Monday, July 27, 2009



And underneath our cheerleading of the RV dream is there "profound pessimism: that no place is interesting?" Are we novelty junkies? Ultimately unsatisfiable--like all addicts?

So says an anonymous commentator today---read the whole exchange if you wish on the two previous blogs. With some pride I quoted Thoreau's famous retort to a sniper of his day asking why Thoreau left Walden Pond if it was so wonderful there. His classic answer: "I left Walden Pond for as good a reason as I came---because I have many more lives to lead and could not spare any more time for this one." ( I felt smug putting myself in concert with genius)

Anonymous did not go away chastened. Today he challenges the very foundations of our lifestyle. How, he asks, does driving a few miles down the road give one a new life?

Friends, I may need help with this one! HOW DOES DRIVING A FEW MILES DOWN THE ROAD GIVE US A NEW LIFE? (Has this dark soul, probably envious, festering out there in the blogosphere somewhere, asked an achilles heel question?) I'm going to bed--need to think some more.

Okay: I've thought; And I will answer Anonymous' question directly: Traveling a few miles down the road gives one a new life because new places, people, challenges, are an opportunity to present yourself anew, to try on fresh aspects of your personality---and in baby steps create a new you. Comfortable and warm as your friends may be, they trap you at your current stage of development. Their conditioned notions about you freeze your evolution. Every one of us need to "molt" occasionally----difficult to do on home turf.

Joseph Campbell in HERO OF A THOUSAND FACES says that every society on earth tells the story of a hero's journey: The urge to go away to some place new. The hero does so, facing new challenges, overcoming them and in doing so is TRANSFORMED. The new being with a new message eventually returns to share the new insights. It is of course the Story of Jesus, Buddha, Hercules, Odyssus, and a thousand others. All traveled and were transformed.

Everyone, at some level of his being hears the call of the wild--to venture out and be transformed. Everyone wants to go learn something new and bring it home.

Wandering once in the hinterlands of Utah, I entered the spooky, near-ghost town of Modina. I took the occasion to present myself in a new persona---I told the townspeople I was a poet, come to ponder their town and celebrate it in poetry. WOW! THEY TOOK ME AT MY WORD----embraced the visiting poet---opened their hearts---told me everything--their deepest feelings. I wrote the poem---One of my first: "Modina: Deep Desert Town Disbanding" and sent it to them. Not a masterpiece, but the experience transformed me: I drove into town a traveler and left a poet----In my own eyes. A transformation hardly possible in Sondheimer, Louisiana where I started.

So I urge my anonymous friend and all others to go on a hero's journey--engage the new and scary---uncloak the hidden---whatever---inside you!

