From Waving Flags to Burning Them

**This is the first post in a multi-part series about what and why I identify or believe certain things. Ideally I will get one or two up per week.**

 

I guess the best place to start is my move away from Republican conservatism. It isn’t the most exciting thing to me at this point but it was the first domino to fall in my life. Libertarianism was my flirtation with the unknown, my pursuit of answers to questions that I had no answers to, it was a search for truth when one of the foundations of my youth showed cracks and began to crumble. After politics I began to question everything else, nothing was forbidden. Religion, sexuality, lifestyles, etc. were all open to analysis, dissection, and destruction if warranted. And really, I have George W. Bush to thank for it all.

September 11, 2001 affected us all in one way or another. For me, it lead to war. I walked into a recruiters office the morning of 9/11, the second tower had been hit but had not fallen yet. The initial hypothesis that the crash was an accident soon was overshadowed by reports of “terrorism”, a word that up until that point was something that brought to mind deserts far away from the safety of the US. The recruiters assured me this would not be war, I think they thought the idea of combat would scare me off, but I was there because I wanted to fight. I knew I was smart, school was easy for me, but I didn’t know if I had balls. I also thought war was something that the US needed, I grew up hearing about how united the country during the Cold War, we were a nation that needed an enemy or we would turn on ourselves. Better to face a backwards and inhumane “other” then be at each other’s throats. Besides, the casualties would be strangers to us. People that didn’t have the blessing of Christ on their holy nation.

With nervousness and excitement I went through Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training to be an Infantry Paratrooper. Despite my high test scores I opted for the Infantry. The training was easy, it was obviously a mind game more than anything. The Drills weren’t going to hurt us or anything, screaming eventually ends and you can only do so many push-ups before your body gives out. Yep, it sucked but it wasn’t difficult. The body molds quickly and the Infantry training was mostly memorization and becoming comfortable in the woods and/or with a firearm in your hand. Any attempt at molding me into a drone or brain-washing wasn’t really effective, partly thanks to one of my Drills who took me and another guy aside regularly to encourage us to think for ourselves and read books (books were technically contraband).

I arrived at my unit and we quickly deployed to Afghanistan. We hopped around from fire base to fire base conducting searches, setting up ambushes, and basically doing the things infantrymen do. It was really days of boredom broken up by minutes of excitement and it all is kind of a blur. While we were in Kandahar a change occurred that woke me out of the drone like slumber I had entered during the deployment, we declared war on Iraq.

Even at that time I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why that happened. Accusations of WMD’s and moral arguments for rescuing the Iraqi people from a dictator didn’t really make sense. The world was filled with WMD’s and dictators, surely there was bigger and more dangerous foes out there if the US was going to use that as a standard for intervention. As it would turn out I would end up in Iraq less than a year later.

I did what was asked on my Iraqi deployment but the seed was planted for me to question the motives and authority of the government, as well as the moral superiority of the GOP. It was enough to eliminate any prospect of re-enlisting (though I did do one year as a National Guardsman in South Carolina). I had to find another political option but wasn’t ready to even consider the Democratic Party, I was still too religious and they were all baby-killing atheist traitors.

This exploration was going on during my first year in college and I was taking a basic Political Science course. My professor said there were four basic political party philosophies: Liberals believed you should be free in the bedroom but not the boardroom, Republicans believed you should be free in the boardroom but not the bedroom, Libertarians believed that you should be free in both the boardroom and the bedroom, and Statists believed that you should not be free in either. Libertarians seemed the most in line with my current thoughts. He also mentioned that Reason Magazine was the official magazine of the Libertarian Party (I don’t think that is actually true) so I picked up a copy at Barnes & Noble, liked it, and eventually subscribed.

There were three things that Reason brought to my attention but I can’t really remember the order. First, they did a run-down of all the politicians running for President in 2008 and mentioned that in a good world Ron Paul would win. Second, they had some sort of memoir for Milton Friedman, this was my introduction to economics and I purchased “Capitalism and Freedom” because of the article. Third, they had an article about why you should be allowed to sell your own organs, this article shifted my entire way of thinking about self-ownership and the proper role of government, it was the beginning of me thinking like a libertarian.

The next few years involved jumping in head first. I volunteered for Ron Paul’s campaign and I devoured any piece of economic or libertarian political literature I could find. Milton Friedman, Hayek, Ayn Rand, David Friedman, and eventually Rothbard. By time I reached my junior year of college all it took was reading David Friedman’s “The Machinery of Freedom” and an IHS seminar and I was a full blown anarchist. My anarchy was grounded almost primarily in economics and the endless pursuit of efficiency though, I had little love or time for morality.

