Aloha readers, supporters, friends, family! We’re in South Dakota!
We write this blog post from a really cute cafe on Main Street in Rapid City, South Dakota. We’ve decided to give you another “play-by-play” travelogue-style update about our tour and travels…it’s been a while and it seems like the easiest way to let you know what we’ve been up to out here on the open road.
Here’s a re-cap:
Drove to Portland from Eugene, OR and had a great, home-cooked meal with some our favorite friends we haven’t seen in a long time.
Tuesday, 9/13 – (Planted in State #42)
Drove to a nursery in Oregon City called Echo Valley Natives, and picked up a Willamette Valley Ponderosa Pine, a species of Ponderosa that traveled to the Portland region during the last ice age. It adapted to the region and was largely harvested during the Industrial Revolution. We brought the tree to Roloff Farms, in Hillsboro, Oregon (about 30 minutes west of Portland) and met up with our friends Matt and Amy Roloff. We chose a spot for the tree, wrote down our wishes, and planted it in their beautiful backyard. Got to tour the farm, hang with the animals in the petting zoo, and had a lovely dinner with Matt. Amy was working hard on the annual charity event for her foundation, which turned out to be a huge success. Later we drove back to Portland to stay with friends for the night.
We connected with Portland’s Friends of Trees while we were in town, and were able to interview two of their awesome staff members in a nearby park for our documentary. We also toured the city, its parks, and collected really great footage of what is an absolutely gorgeous city. We stuck around one more night to see our friend’s band play, and prepared for our departure to Washington the next morning.
Drove towards Seattle and stopped by The Evergreen State College to learn more about the Sustainable Prisons Project, a really great nonprofit effort that is connecting inmates in Washington State prisons with nature, and even restoration projects…which is resulting in incarcerated people actually saving the environment and protecting endangered species! (How awesome is that?) Later, while stuck in traffic, remembered we had a friend who lives on the Puget Sound, so we decided to look him up. Turns out he had a guest room and offered it to us. This ends up being a really important move for us (you’ll see why later).
Took a day off on the Puget Sound. We used the time to catch up on phone calls, emails, and other odds and ends. We also had the opportunity to head out on our friend’s boat and get great footage of the Sound. What a beautiful place!
Woke up before dawn to head to Port Angeles, WA, on the northeastern tip of the Olympic Peninsula, to set up our table at Celebrate Elwha, a day-long event at the Port Angeles Pier celebrating the largest dam removal in U.S. history. The following day, we would plant the first tree as a part of the river restoration,
Sunday, 9/18 (Planted in state #43)
Planted a native cottonwood tree at the dam removal site. It is the first tree planted as a part of the Elwah River Restoration project. Since the presence of the dam created a lake (Lake Mills), once the dam removal began, the waters of the lake were drained back into the river in a very careful process. Our tree’s function is to repair the riparian area along the river. We also interviewed Olympic National Park Conservation Ecologist Josh Chenoweth and author/journalist Steven Hawley while in Port Angeles. We then returned to our friend’s home on the Puget Sound to prepare to drive to Alaska.
At this point we had decided to drive to Alaska (since we had not raised enough funds to fly), and we used this day to put together a strategy, make phone calls to agencies and contacts in Alaska, and begin packing for the long multi-day road trip.
We used this day to gather materials for the road trip, which would require extreme self-sufficiency and cold weather camping. This meant an extra sleeping bag, several bags of groceries from Trader Joe’s, and a gas can filled with gas. After gathering all of those materials, we re-packed the tour vehicle and got ready to leave that evening. We began our drive north, crossed the border into Canada, and spent the evening in a campground in Squamish, British Columbia. (Highly recommended, by the way.)
Woke up in beautiful B.C. and checked our email (yes, our campground had free WiFi!) In Sara’s inbox was an email from a friend gifting us buddy passes on Alaska Airlines, which meant we could save a great deal of money and gas if we turned around, left our car at our friend’s place in the Seattle area, and flew to Alaska instead. So we did. We decided our destination would be Sitka.
Spent the day locking in our planting event in Sitka, and arranging for staying with friends of friends…all of the details came together so fast and with so much support!
Flew to Sitka, AK and stayed with friends of our Maui friends.
