Welcome to Tofino: an #OpHippie Flashback!

From now on, any time anyone asks me what Tofino was like, I’m just going to point them to this post on Facebook.

 

Sooo … This morning I found a ponytail in our car. Doors were unlocked, nothing was taken but the seemingly fresh (I sniffed it, smelled like Pantene Pro-V) tail was wedged between the drivers seat and the middle console right by my belt. I’m certain it wasn’t there before. I have not much to say other than *in true Trading Post style* “If you accidentally borrowed the use of a random car to cut off a ponytail, please identify yourself so I can go back to feeling peaceful”

Sooo ... This morning I found a ponytail in our car. Doors were unlocked, nothing was taken but the seemingly fresh (I sniffed it, smelled like Pantene Pro-V) tail was wedged between the drivers seat and the middle console right by my belt. I'm certain it wasn't there before. I have not much to say other than *in true Trading Post style* "If you accidentally borrowed the use of a random car to cut off a ponytail, please identify yourself so I can go back to feeling peaceful" ;)

It’s like that. It’s just exactly like that.

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OpHippie: the Paperwork Situation

Human gerbils

Human gerbils

You wouldn’t think there’d be a lot of paperwork involved in being a hippie. You’d be wrong. It just comes with bonus hard physical work and holistic “Namaste” garnishes.

By Monday, I will have walked 15 miles because of government cutbacks. #FACT. I have certain paperwork that has to be completed “within five business days” at a certain government office in Not-Ucluelet. This deadline was assigned Wednesday. On Thursday, I walked in to Not-Ucluelet, 2.5 miles, to find out the office was closed. I walked back to OpHippie Global HQ, disgruntled and somewhat fried, for lo I am middle aged and fat, although 4″ around the waist less fat than I was when I got here.

OHO! I thought. I will be cleverer tomorrow! I will phone and ask if they can do this before walking into town.

I did so today. They confirmed that, yes, the paperwork had to be done in that office, it was open, and the paperwork, in fact, COULD be done at that office today.

I walked into the office. Another 2.5 miles. The only staffer there said she hadn’t been trained on that software and could not help me, so could I come back on Monday.

Ty. Pi. Cal.

I walked back, 2.5 miles. And on Monday, I get to do it all again, hopefully minus the futility. Meanwhile, the actual client work I’ve already been paid for has to wait for all this goddam walking to be over, which naturally the clients are not thrilled about.

For this and other, Going Completely “The Beach” Related Reasons, this phase of OpHippie is drawing to a close. The ecovillage has essentially been kicked off the land, as in we are all welcome to stay here, but we have to spend our daily work ration working for the landowner, not the ecovillage, which means that the entire reason I moved here is suddenly entirely gone, replaced with two hours of literally shoveling shit and planting and weeding a day, while being denied the opportunity to do my own work, because the only room with wifi closes early, and I do my best work at night.

And the only cafes in town close – get this – prior to 5pm.

So.

While I am still committed to the ecovillage idea, this particular iteration is collapsing, the core group is splitting up and heading in different directions, and I need to find another home and another way to support myself until The Sikrit Projeckt is launched. I have an interview down the road at a resort on the beach for a night auditor/manager job tomorrow, as well as a freelance opportunity that’s up in the air, and a job audition for a great opportunity in Vancouver (literally, the ONLY job I would consider moving back to Vancouver for). If I get the job tomorrow, I’ll be living in staff accommodations right on the beach. If I get the second, I’ll rent a room in a shared house in Not-Ucluelet. If I get the third, I’ll get a room in a shared place in Vancouver, and I happen to have a line on one that’s good.

Next week, I’ll be back in Vancouver to do some pet-sitting, and after that? Who knows? The uncertainty, at least, is a totally hippie experience. Man.

PS: Propane leak in the kitchen tonight, and the window is still missing from the office after the break-in, so I have a choice of poisoning myself or not getting my work done tonight.

So, that’s the state of OpHippie. Anarchy. How fitting.

Tofino and environs

OpHippie: the Situational situation

OpHippie: Mackenzie Beach Sunset

OpHippie: Mackenzie Beach Sunset

So maybe living off the grid with a bunch of unpredictable hippies in a cabin named after Jean Lafitte’s pirate hideout in the middle of nowhere at the End of the Road (literally, there is only one road in and no roads out except the same damn one, backwards) near a place known as Tuff City wasn’t the most stable of choices.

