Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hello Vancouver!

I am not going to lie, this past week has been a challenge. It is always a gamble opening yourself up to help strangers. As a guest into someone else's home you have to take what you get. Sometimes that get can be filled with tensions and power trips that you, as a guest, have to be present to without getting tangled up and involved in. This can be stressful, and a toxic environmental, yet it can also be a learning experience. Being on the other side of toxicity can help you put it in perspective when you are faced with moments when you want to be a real scrooge to others. Anyways, this is what I faced on the farm. I learned a lot, and enjoyed spending time with the family over thanksgiving (American that is) and other times, but it was definitely a challenge.

First dehydrating experience...wont be the last :)

Yeah to Vancouver! Now in Van, and with my bike fixed (Took it to Our Community Bikes yesterday and it was the easiest fix, 30 minutes later Bessy is cruisin the streets), I was able to ride high. Yesterday was overcast and drizzle, but today is glorious out there! So don't wait up, I am going to hit the parks, the art, the food, and cruise! I have also started spreading bike love, little cards of appreciation for bikers, so if you got one, I thought you rocked! And if you want, say why you bike here in the comments, I would love your feedback!

OK, I'm out, tomorrow I am leaving Vancouver for Victoria, it turns out it will be a fairly long biking day, 80 km, I hope my legs still know how to do that kinda distance!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Farm = Thinking and Quinces

Being in the same place, in nature, and somewhat un-busy causes one to stop and ponder a lot. Ponder what? Thats a good question, I am not really sure, I just feel like the past few days have brought a lot of thinking.

I am on a permaculture farm right now, lending a helping hand to the family that owns it...although really I just feel like I am eating there food and sleeping under their roof. There is not a lot of stuff to do outside (as one would expect being the start of winter), yet there is a lot of kitchen stuff, mostly food prep stuff concerning the large amount of quince I gathered from the tree yesterday. Whats one to do with all that quince? Some would even ask, what is quince? Quince, in my opinion is wonderful fruit in jams, crisps, etc., but one can only make so much jam. So, I am about to google those silly little quinces.

But back to thinking, I have been thinking a lot about life, why we are here living, what life brings, why we run around in circles chasing things, I don't know if I have come up with many (if any) answers, but I have become (for now) more comfortable with the presents of unanswered questions.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Oh Crap, I'm not suppose to buy anything new!

As many of you know, myself and my friend Kayla are challenging ourselves to buy nothing new for a year...however both of us have already had to break this challenge!

Before heading south on our bikes, I needed to get bike lights, since someone had stolen mine (I hope they use them!). So seeing no opportunity to get used ones, I had to purchase some, although I did get rechargable ones. If anyone has ideas how this could have been avoided, please let me know! Also, Kayla's helmet broke, so she had to buy a new one as well...we decided both of these purchases fall under the exception "safety first".

However, I also broke down the other day and bought some stickers...they are really cool! They promote veganism in a really cute way! But yes, they are new. Also, I was wondering, if you get something for free (i.e. stickers a store is giving away for free) does that count as getting something new too??

And, although we did not include food, I still feel challenged by the amount of packaging that the food industry (can you call it an industry?) produces! Just walk into Trader Joes (which I frequent for free samples) and you will see aisles and aisles of packages...and this is often the case in many other grocery stores. Anyways, just some stuff to think about.

Why do shiny new things make us feel good? If we actually thought about the bigger picture of what all of these new things are doing to the world, would they still make us feel good?

Still in portland

Don't get me wrong, I love Portland, but it starting to ware on me, being here as a bum, with no friends, no community, no job, no... But I do what I can!

I went for a run this morning, and it was glorious! I have really been missing running, but this week I have already gone on two, and its been so nice. For those of you that know me, I love running...don't give me those crazy eyes! I swear I am not crazy! Anyways, so running was great, and then I decided to head to the pearl district. I was hoping to hit some free independent galleries, however, that didn't really happen. I thought it would be like Queen St. in Toronto where you can just pop in and out of lots of little galleries...nope!

Instead it rained on and off all day (Oh Portland) leading to my currently crazy wet socks and really gross smelling bike gloves. I popped into a cafe to warm-up and felt like I had entered the movie "Gossip Girls". Everyone in the cafe looked like they had just jumped out of a fashion magazine and were drinking skinny lates and eating salads and talking about how the new boots they just bought were such a deal...only $1000! I forget that people live like this, I don't understand it, probably about as much as they don't understand how I live. We should talk, but would they be open to that?

So, I spent the day walking with Bessy, and with practice, I learned to walk with her holding the seat! To those of you that don't bike a lot, you may be thinking..."so what?!", but those bikers out there know how challenging this can be, so please join me in my excitment!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Library and Biking

Yeah, you read right, me and the Portland libraries have become tight yo. With masters funding applications, people to connect with, and blogs to update, I am always in need on internetting time, and I don't have a computer! AHHH, whats a girl to do?! Insert libraries here!