Friday, July 24, 2009


A BETTER LIFE WITHIN BIKING DISTANCE Willamette river--clean--clear--tasty--soul of the scenic Willamette valley. Photo taken from a bicycle bridge. Could you guess that just behind the trees on either side bustles the city of Eugene? A far sighted lady mayor fought the rich and greedy to arrange it so. I pedal along its banks noting the set-back-a-ways mansions. Occasionally I see the wealthy looking down from balconies at us common folks passing across "their" front yard.
An imaginative, educational, inexpensive project that lets us accurately envision our solar system at a scale of one to one billion along the bike path. This is of course the sun. Within a stones throw is grain-sized mercury and pea sized Venus and Earth. Kids are a bit shocked to see our humble dimentions in the solar system, especially when seeing basketball sized Jupitor a half mile away----and---A seeming mile away this scale model of Saturn. I'm curious how they've handled the Pluto situation---but I've never seen it--must be miles away.
Aaaahhhh sweet people--here begins the big story---"Hippies from the woods selling natural goods" at the famous SATURDAY MARKET. Don't Miss it! Located smack in the middle of downtown--three city blocks big---colorful as Joseph's coat.
OOOOOOhhhhh---I loved it! My kind of happening. A huge hodge podge of people and interest as you will see!
Hippies -a- drumming. Sounds good. Amateurs all, but joyful and harmonic. One begins a beat and others imitate it till all are together----then the volume rises to a crescendo and slowly trails off to a whisper---till someone else tries out a new beat and all work on the new rhythm till they get it then go loud again. WWWHHHHHHOOOOOOeeeee---they lose themselves and capture me. (I'm gonna try this with my WIN friends) I'm too chicken to join this group---when will I grow enough cajones to jump in over my head? (I know that's where the joy and growth is.)
I've never known how they do this--but I love it. One more contribution of the Hippies.
" the veggies are all organic---all the vines have berries, the trees have cherries and the music is all romantic". Even the persnickity would approve these goodies.
A sign like this is to me what a red flag is to a bull. Diana is not here to restrain me and of course I engage--and rediscover, for the umpteenth time, that our fundamentalist are every bit as irrational as Islamists fundamentalist. Belief in God doesn't trouble me much--but believing in MESSAGES FROM GOD AND HOLY BOOKS is without foundation, tribalizes humanity, freezes ethical evolution, inhibits scientific progress, overpopulates the earth, wastes creativity. Why is it so hard for people to live with mystery. Speculate away, BUT ADMIT THAT YOU ARE SPECULATING-------AND FOR HUMANITY'S SAKE UPDATE YOUR SPECULATIONS when its appropriate. Think I'm alone? A hard core of 10% of Americans agree with me. But I digress
And this whole movement---I don't know what to make of it--keeping my mind open.
A really nice kid was holding this sign--about 20--with dreadlocks--wouldn't let me show his picture. I know they are being effective because loggers I engage complain bitterly that they are hamstrung and impoverished by unreasonable environmental restraints.
I wished my Libertarian friend Sharon were here. Oh what a dramatic exchange would ensue.
These were pushing the single payer plan---which I approve.
As this guy wheeled passed me I asked the obvious question.
I think he said "TRACKER" as he whooshed past--leaning left and right propelled it.
Thoughtful generosity is omnipresent in Eugene---this kind gesture located by the riverwalk trail.
And this one nearby--for the kids--and ducks--and geese.
A thoroughly unpleasant fellow--drunk--lazy--self pitying. In my mind I wished him off the planet. He is the toughest challenge to an enlightened city. He complained bitterly about being excluded from "the gang" seen below. Even so I elicited lots of information from him about social service policies in Eugene--and resolved to go answer this question: If a city is generous with such as this----will such as this flock to Eugene, overwhelm resources and contaminate the city with indigents.
The gang of indigents he was tossed out of. They meet here regularly---proving to me that everyone wants--needs --to belong.
Here's where I came seeking answers. I engaged Ernie Unger, director of the Eugene Mission, who generously answered my questions and arranged a tour of the entire facility. We shake hands in their huge dining area where they feed 350 people a day. He has been dealing with "lost" people for 50 years. Their motto: a bed, a meal, the gospel---which they do superbly well.
350 double decker cots fill a huge room--looked and smelled clean. A day room really impressed me (sorry, my camera died at this instant) In it were: seating and magazines, water fountain, a free barber shop, free showers, a secure place for valuables. They Really respect their clients but do not allow themselves to be abused. A modest tough love has them up at 5 am-- Chapel attendance manditory. Surprisingly, no government funding here because it comes with strings. (no religion) Evangelical Churches collaborate to support the mission. He did not believe that generosity multiplies generosity seekers---said that 70% of his clients were local casualties. I come away a tad moderated in my anti-religious fervor. Ayn Rand and I would not rescue indigents. Neither would I feed the starving in Africa. Ultimately, would a sink or swim world serve humanity better? But again, I digress.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES: I've not done justice to this city--didn't mention its fine university, it's art theatre in an old church, its wetlands program etc. I have overfocused on down and outers (wonder why?). But I move on anyway. I write this from Lincoln City, Oregon, having attended DaVinci Days (celebration of technical and artistic creativity, conservation etc) in Eugene's sister Corvallis--almost as super duper. A friend sniped on this blog: "if Eugene is so great, why not live there?" I give the classic answer Thoreau gave his sniping friend about why he left so wonderful a place as Walden Pond: "I left for as good a reason as I came: BECAUSE I HAVE MANY MORE LIVES TO LEAD AND COULD NOT SPARE ANY MORE TIME FOR THIS ONE."

Monday, July 20, 2009


I DANCE WITH EVERY CITY ON MY ROAD----giving each a good hearted whirl; a chance at my affection; driving its streets, mingling with its citizens, tasting its water, feeling its temperature and its tempo, listening to its sounds----Hoping always to fall in love. OH SWEET READERS, I HAVE FALLEN IN LOVE. One green city has swept me off my feet and I declare to the world that EUGENE, OREGON IS THE FINEST CITY IN AMERICA. I'm moved to rewrite an old song: Big Rock Candy Mountain

'Neath a summer sky, early in July
A gypsy guy comes a calling
On a city pristine by the name of Eugene
Where there ain't no snow a falling

As I roll along I sing a song
'bout a city of milk and honey
Where vagabonds stay for many a day
And they don't need very much money

There's hippies from the woods selling natural goods,
The veggies are all organic.
Every vine has berries and the trees have cherries
And their music is all romantic.

