Sunday, October 21, 2007

Ashland

I always stop in Ashland on the way to California. It's the perfect stop after the drive from San Francisco or Portland. There's good food and I get to go to Jackson Wellsprings and relax in the hot tub and sauna after a long day of driving. As long as there are no sunburned white dudes doing native American chants it's a good time. I don't have as much fun when I forget to bring my flip flops though, that's for sure.

Since I'm too cheap to pay the additional $9 for camping at Jackson Wellsprings I always park in town, by the park and use the wireless at The Black Sheep pub. The Black sheep, it should be noted, turns into a small town frat party at nine pm sharp on any night of the week, so now I've learned to just stay in the van and use the wireless from Louie's, a couple of doors down.

One time Blendy and I woke up at the park after a blizzard that closed I-5 and a dog ran alongside the van in the morning, as if trying to tell us to get out and play in the snow. So we did.

I should mention also that Eugene is a great place to stop for food. If you take the 30th Ave exit you can fill up on biodiesel and ethanol at Sequential Biofuels and then keep heading west to Sundance market at 748 E. 24th. They have all kinds of yummy hot and cold organic food and biodegradable take out containers in case you forgot to your own.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Portland

Aaah..I'm relaxing in the lap of luxury over here at JW's pad enormous bachelor pad, enjoying some wine and home cooked food. We went to the farmer's market at People's (my favorite) Co-op and got some chantrelles for tomorrow's dinner and chiles for tonight's beans and polenta with tomatillas. I did some errands like replacing the driver's license that was stolen in New Orleans and picking up some artwork from the cute new downtown gallery, Pony Club.

I went for a little bike ride around N. Mississippi before dinner in the chilly fall air, bright leaves falling all around. It made me fall in love with Portland all over again and gave me a dose of housing envy because there are so many beautiful houses around here. I like it.

I made it here from Victoria (350 miles) on about 16 gallons of grease, not counting a side trip to Abbotsford (80 miles RT) so that makes 26 MPG. My estimate has always been about 23 when I'm loaded down like this. Not bad. Now I just need to find some more grease in a town where you can't spit without hitting a greasecar! Wish me luck..

Oh, photos coming soon. I got a new camera but I still don't have a copy of Photoshop. Can anyone help?

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Start at the Beginning

In January I was offered a solo art show in Japan at a gallery called Birdo Flugas in Shiogama, on the Pacific coast, north of Tokyo. Knowing that I would want to travel for at least a couple of months in Asia following the show I knew that I would need to save some money. At the time I was paying $750 for my 800 square foot art studio in Portland.

Having lived in my van for eight months in 2005-2006, I decided that the best way to save money would be to move back into the van and take the opportunity to travel across the country, which I have always wanted to do.

It only made sense to look for a better van since I would be spending almost a year living in it, so I decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to invest in a diesel vehicle and a vegetable oil conversion system. My first search on eBay turned up the van that would become mine, a 1982 Diesel Volkswagen Westfalia. It was located near Medford, Oregon and had already been converted by it’s owner, Thaddeus Gala.


On January 21st I drove the six hours to Trail and checked it out and gave him a deposit. I gave notice on my studio on February first and made plans to put everything in storage in Portland.

When I met with Thaddeus he went over the vegetable oil system with me. Basically, the van has a secondary fuel system with an electric heater to heat the vegetable oil so that the engine can use it as diesel fuel. To collect oil from restaurants there is also an external battery powered pump with a fuel filter that can be used to pump for the collection of dirty oil and then filter it after the solid matter and water have been allowed to settle out of it.


The filtered vegetable oil is then stored in a five gallon container that is connected by a pump to my auxiliary fuel tank. I can switch between fuel tanks via a console mounted on the dash, which also allows me to turn on the heater and the pump to fill the tank.


As for collecting the fuel Thaddeus went over using the pump and showed me some samples of clean and dirty oil and sent me on my way with two empty five gallon containers.

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Sunday, March 4, 2007

Ashland

After leaving Jeremy's Memorial service I took the 7 pm ferry and drove to Vancouver to pick up Brenndan and then drive to Portland. We arrived at 4 am and the next day we continued on to Ashland. We left late and then hit blizzard conditions (they SAY blizzard, but we are Canadian, we know better) at Sexton Pass.

By the time we got to the Wellsprings there was about 3 inches of snow. We sat outside in the hot pool with all the other hippie monkeys and tried to catch snowflakes before they melted from the steam. In the morning we woke up to about 6 inches of fresh snow, impossible to drive in and we were supposed to meet Thaddeus in Trail to get the new Van. I-5 was closed at Siskiyou pass and Thaddeus got stuck in Weed coming back from Napa. Brenndan and I killed some time drinking hot chocolate and playing in the snow and by 10 the roads were clear enough to get to Trail. Thad's mom gave us the keys and we set off with both vans back north. We planned to drive straight to Seattle and sleep there but I needed to crash by the time we got to Portland so we slept a few hours and got up at 4 am and drove the rest of the way to Vancouver so that Brenndan could pick his son, Sam up from school at noon. Luckily we had no problems at the border and pulled up to the school at 11:55. Phew, what a trip.

I bribed Brenndan and Sam into helping me take down my show by promising them ice cream at La Casa Gelatto, 218 flavors. 218 Flavors!!! Sam had Death by Mango, Brenndan had mango tamarind sorbetto and I had Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice cream. Not my favorite but after tasting 25 other flavors I made a snap deciscion.

Brenndan decided to come BACK to portland with me to help me pack and move my stuff into storage. What a sweetheart!! So the next day we picked up some bagels from the Mount Royal bagel factory in North Van and then hit the road again! This time Brenndan drove the entire way and I even got to sleep in the back for a while. Wow. I thought it was luxury to be able to brush my teeth while someone else drives but wow. Out like a light.

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