Hops -

I have recently found a new hobby....gardening. Laura and I have been working diligently on getting our soil ready for planting, buying some seeds and started plants, and finally putting them in the ground. It's almost addicting. I wake up in the morning and walk outside to see the new growth. I come home from work and take a look at the new growth. Weird huh?

This morning I planted 5 different hops plants. So here goes the variety of flora we've got going so far.

Reb pepper
Walla Walla onion
3 different varieties of beans
3 different varieties of lettuce

and now for the money...

Cascade Hops
Centrnnial Hops
Mt. Hood Hops
Willamette Hops
Zeus Hops

I ran into a bit of an obstacle trying to rig a system for growing hops to their full potential. After about 3 hours tinkering with different ideas, I settled for the twin and post rigging. Essentially, the hops grow up bamboo stakes until they reach the twine. The twine then climbs at about a 75 degree angle for about 7 more feet. The trouble with the whole angle and twine things is....the hops could potentially get HUGE, and if they grew vertically it would block all the vegetables in the upper tier of the garden. They would basically be in the shadows of the hops, which would be a bad thing.
Now that the hops have grown their highest, the twine then angles back to near parallel to the ground, and spans a 12 feet, over the deck, to the roof of the house.
During the heat of the summer, the hops should be GOING OFF and they should also provide some nice shade to sit under. Laura thinks the rigging will serve it's purpose, but we both agree this thing looks hideous and will likely come down as soon as the hops are harvested. The harvest should be mediocre with the second and third year producing the most!!!

Here are some photos, cause I know you wanna look at this thing.

Since getting the potted hops last week, most of them have grown about 8 inches. These babies, at the peak of their growing rates, could be growing over a foot a day. It is normal for these things to grow 25-40 feet in one year.



Not the rules of engagement or anything like that. This is the real deal. Sorry its taken so long but two weeks ago I got engaged. You know, to be married.



Wonderful Chaos.

Those are the two words I choose to wrap up this vacation.....hardly a vacation, but we will go ahead and call it one. I sit here in Tigard writing this and I cannot help but feel incredibly grateful for the comforts I enjoy, and the freedoms I have. I would encourage you to do the same. It's not till you see how tough it could be, that you really understand what you've got going. You know what I mean?

Since last post we have driven 5,500 miles. What was I saying about vacation???

Costa Rica was....wet. Our plan was to hit the beach, go on a canopy tour, then start the return trip home. We booked a canopy tour. Canopy tours are just a maze of zip lines through the rain forest, on top of it, through clouds, and often hundreds of feet in the air over large valleys. Zip lines in the rain and clouds with no rain jacket are a blast, trust me. The first two cables were nice. The third to the fourteenth were wet. hahahaha. Waterproof boots are supposed to keep water out right??? Not today. So we really did have a blast, but clear weather is preferable. The last cable is more than a half mile long. At this point in the adventure there is lightning and thunder all around us and here we are climbing through trees loaded with metal cables, metal rails, and metal everything else, or so it seems. This is not the place to be in the middle of a lightning storm.

So, the last cable.....everyone is in a rush. Our tour guides are doubling people together and sending them over the 1/2 mile together, just to get people out of harms way. Tim and I are the last two people to go. Our guide is now strapping me in, I'm on my tip toes, rain dripping off everything.....when......ka - PLOW. Booom. Lightning. Suddenly, I feel a shock to end all shocks down the entire right side of my body. Bam. What was that? The poor guy strapping me up has apparently been shocked worse than I, he can't even finish his job. It was lightning, and it touched down on the last cable. Yeah, that's right. When lightning strikes the cable, you don't want to be holding it. I was. Crazy.

Since Tim is still blowing toilets to smitherines, and running a bit of a fever, we decide to stay two nights in the same place. Again, two nights in the same place.....

The trip north is a mixed bag for us. We are eager to head north, but it seems a little too large of a task. We go for it anyway.

Our path leads us back to the north where we will cross 5 borders in 5 days.

