Special Guest! Meet…ASTRID!

A few months ago a friend quipped, “After times like these people often find enlightenment.”

“Hm”, I thought.


Our Guide

Let me elaborate. ( This is where I lose the reader ) A couple of years back a cavalcade of not nice events started thundering into my immediate vicinity,  their number and variety for once not my own screw ups but resembling a weather pattern known as the Bomb Cyclone. The type that lasts  FAR TOO LONG.

Cliff Notes; Once upon a time a 30 year seasoned social worker walked into one of my situations and said, I quote, ” There’s nothing more you can do here. ”  Well geez. THAT, my friends, is a flavor of only the beginning of a flurry of exciting adventures and mishaps involving all sorts of death and loss and relentless mayhem that has turned my life into an Oprah Winfrey special, or That Sad Sack You Read About on the Internet but Never Thought You’d BE.  By year two, ‘Apocalyptic’ was the term coined by another lifelong grief counselor.  That’s a fair word, but I kinda think of this madness as a black hole – start with one loss…then another… …hoooey there’s more? ….then they start bunching up and getting super dense and sucking in MORE people and situations at a faster and faster rate until THERE IS NOBODY LEFT.

Well **** that. You don’t need the bullet list of details, however at loss #2 I said to heck with fiscal shouldas,  took the dead relative money and turned a dream into reality. Behold the enlightenment!


* aaaaaaaaa…* ( angels singing )

ASTRID! This gorgeous gal – whose  name means ‘divine strength’ or ‘divine beauty’ – is an Alaskan Camper atop a one ton 4×4 truck with a utility bed conversion. She’s got solar. She’s got a sink. She’s got a stove AND an oven which means – yup, you guessed it – she can bake pie and we can eat pie ANYWHERE.

Instead of fantasizing about punching god in the face, when I’m not curled up in fetal position sobbing we’re  gonna obsess over the fun to be had. There’s a world of baked goods out there and with this rig no pie can hide from us.  Watch out! We. Are. On. Our. Way.

Uh-oh, another checklist!

Are we insane?  YES

Do we have any more flying fucks left to give? NO

Are we behoven to pie nomming, nature glamping, road warrior stuff-of-legends glory? YES

While driving do we sing to Sirius’ ‘ Hair Nation’ at top volume? ABSOLUTELY YES

Committed to excellence,

Madison C & Mr. Hooligan

Pie Style, A Fresh (s)TART

Change, it is a-comin’ to Pies. The problem began with expectations, a nasty ingredient if there ever was one. I ASSUMED that I would ( here’s another terrible word ) PRODUCE Pie entries at least once a month. With near professional grade illustrations. Besides the Buddha laughing, the other result was predictable:

I choked. Pun intended. Eating and drawing pie is FUN, but I smothered the cheer spending so much time trying to create perfect little drawings. Hello. What is the POINT of Pies of the West?!!

No point. No point at all. Pies of the West is a Half-Baked-Joy-Fest, and you can’t frikking eat pie when you’re choking on thistle-arsed plans!

A tale of wisdoms; many moons ago, an art professor stormed over to my drawing station where I was frozen in unhappiness. He slapped this large, exuberant, shredded drawing to the wall and hollered, ” If you don’t start having FUN in these classes, don’t come back!” He pointed to the ripped-up picture, ” THIS is what you should be doing! Not the pretty stuff! THIS!!!” My goodness the sense of freedom.

That professor released me from my Gotta-Shouldas but sometimes I need a swift kick in the ass. *WHACK!*  Woo! Oh my I just schooled myself.

Here is an example of what’s to come, note how the cartoon me is reveling in the rage. If you can’t take the heat, get out of the…okay I’ll stop before finishing this stupid joke.


Pie illustrations will be big, messy, and not pretty. They’ll be done with whatever the fuck I have on hand. They’ll be slapped up without a thought to skill or consistency. But dammit, they will be FUN, and I hope this ass-kicking heartfelt glee will be passed on to you.

Dignity is Overrated,

Madison C

Laws of the Quest

 Hold your horses! Before the trail is blazed, The Laws of The Quest must be recorded for posterity. Behold:

Law #1: This shall be fun.

Law #2:  ENTRIES will be written and pictures uploaded according to Random Time.

