Now that we’re on the road, I am finding it challenging to synthesize many en-route experiences–some of which I would readily share if it were just me blogging as an individual–into writing fit for public consumption. Something I am proud to associate with our business and which I feel is consistent with and representative of the work we’re doing. But that won’t stop me from trying! This is the first time I’ve had internet access on the trip, so I’ll consolidate and write about the first three days.

Our visit to Spokane was an awesome way to start out: as I mentioned in our last blog entry, my cousin Annie is a 3D rigger (an animator that makes 3D characters move) and, as the designer of our “Tomato Tree” logo, a most excellent contributor to our business. It was fun to meet her new family–specifically her fiancee’s best friend and grandfolks, with whom she and James live.

Unexpected bonus: grandpa (a.k.a. Farmer Jim) introduced us to his garden as soon as we arrived. It involves over a dozen pots on wheels that are moved indoors at night so as to avoid deer damage, which is easy to sustain in their hilltop neighborhood.

Although our visit was entirely too short, we had a very good time. And meanwhile, Annie hatched a plan to get all the cousins in our generation together to share family stories–to fill each other in on the information we’ve learned during lapses in our family’s not-so-talkativeness. I’ll definitely be sharing the one about Gram’s road trip. And I have no doubt that I can collect a few more along the way…

We headed to Yellowstone next, and I think that the pictures of that part of the trip speak for themselves. They’ll have to, because I’m at a loss for what to say about such a dynamic and entirely out-of-the-ordinary place. We did get to see the Youth Conservation Corps HQ, where Isabel stayed on weekends when she worked in the park seven summers ago, and follow up on some of the erosion control work she did then.

It’s very satisfying to see the trees Isabel and her coworkers planted growing up fast and doing the work they’re meant to do. That sight makes me hopeful for the future of our gardening endeavors; it also makes me think that I would like to do more planting of plants to perform functions that we might otherwise need to install infrastructure to take care of. I want to be able to visit years later and find healthy, self-sustaining ecosystems–as well as soil staying where it’s supposed to stay.

Upon exiting the park, we shared a lovely meal in Cody, WY with Isabel’s grandma’s cousin. As luck would have it, Mary is also a gardener; we made sure she ended up with an Independence Gardens-branded rain gauge (thanks to my dad for thinking to purchase those!) and a little bit of the salve we made with students in camp last week.

After a drive-by visit to Mt. Rushmore and a stop at the Black Hills Visitor Center, we’re on our way to the Minneapolis metro area now. There, we’ll stay with a good friend who is passionate about creating sustainable community-based energy systems; if we’re lucky, we’ll also get to help another friend with his CSA distribution. Fingers crossed!

(Special note for today: HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our biggest little brother! We love you!)