Prescott College

The End the Middle and the Beginning…In that order.

It’s time to reach back out to you fine folks, our readers. Even though it’s been several years, it’s important to me to finish sharing our year journey.  So, here is one final blog post from our year odyssey we call Five and a Roof Rack.

 

We finished off our year in style, as planned all the way back home to Bellingham, Washington.  During the last month and a half of our travels something shifted:  We began arranging, planning and preparing for our life back in Washington.  Once home, we bought a house, engaged back into our community, enrolled the kids back into school and we’ve been there ever since.  But to stay on point, the last month and a half of our yearlong journey included important adventures some of which were highlights of the whole year.

 

Resuming where I left off, following camping and exploring along the mysterious foggy coastline of Big Sur we visited my cousin Ueyn, his wife Jen and their boys, Evan and Jonas in Menlo Park just south of San Francisco. We stayed for almost a week, hopefully the first of many. Ueyn was working on a top-secret project at Apple that he was not allowed to discuss with us, his kids, his wife, or anyone for that matter.  Now, many years later we learned he was one of the main creators working on the Apple watch function that monitors heart activity in people susceptible to heart problems. We were all delighted to curl up in their cozy neighborhood home for a few days, go on walks in the oak woodlands and barbecue with neighbors.  During that time we also went for a quick visit to another cousin Matt and his wife and son over in the East Bay.

 

Serendipitously Michelle’s brother, Simon, just happened to be at a conference in San Francisco. So we moved north into a downtown San Francisco hotel with Simon and played in the city for awhile. While Simon taught during the day, the five of us wandered the hilly picturesque streets of the city, went to museums, enjoyed music in the park and ate some pretty damn good sushi.  All said and done it made for the single most expensive day of the entire year.

 

After Simon left, cousin Jen and her boys met up with us again as we took a ferry north of the San Francisco Bay for a really cool camping trip on Angel Island, the “Ellis Island” of the west. With a spectacular campsite, we were overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge the San Francisco Skyline and Marin County. After two nights, we said our good byes to family and it was off to the greener North.

Things really changed energetically at this point, our minds were not in the moment like most of the year but began looking forward, planning and wondering about life back to where we began.  And so we traveled north : Redwood State Parks, Red Wood National Park, then to Oregon. Camping on Diamond Lake at the foot of Mt Thielson. Jacob and I got to hike up to the summit of Thielson, one of Oregon’s fabulous volcanoes. We spent lots of time on the rich grassy shores of Diamond Lake, thinking deeply about our big adventure that was now coming to a close.  Michelle and I knew that being this close as a family, just the five of us, may never happen again quite like this.  The life we were going back to felt necessary but not as important as what we were wrapping up.  It was bitter sweet.

 

We spent a day at Crater Lake, a volcano that blew it’s top only seventeen-thousand years ago and is now a magical teal and deep blue lake that does not drain except into the ground below it.  Journeying on, we made one final stop north at Smith Rock State Park, the birthplace of sport climbing.  It was well into summer, the typically hot weather took a break though and it was cool and comfortable.  We did a little bit of climbing and most importantly got to hang out with Jen and Andrew and their kids from Wisconsin, who had launched onto their own road trip.  Here we spent a last few days climbing, hiking, playing music and reflecting on our crazy year and wondering what it’s going to be like to go back home.

We were ready at this point; our minds had now shifted to the north.  We missed our friends and hometown.  So at the beginning of July 2014 we hopped in the minivan and drove north into the rainy Northwest.  Thanks to good friends, we found ourselves a new home in an incredible little neighborhood in the hills just east of town.

 

But that’s not the end of it.  First and foremost, once we were moved in we began planning our next year long adventure…more on that later.  Other things began to be very clear.  We were all happier and healthier…but something else happened.  We noticed we inspired others to do the same.  We noticed that friends and families were put into action.  People we knew well and others through connections down the line began reprioritizing their lives, putting the busy things on hold and going on their own adventures big and small.

 

We discovered something very important on our adventure. What we found was not just for our own family. Our mission of sharing our personal stories and experiences with others had gone beyond ourselves and has only grown since.  It has become our mission to inspire others to go on their own adventure, to shy away from the ideas of vacations and consumerism, that to be fair, are fun in very small doses, but to court something else.   It has become part of our work to help others find their Adventure; a deeply human experience, like the first homo sapiens who walked beyond the boarders of Africa or Abraham leaving Mesopotamia.  It’s an essential part of being human. Sure we did it our own quirky, and unique way.  That was our journey. Every family has their own story, their own adventure to engage.

