A Travellerspoint blog

December 2009

Zen

My mom texted me in the morning as we drove to LA with a place that might be able to take our help, and they didn't start serving until 6pm (perfect!) We drove to where the GPS took us, but I didn't see anything that looked like a shelter (kinda a ghost part of LA). Joe took walked us around a corner, then through a caged door a guy told us to keep walking around the fence and we would find the shelter. We got there around 2pm, and the chief chef put us right to work. He gave us a spot in the fridge to put our food we brought, and then handed us hair nets, gloves, aprons, and cook/ sailor hats. We were put to work in the large shelter area on the men's side in the eating area. There were already a few men laying out on the cots waiting for dinner, and others siting in the common area watching a Kung Fu movie. We sat at the picnic tables and Joe cut up pumpkin pies while I took the pie slices and placed them into paper dishes on the metal trays. We made friends with Eddy and Gigi who were on cake duty, and it was kinda like we were just hanging out with our friends again, which was really nice. Eddy was a goof, and Gigi wasn't hesitant to call him on it. I think he liked it though, just like at home, everyone likes a person who can laugh at themselves as much as the person with cake all over themselves.

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(From last pic. to first: The chef who was running the place is the guy on the left, and I can't remember his name either... I'm sorry guys! (I'm writing this blog on Dec. 19th, and my name memory sucks anyhow.) Then to his right is Eddy, then on the very right is Gigi. Jasmin is the one in the pic. before that one, and then Tattoos (I'll explain the nick name in a moment) is the guy on the very left of the first pic. with me and Joe.)

After we had all the cake and pie portions cut up we got in line at the serving area and I was put on greens duty, and Joe was napkin and fork duty to my left. I can't remember his name, but I'll call him Tatoos for short (he had some really great tattos all down hi arms), would spoon out ham and stuffing, then he'd pass the plate to the next guy who would do turkey and sweet potatoes, then to me with the greens, and finally to Joe with the napkin and fork. Eddy and Gigi were on punch duty, and she and Jasmin would go around and give everyone refills. It was really kinda nice I thought. After we made the plate's Tattoo's mom would waitress the plates out to the tables with Jasmin and another kid I can't remember his name... we'll call "J" because he reminded me of James who we based our character J on in our assassin story we are writing. We had some problems with people trying to come up to the serving area like a normal cafeteria, but we didn't have glass over the food to keep a separation from the customer line, so we made the plates and then passed them out to the tables which was a little confusing and annoying because we would have all these plates ready, and the guys would just want to take one and sit down, and some of the help were really kinda rude yelling at them to sit down and we would bring the food to them.

We would also call out to the kitchen when we needed more of something, and sometimes we would over book a refill of something. We would need more ham, and then 2 people would come out with new trays of ham. This was usually not a problem, they understood the situation. We had a lot of hungry people, and alot of help that we would move around to different jobs as they were needed. But this one old woman who was kinda strange to begin with, came out with another plate of the ham after we were already refilled, and she looked at Tattoo's with one large Egor/ Wicked Witch of the West eye and said in a high pitched granny voice:
"Do you know anything?"
Tattoos just looks at her and laughs it off like she was joking and explained that someone else had already come with a refill on the ham. She, displeased with his answer to her question, asked again:
"Do- you- know- anything?"
Tattoos, now understanding that she was being absolutely serious, apologized for the mix up, and this dance continued for a little more, and then she turned and fumed away. So, for the rest of the day, I of course had to ask him every time he asked a question:
"Do you know anything?"

Then after dinner was all served, we sat down to have our own Thanksgiving dinner with some of the guys staying at the shelter and a lot of the other workers that hadn't eaten yet. After dinner Joe and I went to my car which... we couldn't get into. With 3 security guards we had to break into my car b/c Joe didn't remember where he put my keys. While we were serving Eddy told me to have Joe move the car and the bike into the parking lot of the shelter and off the street b/c he would be surprised if anything was still in my car come morning if it was on the street. After breaking into my car Joe realized that he left the keys over on the table in the kitchen, and someone had moved them into a drawer. We searched on the GPS for a camp area, and we weren't finding one, and that's when I suggested that we just spend the night at the shelter. The guys at the shelter were okay with it, so we signed in, got a blanket (you have to use their blankets) and I got into the woman's section that was just the cafeteria area in the men's room that was just sectioned off with tarps (I didn't want to be in the entirely separate side of the building from Joe just in case they closed us off from each other for the night.

