Veggie Voyagers

Couple travelled 30 states and 3 Canadian provinces between 7/07 and 5/08 running their 1987 Ford truck on straight veggie oil. The blog continues with a focus on the natural world and energy politics from a personal perspective

Thursday, November 20, 2014

How to run a Diesel Truck on Straight Veggie Oil (and the last posting.)

 In spring, on Michael's 68th birthday, we will take his ashes to Utah and bury them somewhere inconspicuously at the base of this powerful Moki Mother pictograph where I also want my ashes to go when it is my time. Some of his ashes will also fly off the top of Mt. Lassen before then as his friend Art took some after the gathering on Sunday. They often skied from Lassen and both of us think this would be a good thing. Michael was first and foremost a man of the high country.
 Selkie has remained at my side through all this time. Thank Goodness for her. She is ball obsessed and doesn't know that her master's boney ashes are below the woodchips at the base of this little pine.
 We had yet another tragedy yesterday. Pula Praiser, Orien's dad's dog, died after about a three week reprieve from being euthanized. He was a very dear creature and it seemed fit that he died on a rainy day since that is what his name means in the language of Botswana.
 We planted a mum and a hyacinth, all we had at hand, over his grave. One more seismic shift in our little lives and personal universe.
 With sharing these few last things I want to end this blog. I continue to blog about my own process after Michael's death at and hope you will check that out.
 What I want to share with you in parting (and it is sad for me because I enjoyed these seven years of Veggie Voyaging more than I can ever express,) is this YouTube video shared by the Producer and camera-woman and our friend, Mathilde Rand. It will hopefully awaken your interest in running your own diesel vehicle on vegetable oil-- to use an under-utilized resource and make the world just a little less polluted. Enjoy my friends. I don't know you but I love you and wish you well. Here is Michael Pike in his own words explaining how he did what he did:

Monday, November 17, 2014

Seven Weeks Later

 If you read the last blog post you know that my dear Veggie Voyager life-partner, spouse and best friend died Sept. 27th. Long story very much shortened-- I observed 49 days of Tibetan inspired time in my own version of "the bardo of becoming" and then invited friends to gather over a waffle breakfast on Day 50. We fit 30 of us in our little house and it turned out to be a precious time. I showed an almost endless number of photos of Michael and also these two videos: Michael speaking at City Council.
 We also watched the Around the US on Straight Vegetable Oil DVD made by our friend Mathilde Rand in May 2008 for Santa Cruz Public TV. I want people who have read this blog to have access to that and she has agreed and will post it to You Tube and then I can share it and end the Veggie Voyagers properly.
 But what happened yesterday is that after we had eaten and watched Michael in all his wonderful Aliveness we went out to "the back" with some of his ashes to put them around a little ponderosa pine he had tended over the last few years.
 It was another sad and inarticulate time for me but I felt good we were together and nothing really was required other than to complete this one loving thing and be together with other loving creatures who understood.
 Afterwards we all walked back and said our goodbyes and today was another new and beautiful day tinged with sadness but also with possibility. I honor and Thank everyone who has read and cared about this blog and Michael and I through our adventures.
As I have said before I will say again throughout my remaining life-- I love you Michael. Always.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

To the other side

Michael and I were married for 12 years. Monday the 22nd was our anniversary. We walked out to the swimming hole in the morning and went to dinner to watch football after a little sip of champagne with our neighbor in the evening. All was well except for the fatigue.
At 9:30 pm I was watching Thelma and Louise floor that big American convertible out over the Colorado when Michael starting yelling for me from the bedroom. He was in terrible pain. I tried 6mg of Dilaudid (a lot!) and it didn't touch the pain so we went to the E.R. In the Lobby of the E.R he did some hard suffering time for two and a half hours... with pain of 10 on the 1-10 scale medical people are so fond of... it didn't help that he had metastatic cancer, he had to wait his turn in the cue to be seen(!)
Once into the E.R. he was started on IV pain meds and given relief. They also got a CT scan which showed the cancer was everywhere in his belly and liver. The jig was up. Still, we were in the E.R. all night until he was admitted in the morning. He had three different room assignments but somewhere in there met the head of Palliative Care, Dr. Brown who laid it out to him.... it was like watching a mighty oak uprooting. Once Michael got the message- You are dying. Now. He wasted no time in doing it. He came home on Hospice care on Thursday the 25th and on Saturday the 27th he left on his spirit journey after a nice bath and acupuncture treatment.
I kept his body at home for 24 hours so his spirit could have some transition but also to have some time for my own meditation and acceptance. I slept by his side as I had during the difficult drugged days before the end. Friends meditated in the house and sat in fellowship in a circle outside.
Before the mortuary took his body women friends cleaned and swaddled him in my favorite cloth made by someone I knew in Comitancillo, Guatemala. We all waited together until he was taken.

