sounds of life

[the sounds inspired 2 lines of thought so there will be two soundful posts]

I’ve been thinking a great deal lately about how the sounds in my life have changed.

It really hit me the other week when my waking and sleeping sounds of drip drip drip changed tempo. The temperature was slightly increasing but mostly it had been super sunny. one day it was in single digits but sunny. the snow was melting and freezing as it dripped down the branches of this tree i was walking by. i would have taken a picture, but there were these drunk white dudes in the hot tub in the background.

It’s been melting for weeks and it is February. But that isn’t what I want to write about today.

I’m working on that one.

This one I want to simply recognize the changes

So I woke the other day, and there was no drip

No dripping

No little trickle

It was completely silent.

No….no. nonononono

Is it mud season already?

It was around 3 am so I padded off to a window to see what I couldn’t hear

It was snowing!

It was snowing big fat fluffy flakes.

I needed to go back to sleep, but I just couldn’t bring myself to turn away. It was like the ocean all over again but not….the roaring silence of snow falling in a quiet mountain town (we were between music festivals).

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I didn’t realize just how much I’ve missed the roar of the unpacific Pacific Ocean (as Brian Doyle refers to her in his novel plover).

She was such a companion for so long and it’s not like I forgot all the sensations, it’s just that I got distracted by others. There is so much to absorb in this world. But for more than a season, my rhythms and her’s were synched up. I paid attention to the rise and fall of her tide, so I was also aware of the moon, it’s phase and pull on us all.

I woke and slept to the crashing of waves, or the rare occasion when the ocean was still and smooth and reflected the sky in a perfect mirror.

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Here my skin is rarely exposed to the elements. my hands sometimes. my face mostly. i miss the sun on my body. i don’t miss the sandy grit in sensitive places, but the white salt that would accumulate on me and anything on my body as i rode in record-breaking heat. i do actually miss that. i may for reals belong in a warm tropical environment.

And the smell of the ocean air…and its effects on my sinuses. I don’t think I realized just how good that air was for me until it was gone and my nose congested from the dry mountain air. a pot sits simmering on the stove when i am “home”.

I noticed the shift in my scent sense a couple days ago. It had been snowing for a few days. The air was crisp and clean and dry and I smelled pine. It was subtle, maybe from a fire, but I saw no smoke (most people seem to have gas fireplaces). But the smell was clear and it wasn’t sea air.

Nor was it the smell of dead fish, seaweed, or sea lion.

Nor the taste of the salt air in all that i eat. instead, it is the taste of snow with every breath as i pump up the hill each and every day i leave my abode. there is something clean, crips, and just a little sweet on my tongue most days.

I can’t say that I miss the ocean

I do but not really…it’s complicatedly simple

I miss her like I miss lovers and friends who are off doing their things while I do mine. I’m excited to hear about their adventures while I have mine

We had a mighty fine times

Very supportive

But now she is crashing on the shores as someone else gets to sit mesmerized while watching appreciatively wondering what is beneath those unseeable depths.

And I am gazing off at mountains barren or snow peaked in just as much awe.

So no I don’t miss the ocean

I am grateful that she is there and I know that from here I can still care for her and have an impact on her either positively or negatively based on how I live my life and the choices I make. that the snow i see now will melt and flow down through the rivers and merge into her waters.

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An exciting thing about remembering to be in the moment is the noticing. it is a sensation i appreciate about meditation and yoga; paying attention to where i am now. the more i pay attention to specific moments, the more i recognize the subtle shifts and changes in myself and my environment. that means i go slower, i do fewer things but i do them more fully, hopefully…

The drips returned today…it was 1 degree when I woke up

One degree and warming.

chilin like a surfer

i left the super cute bike shop and did seriously consider camping close by. the views of the ocean where certainly worthy of good nights stay, but i really felt like i wanted to get down to this campground that i had heard so much about. i had already skipped a couple places that people had suggested i go to, like papas and beer. to be fair, i probably would have stopped if it were called papas y cervesa. i do love potatoes and i do love beer and i believe that they are fantastic when paired together. but it was just too much of a tourist place and not much of a visitors place.

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so i kept on peddling up hills and coasting down hills. i only had about 30 km to ride today, so i decided to take all the time that i wanted. there was a graciously wide shoulder to ride on and some damn fine nice people to return waves to. the road was hilly all the way.

hills were not the tricky part here. the tricky part was the way the highways merged traffic entering and exiting the highway. fortunately, there were signs for cyclists to watch for traffic before crossing the merging lanes. i was usually accompanied by a pedestrian or two, and i still don’t know why but i think it was to catch the bus/vans that would be packed with people going to and from the towns. this version of public transportation fascinates me! for real! it did in peru as well. there are these minivans that people can flag down, and if there is room or someone is getting off there, they stop and you get on. i have no idea how much they cost, nor where/how you get off. i wanted to test it out, but no room for a bike…also i think i need more language skills, well actually i know i need to up my spanish game.

i eventually rolled into the the little village that held the k58 campground…so many things in this area are named for their location down the coast. so k58 is at the 58-kilometer marker.  this little area also goes by the name alisitos.

alistitos holds around 4 hotels, pretty nice hotels, all of which have a restaurant and/or bar of some kind. there is also a couple convenience stores and one sells beer/wine/alcohol. somehow this little way stop has 2 thai restaurants! it also has a shit-ton of americans! more on that soon.

