Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Santa Barbara to the Southwest

Santa Barbara Botanical Garden Signage
As I approached Santa Barbara I made sure to stop at the local state parks to see if there was camping availability. All the state parks were empty and had a steep price of $45 a night for tent camping. The sun was threatening to set and I wanted to stop at the Santa Barbara Botanic Native Gardens before they closed. I arrived with an hour to spare. I walked around and learned about the native California plant life and shot some imagery. This is a very informative and well kept garden.  I was impressed. While I was there, I texted my friend Darin who happened to be working a gig in SB for the next several nights.  I told him once I found a campsite it would be great to meet up for dinner.

The garden closed. As I began suiting up to get on the cycle,  a man in a golf cart approached me.  His name badge read: Head Gardener.  I complimented the garden and asked him if he knew any places nearby I could camp... for less than 50 bucks. He called over his brother-in-law, also an employee of the garden. They started conversing about the questions amongst themselves and then quickly asked where in PA I was from.  Philly, I replied. They asked, "Where in Philly"? Huh I thought, I said, uhmmmm originally from the Northeast, now I reside near the art museum. They asked, "where in the Northeast, near Levick Street?".  I was shocked.  Levick street is 2 blocks from where I grew up, I said with excitement!!  It would turn out these two Northeast Philly natives moved to Santa Barbara in the early 70's and are now native plant stewards here at the botanical gardens.. These two were my kin. I told them about my project, and for a second, the young and old generation of Northeast Philadelphia shared a proud moment as our passions seemed to blindly align.

While reminiscing over Philly in general I received a text from Darin. He had plenty of room in his hotel suite to accommodate me and gave me the address. I told my brethren from the NE that it turns out I won't be needing to camp after all. They asked the name of the hotel.  When I told them it was the Bacara, they both gasped. The Bacara is a five star spa and hotel, they said.  I bid  goodbye and told them I would email a link to my project for future reference.

Darin met me in the parking lot of this Santa Barbara Spa and Hotel. The night before I was renegade camping in Big Sur, tonight I would be chillin in luxury. Darin and I went out to eat and caught up on each others artistic endeavours. He has been in the process of rebuilding an Airstream camper. Exploration is a priority for him and having an sustainable airstream will allow it to happen off the grid. very inspiring.

He invited me to stay for the next couple of days and take advantage of the hotel room as he couldn't and would be working the whole time.  Instead I left the next morning. I was eager to get back on the road and begin heading east towards the southwest. I had lunch in SB and by 1:00 PM I was headed due east towards the mojave desert.

I had half a tank of gas went I came to the exit for the mojave desert national forest. It was already dark. The sign read 20 miles to the campground. That's at least 40 miles (up and back) and there was no sign for the nearest gas station. I had no choice.  In the dark I rode to the campground at a leisurely pace of 35 mph. I arrived to be the lone person spending the night. I set my tent and gear under the illumination of my head lamp, opened my two legged elite camping chair, pulled out the bottle of deerhammer whitewater whiskey I have been traveling with since I left Colorado and began to star gaze. This had been the best view of the stars I have yet to see. There was no moon, just the distance glow of las vegas way into the northern horizon. The next morning I barely made it the nearest gas pump, 60 miles from the campground. My destination, and what would be home base for the next 4 days was flagstaff, AZ.  Arizona has 3 eco-regions on my agenda, and two of them I had yet explored.

All of a sudden I realized I was traveling parallel to historic route 66. When I pulled into Kingsman, AZ I had a bite to eat in a gaudy neoned 50's styles diner. It was an overboard exaggeration on how we imagine a 50's style diner to be. The food was not the focus.  I wondered across the street to the visitor center.  On display was the archive and equipment from Arizona Highway's first and most famous photographer, Carlos Elmer. It was more like a shrine. I was excited to learn about this gentleman and appreciated every word in reference to his lengthy career.

Before sunset I arrived to Flagstaff, AZ. My good friend Lee was expecting me. Lee is an old Philly friend who moved to Flagstaff 3 years ago to be with his daughter. Lee is an exceptional artists and has built a steadfast business doing artistic and graphic production for Golf. He is responsible for the official logo and poster of such golf events as The US Open, British Open, Womans OPEN, etc. He is a master of his craft and an inspiration to be around. His art studio is located in the heart of historic downtown Flagstaff.  It overlooks the public square bordered by restaurants, bars and galleries. This would be were I would make base camp for the next several days.

