Monthly Archives: August 2010

Barson St’s Exquisite Black Hole

Well, the interview in San Mateo went swimmingly, and has been published here, in the San Mateo Daily Journal.  It was truly a pleasure to cook Heather breakfast and enjoy it together in a beautiful backyard-garden as we talked about our adventure.  Many thanks to Winnie and Sofia for hosting us for a night and allowing us to conduct the interview at their house!

The next day we continued down our favorite highway (the 1, of course) to a little coastal town called Santa Cruz, where we were promptly taken in by the most lovely family you could ever imagine:  a whole house of bright, colorful, energetic UCSC students who are literally down for anything.

Family photos on the wall of 313 Barson St

Stephen (the one who could endearingly be considered the old man of the family) and i whomped around in New Zealand together, so Sam and i were immediately welcomed.  Within minutes we felt like we had just come home to our brothers and sisters and basked together in the luxury of time.  A sunset and just a few waves later, after having been officially inducted into the family, we were, to be honest, beginning to dread our departure from 313A Barson St.

Officially adopted. This is our gorgeous handmade frame on the infamous wall--frame compliments of Keith

But what do ya know, that’s the very moment we were blessed with a message from an 88.1 KZSC radio host who expressed interest in having us on his show!  Not only did we get to stick around and hang with our new mates, but we also managed to land a live, on-the-air interview!  Blistering barnacles, we’ve been in Santa Cruz for so long i’ve cut my fingernails into Stephen’s wastepaper basket two times. twice.  That may be an exaggeration, but i promise, ecstasy swathed our home as we celebrated the interview and good company by making sushi, going to a carnival, and body surfing until we tired out the ocean.

Sam and Keith catching waves

The sushi feast we threw together for family dinner

But yes, information about the radio show!! The radio show is called Talkabout and is aired at 7PM Pacific time on Wednesday, 8/25 on 88.1 KZSC–listen here (click “listen now” in the top right)!! We don’t know too much about it, but we think there will be a part where listeners can call in and ask us questions about our trip/4Walls.  Tune in, enjoy the show, and we’ll throw up a post shortly after we get off the air!  Chur!


From the land of dinasaurs to where the revolution began: A photographic tour

In a world too delicious to the eye to describe in words, i thought it time for a photo tour.

our journey in the sand, each rock representing a state, not to scale 🙂
a broken view

all we needed now was the little mermaid

fern gulley lives...

The Redwoods: It’s almost impossible to  feel alone in the company of giants. These trees have seen empires burn like campfires, only getting wiser with each halo tattooed on to their stomachs. Predating Christ, the old-growth Redwoods can live up to 3000 years and are designed to survive natural disasters. When their trunks are cut, burned, or destroyed, these tenacious trees release a pheromone to trigger a series of new-growth around the ring of the dead tree, giving it an almost immortal life. These trees have outlived dinasaurs, ice ages, and great fires, and have lived for hundreds of thousands of years with almost no enemies, until about now. Due to the intense logging of our recent past, we only enjoy about 4% of the mystical Redwood Forest. The only natural predator of Redwoods: man.  But thanks to the Save The Redwoods League, we have managed to hold on to and conserve several state and national redwood parks on the west coast.

one of our favorite signs

our slimey companion in the forest

just hangin out in the driftwood

haircut numero dos

our favorite game, ‘hit rock with stick’

the oral tradition survives around the greatest of stages, campfire.

yeah... that big

walkin' under the heavens

"the coldest winter I've ever spent was a summer in San Francisco" - Mark Twain

Rick and company breakin' bread

the fam in san fran

the zen skater in Golden Gate Park

"cement slide" of san francisco - no adults without the supervision of a child

a flower in Aine's communal garden

a king's game in the People's Park

The company we kept: The perfect supplement to any adventure are the companions met along the way, and we have been living in the company of kings.

