blog temporarily suspended

December 24, 2010

Maybe starting back up in the next couple weeks. Some stuff needs to stay private.

Sacramento

September 10, 2010

I’m couchsurfing in Sacramento.

After my last post, I continued north on 395 into a small town called Gardnerville. I saw a sign for a yard sale, and thought I might be able to pick up a water bottle or something else useful. It was maybe a mile out of the way. They didn’t have a water bottle, but they let me get some water from their hose and gave me directions. I thanked the family and headed toward the mountains. I was going downhill, but the wind was blowing so hard it was almost as if I were on a slight incline. My lips were getting really chapped at this point (I might not have mentioned this, but the wind was against me almost the whole way up 395). A couple miles before the base of the Sierras, a guy with a pickup truck and slicked-back hair offered me a ride. I hesitated, because I actually kinda felt like pedaling up, but decided that it would be better to ride considering my chapped lips and leaking front tube. His name was Mike, he was from Orange County, and he liked Garth Brooks. He dropped me off at a Safeway in South Lake Tahoe (15 or so miles over Kingsbery grade), and bought some minutes for my phone and texted my friend David, who I’d boxed with at Eco-Fitness in Charleston, and a girl named Yvette from couchsurfing. I read the free local paper, the Tahoe Tribune, and found out there was a free massage event at the wellness center going on. I got bad directions from a store employee, and then more bad directions from a 20-something couple on the street. Eventually I made it there. The masseuse was an older guy, who mentioned that he’d had epilepsy since he was a kid. It was a nice massage, maybe 10 minutes or so. David had called me during the massage, and I called him back. He said he’d call his roommate and see if it was okay if I stayed at his place (he was working in Iowa). I rode my bike to another store called Raley’s to see if I could get a better deal on some green vegetables (I try to eat as much organic spinach, celery and romaine as I can), and I found a pound of organic spinach for $5 (not bad). I heard back from David, and it turned out I’d gone the opposite direction, and it was about 4 miles to his place. His roommate was out of town for the next couple days. I stopped at an art gallery in the same plaza. They had some rare Dr. Seuss prints and some paintings from a guy near LA who had copyrighted a method of warping the canvas. I talked to one of the employees for several minutes, then walked back out to my bike. I saw a guy standing near my bike. “Is this your bike?”, he asked. He told me he was a Buddhist priest. He was missing his whole top row of teeth, and the bottom row was in bad shape as well. He told me he was one of the best psychics in the country, and he should be on television. I was tempted to point out that it would be difficult to get on tv without teeth, but I refrained. I eventually succeeded in gracefully ending the interaction, and told him to check out dhamma.org, since he was into meditation. He didn’t seem too interested. I made it to David’s house around 8:30. I noticed he had a very interesting bookshelf, and I picked up one called Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, which I’d started in Austin. I didn’t do anything at all the whole night or the next day except read, eat and sleep. I finished Blink (highly recommended), read Tom Brown’s Guide to City and Suburban Survival (also highly recommended), and parts of several other books, most notably ones about wild edible plants. The following day I rode to the beach and swam for about 3 minutes before I had to stop because 1. I had an open wound from stubbing my toe on the concrete at Harley’s house in Coleville and 2. the water was ice-cold. I was breathing in spastic gulps, it seemed impossible to breathe normally. I headed back to what I thought was 50 East to try to hitch a ride to Sacramento, but I asked someone and she told me I’d gone the wrong way. I went the way she told me and found a gas station, where I was surprised to find so few vehicles stopping. I had missed the mass exodus. It was labor day, and everyone had already left early in the day. After I tried to get a ride for an hour or so, a homeless guy started talking to me. He was a bit younger than the guy from the other day, but his teeth were just as bad. He told me I could stay in his van which was parked behind a garage in the rear of the property. I politely declined. After another hour of failed attempts, I decided to call David once more. He said hist roommate was home, but I was welcome to stay another night. I met his roommate Marianne briefly before she went to bed, and I read a bit more from David’s library.

The next morning, I read The Silva Mind Control Method, which was really good, then I went back to the same gas station. I had no luck for the first hour or so, then I went to the shopping plaza down the street, made a sign with cardboard, and sat by the highway. After another hour went by, I decided to ride 4 miles to the Chevron station. As soon as I got there, I put air in my leaking front tire. The fourth or fifth truck I approached was heading to Sacramento, but he didn’t have room for me up front and didn’t want me to be in the back in case he were pulled over. He told me there was a bus that left in a couple hours that was $15 (David had told me it was $30). He offered to call them and find out what time, and while he was on the phone I asked a man walking by for a ride. He had a truck with an RV trailer. He told me to talk to his employer, who was standing by another truck with an RV trailer. I asked the man, and he said it would be fine. I took my back wheel off, and the first man helped me put the bike in behind the cab. I sat next to a beautiful Hispanic girl, who I think was dating the Hispanic guy in the front passenger seat. I called my mom on the way into Sacramento, and she asked if I wanted to get in touch with her friend Chuck. I said to give him a call and give him my number, since I had nothing to write with. She called him and left a message. I got dropped off on the side of the highway with my front tire almost completely flat, the leak had gotten faster. I used my hand pump to get enough air in to roll the bike, and started walking it to the next exit. Chuck called me within the first few minutes, and said he’d come pick me up. I rolled the bike to a shopping plaza in front of a Subway and called Mazie, a girl I used to date in Charleston. Chuck arrived, and offered to pay for the flat repair at a local bike shop. Chuck had broken his wrist recently, and was off work for the time being. After we got the new tube, he took me to the hospital where I was born (now a VA) and the first apartments I lived in as a kid. We rode back to his place and I sent some messages on couchsurfing to potential hosts in Oregon. I also got on Craigslist and looked for a gig to make some quick cash, and I contacted a girl on the rideshare who was requesting $50 for a ride to Portland next Wednesday. Somewhere in there, Chuck took me to dinner at a Mexican restaurant. I called the girl from couchsurfing and explained my situation, and she said, “Oh, don’t worry about the money. Even if someone else calls me offering money, I’ll tell them I’ve already got someone.” She said her friend was coming down the following day, and they were hitchhiking to a big free concert in San Francisco this weekend… I was welcome to join them, and we would meet up the next day. I had arranged to stay with a girl named Ashley from couchsurfing, and I was planning to ride my bike, but Chuck offered to give me a ride. He also gave me a backpack, a patch kit with levers, some bike gloves, a couple bottles of vegetable pills, and a couple granola bars. He dropped me off at Ashley’s house and handed me $15. Ashley, her roommate Garrett, and I had a couple beers at the table in the backyard and talked for a while, then we went to bed… they upstairs, and me on the shag carpet downstairs.

The next morning I awoke to Ashley dropping a note on the carpet before she left for work. The note said she didn’t know if her roommates were cool with me hanging out while no one was home, so she’d like me to go somewhere else whenever Garrett left for work. I haven’t mentioned this yet, but starting in Lake Tahoe or somewhere near there, I began to have a pain in the fascia directly under my tailbone (5 days or so now). I’m not sure of the cause, but I assume it’s somehow related to the physical exertions of riding through the mountains coupled with habitual tension. I stretched gingerly for an hour or so until Garrett returned from his morning class. He showed me where the towels were and I took a shower. Estevan, another roommate, was in the kitchen when I returned. We had a long discussion of the merits of anarchy (he might be coming around!). Then he had to take a shower and get ready for his job checking people into the ER. The landlord had a copy of Into The Wild in the kitchen, and I took it into the living room and started reading. I was confronted by the reality of how easy I’ve got it, what with having money and places to stay lined up in advance, as compared with McCandless who sometimes didn’t eat for several days at a time. I set a goal to reduce the amount I spend on food. I walked outside where Garrett was hanging out with his friend Eric, who had biked part of the coast with him (Garrett rode all the way from Washington to Mexico, but Eric had to stop because of a knee injury). Garrett is the same age as me, but I was struck by how fearless and carefree he was, in a way I can only aspire to be. I rode with Garrett toward his job at REI around 2:30, and we hit the bike trail along the American River along the way. He told me I could get to Sac State if I continued on the trail, when he took a turn-off toward his job. I made some phone calls to my family, adjusted my brakes, and pedaled down the path another 4 miles or so until I reached the school. I rode around for a bit, then got directions back to where I’d come from. I stopped at East Sac Yoga Studio, and in the course of conversing with the manager I was offered a free class (12 the next day… today). I stopped at a Safeway to get a bag of rice, and ended up just getting some pasta that was on sale since the rice was $8 for a 5 lb. bag. Farther down the road, I stopped at a food co op, which had rice for $1.69/lb, so I just got some steel-cut oats for $1/lb, and a cookie from Alternative Baking Company, which is based in Sacramento somewhere. Their cookies are incredible (and vegan), I want to check out their factory while I’m in town. Perhaps I can get a free cookie for advertising them… :). After another mile, I came to a Smart & Final, and decided to check their rice prices. Here, it was $3.59 for a 5 lb. bag of brown rice. Score! It was maybe 6:30, and I was pretty sure no one would be home at la Casa de Ashley, so I hung out in Curtis Park for a while. I played some 21 with a couple white dudes on the basketball court, which made my tailbone pain quite a bit worse. I stretched and walked around for a while to try to alleviate it, but to no avail. I called Olivia, the girl from craigslist with the truck, and soon as she picked up the phone she was apologizing, “Sorry, we’ve been really busy today, I forgot to call you. You’re definitely going to Portland with us next week, right?” Me: Yeah, are you still going to the concert this weekend? “Yeah, we’re just trying to figure out how we’re going to get there… hey, can I call you back in a minute?” Sure… so… that was last night, still no word. Nothing gets under my skin like flakiness… I don’t want to bug her, but I’ll call her tomorrow morning if I don’t hear from her. Scott, who I met near Brideport, is going, so maybe I’ll call and find out if he’s coming through Sacramento on the way there. It started drizzling, and I sent Ashley a text asking if she was getting off work soon. I rode back to her place, and no one was there, so I took shelter under a tree. She called me soon after, and told me she was picking Garrett up since he had a flat and they’d be home soon. I cooked my noodles. Garrett ate some, but I ate at least 75%. Chris, the roommate I hadn’t met yet, came home. He looks like a tall, curly-haired Jesus. He works for Habitat for Humanity. I told him I’d like to volunteer. I got his number, and Ashley said she’d give me a ride in the morning if they needed anyone (she also works for them). Eric came back over, and we all ate in the living room. I related the story of Happy Oasis, which I’m still working on (it took a long time). We hung out for a while longer, then everyone went to bed.

