reaching into the cabinet and pulling out a jar of honey, bottle of apple cider vinegar, or box of baking soda to use as part of my skincare regime.
maybe it’s just me but i feel rebellious… and i like it.
here are some articles, one to scare you into using regular household items as part of your skincare routine because you know they’re not loaded with chemicals and sold to you at outrageous prices with claims of unceasing beauty and the other a short guide to using baking soda and apple cider vinegar as a part of your skincare routine.
try these baking soda and apple cider vinegar tips from skin md and when you’re feeling brave read “10 worst chemicals in cosmetics and personal care products” from natural news.
Elena and I are sitting in rainy, temperate Vancouver feeling a bit like we’re still on our journey. After 6 weeks on the road and logging over 7000 miles we are at our destination. For now. It could have ended anywhere, really. We could still be hanging out in San Francisco or Austin or Portland but we didn’t. This trip however was more about the journey than the places in between. After a summer on the Vineyard and an opportunity to take some time to figure things out, plan our ‘next move’, a road trip was exactly what we needed.
This trip across America had a little bit of everything. It was inspiring, at times boring, sometimes amazingly beautiful, other times sadly mundane, it tested our relationship, it gave us the chance to make new friends and reconnect with old, it seemed like forever yet went by in the wink of an eye.
Since our last post we explored San Francisco, fled from a farm in Mendocino (much on this later), hauled ass to Portland Oregon (sadly missing the coast), poked our nose into Seattle and finally crossed the border into Canada.
The Mendocino incident, as we like to call it, ocurred after we left San Francisco. We had signed up for WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms). Essentially you sign up with this organization to experience working on organic farms. The deal is you work and the owners pay you in room and board. We thought this a perfect break in our journey. We could hang in one place and experience working, learning, meeting interesting folks. So Elena did the leg work and applied to farms all over the south-west and west coast. And then there it was. A response from a winery in Mendocino County. It looked awesome. And the online reviews from previous “wwoofers” made it sound like a perfect place to be. So we respnded and our hosts informed us we would be just in time to take part in the olive harvest. Great! How good was this. We’d spend a few weeks in the bucolic surroundings of northern california picking grapes, preparing meals with our new found friends, breathing the fresh air and working our bodies, ahhh heaven.
So the day came and we left San Francisco and headed to our farm. Enroute we passed a double rainbow as perfect as can be on the side of the road. Definetly a sign! We turned off the interstate and winded our way through the tranquil hills and endless vineyards.Our anticipation was palpable. Then there it was. The gates to enter the estate. Elena got out and unlooked the gate, it was broken and held shut with a green bungee cord. But foreshadowing is useless in the present moment. And so we entered. As soon as Elena hopped back into the car the wheels of our loaded hybrid began to spin. The heavy rains earlier in the day turned the dirt roads into mud baths. I backed up to make a run up the hill. But wait. There was a truck behind. Probably the owner or one of the employees. We back up and smile to let him pass. He looks at us like we are from a different planet. Takes a sip of his coffee and waits to watch the outcome.
After a running start, we make it up the hill. We creep closer to the house and things start to look more and more like we shouldn’t have left Kansas. We pass an empty broken down camper trailer, then two abandoned vans then there’s the house overgrown with vines and abandoned plant life. It looks like we just entered a scene from Deliverance! We park the car beside a bunch of pickup trucks. We get out and look around. We are dumbfounded. It doesn’t look anything like it did in our dream of the pastoral Californian wine country. We see a heavy set man in camo jump out of a truck beside us. We ask if he is the owner and he assures us he’s not, he is a guest staying to do some boar hunting. Yep, good ole boar hunting. And he is not alone.
We are now standing in the kitchen of the house. It is full of people yet oddly no one aknowledges us for a few awkward minutes. There are hunters in the living room and little dogs barking at our feet. We see a woman at the stove wispering to a girl beside her. They are talking about us. She looks over and says hello. It feels very strange. Not at all welcoming and even a bit like we are putting them out. Elena and I look at each other.