There was no one else I’d rather share the Redwoods with then my older sister and her husband, Matt and Melinda Armeni. Squeezed comfortably in their truck named ‘Hombre’ they drove over a thousand miles just to rendezvous with us here in the woods, and they made sure to bring the bacon. For three days we explored the forest like our backyard, and the coast, our sandbox. We love you guys, and we can’t wait to see you in San Diego.

Now to San Francisco, where Henry and I were hosted by a most lovely Bay Area family, Heidi and Martin Awesome (since I can’t remember your last name, i dubbed you with a temporary one). They caught us up on recent events (the fires and floods of the east) and cooked us up some delightful culinary treats (macaroons and steak!). Also in the city, we were lucky enough to catch up with one of my camp friends, Rick Raymond. Rick was actaully my counselour once upon a time at Camp Dudley and i haven’t seen him since i was 14, but like all great friendships, time meant nothing, and we jumped right back into the groove. We caught Rick at a crossroad in his life; he’s actually about to leave his work at Greenpeace to move to South Africa for some non-profit work, and of course, to look for an adventure. That being the case, we were able to follow Rick as he finished his San Franciscan bucket list before his grand exit. We jumped in the frigid bay to the wild gasps of onlookers, we schooled some randoms in pickup soccer at Fort Mason, and even rocked out to an 80’s cover band in North Beach. Good times were had. Good luck Rick.

Let’s finish with a little trip to a town called Berkeley. The truest representation of the “Left Coast,” Berkeley is said to be where people from around the globe come to practice democracy. Growing revolution since the 1950s, Berkeley has been at the forefront of almost every civil right’s movement in America. Berkeley has bled for freedom of speech throughout it’s existence, and will continue to fight for as long as there is something worth standing up for. And of course, as we’ve talked about before, Henry and I not only see these new places through our own experience, but through the eyes of those we meet. Our time in Berkeley was spent with a lovely lady name Aine, a family friend of friends, and we wouldn’t have had it any other way. We cooked, told stories, and learned a great deal from each other. Aine left Ireland at 18 and has been chasing adventure ever since. We thank Aine for her warmth.

And now on to San Mateo, for our first interview of the West Coast, the Daily Journal. We’ll talk soon! Love you guys

The 101

oh the fog...

For the past 11 days or so we’ve been biking ocean-sprayed cliffs, exploring rocky beaches, gawking at enormous conifer sentinels, finding our way in dense fog banks, and grimacing through guardrail-hugging-hairpins.  It’s safe to say, the 101 has become our home, and we’re definitely not complaining.

That being said, the weather seems to have gone whacky again!  It hasn’t been raining or storming, or anything, but it has been cold.  Possibly the coldest it has been on our trip so far, with the exception of Glacier National Park!  Dang, definitely didn’t expect that–plus, it seems that ever since we set rubber to the coast we’ve been shrouded  by fog.  The fog isn’t too bad though, because it makes the scenery much more mysterious and enchanting than it may normally be.  The drawback to the knee-high cloud, however, is that it makes for very hot climbs and icy downhill flights; i end up stopping at the top/bottom of every hill to make a wardrobe change.

In addition to the change in weather, the Pacific Coast Scenic Highway has brought a much welcomed development in our collective state-of-mind.  Still determined to support 4Walls to the best of our abilities, we now have thousands of miles of experience when it comes to talking to strangers, so fundraising comes naturally.  It is no longer something we have to spend time and energy stressing out about.  We’re on the coast.  It’s beautiful.  We’re doing something we believe strongly in, and doing it as best we can–with your help, of course.