As I graduated college and entered the workforce in DC my hatred for the state grew but an emptiness was inside me. I needed something positive, some love, art, happiness, and community to add light to the darkness. Working for SFL helped a lot, I was able to converse with a variety of people and travel the country, and they sent me to Porcfest. Porcfest was my first opportunity to see some anarchy in action, the small voluntary community operated as much as possible without a state and served as some inspiration. I was skeptical of it growing beyond a small community in a short period of time though, it seemed that just because something works on a small tribe-level that doesn’t necessarily mean it will work on a city or state level. What good is being morally or philosophically “right” if it had no practical application in human affairs? Was anarchy nothing more than an interesting ivory-tower thought experiment? At the time I wasn’t sure, then came Burning Man.

For unrelated reasons I found myself in the basic dust of the Nevada desert under the hot August sun. Around me ran debauchery and love in every creative form. Humans exploring art, community, and many illegal substances seemed to interact like a designed and living organism, but there really was no designer. The infrastructure provided by the organizers was minimal, basically just some street signs and porta-potties, but you could find volunteers providing medical care, Rangers to provide help, bars to get boozes, massage parlors, live music, tea, art performances, classes being put on by college professors, food, and basically anything you would expect from a 70,000 person city like Black Rock City.

Part temporary intentional community and part everything else, Burning Man provided me with another example of how anarchy might play out if adopted on a larger scale. Certainly there were problems, particularly the economics of a gift economy that seems like it could collapse if it lasted more than a week in such a resource deprived environment. How long can “gifting” last when people had to drive hours to bring in more food, water, and supplies to repair structures? Still, here was anarchy with the capitalism or consumerism. While the economics seemed unsustainable the experience opened the doors to the community and love that anarchy can provide. This was a community of people who wanted no state enforcement of building codes, drug laws, or health codes, but having a reputation for being a dick, speeding more than 5mph and kicking up dust, or mooching off the community could lead you to being an outcast. That rarely happened though because everyone involved wanted it to work, by travelling from far and wide to the Playa they explicitly agreed to the principles of Burning Man.

A life changing week in the dust shifted what I believed was possible in this world, and shifted my means of accomplishing change. Before I didn’t think political action was effective but I saw no alternative. After Burning Man I saw politics as not only as ineffective but a waste of my time and energy. Surely, I would be happier and more effective if I lived the life I wanted instead of voting to get someone in office who might give me permission to be happy and free. I decided to just do what made me happy and abide by my own moral code, “don’t harm”.

Opening the door to new experiences and actively pursuing those experiences means I crossed paths with people unlike me. It was like a fog had lifted over my perception, I began to recognize the struggles faced by minorities and those whose cultures have faced generations of systematic oppression. I began to see that the government is not the only oppressor, and for some people the state can rightly be called a savior and protector. Before I had only seen libertarians and anarchists who fought solely the state. In fact, many people seemed to argue that libertarianism ONLY speaks about a person’s relationship with the government, that the philosophy of liberty has nothing to say about racism or misogyny.

If that is the case then libertarianism is doomed just from a practical standpoint. Progressives and Conservatives provide a complete world view, they not only say the proper role of government but they try to explore the best way to live. People are not going to jump behind a philosophy that remains neutral on a significant part of the human experience. A lot of people like to argue that we are somehow living during the end of liberty, that the state is so massive and powerful that every resource must be mobilized to fight it. I just don’t see that as accurate.

We are living in the freest time in human history. Things are better now than they have ever been. Sure, there are problems, and maybe the US is not holding the torch of freedom high anymore, but things are still on a good path. Even “tyrannical” programs like the NSA are facing greater scrutiny and the country seems weary of foreign entanglements. Not to mention the vast expansion of liberty as the dominoes of prohibition fall at the same time as marriage equality continues to spread. You can’t say that we are living in the worst time for freedom when people have more bodily autonomy and to associate than ever.

But, I don’t think libertarianism is limited to the individual’s relationship with the state. I think embracing liberty as an economic principle, moral guidance, and simply because it provides the best life for the most number of people can provide support in dealing with non-government issues as well. The purist form of liberty is anarchy, it is the rejection of man’s dominion over another, no “ifs, ands, or buts”. It is to say that we are responsible for our own actions and reject the use of coercion. And I believe it should be pursued as much as possible. We all will slip and fall, we are humans after-all, but freedom is something worth pursuing for practical and philosophical reasons. It makes life better for others and, for me at least, the exercise of liberty makes one healthier and happier. 

Self Reflection – Introduction

The nature of my lifestyle means I have a lot of time to think. 4-6 hours of constant bike riding daily kind of demands it, your mind tends to wander and you can only focus on podcasts for so long before you ignore them outright. I guess most of my adult life I have spent a lot of time thinking about what I believe and why I believe it. The stability of my Christian, conservative, white middle-class view on the world was another tower that fell on 9/11. After that attack I joined the military, saw some of the world, met lots of people, and realized my upbringing was not the “end all, be all” of the good life. In fact, I found it quite wanting.

