2010-2011 Ecovillage Road Trip

October in Oregon – Ashland, Applegate, The Dunes, Lost Valley, Eugene & Portland


I Love Ashland!

It’s been a while since I found the time to blog!  I arrived in the Ashland area in early October – visited my good friend Shavana in Williams after a glorious day traveling by the Klamath River from Orleans – and landed in Ashland to settle in for a week.  I had to give up my free and fancy lifestyle for a good 10 days so I could do some solar consulting work that was too good to pass up.  So I used the cafes of Ashland as an office – (thanks to the wonderful folks at EVOs cafe and lounge – http://www.evoscoffee.com ) and cranked out a feasibility study for a 1.2 MW solar plant at the FAA facility in the Sierras.  That really changed my focus!  Back to my engineer and solar self.

Ashland Creek along “cafe row” in Ashland

During the work stint, it was hard to write or focus on much else besides enjoying watching Fall come to Ashland.  A really lovely town, Ashland is one of my favorites.  It’s an oasis both ecologically and culturally in an otherwise somewhat “dry” southern Oregon.  I camped my Beluga Van at the WellSprings hot springs just a couple of miles West of town – http://www.jacksonwellsprings.com/ – a very cool establishment.  For $22/night I had a camping spot, a pool to swim, hotspring baths, a dry and wet sauna (where it’s okay to chant and drum as most of the clientele are pagan types).   If you are ever in Ashland it’s worth a visit!

On the weekends I stayed out at Emigrant Lake County Park – a man-made lake and a beautiful park just 5 miles East of Ashland.  A nice quiet getaway with good bike riding and hiking.  http://www.jacksoncountyparks.com/emigrant_lake.htm

Emigrant Lake – A beautiful (though man-made) lake near Ashalnd

Beluga in a sunny yet private spot at the Emigrant Lake Campground

I took a few short trips to the Williams/Applegate area but didn’t have time to visit Trillium community on this leg – I’ll catch them on the way back through in a few months perhaps.  A really beautiful area with a live organic culture of folks!

I caught the dance scene in Ashland a few nights and mornings.  Sweet crowd.  Shavana invited me to a friend’s gathering of singing spiritual songs one evening as well – a sweet touch to round out my Ashland stay.

The Oregon Dunes

After Ashland I was a bit burnt from all the computer time on the solar feasibility report and so it was time to chill in Nature.  So it was off to the Dunes on Oregon’s coast.  I stayed in Honeyman State Park – a fabulous access point to seaside lakes and the largest of the Oregon dunes.  They go on for miles and they come inland from the beach for about a full mile!

I was able to get some good writing done on my books and got some exercise running across those dunes and bicycling around the lakes.  Great fun watching the sand surfers of all ages!

After the dunes I came inland to land in Eugene briefly and then out to Lost Valley Community.

Lost Valley Community

Lost Valley is one of the long time ecovillages on the west coast circuit of communities.  They are famous for having brought the Naka-Ima personal growth work to the communities movement and have taught Permaculture for years through their non-profit arm – the Lost Valley Educational Center.

I came to Lost Valley at a very opportune time.  First there was a 5 week Permactulture Certificate course just starting with an amazing group of young people.  The first night at LV I met one of the Permacutlure teachers, Melanie Rios, through my good friend Bindi who had traveled down from Portland on her way to Diamond Heart in Sebastopol.  She stopped in so we could check out where Lost Valley was at.  Melanie and I became fast friends and  before our first evening hanging with the 3 of us was over, she had invited me to teach 2 permaculture sessions – one on ommunity and the other on solar design.  So much fun working with a great permaculture teacher and 10 very cool young people!

Melanie Rios (on right) and students (L>R: Seth, Sam, Alena, Elliot, and Ben) of the Permaculture Certificate Course

Through getting to know Melanie, I discovered how LV is at a crossroads and the “community” part of the equation is going through a rebirth.  The educational arm – Lost Valley Education Center – is going strong teaching their courses, but the community has suffered from lack of vision and direction for some time.  The story goes deeper but if you want to know the full ins and outs drop me an email!

