Category Archives: May 2014

Travel journal – Day 49

I’m into my second week here at Tranquility Campgrounds and I’m honestly feeling a little rough. I’m very low on energy and I slept from 6 pm last night to 6 this morning. That, combined with the hour long nap I took this afternoon should have done the job, but I still feel drained and a bit asocial. It can’t be helping that my dad was diagnosed with cancer two days ago and I’ve been corresponding with my family about the situation while trying to process the information and figure out what to do about my trip. No doubt this has taken a toll on my piece of mind and has also changed my trip plans, so I’m trying to feel out what I should do once I get back to Florida and how I can best support my family while still focusing on what is here in front of me.

So, to give you a little detail on my dad’s exact situation, he was just diagnosed with stage four “blue small cell cancer” which started in his tonsils and has moved to the lymph nodes in his neck. There is an 80% survival rate beyond 5 years when treated, which includes 7 months of chemo and radiation. First though, my dad will be trying a natural remedy I got from a friend’s father who administers natural cancer treatment in Canada using a Marijuana salve. He was kind enough to give me the directions to make it, so stay tuned for the results from that experiment.

I really just wanted to fill everybody in on this new turn off events, so I will keep you all up to date on his condition and what I will be doing with my trip.

Much Love,
Matt

Travel Journal – Day 47

I’ve been here at tranquility campgrounds for about a week now, and it’s been a change of pace from the last few places I visited. There’s six people here, where the largest group of people at any of the places I have stayed so far has been four, and the community is not only new, but diverse, and half of us are merely passing through. I luckily have ,what seems to be, an extra sense when it comes to avoiding the dramatic entanglements of group dynamics, but energy is required none the less, and I have been learning much.

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The more I’ve allowed myself to get involved with this community of people, those who allow themselves to live outside of generally accepted societal norms, the more interesting life has become, but with it comes a certain sense of being amongst the forces of nature, where things are unpredictable, but more strangely real. I’ve found that each person’s differences allow me to notice and value the uniqueness of my own path. This situation, as I reflect upon it, stands in contrast to the pressures I felt from the work and school culture I left behind, where “normal” was written with a capital “n” and was defined by unquestioned adherence to outside judgment. I felt an underlying pressure to value the unwise things in life, to invest in the temporary, and to make light of that which needs the most attention. I could speculate on what fuels such a pressure, but I’ll leave that to the activists and the philosophers. What I’m more interested in is distinguishing which walls and paths belong to me from which ones come from the outside pressures, because there’s a great thing about committing to be guided by one’s own self – It’s an adventure in the truest sense, because like dream, there’s no way to predict what will come next, and for whatever reason, I’m choosing to put my trust in this river.

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So anyway, I’ll be hanging out here until June 6th working on implementing a food forest design and building/installing a ram pump (a natural pump which requires the water source to be at least 16 ft above the pump, but is capable of pumping water 75 ft vertically and requires no external power input). I’ll likely make a video on both of those processes.

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Charcoal and Time

My bones were tired – walking for years.
I didn’t realize the sky was missing,
and my heels had turned to stone.
The trees were charcoal,
and behind me was darkness…
It ate my footsteps as they hit the ground.

Knowing what I know now I may not have
smelled that flower when it called my name.
I didn’t know that if I stared too long
nectar could get caught in my veins.
I didn’t know I would have to leave it behind,
that it wasn’t mine.

It taunted me for all this time, but that’s fine.
It reminds me of ten years from now,
of that thing I’m here to find,
just past the mountain of time,
where the seed is sprouting,
that the vultures will not find.

Travel Journal – Day 32

So it’s day 32 of my trip and I have parted ways with my wonderful hosts, Wendi, Jayden, and Kaia Bellows,

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and headed toward the off-grid homestead of Mycol Stevens, located 30 miles or so North in Brooker Florida. Mycol wasn’t there when I arrived, but I was greeted by Brian and Genina two of the most humble and natural people I could hope to encounter, and theyfit so naturally into the farm that I could hardly now imagine it without them, and luckily I didn’t have to.

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So, I settled in, set up tent and got the tour. Finca Mycol is a 20 acre off-grid homestead, which serves as a permaculture experimentation laboratory, and, thanks to the efforts of Mycol, a native restoration land and keystone species habitat.

So once again, despite my efforts to move on and find my way out of Florida, I have found myself pulled to stay and learn. Both Mycol and Brian are inspiring sources of knowledge and passion on all things plants, so wow, what a great place to hang out, gain knowledge, build relationships, and be of service. There is one drawback though from being off-grid and so far out in the country – there’s no internet connection. So, any videos I take will have to be put up later, and pictures and other blog posts and communication have to wait until I can catch a ride into town. But hey look at the perks:

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a beautiful outdoor kitchen,

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fresh greens from the garden in a coconut bowl,

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fresh cooked snake (don’t worry, we didn’t kill him. He got run over on the road 😦 Poor little guy),

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a beautiful pond and great company,

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and another pond, and more great company,

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and more great company,

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and artists making art.

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Simple living and high thinking. Awareness. Consciousness. Intentionality. Choice. Walking toward what’s right. Nevermind the odds.

Travel Journal – Day 26

I’m almost a month into the trip, and I can’t believe how much time is already behind me, and not to mention how little distance I have covered. The 200 approximate miles I have covered so far should have taken me three and a half days according to my original estimate of 60 miles per day, But, it hasn’t been lack of stamina holding me back. It’s the large number of wonderful people and places I have come across. In the 25 nights I’ve been away from home, I have only had to road camp once, and I only stayed five nights with people I had known before starting the trip. There’s a beautiful network of people out here who are so full of awareness and care that we were family before I ever met them.

Quick update since my last post – After leaving the off-grid homestead of Craig, my mom came and payed me a visit. I took my mom out of her comfort zone by bringing her tent camping one night in a great little wildlife refuge called Paynes Prarie, where we got to sleep amongst clouds of fireflies, quite a nice experience,

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but one night was just about all the natural Florida my mom wanted to deal with, so she took me out of my comfort zone the second night and we stayed in a Motel 6. I appreciated the air conditioning, but it was surely more of a reminder of why I’m doing what I’m doing than anything else 🙂

Next in line was the Homestead of Song Weaver, where I not only met a few great local and traveling earth enthusiasts, but I also had the synchronistic privilege of crossing paths with a fellow traveler who I met months before as she was passing through Orlando.

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After leaving Song’s place I passed through downtown Gainesville one more time to get an interview with Chris Cano, who runs a local socially conscious composting business in the downtown area.

Next, was onward and Northward to the house and garden of a friend of a friend, Wendi Bellows, who was not only kind enough to invite me in to stay with her and her wonderful kids,

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but also allowed me to ride with her to the Permaculture convergence in Lake Whales, where I had a three day deeply inspirational experience with a group of 200 people who felt like lost family.

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The next leg of the journey continues tomorrow as I head to an off-grid natural homestead and learning center in North Florida.

Gainesville Compost

Gainesville Compost is a social business in Gainesville Florida that uses bicycles to recover food scraps from local restaurants and businesses, brings them to nearby hubs at other local business locations, composts and sifts the material, and then donates and sells the finished product to local people and projects.

I was very impressed with their business model for two reasons. First, Chris’ company works in a collaborative and mutually beneficial way with others local businesses that promotes community, and second, Gainesville Compost is a for profit business, and profit, I believe, is one of the most important yet most grossly undiscussed components of any sustainable system.