The last part of all this was that he was cremated today and I meditated in the chapel while friends created a small bonfire at home. I wrote a letter to feed it... really my forgiveness to myself for all the little transgressions of familiarity. Friends offered small bits of the food groups to the fire and offered up more Support and Love.
What made me happiest today was that the moisture of the steam of his burning body went out into the Chico air and I had a chance to inhale the molecules of him. I was giddy with breathing and it was a beautiful day.
 Selkie licked his left hand continuously as he was dying and became quite subdued when she smelled he had left... I hope he finds Sasha at that Rainbow Bridge place. I need Selkie to stay back with me.
 On the day of his death there were beautiful rainbows sited all over and a spectacular sunset. Friends from all over wrote about the beauty of nature where they were. The beauty path was wide open.
Orien and Keith cleaned out the truck and the cab-over and the bond of veggie voyaging is severed. I'll post one more time at the 49th day and then end this wonderful saga and cyber diary.
Thank you for following us, caring about us, sending his spirit your love and support. The obituary of my dear Michael Pike will be in the Chico Enterprise Record on Friday, Oct. 3rd. and there is a small moving tribute to him on 
I just want to say one more thing-- the right person or people came forward at every step of this journey and I am filled with gratitude to the entire community of caring people who have buoyed me up to get through this thus far. Love surround you all.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Ultimate Voyage


To My Old Brown Earth
by Pete Seeger

To my old brown earth,
And to my old blue sky,
I'll now give these last few molecules of "I."

And you who sing,
And you who stand nearby,
I do charge you not to cry.
Guard well our human chain
Watch well you keep it strong
As long as sun will shine.
And this our home
Keep pure and sweet and green
For now I'm yours
And you are also mine.
My dearest dear, most precious dear is disassembling under the relentless hand of death. I feel pressure, nausea and no pain. My teacher Don Kollmar advises us to be actively conscious, being the ​energy frequency that supports Michael's Soul to support Michael's journey into freedom.
Wherever you are you can join in this with my gratitude.
Unite all our hearts around the world, in troubled lands and sacred spaces unite for the healing release of one, become all. Thank you. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Anniversary, Eqinox and Balance

 Michael and I had a mellow walk this morning out to the back of Riparia and then looped back along the creek to see a coral-looking shelf fungus that Emily had mentioned. Michael is feeling weak and wanted to use one of my walking poles for balance.
 He had a procedure this week to stent his biliary tree because the cancer he has is in the liver and was occluding the bile duct. Unfortunately he got a common complication which was a real set back for us... pancreatitis. It was a scary time that required lots of pain meds and a few days of absolutely no nourishment. Our hope is that his labs will be back to enough of normal that he can start back on chemo on Wednesday.
 All the land partners and friends have been very kind and solicitous but it is all very strange to me... I've been badly spoiled by Michael. I don't know a lot of what I should know but am not sure in advance what all those things are... I stare with foreboding at my car, which has a flat sitting across the road and hope some strong person will come along who just loves fixing flats.
 He did have the get up and go last week to go with me to get bio-diesel for my car though and to teach me how to use our pump. I won't shirk on my commitment to bio-diesel but the veggie voyaging won't happen again unless the chemo works and he gets his strength back.
 I think back to last year at this time. We thought the chemo and surgery had bought us years when we did our loop through Wyoming and Utah... unfortunately he had problem after problem with the truck and on this day we were in Rock Springs and he was really killing himself with wrestling the truck.
 The year before that, when we didn't even know yet that he had cancer we had our scary backwards roll down an embankment south of Hinton on that horrible Alberta road with all the coal, pipelines and clear-cutting... so I guess our 12th anniversary tomorrow in the midst of this awful cancer is just about on track to be the most difficult ever.
Still, we love each other more than ever. We hold hands and cuddle all the time and tell each other how much we love each other... I have this foolish idea that if we can just get into the VV and get up into the high country everything will be ok... it will have to wait though. Please keep Michael in your thoughts or prayers.
Today is also the International Day of Peace. Peace to all of you reading this. He is going about this illness the way he does everything else... with great equanimity. Care for us please but don't be distressed.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

