Movin on.

and now, we’ve gone. Gone from Colorado Springs and on our way to Tucson. From there to Orange County. With our final destination by the end of next week, Berkeley, California, where we’ll finally drop our bags for a stay of more than a few months.

Thanks to Colorado for the hospitality, the beautiful weather, the reasonably unique people, and of course the great family that will keep me coming back.

-John

Sneeky Bastards, Bikes, Broken, Birthday’s, Berkeley, & Hillsburough

The drink was a bit bitter. My intentions were grand! Here they were:

Find a vehicle in Philly (<$1000) and start driving west. Head to Ohio, meet Dan, head to Kansas, then down to Oklahoma, meet Megan, jet west, through beautiful high desert of New Mexico and drop into Tucson. See friends, ride moto bike, ditch new car in Tucson, skidaddle out to CA for Pancho’s birthday party, then up to San Francisco for departure to Geneva where vacation begins a new chapter of indifference. Perfect! right? maybe. Step two always requires step one to work.

Step one: I combed the clasified adds for trucks, bikes, and cars which seemed good for another 4,000 miles, that’s all I need. I found several, one was a plough truck – that would have been novel eh? A pannel van. A ’93 Toyota. A ’82 GMC customized catering truck. I made my choice, I contaced the owner of the GMC. I set up an appointment. I got on transportation and 3 hours and a mile walk later I arrived at the truck. Old, fresh paint, rusted floor boards, good tires, walk in fridge, broken ignition, good engine. Perfect! $1300. – given issues $1000. I made arrangements with the owner, discussed registration procedures and possible problems, created contingencies, and agreed to meet the next day in order to hand him cash and get title.

The next day I call the owner in the afternoon and establish I’ll arrive within 3 hours and after 2 hour drive out of Philly I arrive at the truck cash in hand excitment in my shoes and call the owner. Sold!

… to someone else. – Anger. RED ANGER! — Oh.. if I had no scruples…. I look around, the lot is quiet, no one arround, the van has no locks, no keyed ignition…it’s vunerable, my spite grows. I’m mad. Breathe.. revenge is never as sweet as it tastes.

I’m talking to him on the phone.. I can’t believe what I hear. I’m trying not to be rude, but calmly tell him how rude he has been. It’s difficult. I can do nothing but communicate my incredible astonisment and dissapointment in his decision. My enormous frustration. I urge him to make better decisions in the future and hang up. What else can you do? I walk away, rage in my pocket. My joy and faith in people crushed by one silly man. (he was french.. does that match any sterotyping? I don’t know.. I don’t care.). I’m depressed and we begin to drive back to the city. We stop at an REI and after a bit of a conversation with a 20 employee I remember the good in people and compassion in life. Alas I buy a plane ticket to end my east coast adventure the following day and begin to forget about ‘perfect plans’ and look forward to supprising friends for a Michael Franti show in Tucson and a casual drive to California.

I arrive at the Phildelphia Airport at 4 AM in an attempt to change my tickets to an ealrier flight. I’m struck with typical airline resistance and attempts to charge and inhibit me. I remember to breathe, communicate, and perhaps the little bit of karma I wish I had two days before arrives and without issue or cost I’m in Tucson 11 hours earlier than anticipated.

My ukulele keeps me company all the way along. Perhaps it’s close to being my adult Teddy-Bear. It’s good.

Back in Tucson I get to slow down again, refresh my bags, and reset my mind a bit. I get to share stories with familiar faces and feel updated. I drink hard and sleep well. I change my moto-bike’s oil and ride about. I prepare to leave again.

Continuing on to California is a bit more laborious than I anticipate. Kira accompanies me and make two attempts west California. Attempt one left Kira and I without radio coverage as the presidential debate began followed by a flat tire, Taco Bell dinner, and a slow-drive back into Tucson. The next morning we made our second attempt and successfully and arrived in Laguna Beach in the early afternoon on Friday and thus vacation restarted. Saturday we put ourselves into the car and drove north to Edwards AFB for Pancho’s birthday party, the big tee-dubyah-oh.

A choo-choo cake and some choo-choo cake eating with a choo-choo later Pancho was triumphant, the neighborhood kids were fed and properly sugared, a giant dump truck was unwraped and everyone was sufficently sacked out. Well done. Kira departed and then Andrew left back to Berkeley. Mom went to work and I was back in Laguna stuck to online political news and O’Riley. I needed to surf.

