Did China give us all the greatest gift?

Here we are, on week whatever it is, in an upside-down world. Facebook warriors, long held in the trenches of tired arguments are suddenly thrust into the position of becoming communicative disease specialists. Doctors and nurses are the new heroes, along with supermarket workers and truck drivers. Stock indices are diving, and people are becoming self sufficient in new, innovative ways. Executives and reporters are working from home swarmed by children and barking dogs.

When the virus began to take hold, I remember thinking about how we may finally have the common enemy we have needed as of late. As the adage goes, “good times make weak men.” We have had too long a stretch of good times. People were growing complacent in their ignorance. Polarization was dividing us. We had no common focus to bring us again, together.

I have seen people, companies, and governments work together, bringing the best out of humanity. And that has been so refreshing. The IV drip of catastrophe experienced too long of a delay, allowing social decay to seep in. This is the dose we have been thirsting for, a dose to put things back into crisp perspective.

I think China may have given us a wonderful gift.

Of course, this is exempting the loss of life that is sweeping the World. The economic impacts of those that are suddenly without work, or school. These are certainly not gifts.

But is there a silver lining? Is there some lemonade from these lemons?

First, people are craving each other. We can’t shake hands, hug, or go for walks. Grandparents can’t hold their grandchildren. Friends can’t just meet for a beer. The simplest personal interactions are limited. And now we want what we cannot have. When this is over, I expect (at least for a short while), people to connect and not take that element of humanity for granted.

Second, this is a huge test and teacher. While this strain of Coronavirus is not as deadly as many past pandemics, we never know what is next. People have been able to wake up and realize how we need to be prepared for that next, perhaps much deadlier pandemic. Governments can test what works best, and families will hopefully learn the importance of cash savings and self-sustenance.

Parents are learning not only the true value of teachers, but how to re-engage with their kids and teach them.

Third, it has shined a light on civil liberties. Staunch anti-gun states have seen lines around the block at gun stores. Previously voted-for laws are now in question. People are trying to learn about – and interpret – where the right spot is on the spectrum between willful lockdown and civil trampling. I expect the lawsuits are stacking up like cord wood, waiting for the dust to settle. We will see some interesting case law changes come of this.

Last, people have been working together. Car companies are making ventilators. Clothing companies are making masks. Neighbors are helping the disabled and elderly. Government and private enterprise are working together. Schools are delivering meals to needy families.

To me, this is the greatest revelation of them all – that we all still have that thick bedrock of humanity that has long been buried under layers of confusion, ignorance, and deliberate polarization. While we have been played by those in power for far too long, it is so relieving to see how little is needed to bring out the best in all of us.

And for that, I’d like to say “thank you” to China, or at least to that one bat-eating nutcase.

Can you be vegan and be pro-choice?

As I look back on my own personal journey of discovery and awareness (or at least an attempt to be aware), sometimes I laugh at myself out of embarrassment. I used to be anti-gay rights. And that’s really embarrassing. Today I am a staunch supporter of gay rights. So I hope somehow, I have repaid my debts to my gay friends and fellow Americans through my activism in that space.

But I have also made a more recent change in a position I have long held – abortion. For as long as I can remember, I was pro-choice. I mean, no one has a right to tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her body, right?

Wrong. Honestly.

Who has the right?

Many pro-animal agriculture people claim that “no one has the right to tell a private business what they can and cannot do.” Sounds familiar, huh? And yet we chain ourselves to machines and gates in an effort to physically impact those factory farms and egg houses.

When pro-life people chain themselves to abortion clinics, they are labeled as “religious nut-jobs” and the mainstream media propagates this stereotype. As a vegan, I also hate being called a nut-job when fighting for what I think is right and just. We may share more in common with the pro-life crowd than we think.

I remember even being spit on when leading a demonstration for Sea Shepherd in Burlington, Vermont. I also remember flipping off a pig transport truck for hauling pigs in sweltering heat. He called me a nut-job.

So why on one hand is it OK to defend the voiceless with intervention (when it comes to animals) and yet simultaneously support a human’s ability to murder the defenseless?

