(More pictures available on my facebook wall)

Prep

A rise of the people against the dirty energy fracking and TarSand Oil practices in 2012 encouraged me to carry on the awareness efforts while hiking & hitching from Lincoln NE to Taos NM, Lake Havasu AZ, Las Vegas NV, and LA CA.

The 24 hours leading up to my April 17th departure were used to closely examine my gear and limit the weight I would be carrying over the next 10+ days. I had hoped to be present at the 4/17-4/18 public hearings and central Nebraska rallies against the TransCanada Companies forced occupation of lands from Native Tribes, ranchers and farmers stretching from Canada to the southern US but my friends needed to leave that morning.

My friends Ryan, Billy and Kim were on their way to Vegas for a dart tournament and it was the perfect carpool road trip for me to do my next spiritual walk-about. It was a long day of driving for my friends and I. Starting at 4:30am, Ryan got behind the wheel and pushed back the boredom of driving through 12 hours of southern Nebraska and Colorado.

As we entered the 30 degree Taos NM area, the sun-setting sky opened, covering all the vegetation with shimmering ice crystals. It was as if we were touring a Christmas light display the way the Adobe buildings lined the iced surroundings, while the neon shop lights reflected around us.

Taos

Once we got settled in the condo it was time to explore the old Spanish settlement landmarks. A large portion of the area had been renamed after the explorer Kit Carson who led armed forces in the occupation of the surrounding area from the natives. His burial site was within view from the deck of our room and beyond that was a park, a community arts center and a restored model of his last house.

The surrounding area was full of shops, art studios, cafes and bars. Our first stop was Doc Martins restaurant. Just inside the door I was met by an amazing wood stick ceiling with an amazing center column protruding to a stained glass sky dome. The ambiance was candle lit with a romantic live jazz band entertaining the crowd. Wearing my “Stop the KXL Pipeline” shirt, I entered casually and sat towards the back with my map of the area. It was the perfect spot to look up directions the EarthShip Biotecture community. Everyone ordered food and drinks while I made some calls and sent emails trying to get invited into the EarthShip’s evening activities.

Taos Cafe

Once everyone was done eating we moved on down the street to El Caminos where the live jams of John Pepe were going on until midnight. The other big live music scene for Taos was at the Solar Center Club which was too far to walk. No longer had I walked in the door was I invited over to the bar to chat about my shirt by a young gent named Brian with a Rollie Fingers curl mustache.

On my left was a group of Navajo ladies who were quick to lean in on our chat so I got a round of drinks and waved my friends over to mingle. Even if they had boyfriends nearby, no one was going to cause me any problems thanks to our 300lb. 6 foot Billy.

Brian’s family had 300 acres of ranch land and they were being pressured by natural gas representatives for fracking rights. We had a great discussion about GasLand.com, the earthquake consequences of removing oil/gas resources needed by the planets crust, the fracking chemicals mixing with the water and his observations of the EarthShip members.

 

Gasland Poster

 

The dance floor soon gathered enough free spirits that I felt comfortable joining them. A few minutes later I was waved over to the bar by an Industrial Hemp supporter who wanted to talk about my experiences. Farrah was a 1st generation Dutch Iranian who had a lot of international renewable energy experience currently living in Seattle. While talking to her about my experiences setting up the nations first carbon neutral green gas station (NebraskaGreenFuels.com) and consulting industrial hemp jewelry maker Shhmokewear.com, we were shadowed by two gay land owners in black suits allegedly from Jackson Hole WY.

Before the WY couple could jump into our discussion Farrah mentioned that the band singer, John Pepe, rented a EarthShip home and my attention shifted to talking to him as they took a set break. Farrah introduced me to John and then they invited me to the 420 corner to share their peace pipe while discussing the EarthShip community. My feedback was limited to this handful of kind Taos citizens but I think it’s safe to conclude the EarthShip community was not much of a community at all. It was everyone’s opinion that the community was 80% upper class earth lovers who were not motivated to build a gathering center such as a park or rec building or even a community greenhouse. Roughly 5% of the community is staff who love teaching the other 15% of interns and anyone else who is willing to pay tuition fees to learn how to construct an EarthShip. Surely I thought there would be a group yoga session or shared meal time each week.

