We have been on the road for almost a year now. In trying to find the right word to describe it, I chose: interesting. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been having the time of my life. I will admit though that parts of the trip are hard. Living in a small space with three other people can get very frustrating at times. Especially when I have to share a room with Mercy who RARELY picks up after herself! It drives me crazy! I also miss all of my friends and family back home, but it’s not like I’ll never see them again.
In spite of all the hardships, I am having a great time. We have seen and done so many things that some people unfortunately never will. I don’t think that I could just choose one part of the trip to be my favorite because it has all been so awesome. A few of the most memorable experiences were hiking in the Grand Canyon, seeing the Carlsbad Caverns, and watching a wolf chow on a dead elk in Yellowstone. It was not all woods, caves and canyons though. I also had a great time at Universal in Orlando, Florida. We also saw Smash Mouth in Tillamook, Oregon. Then there was BurntWoodsStock. See my mom’s post: “Summertime,” for more information on that. Yes, sometimes it is hard, and sometimes I am in a bad mood. But all the good things far outweigh those occasional less than fun times. If I was asked if I ever regret going on this trip, I would not hesitate for a second before giving you my answer. Which is: no.

Hangin’ with Smash Mouth guitarist Mike Krompass


Summertime Blues just hit me. Not because of the weather as I do so enjoy the crispness of the autumn air and the beautiful colors the season brings with it.  Here in Montana (where we are working a sugar beet harvest until mid-October), it’s almost as comparable to Maine…..almost.  But let’s be factual here. Living this nomadic lifestyle allows us to chase the warm weather and enjoy summertime climates year round.  So what’s the deal?  Why so blue?

I’m missing something that highlighted my summer in more ways than one. I’m missing  the celebration of happy people gathering together amidst the trees and fields, under the sun and stars to celebrate life and love in the form of music. I’m missing  BurntWoodsStock.

Family, live music, nature, people, local food,  and quality beer.  If you know us, you’d agree that those are the elements that make The Dunns  “Happy Campers” !  So, when we stumbled upon an opportunity to volunteer at a 3 day music festival in the Burnt  Woods of Oregon, we immediately jumped on it. (Well, I did the jumping.  They had me with the name as  I’m a sucker for anything relating to the flower power era.  Bri, on the other hand, needed a few more details of what I was signing us up for).


The festival was created four years ago by James and Julz Kasner, musicians themselves, who wanted to share their vision of  an all ages  family oriented gathering down on Kasner’s farm.  Well, their vision turned out to be a successful one and for 3 days in July, a variety of regional and local bands show up to do their thing!  Whether it’s rockin, groovin, swingin or jammin, hippies and hipsters alike all gather together for some soul singin!  And the four of us were fortunate to get the chance to be a part of all this magic.

I corresponded with Julz via email months prior to the event and I knew without even meeting her that she was an energetic soul oozing with kindness and personality. My feelings were confirmed upon our arrival at the farm when we were greeted with smiles, hugs, a headful of blonde dreadlocks and a baby blue canopy. (See Bri’s post, “Final Thoughts On The Ranch, A Comedic Interlude Part 1”).  Amazingly enough, she knew all of our names.  Mercy immediately became a big fan!Mercy and Julz

After we set up camp in the field with the other volunteers and vendors we went to the information tent to sign up for our duties.  Enter… MrWavyGravyMadHatterPsychadelicJesterMan and volunteer headmaster…Kevin.  A tried and true BurntWoodsStock head, (I believe he is still wearing his bracelet), he and his wife Chris were our super supervisors.  Never a dull moment at their camper… aka… registration booth, security center, ticket counter, supply closet, and volunteer meal shack, they kept things pretty well-organized on very little sleep.


Bri, Riv and I took gate duty.  Mercy, at her request, was assigned to the kids area and that is where she remained the entire time.  She kept busy crafting and gaming with the little ones. We saw her when she got hungry or when she decided  a hula hooping break was in order.