Irony hits the streets

I felt a twang of irony, as I often stood at animal rights demonstrations, in an effort to “defend the voiceless.” We’d march in Anchorage against the fur and trapping industries. Fight to end aerial wolf hunting. Bear baiting.

And yet, many friends and colleagues were supportive of abortion. Which is, the exact same killing of the voiceless.

How can we, as vegans, support the voiceless when it comes to animals, yet deprive the voiceless a chance at life because it is a human? Isn’t that the definition of speciesism? Just in reverse?

Per Wikipedia:

speciesism is a form of discrimination based on species membership.[1][2] It involves treating members of one species as morally more important than members of other species even when their interests are equivalent.”

On the blog “I am Going Vegan” they also address this apparent hypocrisy. What’s interesting is that many of their points center around when a fetus feels pain. But as vegans, we know that is only part of the story when defending animals.

We hate seeing a scared animal. One that knows it’s next for the bolt gun. Or a goose about to be force fed. Or a male chick headed to the shredder. They just know. But to me, at least, the foundation of my desire to be vegan centers around one key principle:

Just leave them alone. I believe animals (and now, human fetuses) are sentient beings, and should be free to live. I don’t want to ever dictate the future life or death of a pig. Or a cow. Or a human.

Sistah Vegan also has a very interesting poll. The majority (although slim) of vegans are actually pro life.

Celebrating Life

One of my favorite moments as a vegan is during the holidays. I absolutely love eating a feast, while also knowing that NOT ONE SINGLE animal suffered so that I could enjoy that moment. And I know many fellow vegans share the same sentiment. It boosts my soul.

What is the impact to one’s soul knowing their entire life, that they chose to kill?

In Closing

I understand there are circumstances where abortion is the only option (medically necessary, incest, rape, etc). I am not addressing these examples in this opinion piece. I am talking primarily of abortion for convenience.

Just as we look to “ignorant carnivores” sometimes, and are shocked at their unwillingness to challenge themselves and inconvenience themselves for positive change, I also look to those abortion cases with the same thinking.

And let’s not forget the hypocrisy on the other side of the spectrum, too – the meat eating pro-lifers. How you can defend human life, while eating a cheeseburger is beyond me.

My First Week with the Peloton tread

I know this post is not so much about a vegan or even an offroad product. But as I continue to invest in my health, I figured most people would appreciate some information about my experience in ordering, receiving, and using one of the latest fitness technology entrants to the marketplace.


Ordering the Peleton was simple. We decided we’d put $2500 cash down, and use Affirm’s 0% financing to cover the rest of the $4295 purchase price. I was VERY surprised that I ordered the Tread on Thursday afternoon, and it was delivered Monday morning. That was absolutely amazing, especially since Peloton and other customers were posting 4+ week lead times.

The process of course was all done online and was seamless, which most of us have come to expect as e-commerce technology improves. Peloton kept me posted at every step of the way, so I knew where I was in the process, and wasn’t left wondering. Their brand, and ordering process was flawless.

The next day (Friday) I woke up to a flurry of activity on Instagram, as Peloton had announced their Black Friday deals. And of course, as my luck would have it, they were offering FREE Essentials packages with the purchase of any Tread. So I contacted customer service, and they advised that since I was within the 30 days, they would be happy to honor the offer for me. So I was going to receive two weight sets (I chose 30# and 10#), a mat, and resistance bands. GREAT customer service.

Resistance bands as part of the free Essentials promo.

I spent time over the weekend preparing the office for the Tread delivery on Monday morning.


And that, unfortunately is where this whole thing starts to fall apart.

The delivery window that XPO (their logistics partner) gave me was 9:00AM-12:00PM. They called me the night before to confirm. They also said the driver will call 30 minutes out.

Well, the driver did in fact call me. However his message was that “due to policy they need 3 people in the truck to deliver this, and their boss had only sent two. So you will need to wait another week until we can deliver.

The XPO delivery team, showed up in an Enterprise Truck rental vehicle.

I basically told him that was unacceptable. I had reserved the morning to receive the Tread, and to hear this 30 minutes out was just not going to work. So I offered to help the two guys unload the truck. They still came up from Knoxville.