This penchant for self-analysis and a recent post on the app “Secret”* inspired this upcoming series of blog posts. I think it is important to constantly question what you believe, why you believe it, and how people perceive you. There are many labels that people apply to themselves (myself included) but rarely can a person’s perspective and history be defined by a few grunted syllables. In addition, I think it will be fun to provide a permanent record of what I believe for future me to look back on. It is likely that 5, 10, 15, 20 years from now I will not have the same points of view. I actually hope I don’t, because that means I have likely stopped growing and learning.

So, in no particular order, here are the subjects, roles, and views I plan on exploring in the coming months, both my current views and how I got to them. I hope to get 1-2 out per week but that depends on logistics for my ride.

  • Libertarian Anarchist
  • Pansexual
  • Nudity and Body Positivity
  • Pagan Atheist
  • Transhumanist
  • Sex Positive
  • Open Relationships and My Current Monogamish Relationship
  • Veganism
  • Minimalist
  • BDSM and Kink
  • Drug Use

*Recently someone posted on “Secret” that my life is basically childish, hedonistic, and that I’m afraid of adulthood. I responded on Facebook and it doesn’t need to be rehashed here, but that perception of me did get my brain moving and was part of the catalyst for this series.

Some Notes

So, I’ve been fucking terrible at transferring over the stuff from my bike ride blog to here. I plan on doing a lot more writing on this blog it is probably for the best. If you want to keep following my two year bicycle tour around the country check us out at http://www.barelyfunctionaladults.wordpress.com for the R-Rated version and http://www.10LegsWillTravel.wordpress.com for the G-Verstion.

The bike ride obviously creates logistical difficulties but I have two things in the work for this blog: an analysis of myself and diving into the morality of Christ. The analysis is mostly for myself and came about because of an anonymous criticism I faced recently. I am a big proponant of self-analysis and constantly questioning yourself (I hate the idea of being stagnant) so I plan on doing a post about many of my views including why I identify as polyamorous, atheist pagan, libertarian anarchist, vegan, pansexuality, nudist/body positive, sex positive, my currant monogamish relationship, BDSM interests, and minimalism. I think it will be interesting to put my views explicitly down for future Peter to look at. Hopefully I can get about one of these up a week or so.

That’s me moving forward, we shall see how well I stick with it. 

A close friend of mine died today.

There is no right way to respond. I drift between a numbness seeking distraction and fighting off tears. Some of our friends will be angry. Some will weep. Some will let a darkness block the pain. Eventually I will do all these things but for now I write, because writing is how I process. I wish I could say I have some noble purpose in my writing but I don’t, it is selfishly for me because this is what I need.

Soon, probably tonight, I will drink. I will pour one out for Kaluza, the beer soaking into the soil is my prayer, my tears, my ceremony. It is one I have performed twice before for men I knew, men who died before they reached 30. Men who impacted my life and I loved. Inevitably my thoughts will drift to them, to Brad and Fifer as well.

Now though, I am a rock and I write. I am a rock because that is the role I am comfortable with. It is easier for raise a barrier and act as a foundation for others for a time. It won’t last though. After I drink the beers and the night grows silent I won’t be able to keep the wall up and my tears will fall. I will weep uncontrollably, pushing my masculinity, my military hardness, my image and ego, and every care I have aside. I will hold my partner close and she will help me bear this burden, a burden I wish I didn’t need to put on her. But I will need to, I will need to release to keep from going insane.

I don’t know if there is anything after this life. I hope there is, I want there to be, but I don’t know. If our spirit survives this mortal existence and we retain some sort of memories and identity I know Kaluza will be there. With that half grin and brightness in his eyes that make you feel special and loved. He inspired and will continue to. The memories I have with him I will cherish. The times he encouraged me to do what I loved instead of worrying about the risks will push me forward.

When the time comes and the tears dry up I will be able to make him immortal. I will live my life as he would have. I will be free and do what I can to inspire that in others… because above all things he was an inspiration. A never-ending source of joy, laughter, and reflection. In time we will all heal completely, we won’t forget but we will be changed. The scars never fade completely, but they help us truly enjoy the greatness and fragility of life. I told him how wonderful he was, I wish I would have told him more, because in a real sense I am the man I am today because of him.

I’ll miss you Kaluza, but I’ll keep your memory with me until I pass on as well. And when that day comes I will know I did great in this life if I have half the love shown for me that you do today. You made us all better.

