This current tour had some up sides and some down sides. And a lot of education.
It ended up costing me a lot more money than I anticipated. And the breakdowns are stressful. And eating good food is something that is kinda hit and miss. Then there is that fuel usage thing. Currently, the fuel usage is about the same as one person using a 36mpg vehicle.
We have met some really excellent people. And when people brought biodynamic veggies and pie to the event, kinda hard to adequately express how cool that was.
People coming up afterward and telling me how hearing this one talk has changed their lives. Others expressing how my podcasts are the center of their lives and they are so happy to meet me.
I can kinda get work done as we bee bop down the road. Sometimes there is so much jiggle that I cannot read what is on the screen. Sometimes there is no intenet access.
All three beds are full size beds, so, technically, we could currently take six people. And with some tweaking, we might get one more bed in here. If we had three couples, then the mileage per person would be like one person in a vehicle that gets better than 50mpg.
We never used the shower or toilet. We stopped every few hours so everybody could pee, and we usually had shower access for our stops.
Eivand seems to be on top of the world. I get the impression that his expectations were that we might see something cool every few days. But we see something cool pretty much every day. So he seems to feel that this turned out to be super excellent.
Throughout the trip there has been a lot of people with suggestions on stuff to see and do and they say "maybe when you come through next year" or "maybe when you come through next time." My thinking is that there will be no "next time" - until today. All we need to do is amplify the good stuff and mitigate the bad stuff.
My first thought was: what if we get a bigger bus that runs on diesel. We could then run biodiesel. Maybe it could even take veggie oil. It would be great to have racks of bunks instead of three double beds. A larger vehicle would be a smoother ride and, thus, easier to use a laptop when going down the road. Maybe there could be three double bunks and six single bunks? This would then make it so we could charge less per bunk plus have more money so that the project doesn't run in the negative.
And there's more: with 12 people, we have a much better chance that some of them will be keen on cooking. And we will have more people interested in fleshing out calendar details - or directions. And we have a better chance that when things break that somebody will be a bit more savvy on mending it.
On this trip, Jocelyn was worried that she would be stuck with the lion's share of work/chores. Geoff was wiped out after driving - so it seems he really did his share. Eivand sat in the front seat the whole time we were on the road to navigate and assist geoff. I took us to a lot of restaurants so that the cooking/cleaning load was lower. This was a huge contributor to putting this venture in the red. Plus, very few restaurants are organic - and that bothered me. So if we had a bigger rig and more people, maybe most meals could be prepared on the way using organic food. In fact, maybe along the way we could make a point to purchase permaculture food and biodynamic food.
I like to think that with a bigger rig, we might hire a driver. Geoff got us there alive and all, but I think the whole trip is taking a year or two off of Geoff's lifespan. I also like the idea of more night driving: go to sleep in one town and wake up in another town.
With 12 people, a bigger rig and diesel we would be looking at something like each person gets 100mpg. And if we could work in veggie oil as fuel, that would be even more impressive.
As I'm looking at this existing rig: the back is a full size bed and a bathroom. Instead, it could be triple bunks on either side. Six single beds. The rest of the current space is a couch - that can be converted to a full bed, and a table that can also be turned into a full bed. This particular land whale does not have a full bed over the driver seat like many other land whales do. That has the potential for three full beds plus six singles. This rig won't work for something like that because there is seating only for ten people. So surely there must be a slightly larger rig that can do this.
What do touring bands use? .... a little research and I am finding that 12 bunks is exactly what touring bands use. A bit expensive to rent, but a nice ride.
So here is the question of the moment: Suppose a year into the future, we did something similar. Nicer land whale. There would be an expectation that everybody would be contributing something (cooking, cleaning, land whale mending, routing/navigating, scheduling ...). Three weeks spent visiting dozens of cool permaculture sites. Would you drop $1500 to come along? The $1500 would include a bunk, food, wifi, access to events and farms. Three weeks of permaculture nirvana. I suppose something could be done so that some people might go for just a week or two of the trip.
On this trip we had one full sized bed for rent. We had three people that wanted that one bed all to themselves. Maybe there were more that wanted a bed after the bed was no longer available.
So, $1500 for three weeks of permaculture on the road. Maybe the east coast this time. Would you be willing to pay $1500 to be on a fancy pants band bus that goes to dozens of cool permaculture sites? Maybe the price should be $2000 and a few bunks are filled with people who get a free bunk for work trade - so those that pay don't need to worry about chores.
A couple of people as designated "crew" could be a great idea, especially if they are multi-skilled and reliable. Having these go-to people would reduce the stress and hassle for everyone else.
If you did not have specified crew, and everyone was expected to contribute to chores, then it might be sensible to hold an application process. People could be selected based on what useful skills and experience they have that would be useful for your 3 week intentional community. This might exclude a lot of people without experience, but it would mean that the whole trip can run smoother and can focus better on producing high quality content for the web community to learn from.
MHO. Sounds pretty reasonable at $1500. You'd likely get a full bus at $2000. Hate to say it since I drop out at the low end on this kind of stuff, but you probably want to consider $2000 or more.