The truck arrived, and as promised I helped unload the base. The guys gave me the liability talk, and I accepted responsibility if I got hurt. With some informal shrugs, we grunted and loaded the base onto a hand truck, onto the lift gate, and over to the building where my home office is.

Sad base: Scratches and rubbed off powder coat.

They opened the base packaging, and the deck plates along side the Tread were badly scratched and marked up from vibrartions and the packaging. In some spots the power coat was rubbed off pretty deep. So I had two options – refuse delivery (and wait God knows how long for a replacement), or accept delivery, document everything, and try to work it out with Peloton after the fact. I went with the latter, so I would at least be able to get running.

Even though the guys complained about their experiences delivering Treads and Bikes, and that they left the Box truck in my driveway running for 2 hours (filling my house with diesel fumes) the rest of installation was smooth. They left, and I calibrated the machine.



I contacted Peloton about the scratched up rails. Right up front, I sent them pictures I took. Once received and reviewed, the rep refunded my entire $300 delivery fee. They also sent me a “care package” of towels, and some other swag (not sure as it isn’t here yet). So again, +1 for customer service.

I am apparently in some queue now, with “Hardware” to discuss and decide next steps. Will they replace the base? I don’t know as I have not yet heard back from Peloton about the base being scratched up. I will update this post.


After calibrating, connecting to Wi-fi, and syncing my profile, the machine was ready to go. I took some time to familiarize myself with the interface. Of course the experience is elegant, and based around gobs of data. I am happy that we can delete workouts, as I wanted to test a few and get a feel for them without contaminating my own results.

I do wish Peloton had a way to “Preview” a class for 5 mins or so, and you would not need to go back and delete the data. As a new user its nice to learn about how instructors will have you adjust speed/incline, and just the overall mechanics of the courses.

Aside from the class-based content, and the data I have, my favorite feature of this device is the running surface itself. The slat design is absolutely perfect. It is easy on the knees, and the overall running experience is simply perfect in my opinion. I hated running on my old treadmill with the standard belt and what seemed like dense particle board underneath it. The Tread is light-years away as far as the road feel.

Running deck is pure magic and awesome.

So far, I have run 3 days out of 4 (Wed was my rest day). My legs and body overall feel perfect and awesome. I am very excited to have this option for my personal workouts, and plan to add a profile for my 13 year old Son, as he is training for High School football. My wife also has a profile.

That being said, I do have some feature requests that maybe Peloton can look into and add to their backlog:

  • Preview Classes: As I mentioned before, allow people to sample classes for a few minutes. No data will be “saved” to their workouts unless they decide to continue that class. **The community told me I can preview workouts!**
  • Swivel Screen: I do wish for floor exercises, that the screen would swivel to the right or left, so that it would be easier to see from the side of the Tread.
  • Scenic Runs: I love this feature! I just wish the speed and incline were better matched. Also, allow me to choose music types for these runs.
  • Allow me to hide class types. I’d like to hide riding classes, as I don’t have a bike.
  • Instructor settings: I would love to see the current tread settings for the instructor. Sometimes I miss a cue, and am not sure if they dropped the incline yet, or picked up the speed (and to what).


If you are like how I was last week, and “on the fence” about buying a Tread, I say DO IT. It has been a life changer in only 3 days, and I look forward to smashing my personal records on this thing. The deck surface is flawless, and the content is actually really fun and engaging. The data is a nice touch if you like data.

However, Peloton needs to really work on the delivery angle. I want this company to be profitable and sustainable (So I am not stuck with a $4,000 paper weight). And yet I cringe to think about all the free stuff, and discounts they had to give just me. Let alone how many bases have to be re-shipped and re-installed. That cost must be astronomical.

Welcome me to my best by having great delivery experiences, Peloton.

It is also a huge risk for the Brand they have worked so hard to build. Every contact I have made with Peloton from research, to order, to fulfillment, to Customer Service has been phenomenal. But the delivery experience was a big fat “F.” That disparity in expectations will cause damage to the Peloton brand.

I’ll update this post as the situation progresses.

Want to buy a TREAD or Peloton Bike? Use my referral code, and you will get $100 off accessories! Use code 4H9ZHA.