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there weren’t too many people in the campgrounds when i arrived, it was friday afternoon, so i didn’t think much about it, but as i walked my bike up the coastline looking for a grassy area to pitch my tent, i met a few people living out of their vans or trucks that had set up camp….all with american accents. i eventually found the smallest of small patches of grass close to the edge of the cliff overlooking the beach (this whole area overlooks the ocean with paths down to the beach. so i set up camp and then took the unloaded bike for a ride “around town”.

first thing i did was grab a cold beverage! in those 30 km i drank 2 full liters of water and was still thirsty, so i grabbed a mexican version of powerade. i was still having a hard time with the idea of buying bottled water and so far had avoided it. i was able to fill up at the hostel with “purified” water out of a refilled jug type thing. and i knew that if i kept going south i was going to have to get a couple “gallon” jugs to refill at water stations as if found them. the other option was to buy liters of bottled water to fill my vessels.

eventually, i found my way over to a courtyard and grabbed a cold tecate and sat to do some writing. i had some feelings and emotions to get out, and at some point, my phone was in just the right place to get a couple text messages! in playas i got some because, i was close to the border, but here i wasn’t expecting to get anything. so i bounced some ideas off some people about what i was thinking of doing and going. it always feels good to get some reassurance.

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i then walked across the courtyard just to see what was there, and it was a cute place with about 6 people sitting up at the bar…all americans who have been living in the area for a great deal of time. they didn’t talk to me much, just kind of looked at me funny (i had leaned my bike against a big pole in the courtyard. i don’t know that they liked seeing people that they didn’t know. also, they were all fairly intoxicated. they were talking about property, businesses going in and who owned them and who was doing the work. then this other guy came in.

the first thing i noticed about this guy was not what he looked like, but the noises he made. his first stop was at the drum kit set up on the stage. he was a pretty good. come to find out, he would be playing in the band lined up for the night. they were playing in support of an organization that he ran in the area and with just a few questions i found out a little more information.

this guy was born in the area but went to university in the u.s. and worked there until retirement and then returned to the area and eventually started this organization to help keep kids with their parents. there were a great number of “orphans” in this region, not because of death but what they called economic orphans – kids abandoned or dropped off at orphanages because the parents couldn’t, or didn’t think that they could afford to raise the kids themselves.

so this organization has a center where the parents drop the kids off on their way to work super early in the morning. they feed the kids breakfast and takes them all on a bus to school, then pick them up and brings them back to the center where they can do homework, be fed again, and also get introduced to people who can teach them various trades in a type of mentor-type program. then the parents pick them up in the evening and take them home. i believe that the organization also takes them to church on the weekends when there isn’t school. it seems that it is pretty tied to the church and his connections with various people in the united states for funding. the church isn’t you know my kind of gig. historically, i believe that “the church” has been one of the major colonizers of the americas. that being said, this projects seems to have really been effective in keeping families together and for giving young people the belief that they can do more than just run around town causing un-necessary trouble and just stealing to get what they want/need. the things this guy seemed really excited about was: keeping families together, educating and feeding young people, and helping young folks find skills so that they could work in a field that was beneficial to their community.

the other thing this guy and i got to talk about was a number of american ex-pats that lived in the area (the other americans had left by this time). i had asked him how people felt about the type of potential hypocrisy of the border issues with so many americans living cheaply in mexico. especially considering the proximity to the border (60 km is only 37 miles). he took a deep breath first.

the local people actually like it, they don’t mind it. it is good for the local economy. the local mexican people are able to get jobs in the businesses started by americans, or in their houses as cleaning or construction/repair. americans spend money here which is also good for the economy. so the locals they don’t mind, they like it. but the government. that is a different story. they don’t like it at all.

the way he talked about the government’s feelings i knew that i shouldn’t push it, so i didn’t. but it made me think some about all these things. i genuinely believe this to be true. though he is the only person from mexico that i specifically talked to about this, others i talked to encouraged me to come back, to consider moving there, and at the very least spend much more time in the area.

he told me to come back for the band later, and really i did plan on it, but then the sun went down….

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i got back to my campsite with a full belly of thai food and a soul full of good conversation, that after a wonderful sunset, i passed out…well i wanted to pass out.

the sunset was spectacular, but soon i was ready to lay down and read until i fell asleep. it only took a couple of paragraphs for me to be ready for headlamps out. then all the warnings and fears for my safety rushed into my mind, plus the ocean’s roar kept me from being able to hear anything else. normally i know that i will be able to hear some creature sneaking up on my little world, which is really only squirrels. but what really hit me was all the stories about thieve, which was only about 2% of the stories i’d read or heard of this area of the world, just came rushing into my mind.

then i would find headlights coming for me, well it felt like it anyway, but it was just people coming in late to the campground and they were clear on the other side of the park. it was making me feel like i’d completely lost myself because i never ever feel like this. the fear and anger was rising up in me in a strange storm of confusion  and bewilderment. so i took a deep breath.

in this breath i asked myself, is this my fear or other peoples’?

do i really feel unsafe?

what is the worst that could happen and then what would i do about that?

and eventually, i asked if i truly felt fear or is this just me taking on other people’s shit?

