Sunday, October 20, 2013

Hometown Hoedown and Woodstock Wonderland

When I say that I was born in New York, most people assume that I mean New York City. It was close to the city, in a place called White Plains, but the state of New York is pretty big and encompasses all kinds of beautiful terrain. If you haven't been to New York State, I highly suggest that you make it a destination on your bucket list. We departed the Niagara Falls region and crossed the Rainbow Bridge back into the USA. 

Rochester, NY was our next destination. My sweet cousin is there and is expecting a wee one soon. She and her fiancĂ© took us to an amazing little cafe called the Owl House, where we had a scrumptious vegan dinner. We even tried kombucha beer. I had no idea that existed. It was very tasty! We gifted them an adorable tie dyed onesie for their little girl on the way. Part of our early-start hippie program. :) 

Creative construction barrier. 

We had decided against an itinerary for one day so that we could wander slowly south through New York toward my hometown of Honesdale, Pennsylvania. Something amazing happens when we plan less and open up to the possibilities of the universe. We headed to Ithaca, New York via the Finger Lakes wine route. Vineyards covered the rolling hills in all directions. It was a gray day with a fair bit of wind and misty showers on and off. A little too late we googled "organic winery" in the area and discovered that the first organic winery in North America, Four Chimneys, was an hour back in the wrong direction. Would have been neat to see!

What we did see was more breathtaking than any winery. We turned off the main road at a sign for a waterfall. We had just been at Niagara Falls, and couldn't imagine that some random waterfall in the middle of nowhere could even come close to the magnificence of that landmark. did. We first looked over the edge of a lookout point and saw this. 

We then found a trail at the base of the hill along the river's edge.  The fall colors were stunning as we made our way to the base of the 215' high Taughannock Falls.  What a find. 

On the way back,  I had just finished saying that I hadn't seen many snakes in the 9 years of living in Alberta. As we stepped off the trail to peek at some mini falls we noticed half a dozen snakes wrapped up in a vine-covered tree only a foot away. Very funny Mother Nature. 

We arrived in Ithaca late afternoon and as a result of googling "vegan restaurant" discovered that THE Moosewood restaurant was located here. I had seen countless Moosewood cookbooks in many kitchens over the last decade. After strolling downtown's eclectic shops, we had a yummy veggie dinner there and headed for Honesdale. 

We stayed with my dad for a few days and saw my sister and her man and my adorable nephew. We caught salamanders to add to his pet turtle aquarium and carved a jack o' lantern for Halloween. We also went to an outstanding performance of a country rock band called Sour Bridges, fronted by two brothers that I went to high school with a decade ago. It was a full house and we danced our pants off! Wooooooweeee!  What talent!

Saturday led us an hour from my hometown to Bethel, NY, home to the one and only 1969 Aquarian Exposition, aka Woodstock music festival. A museum and performing arts center was erected on the Yasgur Farm site in 2008 to preserve the memory of the culturally transformative event.

 In the first 10 minutes of the brilliantly designed self-guided tour, I found myself overwhelmed with emotion and my eyes welled up with tears. Woodstock took place during a time of great turmoil in America and the 1960's were bizarrely reflective of what is still occurring with our government and society today. 

We spent 2.5 hours wandering through the museum listening and laughing, watching film clips and marveling at the relics of  the landmark event.

 It was one of the most moving and memorable historical venues I have ever visited. I could write an entire blog about Woodstock but I think you should go have a look for yourself. Wow. 

On the way home from hippie ground zero, we passed a little store that caught our attention. It was well after business hours but the lights were all on, so we did a U-turn.  It was a tie dye shop that has been in my hometown for at least a decade. I had never stopped in before. We had a mind blowing conversation with this guy. 

 He's a master dyer and philosopher and we hardly got in a word! We did leave with several new articles of wearable art. Check out his Etsy shop
We decided that was one of the most memorable days of this trip so far. 

Crazy orange mushrooms!

Today we sit on the shore of Lake Wallenpaupack writing and soaking up the fall colors and the sweet sunshine. 