Restauraunt Review: Cashew (Chattanooga)

On a recent weekend, we decided to explore a new city in our newly native Tennessee. So we pointed the Land Cruiser south on highway 27, and did some reseaerch on vegan options in Chattanooga.

Cashew came up as a pretty popular spot, and the menu seemed good, so we decided on Cashew for lunch.

Parking in this area was a little challenging, but it was Fall break here, and there were lots of festivals going on. I think Chatt is suffering from the “loved-to-death” syndrome we saw Bend, Oregon suffering from (where every weekend was another festival and parking issue). But the overall area Cashew is located in was funky, and had a really awesome city park with views of the river and bridges.

Cashew sits downstairs in a half-basement, half-first floor setting. The space was very well designed – super bright, welcoming, and modern. They have a pretty awesome baked goods selection, as well as a small refrigerated wall with some grab and go items (their own ‘chicken’ salads, Louisville Jerky, craft beers, and others).

Itv was cool to see Herbivore clothing for sale in the corner.

Staff was very friendly and awesome. We didn’t notice much of a southern accent on anyone, but I think that is testament to the sheer number of people flocking to the South as a much saner place to live. Chattanooga is not immune to the influx, sadly.

Baked good included fresh made donuts, cookies, cupcakes and more.

We were all starving and brought the ARB fridge with us, so we overordered (as typical) and planned to bring home the left overs.

Mac and cheese plate for the kids.

Kids both got a hearty order of their mac and cheese, served with fruit on the side. I went with the meatball sub (served with chips), and Kristin ordered the Thai Sweet potato. We added an order of nachos to top it all off.

Thai Sweet Potato.

The mac and cheese was actually really good. It was thick, but also not as warm as I would have liked it. But the kids had no problems.

The meatball sub on the other hand was pretty lackluster. First, it wasn’t a “sub” but a few balls of fake meat on a bun. The cashew cheese sauce on top added very little in my opinion. The chips seemed like an after thought, and were a weird addition.

The sad meatball sub.

Kristin seemed to like the Thai sweet potato, with the peanut sauce and a side of broccoli cheese soup (which she raved about).

The real star of the meal? THE NACHOS. Holy wow. I am not a jackfruit fan at all. But it was prepped perfectly, and whatever sauce they use it purely magic and delish. This was possibly the best vegan nacho plate I have ever had.

Nacho heaven.

Overall, Cashew is a super awesome spot in a fast growing Southern city. We love that it will be a reliable spot for us to return to. While I will not get that “sub” again, we will for sure be back and will 100% get those nachos!

Address: 149 River St, Chattanooga, TN 37402

Gettin’ Bogged in Pickett State park [Tennessee]

One of the most exciting things about moving to an entirely new area is the wheeling! it isn’t every day you get to truly explore and discover new trails and terrains.

I recently joined my friend Tyler and his family (with a beautiful LS-powered FJ60 Land Cruiser) in Pickett State Park here in Tennessee.

After making the journey through Big South Fork and up Black House Mountain Road, we aired down in the big staging area. Our plan for the evening was to hopefully find one of the legendary Cumberland lookouts to call camp for the night.

But the State Forest roads had another plan for us.

Not too long after leaving the staging area and heading up Black House Mtn Road, we came to an amazingly severe series of washouts. The tank traps were also incredibly deep and slick. So either you attempted that, or you ended up off camber and possibly rolling on the ruts. Tyler was pulling a trailer, and even though he gave it a good effort, I ended up winching him back out of the muck.

Tyler was stuck pretty good. A winch from the back was able to get him out.

Even the bypass to our right proved too tight for the Land Cruisers.

So we called it a night and backed into an epic camping spot among the pines and the stars.

Our epic campsite. We hope to return, just without the GIANT black bear we saw.

Day two began with a hot coffee and a renewed commitment to beating this surprisingly challenging bit of track.

Maybe it was the caffeine, or the sleep, but we were finally able to make the bypass work for us, as we weaved among the pines.

The fat pigs managed to make it through the bypass.