and really? i felt completely safe. everything that was playing in my head was other people’s stuff and not based at all on my personal experience. i knew my surroundings. people knew who i was and i had made myself known, in a good way, to those around me. the lot was closed off to anyone not camping there. this fear is not my own.

then i drifted off into a sound sleep.

when i woke to a wonderfully sunny but slightly cool morning, i noticed new vehicles had shown up overnight, so i stretched and headed off to get a cup of coffee and meet my new neighbors

as i walked up to the shop, i passed a guy who was getting ready to go on an early morning surf run. we chatted a bit. he was so excited to have the weekend to just surf and rest and eat and surf some more. i said that was trying to decide if i wanted to hang out here for two days, or start my way back up the coast that day, or just haul ass to be up in playas by sunday night.

he said, well stay and i’ll drop you off on my way back up to orange county. well ok sounds like a plan! and he went surfing and i grabbed some coffee and my book and that is how we spent the day. his plan was to surf all day saturday and then sunday get up early, surf some more, and then we could head out.

saturday was fantastic. i just sat and read and watched the surfers show up and head out to the beach. now to watch surfers get excited is something to see. as they changed into their wetsuits they would watch other surfers catch some waves and they got excited about what they witnessed which made them want to get out there even faster. so the campground filled with people there just to surf and have a good time.

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the surfers had some great setups. they had vans or trucks with all their cooking gear, camp chairs, food, beverages, hoodies for the cool evenings. i spent this time watching these folks and i came to understand surfers in a new way. and it wasn’t until waking sunday morning to a cold and foggy day that i really started putting it all together.

the months that i had been traveling down the pacific coast, i’d been watching surfers and the way they watched the waves. when the waves rose they ran out to catch them. when the ocean became smooth as glass, the surfers sat on their boards and chatted with one another until the swell returned.

but when i woke on sunday morning with a fog all around, i wondered what the day would hold for them, especially when i noticed that the fog was rolling down from the hills and out to the ocean, vs rolling inland from the sea, and it was beautiful. when the sun finally came up over the hills to burn off the fog, the surfers finally started stirring and walking around. what really shocked me was the fog rainbow. as the skies blued up and the fog was still hanging in the ocean, we witnessed a full rainbow from the coastline over into the ocean.

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then the fog returned and the surfers disappeared.

i walked around with a cup of tea watching the shifts and changes of the environment. and i caught up with my ride back up the coast. we set up a timeframe to leave our little paradise at a leisurely pace, but so that he wouldn’t be caught in a long line at the border.

as i walked around i noticed that there were people in the ocean surfing in the fog. which shouldn’t have suprised me. i watched people surf well into the end of the sunset the last couple nights, and what i way to watch the sunset…i can only imagine.

so why did i gain a new appreciation for surfers and surf culture? well there was no one out there maintaining the ocean wave so that they could have a perfect run. there wasn’t someone with an anti-fog machine to make it a perfect day, nor even a warming or cooling hut for when the water or weather was too cold or hot. you just take what you get and make the most of it. if the swell is rising, you run out and forget whatever else you had planned. if the waves disappear, you wait it out and enjoy the people around you.

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sure this is not unniversal. i’ve talked to some seriously type a people who ran people out of the way to get a specific wave, but down here, it ws so chill. they aslo sharred tips and ways that work for them, or wax that they perfered. if people gained trust, there might even be a sharing of special surf spots. and when someone else had a really nice ride, they were cheered them on.

so surfing is something that is going on the need to do list. this whole area had places to rent boards and wetsuits, and get some instruction. Next time i am sure to do this.

it didn’t take long to get back to playas (i was surprised at my ability to give directions that took us right to the hostel), but we managed to have some great conversations around mid-life and quarter-life crisis, and all the ways and reasons to step away from the race of capitalism. by the time he dropped me off, i felt like i had met a kindred spirit. who knows, maybe our waves will cross again.

 

so much kindness

i finally packed up and headed of playas de tijuana. my plan was to get down to rosarito, about 30 km south of playas. i knew for sure that there was this bike shop down there and i wanted to get my bent wheel fixed. i figured if i got it fixed early enough i could just keep going south and find a place to camp. however, coming out of playas was straight up! there was no easing into it. i had looked at the elavation profile before leaving, and figured it was just a few hundred meters, should be ok, but wow! within minutes i was sucking air and drenched in sweat and my legs were burning. and as for the long tunnel? it was frightening. not because of the traffic flying by. there was plenty of room. but because it was still going straight up and now curving and the just kept building. i jumped off the bike and started pushing. it gave me time to catch my breath, drink some water, and take inventory of my situation.

this wasn’t really anything new. i’ve been through this at some level almost every day. its called bike tour, and anyone who ever thought that the world is flat has never backpacked nor gone on a bike tour. something else was happening to me. i just wanted to go home, and not just home as in back to portland or oregon, but kansas. it was a little disturbing. i have never really wanted to go back to kansas except to see friends and family. so as i climbed hill after hill alongside traffic that was flying by me i was more than a little flustered.

one thing i count on when hiking or biking is the general rule of what goes up must come down. eventually, i was able to roll downhill and into rosarito. i couldn’t decide between getting a hotel room, not something i had planned on doing until i started to get so flustered, then head over to the bike shop. however, as i rolled into town, i started to feel better so i went bike shop first, figuring that if it got fixed quickly, i would head on down the road to a camp spot.

