Wednesday, November 24, 2010

To La LA Land

Jen, Isaac, John
Jen and Isaac and I are now in Los Angeles.  What a crazy fun trip!

Me, Aaron, Carolyn

Goodbye Again to Moab

We finally hitch-hiked out of Moab on Tuesday of last week.  Aaron had thrown us a going-away party at his hogan, Amanda traded my bulkier guitar case with her lighter travel one, Gregory and Beth did my laundry and sent me off with a sleeping bag and a food care package, John gave me his climber's backpack, and Travis and Kate gave me their hammock for Hawaii and walked us to our hitch-hiking spot on Highway 191. 

Church Rock
Roadies Again

A rock climber named Nick gave us our first ride out of Moab.  His Suzuki car had a carrying capacity of just 650 pounds, causing us to weave all over the road.  He took us to the Indian Creek turn-off.  I remembered there was a cave at Church Rock, so we camped there that night.

The next morning a Boznian trucker named Denis took us all the way to Gallup, New Mexico.  He said he used to hitch-hike all over Europe.  It's funny how he described free-spirit hippy types as "real Americans", and how he was disappointed when he first got to the US to find that most Americans were slaves to jobs and money and talked about guns and war and US superiority all the time, not the "real Americans" that he admired from afar in Boznia.  Denis gave us lunch on the road and dinner in Gallup, taking us to a Chinese restaurant there.

Hobos Again

Woody Guthrie

We hopped a coal train out of Gallup, which took us as far as a small town in Arizona and dropped our car there.  I knew from past experience we could hop another train from another town farther west in Arizona, but not from this one, so we started hitch-hiking again.  We weren't having much luck with the three of us.  But it was good, because it finally gave me a chance to pull out my guitar and play my Woody Guthrie roadie songs I'd been practicing (66 Highway Blues, Hitch Hike Blues, I Aint Got No Home In This World Any More).  We were even hitching along Woody's old hitching Route 66 that he sung about.  Okay, so we had only a few moments of hitch-hike blues and started walking down the highway until a guy whose name I forget, which means "bear," picked us up and took us to the town we wanted to go.  We cooked and hung out at a campfire we built under an overpass and camped out there.  The next morning we found an abandoned shopping cart, put our packs in it, and walked to the other end of town where we could catch a train out.  Just as we were wheeling the cart near the tracks where we were planning to hop, a sheriff's deputy showed up.  He said he wanted to check us out since we stuck out like sore thumbs and we were "close to the tracks," but he ended up being really friendly, telling us where shelters and food were located and warning us of wanna-be gangs in the area.  He told us, "try to stay off the tracks," shook our hands, and left.  Within 5 minutes, a stacker train ("hotshot") stopped, and we hopped on, and we managed not to touch the tracks :-)  A hotshot was what I was looking for, since hotshots are "express" and would take us all the way to a major city like L.A., with no worries of being dropped in the middle of nowhere (as happened with the coal train).

Off we went, with spectacular views of Arizona and grins on our faces all day long.  As it got colder, Isaac decided to open up one of the crate containers and we crawled into the warmth, bedding down on top of bags of cat food for the night.  I wouldn't have thought to do that, and we would have been pretty miserable had we remained outside all night over the passes.

Homies Again

We slept through the night and the train arrived into a city by sunrise.  We couldn't figure out where we were, but I suspected a burb of LA.  The train stopped outside a train-yard there, and it would have been wise to hop off there.  But we decided to sit tight and see how much farther the train would go, since we were clueless of our location.  Unwise decision.  The train started up again, took us into the yard and stopped, for good.  There was activity all around us.  We sat tight inside the container.  Then one of those big upside-down horshoe-shaped lift thingies came along right above the car in front of us and started preparing to lift that crate out of the train!  Talk about nervous!  Nowhere to run without being seen, and our container was going to be lifted out, and we couldn't see where we could exit the yard!  We finally had no choice but to run, so we scurried left.  A service vehicle came by and we got non-chalant and pretended to not see it.  The driver asked us where we were going, and we said, "out of this trainyard!"  He said, with slight grimace, "Well, you better hurry before you get arrested!"  So that we did, and we happened upon the gate and escaped with a sigh of relief. 

