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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Foothills


September 26, 2012

At the foot of the mountain, you can only imagine what awaits at the top.  I remember being a kid and always seeing mountains in the distance.  It was like a cartoon.  I just figured mountains were straight lines that you would draw on a piece of paper.  It wasn’t until you start to get closer that you see, it isn’t a smooth slope all the way to the peak.  It’s filled with rocks and crevices and trees covering the whole surface.  From far away, they always look easy to scale.  But standing at the foothill is where the path is truly revealed.
I have been in San Francisco for a good bit of time now.  After leaving Los Angeles, it will most likely be the longest stop.  It is more or less a kicking off point.  I’m doing my research on the mountains and camp zones and making sure that everything is ready.   I had looked up when the Presidential Debates were going to happen and it seems that I will embark on the weekend after the first one (Oct 3), and I want to find a way to catch them in the midst of my journey.  
I sometimes feel like my dad, or everyone’s dad, in the sense that I like to watch “the news”.  I always remember the days of Dan Rather in the house every evening because it was time to watch the news.  Now I’m the one tuning in.  The debates are different, though.  It is where the circus stands up in front of an audience with no more excuses.  The whole idea of our political system is rather limited and even more so when we put people in charge of it.  For right or wrong we see how people react to the rhetoric of politicians and the divisive tactics plaguing our society.  It demonstrates that for the most part that there are no bounds to the manipulation of people or the depth of their ignorance.  It illustrates that competing ideas of moral high ground and selfish justifications don’t have to be consistent.   It shows that politicians all have the same goal: Look out for #1.  They all just disagree on who gets that title.  In the end, it brings you closer to the people around you and shines a light on the people in this country you may never see.
In the meantime, I’m enjoying the hell out of SF.  I’ve been to some of the local hotspots such as Roxies (the best place for a sandwich) and had a great bacon cheeseburger at Pearls.  It was a little pricey, but fantastic.  All in all, it’s just a great city!  I’ve visited some of the bars downtown, on market, and in the mission (FYI: I have no idea what any of that means), and their all hip joints. The beers are reasonable, the music is good, and there’s always a pool table on hand.  And last but not least, there are so many beautiful women walking around.  Just a night last week, a few of us went to late night Vietnamese noodles.  The place was packed!  Even though the people I was with knew the place, I struck up conversation with the couple next to us to feel out the menu.  In the middle of chopstick pinches and a swig of my Sapporo, I smiled at a pretty girl who walked in.  And she actually smiled back!  I know that doesn’t sound impressive to most of you, but I thought it was pretty perfect.  Coming from a city where people only smile on camera, those real human connections are so few and far between.  The simple primal pleasure of a woman smiling back is the best a man can want for…. until he wants more. 
As I said, I was hanging with some friends.  Friends of friends actually, I just met most of them that night.  Already there is talk of going up and camping in Mendocino on the upcoming weekend.  Needless to say: that was happening. 


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Your "Majesty"


September 23, 2012

Back in a world where people crowned themselves rulers of nations, kings and queens fought over titles and deeds against rebels and warlords of old.  Castles and monuments were built in the name of this and that.  Children grew and learned of a mighty name born from this Earth or not.  The generations forged the long road to our present day.  People built many renowned things establishing schools of mathematics and architecture.  All of this was going on in the “Ancient World”.  You know, the only one that we have a written history and the one taught in schools, the eventual Europe.   But all through those ancient times, all the way until the end of the 15th century there were the Native Tribes of what would later be called, America. From here, we have no written history.  Much of it is lost and what is left just a fraction of its former glory.  Here, they built no permanent structures or cities or fences.  Just pure land.  Their monument was not to build any monuments.  Sure, there were mountains of stone far to the south that were the home to bloody sacrifices, but up here was unaltered country from sea to sea.  They had many of the same struggles as the ones in the history books, I’m sure.  Well, I’m guessing.  They were not on the same path and did not discover the same philosophies or mathematics, but they did figure out that the world was not flat long before they were interrupted.  Not only that, but they knew the size and diameter of the Earth, and it’s relationship to the sun and moon.  They also knew not to fuck with the Earth!  
So the two histories are on polar opposites, and there is significance in both.  When I fly in an airplane, all the cities look like litter piled in different areas.  It’s not to say that I don’t think flying in an airplane is an amazing achievement.  We should be able to have society advanced enough for something like that.  However, I don’t think it has to take our destructive path to receive those advances.  Hell, we cant even serve food to our population properly and that’s the most basic of things.  There has to be a middle ground.  Yes, this is my naiveté before I set out through the country, but rest assured that I will enjoy each and every one of the cities I visit and their individual perspectives.  That said, I am really looking forward to the wilderness. 
As I’ve stated before, I’m looking to go through Yellowstone National Park and camp out for about a week or week and a half depending on a few factors.  My ability to become food for a bear or cultivate enough food for myself are the ones sticking out most in my mind.  I know the cold will be more than my thin Los Angeles skin can take, but I’m gradually getting used to it.  As I have been doing my research, it is becoming clear that no one goes there during the fall and winter.  At least, not enough people to keep certain things open.  I was getting kind of nervous this whole week checking things out.  The roads will be open if weather permits, so I’ll have to wait on that call.  I saw that park facilities or even the campgrounds may be closed and that caused a mini panic.  Further investigation into more national parks in the area spurred a yelp of joy and found that almost all of them are open year round.   I plan on staying under the big sky of Montana for a good few nights before entering further into Idaho and Wyoming.   I don’t know why, but there’s something magical about that state to me.  I imagine clear air all they way to the stars.  Overwhelmed by images of a big blanket night with a galaxy shinning through.   I can’t wait to lie on my back and stare up at the lonely sky.  Me and the world looking out through the only window we both know, all the while getting the slightest sense of something behind the lights hard at work building the majesty of the next day.  I could first imagine this from the confines of corporate walls.  What took me so long?
The word is, my arrival is the exact time when everyone else starts clearing out.  Perfect!  Don’t think it is lost on me why everyone clears out.  I’m all smiles over here.  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Indian Summer


