We and "Sal" make it into California!

Trip Start Nov 01, 2007
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Trip End Apr 30, 2008


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Flag of United States  , California
Monday, January 28, 2008

The morning we left Eugene, Dick Lakin, Peg Morton, Candy (didn't get her last name), and John Etter joined us at our starting point in a supermarket parking lot, where we had a prayer circle as a send-off, careful all the while not to slip on the icy pavement. John, Peg, and Dick walked parts of that morning with us. Our route took us over a butte, on a winding, woods-lined road that ascended 570 feet in four miles (our biggest climb so far, made easier because John used his strong bicyclist's muscles to help pull the cart). Once over the butte, we found ourselves again in magnificent farm country of the Willamette River Valley. Our destination that day was Creswell and the home of Betsy and Trevor Smith and their young daughters Elise, Evie, and June.

It was great fun to be in a home with three delightful children under six years old! We read to them and enjoyed them thoroughly. Trevor was a great help to Louis in coming up with some fix-ups for the cart. (The handle had gotten bent and needed some repairs.) The two men bent their heads together with pleasure at having a  hands-on project to work on. Betsy and Trevor are part of a Quaker "house church," and we appreciated their efforts to build community. The next morning Sheila Hale, a member of Eugene Friends Meeting, arrived at the Smith house with homemade coffee cake and eggs from her chickens. After breakfast, we reassembled our gear and headed off toward Cottage Grove with very full and satisfied tummies.

Arriving in Cottage Grove, we followed the advice that several people had given us to stop in at a bookstore called the Bookmine, not only because was it a delightful store, but because of the sisters who owned it, Birdy and Gail, who are peace activists in town. The sisters were most welcoming, immediately offering coffee and cookies, and we felt like we were old friends. This encounter reminded us of how much Oregon and Vermont seem to have in common, culturally and politically. Gail kept joking that people sometimes think that both states should secede from the Union and form a separate republic. A customer, David, came in and was introduced, and the conversation expanded even more. They all urged us to walk the "rails-to-trails" bike path out to our next hosts, about 5 miles away, which we did, and we were so happy to be off the narrow-shouldered roads for a while.

The path offered beautiful views of mountains, forests, pastures, and wetlands, so it was all the more jarring as we came into sight of a recent large clear-cut that had denuded an entire mountainside of second-growth trees. Many trucks loaded with logs from these kinds of tall, slender evergreens have passed us on the road during our journey, so we appreciate how important logging is to the Northwest's economy. But we can't appreciate the use of such a crude method of harvesting, which increases erosion and flooding, leading to degraded streams and lowered water tables. (However, a QEW supporter, Al Geiger, a retired Florida tree farmer, once reminded us that small clear-cuts create ecological edges that can improve an area's biodiversity. In comparison, much conventional field agriculture, with its emphasis on monocropping, tends to depress biodiversity, he pointed out.)

Our next hosts, Pat and Owen Wright, were not originally part of the itinerary. Our contact folks had not been able to find hospitality in Cottage Grove, but Pat had come to our Monday night presentation in Eugene, and while talking with Sakre happened to mention that she lived in Cottage Grove and would be happy to host us. They belong to the Church of the Bretheren, and so we took advantage of our time with them to learn more about their beliefs and practices. We were particularly interested because we had been told that the Quakers, Mennonites, and Brethren are the historic "peace churches." Louis already knew quite a lot about the history of the Brethren, since one of his great grandfathers and one of his great-great grandfathers had been Brethren ministers. Also, an earlier ancestor of his had been part of a Brethren community in Pennsylvania in the early 1700s.

We were impressed to learn that the Wrights' church in Springfield (near to Eugene) is very active in helping homeless people and also hosts a "Fair Trade" store! Pat and Owen also care about the feral cats around their barn and had just taken one into a veterinarian to be spayed. They said people often just dump animals along the road near their property. One time they found a litter of domesticated rats! We appreciated their giving us a ride to our next walking spot, skirting a long section where we were told there were no services or opportunities for camping or being hosted.