Popping Sweet Oregon Cherries (with our mouths)

It is always kind of bittersweet when we leave a place that we love. We may be nomads right now but that doesn’t mean we are immune to the pull of a place to set down our roots. Someday we may return to Eugene… it is our type of place and having a college in town with an applicable Master’s program certainly doesn’t help. Alas, we had to get moving so we swung by Voodoo Doughnuts for a few more vegan noms and headed north to Corvallis.

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The ride was a long one for us (about 50 miles) but with a slight downhill the whole way it was not incredibly difficult, just a little long. We arrived at around 6:30pm and met our Couchsurfing hosts. Our hosts (Ebba and John) had a beautiful little farm house with a few acres. After getting settled in we helped get the potatoes, berries, and other vegetables out of the garden for dinner. The meal was delicious and our hosts were incredibly warm and fun to chat with, it is just a shame we were all pretty tired. They even shared some homemade mead with us. After dinner and some chatting we hit the sack.

On our way out of Corvallis we swung by our 19th Brewery for a beer. We had some time to kill with only 20ish miles planned that day. We took our time riding up to Independence where we had a tour schedule at the Rogue Farm, we arrived early to have a few drinks before the tour got started. It was pretty cool hearing the history of the area, seeing hops growing on the vines, and touring the facility where hops are processed to give beer that glorious taste. We did have to leave early because we didn’t have a place to camp yet and the sun was quickly going down.

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We did meet a cool couple of people at the Rogue Farm (Brewery 20*) but one of the comments they made kind of stuck with me. One woman said we must be “trust fund” babies. It made me wonder how many people that we talked to were under the impression that our adventure was somehow funded by our parents… the implication being that it is unearned by us. The truth is, this trip is one of the results of decades of decisions, risk-taking, and following our hearts. If I hadn’t joined the army, went to college, took an incredibly low-paying job in DC because I loved the organization, and left DC when I was no longer happy there I would not be here now. Anna and Hans have similar stories, they took risks by moving when they were unhappy, we all saved money by living minimally, and we all got out of relationships that were no longer in line with our goals. We very intentionally have not had children because we properly use birth control, knowing that there is not really a rush. If we want kids in 10 years or more that is very possible. Anna’s job is a big part of why we can do this and not tap into our savings, but she is not our sugar-momma or anything… more like an employer where she pays us to do things like shopping, blogging, pictures, arrange housing, laundry, etc. She is basically our boss.

None of us were willing to settle for “what if”. We left homes, changed states, and leveraged opportunities as they came. We aren’t “trust fund” kids. Our families provide no financial support. There are things that benefited us that we had no control over (such as place and time of birth) but this ride is a result of our hard work. Maybe it is our age (though I’m in my early 30′s… hardly a child) that sparks this type of comment, maybe it is because we have ignored social requirements that we live where we grew up, marry early, have kids, take a shitty office job that we hate, and decide on security over liberty at every turn.

Anyway, end rant. We ended up finding an RV park that technically didn’t allow tent campers. They had some extra RV spots (and nobody on duty) so we paid the fee and set up. As is usually the case things went without any problems. The park was clean, had showers, and nobody bothered us. The only thing peculiar was the RV across from us that had an original 13-colony American flag flying on it. It reminded me of the Confederate flag that we saw flying over a house in southern Oregon a couple weeks ago. Last I checked Oregon didn’t really have any connection to the civil war… but I might be wrong. Regardless, it seems stupid to me

Living in the south for half a decade means I am pretty used to seeing the “stars and bars” flying. Part of me understands that there is some history there, but I still think it is a bad idea to hold onto that symbol. In fact, I find the whole “states rights” movement to be filled with poor judgement. States do not have rights, they may have powers vested to them by the Constitution but they do not have some sort of human rights that can be violated. Even those people (like myself) who believe in smaller, more local government shouldn’t hold on to the civil war or the Confederacy as something positive. Any institution that decides owning humans is okay is not one we should look back on for any moral guidance, even if they were right about other things. It is like trying to reclaim the swastika or quoting Hitler, no matter how noble your cause is it is a PR nightmare to bed yourself with that type of imagery. This is a lesson some libertarians should learn, no matter how economically correct or politically efficient it might be to back someone if they are a racist or sexist we should distance ourselves completely from them. If we want to change hearts and minds it is better to support good people who might not be philosophically pure over racist assholes who are correct in their ivory tower.

The next day (Saturday, June 21) we had our longest day scheduled, 56 miles. The route wasn’t too bad with only a couple 400ft hills but we didn’t want to take chances so we left early. Things went pretty smoothly as we took breaks every 10 miles or so to let the dog out and get food. There wasn’t a lot of population or stores on the road, it was essentially just a highway over the Coastal Range to Lincoln City. The sparse population of our ride ended up working well for us.