Next stop is my mama's house in New York, on our way to the Big Apple. The US Government is back up and running. Whatever that means. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Give. Thanks. Everyday.

On Saturday, October 12th, we marched with a crowd of protesters in Cleveland, Ohio. This was the second of a series of worldwide protests against the behind-the-scenes takeover of our global food systems.

An estimated 400 marches took place on that day around the globe. Millions are standing up and telling the government that we are not ok with the fact that GMO (genetically modified organism) foods are not labeled in our grocery stores. 

We passed out hundreds of fliers to educate the public about the devastating (not to mention the yet-to-be-discovered) effects that Monsanto is single-handedly (with ample government support) having on our worlds food supply, people and environment. It was astounding how many folks looked at us puzzled and said "G-M what??" It was also exciting how many people in cars passed by and honked and waved in support. Gave me shivers of hope.

It was such an inspiring experience. We met families who are educating themselves together by growing some of their own food, reading, watching documentaries and spreading the word to others. We also met folks who are becoming bee keepers because they want to be part of the honey bee revival that will help to move our planet back to a state of thriving. 

We highly recommend joining the next global MAM, which will likely be in the spring.  Stay tuned, and in the meantime, do some research to keep yourself up to date on the topic. There is an official Facebook page that will list upcoming marches. 

These are two flyers that we handed out that I believe are very informative. Please feel free to print many and hand them out to everyone:

We decided to take a walk after the march to see the Rock and Roll hall of fame. It was pretty neato. Cleveland was fun. The squirrels there are very friendly. We couldn't resist stopping at this awesome little place at the end of the day for some delicious vegan pumpkin soup. 

We scooted back across the Canadian border to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving with some family near Niagara Falls. It's funny how little we know about some family members. In a nutshell, we learned about Eco-friendly mining practices, Transcendental Meditation, Ayurvedic cooking and shared a wonderfully-fun-to-prepare (and eat) organic, GMO-free Ayurvedic Indian Thanksgiving dinner followed by a trip to the falls. This will be hard to top next Thanksgiving. 

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Cattle and Corn and Cops! Oh my!

I have been procrastinating writing. So much to take in! My senses are on overload, in a very good way. The motorhome made a fantastically flawless journey through the Rockies to the beautiful west coast and then went on a ferry ride to Vancouver Island. We are so proud of that ol' girl! She's resting with some lovely friends on the island as we embark on our USA tour. 

One of my goals on this USA road trip is to gather some info about the average American's knowledge about GMOs in our food supply. I am calling the project "What do YOU know about GMO's?" and it consists of a five-question interview. I purchased a digital voice recorder so I can play reporter. If all goes well, I will continue this project once we return to Canada. (Please contact us if you would like to participate anonymously at ) I was pleasantly surprised when we made our very first stop on the US side of the border in Washington and saw these signs in an organic grocery store:

Montana is ginormous. Luckily it's also beautiful and has lots of interesting things to see. The pronghorn antelope are very plentiful and cute and seem to stay off the highways better than the deer. We made a stop in Butte, MT at sunset. The downtown has been carefully restored and maintained and it's really something! Also, we were puzzled by the giant glowing statue on one of the mountaintops nearby. Turned out it was a huge Virgin Mary called Our Lady of the Rockies. Who knew?

We stopped at a neato trading post across from the historical battlefield at Little Big Horn. 
Sadly, we couldn't actually get a tour of the area. Government shutdown.

 We listened to Glenn Beck on the radio and shook our heads as he listed the effects that the shutdown is having on US citizens. Mind boggling. He said that Mount Rushmore (as all national parks) was closed and that they went so far as to place cones along the highway so that passers-by can't even stop to look. What?? Needless to say, we settled for this postcard. If we hold it up and squint, it's pretty lifelike. 