As we have walked along we have often discussed the condition of  "the Cart," a converted two-wheel golf-bag carrier that we depend on for transporting our heavier gear. We started joking that since it served as a kind of "pack mule," it deserved a name. After some brainstorming we settled on "Sal," from the folk song which starts, "Had an old mule, her name was Sal, 15 miles on the Erie Canal...." Since Sal is made of aluminum, we realized when we started packing for the trip that we were exceeding its designed load limits. After having to upgrade the center post to sturdier material only two hundred miles into the walk, Louis's attention turned to the wheels as the next likely weak spot. Although the hubs, spokes, and rims seemed sturdy enough, he noticed that quite a bit of the hard rubber tread had worn away by the one-third point in the trip  Would they be shot before the end of the remaining 900 or so miles? The worry vanished, however, when we were passing by a thrift store in Cottage Grove and noticed a older model golf cart from the same manufacturer sitting out front, priced at only $1.79. Noticing that it had not only less worn but larger-diameter wheels (which Louis had been wanting all long), we bought the other cart and cannibalized it for parts on the spot. All we lacked were a set of bushings to correct for a slightly different wheel shaft diameter, which Louis found at a hardware store in the next town. Now Louis is relieved that the larger wheels go over bumps and curbs more easily, while Ruah is happy that she doesn't have to listen to Louis talk about the wheels any more.

We spent a night in a hotel in Sutherlin the next night. That made only eight nights so far that we'd had to stay in either a campground or hotel. The rest we'd been in homes. We think this is a good balance. We enjoy being with our hosts, but also yearn for some alone time once in a while. We then headed off to Roseburg and ultimately the home of Elee and Neal Hadley, members of the Umpqua Valley Worship Group. But we were directed to walk first to the home of Roberta Amott's, because a bridge on the normal route was closed for repairs, and Elee had several hours of tasks and errands to complete before she could pick us up. We enjoyed several hours of rest and conversation with Roberta, a member of the UVWG, who had spent many years raising sheep in Oregon with her late husband.

The Hadleys recently had built a home that is energy efficient, and they manage the land ecologically and grow much of their own fruits and vegetables. Their shelves filled with jars of home-canned food was most impressive. Elee's mom, Eleanor Pugh, who lives with them,  is an avid birder and has recorded CDs with Northwest bird songs and calls and one CD for learning how to identify birds by sound. Lately she has taken up nature photography, and we were impressed by the quality of her many digital photos of dragonflies. We again found ourselves feeling we were with old friends and kindred spirits. A unique revelation while visiting the Hadleys was to find that Neal is a distant relative of  John Woolman', according to a family tree that lists John Woolman's grandfather! We pored over the family tree with enthusiasm, which then led us to have a photo taken of the four of us with Neal wearing the Woolman hat.

We had been invited to speak to the Roseburg Unitarian-Universalist Church on Sunday morning. They hosted a waffle breakfast in our honor, where we shared some parts of our journey and fielded questions. We then gave a short inspirational message in conjunction with the lighting of the peace and social concerns candle. We each spoke about five minutes. It was wonderful to be with people who were aware of the crises in our world and who were active in helping to bring about change.

The afternoon and evening were dedicated to Friends worship, our presentation, a potluck, and live music (in that order) in the Hadley home. The gathering was energizing and inspirational, with great food and lively music. We were sorry that it ended early, but we had had a long day and needed some down time. Part of the route farther south was deemed too dangerous for walking, at least by Elee's standards, and so we had a longer than usual break of several days at the Hadley house while waiting to be driven to Wolf Creek for our next scheduled stop. We spent much of that time working on the blog and catching up on correspondence. Louis also worked on the BeFriending Creation newsletter.

At Wolf Creek we met Elee's long-time friend, Boyd Peters, and her brother, Len Pugh. We spent a couple of hours at Boyd's creatively hand-built house and then said our goodbyes and thanks to Elee. Boyd then gave us and Len a ride to "Lichen," an intentional community co-founded by Elee and Len's parents in 1971. On the way, Boyd pointed out several "old growth islands" that surrounded the valley. We had never head this term before, but that is exactly what the remaining old growth forest are, islands of large old trees in the midst of logged areas that were by-passed for one reason or another. Boyd and Len have been active in trying to preserve these "islands."

