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Adventure Riders

Stay Wild

In August, photographer Kris Regentin and his friend James Luce rode motorcycles from Portland to the Alvord Desert in southeastern Oregon. Two Suzuki DRZ400s carried them and their pile of camping gear for a little over 1,000 miles in 5-1/2 days, mostly off road. 

Read on to see what kind of dust they kicked up....

James and I both have jobs we hate that allow us to do things we love, and we both really wanted to get out on motorcycles and get somewhere. We decided to make this trip happen on very short notice. Thursday the 22nd of August, James and I were bullshitting via gChat, talking about how bummed we were about another planned motorcycle trip that fell through. James threw out the idea of a Steens/Alvord trip, but I still had no bike (I had opted to funnel adventurebike-purchasing funds into other avenues when the previously planned trip fell through). James hit up his friend Johnny, who had a DRZ400 just like James'. He agreed to loan it; Friday I picked it up from Johnny, and pounded the concrete for a metal fabrication space, as I had just lost my fab space. My friends at Hold Fast Fabrication offered space and tools, and Saturday I spent the afternoon fabbing a rack and dialing the bike in for the +/-1000 mile journey, before working my other job from 4 PM-midnight. 5 AM Sunday I packed the bike and met James, and we hit the road at 8.

We basically planned and executed the the trip in 3 days of hustling.

Honestly, it was stressful for me. My life had kind of melted down in the beginning of August, and committing time to do even the short 5-1/2 day trip to the Alvord Desert was daunting. James had plenty of stress, as well, with his girlfriend, and job, and taking off for a week; but he knew it would be worth it (as did I). And, as soon as we were out on the road, the stress melted, the city was left behind, and we were just trekking. We spent much time in challenging situations, dealing with broken bikes on the road--including a broken rack weld (on my bike, my hasty/poor work) in the middle of the Paisley Desert, a really, truly, horrible, middle-of-nowhere desert in Oregon that will kill an underprepared traveler.

The Paisley was the most challenging, trying, and--ultimately--rewarding stretch of the trip. James had done some minor research into whether or not it was possible to cross the Paisley on a road called Fandango Canyon, and had found one single adventure rider forum post which read:

User 1: "Is it possible to cross the Paisley on Fandango?"

User 2: "Yes" [photo of motorcycle on Fandango Canyon]

On that, we decided to go for it. 75 miles across a nasty 4x4 trail (that frequently gets washed out), cutting through the middle of a 100+ degree desert with no shade, no water, and no fuel for miles. We later met a adventure rider who told us that Fandango is a bucket list road for many riders, that it's one of those ultimate roads that a rider crosses only when really prepared. We had done it on a whim, on our first ever adventure ride, with no GPS, no map, and no cell reception. In the middle of the crossing, the punishing, pounding terrain snapped a tension weld on my rack and we were forced to improvise our gear transportation. The whole idea of crossing was kind of stupid, kind of brave, and so deeply rewarding.

The trip, for both of us, was really about getting out in the middle of nowhere in Oregon, forgetting the sometimes overwhelming PDX lifestyle, and getting to know a part of the state we had never seen. We rode somewhere in the vicinity of 1000 miles in 5 1/2 days, with around 65% of the riding being off pavement; we met very interesting and truly kind locals in each town we stopped in; we drank whiskey in volcanic hot springs and waxed philosophical about every subject that came to mind; we camped by ourselves in the middle of a dry lake bed in the Alvord desert, with no one else around for miles and miles; we did some pitch-dark riding, back and forth across said desert, lost our camp, and nearly spent the night in the middle of the lakebed, because one cannot find anything in that environment with no reference lights for miles. (We got very lucky and stumbled upon our camp in the darkness after riding in circles for some time.) It was a really inspiring, insightful, and challenging experience. And, it lit a fire under both of asses to spend more time on rides like that and less time fretting about all the bullshit that we tend to get caught up in.

See more rad stuff by Kris Regentin HERE>>>

Endless Summer of Aloha

Stay Wild

Don't listen to those know-it-alls going around saying, "Summer's Almost Over"! If you have enough Aloha in your life summer will never end.

Don't believe us? Put the theory to the test by wearing one of these aloha shirts for a day. You'll see!

