Why I love hitchhiking

It’s not easy to find a better way for two people to travel 4000km for $175.   16 rides, 79 hours, 5 provinces.  And the majority of that big spending was for one lovely night of luxury in a hotel.

I’ve been hitchhiking a LOT, for 20 years now, and I still hitchhike by choice.  It’s not because I can’t afford to drive, but because it’s so much more interesting in every way to hitch there when there’s someplace to go.

The book I “mean” to write about how to change your life through hitchhiking isn’t writing itself, but someday, it’ll come out.  With well over 2000 rides on my hitching thumb, I stand by my advocating that more people should hitchhike. It is safe, it’s fun, it is always educational, and of course it’s nearly free. Oh, and of course, environmental.

I want more people to get out on the road and embrace the adventure.  You never know who you’ll meet, and I promise, you’ll meet people that you just wouldn’t get to know in any other context.

Just on this trip, we got rides from a dentist, an actor, a farmer, a grandma, a young mother, a student, an accountant, and a geologist. We were often in big trucks, and truckers are a whole subculture of their own (they’re going to get a whole chapter.)  We heard stories to beat the band, got invited on a detour to see Norwegian horses, and delved for free dental hygiene advice.

I haven’t done a cross-country winter trip for some time, nor done it with company, but I just crossed the cold country of Canada in December, with my new husband in tow.  It went spectacularly well.  I think it may be a PB speed record, too, considering we maximized our mid-trip hotel night.

Winter weather definitely adds a significant variable to the whole hitchhiking game, but as is often the case, it’s about being prepared.  Besides, it’s just not an adventure until there’s some challenge or at least, a sense of throwing yourself on faith in the unknown (that’s the best part).  It always, always turns out just fine.

We had great weather on the whole.  There was one night in Regina when we got dropped out of a truck at 4 am and thought we could wait it out on the road until the sun came up, but we couldn’t.  Continue reading Why I love hitchhiking

Peeping hens

I was lying on the floor the other, day, probably making a list, when all the chickens came up to the window and started looking in at me.  Pecking on the sill and canting their heads to look out of one beady eye then the other, they peered in the window, eye to eye with me.  I only got awful pictures through the glass, but this one caught one rooster shaking out his big old mane, as he’s wont to do.

Do everyone’s free range chickens run around all winter?I was leaving their coop closed some days, because I thought it was too cold, but it seems no matter how cold it is (-10C), they come rolling out of the henhouse at 8am and spend all day outside trucking around being chickens.  Sometimes they stand on one leg like storks and get pretty puffy, but they definitely like it outside, trolling the compost heap and looking in the front door.

Surely they’ll start spending their days indoors when the snow gets too deep, though.

Bicycle trailers. Pushing/pulling the limit..

Well hello, and welcome back to “The adventures of the bicycle life”.  I am pleased to report that my love for the human powered machine has continued to grow.  This past week I have heard from people of all walks of life from every corner of the globe expressing their love of and/or connection to bicycle culture.  It reminds me of how the bicycle is like a universal language, a language of personal freedom, of connection with the self and nature, and a language of living life to the fullest.  A language that we all innately understand and is expressed in one way or another in our own unique lives.

H.W.’s machine, saddled up and tour ready.

I find that bicycles are such versatile  machines. In this post I intend to expand upon the human powered machine’s capabilities in our daily lives as a more than just a “bike”, and to take the musing to the next level. What non-recreational activities have you engaged in with your human power machines as a tool en-route?

The possibilities are  endless, to say the least. I have seen some awe-inspiring bicycles engaged in all works of life in many parts of the world.  This past spring the “sustainability bike tour” that I have guided for since 2007 decided (with a little help from me) we would go totally car free as a company. We would no longer be using use a “support” vehicle that was combustion propelled (a van).  We would be facilitating support vehicle duties from our staff Guide bikes. This is a week long educational camping bike tour of about 25 people, so there is a pile of gear and food that needs to move from one bivouac site to the next every other day over the week-long expedition. Group tents, stoves, pot/pans, cutlery, and of course food. We were going to need some trailers for the staff to pull that had capacity and versatility. Continue reading Bicycle trailers. Pushing/pulling the limit..

Kefir

A mesh lemon bag is rocking my world!  I just have to share this simple but so totally awesome innovation for anyone else out there culturing kefir.

If you put your kefir grains in the mesh sack, then you can just lift them out of the kefir, rinse them off, and put them in the new milk!  No straining or sieving, no fingers involved, and less washing.  It’s SO easy.  The whole separating the grains and rinsing was the messy part before, sometimes enough for me to put off using the kefir for a day, or another day….

I’m definitely overly rapturous about this, but I’ve been culturing kefir for at least five years, so after all this time, this ultra-simple revision to the rinsing process is nothing short of a revolution!  Not my original idea- it was suggested to me.

New to kefir?

It’s super easy to DIY, and supposed to be stupendously good for you (really, the health attributes ascribed to kefir get wild).  Basically it’s milk that you leave out in a warm place (as counter-intuitive as that may seem), with a few small lumpy “grains” in it that start the culture that changes the milk to a type of yogourt.  You have to always keep the “grains” when you harvest your yogourt, rinsing them and putting them into new milk for the next batch- they are what holds the bacterial life that grows, and they need a bit of coddling.

You can make a smoothie out of kefir when it just begins to separate (the yogourt stage), or you can let it keep stewing until it’s quite thick, and treat the product like cream cheese, adding herbs and spices, for instance.  You can use different kinds of milk, too.  All you need to start are the grains.  Mine were given to me years ago, so I’m not sure how the product I see in the supermarket works (?), although grains seem to be available for sale online.

When my baby needs cookies…

...it's a real grind.

That’s my Country Living grain mill, with “power bar” extension on the flywheel.

I don’t mill all my flour with it, but we did run out of flour yesterday, needed cookies, and broke out the mill, which delivered cookies in no time at all.  It is an awesome machine, able to grind grains of all kinds and even coffee beans.  I like to grind flax seeds with it, and really like making chickpea flour.

H.W. is already schemin’ on hooking it up to a bicycle.

200!

I am pleased to announce that the landmark 200th post for PermacultureGrin has been brought to you by my husband, HW.  His guest post on bicycles (and his first blog post ever), also made WordPress’s Freshly Pressed and spiked views in a most unexpected way (no, not jealous- not jealous at all!).  Stay tuned for lots more bicycle world posts from my gorgeous cyclist husband.