Contextual Updates (Part 2): Letter to Dad

Hey Dad,
things are going well. No complaints here. Well, maybe a few. I don’t know.
Plenty of food pantry runs to keep my bucket full. We gotta store our grub inside plastic 5gallons to keep the rats out.
I have a good stash of rice and other stuff. I try to have a solid supply of food back in the deep valley; I don’t wait to run out before I get more.

I’m back in town for a couple of weeks while the rangers raid camps and hand out tickets. I figured it’s best not to be around while that’s happening.
Technically, camping without a permit is a misdemeanor offense, but I don’t feel as though I’m doing anything wrong. I bring my trash out. I clean up after others. I try to leave things better than when I found them.
At any rate, I have my justifications and rationalizations, just as they have theirs. If I pick up a fine, it’s $250. Pretty cheap rent if you ask me.

The water comes from springs and cliff-side aquifers, which we drink raw. It’s some of the clearest, cleanest water I’ve ever had. It smells and tastes sweet, with a hint of algae and mineral. Most of the goats & pigs in our valley are promptly snared and slaughtered, so there is little danger of them contaminating our water sources. I am still cautious, and I keep iodine drops on hand (just in case). I also have some anti-parasitic medicine. The stream I drink from is not the main valley stream (main river is full of day-hikers and hippies). I camp along the “box canyon creek” which, as the name implies, runs from a dark box canyon. I haven’t been into the box yet. It’s dark. I think vampires probably live there. It looks spooky.

So far I’ve acquired a pruning saw (fiskars, stiletto-style sliding blade), a prawn net, a few small gardening implements, and access to a fishing pole. I plan to move my camp down to the mouth of the river when I return so I can catch prawns at night and fish in the twilight of the morning. There’s a San Francisco native living down on the beach, they call him Surfer C. He’s always got a pole in the water and he knows the ins-and-outs of the local fish. He doesn’t mind sharing his secrets if you smoke a bowl with him, so I’ve been told. He’s been living out there on and off for at least 10 years. Valley M’s been living in the valley for over 20. They sure have some wild stories and tall tales. I’m not sure if they’re all true, but they sure do entertain.

I’ve been rising with the sun and living very simply. When I’m in town, it’s a similar story, but slightly more chaotic. Life seems to me to be needlessly complex at times. I’m just trying to live, and there sure are a lot of structures in place to prevent me from doing so. As such, I get my kicks in while I can, and I see it as my aim to stir the pot to keep scum from rising to the pot. That is my game; my prank. I feel like a jester when I’m in town, especially the hotel/motel, bar/club, strip-shopping center areas. Lots of tourists giving me funny looks. I flash them a genuine, goofy smile and they ride past in their plastic air-conditioned boxes, away from teeth like mine.

The locals don’t seem to mind us, I am respectful wherever I go and it seems to work out. It also helps that I have a little weed in my pocket most of the time. I keep it around less for my own consumption and more for sharing. I try to pick up trash along the trails and roads if my hands are empty, and this seems to help the image of hippies. I try to act as a representative for my community, especially when I’m at Church functions and other public settings. I see myself as a sort of diplomat between tribes. Whether I’m attending an Evangelist Potluck or a Tibetan Buddhist Mahamudra Meditation class, I carry myself the same. My religion is my religion, theirs is theirs. We can all learn from each other. They all seem to demand to know my denomination, my spiritual designation. I can’t directly answer them. I don’t see the need to put the Almighty into a form.
If anyone needs to know:
Jerry is my Jesus; Garcia is the Buddha of Jams.

I need a break from all the new-agers. They act too damn happy all the time. They talk much and practice little, wasting their energy on making life into a euphoric, bliss-filled, beautified cosmic trip. It’s unrealistic if you ask me. The Good Lord didn’t put us here to be comfortable and ecstatic 24/7. This is my judgement of course, but I believe that a little suffering is necessary for growth. Mother nature prescribes tough love. I can’t spend too much time with the hippies. I don’t think I am one of them, even though I look the part.

The hippies call it “babylon” out here, in the land of internet cafes, hotels, and shopping centers. They’re damn naive if you ask me. Their own community is rife with dysfunction of its own; make no mistake, I don’t live in the garden of Eden. I play the role of the fly on the wall; with pen & pad in hand, call me another Jo(h)n… (don’t mind me!).
Call me a bleeding-heart mystic, lamenting over the madness of existence, wallowing in the gutter.
Speaking of which, I’ve been having pretty good luck with my dumpster diving; haven’t been getting too dirty either!

And when I get sick of town, all its trappings, and everything that it stands for,
I go back out
I walk to the cliffs, the coast, the rivers,
I follow the trails in search of wild food, the birds & bees, peace and the prosperity, reflection and study…
Study what?
The true nature of my mind!

