Here they are!! Images from the 3-Day Raw Food Spiritual Ashram Retreat! There were more taken by the ashram staff; once they are sent to me, I'll include those, as well.

Page One: Guests

Page Two: Raw Food

After leaving Salem, Oregon, Wendi and KDcat drove less than an hour to the city of Corvallis where they met up with their hosts the Zander's -- Joni, Steve, Bekka, and Stephanie -- a fellow unschooling family Wendi had come to know in an online forum. It was great to be in their company and we loved them right away,? Wendi wrote. ?Their home is absolutely beautiful on a really cute lot with plenty of plants and trees around ? including the most delightful flowers that smelled divine (I think they were called Daphne).

Corvallis is the city we ve mentioned multiple times -- the city that feels like it s the right fit for us. Well, it lived up to our dreams in just about every way. It s a progressive, hip town with a lot going on. The people are friendly, the weather is beautiful, the land is gorgeous, and there are lots of unschoolers. Access to fresh, ogranic, raw foods doesn't seem to be an issue anywhere in Oregon, according to reports from the road so far. While they've been away, we've talked quite a bit each night about what they're finding -- and fresh organic produce seems pretty much everywhere out west. "The west," wrote Jim Morrison, "is the best." (Surely he was a raw foodie.)

Jon Gold, owner of the Sunny Side Up Cafe (a vegan and vegetarian restaurant there) and an unschool father, put together a little gathering of unschoolers for KDcat and Wendi. They were able to meet some local unschoolers and ask questions. There was also a gathering one day at the cafe where KDcat was able to do some art at a table with some other unschool teens. It's definitely a creative, easy-going town with some fantastic people in it!

To help keep all of you inspired, we ve asked some

remarkable individuals to share their raw food stories with you. Enjoy!

In this video, Wendi talks with Leela Mata, spiritual leader of the Peaceful Valley Ashram, about her experiences with the raw food diet and a bit about a cob oven structure that was built on the ashram property. This is part 2 of a 5-part series featuring Peaceful Valley Ashram.

Jim here... This post is for anyone who has turned to raw foods in an attempt to become healthy -- to lose weight, lower cholesterol, to lower blood pressure, to beat diabetes, or perhaps to overcome something even more serious. Let me ask you something (rhetorically): Have you ever, in your journey toward optimal health, looked at someone else -- someone else who eats "worse" than you do, yet who appears outwardly more healthy -- and thought, "Why is it so hard for ME and yet so effortless for that person "

Have questions run through your mind such as: ?How can that other person eat all of the wrong things, and yet look healthy? ?Why is it that I eat better than most people, and yet I'm the one facing a health problem Why is it that some people go raw and their issues clear up so quickly, and yet here I am still not feeling and looking 100% healthy? Why is it that physical health is not always bestowed on those who really deserve it?

Here at Pure Jeevan we are preparing for our cross country tour to educate others about raw foods. This means we are paring down on a lot of things, donating a lot, selling some things, and pretty much not buying anything unless it's absolutely necessary. That's what we've been doing for almost two years now (we're waiting for the house to sell). Recently, however, I decided it was time to spend a little bit of money even if it wasn't absolutely necessary.

Wendi's Dish Set

What did we buy? Dishes! Seems a bit strange to finally spend some money on something unnecessary and have it be dishes, right? Well, I had a few reasons for this purchase. The first is that when we are living in the RV, the space is going to be minimal. There won't be a lot of room for dishes, let alone much of anything else. Since there's not a lot of space to have dishes drying, we'll need to be washing, drying, and putting away immediately after use. That may not sound like a big deal, but when someone in the family decides to eat a few different things and leave the dirty dishes in the tiny RV sink, on the small counter, or somewhere else, it's going to really seem like a bigger mess than it is. So, to remedy this I thought it would be good for each of us to have our own dishes. That way we have a sense of responsibility for our own particular dishes--we know they are ours and we are responsible for taking care of them.

Have you ever heard about mono meals? When I first did, it sounded like such a great idea. When you eat a mono meal, you eat one item (and only one item) for the entire meal. Eating that way is supposed to be very cleansing and it gives your digestive system a rest from processing different types of foods at the same time. Supposedly there is a boost in energy, as well, since your digestion isn't taking up so much energy.

I recently received an email asking for advice from one of our Hindu readers, asking what I could recommend as far as light eating during the nine-day Indian festival of Navratri. Navratri is traditionally a time of fasting for nine days, however in modern society most Hindus no longer fast. Many do, however, pay more attention to their diets, and they try to eat lighter meals that do not contain animal products. Since our reader is just starting his exploration into raw foods, I didn't want to offer him advice that would make his nine days of Navratri difficult.He recently purchased a Vitamix, so I suggested that he make a lot of smoothies, since he has been enjoying them so much.

Quick note: Jim here... So strikingly pervasive is the "winter blues of 2010" that I suspect many of my friends will think this is about them. But, it's just some thoughts, really -- not in response to anything or anyone in particular. (In fact, if anything, it's in response to something related to our dog, which we'll no doubt write about at some point.)

I sense that there is a useful blog post on the topic of "raw during tough times." However, after pondering the topic at length, I'm just not exactly sure what to say about it. I do know that quite a lot of people come to feel disappointed in themselves for straying from the healthiest path. It's a story I've read over and over on raw web sites and blogs, perhaps more frequently in the winter. It starts out the same: Someone goes raw, gets all fired up about it, and soon starts feeling youthful and vibrant again. The high lasts for a while, but then ... something happens. They slip back to cooked foods -- or worse, to junk foods. Sometimes the process repeats itself for years.

Wow, what a stressful weekend! We spent pretty much the entire past two days going through the dozens and dozens of suggestions we received in response to our July 30 post concerning our move (in which we asked for help in finding the perfect new place to live). We listed every city suggested to us, as well as a number of cities we specifically wanted to consider. Then we attempted to gather data from the Internet to rank these cities. Here's a HUGE snapshot to show our progress. (I'll explain a few things below.)

As you can see, we ranked each city according to many criteria. These included the number of sunny days per year, average high and low temperatures, air quality (higher #s better), water quality (higher #s better), Superfund statistics (an indication of the general toxicity of an area -- higher #s better), land prices, crime rate (the numbers "x / x" indicating scores from 1 to 10, lower #s being better, for "personal" crimes and "property" crimes), and finally a "liberal / conservative" ratio based on voting records for that town.

We're still busy researching cities in order to find our future home town!? Our original list of potentials is now more of less narrowed down to a few select areas. That's not to say that we're not still open to further suggestions. (See here for our desires in a new home town.)? At the moment, of the cities/regions remaining on our "active" list, the Ashland, Oregon area is looking fairly attractive. So, we thought we'd take a moment to ask a few questions about Ashland. But first, here's why...

Originally, we felt highly drawn to Corvallis, Oregon. It seemed like the absolute perfect place for us -- a phenomenal homeschooling / unschooling community (which is what first caught our attention), a progressive / artsy atmosphere, affordable land, and super-clean air. Great, right ! ?But then we looked at the amount of sunshine the city received ... hmmm, no improvement whatsoever over Pittsburgh (in fact, Corvallis is, unfortunately, equally as gloomy -- at 44% of the days having sun).