Sunday, June 28, 2009

Left Idaho

I had a wonderful 3 weeks in North Idaho and have started to make the way to Solway, MN. I write from a Super 8 smoking room in Jamestown, ND.

While I was in Idaho, I was able to help the family with many projects and learn new skills. The family was great...kind, hospitable, and great conversationalists. The parents are a bit anarchistic and rebellious, having spent their formative years in the 60's, but they have a son that is polite and responsible. They joked that this was a purposeful component of their parenting style. We had dinner together every night and the conversation would revolve around books, philosophy, politics, technology (the parents don't think computers have added much value to life), organics, etc.

I weeded, pruned, watered, raked, transplanted plants, hauled and placed woodchips, and organically fertilized vegetables. The mom is the primary caretaker of the gardens (both the greenhouse plants and the outside garden). All kinds of vegetables, fruits, and flowers were cultivated.

I also helped around their homestead and at their welding shop (they make mounts for solar panels).


-How to varnish (Evidently, I am an excellent varnisher and could consider a new career in varnishing).
-That crushed dead fish (fish emulsion) make excellent organic fertilizer. However, gates must be kept on the garden because other varmints smell the fish and come.
-How to use bolts and a strap to carry items using a forklift.
-Comfort in a canoe, while shooting bullfrogs.
-Plucking the wilting flowers off some plants allows the plants to put out more flowers and continually bloom through the summer.
-A Japanese woman who previously volunteered there misunderstood the directions for trimming the raspberry plants by cutting every single leaf off the plants. However, the plants will put out their best crop ever this year so the couple is thinking the Japanese woman may have secretly known what she was doing.

I saw on their homestead 3 moose, 1 muskrat, many turtles, frogs, and ducks, mole hills that popped up every other day, bumblebees and other bees, and heard the howling of a coyote.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Cochabamba, Bolivia Jungle

Courtesy of Katie DiSalvo

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Day Trip To Spokane and Frog Hunting

Last Friday I took a day trip to Spokane to cross another state off my list...Washington. The Spokane river, with its quick rapids, runs right through the city and is surrounded by parks, which makes it quite beautiful, peaceful, and green. They also have beautiful old bridges that you can cross and stop along the way to admire creation.

One of the voluntary tasks I've taken up in Idaho has been to hunt bullfrogs at the family's pond. They are an invasive species to the area and are said to eat small fish, other frogs, and even baby ducks! They are HUGE! And they make sounds throughout the day and night that I first mistook for donkeys. I asked the family..."Do you have donkeys in your backyard?" "No...those are bullfrogs", they replied. The sound can be heard both in the house and in what my host family calls 'the gypsy wagon' sometimes waking me up in the middle of the night.

I will try to post a picture of one of the frogs I killed using a BB gun. They seem to be armor plated since after that first 'kill' I've shot many more and they haven't died. When the dad and I went out on the canoe on Tuesday we shot 4 more that never reappeared. When the son went shooting Wednesday, we found 4 BB holes in one frog and it was still crawling around. I had to shoot it point blank to get it to die....its 5th shot!!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

From Idaho

I forgot that the family sent a few pictures before I came.

Here is the outside and inside of the truck where I'm living. And it does have electricity, I just didn't know it.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Radio Con't...And Arriving Safe In Idaho

4 Radio Stories then a Description of My Living Situation in Idaho

1) While I was driving, I felt for a few minutes like I was in LOST...There was a repeating AM signal: F-PCom Alpha, Broke-Nition Green.

2) There were also cow auctions being advertised and ALL the nearby families that were selling their cows...I was mesmerized. The Petersen family, 115 black & baldys, heifers, 6 and a half to 7, grass fed, no hormones. The Fowler family, 95 reds, steers, 1050 to 1200, no hormones. The Nymans, 55 blacks, calves, 4 to 5, weaned.

3) Also, a Hospital Report listing all the people in the county that were at the hospital.

4) Finally, there was a bluesy jazz song...sung by a woman about her how her butt is too big for her denim jeans. Something to the effect of...My butt's too big for these pants. My zipper cries out. There's no such thing as a butt too big. There's no two butt's about it.

In Idaho, I am living in a converted old truck bed that made me think immediately of "Into the Wild". It has water from a foot pump, no electricity, and I have an outhouse immediately behind the 'shack'. I can use the family's house whenever I need for showers or to help prepare/eat meals. The structure is made from wood and is quite beautiful, compact, and cozy.

The family is great so far. I did some transplanting of some plants today and weeding. I will come to the coffee shop or the library once a day for internet. My first 'weird' experience was while getting settled in....a moose appeared less than 5 feet from me. Unfortunately, I think I left my camera battery & charger in a wall socket in a hotel, so no pictures for awhile. However, the family says that moose reappears frequently, so by the time I leave I hope to send a picture of the truck & the moose.

To leave you with some sense of time lag, here is the picture of me holding lit dynamite in Potosi, Bolivia.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

In Montana

At first, I let my sense of direction carry me out west...following generally the need to go north and west. Big mistake....I bought a map in South Dakota that helped me get onto the Interstate I couldn't find.

In my journey I've seen...snow covered mountains, gorgeous scenery like the Black Hills. The whole journey has been beautiful...SD, WY, and MT have to be some of the most beautiful in the Union. I especially liked South Dakota, the first part of Wyoming, and now the mountains of MT. I was disappointed to frequently see what looked like fertilizer run-off into nearby streams or collecting in beds at the beginning of my journey in Montana.

I also saw a 44 wheeler semi, which I didn't even know existed.

There have been signs for: Deadwood, Yellowstone, Sundance, Wounded Knee, and Custer's last battlefield.

Radio: In part of Wyoming, there were 5 AM stations, 3 of which played Rush Limbaugh and 2 of which were Christian. In part of Montana, there was only 1 FM station which played country.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Traveling Ironies

I made it safely to Miami about two hours ago and have an overnight before flying out tomorrow morning at 6:50AM heading for Omaha.

A few of the ironies:

While I was supposed to have an innocuous 30 minute flight yesterday from Cochabamba to El Alto and looked forward to spending about 20 hours with the WMF crew, Aerosur changed my flight time to two hours earlier than posted. I arrived at the airport at 1:00PM for my 3:00PM flight but Aerosur said I missed my flight and they didn't have any other flights later that day. All of the other airlines said the same thing...they didn't have El Alto flights or were booked solid for later that day. Since my flight out of El Alto was 6AM this morning, the WMF crew helped me problem solve what my options were. I was left with buying a bus ticket from Cochabamba to El Alto yesterday.

1) The 8 hour bus ride cost me 30 bolivianos. (Equivalent..$4 dollars). The taxi ride with Wes and Heather to their home, once I got into El Alto = 45 bolivianos (Equivalent...$6+ dollars)

2) The bus company I took is known for trafficking women. On the bus, they showed the Christian movie Fireproof about a husband struggling with pornography and endangering his marriage.

3) When I went back to my host family's house to call Wes & Andy, I looked online for my Aerosur & American flights...Aerosur had been delayed to 1:40PM and I could have been let on the flight when I arrived at 1:00PM.... (If the desk agents knew the flight was being delayed). At the point I double-checked, it was too late.

The 8 hour trip was profitable though so I'm trying to take it in stride.