Saturday, 9/24 (Planted in state #44)
Planted an Alaska Yellow Cedar tree at Sealing Cove in Sikta, filmed interviews with the city’s Tree Committee members, visited Fortress of the Bear (a habitat for orphaned bear cubs), and we filmed awesome underwater footage of the salmon running up the rivers and streams.
Hiked. Filmed more interviews, this time with a retired saw mill worker, and other community members. Got great footage from the top of Harbor Mountain.
Filmed interviews with a cultural representative for the Tlingit tribe in Sitka, and a totem/wood carving artist named Tommy Joseph, filmed b-roll, visited Alaska Raptor Center, flew back to Seattle in the evening.
Reorganized our things and drove to Sandpoint, Idaho, settled in late at night to prepare for our planting at Sandpoint Charter School the next day.
Wednesday, 9/28 (Planted in state #45)
Planted a handful of native trees and plants in a lovely schoolyard habitat at Sandpoint Charter School. Thanks to Ponderay Garden Center and All Seasons Garden & Floral for donating all of the plants, and thanks to Sarah Evans and her 6th grade science class for becoming the caretakers of these new trees! Special thanks to Sharon Lewis of Sandpoint’s Tree Committee for organizing and Susan & Jack Kean (of Maui and Sandpoint) for hosting us! After the planting, we conducted interviews with several community members and native plant experts.
Interviewed a Sandpoint High School environmental science teacher and owner of All Seasons in Sandpoint. Drove to Libby, Montana to meet up for dinner with our tree planting contact there.
Friday, 9/30 (Planted in state #46)
Spent the day touring and filming in Libby. At 6pm, held our native tree planting ceremony at the Community Asbestos Memorial Project site at Riverside Park.
Spent the morning filming interviews in Libby with local historians, visited the Historical Museum and attended a Chili Cook-off Fundraiser for the museum. Drove to Whitefish, Montana to spend the night with friends.
Drove to Bowman Lake, Glacier National Park for a day trip and much-needed R&R. Later that afternoon, drove to Bozeman, Montana where we stayed with a Montana State University student who is the sister of one of our Maui friends.
Drove a long way to Fort Yates, North Dakota. We really didn’t do much besides drive.
Tuesday, 10/4 (Planted in state #47)
Met up with our contact at the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe offices. Drove to Bismarck to pick up our tree (a donation from Lincoln-Oakes Nursery), and had two planting events back on the Standing Rock reservation. The first planting was with the Tribal Government, with the Chairman of the Tribe personally placing each of the wishes into the ground and graciously hosting a new bur oak on the front lawn (replacing a tree they had lost). The second planting was more spiritual in nature, and we planted a bur oak at the gravesite of Sitting Bull, an Indian chief that the Standing Rock tribe is known for.
Interviewed Austin Lang, who works for the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and who is instrumental in helping conserve and restore lands on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. He’s also the one who helped us get our two bur oak trees! Then, we filmed a great interview with our Standing Rock host, Ladonna Brave Bull Allard. After the interview came to a close, we drove to Rapid City.
Today we are doing a little “office work” catch-up, had a budget meeting to examine the remaining funds we need to raise before the tour ends, and are getting ready now to head out and pick up our trees for tomorrow’s planting at Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation here in South Dakota, just 2 hours outside of Rapid City. Today we picked up a handful of native trees from three different nurseries in Rapid City: Jolly Lane Greenhouse, Black Hills Nursery, and Valley Green Nursery.
We’ll keep you posted on our progress as much as internet service and time allows.
Spread the Love!
One last thing: We are at the very end of this journey, one that we started with a planting in Joe’s hometown of Monona, Wisconsin on Memorial Day 2010. We have just 1700 more miles to drive, and only need to raise another $1100 (at the time of this blog post). If you have a free moment, please share our donation link with your friends and contacts.
The link is: http://www.plantawish.org/donate
We only need 22 people to donate $50, and we’ll reach our goal!
Coming up next:
10/7: Wounded Knee Tree planting at new playground
10/11: Lander, Wyoming: Tree planting at The Nature Conservancy’s Red Canyon Ranch
10/14: A visit to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine forest near the California/Nevada border