Pisgalicious

When the Stewardship Coordinator is a brewer, artisan ale is a pillar of local identity and economy, and a historic preserve was once home to a hop farm, magical things happen. Friends of Buford Park and Mt. Pisgah teamed up with Agrarian Ales to produce Pisgalicious, a hop-heavy, delicious ale, perfect for summer. We loved supporting this collaboration and fundraiser at the first tasting July 24 at Agrarian. 

The Wizard, the Rainbow, and the Kokanee

We love and prioritize contributing to our larger community. When the opportunity came up to help with trail restoration at Crater Lake National Park, we were in. It was an REI and National Park co-hosted event that drew participants from around Oregon. I worked on invasive plant removal while Andrew helped remove social trails (created by park visitors to reach a vantage point quicker but harmful for the overall ecosystem). Exploring Umpqua River waterfalls and forests, testing out our new tent, and making the trek down to Crater Lake proper to cast for Rainbow trout and Kokanee salmon was icing on the cake. 

On the water | Part 3

A typical day began with prepping the kayaks and then orienting guests to the safety realities of being on the water for the next seven hours and how we interacted with the bay’s ecosystem.

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There is an incredible tidal ecosystem around the islands, home to a diverse range of species including the Blood Star (my favorite). As well, waterfowl, porpoise, otters, and seals were common sites while out on day paddles. Occasionally, whale pods would use the bay as a route. 

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{Photo Credit: Rick Harness}

The beginnings of sea soup. We ate this every day and it never got old, especially when paired with Dorle’s homemade bread and crisp apples.

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Threading the needle 

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{Alaskan} Island Life | Part 2

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Some time ago folks could purchase land for little expense if they could show contribution to the larger economy through some business venture; this house started as a bakery of sorts, selling pies to local fisherman, and the owners got a screaming deal on prime real estate.

A typical way to spend the afternoon was taking the skiff up one of the many inlets to check on nest sights, erosion realities, fish runs, and soak up the intense beauty nature had to offer. It wasn’t uncommon to count 50+ eagles in an hour’s time.

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Due to the shallow land base, the typical set ups of septic tanks and high volume water usage aren’t possible. Instead, outhouses, steam houses, and hand washing are the norm (Rick found my efforts to clean clothes via bucket and plunger hilarious). Drinking water is either brought out from Homer or siphoned off a local mountain side spring and then filtered (it’s part of the norm to always be checking the filter buckets and swapping out  batches of water), non-drinking water is provided by rain barrels, and food either comes directly from the island (kelp, fish, etc.) or is brought out from Homer with a careful consideration of how long items will keep. Though there wasn’t a great need for heating during my stay, the wood stack is always kept full.

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Alaska | Part 1

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In a word, Alaska was stunning. While I was technically working/volunteering as a WWOOFer (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, which the acronym for has become a noun and verb in recent traveler-speak; fantastic organization and an excellent resource for those whose idea of traveling and exploring includes life lived with locals and contribution), I felt completely on vacation and at the end of 18 days was rested and full. I’m one of several adventurers in my larger family and recently a few cousins had spent summers in Alaska. Their stories, my own curiosity, and a desire to be a bit more intentional with my summer hols this year was the motivation to head north for a few weeks.

I was very fortunate to come across Rick and Dorle Hareness’ eco-tourism company, A Seaside Adventure, based in Little Tutka Bay, about 40 minutes by water taxi off the coast of Homer, Alaska. They made space for me in their already full volunteer queue and very generously and graciously shared their lives and passion for the outdoors.  I think I’ve been avoiding posting about the trip in part because it’s mind boggling to suss how to describe such a rich experience. The boiler plate summary is I kayaked almost every day, was spoiled by a never ending supply of homemade bread, fresh fish, quesadillas, and sea soup, soaked in the silence and green, and very much cherish the friendship built with Rick and Dorle in such a stunning setting. Past that, I’ll let photos do the talking….

First glimpses…

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My lovely hosts!

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My view with breakfast, every morning.

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Many an evening ended with a mug of tea and some iteration of a stunning sunset…

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Bourj el Barajneh

Yesterday morning found me in a meeting at Bourj al Barajneh, a Palestinian refugee camp, regarding the camp’s present needs and how I, as an individual, could be of help.  The director was kind and patient with our questions and ideas.  The place was not what I expected (in truth, embarrassingly, I had some idea tents and, what to my eye would be, dramatic, visible difference).  To the eye of one unaware of what to look for, Barajneh would not necessarily stand out but rather seem to be another part of the city, albeit a poorer local, from the exterior at least.  Entering the camp, the first aspect to catch my eye were the wires, webs of electrical and other-function wires, some thread-like, other quarter width in circumference, tracking along the alley-like passage ways, which connect the camp areas with maze-like intricacy, no more than six feet above ground, in some places hanging lower.  ”Watch the wires… about once a month someone is electrocuted.”  Bright swaths of cotton candy pink, sea foam green, and sky blue paint cover the exterior walls of some buildings, only climbing as high as, what would appear to be, the reach of the painter, and coming several inches short of the street level.  It is Saturday; kids are at school and there is a low hum of activity- a building being cleared of renovation ruble that will be the in-camp location for Doctors Without Borders (the door is marked with a sticker communicating that no weapons are allowed inside, the graphic a machine gun); fruit vendors and nut roasters hawking wares from curbside stands or push carts; conversation with neighbors.  More heads are covered than I typically see in Hamra. Water drips from lose pipe fittings. The narrowness of the passage ways lends to the feeling that the buildings are taller than they really are and lean toward each other more than they really do.  Simply what I see, and a strong sense to mindfully not peer through my Western lens, painting a more abject picture than is perhaps accurate. Yet the reality that 20,000 people occupy a single square kilometer, the largest dwelling is no more than three rooms (not bedrooms with extra spaces as well, no, rooms, period), and these are individuals landlocked to this location is telling.