Flagstaff Arboretum
The next day Lee had plans to go camping in Sedona with his daughter Fiona and some friends. He invited me to join him, but I had my own agenda. While in Flagstaff I took a day trip to the Grand Canyon.  I toured the local Arboretum and inquired about native plants. They had a nice native grass and lawn demo garden along with some other highlights....that may or may not have included native plants. I wasn't able to get much help from the staff, but that might have been timing. The arboretum is small but heck, it's better that not having one at all.  I also went to Sedona one afternoon and checked out that region. Another afternoon had me hikin in the foothills of Flagstaff proper. And of course I was shooting what I hope to be native plants.

The day I was planning on leaving, my buddy Len from Colorado agreed to meet me in Flagstaff and travel with me south to Tucson. He was only 8 miles north of Flagstaff when he called to inform he suffered a flat on the rear tire.  I drove out to help him fix the tire. It took us about an hour to replace the tires tube only to discover the replacement had a leak as well.  We realized that once the tube was installed.  Ooops. I called a local cycle place, told them the situation, and drove the rear wheel to the shop.  They fixed the tire and I drove it back to Len on the side of the highway. This was a 4 hour ordeal, so we decided to just spend the night in Flagstaff and head out early the next day.

The next morning we were off to Tuscon by way of Sedona and the Tonto Forest. It was the long way to Tuscon but the most fun on a bike for sure. Sedona is pure eye candy.  We stopped in Prescott to check out the infamous Whiskey Row. We ate lunch in the legendary Palace Hotel. The short and sweet is that whiskey row had no high end boutique whiskey joints at all.  Len is connoisseur of whiskeys and I like to drink them. We were appalled. We even asked around and the answer was, naw. It was 3 hours still to Tucson.

Jerome, AZ
We stopped in the middle of the Tonto Forest at what seemed to be the only lake in Southern Arizona. We fished  and swam with cool relief from the temps that were nearing the mid 90's.  Once again, for the 7th time now, I did not catch a fish. The sun was beginning to set so we headed south again. About 60 miles from Tuscon I lost sight of Len in my rear view. By this time is was dark. I slowed down and waited for him.  I received a text that read, "hey, something is wrong with my bike".  I turned around and found Len roadside, again.  This time the teeth on his front chain sprocket had completely wore away. Not only was this odd, but it was dangerous.  No matter, I would ride behind him with my blinkers on and he rode 10mph for another 10 miles until all the teeth were gone.  We were 1/4 mile from a town AAA didn't even have on their map.  It wasn't a town, it was a gas station, motel and mexican restaurant.  Luckily I have bike/rv towing with AAA, so we called and scheduled a tow to Tucson the next morning.

Saguaro National Park
Len rode with three tow truck drivers to Tucson.   I took my time and enjoyed the ride on my cycle. I hadn't been in Tuscon for almost 10 years. I have a unique relationship with the Sonoran desert. When I got into town I went straight to the famous hotel congress and had breakfast. I met Len at the Kawasaki dealership around noon . Once he was all set up, we went for a walk on the campus of University of Arizona. I love this small campus and it has a special highlight. It houses the Center for Creative Photography. The CCP has a gallery and resource library.  I tried to get someone to let me into the archives while I was there but they wouldn't allow it without an appointment.   I even called the head archivist and told her my story, the project, etc.  Still, nothing.  She said it's no longer open to the public.  I'd like to know why and will inquire about this policy later. 

We camped in the Suguaro National Forest that evening. Spectacular. We also managed a ride through some Suguaro Cacti on a dirt road.  Check out the video!

The next morning I did my Native Project thing and photographed numerous native southern arid-desert plants. I made the campground bathroom my studio for a couple hours.  You do what you need to do sometimes. After that, we headed out toward Silver City and we took the long way there!

Near Silver City
By time we made it to Silver City (by way of another big lake where I again caught no fish) it was dark. Len had to leave first thing in the morning to start heading back North to Colorado and I would begin my decent south to Austin, TX.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

West Coastin

 Sept. 4 -11

Heading from Bend, Oregon to the Oregon coast line was an easy feat. Oregon is just stunning and I had the pleasure of cutting across the Deschutes National Forest in order to catch the coast and head south.  On the way I stopped to observe Crecent Lake National Park.  An ancient lava crater that has since become a popular tourist attraction. Quite stunning.  Then my bike fell over.  No other way of putting it. I was parking in the tourist scenic view lot, and made a sharp turn while paddling the bike and boom the weight took over and the bike dropped. My bike is heavy without all the luggage, let alone packed to the gils. While lying on it's side I gingerly took off all luggage and then proceeded to lift the bike upright.  Before I left for the trip I watched several videos showing the proper way of doing this as it requires a specific teqnique. Amongst the clammer and finger pointing my direction by foreign onlookers, I am happy to report that I was able to lift the bike upright, load my stuff back on and off I went.

my studio
The Oregon coast looks like the location from the movie Goonies. By the time I arrived on the coast it was getting dark so I made camp in Bandon, OR at Bullards Beach State Park. First thing the next morning I walked along the nature trail and photographed their coastal natives. I then began my descent towards the redwoods.

