The currency of trust

27 10 2015

Who do you trust? Only your closest family and friends? Everyone until they do something to lose your trust? Our elected politicians?

I’m usually the type of person who trusts almost anyone, unless there’s a good reason not to. In addition to being an idealist, I attribute this mindset to refusing to live in fear…and rarely watching the television news. I worked at a bakery where we regularly gave people IOUs and allowed people to send payment in the mail, and they did (usually along with a thank you card). I attended a small university where we’d leave our laptops in the library when we went to the cafeteria for dinner. My undergrad research suggests that I’m in the minority.

In 1960, 58% of Americans agreed that most people can be trusted, but by 1993, this proportion declined by a third to 37% (Putnam, 1995). Social trust is considered one of the four dimensions of the broader study of “social capital,” along with informal social ties, formal social ties and norms of collective action (Liu and Besser, 2003). Social capital encompasses the features of social organisation that facilitate coordination and cooperation for mutual benefit (Putnam, 1995). While social capital contributes to safer, healthier, more civically engaged communities, Putnam argues that it is on its decline. One of his explanations is greater mobility, or the “re-potting hypothesis” meaning that if we disrupt our roots, it also disrupts our acquisition of social capital; when you move, you basically start at zero.

In the past 10 months, I’ve been moving around quite a lot, so I could only expect my trust bank account would be quite low. When you are a stranger and are surrounded by strangers, and you are taught not to talk to strangers, there is no reason for trust to be pre-existent or for there to be even much potential for it to grow, because this would require talking to strangers. But when trust does emerge, it is a delightful surprise that has enriched my travels.

Read the rest of this entry »


Clothing optional

31 05 2012

In an effort to commit fewer blogging faux pas than I have in the past (i.e. long posts, no photos), I have decided to try to post on most days of the trip. We’ll see how it goes.

After spending the night with Angie, my couchsurf host in Crescent City, I continued down Highway 101, pulling out about shortly after 8 this morning. Driving through the Redwoods was quite a magical way to start the day, as the sun peaked through the trees. However, there were more logging trucks than what would have been ideal, with just enough loose debris flying off to make me nervous.

My first stop of the day was the charming Arcata where at last I picked up a Rand McNally road atlas and I finally found a copy of Ecotopia (link), my next seminal reading. As recommended by Angie, I stopped at Los Bagels for a coffee and a rosemary parmesan bagel with sundried tomato cream cheese and grated carrot!

Then, back on the freeway for a bit until I was able to take the Avenue of Giants scenic alternate through more magical Redwoods. Along this stretch I stopped to take a peak inside the Eternal Treehouse, a 20-foot room inside the base of a living tree.

Around this time, it also started to get uncomfortably hot. I had already made the switch to my “summer” gloves in Arcata, but I took off a few more layers when I stopped for gas in Miranda.

Before long, I was off 101 again and on to a long winding road back out to the coast  that took me from about Leggett to Wesport. Boy, was I relieved to get out at the other end and see the stunning oceanside. Then, down to Fort Bragg, where I stopped at the tourist info centre, Headland’s Coffeehouse for some java and wi-fi and then checked out Glass Beach before heading out of town.

By this time, it was about 6 PM, so I considered just staying in Fort Bragg. However, Angie had told me about Orr Hot Springs, so I was determined to make my way across another long winding road. Along the road of rolling grassy hills, not only was their a jaw-dropping sunset, but I also saw about four deer and a wild boar!After travel in third and fourth gear for about two hours along this road, I came out at the other end in Ukiah! Ah! I had driven right past the hot springs! It was about 20 minutes back in. There was a moment of thinking, “Forget it! I’ll just find somewhere to camp in Ukiah.” But then, I thought about how far I had come across that road and headed back. This time paying attention to the street numbers! And alas, this is where I am now.

Here at Orr Hot Springs, I paid for accommodations for the first time on the trip, but I think it was worth it! Without wasting anytime, I dropped my stuff in my room and hopped into the tubs and pools, sauna and steam room. Most remarkable were the stargazing tubs, which sat under the twinkling night sky. It felt so so good after a long day of riding. Check out isn’t until noon, so I think I’ll spend a bit more time here before heading eastbound towards Sacramento.