Nicaragua, check

Honduras, check
Guatemala, check
Belize, check
Mexico, check

One of the highlights of the trip was Tikal. Tikal is an ancient Mayan ruin that one of the largest cities of the Maya. It was nuts. We were able to explore Tikal for about 4 hours, climbing each of the temples (some over 65 meters high) and getting up-close and personal with antiquity. Pretty cool stuff. Tikal was also the site of a base in one of the star wars movies.

They speak English in Belize, so that was refreshing.

We then hurried to the Puebla, about a 4 day drive normally, but we managed to put it into 2, and picked up Jason and began our tour of Mexico rolling three deep.

We were then committed to getting hotels from here on out. Three people in hot pocket will not be possible. Jason is also 6'4", so spooning with him and Tim is out of the question, we need beds!!!

Day one takes us to Teotihuacan, home to the third largest pyramid in the world

Day two takes us to Qeurataro, and through our third and final dirty cop payoff....

This one only cost us 9 dollars. But it took almost 30 minutes. Initially, when we first were stopped, we did not have a cargo list (apparently that's a requirement the customs officials fail to mention)
We did however, have a cargo list. The policeman then quickly stated that we were in compliance now, but Jason and Tim did not have their seat belts on. huh? Ridiculous. What do you do when a cop tells you you didn't have your seat belt on, when you did? Do you argue in Spanish? Can you argue is Spanish? You can try. We did. it cost us $9. Oh well.

Mazatlan again, in search of one more day of surf. No luck there. We were able to get wet though.

North to Nogales, and we earned a secondary inspection of our vehicle by the US border patrol.

Phoenix is 112 degrees

Overnight in Flagstaff, AZ. Nice town

Grand Canyon - 50 minute flight tour of the Grand Canyon, spectacular

Hoover Dam

Las Vegas - 110 degrees



Hardly seems like enough.


Hay Muchas Cosas!

Paid off dirty cops.......................check
Hidden money in my underwear to avoid paying off dirty cops..............check

The last week has been filled with excitement. We are currently in Monteverde, Costa Rica. Getting here (since last blogging) has taken us across the borders of Honduras (at night, and 2.5 hours total time waiting at customs) Across through Nicaragua, which is the easiest border by far, and into Costa Rica. We have again spent uber amounts of time in the front seat of the car, and not nearly enough time simply vacationing....My idea of vacation is not driving all day, sleeping in the hot pocket, and getting up to drive again.

We have officially reached our furthest point south and will begin making our way to the north in a day or two. We will be taking a route much further inland and seeing some Mayan ruins.

We have been 5,500 miles to this point, and been gone for 20 days. That's 275 miles a day. That's chaos.

My vision for the trip was pretty simple, but there have been many variables that have been quite different from how I pictured things...

I would have liked to take a leisurly drive, settle down for a day or two, possibly on the beach and surf with some locals, do some surfboard repairs, give away a surfboard or two, bless and serve people in anyway I can, and leave and head for the next guy, or gal, or family that I might be able to help out. I could really think of no other way to spend this summer vacation at this point in my life....It's deinitely my heartbeat and what I find total Joy in. That's the main reason I'm here....It's a ministry that I find TOTAL joy in!!!

I have found...

Camping on the beach, in the pourning rain, during a thunder and lightning storm is tough way to go, and it is even harder to meet locals during these times. funny how that works...people don't sit out on the beach when it's raining do they???


One of the things I have been able to reflect on is...

What does a ministry in this area look like in the future?

Though it hasn't been all like I thought, I'm totally pumped to be down here and am completely thankful for the way things have turned out to this point.

Feeling wrapped up in the goodness and the grace of God!!


Crossing the Border

Man. Toady was nuts. After spending the last couple of days touring around Guatemala we decide to head south, scratch that....East. We have a hard time going too far south at this point. We really saw a couple of cool cities over the last few days. Santiago Atitlan, on Lake Atitlan was nuts. Mayans everywhere. The total cultural experience. Then last night we were in Antigua. Nuts too. I don´t really know how to explain Antigua. You may just want to google it or wiki it. That might do it more justice. Antigua had too many tourist though, so we bolted for El Salvador.

Today´s border crossing was enough to make me want to pull my hair out. Here are a few of the reasons.