We then shift our conversation to the location of the local hot springs. All along the Rio Grande there are deep cracks releasing heat from the Earth’s crust to form hot springs and Pepe gave me directions to 2 different areas on the way to the EarthShip Community. One location was used in the famous hot spring scene for the movie “Easy Rider”.

As Pepe started up his final set another lady approached me to ask about the fracking details. As I began telling her about GasLand, the two WY suits cut in and commented they knew all about it because it was going on back at their WY ranch. The first guy, short and bald with a German accent, satirically told a story about how his cattle troff wells would burn but then laughed and followed that with the comment, “We solved that problem by using new chemicals in the process now”. I quickly smirked back, “so you are saying that you think adding different chemicals into drill wells to limit gas escape into the fresh water supplies is BETTER?”

He also smirked that refinning TarSands oil was no different then our existing oil. It was quickly obvious that they were placed into the community by a fracking affiliate to soften up the towns resistance.

I wrote down a bunch of links for the lady and the suits, then told everyone good night as I returned back to the condo.

Taos Bar

 

TR 4/18
I got up at 7:30a to talk to Ryan about my request to hike to a hot spring and then visit the EarthShip Community for an hour. He was fine with doing it on the way out of town rather then running me out there, dropping me off and going back and forth. That plan gave me an extra 30 minutes to do yoga and my morning workout while he went to lift. Around 8:30 everyone was ready to hit the road.

As we neared the first hot springs marker I decided the venture was going to consume too much time exploring and hiking so we continued on until we hit the Rio Grande Gorge bridge. We jumped out and rushed some quick pictures together on the bridge in the 10 degree morning chill before dashing back into the warm truck.

Rio Grande Canyon

Two miles further west on HWY 64 we came to the EarthShip Community. I didn’t want to take up too much of my friends time but for 7 years I had been trying to get here to spend some time learning how to construct these Earth homes so I was going to take a little extra time talking to the team currently building the newest home. Three good ole truth patriots were warming up around a fire barrel talking about the Boston bombs. They were quick to welcome me around the fire and discuss TransCanada. The foreman continued the conversation by sharing his knowledge of how the tribes in Canada were being pushed around to allow the pipelines over their hunting grounds as well.

EarthShip

They went back to work and as much as I wanted to join them, I needed to finish hiking around and get as many pictures as I could quickly. I saw no signs of any community gathering ground, no gardening or attempt at income generation and only encountered one lady strolling about the 40+ home 300+ acre community.

The next 6 hours we pushed west through the New Mexico bluffs and into eastern AZ. The nights destination was Overgaard AZ.

AZ condo WorldMark OvergaardAZ condo 1 AZ condo

 

DAY 3 FRIDAY 4/19

We made it to the Lake Havasu exit by 3pm. It was still another 22 miles to the lake but I didn’t want my friends to go out of their way so I had them drop me off at a service station so I could hitch into town.

I went and got a card board box from inside and sat out front making my sign saying “south to Lake Please” and after about 15 minutes I was asked to move away form the door. After 15 more minutes I was asked to move out by the road. I found a spot in the shade by incoming traffic and worked on sewing a patch over a hole in my vest pocket. After another 30 minutes I started walking around where the entrance met the parking lot and 5 minutes later a young guy named Jesse picked me up.

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He took me all the way to the north entrance to the lake front. I had plenty of time to scout the area out and then waited for the sun to set in order to approach the secluded spot I found to sleep for the night.

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I prefer a remote area where no authority hassles me but when I have to stay low, it challenges me to improve my stealth techniques.

In this case, the best spot I found was in a ditch below eye level with medium vegetation  It had a storm drain to hide my gear during the day and perfect tree’s for my hammock. Power was 40 feet away in a picnic pavilion and plumbing was another 20 feet from there. 60 feet the other direction was the Ranger check in station!

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I was feeling a bit of sun sickness and struggled to sleep. I woke up shivering but knew it was still 80 degrees around midnight. I tried my thin liner as a blanket but woke up again shivering around 2. I gave in and unpacked my sleeping bag but still struggled. It started getting light enough to see me easily by 5:30am and boaters were showing up for a bass fishing tournament and a speed skiing race so I took my hammock down.

