May the long time sun shine upon you, all love surround you and the pure light within you, guide your way on "~Incredible String Band

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Thank you all for the concerned emails regarding our well being ..we are fine, and no, we have not been abducted by aliens or run off to live with some remote tribe in the jungles of south America. The truth, I am afraid, is far less spectacular, but only slightly so..

Lets begin where I last left off, in Santa Barbara...

All told we stayed in Santa Barbara for nearly two months,...working very hard on the alternative energy and marijuana initiatives and saving green energy to get us through the year. We met some wonderful people and even managed to do a little bus work on the side.

Southern California has always been one of my least favorite parts of the country, in sharp contrast to it's sister, Northern California..which is one of my favorites. The last five years however have found me ( due mainly to financial and familial reasons) having to spend a good deal of time in southern California. Faced with this reality I have been trying to make the best of it, seeking out the quiet, wind swept places at every opportunity and observing the bizarre and sometimes shallow culture.

Santa Barbara is a very wealthy city, one of the wealthiest, yet oddly small and intimate. Because the cost of living is so high, the " middle class" is nearly non exsistent..the majority of folks are either rich, very rich or living on the street. What is intersting is how little physically divides the rich from the poor. In many of the other wealthy areas of southern would be hard, if not impossible for a homeless or rubber tramp to live at all, as it has been effectively rendered illegal to do so. This was recently the case in Santa Barbara as well. In fact there has been, for some time an ongoing war of sorts between the city, who want very badly to sweep the whole unsightly "homeless problem" under the rug (for the benefit of the tourists and locals) and local grass roots activists. What it really amounts to is class warfare of sorts.

In an effort to crack down the city has made it illegal to park anywhere from 2:oo am - 6:00 pm. In response, local activits have aranged a program where by one can get a permit to park for the night on several Santa Barbara county lots. In addition they are apealing the parking law..and so it goes..

For now, on any given day you will see a wide variety of vans, campers, rv's, bus's, shopping carts and rickshaws parked along the main street that borders the beach. Directly across, on the opposite side of the street you will find the million dollar resorts..and in them people who have paid unspeakable amounts of money for a room with a view of the ocean...not to mention the parade of rv's, bus', campers and shopping carts..

Many of the people we met seemed to harbor a deep seated resentment towards the "rich bastards" who live in the area, most notably in Monticeto (home to Oprah winfrey, among many other celebes ). We were warned repeatedly not to trust anybody. Well, as it happened we had the occasion to meet some of the folks who lived in the area, Montociteo in fact...

In order to respect the personnel privacy of individuals, I will not be using their real names.

I was sitting in the bus working on one of my sculptures, when an energetic woman with fiery red hair, popped her head into the open door to say hello, and that she loved our bus. I invited her in and we ended up chatting for a good 45 minutes. Before she left we found ourselves invited to a party at her home in Monticeto... She wanted us to drive our bus up to her home and park it there ( I found this particularly interesting as usually people are demanding that that we move immediately from near their house or they will call the cops). She would then have a party and an "open house" type tour of the bus. The idea was to educate folks about veggie oil, solar and other renewable/alternative energies. Since this was keeping in line with one of our original visions, we readily agreed.

The day came and we were met by, Dan, Brendas husband. He drove in front of us, leading the way as we followed behind in the bus. We soon found ousrselves winding through the narrow, steep hills of residential Montecito, passed sprawling mansions and palatial estates until finally reaching the home of our friends, a beautiful, earthy house, on a steep, tree lined street.

We parked and went inside, passed the courtyard/ gardens, and through the glass doors leading to the kitchen.

On the tables inside there was laid out many kinds and varieties of foods, dips, veggies, pates, cake, wine, juice, soda. We chatted for a time until soon, one by one, the guests began to arrive. We were introduced to each and every person as they arrived and gave "bus tours" when asked. We explained about the veggie oil system, solar energy and shared our vision with folks, coming from the heart as much as possible. Moss and I were, admittedly, a bit apprehensive and not knowing quite what to expect, but the genuine warmness and enthusiasm of the people soon allied any initial discomfort. Before long we found ourselves sitting in the bus welcoming a steady stream of people inside , sharing wine and heartsongs. Many of these folks were exceedingly wealthy, TV/Movie producers, writers, owners of large business's, musicians...