I woke up after 10 to discover that Ashley had sent me a text indicating that there was no need for volunteers. I did pretty much nothing until 11:30, when I headed back toward the yoga studio. I was 5 minutes late, but the instructor was even more late, so it was okay. I must have drunk almost half a gallon of water from the cooler, the class had already started when I came in. It was a good class, not too difficult, but challenging (especially with my strange butt-pain). I spoke to the instructor, Cheryl, for a few minutes after class. She offered to buy me lunch next door at Crepe Escape. I got a salmon sandwich, and she had a soup and half sandwich, but gave me the soup. As we were parting, she informed me that there were lots of fruit trees in the area, but didn’t know of any specific locations. I started hunting for figs. I asked around, and not many people knew of any fruit trees. I discovered an orange tree and knocked on the door. The lady said I could have an orange or two. I had to climb up, and the dog went crazy in the backyard. After wandering around for a while, I found a fig tree, but the owners weren’t home, so I only took one. It was excellent. I stopped at Trader Joe’s and got some hummus, bagels, and two lbs of medjool dates for $3.69/lb, the cheapest I’ve ever seen them. On my way back, I stopped again at Smart & Final and got some kiwis for $1.50/lb (7 kiwis). I think I have enough fruit that I could eat only fruit for 2 days. We’ll see… Estevan was here when I got back. He’s now gone to soccer practice, but he should be back any minute and then we’re going to a house party… what what.

Almost… there…

September 4, 2010

I’m in the library in Coleville, CA, population 400. I’ve got another 54 miles to go til South Lake Tahoe.

I left Laurel’s house in Bishop just after 1. I stopped at the Von’s grocery store and ate some hummus. Then I rode up the steep grade toward Tom’s Place resort. A little more than halfway up, I ran out of water. I saw an open warehouse in the middle of the divided highway, and I rode down to see if there might be some water. It was totally filled with dirt, and there was no water. I rode back to the highway and tried to get people to stop by flailing my arms. This was ineffective, so I decided to hold up my empty water bottle. Less than a minute later, a guy in an SUV stopped and gave me 3 bottles of water. I continued up the hill, and a couple miles later, a lady in another SUV had stopped. She said she’d thought I was someone else. I fenagled a bottle of water out of her as well. It was about 5 by the time I made it to Tom’s Place (25.5 miles total, and about 2000 ft up). I got some water from the hose, and the clerk told me the road I was on ran along the highway, and was more scenic and less trafficked. I opted to follow his advice, and rode through some amazing landscapes and got some nice pics along the way. After maybe 4 miles, I rode back to 395. After another 5 miles or so, I saw a truck stopped on the opposite side of the highway. I had remembered seeing Casa Diablo hotsprings on a map just south of 203, so I figured I’d ask him if he knew where the springs were. He said they were on the road to the right, past the green church, but he didn’t know where exactly. I rode by the green church and waved down a guy in a truck who was about to turn on the highway. He told me the hotsprings were down the first dirt road to the left, and then I’d take the first turn. I rode down the dirt road and took the first turn (2 miles total), and a couple deer hunters in a truck told me it was actually the next turn. I rode down and met Dan, Patty, and Rebecca, who were camping in RVs. Dan gave me a Coors, and let me use his towel while I went down to the springs. It was more of a hot tub, really, the water had been diverted into an artificial pool via PVC pipe. I did some stretching, but I was cramping all over due to dehydration and the elevation change. I set up my sleeping bag about 50 ft. from the RVs and took several hours to get to sleep.

I woke up about 7:30, and Patty and Rebecca had already left to go to the Strawberry Music Festival in Yosemite. Dan made me a map to show where the hot springs near Brideport were, saying I could probably make it there by nightfall. My front tire had gone flat, but he had a bike pump in the RV. There was water coming from the valve stem when I pumped it up the first time, but the second time there was none. It seemed to be holding the air, so I aborted the effort to change the tube, figuring it would probably get me to the next town at least. The ride up to Deaman’s Summit (8036 ft., I think) was quite difficult. Shortly after, I arrived at Jack’s Lake (22 miles from where I started). There was a convenience store, but everything was almost double the price of other convenience stores. I bought 2 packages of salted sunflower meats ($1.29 apiece) and 2 cookies ($1 apiece). It was 11 miles to the next town, Lee Vining, and it was almost all downhill. There, I ate a whole box of ginger Hermits, and bought some apples, a brownie, and a peanut butter bar for later. Out of Lee Vining, it was another 5 miles downhill (I’m guessing I got down to 5400 ft.), then 12 miles uphill to Conway Summit (8136 ft.). I reached the top around 5:15, after developing cramps in my right quad and hamstring, alternately. I had to push the bike a good portion of the way up, and stopped to stretch a total of 4 times. Once I was over the summit, it was 6 miles downhill with the wind howling by my ears. The views were incredible. I was really sunburned at this point, moreso than I’ve been in a long time. It was another flat 7 miles into Bridgeport, where I headed toward the first hotsprings near the south part of town. I got a ride to the springs from 3 guys who had left Burning Man a day early. It was a father and son, both of whom went by the name Peterson, and their friend Uncle Jim… and a parrot named Mister Nibbles. He climbed on my shoulder while we were on the way to the springs. They fed me bread and olive oil, then we went to the springs. There was a German family there, and 2 couples, one in their mid-20’s and another in their 40’s. The Petersons said they might be heading to Buckeye Springs, which Dan had told me was much nicer. I followed them back to their truck. They gave me the rest of their bread. They decided to stay in a hotel instead of camping at Buckeye. The younger couple had mentioned camping at Buckeye. I saw them getting ready to pull out in their SUV, and I asked if I could ride with them. We took the wheels off my bike and I rode in the back seat with the frame. Their names were Scott and Careesa. Careesa is working in Yosemite, and Scott works for Child Protection Services in NV. We found a spot near the springs and set up camp. Scott gave me some food and a beer, and I went to sleep near the creek.

I woke up around 7:30 again, and wandered around for a couple hours before my companions woke up. Scott woke up first, and we talked for a while until Careesa got up. We put everything back in the truck, and I walked to the springs while they drove. I had to cross the cold, fast-moving river without slipping, because I had my camera in my pocket. We lounged around the springs for quite a while. Many people came and went, and about half of them took all their clothes off. We 3 stayed in the coolest pool with our clothes on. A guy in the pool next to us dunked himself in the creek, which was probably 45 degrees, then got back in the hot spring. Scott followed soon after, and I went in a few minutes later. We went back and forth several times, and I did some yoga. I was super-dehydrated by the time we left, even though I’d drunk over a gallon of water. Scott dropped me off at 395 about half a mile north of where I’d been picked up by the Petersons. Let me just say Scott and Careesa are two of the coolest people I’ve ever met. It was 31 miles to the next town, and the first 13 miles or so was a pretty rough incline. It was all downhill after that, with gorgeous views of the Walker river. These mountains are BIG. I have to crane my neck to see the tops of them. I would have taken pictures, but I was out of water again and was trying to find some asap. I stopped at a campground and got a couple bottles from the first family I saw. I rode another 3 or 4 miles into Walker, and asked if there was anywhere to camp (it was getting dark, and I just didn’t feel like riding anymore). I was told it was 15 miles to the next campsite up north, or 2 miles south. I decided I’d ask some locals to camp in their yard. No one answered at the first two houses I went to, but the third was a retired cop named Harley who let me camp in his back yard. He had a wife named Betty and a dog named Bogey. They fed me some noodles, and let me take a shower. Harley and I talked about politics and religion for over 2 hours. He was much more open-minded than the average cop. I put my sleeping bag on a couple of cushions from his chairs and passed out around 11. Somewhere along the way, I left one of my Camelbak bladders :(.

I left Harley’s house around 8:30 this morning, and I’ve only gone about 4 miles so far. I should be able to make it to S Lake Tahoe by early evening. It’s 10:20 now. Off I go.

Mammoths

September 1, 2010

I’m heading up to Mammoth Lakes in a few minutes.  I was hoping to wake up earlier… it’s now 12:30.  since the last post:

I went to the DMV, and I took the written test for a CA DL.  I paid $31.  Then I was informed that I couldn’t get a photo ID unless I got SC to send them a picture of my previous license or took a driving test… which I couldn’t do here for several weeks, because they’re backed up.  I was quite irritated, but that’s the government for you… we just have to deal with it until people start thinking better.  Laurel came home, and she gave me a sleeping bag for the ride through the mountains (score!).  Laurel and I played some card games, and she let me watch her 5.5 hour remake of Dune (she didn’t make the movie, it was just in her possession).  I watched the first hour or so, then took the computer in the kitchen while I made some pb & j sandwiches.  I have had a ridiculous amount of pb & j in the last 3 days.  Anyway, the computer turned off abruptly, because the battery’s shot.  I couldn’t get back on because there was a password.  Then I went to sleep.

