USA bound in our Airstream

Proud CanadiansAs we pack up our Airstream for another venture into the unknown, I can’t help but feel super excited about Wednesday’s seminar at Alumpalooza discussing yoga and healthy living on the road, sharing our yoga and yogaFLIGHT journey thus far! It’s been so interesting to have one foot in Canada and the other in the US as we meander our way between countries, pursuing the dream and being open to the potential and possibilities of no holds barred adventure and exploration of a dream. Kind of scary when you think about it. But truly, the quickest and most unique path to happiness, for us anyway.

With burgeoning feelings of butterfly freedom, we left Skydive Burnaby with our 34 foot 1991 Limited Airstream in tow. Destination: Jackson Center Ohio for the very first Alumapalooza rally, sponsored and run by Airsream Life Magazine. The gathering over 5 days was to be held behind the Airstream factory. The experience is bound to be phenomenal. How could it not be with Airstreams all around uS?

Pulling up to the US Customs at the Buffalo border crossing, we were chastised by a traffic officer for not following the correct signs for ‘RVs This Way’. To be honest, we hadn’t actually seen the signs, and were following another RV ahead of us. Kind of like lemmings, leaping in to the unknown (a skydiver to the core!). But realizing there were no lane changes to be made or outs to be had with our 34 trailer, we shrugged our shoulders and waited. Traffic was incredibly heavy, as Americans returned home on this Memorial Day long weekend. Yet all we could do was patiently idle and hope for the best. I despise mindless engine idling, but with a diesel pulling a heavy load in heavy traffic, you don’t have many safe options ~ lots of quality breath-work was going on for me :). If you’ve travelled beyond your countries fringes, you’ll understand how ease of border crossings can always be crapshoot. Especially in an RV. So far, we’ve been extremely lucky in our effortless Airstream crossings. And today was not much different. Thank heavens! It seems that the truth wins out every time, and the Customs Officers can sense your purpose (with the help of massive databases of information).

Once on the ‘other side’, it seems that the breath always flows much easier. For me, coming to the US is always like a homecoming, with so many friends and fantastic memories. So why not celebrate by exploring the country in style? Taking the route less travelled, we made our way around the toll roads, skirting the shores of Lake Erie. It was a glorious day that harboured looming frontal clouds filled with gloomy darkness and storm warnings. But onwards we rolled, finally becoming engulfed by torrential downpours that had me white-knuckled as the passenger. slaDE~ maneuvered our rig safely and quite skillfully in the lo-visibility conditions. However, with a late start and inclement weather to compound our tiredness, we were more than ready to pull off for the night, waiting out the storm at a Pilot truck stop. Tomorrow would be another travel day.

Oil Slick Woes

I’ve held back on speaking of the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf. My heart is incredibly heavy, thinking about the dire damage to Mother Earth and the delicate ecosystem in our oceans, which WILL eventually filter up through our food and water chain. The desecration of our Ocean and the life contained within is beyond comprehension (at 5000 feet below the surface), especially when it appears that coverups are occurring, lost amidst all the finger pointing and the rising tides of blame. More than a month has passed (40 days to be exact), and the oil continues to spew at alarming rates with no clear solutions in sight. A toxic stew of environmental and political magnitude.

Huffington Post reported that:

A thick, 22-mile plume of oil discovered by researchers off the BP spill site was nearing an underwater canyon, where it could poison the foodchain for sealife in the waters off Florida. With the hopes of breaking up the plume, BP is using 100,000 gallons of dispersants (1/3 of the world’s supply) on the oil, further contaminating the ocean with harmful chemicals.

soiled birdNot enough research has been done on the wide-scale use of such compounds. In fact these chemicals are amplifying an evolving never-experienced-before catastrophe, with no end in sight.

What’s the worst case scenario? Even if they plug the well tomorrow? The present repercussions and tally thus far: dead animals, contaminated wildlife sanctuaries, black beaches, and livelihoods ruined. Add to the mix, the impending hurricane storm season. High winds may distribute the oil over a wider area whilst also mixing the waters of the Golf, dispersing the oil further. Add to that, a hurricane force storm could push all this oil in to the coast where an incredibly fertile estuary exists with abundant life taking place. For example, the Monterey Bay Aquarium cites that the magnificent Atlantic bluefin tuna arrive in the Gulf to spawn in April and May every year, and in waters at the heart of the oil spill. Deep breath. Pray and meditate for all those in the south. They’re in for a bumpy ride. Who knew that the sludge would hit the fan deeper than Katrina’s forces?