Our gate shifts were a mere 4 hours, leaving us ample time to play. Naturally, Bri and I hit the beer tent where the owners of  Rusty Truck, poured us a mighty tasty IPA.  River decided he would hang out with the wood fired pizza guys.  It didn’t take long for him to become a repeat customer.


We also became quite friendly with the merchandise vendors.  It was great to see folks, mainly families, peddling their goods to people who appreciate supporting “the little guy”.  The tie-dye family was very popular. They kept everyone colorful and comfortable.


There’s nothing like being able to see and hear live music for 12 hours a day to keep your mojo going.   Not being from the west coast we were unfamiliar with pretty much all of the bands but that didn’t matter. Each one put on a spectacular performance and kept the crowd singing and dancing well into the night.  Oh, and I can’t forget to mention the  impressive fire dancers whose mesmerizing performance left you in a daze.  And the belly dancer who put you in a trance.  Talk about keeping you entertained between band changes!

Bri and I took in as much as our bodies would let us. ( It’s not like the old days where we would dance until the sun came up).  We both agree that our favorite was, ironically enough, The Sugar Beets,  from Eugene Oregon.

What sets this festival apart from others is what happens on the last day. This is when local teens are given the opportunity to take the stage (some for the first time) and showcase their musical talents. I truly admire James and Julz for seeing how important it is to provide a venue for our youth.  We witnessed some amazing talent and  it’s highly likely that some of these kids may find themselves as future BurntWoodsStock headliners.

I can’t imagine the amount of work and time that goes into planning and pulling together an event of this caliber.   My wish is for its continued  growth and success and that we will be able to return in the years to come.


Until then, I think we’ll just head to California, where there just may be a cure for the summertime blues.

Experience Music Project

Experience Music Project

EMP museum

Being in the Northwest, we  decided to visit Seattle, Washington. One of the main reasons being that Mercy wanted to go to the Space Needle. While we were there we went to the EMP (Experience Music Project) Museum. Most of the exhibits were based on musicians from Seattle, but some were not. We managed to get a home school discount which saved us about fifty dollars. The museum has exhibits mostly on music and film. The first exhibit we went to was about Nirvana. It featured in-depth explanations of how Nirvana basically revolutionized punk rock. There were copies of fan letters, some of the band members’ personal belongings and even the remnants of a guitar smashed by Kurt Cobain.


I do have to say, my favorite music exhibit was the one about AC/DC. It has photos, posters, instruments, and even some of Angus Young’s costumes like his school uniform and ‘Super Ang’ costume. We also went into the Sound Lab. It is an area filled with instruments in sound proof rooms that allow people to take a virtual lesson on that particular instrument, or just jam with other people. There was also a guitar gallery which displayed all kinds of guitars from the late 1700’s to the present. I was amazed by what some of them looked like. There was also an exhibit about Jimi Hendrix, but I didn’t go in because I’m don’t really know enough about him to really be interested.


My favorite part of the whole museum was the exhibit about the movie Avatar. If you have seen the movie you should know what everything I’m talking about is. I was amazed by the 3D models of structures and even a 13 foot tall model of an AMP Suit used by the soldiers in the movie. They also had examples of the clothing size worn by Jake Sully’s Avatar. There was a station where you could learn phrases from the Na’vi language, and an area where you could act out a scene from the movie using motion capture. You would stand in a small area and follow the prompts that showed up on the floor as the computer tracked your movements.


Aside from Avatar, there was a whole other area filled with science fiction movie exhibits. They had the hilt of Darth Vader’s lightsaber from The Empire strikes back, a few of the guns used in Men In Black, and even the costume worn by Christopher Reeve in one of the Superman movies. They also had an area with exhibits on horror movies, which I didn’t spend that much time in. This museum was what I enjoyed most about Seattle and I would recommend it to anyone who is spending time there.

Vader's Lightsaber Superman