Yesterday, Laurel unlocked the computer for me before she went to work.  If you are friends with me on fb, you know I was posting stuff pretty much all day.  At one point I went to the store to buy some groceries to replace the stuff I’d eaten.  I also watched the rest of the Dune movie (it was AWESOME… not 100% accurate to the book, but pretty darn close.  I read Dune when I was 11, and it totally changed my life).  In the midst of this, I got a call from Jersey Mike, who is already in Seattle, and told me I should come up there.  He said he’d gotten locked up for a month, which is why I hadn’t heard from him.  I also heard from Zayd on fb, who told me she’d lost her phone, and she was in Seattle also.  Additionally, on fb, I found out that Bobaba, the guy who inspired this whole adventure, was going to be at the meditation center in WA for the next month, so I won’t have much cause to stay in Portland for too long.  I know a few people there, still, but it looks like I’ll be going to Seattle.  After Laurel got home, I used Justin’s trimmer to shave, we watched some clips from the new episodes of Futurama, then she went to bed, and I washed my clothes at the bar we were at the other night (it’s cheaper than the laundromat).  I watched some hyper-macho firefighters from SoCal play a couple games of pool, then grabbed my clothes and came back here.  They’re still on the fence.  I’m about to pack everything up and hit the road.  It’s 42 miles to Mammoth Lakes (still no host), then another 147 or so to S Lake Tahoe.  So I should be there in 4 days.  Probably no posts until then.  This might be the last real biking I do until I get to Eugene.  The plan is to hitchhike from S Lake Tahoe to Sacramento, then to Eugene, where I’ll ride to Portland.  I’m not sure after that, Mike might come pick me up somewhere… looks like Zayd and her friend (who I know nothing about) and I will be riding down the coast together at some point in the next couple months.  It’s now 12:50, and I’m trying to get to Mammoth Lakes before sundown… I know there’s a lot of climbing… so it’s time for me to go.

Bishop

August 30, 2010

I’m in Bishop, CA.

I didn’t end up heading out after my last post.  Instead, I did a yoga session while my hosts Viet and David were trying out a caterer for their upcoming wedding.   I was feeling a little strange… not super tired, but not exactly chomping at the bit to pedal a loaded bike 96 miles through the mountains.  I sent Viet a text asking if I might be able to stay another night.  She didn’t get the text until later.  I also accidentally let the cat out.  I felt pretty bad for a while… my hosts returned and we found the cat within a few minutes.  They were really cool about it.  They said I could stay if I needed to, but they’d prefer me to go.  I called a girl named Lori who’d contacted me on couchsurfing a couple days previously, and she said I could stay with her.  I talked with David and Viet for a few minutes and got directions to Lori’s house.  David let me use his pump for my tires, and Viet gave me some batteries for my lights.  In the course of our conversation, I was informed that Riverside is the most polluted city in the country.  We parted on good terms, and I rode the 6.5 miles over to Lori’s house.  Lori is a small, pretty Japanese girl, who had a bandage on her foot from falling off her boyfriend’s motorcycle a few weeks ago.  We talked for a while, then she turned in, and I crashed on the couch.

Not much happened the next day.  I asked if I could stay for another night.  I planned to stay up late, then leave the following evening so I could ride through the night.  Lori said that would be fine.  I read a good chunk of one of her sociology books, ate a bunch of rice and Cheerios, then Lori went to bed and I played Guitar Hero.

The next day, some of Lori’s friends came over.  They were all in the music program with Lori, and they played some panflutes.  If you’ve ever seen the episode of South Park with the panflute bands, the panflute player from that episode was their teacher.  Lori let me play her Japanese 3-string coffee can guitar (there’s a name for it).  Lori made some curry lentils and rice, which was amazing (there were whole cloves in the rice, which were mighty strong).  I rode out around 8, after donning my neoprene filter mask.  I was in the mountains about 3 hours later.  The directions I’d printed from Google maps had quite a lot of turns coming up, the first of which was Applewhite Road.  I had stopped momentarily on the side of the road, and a cop pulled over to talk to me.  He told me he thought I might not be able to get through on Applewhite Road… but then if I didn’t mind riding on the dirt, I should be okay.  I asked if the roads were marked, and he said they “should be”.  I stopped at a bar to try to get some food, but they wouldn’t charge my card for less than $15.  A couple miles later, I turned at Applewhite Road.  I’d written on my directions that it was 144 ft to my next turn at Center Road (I had to copy the distances because of an error with the printer), but there was no turn.  I pulled over after a quarter mile and laid down for a while.  I’d only gone 25 miles or so in about 4 hours, but it was ALL uphill.  I was starting to realize that making it to the farm by the afternoon was going to be an unlikely scenario.  A guy rode by in a truck, then backed up and asked if he could give me some money.  I said I was okay.  He got out of the truck, walked up and said he’d seen me riding about 10 miles back, and he wanted to give me a few bucks.  I thanked him, and he rode off.  I immediately realized that I’d missed a possible opportunity to find out where Center Road was.  I decided I’d sat there long enough, and headed on down the dirt road.  More accurately, it was down for a few yards, then up.  I had to walk the bike, because the dirt was pretty soft.  It took quite a bit of effort to get the bike to the next intersection, another mile or so.  Applewhite Road dead-ended at an unmarked dirt road.  I figured it was probably Center, so I turned left.  It was lots and lots of downhill, which would have been nice had I been sure I was on the right road, and there weren’t lots of rocks and the road wasn’t uneven.  I probably wore my brake pads down considerably.  A couple of times my tools popped out of my raquetball/tool container, and I had to search for them along the road.  There were a few turn-offs, but they weren’t marked either, and I stayed on the road I was on all the way down.  Eventually, the road leveled out, and I came upon some railroad tracks.  I realized that I was lost, and the chances of me figuring out where I was were slim.  I pushed my bike through the gravel along the railroad tracks toward a distant freeway (probably Hwy 15).  After a mile or so, I came to a dirt road.  This dirt road intersected with another road that was paved over the railroad tracks and farther on in that direction.  I figured this was my best chance of finding civilization, so I rode down.  I came up to a property with several buildings, and I thought I heard a tv or something so I walked my bike a bit closer.  As I was doing so, someone started playing loud Spanish dance music from across the canyon on the other side of the road, which overpowered any sound I might have heard.  There were no lights on in any of the buildings, so I figured I’d head farther down the road.  On my way out, I noticed a sign indicating that this was a Christian Recovery home (whatever that is), and it was on Swarthout Canyon Road, which was on my directions list.  That was encouraging, but I didn’t know where I was in relation to the next road, which was Lone Pine Canyon Road.  I headed on down the road, and came upon a set of 3 railroad tracks.  It was strangely picturesque.  I stopped by the light and started to pull out my camera.  The bell started ringing and scared the bejeezus out of me, then I realized that the bar was about to come down right on my head.  I decided to wait for the train rather than cross in front.  After it passed I rode to the end of the road, which was another half mile.  Of course, the next road was not marked.  I’d seen some vehicles on this road on my way down the mountain, so I decided to wait and see if I could flag down a car and find out whether this was Lone Pine Canyon Road.  I waited about 10 minutes with no cars in sight, then decided that it probably wasn’t where I was supposed to be.  I rode back past the two sets of railroad tracks, and past the end of the pavement.  Again, much of the dirt was soft, so I alternated between riding and pushing.  The road was mostly uphill.  My directions said it was 1.9 miles between where I was supposed to get on Swarthout to Lone Pine.  Two cars rode by, and I tried to get them to stop… but neither of them did, even though they were only going maybe 5 mph.  After a few miles, I saw a house with a variety of vehicles outside and the porch light on.  It was now after 3.  I steeled myself and knocked on the door.  Nobody answered, and I decided I might just hang out somewhere and come back around 7.  I walked a bit farther, and the road took a sharp turn to the right and up around another hill.  Before long, I found a turn-off that dead-ended after maybe a dozen yards.  I parked my bike behind a bush and laid down on the hard dirt to get some rest.  I finally understood what is meant by the term “mountain dew”.  It was a nonstop cold drizzle until the morning.  I don’t think I slept, but since I’ve created a pattern of skipping a line when I sleep, so this seems like a good place to do so.

I stayed huddled under my rain jacket until after dawn.  I had to get up and moving, because I felt like I was going to freeze otherwise.  It was still overcast at 7, but the sun was filtering through the clouds, and the mountain vegetation was positively fluorescent… like nothing I’ve seen before.  I headed farther down the road.  I came to what looked like a road to the right.  I was not at all sure that this was my turn, but the road I was on appeared to go on for quite a while, and maybe this would take me somewhere I could ask for directions.  It didn’t, and I ended up back on the original road, and started toward the house I’d seen earlier.  After a minute or two, a couple of guys came by on a truck.  I waved them down, and they told me the Lone Pine Canyon was about half a mile in the other direction.  I headed back that way, again pushing my bike uphill through the dirt, and came to Lone Pine Canyon Road after a mile and a half (people don’t seem to be so great with distances, I’ve found).  Finally, I was on the right track.  I rode the mile and a half to my next turn, CA-138.  There were some gorgeous geological formations, my best guess as to labeling them would be “sandstone dells”.  They looked like giant tan-colored swirls of cake icing popping up out of the landscape.  After a mile, I came to the intersection of Hwy 15, and a few gas stations.  The next direction was “turn toward Santa Fe Fire Rd, then right on Santa Fe Fire Rd”.  I conjectured that this meant I’d be going down an unnamed dirt road.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, it turned out), no one I talked to in 2 gas stations had ever heard of Santa Fe Fire Rd..   One clerk told me that there were dirt roads past the freeway, and they were pretty close.  I rode past the freeway, and there were several unnamed dirt roads.  They all seemed to go more or less straight over a mountain.  I was not in the mood to drag my bike up more mountains, so I thought I might be able to find an alternate route.  I kept riding up the road another couple of miles, then realized there was no other turns, and the road I was on continued up into the mountains.  I decided I’d just give up on the idea of pedaling to the farm.  Maybe I’d just skip it if I could hitch a ride to Bishop, where I had a host lined up.  I saw a lady pulled over on the opposite side of the road in a car with a U-Haul trailer, and I asked if I could help.  She said she was lost, and she was trying to go north on 15.  I told her she must have passed it, it was back the other way.  I continued to the turn for 15, and waited til she came along and asked if I might hitch a ride.  She said she didn’t have any room.  I rode toward a gas station I hadn’t been to yet, which was off 15 North.  I walked up to the first truck I saw, which was parked in front of the building.  He asked where I was going, I said I was either going toward the farm near Barstow or Bishop.  He said he was going to Yosemite, and was passing through Bishop.  His friend returned from the store and we put my bike in the back.  Their names were Mike and Jeremy.  They were from Phoenix, and they both worked for the AZ government environmental services (state EPA, they called it).  I tried not to reveal my anarchist ideals, but it came out.  All I said was basically that taxation is immoral.  Luckily I was not kicked out :).  I arrived in Bishop around 2 pm, and met my host Laurel.  She’s an ecologist who works for the government (arrgh!… at least she’s not a cop or a politician or something), and a Christian (double arrgh!) and a vegan (that’s cool).  We talked for a while, then went to the store to get  some food.  Then we went to a local bar with her friend Justin, who’s staying for a couple weeks.  The bar had free pool til 6.  A couple of their co-workers joined us, and Laurel dominated us all.  I don’t know if I just didn’t drink enough, but I was playing pretty bad.  Justin was nice enough to pick up my tab, then we walked back to the house.  I pigged out on pb & j, then we played scrabble.  I don’t remember who won, but it wasn’t me.  Justin packed for a botanical survey at the local lake, maybe 17 miles away, then we went to sleep.