At one stop we had a big field behind us with a couple of trees blocking us from the highway. Anna and I decided to bang. It is important to keep the passion alive with trying new things and exploring interests with each other. You gotta be GGG. If one of your partners has an interest in trying something new you should be on the lookout for opportunities to explore that. I think very few things are so extreme that an immediate “no” is allowed (like anything involving feces for me). You should be able to babystep up to basically any interest or kink, as long as there is plenty of communication and respect for each other it is incredibly beneficial to experiment. Life is too short for just missionary position. I should also note how fucking awesome Hans is for acting as a look-out whenever play happens in public, true friends encourage and help you get orgasms whenever possible.

The ride continued to be smooth as we left the farmlands and found ourselves in the green hills and mountains again. As we got to the top of one of the hills I noticed the girls had stopped about 100 ft behind me. I thought they were peeing on the side of the road, but after about 20 minutes I thought maybe something else was up. It turns out they found some cherry trees and were picking them clean. So now we have some freaking awesome wild(?) cherries. They are delicious.

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We arrived in Lincoln City (motto: A Great Place to Try New Things) with a couple of hours of sun left which gave us plenty of time to get some food (and beer), find our campground, and get set up. We will be here for three nights so Anna can catch up on some work and then north to the Washington border and east to my family in Portland.

 

*Brewery List

  1. Highway 1 Brewing Company (outside Pescadero, CA)
  2. Firestone Walker (Paso Robles, CA)
  3. Russian River (Santa Rosa, CA)
  4. Lagunitas (Petaluma, CA)
  5. Bear Republic (Healdsburg, CA)
  6. Ruth McGowan’s (Cloverdale, CA)
  7. Anderson Valley Brewing (Boonville, CA)
  8. North Coast Brewing (Fort Bragg, CA)
  9. Eel River Brewing (Fortuna, CA)
  10. Redwood Curtain Brewing (Arcata, CA)
  11. Standing Stone Brewing (Ashland, OR)
  12. Oakshire Brewing (Eugene, OR)
  13. 10 Barrel (Bend, OR)
  14. Deschutes (Bend, OR)
  15. Boneyard Brewing (Bend, OR)
  16. Crux Fermentation Project (Bend, OR)
  17. Ninkasi Brewing (Eugene, OR)
  18. Hop Valley Brewing (Eugene, OR)
  19. Block 15 Restaurant & Brewery (Corvallis, OR)
  20. Rogue Farms (Independence, OR)

Serendipity

Disclaimer: This is an adult blog with adults doing adult things to other adults and to themselves. So if you don’t like drugs, banging, blah, blah, blah please view our PG-version of the adventure at www.10LegsWillTravel.wordpress.com and you can view all of our pictures at our Facebook page (aren’t we so legit!).

We ended up spending three full days in Medford with my friend Adam and his wife. During that time we borrowed their car to drive to Crater Lake, we took about a day and a half to relax and recharge, and we explored Ashland a bit with Adam and Julia. All these things were necessary in their own ways.

The trip to Crater Lake was absolutely incredible. It is a place all of us had wanted to see since the beginning of the ride but our change of route and slower pace made it momentarily unlikely. We had a discussion and realized a lot of places like Crater Lake will be unreachable unless we make some changes. We can’t change our pace but we can certainly open up our adventure a bit and allow for car travel when biking isn’t available. So, we borrowed Adam’s car and drove up to the gorgeous Crater Lake.

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The drive up there was amazing for all of us. Not only could we sit back and just relax a bit, it gave us a chance to listen to Dan Savage and bond in a way that we haven’t been able to recently. Despite travelling with each other and cramming into a tent at night we don’t have a lot of intimate bonding time. This few hours allowed us to chat about the future (and act as amateur advice columnists to the question’s sent to Savage). I wish I could really describe the beauty of Crater Lake but it really is one of those things you need to see for yourself. We took some pictures but they pale in comparison to real life. If you get the chance you should go. Higgs also loved it, he got to play in snow for the first time. He wasn’t impressed in the beginning but when we started throwing snowballs for him to chase or catch he had a grand old time.

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Our time exploring Ashland a bit (with more than a few drinks thanks to a winery and brewery visit) with Adam and Julia was a lot of fun. It is amazing how we can all fall back into old roles and reminisce with people that we haven’t seen in years (or decades). Kicking back with some drinks and just talking about the world and such brings a little bit of “normalcy” to our dynamic lives that is often needed. It was unfortunate that we had to leave and continue our ride so soon.