so i rolled into the bike shop…super small and in a residential area. well i rolled my loaded up bike into the shop and started to explain what was going on. turns out, he spoke less english than i spanish! eventually, we worked it out and he stopped what he was doing and fixed my wheel. we did use his computer for a little translating. when we put the wheel back on, i asked him what i owed him and he wouldn’t let me pay. he also wouldn’t except a tip. i left with a good wheel and a hotel suggestion, and yet one more story of kindness.

it didn’t take him long to fix the wheel, but i was emotionally exhausted, so i opted for a hotel and a swim and a shower. that evening i walked down to a taqueria recommended by “happy cow” app. however, the smell of all the cooking cow turned me to this cute little cafe with an outdoor patio. it was so delightful, that i went back for breakfast. that night, i turned on some movie and started making plans to turn towards the mid-west. this wasn’t an easy decision and one i will talk about more later. but with the pressure of how to make it further south with a record heat wave off my mind, i made some playful plans.

after breakfast, i started south again. i knew that i wanted to make it down to k58 campsite. it is a fairly well-known spot for surfers to come from all over baja and southern california, and well, the more time i’ve spent around surfers, the more i like them and their relaxed laidback attitude. yet, just a few kilometers down the road, i made a little stop.

i had seen that there was a bike cafe about 15 minutes south of rosarito, but it didn’t look like anything was there via google maps. still, i kept an eye out anyway. i’d been told about this amazing bike culture in this area and that there were a few organized big rides between rosarito and ensenada. so when i saw the signs for it, i jumped six lanes of traffic and rolled up to the back porch.

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i leaned my bike up against the patio’s fence and walked by these fancy pants road bikes. inside i found 3 guys of various ages in their fancy cycling gear, two women off to the side, and a young guy behind the counter. all heads turned towards me with full friendly smiles. i was asked where i was going/coming, and where was my bike? eventually they asked if they could get me anything. soon i was holding a huge cup of hot coffee and our conversations continued. it was lively and fun. eventually, the “older” guy sitting at the counter turned to me as he was going through his little seat/tool pouch and pulled out a pocket knife.

you have one of these?

yup, two. one for food and one for other things.

hmmm, you have a gun?

ha! no! i’d probably get shot.

hmmm well, your president thinks we are dangerous and bad people

fuck that guy (oh shit gotta watch that knee-jerk reaction). i mean he’s not my president. i can’t stand how he talks about or treats people. as for border imperialism…..

well. i bought your coffee.

no no no

already did.

i’m standing next to him now and reach out my hand to shake his as we continue with conversations about biking and such. when he is about 1/2 way to his bike he turns and comes back to me, now with his bike glove off.

that was a very friendly shake and i want to do it right.

so we shake again.

soon it is just me and the owner and my still very hot cup of coffee, and we continue to talk for about an hour. he was born in san diego, went to school and college in that area. moved to rosarito to be with family. his wife and her family (his wife and her mother were the two women at the shop) live in the area. he opens the shop at either 6 or 7 in the morning. leaves for san diego around 3 or 4 to work nights (the mother of his wife closes the shop). he has some kind of special pass to get back and forth quickly over the border. i actually talked with many people who do this. so if you think the people from mexico are lazy and such….come talk to me.

 

i didn’t want to leave this area. everyone i talked to was so kind and shared so much with me. the owner of the bike shop gave me a few suggestions of places to camp. he even said “hell, camp across the street. i open early tomorrow. come in for breakfast!”

i was so tempted.

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finally, i climbed back on my trusty stead (i should come up with a name for by wheeled friend). i had around 30 km to ride for the day before i could rest, and i was pretty sure it was going to be one rolly ride.

central coast i suppose

heading out and on down the coast was an odd feeling. this past week has been full of the well usual bag of mixed feelings and observations. i actually thought it would be somewhat easy to find vegan foods in california, but nope…at least not on the coast! (i’m so looking forward to meeting up with vegan friends down in san diego)!

when i stopped in this little town for my first break/some coffee, i met some local cyclist all who recommended moro bay’s campsite, so that is where i was heading. whatever town i was in was really cute and friendly. it’s where i posted my last post from. so i point toward moro bay and started peddling.

then there was a series of little towns with names i struggled to pronounce for some reason, so i won’t try to spell them, but finally my hunger won out and i had to stop at one of them for some food. i was told there was a good taco place, but when i found it…all smoked meat! as i walked away, so did another couple (from moro bay!) who was also looking for at least some vegetarian food. i finally gave up and went into a “saloon” hoping for at least some fries. nope. just booze. damn it! so i had a beer and sat to decide my next move. iv’e found that if i just sit for a minute, things will work out.

just as i was taking my first sip, two women saddled up next to me…and we all rode the evening out together! the two women were mother and daughter-in-laws. the mother just started asking me questions and we just kept going. next thing i know she buys me another beer and then rushes us across the street to this other place that faces the ocean, so we can watch the sunset…and she wants to buy me dinner! ok!

eventually i had to pull myself away. i still had 45 minutes to a campsite and it was dark! i rolled in and found the hiker/biker area, but just pitched my tent quickly and dozed off. it was saturday night and the campgrounds were not quiet, pretty, but not quiet. there is a golf course on one side and the bay on the other, and that water just carries sound so well. so i got up and out before anyone roused and found a breakfast place in the bay and try to decide my next move….and my heart got broken!

breakfast was fine….more potatoes and toast. however, the owner (and host) moved here from china and wrote a book about his adventures. i walked around the bay for a while and decided to sit down trying to figure out how a bay that was this beautiful let a power plant be built RIGHT ON THE BAY! i mean really who thought this was a good idea. it was built in the 1950s (before the clean air/water acts) and decommissioned in 1914 by a houston based company, dynegy.

