"The world does not reward honesty and independence, it rewards obedience and service. It’s a world of concentrated power, and those who have power are not going to reward people who question that power."-Chomsky

"The trouble with self-delusion, either in a person or a society, is that reality doesn't care what anybody believes, or what story they put out. Reality doesn't "spin." Reality does not have a self-image problem. Reality does not yield its workings to self-esteem management." -J.H. Kunstler

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."-Dylan

Thursday, June 19, 2008

6/19/08: San Simeon-Big Sur, CA: Florian

A day of contradictions. Maybe the most intense day of the trip as far as the extremes go.

I was up and sadly leaving my little piece of $2 camping Nirvana at about 11:30, loaded up with water and tea and back on Hwy. 1. I had learned from my neighbors the night before there would be a place in the next town, San Simeon, to get water etc., so I didn't fully top off and felt remarkably light as I left.

What a great walk the first few miles were! I stopped off at a Vista Point to rest my feet, and tend to the re-developing blisters. Such a beautiful place! The squirrels and birds are quite bold here. They'll literally climb on top of you to get peanuts. I got a picture of a squirrel doing exactly that, and actually reaching his front paws up to take the nut from my fingers. I dig squirrels. Sue me.

 I sat there for a good hour (not in a hurry, remember?) and got back at it. William Randolph Hearst's Castle was a few more miles further up the road, and is right across from W.R. Hearst State Beach, complete with a sign proclaiming him a 'Great Patriot'. I plopped down in the shade up against a fence, smoked, chugged water, and gazed from a distance upon the most extreme, blatant, and disgustingly obvious self-congratulatory display of Capitalism and the pursuit of wealth I could ever imagine. Hearst Castle. I really loved the irony of looking at this thing while sitting in the dirt beneath a tree next to my backpack, and called Karim to let him know.

For those that don't know, Citizen Kane was based not-so-loosely on WR Hearst. He was a newspaper giant in the early 20th Century. I couln't help but think how this man had built this Tribute to Greed by collecting five or ten cents at a time, mostly from working class people. I could envision someone locking themselves up in this cage and while dying crying 'Rosebud'...to no one.

I sat there for 45-minutes or so, then went inside the park and filled my water. Everything this time. I knew I was heading into the middle of nothingness, this would be my last chance to fill up and it was obvious that eventually the thumb would need to come out.

Onward I went, my feet feeling worse by the step under the increased weight of another full boca bottle combined with the heat of the asphalt beneath the afternoon sun. I went another couple of miles and began fizzling out. I plopped down on the side of the road in a section that was coming out of a curve. I quickly realized the ignorance of this and moved on. Shortly thereafter I felt something in my left foot...the same place I was feeling discomfort earlier in the week before I had removed the inserts. I had re-inserted them before I'd left but this was different. It felt like something was stinging or biting me inside the boot! I stopped, found nothing and realized the tendinitis had returned. Grrr!!!

I began looking for places to bed down for the night, found a good spot that seemingly had been used before for either sleeping or hiking and resolved to keep trying to catch a ride until dark. If I got nothing, I'd sleep there.

I sat down back on the road, put on my Mp3 player, and sat in virtual isolation. Highway 1 traffic is pretty steady early in the day, but I'd noticed that it quickly and steadily fades around 6 or 7 pm;  trickling down to next to nothing on the northbound side... since most people (except for me) travel it going south. Oddly enough though, with my feet blazing with blisters and other various pains and next to no hope of a ride, I felt oddly at ease. An intense calm came over me. I realized that I'd seen and expected this simple vision for a few years. Here it was. I had plenty of water and food, and was learning to just 'trust it'. Things work out. A nice moment of clarity.

After an hour or so with no ride, I decided to walk a bit further to see if there were better spots to camp, ignoring the lesson I thought I'd learned in Cambria. I was just compelled to keep going. The sun was much lower, so the heat from the road had diminished making things a bit easier. I got back into a nice rhythm, and spied a lone pine tree wayyyy up the road where the coast cut north. I thought that would be a wonderful place to catch the sunset so I thought I'd do my best to get there racing the sun.

Walking was notably easier at this point than I expected it to be, and made pretty good time. I got to my lone pine tree which turned out to be another Vista Point and, since I had gotten no rides with my thumb out the whole way there, I resigned myself to crawling beneath this lone pine and sleeping, despite the 'no camping' signs that were posted all over the place.

I wasn't 'camping' I told myself; I was 'resting'. Prophetic and a bit of unknown foreshadowing for later in the trip!

Turns out it didn't matter.

I had walked 30 ft. into the Vista when I spied an RV on the horizon. Against all logic, I had a split second vision of this being significant. No one ever believes me when I talk about these things, but they're real! I told myself, I'll try ONE MORE time to get a ride, and if it doesn't work, screw it. I'll sleep beneath the tree.


They stopped.

Inside was a German couple from Munich along with their 4 year- old son. Florian asked me where I was going, and I said as far north as I could. He said they were just going to the next campground, but I could ride if I wanted to. I figured at worst I'd have a decent place to sleep, so I eagerly took it.

His wife, Veronika, let me in and we headed up the coast as the sun was dropping beneath the Pacific horizon. Their son, Paul, just stared at what he must have thought was a strange road-creature that just climbed aboard! He was funny.

Florian offered me a Miller, which may have been the best tasting beer I've ever had after being in the unusually hot sun all day! We continued on, enjoyed the increasingly intense landscape, and got to know each other.

What a nice family. So happy and they just seem to enjoy each other! They had rented the RV in San Francisco and driven down to Death Valley and were now heading up Hwy 1 back to San Francisco to catch a flight to Seattle on Tuesday.

It turned out that, fortunately (for me anyhow), all the campgrounds were full. Florian kept driving and driving until he finally found Pfeiffer-Big Sur State Park. It said the only openings were for 'self contained' campers and he needed to 'dump' the RV.

That was one of the funniest things ever, especially if you've seen the movie RV! They had used the wrong paper in the toilet and he had to unclog the septic system. When he did, all hell broke loose! He was doused in the chemical that disintegrates the...'waste'. I speak a little German, and caught him saying 'I have shit on my face!' I hated to laugh at him. I couldn't help it! He was good natured about the whole thing and able to see the humor in wearing 'liquid shit'! I'll never forget that!

He found an open campsite, pulled in and settled down for the night. Veronika and Paul went to bed rather quickly, and he offered me the RV's couch to sleep on. Florian and I sat by the fire talking while he tried to BBQ chicken and a pepper steak for me to eat. He's not the most experienced of BBQers so it took forever, and in the meantime he put 'Snatch' on his laptop for us to watch while I fought to stay awake. Funny little movie, and when the food finally finished I gorged myself!

Warm food: Gooooood!

We had a few more beers a a couple glasses of champagne, and I went to sleep contemplating how things just seem to work themselves out. They invited me along to ride toward Santa Cruz on Friday, and, since my feet were shredded, I gladly accepted. Quite an eventful day, and I had made some new friends.