Jeff and I get out to San O’s. Surf is decent. Sky is overcast. 10 or so dropin’s later, including one heavy onboard chest landing, our arms are tired and our grins gigantic. The rest of the week seems to slip away until a brief surf session with Sam and Monica where Monica takes one to go into the books, skagg to the eye.. bloody… it was a short day.

Two days later we depart northward. Up to Rosamond to check on the hangar site and play a bit with a tractor. I gots to gets me ones of theses. Boo-yeah!

After Rosamond, I begin driving north and vacation starts for everyone else. Mom has my blackberry and I’ve got … what? … what? … My vacation has been going for about two months now, as you may have read, but Mom is electric with relaxation and she napps and talks and it’s clear this truely is a much anticipated vacation. 7PM puts us in Stockton for dinner and muppet show with Tripp and Karen followed by a serious game of Risk (a draw due to time). Just like the sentences, the following day comes quickly and we’re in Berkeley. I don’t think I’ve laughed with family this much for a while. It’s grand!

… Mom, Andrew & Angela left a couple of hours ago and left me at Angela’s place for the night. I’m now sitting in a coffee shop, surf n’ sip, in Hillsburough, a nice community south of San Francisco, listening to podcasts waiting for my flight tomorrow morning. – what’s next? no se. But tomorrow I’m off to Switzerland and France. I’ll be sure to note when I decide not to return.

May 14, 2007 – Dan, Jon, John the SLO Journey

Jon and I said our good byes to the 5 and moved along the 405, picking up Dan from John Wayne and saying good bye to Mom. From the 405 we engaged the 101 and enjoyed the short jaunt into San Louis Obisbo. We arrived at Tyler’s ranch at about nine o’clock. The fire was going and the salsa was ready, we poured martinis and put the sausages on, next the tri-tip, then the beans, the garlic bread, and we opened a bottle of wine. One incredible dinner, a second bottle of wine, and two movies later I was crashing out and the clock read 3:40 AM. Morning arrived too quickly, we thanked Tyler and he went to work, we skated and played video games for about an hour and then rolled through Starbucks on our way back to the 101.

On to Berkeley – Four hours out, right?

May 11 2007 – Houston… we have Surfboards.

