Yes, y’all, you hear correctly! Edna and I will be spending this year serving free tea from San Diego, CA to the San Juan Islands, WA. Our kick off was Edna’s 10-year anniversary in Ocean Beach on the first day of Spring, and thus far we’ve spent time in Orange County and Los Angeles. And today, we started the journey up highway 395 through the backside of the Sierra Mountains. Joy!
Our rough tour:
May/June – Nevada City
July – Bay Area/Sonoma/Mendocino
August – Humboldt
Sept/Oct – Coos Bay, Eugene, Portland
Oct/Nov – Olympia, Seattle, San Juan Islands
This west coast tour is a journey of gratitude. Edna and I are revisiting communities that helped shape the Free Tea Bus – the communities that shared in many cups of tea. For 8 years I traveled the west coast serving tea, 6 of those years with Edna. During that time, these places that you live became our home, our community. Y’all shared resources, good food, and wonderful moments with us. You coddled the tea bus, allowing it to grow, and pushed us out of the west coast nest when we were ready to cross the land. The past 4 years has seen us in other parts of the country, from Maine to Texas, Georgia to Colorado… And in those places the main message of the Free Tea Bus was reinforced – relationships are the highest form of value! It was a lot of work building relationships everywhere we went. And now, we’re back to say thank you, and to maintain many of our old relationships through free cups of tea.
Once we get “home” to the San Juans, I will be taking the winter to reflect, and recuperate from years on the road. Changes are on the horizon, and I’m hoping for some clarity.
West coast! We look forward to spending time and sharing hot cuppas. Reach out, will ya?
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Our winter was a success. Edna and I got to spend a good amount of time in the Sonoran Desert writing. We parked in Blythe, CA in the yard of William, a retired schoolteacher, hermit, and nomadic enthusiast. It was nice to be received so wonderfully by William. He was full of wisdom and spirit, saying things like, “There is no such thing as death… only continuance.” He opened his house, his shop, and his heart to myself, as well as a rag tag crew of vehicle-dwellers who came to stay. Andi and Dorothy came in their step van. As did Seven and his step van. Tara of Fermentation on Wheels showed up with her 40-foot bus, and a filmmaker came with his RV. It was a spectacular community of people sharing food and spending time doing projects. Of course, I spent a bit of time with each of these people helping with solar and other projects.
This winter, we also spent time popping in and out of Quartzsite, which was only 22 miles from Blythe. In January, we went to Skooliepalooza – a campout for school bus conversions. We had a blast meeting all sort of other skoolies and serving up some free tea. Just up the road we attended the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous. Because of the whole #vanlife thing, the RTR had grown from 1000 people last year to 4000 people this year. We camped with seven step vans, all parked in a row, with Edna in the middle, where I strung out a parachute and created a central space for our camp, and to serve tea. During this event, Seven Grey (of Seven Wanders the World) had the grand opening of his step van free teahouse and travel book exchange. Seven contacted me one day on the internet a year or two back, expressing interest in living in a large van and serving free tea. I’ve been mentoring him since, and it was great to see him in a place where he could open his van to the world. Leading up to the opening, Andi and I busted out a second bench for him, and did what we could to make sure his opening was stress-free. It was a blast.
Edna and I were also featured in a NYTimes article about the RTR called The Real Burning Man.
It was really interesting going to these two events geared towards nomads. In this particular community, I felt very well respected and even revered as someone who has spent 12-years full times on the road. As many of these folks are in the build process of their vehicles, people were also very interested in Edna for the fact that she is pretty much complete, with some wonderful systems. I actually had to start closing my doors during the day and “nap” for a couple house at RTR because there were too many visitors.
Even with all this commotion, I still made time to do a bit of writing in Blythe. I left with my rough draft of The Tea Bus Factory Service Manual 90% done. Whew!
I made a stop at Salvation Mountain and Slab City, serving tea in East Jesus. In San Diego, I had a great time staying with old friends and serving tea at Windansea, where we gave out free cookies baked by my friend Malia, as well as (dumpster-dived) roses. It was a fun evening perched atop a seaside cliff, watching surfers, and sharing good company. Also in San Diego, we celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the Free Tea Bus!