Still.

From the Department of Did Not See That Coming:

After a year and a half of my good friend Shahee making a (very!) modest living trying to get the Symbiosis Ecovillage going on the property known as Poole’s Land, the property owner has decided to pull the plug. The property itself has been for sale the entire time, and one gets the feeling he’d just as soon sell it to one guy who already has the money as wait around for a spontaneous group of moneyed hippies to somehow manifest and unite, Transformers-style, into a single twinkle-fingered ConsensusBot which somehow has three quarters of a million dollars.

Which is down from the two million price tag I’d heard about a couple of months ago.

Still.

The upshot is, we can all stay and carry on as usual except that working for Michael, the property owner, suddenly outranks working for Symbiosis in our daily Workshare regimen, because it is now not going to be Symbiosis. That, I’ll remind you all for lo, all of you except those in inherited houses are working far more to keep yourself housed, is two hours a day working at various tasks from keeping the common areas clean to shoveling the humanure composting bins out to spreading broken tiles in the potholes (with the result that our potholes have rainbow auroras and look like they were made by Dale Chihuly at a Greek wedding) and the like. So now, all the long term planning tasks are gone, replaced by “let’s get this place in shape for summer short term campers” tasks.

Which is not simply a change of labour, but also a significant change of direction and thinking.

All of this, combined with the fact that Shahee, the one who convinced me that moving here was a good idea, is probably leaving to find work, has brought things rather to a head. Into my head. Which is already pretty crowded and busy, if you ask me.

Yesterday P left. He’s a wacky, cheerful, tall, blond surfer with a part-time job at the gas station and a habit of materializing at the most improbable times simply to hang out in silence for an hour, then leave, calling the experience “peachy” and wishing me “a beautiful experience today,” accompanied by the prayer hands and little bow gesture that probably has a proper yoga name that I don’t know.

Today S was raging, or as close to raging as a man who is constitutionally incapable of rage can be, about how he came here and stayed here not because he wanted to camp in the swamp and be a hippie, but because he wanted to be living rough now and working to build something for his future, so that by the time he’s 26 or 27 he’ll have a place to live, and he’ll have built it with his own hands. And who’s to tell the man he does not have that right? But he can’t do it here; he’s now too busy weeding the kale fields and hauling lumber to clear the campsites, to say nothing of not, you know, actually owning the land.

So here I am, having received (at a guess, but I’m pretty goddam good at guessing) $500 worth of gifts and cash (returned $200 because YAY, had gotten a brief paying gig!) from a handful of generous souls who wish me well on this adventure and want to support it, and having spent a great deal of my own money to get to the place and equip it (rather glad I didn’t spring for my own axe, thank god), I am now wondering whether to chuck it all in.

This ecovillage is dead. Long live the ecovillage.

Symbiosis will carry on. It just won’t live here. And that’s actually okay, because here, objectively speaking, is 17 acres of swampy rainforest with a protected salmon stream and within the town limits, so subject to building codes, thus ruling out pretty much any structure you could really call an “earthship.” Which is what ecovillages are generally made of, not abandoned Chevy vans circled like musk oxen against predators.

Now, the question becomes do I tag along with Shahee, should he bolt, and land in some other ecovillage, or on the property of an obliging hippie type looking to ecovillage-ize? Even though I don’t actually have a bus or even a tent? Or do I close the Grand Experiment and truck all this sophisticated camping gear back to The Big Smoke, where I have nowhere to live and couldn’t afford it if I did? Or do I sit tight, work on my Secret Project (Oh, I didn’t tell you about the Secret Project? THAT’S BECAUSE IT’S A SECRET!), get my healthcare and paperwork and ID up to date, get a driver’s license, continue to talk to S2 about a work/trade for the bus she has for sale, convert the bus like Shahee‘s into an incredible mobile home, and save money until the passport comes in, as was the Whole Original Plan in the First Goddam Place?

Well, is it really a question?

Any situation, however chaotic, that I am already in is always my default choice as compared to any new situation unless the new situation comes with paid-up housing that includes deep bathtubs suitable for hours-long soaking, and that is simply a fact. I often say of myself that I’d put more effort into avoiding crises if I didn’t take such pride in my ability to cope with them, to which the friend who knows me best said, “That is the most self-aware thing you’ve ever said.”

