Sunshine Coast

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Tuesday, May 1, 2007 - Tuesday, June 12, 2007

June 12-18, 2007
Otesha Dharma

The Otesha-ites awoke to the smell of scones wafting, undulating, circulating and tantalizing their taste buds.  Some slept, some masticated lazily, some did nothing at all.  An enlightened few pedaled out to the Comox Valley Wetlands Restoration to broaden their minds with talk of shrubs, trees and invasive species.  There they met Alison, a young woman in her twenties, who had turned her back on the mighty forestry industry to embrace a world of research, weeds and puttering around in shallow swampy water.  A community garden awaited them where they found kind folks, more weeds and a performance amidst the bees.  One woman had tears rolling down their face for the act of letting it mellow struck a chord deep within her soul.  A performance at the Comox Recreational Center with complimentary bike repair courtesy of Simon’s Cycles and a slightly disheveled young man with black hair that hung dramatically over one eye, tight jeans and a lanky slouch, that some Otesha-ites described as EMO.  Illness had infiltrated the group and had permeated every corner of Dave and Maxine’s basement, but a ceremony of Hope patches and warm fuzzies from the homeland raised spirits and warded off bad moods.  Their daily ritual of Roses and Thorns was a brief one and then the Otesha-ites retired to their mats on the floor. 

They awoke the next morning disheveled, disgruntled and disorganized.  Eventually they trickled into the Courtenay Farmer’s Market.  Many were distracted by the various baked goods on sale, most specifically Mom’s Awesome Muffins.  A little impromptu theater was performed by the Otesha-ites and was observed by young women and their babies and young children.  Many of the women had buns delicately roasting in the oven, all of them in search of a throw back to Hippie Dharma.  Many of the female Otesha-ites swooned over the possibility or inevitability of having their own little bundles of joy one day.  Reproduction had been a popular topic amongst the group; a debate over sustainability, over-population and replacement fertility rates had occurred the night prior with some arguing that it is unsustainable to have babies while children are starving and dying in other countries; other countries are over-populated; the resources it takes to raise one North American child are equivalent to the resources it takes to raise 30 people in Bangladesh.  But then there were the clock-tickers arguing that it would be a great loss indeed if they could not produce a fruit from their own loins.  While some sat silently on the couch unsure of their position on the issues and untouched by a man in a little under two months.  They scattered for a bit of personal reflection and met up again at the Comox Pentecostal Church where they were welcomed with a pot of steaming veggie chili.  Also served that night were such contraband foodstuffs as cheese, sour cream and the illicit avocados.  Back at headquarters they reveled in the genius of that night’s performance while indulging in pie and feeling all warm and fuzzy with memories of the new friends they had met. 

The Otesha-ites sang a tearful good-bye to their dear hosts Dave & Maxiiiiiiiine and set off on the road to continue their nomadic lifestyle as Otesha-ites are want to do.  The journey from Courtenay to Coombs was littered with pink feathers, llamas (the animal with the most limited scope pf the world), and intense and intricate game of Patticake Bakers Slam on the beach.  Upon discovery of the Goats on the Roof Café the Otesha-ites sat in for the long haul.  Dollars were spent, bellies were full, sugar highs ran rampant.  One Otesha-ite past out back at the campground cuddled up close to a gender-neutral watermelon whilst a never-ending debate over soymilk continued long into the night.  Some swam, some soaked in tepid water before retiring for the night and others still cocked right out. 

They past the next morning at the Goats on the Roof Café where they indulged in baked goods (a common occurrence in the group).  One member feeling the calling of the real world was swallowed back up into it, leaving a cloud of sadness and contemplation looming over the group, distracting them from their full bellies.  Every Otesha-ite echoed the sentiment “We’ll miss you Leah,” as they bestowed upon her a beautifully crafted token of their affection.  The afternoon was a free for all with some opting to dip their gnarly feet into the frigid waters of the Pacific Northwest.  At the end of a long hard day of eating, they ate and then went to bed.