The short of it is that besides teaching the Permaculture Course, I was able to do some significant visioning and counseling work for the community on their future vision and direction and how to approach the visioning and manifestation process at this stage of their evolution.  See the recent articles in Communties Magazine for some of the process issues they are working with.


After 10 days of intense processing and teaching at Lost Valley it was off to Eugene to nurse the cold I got at LV and to visit friends.

I stayed at Armitage State Park along the Willamette River only 5 miles from the Eugene center.

My dearest best friend of all time – Gary Sarault lives in Eugene with his wife Carol.  Gary and I go back to when I was 1 month old and he just born.  Our mothers were best friends and we have been alpha-omega since.  We had a blast.

I also visited my dear friend Dharmika Henshel and her kids.  Dharmika and I were buddies in Vt in the early 80’s.  Great to have friends that have known you a while!

And finally I went up to Corvallis for a great evening with Otmar Ebenhoech and a brief visit with his sweetie Gwen.  Otmar is famous in the electric vehicle industry and a all around great brother.  We were colleagues in the early ’90s when the only electric vehicles were conversions us solar techies were building.  We built hybrids that got 140 MPG equivalent back then.  Otmar is a genius.  And great fun!

Kai and I Part Ways

Time to jump on a plane to Santa Cruz!  It’s a bit ironic to have spent nearly 3 months slowly making my way north from Santa Cruz and then hop on a plane and visit there for 5 days.  But the matters of the heart need attention when they do.  Kai – my wonderful partner of 3 1/2 years and I decided to goes separate ways.  That story is not for this blog but suffice it to say that we wanted to process our split in person and not long distance. We actually had a wonderful 5 days and will stay in close contact as soul advocates and best of friends.  We didn’t stop loving each other.  But the road calls me and once must pursue one’s dreams.

Dancing Rock People at Bonny Doon Beach

More Dancing Rock Spirits

Northwest Totem Spirits in Santa Cruz Beach Rock

Sunset in Santa Cruz

Columbia Ecovillage in Portland

Back to Portland and visit to my dear friend and sister community seeker, Nina Bindi at Columbia Ecovillage.  Bindi had a cold and I had a date north, so I couldn’t visit long but Bindi gave me a wonderful tour of this wonderfully rural feeling urban cohousing ecovillage.  Work day was underway and I got to meet some folks and see the community in action.  The community is built near the former site of the Portland Permaculture Institute and grew out of that endeavor.  It’s really a well designed layout and a great feeling community that I look forward to visiting more on my way back through when I have more time.

A brief visit with my old friend Cara Cruickshank and then up to Port Townsend for my daughter’s graduation from Port Townsend School of Massage and to visit Port Townsend Ecovillage.  I had to pass up my former alma mater, The Evergreen State College, and all my wondeful friends in Olympia until my trip back South in a few months.

Port Townsend Ecovillage

My daughter was graduating from Port Townsend School of Massage and what a great opportunity to stay at PTEV for a few days before and after the graduation!   Kees and Helen were my gracious hosts at PTEV and I greatly enjoyed them showing me around and coordinating my work flow and stay.  PTEV is a really wonderful feeling community that is growing from their present 15 or so folks to 30-40 folks soon in 15 households.

Kees Harvesting the Rain at PTEV

Jim Communing with the Egg Devas at PTEV

The community has gone through several years of planning and seeking of the right legal structure and community agreements around housing and developing the ecovillage.  Town zoning and codes along with financing issues with the banks resulted in them forming a homeowners association after considering LLC, LEC and housing coop models.  They’ve learned a lot and are a testament to the perseverance of communities to find a legal structure that preserves their vision while working with the realities of the world at hand.  Kees has a couple of great articles in the latest Communities Magazine (http://www.ic.org) on Power and Empowerment and in an issue a few back that discuss the evolution of legal structure and decision making at PTEV.  Highly recommended reading!

Kees and Helen’s Cute Cottage at PTEV

The “Coho” or Coop House at PTEV

Electric Cars at Port Townsend Ecovillage

Hannah Graduates from Massage School

My dear daughter graduated from Port Townsend School of Massage.  She had gotten her massage certificate in California several years ago at Heartwood but WA has more stringent standards so she took the course again.  She’s been going via the ferry to PT for 6 months of every 3rd weekends while being a single mom for 3 kids.  She’s an awesome masseuse and healer and I’m so glad she’ll have her WA license.    Congratulations Hannah!

