Monthly Archives: August 2013

Pick-a-thon 2013

I think the thing about someone moving away is that when you part ways, you aren’t quite sure when you will see each other again. When Mark and Bec left Edmonton (or in my case Jasper) that sweet sorrow that everyone talks about was tempered by the fact that I knew when I would seem them again. We had already planned to meet up again in the Happy Valley.

I should probably introduce myself to the many readers whom I have never met. My name is Zach and I am happy to be the first guest blogger on The Brown Bus.

Some months ago Mark told us about a music festival outside Portland, OR, called Pick-a-thon. While cleverly disguised like any other Folk Music festival, Pick-a-thon seemed to promise a little magic that was not so common. Mugsie and I quickly decided that we should meet Mark and Bec at Pick-a-thon and shortly there after recruited Carly to join us in our travels.

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In keeping with the spirit of Mark and Bec’s journey we decided to drive from Edmonton to Portland. We opted for a less conventional route in order to visit some friends and enjoy some unfamiliar countryside but since our mode of transportation was neither brown nor a bus, we will save those details for another time and place.

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After two-days of traveling we reached Happy Valley, an area outside Portland and home to the Pendarvis Farm, a private farm which doubles as the Pick-a-thon Festival Grounds.

After parking our cars and crossing through the bent wooden arches that form the entrance to the farm, the grounds split into two areas, the woods and the field.

The woods are made out of a series of trails that wind through the forest on the farm. It is where most people camp and home to the Woods Stage, a performance stage deep in , you guessed it, the woods.The stage is surrounded by hay bales and hammocks and has a beer station within arm’s reach (well, almost). Different strings of light run through the forest guiding you to the Woods stage or to your tent or back out into the field.

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The field was more like a carnival filled with people and food and beer. It was home to the main stage and the barn, a venue that, as you may have guessed, is in a barn. But it is also so much more. It’s kind of hard to explain though.

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We lugged our gear into the woods and eventually wandered up Little Mouse trail to the site that would be our home for the next three days. We were camped in the trees and were quite close to our neighbours but luckily we had the room for a communal space between all of our tents.

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From here on I have to admit, the festival is a bit of a blur. We had reusable cups and plates for the whole weekend (along with everyone else) and we danced and drank and slept in the woods with songs echoing through the forest. During the day, the sun led us out into the field and at night the lanterns lured us nack into the woods. And the barn, well that was something else altogether.

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During her set on the Woods Stage, Feist said “This is what other festivals are trying to do,” and she was right. It was the cleanest, most well organized festival I have been to. But more than that, it was an amazing community. A bubble built in Happy Valley.

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On the last day of the festival, Mugsie and I had to pack everything up so that we could get an early start the next day. That night we got the chance to sleep in Oscar and got a small taste of the life Mark and Bec have been living on the road.

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I will end now with a slight self-indulgence.

When I was young I used to watch Star Trek pretty much every day. I envied Captain Picard and his chance to explore new places and new worlds. Reading this blog I am similarly envious. It has only been two months and it is already so filled with places I want to go. Things I want to see. What was always nice for Captain Picard and his crew, though, was that when they needed to, they could turn around and fly back to Earth. Mark and Bec, I know that in so many ways, Australia is your Earth and you are headed there now. But just so you know, whenever you need to you can fly back to Canada. Even just to say hi.

Until then, enjoy your trek under the stars in your brown bus .

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Lots of Love

xx

z

 

 

P.S. Whem Mugsie and I got out of the van in the morning, we saw this

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and we laughed as quietly as we could so that we didn’t wake him.

 

Shi Shi Beach and The Enchanted Valley

Before we left Matty’s place in Bellingham, he recommended a couple of his favourite outdoor adventures in the Olympic National Park. We were on a tight schedule and only had a few days to get to Portland for the Pickathon music festival. We thought that doing both Shi Shi Beach and the Enchanted Valley would be a bit of a stretch, but after a bit of tactful adult peer pressure, we committed. We set our alarms for 3:50am and left Bellingham, not so bright but very early. I curled up on the backseat of the van while Mark, in his element, did the hard yards behind the wheel. The early start was an attempt to catch the low tide at Shi Shi Beach to see the awesome tidal pools. It was always going to be a close call. A later ferry than expected and a wrong turn were against us. We eventually got to Shi Shi pretty exhausted and missed the best of the tide pools. However, we still had fun exploring and camping on the beach.

Shi Shi Beach - Walking Towards the Arches

Shi Shi Beach – Walking Towards the Arches

Marky

Marky

Forest Window

Forest Window

Getting pooped on

Getting pooped on

Rock Tower

Rock Tower

Beach Kitchen

Beach Kitchen

Next stop was the 2 night, 3 day Enchanted Valley hike. We hiked for the most part through a beautiful lush green forest. It was a nice change from all the mountain hiking we’ve been doing. We were told that we’d definitely see bears on this hike. Mark was not so secretly hoping that we would. Well…be careful what you wish for. We had our first face to face bear encounters on foot. I have to say that I did pretty well with the “whoa bear” and the “don’t you worry about a thang bear”, in my best American accent so the bears could understand me. I was also much calmer than I expected. Mark was a bit of a stunned mullet. He was more intrigued and just wanted to watch them. When we saw the second bear, it wasn’t until I told him to walk backwards that the bear ran away. It was an amazing experience, although I’d still rather not run into any more bears.

Forest Light

Forest Light

Fungus Tree

Fungi Tree

The Enchanted Valley

The Enchanted Valley

Water Stop - Enchanted Valley

Water Stop – Enchanted Valley

Fallen Tree

Fallen Tree

Big Root

Big Root

Wood Collecting

Wood Collecting

Our Swimming Pool

Our Swimming Pool

Eating all the berries at our campsite so the bears wouldn't  come for a visit

Eating all the berries (and getting caught on the bushes) at our campsite so the bears wouldn’t come for a visit.

Bellingham

We high tailed it back from the island to get down to Bellingham to spend some time with our friends; Matt, Courtney, Sam and Ri. We crossed the border late at night and were in a rush to get to Bellingham.  It didn’t really dawn on us until later that this might be goodbye to Canada for quite some time and we’re really going to miss it.

Matty took all of us hiking around Mt Baker. He also took us for a scenic drive in his FJ Cruiser, which was a fast, smooth and quiet change from the van.

Heading up the Winchester Mountain trail

Heading up the Winchester Mountain trail

Pretty sweet view of the lake below

Pretty sweet view of the lake below

Lunch and whiskey break at the top

Lunch and whiskey break at the top

Winchester cabin, with Mt Baker in the background

Winchester cabin, with Mt Baker in the background

On top of the world

Captain America and Friends

Taking the quick way down

Taking the quick way down

He convinced us to take a dip in the icy cold water of the half melted lake.  Ri led the way and jumped right in, so we had to man up and follow suit.  We all tried to keep a straight face, but we obviously failed.

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Chasing waterfalls

Chasing waterfalls

Matty feeling the power of the waterfall

Matty feeling the power of the waterfall

As always, Matt and Courtney were super welcoming and hospitable.  And this time we got to meet some of their amazing family, including their beautiful new daughter.

Family dinner and lots of laughs

Family dinner and lots of laughs

Finally, Oscar gets a wash

Finally, Oscar gets a wash