I did indeed leave Santa Barbara on Saturday. I decided to try to walk the beaches as far as they take me, but neglected to take TIDES into account! Almost got pinned in against a cliff after sitting on the rocks enjoying the views for about an hour.
I find out later that the off- shore oil wells pump 'tar' into the water that winds up on the beaches. Guess what I was sitting in while on the rocks! My pants are hosed...
It was an enjoyable day though. After I left the beach, I took some trails along the cliff edges and around a golf course and found where Hwy. 101 meets up with the main drag. I didn't feel like hitching, or hopping on the freeway so I crossed some train tracks, and followed an unknown road until I saw a sign for a public beach that was adjacent to the Bacara Resort. Quite an upscale place, so I got some funny looks from some of the very few people I did see, but they were nice.
Eventually, as dusk came along, and I finally did something I've always wanted to do. Build a campfire on the Pacific Coast. Not really sure why, but I was ecstatic! I called everyone I knew to make sure they understood how happy I was.
I was going to camp on the beach, but following the advice of some other bonfireists I climbed a hill at about 12:30am, and simply climbed under a pine tree with just the Thermarest. I eventually dug out the sleeping bag and slept quite nicely!
Sunday was spent sitting on the beach for the first 4-5 hours of the day enjoying the day. That's the nice part about having no schedules to keep, or places to get to. You can look around at where you are. I laid out the socks and shoes to dry, and eventually decided to try my luck on Hwy. 101 and get a bit further north. I had been fighting tendinitis on the top of my left foot that was triggered I came to discover by my inserts. I decided to take it easy for a day or two and give it a chance to recover.
I got to 101 and walked for a couple miles until the freeway designation ended, then thumbed it. After about 30 minutes a woman turned around and offered to take me as far as San Jose. She was nice enough, but annoying. There was no way was staying in that car to the San Fran sprawl! So, I asked her to let me off in San Luis Obispo and she did after buying me Burger King.
I went into the gas station, and loaded up on water thinking I'd be walking and camping, but as it turns out I went about 2 blocks until I ran into a Goodwill Donation Center that was staffed by a guy in an RV. I didn't really make a rational or conscious decision, but I just turned left and crossed the road to chat with the guy and maybe get some information on what lie ahead, and where to camp for the night.
Pat was a bit leery of me at first, but warmed up quickly when he figured out that I wasn't in search of money, booze, or cigarettes. I told him what I was up to, and as it turned out he had done his share of hitchhiking and used to ride Harley's all over the place with his late wife.
After maybe 5 minutes of chatting he wound up inviting me to stay with him in his little RV for the night. I was a bit apprehensive at first; hearing Surplus Supply Dennis' warnings about how crazy the 'homos' in California are and how they like hitchhikers.
Dennis is an idiot.
Eventually, Friar Chris and Walkingman Gary's voices won out, and I took him up on it.
Pat wasn't living in his RV. He had a place in North San Luis Obispo County, but 60 miles away. With gas quickly approaching $5/ gal., he simply could not afford to make the commute so he slept in his RV parked between 2 trailers at the Goodwill Distribution Center, and went to his regular job from there. He is 60 now, and had a hard time finding work after having to go on disability for his knees because no one wanted to take on the liability when they could just hire a younger person to drive trucks. He had even a harder time getting help from the state. As he put it, if you're between 55 and 65, and haven't 'made it', you're expendable and thrown away.
That may sound melodramatic to those who thrive on exploiting the poor for profit, or believe in the predatory capitalist system, but I've seen other examples first hand, including my own mother. Pat lost his wife in the early 90's, and ever since and by his own admission has been lost. He has children who are quite successful, but he refuses to burden them with his troubles, because as he said they'd go ballistic to know their father's living in an RV with no bathroom.
I'm really developing a great disdain for you 'economic predators' who thrive at the expense of the poor while hiding beneath the shade tree of law, policy, and worse yet 'The American Way'.
These are the things we talked about all night. I loved it. Along the way I realized I'd neglected to tighten Chris' Boca bag lid all the way, and as a result soaked all my clothes, among other things, in my pack. Pat offered to take me to the laundromat, and while we were there we ran into a guy who was about my age and absolutely blindly proud of his ignorance.
He walked into the laundromat strutting proudly and saying 'Whuddup Dogg' to everyone. I wanted to grab him by the throat and punch him in the eye, but didn't. I just said 'woof' and glared at him, trying to make it VERY obvious I wanted him to stay away from me. I REALLY wasn't in the mood to deal with a 40 year old guy with the mental capacity and maturity of a 13 year old, and my testosterone level had risen to the point that I would have hurt him if he provoked me.
That sort of surprised me! Pat was sitting in the RV it turns out watching the whole thing. When the guy decided to smoke his blunt at the front door and start prancing around like he thought he was Snoop Dogg, I had just about had enough of him. Fortunately, the clothes were dry and I was ready to go. When I got in the RV Pat said, 'it looked like you were about to kick that little fucker's ass, and I was about to join you!'
We got on very well before this, but after Pat really seemed to warm up to me. He has the same, as Bruno defines it, 'thirst for authenticity' as I do. I can tolerate almost anyone who's who they are, to a point, but have next to no tolerance for fronts and displays. Our conversations were fantastic as we half-watched SNL on his 4'' TV and finally got to sleep at about 1am.
Pat has had an interesting life, and is madly proud of the fact that all he wants to do is work and 'find his place in old age'. I respect the hell out of that. It's hard to do though when your body fails and no one within your vocation will hire you and get no state support as a thank you for paying taxes for 40+ years.
I really felt grateful that I had crossed that road because the perspective he offered me was priceless. There'd be more of that to come later in the week...guidance from somewhere; seeming coincidences that defy logic.