This preference for stasis will no doubt come as a surprise to most of you who are familiar with my rather adventurous-seeming lifestyle, but then most of you didn’t see the mildew on the apartment that I’d hung on to for thirteen years. As long as I have a place to come home to I’m perfectly content to go to some crazy dangerous places on day trips, or even overnights, provided there’s wifi, I assure you.

So. Sunrise. Sunset. Sunrise? I’m still about 10% on the fence, but for now it looks like I’m staying.

But it definitely looks like I won’t be giving this blog URL to the landlord.

PS: for what it’s worth, the rainbows are still following me.  All the way from Port Alberni, in fact. I hope it’s a good sign.

OpHippie Rainbow means pot AND gold at the end? What if I don't like pot? Can I just get a nice Guatamalan poncho instead?

OpHippie Rainbow means pot AND gold at the end? What if I don’t like pot? Can I just get a nice Guatamalan poncho instead?

#OpHippie: the wildlife situation

and igloos are the hard tacos

and igloos are the hard tacos

This should end well.

Last night on the way back to the cabin I’m pretty sure I heard the local bear. It’s a small black bear, nothing to worry about, but all the same unsettling at 4am. There are also apparently cougars about, which is more of a worry, as the cougars of Vancouver Island are the most man-eating big cats in the world.

Then again, I’m not a man, so what do I care?

There are also wolves, although I haven’t heard any, but I’m prepared for that. You bet. I got a tip on Facebook. All the natural world cowers in fear of having its secrets exposed in a random Facebook status update or comment, and for good reason. In this case, the tip, which appeared in my friend Janine’s timeline, is that to keep coyotes off your property, pee on the boundary lines. They can’t see your invisible fence, but they can smell it and go, “Whoa, hippie territory. Hippies. Why’d it have to be hippies? I hate hippies,” and bugger right off. I’m going to see if it works with wolves too. And bears. And rats.

Oh, the rats. The rats. The rats in the walls.

Well, I wouldn’t care so much if they would stay IN the walls; it’s when they come out and poop on my floor and counter that I find annoying. Every couple of days I find another rat poop somewhere I was about to put my foot or my hand, and since the cabin is only about 15 feet square, this is TOO MUCH. At night as I’m lying in my cosy sleeping bag in the loft, I hear them directly above my head on the roof, scrabbling around and chittering, so I drum on the damn ceiling to encourage them to move on and they momentarily stop what they’re doing before starting up again shortly afterwards.

Now, I know what to do with rats, but the fact is I haven’t got a pack of flying Jack Russells with frickin’ laser beams on their heads, so I’m having to make do. If I could find the holes they are using for getting inside the cabin, I could stuff them with steel wool and/or spare tinfoil (washed, so it has no food smells) and that would stop the buggers. The problem is, because of the trees and overcast weather, there hasn’t been enough light to SEE such things in the first place. Once the sun comes out I’ll get a wooden ladder and circle the outside of the house, pull the tarps off the roof and check under there as well, and look at the cistern behind the cabin too. Having checked the weather reports for the area, I expect that will be in May or June.

In unrelated news, I have accidentally left my iPhone at the cabin. This is bad because that motherfucker’s flashlight app is the best damn flashlight this camp has ever seen, and the battery only has 20% left. It’ll die tonight and worse: I cannot use it to actually get to the cabin. I have a weak headlamp instead that Shahee loaned me.

In other unrelated news, I’m starving, haven’t eaten today, and am off to the Best Western down the road to have a burger. I have heard their veggie burgers are good, so hopefully their beef burgers will be as well. Too lazy to walk into town this late; the place rolls up the sidewalks at 5, which was an hour and a half ago.

Still haven’t heard from the new boss about when I start. At this point forget an advance: a retroactive payment would be nice. And oh yes, I started a new blog. Can’t afford the custom domain this week, but hopefully next week I’ll be able to get one registered. With the Manolosphere going the way of the dodo, Manolofood.com is going to disappear, and I need a place for my foodie posts, a dedicated food/drink/travel blog. Will import the old posts and get some new content coming in the next few days.