Justin left early this morning, then Laurel left for work… and here I am.  The plan is to go to the DMV pretty soon and get a license.  I’ll be heading up to Mammoth Lakes tomorrow.  No host yet, but hopefully someone contacts me soon.

Riverside

August 26, 2010

I’m in Riverside.   In a minute I’ll be heading to the Aquarius Ranch, which is northeast about 150 miles, I think. I don’t know how long I’ll be there. I hope to learn about farming and building with earth bags (there may be a name for this, but I can’t think of it).  Currently I’m staying with an EMT and a medical student.  After my last post, I met a girl from couchsurfing named Vanessa for coffee.  She was sweet, 28 and terribly attractive.  She picked me up from the dog park.  Oh, I forgot.  On the way there, I stopped at a bike shop to ask directions, and I also asked if there was a co op in town.  The guy adjusted my brakes and derailleurs for free.  Vanessa dropped me off at a different hotel where my aunt was staying at (still no word from other couchsurfing hosts).  She said she had a boyfriend, but they would be breaking up soon.  I told her I’d text her on Monday.

The next morning, my Aunt and I met downstairs for breakfast.  The hotel had given us two $11 coupons for the cafe.  My aunt ordered some food, but she had to meet some friends for breakfast and left before it arrived.  I ate a Kobiyashi-sized meal, and headed back over to Balboa Park.  I was contacted by another girl on couchsurfing named Halie.  She said she and her friends were going to have some drinks and go to the beach.  I rode over to Pacific Beach, met Halie briefly in person, and found out I couldn’t get into the bar.  I went to the actual beach and watched a kid ride around on some strange two-wheeled platforms, like a skateboard with everything cut away that’s not actually under your feet.  I heard from Halie again and dragged my bike across the sand to meet her and her friends.  Her friend Jeremy came up and introduced himself.  His hand was very cold.  He was very interested in hearing about my trip so far, and said he’d always wanted to do something like what I’m doing.  Then I met Halie’s other friends, maybe 9 altogether.  Most of the guys were in the Navy.  One of the girls was Jeremy’s wife Nicole, one was Halie’s roommate Mary, and then there was Melanie, a bisexual Hispanic nymphomaniac from Chicago.  I walked past a barrier of seaweed and waded into the water, and soon discovered why Jeremy’s hand had been so cold.  This water was freezing!  I had thought it would be considerably warmer, as it’s now the second half of the summer and we were 15 miles north of Mexico.  I got out of the water just as fast as I’d gotten in, and rejoined the group.  About half of them were heading to a bar, which I wouldn’t be able to get into, and the other half of us went to a seafood restaurant.  I ordered a side salad, and everyone else ordered $20 entrees and shared with me.  We headed back to the house that several of the guys lived in.  I had the feeling of being in a movie… it’s hard to explain.  It was definitely a bachelor pad.  We watched the first half of Couple’s Retreat (a terrible movie) and the other half of the group returned from the bar.  Soward (pronounced Sword) had somebody else’s blood on his shirt and a story to go with it.  Halie, Mary, and I headed over to their apartment.  Mary had a guy friend over, and Halie went to bed.  I stretched for a while, and slept on the couch.

The next morning Halie kicked me out before she went to work, about 8:00.  I went to a grocery store and had breakfast, then asked for directions to the library.  I rode to the library, but it didn’t open until noon.  So I rode around Point Loma until I came upon the People’s Organic Food Co-op.  I hung around there for a while, and read some of the many free publications that were outside.  I texted Jeremy around 11 to see if he wanted to hang out.  I read some more, and then started riding around again.  Jeremy didn’t get back to me until after 1:00.  I rode back to the house I’d been to the night before.  I got online for a minute and I played someone’s guitar in the garage for awhile, then we watched the end of Couple’s Retreat (not very exciting).  Justin, one of the residents, came home, and he and Jeremy left to run some errands while I rode back to Halie and Mary’s apartment.  Mary and I hung out for a bit, then she had another guy friend over while I played Pac Man.  I was hoping to talk to Halie, but she didn’t come home until almost 2.  She said the name of the person she’d been hanging out with, but I couldn’t make it out.  She had to work again the next day, so she went to bed pretty quick.

Halie woke me up the next morning, and told me I could hang out as long as I wanted, just lock the door on the way out.  I told her I’d be leaving that day, and she went to work.  Faced with the possibility of never seeing her again, I sent her a text telling her that I was really attracted to her and I’d stick around if I could spend some time with her.  She said she was flattered, but she was involved with someone else, and I could contact her when I got back to San Diego.  I had emailed some people on couchsurfing in Temecula and Riverside, but had nothing confirmed, so I went to the library.  I only had an hour online, so I decided to head back to the bachelor pad.  Justin was home, and I got online and found a host in Riverside, and found out I could take a series of busses all the way up.  I smoked some “spice” in the living room that the military guys could smoke without failing their drug tests.  After smoking it, I read the label, which said, “not for human consumption”.  I rode down to catch the bus.  I left my new Berkey water bottle on the first bus.  I realized it a block away, and turned around, but the bus was gone.  I stopped in 2 more towns before I got to Riverside, and as I was putting my bike on the last bus, I noticed a small piece of what looked like clay on my front tire.  I pulled it, and my tire started hissing.  It was a big thorn.  I dragged my bike about a quarter mile from the last bus stop in Merino Valley to a Carl’s Jr. and left it by the door while I walked to a nearby 7/11 to get some Fix-a-Flat.  I walked back and inflated the tire, then got directions from a man inside.  He told me I’d have to climb a big hill, but I don’t know what he was referring to, there was no big hill on the way here.  I went DOWN a big hill, maybe he had his directions reversed.  I rode maybe 10 miles into Riverside, and met up with Viet, my couchsurfing host.  She went to bed soon after, and I watched Igby Goes Down, which is now one of my favorite movies.  Her husband David came home at about 3, and we met briefly.

The next day, we hung out pretty much all day.  David was off work, and he’s a cool dude.  He’s very funny and laid back.  Viet came home around 4.  I went to the laundromat, and then to Trader Joe’s (my new favorite grocery store) and got a pound of hummus and some pita bread, which I ate all of… regrettably so, because I felt like I’d swallowed a lead balloon for the rest of the night.  I watched There Will Be Blood, then wrote the first half of this blog entry and went to sleep.

Today, nothing much has happened.  I got directions to the Aquarius Ranch, and ate some rice.  That’s about it.

San Diego

August 21, 2010

Ate the continental breakfast at the hotel with my aunt Julie and cousin Lindsey.  Then we rode downtown and had lunch at a place called O’Brians.  It was an organic burger-and-fries place.  I had a burger and a salad.  Yeah, I know I said I’m vegetarian, but that’s really just simpler than explaining my whole philosophy regarding animal rights and health and what not… so I often say I’m vegetarian in order to avoid doing a thesis.  My aunt and cousin didn’t finish their meals, so I did.  I was totally stuffed.  I rode around for a while, then started a conversation with a girl sitting on a skateboard outside of a hair salon on 5th St..  Nothing really came of it, but my game is improving :).  I hung out on the boardwalk by the bay, waiting to hear from someone from couchsurfing.  I talked to some of the rickshaw drivers and found out that it’s really easy to get in as a rickshaw driver here.  I might come back at some point and do that.  I met another bike tourist named Ed, who sold me a $140 headlamp for $20.  He used to be a Navy SEAL, but he got shot in the neck and now he gets $400 a month.  He said he was out of money til the first… but he can get some food now, at least for a couple days.  He’s on his way to Florida.  He just camps out, he doesn’t really try to meet people.  He’d hosted a few people from Sweden who were biking around the world, then bought a bike and hit the road himself.  Much more hardcore than I.  I told him about the Vipassana Association, he said he’d look into it.  He shook my hand, and I got the sense that he could crush my hand easily if he wanted to.  My aunt called me and told me she’d gotten a hotel room.  That’s where I am now.  We just had breakfast.  Overall, it’s been pretty uneventful so far in San Diego.

West Coast, feel me

August 20, 2010

I’m in San Diego.