The pitter-patter of rain awoke the Otesha-ites and they emerged from their tents with shattered dreams of 800-year-old trees and Cathedral Grove.  Clouds dissipated in the mid afternoon and hope was renewed.  They found Cathedral Grove inspirational, beautiful and inspiring.  They returned to the campground and to those who had fallen ill.  They met, ate and slept.

They left Coombs and headed to Parksville where they congregated under a gazebo.  Some ate, some napped, some knitted like grannies.  Others still flocked to the beach.  Despite the smack talk, the Super Seaweeds conquered the Wasabi Warriors one bazillion to one in a heated match of ultimate Frisbee.  At the homestead the spirit of competition prevailed as members molded, sculpted and shaped dough into flavorful loaves of wonder under the guise of the Charlonator.  In a rare display of normality dinner was served at a table.  Their hostess, an aspiring minister of the United church, gave them leave to frequent the church’s library at their leisure.  This invitation was greatly appreciated by the knowledge-hungry Otesha-ites.  Pie was served, pianos played and they slept like babies in the warm and welcoming space.

Energy levels were low upon awakening and facilitators’ frustrations rose like the stink of patchouli on a sweat-glazed Hippie in Bombay.  Nevertheless the Otesha-ites stumbled onto the grassy patch in the parking lot where they contorted limb over limb in a session of early morning yoga.  A rehearsal followed where they fast-forwarded, rewound, paused, pirated and pornoed at the mercy of an invisible remote control.  Then they traveled, bitching and moaning, retracing their steps to where they had been the night before and further still to the Morning Glory Waldorf School.  Their lack of energy inspired a lack luster response except for one heckler age 6, who inquired incessantly where he could purchase a derriere.  Spirits lightened in the afternoon when the Otesha-ites dabbled in dreams of utopias and dreams of the world they wished to see.  Dinner was very secretive, with the group being barred from the kitchen for hours.  They went half mad without their PB&J’s, but they somehow they made it through.  At dinnertime, the group was separated into three classes and chaos ensued. Peppers were stolen and hidden behind bushes, fences were jumped, and a heated discussion over lessons learned followed this game. The group went to bed in tumult, while visions of sugarplums (and pie) danced in their heads.

 

 

 

 

 

May 29-June 4, 2007

The sun rose on May 29 upon the 20 spirited campers of Quatse River campground in Port Hardy, but when the sun set that day, only 19 remained. The numerous bear sightsings on the highway during the ride to Port McNeil were not the cause of the missing Oteshite, but a dear grandmother that had passed away during the night. Our dear purple footed wombat (Natalie), left for home right away, with a promise (she kept) of soon coming back . A fond farewell was arranged with a song that together we sang.


Our already dampered spirits were dealt another blow with the news that our trusty coleman camping stove would also be taking a temporary leave of absence due to technical difficulties. As a result we were left with only PB&J for dinner, instead of a warm meal to fill our tummies when we arrived in Port McNeil. The food quality continued to decline until we discovered the joys of cooking over open campfire flame.

On the morning of the 30th we biked up a big hill to North Island Secondary School to give our first performance after completely switching our roles in the play just days before. It was challenging in many ways, but we exceeded our performance expectatations. The play was followed by a series of workshops with the students, but in the pool next door there was also some serious learning going on. Our fellow Oteshite Antonio learned to front crawl to the beat of early 90s pop.



The morning of the 31st began with climbing that same big hill in Port McNeil to do a presentation and workshops with Sunset Elementary School.Toot-toot to Ashley for powering up that massive incline in her largest front chainring. (PS...thats h-core!) The kids at the school really made us feel like stars by asking for our autographs right up until we rode away back to camp.

