We drove 300 miles across Idaho & didn’t see a single potato.

This post is co-written by momma Keyne Stanford

There I was on the back of some ATV at the mercy of the 13-yr-old driving. From my vantage point, clutching the rear support, I can clearly see the warning label that states this vehicle is never suitable for more than one person, no one under 16 should operate & the driver should always wear a helmet. We’re zero for three on the rules & clocking 37 mph. I’m thinking about ditching my iPod so I can use my left hand for proper support, but after five years of precious music compiling, it seems worth the risk.

From another vantage point we probably look pretty funny. ATVs are pretty huge & James is a skinny youngster. Imagine Barbie jammed into the front of Ken’s Jeep. Then there’s me on the back, naturally as uncoordinated as they come, barely holding on as the hillbilly teen from hell tears across potholes as if some avalanche is closing in. It’s hard to tell if he’s naturally this reckless or ups it a few notches when a wide-eyed city slicker comes through.

Either way, bury me w/my iPod.

My first visit to the weirdly-shaped state of Idaho was the stay w/the Meyer family in Kooskia. W/me in tow is none other than Keyne “Big Momma” Stanford, who I scooped up in Spokane, WA & together we made our few-hour trek into the countryside Idaho. 101_0687The Meyer family is made up of 8 kids, w/a 15 yr age span – just like my mom – who is one of eight too (formerly, Mary rest her soul). Each of the kids is confident/delightful & the older ones especially took us under their wing w/farming tips & family lore. They really enjoy Keyne’s similar sibling situation & inquired how they were disciplined. Stories of spanking w/a ping-pong paddle (rumor has it that my Grandma’s name was labeled on it) or a hairbrush or whatever was close by brought smiles to my mother’s face as this old-fashioned discipline is not frowned upon in this house either.

After a quick tour of the farm, the first evening we were taken to a country potluck of about 40 people. The whole thing was a little awkward for us, as the only people we “knew” there we had met about three hours ago. My sister Claire would have just died. Ha. I forgot to ask why later, but in the main room where we gathered had about 10 queen-sized beds all lined up in a row. Maybe the house moonlighted as a orphanage? An elderly woman played the accordion & we were taught, of all thing, the Virginia Reel. We of the Stanford/Kennedy crowd all have our roots in VA:)

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101_0682The farm is hilly & careworn w/the comings & goings of such a large family. They have a few turkey tractors here, which are small, movable structures that turkeys (or chickens) live in. One would move this structure around to allow the grazing animals to feed in specific locations only, while they also spread out their manure for fertilization effects. Google it, it’s a great concept. There are also ducks, chickens, roosters (a blonde one’s personal mission – to wake us up at 5 a.m. w/a dozen consecutive cock-a-doodle-doos, the rat) & pigeons which get released daily. Marian, the eldest of the Brady Bunch kids, lets us do a little milking, then proceeds to effortlessly tenfold our five-minute effort in a matter of seconds w/her superior method. I dug the goat milk but I could tell Keyne was holding out for her cow stuff back in the city.

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Keyne mostly helped Elizabeth (the mom) in her huge garden – weeding, planting, watering & harvesting. What a treat just to pick & eat tender raspberries. The ladies picked all the kale to clear it for a new crop and mum juiced the leaves. We would shake the wild plum tree – plums the size of cherry tomatoes – gather the little guys, juice them & make jelly. They had hundreds of cans in the back room, mostly jellies & such.

We fit into our gender-specific roles pretty well here. Again, Keyne in the garden/kitchen & me outside w/the dad (Jim) on some carpentry gig. The men (besides me, who is probably not considered 100% A MAN out here) are never ever seen in the kitchen & the women never work w/tools or build anything. Jim is the patriarch of the family & his word is law in a way you have never seen.101_0665 The kids wait on him bringing him water/food & whatever else he asks for. There is never a please, a thank you & he never needs to repeat himself. His opinions are those the entire family restates. He carries a handgun at all times & is very outspoken about his faith/politics. One weekend the whole family gets stomach flu, one by one; Keyne & I eventually succumb. The day Jim gets it, the whole farm shuts down & the coveted videos entertain the kids who otherwise never watch TV. They just LOVE The Beverly Hillbillies, which I think is pretty dated, but I gathered the mom likes those old-fashioned views for her kids. They ate it up, even though they had seen every one what seemed like a number of times.

This raccoon, otherwise minding it's own business, was shot and killed late Saturday evening. There are no current leads on the murder.

