Archive for the ‘On the Road’ Category

July 25, 2012

One journey ends, another begins!

Well folks, we started our journey on Ollie (and started this blog) back in November 2010, a whole year and a half ago, and I am delighted to announce that this particular voyage has officially come to an end and we have settled down permanently in Oakland.  We found a lovely house called the Barnyard Collective, a small but vibrant group of rad folks dedicated to urban homesteading, home brewing, dog loving, vegan cooking, dumpster diving, and the queer things in life.  It feels like home.

Ollie is parked in the spacious yard, providing a needed shade area for the chickens as well as a convenient storage space (and perhaps a cheap room for a lucky someone in the future?).  Ivy seems to have taken to house living more easily than I (I haven’t lived in a room in a house in four years!); she still sleeps between us, under the covers, at night, and she has found her favorite nooks and crannies (as well as illicit chewables) around the common spaces.

This doesn’t mean that Max and I won’t continue to visit intentional communities, of course.  There are tons of said communities around the Bay Area, many of which aren’t listed on  We kind of knew we’d have to live here before we even heard about the coolest ones.   🙂

But expect less frequent posting, as we will no longer be driving wildly from Davis to Seattle in the dead of night, nor will we be picking up too many more dead deer along the interstates.  Those days are over… for now.


July 5, 2012


While driving from San Francisco back to Struggle Mountain one day we came across a road-killed deer on the side of the highway.  Thus ensued….

We had originally been planning on digging a huge hole somewhere to bury the carcase.  But while we were skinning it, a single brave coyote followed its nose straight to us, and hung out quite close by, watching us work.  We figured the meat would be eaten quickly, so after skinning, we dragged the carcase into a ravine (far from anyone’s house!) and left it there.  The following day we went back to check on it, and literally one day later this was all that was left:

June 28, 2012


We have been living at Struggle Mountain, the community in the Los Altos Hills, and have been looking for employment and housing (preferably in an intentional community or smaller collective house) in the East Bay.  Lots of time spent on the computer, responding to Craigslist posts and re-writing old resumes… not particularly exciting.  Ivy, however, is still cute.

May 29, 2012


This squirrel is the third road-killed animal we’ve skinned and tanned.  We’ve tried a different tanning technique for each animal: we put Fox I in a chemical bath that didn’t work too well; we brain-tanned Fox II, which was gross and kind of sketchy but worked really well; and we used a strong black tea + raw egg for the squirrel, which also worked well (and was way less gross than brains).  Struggle Mountain has a lot of oak trees, so I’d like to try a boiled acorn broth next.


April 16, 2012

Bus life with a dog

She got stung by a bee (while trying to eat it):

We’ve been dumpstering Petco and Centinela.  Along with some highly bizarre pet products (such as a perfume flask-like container of “cat pheromone”), we’ve picked up six or seven 30-lb bags of dry dog food.  We’ve also found cat food, tug toys, stuffed animals, extraordinarily large dog beds, and various kinds of treats and rawhide.

The view under the bed:

Needless to say, though we are training Ivy constantly and consistently, we don’t exactly abide by the “no free lunch” philosophy.

March 28, 2012

The newest member of our family















About two months ago Max and I adopted a 10-month-old rottweiler-sheltie mix from the LA Animal Services’ South Central shelter.  We’d been thinking about adopting a dog for many months (really we’d been independently brooding about it for years) and our situation was finally just right: we knew we’d be in LA at the TTT for at least a few weeks (turned out to be months) and we had wanted to adopt from a high-kill urban shelter, we had a steady supply of unseasoned dumpstered meat coming in, we were staying with people who loved animals, and we had lots of TIME.
















You may have noticed that we’ve been visiting a lot of animal shelters on our travels, “just for fun.”  In reality it wasn’t just for fun; we’ve been perfecting and re-perfecting our criteria for adoption and discussing the details of bus-dwelling/traveling dog ownership.  We eventually decided on exactly what type of dog we were looking for: medium size (I personally would love a very large dog, but we do live on a short bus!); a mutt (to avoid inbreeding-related health issues); older puppy/young adult (to avoid potty training and teething issues, esp. since we don’t have room for a crate); totally non-aggressive and preferably friendly (though we realized that the shelter environment leads to a lot of confusion if not downright depression in some dogs); no known medical issues; friendly with other dogs; etc.  We’d met with several dogs at several shelters, but none fit all our requirements until we got here and started haunting the LA South Central shelter (which happens to be less than four miles away from the TTT).  On our first visit we met with a German shepherd who was wonderful but too large.  We also noticed a smaller, incredibly adorable puppy who was housed with a couple other dogs and who was still on hold; she was already microchipped and the shelter was trying to contact the owner.  She would become available the following day.
