Lichen is a community on about 130 acres of mainly forested land. The homes and community building are very rustic and designed to each individual's unique tastes, needs, and financial limitations. Len, for instance, lives in a yurt that is about 320 square feet. Apparently not many have hot running water, but most use the shower in the community house, called the Landing. There's one outhouse per home, and the ones we saw had three walls and no door. The upside is that you got to see the beautiful scenery when using the toilet. The garden is quite extensive on a terraced hillside and seems to use some permaculture principles and design. The community had a recently constructed greenhouse that was working well and contained a small citrus tree. Many fruit trees, grape vines, and berry bushes were seen throughout the garden. We were told that no one currently kept poultry or livestock, and  residents didn't have dogs or cats out of respect for the wild animals.

Although Lichen began with a vision of an intentional community, over the past several years it has become more a loose association of residents who share meals infrequently. They still share work in the garden and on the land. Our night there included a delicious meal at Len's and a rather cold night in a small room in the Landing, which was not well insulated. The wood that was available for our wood heater was not totally dry and therefore it didn't burn very hot. We were warm enough in our down sleeping bags but had to endure  nippy walks to outhouse during the night. It was another adventure to write home about!

This experience moved us to reflect a bit on the kind of simplicity we seem to be encouraging. Are we asking Friends to consider living in yurts like Len (who incidentally prefers to live without  a car and is happy to walk 3-1/2 miles to the nearest town for supplies)? Are we asking Friends to consider working at home the way Len and others in the valley do to earn money through cottage industries? Are we asking Friends to consider living without running water or indoor plumbing? We think not. We don't think that many people would choose to live that way.

We are encouraging Friends to consider scaling back some of their busyness and unnecessary consumption if they see that such things are getting in the way of true happiness and fulfillment and right relationship with the rest of  Creation. We personally want to have hot running water, but wouldn't mind a composting toilet as a way of recycling most wastes back to the soil. We'd like to use our car less and are willing and able to walk or bike the five miles to our nearest market more often. We like beauty in our life and hope that will continue to be part of it. But the bottom line is this: What is it that we all need to do in various ways and capacities to assure that the planet is habitable for all members of the family of life and for future generations?

The next morning Boyd picked us up to give us a ride to the town of Hugo. Once again we accepted a car ride, since the route to Hugo was said to be rather dangerous and strenuous. We then began our walk to the town of Grants Pass. Reporters from the local newspaper caught up with us along the way and interviewed us. (We hope to make a scrapbook of the new reports to share with you some day.) The morning was very cold, possibly in the upper twenties, but as we walked along briskly we warmed up considerably.

In the afternoon we arrived at the home of Scott Smith and Annaliese Watson of South Mountain Friends Meeting, where we were warmly greeted by them and their dog. We did our usual short visit and asked to be excused to take a nap. Once refreshed, we spent a delightful evening talking with this young couple, whose bookshelves contained many of the books we have enjoyed, as well as other books on topics we are interested in. As we shared our lives we began to learn that Scott and Annaliese recently have made some significant decisions in their lives. Scott mentioned that they used to have more money and less time for things that they thought were important. Then he quit one of his part-time jobs, explaining that having more time was more satisfying. They also use diesel cars and run bio-diesel from a local producer in them. They also said that they prefer living off the surplus of others. In other words, they outfit their home and their bodies with second-hand items. They obviously have a strong commitment to a sustainable life. Since they live an hour's drive from the Meeting, they tend to only go to Meeting once or twice a month, in order to limit their driving.

After a hearty breakfast, we headed out for Gold Hill, 16 miles away. One mile down the road we paused to celebrate the fact that we had just passed our 500-mile mark! We whooped and hollared and Scott took our photo to memorialize the special moment. This day's walk was along the Rogue River, a beautiful setting with many small farms and homes and resorts with scenic views of the river. As we came close to our planned lunch break, two smiling people in a small green Prius drove by us, turned around and passed us again, then parked in a driveway ahead of us. As we approached the car, they got out and introduced themselves as Ogden Kellogg, age 85, the owner of the home where we would be staying that night, and Lise Hubbe, 49, a good f/Friend of his. Just two weeks earlier Ogden's wife, Marjorie, had died of Parkinson's Disease. Lise, who lives on a farm southeast of Eugene, was there for three days as part of a rotating support group for Ogden during his grieving and recovery. Ogden had insisted that he still wanted to host us since it would be an opportunity to direct his attention toward other things. We were so glad that he did.