1. the people speak ONLY spanish.
2. I try and speak only spanish.
3. Somehow my three spanish teachers forgot to teach border crossing vocabulary.
4. There are a ton of locals that try and help you cross the border...and they all want tips.
5. You have to beat them off like flys.
6. We have a truck, and that means lots of paper pushing
7. They wont do any of the photocopies for you, so you have to find a place to get photocopies.
8. Most offices have a photocopy machine, but they wont do it.
9. Tim is trying to get me to ask more questions.

This is enough to drive any man to drink...need I say more.

We crossed after an hour an a half and have found our way to La Liberdad, a small surfing town that we thought was going to blow up with waves. We find ourselves without good surf, but the prospects of linking with some locals remains very high. We are totally liking the flavor of El Salvador and are looking to stick around for a while.

Sweaty, but having fun still. The adventure continues.



We drove across the border this morning and are now in Guatemala. It´s been a little bit of everything trying to get to this point. Mexico was......crazy and......interesting. It´s a nice change of pace to be in Guatemala where the people seem even more friendly and the pace is slow. We could cross this little country in a day, so we are enjoying the opportunity to slow it down a bit. The beaches should be nice and may even warrant a couple of days of camping! So. We have come across some classic people, so great places, some that I hope to visit again, and others I´m thankful to have passed. Military checkpoints are a hoot too...one guy wanted us to sell him a mag lite. I´m talking a fully camo´d hat wearing, automatic weapon, (yeah, bigger than an m-16). We were haggling with a soldier. CRAZY. Another ranking guy at another stop wanted some cola...we only had some warm beer. Three soldiers took it. CRAZY.

Officially, montezumas revenge is over for me. Tim is on chapter two. We are eating good local food, talking with uber-nice store owners, and driving like we´ve lived here for a dozen years.

Since it´s rainy season it has made things particularly rough. The back of the truck, where it´s free to sleep, is somewhat uncomfortable.......SCRATH THAT........EXTREMELY UNCOMFORTABLE! It gets to about 100 degrees (we think) and water condemses all over the canopy. We basically turn all night long and wake up in a pool of our own sweat. Putting up a tent is not an option, it would wash downstream in minutes.

We surfed a place two days ago called punto conejo, rabbit point. This was classic. The rains had come down so hard the last few days that we could not get to the beach, the rivers were too high. We ran into 4 other surfers, loaded their boards onto our cars, and had them stand on the tailgate. They then directed us through foot deep ponds and down miles 4 wheels drive beach driving, to one of the most beautiful empty point breaks ever seen. We surfed about 4 hours with just the 6 of us and had an unreal time. The guys were pumped because they were in a 2 wheel drive truck and there was simply no way they could have gone to the beach. So this was pretty fun. We almost got stuck in the sand too, which made things a little more exciting.

More to come later. We´re heading to Atitlan tonight and who knows tomorrow.

Hasta Luego



So far.......DRIVING.

Tim and I have driven and driven and driven. It has been nuts.

Our journey through Baja was......lets see.....DRY. There are more cactus there than we ever care to see again. We drove 5 1/2 hours through a nutty mountain pass in the dark. It was about 50 miles, and took us all that time. We got a good bump on the bottom of the truck, and blew out a shock (the front right) but everything else is smooth. I will return to one place in Baja....Scorpion Bay, a perfect point break with a sandy bottom and perfect waves. They were about waist high, but I rode a few waves more than a quarter of a mile. It was nuts. By far the longest I´ve ever surfed continually. Scorpion Bay was full of American tourist surfers, so it wasn´t really the place that we were looking to throw down and camp.

We travelled south from there. Through La Paz, passing up Cabo San Lucas, and taking a 6 hour ferry ride with the truck to Topolombampo. From there, we drive along the coastal route through Mazatlan, Peurto Vallarta, Manzanillo, Zihuatanejo, today we arrived in Acapulco. We are hoping to to go south into central america, but have yet to hear from our insurance company.

