I am researching places you can go to visit/volunteer with Chimpanzees. Not saying I’m going, but just looking into it a lil’ bit.
One place thats popped up a few times in my internet research is the Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage. It is a German organization, me rikey. It is in Zambia. And there is some connection with Jane Gooddall but I don’t know yet and I’m too lazy right now to look into that.
Here is a video of someone else’s time there. Looks like they get HANDS ON contact with the chimps, which is super cool because at one point I was looking into volunteering with Koko the Gorilla, who lives in Woodside, Ca, surprisingly, and the deal would have been that I would cut up and prepare Koko’s food, but I wouldn’t get to come into contact with her…maybe not even see her? I think it was the former, but anyway my point is, most Ape Conservation programs do not let you come in contact with the apes, for health and safety reasons, which I understand. But COOL that Chimfunshi might let you.
Another organization is in Guinea, West Africa, called Project Primates. It is a French organization and not as expensive as other programs I’ve seen. You have to pay for airfare there, then $125/month…and work every day from sun-up to sun-down. I don’t understand why they would charge someone to work their ass off from sun-up to sun-down for 6 months straight, but a lot of other programs ask for much more so this looks good. Their website is: https://www.projetprimates.com/en/
That, my friends, is the first thing I noticed when I walked into my assigned room aboard the SS Minnow in 2017. It was my fourth year working as Lunchlady, and I would be on the ship for 120 days, from April to June, travelling from San Francisco to El Salvador, Hawaii, Seattle, and back
Thankfully, I would only be working 2 months, as opposed to 4 which I had done the previos year. And thank goodness all the green slime came off after I struck a deal with the girl I shared my bathroom with. The deal was, she brings the cleaning supplies, I clean the toilet first.
And so it went.
I had done this lunchlady gig for the previous 3 summers. This one may have been my last, but we shall see, I wouldn’t be opposed to doing it again. I’d say this was my most successful cruise, all things considered. No co-worker drama (last year, I thought my headmate wanted to kill me, so I’ enter the bathroom with my knife drawn and quickly dash to lock her door from the indside so she couldn’t sneak attack me– dramatic yes, but it felt safer that way, and comical in a ninja warrior way); no Napoleon-complex officers calling the galley staff (kitchen crew) “lazy and negligent,” blaming us for what was probably 10 years of built up kitchen scum, and no getting called to the captains office for allegedly fraternizing with boys. Yes, this year was a very good year.
For those of you who don’t know, theres this thing called WWOOF, which stands for “willing workers on organic farms.” It is a world-wide network of farms that accept volunteers in exchange for room and board. It is a great way to live and travel affordably, meet people, experience culture, and learn things, many things!
I started WWOOFing after graduating college because I didn’t know what else to do, first in Hawaii, then Israel, Germany, and now Tennessee. Along the way I have met many interesting people and places, learned a lot about farming and handiwork, and experienced crazy things, like being chased by a camel and accidentally going to Palestine. WWOOF has been a very enriching aspect of my life and I encourage anyone who doesn’t mind working while they’re on vacation to give it a try.
Anywho, this time around I wanted to work on a farm with horses, because I wanted to get to know horses. After searching the WWOOF-USA database, which costs about $20 for a one year membership, I found Mountain Hollow Farm, which not only has horses but also cashmere goats. Since I am the spawn of my mother, who LOVES cashmere clothing, I have developed an affinity for cashmere and thought it would be interesting to visit this farm to satisfy multiple interests: horses, cashemere, and music.
So, here I am, WWOOFing in Tazewell, Tennessee, learning about goats, horses, chickens, guinea hens, giant dogs, a llama, yarn, and knitting. I am about an hour from Knoxville, which hopefully will provide some music connection…I did see there is a Johnny Cash museum in Knoxville and Dolly Parton land isn’t too far away either.
Well, that’s all for now. More about farm life to come.
Cheers and thank you for reading.
Feel free to make comments, suggestions, or ask questions below.
It was supposed to be the storm of the century when we set off on our bike trip down the California coast. New Years Day, 2016.
Me, Katrina, and Jansyn.
I met Katrina back in college when we worked together for the UCSB recycling program, riding bikes around campus, collecting cans, and redeeming them for cash at the local recycling center along with all the other humble community can-collectors and even the occasional hobo. This was our crew.
