Oh, and what a journey it was! A little break time in Shelter Cove at the house of the Andrews Family – a great crew of folks who have helped me immensely with the bus and keeping me fed, showered, and well-loved. I can’t think of a better way to start a journey than spending some time with good people who help make this tea thing possible.
I visited the tea house in Shelter Cove, which is much more formal and of European influence (which is usually the style of tea that I am less inclined to be interested in). Nevertheless, I had a wonderful lunch and some delicious tea, followed by a good chat with one of the owners, who was excited about the Free Tea Party. Another woman, who ended up being a writer, followed me back out to the bus where she recited poetry from her book of beautiful scrawls. With her words and the spectacular lighthouse and ocean in front of us, I was in heaven.
I broke down in Hopland late that night after a sketchy snowy drive over the hills out of Shelter Cove. As I was driving I thought to myself, Jeez, why did they make these dash lights so dim on this bus? Just then I flashed my brights on, only to have the stereo shut off. What is happening? I flashed my brights off and the stereo came back on. Oh no, I’m running out of juice. I pulled over and tested my voltage. 9.6, oh crap. A normal battery at charging voltage should be more in the 14.4 volts rage.
With dim lights and fear of the engine shutting off (fortunately diesel engines take less electricity to keep them running), I drove a couple miles back to Hopland and parked across from a gas station and off of the main drag. After testing the voltage and knowing there was nothing I could do, I shut her off. Oh Edna…
A Ford diesel truck pulled into the gas station across the street. I was tempted to ask him if he had an extra alternator (my diagnosis at the time, even though I had just replaced it and my voltage regulator a year ago). I decided against asking him, but less than 5 minutes and he came over to the bus, which had the hood open. Well, yes, I do actually have a couple extra alternators. The man was a good man. A long line of trucking filled his veins going all the way back to his grandfather hauling logs out of the forest on mule trains. I bought him a midnight dinner at a truck stop in Ukiah before we headed to his family’s property (just a few houses from where I broke down).
The property was filled with truck trailers and big engines, fuel tanks and a broke down Ford diesel truck. We spent hours pulling out my alternator, trying another one, swapping charge controllers, trying not to wake his parents, pulling off pulleys, getting another mechanic involved, testing wires, etc. By the time I hit the hay, my bus still wasn’t running and the sun was coming up. But, by morning we had discovered a worn down wire leading out of the alternator and figured that to be the culprit. And it was, I realized a few days later as I installed my third charge controller and it didn’t change much. I taped the wire and she ran like a charm.
It was a shame to break down, but it was amazing how people came together and helped out. Free parts, advice, and labor. I thanked the people who helped and was on my way.
Healdsburg was a good stop off with good peeps. I picked up a discounted solar panel from my man Hans at DC Power Systems (thanks so much, word up!), and got to visit with the good folks of Sonoma. I love you guys!
San Francisco beckoned with a new tea bus in town. Run by a woman named Shana, the vehicle was called Toto. We arranged for a beach-side sunset tea party and the masses came out! There were people who had rideshared with Edna and I, peeps I knew from college in Colorado, friends from the Bay, Shana’s crew, and randoms from the beach there at Ocean Beach, SF. Truly a great night of hair-cutting, tea-sipping, bus-meeting, conversation-having, friend-reuniting, etc.
In Oakland we went to work with Case at Patchwerk Press making a screen for inking up some FTP patches, and served tea at the farmers’ market. It turned out to be a great day in the East Bay. My friend Maria showed up, who has this project with a bike trailer that shares stories if you listen, and records stories if you tell. It’s way too amazing to describe here. You have to check it out here.
Also stopping by was a good friend Natalia, Serena (who wrote an article about FTP on her site Meridian Collective), a woman who is doing a hug and music bus, my mom’s friend from high school, a girl from Russia, and many more.
A rideshared ride to Oregon was great! Once we got to Ashland, someone told me that this was the first day that had been really nice this spring, so lots of people were out in the park. It was incredible to have so many wonderful people come for tea. We had just received a good donation from Eco Teas (based here in Ashland), so we brewed up a batch of sun Mate with fresh squeezed lemons and agave nectar. We also made some hot tea, and provided people with a great selection of hot and cold teas, which is fun to give people so many options. I love Ashland!