We returned the next day to visit her, and ended up spending nearly an hour playing with her in the play yard (I felt bad for the volunteer who had to monitor us; I’m sure he had other things he needed to be doing!)  It was impossible to say good-bye; this dog fit all our criteria and reminded us of ones we hadn’t listed (like being super cute!).  Thus began the long process of adoption, standing in lots of long lines, waiting for this or that employee or vet tech or volunteer, waiting to get her spayed, waiting to get her microchip updated, our stomachs fluttering in nervous excitement all the while!
















It was a bit difficult to admit to ourselves that we were finally doing it.  Despite the months of talk and planning, we still felt like inexperienced parents, totally unsure of ourselves, totally dedicated to getting everything 100% right.  We went to the Central Library and checked out a million books on clicker training, nutrition and natural diets, cooking for your dog, canine health, and agility training, which I would love to get her involved in just for fun and exercise (she has a lot of herding dog in her and has both a lot of energy and an intense love of learning new cues and tricks).
















We spent an entire week trying to decide on a name.  We read through huge online lists of native West Coast plants, nature-related names, dog names, hippie names, “unusual girls’ names.”  We developed a list of name criteria almost as long as our list of criteria for the dog!  We finally narrowed our list down to two: Ivy and Zora.  We both loved Zora, but felt awkward about it because we know a young couple in Portland who recently had a baby person and named her Zora.  We’re fairly certain that we’ll spend time with them again, and couldn’t bring ourselves to name our dog after their baby.  So we settled on Ivy, and despite the many negative associations folks have with ivy (poison ivy and invasive English ivy being the main two), the word “ivy” really fits with this puppy.  It’s short and easy to say and I feel it’s appropriate for an Angelino dog, given that English ivy is often the greenest thing around here, and thus makes people (myself included) quite happy.  [I also associate ivy with the post-apocalyptic undoing of civilization, but that’s another story.]
















Ivy is incredibly smart, meaning that she learns cues very quickly.  Having done some research on clicker training and operant conditioning, however, I have to mention that my definition of a “smart” dog is changing.  Any dog can learn cues, if you know what to use as a reward and are consistent.  My concept of dog training has changed a lot, too, from one based on being a “pack leader” to one based on using positive reinforcement to encourage desired behaviors.  And there are many ways to get rid of unwanted behaviors that don’t involve any punishment (which includes yelling “No!”).  I could go on (I gave a mini-workshop on operant conditioning to a group of friends recently), but there’s a lot of wonderful books and information out there.  Out of the stacks of books we found in the library, here are the ones we chose to purchase for our bookshelf:

How Dogs Learn by Mary R. Burch and Jon S. Bailey

The Dog Trainer’s Complete Guide to a Happy, Well-Behaved Pet by Jolanta Benal

Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats by Richard H. Pitcairn DVM and Susan H. Pitcairn

And our beloved Youtube trainers, without whom we’d still be lost:

Tab & Solea



February 28, 2012

Solar panel!

One of the fun projects we’ve recently completed here in LA (parked in the Technicolor Tree Tribe’s driveway) is installing a beautiful solar panel on Ollie’s roof.  Before using solar power, we charged our auxiliary battery off our starter batteries when the bus was being driven.  When the bus wasn’t being driven (which was often) we drained the auxiliary battery, and quickly.  We were often left with only our headlamps for light!  With the solar panel, we’ll (almost) always have electricity whether or not we’re driving around a lot.  Yay!









































January 19, 2012

Fox II

On our way south from the Bay Area to LA, we picked up another beautiful road-killed grey fox.  We skinned and cleaned it on our first day back at the co-op, removed its brains and cleaned its bones on the second day, brain-tanned it on the third day, and smoked it over the fire pit on the fourth day.  I think we may have given some of the younger coopers a bit of a shock!




























In case you’re interested in becoming one of us weird people who does these kinds of things, here are some good resources:

Brain Tanning Furs by George Michaud

Tan Your Pelts with Nature’s Tools by Jim Miller

Skinning, Tanning, & Working Hides: A DIY Guide to an Ancient Skill by Rowan Gangulft, PhD


January 12, 2012

The East Bay Veg Oil Boon

Enough oil to get us from Oakland to LA via the South Bay Trader Joe’s circuit, no probs.

January 9, 2012

Friends in the Bay Area