Our host, Holly, escorts us outside to show us our living quarters. She obviously has thought this one through. She explains that the hunters will be in the house for a few days and that we would have to stay in the van outside. She takes us to show us the van. Its of a 1980’s vintage. She opens it, well kind of, the door handle is broken so it’s been sort of open already, to present us with a worn out matress in the back that she “can throw a mattress over”. Cigarette butts, leaves and debris, litter the wet blue carpeted floor. Again, Elena and I lock eyes, speechless. Personally, I’d rather sleep in the mud. She explains the van was left by some other wwoofers and she was planning on fixing it up. All I could think is that the previous wwoofers were in a shallow grave somewhere close by.
I could go on. But you get the picture. Elena and I, after being left alone in the kitchen for 15 minutes to help prepare Sunday dinner, take a little stroll out to the car. It’s here I look at Elena and tell her to get in the car… we’re leaving. And there it was. Without hesitation, less than an hour at the place we intended on staying for a few weeks, we were high tailing our asses out of the joint! We felt like fugitves that just escaped. The adrenaline rushing through us. We looked at each other and laughed. What else could we do?
Over dinner that night Elena and I decided that this was a sign. It was time. We needed to speed things up. It was cold and wet in northern California and our six weeks was closing in. So we headed to Portland the next day, an 11 hour drive. We were able to stay with a friend of Elena’s Mom’s giving us time to recoup. Thank you Julia! Plus, Portland’s a pretty amazing little city so we had some fun too. Highlight: the best gosh darn drinks I’ve ever had at Bleaker and Flask, which was after the best darn movie theater experience at the Living Room Theater. Two movie tickets and two drinks, real drinks, a glass of wine for me and a Spanish coffee for Elena for $19!! Happy hour or not, that is amazing!
So here we are in cool Vancouver. It won’t be for long but we are here until the early new year. The trip was amazing. We loved it all. Thanks for sharing the journey!
The commotion in the kitchen was chaotic yet surprisingly functional. Everyone was moving about taking care of their respective duties excited and hopeful that our efforts would produce a memorable Thanksgiving Day. They did! More than anyone anticipated I think. The turkey (and a chicken as back-up) along with sweet Italian sausage stuffing, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, gravy, sauteed kale, maple mashed yams, fresh orange-cranberry sauce, roasted brussel sprouts, and sweet potato, pumpkin, AND raspberry pie with hand whipped cream were all fantastic. Everyone had seconds, sometimes thirds, and without a doubt enjoyed a very memorable day. Post supper, we huddled around a toasty fire outside, where the joking and laughter continues, and in this moment we all very much feel like ‘family’.
Everyone is on the road again too soon; Wisconsin, Washington State, and Elena and I are off to Mendocino…it’s olive harvesting time (or so we’re told).
We feel guilty, we haven’t posted in too long. I think after the Grand Canyon everything feels small and insignificant. Or that’s what I say to make excuses for not getting it together to write.
We left the “big hole” feeling ready for our next adventure: Vegas. It turns out, it took a lot out of us. I think it was the shift. The shift from raw, significant, beauty, to the opposite. To a place where nature is just a word that the interior designer uses to evoke the right feeling in the right restaurant. It was a shift to say the least. I’m going to leave it at that. Nothing terribly exciting happened, we made the best of it, we didn’t lose big or win big, then we left. Done.
The morning we were to escape, we saw there was a big snow storm to hit our intended destination, Kings Canyon National Park. So we did as we’ve got good at doing, we improvised. A trip to L.A. to be exact. It was a good choice. We had a great meal that night, a gourmet meal by my standards: organic, fresh, and delicious. We ordered at a counter, slid down, and our meal was there on a tray. I had a delicious rare Ahi tuna with mashed potatoes and a baby spinach salad for $10. What a deal! But, compared to Vegas, EVERYTHING’S a deal. The next day we drove…everywhere. Best of all, we toured through, as every good L.A. tourist does, Bel Air and Hollywood Hills. We swerved, dipped, and dived through all the neighborhoods of the rich and beautiful. The fresh, floral, humid, and lush smells wafted through our open window. Is this L.A.? We even shopped with Hillary Swank at Whole Foods. Oh yeah, we could get used to this.