Driver probably a good idea but may not be necessary if your own party (the party that you KNOW does what they say when they say because that's what they always do) contains 2 or 3 drivers. From my reading on the www.nomadicista.org site driving full size bus takes a lot of care but is something most people can do if they spend a few days learning over a couple weeks. At that same site Mark R. Obtinario is a major technical resource on big buses. Note the site has a very mixed bag of members so political discussion of any kind is generally avoided.
HOWEVER: The DL requirements differ (less rigorous) for private coaches vs. commercial drivers, but if you take money that may put you into commercial. Beware insurance and licensing vv the same criteria. Possibly a "vacation club" registered in some way and formed with members contributing dues to the club which just happens to own a bus which they then use would walk around some of the issue. Or again something like when non-profits cannot sell booze in some states, but they can sell _coupons_ at the door which you then exchange for booze... I'm sure you know a sympathetic lawyer or two.
I think if you populate the bus heavily then you have a situation where not everybody can use all the features (like desk space for the laptop or to write or put a dinner plate, seats by the window, etc) at once. Seems to indicate that more people means more exact and inflexible travel routine and procedure - eg. ONLY travel at night so most people will be in a bed. If you want to do lots of cooking, that will require some real planning; but this is probably vacation/blow-out for people and that means they'd probably plan on sampling the local cuisine. So maybe just a good breakfast and starvation snacks. Doubt it would work to just let each person/couple use the kitchen if/when the wanted.
It sounds like maybe a viable idea cuz some people sometimes would like to meet others and see first hand stuff that just gets talked about. And you got a big bunch of people chatting here. Kinda like a little mini-convention of permies leaving a trail of ideas behind and picking up other ideas to take home. Honey bees do it all the time with pollen. <g>
Without regret, I'm appealing to your sore bones & wallet. Wanna kick around a stationary tour? We are in south central VA., only a few hours away from NC, SC, TN, DC, MD, DE. We have 2 double beds, 1 Q, sleeping porch that would comfortably house 10, wi-fi, 3 baths, huge cloth line, on a river with a creek in rolling forest land. We have a cert. organic orchard, can easily get organic lamb, elk, and beef as well as veggies etc. I'm a mean cook, daughter is a chef. My husband is a blacksmith with a shop on site. We're inching our way to perma., would happily give you & your gang license to play, experiment and breakout into whatever topic & idea is brought in. May be a way to let folks come to you so to speak, as well as seeing/participating in the creation. We're currently working with someone @ VA Tech for a summer internship on perma. using some of our land as a "lab", so this platform would surely expose these kids to some amazing stuff. we have just under 100 acres, about 10 is cleared. Kick that around - could be good, could also be a long stop should that have more appeal.
Hey Paul- I think he wants you to consider relocating and starting up a little kingdom in the smokies, or wherever he is. I'd say that's a great idea. If you need medical staff, I can help out there, but am lately drawn more to woodworking and water issues. If we're all nuts, just disregard......
I would like to be on your next tour. $2,000 would be oik. If given sufficent notice, I will upgrade my drivers license (from Class C to an B or A) so I can help drive.
I really enjoyed your talk in Petaluma, CA. The presentation was excellent. I was surprised there was no admission fee and/or donations requested. I think everyone in the audience would have been happy to pay.
As I think you could tell, Paul, the visit to Beaverton was a great event for all of us. Your podcasts help us to connect on a deeper level as kind of regional leaders in the movement. It was wonderful to connect with others from permies . com who we had not yet met in person. I have small children and a wife and I am a schoolteacher, so it would be inappropriate in many ways for me to go on tour with you, even though it would be fun for me, but we could help you hook up with good food and perhaps prepare something for you in the Portland area if you are interested.
Thanks again for coming to Portland,
Traveling like you did for three weeks sounded exhausting and stressful although wonderful, too. And people want more of what you gave them on tour for next year. How to travel "on tour" win-win? Where it's possible to feel joy and contentment whilst moving from place to place; how to craft a less stressful experience? Preparation, visualization (" what does an 'ideal' day "on tour" feel like?? What's happening throughout the day? How are our human needs for food, sleep, companionship, space, privacy, relaxation being met while "on tour"? When I was growing up we car camped, tent camped and backpacked all summer, all over the west -- a three month summer 'tour' traveling from place to place. Here were the rules of the road that helped that time be really enjoyable (as I remember):
--We started as early in the a.m. as we needed to, but we always stopped by 2 or 3 p.m. in the afternoon at a nice campsite. My mom and dad planned ahead where we would stay. We had a basic itinerary for the summer three-month period -- with time scheduled in for serendipity. So visualizing the tour time period and PACE might help alleviate stress for next year.
--My mom was a wonderful, healthy cook and we had a really nice camp dinner almost every night. I absolutely agree the tour food should be local. permaculture as much as possible. We ate out once or twice a summer. People in the permaculture community sound like they would be willing to host dinners for you, on your tour. I remember eating with friends during the summer as some of the most memorable times. My mom meal planned in detail before we left for summer vacation. Breakfasts were usually light (yogurt, hot cereal, orange juice, coffee), and we took a lunch stop and made sandwiches (mom bought local, fruitstands). Backpacking we made lunch in the morning and ate it when we wanted to.