So far we have been camping in the mountains, on the beach, sweating day and night (yeah, it´s that kind of heat), sleeping in the back of the truck, and cooking on the tailgate. We´ve taken hundreds of photos but are unable to post any at this internet stop...our first of the journey. We actually got a hotel two nights ago. We needed a warm shower, if you know what I mean. There was also some sort of tropical storm that dumped rain all night and tore down all kinds of electrical poles and signs, and tore off some roofs. Perfect night for a hotel.

We both wish a need more time to fully explore this land, but we are trying to get to some smaller towns along the coast to squat for a day or two at a time, plug in, hook some bruthas up, and dig out.

We are unsure what is ahead, but are pumped to be where we are, and are both thoroughly enjoying the trip.

We have been totally provided for, have not encountered bad cops, federales, or people trying to take advantage of us, and feel God has had his hand of protection on us this whole time!!


San Diego Update

Arrived in San Diego with relatively few problems. Actually no problems. We did however get rear-ended. We also witnessed an armed robbery. All that aside, we have started this trip with many adventures.

We daparted T-town at around 9 am after filling up on some of Moms homemade cookin'. Starting a trip out in the right way is very important. We got on the road and headed straight south to Medford where our adventure was just getting started. As we were turning in to a small taco joint, the car behind us thought they would pass us but they actually ran into us....small problem.....the funny thing is, the guy sitting in the passenger seat jumped out and after looking at the damage his girlfriend had caused, he had the audacity to ask me this....

"Uh, are you going to pay for this out of pocket"

Huh? What? Apparently it was my fault he ran in to me. He claimed I didn't have my signal on, that my brake lights didn't work, and the list went on of why it was my fault. This 19 year old twerp almost got a backhand. Finally, after a witness to the whole thing emerged, the guy said he wasn't going to claim it. Classic

Later that evening after another few hundred miles we pulled in to a rest stop and gas station. We figured we'd give the truck a test sleep. While we were setting up for the inagural camp in the camper, we noticed three young men loitering in the back of Carls Jr. These guys looked quite suspicious. Even moreso was the running towncar sitting at the back of the parking lot, running, and waiting for them. We knew something was going down. These guys walked up to the front of the store, held a poor guy at knifepoint, and demanded that he hand over everything. Two knives, throat, gut, and a pat down. Apparently they only walked with the guys sunglasses, which were fake Oakley's. 15 minutes after this ordeal, the cops showed up, clued us in to what had really happened, and took our statements. Nuts. For the first day on the road, this is pretty good. Needless to say, we ended up moving the truck for a more favored camp spot.

More driving today and more surprises.... not in the landscape. It's flatter than eastern Oregon down here. We did however receive the gift of ELK. I love elk. They appeared about 100 feet from the road. Two large bulls and two cows.

We are in San Diego and heading for Mex in the morning!!!!

We are pumped and ready to roll.
Tim is the man and we are enjoying the trip, though it kinda feels like the trip before the trip.

1100 miles down, 8900 to go.


Updated Truck

Tim's been tweaking the truck. Here are some updates.

You'll see that the bed of the truck has been transformed into a sleeper. This will be nice for beach camping, parking lot sleeping and the daily SIESTA.

There have also been extensions added to the rack that will support a tarp for shade on those hot days, and a hammock for those other days. A combination of the two is probably ideal.

There is much to be done in the next few days.

Tim arrives in the pm
My brother Matt arrives from Boston
Matt Hartzell bachelor Party






Leave in the morning!


School starts August 25

This means I have......68 days off



Truck Update

The Truck is nearing completion. At least the work on it is....

Last week he mentioned that we should probably take the truck up to the mountain and scramble it. This means that Tim would put the truck through the ultimate off-road test, to see whether is was capable of sustaining a 10,000 mile round trip. The checklist for this off-roading excursion would include, but would not be limited to the following.

Standard test -

4 x 4 working.
4 hi
4 low
limited slip differential working properly

Tim's Test - (now comes the good stuff)

Rock crawl
60 degree pitch ascent
try to get it high centered
try and try and try to roll the truck
circular burn-out in 4 wheel drive, to the left, to the right, to the left, to the right.......
hi speed reverse-to-180-and drive off
..and last but not least....
at least a foot of air

The truck stood up to the test. So the confidence level in our vehicular choice is now at an all-time high.