Our intention was to depart Tucson immediately after the exam on Friday. Perhaps this all could have been avoided had we stayed true to the plan. But drinks with Megan and lunch with Kira before a month and a half of being apart seemed like a reasonable reason for readjustment. We were out of Tucson by five thirty.
The heat was stronger, the traffic heavier, and the day later. My eyes were droopy and I was ready to sack out by the time we gassed up in Yuma, our traditional halfway driver exchange point. Jon took over, adjusted himself to driving stick, gassed up the tank and put us back onto the 8. Before I could count to 1,300 I was asleep, in and out with various lane changes, truck passes, and rattles and bumps of the vehicle.
This noise was unique. I was awake, which is unique. We’re in a 1980 Volvo wagon, windows were open because there is no AC and everything from the bolts in the rear hatch to the clutch beneath the shifting knob has it’s particular rattle. Noise isn’t new, in fact, quited is often indicative of a problem. This time, however, the noise was unique, independent, and sounded through the headliner. My hear skipped a beat. “What was that noise?” I asked as I brought myself back into reality as to location and velocity, about 70 mph heading west on the 8, starting the climb just outside of Ocatillo. Jon shrugged and made the lane change to pass a competing driver. I suggested we stop and have a look. It seemed the car wasn’t making as much racket as it normally does and that made me curious.
Jon pulled over and I squeezed the door latch, the wind did the rest as the door swung open with enough force to knock any man off his feet, my hat began to lift off my head and I quickly stowed it for safety. Situated I ventured out to have a look. The car seemed okay, nothing flapping or clearly broken on the side or hood or on the roof, the whole car was as it normally is, clean and sleek. It wasn’t too long that I recognized that as the problem and notified Jon of the missing gear. “The boards are gone,” I mentioned as I poked my head down into the car at Jon, still at the wheel with the engine on. I looked back at the roof to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. “Yep, they’re gone. We lost the boards.” Jon’s eyes split and his expression couldn’t pick a pose. Thirty percent amused at my silly joke, thirty percent tired and uninterested, and ninety nine percent freaked out. I started toward the back hatch as Jon killed the engine and moved with me. In a minute and a half we were outfitted with our lights fifty meters down the road looking for two surfboards along interstate eight, one might say it was a one of a kind experience. While at the time I didn’t really think so, looking back… I change my mind.
At one hundred meters down the highway a pair of red and blue lights lit the side of the road and high beams put our meager LED’s to shame. The truck bounded off the highway and onto the dirt path in front of us and the window whined down as fast as it’s motor could drop it. I tried to come up with a clever salutation but was a step behind the more frantic Jon who with a quick shuffle planted his right hand and cocked his left elbow into the most casual matter of fact position one could imagine as he immediately informed the Homeland Security Officer as to our reasons for the evening.
The officer smiled and stepped out of his truck. He was tall, taller than Jon, I’d guess six foot two, but skinny… the goofy tall kid. His smile never left, he got out his light and after a brief discussion as to the probability of the boards being within a mile of where we were he agreed to turn his lights around and light up the desert for us. Remembering that his gear’s primary function is finding ‘things’ out in the desert, we figured we had a pretty good chance of recovering our boards, though the officer reminded us that he hadn’t seen any boards and he was only a minute or two behind us. Determined, Jon and I started our search.
The wind blew on. We walked downwind. It was easy. Scanning back and forth I searched as if I had lost my keys. I looked behind every bush, rock, and cholla. The only reason I kept moving was because the wind kicked my legs out from under me. It wasn’t until I reached the barbed fence that I realized I didn’t want to move so abruptly in the direction of downwind. It took a great deal of strength to prevent a disastrous collision and I kept that in mind as I continued my methodical walk. The officer soon reached an end with his truck and joined us on foot. With three of us walking a line I moved to the highway and Jon deeper into the desert with the patrol man covering desert in between.
It was about a quarter mile later that I found the blue webbing from the straps still whole, lying along the highway. One strap, two straps, a third strap still attached to the mount. I think I found the problem. I whistled and shouted but between highway noise and wind the other two heard nothing and seconds later they too happened upon evidence, the other half. My nine foot board was nested half way down a small ravine, pinned against a small rock. Jon’s seven foot bag was just two meters beyond that. Both seemed perched and ready for the next heavy wind to push them along. Any more time and the boards could have made it a mile off the highway.
After a quick ‘yippie!’ we grabbed the bags and started our walk back to the car and then it became perfectly apparent how strong the wind actually was. I lifted my ten foot bag up and out of the small ravine and was spun about once and knocked over. Embarrassed in front of the patrol man I attempted to buck up and lug the sail on my own but a second bit of wind caught me and I almost floored both Jon and the officer. With his grin of contentment the officer suggested a bit of team work and a walk together back to the car. I agreed and after a couple of adjustments we were slowly moving the corpse to it’s hearse. Twenty minutes of a walk later we were back where we started shoving the ten foot bag into the remarkable space of my wagon’s interior, the hatch closed with inches to spare.

We sincerely thanked the patrol man and got into the car, thanked the gods for allowing us to keep the remains and continued on home. Spirits broken by the incident we made a stop at the casino in an attempt to rectify our mood but only soured it more. We pulled into Orange County three hours later and I was asleep at home by two. The morning gave me an opportunity to review the damage and check forensics on the incident. The failure occurred at the mounts themselves. The straps were whole and intact, but the mounts had disintegrated. Three of the four mounts had points of failure, each unique and equally devastating to the integrity of the system. I took pictures of the failures, the damage to my board, dropped the board off at a repair shop, said a little prayer for the things that didn’t go wrong, and began to formulate the strongly worded letter I’d be sending to THULE.

I didn’t get to surf that weekend.

Camping to Vegas

The United States played at 8 AM on Thursday. The books have been written, the United States Soccer team simply isn’t a contender for the World Cup, at least not yet. Even my all American McDonalds Egg McMuffin breakfast didn’t help them win and it certainly didn’t help me win.

After the game Jon and I went to his house to adjust and fix his parents back yard fence.. easy. We were done within two hours. We anticipated leaving for Vegas that day doing some camping that night and then rolling into Vegas Friday – it’d be a nice way to warm up to the time I’d spend away from home, away from Tucson.