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bay side power plant

so there i was sitting and looking out over the bay at the paddle boards, kayakers, sail boats, people living on boats waking to their morning routines, and all of a sudden i heard these screams coming from behind me! i turned and saw the moro bay aquarium and the sea-lion sign. then i heard the calls from the sea lions on a pier in the middle of the bay. and then i felt the tears roll down my face. those amazing beings behind me are certainly suffering. i could hear the pain and eventually anger in their voices! and then i heard little kids laughing (they get to feed the sea lions). i can’t imagine what kind of pellet food they feed them. i immediately started searching for a way to let them out. there had to be a trap door somewhere….

i decided i had to get out of town so i just started cranking the pedals. half way up the hill i spotted a juice bar, so i pulled over and sat down and did some research…still needed to decided where i was going. i found a petition that was old, but still going and then i found out that due to the family that owns the aquarium not willing to update and improve the space, it is closing down in 2018. supposedly the city wants to open a bigger better faster aquarium, but please no! NO!NO!NO! no more aquariums or zoos, just stop! there is no need for it.

but while i was at the juice bar, i met a really nice guy who grew up in the area and was getting ready to take his two kids to do some work in community gardens and then spend the day at the beach with the cousins. i started to feel a little better about moro bay but needed a little break so i book a hostile just a little ways up the road in san luis obispo (slo). as i rolled into town, two things happened. one, i remembered the bugs bunny episode where he got lost “should have made a left at albuquerque” and ended up in slo. the other thing that happened was all kinds of signs that put to mind the industrial prison complex, like the california men’s colony…really? sometimes i let myself forget that california has a huge prison industry.

the people at the hostel were super nice. check in wasn’t until 4:30, but they said i could leave my bike there and wonder the town….wow what a town full of homeless folks right next to very wealthy. i found a little tavern to sit and chat and do some writing. there was some religious festival in the park, otherwise i would have stayed there.

when i got back to the hostel, there was a full on party going on at around the table. more than a few people were living there while they were trying to find homes….an recuring theme in hostel land these days. some already had jobs. one person was born and raised there, but couldn’t find a place to live. i got in an argument with a young guy who just graduated from college and got a job right away in the area working with satellites. our argument was about resources allocated to space vs. the ocean. i should have known better, but couldn’t help myself. he was so smug and sure of himself.

i tried to go to bed, but there was an insane snorer and the only one in the room who slept that night. so up early for the free breakfast, (the staff member was so nice), and off to pismo beach. this area is full of campsites, but no h/b so i shelled out 25 bucks for a campsite, but the place was pretty nice and a great little walk to the beach, but i was so tired that it was dinner and an early pass out for me…didn’t even get a page in the book read.

the next few nights were pretty uneventful. some long rides in rolling grass lands that look like the area of kansas i grew up in. in fact kansas has been on my mind so much lately. maybe its the landscape. maybe it’s getting closer to time to return? i don’t know, i’ve said i’ll never go back….yet i’ve returned twice. 3rd time? can i really live anywhere? i don’t know.

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even the sea weed is different here

when i rolled into el capitan campsite i went for a stroll. it was a long ride for me (54 miles) and wanted to put my knees in the cold ocean, but it wasn’t cold! in fact i waded in up to my waste. i wanted to jump in, but i already had tar stuck to my legs. there are 3 off shore oil rigs in sight. as i was gazing off into the water i noticed a splash, and there they were, the porpoises i was told i might be able to see! it was a joy to watch them jump and play. i decided to stand there and watch them vs. trying to go get my camera and try to take a pic that wouldn’t come out anyway. oh ya! and when the raccoons woke me up, i watched the half-moon set over the ocean-big bright pink! thanks raccoons!

oh ya! and in pismo beach, while i ate dinner, i watched hawks and estreals soar around! one buzzed some peoples’ fire rings checking out the meat on their grills.

yesterday was another 50 some odd miles to my first warmshower host. todd with sandbox coffee lets people stay in the enclosed patio of his coffee shop after they close at 8 pm. so i arrived, said hi and went to explore the area. i have to say that i really enjoyed the ride into ventura. in fact i enjoyed the ride all the way from goleta (and the university of santa barbara there has the most magnificent bike trails. infact! they roll all the way through santa barabara (though confusing from time-to-time due to construction. but portland and psu, you could learn a great deal from how they have things set up and labeled! i was giddy with all the people, of all ages, using the trails!

i actually was pretty much on a bike trail most of those 50 some miles into ventura! and i went through this amazing surfer dirtbag kind of r.v. area just outside of ventura. there was a whole area dedicated to overnight r.v. parking. people had their stuff set up! there were r.v.s and vans of all kinds. people with bikes and surfboards all just doing their things and waving and saying hi as i went by.

