Thursday, February 18, 2010

Growing Pains


Like the drift wood on this beach, I am finding land. When I left on this trip I felt like a kid home from college but still a kid. I was not child but definitely not ready to grow-up. I have spent the last week or so coming to terms with growing up. I MUST ACHIEVE ADULTHOOD!!! Only to realize that it is the way I conduct my business that makes me an adult. A friend of mine in Tucson, AZ mentioned this but I really didn’t understand it until now. I have been continually shooting myself in both feet to keep myself from being an adult. It doesn’t really matter why. I suppose we all have to leave the nest and find our own path. For years I have been cradled by the comfort of the sea, have often been smashed into the rocks and made my way aimlessly to many shores but have never really landed anywhere. My kaleidoscopic trip has provided the opportunity to take a deep look at myself and to start accepting the character that I have developed.
I have come to an interesting time (the 30’s). It is interesting to talk with those coming into their 20’s and recall the dumbass things that I have said or thought. I really had it all planned out then too. But now, I am looking to land not atop Mount Everest or as the next Sarah Palin smashing presidential candidate or what anyone else thought I should be (or should not). I have been looking for what I want. Well I still don’t know but like many times in my life I will land, adventure and grow. I don’t have any terrific full-proof plan to solve all the world’s problems in 80 days. The growth will hurt and I will again find myself here looking for employment, a place to heal, and another set of cliffs to smash into. The only thing I really know is that is likely to hurt. Hopefully I will be a little more forgiving of my own struggles in the future.
It needs to said though, that the dumbass things and ideas that come from today's adolescents are important and to be validated. Their energy and hope for change is important, and maybe a part of me hopes to never lose that energy and drive to make the world a better place. So I leave you all with the hope that the eager adolescent still thrives within us once we start conducting the stuffy business of adulthood.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Tacoma Camping

For the first time ever I feel blessed rather than cursed for being short. I suppose everything has its upside. When the sun starts to go down I start to look for parking spots or camp sites. What I am discovering is that it can be very difficult to be anywhere for the night, especially in California. I finally started just looking for Wal-Mart parking lots because I knew that I could stay there for night without being hassled by the police. Sometimes I would not have a plan for the night and have to rely on friends with Internet in Colorado for help navigating to the nearest Wal-Mart parking lot. I just get distracted sometimes by all the shiny water and enormous trees. Somehow I would fin sleeping places and everything would workout. It does seem very excessive to me that California has few National forest along the coast and that they charge $35 for tent camping (Oregon is more reasonable).
When I got to Oregon I was so happy for the possibility that I would be able to camp for many days maybe even two weeks. But unfortunately my hopes were smashed by the rain that never ends. Rain, rain, rain, then blowing rain. My spirits started to be dampened by the rain. So I decided to move along more quickly to Portland. Friends, a house, and a shower were just what I needed. However I think I really like sleeping in my truck and I feel very comfortable there. I have removed the passenger seat and replaced it with a piece of Masonite with a sleeping bag over it. I am usually pissed off in the morning because I still have too much crap in the front of my pick-up. Mostly because I am trying to keep things dry. Then there is the issue of what to do with my dirty laundry. I guess what I am getting at is that no matter where you go and how you live, you can never escape housework. AND I might add that when there is only me, there is only me to do the dishes. I still hate dishes, I may never out grow my hatred for doing the dishes.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Homeless and Friendship

This is a story that I have been in many ways intimidated to tell. It is a story that has taken a week or so to process.
I stopped in Monterey Bay on one of very few sunny days in "Sunny California" during this trip. I was hoping to take along walk on the beach, maybe read some of my book, and just relax before I had to find a place to sleep for the night. When out of no where I was selected by two very excited sandy paws. I was the new friend of Bella. She greeted me and introduced me to her two legged companion Ashley. Ashley was disapproving of Bella's methodology but was soon fine when she realized I was too a dog lover. I continued on with my walk and on my way back Bella requested another petting. Ashley and I began to talk about travelling and some small talk. The conversation was pleasant and then I was invited to sit a bit. As our conversation went on Ashley told me that she had been homeless since she was 13 years-old. This was nearly 10 years of scrounging for food, moving from place to place, sleeping in all types of elements. I could not pretend to understand, so I didn't try. I just listened to her story. She wasn't telling me in a way to make me feel sorry for her she was just sharing her story as if I were a friend. And I wasn't listening as someone trying to fix her or help, I was listening like a friend.
She shared stories of drugs, riding rail, panhandling, spending time in jail, sleeping in parks, being unable to find work, and being in a perpetual state of pulling her head out of her ass. As the stories unfolded I started to become more intimately aware of a system that we know to be broken. Most of us simply bitch about it, others find careers in it, and many actually live in that system.
We talk of boot straps and pass around the blame like the worlds problems is big game of hot potato. But to Ashley and Bella it is right there everyday.
Ashley had a boyfriend Richard they had been together for a year. He had also been homeless for about 10 years. Together they told me of "acts of charity" by some that where motivated by some sex fantasy. They also talked about the homeless shelters being full and they would have to sleep outside but when found by Johnny law, they would sometimes be ticketed and their sleeping bags and traps would be confiscated and held as evidence of their crime. Ashely talked about how people often look down on her because she has a dog. But she said that it is a scary and unsafe way to live and Bella provides a great deal of protection for her.
I felt so fortunate that they befriended me. I gave them a ride north to San Mateo, CA. I did it because I really enjoyed the conversations and the companionship. On the way north, they wanted me to stop in Santa Cruz. They said it was a really neat place and worth seeing. They took me to the wharf there and showed me the sea lions. But I saw another side of Santa Cruz. I got the homeless tour. They told me great things about the city and I was shocked that they knew many people there. They were supportive of one another and gave each other tips on how to get food. I watched Richard eat left over food from trash cans and ask passersby for their leftovers. This was just normal life for them.
I will not venture to say that this was a good experience in the good and bad since of things. And I do not tell this story as a light hearted silly adventure that I have had. This was a moment along my journey that I was humbled even more. I am honored to have had the opportunity to share an experience with them. And when I am bitching about the rain, loneliness, and parking issues I do think of how fortunate I am to have what I have. I think we all just do what we can and live the best we know how with the tools we have available to us.