The unmaintained trails had some pretty burly washouts to contend with. After some careful tire placement and solid spotting, we were through, even though the Land Cruisers had a new relationship with a bush.

After a nice drive through the forest to an overlook, we turned back, hoping to check out Mineral Pond as a possible camp spot for the night. But this short bit of trail proved to be some of the toughest stuff I had wheeled in since the Rubicon.

It wasn’t long until the slick Tennessee mud had us both bogged, and the winch was whining.

The problem with Tyler’s placement, was as his driver side continued to dig, he became increasingly tippy.

After a series of winches and mud bogs we were finally on the downhill to the pond itself. After, of course, yet another washed out V-Notch.

Mineral Pond was a welcome sight, with its deep blue hues. After wheeling for 2 days in Tennessee Summer heat and no A/C, everyone was ready for a therapeutic swim.

The Land Cruisers at Mineral Pond.

After filling up on lunch, cold drinks, and an amazing swim, we were back in the rigs, and facing a ledge right away.

After some careful lines, we were up and over the ledge quickly.

But the Mineral Pond trail was not yet done with us.

A steep, rutted hill lay ahead with very high sides that looked like they could swallow a semi trailer. While Tyler’s V8 and working 4WD got him right up (my CDL is having issues), I ended up winching up the slick hill.

Tyler climbing the muddy hill of doom.

That night we ended up camping back at the State Park, after a swim at the lake. Pickett State Park has amazing cabins and camping facilities.

What is the Biggest Threat to Veganism? Vegans.

I cannot imagine the struggle of 1970s vegans.  While I was not alive, I assume most food was literally veggies and fruits.  Which, looking back was amazing from a health perspective.  But socially?  Probably not so much.  You couldn’t belly up to a fast food restaurant with your friends and order an Impossible Whopper, or Beyond Meatball sub at Subway.

We have collectively, worked so hard to prove the market importance of veganism, that large, multi-national corporations are finally paying attention.

And what is the fundamentalist vegan community saying about vegan options at places like Burger King, KFC, Del Taco, and Carl’s Jr?  Are they recognizing this as a milestone in our societal march to more and more veganism?


They are whining. 

And it could disrupt all this progress.

On countless Instagram posts where companies like Beyond Meat are announcing yet another huge entrant into the vegan market, there are countless comments whining about how such a place runs in conflict with their own vegan drum-circle morality.

Just a few gems from some recent posts on IG:

“I am not giving my money to an industry that supports factory farming.”

“…they don’t give s sh*t about the animals, they just want a wider demographic. It’s all greed.”

“I advise the [vegan] community to be wary how we can fathom a murdering corporation will take the steps necessary to ensure a purity on a vegan standard.”

Purity on a vegan standard?  What is this, scientology!?  Are we all aspiring thetans?  Come on PEOPLE!

  1. Aren’t we supposed to be focused on the animals?

Let’s be real.  This whole thing – all the sacrifices and ridicule we have made and sustained are not for us.  We are doing this to save animals.  And, if you think for a minute that KFC or Burger King will ever stop selling animal flesh, you are mistaken.  So these companies will always profit off animals.  However, every single Impossible Whopper, or Beyond Chicken bucket sold at KFC will at LEAST save one animal life.  If that consumer likes it, and replaces more meat items with the vegan options, that turns into real change.  And real animals saved.

Furthermore, if vegans shop at these places and prove the market exists and is healthy, they will continue to offer these options.  That is meaningful change, albeit at the hands of an animal-exploiting company.

2. Where do Thetan-vegans draw the moral line with their superiority?

The common theme in these posts is that vegans should not give their money to a company that profits off meat.  Which is, on the surface understandable.  But what about grocery stores?  Even the hipster-loving “cruelty-free meat” purveyor Whole Foods sells seafood, chicken, and meat products.  Trader Joes, a close second cult favorite for vegans, also does.  So does Safeway, Wal-Mart, and others ad nauseum.

Our older vegan stand bys like Taco Bell also do.

So the effort of maintaining what meat-profiting businesses you will and will not support will become pretty complex and time consuming.