the Rubicon and the road beyond

 We left home at dusk and got to the REI on Hwy 50. That put us at Lake Tahoe on a Saturday and it seemed like the place was crawling with our species-- on foot, on bike, in cars. The beautiful waters were criss-crossed by boats. We hung out til dusk but then started up a road... what turned out to be the wrong road to the right place. We were on the Rubicon! It was crazy in the V.V. with its high center of gravity but two guys in a "crawler" took us under their angel/demon wings and got us up to Miller Lake---
 They were Ry-
 and Bobby, two men with extra-ordinary kindness in their self proclaimed hill-billy hearts. What I appreciated most about them was how care-free they were. There's a lot to say about the kindness of these strangers but I'll just hold onto the words and let you enjoy their spectacular tattoos on young healthy bodies.
 We did do a loop of our little home lake..
 and then a twilight walk at moon rise. This little bear had long blond hair on its back, almost like a miniature grizzly. He wasn't afraid of us.. just thought better than to stick around with us.
 After more adventures getting back down the Rubicon we headed north along Hwy 89 and then went up into the Gold Lakes Basin for a night by the Grassy Lake trail. In the morning we hiked to a little braided waterfall, wishing for more time... wishing for more time... wishing for more time...
 Meanwhile some people caught this poor little native rainbow trout and kept it. It seemed like such a sad thing, seeing this juvenile fish gasping in the man's hand. Life is cruel and unfair too often. No matter what determination you have. No matter your intention, wish, willingness to try a new path... sometimes it just comes up that you can't control a certain fate... your beauty and honest path cut short. I dread these things for us but hold us brave to meet fate like the Rubicon it is... difficult but not impossible.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Our Veggie Roots

 Posted Aug. 4, 2007 and written by Michael Pike himself:  "The Veggie Voyager, an ’87 Ford F-250 four wheel drive ¾ ton pickup with an 8’ cabover camper, is a multifuel vehicle, able to run on diesel fuel, bio-diesel, or straight vegetable oil (SVO). Our fuel mileage varies from 12-15mpg.
Diesel fuel has been cleaned up considerably in the past year with the removal of most of the sulfur, but is still a dirty fossil fuel when used in older vehicles like ours, so we only use it for the first few miles while waiting for the SVO to warm up enough to burn.
Bio-d and SVO are both derived from vegetable oil, but Bio-d requires a complex chemical process using methanol and lye to strip off the sticky triglyceride part of the oil molecule. It would be difficult to do while on the road.
SVO only needs to be cleaned or filtered and have any water removed. In order to burn it as fuel we have to heat it up to ideally 150-170 degrees F.
To heat up our veggie oil we have a heater hose from the engine that heats up an oil pick up tube in our veggie tank, then goes to a heated filter and finally to a small heat exchanger box. The veggie line is sandwiched between the heater hoses, so it gets warmed all the way to the fuel injector. A temperature gauge tells me if its hot enough to burn. If its not, there is an electric heater that kicks in.
There is no obvious difference in engine performance when running on veggie. We do lose the nauseating diesel smell, the black soot on hard acceleration, and we have the good feeling of not burning fossil fuel. The gas mileage, unfortunately, is about the same."
 After years of using an Acme juicer centrifuge (seen in the first photo) Michael bought himself a "treat." It is a WVO Raw Power Centrifuge... this enables him to increase waste grease conversion to clean combustible veggie oil from 8 gallons per hour to up to 25 gallons per hour.
 I just wanted to post this first veggie processing with the new centrifuge... so clean! His smile... so big! And, note... this monster centrifuge is made in America... Win, Win, Win!