I cleaned house and gave Sean the hi sign, expecting to see him in Vegas, the good bye was short. I never saw him in Vegas and he’s moving out next weekend.. tear. I suppose I’ve got to find a roommate soon, eh?

Jon, Austin, and I got in the car and made one last Tucson stop before leaving. To the Map Store! I love this store, it’s just full of maps and flags. It feels like it’s a throw back to the past, a travel center for kings, or the headquarters of the great explorers. The fellas who work behind the counter are the most knowledgeable individuals about maps and the such I’ve ever met. This store helps me to appreciate my high school geography classes and even more so the folks who may study geography as a life long passion.. it’s quite universal and I appreciate people who can help me get to where I want to go.


(Hoover Dam)
I had some ideas on where I wanted to hike. A place called West Clear Water Creek up East of Sedona, Arizona. To my dissatisfaction, and I’m sure of many others, there is a horribly vicious raging fire in the whole of Coconino County the area where most of the hikes and trees are in Arizona. Camping there was now out of the question. Spending a good hour looking at maps and talking to our new found map expert about some options, we landed on the idea we’d drive to Vegas that night and camp outside of the city at Mt. Charleston. The plan was solid, the route was easy, the drive was long.. it made sense. I bought some maps of New Mexico for my future travels and NOW we were on the road. To Vegas and BEYOND – for real.


(Mt. Charleston, Las Vegas (N.W.))
The lights of The Strip began to blend with the Vegas city lights and then it looked no different than any other blip on the map. The sign told us to turn left, so I did. The sign said go 55, so I went 65. The signs didn’t talk about the dirt road I turned onto, but I took it anyway. Up a small hill onto a bluff I practiced power sliding around each curve. Austin was not pleased, Jon tried to sleep in the back seat. Neither of them were in the mood for fun – I can’t blame them. About 8 hours later we were within 10 min of sleep and here I was messing around, getting dust in their mouth on a cliff. Their attitude made sense, but hell, I wanted to practice using the E-brake.. I finally landed and nestled the Volvo into a spot among some shrubs and unpacked my things to on top of the car while Austin and Jon set up their blanket on the ground atop gravel and rocks. The woke up uncomfortable, while I woke up to a brilliant sunrise and then later the sun in my eyes and my bag 10 degrees too hot. It was 6:30 and time for breakfast. Vegas was beckoning our arrival.

The daily round of World Cup started at 8 AM so we had plenty of time to get to the bar to see the game – still we missed the first one. Driving down off the hill we first stopped into Albertsons for some pop tarts, a jug of milk, cereal, and spoons and milk. We ate on the sidewalk and quickly fell asleep where we were. Apparently none of us got the kind of sleep we had anticipated the night previous. Across form Good Will we stopped in for a peek and and sprinted to the Wynn, our place of residence for the weekend. Too early for check-in we planted ourselves in the sports book and placed bets on the upcoming game. I don’t know that I like sports betting too much, it raises my anxiety too much, takes away from the fun, from the game it’s self. I feel obligated to hate the other team because they’re going to cost me 10 dollars… it’s just not fun.

Jon, Austin, and I were the first to the hotel, first to our rooms and first to gamble out of the group of 18. We felt privledged, at least I did. The group slowly arrived and the weekend began. We went clubbing Friday night with free admission, woke up late, ate a free buffet, met some ladies, hit up the pool, gambled, partied with the ladies, woke up late, gambled, met some other ladies, gambled, walked about, met some other ladies, gambled, woke up late.. watched soccer. It was Vegas – what is there to talk about.


(Austin’s Bum – for all of Las Vegas)
I learned that in general, Vegas is boreing and people there make you feel insignificant. So when you’re there you drink enough to make yourself forget how bored you are and to make yourself feel better about the people who could care less about your well being.


(Take a Guess What Floor We’re On)
When you’ve drank and smoked enough to make your self forget all the bad then you just feel worse because your body rejects all the garbage your putting into your system, you’re hung over, you can’t taste anything, you smell horrid, and perhaps you wake up in your own vomit, smiling like you a three year old. But hey, at least you may have had a good time last night, if only you could remember.