At one point in the night we were inside the house, enjoying the food and chatting, when suddenly Brenda steps forward and rings a bell. The room becomes quiet as all turn their attention to Brenda, who then proceeds to announce us as the "guests of honor". Their is a donation jar up front, she explains and she would like it if folks would donate to our bus project.

Moss and I were stunned, frozen between fork fulls of food (which we were now almost choking on) as the room fell silent, all eyes were on us.

This was totally unexpected.

"uh..well...gee".. I stammered, taking the fork from my mouth and setting my plate down slowly.

I am VERY uncomfortable with public speaking , I could feel my face burning and my mind freezing up.Moss came to the rescue though, thanking everyone and saying a few words about our vision of a sustainable lifestyle, and how all the things we have tried to incorporate in our bus, and much more, can be applied to a stationary house as well.

After the party we stayed over, chatting long into the night and enjoying our new friends. We had a lot in common. One of Dan's favorite bands is the Incredible Stringband, as it is ours. We showed him our DVD copy of Be Glad for the Song Has No Ending, and he delighted in the old footage, saying it brought back many memories for him. He also was a fan and friend of Joni Mitchell, as am I (a fan that is..).

We ended up staying over a few days before then saying goodbye and heading back to reality in Santa Barbara. I am sure we will continue to keep in touch with them as it is quite obvious they are kindred spirits and literally some of the most loving and joyous people we have ever met.

Another amazing person we met was Jason and his dog friend Dakota. Heir to a family restaraunt business in Texas, Jason gave it all up five yeas ago and set out on foot with Dakota. When I say gave it all up I mean gave it All up! He gave away all his possessions and created a rickshaw from some bike tires and scavenged wood. He then set out on foot, from Texas, to walk across the u.s...taking odd jobs here and there , moving at his own pace and camping in secluded areas on the edge of towns. What always impressed me about him was how incredibly articulate and clean he was. It's not that I think there is anything wrong with a little natural road dirt, and I know first hand how hard it can be to keep fresh on the road..but he always was. He always had a sparkle in his eye and some words of inspiration to share.The three of us shared many days relaxing on the beach, collecting shells and engageing in some great conversations. When we last saw him he said he was heading out that day..walking to the redwoods.. a life long dream of his. I know we will see him again somewhere down the road.

Meeting Jason brought to mind another intresting nomad we once met..

Years ago, while on our way to the Wyoming Rainbow gathering we saw a strange sight on the side of the road. We saw what looked to be an old wooden gypsy wagon, a few on them hooked to together, with what seemed to be a train of donkeys pulling it. Walking next to the donkeys was a small bearded man in his 60's ( later we found he was in his 70's) wearing an engineers cap and red suspenders. We stopped to introduced ourselves and chat for a bit. His said his name was John and he had been on the road with his donkeys for close to thirty years. He said that he travels the western us walking along side his donkey's. In the coaches that they pulled was everything he needed to live sustainably. He had chickens for eggs and a goat for milk. In addition, he fished and took advantage of the abundant wild edible plants that grow naturally in the forests and meadows. In the spring he would approach a farmer and offer his services as a farm hand in exchange for a small plot to farm. Then, in the fall he would harvested what he grwew, canning and storing it in his wagons for the winter.

We were enchanted and fascinated by John..and talked long into the evening. He offered to teach us his lifestyle, teach us how to build a wagon and everything else...he WANTED to teach his lifestyle, to pass it on. We were very tempted, but at that time quite intent on moving to Oregon and living in a tipi. We wanted to lay some roots.

Seeing Jason, had brought all this back..and we are now seriously thinking, in a few years we would like to persue our old dream of traveling the states in a wagon,....carrying on the legacy of John Stiles. The only question is, do we do this before or after sailing the oceans in a pirate ship ?


Anonymous said...


Kaisenji said...

Wonderful story of life on the road, the people you meet and having Fate stick a couple of roads in front of you. Which way to take? The decision seems so simple yet it is not. I find myself wondering if I'll even stay here in the states after I'm ready for retirement. I'm pursuing a major career change which will in essentially bound me to California for 20 years or so. Afterwards, I want to leave...but where? New Mexico? Montana? Oregon? Canada? Wales? or Ireland pursuing a lifelong dream of living on an old Farm. What is the answer? What is your answer?

Jan'el said...

Pixie and Moss - what absolutely beautiful and inspiring beings. Thank you, both. Namaste.

Anonymous said...

Your idea simply excellent

Anonymous said...

Actually. Prompt, where I can find more information on this question?