Lise and Ogden ate lunch with us  in the town of Rogue River and then drove back home, where we would end up eventually that evening. The landscape had changed considerably as we traveled south through Oregon. We were now in a bioregion that was closer to what most of us picture when we talk about the "Old West," with ranches and drier, more open landscape. However, this was now the "New West," and much of the open spaces had been taken over by country homes (many of them luxurious) and many pastures were replaced by paddocks for pleasure-riding horses. Also, we saw many acres of vineyards, as Oregon continues to increase in importance as a wine producer. The ranch where Ogden and Marjorie had lived since the early fifties was developed in the late 19th century and continues to be a bona fide, albeit small, cattle operation. In addition to raising cattle, they ran a Quaker school, and were active community members. Ogden knew just about everyone along the two miles of his road and had interesting stoies to tell about them all. The school had been a one-year residential program for about eight junior-high-age children to help them learn about living on the land.

Lise was a former student of the Quaker school. She works a 65-acre farm with her sister and mother. Her role is to work the Belgian horses, and her way of telling about the relationship with the horses and the land was very moving. We saw pictures of her equine "partners" and wished that we could have visited her farrm when we were passing through Eugene. We did have a sampling of the farm cheese that is her sister's specialty and it was delicious. They raise pigs, chickens, and dairy cows and grow vegetables their land. They also are host to a growing number of visitors, including school groups and aspiring farmers who are interested in sustainable agriculture. In fact there's a woman who is appreticing for a year to learn to work with draft horses.

That evening we went to a neighbor's house for dinner. Ron and Keiko Miyamoto had recently rennovated their old home to moderinize it and incorporate many energy-efficient features. We apprecited the elegant simplicity of the interior of their home which incorporated many of the touches of Japanese aesthetics that we have come to admire. Two other neighbors, Karen Valdes and her college-age son Rylan joined us as well. It was another fine evening on our journey into new friendships. Ron and Keiko run a beeswax candle business that has flourished over 20 years. Their factory is located next to their house.

In the morning Ogden walked the four miles into Gold Hill, where we had lunch at a favorite cafe of his. Lise drove down later to pick up Ogden, and we then said our goodbyes to these two remarkable people. We had eight more miles to walk to our next host home in Central Point. These were the last miles walking in Oregon, through very scenic, rolling hills, with views of distant snow-covered mountains. It was mostly uphill, which was more tiring, and as the day grew warmer we shed extra layers of clothing which we hadn't been able to do until now. This was hopefully a preview of days to come in California.

We arrived at the home of Chloe and Clarence Wood feeling excited about our recent milestones. Chloe is a participant with the South Mountain Friends Meeting. The Woods have been small-scale farmers for many years and Clarence is a Master Gardener. We enjoyed getting to know them and found lots to talk about. As we learned of Chloe's path to Friends, we heard a story of a search, some detours, and then finding "home." It was so familiar! We were well fed with some of the bounty of their garden and apple trees and are feeling so appreciative of all the good care from the Friends of Oregon.

In the morning, Chloe gave us ride to Meeting in Ashland. (We had learned earlier from Ogden that many years ago he and Marjorie had purchased the building in Ashland which houses the South Mountain Friends Meeting, as well as a peace organization.) There Ruah reconnected with Jean Semrau, our Ashland contact, who had once been a member of New England Yearly Meeting and director of Woolman Hill Conference Center in western Massachusetts. It was a great fun getting reacquainted and meeting some other former New Englanders as well. After worship, we had lunch at the home of Bill and Melody Ashworth. They have been long-time environmental activists, and Bill has written a number of books on a variety of environmental issues. As you can imagine, we had lots to talk about with them. We will be reviewing one of Bill's books for a future BeFriending Creation.

We had the great fortune of getting to stay in a bed & breakfast that is run by Ashland Friends Deedie and David Runkel. It is in the Ashland Historic District and was built in 1908 as a boarding house. The Runkels gifted us the two nights in a lovely, quiet room in this charming place. As we came to know them we learned that they are working hard to make this an environmentally friendly business. (Louis helped out by replacing some missing weather-stripping on one of their outside doors.) They offer local organic foods and hang the laundry on a line, use compact fluorescent bulbs everywhere they can, and are alert to new ways to green things up. They had been very active in Washington D.C. before moving to Ashland and proved to be extremely interesting folks. As usual, we had mutual Friendly acquaintances. If you're interested, information about their bed & breakfast can be found at www.ashlandbandb.com. As we settled in, it began to snow significantly! By snow's end the next day 11 inches had fallen. This was described by everybody as very unusual weather for Ashland. We have really lucked out during our walking to not be caught in any major storms so far and this continued since we would be staying for two days in Ashland.