Monday: Left Audrey and Hannah’s place around 9:30, and headed to The Catalyst.  I said goodbye to Rae and Todd, then went to Coffee Roasters to get some breakfast and say goodbye to Audrey.  I met a cool girl named Amanda there that had been at the party on Saturday night.  I headed south toward Wilhoit, and stopped at a Safeway.  I had my first experience dumpster diving (I’m officially a bum now!), and scored some organic spinach that was in pretty good condition.  I took it inside, and rinsed and ate it in the bathroom.  Then I bought some hummus and a couple of whole wheat rolls, which were both on sale ($3.50 total).  After a few more miles south, I came upon some amazing views riding switchbacks along the mountains.  I got a few good shots.  After coming out of the mountains, I pulled over and ate lunch under a tree.  I dropped one of the flax seed starters I’d picked up in Prescott.  Maybe not the best place for it, but life goes on… I’ve still got another.  I kept pedaling through Wilhoit, which was reminiscent of some of the small Texas towns I’d passed through.  There was no gas station.  A few more miles down the road, I talked to some surveyors who told me the next gas station was in Peeple’s Valley, 13 miles ahead.  After passing about 10 to 15 miles of pasture, I found a gas station.  I bought a couple of bananas and hung out in the shade outside, trying to get a ride south with everyone who came in.  The clerk was a chain-smoker, so she kept coming outside, and she was friendly, so I had no problems.  “Get yourself out of this God-fosaken shithole of a town,” she said.  I saw a family with an RV milling around the edge of the dirt parking lot, and I approached them.  They were from the Netherlands, and they were exploring the West for their summer vacation.  A congenial old man came by and gave us some advice about our respective trips.  We soon found out he was the proprietor, when the clerk yelled at him that they were low on propane tanks as he was walking away.  He went back to the store, then came back and chatted some more while holding a quart of ice cream (which I imagine was steadily melting in the heat).    Eventually, he left us, and I requested a lift in the RV.  They were agreeable, and we loaded my bike in the side hatch.  The couple’s names were Jan and Claudia, and they had a 9-year-old named Chris, and a 7-year-old named Elona.  Neither of the children knew English.  They had just come from the Grand Canyon.  We rode through some incredible mountains, losing a couple thousand feet in elevation and gaining about 10 degrees in temperature within 15 miles or so.  Jan and I sat up front, and we talked about politics, culture, traveling, and food.  We continued southwest, eventually reaching a small town called Salome, where we disembarked at an RV park.  I called Joel to see what he had planned.  He said he was going down to San Diego the next day.  Jan and Claudia said I could sleep outside their RV, and I could ride with them to Joshua Tree the next day.  I was tired, and gratefully accepted the offer.  Jan asked if I’d like some food, and I agreed.  As the meal was being cooked, I discovered we would be having pasta with beef.  I chose to disregard my vegetarian sensibilities in favor of not letting food go to waste and not irritating my generous hosts.  There was a thunderstorm on the horizon, but it never made it to our campsite.  Jan offered me some Budweiser and showed me some pictures they had taken along the way.  The meal was quite tasty, I must admit.  The children stayed inside while Jan, Claudia and I had a deep discussion of what it means to be happy— and the difficulties of being a parent.  Claudia went to bed, and Jan and I continued to chat about politics and music over more beer.  The folding table was not secure on one side, and as I put my feet up on the crossbar, the legs folded under and many items on the table slid toward me.  Among these items was a Jesus candle (they aren’t religious) which had been burning for quite a while, and contained several ounces of liquid wax, most of which spilled on my left leg.  The top of the candle broke into many pieces, and I attempted to sweep it into a nice pile with my bare foot, like an idiot.  I ended up with a big piece of glass sticking out of my foot.  Jan grabbed a sponge, so I could try to clean up some of the wax.  The sponge did nothing except get my leg wet.  I decided it was not a big deal, and I’d clean it in the morning.  I slept on my kindergarden mat on top of the concrete block next to the RV.

Tuesday: I woke up at about 6, right about when the sun came up.  I stretched until about 8.  By this time, the heat was starting to get to me.  I’ve never been that hot at 8 AM.  I hid in the shade behind the RV until Jan and Claudia got up around 9.  Claudia made me a PB & J (which they’d never heard of), then I hopped in the shower.  I didn’t really take a shower… more of a rinse, because the body wash they’d bought contained Sodium Lauryl Sulfate.  I wonder if they use that in the Netherlands?  Anyway, I used my fingernails to remove some of the wax, until my skin was too raw to continue.  There was still quite a bit of wax on my leg (there probably is still some on there), but I removed a decent amount.  We hit the road toward Joshua Tree National Park.  I wanted to check out the city, but they were going to stop at the first available campsite, and that could be 40 miles from civilization in the middle of the desert… so I told them I’d like them to just drop me off at the south entrance on I-10, I could always go to Joshua Tree some other time, and who knows how long it might take me to get to LA.  While we were still in AZ, I saw the first big cacti I’d ever seen… you know the ones.  Before long, we hit CA, where there was an “inspection station”.  What’s that all about?  The uniformed lady asked where we were from and if we had any produce, then let us through.  Once we got into California, we didn’t see any more big cacti.  I don’t remember much from southeast CA, I was nodding off periodically, and the rest of the time I was examining their map to get an idea of where I’d be for the next couple of weeks.  Jan woke me up when we were heading down the road into Joshua Tree, and asked where I’d like to be let off.  I had him drop me off near the base of some mountains, they looked like they’d be fun to climb.  He let me fill my water bottles, but I didn’t fill either of my bladders.  I thanked them and watched them roll away.  I walked my bike away from the road and leaned it up against a bush so it would be hard to spot.  Then I set off on foot to the base of the mountain, with one water bottle.  There were thumb-sized holes everywhere, and I was worried they had been produced by rattlesnakes… especially when the sand gave way every 20th step or so.  They were probably harmless, but I was on full alert.  I started to wonder if I’d brought enough water, it was farther to the base than it had seemed, and this was the driest place I’d ever been.  I started up the mountain, which looked deceptively easy from a distance.  It was made up largely of loose gravel, so I really had to watch my step.  It was farther to the top than I’d realized, as well.  I wasn’t climbing so much as crawling, mostly using my legs.  I kept moving up and to the left to avoid the huge chunks of rock (which I would have attacked had I not been carrying a water bottle), and ended up doing a spiral to the back side of the mountain.  By this time, I was maybe 80% of the way up, and the top looked pretty difficult from every angle.  I was almost to the bottom of my water bottle, and I was a good half hour away from my bike.  I started to question the intelligence of this whole endeavor, and lost enthusiasm for reaching the top.  I found a shaded area and hung out for a while, waiting to see if there might be some clouds on the way.  This didn’t look like a possibility, and I was still sweating in the shade, so I decided to get back to the bike.  Getting down was every bit as tricky as getting up, because now if I fell, it would be face first away from the slope, which would not have been fun at all… and there seemed to be even more loose rocks on this side.  Once I reached the bottom, my mood improved significantly, and I took some pictures of some unique-looking plants on the way back to the bike.  Once I got back on the road, I realized that it was downhill for the whole 2 or 3 miles to I-10.  The wind was so hot it was hard to keep my eyes open.  As I approached the on-ramp, I saw a lady looking under the hood of her car.  I asked if her engine had overheated.  She explained that she’d been hearing a loud thumping noise.  I suggested it might be her axle, and she might want to drive really slow.  She asked if I was a masochist for riding in this extreme heat.  I headed west on the 10 in search of a gas station, or at least somewhere to get more water, as I knew I’d be out soon.  Claudia had told me the next town was 23 miles.  I felt dumb for not taking more water when I’d had the chance.  Every mile or so there was a Call Box, but I didn’t know if it was legal for me to be riding on the 10, and I didn’t want to alert the authorities to my presence unless it was absolutely necessary.  After a few miles, I noticed my front tire was losing pressure.  I inflated it some with my pump, but it was back to riding on the rim after another half mile.  It was time to change the tube.  This was very frustrating, because I was continuing to lose water, and there was no more in sight unless someone stopped and gave me some.  After about 10 minutes I was back in action, but I was down to my last pint.  Thankfully, after another couple of miles, I spotted an RV and a truck parked on the other side of the interstate.  I walked over with 3 bottles and asked if they had water to spare.  A middle-aged man, the driver of the RV, gave me 3 bottles of Aquafina.  He said they were waiting for a tow, because his son had blown a tire.  He also mentioned that I had some downhill riding coming up.  I thanked him and got back on my bike.  Another 3 miles later, there was a rest stop which was labeled “closed”, but I rolled up anyway.  The water was working.  I enjoyed the shade for a while and ate the rest of the peanuts I’d gotten in Texas.  The flies were relentless, though, and conspired to make me as uncomfortable as possible.  After an hour, I hopped back on the bike and rode into a town I never caught the name of.  It was just before Indio… maybe Coachella.  There was a small truck stop right off the interstate.  I tried a few large vehicles to see about getting a ride toward LA, but no luck.  In the midst of this, an older couple asked me about what I was doing and offered me $5.  I tried to refuse, but they insisted, “I know what it’s like to be young”.  Then I spotted a truck at another gas station across the street and headed towards it.  I saw a man lying in the grass island between the parking lot and the road.  There was a van parked near him with a woman and a teenage boy milling around next to it.  Did they run into him?  I asked if he was okay, and from what I could gather, she was an EMT, and she had found him like this.  She said he was probably dead, and there were paramedics on the way.  She asked me to move my bike because I was where they’d be parking.  I obliged, not really curious to see the man’s face or look at the fluid she said was coming out of his mouth.  I rode over to the other gas station and requested a ride with a somewhat scary-looking hispanic fellow… who turned out to be friendly, but wasn’t heading my way.  Moments later, a fire truck arrived, followed by two police cars.  This put a damper on my hitchhiking prospects, so I decided to pedal to the next town, Thousand Palms, another 10 miles or so.  I came to the conclusion that this place had a lot of poor people, because 5 people I asked for rides started to reach for their wallets.  I got tired of this spot after a couple hours, and started toward the next exit.  I stopped at a Del Taco on the way, and sat next to a man and his teenage son.  I remarked about how good the water tasted, and the man and I chatted about my trip.  He told me not to ride on the 10 anymore, as I was likely to get a ticket.  I could stay on the access road to the next gas station, but it ended after that.  He offered me a taco he hadn’t eaten, but it had beef and I turned it down.  He let me have the newspaper he’d been reading, and they left.  From the paper, I found out that James J. Kilpatrick had died recently.  Kilpatrick wrote a column called The Writer’s Art which I read faithfully every week through middle and high school, though it might not show… I finished my bean tacos and headed out toward the next AM/PM (which is owned by BP, in case you were wondering).  I started to feel tired, and I propped my bike in front of a storage facility and laid down on the sidewalk.  I had called Joel twice before this, with no answer, and now I texted him, “do I have a place to stay tonight?  if not ill just camp here in thousand palms,” … no answer.  I noticed there was a ditch between the building and the sidewalk, and I figured I’d lay my bike on its side and sleep on the mat.  So that’s what I did.  In the night, I dreamed that a couple of cops found me in that spot and told me to move.  I woke up a moment later and was a bit disoriented before I realized that it’d been a dream.

