerned it borders on criminal. Even worse is the lenghts to which many companies go in order to prevent even the most resourceful scavengers among us from liberating their so called "trash". The compactor is by far the biggest enemy of the dumpster diver and is employed by almost all of the larger US grocery chains. While I have found some more accomidating forward thinking retailers, such as the Rainbow Grocery Co-op in San Francisco, these places are few and far between.

So to all of you who have yet to try your hand at the fine art of binning I challenge you to put on a pair of boots, grab your rubber gloves and head to your favorite grocer under the cover of night. You'll be surprised by what you can get for free.

One man's trash is anothers free lunch.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Chasing Summer

I feel like there were a lot of moments between the ranch and getting here to the resort that I wanted to convey through this here 'blog but are slipping through my memory to that place where smells and images will pull them back out but I might not be able to locate the file all by myself.

San Francisco was a real treat. It's been high on my list of cities to visit for a long time and was made even more memorable by having a really great time with a really great host. Thank you again and again, Jess! You are so sweet and funny and you really made us feel welcome. Your roommates are awesome too.

It's been great to be back on the road, chasing summer and seeing more of the Pacific Coast. We figured it was a good idea to take the coast highway from San Francisco to Escondido instead of the Interstate because who knows when we'll be back out this way again... And our return journey will take us to the Grand Canyon, Utah and Wyoming but not back to the coast.

The California coast is so insanely beautiful. The highway is just a tiny shelf on the side of massive mountains that descend directly into the ocean. The remnants of previously possible islands jutting out of the surf like monuments to the sea's powerful caress and the passage of time. Nothing compares. Nothing that I've seen yet anyway.

We've also been so lucky to see amazing wildlife at close quarters. We were driving along and I (being on the west side of the car) was watching some tourists take photos of what looked like a beached whale or a sea lion corpse but then there was a parking lot with "Friends of the Northern Elephant Seal" signs everywhere. These huge beasts everywhere, thousands of them, roaring and yelping and stinking to high heaven. This particular species had been hunted to near extinction in the 18oo's and only recently have they been found anywhere other than Guadalupe Island, Mexico.

On the pier at Oceanside, California we were visited by a pair of brown pelicans, most likely a mating couple judging by their colourings. It was so foggy you couldn't see more than a few feet in front of you and all of a sudden, there they were, just sitting on the railing awaiting our admiration. Now I love pelicans.

I hope to do some catching up on reporting our adventures while we're here at Welk Resort in Escondido. Yes, Welk as in the Lawrence Welk Show, champagne music and "A-one and A-two"! Thanks again Terri and Doug, this is amazing!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

'Frisco Observations

After walking approximately 25 miles over the past two days, I feel like I have some ideas about the beautiful city of San Francisco. I also have very sore feet.

I've noticed a lot of Volkswagen Beetles. I've seen as many fixies as Vancouver, if not more. I've seen quite a few British bulldogs, American bulldogs, pitbulls, chowchows and many, many. chihuahuas. There are no alleys and not a lot of basements because all the garages and parking spaces are in front. Even two million dollar homes are small (unless you're up at the top of a hill). Not everything is on a hill but there are a lot of incredibly steep hills. It's very small and dense.

I love all the pastel Victorians with ornate bay windows. I had pretty much convinced myself that they were called bay windows because every house here has them and y'know, the bay and all. But I guess it's just a convienient way to maximize a view in small spaces and coincidentally some of the view here is of a bay.

Young people pretty much look the same. Hipsters and hippies. Almost everyone we've met is an artist but I guess that has something to do with the fact that our lovely ambassador Jess is an artist herself.

Today we'll take a bus, on accounta the sore feet, up to Fisherman's Wharf and North Beach. Tonight we'll head to Oakland to check it out and we'll probably dumpster dive in Berkeley tomorrow. On Tuesday we're taking an Alcatraz tour. And Wednesday we're outta here, on down the coast to Big Sur and eventually through the big sink to Escondido.