First day of June! 
Rabbit! Rabbit! Rabbit! HUH?! Another day another performance. This time we took a ferry to Malcolm Island and did our play to a small crowd of elementary school students on Sointula. There were all sorts of crazy things going on afterwards like eagles stealing ducks, extreme high-jumping, piggy-backed soccer playing, and hanging out with mini horses and a lama with limited knowledge of the world. During our cursory tour of Sointula, some Oteshites spotted some prime purple real estate which has potential for being turned into a second Marvelous Manor of Mayhem, while others conversed with locals like Joyce at Choyces. The day ended with our first rounds of Mafia around the campfire and our lives were never the same again.

June 2, 2007
After 3 days of doing performances our bikes and muscles longed for sweet rhythmic road action. Our next 3 days woud be spent biking back through locales we had stopped at on our way north on Vancouver Island, and luckily we were given sunny skies to start. Onward to Woss! Not all of us were quite so lucky though. Rozzy fell in a deep prickly ditch, Mike  sat in his own pee, bike problems were aplenty, and many of us were feeling the effects of the exceptionally warm weather. On the brighter side, some free smoked salmon was acquired soon after arriving at our destination, and the supersquad of the evening carved us up a fine tofurkey that looked as good as it tasted.

June 3, 2007
Leaving the comfortable confines of the house we were staying at in Woss was not difficult because we knew the spacious community centre (avec sauna) in Sayward would be waiting for us once again. Only 80km and a couple of big hills separated us. The Charlenator once again buoyed our spirits with some bread-making magic, and the scrabble board was taken advantage of and was operating at full capacity whenever there was free time.

June 4, 2007
We awoke to dark, cloudy skies and a sprinkling of rain which was forboding for our 90km bike ride ahead but undeterred we performed for the Sayward Elementary School and promptly began our ride toward Quadra Island. The Cafe at Roberts Lake with the perfect midway break spot with cookies the size of your head, and with a great view to boot.The last leg of the journey was a ferry ride to Quadra Island, and a short ride to te camp, where we sddenly became 20 again!

Elissa's co-pilot Matthew Carroll, was welcomed by shirtless male Oteshers into the fold. And it only got better as bananas were found, dumpster dove gems that were not even brown. And brown was the ice cream that was bought in great mass, is was so chocolately good, it went pretty damn fast. And the night went on further as beer was then drunk, and good times were had as we laid down the funk!

 

 

May 22-28, 2007

Hi, it’s Gillian and Mike here (with a few others interspersed), reminiscing about what the Sunshine Coasters were up to the week of May 22- May 29.  Well, to start out…

M - Hey, wait, why don’t we do something a little different for this one, Gillian?  I mean, maybe a day in the life of an Otesher, instead of just a play by play of what we were up to.  Or maybe we can just mention a few of the highlights?

G - That’s a good idea.  But there are a lot of things about that week that really deserve mention.  Like Woss!

M – I mean, Woss was pretty special.

Jenna – Yay woss!  It was one of my favorite places.

Kerri – They put us up in that little school teacher’s house and it made us feel just like a family.

G – Yeah, and that was the perfect start to the whole time in Woss.  It’s such a small town and we just were welcomed like family by everyone we met.  I love the way everyone just lets their dogs wander around the town because everyone in town knows whose dog it is. 

Robin - Remember the dog that peed on the rice?

M – hehe.  That field behind the school was great.  Charlotte and I did yoga there for about an hour as the sun was setting behind the mountain.  And then there were the kids.

G – yeah, the kids were awesome.  It’s too bad there were only 14 of them.  (interesting fact: this is down from 300 students that were there when the logging operation there was in full swing)  But they all recycled and they had gardens and they thought the Otesha group were a bunch of human jungle gyms that rode into town just for them.  Which is mostly true. 

M – and we had that really great workshop where Robin came in with the guitar and we sang the solar powered blues song* and we made the map of Woss with them and figured out where all their garbage goes.

G – and remember when we went down to the creek with everyone and the two boys jumped in and we all went wading?!

M – actually, I wasn’t there for that.  But you should still write that.

G – Okay.

M – you know what I liked?  When we were riding out of town and the kids were inside the school still singing the solar power song* as we left, and it was really sad, but really cool.