Wednesday: I woke up at 6 again, and discovered that my brand new inner tube had gone flat.  I walked my rig the half mile up to the gas station and considered paying the $1 for air, but didn’t want to waste the money if there was a hole in the tube.  I asked an employee if there was a grocery store around, and she told me there was a Wal Mart on the other side of the highway.  I headed over there, bought some discounted bread and some hummus, and pumped up my tire with a foot pump.  I rode back over to the AM/PM and hunted for a ride.  In less than an hour I met Mike.  “I don’t know, let me think about this,” he said, before he went inside to pay for his gas.  Once he came back out, he asked me a series of questions: “Are you a criminal?”  No.  “Are you gay?”  No.  “Do you believe in God?”  Wellllll… I dunno.  I guess that depends on how you define God.  “So you’re not going to rob me or anything?”  No, I’m pretty normal, for the most part.  “You’re definitely not normal if you’re riding a bike to LA from Augusta, GA.  Throw it in the back”.  So off we went.  Mike was a fisherman, and he listened to Christian rock.  He used to be an avid bicyclist, but pretty much traded biking for smoking cigarettes when he was 25.  We rode through some beautiful landscapes, and up out of the low desert.  I called Joel, and he picked up.  He said he’d be leaving his place soon, but I’d have a place to stay that night.  We stopped in Irvine so he could get a haircut at Sports Clips.  We passed Disneyland, and he dropped me off in East LA right next to downtown.  I found out I could get free air with a purchase, so I got a small bag of Kettle chips and pumped up my tire.  Joel wasn’t picking up his phone.  I rode into downtown and stopped at the first coffee shop I came to.  I read a little free local paper inside.  There was a picture of a 3-wheeled bike that they were delivered in.  Joel called me and asked if I’d like to go to the museum with him and his girlfriend.  I said sure.  Then he said something I couldn’t understand and the line went dead.  I called him back.  The phone rang and went to voicemail.  I wandered around aimlessly for a while, found some shade and ate the chips I’d bought.  My tire was slowly losing air, so I figured I needed to get some more soon.  I asked a guy on a bike if here was a bike co op in town, and he told me about a place called the Bike Kitchen.  I found an outdoor plaza with a Starbucks and sat down at one of the tables.  At the next table was a gorgeous brunette with sunglasses.  I asked her if she knew where the Bike Kitchen was.  “Oh, no, I just got here from Australia”.  Her name was Jeanette.  I talked to her for about an hour and a half.  She was waiting for her friend to wake up, they were going on a month-long bus tour of the US the next morning.  I’d been eating junk food, and wasn’t quite in casanova mode.  A homeless fellow came up and asked if I had any money.  I told him I didn’t have anything smaller than a 10.  He offered to get change.  I told him I could get change, and I went in Starbucks and gave him $2.  After he left, Jeanette asked what I thought he was going to do with the money.  I felt stupid.  I still had bread from the morning, I could have given him that instead.  Oh well, what can you do.  I felt like I was finally making some progress, then she informed me that her friend was awake.  Moments later, a guy pulls up on the same 3-wheel bike that I’d seen in the newspaper.  I introduce myself and ask if he’s heard of the Bike Kitchen.  “Oh, yeah, but you’re probably better off going to the Bike Oven.  I volunteer there, we have much better prices”.  Jeanette appeared to be getting ready to leave, so I gave her my number and told her to call me later… I had a feeling she wouldn’t.  I went back and talked more with Brian, and a couple minutes later another guy pulled up with the same kind of bike.  His name was Steve, a happy Guatemalan kid about the same age.  He offered to give me a ride to the Bike Oven, saying he was going that way.  I hung out at the plaza for 20 minutes until they came back.  We put my bike on the rack and they took me over to the Bike Oven.  There was a bike shop two doors down, the owner of which also owned the newspaper these guys worked for.  I finally got a call back from Joel, saying he was going to hang out with a friend later and I was welcome to join.  I told him the Bike Oven wasn’t opening til 6:30 and I might be there for a while, but I’d meet up with him after that.  I still had about an hour and a half to kill, so I walked the bike down the road in search of a cafe or somewhere to hang out until 6:30.  I stopped at an auto electronics repair place and got my tire pumped up again with their air compressor.  I started rolling again, but eventually I noticed that the tire was sticking out on one side and rubbing the brake on every rotation.  I stopped at a Mexican bakery and got a pastry, then headed back toward the Bike Oven.  On the way back, I stopped again at a place called Maria’s.  Maria didn’t speak a word of English, but I managed to get some beans and tortillas for $1.50.  About a block from the Bike Oven, my brake wore a hole in the sidewall of my tire, and I had to let the air out and start walking it.  An older hippy-looking dude on a bike across the street yelled and asked if I was all right.  I yelled back that I was on the way to the co op.  Once I got closer, I realized that he was opening the door.  “Oh, you were on your way here, huh.  I’m Paul, but call me Chicken Leather”.  The name suits him.  He’s got fine, shoulder-length hair, and a thin mustache.  He’s a sound engineer, he recorded sound for The Jungle Book (though I’m not sure which one).  He gave me a great deal on a new wheel and tire, and threw in an old tube and a patch kit.  After I got everything ready to go, we headed down to an event called LA Beyond Cars with Steve and a couple other folks I’d met there at the Bike Oven.  I called Joel and asked him if he wanted to go, but he said he hadn’t seen his friend in a couple years and they were going to hang out for a while, but he’d call me afterwards.  Chicken had been told there would be free food and an open bar, but when we got down there, the drinks were severely overpriced and there was no food.  While we were down there, he interviewed me for his internet radio show called KillRadio, should be on in 2 1/2 weeks.  I said I was going to ride from LA down to San Diego, and I’d planned to, but it didn’t happen that way.  Turns out it’s pretty far… I had to consider the amount of money I’d be spending on food, and I was trying to get down here in a reasonable amount of time.  There will be plenty of riding to do later, and the scenery was nothing super special from my point of view.  Okay, tangent over.  We headed back to the Bike Oven, and I donated the crank I’d picked up in Alamo.  I tried to call Joel several times, but got no answer.  Chicken said we could go to his girlfriend’s house, and I could have dinner.  We rode over and had a veritable feast.  Her name was Veronica, and she was one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met.  She cooked pasta, and we ate hummus and pitas.  We also had an arugala salad.  I was stuffed.  Then I had a shower, and she let me crash in the living room.  Veronica and Chicken also slept in the living room, on a mattress, while I slept on a blanket.

Thursday: We all woke up around the same time, as far as I can tell.  Chicken said he’d give me a ride down to the train station, and I could catch a ride to the end of Long Beach, which would shave a few hours off my trip.  Veronica gave me some strawberries and cherries for breakfast, and we headed out.  We stopped at a couple of thrift stores to see if there were any panniers… there weren’t.  I should have better luck in San Diego.  He gave me a great tour, ending up at the train station.  I rode for over 30 minutes.  Close to the end, I asked a friendly black dude if we were getting close to the end of the route.  Turns out he’s a cyclist as well, and he told me I could catch another bus to Orange County.  I got off with him on 5th Street, and he directed me to the OCTA bus stop, 5 miles down 7th.  I headed down, stopping at a Mexican bakery for a pineapple turnover (which was awesome, and cost $1), then at a Chinese place for a huge serving of white rice ($1.60), then a donut shop, where I got a cinnamon roll for $.75.  Once I got to the bus, I realized that I’d lost my kindergarden mat somewhere on 7th.  I’ve gotta get a sleeping bag at some point, and the bus only came once an hour, so I let it go… even though it’s been one of my most valuable possessions during this trip.  I noticed my mood was bad, and probably connected with my high blood sugar (not to mention being left high and dry by my supposed friend Joel).  Shortly after boarding, a young hispanic woman with a hiking backpack got on and asked if anyone had a dollar.  I waited to see if anyone else would give it to her before I would, and someone did.  She sat next to me and started talking to no one in particular.  I kept looking to see if anyone was listening, but it seemed that she was talking to herself.  Eventually she stopped.  The bus took about 3 hours to get to San Clemente.  The AC was blowing so hard I had goosebumps all over.  I felt like I was in an icebox.  I asked some kids how far we were from San Diego.  They told me it was about an hour from San Clemente.  A lady behind me gave me some advice regarding not riding on Hwy 5, and it seemed that she had done some traveling, so I asked her about the cities along Hwy 5 going north, specifically Modesto and Fresno.  She didn’t make them sound too appealing.  We got off in San Clemente and parted ways.  I stopped at a place called the Cafe Del Sol and ordered a bean burrito.  I headed a couple miles down the road to the gas station and asked around for a ride south.  After a few minutes, I realized I’d left my Berkey water bottle at the cafe, and I rode back down to get it.  I tried to catch a ride from the drive thru line at Carl’s Jr., but it seemed a little slow so I went back to the gas station.  I bounced around from the gas station to the Jack in the Box next door… everyone was going north or staying in town.  Eventually a guy told me he thought there was a bus that went down to San Diego, but he didn’t know the details.  I went inside the Jack in the Box and asked some kids standing in line.  One told me to head farther down, to a Starbucks, that was where it picked up.  I rode a couple miles down to Starbucks, but nobody I talked to had a clue about a bus to San Diego.  An employee advised me to call the number on the bus stop, so I did.  It turned out it was a San Diego line, and the OCTA people gave me their number.  I called, and the bus I was trying to catch left from where I’d originally been dropped off in 10 minutes.  I raced down there and caught it.    It turned out this bus only went to Oceanside, and we were going to miss the last bus from Oceanside into San Diego.  The same lady I’d met on the last bus was on this one.  Her name was Julie.  We rode up to Ft. Pendleton, and the bus driver told us there was going to be an ID check.  I didn’t have an ID, and neither did Julie… she got ripped off too.  We pulled up, and the security guy asked for ID.  The driver told him neither of us had it.  He made a face and said he’d be right back.  An army guy got on and told us we’d have to get off the bus and walk back to San Clemente.  As I was taking my bike off the front rack, the bus driver said, “Look, I’ll take them into Oceanside, and I’ll make sure they don’t get off before then”.  The Army guy agreed, I put my bike back on the rack, and we were back on the bus.  The Fort was beautiful… I found it ironic that a place of such beauty was being used as a location to train kids in the art of murder.  Once in Oceanside, I asked a taxi driver where would be the best spot to try to hitch into San Diego, and he sent me a couple of miles up the road.  After a couple tries, it looked like it was going to be a miracle if I caught a ride south at this place.  I called my aunt and told her the situation, and she agreed to come pick me up.  I rode to Ralph’s grocery store and picked up some celery (for me) and some broken-down boxes (for my cousin Lindsey’s paint job).  Lindsey and Aunt Julie came together in Lindsey’s SUV, which was packed full of Lindsey’s stuff to move into her dorm tomorrow.  We laid the bike on the cardboard on the roof, and strapped it down with bungee cords.  Aunt Julie had to sit on the console because there was no room in the back.  So here we are at the hotel room, and I’ve been writing in my blog and sending messages to people on couchsurfing for the last 5 hours.