The Pefect Pictures

I have spent many hours on this trip trying to capture the perfect pictures of waves crashing into rocks or curling over on itself and crashing into the beach. I have been utterly fascinated by the ocean and sometimes captivated by its power. My camera and I have unintentionally came close to being captured by the sea in pursuit of a great photo. I love and fear the power of the ocean. It is like some mystical creature with amazing color patterns and some hypnotizing shapes. And just when I get truly hypnotized by the creature and am standing in awe of its beauty that, is when it happens. The water sneaks right up, the waves crash, and I am all wet. It is at those times that I feel a tinge of oceanic power and I am reminded to be respectful.
Once I found myself so excited that I could walk out to some rocks near the water. This would provide me with a different camera angle. Before I could snap a shot, the waves came crashing in and I was wet up to my waist. I realized that I was in danger and immediately moved to higher ground. Another time I was sitting on a beautiful peace of driftwood a good distance from the shoreline (or so I thought) when all of a sudden I was falling off the log and found myself soaked. I will not say that I am stupid or should have learned the first many times this had happened. I claim innocence, absolute innocence. I believe I was lured in by the hypnotic beauty and power of the ocean in its attempt to claim me.
I have told a couple of people that about my experience of powerlessness over the sea and they have reminded me of 2 things. 1)I am ignorant of ocean's power and I do not have fins; 2)That I do not want to be the jackass tourist on the evening news trapped on some rock. In any case, I am forced to simply laugh at myself, pick myself up, and check for strangers. If I can't be on the news, I will have to settle for being some guy that got waxed by a wave, in their own stories they take home with them.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Almost peed myself

So not everyone in the L.A. area is in a gang nor does everyone have a gun in their belt as I had imagined. The truth is, I had been afraid of L.A. and the driving conditions for good (media) reason but didn’t realize that it was really possible to live in a metropolis with grace. I remember driving to different areas throughout the conglomerate of cities and found little neighborhoods to be quiet and quaint. I even went off in the rain and ventured into L.A. with no definitive agenda. Almost peed myself when I saw the HOLLYWOOD sign. I laughed out loud and really couldn’t believe that I got to see attraction, I had only seen in the movies. Me in Hollywood, seemed like a riding lawn mower on the freeway.
Posted by Picasa

The Relative in L.A.


It has been a long time since I have felt welcomed and myself, on my mom’s side of the family. I was happy to know that I have family in the L.A. area. I thought that all that part of my family was in the Texas Panhandle. The conversations were meaningful and deep. I think through this experience I started to understand my father’s love for me. Watching Terry with his girls really was the essence of a fathers love for his children. Terry reminded me so much of my own dad. Like my dad, he is strong, has a great heart, loves his country, works hard, and above all loves his children. I enjoyed the conversations we had and have great respect for him. Of the meaning things I learned from Terry, the most important lesson was about a father’s love for his children. Somehow I understood my own dad more.
I also enjoyed meeting Terry’s daughters. It was exciting that they were happy to meet the relative they never knew existed. I thoroughly enjoyed sharing stories and drinking beer with them. Both Deidra and Kelly are unique and wonderful in their own way. They have different life goals but one thing is for sure they are both truly loved by their father. Deidra and I went to explore the area. She took me all over. We drove up to the Hollywood sign, Santa Monica, Queen Mary, and the L.A. Harbor. Thank you to all of you for such a nice time. AND Terry is an amazing cook. I am inspired to be a better cook now.
Posted by Picasa

Viva Las Vegas!!!

What can I say about Las Vegas that everyone doesn’t already know? It is a place to party, elope, and get broke. The Gambler’s Mecca. Being there alone elicited feelings of great loneliness; especially, since I would not consider myself to be even remotely interested in gambling.
In an attempt to escape the rain at Lake Mead I decided to try staying at a hostel. For $12 I got a shower and a rack. I stayed in a room with 4 bunk beds and a bathroom. I had the choice of staying in male, female, and mix gendered rooms. I chose to stay in the mixed gendered room because I didn’t feel good about the other choices. When I got to the room there was a sleeping man in his chosen bunk. There was no one else around but I didn’t care all I really wanted was a Shower. I hadn’t had one of those in about 6 days and I am quite sure I was very ripe. I did some laundry and then decided to take a look around Vegas. I was right on Fremont Street so I went down to old Vegas. It was really neater than I had suspected but I didn’t feel good about being there by myself. During the day there was a lot of homeless individuals roaming the street and I was really a little uneasy so I left that area to go to the main strip. I parked in New York New York and got a beer there. I am really not much for gambling so I wondered the strip. It started raining and didn’t seem to stop. The streets were so full of rain but I was content to just wander the strip drinking beer. I did collect plenty of the Las Vegas Trading cards (girls, girls, girls).
Back at the hostel that night, I went to sleep about 9 o’clock and then woke up some time in the early morning, maybe 3ish. The streets were still noisy with arguing people and drunks. It had had a knot on my head for a week that bed. I was happy to leave sin city!!!
Posted by Picasa