Two days before we left Idyllwild, Dylan took the trailer for a test drive. He had driven trucks and armored vehicles before. But he had never hauled a trailer. After just two tries, and a few technical issues we needed to check on, we were off on our journey. It was quite nerve wracking going down with such a huge load behind on a curvy mountain road. But Dylan got us down safe and sound. Phew!
We made a few stops along the way, making sure all was working well. What would have taken 3 hours, took about 6. Finally, we made it to Gisselle’s ranch late at night. It was just what we needed. Our first sanctuary – a beautiful plot of land next to gorgeous organic farms in Camarillo, CA, with a perfect pad for our Gypsy Caravan. The smell of the ocean only some short miles away.
Seeing the vastness of the organic farms, with all kinds of delicious crops, gave us hope for the future. We lead a plant-based lifestyle with a plethora of plant foods for complete, nourishing and flavorful nutrition. So, whenever we encounter organic farms and edible gardens, it confirms the abundance that exists in the world. It also gets us thinking about the need to eradicate the monopoly on seeds and chemicals worldwide. There is no reason to witness so much hunger and poverty in the world. Resources need to be fairly allocated. We also need to learn from a young age how to grow our own food, as much as we need to know math, English, history, etc.
Our friend and host, Gisselle, a Guatemalan-born surfer, teaches at the Muse School in Malibu, CA. The Muse School is a model school where children get a well rounded and environmentally conscious education. Muse School is powered by 100% solar energy and implements zero waste practices. Students are also immersed in growing their own organic food that is served in their plant-based cafeteria. Both of her children attend the Muse School and love it.
There are other schools popping up around the US. Waldorf schools, where our nieces went, also give a well rounded, alternative education. Some of them are public schools, such as Environmental Charter High School in South Los Angeles, CA, where I gave a talk on sustainable design and Amazon rainforest artisans whose beautiful work is sold through ORG BY VIO. ECHS prepares students for 4-year colleges using the environment as a lens for real-life learning. It places an emphasis on experiential, project-based learning that engages students as it prepares them to become leaders in their communities. Growing their own organic gardens is also one of those hands on experiences. Verde Elementary in Boca Raton, FL, where our nephew attends, is another public school that is leading in environmental education.
Gisselle’s ranch house was close to Ventura, so we got together with some friends from there, Ojai and Patagonia, where I was senior designer for a number of years. Patagonia is a great company to work for, with which I share environmental values. I left back in 2008, because I thrive on change and I wanted to apply my creative skills on a cause close to my heart. But Patagonia will always feel like family to me. We hadn’t seen our friends for a while and it was great to reconnect. Among those who joined us were designers Kourtney Morgan and Nanette Stowell who came with her talented hubby Jason, and Rebecca Green-Shank who have been with Patagonia for decades; equestrian lover Michele Rozo also from Patagonia and her own brand. Mariana Schulze, a magical pixie and photographer from Argentina, came with her family. Mariana was one of Dylan’s first knife clients under his Sage Blades brand, when he moved to Ventura from Canada. She owns a beautiful Sage Blades survival knife. My old neighbor, John Petersen, a master traditional kayak craftsman, also came. We gathered at our friend’s Japanese ramen noodle spot, Toki, where chef Galo makes yummy ramen, including vegan options for us plant food lovers.
Only one hour away, we headed to Los Angeles to visit with more friends. We had a yummy dinner at Rahel Ethiopian vegan restaurant and dined in the traditional Ethiopian style with our friends: Canadian healer and photographer Lisa Atkinson, visual effects artist Jennifer Booterbaugh and her beau actor Quintin Mims, artist and sound healer Michelle Berc of Create:Fixate, and Neely Shearer who owns In Heroes We Trust, where she sells the Amazon rainforest artisan-made jewelry from ORG BY VIO among an eclectic selection of fashion, vintage and art. Neely is also author of the book by the same name, In Heroes We Trust: Street Artists And Their Heroes, featuring international street artists. We also got to see our godson Kaius with his mom and my childhood friend Michelle van Hewitt and her husband Barry who own Blue Collar Working Dog and The Dog Yard (more on that later). I’ve known Michelle since we were at UNIS in New York, where we were given a global, international education in a utopian setting. She’s family and a strong woman I admire.
We made time for our Dutch Shepherd Tila (aka Atilla) to have fun at The Dog Yard. The Dog Yard is a 5,000 sq ft dog training facility in Los Angeles, California, that you can also rent to play with your dog privately. It is located next to Blue Collar Working Dog in Echo Park-Silverlake, where you’ll find all you need for your athletic pooch.
You can see Tila (aka Atilla), below in the video clips, showing his skills with his first papa, Barry Hewitt of Blue Collar Working Dog and The Dog Yard. In one of the videos below, they are showing object guarding skills. Tila is guarding the object with his paws and stops the perpetrator, if he gets too close to the object. Barry trained Tila to be a protection dog, since he was a puppy. He came to us knowing many skills we still don’t know about. Dutch Shepherds have been bred for generations for military and police work in the Netherlands, and recently brought to the US.
We would’ve loved to have spent time with more friends before we took off… But glad we saw those that could make it with a short notice.
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