As soon as we crossed the border into South Dakota, suddenly there was about 2 feet of snow on the ground and the trees still had green leaves, but they were broken and mangled from the freakishly heavy early snowfall. We overheard a man at a rest area saying he was trapped for 3 days in a house with no power or water under several feet of snow. As we continued, we witnessed something very bizarre and quite gruesome. There were miles of lifeless, black cattle in snowy pastures. We saw dozens of them strewn about in the ditches and on the median between the highway lanes. We stopped for fuel and asked what happened as we saw a huge heap of carcasses in a pen just behind the gas station. Apparently, it snowed so hard and so fast and with such high winds that the cattle got lost and made their way over fences and many froze to death and/or suffocated in snow drifts. It was one of the eeriest things I have ever seen. And it smelled absolutely awful. Millions of dollars of cattle lost was what they said. I was more saddened for those poor cows than for the financial losses. What happened to human compassion? 

On a lighter note, we drove late into the night last night and stopped in Mitchell, South Dakota because we really had to see the Corn Palace. That's right, it's a giant building with flashy lights and it's covered with corn cobs and corn stalks of various colors forming murals. As we stood and stared from the dark, empty street, two men in a pickup passed slowly by and one of them leaned out and declared "my life is now complete!!!" And we yelled back "us too!!"  The campground manager called it the world's largest bird feeder. So corny.

Speaking of corn, it's currently whizzing by us mile after mile as we trek through the corn mazes called Iowa and Minnesota. I am certain that most, if not all of it is GMO seed. Since corn is wind pollinated, it would be nearly impossible to avoid contamination in open prairie like this. On the bright side, there are also thousands of wind turbines producing power which, to me, is a welcome change from the thousands of oil and gas wells and refineries dotting the Alberta and Montana and area. Winds of change...

This Saturday, October 12 is a the worldwide March Against Monsanto. We plan to march and we hope you will too. There are thousands of marches planned around the globe. Find a march in a city near you! If we don't start taking action, our food supply will be forever altered and the consequences will be unfathomable. Speak up. Every voice counts. Many nations have already said NO to these science exp  If you aren't familiar with GMO foods, check out this quick explanation from Slow Food:

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

On the Road to TRUTH

I feel excitement and uncertainty today as we pack up our few belongings and travel-prep the motorhome. The end of one chapter means the start of another, with the potential for much discovery and wonder. We are departing from Northern Alberta headed for the West Coast, where we will leave our cozy home on wheels to make a loop around the USA by car (providing the USA doesn't self-destruct before then, with this silly government chaos).  We are both gypsies at heart and we are always seeking more meaning and more truth in everyday life, regardless of where we are on the globe. 

Ultimately, this search is internal. No one else can show us the right way. No one else can complete the journey of life for us. We need to do this for ourselves. I remember the exact room I was standing in when I made this realization for myself in my mid-20's. I remember thinking that I had received a major key to the mysteries of life that day. I am so grateful. These keys aren't necessarily easy to grasp, but they sure are blessings if you 
string them all on a necklace and wear them everyday. I'm on the hunt for other keys that may help me to solve more of my own mysteries. 

One of the bittersweet challenges in life is leaving the amazing people behind along each leg of the journey. I have been touched by the open hearts and the longing for truth in so many whom I have crossed paths with in my 31 years. I often ponder how I can somehow bring the energy and essence of each of them with me along the heart trail. I find that photos and storytelling are good ways to keep the memories alive. Of course, with social media, everyone is only a "Like" away. I think we all leave behind pieces of ourselves and take snippets of others along with us on the journey, planting seeds of change in all of us. 

A couple of years ago, I realized that part of my life's purpose is to help others find their truths and remind people that we are all the same in spirit and in heart, in spite of our outward differences. For me, life is about encouraging people to speak their truths and to know that they aren't alone in how they think or feel. Over the next month (and maybe beyond that) we will be working on two new projects. One is about being positive and being connected with the greater global community, connecting with strangers and spreading good vibes. More to come...

The second is an idea that has been brewing in me over several months, and it will involve collecting voices on the topic of GMOs. That's all I will say for now. Oh boy!!! Can't wait to start on those...but right now, we must focus on the road ahead of us. Snow is looming in the mountain passes and the motorhome is a dry-road hog so we can't waste any time....