Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

The trip to Vancouver Island was pretty cool.  I left early in the morning from Miguel and Amanda’s place in Seattle and took a ferry across Puget Sound.  That was the first time I had ever been on a ferry like that, so I was excited and extra attentive to all of the new things I was seeing.  It felt very weird to drive my car onto a boat.  It made sense to me because I knew the boat could float and I had faith that whoever designed and built and maintained the boat did a good enough job so that it would be able to carry my car (and maybe around 100 others), but something about it seemed very odd.  Every other time I had crossed some body of water it was over a bridge, but this time the bridge was a big steel and concrete thing that bobbed up and down in the waves and was propelled by several very large diesel engines that turned the propellers in the water.  The boat dudes told me where to park and then I got out of the car and went upstairs.  There was a big room that looked sort of like a cafeteria crossed with an airport terminal.  It had big windows so that people could look outside and see the scenery without having to go outside into the crazy weather.  The weather wasn’t really all that crazy on this ride, so I went outside to see what it was like out there.  It was windy, really windy, but it was beautiful, once I got far enough toward to the end of the platform that I was standing on so that most of what I saw was the water smoothly going by and the green islands off in the distance instead of the big metal and concrete ferry boat.  By the time I got cold from being out in the wind, the ferry was approaching the arrival terminal, so I went back inside and then got back into my car and then once the ferry was docked, all the vehicles just drove off the boat.  What a weird thing.  So, now I was on the Olympic Peninsula in NW Washington and had about an hour drive until I got to the next ferry terminal in Port Angeles, WA that would take me to Victoria, BC on Vancouver island.  The Olympic mountains were on my left and the ocean was on my right the whole way as I drove to Port Angeles, it was a very beautiful drive.  The mountains still had a lot of snow on the tops of them and I was glad that I was close to sea level because it looked really cold up there.  This next ferry ride was very different from the first.  The ferry boat looked a lot different, too.  The first one was pretty squatty and looked more like one of those river boats than an ocean going ship.  This one was the real deal, the hull went up probably about 40 feet from the water and the ship looked like it could handle some pretty rough stuff.  I sat in line in a parking lot / waiting area for the ferry for about an hour with a bunch of other cars and then the ferry boat came in and we all drove onto the boat.  It was crazy how many vehicles could fit on the boat, a big semi-tractor trailer truck was along for the ride, too.  So, same thing as the previous ferry ride until we got going and I went out on the main deck.  We were seriously out on the ocean on this ride.  The ship was going way up and way down as the boat went over the big swells.  I looked out over the front of the ship and could see lines along the hull that indicated the water level.  There were some numbers on the lines that I gathered were there to indicate how far below water the bottom of the ship was.  Probably so that they could make sure they didn’t get overloaded with cars and vehicles and cargo and such.  Anyway, while going over these big swells, the water level went up and down somewhere around 10-15 feet, it was pretty cool.  I had to be careful about my balance as I walked about the ship as well, because it was rocking side to side, too.  I didn’t get sea sick and I didn’t see anyone get sick, so it must not have actually been that rough of a ride.  Either that or it just wasn’t long enough for anyone to get sick.  The ferry ride was about an hour and a half and I spent a good deal of it at the front of the ship staring out into the distance looking at the beautiful ocean and the waves and the mountains and islands off in the distance.  I even saw a seal, or at least thats what I thought it was, it was pretty far away, but it was definitely some swimming creature.  This time when I drove off the ship, I had to go through customs and for the first time in my life, I was the guy that got asked to go off to the side with one of the officers.  For some reason they were suspicious of me.  I can’t imagine why?  I mean, what could they fear from a young guy with bushy hair and a beard driving a car that had what looked like everything that he owned in it?  So, they asked me a bunch of questions and searched through all of my stuff, and they even called the folks that I was going to visit to make sure that I was telling the truth.  Once they were satisfied that I was okay to go, I set out on my way to Keith and Jan Hirsche’s house in Cobble Hill, BC.  I met Keith and Jan and their daughters Kailee and Krista when I was at Koinonia in Georgia.  Keith, Jan and Kailee were interns with me at Koinonia during the fall of 2008, Krista was 15 at the time, I think, and was still in High School so she was taking classes long distance over the internet while the whole family was at Koinonia.

At this point, I had been traveling around for about 2 months and hadn’t stayed in one place for more than 2 weeks, so I was feeling a little bit burned out and the Hirche’s place turned out to be just what I needed.  It was a little slice of familiarity even though I’d never been there before as I knew Keith and Jan quite well and was welcomed into their home with very generous hospitality.  I stayed at their place for almost a month and visited several eco-villages while I was there.  Jan and Kailee weren’t in town when I first arrived because Jan had gone to a church conference in Missouri and Kailee was in Vancouver studying at the University of British Columbia.  Keith and Krista joined Jan at the church conference a couple of days later and I house sat for them for about a week while they were gone.  Keith took me out for a couple of meals before they left, took me over to the eco-village that they were pseudo involved with to introduce me to some folks, and got me all set up in the house and then they were off.  And then there was one… again.

