|the Vast Redwoods Empire
||[Jul. 25th, 2007|08:04 pm]
on my last day in San Francisco, i met some Israeli hipsters in Delores Park. we played some sweet reggae tunes on guitar, flute, and melodika. then me, Spencer, and Anastasia went out for Mexican food at El Barazo on Haight street. instead of hippies, there were people on the sidewalk giving away free samples of Stride, a new gum on the market. "Does it have crack in it?" i asked the candyman. "No, you'll have to add that yourself." he replied with a smile.|
we walked across the Golden Gate Bridge on our way out of town. Spencer kept looking back, but i pushed forward, eager to get out of the city.
there was a rest stop on the other side of the bridge. we busted out our guitars and started jamming, coming up with soon to be famous tunes such as "I don't wanna get stuck here tonight."
an old couple, wearing "God Bless America" t-shirts stretched over their blubbery bodies, got out of their RV and gave us ham sandwiches and Costco soda. "we'd give you a ride but there's already 7 people in the car." said the man. We thanked them, and they gave us a million dollar bill advertising their church.
"Do you know the million dollar question?"
soon, we got picked up at the rest stop by a young woman named Jessica, who dropped off at a gas station in San Rafael. Spencer used my phone to call his parents. luckily i told my parents i didn't bring a cell phone so they wouldn't get all worried and call me all the time.
i saw this beat up red van pull up to the station. "what a cool car," i thought. "I bet we can get a ride with them."
a handsome guy got out of the car and went inside the store. when he came out i asked "hey man, think you can help us out with a ride?"
"yeah, let me talk to someone first."
he went and talked to the passenger for 5 minutes, then came and told us to get in the back.
their names were Marcus and Lauren, a young couple traveling all the way from Iowa. Lauren was a very gentle spirit. they've spent three days in San Francisco and she loves it. Maybe there's a soft underside to the city i haven't yet discovered.
we got dropped off in Olema, on highway 1. after playing some music on the street corner and sharing a J with the locals, we were invited to crash in a little park behind the bar where we could sleep under the stars.
halfway through the night we got woken up by growls, mean and vicious. spencer freaked, thinking they were wolverines. "Dude, wolverines like to live in cold places. it's probly just raccoons." he didn't buy it, and tried to locate the critters with a flashlight. (we didn't find anything, but the growling soon stopped and we went back to sleep.)
the next day, we hitched up highway 1. it reminded me of going through those small desert towns in Arizona, but it was much more comfortable here along the coast. there was always a cool salty breeze coming from the ocean. but the traffic was slow, so we decided to hitch back to the 101 and head north. we stopped at the Farmer's Market in Windsor, where there was a live band playing Bob Marley covers. we ate some garlic fries and went on our way.
two rides later, we got dropped off at a brewery in Ukiah, where me and Spencer proceeded to sample the local microbrew. i got a dark ale called the Emancipator. before long i was stumbling around in the streets.
Spencer found a sweet spot in the middle of the city to set up camp. it was this tiny wooded area behind a factory, surrounded by fences. the factory's ventilation systems went off every 30 minutes, bothering me at first, but soon i was off to dreamland.
next morning we got picked up by a self-described "blonde with a big heart." she dropped us off at a gas station, where we got picked up by yet another cute couple, Jim and Megan. These kids were traveling from Denver to Portland. they packed us in the back of their truck with their two dogs, Mary and Yoshimi.
Ever since we started hitching, Spencer's been trying to manifest a ride in the back of the truck with fluffly dogs. i was impressed.
they drove us north, through the majestic Redwoods. i felt so at peace and in awe at these giant columns, growing up like cathedrals in a sea of green.
we camped out in the redwoods that night, on a cliff overlooking the ocean.
next day, after breakfast at Denny's, we got dropped off at Cave junction, Oregon.
now let me tell you about Carma La Rue and Norma Sue, our next ride outta town. they stopped their car in front of us. one of them said "get in." "Don't put your stuff in the trunk. We got dead bodies in there. Heeheehee!" the other one cackled, taking delight in making us feel uncomfortable. this was my trippiest ride by far. the twins were overweight, probly due to alcohol consumption. soon after they picked us up, they stopped at a gas station and bought a bottle of hard A, which they proceeded to drink in the front. they talked with a country accent, finishing each other's sentences, and saying stuff like "If you put both of us together, you'll get a complete set of teeth!"
"Remember us forever!" Carma chirped as she dropped us off at a gas station in Wilderville. me and spencer looked at each other and laughed. it was surreal.
We went to a nearby river and swam in it for a while, washing off all the dust and grease from our travels. from there, we got picked up by two girls around our age. they were local musicians trying to make it big. "we saw you jamming, we thought it was really cool." they gave us their myspace info.
when they dropped us off at Grant's Pass. me and Spencer had a talk. he wanted to stick around for a couple of days. but i was tired, and aching for home. i wanted a ride all the way back to Bellingham. I hoped and prayed for it.
from there we got picked up by a cool couple, Deva and Amos. they were into intentional communities and natural building, and really interested in what me and Spencer were doing in Bellingham. we exchanged contact information and promised to visit each other in the future.
we got dropped off at a rest stop in Roseburg, Oregon. by then it was late. we made a sign that said "North," then started jamming on our guitars.
many cars came and left. (one guy gave us bananas and water) we definately didn't want to get stuck at the rest stop, and sang our thoughts into the night.
a mini-van stopped across the way, and a guy got out with his guitar and started jamming with us. it turns out him and his family are traveling back to Vancouver, BC. "we'd take you, but there's no room in the car." "it's alright" i said with a smile, a little disappointed. "thanks for playing music with us."
they got in their car. a minute later the man got out again, and walked towards us. "we changed our minds."
they made room for Spencer in the back. i got to sit in front with their two kids, who hardly spoke a word in English. their mother, Sonya, was French canadian. Dad was a man of middle-eastern descent, goes by Mithra, "like the god."
they dropped Spencer off in Portland, where he went to stay with some friends. then i got a ride all the way back home to Bellingham.
28 days, 6000 miles, 16 states.
and i couldn't have done it without the kindness of strangers.
there's magic in the world, and danger too, but also moments of grace and serenity. i feel blessed to have gone on this exciting adventure, and to come back in one piece.
i felt and saw a great deal of suffering in this country, in particular the indigenous peoples and the migrant populations from Mexico. racism is very much alive, sometimes on the tips of people's tongues, sometimes smoldering in their eyes. but as Morihei Ueshiba would say "If your heart is large enough to envelop your adversaries, you can see right through them and avoid their attacks. And once you envelop them, you will be able to guide them along the path indicated to you by Heaven and Earth."
there is also a great deal of fear. the whole fucking corporate Empire feeds on people's fears and insecurities. but from my experiences, human beings are generally decent and considerate, although they may have a worldview vastly different from my own. with every encounter i strived to free myself from limiting categories, conceptualization, and stereotypes. and i was rewarded.
i encourage everyone to get out and see the rest of this beautiful country. but don't just see it with your eyes. touch it with your hands, feel it with your feet, listen to it with your ears, smell it and taste it. explore it with an open mind, go with your gut instinct, reach out with infant arms, talk to people with sincerity. there's breathtaking moments of beauty, even in the most oppressive, ridiculous places. trust in whatever spiritual power's guiding you. pleasant surprises lurk behind every dark alley, every cactus, every tree.
you will be amazed.