The Hylaeus Project

Stay Wild

The Hylaeus Project

Native Hawaiian Bees are Bringing Art and Science Together

Lisa Schonberg is a musician/teacher/artist/creative entomologist. You know the type, right?
We met up with her to talk about this awesome project she started with Aidan Koch (another artist/nature lover) called The Hylaeus Project.

How did you find out about these Hawaiian bees when you live in Portland?

I worked for the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation in Portland. My last and most favorite project for them was a status review of the Hylaeus bees of Hawaii. Xerces was paying attention to them because they are the only bees that are native to Hawaii, and like many other native Hawaiian species, have been in sharp decline for a good while. Xerces was interested in petitioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list some species of Hawaiian Hylaeus as endangered. They asked me to look at what was known about the 60 known species and make a recommendation for the best candidates for listing. I ended up co-authoring petitions to list seven species with entomologist Karl Magnacca, who is the reigning expert on this taxa. Although I’d previously done fieldwork in Hawaii (for the U.S. Geological Survey), this work was all from a desk in SE Portland. When I left the job at Xerces, I realized that I was one of the few people who had ever paid attention to these important and threatened pollinators. Before Karl, the only other thorough survey was done by the British naturalist R.C.L. Perkins in the 1890s. So I decided to document these bees in a creative way and get the word out. I knew so much of them, I almost had to.

Would putting these bees on the endangered species list do to the Hawaiian tourism industry what listing the spotted owl did to the Pacific Northwest logging industry?

I do not think that it would. There are such vast developments of resorts on the islands where the Hylaeus habitat is long, long gone, and those people can go on touristing as they would. In places where the Hylaeus are still hanging on near possible development or expansion, I could see there possibly being limits placed on where they could expand. But it could be to the benefit of the resort or other development interest to conserve those areas and even gear tourist activities toward “eco-tourist” sorts of things like biology talks and bird, bee and plant walks in the conserved habitats, and create jobs out of those activities. Hell, they could even take it one step further in places where the habitat is long gone and initiate native plant restoration projects and bee reintroductions and probably market that to tourists as well.

What brought Aidan Koch and you together for this project?

I’ve always admired Aidan’s work and aesthetic, so she immediately came to mind for this project. I loved the drawings from her Field Studies book in particular, and I loved the things that she’d happened to take note of and draw in her travels. I was excited to see what she’d notice and document on our trip. I also knew she had good rhythm. While we were in Hawaii, Aidan and I ended up forming a new side-project band called Lava Rock—an improve duo, with myself on drum kit and Aidan on vocal loops and oscillator.

Bringing art and science together seems tricky since art is so open to interpretation and science is so factual. Did you have any trouble mixing the two with this project?

Socially effective art and science are really similar—I’m realizing this more and more. You decide you want to illustrate or bring attention to something, and you dig in really deep and become intimate with an idea, and then you hone that idea and present it to the public. Science is factual, yes, but only because it is built on previous work and accepted theories and is peer-reviewed, etc. Some sciences, like physics, seem so abstract and creative in the same ways a lot of art is. So, yeah, I didn’t have much trouble mixing the two. I have thought about the fact that my book and the drawings are more straightforward representations of what we found, whereas the music might come off as more abstractly connected. But I see a really obvious connection there between crucial habitat, sound, and interpretation through music.

When you’re out in the field recording sounds, what are you looking for?

I generally start recording with headphones on and see what happens. Sometimes I have to give it some time before noticing things—like the way the wind sounds when it moves through different plants. Sometimes there isn’t anything super interesting or notable—which is something! The absence of machinery, of engines, of squawking invasive myna birds, that is all something. When that is all absent, quieter things—like the crescendo of wind moving through thin grasses—are more noticeable. Other times I end up catching an awkwardly amplified conversation from nearby beachgoers. Some sounds are no-brainers to record—the immense chorus of coqui frogs every night on the Hilo side of the Big Island, or the sound of bombs being dropped into the ocean a mile off the shore of Kauai. Once I got over the initial shock of those bombs, I recorded the hell out of them.

The Hylaeus Project
Written by Lisa Ann Schonberg and illustrated by Aidan Koch
Publication Studio, 2014
Cassette Tape of The Hylaeus Project
Percussion compositions by Secret Drum Band
Curly Cassettes, 2014
Available HERE >>>