so i dropped my panniers off at the coffee shop and rode around town until hunger got the best of me. the two people who served me (caught shift change) where amazing. the first person was born and raised in ventura! also her former partner was in a popular punk band that i have listened to. when football came on, it was time to return to my nest at the coffee shop, plus they were having open mic night out on the patio!

it was nice to watch the sunset and listen to some kind, older, white guys play old folk songs…i did like the woodie guthrie and bob dillon. as people left, i made my bed and tried to sleep. as great as this setting seems, it was some gosh offal sleep! the patio was lit up! and is right next to a busy road. now that i’ve started to get use to as most camps are next to the highway, but the lights! so when the person who opens the shop showed up at 5:30, i was prepared. by six i was packed up and ready for the already made coffee and a bagel sandwich!

and here is where i sit now, having watched the sun come up. i’m going to go a little easier on myself today….30-40 miles. i’m excited to get to my friends and then on into mexico. its a few days off yet depending on my pace. but i’m starting to feel like i should be doing something with my time right now with all the relief needs due to natural disasters. or maybe it is time to finally do an internship with an animal sanctuary? i guess i’ll know when i know.

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really never enough sunsets…also where i saw the moon set hours later

i feel like i should mention that i haven’t listened to music at all on this trip so far (well the songs stuck in my head from who knows what), i tried to listen to a podcast but fell asleep. i do go to facebook (my friends post news i can trust) to check some news and small updates. last night i thought i might watch a movie on the ol’ laptop, but didn’t feel it. my mind feels really good. its only been 2 weeks on the road, but already feels like a lifetime. i haven’t had a day off the saddle since big sure and i’m feeling the need for it; to just be in a place for a little while. but i’m also excited. the woman at dinner last night told me there is some bioluminescence on the beaches in the area right now! hope to stay up long enough.

whatever happens – i’m having the time of my life! and with all the sweat and lack of shower, my hair is looking good! for real no sarcasm!

Big Sur and More

so i finally pulled out of monterey after a long and much-needed chat with a good pal! its nice to know that i’m not the only one in my close crew that is potentially going through some kind of mid-life crises – aka what the heck am i doing with my life?! and its much deeper than that of course. when you don’t hold the standard american values, i find it difficult to know if i’m doing ok…and trying to figure out what i am supposed to contribute to this world is a whole other question…. i will keep playing with these questions for some time, but for know…wow! what an amazing 10 days or so i’ve had.

so yup, finally left monterey, what a beautiful ride down the coast! i mean geez! remember that monerey bay is a marine sanctuary! so while i was chatting with my pal, i was watching harbor seals play in the bay…as well as all kinds of birds and such. so yup i headed on around the bay and just kept being amazed!

my main stop for this day was point lobos state natural reserve. it was one of the places recommended to me, and it did not disappoint! at one of the points one of the park volunteers had a telescope where we could see the otters sleeping all wrapped up in kelp, and in the distance we could see and hear the sea lions. however, as i walked around the point, i found a closer spot where i watched several of the ottors playing (?) it was just spectacular. there is also this RED moss that grows on the trees here, it’s actually kind of rare and is dependent on really clean air and water (remember sanctuary). it was fascinating to see on the unique cypress trees there as well as on some of the granite as well. supposedly this only grows in a few places around the world.

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i was tempted to hide out for while and gorilla camp here after the rangers left, but i didn’t think i had that much further to go to a h/b camp, so i kept cranking the wheels. and its true, i didn’t have that far to go, but i did have a great deal of up hill to contend with and didn’t roll into pfeiffer state park until after the sun went down….but i have to say the sunset along this intense ride was fantastic! i just couldn’t stop moving and take any pics, but geez those hills just would not end!

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i rolled into camp and ate the shit out of a bag of chips and drank a beer that i hauled all the way from the brewery in monterey! i was so hunger and so tired! and i passed the heck out! i ended up spending 3 nights in this park trying to figure out if i was going to do the walk around or bike back out and around. i had heard that the walk around the bridge that is out was only like 15 minutes or so. i’d also seen a shuttle service, but i didn’t know about bikes, so i did the few hikes open and available in the park and enjoyed catching up on some calories (i ate quinoa and a whole can of beans each night!). i was also kind of sorting some things out. i’ve set up a way to do daily writings and meditation and stretching. it’s really clearing some webs out of the old noggin! its funny, i didn’t really talk to many people while here. a few on the trails, but so many people kept to themselves. except for the nice couple from queensland australia who are spending 3 months hitchhiking the united states. they were super nice! i hope they have a wonderful visit.

the best part of this time was sleeping right under the redwoods! it was magical. the worst part was how loud people were. so many people played music from their phones on speakers and talked loud and just genuinely took up a great deal of space….well i should say the american visitors. people i met from other countries, not so much.

so then there was the adventure of getting out and continuing south! i found the trail. it went straight up! with lots of wooden/dirt stairs! i don’t know how heavy my loaded bike is, but it was a solid test of stregnth…and new found curse words. and for some reason, as i was trying to heave my bike up a step, some older white man would decide this was a great time to ask me where i was going/from….ugh. when i got to the store at the top of the climb i had my first soda in a long time! and a bag of chips! and a cliff bar! and headed on down the road!

