California is Home
Home. Northern California is now home to both FBJ Creations and our family. We have been in California for several months, living in the bus. We explored the Salton Sea, Anza Borrega, dry lake beds and more our first month here. We spent a month at Middle Creek Campground in the Mendocino National Forest, where were the campground hosts. Then we went to Ferndale and Eureka. I taught summer school and Bryon volunteered at the Humboldt County Fairgrounds.
We met some creative and eccentric souls in Ferndale. The small town is preserved in a Victorian fashion. It’s a few miles from the coast. We had visited it in May, after I interviewed for jobs. We met a few people around the fair during that stay. Two of those people were Poppy and Bill. They were helping clean up the grounds before the August fair. They helped us arrange to stay at the fair, while I taught in Eureka.
Our friends Poppy and Bill shared with us stories and information of the area. April learned about plants daily with Poppy. Poppy also brought us things like bull kelp, preserved sea stars, succulents, reader's from the 70s, and hand-carved wooden spoons. She gifted April two recorder type instruments. She played music and did art with her.
Bryon helped plant hundreds of plants with Bill, near the horse track and assisted in other tasks, like building planters. Our family is thankful to have met Bill and Poppy. They welcomed us and made our stay at the fairground possible. We enjoyed our time in Ferndale.
We moved out of the bus at the end of July, after a quick trip to Idaho, to empty our storage unit. We had decided to settle in Northern California, back in April. We had clothes, tools, bikes and more packed away in Idaho. It was time to move them. We are thankful to Andy, for arranging for us to camp up at Grand Targhee, during our time in the Tetons. It was great to be back in the the mountains where our family's journey began. Bryon and I met working at Targhee. It's incredible what we have done together since. I love the family we have created together. The adventures we've had with our kids and animals are truly amazing. Our relationship has gone well beyond my wildest dreams.
We got to ride the fantastic trails up at Targhee, and we stopped by Fitzgerald's Bicycles. They stocked up with bags we had brought with us. We are thankful for their continued support. They were truly our first bike bag customers and have supported our bike bags since the beginning.
The first week of August really was the start to our new life in Covelo. Bryon organized his supplies, we had all our belongings with us, I started work, and April enrolled in kindergarten.
Covelo is in a valley on the edge of the Mendocino National Forest. It is about 30 miles from Highway 101. The town sits on historic Yuki territory. Native tribes from all over California were relocated to Round Valley, where Covelo sits years ago. The Round Valley tribes is actually 6-7 tribes (depending on who you talk to) that live on the same reservation. There is high Hispanic population in the region, as well. Timber, cattle, and marijuana are the valley’s major industries. The community is very different from anywhere we have previously lived. It’s lawless in many ways. The sheriff and CHP only come out when there is serious trouble. Tribal police maintain a presence, but it would appear most do not respect or see the tribal police as a real authority. Our bus window was shot out the first week we were in town. When reported the incident, the officer from the Sheriff’s departments was blunt in saying “well, you know that thing just happens in Covelo.” There have been at least three murders in this small community since we moved in.
We hated living in the actual town of Covelo. The surrounding area is beautiful. The Eel River is gorgeous, with oaks, redwoods and more growing on the roadsides. When you drive into town there are large cattle farms, not so different then you might see in Idaho. Drive a little further, the greenhouses and tall fences start to pop up around grows. The town actually smells of weed most days in late summer and early fall. Many people in the area are not welcoming like the landscape. The population I work with is very different here compared to the students I worked with in Swan Valley. Attendance does not seem to be a concern for most. All of my students are well-below grade level. I teach several students that are living with grandparents. Many families have one or more parents in prison or that have been killed. Teaching in Covelo is definitely an adventure. Living in Covelo, is indescribable and not something we’d suggest to many.
After a month of being in Covelo, we almost packed up and left. The school neglected to take care of some of my paperwork, after hiring me and almost didn’t pay me for my first month there. We felt our home was not the best for our family. My contract would be void if I wasn’t paid, so leaving was definitely an option. I fortunately had joined the union the first week back at work. I was told it was necessary, as the district could be known to have issues, and upset teachers. The union had the resources to help teachers resolve most issues. This proved true in my issues with the district. The union president went to all my meetings with the superintendent and got the union lawyer involved to ensure I was paid fully my first month. I had applied for other jobs and even offered one in Redway. We ended up staying and I was paid the amount due to me for my first month of work. Ultimately, staying was the best thing we could have done because it led us to move from Covelo to our new home at the beginning of September.
We did not like living in Covelo. We were thankful for the short-term rental the school had available. It was conveniently located across from school and within blocks of the grocery store and post office. It was on a very noisy corner though, and not the most ideal for our dogs, kids, or us.
We had been in contact with a landlord in Dos Rios for a few weeks. Another teacher had told me about a house on the river that would be up for rent in September. The same week I was having contract issues at work, we looked at it. After checking it out and could not say no to it.
Our new home is a 100-year-old farm house, with a large fenced yard, shop and trails that lead to the river. It’s spacious living room is a great workspace for our business. We have it set up with our sewing machines, supplies, and a large work table. We look forward to maintaining and growing our bag business here. We plan on introducing custom ski and gear bags to our line-up this winter.
The dogs love the yard. We do too. There is plenty of space for gardens and eventually more animals. We are planning on keeping a vegetable garden, growing rows of sunflowers, corn and more. We are also looking forward to having chickens and ducks. The property has an existing space for animals that just needs to be cleaned up for our future birds. We could not have found a better space.
We love working around the property. The river is a wonderful and refreshing on hot days. We can’t wait until spring when the water levels rise. Until then, we are enjoying play time in the small rapids.
We are near enough to gravel roads that we are looking forward to exploring a bit on our Fargos. We’ve began racing BMX again too, since our relocation. The Rusty Bowl in Ukiah is our new home track. Daphney and April have raced their balance bikes there. Bryon is crushing the men's cruiser class, and most nights there are enough women to run a women's cruiser moto, so I've started racing a little too.
Our home on the river is beautiful. We all love the simplicity and remoteness of it. We are thankful to have a place to call home and grow as a family.
If you have made it this far, we have some news for you! We are expecting twins in April!