This raccoon, otherwise minding it’s own business, was shot & killed late Saturday evening. There are no current leads to the murder.

000_0029The youngest kids are extra fun. Hally, the one-year-old, pictured to the left, is quite active for someone that young. I didn’t think much of it, but my mom seemed nothing short of amazed that someone so young had the run of the entire farm to herself, toddling out to the garden or sauna to find her parents. How different her experiences & motor skills must be compared to a toddler growing up in an apartment. The three-year-old Amanah, we noticed had super-short bangs & we kind of knew why (she cut her own hair) but didn’t want to ask as fashion doesn’t seem important way out here. The five & seven-year-old boys (Barack & Talon, great names) we almost never see as they fish all day in the pond up the road. What a life.

We grow very fond of the 10-year-old Margaret, who tells long (but cute) stories punctuated w/ “and guess what happens next?” & won’t move on until you’ve guessed at least three times, though that’s usually a rhetorical question. She & I moved wood one morning and I was right below my capacity for the lifting & noticed she was having a hard time too. Apparently I am only a little stronger than this ten-year-old girl. I’d also like to note here I beat every older child in arm wrestling, albeit mostly girls. I’ll take it. 









Marian, the oldest -far right in the picture above- hopes to become either a chef or a midwife (indeed she’s attended the births of the younger siblings & knows all the birthing language) someday unless she “gets married early” she says. My mother noted it’s hard not to think such a bright, attractive, mature young lady could have a brilliant career. Whatever those kids do, they just need to leave Kooskia & Idaho for a few years. They have great parents no doubt, but only a small selection of view points survive on that farm.

101_0669We probably didn’t work as hard as we could have w/the flu cropping up all week, though everyone had it at some point so they were understanding when we did. In fact, Keyne got a cake but was so sick on her birthday (happy 57th Keyne!) that we only got a quick pic w/the cake before rushing off to the airport. We did appreciate the way the whole family embraced us city slickers & hope in turn we were able to somehow bring in the outside world to such a hardworking clan.

Plus, Keyne didn’t flee East via Greyhound day two on the farm, which means brother Bret owes me $20 cash:)

Blades Homestead

So the last post I mentioned it was going to be short due to the shortest gig thus far. Then it ended up being the longest post. Things like that happen to me a lot. This stay was mini compared to the rest though. Not even a full week. And as expected, it didn’t lack excitement in the least.

101_0641My next set of BFFs was the kindly folks of the Blades Homestead, aka Adria, Josh and the handsome twin-baby superstars of Arlen and Ewan. These are friends of the post-before-last Hunter Homestead. Those past hosts took me on a choice beach trip to the Pacific and these new hosts were their friends who met us there. I brought up I was interested in coming to stay, since I knew they were interested in hosting and the rest fell into place:) Their property hosts a huge garden and I had the privilege of occupying a tent overnight in the thick of it all. Slept like a baby.

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Adria is a photographer and Josh runs a landscaping business around Victoria. There was a framed picture I noticed of a radiant/pregnant Kirsten Hunter hung up at the Hunter Homestead and I found out that Adria took the picture. I like things like that. Full circle stuff…it makes the world go ’round, no?.

Josh runs what seems like to me a dream job. He works outside everyday (check), is his own boss (check check) and gets to exercise some creativity while helping the world grow (fat check). He has two employees and I had the pleasure of working w/one of them for an afternoon. Josh is really easy/fun to be around, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise that his employee was too. Sebastian and I were joking around w/each right away and shared a lot of similar experiences in college (Canadians only use the word college to talk about what we think of as a technical college. They say say “university” when we say college) and life thereafter. Paralleled vices/virtues.

My work here was around-the-house/garden help. The real noteworthy project was the tire-made stairs we spent about two days completing. I had the only hand in day one, using the coveted b-day Ipod mix to push me thru 7 hours of in-the-sun labour. I did this on my own volition of course, sometime you just get into projects and have to finish it! Day two was led by Josh, who had great ideas to add tiers up the sides of the hill, thus flattening portions of land so he could put in some plants. It looked pretty slick I must say.

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flowers8528Thanks to Adria for contributing some of her work of the Blades’ garden. Photo credit to the left. Check out her work sometime.

Now I am in Seattle w/the great Cameron Hypes until Monday, when I will pick up momma Keyne in Spokane, WA, and head to Kooskia, ID, for a week of farm fun. This will be her first time to the West and her…57th b-day is this Saturday:) Can you believe I talked her into coming way out here? The Stanford-family adventure starts tomorrow!

