The highlight of my New Year’s Eve was learning the removal process of 2 gray water tanks and 1 black water tank which were attached to the bottom of my new trailer. I laughed, I cried, probably for a few reasons, and I almost threw up about a dozen times. I never would have expected one of the best New Years of my life to involve spilling and cleaning up 3 weeks worth of an old lady’s smelly, runny dumps. From the looks of the trailer when it first arrived, her diet consisted of Doritos, soda, and cigarettes, which I’m sure contributed to the consistency of her stool. It was definitely a new experience and hopefully a notch in my belt that I’ll never have to deal with again. Although I will remember the sight, smell, and sound for the rest of my life. As the evening approached my hunger brought back my appetite. And yes, I’m about to transition from human shit, to delicious food. That night I stayed on the farm. I made potatoes and butternut squash with ground beef, and fresh tortillas. I made a fresh spinach/swiss chard salad with feta cheese and sunflowers, with olive oil and lemon for dressing. At 15 minutes till midnight I grabbed 2 beers and took a walk into the desert. I climbed a small mountain and sat at the peak and enjoyed the silence. I’ve reached the finishing point for the year, but it’s actually my beginning. The 2 week winter break from harvest is also coming to an end. We haven’t been to the markets, and our CSA has been shut down. This is our winter. This was our winter, and it’s already over. The crops have recovered and we’ve also been adding upgrades to the farm, like the new trailer and another set of solar panels to increase our ability for production. The farm has actually been kinda quite. Very relaxing, but a little slow. For the first time during my travels I’m exploring loneliness. Loosing my love was a fundamental moment for me. And recovering from that has been as well. My head can be a loud place , but the moments I sit still allow me to grow. I’ve felt like the vegetables I’ve been sharing my solitude with, expanding my roots and reaching out to the warmth. In the weeks I’ve been watering them, planting more of them.. and protecting them, I’ve realized they’ve also been taking care of me. The recovery time can test you, but sometimes nothing is as urgent as sitting still, and done properly it heals you and makes you stronger. This will be the biggest year to date for Southwinds Farm, the solar addition alone doubled our energy capacity. Returning to the markets and beginning the work load is more familiar territory for me. My mind functions at a higher level when my body is moving with it, perhaps for me it’s the difference between making a living and making a life, and I’m ready to begin that life. The very act of beginning makes the conditions perfect. The recovery process has officially came to an end. Fresh new life is growing under my feet, friendships have been made and giving will come in abundance.
My WWOOFing experience here has been one of constant work. There is so much going on at Cielo Isla that most days we work sun rise to set. But durning this, I am working in paradise, learning as much as I’m working, and enjoying every breath I take in. Living in this desert mountain climate teaches you to dress in layers. You may be cold in the morning, but by midday, if the sun comes out (it’s always out) you will be hot, Especially in a greenhouse. Clothes are best put on in layers so they can be later taken off as the heat progresses. Even on a cold day, you can feel the heat of the sun on your face. Because of the weather, be it cold or cloudy there is no shortage of breaks, I’ve spent more than a few getting to know Chaco the raven better. If you can here him cawing, than you can call to him, and he will come. He is the size of a large hawk, and has no problem chasing real hawks. I’ve seen him chasing and doing barrel rolls at more then a few, it’s kinda awesome. He also gets right next to you and speaks, he cries, he yells, he even has conversations with you. Chaco may be the coolest animal on the farm, however they have some pretty social goats, a dog with the most beautiful white pearl and blue eyes and a cat that I’m falling in love with. I’m not a cat person, I don’t care whether this cat is male or female, I don’t even know it’s name. But kitty is kinda neglected by everyone else, and after petting him once, we sorta developed this connection. When she finds me, he runs towards me and starts to purr before I can even touch him. I toss her on my shoulders and he lays there while I walk the homestead, on my way to another project, toss the cat down, and begin the next lesson as I make the world my classroom. At times, and rightly so, I feel as though our intentions are not as recognized as our actions and manner. Without a proper follow through, it’s only a whisper. With most days spent getting hands on experience, it’s hard to believe I have any time off. And since off grid means zero to bad service. No wifi. Less blogging. But more learning. I had time to learn about natural hot springs, by getting in my first one! After a beautiful mountain canyon hike through a winding river twice and back again. This was a shoes off, water shoes on to cross the river, night time stars included type hike. The first hot spring was along the river, separated with strategically place rocks, while the other was dug within the ground, in grass, just as it sounds. I enjoy finding the treasure that take any adventure to the next level. The feeling you get at the top of a mountain, the perfect dive bar in the most unique little town, a soak in the hot springs after a rainbow of a hike along cliff edges and river passes. I have more planned, and not planned hikes in my future, because