That night we parked outside of a B-Side Players show at Culture Works. This was a fun venue, where I ended up kind of knowing the doorman/security guard – a nice kid who kept coming back to the bus whenever he could to grab a cuppa tea or some conversation. Teenagers, a friend of mine from Idaho, college kids, etc… It was super fun, although the cops were harassing people. That night, when I was looking for somewhere to sleep, I drove past a drunk college couple who stuck their thumbs out half jokingly. I picked them up and drove them home. They were so nice that they let me crash on their couch. It ended up that the girl was from Healdsburg (where I had been a few days prior) and I knew her sister. Small world!
In Eugene we served tea at the Saturday Market, right in front of the courthouse. And what a great weekly event it is. It is a combination of a farmers’ market, a crafts market, and a rainbow gathering. Lol! We sipped tea with all sorts of folk – randoms, randoms we’d met before in other places, old friends, etc. It is definitely an interesting culture here in Eugene. Sun-brewed Mate all day!
That Sunday we went out to an event put on by the Circle of Children, which was a community-building, ecovillage dreaming event. It was good to be around good community-minded people creating a fun event based around kids, healthy food, workshops, alternative building, etc.
That night brought Edna and I to Lost Valley, a permaculture learning center and homestead. I was served tea by a woman who I had met a couple weeks prior at Arts Alive in Eurkea, and then again in Eugene at the Saturday Market. Now a good friend, Sarah Popp brewed up pu-erh in a Yixing teapot for me an Adrien (a Common Vision crew member this year referred to me by friends). It was good to get more of that Chinese style tea party. Inspiring…
Morning tea at Lost Valley was a hit. Even a class held their morning “check in” on the bus while sipping green tea. Everyone was super appreciative and happy. The groundskeeper evidently has a tea plant growing on site, but I didn’t get to see it. Oh well, next visit.
For lunch I set up right in front of Mountain Rose Herb‘s headquarters in nearby Pleasant Hill. As one of my main and most helpful supporters, I was happy to serve some tea to people on their lunch break. I was right outside the window of the break room, so many faces came out to see what the bus was all about. I just have to remark (not because I am obligated to) that I really really appreciate MRH as a company. They just do it right. Environmentally, socially, the work atmosphere, the employees, etc. Much praise…
In Portland my friend Nick and I snuck Edna into the Earth Day celebrations at PSU and set up shop all day. I accidentally ran into so many people I knew and I have barely even served tea in Portland: one of my first ridesharers two years ago (who I ran into at Lightning in a Bottle and later in Santa Barbara); Sarah Popp (again! four times randomly in a few weeks). I also kicked it with a girl I’ve known since I was a young boy, a friend from high school, and a girl I met in Berekely, among so many others.
It was the kind of day that started out slow, real slow, and I wanted to show nick a good time, and show him what this tea thing was all about. But man, it was unusually slow for something like an Earth Day celebration. But then it picked up dramatically.
It was interesting that Portland is considered one of the greenest cities in America, but we could only find one Earth Day event on the day of. I guess that all the P-Towners are in that “every day is earthday” mindset and are in their gardens anyways.
On my drive from Portland to Seattle, I stopped to drop off a ridesharer in Olympia and noticed the smell of fuel coming from my engine. After a short inspection at a gas station, I realized on of my high pressure fuel lines was leaking fuel onto my engine. Despite an attempt to tighten, and another to disassemble and re tighten to line onto the injector, the leak persisted. Needing to get my other two riders to Seattle, we continued despite the small leak. Once I dropped off the riders and was safe on Capitol hill, I checked the fuel line again, only to find that it had completely separated from the injector, meaning that I was losing probably an 1/8th of my fuel since it broke. I shopped around for a new line, and the prices were outrageous. It ended up being somewhere over $100 for the line and it wasn’t even the exact right one (it was made for the Ford diesel truck, which has the same engine, but the fuel filter is in a different location). I had to bend it and work it in there after taking off multiple of the other injection lines. Man it was a hassle.
After this breakdown and the long journey, I was worn out… No tea parties in Seattle – just visiting my father and seeking out some building materials. I salvaged a bunch of tongue and groove bead board from a house being remodeled and rummaged through some salvage and green building stores. I was eager to get to the islands, take a rest, and get settled in on Orcas Island at the Stem wharehouse.