I arrived at Jedidihah State Park, the Northern tip of the redwood forest well before sunset and took a leisurely and secluded walk through the giant Sequoia trees.  Aww inspiring. This was a moment long overdue. The fact that the park was practically empty made the visit all that more special and I felt isolated, yet not alone.
chester copperpot

The next morning would begin the ride of rides. I traveled south from the northern border of California to San Fransisco by way of several redwood forest passes and then through back country wine valley roads. I didn't stop all the much to shoot pictures as I was having too much fun riding the bike through hills, valleys and giant trees of northern California.  8 hours later I arrived in San Fransisco only to realized I had to climb and descend the steepest of streets to get to my friend Jon's house. My bike is carrying a lot of top weight and is loaded beyond suggested capacity on the back so I was sure this was going to be an adventure in balance. The bike and I held true and I made sure not to stop accelerating until I reach a level part of the cross street. I arrived at Jon's safe and sound and let my bike rest for 3 days while I enjoyed the company of an old friend and a new to me city.

Jon has some amazing people in his life, in and out of san fran, and I can't thank him and all the wonderful people  I met while visiting for showing me such a wonderful time. But, the journey must continue. Monday morning I was off again, my destination: Santa Barbara Botanical Garden by way of Big Sur.

A few people told me it was a must that I camp in Limekiln State Park located in the upper middle portion of the coastal route 1 of of Big Sur.  When I arrived to the northern portion I stopped to watch the sunset. This portion of the coast resembles much of the northern coastal geography with winding roads that hug the coastline set atop high cliffs with magnificent vistas of the rocky coast line.  Quite amazing, especially on a bike.

Once the sun had set it was only but a few miles to Limkiln State Park. However, when I arrived at the gate, it was locked and there was sign that said closed after sunset. Oooof. Bummed, I shrugged it off as there were several campground further south along the road.

It was quickly getting dark and visibility was getting tough as the fog rolls thick in some areas of the Sur. Even worse, the last two remaining campgrounds were full.  Here I was, traveling the most sought after scenic road on the west coast in the dark. Just a note: you are allowed to primitive camp for free inside of national forests. Though according to my map  there were no dirt roads or fire paths that led into the San Padres National Forest that encompasses Big Sur.

Frustrated, and with spotty cell service, I pulled off at the next gas / lodging area to figure out my what I was going to do. I had plenty of energy and could easily keep driving south all night, but the whole point of taking this route is to see the coast while riding in Big Sur. I called the fancy lodge whose parking lot I was now resting in and asked for the cheapest room.  The woman told me the "cliff suite" was the only thing available and that it was $360.00.  I sorta laughed and choked on the phone upon hearing that and said, no thanks.

The nearest town was 45 minutes away according to the map. The fog was thick, the road is treacherous in the day, let alone in the dark and I was frustrated. Not a good combination for riding a motorcycle. I decided to gas up while I was there. The price of gas was  ridiculous, almost $6 a gallon but best to be safe and not stranded.

Something I have come to do on this trip is ask the locals; where to eat, where to drink, best road to take etc. It usually ends with a good recommendation, and what was about to happened would be case and point. The gas station was small with only 2 pumps, and there was an older, wiry gentleman working.  He came out to meet me and while taking my card told me they were about to close. I quickly told him my situation and asked him if he knew a good spot to camp nearby. He scratched his chin in thought, looked over the chaos that is my bike, and proceeded to give me directions to a local primitive, unmarked camp site.  Drive a mile down the road, he said.  You will see a pull off with an emergency phone box.  Park your bike there and walk into the woods about 100 yards and you will see a bunch of areas to camp. In California you are legally allowed to leave your vehicle on the side of road for up to 72 hours. This was a fortuitous moment.

I did as he said, found the pull off, gabbed my head lamp, tent and duffel from the bike, threw the cover over the bike and proceeded to walk into the coastal abyss of trees, shrubs and California coastal native fauna. About 75 yards in, I found a flat of ground, set up the tent and went to sleep.