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life in fire

i’ve decided to try to stop riding around 3 each day so that i can enjoy where ever i am staying, because….why am i doing this? not to log miles for sure! so i rolled into kirk creek campground! what a wonderful hiker/biker camp set up! out-of-the-way, but not under the highway! access to the beach, but the view! holy crap! it was amazing!

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found at the top of the big walk-around

as soon as i got set up, i set off to find the beach. as i came up out of the h/b site, i met a woman and her daughter. what a delight! they were waiting for their friend and young son to come back from taking a tour up the coast a little more, but while i was exploring the beach, i saw that they had decided to come on down too! it was soooo soooo nice! the daughter is 18 months old and so independent. we sat next to the pools and tossed rocks together. the woman is from quebec but had recently moved to san mateo. she and her friend have known each other for 20 years or so and the friend was visiting for a couple of weeks. we had wonderful conversations.

i was kind of feeling a nap and snack need so we headed back up to our camps, but before i could reach mine, i ran into this couple in one of these camping vans you can rent. it was decorated in such a way that i had noticed it a few days before so i asked them if that was them. it’s a pretty cool set up.  anyway, they are also awesome! they are from sydney and on their honeymoon! and they like beer too! so after we had been talking for a minute, they offered me a beer (yes! thank-you), and we just kept talking and talking, and drinking. eventually the ranger came by (who is hilarious) and suggested they move to this other spot that has a better view and had just opened up.

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so they moved, i ate, and we re-gathered for the sunset. and the night went like this to the very end. every time i moved i got to stop and spend some time with both beautiful groups of friends who shared so much with me. i need to find something that i can carry and exchange for such hospitality….this night chocolate seemed to work nicely.

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one funny story, when i was camping in crappy place in monterey, a raccoon situation happened, not pretty and kept everyone up all night. well here, they also have raccoons, but my new friends from sydney had never really seen one up close, so tried to bait one close to us with marshmellows. one, we believe it’s the one the camp calls gordo, went for the chocolate bar i had set down. it was fun to watch the whole scene play out.

from here it is just a few miles down the road to gorda….and a massive land slide! and i mean massive. i didn’t know that this one didn’t have a detour or a round about, but as i sat in the sun trying to decide what to do (go back to kirk creek and pick up the road over the mountains and to the 101, or wait until 6:30 when all the workers leave and then walk through it. i was told, by john (a guy who has worked at this place for 26 years and so friendly), that bikers have walking through it at night and that it was only between 1/4 and 1/2 mile. i figured that was doable. so as i sat there for a while and ate some snacks, and chatted john up a storm, his boss came by. “you waiting to walk through this slide?” yeeeees?! “well put your bike in the back of my truck and i’ll take you across.” wait what? i don’t have to keep sitting here for another 4 hours? and john is just standing behind him nodding his head. ok! john helps me load up the bike and makes sure that i have enough food and water (he had already given me a banana and a deal on my treats). and i sat next to the 3rd dog i’ve met called chico…eventually chico ended up in my lap! lucky me!

as we moved though this work zone, i can’t believe i was going to try to walk this! holy shit! for real! the road was super rough dirt road that these huge earth mover trucks are using to get new ginormous boulder into the area to rebuild some kind of foundation to rebuild the land! and it goes down down down and then up up up! when i was dropped off (1/2 way up the giant hill) he suggested that if any one asks how i got around, i didn’t, i came up and camped and am headed back down…and that is exactly how i responded when i finally (seriously this was a serious hill…but i rode the whole way! with lots of stops). got to the final flagger. i pulled over to this trail head for salmon creek and took a breather. as i pulled in a truck pulled in behind me and asked how i got through. i said i didn’t. i camped up the road and am now headed back the other way. he said oh ok. we were wondering if you had found some other road or trail, and this was also a fine place to camp….so i did! and i reflected…wow! thank you thank you for that lift!

so here it is that i just camped out under the stars, no tent or anything. as the sun set, i laid there and watched the bats come out and the owl that sat on the top of a tree just above my head. i listened to the calls of the wild and the ocean and i enjoyed such solitude! it’s the first time i cowboy camped alone. somewhere deep in the night i suddenly couldn’t remember what i was supposed to do if attacked by a cougar! and then the jokes went through my mind….you older queers will know the jokes. then i watched the stars again! since the new moon and on isolated beaches…the stars are for real outstanding! but when i woke up…hungery hunger set in.

it was about 4 miles to rugged point, and i decided i could splurge on breakfast. i rolled into a super nice place! breakfast was all eggs and meat, so it was potatoes and toast on the patio…with a view and lots of coffee. the server was so amazing with all kinds of stories, and he added spinach to my spuds! i walked the property while the carbs digested and then started back down the road.

from here things get rolly (it was one hell of a hill from salmon creek to rugged point). i got a good groove and enjoyed the landscape. it was a big change from big sur for sure! things get super dry, but the ocean just keeps giving. at some point i came to an odd little place and there were lots of bikes! i hadn’t seen a cyclist for days! so i turned in and asked what was happening. turns out they were celebrating the opening of a new stretch of highway and bike lane. i chatted with some folks before heading out.

shortly thereafter was a turn off for a viewing of elephant seals! they were so fun to watch…and soooo big! geez! here i chatted with some guys from the uk that i had seen at breakfast. we had a nice chat about the changing climate and traveling. so many conversations actually and so many people from different parts of the world! and some more of the bikers from before stopping for pics and chats.