I hang at the libraries, typing with lighting speed and hanging out with the other library bums. Yes, its funny how we all congregate at the library. A lot of the people that I see here you can tell are homeless, which my journey, jumping from house to house, not always knowing where I will be sleeping the next night, has given me a superficial taste of what being homeless must be like! Its Stressful! And I dont even have to worry about food. But anyways, today I almost didn't come to library, but I decided y'all deserved an update.

Today I spent, as I do most days, a good chunk of the day with Bessy (my bike for those of you that have not been introduced to her). We cruised the east side of Portland, and visited an urban education farm called Zieger's farm. it was pretty rad. I wish I could have helped out during the work party on friday but I was not here, and wont be here this friday either. Why not? Because I am heading to my next location: a farm just outside of Mt. Vernon, WA. More on that later though.

Back to today, it started off foggy and cold but by some stroke of luck it cleared up as soon as Bessy and I got to the farm. So we spent a lovely time wantering the area, eating my lunch under an old willow tree and just enjoying the sunshine. Unfortunately Bessy was locked up to a bike rack (although she had a friend there...rairly is Bessy ever alone in Portland, she's spoiled here) during my time on the farm, so I took her out for a ride after. We cruised the city, came across other cyclists (surprise, surprise) and then came to the library! So it was good times.

I have been thinking about why Portland is so rad to cycle in and the reason is, as a cyclist (and I am sure Bessy would agree) I feel respected. There is infastructure in place that respects both cars and BIKES as vehicles that deserve to be on the road, and others (including car drivers) respect that. A little respect goes a long way. Thanks Portland, OR!

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Where do I began?! Its a really yummy city and amazingly DIY and bike friendly! Everything I love is Portland, we may have started a whee affair, don't tell anyone though!

Let me just highlight a few things I have been loving: bike lanes everywhere, respect from drivers towards bikers, the saturday farmers market that is full of yummy breads, apples and samples, independent cafes everywhere, movie theatres with pizza, beer and wine for you to chow down on while watching the movie, leaves changing colours, vegan treats everywhere (scones, quiche, crepes, pie, mac and uncheese, cupcakes, etc.), bike love everywhere!!

My time is able to run out (I am at the library) so I will write more later...get excited!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Beyond the Otesha Glory

Sorry its been so long, as those of you that cycle tour know, when your on your bike its hard to find time for anything else! So I will give you a quick re-cap!

After Otesha my two friends from Otesha: the lovely Hannah and Kayla decided to continue on to Portland! So back on our bikes we went and...BAM in five days we were in Portland! But lets rewind, along the way we had quite the life!

In St. Angeles, Washington we discovered, based on a vendor at a farmers market, a cafes birthday celebration where we almost got drunk off of cider sampling! Yum! The we continued on along leaf covered paths to our first camping location!

The next day, we left not so bright and early towards Olympia. We ran into a dude who gave us a 30 min schpeal about how there was going to be crazy assassinations in USA soon...yikes! Then another guy who wanted us to befriend him on facebook...random! Then some really nice cyclist out for a day ride, and we visited a farm to buy some veggies from their farm stand and the lady ended up letting us stay there to eat our lunch and gave us AMAZING homemade pesto and banana bread! THANK YOU!!! Arrive at campsite number two. Only ones there camping...

The next day we..biked...biked...biked...and arrived in Olympia. On our way into Olympia we discovered the Blue Herring bakery which we entered and loved...the obsession of bakeries (and food in general) would soon become a theme! Then we visited the food co-op, AMAZING! And then later that day we arrived at our first warm showers host's house! Chris was our host and he, his roommates, and his girlfriend were really awesome! It was an amazing night full of good food, conversations, and laughter! You can see Chris with the three of us in the picture below before we head out the next day!

The next day Chris road out with us to the edge of Olympia and then we were set free! That night we spent at a campsite which was actually closed, which, we would learn why the next morning as we woke with frost on the ground! COLD! However, we stayed at the grounds and got water from a neighbouring house to cook our staple dinner of...lentils and rice! Yum!

Next morning...COLD! Luckily there was a cafe in the town nearby that we went to and warmed up in! Then off we went on our bikes to arrive in Longview at our second WarmShowers host, the Freeces. Another wonderful experience full of conversation, good food, and perhaps a bit too much Halloween candy! Sugar overload!

Now, onto our fifth day, we arrived, after a long day of biking in Portland, at Ken's house (our third Warm Showers host). Another great host who let us crash at his place for several days as we explored Portland. I want to tell you all about Portland too, but my fingers are tired, so I will do that in my next post! Sorry for the lack of posts, I will try to make up for it!

p.s. below is me savagely eating a vegan-peanut butter-oreo doughnut from VooDoo Doughnuts in Portland...YUM!