I also picked this section b/c it was fairly empty since most of the women didn't want to be that close to the guys section. Joe was put in a cot that was about 10 feet away from mine, and I was pretty pleased with the situation. I also picked this spot b/c one of the women staying in the shelter caught my attestation with her conversation with the security guard. She was a smaller woman with long wavy blond/ brown hair, and he was complaining to her that she shouldn't move the cots around, and that she should let the maintenance crew do it. This kind of bull shit was going on all the time. The security (who weren't really cops, but wore cop like uniforms) were hired to keep the shelter in order, but they really were just pulling power trips on the people in the shelter, trying to prove that they were above the people staying there. She pointed out that maintenance was notified, but they never came, so she moved them herself. He argued back with her about the difference between helping out and breaking the rules, or something like that, and she replied to him:
"Semantics."
He paused, not quite knowing what that word meant, which she of course had wanted, and he just told her again, to wait for maintenance next time, and then handed me my blanket. He was pointing out a spot on the woman half of the shelter, and I immediately asked if I could stay in the sectioned off section of the mens shelter which was near her.

I climbed into the blanket like an unzipped sleeping bag just as I got to my cot, and I tried to got to sleep (long day, and I was tired). Then I had to go to the bathroom. The woman was now having a conversation with the female security guard, and I interrupted and foolishly asked:
"Are there restrooms around here?"
... now it was my semantics.
"No," the security officer replied, "we make everyone squat over the trash bins."
I knew she was picking on me for my audacity to think that the homeless shelter might not have restrooms (hey, some campgrounds we've paid to be at didn't have restrooms, how was I to know that LA was so upscale?). So I just stared at her with my tired eyes that said I understand that I've offended you, but I'm not coming from below you or above you, I just want to pee. So then she directed me to the back of the woman's room in the shelter. Surprisingly the place had showers too! I thought about going out to my car and getting my shampoo, but I just had a shower yesterday (something I don't often get to say) and so I decided to skip. They weren't the worst showers we've been to on this trip, but they ranked up there with some of bad one's we've used.

When I came back the woman told me not to mind her friend (the security guard). Then we got to talking. She was telling me that when she saw Joe and I come into the shelter she thought we were a British couple. I had my little brown cap on, and Joe must have reminded her of a soccer player (my mom's neighbor Viv is from England, and when she saw Joe for the first time, not even knowing he was my boyfriend, entering the Boarders coffee shop, she leaned over to my mom and said, not expecting an answer, "Who is that beautiful football player?" or something to that accord. My mom replied, "Oh, that's Vanessa's boyfriend." To which she replied "Get out" or something to that effect, probably something more British. But I really digress.

Anyhow, the woman introduced herself as Joe, and I told her my name was Rain. I eventually fessed up that my real name was Vanessa so when/ if she ever read our blog, she wouldn't be confused. That's when she told me that her name was Zen, and that she had only changed it to Zen yesterday, so she didn't remember to use it. I told her that I've been through that too, but if you want to make a change, changing your name really does make you conscious of it. She told me that living in places like this for the past 7 months had made her mean and irritable, and she wanted to be called Zen so she could get back to her calm and happier ways.

We talked about our trip, and then we got to talking about physics. She turned out to be a physics enthusiast, and we discussed Space/ Time according to Einstein's Special Relativity Theory, then we got into light, and the philosophy of color. It was some really interesting stuff that forced me to admit that while I graduated in Physics, I finished in the bottom of my class, as well as the bottom 15% of the nation (grant it I got that score after taking a test at the end of my senior year I did absolutely no studying for b/c it was an entrance exam for grad school, and there was no way I was going there). She didn't mind, and we bounced ideas off each other about how to view time as not existing all the way to viewing light as reflection patterns as shown by the mathematics involved in making florescent colors. Eventually I got tired and had to go to sleep, but Zen stayed up a bit longer and talked to her security friend.