 

So…naturally, several months after returning to Bellingham the question was not if we’d go on another year adventure, the real question was where and when.

 

As we considered where our next family mission was to take place we decided that we wanted a location where we could load everything up in a van again and just go explore.  Michelle and I also wanted a place that would not only be new and fascinating to the kids but new to us as well.

 

Aside from the destination, we realized that there will be another part of this odyssey that will be quite different. We commenced our previous adventure with a 1 year old who turned 2 and became potty trained and learned to walk and even run while traveling.  The other kids were 7 turning 8 and 12 turning 13. This time we are bridging the other side of family life with a child who is no longer a child but spreading his wings and learning to fly on his own. Jacob, by the time we’re traveling will be 19.  The hope is that he will  travel with us for sections and then go have his own adventures as well. Our aim is to grow and adapt with our family, while strengthening tethers of connection made once again from the journey into the unknown.

 

With all of this in mind,  we decided that our next family year long adventure will take place in New Zealand and Australia!   The date is set. The plan is to be leaving to Aukland, NZ mid to late September 2020 and returning mid to late August 2021.

 

Our intention is to continue to share with you, our readers not only the adventure itself but the whole process.  We’ll be updating people on our preparations: the gathering of equipment, the logistics and sharing our project out line and route. Those logistics will include the planning of the trip of course, but also what the home schooling will look like, the gear planning, the financial planning. We’ll be reflecting on what worked well the last time and what could have been done better.  We will revisit the spirit of what we found throughout our own country…the United States.  We will dive into what this American family knows and thinks about the smallest continent.  For me, even though there are some similarities, there is something mysterious and very unique about Australia; I want to wake up in the early morning and see an animal I never knew existed in a landscape new and different.

 

We are excited to share once again our grand quest and in doing so help give, not just an inspiration to others, but a template. Come join us as we prepare for mission number two: 5andaroofrackdownunder.

Categories: Adventure, adventure travel, Angel Island, Australia, California, Camping, Car camping, Cornicopia, Driving cross country, Ecosystems, Family camping, Family Climbing, Hiking, Homeschooling, New Zealand, Oregon, organic farming, Prescott College, Rock Climbing, Rock climbing kids, San Francisco, Smith Rock, Uncategorized, Washington, Wisconsin | Leave a comment

Prescott

At 18 I was attending a University too similar to my high school. My snot would freeze in the northern New York cold as I stepped outside in the early morning to attend 8:00 AM Calculus. Scurrying from lecture hall to lecture hall I couldn’t get into classes that appealed to me, I felt lost in the frenzy of fraternities and sororities. After completing my finals in December of my 3rd quarter I came down with bronchitis that seemed to be heading towards pneumonia. I felt like the illness was a spiritual crisis in disguise and chose not take meds to heal. Instead I sat, I thought, I cried and although my parents threatened with everything they had to keep me in school I dropped out (an act so foreign to my upbringing and decision making). I began to listen to a deeper part of me that spoke louder than my parent’s fears (and my own fears). Simon, my brother and I borrowed a friends van, drove up to the University while everyone was on winter break, packed up my things, went on a big hike to say good bye to the forests behind my dorm and ended the Upstate NY chapter – one of the more powerful and independent decisions in my life. It felt like my soul came knocking and redirected me towards giant chaos and unfamiliar terrain. A ferocious balance of trust, courage and audacity moved me forward towards the next step.

After dropping out I found Prescott College (PC) located in Prescott, AZ. I remember reading the PC handbook over and over with its photos and bio’s of faculty but it was the photo of the student body that resonated with me.…I found my people. Prescott was filled with students like me, slightly older and often with a bit of previous college under their belt asking quintessential questions left unexamined by more traditional institutions. Before it became trite the motto of PC was “learning is a journey not the destination” and truly that was my experience. After years of being educated, this was where I learned how to learn.

Hopping into a car with an acquaintance also enrolled to start Prescott College we drove away from Long Island August 1995 for what could have been a different planet in landscape and culture. It is notable that upon arriving in Boulder, CO a few weeks into our drive on our way to AZ we heard the news that Jerry Garcia died. Joining what felt like the entire city, we mourned…so many changes.