At the end of the day, if you are truly in this for the animals, you’ll put down the animal-tested Kombucha, and apply some common sense. This is not about you. This is about animals. And if we wish to continue driving change and seeing the massive wins we have, we need to change our personal definitions of veganism.

After all, the whole world is changing.  Won’t you join us?

Beyond Burgers at Carl’s Jr!

We all heard the news on Instagram at about the same time, and I think the collective vegan mind imploded.  It seems that Beyond Meat and Carl’s Jr. teamed up behind closed doors to surprise the heck out of just about everyone.

It wasn’t one of those lame media teasers, where a major brand was testing some new vegan option at one or two stores, this was NATIONWIDE.  Today.  Every. Carl’s Jr.

So I did what any self-respecting vegan would do – drove my happy butt to a Gresham, Oregon Carl’s Jr. and ordered a burger.


A sign right next to the front door proclaimed that the Beyond Burger was now an option.  All the staff inside we showing off Beyond Burger shirts and hoodies (I tried to beg for one, but no dice).  Everyone seemed knowledgeable about the new vegan options (at least how to make it vegan).


It was odd (albeit nostalgic) to be sitting in a fast food restaurant waiting on a burger and fries.  It has been at least 10 years, if not more, since I had done that.  So there was a strange feeling about sitting there ordering burgers and fries.  It was cool.

Roadtrips will never be the same.  We can pull into a seedy Omaha truck stop, and have a vegan burger.  Coming home late from work and picking up dinner will also be changed.


The staff’s understanding of veganism as a whole was severely lacking.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not looking a “gift horse in the mouth (to use a truly vegan colloquialism) ” but these guys seriously had NO CLUE.


When asking about the cheese, I was told it was not vegan, as it had SOY in it.  But that because it was pasteurized, it was all fake anyway, and no dairy.  That aside from the soy, it was vegan.  We couldn’t believe it!  So we ordered it with this new “vegan” cheese option.  Thankfully the woman ran out from the back, in time to change our order, alerting to us the cheese was in fact NOT vegan.

Then we debated about what fries were and were not vegan.  So, I hope the grunts at Carl’s Jr are prepared for the onslaught of pissed off vegans asking questions and expecting answers.


I think we all knew this was coming.  But they DO NOT use a special area to cook these burgers.  They get cooked right where all the beef also gets cooked.


The only reason I went ahead with my order is this.  They are only cooked on the “charbroiler.”  They invited me back to look at this contraption.  It is a wire mesh belt that feeds the burgers from one end through to the other.  Like a giant pizza oven. So the only shared cooking surface is a tiny amount of wire mesh.  Oh, and by the way, that mesh passes through that machine at over 750 degrees.  So I can only hope/assume that any meat residues are blasted and cooked off.

I know the vegan committee might dock me some points here.


The fact I went to a Carl’s Jr. and ordered a burger and fries, and enjoyed a vegan meal is, in itself, remarkable.  it speaks to how far veganism has come, how much the market has changed, and how the perception of veganism has also progressed in mainstream society.  

I praise any company that has been historically a meat-offering establishment and is willing to try something along these lines.  It is a bold move, and one that can have massive positive repercussions for animals, fellow vegans, and even meat eaters.


But there are two schools of vegans.  The first is an ultra-emotional, almost fascist approach where anything that deviates from this oft-unattainable vegan god-like status, is not a vegan.  They will shun anyone that walks into a business that sells any meat, regardless of how that company is possibly changing.  They will boycott Beyond Meat.  They will shame vegans on Facebook groups that even think about supporting a fast food chain.

The other group is a little more progressive in thought.  They see the bigger picture.  That sometimes you need to take two steps backward to take one forward.  Sometimes you must give your money to big, evil companies in order to show how popular vegan options are, with the only goal of showing other large companies that vegans are here to stay, and that market share is growing.  In the end, that will benefit the animals.

If you find yourself in the latter group, head down to a local Carl’s Jr.  Get the Beyond Famous Star Burger (but hold the cheese and mayo).  You’ll be glad you did.

If you are in the first group, well…maybe there is a drum circle somewhere for your rage.