 

Day 4 SAT 4/20

My appetite was lacking due to the previous days heat exhaustion so I just snacked on some granola and trail mix most of the day. I moved around different locations along the beach and asked the most friendly looking boaters for a ride every now and then with no takers. The northern lake access boat ramp area is mostly just older people relaxing. The water skiers use the middle area near the London bridge and the wild spring breakers go about 20 miles down to the southern-most cove.

Havasu Boats Havasu hiding spot

 

I hid my heavy pack in a storm drain and hiked light with just my money and days food hoping to find a good ride to the funner spots. As the day went I on I grew content with just watching the water skiing races and working on some hemp braiding. I had everything I needed in the current location so venturing further was not a priority.

 

Havasu

The evening sunset in Havasu is amazing. The colors bounce off the canyon walls and teal green water as the sun set behind a mountain ridge. The only thing that could have been better would have been to have a lot quiter boats. So many of them were over sized with NASCAR sounding engines. A nice bike/hike trail along the waterway would be a great improvement also. Currently your only convenient
way around the lake is by water and renting a kayak was $100 and a Jet Ski was $175 for 4 hours!

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After most of the traffic left and it grew dark, I went back to camp and got my gear and set up the hammock for the night. I slept much better this time since I knew I was going to need my sleeping bag by 3am when it dipped to the low 60s.

 

 

Day 5 SUN 4/21

I followed the same routine as yesterday but today I had a ride to Vegas at 9am so I did a few risky things that drew attention knowing I didn’t have to sneak around for another nights stay. I cooked up some oatmeal and then wore my protest shirt around the boaters on my way to the bathroom and back.

I decided to test how friendly the Sunday Rangers were by approaching them to check the time and mention my bus departure. They were friendly but kept an eye on me. They noticed where I went and came closer to watch me pack.

My shuttle to Vegas cost $55 plus $10 pickup. It had a 25 minute layover by the London Bridge so I quickly ran around the bridge and took some pictures.

Havasu London bottom Havasu London Bridge view Havasu London Bridge

We went through Laughlin at the end of the Corvette show and the beginning of the bike rally. On the ride my pipeline opinions were questioned by a Montana oil supporter. The kid next to me was busing back to VA. He noticed the hookah bracelet I was weaving and asked how much I sold them for. He quickly picked out one to take on his journey.

I arrived at the Vegas airport at 2 and had to pay $7 to get to Ballys. My friends were going to the store so I repacked for LA and then walked around casinos with my protest shirt for a couple hours until they got back.

Ballys

 

We partied in the room and made sandwiches before heading out. I took my laptop so I could get some photos loaded on the blog knowing Ballys and Paris don’t have much for live music or club dancing. A girl who recognized me came over and said hi and introduced me to her friends but my shirt disinterested them pretty quick.

Paris demo

My friends soon headed for the room shortly after 1.

 

Day 6 4/22 Monday


Got up at 7 for pancakes and then went to the dart tournament area to say hi to all my friends before getting a 20 minute swim in. 11am bus departure was sneaking up on me quickly. I had 5 minutes to swap bags and take the truck keys back to Ryan and get to the bus. The driver had just loaded the bag and was closing the luggage bay as I walked up. A minute later I would have been delayed 3 hours waiting for the next bus.

I was approached by 2 more hemp enthusiasts on the bus to LA. The Shhmokewear products are a big hit everywhere I go. I would of loved to surprise my good friend Sung with my arrival but his job keeps him unknown hours so when I was two hours away I broke silence and set up dinner plans.

I also coordinated a possible social meetup with another friend and arranged my lodging at Shhmokewear headquarters for the night.

From the bus drop at 7th and Maple I walked 5 blocks to central station and hopped the green line to my buddies near Manhattan Beach. It was here I met TX hobo Jesse. We had a nice chat about how he moves from one construction site to the next to sleep and then wakes up before crews arrive in the morning. He also told me how he can get on empty train engines with beds and AC from Long Beach back to TX. “Just bring plenty of water because sometimes the engine may stop for an extra day”, he warned.

