A Home Without Wheels by Heidi Geist

I’m no dummy, well, I suppose there’s room for debate there, but if there’s one thing I’m confident about, it is that SHIT HAPPENS. We take precautions, we carry objects that make us feel a touch safer, more prepared. The thing is, we can’t know what exactly it is we are preparing for, which leaves a pretty big space to fill with dawg knows what. Then the question becomes less about what objects we have to work with, and more about how ready our minds are. I feel as though I’ve written a lot about all the misfortunes and vehicle drama that has unfolded on the 48 Beer Project tour, but perhaps it is time to better articulate the impact that all this has had on my silly artist’s mind.

Roller coaster ride-how many describe relationships, at work, at home. That’s also how I will describe the past 22 months. From the moment I made the decision to embrace this insanity, things alternated between falling into place, and falling into chaos. Some moments in the planning process made me want to curl up in the fetal position and never move. Some moments were nothing short of inspiring and gave me great motivation. I have already written much about everything leading up to the trip departure, so I will leave all those details for the book, but know there will be several chapters on that!

The idea for this project, in a nutshell, was that I would build out the bus to live in, travel in, and work from. This would be all I’d need until, after returning to New England, finishing up the project and planning my next move. I gave up all my things—everything I owned, with the exception of a few clothes and books—sold my car, and invested my being into that bus/tiny house/art studio. I knew there would be some superficially tragic events on the road, with the bus. A year is a long time to drive house on wheels, through multiple climates and seasons, 30,000 miles. What I didn’t expect, was to burn up what little sponsorship funding I had in the first 5 months, with bad brakes, tire replacement, alternator replacement, and three new serpentine belts, etc. Three tows in one month.

That added a major challenge, because managing the project was a full time job in itself, without taking on extra side work. And with the addition of my copilot, my then 15 year old daughter, and then our little furry companion, the financial burden became the new inspiration for my chronic insomnia. But this started in the beginning of a very long journey! Money aside, the weather in the south was certainly unexpected…with temps hovering in the twenties much of the winter, and no heat on the bus, the three of us often wore multiple layers of clothes, and huddled in the bed together to keep somewhat warm. On the frigid days, we couldn’t even get the butane to light to heat water for breakfast or tea. Imagine trying to work in a studio that you can see your breath in?!

When the bus took her final breath, upon entering Arizona, my brain produced a forcefield to protect me from the inevitable grief and anxiety that would follow. My options were not just limited, they didn't exist. I had to move forward, and it was clear I wasn’t going to do it with the bus. I, to this day, have yet to process that emotion.

Thanks to crowd-funding, and a handful of stellar fans and friends, I was able to purchase the CR-V, and continue the tour. The miles I put on the Honda…looping up and down the west, and the northern midwestern US, well…it is miraculous that she still plugs along. It wasn’t the same though. Not driving the bus changed everything. The dynamic of the project shifted entirely and though it was still amazing, and even at times better, it was a bit of a let down. I think I actually lost some followers when I lost Fearless.

More unexpected events unfolded early in the summer that caused my gameplan to change drastically. I found myself having to pack up what little I could fit in the car, including Churro, my little protector, and drive back to Maine two months early. Again, this impacted the whole dynamic of the project, and with every little event like this, a I felt like a piece of the excitement broke off and drifted away into space. The online interaction with the project all but stopped, my audience suddenly seemed to dissipate. As I spent July and August stuffed in my ex-husband’s apartment, distracted, and studio-less, my own excitement broke away, crumbling little bits at a time, in a net of melancholy, anxiety, in a space that only encouraged a withdrawal from social interaction and desire to find that fetal position.

Feeling a very nagging pressure to have my own space again, since I had a LOT of work to do, and nowhere to do it, I quit any thoughts about reviving the bus, and instead lept into a lease on a house 25 times the size of the bus. Granted, there weren’t many rentals to choose from here int he great state of Maine, but it feels bizarre-the space.

Preparedness.

I knew I would have breakdowns. I did. I did not know to what extent that would impact the project. It changed everything.