For a month I worked my butt off. I spent weekdays at The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano, where I designed and installed an 800W solar system on a double decker eco-education mobile called Road Trip. On the weekend I was working on Evan and Kristen’s Sprinter van, which I helped lay a floor, insulate, wire, panel with wood, and install a solar system. It was non-stop hard work, but it was nice to put some money in the pocket. I really love this kind of work – especially when it’s not hourly pay (I don’t believe time is money), and when it’s for good people and good causes. All this work led me to retreat for 5 days up in Silverado Canyon on a nice piece of property owned by Earthroots Field School – a nature connection non-profit that I work for occasionally. I took some time to centrifuge some WVO, read a ton, and spend a day writing. Ahhhhh, nature!
In Oceanside I met up with Truk (remember him?), and his partner Mari. Truk is a free tea server, but perhaps finds his highest calling in sharing good food with people. In fact, that’s how him and Mari met – making food day in and day out at Standing Rock. He loves wild, native, organic and heirloom foods, and is known to make stoves from large flat rocks out in nature. I had met Truk years ago in Nevada City, where he climbed aboard the bus one night during a tea party and said, “This is exactly what I’ve been wanting to do!” It had been a while since I had seen him, so we decided to make free tea and pozole at Buccaneer Beach Park. The native corn in the pozole was grown by Mari’s family in Mexico, and it was delicious! Several of Mari’s family members showed up, as well as some friends, strangers, and even a couple folks from the internet (via Instagram and Facebook).
I was lucky to get to spend part of a day at the Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap headquarters in Vista – or more specifically at the Magic Foam Experience (MFE) warehouse. Dr. Bronner’s has been donating soaps to the Tea Bus for probably 8 years, so it was great to be able to give a little back. The MFE is Bronner’s way to activate and excite people with their mobile foaming fire truck and foam trailers, as well as all the sculptures and infrastructure they bring to Burning Man. They are staffed with some of the friendliest folks, who took me in like kin, shared so much with me, and had a wonderful tea party in Edna. I was lucky to have David Bronner aboard and chat soap and biodegradability. Thank you so much, to everyone there, especially AB.
On Earth Day, I spent the day at The Ecology Center. I had first arrived at this permaculture learning center 4 years ago for the same event. I fell in love, was asked to do some work for them, and ended up there for 4 month fixing and building things. It felt nice to be back, to see some familiar faces, and catch up with all the good happenings. The day was a madhouse, however, with a almost consistent line out the door, and I served over 200 cups of iced tea. The only reason I could keep up was because some old friends pitched in to wash dishes, pour tea, find more cups, and pass out tea. It was good, but I was beat!
Northward! A quick stop to serve tea at free Yoga on the Bluff in Long Beach, and then visit some friend and family in Harbor City, Palos Verdes, Santa Monica and The Brewery near downtown LA. In Hollywood, I stopped where it all started – right there on the Boulevard. I had a packed evening connecting with old-time tea-sippers, and a steady stream of new faces. It was nice to be serving tea on Hollywood again!
Then onwards to Monrovia, where I arrived just in time to serve tea for their weekly Friday Night Festival. I had made some good connections here 4 years back, and it was good to reconnect. I had friends from other places I hadn’t seen in years show up as well. All the go, go, go had taken it’s toll, however, and midway through the night I started to feel like I was coming down with a cold. I passed off tea serving duties to some guests and ate some food, but by that point I had lost half my voice. By the time I packed up, I was pretty sick. I rarely get sick, and I’ve never gotten sick that fast.
I spent the past few days trying to take it easy in order to recover. Thankfully, my friend/teacher Ed and his wife Robin were wonderful hosts in Monrovia. I did manage to help Ed build a deck for Robin’s studio, which I was hoping to do more of with him. Ed was an early teacher of mine when I first bought the bus. He taught me how to weld, and helped me build the roof rack. He taught me about wood-working, materials, methods, and more. I always hope I can give back as much as I can to those who have shared so much, but I left Ed again today feeling like he shared so much with me again. Thank you Ed and Robin!
Now I barrel down the road, fumes smelling like French fries, moving quickly towards my Love, Ally. We’ve been apart since Christmas, and I’m eager to see her.
I hope to see you somewhere on the west coast!!!