The next morning I woke up in Big Sur paradise. Though I couldn't see a thing the night before, I quickly realized that I was in a secluded natural area that had both small forest and coastal cliffs all around me. In fact, I ended up taking a 3 hour hike in and around this place that I renegade camped the night before.

This highlight came when I approached the cliffs which had a very treacherous narrow path that extended out beyond the coastline about 50 yards, with an elevation of around 150 feet. Honestly, I was nervous to walk out on it.  But this was one of those moments where I would have regretted not taking the risk. So off I went. Slowly, step by step, inch by inch,  I walked across the edge of a coastal rock structure in order to get to the far end where I could turn around and look at the coastline from the oceans perspective.  The only sketchy moment was when I was startled by two huge Hawks that were perching beyond a rock that I approached.  They didn't hear me coming as the ocean has sound of a lions roar, and were just as surprised to see me as I them.  For the next 15 minutes they circled very close above me as to say, what the hell are you doing on our rock.

I successfully reached the end peak.  I raised my hands up like many do when they climb the steps at the Philadelphia Art Museum in order to re-create the infamous Rocky scene.  I always thought that was pretty lame, but here I was, arms raised and yelling at the Pacific ocean as though I just conquered the coast. And as far as I'm concerned, I did.

Back on the bike I would ride the rest of the Big Sur south towards Santa Barbara where yet another serendipitous moment would occur.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Canyons, Firs & Deschutes

good morning moab
moonlight moab
I was sad to say goodbye to Colorado.  I absolutely love the Rockies. Headed west from Beuna Vista, I rode for 5 hours through some of the most spectacular scenery I have encountered up to that point. I went from a straight route through Kansas to the most curves and twists one can image through the Rocky Mountains. I arrived in Moab Utah just before sundown. I set up camp along a winding river in the depths of a bright red canyon. The moon was almost full so I was able to take some long exposures of the canyon illuminated by  the moonlight.  Waking up I was greeted to a mesmerizing view.  This area is eye candy, Arches and Canyon Lands National Park are just miles away. I could have easily spent a week exploring but I have an agenda to keep so I was on my way bright and early.

My Boise host, Mike
11 hours later, via the hot desert plains of Utah and Idaho I arrived in Boise. ((WHAT A LONG RIDE)) and immediately found a brewpub! Once again I hooked up a place to stay with motorcycle enthusiast. Big Shout to Mike Costanti for allowing me a sweet bungalow type bedroom at his place. Mike was great and was preparing his newly acquired adventure bike for a South America trip this winter.  Can't wait for his ride reports.  What little I saw of Boise I really liked, small town feel with a touch of urban. Thanks again Mike!

Boise Bungalow
The next morning I was off! My destination: Portland, Oregon.  It has long been my dream to walk in the old growth forests of Washington & Oregon. I am lucky to have a couple friends, Jenny and Dave, Philadelphia ex pats, living in Portland. They offered to let me bunk down with them while I explored the area.

Another 8+ hour ride from Boise to Portland and arrived to Jenny and Dave's house in the midst of a birthday party for Dave. Smoked pulled pork and some of the finest wine you can imagine were my welcoming committee.  What a treat after 1300 miles of riding in two days.
Hoyt Arboretum

The next day Jenny and I explored Portland's nature resources.  We went to the both the Audubon center and Hoyt Arboretum where I spewed out my project to the rangers there in order to be guided to the areas native plants. I was lucky to meet Martin Nicholson, Curator at the Hoyt Arboretum.  He was happy to show me the small area dedicated to the native plants of the region. After leaving nature Jenny and I took a quick tour of the "NewSpace" Photographic Art Center, in NW Portland.  I was curious to see this place and it honestly blew me away. What an amazing facility.  I spoke to the staff there, told them about the Light Room and extended a friendship. I recommend visiting this photo center and gallery if ever in Portland

That evening, Jenny, Dave and I checked out some of the local bars in Portland. I really liked the vibe of the city, and although it has an over exaggerated hipster feel (see Portlandia) I thought it's location next to the forest and it's commitment to "green" made it a place I would certainly visit again and again.