On Eloquent Liberalism and the Failure of Portland

On a recent trip to visit family in Burlington, Vermont something struck me.  There are a lot of refugees (my mom is active in supporting the refugee population).  According to conservative logic, that would equate to a lot of people living “off the system” and getting government checks for nothing. And a general downfall of ‘murica.

Fast forward a day or two and after a walk down Church Street I was amazed at the number of retail stores designed to sell the stuff the refugee population made.  Amazing textiles, baskets, artwork, and clothing.  It was refreshing to see an outlet for the cultural value this population brings to Vermont.

Another thing I noticed?  The abundance of community gardens.  These areas of open space are given by the city to people that want to raise their own produce.  The number of folks I saw walking these rows with baskets on their heads and vibrant clothing was a stark contrast to the old brick walls and green mountains in the distance.

It is no surprise that Burlington is a liberal anchor in a sea of liberal cities.  It has born the likes of Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield (Ben and Jerry’s co-founders) and other liberal monoliths. But what was a surprise is how Burlington has pulled off something amazing – an eloquent version of liberalism.

Not once was I asked for money from a junkie.  Not once was there an ANTIFA protest blocking the streets.  Not once did a Prius sit in the left lane on highway 89.  Not once was a tent city of homeless even seen. And, more importantly, the refugee population seemed happy and engaged.  Almost as if the entire system was done the right way.

In contrast, I look at Portland, my local city.  The city that made me disavow my liberal identity.  It is a city where anger is the new cool.  If you are white and not angry about how “underserved” or “underprivileged” other people are, well, you just don’t belong here.

It’s a city where every morning, I walk past tent cities full of homeless people that shoot up heroin in safe centers. I step over sidewalk chalk with angry scribblings of last nights protest-du-jour, the pending rain our only hopes to remove it from our collective memory.

It’s a city where ANTIFA literally calls the shots while the police sit idly by, their hands tied by an insane mayor. Oh, and the same police refused to assist federal agents during a protest at their local facility, too.

The contrast of these two cities could not be any sharper.  And, while they share similar DNA (I have often called Portland “Burlington on steroids.”), Burlington has proven that liberalism can be done well, and done right.  And I am proud to say the liberal side of my political foundation was built there. Back when Vermont passed one of – if not the – first civil union bills in the nation.  A political anger that is kept in check and leveraged only when truly needed, which avoids Portland’s issue of crying angry wolf.

Maybe the conservative base should examine the areas where liberalism actually does win, as an example of what is possible.  And how it can be so eloquent.


Alvord Adventure

One of my bucket list items, the Alvord Desert has always intrigued me.  The desolation.   The harsh environment.  The wide open spaces.  The hot springs. So this year, we finally went to explore it ourselves.

After loading up the Land Cruiser, we hit the road for the 7 hour journey ahead.

The Land Cruiser creeping at Whole Foods.

We had to stop at Whole Foods in Bend, OR for the typical vegan overland chow – Beyond Burgers, Beyond meat crumbles, Chao cheese, cold beers, and all the fixins.

After passing through Burns, we began to experience the desolation we had been craving so much.

Continue reading Alvord Adventure

Trail Day: Tillamook State Forest

Today I joined my offroading friends for a day of wheeling in our “back yard” trails.  It was a big day for me and my rig, as it marked the first time I was meeting up driving a Toyota.  This group of friends had grown and bonded over our common JKs – build parties installing coil overs, and offroad/camping trips in Moab, the Rubicon, and elsewhere.

So it was a moment of truth for me – was selling my JK and buying a 25 year old Land Cruiser a good choice?

After the initial ribbing and airing down was over, we hit Archer’s Firebreak.  This was an awesome trail choice – Archer’s was my favorite trail in the JK, and one I led every year for the Jeep Jamboree.  So I had a lot of history with it and knew it well.  However, I had never wheeled it in anything other than the JK.  Now I was in a Toyota.  And an automatic.

Me following a comp-cut JK on one tons and 40s.  Seemed like a good idea.

The biggest difference for me this time, was that I would bypass the burly stuff.  I was without rock rails, skids, and confidence in the new rig.

Continue reading Trail Day: Tillamook State Forest

Not all vegans drive hybrids and wear skinny jeans.

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