I miss all my friends in Texas, Florida, New York, Colorado and elsewhere further.

More to come!

Prancing Horse B&B

This one is going to be short, because my stay was really short. From Wednesday to a Monday. The shortest gig yet. I found someone on HelpX, they called me back to say their place was full but gave me the # to Al, who owns the Prancing Horse B&B in Malahat, BC. 101_0631Turned out Al & Co are on HelpX too, so the whole deal was pretty serendipitous. Also, maybe you think the Prancing Horse is kind of a lame name, like I did at first, but apparently it’s a Ferrari reference, which re-cements it’s kewl factor, no?

This is place is right out of movie. Or even a dream. Or MAYBE a movie within a dream?!?! That seems more ethereal. It sits on top of a mountain, due south the Pacific Ocean dips between two more mountains/huge hills/whatever into a river form below with the white-tipped Cascades Mt chain keeping guard over it all way in the distance. Even though it doesn’t seem like good business practice to me, the HelpXer are allowed to stay in the suites when the room is available, as opposed to the room above the barn. I got to stay in Suite One only on my first and DANG I didn’t get any pictures of the one. Someday, when my peak salary hits, we can then multiply that number by ten, and then maybe, maybe, I could afford to stay in this room. Classy joint. 101_0601101_0633











101_0600Also w/me HelpXing was a really cool Aussie duo, Kym and Luke. Because the joint got pretty busy, we all relocated to the room above the barn and got pretty close working together all week. And these guys had really good work ethic. We all know us Americans can be a little on the lazy side so I had to be in top form. It was mostly Luke and I working together fixing up the HelpX room in the barn throughout the week, as Kym helped out cleaning rooms in the B&B. Way to break down those gender stereotypes Prancing Horse.

Luke and I worked pretty hard all week. We used long iron pikes to break up stone to widen a mouth of the newly-installed septic tank outside the barn. I felt like Paul Newman from Cool Hand Luke. We also completely flipped the HelpX room above the barn, painting every painstaking inch and getting all the mechanics working around the room. We joked for days we wished we had gotten some before-and-after pics of our work. This room was a God-forsaken shed when we showed up, now it’s a hillbilly-approved God-forsaken room. 101_0629 101_0630 Any lady would be lucky:)




Al is one of those country dudes who has (or had) some serious money at some point and his life and loves to collect [junk], and you can see a great view of that into what we put in the room. He had well over 100 beer light advertisements that went up in bars back yonder and we preceded to cover the walls in them. Just…fantastic. Al also owns a classy amarillo (spanish anyone?) Ferrari sleeping in one of the garages. I like to see he’s committed to the name of his B&B.

Even though we got worked pretty hard at this gig, the food was great, we ate together for lunch and dinner, which was a first among my travels and everyone there had a “pretty bitchin’ sense of humor”, as they say.

LOOK at this nothing-short-of-legendary VHS collection

LOOK at this nothing-short-of-legendary VHS collection

They brewed their own Prancing Horse Pilsner (which was branded to match the company but wasn’t ever given to customers, which I found confusing) that were passed out with dinner. We would all talk about the problems in our home countries and laugh about the different ways we said and experienced the same words. The Aussies share all kinds of slang with New Zealanders (Kiwis) and Canadians, all because of the British. You can see it in the currency, the flags and (kind of, but not really) the governing bodies of these countries/continents/MASSIVE land masses. Australia is bigger, but go look at Canada on a map. It’s much bigger than you think it is.

101_0605We had one afternoon off (which I kind of had to fight for) to go out and have some fun. The Aussies had been there for almost three weeks so had seen this and that, but I wanted to get to a bit of the area. It was nothing super special -a little time on the ocean coast then a walk around the lake next to the B&B on the way home- but the three of us had a solid time. They’re really good people, the Aussies, w/o a doubt some of my favorite to have met on this trip. We laughed and teased and conspired like old friends. Hopefully I will run into them in the future sometime. I know Luke wants to travel more so perhaps I will proposition him for a planned trip abroad in the future…? All I really know right now is I want to travel more and not settle down. The in-betweens are flexible. Make some money??? Flexible.


At least the second-most awkward photo in this travel blog

And just while I’m thinking of it, 91.3 FM The Zone is a fantastic radio station broadcasted out of Victoria, BC. I heard exclusively songs I didn’t know but loved all the time. Check it out if you’re looking for new jams. No doubt they stream online.