I also have been reading short stories from some of the greats. Both Russian and American literature.
The Russian stuff is a bit depressing, usually ending with a strangling or drowning. I enjoy the Russian style.
They are tough and dry, like smoked bear meat; gamey.
I am hoping to pick up some good habits from those who did it best.
And when I get sick of even that,
I grab a crazy novel about beets & perfume…
yeah… something like that.

I have about $160 invested into tobacco, I carry it out to the valley and sell pouches of American Spirit rolling style for $20 per (I get em for $12.50 each from a bulk supply store). Since there are loads of tourists coming and going, this proves to be decent source of supplementary income. I mainly use the extra money to buy things like spirulina, nutritional yeast, blackstrap molasses, and tea. Since my diet is lacking in meat, my body goes deficient in several vitamins so I’ve learned how to supplement through foods, mainly nutritional yeast.

There are at any time between 20-50 other residents of Kalalau Valley, so I have community and friends if I need them. We collaborate on meals, mostly.
Some of them fish, some of them hunt, some of them garden, some of them haul loads of food (by kayak, by boat, by backpack), some of them grow ganja, some of them make booze (wine for now- pressure cooker and distillation coming soon).

Most of us do something and everyone helps out.
But… there are a few holes in the community bucket. The “drainbows”, as they are called, live almost exclusively off of others. Most folks kick them out of their camps. They mostly live on the beach and mooch off the tourists.
I’ll never turn anyone down, especially someone in need. But it only takes 4-8 hours to hike out, so I prefer to give them enough food so they have energy to prompty fuck off and go live somewhere they can handle themselves.
Some people aren’t cut out for this stuff.

With a few sets of cast iron cooking pans (dutch ovens and things like that) we have been making lots of pizza and bread. Flour is a valuable resource, I am learning.
A few nights ago, we made a banana bread with fresh bananas from the valley. I’ve been learning how to make bread with chia and flax as an egg substitute.
As you well know, dutch oven-style is a form of cooking that requires a certain intuitive understanding of fire and heat, something I have been developing from cooking on the coals so much.

Last month was coffee month, the tail end of the first season harvest.
I was able to gather a few handfuls of beans, peeled and then roasted on a cast iron skillet with coconut oil into a nice medium-dark blend. Stone ground, usually. Hawaiian style.
I had to scale some cliff walls to reach the beans (everybody else had gotten the easy-to-reach “cherries”).
I followed a goat trail along a riverbank, probably 40 feet from the water. I dangled from branches and trunks to grab a couple cherries every tree. It took nearly an hour for a full pot worth of beans.

I spend most of my time hiking and exploring goat trails in the cliffs. I enjoy climbing and scrambling to the tops of ridges to see different perspectives of where I live. I tread with bare feet everywhere I go in the valley. It’s a reckless calling, but if keeps my in a constant walking meditation. It helps my mind as well as my balance. There are times where I go off-trail and crawl through the bramble and brush of thorns, cutting my legs and toes, ripping shreds of hair out of my head, but it’s okay because sometimes, I get to eat berries. Berries for blood, that’s the trade. It’s rather fair, if you ask me. The views are ecstasy-inducing. It is absolutely worth the unnecessary suffering.

I don’t worry too much for food; I hike into town every couple of weeks to grab more.
My body is in good shape from all the hauling.
Big logs and a saw means lots of firewood; this is also great exercise. I will often keep the same fire alive for weeks on end. Sometimes I accidentally blow up rocks, which has gotten my camp the nickname of “Danger Camp”.
You have to watch your feet for hot coals when stepping near the fire pit… it is often over flowing. I like it that way.

For the next couple of weeks, during the ranger raids and the island-wide locals-only goat hunt, I will stay near town, and perhaps go on an adventure in Waimea Canyon with some friends. There is a volunteer trail-worker situation in Koke’e, near the wettest spot on Earth where EVERYTHING grows and flourishes. They give you a cabin to live in, with a 2-month commitment. I’m going to talk to them and see if it’s something I might be interested in. I would get to learn a lot about the interior of where I live and how to maintain the area. And, if they like me, I’ll get offered a longer term paying position working for the state. I might as well see if I can make use of my clean criminal background. I could become a state worker, and maybe a ranger someday. I’m not sure if that is the life for me, but I’ll try anything twice.

The search continues… the search for old & great things like freedom, liberty, prosperity…
I won’t give up, that’s for sure.

Well, that should be a solid update for you and Hil and anyone else that wants to know what I’ve been up to.

I’m living like a mad hatter, drinking strange tea and rolling funny cigarettes in the jungles and woods.
Kayak season starts soon. I have some friends willing to show me the ropes, so I may put my pack down and give my back a rest to pick up the paddle. I could use some upper-body strengthening.
The open ocean is calling me. Surf’s up!

I love you all very much!
I hope you are finding peace and contentment as it becomes available to you.
I leave you with some wise words I received not too long ago,

“You are always receiving Divine Love whether you ‘tune in’ or not.”

Sincerely with love,

Categories: Kaua'i Journals | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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