A Car-Free Adventure

On a journey yesterday to pick up a Freecycle find, I relied on Google maps to check for a good walking path from the nearest bus stop. In addition to the house not being located close to public transit, the streets were curved in such a way that I’d have to walk in a big “U” to get there. Fortunately, Google showed another option–a trail path that would provide a more direct trip and save me 10-15 minutes (44 minutes total walking one-way).

Let me take a moment to say that I’m not crazy to make this trip, although I recently took a personality evaluation for work which mentioned that I get more satisfaction from doing things the hard way. There were lots of pros in favor of this little trip:

  • I was in the middle of a book (Fight Club) which I could use the extra time on the bus to finish up.
  • Walking is one of my primary forms of exercise, and I could use more of it.
  • This would give me an excuse to explore a new park & trail area.
  • The Freecycle find!

Anyhow, I got to the school that the trail was behind and pretty quickly found this.

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Whoa! That’s a steep drop. Not the trail. I found the path just a bit further down. But the trail split up into multiple paths not on my map. Which to take? I guess I chose incorrectly because next I had to climb my way down this.

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I walked down many trails, turning back each time when the path kind of petered out. These trails must not have been used much because I ended up picking up a stick and waving it in front of me continuously to keep the spiderwebs from sticking to me.

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Many would-be dead ends tried to stop me.

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But I didn’t take no for an answer…. At least for a while. Eventually I gave up on finding the trail and turned around to make sure I’d still get home in time to make a Mother’s Day lunch for my mom. Those 50 minutes in the woods were fun, but they didn’t bring me at all closer to my ultimate goal of finding Freecycle treasure.

Back at the main street, all was good for a while until I saw this in the distance.

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That road leading up towards the right was the one I would need to take. My legs were certainly going to get a good workout today. Fortunately, I made it to the top, completed the “U”, found my treasure. And instead of using any common sense, I decided to go back via the trail hoping that it made more sense from the opposite direction.

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Started off nice.

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There were no alternate paths for a while. Just one clearly defined trail. And it wasn’t even full of spiderwebs! 🙂

But then there were some smaller turn-offs and I wasn’t really sure. Should I keep going down this path? Should I try turning? Because of my time limits today, I wasn’t taking any chances. I got out my phone and turned on location services for the first time since I got it a few years ago. It showed me exactly where I was and lead me right to this creek crossing.

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I turned up my pants hems and let the water rushing over the crossing seep into my shoes, relieved that the most difficult part of finding my way back was complete. The real path back even took me by this mosquito pond, which made it obvious that the first time I just didn’t go far enough in this direction. There must have been a way.

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Impatient and foolish, I turned off the main path once again as soon as I saw the school nearby. I climbed steeper rocks to get there and was prickled by some low cactus in a section of high grass. But from there, it was home free. I had my bounty of a medicine cabinet for my bathroom.

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And by going through the woods, I also found this skateboard. If I figure out how to keep the wheels from sticking, it will find much use.

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So all-in-all the day was a success. I got home, washed up, and made a nice lunch for my mom. I had gotten plenty of exercise, lovely greenery views, amazingly didn’t get bitten by mosquitoes, and found some treasures. Really, does it get better than that?

May 1 Food Haul

I was way over budget this week, coming in over $100 for groceries for my husband and myself. So this can’t at all be considered a sustainable food haul. To be sustainable, less fortunate folks would have to have some chance of affording it. Well, let’s see how this happened…

First Stop: Downtown Farmers Market

  • IMG_20160430_111537Peaches, 2 baskets: $12.00
  • Brussel sprouts, 1 pint: $4.00
  • Wheat flour, 2.5 pounds: $5.00
  • Whole chicken, 3.18 pounds: $14.31
  • Mushrooms, some: $3.00

Total: $38.31

You can’t really tell from this picture but this is a lot of peaches. They’re delicious, and I need to cut them up and flash freeze them soon to prevent any from going to waste. Frozen peach slices will be incredible when the summer heat comes around if they last that long.

The chicken is for our Mother’s Day lunch, and I also picked up the bag of wheat flour from the vendor while I was there. It’s plastic, but hey it’s also local. By the way, for anyone who doesn’t know this yet, store whole wheat flour in the freezer. It’s stays fresher much longer that way.