Here is a bit about our (and thus 4Walls’) new friends and supporters:

Tony is a die-hard surfer.  No matter what the temperature, no matter how big the surf is, if there are waves, Tony is there.  He loves the sport so much that he’ll surf anything that will push his board towards shore.  Not only did Tony put us up for two nights and open his kitchen to the hurricane that is our appetites, he truly welcomed us into the family by showing us the area and…taking us surfing!  Yes, despite the 48 degree Oregon water and 6 inch waves, he took us to “sunset beach” (all we could see was fog), jammed us into wet suits, and handed us a longboard.  As a true champion, he then stood on the beach in shorts and sandals, shouting instructions to us as we crawled to shore upon ripples  lucky to be called waves.   No matter how cold we all were, or how upset we were that Tony’s longboard slipped off the roof of the van on the way home, we all had a blast and will remember the adventure fondly.  Here’s to Tony for exquisite hospitality and for keeping a cool head amidst such an unfortunate event–thanks, brother, for not taking our heads as payment!

Dave, Rob, and Carla are an adventurous trio that own a small printshop in Brookings, OR, and spend every moment they’re not working trying to squeeze excitement out of life.  Although they are 2/3 English (Dave and Rob), and only moved to the states about 14 years ago, they’ve done enough surfing, windsurfing, biking, hiking, and swimming to know more about their surroundings than google maps and the oldest Brookings local combined.  That being said, they had no trouble pointing us up the Chetco river to a glorious swimming hole, or to the monthly art fair so that we could navigate the crowds and do some ‘ol fashioned fundraising.  Thanks Dave, Rob, and Carla for great hospitality, love-saturated vibes, and top-notch local knowledge!

Saying goodbye to the printshop trio

Steve is the eccentric uncle you have who isn’t really related to you by blood, but  is still an integral part of keeping family functions fun and interesting. Friendly, funny, warm, and open, Steve is the ultimate people person who’s stories always end with laughter.  Just like almost all of the people we’ve met on our adventure so far, we were able to learn from him, because Steve is overflowing with passion for a hobby that Sam and i are completely unfamiliar with: growing marijuana.  Yes, Steve’s yard is covered with about 25 chest-high cannabis plants of various varieties, non of which he hesitated to tell us everything about.  Turns out our friendly host has a bad back, so after his doctor prescribed medical marijuana years ago, he decided to invest in some plants and grow it legally himself–that way he wouldn’t have to pay a dispenser every time he needed to refill his prescription.  I had never seen anything like it: a deep love blossomed out of what initially was a medical necessity.  Honestly, i really look forward to finding something in life that i love as much as Steve loves growing his own medical ganja. Thanks Steve, for opening your home to us and giving us yet another experience to remember–i never once thought i’d ever pitch my tent in a cannabis garden!

[Not] Live from Port Orford, OR

Two handsome kids stole our computer and made a video for our blog!  Surprisingly, they looked a lot like us and were almost as funny–check it out!

Keep Portland Weird

Hmm, how to describe Portland… Okay got it. Portland is like that kid you know, the one that most people don’t get, and therefor probably gets made fun of a lot. It’s that kid with the goofy rolling laugh who is probably wearing floral pajamas and hospital slippers in public. This kid is the absolute best, because no matter what, he is not trying to be anyone else but him (or her), and you gotta love that. Portland is that kid. Portland is genuine. And we’ve all got a little Portland inside, embrace the weird.

a real campaign to keep portland awesome

  • Lovin’ the bikes – Portland’s bike lanes are almost bigger than the ones reserved for cars. Countless neighborhoods are adorned with streets dedicated to just bikers. In fact, it’s almost frowned upon if you don’t bike to work. Weird.
  • Lovin’ the Beer – Last but not least, let’s talk about micro-brews. Portland has been ranked number one in the entire world for variety of micro-brews in one city. It’s the first American city to have made the top five ever, let alone the number one seed. I mean it beat Germany for cryin’ out loud, where has this city been hiding.
  • Lovin’ the Earth – Our friend Alex once went into a coffee shop (three on every block) to ask for just a cup (which Alex needed for work) and here is the unexaggerated response.

“Hmmm, do you really need this cup man? i mean, i really wish you would go get a mug or something.”

“I actually need it for a shoot that I’m on right now.”