Katrina and I stayed in touch after college. I always liked her adventurous spirit. One time I visited her in Brooklyn and she fell asleep before I got to her apartment, so I spent several hours at the corner 7-11 store, talking to the flirtatious cashier and observing the interesting characters filtering in and out throughout the night.
In the early morning, as I waited outside Katrina’s apartment, I learned she lived next door to a methadone clinic, which helped make sense of some of the personalities I had observed throughout the night, like that crazy lady with the walker that came in yelling and left with a cup of noodles. In the end, Katrina woke up around daybreak and let me in. No harm no foul. It had made for an interesting experience, just like the one I’m about to recount to you: the FIDLAR bike trip.
Katrina started encouraging me to join in on this adventure a few months before we left on New Years Day 2016. I was hesitant because I had never gone on a long bike trip before and was concerned about chafing. Yes, chafing. Its what happens to people on long bike rides and also can happen to the male nipple after wearing the wrong shirt on a long run, which I learned in high school from Mack Reland (name changed to protect real-life characters’ identity), but that is a different story.
Besides chafing, I was a little concernd about gear. I had limited bike and camping accessories and was riding an old bike, a red Cannondale touring road bike from the 80s that I had appropriated from my Grandma and which the bike shop told me was ready to be retired. No way. I loved that bike and to me it rode well, so I decided to see if it could make the 400 mile journey, my valiant steed.
We would be leaving during a forecasted El Niño event, which another concern. Knowing weather reports usually over exaggerate, I still received a lot of concern from friends and family when I told them about the intended trip. Nevertheless, by early December I decided I would come along, at least as far as Monterey, about 30 miles away, our first day’s journey. If I didn’t want to continue, I could easily turn back from there.
As it turns out, I went the whole way. Jansyn too. Another girl Katie also joined us for a few days, but respectably bowed out when the storm hit, and Katrina….well, Katrina made it as far as she could before her bike tragically vanished on our last night before the home stretch, 80 miles from our final destination, Los Angeles.
December 31, 2017
Jansyn and Katrina arrive in Santa Cruz. I pick them up downtown and bring them with their bikes up to Fern Flat, my mom’s hippie compound in the woods. We eat dinner, a thai coconut soup my mom had made, complete with red pepper corns that left our mouths a little numb when we unwittingly bit into them. It was delicious nonetheless, thanks Momma. The girls slept in my mom’s cabin, and I slept in Lance, my soon-to-be moldy cab-over camper.
We went to bed before the clock struck 12. The girls exhausted from a long day of biking, all of us knowing the long road ahead.
The trip started a few days before for Jansyn and Katrina, who flew in from New York with their bikes and rode down the coast from San Francisco, staying in Pidgeon Point the night before at a hostel with a very annoying family as neighbors, according to Jansyn.
The day begins bright and early. Its cold out but not raining as we head down Trout Gulch road towards town. It was all downhill, which was a breeze, but the sun hadn’t risen enough to shine down on us, so it was cold. Our hands were aching by the time we reached the bottom, 5 miles below. I was nervous about the trip, mostly about being uncomfortable, but after warming up a bit in a patch of sun, we continued on our way along the frontage road towards Watsonville.
We biked about 40 miles that day, passing a stretch of road with a view of the ocean on one side, and a sea of plastic on the other, agricultural land covered to suppress weeds and pests I later learned. I sang silly tunes and listened to music to entertain myself and gradually we all warmed up and de-layered as the day unfolded, stopping in Moss Landing for lunch.
We biked on Highway 1 for a stretch, which was intimidating because of all the fast cars, but interesting since I’d driven that route by car many times before and so appreciated the new perspective. Biking slowly past the wetlands and dunes, the giant smokestacks, taking in the sights and smells, feeling the cool ocean air, it was beautiful.
Eventually we arrived in Monterey, where we would camp for the night at Veterans Memorial Park Campground. There we made friends with another group of bikers from Santa Cruz who were heading to Big Sur. The group was led by a guy who worked at a bike shop and had a bunch of fancy gear including a high tech trailer to hold gear and food, and the tinyest camp stove I’ve ever seen. He was accompanied by a young UCSC student with gorgeous long hair and a hippie looking Cabrillo student named Armand. He may have been riding barefoot and when I first saw him he was doing yoga. Like I said: hippie.