The trail out of Medford up into central Oregon wasn’t too bad. We had some sun beating down on us but the hills were manageable and we had either a good shoulder or low traffic. That first night we found a local fire department and asked if we could set up on their land. They didn’t care at all and were very friendly to us. It is amazing the difference in attitude between police officers and firefighters. In theory, the two suffer from the same problems all government institutions do, but clearly there are cultural factors or something that makes the way the two view the public as very different. We still avoid law enforcement but firefighters have been nothing but helpful… and who can resist those sexy uniforms?

The second day had a pretty big hill for us to conquer… basically anything over 800ft or so is considered “big” to us. It wasn’t so bad though and it gave us a really nice 10-15 mile steady downhill ride. That night we found a rest area near a river and set up our tent there. This was another time when we just assumed nobody would be checking a random, dark place on the side of the road on a Saturday night. As is often the case, being near a secluded water source encouraged us to get naked. So, Naked Saturdays has been bestowed upon our trip and will continue until we forget.

Sunday was a steady ride into Myrtle Creek, where our hosts (Mike and Pam) live. You may remember that we met Mike and Pam weeks ago outside a hotel when we were in Paso Robles, California. It was a serendipitous meeting. They weren’t supposed to be at that hotel (their preferred hotel was booked) and neither were we (we had some mechanical difficulties as the sun was going down). I’m glad it worked out this way though and we felt incredibly welcomed when we rode onto their beautiful farm.

Their farm has Morgans (a type of horse), chickens, a couple of wolfhounds, a little dog, and some cattle. They farmed a lot of greens and almost everything we ate came straight from their farm. Because my veganism comes from an ethical place I had no problem with indulging in the beef and eggs provided by our hosts… and oh man, the meals were fantastic. Pam also bakes her own bread and we purchased a couple of loaves of it for the road because it is literally (and I’m not exaggerating here) the best bread I have ever had in my life. Mike and his daughter (Katherine) also do some AMAZING metal cutting. I wasn’t there for the tour of the workshop but the art they create was absolutely stunning. I will want one for my own home if/when I get one.

The day of our arrival was pretty low-key. We had a vegetarian chili (provided by the neighbors), chatted with our hosts a bit about subjects we all enjoy (spirituality, physics, philosophy, the state of the world, etc), and hit the sack. Monday during the day was a work and errand day for us, and coincided with Mike and Pam being out of the house so it worked out really well. That evening we went over to the neighbor’s place (Amanda and Vince) to meet them and use their hot tub.

Vanda live on a beautiful home, currently for-sale, where for many years they had an intentional community. Several families shared living space and created a peaceful sanctuary to explore alternatives to the consumerism that has become such a strong part of the American identity. I can’t recall everything we discussed that night but Vince and Amanda are inspirations to us. After their house sells they are going to travel the country in an RV with their kids and I have a feeling our paths will all cross again.

That night we all took some pot cookies we acquired before going to sleep… it wasn’t the best idea for me. Edibles are notoriously hard to dose and when you are drunk your judgement is already impaired. I took a half of one (the recommended dosage) and when I wasn’t feeling it enough I took a whole cookie on top of it, and then I fell asleep. The food was slowly digested and my system took more weed than I was prepared for.

I woke up at about 2am in a bit of a panic. I was too stoned to walk or anything so I crawled out of the tent and tried to get some water from the water bottles on our bikes. It took several tries to get my body to respond to my brain and crawl to Anna’s bike. Her water bottles were empty so I crawled over towards my bike. At some point I gave up and just laid down to sleep outside. Then one of the crazies experiences of my life happened.

I regained consciousness to find myself on my hands and knees and banging my own head into the ground. I distinctly remember doing this at least three times before regaining control. I don’t know if I sleep-walked or what but I remember nothing between falling asleep near my bike and waking beating myself up a few yards away.

Fucked up, I know.

Well, I crawled my ass back into the tent and passed out. It wasn’t until the next morning when I looked in the mirror and saw a near black eye with several mild cuts that it really hit me what had happened. Be careful when doing drugs and make sure you dose yourself properly. All drugs should be legalized, but people need to act responsibly and take care of themselves. Don’t be stupid like me.

Needless to say, I was not in great shape when I woke in the morning. We had to put down some mileage on our way to Eugene but I was still pretty stoned (damn edibles) and my whole body ached. We finally hit the road around 2pm and had agreed to try and knock out 20 miles or so. A pretty moderate ride with an unavoidable big hill in the middle of it. To make matters worse the road the hill was on was gravel so we ended up pushing our equipment up it with very little traction. At several points we even had to help each other push equipment after leaning our own bikes on something, only to have to go back down the hill to get them later.

