I realize that it has been a few days since my last post. Los Angeles does a very good job of devilishly distracting a man from his priorities. Although, those distractions served a purpose and I will write about them later. For now, I have decided to present an unedited excerpt from a random day on this trip. I opened my journal and landed on Day 89. Because I was so whimsically enchanted by San Fransicso, I lost track of a few days during my stay there. As a result, this may not actually be day 89 of the trip, but it takes place somewhere in Big Sur. Right now Yaris and I are on Route 1 with the ocean directly to our right and rock-strewn woodlands to our left. This scenery has been our companion for miles of Route 1, and will continue to accompany us for even longer as we head south to Los Angeles.
I woke up not realizing where I was. Again. I don’t know if I’ll ever come to terms with that idea, but when one sets up his camp in the dark, his surroundings can become jarring during daybreak. Luckily, we were fortunate enough to sleep in a campground last night that contained a footpath to a rarely visited beach. After breakfast, Yaris and I explored the shoreline. It was riddled with kelp and all sorts of unidentifiable sea life. Some of it looked like it was from another planet. That seems to be a common trend for California as of late. The people, the lifestyle, the vegetation, the landscape is all so foreign to me. It feels like I’m in some sort of alternate reality. I was slapped back to reality when we returned to camp to find that squirrels had chewed through my bags and eaten my tortillas. I was beyond pissed. My nice pristine Ortlieb bags had finally been tarnished. I was so upset and just sat on the bench staring at the holes in my bags. Yaris wanted to catch one to eat, which cheered me up a bit. It occurred to me that I could sit and wallow in this misfortune, or realize that my bag now has character and embrace it. So that’s what I did. We rode on and spent the majority of the day searching for hot springs. Once we realized no one was going to help us find them and they were a decent ten miles into the woods, we decided to keep riding. That’s what we did for about 20 miles until Yaris got a flat. While repairing it, a leathery skinned man rode up on a mountain bike and we got to talking. His name was Mike and he offered a place for us to stay by the side of the road. I was under the impression it was a campground or his home, but it was his van, literally on the side of the road. So we set up camp next to his van. Mike is an interesting fellow. We shared life stories over a beer and a sunset. He’s 63, a carpenter by trade, divorced, and lives on the road with his dog, Eddie. It’s a lifestyle I often fantasize about.
Tomorrow is the election. Blue or red. Pick a side. Frankly, I feel so disassociated from the whole ordeal that I could care less who wins. Well that’s not true. Given the nature of my lifestyle and the plans I have when I return home, I’m hopeful that this election will have a minimal impact on my day to day life. What does have an impact on me is reflecting back on the last election. I was walking around Philadelphia listening to people honk their horns and cheer in the streets. They had been lifted from the 8 years of coercion and strong-arming. I don’t remember it being any less shitty then, than it is now. Chalk it up to apathy, naiveté, or misinformation, but the last election all I did was think about girls and listen to music. And that’s exactly what I’ll do this time too. Regardless of the outcome, it’s not going to change my perspective on life or the amount of bicycle riding I do. Right now I’m resting up against a tree with my bare feet digging into the ground and feeling the cool ocean breeze on my face. So why the fuck am I writing about politics?
Mentally, I feel as if I am combating this internal struggle of civilization vs. nature. Spending a week in San Francisco was enough time to adjust back into the city life I held so dear, and lately I’m finding a difficulty transitioning back into a nature-like setting. I guess I just need to start living in the moment more. I don’t know if that’s it. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I think I just need to do. That’s broad and vague. Such flowery and open-ended hippie sayings have no value or wisdom. Or do they? Fuck, I don’t know. My mind is flooded with these broad sweeping sayings so often that dismissing them can be just as problematic as embracing them. You can have my caution wind. You know, it’s interesting that I have written virtually no fiction whatsoever. I guess that’s because this trip seems so unreal everything I write feels like fiction. My life was so dull six months ago I would write fiction to escape reality. Now I’m learning and experiencing so much, that I barely have enough time to write it all down. “Every day is a new experience”. It saddens me to think I was so cynical a few months ago that I would scoff at such a phrase. Instead I would stare at the clock, waiting for my shift to end at work. Although, I had stability there. So is that the trade off? Be miserable at home, but have the company of your friends, or have new incredible experiences every day, but only share them with fleeting acquaintances? I worry that Mike became a victim to this dilemma. He spoke only of the good ol’ days. We got stoned and sat Indian style like little kids listening to this man tell stories of his ‘acid days’ from his VW bus. It was a great experience, but I could see the pain in his eyes slowly but steadily seep out. He had his dog to share his experiences with, but he spoke lowly of his family and most relationships in general. I don’t know. Maybe I was projecting my own feelings onto the topic, but I felt sorry for the man. Maybe he truly was content with this lifestyle. It seemed that way at times, but he would sometimes say something that would lead me to believe otherwise. It’s impossible to fully comprehend the complexities of another human being’s mind in one conversation.
At the end of the night, Yaris and I talked more openly about our fears, insecurities, and loves of life. It’s important to share those things with someone and I just hope that Mike has someone in his life to do that with. I am grateful for Yaris’ company. Soon after we decided the end of the night had drawn near so we went to our respective tents. However I didn’t go to bed. Such stimulating conversation always keeps my mind racing. Instead I stared out into the seemingly endless Pacific waters and I cried. I cried like a little baby. Because I thought about my family and how much I loved them. I thought about that first hug I’ll give each of my friends when I see them. I thought about all the street signs I punched in frustration. I thought about all the times I threw my helmet to the ground and thought about giving up. I thought about all the girls I’ve ever kissed. I thought about my cats. I thought about all the loving hugs I’ve had with complete strangers. I thought about love. And just how much of it I have to give. I thought about all the love that has been given to me. I thought, and I cried. I wore a smile the whole way through.
-Wow, I don’t remember writing any of that. Strange. Well that was Day 89 of my trip. Hope you enjoyed.