#OpHippie Day Three

Barataria: new HQ for Operation Global Media Domination.

Barataria: new HQ for Operation Global Media Domination. What can I say, I like a challenge.

Well, say hello to the new Global HQ for Operation Global Media Domination. It is one-quarter mile down a dirt and gravel road, past the salmon stream, past the pond, to the left of the wood chip pile and the right of the kale garden (yet another kale garden), past the fish caddy, thirty yards up a slippery boardwalk into the rainforest, and it is all mine.

Well, mine and the rats’, but they’ll be leaving soon, trust me on that. If I have to borrow a honey badger, the rats will be leaving soon. They can’t get at my peanut butter, so they hate me and they pooped beside my bed last night. My bed is in a loft above the main floor, which is maybe 15×15, and I climb up a very steep ladder to get to bed, and as I said of the boardwalk “this is going to do wonders for my sobriety” and so far it has. If I fall off the ladder, I land on the stove, and I don’t want that, as the stove is likely to be burning hot when I go to bed.

One expects my days as a cocktail enthusiast are about to be severely curtailed. Oh, I’ll still go out for cocktails, but there’s something about having to walk two miles into town in the rain that takes the edge off a thirst, knowmasayin? Shawn at Little Jumbo and Simon at Veneto and Jay at The Blackbird may be seeing much more of me than they are used to, as I’m not paying rent and have nothing else to spend my money on other than trips of hundreds of miles just to drink the best cocktails in the world at their respective establishments.

I have named the cabin Barataria, after Jean Lafitte’s hideout in Louisiana. Jean Lafitte is the bomb, and when in doubt, choose an alliterative name from pirate history. Always.

This should be more widely known.

He, apparently, stole it from Don Quixote, where it was the name of a fictional island that was part of a deal from a conman, and the name derives from the Spanish word for “cheap” so this is perfect in every way.

OpHippie My Driveway

This is my driveway

This is the driveway. It is uphill, but not terribly steeply. You do feel it, though, when you push a load of firewood in a wheelbarrow all the way. I was enormously proud I got it all the way up the boardwalk to the cabin, but then it DID serve as a stability aid. I’ve taken three headers thanks to slimy boardwalks. Thank god for these boots; at least they have some tread. If I had to rely on my sneakers, I’d have been miserable since my arrival. Not that they aren’t great sneakers, but they are porous and they are not trail runners. Sticky, they are not.

As discussed last time in OpHippie, the boots are awesome. I have awesome boots. Awesome: those are what my boots are. I have been grateful for these boots every moment I’ve been here, although I keep forgetting to ask the donor if s/he would like to remain anonymous or not. Sorel Women’s Caribou, Da. Bomb. Waterproof, and 60% off, too! Also heavy, so I’ll lose weight simply wearing them.

Alas for my old hat, which was glorious and perfect in every way including folding up to nothing and popping back into shape. My new hat is cool, but it is no Old Hat. It is no Official Indiana Jones Stetson. I bought that hat the last day Woodwards was open, so 1985 I guess, and I paid ten dollars for it, which was far less, like 70% less, than it should have sold for, but they were just liquidating the stuff at that point. It was waterproof and perfect in every way as I mentioned before. Apparently they are still available. I should save up.

The new hat is an Aussie Akubra Snowy River hat and very good-looking although garnering fewer compliments than the old one (brim is too aggressive, methinks), it does not fold up, and it needs to have a leash and keepers put on, ie the string that goes under your chin, so I can hang it on my back when I don’t need it on my head and don’t want to hold it, and also so it won’t blow away when I board a ferry, for lo it cost me $150 and I am loathe to throw that away or let the wind gods steal it.

Today's shopping

Today’s shopping

The “dry firewood” thing is a challenge. There isn’t any. The new stuff comes in and it gets damp just hanging out in the woodshed. Moisture is contagious. I have a brand new pizza box that won’t burn now, because it’s been in my cabin two days and has absorbed too much moisture. It steams when you try to set it on fire. But I got some wax coated cardboard today that will burn like a candle, and some wood that just got cut, and Shahee helped me set up a rack to dry my wood on, on the top of the stove. I need a grate for the stove and if I can get a spare, that will make an excellent drying rack on top of the stove. We are discussing making me a rocket stove like his, which works amazingly well. The cabin isn’t as insulated as the bus, alas, but it could be improved. And a good stove will go a long way to that. Still, after living for two years without electricity in Vancouver, I’m used to chilly temperatures for sleeping. Can’t sleep if it’s hot, in fact.