Off to Lopez

And now I’m at Lopez living with my wonderful daughter and grandkids.  More pics of them soon!  And more travels to come!  Stayed tuned!  Stay in tune with your highest!

Humboldt County and North To Oregon

After the “Lost Coast”, the wildcat road comes to the end of the King’s Range where the Eel River meets the ocean and where the super-quant and somewhat magical town of Ferndale is tucked against the hills.  If you saw the movie “Outbreak”, the setting was Ferndale and the beach was Centerville Beach – a place I spent many an afternoon centering 34 years ago.  I came to Ferndale in 1976 after a short 3 months in the College of the Redwoods dorm – right out of high school.  I lived there from ’76 to ’78 – most of the time in a hippie commune much like Alice’s Restaurant.  We had 9 people, 2 dogs and a cat living in an old wonderful church.


“We” were some of the core members of “The Family” – a spiritual tribe that founded the Humboldt Community Collective – I was 18 and on the Board and we raised money through music concerts for a restaurant for the homeless.  It was my first inentional community.  The homeless restaurant plan never came to be but the monies went to the Eureka Community Gardens project, which lasted for many years.  The “Family” was a blast – we gathered and ate and counciled and drummed and celebrated every Sunday in the Church or in some beautiful nature sanctuary spot like Fern Canyon or Patrick’s Point.  We sat in circles above the cliffs calling in the whales (which worked at least once) and generally had a beautiful time together.


Behind the church was the Ferndale Cemetary and then Russ Park.  I spent many a day exploring the ridges and valleys of Russ Park – deepening my strong connection to Nature and to my inner self.  I bicycled from Ferndale the 22 mile round trip to college every day for 2 years.  We then moved to Table Bluff- the other side of the mouth of the Eel River where we had another wonderful communal household, had dreams of whales and spent alot of time at the beach on Table Bluff.



Centerville Beach



Harbor Seal at Centerville Beach

So this trip was a memory lane for me – many a fine time had here during that magical time of 18 – 20 years old.  After a night in the Humboldt Fair Grounds in Ferndale, and a day wandering around my old alma mater, it was up to Eureka and Arcata to visit old friends.  I lived in Arcata for 2 years when I returned to Humboldt County in the mid-80s.



The College of the Redwoods Science Department where I took every science course they offered over 3 years.


Two of my very dear friends and favorite social change colleagues live in the Arcata area –  Paul Cienfuegos and Jayme Delson.  I spent a lovely few hours with Paul.  Check out www.paulcienfuegos.com.  Then I spent a good 5 days reconnecting with Jayme.  Jayme and his late Mom, Ruby are the authors of the absolute best deep analysis of the global economy and gobal capitalism that I know.  I worked with them in the mid-80s on authoring their work and I plan now to help bring it out to the world.  Check the visionary commons site for Jayme’s work at some hopefully not too future date.  I also fit in a visit with my of my old “Family” buddies – Riley Quarles who also worked at the Farm I’m about to go out to where I worked in the 80s.

Off to Orleans!

After almost 2 weeks on the coast, I was ready to come back inland for some late summer heat.  Again, I headed down memory lane and made my way into the Trinity mountains and up to Orleans to visit my good old friend Norman Coates. I worked for Norman’s farm – Gem of the River Produce for two years in ’84 and ’85 as his right hand man – crew boss, trucker, irrigator, tractor driver, etc.  I loved that job – got strong and grounded and learned a great deal from Norman.  We organically farmed 48 acres and produced over 50 species of fruits, and vegetables.  Norman now tends a beautiful vineyard and limits his fruits and vegies production to a large garden for his own use and that of local town folk.

The Farm is beautiful as it is right on the Klamath River in the heart of deep bear and cat country.   His wonderful partner Robin is working to bring organic food and food education to the Orleans school and community.  They are installing a greenhouse right next to the school and giving workshops and presentations on how to grow organic food.  Go Robin!


Now I’m in the Ashland and Applegate Valley area of S. Oregon.  I have friends to visit and there are several small communities here to visit.  More on that in my next post!