Due to the storm, the evening's presentation was less well attended than originally projected. Many who said they would see us that evening were snowed in at home. The smaller group, though, was very enthusiastic, and the discussion was meaningful and deep. We spent the next day running a few necessary errands and enjoyed the town.

Early the next morning we got a ride to the Greyhound bus station from Jack Wendt, a participant of the Friends Meeting. We had first planned on taking a 2 p.m. bus to Redding, Calif., but due to pending storms and a high mountain pass in the Siskiyou Mountain Range that is often closed down by heavy snows, we decided to take the 6:15 a.m. bus to increase the odds that the road would be clear enough to get us there in time for our evening's presentation. We again lucked out and crossed the pass in in the snow shortly before it was shut down. We gave a quiet whoop and hollar as we read a sign saying we had crossed the California state line. Once in Redding, we were picked up by Sue Morehouse, our next host. As has happened many times, we found much in common with Sue and her husband, Tom. They took us to the "Sundial Bridge" (for pedestrians) that spans the Sacramento River. Our photos tell the story.

The evening's potluck was hosted in Sue and Tom's home, and then we headed out to the Methodist church for the presentation. The small Redding Monthly Meeting (8 members) meets in a room at the Methodist church. The participants this night were Friends, friends of Friends, and Methodists. We had a lively discussion following the presentation and some delicious homemade cookies as well.

A few reflections on Oregon are in order as we leave. We have noticed that almost all homes have electric cook stoves, and many homes are all-electric. Because of the large amount of electricity from hydroelectric dams which started many years ago, electricity was cheaper in Oregon than in many other places in the country. But the dams killed off the salmon (a problem that many people are working to rectify) and the supply can't keep up with the growing demand. Now some of their electricity comes from nuclear and coal.

In an earlier blog we reflected on a number of similarities we saw between Oregon and Vermont. But the weather wasn't one of them. Northwest winters are mostly rainy, and the summers are very dry--too much of an extreme for our liking. Spring comes a whole lot earlier in the Northwest, too. One January evening at the Hadleys' house we heard tree frogs peeping, and we have also seen wildflowers popping up on south-facing slopes. We also heard people talking about harvesting asparagus in the next few weeks. Only the snowstorm that struck Ashland just before we left the state was able to convince us it was still winter.

In looking at a relief map of Oregon in someone's home, we were impressed that most Oregonians live in a relatively narrow green strip on the western third of the state, and remainder to the east of the Cascade Range is mostly high desert. Crater Lake is one of its premier attractions, but alas, our route didn't take us close enough to enjoy that natural wonder first-hand.

In an earlier blog, we reported the large amount of roadside litter we saw in Washington, which we attributed to that state's lack of a bottle-deposit system. When we got to Oregon, which has a beverage deposit like Vermont's, we noticed that the roadsides were much cleaner. But it would be a sad commentary if all we could conclude from this is that people seem to respond more to economic incentives than to "Keep America Beautiful" slogans. We would like to believe that people can also learn to act responsibly from a deep sense of personal kinship with all of Creation. At this point, perhaps we should look at litter-free roadsides and participation in recycling programs as signs that people are beginning to care not only about beautry but about a lot of other interrelated things. If global warming is THE issue of our time, we need to be able to see how a host of activities, including recycling, can affect the outcome.

Tomorrow morning we begin walking in California. We can hardly believe we're here. We are hoping for warmer rain and more sunny days. We look forward to more camping between host homes (instead of costly hotels). We look forward to all the new people we'll be meeting in the coming three months.
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deborahbillee
deborahbillee on

greetings from Central Ohio River Watershed
Hi Ruah, Louis, and Sal,

We're inspired by your witness and envious of the adventures you're having. Sounds like you're in a good rhythm and good spirits. Both of us are trying to help grow the local food economy - Deborah is working with some others to publish a local food guide. Bill has presented 'the gift of food and land' at several Meetings. We'll keep following your journey as we hold you in the Light.
Peace with Earth, Deborah, Bill and Dylan

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