Law #3:  PRICES will NOT be mentioned, being changeable entities that are subject to seasons and economy. Besides, I can’t recall a single soul who flies around in a private Lear jet courtesy of their homemade, global emPIEr. These Pie kings and queens work hard and deserve every penny. So suck it up, paw over your inedible dough, and await the magic. Expert bakers will be winging dough right back at you, transformed into delicious pastries. A beautiful barter.

Law #4: REVIEWS and COMMENTS will be positive. No, I’m not being airy fairy here. There’s enough suffering in the world, lord knows every one of us has had our thrills experiencing that caca. Enough. Let pie shine its golden, happy light upon all.

Law #5: SURFING; actual surf spots will not be mentioned, lest I burn in hell. Plus, flouting breaks over the Internet is not cool. Nicknames and vagueness will have to suffice, you sneaky buggers.

Law #6: STROLLING; if the surf blows, or if the mood strikes, there will be strolling. Details of these jaunts will be mentioned loosely. This is not a hiking guide, heed tips at your peril. You’re smart and know that reliable information can be found at local visitors’ bureaus, or via the fail safe source of barroom gossip. That said, strolling will play a part in The Quest, otherwise Pies of the West could morph into a diatribe about my expanding ass. No.

Law #7: GUESTS may grace the lore of Pies of the West according to availability and whimsy.

Law #8: In addition to the Laws of the Quest, every scrap of info is subject to Murphey’s Law. Anything can change at any moment, for any reason, or especially for no reason at all!

Law #9: FANTASTIC BONUS: There will be no Pies of the West movie starring Julia Roberts.

And why, you may ask, do two nut jobs get to make all the rules? I’ll tell you why. Check out our stellar qualifications:

MADISON’S RESUME: [ awkwardly referring to herself in the third person ]:

Baking experience: zilch

English SAT score: 480

Surfing nicknames, either purposefully or inadvertently given: ‘Spiderman’. The Trooper’. And my favorite, ‘ Poor Bastard’. Does this provide a clear enough image?


Food experience: eats five – no typo!- FIVE cups of food a day.

English: selective hearing applies.

Nicknames: ‘Hoolie’. ‘Herding Cheetah’. ‘Hooligan, NO’.

Clearly nobody, and I mean NOBODY, is more qualified than us for a traveling pie and surfing extravaganza.

No husband? CHECK.

No children? CHECK.




Now that the blood has been wiped off my car’s dashboard, and the band aid reapplied, I can begin. Wait, wrong story, start over.

The time to begin this self indulgent travel blarg is this INSTANT, thanks to being stranded in Salinas and hunkering in a Starbucks until my computer croaks or my eyes cross, whichever comes first. Congealed blood and epically constipated traffic are an inauspicious start of a travel blog, to be sure. But never mind those pesky details, let’s move forward to the meat and potatoes – or fruit and processed sugar, to be a stickler for accuracy.

This pie-in-the-sky  –  HA! Bad pun, sorry – idea started two years ago, though its genesis dates back to what I call, ‘my overly concerned era.’ No matter what I did, no matter how unrelated to cookery, pie just kept creeping into the picture. Create comics about trauma, what wedges itself into the story? Pie. Lay on the floor during a presentation, shouting into a mike while overhearing a woman say, ” Is she really doing that?!” Yes. Pie was mentioned there too. Years of my life have been spent talking, writing, drawing, and jumping up and down hollering about trauma and healing – and yet throughout all that frippery, THERE WAS ALWAYS PIE. My god, we live in a world of hurt, but no one can disagree on the idea of PIE.

And then upon me dawned the obvious; I have no marketable, professional skills whatsoever. Unless mirror writing counts for something. Realizing that I’ve never been qualified for anything I’ve ever done, that every task and blip on the radar I’ve punted into the universe has been a pure bullshit job, I thought, ” Why stop there. ” Why NOT do what I love: bumming around, and eating. As my grandmother elegantly quipped, ” We all love to do what we do best. ”

I offer to you a travel blog/book about pie, surfing, and The Quest for both. To the table I bring absolutely zero professional baking, surfing, or travel journalism chops by any stretch of the imagination. What I will provide are drawn pictures, essential information, and the assurance that, goddamn, if I can do this, SO CAN YOU.

My eyes are crossing and the computer is imploding. Thank you everyone, for visiting, and please stay tuned for the first in the series; PIES OF THE WEST.

Dignity is overrated,

Madison Clell