Onward to Hollywood

August 16, 2010

Saturday afternoon, Hannah and I had planned to make hummus.  I left to go to The Catalyst to pick up my water bottle and then I’d head over to The Bear Claw to pick up the rest of my stuff.  At the catalyst, I met a guy named Corey, who had some interesting ideas about how businesses would operate in a free society.  He said that profits and wages would not exist, which I considered a bit silly (and still do).  Not to say that he’s wrong, but it sure seems like it.  He had some negative things to say about Stefan Molyneux of freedomainradio.com (said he met him in person, and he’s a jerk), who is my favorite anarchist.  Check out his website, he’s brilliant.  I noted Corey’s demeanor, and I could imagine the type of interaction they might have had.  Corey and I debated for a while, then Thomas came in and talked about his experience of becoming an anarchist, which started while listening to his platoon leader (?) while he was a Recon Marine.  He had an epiphany that he didn’t want to kill people, and he just waited out the rest of his time.  Thomas left, and Corey and I debated all the way to his place on Dameron St..  On the way, we ran into Sunshine, who was on her way to work.  She said I was welcome to stay at her place if I wanted.  When we arrived at Corey’s house, he offered me a big book which he said converted him from anarcho-capitalism to mutualism.  I refused, because I didn’t want to carry it.  I hung out with Katie for a bit (she lives in a shed behind the house), and I talked about Corey’s ideas.  In the process of doing so, I came to the conclusion that his ideas were romantic and unrealistic.  It’s worth noting that we don’t disagree on principles, just minutiae… and I apologize if you find all this boring or confusing, but I love this stuff.  I went back inside and we verbally sparred a bit more, then I left to go to The Bear Claw.  I took a shower and grabbed my stuff, then headed back toward Audrey’s… or what I imagined was toward Audrey’s.  I went the wrong way.  I stopped at a Fry’s grocery store, picked up some chips and salsa, and got bad directions from an attractive girl in the self-checkout.  After biking for another 15 minutes or so, I ran into some drunk guys on the street who happened to be on their way to the same party, and got directions.  I got back here around 10, after being gone for about 8 hours.  Hannah chastised me for not returning in time to make hummus.  There were roughly 40 people at the party.  There was some sort of berry pie on the table, and it was unequivocally the best pie I’ve ever tasted.  I hung out in the kitchen for a while and met some new people.  Then I headed next door to Will’s house, where I’d heard rumors I could find spaghetti (the party was in both houses).  The spaghetti was great, and I had a couple beers.  Upstairs, people were dancing.  I talked to Pamela and Rae for a minute, then got my groove on for a couple hours.  I busted out some breakdance moves (I was a bit stiff, not my best work) and got some applause.  Before I knew it, the party was over.  I laid down for a while on the cot by the window where I’d slept the night before, and tried to sleep.  I think I’d dozed off before Hannah came back at 4 AM.  I hadn’t noticed she’d left until the party was over.  She invited me to mass at the local Spanish Catholic church.  I said I wasn’t really interested, I was planning to leave early in the morning.  And that was the end of my Saturday.

Sunday morning, Hannah and I both woke up at 11:30.  She asked me again if I wanted to go to church, and I agreed.  I figured it was going to be hot for a while, and I’d just leave in the evening.  She’s not religious, but she wanted to meet her friend to talk about something for a school project that had something to do with the church, and possibly food soveriegnty… I don’t remember.  We got to the church at noon, and found out the service didn’t start until 12:30.  We headed over to Coffee Roasters, where Audrey was working, and got some coffee, then back to the church.  The service had a lot of standing up and sitting down, and lots of musical breaks throughout.  It was all in Spanish, except for a few words in English every now and then.  The music sounded like Mexican folk music.  After it was over, I found out that it was a special service dealing with SV 1070, and people had been talking about their experiences of getting green cards and how difficult it is, as well as having to keep a low profile after the bill had been passed.  Hannah’s friend wasn’t there, but she made some contacts with people in the church.  Back at the house, Hannah and I did some partner stretching.  Hannah told me she had to move her stuff out of her last house.  Tom, the guy who came in with her on Friday, came over with his truck.  I offered to help, and we cleared a bunch of stuff out of the old house, but there was plenty more.  After Tom left, Hannah and I got to know each other a little better.  Turns out she wasn’t dating Will.  Audrey suggested Thai food, but then we found out there were no Thai places open on Sunday.  I ended up cooking rice, lentils, and squash for 6 people, which was my most ambitious culinary endeavor to date.  It was pretty good, if I say so myself.  Hannah went back to her old place again, this time with Chris, who had had dinner with us.  Now it’s Monday morning.  I know this isn’t the most exciting post ever, but I’m trying to record everything that happens at this point (keeping in mind that people I meet are reading it… so some things get left out).  I think I’m about to head over to The Catalyst to find out where those apple trees are, then I’m riding down to Wickenberg and hitching to LA.  Wish me luck.

Prescott is cool

August 14, 2010

I’m still in Prescott.  Everybody’s really cool here, but I’m still having trouble getting used to all the female body hair.  There’s quite a bit.

Tuesday: Immediately after leaving the library, I went to the Crossroads Cafe at the college, where the Slow Food meeting had taken place the night before.  I ran into Nancy, one of the organizers.  I told her what happened that morning at Happy Oasis.  She told me that she had heard some weird things about Happy.  That made me feel better about the whole situation.  Then I headed over to Shaun and Sunshine’s place (which they call The Bear Claw, because there is a bear claw on the mailbox).  Shaun introduced me to their 4 chickens.  Sunshine arrived home from work soon after.  They are two of the most laid-back people I’ve ever met.  They were both sushi chefs in Montana, now they’re here to go to Prescott College.  I went down to New Frontiers and bought some hummus and some brown rice.  Sunshine made some bread with cabbage inside, calzone-style, on the grill, because the oven wasn’t working.  It was amazing.  She also let me have some sangria she had made.  Sunshine is a rock climber, and we planned to climb Granite Mountain on Wednesday.  I showed her some youtube videos for a while, then I got a call from Sophie, another host from Couchsurfing.  She was only a couple blocks away, so I walked over to her place.  I don’t know how to describe Sophie except to say that she is endlessly fascinating, and one of the most joyful people I’ve ever encountered.  I told her what had happened with Happy.  “Oh, I hear that all the time.  It seems like everyone says the same thing… ‘She was really stressed out about something,’ seems like everyone who’s been there has a weird experience”.  I heard similar things from several people over the next few days.  Sophie let me play her guitar while she painted a cover for her compost bin.  It seems just about everyone in Prescott is growing something, and half the people have chickens or goats.  Her friend Kathy arrived, and we all drew funny pictures.  It was like being in kindergarden again.  Kathy and I made plans to ride bikes along the Peavine Trail, which runs through Granite Dells.  Shaun called me after he got home, and he came over (they had met once previously).  They talked while I strummed the guitar.  Shaun and I walked back to his place and I passed out on the couch.