(Billy…)
I suppose that’s the Vegas allure – we go there not to win money, but to tell people we won money, we go there not to have a good time, but to tell people about the good time we had. And if we have to we lie. I was happy to leave Monday – sad to leave Jon, Austin, and Billy behind, but glad to be on my way home to see family. 4 hours later I was in Laguna Beach, an hour later in Mission Viejo eating dinner with Mom. Phew, I barely made it out of that place.

Santa Barbara to Tucson and back to Tucson

Santa Barbara to Tucson

Arrived into Orange County about 3 hours after leaving the parties, the drinking, the ladies.. Tyler’s. In Orange County I stopped in and loaded my car with a crate of books, a pile of clothes and a number of small things I had left home, and then back to the 5 toward San Diego for the possibility of some sailing with Nathan and Primo. Brian Primo, Nathan’s old roommate had rented a house in Mission Beach with his brother and a couple of friends for the week. They had talked about wanting to sail, but none of them knew how, so I was suppose to come teach them. I got in at about 4 or 5 and they had been living on the beach for too long, they were lazy. Playing Monopoly when I arrived we sat about and watched some T.V. and then all decided to go to dinner, an all you can eat crab place about 45 min walk away.

I had a bowl of soup, glass of water, and a great view of the ocean, something I wasn’t going to have when I got back to Tucson. I tried my hardest to take it in and keep it there. I was eager to get on the road as I could feel myself wanting more and more to take a nap. After dinner, just as planned. I found myself on the road heading East. I arrived in Tucson at about 4:30 AM at the end of 12 hours of driving and covering close to 800 miles that day I was tired and happy to be home.

Home not for long though. I woke up late Tuesday and after doing a little cleaning and organization of things around the house jumped back into the car and drove to Phoenix for a 3 hours CPR re-certification course and then turned back home that evening for Tucson. This time I was home for good.. kind of. The next day I’d be home, so it was my chance to make it a palapa day.

Berkeley to Santa Barbara

Berkeley, Santa Barbara, Orange County, San Diego, Tucson, Phoenix, Tucson, Camping, Vegas ..
How’d all that happen?

My departure from Berkeley was precise, except for one load of laundry still in the drier, like a well oiled machine I picked up, hauled, and unloaded another load of wood for Andrew’s basement project, exchanged the Home Depot lights, cleaned up the kitchen, made the bed, packed the car, and went on my way south, through San Jose to the 101 to Santa Barbara where I anticipated a weekend full of hangovers. For the most part I was right.

After a lonely haul I arrived in Santa Barbara near dinner time. Tyler and I met up with Hoss and Belinda and had some outstanding cocktails and a wonderful dinner at a downtown steak restaurant. mmm good. Keeping with the SB style, after Hoss and Belinda returned to their hotel, Tyler and I went for some more drinks just down the street and then hitched a ride back to Isla Vista where we met up with a number of folks and … well, at this point the weekend has blended together sufficiently enough where I can’t remember details, needless to say waking up was hard to do.

Saturday was grad day and we, of course, went down to the ‘Hall’ for drinks before, during, and after graduation – this was some taxing work. The Hall was a small bar, it had a counter part in down town Santa Barbara but this was the Isla Vista version. It consisted of one bar along the side of a 15 foot room, cutting the room essentially in half, bar tenders on one side, bar flies on the other. At only 30 feet deep, the bar filled up quickly and it was easy to find your self out the door simply because you’ve moved to a breathable space. Because of the ubiquitous participation in the 50 club, it was a very friendly place to be, every one knew each other and the bar tenders knew everyone and thusly the drinks flowed almost uncontrollably. Pitchers were two to a person and shots, or ‘fruitys‘ a generic sweet and totally custom drink, were handed out regularly to fly and tender alike. The walls were sufficiently covered with eight televisions bilking multiple sports casts and the space behind them was covered with bar pictures and plaques. Tyler was quite proud of his name on a wall mounted plaque signifying his participation and acceptance into the “50 Club” at The Study Hall. Individuals who have a drink at The Hall at least 50 days in the spring quarter are boldly proclaimed here, the plaque had probably 350 names on it. The list was quite extensive. The Hall served as Tyler’s home base through the years and thusly the weekend was no different. Every chance we had.. rather he had, he hit the hall for a shot or a beer – the bar tenders and bouncers were soon just as familiar with my face as they were with Tyler’s.