September 20, 2012

San Francisco is a beautiful city.  There’s no doubt about it.  It is so vibrant and alive.  The people are so easy-going.  I went out today and met my friend Nate for a drink and a stroll.  We took his dog out for a walk at the local dog park and playground.  There is this fantastic sense of community there.  Nate literally ran into three people he knew just at the dog park.  One of which was a guy driving a Mercedes Benz that he drove it right into the back of some Valet driven Acura.  We didn’t stay for the ending.  Further on we stopped at a café and yet another person rolls up.  It was very chill.  They are fellow Vespa riders, the old school kind.  His friend actually has a shop fixes them for a living.  Nate seems to be the cool cat around town.   He stayed and we had a drink for about a half hour before he gets up to finish his errands.  I had another beer and something else that I probably shouldn’t mention, all while sitting at that outdoor café. A pair of guys ran into each other and began to chat.  They were standing at the crosswalk waiting to cross.  The light must have changed at least three times, and they just stood there enjoying their conversation.  That is vastly different from the “run ins” that happen in LA.  Most of the time, people nod their head as they walk by, rarely even just saying “hi”.  Here, people actually stop and become part of each other’s day; just a fantastic place for human interaction.  We had a great day.  Nate and I went our separate ways and it was just the perfect time for traffic.
Sitting in traffic in another city was kind of enjoyable.  Of course, it was just one day and if I had to do it consistently, especially after a long day at work, I may feel different.  But there I was, in a new city doing an old thing.  I took my time, slowly cutting my way through the tense and determined drivers around me.  The only really aggressive drivers that cut me off also happen to drive BMWs.  I guess it doesn’t matter what city you’re driving, BMW drivers seem to be consistently dicks.  Present audience members excluded, of course… ahem hem hmm.
Suddenly, during my daydreaming and watching the beautiful blue sky, Lykke Lee’s “Dance Dance Dance” started playing.  It really hit me.  It made me think of the past and some of the things I’ve done.  It was like a thousand pillows falling on me one feather at a time; slowly crushing me through a sieve and leaving only the guilty pulp.  It made me think of the tears and smiles twisted into a bat and broken on the backs of the gods of love and fate.  It made me think of her.
But time moves on.  And so does the road.  The sun shines another day, and what a beautiful day it is.  The Indian summer they call it.  It seems appropriate.  I was always a late bloomer. 
I need all the heat I can get at this point; here have promises made of the cold north mountain air.  My course looks to route up the west coast to Vancouver.  I’ve never been to Canada and have never really been sure that a city just over the boarder is a good representation of the country.  Cabo San Lucas is more California than Mexico, as well as the whole northern part of Baja.  So, I wouldn’t expect Vancouver to be “full on” Canada.  That said, I’m sure that they all have healthcare over there, despite whatever the social customs.  Then, I fall south through Idaho, and east to Montana.  From there I’ll enter Yellowstone National Park, where I may stay for some time.  I have these romantic notions of wilderness and survival.  Maybe I’ll grow a beard and kill something.