We made it into Roseburg completely mentally and physically exhausted. We found an abandoned lot of land off the highway and set up our tent for the night. It was dark pretty quickly but I wasn’t quite asleep when familiar blue, red, and white flashing lights lit up our tent. It is such a fucked up world when your response to those who “serve and protect” is fear, paranoia, and discomfort even when you aren’t doing anything wrong. I silently hoped that Higgs would be his normal quiet self and not give the cops approaching our tent any excuse to commit puppycide.

The officers informed us that we were trespassing and the property owner (who lived next door apparently) wanted us gone. The cops took our ID’s, ran them for warrants or whatever, and eventually left us alone to pack up in the pitch dark and find a new place to sleep. Because there is nothing safer for cyclists than to navigate unfamiliar roads in the dark while barely awake… We found a nearby Motel 6 and decided to get a room, as much as it pains us to spend that type of money on our pretty tight budget.

To be honest, the saddest thing about this is how quick the property owner turned to threats of violence instead of talking with us. People are so terrified of “the other” that they call men with guns who can do violence with impunity instead of simply telling us that we can’t stay on the property, or even just striking up a conversation with us. Nope, the first response is to call the police, to call guns, to issue threats, to terrify instead of communicate. It sucks, but it is unsurprising given the modern media and political situation.

We made the best of the hotel situation though and recharged our electronics, gave me a mohawk, showered, masturbated, and got to bed fairly early. Despite a ton of sleep we still didn’t hit the road until about 11am. Hotels are still tough to leave, but we had a good ride that day. The sun was beating down on us and we had a terrible hill (we seem to average one a day) but we pushed on. We can usually handle hills, hot sun, and wind, but not at the same time. As long as only one or two of those hits us at a time we do alright.

We were kind of paranoid about being on the side of the road again due to our run in with the police but we didn’t have a lot of options. We found a place that we are pretty sure isn’t private property that couldn’t be viewed from the road and set up for the night. We slept well and hit the road fairly early for our last day of travel into Eugene.

The ride was pretty uneventful… up small hill, down small hill, repeat… until we got a few miles out of Eugene and Anna saw a motherfucking bear (literally a bear, not literally motherfucking). It apparently ran across the road right in front of her and hopped over a few fences in broad daylight. This is our first time crossing a bear and it was successful, as long as you measure success by the low standard of “nobody died and nobody sprayed themselves accidentally in the face with bear mace”. But, here we are now in Eugene and we are really excited. In the next few days we are travelling by bicycle with a band to a show/party (The Dirty Dandelions), participating in the World Naked Bike Ride, going to Ninkasi brewery, getting some vegan comfort food at Cornbread Cafe, renting a car to go to Bend for more breweries, hiking, and the clothing-optional Terwilliger Hot Springs. It should be a lovely time.

From Bears to Beavers

Pre-Post: This is open and honest version of the events of our bike ride. If you are uncomfortable hearing about sex, drugs, profanity, etc you should check out our PG-version at www.10LegsWillTravel.wordpress.com . If you don’t want to hear about these adult actions please leave now. You can also check out our photos at www.facebook.com/10legswilltravel .

We ended up leaving Crescent City pretty late in the day (around 2pm). We had some errands to run and wanted to take advantage of the kitchen we had and cook some food. Overall our experience at the church was pretty positive. Katie, our primary contact, was incredibly loving and friendly, exactly what you hope for from a human being. Unfortunately, two of the other people we encountered were fairly rude and had an air of superiority about them that is all too common among some religious (at least in my experience).

Our ride that day was fairly easy, we had some rolling hills into the the of Gasquet and found out from the locals about a free campground on the Smith River… They also had my favorite beer. We do love anything free. The campground itself was actually a river access point that allowed people to stay for up to 7 days. If you drove by you would have no idea that camping was allowed and the local information really paid off. We had the entire place to ourselves and the river was a stone’s throw away. Despite the cold water we decided to skinny dip in the river, this was my first time skinny dipping and the cold water made it a short venture. It was more of a genital dip than anything because the three of us just kind of shuffled into the river until the water was up to our thighs and then plunged our groins into it. Talk about shrinkage…

That night we got some pretty good sleep and had a lazy morning. Some people from Indiana happened upon the river access as we were enjoying breakfast. They had stopped to take pictures of the Smith River because of how clear and beautiful it was. Part of me takes for granted growing up in the northwest, I am used to clear rocky rivers and greenery all around. Anna and Hans, being from St. Louis, are used to muddy and unclear rivers. I’m looking forward to the day when I am awestruck by something that they have had around them their whole lives.

We knew we had a rough day ahead of us because of the 15 mile, 2000ft hill we had to climb first thing, our highest climb yet. We had narrow roads, trucks flying by us, and sheer cliffs dropping into the river on our right, but we made it to the top. We were exhausted and a little sunburnt, but luckily there was a rest area right at the top of the hill and we had an opportunity to rest. I even took a little nap in the shade.

