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

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!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Awakened State of Wonder?

 I was just listening to a travel show and a discussion between travelers Pico Iyer and Rick Steeves and they mentioned this feeling I always get when we travel... this ecstatic but calm awakened state of wonder.. We travel for this and find it constantly.. I also know about wanting to hold onto it when I come home and how it dissipates... the sweetness drains away when the natural world is not part of the play of a day.
 Our trip last week meandered back through Childs Meadows, Mill Creek and Mineral to pick up veggie oil then down to the Sacramento River to join our friend Luisa for her 55th birthday potluck and chocolate truffle cake on a (sand)bar at dusk. Still had the beauty of beaver, egrets, the glassy feel of the river as the light departed.
 As the week passed Michael followed his own agenda and I followed mine and for him the quest to find an ever more perfect boat was answered by buying this little inflatable kayak. My week is a blur... really, I'd have to march it out like a tin soldier from the pages of my day planner.
 Meanwhile, trust me, I was doing my usual many things, including tabling for Frack-Free Butte the theater presentation called The Butcher Shop, down the road from us but on the land of our adjacent neighbor.
 All the while we have been able to enjoy the richness of summer... many of the tomatoes and peppers shown here were raised by our neighbor Bruce here at Riparia. I caught them at the very end of Farmers Market yesterday... still a glorious display.
 Then today, to round out the week from where we started up at Crystal Lake last Sunday, we went out in the new boat on the Thermalito Forebay... enjoying how it moved, what there was to see, the sense of freedom in being somewhere we don't usually go.
 But also seeing the risks... a tiny snake of tar sands bearing rail cars in the distance below Table Mountain emerges from the Feather River Canyon... a canyon that carries precious water down to millions and emerges from the high country we visited with our unlimited sense of amazement last week. Somewhere between enjoyment and responsibility the amazement slinks away but really not the wonder.. it can remain even watching slow death roll by in the distance.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Escaping to a Different Reality

Every other week we go away. Its not easy getting out of town but we push to do it. This week was no different.. but we left home Thursday night, ate bad food at a biker bar and ended up by the side of the road to Greenville with traffic all night long and fitful dream chased sleep. In Greenville we went to the Rangers Station and got a detailed new map that gave some indication of some tiny lakes we might visit. The Ranger gave us good driving tips and so we made it to never imagined Taylor Lake... alone up there for the night we simply released a lot of what burdens us just in the act of being in the beauty of where we were.
 The area between there and Antelope Lake, where we went next to boat and swim, has been burned repeatedly in three different fires.
 Sometimes the snags, which remain, remind one of the old reasons for superstition and sometimes they are comic reminders of our fears.
 There's no way to Thank the land or the sky for the release of care... it's just in being physical, inquisitive, appreciative... in the day, dusk, night and rotation of time. A wonder.
 After our afternoon boating and swimming on less photogenic Antelope Lake we stayed at a Trailhead for Clear Creek and walked awhile up into the burn then back down to Indian Creek, the major tributary through the Genesee and Indian Valleys.
 In Taylorsville, looking for our next adventure, we came on my brother's name twix there and somewhere else. (I look forward to sending him this.)
 And, not without a climb, we arrived at Hough Mt  Lookout and the volcanic vent of 500 ft. deep Crystal Lake below it and the little town with the Warren Nelson intersection far, far below that...
 The lake was just one quick swim away from an early sunset but we camped on a terrace above it and the next morning headed out with some swaying, dust and tank-prowess to our final destination of veggie oil collection in Mill Creek and Mineral. A very rewarding four days for the Veggie Voyagers team.. a great relief and a huge inhalation of beauty and peace and a bit of dust.