It didn't take long for Jenny, Dave and some of their friends to convince me to drive north a few hours and visit the Olympic National Park in Washington state. I mean hey, what's 3 hours on the bike at this point.... no big deal.  So, the next morning I awoke, packed a few things and off I went.  4 hours later I arrived in what seemed like a dream world.  The Largest Old Growth Forest in the Unites States.  It was getting late so I found a campground, set up the tent and immediately took an 8 mile hike through the woods.  Amazing. And because the previous day I learned about the native plants in this eco-region I could easily identify the vegetation as I walked through the largest Spruces and Fir trees in the world. That evening I experienced a full moon rising over the top ridge of these wonderful trees reflecting over a pristine lake. It was 10PM and I was sitting lake-side in the moonlight fishing.  Again I caught nothing, but what a moment.


The next morning I awoke a went for an hour cycle ride on dirt roads through the park.  I made it to a trail head and did a 3.5 hour hike into the rain forest. This is certainly another place I could spend a week at and not see enough.  A 4 hour drive and I was back in Portland for what would be my last night there. Jenny , Dave , Gus (their black lab who couldn't get enough of me) played cards, drank wine and laughed the evening away. Can't thank them enough for being  wonderful hosts! ( I will be uploading a picture of Jenny, Dave & Gus as soon as I can!)

The next day my goal was to begin moving south. Bend, Oregon was my destination.  It seems everyone I meet in Oregon couldn't say enough great things about this town.  A good friend of Len's offered to put me up for a night or two in Bend.  I met Mo and her friends at the infamous Deschutes Brewery (brew pub). Mo has an amazing outlook being from Mass and re-locating here.  She is a speech therapist, world traveler and avid outdoors woman.  Her friends were all very cool and were happy to show me the best way to get to the coast from Bend, via some mountain passes and stunning scenery.

Now, here I am, catching up with the interweb and having a cup of Kombucha at local Coffee shop in Bend about to move onto to the second leg of this trip. From here I will head west, catch the coast, ride south, hug a redwood and discover more native plants!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Kansas, Rockies, Whiskey and Natives

August 20 - 26

Jesse and Family, Kansas hosts
It was two full days to get through the great state of Kansas.  Big thanks to Jesse and his wife and kids for hosting me midway on Sunday evening through this straight... and I mean no curves...straight journey. Jesse offered up a very scenic camping spot on his property. He has some lovely acerage near Salina, Kansas with rolling hills and prairie grass pasture.  They plan on building their house INTO the hillside for both aesthetic and geo-thermal reasons.  Very cool.  I can't wait to see the progress.

waking up in Jesse's yard
The next morning I awoke bright and early and headed straight for Denver. Jesse recommned an alternate route to avoid the highway for a few hours. By taking smaller routes you can really appreciate the landscape as you pass through small towns and terrain that you would not normally see via a highway.  The eastern and middle part of Kansas is lovely, with rolling hills and grasslands. As I entered the western part of Kansas I had to get onto I70 and things got blustery and boring.  I traveled over 8 hours before I arrived into Denver proper and  needless to say I was wiped out.

Did you know Paradise is in Kansas?
I have been visiting Colorado for the better part of 10 years. Some of my oldest friends live here. It's always a treat to see familiar faces after 16 hours of motorcycle riding especially over some beers.  My friends Corey and Sarah hosted me in Golden for two nights and I got to spend the next day in Denver running around, sorting out motorcycle things and visiting one of my old dear friends and artist, Tara aka Toughy T.  I was hoping to get to the botanical gardens so I could explore some native plants, but it closed early for a concert, which was probably best because I was really wiped out from the past two days of riding and didn't have a lot of energy to, well... learn.
Colorado Rest Stop

Lucky for me Corey and Sarah have a sweet hot tub and after a soak, I was ready to roll onto my next destination... Buena Vista, Colorado where the soon to become infamous Deerhammer Distilling Company is located... and subsequently owned and operated by one of my oldest and closest friends, Len and his wife Amy.

Len has been the main reason I have been visiting Colorado all these years. We were college roommates in Philadelphia for four years and have been close ever since. We have both worked in the graphic design / web world for years.. A long time home brewer / distiller, he and Amy made the leap to open a Whiskey Distillery and Tasting Room last year.  I couldn't be more proud of his success. You will never meet a more humble, passionate and driven person. And dayum does he make some good whiskey. Check out the movie below for a quick look into Deerhammer Distillery and Tasting Room!

 Check out his website for all the details.  I might mention that Len also outfitted most of my camping gear for this trip.  Tent, sleeping bag and sleeping pad.  Basically I am sponsored by Deerhammer.