I did not expect to exhaust all funds halfway through the project, not to lose my home.

Mental preparedness. I was not. You cannot be. I have ZERO regrets about this project, contrary to how I have carved out the above story. I loved it all…even wading in the intensity of anxiety and workload. I met the most beautiful people, strangers, brewery folks. I have stories for days, weeks, years. I am strong and learning, evolving and hopefully have inspired a few others. But damn, I’m in a weird place. In all honesty, with the abandonment of the bus, and near completion of the travel, I feel quite abandoned by the beer community. Maybe it’s just me… and my own perception of it all…my reaction to being back in a “real” house, disconnected from the road and constant socializing in taprooms and chitchat over gas being pumped. Odd. What seemed so epic and amazing now seems distant and small.

I kind of expected to come back, curl up for the winter to write the book and finish the project, and sob with a blanket and a cup of tea…both grief for the end of the journey and joy for the awesomeness that unfolded. But so far, I feel as though I am trapped in a dream, low hanging fog, undetectable color, isolated…in limbo. As a psychologist, I could say I’m (simply) depressed, but screw that. This is different. I feel like I’m waiting for my alarm clock to buzz and jolt me back into the mainstream waking life.

At any rate.. this is meant as an observation—an objective note on what’s happening now, and perhaps I just need to write this to make myself feel something more, and it isn’t for any audience, but I also think it is all very relevant to the story of the 48 Beer Project.

Ultimately, it is not over. There are plenty of project labels yet to finish, to be released, and two states to visit. I have to sort through a year and a half of voice recordings and photos to start piecing together ideas for the book/s, and artwork I have to show.

I guess for now, I will stumble through this dream and wait for that alarm.

That Parking Lot Life by Heidi Geist

Buzzzzzzzzzzing power poles—football stadium lighting in lots—Long haul neighbors let engines run late—doors slam.

Cars come, cars go—-some peel out.

Alarms are neglected while panicked drivers fumble

I hung curtains, but still, my windows are down—or I suffocate—hot nights are torturous in questionable lots

The sun is up already? I lift my head, NO. It’s just the buzzing lights.

The sun is really up now. No.

The sun does rise, but like the wolf—and the boy goes unheard.

Sleep is evasive | elusive | broken

Dreams reflect a state deprived of rest, and rest comes only in dreams.

I did it all for the art.

"Crafting Change" -Delta Beer Lab by Heidi Geist

A shared perspective here at Delta Beer Lab sums up the entire mission of the 48 Beer Project in only two words—”Crafting Change”.

In the midst of an (seemingly) escalating divide in our American community—much of it being media-driven, of course, but no matter the source of contention, folks are taking sides, even in the most non-applicable circumstances, and with fierce commitment—a political piousness—forming very narrow opinions, void of peripheral view, a lens that lacks any attempt of empathy.

I could veer down some paths of conspiracy, and I’m always happy to do so, but here I will acknowledge only what we have in front of us.

Humanity is GOOD.

LIKE IT OR NOT, PEOPLE ARE GOOD. COLOR | SEX | GENDER | RACE | SPIRITUAL/SCIENTIFIC BELIEFS | AGE | CLASS | EDUCATION | SO ON—— WE ARE ALL JUST FUCKING PEOPLE.

The craft beer industry is far from perfect, so please don’t mistake my words for some unrealistic glorification of this industry or the folks who keep its parts greased. HOWEVER, and I’ve touched on this in past blog posts, what craft has done for community, and this nation at large, is take a beloved beverage and craft with it a positive space for ALL people to share in a common passion. Taprooms are havens for all. Gay, straight, religious, non-religious, the political left/right/middle/none, families, retirees, all of us ethnic mutts and those who are somehow still “pure-bred”, rich, poor, college students, etc. And what a statement- HAVENS for all within the imaginary borders of this country—-in a time when many more are seeking, simply, the basic life necessities, and violently denied.