The next morning (wake up is at 5 am!) I went out to my car to get my toothbrush. This place serves breakfast and dinner every day, and everyone has to be out by 7am. I was surprised about the fact that they could afford to make 2 meals every day. Anyhow, at my car one of the new security officers told me that only workers could park where I was. I told him that I was a worker last night, and I just spent the night b/c I couldn't find a place to camp so late. Then, seeing that this answer wasn't quite satisfactory, I asked him if he wanted help serving breakfast. He told me to ask the kitchen, but before I could ask the kitchen if they needed help I ran into Zen again, and we got to taking. She was going to school for law in the f70's (her family was full of lawyers), but that was in the 70's, and the 70's happened to her, and she didn't end up graduating. Then she had a house in Arizona, but she lost that like so many American's now, ans she started living out of her car. I remember getting my car to sleep in as a blessing, but wished that my seats leaned all the way back. She said in her car she could, so it wasn't a blessing, but it wasn't that bad. But sleeping in Denny's parking lots, bad things happen. One was even with a cop who confused her with a Mexican man who had robbed a place (bank maybe? I can't remember) but he was drunk, and holding a gun in her face. So she tried to explain to him that she was white, and not a man, but he wasn't convinced b/c he said he was looking for a white Taurus, and her car was white. She pointed out that she was driving a Ford, and then the numbers began to add up for him. She tried to sue the police station for battery, but one day her lawyer said he was dropping her case. She should have pursued it, but come on, how many people win cases against the police? She was thinking her lawyer got a payoff to drop the case. Anyhow, she probably doesn't want me drying her dirty laundry all over the internet, so I'll skip to one thing led to another, and now she is sick and living between shelters, and how do you really get out of that? You can try to get a job, but your sick; you can try and ask for help from your family, but what happens when they say no?

I guess I'm going with what I've been hearing this whole trip, be greatfull for your friends and family, and never burn those bridges. Like the story of into the wild, you can burn all your money and still live off of your self and the land, and you can rid yourself of the poison of greed, but what happens to you when you eat a poison even deadlier than greed? Maybe if the guy from Into the Wild had not burned his bridge with his sister and kept her up to date with where he was going she could have sent someone out to find him, and then maybe he would still be alive. Or maybe if he didn't have to leave the people who were driving him around in their van he could have had a vagabond life with them. Sure they still used money, but they didn't need it, which seemed to be his real problem with money. Not its existence, but its relentless need. Joe and I have learned to let go of our money on this trip, and when it runs out, it runs out. Just as long as you don't stress over the cost of things, or cling to your money like you are the only one in the world who deserves it, then I think you can live free of the disease of greed.

Christopher McCandless: [written into a herb book] Happiness only real when shared.

Posted by - Rain 17:25 Comments (1)

More Greek than Greece

and more Alien than Roswell

We left Vegas and hit California with the sun in our eyes and the wind at our... fronts? It sounds better if I say with the wind on our backs, so we'll change the story to that. We didn't make it too far, but Perp was acting up a bit, and it was getting a bit cold and dark for Joe to be on the bike. To top it off, this place had Alien Beef Jerky! How could we not stop?

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That night we spent at the truck stop behind the Wal-Mart semi. We woke to the sound of the radio playing outside the gas station. It was still too cool to take off since Joe was back on the bike. So we decided to go to the world famous Mad Greek restaurant for breakfast and it was wonderful! Just walking inside I felt like I was in one of those IMAX movies about Greece. All the wallpaper was larger than life size pictures of Greece, and there were Greek statues everywhere. The food was really good too (some sort of lamb breakfast thing). We also got some really good Baklava.

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Then we were on the road to the next stop on our California trip. We didn't drive too long before we got kinda lost trying to follow each other, and ended up in a very confusing shopping area.

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Here Joe told me he was really sick and needed to do some Qui Gong inside, so we tried at the Barns and Noble, but it was really small and crowded, so he didn't feel like doing it. Now I really knew he was sick, so we asked the McDonalds where he parked if we could leave the bike there overnight, and then I drove us to a motel. After I dropped Joe off I went to the grocery store and got him some chicken soup and a 69 cent churo (awesome!) Joe carved Justin's present a bit and we watched the Day the Earth Stood Still. The next day he was still under the weather, so we got the place for one more night.

He was okay to go out during the day in the car though, so we went shopping together and tried to find a post office to mail everyone's Christmas presents. We ended up getting lost with the GPS so we broke down and went to the Fed Ex we passed, and thats when we found out that tomorrow was Thanksgiving!
"Isn't Thanksgiving the 26th?" I asked the guy who boxed out stuff while watching Mad Max (the one with Tina Turner as the Queen of the Thunder Dome).
He replied, "... tomorrow is the 26th."
Oh, well its really hard to keep track of time while vagabonding around. I really wanted to work at a soup kitchen in LA or wherever we ended up on Thanksgiving, but now we were running out of time. I tried calling a bunch of places when we got back to the hotel, but they were either not picking up or were full with volunteers (they need more food, not more help). The other problem was most of them stopped serving food after 2pm (how is that Thanksgiving dinner?) We wouldn't be able to make it to LA the next day in time to help out at most of these places anyhow, so who do you call? My mom.