That night we had an alarming exchange with a very drunk girl who was fighting with her boyfriend in the car. They were making such a fus, car alarm going off a few times, the two of them yelling, both of them crying at different points of the night. They were sleeping in the next tent over, that’s how I knew about the crying. They really caused quite a scene at the campground and I was surprised security didn’t come to kick them out. Anyway, it also made for an interesting story, so I have no complaints.
Monterey to Pfeiffer, Big Sur.
The ride started off excruciatingly uphill. We rode up and over Skyline Drive, a mountain highway where Katrina and I spotted a hobo with a busted face while passing over a bridge. I was so shocked by the sight all I could do was say “hello” as I pedaled by.
Eventually we emerged from the mountains and coasted down into beautiful Carmel-By-The-Sea, but we didn’t see the sea from there because we were in the valley.
It started raining at some point but we didn’t let that stop us. I think this was the first day I wore bags over my socks in my shoes to keep the rain out. It worked surprisingly well. In retrospect I would have selected a different shoe for this trip. The canvas Converse high tops were hell on my toes in the mornings when the air was cold.
Eventually we made it to Pfeiffer and were joined by Katrina’s friend Katie and her entourage, girlfriend Sarah, a bike mechanic, and eccentric friend Emilia who sang us a song about sharing food while we ate our fondue dinner. As the night continued we drank bourbon by the fire until one by one we all went to sleep.
There was an interesting woman at our campsite that night and the next morning. It was a hike-bike campsite like in Monterey, so we had company. This woman was strange, but of course I talked to her. I don’t know about any of the other girls did. But I think so. We were also joined by the trio from the night before. Luckily there were no drunken couples to be found at this site. Too remote.
The next day we spent the day in Pfeiffer, went on a hike and enjoyed a day of rest. Katie spotted a deer foot dangling from a fence and was terrorized by a strange homeless man who was pretending to lather up and wash himself over his clothes while peering through the visitor center window. I had seen this man earlier that day seated with his bundle of possessions, looking out from a sunny perch over the big sur coastline. I thought to myself that he was really livin’ the life.
Katie’s girlfriend had a car so we all went out to lunch, meeting up with Emilia’s friend who had a disgruntled cat in a box.
We returned to the site and hunkered down in our tents as the storm rolled in.
Pfeiffer to Limekiln, not our intended spot but a smart stop since the storm was really rolling in by then. The day started off dumping and we all got ready near the covered bathroom area like good little hobos.
We stopped for lunch and were advised by the waitress to stop short of our goal and hunker down at the nearest campsite. It was about 4pm and with the storm coming and it getting dark, we had to listen. We spent about an hour trying to hitchhike. Katrina started doing the stand up worm to draw attention, but it was to no avail. Its tough trying to hitchhike with 4 people and 4 bikes. Somehow or other we made it to the next campsite and were able to eat and enjoy a quick fire before hunkering down in our tents while the storm rolled in.
That night Katie started to complain of an upset stomach. It was the beginning of the end for her and this trip.
Limekiln to San Simeon
Woke up and promptly got on the road, only to be rained out rather quickly, about 10 miles down the road. My plastic bag booties were filled with water and the rain was coming down so hard it hurt my face and hands. As soon as we could, we pulled over. Turned out we were able to find refuge at a cute little convenience store and bar stop in Gorda, about 20 miles from the next town where we figured we could get a hotel room.
It took some finegaling and courage, but we ended up finding two cars to give us a ride to San Simeon. Jansyn and Katie befriended a couple brothers in a Subaru, and me and Katrina, we got a ride from a wild haired, wide eyed, surfer looking guy with a pick up truck. And of course that was a story in itself. I will tell you a little.
I forget his name, but he was a Big Sur native. A writer, painfully in love with a woman who double crossed him, or left him, or something. He’d never been published, but had folders of his writings scattered throughout the car. I was sitting in the back seat and could hardly hear anything of the conversation that was going on in the front, where Katrina was sitting. He had the defroster on high the whole time and frequently had to use a sock to wipe off the inside of the windsheild to clear a view. Mind you, we were driving the Big Sur coast on Highway 1, which is a rather windy road. I got pretty nervous a couple times because the windsheild got so foggy and the road was so curvy, but the craziness that was coming out of his mouth was interesting and hilarious enough to keep my mind occupied.
