Category Archives: Festivals

Good Friends and Cable Cars

One of the events that led us to choose San Francisco as a stop on our journey to Oregon turned out to be the beginning of a great friendship.  We had been following the Malson family, of the Eco Womb, for the past year as they toured the country spreading “Green-ness”.  They travel around the country, and through various festivals & events, help families

… Discover resources that can help you live more simply and sustainably, go zero waste, support non-GMO labeling, try alternative fuel, trust in natural and eco-safe parenting, and vote with your forks and dollars.

Hanging out with the Malsons for Earth day was a lot of fun.  We used the Eco Womb as a home base for the kiddos, and explored the many activities and events that were available.  We also learned some new Eco Friendly tricks that are becoming part of our daily lives.  One of the coolest things we discovered were Bottle Bricks.  After composting and recycling as much as you can, you stuff all non-recycleable materials (plastic and foil wrappers, chip bags, etc) into plastic bottles and jugs.  You pack the stuff down as tight as you can get it, which makes the bottle stiff.  Then you can use the bottles as a building material for all kinds of structures.  I wish I had more pictures from the Earth Day event, including the bottle brick dog house that was built by the guys with a display beside the Eco Womb.  The only thing I thought to take pictures of was the clear blue sky behind the City Hall Flag, and Chas posing with Angela and Clint in front of the Eco Womb rig.

We had originally planned to stay in SF for a short time, just long enough to do Earth Day and then move on North.  We had so much fun with the Malson family we wanted to be able to hang out in a less busy setting and have some real fun together.  We decided a downtown adventure complete with Cable Car rides were just the thing to do.

We parked at the town square (in the same parking garage we used for Earth Day) and walked close to a mile to get to one of the Cable Car Turntables.  The kids had fun keeping each other occupied, so the adults had more fun on this adventure too.  We bought our tickets and found the line to get on the first car, it took us to the cable car museum which turned out to be very educational (more for me than the kids I think, but I had a blast).  We saw lots of pictures of the great earthquake, and the devastation it caused to the city and the cable car lines.  The museum was extra cool because it was in one of the cable power houses and machine shop, so you could see some of the things required to keep the cable cars running.  We learned that each cable car has wooden brake shoes that push down on the tracks to cause friction while going down the insanely steep streets.  The smell of the wooden shoes burning is something I will not soon forget.

We took the cable cars from the museum to Chinatown, where we all experienced sights, sounds and REALLY BAD SMELLS for the first time.  I am sure the delicacy status of some of the rotting and/or dried fish the stalls had for sale were very tasty to some people, but the girls held their noses and ran past most of them.

We made it back down to Fisherman’s Wharf, where we decided to get some lunch.  We settled on a pint of Clam Chowder to split with our family, along with some fish & chips.  While dragging hungry kids past the Duck Boat Tours booth, a very persistent young fellow informed us of a special discount for the day.  We mulled the possibility over with the Malson crew, and decided we should do it since you only live once, and we are already downtown (It didn’t hurt that the discounted ticket prices happen to be an awesome deal compared with normal rates, our entire family was $35).  We had a driver/captain/tour guide that was a lot of fun, and really added to the experience.  The kids (both small and Jumbo in my case) all had fun driving the Duck out in the Bay around the back of Giants Stadium.  We learned some tips for getting to watch a few innings of any game for free that is open to anyone that is in the know.

After the Duck Boat Tour, we did a quick walk through Pier 39.  Then we hopped on an antique Trolley, and rode it down to the other end of town where we could catch a cable car back to our starting point.  I took some good video footage from the back of the cable car, which I plan to add to the next post.  At the end of our cable car journey, we hopped on a bus to reduce the amount of walking since everyone was very tired.  The kids all made it back without incident, and we ended the day with a cool view of City Hall lit up at night.


Scholl Bus San Francisco

I know I promised videos of our cable car rides in this post, but I didn’t have time to get the uploaded.  That will hopefully be ready for the next post…  Stay Tuned.


Earth Day Special Sale !

 SORRY, This Special Has Expired…  

Please stay tuned for additional special offers.

We are offering an Earth Day special pricing discount for our Berkey® 

and Breathing Mobile Washer Products.

Enter EARTHDAY in the coupon code box before checkout to receive a %10 discount on your order.

We always offer FREE SHIPPING for any orders over $400, the discount is automatically applied.

The discount is good until May 1st, 2013



Rollag Minnesota WMSTR 2012 – Steam Shovels, Steam Tractor Plowing, & Spark Show

This is the final installment of posts about the WMSTR 2012 show, it has been fun getting all this information together to share with everyone.

The steam shovel area at this show is great, there are so many in one spot and they are all working at the same time.  This gives us a small glimpse of what it would have been like when the Erie and Panama canals were dug.  When walking amongst these machines, it kinda makes you feel like you are walking around living dinosaurs.  The noises they make, even when at rest make them sound like they are breathing, have heart beats, and you even get a roar every now and then.

Two of these shovels came from Kentucky, they were donated to the WMSTR when the upkeep became too great for the previous owner.  I am glad they were saved from the scrap heap that claimed so many of these machines over the last hundred years.

The next video is one I almost didn’t get to shoot, my phone battery died while shooting the videos of the big engines and the sawmill.  I shot this video with my wife’s phone, and though I hate to admit it, it turned out okay (even with the pink case causing funny looks).

I have loved steam tractors since growing up running an 18hp Advance Rumely that dad had.  I learned how to operate that engine at a young age, and operated it for a couple years by myself before the engine was sold.  The engine that backs in front of me while shooting the 110 Case plowing up the field is the same size engine dad had.

This show is the first one I remember attending where a 110 Case is operating.  They are all incredible pieces of machinery, but I had heard so much about those over the years I am glad I had a chance to see one in action.  It was not being used to its full potential but it still sounded nice while working hard.

There is also an Avery gas tractor in this video.  This is the style of tractor that really began to replace the steam tractors in the field.  They could be operated by one person quite efficiently, and did not require constant coal/wood/water refills.  I like the sound of the old gas tractors, I wish it hadn’t overpowered the sound of the steam engines in this video though.

The last video is also something I had heard of but never witnessed in person.  There are just a few shows that put on spark shows, this one is unique because they do it with steam shovels and steam tractors every night during the show (weather permitting).  They place a mixture of sawdust in the firebox on the engines and give them time to begin to burn.  A load was placed on the engine, which creates a very strong draft across the fire and up the stack.  This draft pulls the glowing pieces of sawdust through the flues and out the stack.

The Avery engine, due to higher pressures and engine speeds, managed to send a plume of sparks at least 40 feet straight up.  They looked amazing with the full moon as a backdrop.


Thanks for following along with our many posts about the 2012 WMSTR.  We all had fun there, and it is definately something you should go see for yourself if you can.  There are many things to do that we didn’t cover here (my love of engines gets in the way sometimes according to my girls).

This is the fifth and final post in this series:

Check out our first post – Kids Activities –HERE to get a general overview of the WMSTR show.

Check out our second post in this series – Big Engines – HERE

Check out our third post in this series – Steam Train Ride, Baker Fan, & Gas Engine Buildings – HERE

Check out our fourth post in this series – Steam Log Crane & Steam Sawmill Operation – HERE

Don’t forget to LIKE our page on Facebook, and subscribe to our email notifications if you would like to be notified when a new post is added.