Len and I have been riding motorcycles for years. In fact we both took the motorcycle safety course together in '98 in Philadelphia. In anticipation of my arrival (so I like to think) Len upgraded his dirt bike to an adventure bike, Kawasaki KLR.

riding with the aspens
 I arrived in Beuna Vista around 11am on Wednesday morning, a 2.5 hour trip from Golden. Len hasn't had a break from the distillery all summer so no sooner did I get there, did we make plans to do an overnight camping trip into the Gunnison Forest in the Rocky Mountains on the bikes.  We left around 2PM and headed out on dirt roads through some of them most gorgeous mountain scenery you can imagine.   Of course I made us stop quite often to take pictures and document native plant specimens (at least I thought they were native!).  We arrived in Crested Butte before sundown and made camp at Oh Be Joyful camping area.

After setting up camp we headed into town for a slice of pizza and brew. Back at camp, a less than impressive campfire was made and a cantina full of whiskey was passed between us.  I awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of rain pitter pattering on my tent.  It took me a few moments to realize all my gear was left out on the bike and was now getting soaked.  I ran out and covered everything up.  Len was less than fortunate and awoke with his gear a bit wet.  Ah well, the 8 hour ride through the mountains we were about to embark on would dry things off.

one of many views
This was the first time on my trip I rode along with someone, let alone a friend, and there is nothing like it. Checking out scenic views, swapping stories of close calls on the bike and generally having someone to talk to while gassing up makes all the difference. I knew this trip would get lonely at times but you only realize it when you have the experience of riding with another. After two days of dirt roads and scenic views, we rolled back into BV where Amy had an amazing meal prepared for our arrival.  Doesn't get much better!

native or not? ... not.
Now, let's talk native plants. The Colorado Rockies are one the eco-regions I'm looking to document native plants specimens. There doesn't appear to be a shortage of native plants you might experience when you are near a big city.  Other than Denver and surrounding areas, urban sprawl is at a minimum and Colorado is vast with wilderness. So on our ride, I documented quite a few specimens I thought to be native. However when I arrived back to civilization, I was hard pressed to find them listed in my native plant guides / database. Arrgg.

Then the serendipitous moment happened. Frustrated about the lack of native plant findings, Len remarked about a gentleman named Garry who specializes in local grasses and seed who happens to have a nursery right behind Len's house.  Oh right I thought, I met this guy a few years ago while visiting.  We were there because Len was interested in buying grass seed for some land he had just purchased.  I recall this guy having a lot of knowledge so I figured, it doesn't hurt to ask. I went over and met Garry.  After explaining to Garry about my project he was excited to talk to me about all the native plant species through-out Colorado and gave me a walking tour of what is considered to be Colorado's largest native plant nursery. OH YEAH!  It was like finding the holy grail in your (or your friends) backyard. Garry has acres of native plants, shrubs, trees, etc. and could very well be Colorado's leading expert in native plants. We talked for a while and he allowed me free run on his property to explore, learn and photograph. And over the next few days I did just that.

Unfortunately, most of the people buying plants in this area are not very interested in planting natives in their backyard and Garry's business relies mostly on non-native ornamental, etc which makes his retail business a struggle as he specializes in natives. You could almost hear the sadness in his voice when he pointed out a row of native shrubs that he would soon have to pull because they were beyond the point of full propagation.  To drive the point of my project home even further, I showed Garry some clippings of the specimens I found on the mountain pass and 4 out of 5 of were non-native. Here I thought the Colorado wilderness was free of human interaction.

Now, it's true that not all non-natives are growing wild because of human interaction as birds and other animals could have brought them here.  And it's also true that not all non-natives are invasive. But, when 80% of your findings are non-native, well.... just goes to show you don't need a huge populated city to impact the loss of bio-diversity in your area. That is to say, the more non-native species found on your land, the less birds, bees, insects and wildlife that will be flourishing.

Needless to say, Beuna Vista has much to offer in terms of education.  Between learning how to ride my new cycle in dirt, learning about Colorado's native plants, and learning how to distill malted barley and rye to make whiskey, my mind is on overload.... and I'm loving every second of it. Not to mention I didn't even have the change to visit the goat dairy, the organic farm and all the other amazing things this small mountain town has to offer.  There's just not enough time as I need to be moving on.

Today I am waiting for UPS to deliver ink jet cartridges for my printer so I can continue making custom postcards and I am waiting for new motorycyle tires as well.  Even though I probably have about 1000k miles left on my stock tire tread, it's a good idea  to change them now while I can.

Tonight I will print and write postcards and organize my bike, tomorrow I will have the tires mounted and then head off to my next destination, Portland, Oregon by way of Utah and Idaho!  I can't wait to visit the old growth forest and explore what that eco-region has to offer!