Second Stop: Wheatsville Co-op

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  • Watermelon, x2: $5.98
  • Toilet paper, x1: $0.79
  • Soymilk, half-gallon: $3.69
  • Rosemary seeds, 1 packet: $2.99
  • Bronner’s soap, 4.49 pounds: $4.80
  • Cara cara oranges, 0.70 pounds: $1.74
  • Valencia oranges, 0.88 pounds: $1.58
  • Red bell pepper, 0.23 pounds: $0.89
  • Orange bell pepper, 0.52 pounds: $1.55
  • Roma tomatoes, 0.37 pounds: $0.74
  • Cinnamon raisin bagels, x6: $4.95
  • Nut & Oat bread loaf: $3.69
  • Honey wheat bread loaf: $3.69
  • Extra virgin olive oil: $6.99
  • Balsamic vinegar: $4.99
  • Bran flakes, 0.33 pounds: $1.65
  • Sunny bears, 0.45 pounds: $5.40
  • Tofu, 14 ounces: $2.29
  • Peppermint toothpaste: $5.99

Total: $63.78

Whoa, that’s way more than I had budgeted for this week. But there were some staples included in there that should last me for a while. But the gummy bears? This is why you’re not supposed to go shopping hungry, you end up buying stupid things. Without that, I at least wouldn’t have gone into the triple-digits of dollars spent.

On the bright side, refilling my bottle of Bronner’s soap turned out to be less expensive than expected. Sure, there’s some air in the bottle but that’s still much cheaper than when I initially purchased the bottled soap. Buying from the bulk bins isn’t always a win when it comes to the pocket book, but when it is I can’t help but smile.

And the watermelons. My original plan was to wait until I could harvest some from my backyard or at least grab one from Engels Farm at the farmers market. But what can I say, watermelon is my favorite food and I am definitely a sucker for it. So when I stopped off at Wheatsville on two separate trips I picked up one of the little sale watermelons each time.

With the holdovers from last week and all of these goodies, we’re fully stocked up for the week ahead. Time to start eating!

The Backyard Theater

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If you look up the term “boring” in the dictionary, it might mention something about “watching grass grow”. But if that’s the case, how is it possible that watching a tomato plant grow is so suspenseful? I remember the cotyledons slowly unfurling after much careful watering. The real leaves slowly growing in at first and then more vigorously after being transplanted outside. And now I feel the climax approaching. See that little yellow globe hanging in the middle of the picture? That sure looks like a future tomato. How long will it take to grow into a full-sized Roma? To turn red? Will it even make it all the way to maturity or instead be tragically struck down in its youth? Every day is a cliff-hanger in the backyard theater.

Weed Love

Today I took another trip to my mom’s house, where the raised bed in the backyard that I started months ago had some goodies waiting for me–the very last of the carrots and a few onions. The carrots were already much less sweet due either to the warmer weather or the regular storms lately, but that won’t stop me from eating them.

Overflowing handful of carrots and onion

(By the way, if you have a backyard, I strongly recommend growing some carrots. They take forever to grow but they’re extremely low maintenance and really sweet and juicy if you pick them when it’s cool out.)

Do you see what’s behind my hand? That raised bed is full of weeds! Pretty primrose. Reinvigorating clover. And other types of weeds. The weeds didn’t stop the food from growing at all. In fact, the largest onion in the bunch was one that was nearly hidden beneath a thick section of clover. It reminds me of Masanobu Fukuoka’s farm as described by Larry Korn’s intro to The One-Straw Revolution:

Some vegetables go unharvested, the seeds fall, and after one or two generations, they revert to the growing habits of their strong and slightly bitter-tasting wild predecessors. Many of these vegetables grow up completely untended. Once, not long after I came to Mr. Fukuoka’s farm, I was walking through a remote section of the orchard and unexpectedly kicked something hard in the tall grass. Stooping to look more closely, I found a cucumber, and nearby I found a squash nestled among the clover.

These veggies weren’t quite that wild, but they were just as beautiful.

Handful of carrots and onions in front of a weed-filled raised garden bed

Speaking of weeds, there were plenty of dried seedpods on the clover so I grabbed a few to use in my own garden later, as well as the dried seedpods of the peas that were too small to harvest on my previous visit. The only things left are the garlic and oregano, which I haven’t decided yet if I should just dig it up whole or leave in place and propogate cuttings. But I have at least a few weeks before the garlic can be harvested, plenty of time to decide.