Saturday, August 8, 2020
A Free Weekend, A Lifetime of Adventure
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Bob Rodman grew up in San Jose, Calif., and Eileen in Santa Cruz.
   
Tuesday, February 4, 2020
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY LESLEY ANDRUS

 It’s hard to imagine a more adventurous couple in our midst.  Born and raised in California, Bob and Eileen Rodman were part of the hippie generation, living much of the philosophy.

 That philosophy entailed living gently with the planet, appreciating its beauty, living a sustainable lifestyle and always seeking new experiences.

 They both describe happy childhoods, each with two siblings, a good elementary education and college. Eileen went to Cabrillo Junior College and San Jose State, emerging with a teaching credential allowing her to teach high school English. Bob took art classes and studied  engineering at the University of Santa Clara.

 The two shared a sense of adventure – they met at a party and got married several months later.  As Bob recalls, he asked Eileen if she was free for an upcoming weekend. And, when she responded “yes,” he suggested they drive to Reno and get married.  They did.

 It was the Vietnam era.  Bob, who came from a military background, joined ROTC and passed his physicals.  But as he learned more about the war and watched students being killed, he soon began wearing a peace sign. And with Eileen he joined the protest marches of the 60’s – never arrested but definitely tear-gassed.

 While Eileen taught school, Bob became a potter and jewelry designer, also running light shows for the wild scene in the Bay area.  At those shows they met some of the names of that era, including The Doors, Credence Clearwater, Jefferson Airplane and Janis Joplin. Then, as Bob describes it, “a higher power at the right moment saved me from destruction.”

 It started with a trip to Idaho with his father who took him to visit his aunt in Buhl.  A friend from art school joined them and, when they drove up over the mountains from Gooding, they turned left and landed in Fairfield.

 This was the place Bob felt he and Eileen could live a sustainable lifestyle.  So, he rented a house and Bob and Eileen and moved to Idaho in a ’55 Chevy truck with two dogs.

 Bob worked as a cowboy for about five years.  He and Eileen were offered a house with his job. And, for the first time, they experienced what it was like to be snowed in and cold--really cold.  For three winters they lived in a yurt – one layer of canvas serving as a barrier against the elements.

 For these native Californians it was a new experience in cold. Snuggling under huge duvets they remember waking to a bedspread covered in hoar frost.  During this time, using recycled material and help from family and friends they built a straw bale house with attached greenhouse for capturing solar heat and growing tomatoes.

 Realizing that selling his ceramic works required transporting bulky and fragile pottery from art show to art show, Bob began limiting his artistic creations to jewelry and became a rockhound,  mining for crystals and gemstones.

 In the summer of 1970 at the first Sun Valley art show, he was told his work was a “craft,” not “art” like the paintings in the show.  But, undaunted, Bob convinced organizers that his jewelry was kinetic and wearable art. And, thus, began a part of his life on the art circuit, selling at shows in Idaho, California and Arizona.

 In 1976 Eileen and Bob bought a house in Bellevue.  By that time, they had two children – Julie and Mike.  The children, incidentally, have adopted their parents’ philosophy of life.  Julie is working as an archeologist for the BLM in Challis.  Like her father, she loves to mine for crystals and gemstones and feels incredibly lucky to “get paid for finding shiny things.”  Mike is in Moscow, Idaho, operating the water clarification system for the city.

 Although she is retired now, Eileen worked for 24 years as the County Welfare Director where she had the opportunity through her work to meet “incredible people.”  She established a food pantry in her office and helped with the creation of the Crisis Hotline. Bob, meanwhile, worked for four years for Power Engineers.

 But, after building a large house in Woodside, Eileen and Bob decided to sell it, become free of debt and go back to living a more sustainable life.  To this end, they bought a 20-acre parcel eight miles east of Fairfield.  There they experience the most magnificent sunrises, as well as a plethora of wild life – from raptors and sandhill cranes to deer and elk who happily feed on their hay stacks.   This is in addition to their five cats and 30-plus chickens.  They have raised sheep, pigs and goats and think that maybe this year they will try a calf.

 Their favorite mode of travel and most exciting vacations have been on rivers.  There were three weeks in the Grand Canyon right after 9/11, and multiple trips on almost every waterway in Idaho.  They have been on placid streams and through Class 4+ rated rapids where, as Eileen says, “Bob rows and I pray.”

 They have been to meditation workshops in Canada and seen the majestic mountains and grizzly bears of Alaska.  There have also been trips to the warmth of Hawaii and Mexico. 

 What impresses one about Eileen and Bob is not only their sense of adventure, but also their appreciation of the beauty surrounding them and a deep sense of gratitude.  As Bob expressed it so simply, “We are thankful for what we have been able to do, and we are thankful for what we have.”

 

 

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