Once the rocket stove is in, I get a converter and that transforms heat to electricity, and YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS! It means I don’t have to blog from the kitchen, that’s what it means.

Well, no wifi back there, but I can write offline and come to the kitchen to upload.

Oh, did I mention there’s a beach?

Middle Beach, Not-Ucluelet

Middle Beach, Not-Ucluelet

Not too scruffy. This was a very quiet day, apparently. Usually the waves are surfing sized. There is a beach to the left and also one to the right. They are also surfing beaches. Mostly, I use these beaches in the following traditional fashion: make coffee, put in thermos, doctor appropriately, go to beach. Walk up beach. Walk down beach. Repeat until coffee is gone. Return to kitchen.

Some local colour…

Get Trippy. YOU MUST OBEY. Or not, dude, Whatever's cool.

Get Trippy. YOU MUST OBEY. Or not, dude, Whatever’s cool.

Skyline, not-ucluelet

Just a local skyline view

OpHippie Sky Lights

OpHippie Sky Lights

This is down by the main gardens. It’s a sort of Gilligan’s Island with a nautical theme, a platform with a tire swing and sofas, a pond with salmon in it, and a cave for concerts and getting loud. Right now there’s a carpenter from Nanaimo and a guy from London whose mind is completely blown by the space staying there.

OpHippie You are so totally loved. Even you, yes you.

OpHippie You are so totally loved. Even you, yes you.

OpHippie My Pond

OpHippie My Pond

When I’m coming home in the dark I listen for the sound of the salmon stream waterfall to tell me I’m on the right path. Not long after this comes the pond, which is where the stream and the salmon come from. Last night I wandered around far too long in the dark, blundering into other camps because I was too proud to use the headlamp. I guess you gotta learn every lesson once, eh?

OpHippie close of the day

OpHippie close of the day

Basically, but the time you notice the clouds are starting to turn golden and magenta, it’s too late to walk to the beach. I have to set a “sunset alarm” on the phone so that I can make sure to get there in time. Watching the sun set, knowing there is nothing out there between you and Japan but some whales is a pretty awe-inspiring feeling. Sunsetting is a big activity here, as I have mentioned before.

Future plans include getting a human poop composting system designed and in place (I’ve actually been quite useful so far, thanks to connections with a certain Victoria-area garbage collector), making some sort of deal with the Best Western down the road for access to the hot tub, making some kind of deal with the local stables for some riding time, and finishing up the shopping.

Things I need now:

  • railway lantern
  • fuel for lantern
  • butane hot plate and fuel, although I’m ambivalent about cooking at the cabin. Attracts critters.
  • candles
  • pulley so I can winch things up to the loft and back down, cuz I’m way too lazy to take the stairs all those times
  • new glass for the window frame they put in. Plastic just isn’t cutting it, people. They also are talking about putting in a BIG ASS window on the wall underneath the loft. The frame is incredibly sturdy, being steel, the window is double glazed and mirrored, so the question becomes do I want it facing out or facing in?
  • space blankets, one or two to use as curtains at least while I only have plastic in the window
  • Swiss Army Knife (with corkscrew) or equivalent. You always need scissors and eight other things you don’t have
  • plates and cups for the cabin
  • chair for the cabin, maybe two if they’re cheap
  • pillow
  • bedding. The sleeping bag I borrowed from Shahee will do for now, but actual bedding would be better
  • manual coffee grinder. Makes the best coffee and is meditative and ecosensitive.

So, it takes inventory to be ecosensitive. Well, that’s not a surprise. I hope to get up to P-town to get some of my summer gear before the seasons turn, because I already OWN a lot of these things.

Anyway, now must write a proposal for my new boss to discuss rates, duties, hours, and expectations. God only knows when I’m going to work on the media startup I’ve got bookmarked, but all things in time. It’s amazing how many of my skills developed at Occupy Vancouver are coming in very handy. Also Girl Guides. Also living off-grid in the city for two years.

And how was YOUR day?

You can see the whole growing set of photos at Flickr.