the feeling I get from sitting at the edge of a rock cliff watching the sunset. Meditating, praying, accepting life, gives me a meaningful one. At times I feel I have too much life to live to ever grow roots again. I’m afraid after my American adventure is complete, I’ll want to travel the world more. But one adventure at a time. Another adventure for me will be living in random places alone for the holidays. This thanksgiving I plan to spend in Santa Fe with a friend for a week before driving to Tucson. I still have many places I want to go in New Mexico before leaving, and having a guide, and host, is next level. Although finding my guide/friend wasn’t easy. Using my travel apps I’m able to locate Possible hosts who are willing and available to help out fellow travelers. But sadly, and in one case, admittedly these apps work much better if you are female. I contacted 8 people on one of my travel apps, 7 men, 1 women. 2 replies, both verified excuses from honest men, because I wasn’t a girl. Even female WWOOFers have told me how easily they are excepted onto farms and through travel apps. Ugh. Is sex the only thing that matters? As I travel, and take weekend breaks in the surrounding cities, I’m reminded of how creepy men can be, because when I give up on the travel apps, and go to Craigslist. I post in the plutonic section for everyone. I’m very specific in my post. I explain my adventure, give them a photo, reference my blog, tell them I’m straight but not looking for anything, working on myself, blah blah blah. But 95% of the responses I get back are dudes trying to fuck me. This is a problem, too many creepers, not enough genuine people. People says they want more friends, but it often seems like it’s just for sex. It’s not genuine. I’m searching for genuine. I’ve tried the bi thing. Throw in a hot girl and maybe, but man, I’m trying to live my life! Not let it be controlled by sex. Sex can run and destroy your life. Be careful. Reject the primate brain and transcend. Establishing a relationship is better than just a random creeper hook up. It’s genuine. Controlling the ego monkey brain gives you more power, and God respects that control. The Universe will be proud of 2 people who just become friends, simply and beautifully, it looks down on creepers just trying to get off. I look forward to not getting myself off (abstinent for like 3 months!) while experiencing everything about New Mexico and more specifically, Santa Fe, and During thanksgiving! I’m finding reason, and controlling that reason through the madness of this beautifully chaotic life. It seems everyone’s life is powered by something, so why not love. If the sun rises and sets for your love. Then it’s powered by your love for it. And that’s a sustainable energy worth a lifetime. 2 if you’re lucky..
It takes going passed two other mountains getting to Mt. Marcy, the highest peak in the state of New York. The 18 mile in and out hike took 9 hours at my pace. (Fast if you don’t know me!) I stopped at random places to relax, take in a view, or have a snack. I thought about camping on the way, and many travelers were. The Adirondacks are a railroad of trails with connecting junctures. Where one trail ends, two take it’s places. The reason for not camping was because I wanted to time my arrival before the summit so that a few hours would remain at night. I wanted to hike in the woods while under the stars. And watching the sunset at 3,244 feet wasn’t too bad either.But before getting to the top, you must first prepare at the bottom. Granted, humans were climbing mountains with far less supplies, so allow that to give you confidence on your journey. Because You are most certainly succeeding so long as you stay focused and determined.
The first third of the hike takes you past Marcy’s Dam, a place many hikers were base camping out of. This place has a wide open clearing at an open river, and a broken bridge on each side. This was an amazing place for me to spend some time. I sat at the end of the bridge and let my feet hang while embracing the moment, but soon got to my feet, and hiked passed junctures for Mt. Skylight and Gray Mountain, both equally impressive but in the shadow of Marcy, Daylight was factor, to the point of needing some of it at more dangerous rock transitions as you get closer to the peak. But also to avoid frost on the return. Temperatures and winds change very quickly on the mountain. On your way to the top the air becomes much cooler and recharges your lungs. Less hikers and campers for sure. Especially in this early October weather. As you reach the summit you see a multitude of rock towers made by other hikers along the way. I contributed to most of them, I also placed a rock I brought from Dayton on one of the highest towers.
The winds were hitting 70 that day. And the temperatures were increasingly getting closer to freezing. I took my last deep breath and exhaled down the mountain. I Was two hours into my return hike, past the more dangerous; steep, rocky and frozen parts of the climb, when nightfall became evident. I most certainly needed the head light with so many rocks and roots to constantly climb over, although every chance I had to be in the dark at a clearing above the stars I took… Or maybe it took me. I’m envious of people that live under skies like these. I successfully completed New York’s highest mountain. A positive sense of accomplish flowed through me, but my journey is far from complete. And I still haven’t found what I’m looking for. Perhaps it’s a good thing to set high expectations, you become the better for it, even if you don’t hit your mark. You never get let down with Low exceptions. But you won’t make it to the top of your mountain without effort, and the love for setting and achieving goals.