In the end, he dropped us off at a hotel parking lot and gave all us girls a souvenier, a piece of jade he had collected at the beach. He showed us how you shine it, with nose oil. Yummy.
San Simeon to San Louis Obispo
Slightly rejuvinated from a night spent indoors and our things a bit dryer, we made our way by shuttle bus to San Louis Obispo. We had pussed out at this point, it was raining anyway. We made it to San Louis Obispo and stayed the night with a Couchsurfing host, a tech guy who also did product photography in his garage as a side gig. He had a gathering at his house the night we stayed over, cant remember what it was celebrating, and we had a chance to meet his friends. The one that stood out was a lady that worked as a vet tech.
San Luis to Santa Barbara
We took the train! Katie took the train back North.
Santa Barbara to Ventura
We biked and camped. I got 3 flat tires and biked through the taco bell drive through. Katrina’s bike got stolen.
Ventura to Los Angeles
Katrina took the bus. Jansyn and I biked. It was beautiful. We saw a car wreck. I listened to Nate Denver. Made it 80 miles to Katrina’s friends house. Got picked up by Peter and of course the adventure continued. Ending in a very cheap rental car drive home, alone.
After this trip, the Fern Flat days continued, leading up to the Lesbian Cat Fight and my last cruise.
I promised myself that if I got my bag back, I would write a glowing review about greyhound, because there are hardly any success stories online about greyhound returning lost bags, and I wanted the world to know it is possible to get your bag back if it gets lost. So here is a little glimmer of hope for you who is reading this and has lost your luggage. For everyone else, sorry if this is not interesting.
First of all, lets talk in symbols and metaphors. It cant be THAT bad to loose all your “baggage.” If you’ve lost your baggage, that means you don’t have anymore baggage–which is great…if baggage is a symbol for personal problems. Ya feel me?
But it really does suck to lose your luggage.
Having experienced loosing a bag on greyhound, I do have a little advice about checking luggage:
#1 If its greyhound, do everything you can to avoid having to check your bag. If you keep your bag with you, it wont get lost. Period.
Don’t trust or expect the baggage people to do their job (sorry, baggage people). They’re only human, and they make mistakes. Its like when I was a dog-sitter and I lost the dog. It was “my ONE job,” the 20-something son-of-the-people-who-hired me had rebuked. But that really was the risk no one ever thought about when they hired me to dog-sit; I could either do a good job or a bad job, and that time I did a bad job. Woops.
Sometimes people fail. Don’t forget that.
note: the dog ended up coming back, just like my luggage.
#2 This sounds like a no brainer, but its important: If you do check a bag, make sure you have a tag with your contact information on it.
Make it durable, if possible, because those tags can get ripped off or damaged during transit. ALSO, write your contact information on a piece of paper and stick that inside your bag. This is a 2nd line of defense in case the outside tag gets ripped off.
#3 Make sure you get a luggage tag with your final destination written on it and KEEP THE RECEIPT so you can trace you bag if it gets lost.
When I boarded the bus in Santa Cruz, the computer was down so I did not get a tag for my luggage; I didn’t know that was important. For whatever reason, the bus driver did not give me a tag for my bag when he put it under the bus either, something he should have done since there was no way of knowing where that bag was headed if I didn’t claim it. Major human error.
Luckily, when I got to LA to change busses and had to ask where my bag was–it hadn’t been taken off the bus, probably because it didn’t have a tag–and was found still on the bus, the bag handler took it out and filled out a bag tag with my final destination written on it, giving me the receipt half. He didn’t give me the option of holding onto my bag and said when you have a multi-stop trip, the policy is that greyhound will do all the forwarding for you. I didn’t question it, but if I had to go back in time, I would definitely insist on hanging onto my bag.
After a 3 hour delay because the driver was late, I had the idea to go check on my bag, to make sure it was still there. Well, it wasn’t. Shit. I didn’t know if it had been stolen or put on the wrong bus, and no one could tell me anything because you cant trace the bag until it has reached its destination. So I had no choice but to wait until I arrived in Little Rock to report my bag lost–2 days later. I was distraught, but there was nothing anyone could do, so I just tried to stay calm and hope for the best.