Lastly, the farm structure underneath the hillbilly room we stayed in was pretty sweet. There were three sassy horses, two good-natured pigs and an almost-comatose cow w/her calf. That last pair was cute in a weird way I’m a little bit embarrassed to admit.

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That’s it Malahat, BC! I head back into the city of Victoria to stay w/Adria and Josh Blades, who are friends of the Hunter Homestead that I met on a choice beach trip.

More to come!

Canada Hey!

So I get across the San Juan Islands and land in Sydney, BC. Now it’s illegal to “work” in Canada w/o a work visa, which I’m not getting. But, I’m going to work for this couple so I can stay at their house and be fed. Now I can’t tell the CA custom jerks that, it’s all over the blogosphere that worldwide, you never tell customs you’re HelpXing, because that’s working and they will deny you entry. 101_0599However, when customs asked me how I knew these guys, I got flustered, and instead of just saying we met online, which I thought would seem sketchy, I made up a story that Blake (the dad) used to work at an insurance company with me. Customs got their phone# out of me (one of many, many mistakes I made w/these people) called my new hosts up, who of course knew nothing about the “insurance gig” and I was hauled back into the office being caught in lie #1. I also stubbed my toe really bad in the office.

After about an hour of questioning and pulling basically everything out of my car they ended up letting me in. I have a sheet of paper I give US customs on my way out saying I left, and if that doesn’t happen (as in if I stay past 30 days) a warrant goes out for arrest. Yay Canada.

ANYWAY, I got into the country and made my way the to Hunter Homestead. My fist hosts for Canada have the last name of Hunter! How could this NOT work out? It’s like we’re related or something. 101_0545They are maybe a few years older than I, Blake and Kirsten, but she goes by the Putu as a nod to her First Nations roots. We say Native Americans, they say First Nations, now you know.

I’ve been on a great streak for hosts and they were no exception. Right off the bat we were laughing and teasing each other and all other jazz old friends do. Blake runs his own business selling help seeds and oils (which is produced off of his family farm in Saskatchewan) and Putu works for BC dealing in human trafficking issues.

This was my first “in the city” gig. The last one in Bellingham was outside of the city proper and still very much has a country vibe. The Hunter Homestead a little outside of Victoria proper but quite residential nonetheless. I have a bike with me and got the most use of it of any gig yet. They live next to what’s called the Galloping Goose bike trail which runs all over Vancouver Island but more importantly runs a direct trail from the Hunter Homestead into downtown running next to a road for maybe 200 yards tops. This thing intersects the city like a champ.

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This city is quite old and it shows. Canada is interesting because of the influence the UK, France and America all have on it and the resulting culture. Music was all over the place (a la ATX) and the weather was totally fabulous everyday.  Further, I read on a blog that Victoria has four women for every guy and it shows. Gorgeous women were everywhere.

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I went to something called the Bug’s Zoo while in Victoria and it was pretty slick. Even though I was a little disappointed to shell out $12 to walk into one big room,101_0561 they had some really bizarre stuff and if you followed the guide you could hold almost everything. The highlights were a stick bug that was about as long as your arm and a katydid who was about the size of a small horse. They also had a particular cockroach who has made a visit to my nightmares every night since. He was huge and he hissed and it was horrible. The thing would quiver as it hissed and I’m almost certain it was silently chanting my name. I’m going to change the subject..

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101_0581So mostly for the week I hung out with the Hunter Homestead crowd, biked downtown and did begrudgingly kept up with my insurance work. At first I was totally bummed that these hosts didn’t have internet, but that made me go different locations to get my work done and the work was much easier. Turns out I waste tons of time on soul-sucking sites such as Facebook and TheChive when I’m sitting around with nothing to do. Instead, while at home, with no internet, I practiced guitar like never before and read a bunch. Just started Fools Die by Mario Puzo, the guy who wrote The Godfather book. Good stuff people. To the left is Asher, the Hunter’s SUPER CUTE son. We bonded like WHOA and I’m positive I had a pivotal influence on his life. If we never speak again, I fully expect to be credited in his Best Picture speech.

The baby looks uncomfortable for reasons completely unrelated to me holding him. He told me.

The baby looks uncomfortable for reasons completely unrelated to me holding him. He told me.

Thanks again to the Hunter Homestead for hosting a fellow Hunter. Favorite HelpX so far! From here I head to the Prancing Horse B&B in Malahat, BC.

More to come!

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