Back to the reality of Mother Nature, I now write to you from Big Sur. We enjoyed a full day of winding to and fro up Highway 1. It was spectacular. There were scattered rain clouds here and there which made for great lighting and depth for our photographs. We also spotted two rainbows. I think that’s pretty good luck, right? And best of all, we watched the sunset over the Pacific…all is right again in our world.
Licence plates in the parking lot belonged to states far and wide, a good indicator we were in a very popular tourist spot. Elena and I walked from the parking lot confused as to where to go. We were looking for the visitors centre and all was a tad disorganized as construction was going on. So we followed everyone else…they seemed to know where they were going. There was an air of anticipation and anxiousness on this windy but sunny day. You could feel you were at someplace special. And then there it was. The Grand Canyon. Because it is, well, a giant ‘hole’, there are no clues to its presence like you would get approaching the Rocky Mountains or the Eiffel Tower. It just suddenly appears.
Nothing quite prepares you for the Grand Canyon. It truly does take your breath away. Like walking into St. Peters Cathedral in Rome or looking up catching the northern lights in night sky you can’t help but actually ‘feel’ small and insignificant. In a good way. Elena and I stand and take it all in. We take photos like the excited tourists we re and walk the south rim trail stopping at lookouts over the canyon never tiring of the view.
Further down the trail we catch California Condors riding the thermals right over head. They, like the canyon, are huge and impressive with a wingspan of 10 feet. One swoops down and gives us a little close-up. We take a short hike down a trail leading into the canyon. It hugs the canyon wall and on this day, with the gusty winds, makes the trek that much more adventurous. Elena realizes just how much she fears heights and so we head back up.
We spend the rest of the day just walking and taking in the stillness and vastness of the Grand Canyon.
Colorado is cold, but the brisk air is refreshing.
We missed a few days. Here we are sitting in Durango, CO enjoying a coffee, sitting with our dear friend Renee.
I think the last time we left you was on our way to Santa Fe. Texas was big and long but we enjoyed it, except for that pit-stop where Mike had a brief non-Buddhist moment with the littering ladies. I don’t blame him. But that wasn’t what TX was all about. In fact, Austin was such a green-minded, forward thinking city. And cheap! Maybe it’s because we’re coming from the northeast, never mind Canada, but food and drinks in Austin were extremely reasonable. It helps that it’s a city filled with gourmet food trucks. We missed that in Santa Fe.
Santa Fe is quite a picturesque town. Everything from Burger King to the local Whole Foods is built adobe style. The best part, it doesn’t feel phony. One obvious highlight, was taking a day trip to the Ojo Caliente hot springs. Quoting their website, “Ojo Caliente is the only hot springs in the world with a remarkable combination of four different types of mineral water: lithium, iron, soda and arsenic.” It was luxury and within our budget, a happy marriage. We soaked, moved to another pool, soaked some more, hiked, and ate some amazing bison burgers. All in all, a very good day. Santa Fe itself wasn’t a city I could see living. There’s a great art scene, very environmentally progressive, but not gritty enough. I don’t know, I guess that’s vague, maybe it feels too rich, too Disney-esque. We missed Austin.
Yesterday, on our way to Durango, we took a detour to Bandelier National Park to the cliff dwellings. It was well worth the trip! We picked up our $1.00 booklet, I was the dutiful narrator on the quick, 1.2 mile tour. It is the most visited park trail with small ladders, petroglyphs, and many Ancestral Pueblo dwellings. We even got to climb some ladders and explore the dwellings. It’s like a grown-up playground.
After our tour into the past, it was on to Durango. The drive from arid dessert to Rocky Mountains was so interesting. It really is amazing to drive this country. There is so much variance in climate and geography, it’s possible to feel like you’re in another country all together.
So, we are here. Renee, our good friend from Martha’s Vineyard is hosting us in this typical (in the best sense of the word) Colorado town. Everyone’s friendly, everyone’s an outdoor enthusiast, and the air is crisp and the sun is shining. Ahhh….