Wednesday morning Shaun walked his bike outside on the way to work, then turned around and informed me that Thomas’s bike was across the street.  I headed over, I wanted to learn everything I could from this guy, and possibly help people get fed in the process.  He was at the residence of a girl named Abby, who I later found out was his girlfriend.  I helped them put the roof on a yurt in the backyard that she was moving into.  There are more people living in sheds and RVs in people’s yards here than I’ve ever seen.  Thomas started to walk me over to Jon’s house, where I’d be putting the roof on a chicken coop.  On the way there, Thomas was approached by a man named Jack, who talked about meeting up with Thomas to train for something, which I later found out was a rickshaw.  Had I known, I would have introduced myself and offered to work for the weekend.  I’ve been trying to get ahold of him ever since, but no luck so far.  Thomas showed me how to put up the chicken wire, and I started on the job.  After a few minutes, I met Jon, whose business card says he’s the “music gardener”.  I worked for just over an hour, then headed back to Shaun and Sunshine’s place.  I tried to upload some of my photos to Facebook (there are a lot) and posted random stuff.  I headed back to Sophie’s, because I’d left my phone there the night before.  Sophie wasn’t home, but there was a beautiful girl I’d seen at the Slow Food meeting, named Hannah, walking down the street.  She’s in the room with me now, coincidentally (I’ll explain later).  She complimented me on the hummus I’d made, and said she might be at the Karma Farm stand on Thursday.  I found myself wishing I had my phone so I could get the digits.  I headed back toward The Bear Claw and on the way I see Kathy outside talking to a guy with a giant beard.  I tell Kathy that we might be going to Granite Mountain instead of the Dells, and it’s probably fine if she comes along.  I head up the street to my intended destination, and Sunshine has discovered that Granite Mountain is 10 miles away, which is farther than she’s willing to bike.  I head back to Kathy’s place and we decide we’ll head to the Dells after all.  We had some blackberry cobbler she’d made, which was magnificent.  First we stopped at New Frontiers, where I thought I’d left a water bottle the day before.  I was mistaken… I still don’t know where it is.  So I’d lost 2 water bottles in one day.  Once we got to the Dells, we locked our bikes up at a rack and hiked up into the granite.  We started on the trail, but I got an itch to climb, and Kathy kept up with me for a while.  I decided to proceed to a more difficult spot while she stayed behind.  I got the same rush I’d had at the sandstone bluffs in NM.  Once on top, I took pictures in all directions.  I made my way down the side, and we started back toward the bikes.  She identified a medicinal herb, and stuffed her purse with it.  We got back to the trail, but we were several hundred yards behind where we’d left the bikes.  On the way there, I saw another spot to climb, and so I did.  Kathy found another herb which she gathered while I made my way up and down the rock.  We biked back into town.  I headed to Sophie’s to get my phone, and Kathy went to her place to make grasshopper fritters (yes, grasshopper fritters).  Sophie was home this time, and I got my phone.  She was involved in making earrings, and sent me on my way.  Sunshine was home.  I made some brown rice, probably too much, and fell asleep quickly.

Thursday is harvest day for Karma Farm, and I headed out toward the first location around 7.  I didn’t get there for a while, because I got lost.  I made it just before they left.  It was Thomas, Ashley, Ryan and me.  After the first spot, we headed back to Ashley’s place and had some food and had a deep and profound conversation.  Thomas told me about reading the 37 Practices of the Boddhisattva, which is now at the top of my reading list.  I talked about the merits of capitalism, and I think I made some impact on Ashley at least.  I don’t know that Thomas’s ideas were so solidified, he seems to be more of a practical-minded soul.  Let me just say, this guy is a saint, in the truest sense of the word, and I am striving to emulate his finer qualities.  Ryan was seemingly uninterested in concepts, which I thought was unfortunate, but who knows… he’s definitely doing something good by being part of Karma Farm.  I felt I had found kindred spirits, and we were co-creating a new world, and everything was perfect as it was, we were just doing what we were supposed to be doing.  We went back out into the city and gathered all sorts of fruits and vegetables, and at 3:00 Ashley and I set up the farm stand.  Kathy showed up after a while with several pounds of blackberries.  I was somewhat disappointed with the turnout, there was nobody who showed up that seemed particularly hungry.  But then I realized that this is still just getting started, and the people who did show up donated some money which will be used for good things.  Prescott might actually be totally self-sufficient in a few years at this rate.  At 5, I went to the bike co-op at Prescott college and took care of some bike issues, then back to The Bear Claw.

Friday morning there was a farm meeting at The Catalyst.  I told Shaun and Sunshine that I’d be leaving in the afternoon.  I came and ate some food while Thomas coordinated the work schedule for the week.  Toward the end of the meeting, I hear a voice behind me, “Hi, I’m Happy…”.  Oh great, she’s right behind me.  She was promoting her foraging event on Sunday.  After she finished, she asked to speak to me privately.  I wonder if she’s going to apologize…?  Here’s what she said: “Aaron, I had an iPhone, and it’s gone missing.  It has a tracking device on it, and I followed it here.  I’d appreciate it if you’d give it back.”  Me: “Well, I don’t have it.”  Happy: “That’s really weird, because I didn’t even know where this place was.”  Me: “All I can tell you is it wasn’t me.  I have a phone, but it’s not yours.  I don’t steal.  Do you have my water bottle?”  Happy: “Yes, it’s at my house, on a rock.  Well, if you find a phone in your stuff, I’d really appreciate if you’d return it.”  I guess she really thought I’d stolen her phone.  Happy left, and Thomas, Adam, and I started working on the garden at The Catalyst.  I gathered dandelion greens and alfalfa seeds while they did stuff with shovels (I’m not a gardener).  I called Joel, who I’ll be staying with in LA.  No answer.  I hung out with a couple girls inside for a while, then hopped on the bike to head out to Happy Oasis to get my bottle.  On the way to her house, I ran into Ted, Emily, and a few of their friends.  Ted told me that Happy had told him she thought I’d stolen her phone, and she definitely didn’t have a tracking device… which is what I’d figured.  Emily made my heart beat like a kettle drum, and I had to check to make sure I wasn’t drooling.  They told me Happy wasn’t home, so I figured I’d head down and get my bottle.  It was right out front, and I picked it up without complications.  Everyone was still there on my way out of the neighborhood.  Ted told me to make sure I wrote a review on the WWOOF website, and I promised I would (I just did a couple hours ago).  I got Emily’s last name so I could find her on facebook… hopefully I can see her again when I come back.  On the way out to 89, I figured I’d hit one of the dirt trails off the main road.  After 100 yards or so, the road had a sharp upturn and several gullies from rainwater, so I hopped off the bike and decided to climb on some rocks.  Going up was a breeze, I had one sharp climb, then crawled laterally for a while to the next climb.  At some point during these 5 minutes or so, I got a text from Zayd, a girl I met at the meditation center in Jesup.  She had been there every time I was there, and the sparks were flying.  She’s traveling the country right now as well, and she’ll be at the retreat in WA in early September.  I’m planning to go to Burning Man, so I’ll probably be able to make it up there around that time.  She’d told me on facebook that she was planning a trip down the CA coast shortly after the retreat.  I suggested we ride together a week or so ago, and she texted me that she’d like to go together.  So now my plan is to go up through Napa Valley straight to Lake Tahoe, and hang out with my friend David the boat captain.  If I can’t get a good deal on a ticket to Burning Man, I might just wait til next year.  We were texting back and forth as I was climbing up.  I decided on a spot to climb down, where 2 big slabs came together.  It was roughly 25 to 30 ft down.  Less than halfway, I realized that I had almost nothing to grab onto.  I tried to climb back up, but couldn’t.  I was basically stuck, and I couldn’t even rest.  I had to go down.  I thought of just jumping, but that looked like it would result in certain injury or death.  I muttered lots of curse words.  I found I could stick my forearm into the crack where the rocks joined, and use that as support.  I slipped several times, mostly an inch or less, but each time filled me with mortal terror.  I promised myself I would never attempt something so dangerous without proper safety measures.  Finally I found a place where I could support my weight with my foot.  A couple minutes later I was safely on the flatter rocks below.  After 5 minutes or so I was back at my bike.  It took me another 10 minutes to figure out where I’d left my water bottle.  I debated leaving it, because I was getting dehydrated, but I couldn’t deal with losing ANOTHER bottle, even though I’d just recovered one.  It was now 4:00, when I’d originally planned to be on the road to the next town (Wickenberg?).  It looked like I’d be staying another night.  On the way back into town, I called Adam, another couchsurfing host who’d contacted me my first day in town (didn’t want to wear out my welcome at The Bear Claw).  He said he’d call me when he got off work around 10.  A couple minutes later, I got a call from yet another couchsurfing host named Audrey.  I told her I’d come by later.  I stopped at The Catalyst, planning to help out planting at a local garden.  I got into a debate with a couple girls about the definition of capitalism.  Joel called me back, and told me his brother’s wedding was on the following day (today), so I wouldn’t be able to stay until Sunday night.  I continued the conversation with the girls, and by the time it was wrapping up, I called Adam again and they were already getting finished with the planting.  I headed over to Audrey’s house.  She was living with a guy named Todd whom I’d seen at the Catalyst on Tuesday.  They sang old country songs.  Hannah, the girl I’d met at Slow Food, came in with a guy whose name I can’t recall.  Turns out she’s Audrey’s roommate.  They grabbed the neighbor, Will, a former Army survival guide, who seems to be dating Hannah.  We headed over to the catalyst and recruited people to go to the bar with us to play pool and sing karaoke.  Adam had just made some pasta, which was very good.  I didn’t get carded, so that was good.  Everybody had pitchers, and I offered to give some friends of Audrey some money for beer.  They let me drink, but they left without taking my money.  I mooched a little beer off of several pitchers, and started to sign up for songs.  I sang People Are Strange by The Doors first.  Sophie arrived and joined us.  Apparently the DJ liked her, so she kept getting moved near the top of the list.  We sang Africa by Toto together.  Then I sang Bohemian Rhapsody with a bunch of the girls.  My vocal cords were extremely sore by the end, but I got through it.  A while later, I sang Selling The Drama by Live.  I knew I had heard the song, but didn’t know which one it was.  I might have picked a different song had I known… not that it’s a bad song, just not great for karaoke.  I was up for the last song, but everyone wanted to leave to go to a party, so I had to give it up.  As it turned out, the party was nonexistent.  So we headed back to Audrey’s and crashed.

This morning, Hannah, Will, and I went to the farmer’s market.  I said it probably wouldn’t be worth buying fruit since so much grows around town.  The prices were a bit high.  I decided to go barefoot, which might have been a bad idea since it was in a parking lot, and the asphalt got pretty hot.  Now we’re back at Audrey’s.  She’s having a party tonight.  Should be fun.


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