Summer Update – Arcata, CA

Edna hangs in Nevada City, CA.

Well, our West Coast Tour has been shaken up a bit. After receiving news of a family emergency, Edna and I cruised on up to Arcata to be with family. This means that we probably wont be making it to the Bay Area/Sonoma/Mendocino this time around (sorry folks! It makes us sad too.). But hey, that’s what community is about. When relationships are the highest form of value, we take the time to care for the ones in our circle who are in need.

Read more about our journeys from south to north in California below.

Edna in the Sierra Mountains.

The best drinking water around – spring near Lee Vining, CA.

On our way North along highway 395, Edna and I had some wonderful adventures, even though I was still recovering from being sick. We took some epic roads, with switchbacks, 3000-foot elevation gains, and amazing scenery. Also along the way were plenty of great free campsites (see I had planned to stop at several hot springs along the way, but still being sick, I decided that it might not be a good idea. Just outside of Lee Vining/Mono Lake there is one of the best fresh water springs I’ve been to in my journeys. It has some of the tastiest and cleanest water (30 ppm), and I highly recommend stopping there on your way through.

The location of the spring water near Lee Vining, CA.

A free campsite along HWY 395.

In Markleeville, CA, we stopped in and gathered some WVO from a local bar/restaurant, and loved the transition from desert to forested mountains. When I pulled into town, my transmission acted a little funny. Then, as I continued on, it was shifting really weird. I checked the transmission fluid, and it seemed a little full. Over-full transmissions can get frothy, so I figured this is probably what it was, exacerbated by all the steep hills. When I pulled into South Lake Tahoe, I was hoping to let the transmission cool, so I could drain a touch of fluid off. (I later replaced the tachometer sensor, and all is good!).

As I was sitting in the bus in front of the natural food store, a truck pulled up and a fellow got out while staring at my roof rack. He began walking towards the bus when the look on his face turned from curiosity to recognition. “Hey, I know this bus. I saw a video on YouTube about you. Your bus is my favorite of all buses I’ve seen.” Adam was building his own bus just a few blocks away with his girlfriend, Dallas. He invited me over, and I needed a place to hang, so I said sure. And I’m glad I did.

Adam and Dallas’ reclaimed bus counter.

I was truly blown away by his and Dallas’ projects (under the name Onus Art Projects). They are artists and makers, and use a ton of reclaimed materials. They had sewn the old vinyl school bus seat covers into bags. Adam built their entire counter from a mix-match variety of salvaged wood of all colors – an inspiration from all the salvaged-woodworked heriloom-quality surfboards he makes. “When we have to go to the hardware store, first we go to the ski resort dumpster… and half the time we find what we need there. Just today I needed some plywood, and found three full sheets in the dumpster.” They were a couple after my own heart.

Bear attack! The screen a bear tore off Edna.

They invited me to stay at their place, which I did. They were excellent hosts, feeding me a couple meals and offering a place to park. It was truly a blessing. In the morning, I found that a bear had tried to break into Edna that night, although I didn’t hear it because I’m such a heavy sleeper. The bear had torn down the window screen just inches from my head as I slept. I always imagined that bears were more likely to try and steal my vegetable oil…


Ally’s surprise tea party.

I arrived three days early to Nevada City to surprise Ally. Immediately, I set up a tea party in the woods behind her parents’ house. It was a wonderful reunion after months apart for the winter. Ally arranged for Edna and I to serve tea at the Foothills Fusion Friday Night Dance in Grass Valley. It was wonderful to be back in a community as such. They truly appreciate the service of the Free Tea Bus, and show it with all sorts of hugs, invitations, and gratitude. Thank you!

Justin and Tzoul chat at the Foothills Fusion Dance.

In Nevada City, I was able to do some fun projects on my friend Gregory’s vintage Airstream-like Avion trailer. It needed some aluminum work to repair some damaged aluminum paneling, as well as some help designing and building a solar system. I was happy to oblige, and we had an excellent time working on the project. It was my first solar project with lithium batteries. 

Aluminum repair on Gregory’s Avion

Edna turns 200,000!

A trip up to Oregon with Ally (but without Edna) for my mom’s wedding and some visits with friends turn into a detour when we caught wind of some serious family stuff that was going on. We rerouted to Arcata, where I’ve been mostly since the news. I went back to Nevada City briefly to get Edna, and will likely be here in Humboldt until mid-August when we head into Oregon.

In Redding, Edna’s odometer rolled over to 00,000.0 miles. I think it’s 200,000 miles, but one can never be certain with a 5-digit odometer. I purchased her with (probably) about 122,000 miles in 2008, and average about 7,500 miles/year (half than the average car in America).

Serving tea at the Fairy Festival on the Arcata Plaza. Photo: Daruka Das

I was stoked to serve some tea at the Friday Night Market in Eureka, CA this past weekend, as well as the Fairy Festival on the Arcata Plaza. It’s the first time I’ve been able to serve tea right there on the plaza, because the organizer let us in. We parked the wrong way on a one-way, and opened up the side door to the plaza. It was so wonderful to get to reconnect with people here in a place that was so involved in the making of the Free Tea Bus. I served tea every Tuesday for two winters at the Arcata Plaza about 8 and 9 years ago. I built a lot of Edna in Eureka, and I also served tea at Arts Alive in Eureka on many occasions. I am looking forward to heading to this event this weekend! Come join us!

Mostly, I am simply happy to be here in Arcata with my brother. He’s been wonderful support to Edna and I over the years, and I am honored to get to be here with him to repay the love. I’m helping with things he needs, offering support, as well doing some projects on Edna and working on finishing the rough draft of the Tea Bus Factory Service Manual.

I hope to see you soon, Humboldt!

Guisepi + Edna

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Gregory’s charge controller, breaker panel, and 12V fuse panel.

Gregory’s battery bank and inverter, hidden under his bed.

Fixing one of Edna’s window latch with VHB tape and an angle brace.

New and old friends in Grass Valley and the Foothills Fusion Dance.

Rebuilding the window screen after the bear attack.

Gregory’s solar system design.

It’s been a long road.

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