The next four miles were a piece of cake. We coasted (fairly quickly) down the hill and crossed the Oregon/California border. This is our first border crossing and really made it feel like we were making progress. Intellectually we know that California is a big state but it is nice to hit a milestone like this. So we are leaving the Bear state for the Beaver state, which I approve of because I think bushes are sexy. I was also raised in Oregon so part of me feels very comfortable and almost “at home” when here. After crossing the border we knocked out another dozen or so miles and found ourselves in Cave Junction, the city we wanted to sleep near that night.

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Oh man, Cave Junction turned out to be awesome. We arrived just in time for the end of a Farmer’s Market so we decided to check it out. Quickly we were approached by a girl with dreads who seemed really excited about us arriving on bicycle. It turns out Cave Junction is kind of a hippy area. We chatted for  bit and before she even learned our names she offered to try and find a place for us to set up a tent at her friend’s house. It didn’t end up working out but she told us we would be safe at a local county park.

Technically camping isn’t allowed at the park but Cave Junction keeps voting down additional funding for law enforcement so there is nobody working on the weekends except state cops. We talked to a few more locals and found out there is a strong distrust of government here and they prefer to handle problems on their own. Everyone in the community knows each other and they keep track of bad apples via Facebook and exercise vigilante justice if someone is violent or criminal. One of the reoccurring themes throughout the west is a sort of practical anarchy where many communities operate on their own without the state whenever possible.

After getting some gifted food and more information about the city we went off to the park to sleep. We awoke the next morning to find a park ranger wandering the park and doing general maintenance. He came over to us and let us know that the park is technically day-use only… and then told us about the cool rivers nearby and said we can stay all day if we wanted. He clearly didn’t give a fuck that we were there and actually asked us if we heard any parties or had any problems throughout the night. There were no parties but I did see some sort of giant cat that was about Higgins size, so maybe 50 lbs? I didn’t get a great look because it was dark but I think it was a bobcat.

We ended up staying most of the morning but hit the road again. The locals told us there were a couple of big hills ahead of us. It turned out they were greatly exaggerating and we actually handled them pretty well. Sometimes local knowledge really isn’t applicable to cyclists, especially when you have legs as impressive as ours. We arrived in the Grants Pass area in the mid-afternoon and found our way to the campground.

Things at the campground didn’t really start off smoothly though. I had researched campgrounds online and ReserveAmerica.com where you make government run campground reservations said that tent spots were “first come, first serve”. Not a big deal because there were a dozen or so still available. When we arrived to the campground there was a sign that said “reservations only” for tent sites. We were baffled. Apparently the only way to get a tent site is to ignore the website and make a reservation by phone… something nobody has any way of knowing. Strangely, you don’t need a reservation to get an RV site. I have no idea why you can show up and get a place for an RV (which requires electricity and water) but you need an advanced reservation to put up a tent on a chunk of grass. So, we were forced to get an RV spot for our tent.

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The woman working also didn’t know which places were reserved or not for the next couple of days and she told us they  may need to have us move if someone shows up for a reservation. I’m not exactly sure what all the job entails when you work the front desk at a campground but I assumed part of the job was managing the reservations. Apparently at this county park it is a fucking free-for-all. Oh well, we got settled in and relaxed a bit. The campground itself was actually really nice and right on the river.

The next day was a standard errand/work day. Anna knocked out some stuff at McDonalds (the only free wifi we could find) while I did some planning and Hans doing some shopping and such. Again we just brought Higgs into the restaurant and he slept under the table. So far we really have not bothered by staff or anything when we bring him in. I guess minimum wage employees really don’t care. Hans went back to the campground a little early and was able to sunbathe by the river. We definitely all need time to ourselves when possible and it is good to separate once in a while. I hit the campground next, hung out on the river, and then when Anna got back we got cooking and drinking. We really need to cut back on the drinking a bit because of finances but, as always, we decided to start that on another day. The three of us had a great evening cooking on the grill and getting pretty drunk (as anyone who is my Facebook friend could probably tell).

After some sleep we hit the road again and it was really fucking hot. In fact, it was so hot that the ladies declared a new weekly holiday, Sports Bra Monday, to add to the really popular Nipple Tuesday. Personally, I’m looking for the official announcement for Topless Thursdays, Free-Balling Fridays, and Bush Saturdays. Luckily we got some bike paths and even got to hang out by the Rogue River for a bit and have a picnic. After about 40 miles we got to Medford around 6pm. We are staying with my friend Adam and his wonderful wife Julia. I’ve known Adam since 5th Grade… so about 20 years. Shit I’m old. It will be absolutely wonderful to see him, catch up, and spend a few days relaxing and working. Oh man, this trip is the tits.