Posted by - Rain 17:23 Comments (0)

Viva la Via

(Viva Las Vegas... Starbucks style)

Starbucks came out with an instant coffee called Via, and since we get most of our internet from Starbucks, we heard a lot of promoting for the darn thing, and it has at long last, infiltrated its way into my writing.

Since Joe was just out of his week in the while, we decided it was time to shock his system. We head out towards Vegas, Joe with the GPS, me, the vintage way, after eating the free breakfast for the whole 4 hours (Joe did, not me. He sits himself down with the laptop, and passes himself for the entire breakfast. We even had one of the people working there ask to confirm that we had a room at the hotel.) And I got some pictures of Joe cruising on the motorcycle on Rt. 66 (Classic! Just pretend all of those businesses aren't there and replace them with something scenic. You've seen enough scenic on our trip, use those pics as a reference. That, or maybe this is scenic Rt. 66 and I am just a snob after seeing all that we've seen.)

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And then once we are back on the highway away from the 66, Nevada becomes just how I pictured it.

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Also on the way Joe was really interested in seeing Hoover Dam, and so was apparently everyone else. I was unimpressed, and all I really wanted to see was the Colorado river before and after the damn, but not necessary the dam itself. (Which way is the Grand Canyon by the way? I assume its north, so that would mean that the Grand Canyon is dammed? I didn't know that. You couldn't tell by how small the Colorado river looks inside the Grand Canyon, but maybe that's just because it was so far away, or maybe just so far away from the point where it is dammed. I need to stop saying the word dam, b/c I'm not mature enough for it, and yes, I did have to go through that paragraph and remove all the "n"'s further proving that I am not mature enough.

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So, like the subtitle said...

here we go...

to a destination nether of us really are interested in seeing...

but since we are here...

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We meet at the Plaza hotel which is on the other side of Vegas from the main strip, but it was right in front of this really neat street mall that claims to have the largest LCD screen that covers the entire strip (we think that the one at the Olympic "nest" in China probably beets it, but they just didn't update their ads yet).

Let me just say this before you see the pictures, because I need you to feel it for me. I was unable to wipe the grin from off my face. The ceiling on the hour, every hour, would light up (usually its inactive, so I was curious when I first saw it as to why they decided to put a roof over the street) and videos danced to a rock and roll sound. All other lights on the street went out in awe of the performance, and everyone's faces were turned up (a pick-pocketers dream). Then after the song, all of Vegas seemed to turn back on like toys on Christmas night after the children go to sleep.

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Then we watched this awesome spray paint artist. We wanted to buy Justin the Spiderman because he did such an amazing job on all the other paintings, really resourceful btw, using only newspaper and spray paint, but it didn't come out like the others did, and we would pay the $35 for the others, but the Spiderman was just kinda bla. The cool thing is that the company just sets up the booth, and then hires people to spray art in it, and they have to figure out how to paint on their own (Bob Ross?)

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Then Joe, being only a a few days out of the wild, I caught reverting back to his rugged self!

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After that I had no choice but to drag him dress shopping and fill him with bongs full of ah-ah-ah-alcohol (and yes, that was one of the songs that Ciani requested at her wedding reception... foreshadowing? maybe?).

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We were having a blast just looking around at the kiosks, eating, looking at the spray painting artist, eating, and going in and out of all the casinos while we played the 1 cent machines (Joe said I pull the handle on the side too hard, but I believe the harder you slam it down, the luckier you are... even if I still lost the penny regardless of how hard I pulled.) Then we finally figured out what this thing was for:

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It was a danger ball where they had 3 guys on dirt bikes getting ready do do a show where they drive inside the ball. Now I know you might be thinking "Do I want to watch these?" And if you haven't come up with the correct answer yet, its yes. They are short, and you really do need to build up the suspense by watching all three, now speed watching by skipping to the last one b/c you know its the finally. There's a reason why they start out with the smaller stuff and build up (let the feeling flow like we did, b/c you're not going to get anywhere close to experincing this place if you don't try to put yourself in it. And ye,s that means that if you're not already drinking, you need to pause, get some alcohol, and then come back after you've downed a few. But not too many that you can't read anymore, come on people, lets not get too crazy.)