Hear the whispering trees, feel the gentle breeze,
Walk a rainbow cross that stream
To a garden of Roses that thrill your noses;
It's heaven in a nomad's dream. 15 of my friends surround me in the Valley River Mall back parking lot --the nicest free parking spot imaginable. Deannie, caravan leader, weadled extra days of hospitality for us.
View out my back door. Willamette river, the silver stream that Pioneers aimed their wagons for. The bike path you see runs for miles in both directions and on both sides of the river.
Rainbow bridge ("walk a rainbow cross that stream") We were parked at the far end.
Bob Dwyer let us ride his high-tec super bike--very fast--very comfortable--very expensive!
Never reached the end of the bicycle path--it meanders all through the adjoining city of Springfield and beyond.
No less than 4 wonderful bike bridges like this cross the river at strategic points. My friend Paul pedals for the photograph. Imagine what this bridge cost.
"the garden of roses that thrills your noses" (400 different types on display)
And all along the bike path----heart swelling beauty--just for me---and you.
And in vacant patches they strew a hodge podge of wild flower seeds and let mother nature surprise us.
Paul pauses from pedaling to 'preciate pretty pedals
A community Garden--lots of them in Eugene--for $60 a year you get a nice plot to plant.
Eugene tolerates eccentricity.
A not uncommon sight on the streets of Eugene. This child is growing up in a real fairyland.
And yes, there's this. We woke to find this gentleman had settled in for the night just outside our fenced enclosure. Here he's still asleep. Later we watched him fold his chair/bed and walk away. Thoreau's words came to mind: "Jesus said to the man he'd healed: Take up thy bed and walk. Hardly anyone in Concord has a bed he could take up and walk with."
Eugene is equally gentle with its wildlife. There is seemingly a city wide agreement to be nice to everybody and every thing. New Yorkers would experience culture shock.
Look carefully and you will see the double layers of solar panels on this enterprise. The entire roof from end to end--perhaps a hundred yards was covered with them. They sell power to the grid--rarely buying any to operate their business.
Every vulnerable drain has this reminder that it flows into the willamette river.
And for us RVers, this crowning bit of generosity---a free dump. My trailer is equipped with a mascerator which empties the black water tank in 3 minutes through a garden hose.
There's more wonderful stuff that begs to be shown--like their incredible Saturday market and their planet education---but I'm sleepy. More later. Goodnight.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


A dazzling display of alternative values and art.
The evolutionary apex of new age practices.
Hippies are doing what you do in your better dreams; They live in leisure, express their emotions, unleash their sexuality, costume their bodies, give themselves new names, sleep till noon (on occasion), connect without fear, scramble their minds (on occasion)for new perspectives.
Here's the King of Kodgers , dressed too conservatively for the occasion, but seduced into the spirit of things by a "contact high." Yes. I'm playful and loose but have much to learn from the hippies who've shucked their egos in pursuit of worthier aims---like aliveness.
Have you heard that straight line architecture is masculine and curvey is feminine--and inherently more interesting. This arbor/sculpture persuades me.
Yeah, here is an issue that Hippies are passionate about. They are winning this battle with the hard heads in Washington. A certain number of hemp plants can now be openly cultivated. A wedge in the wall--sure to topple it in our lifetimes.
And they will have our clothes off or minimal--without shame--also within our lifetime.
And dancing like nobody is watching.
Letting our children be playful in a hundred new ways. Hopefully NOT INDOCTRINATING THEM with religious crap.
And we will dare to try on new personalities. How else would you learn what turns your crank or gives you wings.
A new "thing" with a brand-new sound. I think he invented it.
One of many open air restaurants--straw covered floor--hay bale seats for Paul and I.
Did I mention--there were 973 booths and exhibits--I saw perhaps 300. Many themes you would expect--back to nature--recycling--save the earth--solar energy and cooking. Of particular interest was a new kind of stove called a rocket stove--extremely cheap to manufacture--cooks with tiny twigs for fuel---thousands are already in Haiti and 3rd world countries. (Sorry--didn't get a picture)
He's wearing those new high-tech feet that lets him run like a gazelle. Springy. fun to watch!

Final comment: Some may remember the movie: I love you Alice B Toklas where the hero, destined for a good, prosperous straight life gets sidetracked for awhile into the Hippy Lifestyle.
He is "rescued" by determined parents and set back on the straight path and is preparing to marry the right lady---while the wedding march plays, he reflects on his hippy experience and goes running from the church shouting: THERE'S SOMETHING WONDERFUL OUT THERE.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


THEY DID NOT VANISH---THEY THRIVE IN EUGENE OREGON--Creating for your amazement the world's grandest counterculture celebration. Step with me into this magical forest that the Hippies own outright and you will come away as I did---thrilled and inspired with new possibilities. In 40 years they have perfected their art: Logistics? Perfect! Park and ride free to the entrance! Fifty thousand of us transported to the Hippy Kingdom of Oz.
One step inside and I'm transfixed. The woods are ablaze with color,

Alive with music and dancing,
Architectured of branch and vine with a soft hand.
We stretch and sway to an ancient rhythm.
Words won't describe the beauty of it all.
Even my friend Lloyd would celebrate the balance here.
Healing Didjeridu music envelopes this gentleman.
Man makes fire the old old fashioned way.
Lady makes music backdropped by fascinating vine sculpture.
Step up to these nirvana tubes, put your ear in the opening and actually hear mother natures subtle sounds. I heard them---I really did--sweet soft tics and sighs.
Mongollion Yurt--soothing space--a functional home weighing about a thousand pounds. How much does your home weigh. It matters, you know!
Where else in this wide world will you hear soothing harp music floating from the bushes?

I have more to say and share but it will have to wait for another day. My cup is full --I go off for a second time to dreamland. Randy