Since my visit, a lot of work has been done to the truck as well. Here's a good look at some of the latest additions to the truck.

1. lights on the rack. These are "illegal for road driving, they're just too bright." As you can see they look bitchin' too.

2. Spare tire mount. Now this is my idea of a Baja rig. We'll carry two spares, multiple fix-a-flat bottles, a puncture kit, and a small compressor that can run off a cigarette lighter.

Here's the bad and the ugly.....

Upper ball joint...must be replaced

center support bearing for the driveline needs to be replaced...it's gone...toasted


The bell sounded - school is over!

The final bell has sounded.
The final card has been dealt.
The pencil sharpener has stopped.
The lockers are done opening.
The late work will not be accepted
The end had come.
Oh yes, the end is near.
It is clear, so so clear,
the sky that is, and my mind.
clear like glass,
clear like clear water
clear like the fluid in your eye.


Excuse me if that makes no sense.


A few pics from the trip to Idaho.


This is my favorite: Tim just discovered that the original spark plugs are in the truck. Yes, that's 167,000 miles on the same 6. We rushed to Napa immediately to pick up another set of the same kind!
draining/replacing all fluids

Truck Rack - primed.....time to paint

we got a problem

water pump replacement


w t f ???

What's the deal with us? We still burn coal to generate electricity? We still have coal miners? We imploded the Trojan Nuclear Power Plant? I just don't get it anymore.

I remember driving through South Africa. Every 40 miles or so (64km) there were strings of 3 or 4 nuclear reactors with huge steam towers. I'm not talking about 1 here, and 1 way over yonder. I'm talking about 3 to 4 towers right next to each other...like matches in a matchbook....like asparagus in a rubber band....like crayons in a box.....That's what I'm talking about. I'm talking about row or nuclear reactors and steam towers EVERY 40 MILES!

I remember watching the video of Trojan being imploded. W T H?

I remember hearing stories on the Japanese, and how they are something like 40% dependant on nuclear to power the country.

W T ? and What say you?


Surfing the web

I was surfing the web today, "researching" surf spots in Central America and ran across this beauty. When I started planning for the trip, I thought the surf in Mexico and Central America was going to be weaker, considering the season. Apparently we are going to be there for the peak surfing season. Hopefully the surf isn't too large! If it looks anything like this undated photo of Sunzal, El Salvador, this trip will be epic!


"The Trip"

The Trip:

A 6 week journey through Mexico and Central America
Surfing, Mayan ruins, fine cuisine, and adventure.

The Vision:

Doing board repairs, surfing with locals, making some new friends, giving away a few surfboards, handing out a few Spanish Bibles...

The Crew:

J Small, Tim Rousse (childhood friend and MacGyver), Jason Terwee (pick up in Costa Rica)

The Truck:

'92 Nissan hardbody extended cab 3.0 l V6 5 speed manual 4 x 4.

This weekend was the first weekend of "work" for the trip. I drove to Boise on Friday afternoon immediately following school. Laura stopped by and hooked me up with a ridiculous care package....mainly edibles to be consumed during the trip.....free good food (all using double letters) is very good!

After my first stop in the Dalles to urinate, I picked up a hitchhiker named Thunder. (I have a policy of picking up hitchhikers that I know I could throttle if it came to it). I didn't ask Thunder if that was his real name or not, I felt that would have been stepping over into his territory. Thunder it was. The peaceful drive to Boise was gone, and so was half my sub, an apple, chips, and many other misc snacks. Thunder passed out about 4 hours into the trip and caught his falling/bobbing/falling asleep head for the remaining 2 hours

Made it, a little over 7 hours and about $80 in gas. Not bad.

9 am Saturday began the work on the rig. Tim is not a mechanic, but I'm certain he could earn a healthy wage if he opened a small business. The great part about Tim travelling with me on the trip....is the fact that he can make anything run, blow-up, or die. I'm pretty excited about this!!! He popped the hood and within minutes, he knew the waterpump, timing belt, distributor cap, rotor, plugs, airfilter, pcv valve, vacuum hose, radiator hose, and all fluids were in sad shape. We replaced them all! I say we, but I mean Tim. My only contribution was the cash I payed for everything. It was a team effort. I buy, Tim install.