Then after that we hopped on Joe's bike... w/o helmets... and drove to the main strip. On the way we had several people yell to us that we'll get ticketed in Nevada for not having helmets. This made us real nervous, so while we wanted to stop by the TI (Treasure Island) to watch the show they had going on outside, but we decided to just try and find a parking spot before a cop found us. And yes, on the way we were tempted to get hitched at, the I kid you not, drive through wedding chapel.

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And we almost got a shot of Johnny Depp! I'm not kidding you, I think he likes the costume so much that he moonlights in it at Vegas for attention. Joe called "Johnny Depp!" and he turned, but by the time I got the shot, he was already pretending to be too cool for a photo. :(

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When we pulled around I saw that he was checking his compass with the same exact expression he does in the movie, you know, the frown/ elongation of the mouth, eyebrows raised, head leaned back look.

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Those were inside the Caesar's by the way (its night outside).

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That last one was a pic of a really strange group. A fairly good Joker, a sexy black angle/ devil girl, a really bad Mexican Jack Sparrow and an Edward with a really big but (for a white guy).

Inside the Paris we kinda crashed (only 1 am, but it was 2 am for us b/c of the time change). That's when we decided to find a friggin hotel for cheep (the mom of the angle girl at the RV park with the THC with TLC shop told us that Vegas has cheep motels now b/c of the economy). We loved Vegas so much, and we really wanted to have another day when we were not falling asleep to really enjoy the place.

Deciding that a taxi would be warmer, and cheaper (getting a ticket, we were told by a very intimidating Jewish lawyer who yelled to us while we were driving (Joe's discript BTW, not mine, and since he's kinda Jewish, and his brothers a lawyer, I think we can trust his assessment), would run us around 900 bucks!) The taxi took us right back to my car at the Plaza, and then we figured we would pick Joe's bike up at Cesar's Palace when we hit the strip the next day.

It took us a while, but I finally talked a guy into letting me have a "single" for $30 a night (my trick? Ask "Do you know any motel closer to $30?" Your answers are a sharp "I don't know!" or the ever helpful, "Yeah, try..." and the very best "I can go $30." I talked to 4 motels before I got the last, but since the last was our breaking point when we would pay anything for sleep, it worked out.)

The next morning we slept in almost all day to prepare for the night, and then I told Joe about eating at Cici's in Roswell, and that was it. Joe ate all the previous night, at almost every food place we passed, he seemed ready to refill his belly. So, one free 411 call later, we found a Cici's in Vegas and it had Wifi. So while Joe refilled himself we searched for all the free shows and we hit the strip prepared!

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First, MGM grand to see the lions:

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That last pic was from under the lions! So cool!

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The one trainer in there kinda jumped when the lion on the left sat up real quick to lick her back leg. We enjoyed that they still had a healthy fear of the lions, b/c they were huge.

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And relish these photos, b/c I was told (after the fact) that the Lux no longer allows photos to be taken inside in order to protect their guests! (Lame)

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Then we missed a bunch of shows like the Treasure Island one that we were apparently in the right place at the right time, but on the first day of their construction project that was going to last through December! So we probably heard them doing their last show the night before while we were trying to get a parking space... but oh well. As Joe pointed out, I thought the show sounded kinda lame (but it was free, and we would have gotten to see it from the beginning, and that was why I was disappointed, not because I thought it was going to be the best thing ever.) So we resorted to wondering and found a really neat looking bar that we didn't eat at, we just looked around.

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That statue just outside the bar was an exact replica of Lennon's stature from the Red Square.

Then it was time to head off the strip to this casino that had a free aquarium.

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And those purple lighted creatures were jelly fish! And that was the best jelly fish exhibit I'd seen thus far b/c the aquarium in Baltimore didn't end up having the jelly fish exhibit we thought it would (Monterey here we come!)

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And yest Nate, those Blue Steel pictures are just for you.

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(He is sitting in Arel's chair)

Then back to the main strip to the Venetian to see street music. But we never found the performers.

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We did however find the Tao restaurant/ night club, and we went in for just a cup of tea, and ended up spending quite a bit of time there getting dinner too (we spit an appetizer for $9 that was amazing. It was called something like "The Buddha's cooked vegetable with udon noodle medley for the Minor Gods" which immediatly caught our attention. Way better than the fish we saw for $88).