The point I make here is this, YES, there is currently, always has been, and always will be defined lines that keep our human family separated into groups…categories…keep us divided. BUT, let us please not just constantly mourn this, but celebrate the efforts of those who attempt to provide sense of community, of safety and love. I believe, through a lifetime of social observation, interviews, conversation, etc., that there is FAR MORE GOOD in this country in the world, and the negativity will always try to take the spotlight, but sometimes it is in the shadows that our light truly shines.

Been a minute by Heidi Geist

Well… to say I have some catching up to do with my blogging would be a gross understatement. Problem is, I rarely have wifi anymore.

I’m presently sitting in the meeting/catch-all room of Fernson Brewing Company’s main location in northern Sioux Falls, South Dakota. This is the second brewery stop on this 3rd mini tour, and the 35th collaboration for the 48 Beer Project! With only a month and a half of touring left, I’m feeling the squeeze of my future plans….where I will live, how I will move the bus, how I will go about sorting and organizing a year + worth of content, brewery collaborations, experiences on the road, etc.

It will be bitter sweet finishing the tour, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t beginning to get anxious to be stationary and see my girls again! I’m stoked too, to get working on the book and art exhibition.

Since I’m short on time here, I’ll just leave y’all with some random photos…. More soon.

What it is to be (here) by Heidi Geist


Wind gusts over the desert floor, through thorny brush and rock, a bully…it slams the bus to make a point…leaving another obnoxious coating of dust. The art supplies, the counter tops and bed, what food and dishes are exposed. 

I walk barefoot, cringing at the impossible cleanliness that was washed away in New Mexico, with the apocalyptic sand storm…the one that claimed a solar panel and found its way into all my orifices, rocking the bus-not sweetly-but malevolently…persistent and violent.

That sun. It’s heat is growing more intense, though daily winds keep it in check. When the clouds roll over the blue sky, a relief is had, transient as it is. I’ve painted my skylight, my windshield, and double-layered curtains drape over the back windows. The roof is white, though none of this matters much, out here. Exposed. The bus is an ant under a magnifying glass.

I run a small fan. It helps the dog, Churro, who lazes on my bed…forgetting the afternoons….gifting them to the native creatures who scurry under mesquite bushes. Water is work, but must always be available. The well is a short walk from the bus, perhaps a third mile down the rutted dirt driveway. We make our daily pilgrimages to the well for drinking water, the dogs often trail behind, until a jackrabbit or lizard is spotted.

I hung a small wind chime from a mesquite tree in my garden. It sings like a hushed Italian aria, haunting a night-long dream, reminding me of my detached place in the universe, and hypnotizing, it lulls my mind to distant realities.

When it rains…it doesn’t really ever rain, but when it does… it falls like an exclamation point.

Sleep is fragmented. Coyotes yip in packs, and the dogs answer back. 

Stars present grandiose exhibitions, and the moon… when the moon is full, it enters stage center…a spotlight in the spotlight, rising proud and loud over silhouettes of mountains. 

I leave. Driving, driving, driving, driving. The road gives so much, a generous portion of eye candy, and social dance.


Filed Under: HazeBroz|OG | West versus East by Heidi Geist

Just a quick observation here.

First, let me preface with this——I’ve been living in New England for the past 12 years.

Yesterday evening, I was perched at the bar of Breakside Brewery nursing a rice lager, getting whiplash from a head-spinning parade of amber-colored beers being passed from the beertender to the server. I glanced at the draft list and wondered which of the non-IPA’s was such a rich honey-copper.

I asked the waitress what the beer was, and she replied, and I quote..”IPA, of course!!”.

I was like….holy shit, I’ve been drenched in the haze craze to the point of not even recognizing an OG beer-the classic West Coast IPA.

Look… I don’t have the biggest palate for either, but I can appreciate both, and this was incredibly refreshing…to see the original style still very alive and well out here!

The end.

Hi, from California! by Heidi Geist

The bus, Fearless, turned her last mile nearly 6 weeks ago.

You can imagine how this may have put a bit of a kink in the travel portion of the 48 Beer Project.