The time alone was a blessing on many levels and was also not so good on some other levels.  This was really the only substancial time alone that I had had since the beginning of the trip because up until this point, literally every waking hour and a lot of sleeping hours were spent with Emily.  At first, it was great, I relaxed, I read, I journaled and I watched the ducks and geese in the pond that was about 40 feet from the Hirsche’s house and was on their property.  They had a pretty nice place.  After relaxing for a couple of days, I went to the eco-village to check the place out and to help them out with a little bit of gardening work.  The eco-village was an interesting place.  They had a 20 acre piece of land in some rolling hills with some forest and a pond and a swampy area.  There were several buildings including some houses and some farm buildings.  If you aren’t familiar with what an eco-village is, it is a collection of people that have decided to live together on a piece of land with the intent of living a more environmentally friendly or eco-friendly life.  This illustrates itself in lots of different ways at different eco-villages around the world, but from my experience they are usually doing at least some of the following things: education, natural building, gardening, animal husbandry, “sustainable” agriculture, alternative energy, permaculture, eating meals together sometimes, sleeping sometimes, struggling financially, trying to figure out how to share their lives and their things with other people, having fun, having arguments, having power and leadership struggles, and many more things of that nature.  I worked at the eco-village for two days and didn’t really feel like going back, so I didn’t.  I thought that they were doing some cool stuff and I really liked some of the natural buildings that they had built, and I enjoyed most of the people, I just didn’t feel like working there anymore.  I helped them dig some planting beds for potatoes one day and then helped them plant some raspberries and a couple of other small perennial food producing plants another day.  I even butchered a rooster for them and they let me keep the heart.  I cooked it later and it was very good.  They had this thing that you had to either bring your own food for lunch or pay $10 to eat their food, so I brought my own lunch.  There also was a bit of subtle conflict going on between some of the people and the combination of those things and me just sort of burned out made me decide to not work there anymore.  I spent the rest of my time at the Hirche’s while they were away reading, reflecting, researching stuff on the internet, and…. yes… playing the occasional computer game.  One of my crutches is computer games and I know that they are a huge waste of time, but for some reason, every once in a while, I binge and play computer games really hard for a while, and then stop playing again.  I also slept a lot and it was great.  I really love sleeping and I love how I feel when I wake up naturally without an alarm clock.  It is one of the greatest feelings.  The rest of my time in Canada was very relaxing, I did a lot of research on the internet, read and reflected a lot, spent a lot of time with Keith and Jan, hung out with Kailee a little bit when she got back from University, and had some good conversations with Krista.  A lot of the research that I did on the internet was into primitive skills and wilderness survival stuff.  A new found interest after reading a very good book.

The book being that one that I bought at that crazy anarchist book fair in Oakland, “The Vegetarian Myth” by Lierre Keith.  This book messed with me.  It stirred up a lot of stuff inside me and made me re-evaluate a bunch of things.  I feel like I pretty much agreed with almost everything that she had to say in the book.  I definitely recommend it to everyone, you should read this book.  She talked about a lot of things in the book.  She talked about how the current way of life of western society is wrong on many levels and especially the way that food is produced and how it is eaten.  An alternative diet to the mainstream american diet is a vegetarian, grain and legume and vegetable based, diet which is touted as being healthy and good for the environment.  She goes on to say that most people that have this believe very strongly that it is healthy and good for the environment, but they are all of them deceived.  This type of diet IS better for the environment than the mainstream american diet, but it is by no means good for the environment and it actually isn’t even healthy.  In the most basic sense, the typical vegetarian diet is not really much different than the mainstream american diet.  Both are based on annual grain and legume mono-crop agriculture.  This agriculture is a war on the soil and has been the source of the strength of every major civilization and has led to the downfall of every major civilization.  The food from this agriculture and the sedentary lifestyle that results from it creates the so-called diseases of civilization: type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, Alzheimer’s, atherosclerosis, asthma, cancer, chronic liver disease, osteoporosis, acne, stroke, and depression.  In hunter gatherer peoples, these diseases basically do not exist.  So, why do we live like this?  Why has this lifestyle been chosen by so many peoples?  Why are we killing each other?  Why are we killing ourselves?  Why?  I’m afraid I don’t have the answers, but I do know this: everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.  I am asking, and I am seeking, and I am knocking.  Are you?

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