To the Mendocino Coast

After Emerald Earth it was time to get quiet and along again for some writing and inner community exploration.  So I went off to the coast and on a great recommendation from a friend discovered Jug Handle Farm Nature Center where I had pretty much the whole campground to myself for $12/night.  Walking trail to the ocean and redwoods.   Easy drive to the town of Mendocino and Fort Bragg, I spent a week writing and researching blog software and dropping in again to my “real” work.   This would be the “town” – or at least one of them, if one lived at Emerald Earth – the other being Ukiah.  I like it out here on the coast.  Though it’s foggy most of the time, it’s a nice contrast to the hot dry of inland California.  One can drive back and forth from sun to fog between the Boonville area and the Mendocino area.  Beluga got some plumbing upgrades while at the camp and I found the perfect hot plate stove with sealed burners.  I also got to see how well Beluga’s solar powered systems work even in the fog!  Hot showers while camping rock!

Then it was up the coast through Garbverville and out to the Lost Coast by the King’s Range Wilderness area.  I lived in Petrolia way back in 1983-84 and this place is one of my dear to heart.  My name comes partially from here as the local river, Mattole, in the native tongue is said to mean “Clearwater” and it was just over the hill in Ferndale back in 1976 that I named myself.

I spent a great night out at the mouth of the Mattole and then a nostalgic ride out the “wildcat” – one of the windiest and most spectacular roads on the coast.  The “Lost Coast” is named such because the King’s range makes it the only part of the West Coast – from Sand Diego to Vancouver – where the terrain is too rough to make a road.  Both Route 1 and Route 101 go inland here – and what left is the “wildcat”.  A glorious day!

Camping at the Mouth of the Mattole

The beautiful Mattole River. "Mattole" means Clearwater in the native toungue.

The "Lost Coast"

No one on the Beach for Miles besides moi!

Emerald Earth Community

So after several lovely days on the Yuba and in Nevada City visiting Susan and Jerome and Adam, I ventured back to the coast, stayed a night at Clearlake State Park (amazing park!) and then onto Boonville to meet back up with Kai and head up the many mile dirt road to Emerald Earth Community.

Emerald Earth is one of my favorite communities and back in 2003 I considered strongly living there.  While there Kai got to learn some green building techniques and I offered to upgrade their solar system in exchange for your stay.  Kai stayed 4 days but had to go back to her work in Santa Cruz.  We said our goodbyes for now and I stayed on for a good long visit of 11 days.

Emerald Earth’s folks are some of the finest communitarians I know.  They are deep in the woods and so life there is no less than homsteading in the real sense of the word.  The community has excellent interpersonal process and even though they work really hard – they also know how to have fun!  I will write more about them to anyone interested in learning more – just drop me an email.  Suffice it to say – they are definitely “on my list” of possible future homes and both Kai and I plan many more visits there.  They are family.  I will probably return there in November to offer more help and to deepen the new but sweet bonds made there.

While I was there one of the founders, Michael Smith, the famous green builder teacher, was having his “graduation” from EE.  He’s moving on for love and family.  Some of the pics were from that celebration.

This child’s mind gives me serious hope for the future!

Pizza party in the cob oven

To The Yuba!

After we came down from the Sierra Buttes, I went to Nevada City to visit my dear friends Susan, Jerome and Adam and complete some things on Beluga and deal with stuff in my storage locker there.  Kai went back to Santa Cruz for a week and then she planned to come up and meet me at Emerald Earth Community.

While in Nevada City I got to spend a couple of days naked in my most dearest wilderness spot on the planet thus far, the South Fork of the Yuba River.  This river was so healing for me when I lived here back in 2004-2006.  I attribute most of the healing of my neck problems from a severe whiplash accident in 2001 to this river.  I swim up it like a salmon- winding my way up past housed sized boulders except unlike a salmon I can get out and climb around the boulders!  It’s magical.  Ask me sometime where the secret spots are!

The Magical South Fork of the Yuba River

In the meantime I went back out route 49 to spend a couple of days launching my writing projects by the North Fork of the Yuba River.  I’m loving the dictation software I have and I spent a couple of great days dropping back into Peace of writing by speaking intermixed with swimming and hiking up the River.  I made some excellent progress on the novel and other journaling and thoughts.  A great start to the real core purpose of this multi-facted trip.