“That’s really unfortunate man, (insert long sigh), okay, but i wish we didn’t have to do this”

Can you believe that? A city that is so environmental, that asking for a coffee cup actually warrants a moral lecture from the coffee kid. This is wonderful. Never in America have i seen (or heard of) such an apparent respect for our environment. It’s like being in a different country 20 years in the future. Portland has all of the natural beauty of Colorado, but still feels like a coastal city, how do they do it? Dubbed “the Greenest City in America,” Portland seems to have its priorities straight.

If what I’ve told you isn’t enough, you may not be human. i am truly infatuated with Portland, and with enough time, i can see this puppy dog romance blossoming into true love. i’ll be back Portland, don’t you worry.

The Second Coming of Alex and Isaac

the boys

As much as i’d like to think that Portland speaks for itself to any visitor, I can’t deny that we saw and experienced the city through the bright eyes of Mr. Alex Louis. You might remember Alex from Chicago (he was our host there as well) and has since moved to Portland to work for OPB, or Oregon Public Broadcasting. I don’t know how it works in your hometown, but in Portland, public broadcasting is hailed king of the airwaves. Knowing Ira Glass in Portland, is like knowing Elvis in Graceland, public broadcasting and everything NPR is huge, and our boy Alex is on the forefront. Keep an eye on this kid, or should I say, listen closely, he’s goin’ places.

Anywho, we couldn’t have asked for a more exuberant and equally excitable young person to be our tour guide for the wonders of Portland. Our first morning together, before heading to “the gorge” for some good old cliff jumping, we stopped to grab some Korean tacos from the downtown food carts, and guess who we ran into?

sandpoint reunion

The one in the middle, the one dress like a southern gentleman, that’s Isaac. If you remember correctly, Isaac was the kid posing for GQ in our group photo from Sandpoint, ID. After spending just over a year abroad in Israel, Isaac returned to the states only to hitchhike from NYC to his hometown in Idaho. A vagabond and a gifted storyteller, Isaac will most likely show up later in our lives somewhere, it’s just a feeling i have.

Reinventing ourselves

Now so far in this trip (as you’ve probably noticed) Henry and i have only worn two pairs of clothes, that’s two pairs of clothes for over two months. This has taken a toll on us. Rejuvenated from sipping the sweet nectar of Portland, we were inspired to find “street clothes” to wear on our west coast adventure. I wish there was a way to describe the wonder of new fabric (Goodwill new, but you get it) on our recently bathed skin, but there isn’t. The only comparison I can make came from my mother. “The only other person that could understand your experience,” she said, “is a pregnant woman. They wear the same maternity clothes for close to 6 months (maybe an outfit for everyday of the week at most) without change. I understand what you’re going through.” That Carine McLaughlin is a wise woman. I feel for all you soon-to-be-moms out there, i now understand a very small part of the mystery behind pregnancy. With new threads, Henry and I feel like we’re finally starting our re-entry into society.

Leaving the West Hills with Uncle Mark

chillin' on Uncle Mark's truck

We waved goodbye to our home in the West Hills, where we were staying with a friend from school, Steven London (the legend). He showed us some great pickup soccer and offered his home selflessly as Henry and i explored the city. We would be leaving Portland to stay with Uncle Mark in Albany, OR. You might have seen Uncle Mark comment on the blog before, he often shares fundraising advice and sometimes even picks up on grammatical errors. He has truly become a “road uncle.” However, even with our constant contact, we hadn’t actually met Uncle Mark yet (he is actually the uncle of a talented musician from college, Suzanne Yoder, who was kind enough to match-make). Together with Alex, we would first meet Uncle Mark over Lebanese food in downtown Portland, where periodic bursts of loud music, shouting, and belly dancing would take part. After delicious conversation, Uncle Mark would offer his home in Albany for our next night’s stay; we kindly accepted. We spent the next evening picking plums from Uncle Mark’s garden and reminiscing about past adventures (Uncle Mark toured New Zealand on a bike in the late 80’s). In the morning Henry and i were completely recharged and ready for some quality biking, and so we said our sweet goodbye to Uncle Mark, but not before handing us an amazing article on earthship architecture (4walls method) and these…


Uncle Mark is an engineer for HP and crafted these bad boys the night before we left. Uncle Mark you are the man. We won’t forget your kindness.