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After dinner we rushed to the Fremont Street Experience (street mall we started at yesterday) since our hotel was just down the street from it. Joe drove the bike back and parked it at the Plaza on one side of the mall, and I drove to the motel and parked the car on the other. A little creepy walking around at 1am, so I ran the 5 or so blocks until I got to the street mall, but by the time I got there the place was dead. I guess it was Sunday night, but I thought this city never slept? I found Joe almost back to the Plaza, and then we went inside some casino's and tried to get a drink. It turned out that the strip was closing shops, but the casino and their casino bars stay open 24 hours a day! So we totally bought alcohol after 2 am (b/c we are so cool) and we played a few slots, but it just wasn't the same without the Saturday night energy, so we walked back to our motel around 4am and got some sleep (must maximize sleep time when you don't have a home to take for granite).

Anyways, I guess the point I'm trying to get at is that Vegas on a Saturday night is just filled with so much energy and life that you can't help but feel a part of it, even if you think its not your scene. I told Joe that I felt strange having so much fun in a place that is filled with gambling (not interested), lavish materialism (not interested), and escorts (not interested, but the Hispanic men still annoyingly clicked them together and tried to force me to take their cards... I guess all of us sinners blend together after a while and they didn't notice I was a girl.) Which is the last point I'd like to make. This is sin city, but I would like to also unofficially call it the christian Capital of the world. You couldn't turn a corner w/o seeing some sort of Chapel. Joe and I were even just resting our feet inside the Paris hotel and a few people excitedly asked "Are you waiting?" while pointing to the Chapel across the walk from us. "A world of no." - Buffy (not me) I simply smiled and shook my head.

But I guess it all comes down to people will sin b/c we'd rather die sinners than live as saints, but at the same time the church can still try to save us from ourselves (may as well marry them and make their coupling in bed as legitimate through the eyes of God (he shouldn't be omnipresent in this circumstance).

Posted by - Rain 17:22 Comments (0)

Outa the Wild

survival key: exit strategy

How to hitch hike in modern days (just outside of a tourist suburb):

You can't be carrying a whole lot of equipment. Actually you can't be carrying anything (and no baggy clothes). If you just carried a hundred fifty pounds of equipment down a mountain, then you need to stash it and do something about the way you smell. Change your shirt. Wash your face and your pits. Deodorize. Do your hair.

Now:

Look distressed. Good. Whoa! Not too distressed. Wave your arms and get in the road a tiny bit. Look. . .sadly distressed. Don't walk. Find the best spot where people will have to ignore you for an unbearably long moment before they pass. Again, no smiling while waving. Just about every person will smile and wave right back as they pass you by. Like, "Hey! Look at this nice young man. . . just waving at everyone. How friendly."

Oh yeah, Don't forget the most important thing: If someone by the grace of God stops, then lie like there's no Jesus (He'll forgive you).

A guy passed me by and my first instinct was that he completely disapproved. The look could be pondering "Hmm." with squinty eyes. But, it seemed like, "Grrrrr!"

It ends up he was thinking about picking me up. . . and he did! I told him that I got dropped off this morning for a hike, while my girlfriend went shopping (which would have been totally true. V loves shopping in Sedona; trendy; touristy; but not excessively so). I told him that her car broke down and needs to go to the shop.

I introduced myself and broke the ice and we chatted about the Sedona area. His name was George. He told me he wouldn't normally stop, but I looked distressed. He said that it was lucky I got picked up early, because after sundown, I'd never get a ride.

We drove for about twenty minutes and I found out that he wasn't heading past Safeway, so I told him that my girlfriend would meet me at the Burger King right at the circle in the middle of town (just like all my favorite modern wealthy towns, Sedona had almost no traffic signals; just beautiful roundabouts with flowers in the center).

It was about 1:30, so I had some time before I had to get the bike and drive up past the freezing mountain of Flagstaff and to our motel in the desert. I sat down with a double whopper and a water cup (I used to be able to down a triple on occasion and Whoppers are BIG. Yeah. . . I was a fatty at 15% body-fat). I got some free pop because I had nothing but water on the trip. It was very satisfying at first. Then I had to become a pompous philosopher as usual (God! Always ruin a good thing).