Beluga along the N. Fork was a great place to drop into writing.

To the Mountains!

So after a beautious drive on route 49 we find a great camp site by the river and set out the next morning to climb Sierra Buttes.  We climbed from 2500′ to 8400′ in about 4 hours – whew!  The view from the top is amazing.  Though it’s not a 10,000 or 12,000 footer, one can see (on a clear day) all the way to the bay area, to the coast range, to Mount Lassen and east to the heart of the Sierras.  Amazing hike!

Looking down from 8400' toward the North from Sierra Buttes

First to the Hot Springs!

To start this trip in style, after I “finished” installing the solar and upgraded water systems on Beluga, Kai and I arranged to meet in the Sierras for a wilderness experience or two.  She had left a week earlier and enjoyed a week at a friends cabin near Donner Lake (Thanks Susan!).  Then she made her way to Sierra Hot Springs in Sierraville.  Harbin Hot Springs folks took this springs over several years back and have made it into a very laid back and lovely hot springs scene.  We camped there a night and then onto

Kai at Sierra Hot Springs

seek out a good long trek into the mountains!

Meet Beluga, Home on Wheels

So before going on this fabulous road trip I had to manifest a fabulous vehicle.  The spirit guides were generous!  Meet Beluga.  She is a 2006 Mercedes Sprinter Van that was converted to be a really cool camper van by a man in Hawaii.  He converted 6 of them and this was his last.  He used bamboo for counters and wall corners, bamboo woven matting for the ceiling and generally natural materials – or at least natural feeling materials throughout.  It has a double or single bed, a sink and shower, 42 gallon cold water tank, a fantastic super efficient heater, a BIG ice box, a closet, swivel passenger and driver seats (so you can join the entertainment in the main part of the van!).

THEN I rebuilt the pumbing and electrical systems and installed 600 watts of high efficiency solar panels, 8 KWHrs of deep cycle solar storage batteries (that’s 6 golf-cart type batteries), a 2000 Watt sine wave inverter, an 80 amp solar charge control for 800 watts more of ground mount solar, a state-of-the-art monitoring system, 9 gallons of electric hot water heat, electric cooking ranges and a toaster!  I can go 10 days without sun and have heat, running water and cooking.  If the sun shines or I drive anywhere I can go on forever taking showers, cooking, having heat etc. etc.  All with NO on-board propane.   I can also back up a house if the grid goes down or run a compressor for construction projects or power an electric chainsaw. It also has a total of 62 gallons of total water storage!  If I park it for the Winter and the diesel tank is full, I have 3 months from the super-efficient diesel space heater.   And it has a tiltable bike-rack that allows me to carry my recumbent and my upright while still having access to the back door.   In a word it’s SWEET!





The Great Northwest Road Trip!






Welcome to my road trip travel log!   It’s a pleasure to have you along!

(See the latest posts below this introduction – Enjoy!)

It’s been just about a month since I left my Santa Cruz home and set out for a tour of intentional communities, old friends,  former home towns and favorite wilderness spots throughout the great Northwest.  While on the road, I’m writing two books and reviewing the work of other writers, authors, and colleagues.  I’m also healing, relaxing, and hopefully dropping in to a deeper me – a more connected and powerful and authentic self.

First Meal in Beluga

I invite you to frequent these pages whenever you’d like and catch up on my travels, my thoughts the progress of my “work”.  This web site will hold other pages besides my travel log.  Some will be devoted to my social change work, some to issues I care deeply about and want to share, some to links to other’s work that I respect deeply.

So come back as the site grows and as I come “out of the closet” with my deeper work and sharings.  As many of you who know me know, though I’ve been a solar advocate, designer and installer for 32 years now, my real love and work is the art and practice of social change – especially the visioning and creation of a truly creative, humane, just, sustainable and fun culture!  One of the books I’m writing is a novel laying out that visionary future and how we might get there.  More on that later – for now – let me catch you up on my travels!

So like most Blogs the following postings are in reverse chronological order.  So if you want to catch up to the whole trip start at the bottom and work your way back up.  Or you can see the post categories to the right.  Enjoy!