After an intense day of biking, we finally saw the Pacific Coast in all of it’s glory (not hidden behind ghostly fog) and there were no words to describe it, thus, this video was born.

Stayed tuned for more tales from the coast, including our stay with Tony the surfer-dude!

Seattle to Portland: Camping with the homeless

the homeless hustler himself

This is Jerry. While most would consider him homeless, he would disagree. Jerry is on permanent vacation, a transient being lost somewhere between summers in Washington and winters in Arizona. Honest, raw, and completely insane, Jerry has been successfully homeless for more than 10 years now. I say ‘successfully’ because he shows no desire for change (unless it’s loose haha) and revels in his current lifestyle.  He makes more than enough to eat and travel seasonally, and seems to have befriended a life of solitude.

But there is a dark side of Jerry that few ever get to know. Most people pass his layered smile with barely a glance, some may laugh at his sign and throw some coins, and maybe someone will stop for some small talk, but all and all, no one really talks to Jerry. So when our paths crossed while Gypsy camping (sleeping in public parks) in Centralia, Washington, Jerry would finally have an audience for his story. We burned the midnight oil as Jerry relived his life before us, reminiscing about times when he stood up against ‘the man’, hid 50 ‘cakes’ of acid from the authorities, and even desperately planted a quarter-pound of weed on some innocent kid. However, these stories weren’t always what you would consider coherent linear strings. Jerry would consistently interrupt his own stories with tidbits of dementia, inaudible mutterings, and vulgar Tourette’s-like interjections. Jerry is a walking anti-drug commercial, but that doesn’t mean his story is any less important than the next.

the seattle crew in motion

So this is our Seattle crew. On the left is Bridgid, niece of Don Triman (of the F&M Community), to her right is Brian, her lovely significant other, and of course, Henry, stretching it out on the mats of a Seattle Rock Gym. This happy couple was kind enough to take care of us, feed us amply with local produce, and share their deep love for rock-climbing. Seattle through their eyes was simply beautiful, and we thank them.

We blew our collective kiss to Seattle and we were back on the road. But this road is different, much different. We’re coastal now and we’re heading south. This means goodbye headwinds and hello fog. Each geography offers it’s own beauty and danger, and respect for both is the only way to survive. We’ve only begun to lick the salty winds of the Pacific, so who knows what perfect storms are waiting for me and Henry as we travel further south…

But before I leave you to go and say ‘whatsup’ to Portland, I want to share with you a comment Henry and I recently received on our blog that was exceptionally moving.

“Hey there guys, my name is Travis Collier and I am soldier currently serving in the United States Army and I am deployed downrange in the Maysan Province of Iraq. My parents recently took their vacation in the beautiful north west region of our great country and met a couple of crazy bikers along the way who they gave a ride to, that would be you. I read most of your blog and thought it was pretty damn cool, please keep in mind this is coming from the guy who rides in top of a humvee everyday of his life with a heavy duty machine gun and a tactical rifle, not to mention every cool toy a boy has ever dreamed of playing with; IE night vision.  I just wanted to say that I would like to donate a little bit to your cause and I think what your doing is very noble and very cool. I know I may not be able to donate much but being a soldier i know this better than most sometimes the smallest things matter the most.  I wish you best luck in journey and i hope that you continue your cause.

Spc Travis A Collier
United States Army, Field Artillery”

Travis is right, sometimes the smallest things really are the most important, and that’s exactly what this trip has always been about. 4Walls is working hard right now with your donations to provide clean water, food and shelter to the people who need it the most. In the big painting, our bike trip is but a drop of a paint, but if enough people are encouraged to paint with us – we have the ability to improve the lives of many. Time to grab our paintbrushes.