Though the trip is sponsored, funds were burnt quickly, with a series of engine troubles through the winter. Stranded in southern Arizona, I deliberated a while on how to proceed. Crowdfunding was the most immediate means of securing funds needed to keep on the road, and with much gratitude to those who donated, I was able to purchase a new set of wheels. 

The Honda CRV (named Sonni) I found on Craigslist certainly isn’t in new condition. It clearly had endured some front end damage, had its catalytic converter stripped, driver’s door can only be opened from the outside (which should prove a massive pain in the ass in any torrential downpour), and airbags have never been replaced. However, the price and timing was right, and all I really need is something to get me from point A-B and back to A. 

Yes, this is NOT a great alternative to a bus, in that it has no toilet, comfy bed, kitchen, art studio. It is not a home on wheels. I’ll make it work.

I have a lengthy blog in the works, covering the story of the breakdown, my time in the desert, the plan from here on out. But for now, I wanted to just thank all my fabulous supporters and show some pics from today’s adventure. I am now JUST back on the road, after a nearly 6 week hiatus, and it feels FANTASTIC! 

I am presently writing from Joshua Tree, California, having just spent the morning meandering through the state park. This afternoon I will head to the Pacific Coast, and hopefully get some artwork done, while soaking up some gorgeous ocean views!

Cheers!

Notes from the Desert by Heidi Geist

The meaning of the term culture cannot be simplified into general categories such as art, religion, language, or tradition. 

The culture of a group of people extends inward, to the very biological core of their being, and draws out the behavior, beliefs, communication, and creative expression…a strikingly unique community.

This is true of all people, in all groups, all around the globe.

It’s easy to forget, here in the United States, that hundreds, if not thousands of unique cultures exist under one ginormous roof. Sometimes we lose sight of the importance of each group, each individual, in all their beautiful differences, and all they have to teach us. It’s in the spectrum of the arts, intellect, spirituality, cuisine, ability, compassion, empathy, familial relationships, social relationships, language-that our grand community dynamic is given life. 

We can’t know ourselves without knowing others, and vice versa.

To see the world with lovingly objective eyes is a great stride toward personal transendence and ultimately, acceptance. We certainly don’t have to be unrealistic in our perspective. Bad things happen, traumas and despair are quite real, but so is the human capacity for seeing the bigger picture, for forgiveness and processing. To maintain a positive relationship with the self offers us distance from anger, hatred, shame, regret…apathy.


Life is a journey…one of many perils, successes, falls, birth, excitement, sorrow, etc. This is how humanity is so fucking complex…within each culture-a shared language, and norms, all the creativity, and tradition-is a host of individuals, each even more unique, each with his/her own experience. Within each of these humans is a unique biological ancestry, that can be traced back to the beginning of time, as we know it.

 

Traveling is the greatest way to truly experience the diversity within this country, and you don’t have to drive through 48 or even 50 states over the course of a year to do it. I am, however, grateful as hell for this opportunity, spending more than a plane ride, or a solo bar hang talking and listening with strangers. I have only come to care more for my human family. Embracing the sharp differences of opinion, and opening up to other considerations is incredibly liberating. The longer I am out here, struggles very much included, the more empowered I feel, and better equipped to be an ear for others, to be a rock when needed, and hopefully a great teacher.

One thing that I have come to appreciate, is my true self, my body as it changes through seasons, my occasional loopiness, and even my regular garlic breath. My clothes are paint stained and ripped, stretched from weight gain and loss, and none of that matters. I am out here to learn, and to show, to share, and observe.

Time is effortless…ripping across itself with the most delicate precision. Time is acutely clear but also abstract and illusory. I am weaving a story of time-history of places and cultures, evolution of an industry, and the connection of our human family.  

Arizona should be a sanctuary for writing my story of you, for you. I will be here, intermittently, throughout the next six months…hands up for the sun!!

Another Blog Post by Heidi Geist

Sometimes I don’t blog, because I feel like writing about myself on the regular can feel a bit self absorbed or whatever…especially when I should be keeping up with the stories of my collaborating breweries. It’s challenging to balance a sort of project diary here, without divulging all the details, that I’d prefer save for the book. After all, who wants to read the same book twice?