G – nice.  Is there anything else we want to say about Woss? 

M – yeah, those kids were nutty little monkeys.  You know? Little nut monkeys.

G – that pretty much sums it up.

M – okay, so then we rode to Port Mc Neill.

G – oh, the catcalling capital of Canada. 

M – really?

G – I mean, I haven’t been that many places in Canada, but I’m pretty sure it takes the cake.  Maybe it was because we were so hot racing down that huge hill on the way into town. 

M – Maybe.  In Port Mc Neill we were really afraid of cougars.

G – I forgot about the cougars.  But we had the dog that hung out at our campsite.

M – Right.  Tess.  Tess protected us.  She was a great dog.

G – Oh, and that little girl Lindsay that lived at the campsite and gave me a flower after we performed at her school in the morning.  That was a great place. 

Robin – Did you guys talk about the logging tour?

M – Oh, man, we forgot the logging tour.  We’re not being very thorough.  But so much happens in a week.

G – Right.  The logging tour.  We saw the seedy underbelly of Western Forestry Products.  And met some really nice guys who were professional foresters and were really nice to put up with our barrage of questions about trees and permits and native reservations and sustainability and old growth and geology and cedar stands and, and… phew!  We had a lot of questions.  But it was really interesting.  Also, Port Mc Neil is the home of the world’s largest burl.  Which is like a tree tumour.  The thing is huge.

M - Oh, and don’t forget Hermit Bob.  He was turning 75 years old and he had a little machine that kept his heart going so he said he didn’t know if he’d make it to 76.  He gave us $40 and told us to go buy ourselves a nice meal.

G – Do you think it’s because you looked homeless?

M – Well, Gillian, that’s a sensitive issue.  But yes.  We bought pie with the $40 and ate it as we celebrated all the birthdays that happened that week.  Who had birthdays?  It was John, Becca, and Jadis.  Isn’t it something, three birthdays in one week on our little Otesha tour?

G – Oh, yes, that was a sweets-filled time.  That reminds me of the infamous bread-rationing discussion in Woss.

M – Oh, right.  How many hours did that take? 

G – I don’t know, but I know it ended with a bread frenzy when we descended on Charlotte’s fresh-baked bread after all talking about limiting our bread consumption.  I guess you can’t get in the way of some things.

M – True.  Alright, let’s talk about Port Hardy. 

G – Port Hardy was exciting because it was the halfway point of the tour.  It felt like we’d hit the top of the island and the rest would all be downhill.  It felt like a huge town because it had more than one café.  And the landscape changed as we rode up there, some people said it looked a lot like Northern Ontario with the trees so small. 

M – There were so many bears up there.  Including the dead bear that got hit by a car.  Oh, but what a campsite!  Would you say that it was a magical  campground?

G - Yeah, The trees were huge and mossy and beautiful there. And we hung out for a couple days and performed a bit and worked on the two new scenes, coffee and transportation. Transportation’s probably our best scene. 

M – So, you done reminiscing now?

G – Yeah, it’s time for bed.

M – True.  Goodnight, folks.

*The solar power blues song involves audience participation (the audience’s lines are in parenthesis.)  Ready everyone? Pick two ways you can get around without using gas.  (Run!) yeah, run, great!  (Bike) Biking, of course!  Ready, let’s all sing!

Some people run (run)

Some people bike (bike)

Some people bike (run) Run (bike)

All over the island, rollin’ on,  solar power that’s the way

The planet may be dirty now but it’s getting cleaner every day

Now let’s pick two more verbs and sing it again!

May 8-15, 2007

On May 8th, with joy and enthusiasm, we left our friends from the Rocky Tour and the good people at UBC farms and set off for Gibsons.  Le debut d'une grande aventure! In high spirits, we arrived at our destination, the welcoming gazebo-ed City Park in Gibsons, where we set up our tent community. We performed for a group of elementary school kids who were spending a week at the outdoor school Sea to Sky, learning about sustainability and environmental issues.  We were all getting more an more comfortable with our roles and in such an inspiring environment, we had oh so much fun with the play and with the kids. Sitting around the campfire with the bunch, we learned rockin' sing-alongs (we've been singing "just me and my bike" ever since! and a few of those songs have been integrated into the workshops we've been doing for younger elementary school crowds -- thank you for these inspirational tools!)