However, after we walked about a block outside the yard, a "bull" (security truck) pulled up beside us and demanded we line up against the wall and produce identification.  We ignored his request.  He asked us if we had been on the train, and we simply said we were lost.  He had zero authority outside the yard so we said "bye bye" and walked on.  He followed us, trying to bluff us, and it was working.  A couple other bulls drove up, too.  We came to a tall barb wire fence in an alley and were cornered.  We could have just ignored them and kept walking, but fear set in and I decided we should climb the fence into the private lot.  Jen said, "now we are adding bad to bad and could get caught tresspassing."  The bulls circled the block and kept yelling at us, but we sat tight.  Finally they lost patience and went away, and we left the lot and walked to freedom.

Bless-ed Again

We found out we were in a burb of L.A. and walked to a park.  It started raining, so we hung out in a community center there.  We were the only white people around.  The people around were refreshingly friendly.  One man handed me $5, which I passed on to Isaac (although Jen and Isaac aren't using money on this trip either).  Some other folks had had a kid's birthday party and gave us tons of left-over food from it, which we gladly snarfed down.  

I'm not used to the luxury of having a cell phone around.  I decided to check email on Jen's phone and discovered that a dude named Gary was offering us a place to stay at a ranch he is caretaking north of LA if we happened to be in the LA area!  So we called him and he gladly came to pick us up.  We stayed at a primitive cabin at this charming ranch filled with funky artwork and animals and good people (e.g., Cici and Steven), and he offered us hospitality, grand conversation and joy for a couple days until the rain subsided.  He then took us all the way back to LA and dropped us off at the ports there.

We found another abandoned shopping cart and wheeled it for miles into Long Beach.  Real Bag People we were! 

Roy, Silvia
At the ports we got a message from Roy and his mom, who offered to pick us up and bring us to their home.  So that's where we are now!  So good to see Roy again, as well as his mom and Sylvia!  They invited us to spend Thanksgiving with them.  After that we plan to go back to the ports and figure out getting on a boat to Hawaii.  If it doesn't work out in LA, we'll head to San Diego.

Roy's mom has been  showering us with Mexican hospitality, feeding us splendid food, overflowing with generosity. 

I feel so intensely grateful I'm traveling with Isaac and Jen.  They are about as pleasant and easy-going and fun as you can get, never complaining about anything and open to everything, never saying anything bad about anybody.

Born Again, Continually

Yes, how blessed I feel.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Falling Leaves and Winter Migration

Chasing the Setting Sun Over the Sea

It looks like I'm blowing out of Moab soon for the winter, heading west.  Every year I talk about hopping a boat to Hawaii without money, but I never quite get inspired enough to do it.  This year all my talk infected my friends Isaac and Jen, and their passion to do it pushed me off the fence.  So we plan to hitch to San Diego and wait around until we can hop a random boat!  It's a shot in the dark, but I know of people who have done it.  Last winter was like Siberia here, so I'm itching to go to warmer climes.  Another person might be coming to join us (but I won't give his name until/if/when he actually comes).

I decided to bring the guitar that I found in the dumpster.  I can't believe how into playing it I am (since I was not much interested in it in my youth).  This old dog is learning.  I wrote down some Woody Guthrie roadie/hobo songs that I'm wanting to master as we go west.  Maybe I can write a few of my own when I get better. 

Gift Economists' Cyber-Meeting 

Since I last blogged, quite a bit has happened.  Twelve of us moneyless folks  in the world had our cybermeeting on Oct 27th.  We were, besides me:
Heidemarie (Germany)
elf Pavik (Germany)
Offie (Germany)
Mark (UK)
Sonja (South Africa)
Adin (South Africa)
Tomi (Finland)
Hugo (Brazil)
Raphael (Germany)
Benji (Holland)
The 2 girlfriends of Raphael and Benji (who just joined them. Sorry, can't remember their names).
     (Raphael, Benji, and their 2 girlfriends are currently traveling in Central America)

To see links to websites/blogs for some of the above friends, see

Lifestyle Gift Economists

We spent a lot of time trying to figure out how the cyber thing worked, so there wasn't much substantial conversation.  It was mostly a chance to see some moving faces of our clan with a bit of chatting, and it was fun and heart-warming.

We couldn't get some faces (like Mark's and Heidemarie's) to show up, but here's a few:

(L-R) elf, me, Sonja, Adin, Hugo
(L-R) Adin, Raphael & Benji's partners, Sonja, me, elf

It turns out Hugo, Sonja, and Roy are no longer on the moneyless path.