The transition to PC begins for each student with a 3 week Wilderness Orientation which for me took place in Barbershop and Tonto Canyons of Arizona. Shouldering our backpacks filled with gear stuffed into thick trash compactor bags making our backpacks buoyant, we floated and swam down gorgeous dessert canyons. As a child my family and I went camping at places on the East Coast like Yogi Bear Parks sort of KOA style. I hiked and backpacked a little at summer camp however I was pretty green to wilderness backpacking. The PC Orientation, formative in so many ways was my introduction to backpacking, the Arizona wilderness, student-directed learning, and was where I met great friends including my future husband, a long haired, goofy 19 year old Joseph. Everything was so new and foreign.

Prescott Orientation

The years that followed were spent hitchhiking “up the hill” to Groom Creek where I lived in a tiny cabin in the pines a few miles outside of Prescott with a changing cast of great PC friends. These years marked my rites of passage into early adulthood. This is where I learned how to listen, how to trust myself, and I developed a resonant and intimate relationship with nature. Studying alternative education and eco-psychology I was planting the seeds for a career in counseling, a passion for “right education” for myself and my children and an experiential relationship with nature. As we travel around the country stopping to visit our PC friends and alumni, I recognize in them the passion that optimizes the PC student; professionals on the fringe of dominant culture, successful in the arts of organic farmers, sustainable builders, midwifes, educators, Park Rangers – independent, whole hearted and creative humans.

Stepping out of the car 2 decades later, footfalls on pine needles amongst the granite boulders of Groom Creek, I flashback 18 years – the crisp feeling of freedom rushed into my breath, my body and my spirit. Was this me? A faraway and forgotten friend, covered up by newer layers of self… mother, wife, counselor, daughter. It’s as if whispers of my past flooded in on the familiar vanilla scented Ponderosa Pine breeze reminding me of my independence, freedom and vision of my younger self. Are these qualities still at play in my life now, with my kids, my husband, my inner world? I ached to share this part of myself with my kids and at the same time wanted to run into the forest and seek refuge for a while to reconnect with who I have become.

Yet here we were, Joseph and I wanted to share with the kids Prescott and our college, the town and the woods where we met and began blending our lives together. We rented a house for the duration of our Prescott visit with the family, a little cottage walkable to downtown and Whiskey Row. The house was stocked with all sorts of delicious foods by our college friend, Mark, who still lives here in Prescott. As we eagerly munched on the hors d’oeuvres we explained to the boys that our mystery friend Mark is Cody Lundine’s right hand man and helps to run Cody’s Aboriginal Primitive Living Skills School. For our family Cody Lundine is a household name from one of the few TV shows that we catch on Netflix : Duel Survival. Joseph took Cody’s Aboriginal Living Skills class years ago at Prescott and he is sort of an Anderson Superhero.

Just minutes after arriving Joseph received a text from long lost friend Tim Murphy, Joseph’s college roommate and best man at our wedding who lives in Durango, CO. We haven’t connected with Tim in 10 years. “Where are you guys on your trip?” read the text. Joseph answers “We just got to Prescott, we’ll be in Durango in about a month.” “I’m in Prescott” Tim answered. What were the odds? “The force is strong with you…” Joseph responded. Within the next hour Tim, Mark, Leta (Mark’s Wife) and our family were reconnecting at the Prescott Brew Pub. The boys eagerly listened to goofy stories about us as college kids from Tim and to Mark’s. Mark became the primetime show while recounting behind the scenes details of Dual Survival and the life of running an aboriginal living skills school.

Prescott College has changed over the last 20 years still an experiential, environmentally based liberal arts school but now with a campus. For us it was strange to see our Prescott College with actual dorms in the lot behind the riparian area and built library, classrooms and café. Everything was built using sustainable building practices and materials. The college is ‘walking its talk’ moving towards a zero waste campus. Students tend to be younger now seemingly still appreciating the dynamic and experiential approach and the mission of the school.

Introducing PC to my kids made me appreciate our year of “Adventure School”. As we are homeschooling all year, their curriculum is a a dynamic mix of classical studies with experiential learning related to our travels, geography, geology, art, culture and history mixed in. They are learning like we did when we met, engaging their curiosities and creativity and together searching for meaning. They are 2, 8 and 12 we were 19 and 20. I realized that so much of the invention, adventure and fortitude of this year’s family adventure was spun and learned during our time at Prescott. These are the qualities that we hope to share and model with the kids forever.

Family climbing at the Dells and at Sullivans Canyon, hiking Spruce Mountain and having breakfast at the Dinner Bell brought back similar reminiscing of the past. If I squinted my eyes, I could have sworn that the group of 5 young guys climbing beside us in the Sullivan’s canyon was us 20 years ago. Such de ja vu felt shocking…2 decades have passed.