I was sitting across from a couple with a baby. They had dark skin, but I couldn't tell if they were Latino, native Indian, or something. They looked like working class Americans with plain clothes. He had a short crew cut, and they were both. . .very. . . large (fatty's!) Their baby was so cute, but I imagined him getting a little older. They'd bring him to Burger King and what could they do? They couldn't eat in front of him and not get him a meal. I looked at the future fatty and his dad with a double whopper and super fries. My burger stopped tasting so good 3/4 through. I stopped getting the little cup filled with pop and went back to water. I remembered why I quit pop years ago. Then, I wasn't disgusted. I smiled. I always harp on America, but it is a great place. So many things are possible that can be nowhere else. Excess can be beautiful; especially after living on a mountain with no water or game. That's why I formed the sharp piece of metal band on Justin's spear into a rose. It symbolizes the sharp beauty of modern technology, that I learned when I was without.

The only sad thing was that they seemed kind of sad and empty, eating there. Every point of space-time where you exist, will test you; and you will learn eventually. What matters most is to find the place that fits you best. That is why I'm on this trip; not because I wasn't happy in America, but because it didn't fit me. I was happy to have my burger again and I enjoyed the last few bites. . . slowly (Vanessa always likes to watch me eat because I enjoy it so much).

I got up and started running. This was nothing; no problem. After that trip, my calves were sharply sculpted. I bound like an antelope (what's an antelope; never seen one). It was a few miles. I ran a mile and a half as I took in the beauty of my favorite bowl formation in Sedona. A lush forest of bright evergreens curved down from one huge red rock, and up to another; up on a pedestal; surrounded by smaller light green desert bushes.

You can see half of the bowl in the left side of this picture that we took last time we went through Sedona:
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I lost sight through suburbia and pushed hard. EEEeerrrr. Something feeling eastern made me slide to a stop. I turn into the parking lot of a nice hotel. A fountain statue stood in the center of a circle of flowers. Cars pulled around the circle to drop off people in the two story old wooden-looking hotel. I took a pic with my phone, along with a nice lady. The statue was of Merlin. But, he was balancing on one foot in a stance that looked straight out of an old Kung Fu movie. His knee was up high; foot tucked; cradling a crystal ball with his arms curving in a shape a bit like the Tai Chi.

Speaking of eastern influence in hippie towns, start running past a cool looking surfer dude. We smiled at each other. He was wearing shorts and flip-flops with a bright tie-dye shirt and a bunch of long necklaces. He got into his truck and I thought, "He'll give me a ride." I waited at the end of the driveway and waved him down after some tourists pulled out looking frantically at maps or where they were going. He couldn't hear me from the passenger side but nods and waves, then reaches over his stuff and just barely opens the door that didn't work from the outside. He had a very cool surfer dude accent; not over the top.

"Heheeey! Sorry about the door. It's an old truck, you know how it is. Man, I saw you, and I knew you felt my vibe! We connecteddd. Where do you need to go?

"I'm going to the Safeway to pick up my bike."

"I'm going next door, but I'll take you where you need to go."

"Awesome." (I was getting into the surfer vibe) "I spent a week in the mountains, but now I'm running to get the bike and meet my girlfriend in Vegas."

"Cool, man. The mountains are a great place to meditate and find your center. Now you're ready for Vegas! My name is Mondo, and I'm an artist here. I make little things." He pats his giant Tupperware that is between us. We talk about my trip and he loves that we're going to India. He drops me off and says, "I love everyone, man. I love you and what you're doing."

"I love you too, man"

"Here's a present from me; homemade." He hands me a little plastic wrapped necklace with a cool red card attached that has designs and describes Armando the artist. The necklace is on a leather cord with an arrowhead attached with neatly twisted silver wire. It has a metal bead with designs that slides and tightens the necklace. I think about giving it as a present, but it means too much to me, so I wear it.

I get on the bike and I have no helmet or jacket. Oh, well. Life is too short to not be reckless sometimes (make sense of that). I pull my goggles out of the glove box and start happily waddling along with the bike through the parking lot. I get up enough speed to drop into first gear and give it gas. The bike literaly kicks into gear and I speed off. Luckily the Safeway didn't tow the bike because I asked them and the police if I could park it there and they both said, "You'll only be gone a few days, right?"