Grad Night we met Tyler’s folks again and had another fabulous dinner with the parents and then more drinking. This time I explicitly remember playing a game of kitchen baseball with a squishy ball and a dish rag. It was … intense and we didn’t get to bed till 4 AM. Plus I tried beer and clamado juice, it was, how do you say, Horrible?! Sunday was equally full, including a short stay on a raft out at sea with champagne and a nap on the couch watching soccer. Most importantly was the Sunday Night conclusion to graduation with the open bar graduation party at O’Mally’s that Tyler hosted. Unfortunately the previous nights left me sore and sick in the morning and this night I had decided to limit my drinking to few. Gin and tonic and two glasses of 12 year scotch kept me happy. I took pictures for Tyler, had a conversation about the progress and direction of the US with a drunk song writer and met a good number of attractive ladies. In all, it was a bundle good times in Santa Barbara and Isla Vista… and Monday morning meant time to travel on.

…She’s Gone.

The temperature on Friday was 111 according to a bank thermometer when we left Tucson, we estimated it at 120 as we drove, it was hot. Asa and I were soaking wet after 10 min in the car. Our stop into IKEA was a delight. The air conditioned lunch break was soon over and it was 3 more hours until it cooled off near Flagstaff. We were only one hour out of the Grand Canyon and dinner seemed like a reasonable thing to stop for. We were back on the road at dark and ready to watch for animals crossing the road. To our delight only rabbits and birds found their way onto the unnatural asphalt pavement while large game stood road side eating and watching. It was quite the site to have a mature elk 2 meters off your bumper as your cruise by at 60 mph.

I took Asa to the rim of the canyon in the dark. We saw nothing. We found a camp site and tucked our selves in for the night in the back of the Volvo. The analogue clock ticked all night. I found out in the morning about Asa’s discomfort around ticking clocks. She was tired when we woke up.


The Grand Canyon proved spectacular, as usual. Our shoes and lack of water prevented a hike down, but we enjoyed the walk and the sights, taking in a couple of condors flying about the rim. After we were satisfied with the grandiose glory of the Grand Canyon we hopped back into the car and got on our way to California. We drove down out of the high plains and hills and back into the heat, across the Colorado River and into the Mohave. We pulled up and were greeted by Andrew and Grant working on his lawn mower at 4 PM (ten till) as prescribed. I am so smart!

Spending less than 24 hours at Edwards Air Base we soon saw the crisp blue beautiful Pacific Ocean.. oh glorious water. This meant surf lessons were less than 24 hours away, we spent the following hours in Laguna, relaxed.


The morning came at about 11 AM. Not quite dawn patrol, but close enough. We loaded up the car and headed on down. I was ready, she was ready, the beach was ready… there isn’t a whole lot to describe the feeling of getting into the water after spending time in the Tucson heat, or even time away from the ocean, dreaming about surf. It was lovely. Asa did exceptionally well and smiled the entire time. The sky was clouded over but the water was about 69 F. After a session, split by one break in the middle we ate some burritos from Pedro’s and soon found ourselves back in Laguna. Lather, Rinse, Repeat. We did this for three days. One day finding a rip current to get caught in. The third day Asa was doing very well, was balanced on the board, could identify waves to catch, had no trouble handling herself, kept on smiling, and was standing up and rode down the line a couple of times. It was a success. It was sad to see her go on Thursday morning. I was going to miss my closest companion and friend, the pleasant smile, and humoring laugh from the last two weeks of my life. She’d be in Michigan and then back to Sweden. It was odd to think I’d just spend two weeks straight with this person, enjoyed her company, and then she’d be gone. Gone to never return. I don’t think I’d ever been in a situation like that, it was odd to think about. Perhaps one day I’ll arrive in Sweden and the game will be reversed. She was happy to be going home. I missed her.

Asa was gone, J.J. and I saw a movie together and then I went right back to Laguna and promptly fell asleep from exhaustion – for regardless of how enjoyable the last two weeks were, there was a lot and I was tired. I woke up the next morning. Asa had arrived in Michigan safely, I had caught up on my sleep, and I had spent the last four days at the ocean. I left for San Francisco that night. After all, World Cup started in the morning and I had to catch the first game at 6 AM.