Old Prescott

 

Categories: Arizona, Homeschooling, Prescott College | 4 Comments

Thank you Chickens

Annique, my wild and beautiful Prescott College roommate and Thomas her friendly, intense and loving husband whom she also met at college settled down in the little town of Putney, VT. We couldn’t leave New England without a brief visit.  Over a decade ago we visited them in their cute rustic house on Putney Mountain with a 2 year old Jacob. Thomas shared tales of tracking animals in the VT winters – hare, deer, weasel following their prints in the snow, as Annique cultivated her hearty garden and found her own roots in the rugged and beautiful North Country.

It’s funny how the little things that seem inconsequential in our life can make subtle and lasting ripples. Way back in 2002 Annique taught us the art of singing to their chickens when we gathered the eggs to thank them (and to calm the rooster so he didn’t peck at us)!

”Thank you chickens,

thank you chickens,

for your yummy eggs,

for your yummy eggs”…

That little chant has become part of our family thankful repertoire all of these years since and is such a sweet way that Annique and Thomas are woven into our everyday life.

Over the last few years they designed and built a beautiful home tearing down the old house and keeping and developing the gardens. Annique, a well respected Midwife and Thomas an accomplished Acupuncturist and Chinese Doctor, share an office/practice in Putney called Medicine for the People and seem to be living a very busy and meaningful life as integral resources in their community.

Pretty quickly our families connected in a warm and deep way.  This visit we met Samuel their very sweet 4 year old son.  Elias quickly and quietly got to work on Samuel’s train set and Ila at dismantleling Elias’ work! As they have been lacking in traditional toys they were quite pleased to play and play and play and Samuel was a generous playmate.

Jacob was under Thomas’s spell after quickly realizing that they share common interests…Thomas has a vintage collection of comic books…! This coupled with his mastery in the art of bow making, tracking and animal awareness kept Jacob teetering between nonstop questions and nonstop reading.  He had his first introduction to characters like “the Punisher” and was later given a three volume set of books on how to make bows and arrows, the Bow Makers Tome.  Jacob was SOLD!

Although our visit was short we found time to hike through the beautiful VT autumn with Annique and Samuel, walking a few miles up the road from their house towards the top of Putney Mountain watching raptors soaring on the drafts above. The kids played on a magnificent old and huge tree, hiking home barefoot and free.

The day before we arrived, Annique, Thomas and their friends killed and prepared chickens for the winter – 100 of them.  Although in my vegan years this would have been quite difficult for me to bear, in my recent incarnation as an omnivore I was intrigued by the process.  Our drive across the country has allowed for a few good conversations on food, food choices, raising animals and farming. Very recently Jacob and I discussed different slaughtering techniques and theories comparing factory farmed animals and humanely raised animals. I understand, based on my reading and my brief time working on a ranch in Colorado, if killed humanly the animal does not experience fear or as much anticipation and terror in the end.  This is so much kinder to the animal and healthier for the person eating the meat.  Unsurprisingly, this was Jacob’s first question to Thomas after finding out about the chickens. Thomas described how he held each chicken closely and compassionately in his arms until he felt them stop “buzzing like a refrigerator” and felt more calm.   A wide eyed Jacob (and Michelle) were captured by this story.

Evening was spent with the boys helping Thomas stack a truck full of wood near the back door of the house in preparation for a long VT winter as Annique and I prepared incredible chicken enchiladas and fresh salad from the garden.  Around the fire Thomas brought out arrow making materials and the boys learned the art of crafting their own arrows by gluing on the feathers and the tips with the proper tools. They made a list of all of the things that Jacob needed to craft his own bow over the next few months which fit in perfectly with his 6th grade Waldorf curriculum and made missing school a tiny bit easier to bear.

We came full circle that night singing our thankfulness to the chickens with a deeper sense of gratitude and understanding.  All holding hands and smiling at each other around the dinner table we giggled as we sang –

”Thank you chickens,

thank you chickens,

for your yummy meat,

for your yummy meat”…

Stocked with delicious syrup and VT hard apple cider, we packed the minivan and shared hugs trying to convince our friends why reuniting in Arizona this winter is an excellent idea (hint hint if you are reading this Annique and Thomas).

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Categories: Accupuncture, Autumn, Hiking, Homeschooling, Medicine for the People, Midwife, New England, Prescott College, Putney Mountain, vT, Waldorf Curriculum | 1 Comment

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