On July 24th as I was buying my 3 year old son an ice cream at a local convenient store in my little town of Dayton, WA, when i was approached by a thin barefoot woman, with a child on her back, and another holding her hand. She asked me if I could spare any change, as she was on her way to try and buy some dinner for her and her children. I reached into my pocket and gave her four dollars, no doubt feeling a bit glutinous with my ice cream in hand and ample belly.
It was the next morning that I saw her outside of this large school bus, heavily outfitted and decorated like something you would expect to see parked at woodstock in 1969. The inner photo journalist in me thought, these people have a story to tell, so I swung into the parking lot, got out of my car, and knocked on the door of the bus. After briefly talking I asked if I might come back and hear their story and take some photographs of them and their bus, and they said I could.
After Work that day I grabbed my camera and went to visit who I was calling in my mind "The Bus People". By the time I got there it was about 98 degrees, and their bus was parked in an asphalt parking lot. The Children where hot, sweaty and very cranky, and the mother was hot sweaty and tired. I began by asking "so where are you from", and the woman's reply was " well originally i am from the Portland area, but we have been on the road now for ten years. We are part of The Sol Tribe" a group of similarly minded people that travel, often in caravans, and make their way from gathering to gathering, travel north in the summer months, and south in the winter months."
After talking for a few minutes I began snapping some pictures, and then she told me that "Danny" the man inside the bus was suffering from an infected tooth, and they were traveling to a small town near Eugene, OR to see a guy that could extract the tooth for free.
Although my encounter with the "Sol Tribe" was brief, they left a lasting impression with me, as well as the other people in the small community that met them.
It was about a week later that I received a message from a girl on facebook saying that "The Sole tribe had stolen my dog, do you know where they are?"
Then only a few days ago I was contacted by a Police officer from Oregon, stating they were looking for the Sol Tribe because the father of one of the children had been awarded full custody of the child. I had not yet been able to reply to the email when I saw the embedded video. All of this has left me not really knowing what to think. There are two sides to every story, and this one is no different. Although the father in me certainly has his own feelings on the matter of the children.