New Friends Joining Me, Coming and Going

Roy didn't get a chance to join our cyber-meeting (he was busy hitching moneyless into Mexicali, Mexico!).  It also so happens that, shortly after, Roy quit the moneyless path and decided to settle in LA and be with his daughter.  I think it's a good decision.  He's one of the few who actually gave up all his money to join me.  He then hitch-hiked out to the east coast and back here without money, then to LA and back and back again, then down to Mexicali!

A mellow dude named Braedyn came down from Canada for about a week with his guitar.  I was looking forward to getting to know him better, and have him join us in our go-west adventure, but it seems there were some family complications calling him back to Canada.

Shortly after that, Carolyn left to see her family for the winter.  She plans to come back to Moab in the Spring.  I'm also hoping to be back here then (If the Hawaii *cruise* happens and we find a boat back!).  Carloyn spent 7 months here, and added sparkling joy to my life.  I did a lot of fun and unique things I don't think I would have done had she not been here.  She was also by me through some intense, down times and helped keep me going.

Freegan Ponderings

Free Meal in Moab has also been a total joy, on both ends of it: eating and preparing.  It has brought a lot of people together in Moab, like a daily party.  New people from in and out of town meet all the time.  Just like Food Not Bombs in other cities, I am often pleased at how close I feel with people there.  You can go to clubs and churches and jobs and organizations, supposedly to meet people you have things in common with, but it's not the same.  What we have in common is food, and it's freely given.  That's it.  That's what Communion, (Eucharist) really is.  All food is my body, your body, one body.  No ideologies, no trend stuff.  Free Meal is not classist or hand-down like your classic soup kitchen or welfare program.  It is hand-across.  Folks from all classes and needs and no-needs show up and sit down together for food that would otherwise be thrown out.  

But I do think there's a certain kind of person who is willing to go to eat at something like Free Meal or Food Not Bombs.  It's a person willing to forget class and ideology and sit humble on the grass with everybody else and just be sincerely human.  I'm realizing that that's what's the only real common among us all: simple human-ness.  When we try to find people with things "in common" with us, trying to find people who "think" like us, that's not the common I'm talking about here.  Our common-ness isn't in what we think.  Our common-ness is when we give up thinking.  It's not about belief, it's about Being, which is the True Faith.  This is why I feel so passionate about the freegan path (freely giving, freely receiving), the path that every natural creature in the infinite universe follows.  That is the One True Church, the One Mind.

It sounds like I'm idealizing.  But idealizing is seeing Idea rather than Reality.  Realizing is not eutopic but is just Being, accepting the bad and the good, the downs and the ups.  Commerical civilization is base upon eutopism, trying to eliminate the negatives and stockpile the positives.  Realism is based upon Reality, accepting the negatives and the positives as they naturally come.  Realism is balance, peace, contentment.  Eutopism is a pipe dream that shatters.  Realism, ironically, feels more eutopic than any eutopia we chase after.

Free Meal, like everything in the universe, is precarious and could end tomorrow.  But there's a principle there that is the essence of all life.  That's what doesn't end and what we can every day cultivate within ourselves.

Catching Cynical Comments Before They Come Yet Another... Yawn... Time

Some cynical joker with a stick in his or her hinder parts will invariably come along and say all these free things couldn't happen without the businesses that create them and caste them off.  Never mind that few say anything when enough food is thrown away in the US alone to feed the entire starving world.  [Note added Nov 13: My statement probably is exaggerated, and even if it were accurate, I should have references. Now I'm dealing with the consequences of quickly writing a post without editing or fact checking before I hit the road. I won't be able to rectify this for some time, so I'll just leave this disclaimer for now. But what we do know is that the waste in both this country & in Europe is beyond obscene in a world where millions are malnourished. I recommend Tristram Stuart's writing to get these facts straight.]  Never mind that few consider that businesses couldn't exist without the sun and the clouds that freely give, expecting nothing in return, sending sun and rain on both the "deserving" and the "undeserving", or without the earth which few seem to have problems taking from beyond her capacity.  And a separate entity like free meal wouldn't need to exist if we didn't have commercial civilization.  Again and again, I say, freely giving and freely receiving, without thought of credit and debt, is the essence of all of nature.