In all honestly, I feel a bit overwhelmed by this aspect of things-the writing and the vlogging….that never was. In the beginning, I wanted to share my experience after each brewery visit, but fell behind, and now, to go back and fill in the cracks… ayayay. Be patient with me, because this is something that I find to be absolutely necessary to the success of this trip, but they will be strung together, out of order and somewhat chaotically!

Presently, I’m sitting, laptop on my…lap…on the bed in Fearless, Churro napping by my side…windows down, in the Arizona desert. It is still early and the sun has yet to wake the earth with its scorching rays. For now, she is still sleepy and her gentle morning light has partnered with this slow spring breeze, to give me the ideal writing conditions. This land is my brother’s, eighty acres of mesquite brush and red earth, hugged by a 360 degree mountain view. We are in the southwest of Arizona, not far from the border, and the artsy little mining town of Bisbee.

Bisbee was a destination for our family back when I was a kid. We lived in Tucson, and liked to take the hour and a half drive down here to sup on Thanksgiving dinner, provided by the historic, and certainly haunted, Copper Queen Hotel. A hotspot for retired folks with a thirst for the slow life, artists, aging hippies and the hiking culture. It has, in recent years, become a bit of a tourist destination, but that hasn’t dulled the scene.

If you’ve never been to states like Arizona, or Nevada, you’ve probably never experienced the extreme contrast in nature versus village/city…in the way that each community is like an isolated island…which may be redundant, but to grasp the full scope. It isn’t for everyone. I happen to thrive in this landscape-to have the best of both worlds, right at your fingertips….endless options for outdoor exploration, while that rich culture of cuisine, nightlife, the arts….lies only a short drive away.

You can choose your own adventure out here.

My brother and his long time best friend and girlfriend (same person) are modern day pioneers. They have built a life from nothing, from the desert floor, with patience and pain, with love and passion. The homesteading life isn’t the easy one. There are no easily attainable creature comforts, nothing comes without a little extra work. But this is who we are…our family. The reward of seeing your garden begin to sprout in a dry, dusty land…sitting down for a meal, after having to walk a quarter mile to the well for water to boil, sitting by a juniper fire, in the full moon light, and still able to see the stars at night. The rewards are as plentiful as the work, if you are willing to see what it is to be human. Thats not to say there is only one respectable way to live in this world, or that many people these days would ever enjoy anything about this lifestyle.

It is in the balance of these things, however, that honest happiness springs.

NahNahNahNovare Rezzzs by Heidi Geist

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I’ve been meaning to (for the past 6 months) introduce you all to my Portland, Maine fam. By “fam”, I refer to all my friends and connections back home. Portland is unique in this way, all it’s year-round residents are very connected, perhaps leaning toward incestuous at times, but mostly, it’s like having a massive network of extended family. Many of us intersect at creative ventures, whether it be playing music, writing, theater, visual art, etc., and most of us do or have worked in the local service industry. I may not be a “Mainer”, but I love these people!

One of my favorite, and much missed (because I’m on the road…they still exist :)) Portland haunts is Novare Res Bier Cafe. Novare has been nurturing the Maine beer scene for well over a decade now, and is known for their superior selection of beer from around the world. While the original focus was a bit more Belgian-forward, they have now become the hotspot for a wide array of styles in top craft beers from around our country.

Perhaps the most loved facet of the culture of this bar, is the aesthetics, the design and location of the physical space. Being tucked under a tall city building, accessible via an alley, it has the appeal of some amazing European club, known only to the locals. Tourism is not foreign to Novare Res, though…word has been out, and people flock to this beer bar all year long…whether we find this good, or annoying, doesn't change the awesome vibe inside. <3

Owner/Founder of Novare, Eric Michaud, brought to the scene a much different concept a few years back, brewery/distillery/restaurant/bar, Liquid Riot Bottling Company. Perched right over the waterfront on Portland’s Commercial Street, Liquid Riot is right in the thick of the cruise shippers and ocean-loving visitors. This place isn’t a “Jack of all trades”…everything they do, they do well. My first introduction to Liquid Riot (formerly named Infinity), was 5 or 6 years back, and has since become a favorite source for some of Maine’s best beer and spirits.