After the Gibsons fun, our happy troupe was off to Sechelt. Beautiful uphills that we're all starting to appreciate, amazing ocean views, smiling faces and sunny sunny days : we are well! Here we stayed at Chatelech Secondary School, where we danced and frisbeed our feet and hearts away, were blessed with super squad feasts, and stayed in our very first gymnasium (some in a wrestling room perfect for late night steam rolling!). Sechelt adventures include Larry and Terry Tea House tea parties, magical oatmeal and tea donations, and zen rock walking. Quel plaisir ce petit village !

Then came our stop at Saltery Bay, which, had it not been for the bugs at the campground, I'm sure we would have adored. Here fun times were had fashioning bright and random headscarves with anything from panier covers to sarongs, jackets to skirts to help us cope with les pauvres bibittes. We scouted out rocks with an ocean view along Mermaid Trail, where the bravest among us swam in the ocean. We laughed, we shared stories, we rested, we ranted. We had our last supper and a lovely teary closing circle with Michelle. (You are missed and remembered fondly, ma belle !!).

We were then off for Powell River, where we got to stay at the Otago Rugby Football Club - our very own little house, it seemed! Our happy traveling commune had beautiful moments here, c'est sur. We performed for the students at Brooks Secondary School in their beautiful theater (we felt like real actors!) We were even introduced by some students who put on an amazing skit! It was quite inspiring for us to see youth who care as much as we do about these issues. These amazing students from the B.O.A.T.T. program joined us for an exquisite vegetarian barbecue and invited us on a nature hike, telling us all about the park near their school--its history, its trees-- as well as sharing with us stories about their transitioning town--an ecovillage to be. We all took in the local scene at Local Loco, happy hippy hangout with excellent espresso, a joyful vibe, and beautiful local artwork. And we then set off for Campbell River: happy, hopeful and strong.

Peace. Radiance. Light.

 

May 1-8, 2007: Terrific Tales from Training Week!

We arrived in Vancouver, westbound with our bikes,

Excited and smiling like wee little tykes!

UBC Farms would be our home for the week,

Though the scenery beautiful, shelter from the rain we did seek!

 

 

Jess and Michelle, Otesha's pillars of passion,

Made us into hopeful hooligans in a sparkly fashion!

With them came the tour leaders, the hybrid drivers too

And the volunteer cooks, who made mighty fine stew!

 

 

The week began with games and much fun,

As we created community and became one.

Rocky and Sunshine grew stronger each day

But we looked to O-lumni* to show us the way!

 

 

The magnificent mechanic, bike guru Omar,

Taught us of chains, gears, and brakes, that would help us pedal afar

In the depths of Vancouver, Jeannie we did meet,

We danced with her BC-clette sistahs**, got down groovy in the street!

 

 

O-lumni came from across the land,

To teach us a play and lend a helping hand.

Inspired by this spirit of generosity,

 

We went to show thanks for the farm's hospitality.

 

We worked to give back to the farm what we took,

Picking rocks, taming thistle, and moving a large metal hook.

 

 

Although we worked hard, we were not underfed,

Especially when it came to the matter of bread***.

As we broke bread together, our bellies, they grew,

Not to mention the line for the loo!

 

 

As the week came to a close, and we gathered once more,

We talked of the things that we wished and hoped for.

Wearing our t-shirts, we're now part of Otesha's team,

Forty more reasons to believe in this dream!

 

 

*O-lumni is the term for the fantabulous individuals who are Otesha Bike Tour alumni.

**The BC-clettes are a wicked sweet group of women who create dances with and about bikes.

***Thank you to Terra Breads for donating the never-ending and always marvelous supply of bread.