I think what may have happened is that during my layover my bag was put on another bus, going who knows where.
To make a long story short, after arriving in Little Rock and finding, not to my surprise but definitely to my dissapointment, that my bag was not there, I called greyhound and reported my bag as lost. They took my information and bag description and gave me a tracer number, explaining that they’d put out a nationwide search to all the stations and would call me when they found it. I spent the next few days calling the Little Rock station to see if my bag had arrived and LA to see if it had been left at that staion by accident. It hadn’t. Days went by and I heard nothing. I tried to push it to the back of my mind and forget about it and asked my grandparents do what they do best and pray on it for me. People were nice and gave me spare clothes, including a very special long pink leopard print skirt, and I started to imagine a future without all that stuff that was in my bag. I would be ok, but I still hoped I’d get my bag back.
Then, on my last day in Missouri, before getting back on the bus for Tennessee, I called the Little Rock station to ask if my bag had turned up and lo and behold, it had. Why hadn’t they called me??????? That irked me, but I was happy to know my bag had been found. They said they’d put it on the next bus to Knoxville, where I was headed.
In the end, my bag eneded up on the very same bus I was on when I arrived in Knoxville. I have no idea how that happened, but I’m happy it did, since if arrived any later it would have been difficult for me to get back to that station to pick it up.
In conclusion, greyhound might lose your bag. Don’t trust them. But if your bag has been lost, do everything you can to report it and track it down. It might turn up.
If you do check your bag, consider paying for insurance through greyhound if you have anything valuable in your bag. They only reimburse you up to $250 for a lost bag. Lame.
During my few days here in Columbia, I had the pleasure of meeing a woman with a condition I’d never heard of before, known as electrosensativity. Now, I don’t know much about it, but from what I understood from this encounter, some people are very sensative to electromagnetic currents and can become very sick from exposure, which is pretty much everywhere these days. That is the case with my hostess. To accomodate her condition, we guests made sure to turn our phones onto airplane mode while we were in her house and in the car.
This encounter made me more aware of cell towers and my cell phone’s proximity to me. Its not a bad idea to turn your cell phone to airplane mode at least at night, when you’re not using it, especially if you sleep with it near your dome, aka your head.
I just wanted to write a little something about apes today, since I have time and that is what my blog is ultimately all about.
What I am concerned about is how electronics impact chimpanzees and gorillas.
We all have our causes, right?
Well, I love monkeys, and I have since the 4th grade when I read an autobiography about Jane Gooddall and her time with the chimps in Africa.
I’m going to use the term “monkey” loosely here, but for all you sticklers out there, lets just clarify that monkeys have tails and apes do not, thus chimps and gorillas are not monkeys. Those are the ones I really am interested in, but its just more fun to call them monkeys right now, so I’m gonna.
Anyway, I also love garbage. The whole subject. How we think about it, how we handle it, where it comes from, where it goes, etc. I studied environmental topics for 4 years at a university, which is where my interest in garbage began.
Over the years, I have gotten into recycling…see photo of me working as a can collector back at UCSB…
and compost…see article I wrote about a bicycle-powered compost company in Santa Cruz, and photo of compost bike set-up, just cuz…
and most recently, I’ve started focusing on electronic waste.
I have to do more research, but the gist of my concern is that electronics are basically APE KILLING MACHINES.
Ok, that is a bit extreme, I know, but really, some of the materials that go into electronic devices come from gorilla and chimpanzee habitat; see coltan. Its like deforestation and palm oil, see horrible orangutan PSA here.
With all the electronics out there, and the tendency to upgrade cell phones and other devices just because the next version is available or whatever, there is a lot of room for conservation and behavioral adjustments on the part of humans like you and me. I’m not suggesting we stop using electronics, but how bout dialing it back a little bit and definitely recycling. Remember that upgrading your perfectly good Iphone 6 for the Iphone 6.2 has real effects on people, plants, and critters in other parts of the world.
Not only are apes being affected in their natural habitats in Africa, but also people in China and India are receiving tons of electronic waste and dealing with the environmental and human health impacts we just never see here in the US.
