Author Archives: Zach

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.


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.


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.


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.


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 .


Lots of Love





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


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