On the road again

30 05 2012

My time on the farm has sadly come to an end. I definitely have more to say about my experience there, which will come at a later date. For now, I am going to practice being “present” and update you on my new adventure…my motorcycle trip down the coast to northern California, then east, all the way back to home sweet home in Ontario. The first leg of the journey is down the coast, camping and couchsurfing along the way. Then, I’ll head east around Sacramento, where I plan to

take a day or two and visit a friend. After that, a few longer days across the dessert (Nevada and Utah), then by mid-next week, I’ll meet my dad and a Wiarton gang in Colorado and we’ll make the rest of the journey together. Until then though, I’m more or less on my own. That’s alright though. As much as I love community and think life without people would be meaningless, I’ve always been a bit of a lone wolf at heart. Also, I find that I meet more people when traveling on my own too.

Waiting to board the early morning ferry in Fulford Harbour

I’ve just finished my third day on the road, and I’m now landed just across the California state line in Crescent City. Monday morning I left the farm on Salt Spring, first taking the ferry from Fulford to Swartz Bay, then going to Victoria and jumping on another boat across to Port Angeles, Washington. After a moderate degree of interrogation from the border patrol, I was welcomed into the great U.S. of A.! My first brief stop was the Olympic National Park visitor center, right in Port Angeles, then down the highway. I drove as far as Olympia, with a beautiful side trip off the highway to Port Townsend. I also stopped at a cool nursery in Brinnon for the free wi-fi. A combination I never would have predicted. Despite there being more clearcuts than what would be ideal, it was a lovely drive through some majestic forest and a bit of coast. I landed in Olympia around 5 pm and met up with my first couchsurfing host of the trip, Teddy. Even though I didn’t go that far, my first day of riding kinda kicked my butt and I was pretty tired.

I headed out of Olympia around 8:30, after a quick stop at McDonald’s for free wi-fi (to load directions on my phone until I find myself a good road atlas) and some milk for my raw oats. On a mission to get my Canadian cash exchanged, I stopped at several banks in hopes of success. It proved a lot more difficult than expected, but eventually found one that would accept my paper funny money and give me some of the cotton/linen variety. I crossed several bridges, but the most remarkable of which was the one between Washington to Oregon into Astoria, which spanned a whole 14 miles!

The Astoria–Megler Bridge, spanning 14 miles across the Columbia River

I also stopped at a beautiful beach at Seaside and had a heavenly nap in the warm sand. Cannon Beach was another highlight and I wish I could have stayed their longer!

A perfect spot of a siesta in Seaside, Oregon

A perfect spot of a siesta in Seaside, Oregon

I finally landed in Newport close to 8 PM, once again pretty tired from a long day. I maybe diddle daddled a bit too much in Seaside which made for a more exhausting final stretch. However, in this final stretch I did fit in a stop at the cheese factory in Tillamook and sampled some cheese, toured the factory and treated myself to some German Chocolate Cake ice cream. When I arrived in Newport, it was like arriving to a little piece of heaven, just a block from the beach. The warm shower was divine, then I chatted with my host for an hour or so over some nice wine and some delicious fritters she had made. Then off to bed (not couch!) in a room of my own! It felt like I was staying in a quaint little B & B, but for free!

Hitting the jackpot with a luxury “couch” in Newport

This morning I got a bit of an earlier start, or at least felt more organized when I left. I continued south on the beautiful Hwy 101. My first stop was for coffee about 25 miles down the road at a place called the Green Salmon. It was really good and was just the kind of start I needed. They also had a cute little used book exchange. What a great idea! You could buy a book for $4 or exchange one for $2. I was tempted, but restrained myself, after all I already have a handful of books loaded in my saddlebags. Aside from gas, my next memorable stop was at the farmers’ market in Coos Bay where I had my first strawberries (other than the handful I had at Foxglove before I left) and had a nice chat with a man at the master gardeners booth where they offer free gardening advice – another great idea! A few more miles down the road (with plenty of singing, and even making up a few songs of my own!) and I stopped at McDonald’s for wi-fi to check in with my host and a Reese McFlurry. While I was sitting outside on my phone, a man drove up next to me and called me over. I went over and he handed me a wad of bills. He said, “I don’t know why, but I feel I should give you something. I hope this gets you a few more miles down the road.” After he left, I counted it and the bills totaled $51. Wow! That’s over two days worth of gas! And now, here I am in Crescent City, California! It feels great to be in California, but I must admit that the Oregon Coast is absolutely stunning and doesn’t get the appreciation it deserves! I can’t believe I had contemplated skipping the coast and going through Portland instead. My only problem is trying to look to the beautiful scenery while also watching the road!

Despite my best efforts at regular sunscreen re-application, I can feel the warmth of my sunkissed cheeks. I can also feel the slight ache in my lower back that is calling out for more yoga. But more on the pains and pleasures of motorcycling later. For now, I’m just living the dream. So, please don’t wake me up!