With failure comes the opportunity for tremendous learning opportunities and change. If anything, perhaps now is the time that we can do the right thing by our oceans. For example, seeking out and developing alternative energy sources. A big question lies in how quickly is it practical to shift without hurting the economy and outpacing science? By empowering individuals to end their oil dependance through small lifestyle changes, such as: promoting electric vehicles, investing in light rail, creating pedestrian- and bike-friendly communities and exploiting alternatives such as natural gas, we as a society have the capability to assume action now. Take control of what’s possible rather than place ones power with Politicians and the large oil companies who have vested interests in the power of energy.

Life on another Farm

We had every intention to spend but a few days in Bloomingdale on their Farm with our friends Brian, Jennifer and Roger. Yet having come across a magical place to park our Airstream in the woods with nature surrounding us, flowers fully in bloom, I was finding it difficult to find the momentum to carry forward with our weekend plans. Foreseeing that a weather front was scheduled to move in over the long weekend, we felt it an ideal solution to stay put on the Farm instead of hanging out at the dz on a wet and windy weekend. You see, our intention was to set up our home base at Skydive Burnaby for a few weeks before heading south to Alumapalooza in Jackson Centre, Ohio (where the 1st annual Airstream rally is being held from June 1-6). But I’m happy to say that we decided to stop and smell the roses, enjoying the farm life (which will end for Brian and friends at the end of July = eviction date) before our adventures once again shift and mould into diverse and spontaneous pathways yet unknown to both us and our friends on the farm. Here lies therein the premise behind living in the moment, enjoying the opportunities which arise and loving the freedom of a nomadic life.

Breathtaking spring flowers have exploded everywhere in the forests. And I’m a trigger-happy photographer, trying to capture the essence of shadow and light play on this amazingly scenic canvas. The scent of fresh rain, the sounds of the neighbouring horses and the bellowing nature calls have left me intoxicated with happiness and beauty. It almost feels as if we are sheltered by this magical bubble. Amidst the flurry of preparations for Monday evening’s Stephen Fearing house concert, there is peace and intellectual conversation flowing between new and old friends. Sock puppet plays, spontaneous moonlit concerts by the campfire, luxurious forest walks sprinkled with annoying mosquitos, farmers market meanderings and feasts of marvellous proportions (of course, sprinkled with the glorious consumption of delicious red wine) made for a long enjoyable weekend of bliss and heady tranquility.

Flying J: Change of Dump Policy

I was really discouraged to hear about this news in one of my RV newsletters … Flying J will no longer offer free dump station services at their Travel Plazas.

Over the past 7 months, Flying J has saved our butts (sorry for the foul pun) many times along the road when we needed to dump our black and grey water tanks in an economical and convenient manner. Without fail, we could always rely on Flying J for providing us with a free place to camp overnight and a liberation of our burgeoning holding tanks. Alas, however, in the world of RVing, all good things seem to come to an end. Sigh ….

flyingJ

FYI — Flying J Dump Stations – Change in Policy
05/06/2010

To continue providing waste dump station services at Flying J, we are instituting a $10 fee to customers using this service. This has become necessary to cover the increasing costs of offering this amenity. These additional fees include:

• Escalating expenses associated with normal usage and the misuse and abuse of waste dump stations
• Rising costs from local sewer treatment service providers
• Increasing expenditures linked to stringent corporate responsibilities

For our best customers, those that are members of Flying J’s Frequent Fueler and RV Real Value clubs, a $5.00 dump station coupon will be added to their card based on fuel purchases. The club member must present their card to cashier at point of purchase to receive the discount.

We appreciate your business and look forward to continuing to offer the best services and facilities in the industry.

By now, this program will have been implemented at all Flying J stations. In their protocol, I have heard that some of the stations will be monitored by a device, allowing the customer to pay at the dump, whilst others will require the customer to go inside the store to pay for the service. Sucky.

Laundry Tips and Recipes

Being the change that I wish to see in the world is all about taking personal responsibility for the planet which we all share, love and call home. Because we live in a world (and climate) that necessitates clothing in our daily living, today’s tips and recipes focuses on how we can make a difference in the way we approach washing our garments. For me, my most important focus is in doing laundry is about energy conservation and being cognizant about what goes into the septic system. Here’s a few interesting facts from the Laundry List website

  • Approximately one quarter of Americans use an ENERGY STAR washer. There are no ENERGY STAR dryers on the market.
  • Less than 4% of Italian households own a dryer. [Yay for the Italians!]
  • Apartment communities can save 330 percent more water, equating to a savings of 8,216 gallons of water per year per unit, by utilizing a common-area laundry room instead of an in-unit washing machine.
  • We estimate that 8% of households line-dry their laundry during 5 months of the year. If all Americans who currently do not use a clothesline started to use one for ten months of the year, we could avoid 12 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere, annually.