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i had one more stop before camp and it was for a beer and check-ins. for the first time since monterey i had mobile service! so i sent off some messages and check-ins, did some instagraming, and a little beer….i was near the william randolf hearst castle….wow! what a goofball! so he had like the largest private zoo collection at some point and released the herd animals out on public land. soooo i passed a herd of zebras! yes zebras out amongst the cows. then the roosevelt elk…. i don’t know what else he had, but that is what i saw.

finally came san simean state park and a not so great h/b camp, but it did have beech access for the sunset. i took some time to catch up on reading and walking about. i forgot it was friday night, so the campsite filled up with kids and families and was kind of loud, but mostly it was the fact that the h/b sites were right below the highway! but once it got quiet, it was so quiet. at some point in the middle of the night i heard some distance coyotes.

today….today i s beautiful day. i hope to end up in morro bay state park just on the coast side of san luis obispo. its about   from where i am writing this. and i am feeling pretty good! i know that some of the goodness is movement and sunshine and cool warmth. i know i have a great deal to deal with. i am heartbroken with the mudslides, the fires, hurricanes, the earthquakes, and all the beauty! i was brought to tears watching a butterfly play amongst some flowers at ragged point. yes, i have a great deal to figure out! one of those things is when am i going to take a shower again! but for now…this is such a beautiful world and i hope we find a way to limit how much we destroy by our consumption!

but today….today is so wonderful and i hope all these people driving up and down this road that will completely fall into the ocean at some point, know how magnificent this area is and take it home with them, and start treating their home as if it were like this…sacred and life-giving.

what’s next

so i have left ashland. it wasn’t an easy decision to stay or to go. it was a nice place to sort things out. good people. lots to explore. however, the jobs just don’t match the cost of living-as is true most places these days. also, there is something odd about ashland. it’s almost too perfect sometimes…in an uncomfortable way….like stepford wives as a city. i also had a hard time finding the queerdos.

so i started sorting out my options with the help of some pals that came and went from ashland all summer. i found a hella deal on a bike and transferred the gear in my backpack to bike panniers and a smaller backpack. my plan was to bike the sierra cascade route down to baja and then bike around there for the winter. then a family visit down the california coast changed that. so back to the pacific ocean it is. i still plan on making it to baja for the winter, but i will have to stop and work from time to time, so if you know anyone who needs some help with a project or two let me know! i’d love to meet some people and work side-by-side with them.

i haven’t had much time to make the emotional and mental switch from work to travel again. i finished work on sunday at 7am and by the afternoon had visitors. we met for dinner and then took off to crater lake the next day, and then to the redwoods and family in santa clara. the next day i was dropped off in santa cruz to start biking.

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as i started peddling, i realized i didn’t really know what my destination was for the day. i rode to the boardwalk and looked up a direction and started riding. as i entered the monterey bay area i found some hiker-biker campsites and pulled into one early in the day and made a few adjustments to bike and self. i fell asleep super early.

when i woke up, i chatted with the folks that had rolled in that night and we shared some information. i took my time packing up trying some new ideas, pulled out google maps to pick the next location.

i spent the day riding through farm land….corporate farm land. actually i spent the night right next to del monte strawberries. i rode past cabbages, fruits, artichokes, people planting, tending, and harvesting. it was interesting to go by slowly and watch to see where there was drinking water available, shade, rest….working conditions. my afternoon snack came from a roadside produce stand where i had a fine chat with the woman who had just started this little organic market.

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as i curved around the bay, i remembered the sylivia earle connection to monterey bay, so looked into heading in that direction. it was amazing to sleep along a bay that has been protected. the wildlife, the clean water, plants…. all of it has been so amazing. the night before i actually was woken by a screeching owl and some other birds having a conversation. it is a great contrast to super industrial shorelines.

as i entered a town outside of monterey i guy rolled up next to me who had just finished biking across the u.s. and offered me a place to stay when i got into monterey. that put part of mind to rest so that i could actually enjoy the ride even more. so that when i rolled into town i felt more open to explore a bike shop who refered me to a new brewery that had just opened up around the corner.

the tender at the brewery has worked at the state parks in the area and gave me some tips on places to stop/camp/visit. as i was wrapping things up here, i got word that my hosts were home from the beach, so i headed their way. i arrive in time for a shower and then dinner was ready! they were so super kind and wonderful! they had only been back from their bike tour for 10 days, and were only too happy to share the friendliness they had experienced on their trip. they were still asleep when i got up and headed out.

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i was all prepared to go ahead and start my journey down the coast, but i just felt this urge to stick around monterey for the day. i needed to get some “work” done. i needed to finally sign up for warm showers (couch surfing for bike tour), check out fundage, and general life maintenance. i think once i finish up some of these things, and wrap up parts of my life that have been just hanging loose for a bit, i’ll feel better about pulling out-of-town tomorrow. i don’t mind all the unknowns, but there are some things that need to be taken care of and i think it could help with the feelings of being overwhelmed mixed with some depression and anxiety….not how i want to be riding down highway 1.

also, it is nice to be in stienbeck land, even though it is not the cannery row stienbeck knew/wrote about. what would doc think of all this?