The farm has a way of putting the body to work through a meditation of constant controlled labor. Learning is of course abundant. Everywhere your head turns teaches you if you look close enough. Everything, even something as easy as farming needs the work given to it in order to understand the complex balance.
My hands are in soil often throughout the day, the earth is soft and feels like sand between my fingers. At times it feels as though the earth work specific labor connects us in an almost tribal way.
The people here are the most unique cogs in a wheel you can imagine. Their positive group mindset towards a shared goal is admirable. There is not much room for anything other than production on a farm. You have your down time. But you work a full hard day, and you finish whatever project you start until completion, even if it takes you into the evening.
On a rainy day, at the top of a mountain, you are in the clouds. You can feel them between your finger tips. You breath the thickness in your lungs. And at your feet you see infinite root systems flowing like veins, giving extra life and energy throughout the wilderness. It was raining for about an hour while hiking my way up Owls Head Mountain, in the heart of the Adirondacks. Under a canopy of colors I was presented a patch worked blanket of fiery reds and bright yellows over top the most beautiful shades of greens you can imagine. The rain dropped lightly on my face as I happily made the 6 mile hike to the top. When the wind blows over the trees and lakes, the mountains shake as the sky rolls clouds above them. But when you are inside the clouds, at the summit of the mountain, blinded by them, the void of nothing and everything shows you the next level. It’s that infinite which reminds you it’s the journey we all must take in some form, and the destination is the great unknown. In this place it’s hard not to be inspired. It has a peace only its vastness can expand from. I love places that remind me how small I am. This use to make me feel meaningless, but now it’s starting to give me a feeling of direction.. funny.. I get that feeling now, when I want no idea of where I’m going..
Hopefully this blog can inspire you, entertain you, and maybe even give you the courage to climb your own mountain one day. Peace and love.
Before taking such a drastic step into permaculture, the road alone, and the unknown I wanted to see some family I have in Pittsburgh. I was driving through either way, and ultimately I want to accomplish multiple things on my travels. Maintaining family bonds is important to me, and my cousin Steve and his amazing girlfriend Brooke welcomed me with open arms.
I got to do some random hiking and we did the dive bar thing. It was pretty great.
Nothing planned, but totally perfect. But we also had a planned (less than perfect) event ahead of us… Dayton, you have a fantastic Renaissance Fair. If you haven’t had a chance, go. Here’s why; Steve and Brooke gave me 2 options. Renaissance Fair or the Mattress Factory. My internal battle between the art district of Pittsburgh VS sweet honey mead, sword fights and jousting in medieval times began. It honestly didn’t take long for me to choose… because of Furries!
A subculture interested in fictional anthropomorphic animal characters with human personalities and characteristics.
And one of the largest populations of Furries is in Pittsburgh, and this Ren Fair would be crawling with them! Dayton’s Ren Fair has its fair share of role players, but these freaks take it to the next level, I was too curious to say no. As we arrived I was not disappointed, every knight, princess, Viking, and elf had at least a furry tale, but as I was explaining the complexities of a great Ren Fair to first timers Steve and Brooke, the jousting was beginning! Which is one of the best reasons to go to a Ren Fair. But as we where sitting down and enjoying the day I picked up on something.. Do you remember when Dayton’s Ren Fair jousting went from fake jousting to real legit knock you off your house jousting? They even formed a national federation! The jousting is legit in Dayton, it goes on their record like a boxer. Needless to say, these knights were not at that level yet. But not the biggest deal… We still had plenty of furry’s around us in a massive landscape of merchants, stages, food, and honey mead! As I’m waiting in line for a cup of honey mead kept warm out of a coffee maker, like in Dayton, I realize I don’t see any honey mead! Much less any Vikings drinking it from horns! Strike 2. Ugh. At least the sword fighters will redeem the day and my group will have something to take from this. In Dayton, the sword fighters are the best attraction, Two stuntman that have been fighting each other with swords for around 10 years. They are funny, exciting, and very entertaining. As we are walking the stages and looking through our guidebook, we see sword fighting is not even an option. Sigh…. grBrooke was right, we should have went to The Mattress Factory. But then, as we were walking out slightly defeated, Steve realizes he is walking on a kissing bridge with the love of his life, so he grabs Brooke, gives her a kiss, and reminded us all, its about the journey. We relaxed after that, finished up with the fair, went home and played SORRY.
Sunday morning the whole family got together and my Aunts and Uncles welcomed me into their home for one last delicious Italian meal Before I left for the Adirondacks.