For the very last reason listed above, I wanted to provide you with a list of 10 reasons about how line drying your clothing can have a significant impact on your life, as printed by the Project Laundry List:

Top Ten Reason to Line Dry

10) Save money (more than $25/month off electric bill for many households).

9) Clothes last longer. Where do you think lint comes from?

8) Clothes and linens smell better without adding possibly toxic chemicals to your body and the environment.

7) Conserve energy and the environment, while reducing climate change.Learn how!

6) It is moderate physical activity which you can do in or outside. You can even lose weight!

5) Sunlight bleaches and disinfects.

4) Indoor racks can humidify in dry winter weather.

3) Clothes dryer and washing machine fires account for about 17,700 structure fires, 15 deaths, and 360 injuries annually. The yearly national fire loss for clothes dryer fires in structures is estimated at $194 million.

2) It is fun! And can be an outdoor experience that is meditative and community-building. It may also help you avoid depression.

1) Demonstrates that small steps can make a difference. You don’t have to wait for the government to take action!

Did you know that: you don’t even need soap to wash most loads. The agitation of washing machines often cleans the clothing on its own (especially with High-Efficiency washing machines). But because most of us have grown up with the use of strong detergents and softeners in the cleaning of our clothes, below I’d like to gift you my all-time favourite, environmentally-friendly laundry detergent recipe.

Laundry Detergent Recipe:   Mix –

  • 1 cup  grated Fels Naptha soap (or Ivory soap),
  • 1/2 cup washing soda
  • 1/2 cup borax

Use 1 tablespoon for light loads; 2 tablespoons for heavy loads.

laundry-soap

Furthermore, as a booster to your laundry, Tipnut.com recommends white distilled vinegar as an incredibly versatile resource: Color Brightener; Color Protector; Whiter Whites; Yellowed Items Reviver; Heavy Duty Pre-Soak; Lint Busters; Fabric Softener; and, Ring Around The Collar Remover.

Airstream Spring Cleaning, Day 2

Windows, windows everywhere! 25 window surfaces to be exact. And that’s only counting the one side. Multiple that by 2 in addition to the accompanying screens to most of the count, and you have a whole lot of scrubbing going on.

windows everywhereslaDE fixingThe day started out beautifully, and with a slight window of opportunity (punny! :)) with the weather and approaching front, I wanted to leap at the chance and get a head start on the heavy task at hand. The cleaning of many years of dirt and grime from the ledges of our Airstream’s soul.

When we first bid and then subsequently won our trailer off of eBay, ‘Airabella‘ was immediately tucked away in storage whilst we worked diligently in Calgary for that opportune time to leave our work and explore the North American continent. A year and a half later, we made the Airstream our travelling home and headed south, escaping the cold Fall-Winter temperatures with only a quick surface clean to tide us over until Spring.

Today was the day to tackle the dirt firsthand, providing us with a clean and clear outlook out to the beautiful world around us. The trick was: how could I effectively clean her filthy windows with as little environmental impact as possible?? Instinct and years of conscious cleaning led me in the right direction.

First off, I used an air compressor to blow out the cobwebs, wasp nests and excess garbage from the sills surrounding every window. Then I used a strong solution of hot water, borax and vinegar to surface wash the windows with a micro-fibre cloth. After the bulk of the grime was removed, I gently mopped the screens from both sides and followed with a final rinse of the windows, using a mixture of Sal’s suds, vinegar and hot water. Having a huge pile of newspapers at my disposal, I capitalized on the paper’s capabilities to leave a lint-free dry finish. The end product? A multitude of streak-free squeaky clean windows.

The whole process took me about 8 hours. To say that I was exhausted by the end of the day would be an understatement. But in the flurry of cleaning and Spring overhauls, slaDE and I were content in knowing that our Airstream was ready for a Summer of glorious splendour, wherever we would extend our jacks.