 

Day 7 4/23 Tuesday


We got up at 7:30, ate some oatmeal and I was out the door by 8:30 heading for the Shhmokewear office.

After a few train hops I was in East LA Boyle Heights around 10:15. There must have been some budget cuts because there were no more paper ticket sales, only plastic bar code cards and I never saw any inspectors.

Boyle blooms Boyle paintings Boyle

 

When I walked up to the office I had a hard time maneuvering around all the items piled around the garden features. It had been officially hippitized.

 

garden hippitized

As I entered the office I was greeted by Scott at his prep station. As my voice resonated through the hall, Will came crawling out of his office all droopy eyed. He was soon followed by 3 more staff residents; Lee, Tim and Jesse.

I kept the guys company while Will prepped for the day. We went over a bunch of business items and he handed me an article to edit. Anytime he needed to redirect his attention, I turned my focus to the article so we stayed productive.

By 1 he was ready to go do some errands and eat. We picked up his assistant Gloria from her place and then went to get office paper on the way to a Mediterranean grill for lunch.

LA lunch

It was 4 by the time we got back and we had covered most of our meeting points so I wrapped up to head to my pick up point. My buddy was going to meet me at the Culver City depot to drive us 30 miles to Ojai but when I checked in he changed his mind and didn’t want to go.

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By then it was too late to train to Clarita and hitch over so I had to flip my plan for the week. Ojai was out now that I only had 24 hours to enjoy while using up Tuesday to get there and Thursday getting back. I decided to spend Wednesday at Venice and Thursday at Santa Monica now instead and I could stay at another friends house there instead of bothering Sung any longer.

I grabbed a train back to Sung’s for one more night. He asked me to accompany him and his girl Launi, to a new Indian restaurant for dinner. He dropped me off after dinner and then he went back out for the night.

I didn’t get much writing done before I passed out. I was so looking forward to sleeping under the stars in the hot springs but a warm couch and TV would do.

 

Day 8 4/24 Wed

I woke up, made some nice warm oatmeal with the comforts of kitchen access and then packed a day bag with snacks and some jewelry making supplies. I spent about 2 hours uploading photos and blog updates and then was out the door about 11.

Took the train to LAX station then the Santa Monica blue line to Venice. Spent the day walking around my protest shirt and even got in the background of a Bob Sinclaire DJ video with a piano and models.

 

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My host would be over to pick me up at 10 so as it got dark I relaxed on the beach with the sunset and some hemp weaving. From 9 to 10 I got a beer and watched the Lakers game until my ride arrived.

 

 

Day 9 4/25 Thursday

My friend was very hospitable and offered me everything they had to share. It is so great to have friends who give you unlimited access to their lives.

 

They dropped me off at the Santa Monica cliffs and I went about my blessed day protesting oil along the beach, pier, boardwalk and surrounding. I was approached by many interested people and all of them supported our efforts to stop the TransCanada invasion.

IMG_20130425_101349 SM Bench

 

By the end of this day of silent demonstration I had handed out all my flyers. As 6pm approached I went to a whole foods store and picked up wine and goodies to share with the evenings full moon wine hiking group and then met up with the car of friends driving to the Los Leones trail head.

My Minneapolis cousin Jen, had just moved to LA and she was available to join us but was going to be 30 minutes behind us.

10 people had already departed down the long moderate trail so the 4 of us in our car were joined by 3 other late arrivals to take a very difficult short cut trail. The long trail took 1.5 hours to the summit while the shortcut was about 30 minutes of brutle climbing.

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As we progressed, I continued to look back hoping to see my cousin and her girlfriend. I was also hoping to find a mature field of white sage.IMG_20130425_184651

Just as I began questioning whether there ever was going to be an end, the bush cleared to reveal the picnic area of the summit and our other 10 full moon party-goers.

I quickly scouted the area for sage and then joined in on introductions. On the far end of the group there was a guy with his back towards me who had the Scott Krinsky (Buymore Geek Jeff Barnes from Chuck) hair due. My parents generation know it as the the GENE WILDER due.