I put the goggles on my forehead, so I can enjoy the beauty of Sedona as I cruise. Oh, my God, I've missed this feeling. It is like starting all over; riding for the first time; cruising with the wind and the hot Sun. Except this time, my first time riding was through one of the most beautiful stretches of road in the world. The warm Sedona valley was an Oasis for my mind; my whole body; an oasis from my mind too. I think of nothing, and my smile permeates through everything; the whole universe.

The road in Sedona valley is relaxing and warm. It smoothly rolls over hills and I smoothly flow around the roundabouts like waves flowing over rocks on the beach. I head North out of Sedona and up the mountains to my mountain. I carve back and forth on a much more challenging road. Here is my favorite sights of the whole trip. The mountains North of Sedona are absolute paradise. Riding through them made me think of living in a video game with the greatest graphics ever. In a racing video game the designers can put anything in the background. The imagination is unlimited. This road would be unreal, if it didn't feel so powerfully real. I was so happy.

Here's some crappy pics of this area that I took from the convertible last time. They don't come close to conveying the paradise of fall colors, lush greenery, and every shape and color of rocky cliff.
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It was past five in the afternoon and it was a little dark. We could see everything great, but the camera made things blurry trying to grab more light. We couldn't stop because there's nowhere to pull off and we had to find the campground before dark.

I had to start ducking low behind the windshield because I had no helmet and a T-shirt. It was getting late in the day; and high in the mountain. It was a little chilly. I grabbed all my stuff from my stash and quickly strapped it to the bike. I had Justin's spear sticking out the back. I climbed up past Flagstaff, and met V on Route 66.

Posted by - Rain 15:03 Comments (0)

I came, I saw, I conquered

By myself I conquered myself

I get up; pack for the day; tear through the bush and make the straight path really obvious; Oh man! I forgot that there was that little twenty foot canyon at the bottom. I would have found it last night had I gone a bit further. That's life.

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I fish at a spot that is a calm pool. The fish are swimming around I watch them for hours while holding Kung Fu stances. They never come close to the sides where my hobo fishing line and Justin's spear can get them.

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Time to trip my trap and take it down. It was a great setup and it would have worked pretty well.

Goodbye, Walnut Creek.

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I learned my lesson and go ahead and wind my way all the way back through the long Telephone trail. I can't tell if this is a failure or a success. Would I win if I had persevered and finally gotten back to the camp the direct way? Or, did I win by finally conquoring myself; my own pride; knowing myself and my Achilles' heel (I have two of them. They are. . . attached to my feet). It doesn't matter.

In the end I had conquered so many things about myself. I am not extraordinary. I accept myself. I am stronger. . .and smarter. . . and faster (when I need to be). Your issues are solved by perseverance. . . not in your path or purpose. . . but in yourself. You can't be hurt by what happens, because those issues will solve themselves and help you in the end once you grasp the important concept: It is only YOU that must keep going.

Perseverance.

The English translation of the I Ching made this word the most predominant idea. I feel like it has the word patience inside it. I get it now. It doesn't mean keep doing exactly what your doing. It means keep doing what you do. Keep lioving yourself (that's loving and living; Living love and loving life); whether you change or stay the same.

The I Ching has a great point. Most people believe that all you need is love. But, they try and try. They don't get enough love. They are mad at themselves for not giving enough love. I'm afraid love is not the answer. Love is the result. Love is the question: Why isn't there enough love? The answer. . . is perseverance.

I am home; in my camp. Why do I feel sad? Why wouldn't I feel sad? I'm leaving tomorrow, and this trip was a bit of a failure! I know. . . Let's celebrate!

I gathered more good wood and started the second fire of the trip (only two!) I grabbed the last orange and took a big bite out of the top. While chewing loudly I poured the 80 proof Vodka that I brought for spirits and emergency first aid (I think their the same thing, right?). I poured it slowly right into the orange. It soaked down in and I put it by the fire to warm; made some tea; toasted the bread that I was saving to make a fish or rabbit sandwich. I put the vinegar soaked little onions on it after roasting them with some peanuts. I made more tea, until the fire broke my tea jar. I lifted it up and the bottom rim stayed in the fire. The tea gushed out and sizzled turning the fire into a glowing donut. I laughed. I got up and danced around the fire and did kung fu around the fire (burn the witch!) I finished my warm Vodka orange. It was amazing.

I covered the fire with sand and did core exercises on it. Then, I just lay and roasted happily; staring at the stars.

Peace.

Posted by - Rain 08:34 Comments (2)

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