So, dinner was the important meal when we ate together and wherever we were staying that night was all set up by late afternoon. We tried to find places where we could swim. I could imagine next year's tour 'grounding' into as many natural hot springs and swimming spots as possible. Where do you want to go? What landscapes do you want to experience? Make the lectures near to cool places to camp and recreate near natural, pure water. Check out jackson wellspring in ashland, oregon, for example. Lassen Park area is filled with wonderful swimming areas and hotsprings. AND people can campout to come and see YOU. A three month tour on just sepp holzer's work and hugelkulture construction could work for next year. There's a group here in the sierra foothills "FOCUS' that would love to host you and you could set up a primo base camp around bear valley (highway 4). It's john muir kick ass fairyland park in that part of the sierras from mid june to now. Headwaters of the Molukomne River. People would come from all over that area to hear you. Then up and over the sierras to tahoe and the eastern sierra communities. The Yerington, Nevada, Pauite tribe would love to hear more about sepp holzer's hugelkultures. There's a permie group forming in Reno, Nevada with a nice mix of burners (burning man). They would love you. Squaw Valley has a nice thing emerging with highcamp. (How about presenting at 8500' with a view of Lake Tahoe)? Kirkwood might be interested. There are so many wonderful places around where I live, Paul.
So, moving from beautiful, wonderful place to the next beautiful, wonderful place throughout the west next summer and having enough time to connect with that place and it's people (preferably for a few days at a time) might be an idea to help de-stress the tour.
We managed to visit alot of places each summer but it didn't feel hectic. We rarely drove through the night. We frequently started early in the morning. We all had a tent or a hammock to sleep in. My mom and dad often slept in our ford truck with small camper. A large biodiesel bus is a great idea, but people might like to ground into dinner and their own digs for sleeping each night. And then there was the campfire. We had a campfire almost everywhere we stayed even if it was enroute and just for one night. A simple excuse to gather together and talk and relax and stargaze. Everyone should pack their campfire chair and campfire clothes and lemonade and hot chocolate and coffee and good stories for the daily campfire on next year's tour.
So we would drive (or hike) from early morning to mid- afternoon and then swim (or nap) bathe; set up tent; help prep and eat dinner; help clean up and fire prep; relax around the fire (or hotsprings); head to bed around 8-9-10 p.m. depending on what was happening the next day. We had unscheduled days (time) about every 5-6 days. I used to read for one or two hours after I went to bed. Or a good time to do computer stuff. (There has got to be a way to do mobile wifi that works throughout the west!!!)
I would love to join your tour next year. I could afford 1500-2000 if I started saving now. I also have a 1950 spartenette tandem 27' travel trailer and 1978 454 chevy silverado to throw into the mix. I think the work you are doing is sacred and really important. I am a complete sepp holzer fan. I can cook and mealplan along with other talents. Thank you for the work you are doing, Paul. Sincerely, Jennie Miles
P.S. There's a way to make money on tour with wild, indigeneous foods from different areas. wild food dinners. I already have a source for pinenut soup cooked in the traditional manner, with buckberry sauce. Marlin (and his mom the "source") from the Paiute tribe are interested in sepp holzer's work and hugelkulture's reclaiming some of their native, tribal land and producing food, fiber, medicine with perennials, etc. Please write back if you can. Thanks.
Unlike the west, the southeast and a lot of the east coast is now getting up to speed and inspired with what you are doing and info you can offer. It would be such a beneficial trip and should be considered a calvary. Perhaps, mapping several stops up the east coast, publishing places, topics and just meeting at the designated spot may make sense. Knowing the welcoming south, it wouldn't be a stretch to find homes for you and your travel companions with hot meals to celebrate the arrival of information. Anyone other than those instrumental in presentations etc., could surely pay for the day's knowledge and food. Having traveled this neck of the woods for years, it's very doable to schedule 3 days here, drive for 5-6 hours and stay for 3-4 days etc. Again, you can rest assured there's a place in VA for you & yours. Please understand my shameless prodding.
Yup. That makes a huge difference. And I think you might have something there about folks maybe sleeping out (tents) but eating together. That might be a really great routine - fit more in the bus, too. Gotta be a little picky where you stop, but... You get a good enough cook, Paul could sell seats on just the cuisine and country travel alone! But that's a bit different than your typical road tour where you want to cover distance and put on your show and make connections every day so as to reach as many people as possible in the time you got...
Paul sounds like your energy tank is a bit low, maybe even got a little puncture. Hope you get your internet pipe flowing and some good rest to make the world look like an oyster again.
Am feeling good today. Three days left on the tour. No more speaking.
I guess the big thing is that this seems like a good idea. The down side is the expense. I like the idea of doing it and coming out ahead. This trip will end with me in the red (I took money from my savings for a farm).
Nearly all of the stops wanted me to stay longer. At least one was outright begging. And nearly all of the stops had a list of more places to visit that sounded cool. And a lot of the speaking gigs had people wanting to hear my other presentations.
Lots and lots of upsides.
But for me to shell out this much money to and talk and visit farms is not wise. Wise would be to hang on to the money and use it to buy land.