Here’s a few of my favourite eco-friendly recipes for washing windows:

Homemade Window Cleaner Recipe

Recipe #1
2 cups water
3 tablespoons vinegar
1/2 teaspoon liquid dish detergent
Recipe #2
3.5 litres water
1/4 cup vinegar
1 tsp dish detergent (liquid)
Recipe #3
2 teaspoons vinegar
1 litre warm water
2 teaspoons borax

Eco-friendly all the way. Live, love it, breath it!

Sunscreen: to use or not to use??

sunscreenI truly believe that sunscreen can be potentially good and a necessary accessory when I’m out for long jaunts in the sun, where a ball-cap and clothing fails to protect my barren white legs and wrinkle-prone face (think summertime at the beach). Skin cancer is a very real phenomenon, one which I dare not risk, especially having very freckled facial skin. I personally use an organic sunscreen made by Badger with just Zinc. I’m still up-in-the-air about using Titanium dioxide in a sunscreen, as it’s not known as of yet whether this could cause potential health problems. As stated on the Wiki website: “The safety of the use of nano-particle sized Titanium Dioxide, which can penetrate the body and reach internal organs, has been criticized.[36] Studies have also found that titanium dioxide nanoparticles cause genetic damage in mice, suggesting that humans may be at risk of cancer or genetic disorders resulting from exposure”  Nano-technology and nanoparticles could be a new incubus in itself! Technology may truly be our downfall, in the end. But I’d rather use a sunscreen that is mineral rather than chemical based. The question is, how does one know of it’s origins, unless the product is specifically labelled?

I find it difficult to unearth and believe research online that is factual, informative and above all truthful. How do I know that what I’m reading about is in fact trustworthy and not biased by the ever-motivating profit margin and vested interests of the author / company?  In the end, it comes down to being fully responsible for my own health, through education, cross-referencing ‘facts’ and continually learning, learning, and re- learning. The internet is marvellous for that. Having said that, I preface the below article as information to not necessarily take my word for (or Dr Mercola’s), but rather a start to your own investigation. I would love to hear your feedback and opinions on the subject, and any subsequent relevant fact-finding that you might do, on sunscreens and body care products.

Below is a lengthy excerpt from an article from the Dr. Mercola’s website. I don’t necessarily promote the Doctor’s views (which I find at times seem to be over-exaggerated and biased), beliefs, website or products, but I do find the article interesting.

It’s Time to Expose the Sunscreen Smokescreen!

I’m talking hundreds of sunscreens that I believe are toxic because they contain man-made chemicals … chemicals I believe can cause serious health problems and increase your risk of disease. Here’s why.

The main chemical used in sunscreens to filter out ultraviolet B light is octyl methoxycinnamate. OMC for short. OMC was found to kill mouse cells even at low doses.  Plus, it was also shown to be particularly toxic when exposed to sunshine. And guess what?

OMC is present in 90 percent of sunscreen brands!

But that’s not the half of it. A common ultraviolet A filter, butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane, has also demonstrated toxic properties.

Furthermore, several studies show that the chemicals commonly used in sunscreens are absorbed through the skin and end up circulating in your blood stream. Not good. So…

If Your Sunscreen Contains Any of These Chemicals That I Consider Dangerous and Potentially Life Threatening, Do Yourself a BIG Favor…

Dump it in the trash now .

Yes, that’s right. Toss your sunscreen in the trash if it contains any of these questionable chemicals:

Toss your sunscreen in the trash if it contains any of these chemicals I consider to be potentially harmful.

  • Para amino benzoic acid
  • Octyl salicyclate
  • Avobenzone
  • Oxybenzone
  • Cinoxate
  • Padimate O
  • Dioxybenzone
  • Phenylbenzimidazole
  • Homosalate
  • Sulisobenzone
  • Menthyl anthranilate
  • Trolamine salicyclate
  • Octocrylene

[ And two more which I might add]

  • Octinoxate or octyl metghoxycinnamate
  • Octisalate

Potentially harmful chemicals such as dioxybenzone and oxybenzone (two chemicals I just mentioned) are some of the most powerful free radical generators known to man!

And a note to moms … You are undoubtedly very conscientious about caring for your children.  But when you lather up your son or daughter with sunscreen thinking you’re doing the right thing, you could in fact be doing more harm than good.

So check the labels on your sunscreen, and throw them out if they contain any of the potentially dangerous chemicals named above.  After all, your skin is your largest organ, as your child’s skin is theirs.