Hey America! I'm skating across ya like 1989 and a disco ball! by Heidi Geist

NOLA. That’s N e w O r l e a n s L o u i s i a n a for you homebodies. Louisiana makes the 18th state visit for Fearless the limping, but amazing skoolie! Just so happens, too, that we will be here for Mardi Gras…full of King Cake, and adorned in beads.

I think we’re coming up on 7,000 miles on the bus already! It’s pretty nuts, how small the route traveled thus far looks, in comparison to what is ahead. It’s mind blowing to me to think it has been nearly a year since that fateful fast and hot bath led me to this concept for the 48 Beer Project. What has unfolded in this past year…all the hard work, the struggles and surviving a relationship with a psychopath. I’ve watched my oldest graduate high school. My mom endured and recovered from double knee replacements. I can’t help but feel like I’m at moving at full speed across that smelly rink, showing off all my best moves, faking confidence and crossing my fingers not to fall…and somehow continuing to, well, continue.

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My partner in crime is jetting back to Maine next Wednesday, leaving me to my own shenanigans, back to babbling to myself (and Churro, the Mountain Cur) and abandoning the Chinese Checkers and Uno for Solitaire and possibly even reading….books.

Admittedly, I’m looking forward to getting a little more work done… hurtling into the project with all the momentum of a fat guy off the high dive. Parents, you know… the tug of war between work and entertaining the kids. I’ve enjoyed dedicating most of my time lately to playing games and marathoning the hit tv show “Supernatural”, eating way too much to keep that warm fat padding on…playing with the dog, and doing silly impromptu bus dance parties. Ashley has been incredibly welcomed company, and considering the circumstances in which she ended up coming along with me, I think things are pretty damned great.

Anyhoo…

I’ve skipped over so many stories and opportunities to share with you all my experiences with my collaborating breweries and beyond. But I will be circling back to all of this. The winter has hit with a heavy fist to the gut, and I’ve pretty much just been in a state of hibernation/survival these past two months. The light can be seen though… once I make it through MO, KS, and OK… should be relatively clear of the worst weather, and ready to spread my golden project love all over this country. (note, I said “spread”, not “spray” or “sprinkle”, which would infer a very different meaning).

For now, I will say this, of ALL my partners in this journey… They have all been nothing less than incredible hospitable, gracious, kind, and inspiring.


Last time I was in NOLA, was in 2010, five years post-Katrina, whose destruction was still very evident and quite haunting, in all the abandoned spaces that had been overtaken by the earth, marked with a BIG RED X and stapled notices. But you couldn’t see it on the faces of all the creative people who make up this one of a kind city.

I was with Justin, my boyfriend at the time, and we were on our way back to Maine after having driven across the northern part of the country, down into AZ and east. We were a musician and an artist, broke and trapped in the south with no gas money to return home. I can’t remember where we scrounged up the money to get back, but we first tried with a setup in Jackson Square…him on the accordion, me with a handful of mediocre paintings, busking.

As it turns out, street vendors are damned territorial, and we had encroached on the wrong corner.

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Aside from that, I remember very little….starting with beignets and a gator po’boy, later a hurricane or hand grenade or both or more,….then it gets a bit hazy.

I do remember making eye contact with Jack White on Bourbon Street…which, while I’ve never been one to get starstruck, was kind of an amazing moment… not because it was Jack White.. but because it felt very supernatural.

I remember dipping our toes into the dirty Mississippi, and a man with a boa constrictor.

Bumpy, twisting roads, and, projectile vomiting suddenly and unexpectedly, while walking.

GOOD. TIMES.


Wow. Detour. So, a week left with the teenager. I’m going to miss the hell out of her. I miss her sister too… they are so polar opposite each other, but each so fucking awesome and inspiring to me. Nothing like watching your kids become their own adults.. bittersweet.

Speaking of… I must get back to the next episode of Supernatural…