“Just another manic Monday” is playing on the radio as I drive the studio’s rented white minivan to pick up the kilt and circle glasses wearing ginger costume designer and drive him to the studio. I am a production assistant, all of the sudden.
Don’t ask how I ended up with this job in my short stay in New York City in the Winter of 2017. It just sort of fell in my lap. I was intrigued by the alluring idea of working for the wardrobe department of a TV show. How glamourous sounding. It was a month long gig with Steiner Studios, which is part of Warner Brothers, and I would be working during the filming of the “Deception” pilot.
The premise of the show was pretty goofy if you ask me: magician with a failed magic career turns to helping the FBI fight crime through illusions.
My first day on the job I had to drive the costume designer, who had worked on the costumes in Zoolander (think Mugatu), to a craft store filled with sequins and feather boas, to look for fancy belt buckles for a straight jacket he was designing, see pilot trailer. I found this very funny and enjoyed walking around the store, holding the bags of fancy buckles, zippers, and fabrics for my leige as he perused the store.
I quite liked the designer, it was his assistant that reminded me of Meryl Streep’s witchy assistant in The Devil Wears Prada. She wore the most heinous clothes, in a style someone described as “power clashing.” It was hard to take her seriously with her pseudo-couture puffy sleeved dresses from H&M, rainbow zebra print sweaters, silver beatles shoes, and “hurry, hurry, hurry,” stressed out attitude.
It was surreal, working for her. Coming from my laid back California upbringing, it was difficult to for me to play the butt licking (thanks for that image, Brother), hustled, sniveling servant role I felt was being expected from me as the lowly production assistant.
“Hurry!” Puffy sleeves would text me while I sat in bumper to bumber traffic on my way back to the studio from Manhattan. My response was usually something along the lines of “I’ll get there when I get there,” which in retrospect was definitely not a good thing to say, but I just wanted to mess with her because she was so high strung. Oops. Had I aspirations to climb the ladder in costume design, I would have been more willing to play along, but I wasn’t; this was a novelty for me, an experiment, an experience I quickly learned I would not want to repeat. Thus, for me the interactions were just annoying and horrible, since many days I would have to miss tap dance classes because I was working. That is the last time I will let a cool sounding job and money distract me from my purpose, which during that 3 month trip to New York was to learn tap dancing.
Not surprisingly, driving to and from Manhatten to return or pick-up items from fancy stores multiple times a day, spending a small fortune (of company’s money) in parking on the daily, getting home late after spending 45 minutes looking for street parking by my apartment at night, got old really fast and I wanted to quit.
Eventually, I got fired. Thank goodness. I actually hugged the designer when he let me go. I had been searching for a way to quit, but was trying to stick it out since it was only a month-long gig. I lasted 3 weeks. Puffy sleeves quit about 3 weeks in also, before I was fired, I’ll have you know, because she wasn’t getting along with the show’s producers and writers, who had strong opinions about the clothes she was picking out and basically weren’t letting her do her thing. It was the replacement assistant costume designer who let me go.
I was happy, but it kindof sucked the way they fired me. I worked a long day, til about 8pm, and as I dropped off the designer where he needed to be, he told me they were going to find someone else, someone with more experience as a production assistant, and that I needed to turn in my keys right there, take my stuff out of the car, and leave without the car. I was happy to do all that, it was just lame because they left me off at night, in the snow, to get home from a place that was pretty far away and not on my subway line. Jerks.
All in all it was an interesting experience. I got a great introduction into the world of television, gained experience driving a minivan in New York City, took some cool photos, met people, made a little money, and now have this story to tell.
It was real and it was fun, but it wasn’t real fun.
Well, I made it to Arkansas! After many delays on the greyhound and a misplaced luggage snafu, I’m here at last, minus my bag, sadly. Fingers are crossed that it will be recovered and sent to Knoxville. For now, I’m stuck with one outfit for the next week or so. The one I was wearing in my last post.
Thank goodness its hot here.
So, I think I am in the Ozarks. In the town of Eureka Springs, but you wouldn’t know it by looking outside, where the constant buzz of cicadas can be heard, and my view is a bunch of trees. My friends and hosts are at work, so I am here, relaxing and recovering from the greyhound journey, drinking coffee and listening to the melancholic music of M. Ward, which probably isn’t a good idea.