Airstream Spring Cleaning & Project Laundry

1n June 2008, slaDE~ and I spontaneously bid and won our Airstream dream trailer off of eBay, about 6 weeks before our wedding. Although we stayed in our trailer during the wedding week whilst home on Dad’s Ontario farm, we really didn’t get a chance to explore it’s nuisances and beauty. Fast forward just over a 14 months. Ontario-bound we returned, leaving our careers and life in Calgary Alberta behind, looking to live full-time in our Airstream trailer. As expected, October in Ontario was quite frigid, and as we readied our Airstream to journey south for the winter, a thorough cleaning in the bitter cold temperatures was the last thing on our minds. So with a brief overall clean, we headed south for 5 months and enjoyed a hectic schedule with varied climates, until our return to Canada last month.

rugWith the breath of Spring in the warm cleansing air, I felt the need to clean and fully aerate our beloved home. It was time to purge the previous owners from our treasured ‘Airabella‘: this meant scrubbing the dirt and grime from every window sill, and eliminating the rug which darkened our trailer floor. Sunday was a hectic day … from dawn to dusk, I had many chores to keep me on the go until my collapse at 9pm. First on my list: cleaning out the pantry and organizing our closets and dressers of clothing and items that I hadn’t a use for over the winter months. With the limited space that we have, I still manage to cram in a ton of clothing and specialized foods along with my aromatherapy oils, books and stuff. However, I’m finding that running out of room for storing our every day needs is becoming an issue; hence, prioritizing, packing away and storing unnecessary artifacts in the cubby hole was top on the list of my agenda.

no-rugNext up: removing the navy rug from our trailer, exposing the light-coloured laminate under-flooring. WOW. What a HUGE difference! Although I enjoyed having carpet to warm our feet during the winter months, I found that keeping a rug clean was challenging in such a small area. Little did I realize how much dirt this floor covering harboured. Eek! Having ‘wood’ totally lightened up our living area whilst also creating the illusion of more space. It also allows for a more hygienic space to breath, work and play in. Seems that in my older age, I’m growing more sensitive to chemical smells, cigarette smoke, dust mites and artificial anything. Every little bit helps in keeping a clean home that I can retreat to and hibernate in!

The final item on my list for the day: getting our laundry done. Whilst living on the road, finding a place to wash and dry our clothes in a eco-friendly manner can be a somewhat challenging task. So when an opportunity arises for me to hang out my laundry to line dry, I happily jump at the chance! Both cold water washing and hanging out our clothing provide us with an effective way to save energy, money and time. Small steps, every day in every way possible DO make a difference to our environmental impact on the planet.

Herbal Summer Recipe: Medicinal

Mountain Rose Herbs is one of my favourite sources for online bulk herbal, culinary and aromatherapy supplies. At the moment, they’re having a DIY herbal recipe contest that can fall in to 3 categories: medicinal, culinary, or body care. In return for a winning entry to one of the three classifications, a $200 gift certificate is generously offered. And the caveat? This contest ends tomorrow, Sunday, May 16. 🙂

It’s interesting to have a diverse blog like mine that not only covers the terrain of our Airstream travels but also offers green-friendly tips and thoughts, recipes for the body, soul and health, travel experiences and advice, plus so much more. I’m curious however. Does this make my blog a bit too confusing and unfocussed? Or do you like the diverse array of topics and articles?

Anyway, enough of my rambling … on with the promised recipes, posted as three separate entities below.

Recipe #1 of the Mountain Rose Herbs Recipe Contest

Medicinal ~ Summer Bite / Sting / Splinter Poultice

bentoniteClay is known for its ability to purify and pull poison out of a bite / sting to the skin’s surface, keeping the poison from spreading; Echinacea lessens an allergic reaction and Lavender disinfects.

Yield = 1/8 cup Clay Poultice (paste)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon Bentonite Clay
  • 1 tbsp Distilled Water
  • 12 drops Lavender essential oil
  • 1 teaspoon Echinacea Root tincture

Combine the lavender e.o. with the echinacea tincture. Mix the the water and the clay together, using only enough water to form a thick paste, and slather it on to the wound area.

Let the clay dry for about 20 minutes. There may be a slight pulling sensation as it dries … this is a normal sensation. Rinse the clay poultice off with cool water and reapply, if necessary.

For a more powerful poultice, mix equal parts of bentonite clay with apple cider vinegar until it forms a creamy paste. Apply the paste liberally to the problem area and let it set on the body for about 45 minutes. Rinse as above. Be sure not to use any metal bowls or silverware when mixing this recipe as the bentonite clay could react badly with any metal used.