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As I positioned myself better I realized, it was Scott. I got to meet him back in March of 2012 when he did stand-up during Shhmokewear Comedy night at a penthouse club. I got a picture with him and talked briefly in 2012 but this was going to be a 3 hour social opportunity to chill and learn a lot from him.

As we laid out the picnic blankets and rested our weary legs everyone placed their goods in the center and the drinking commenced. Scott and his lady sat directly across from me so I was able to talk to him the whole time. As the sun set over our view of the entire LA coast I powered up my phone hoping to get my cousins # before the power died again. I got the first 6 #s before it shut back off for good. I had to accept that fate may not bring us together on this visit.

I hollered down the mountain for her as the Blood moon rose over the skyline. I noticed their light and kept a close eye on it as it got further away. They had decided against making the difficult climb in the moon & cell phone light.

I returned my attention to my friends and conversations with Scott. Most of the group was intrigued by my oil protest efforts and questions kept coming my way through the night about renewable energy, living a yogi minimalist life, the Pipeline and about life inside the 420 culture.

 

Around 10pm we all packed up and began the 90 minute hike down by moonlight. I was a bit buzzed and could not feel my feet much but I did notice a field full of young Sage brush to harvest enough for my tea needs. When harvesting this spiritual smudging plant it is important to think of it like you are moving a soul around. You say a blessing before harvesting and only remove up to 25% from each plant so it continues to grow healthy.

Scott and I talked the whole way down about Ojai springs, Machu Picchu, our career futures and a few other things. His cell phone light saved my drunk butt more times then I would like to admit.

We reached the cars at 11:15 and everyone said their good-byes. I was invited to the full moon rave at the Artist colony called the Brewery but didn’t want to mess with late night public transport. I passed out as soon as I hit the couch once back to my hosts place in Culver City.

 

Day 10 4/26 Friday

I helped my friend transplant some Sage and Mint and consulted her on garden plans then we went to this wonderful french breakfast cafe. From there we went to her work by the beach and said our good byes. I briefly walked the Santa Monica Promenade with my protest shirt on the way to find a spot to charge my phones.

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I spent from 11 to noon charging my phones at a coffee shop and then was out of beach time. It would take 1 hour 15 minutes to get to Sung’s; 15 minutes to get my pack and get back on the train and then over 1 hour to get downtown to my 4pm bus to Vegas.

 

On the oceanside bus I sat beside a 2011 USC volleyball player wearing #7 and we chatted about sand volleyball and Jenny Kropp all the way to the train.

After getting my pack and getting back on the bus I started watching the clock fiercely  knowing I was cutting it super close. One train delay or no delay by the Vegas bus would leave me scrambling for options like another bus. I called their support desk to check in and beg for them to wait. All they could say was good luck.

As I arrived to the southern edge of downtown I had 17 minutes to get to the bus. I had 11 minutes to go on the train and then hope I could run 9 blocks in under 5 minutes.

Hike gear

It was down to the wire but I made it! Once on the bus the lady beside me had to put up with my sweaty smell. She was not shy. Within the first hour I felt like I knew her life story from childhood in Florida to life battling the flawed 1%’s legal system as a Vegas dancer, movie extra and gambler.

 

I made it to Bally’s in Vegas about 10:30pm. I was just in time to catch my friends for their last wave of partying. I was hoping they were going to be in the mood to explore a new area with a good music scene but unfortunately they were on their last leg. I was content with sitting around playing some keno with the Bally’s house band and eventually went to the room around 2am.

 

Day 11&12 4/27-28 SAT/SUN

 

It was a long, uneventful drive from Vegas back to Lincoln NE. We went along the northern Grand Canyon area and up past Salt Lake City. Traveling across northern Utah was much more beautiful then I remembered my last visit. We past several nice river scenic areas but once we reached the northern Colorado passes it was too dark to enjoy. I took over the wheel near the Nebraska border and drove from 1-4am before Ryan was ready to go again. He made it a few more hours then Kim was ready to take over for the final shift.

I slept all day Sunday and then got back down to business first thing Monday to follow up with all the new friends we made during this 2013 KXL Pipeline Helping Hands Network awareness tour.

 

 

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