While Tim cursed and groaned on the truck, I was busy finishing a rack I've been working on for the past three weeks. I finished the welding, wiped it down with mineral spirits (steel is coated with grease so it wont rust) and primered and painter the rack. Together we think the rack could support about a dozen road killed deer, two dozen surfboards, 4 spare tires, 50 gallons of water, and 36.5 gallons of gasoline.....ALL AT THE SAME TIME.......this thing is BEEFY.

Tims best guess is this...Despite the truck having 167,000 miles, the spark plugs have never, repeat, NEVER, repeat, NEVER been changed. Yes, I say this thrice. Apparently the timing belt, which should be replaced every 60,000 miles is an original too. How this thing hasn't caused serious, ultimately fatal truck damage, is beyond Tim.

Other fixing options include, but are not limited to.....getting more than 1 speaker working, rigging up a locking method for the tailgate (it has no lock), buying one more spare tire, finding a trail jack, rigging up the bed and canopy for camping, and areas to hide either firearms or sharp cutlery. Crossing the border with guns and large knives....bad things happen.

We still need to collect a bunch of equipment for the trip, first aid, emergency road kit, camping gear, but after this weekend we are both resting a little calmer when it comes to heading south. The rig is nearly ready.

Soon I start shaping surfboards.


Ye of LIttle Faith

I have a Christmas Tree!

Deracinated off of highway 26 during the monsoon. Smells great, looks great, and has 150 lights on it!

Picture coming soon



No, I'm not dead!

I will try and do this again. Sorry, Sorry


Arrival in South Africa - Pretoria

After more than 24 hours of travel, we've arrived in Pretoria South Africa where we are staying with a local pastor and his family. His wife is in Brazil leading a team of 10 missionaries. Stephanie Brockett was on our flight to DC, we snapped a few pictures and wished her a great trip as she is heading to Europe for the next two weeks.
Our flight was pretty good. They have personal entertainment centers on the seat in front of you that offer games, movies. music, TV shows...etc. They even have these sweet Nintendo type controllers. Very nice. it was a total of 15.5 hours from DC to Johannesburg, so you can imagine there were a couple movies watched and many games played. I particularly liked the logic games, which made me feel good about sitting down for more than 15 hours. They made my brain feel good at least, the hind end was a little sore.
We narrowly missed an opportunity to exchange our direct flight to Joburg, for a roundabout...England to Joburg. The payoff was either 400$ or a free round trip ticket on South African Airways. Dangit. Considering we have an overnight in Joburg, it might have been nice to re-route through England in exchange for another $2500.00 ticket. What do you think?
Apparently Joburg is a dangerous place. There are lots of muggings, carjackings, and Willie, the pastor, his house looks bombproof. His neighbor has metal fencing that resembles hundreds of vertical SHARP spears, along with 5 electric lines, never mind the razor wire. We are not in the ghetto either. Willies house has steel bars over ever window, all doors and screens are locked separately - add steel bars too. His place has been broken into 3 times in the last year.
Willie and family speak English and Afrikaans, a derivative of Dutch and German that has been spoken here is South Africa for the past 300 years.
Started reading John Eldridge's book "Wild at Heart", midway through chapter two...a very good book so far! No, I haven't read it yet, despite it being quite old. It has great things to say as to the way we were designed as men and the passions of men's hearts. (He even mentions women's hearts too)
There is still a great sense of expectancy as we head to Malawi tomorrow. Once there we embark on an 8 hour van ride to Mzuzu where we will be getting dirty with building and working in some schools.
Please continue to pray for us as we travel, also that we may be changed!
Dankie - Afrikaans for Thank You


Malawi - ready to roll

All packed and ready to roll. We're staying at Jen's house, getting up plenty early in the morning, and flying for an entire day.

PDX to Washington DC = 4:45
DC to Johannesburg = 15:15
Jburg - Malawi = 3:00

Sounds fun!

My brother Ben helped me pack up some gear early on and decided he wanted to take the trip with me!

Try to post from Malawi.
Keep Prayin'