Friday, December 31, 2010

Slab City

I'm in Slab City, California (near the Salton Sea).  It's been weeks since I could get onto a computer.  I'm not sure when I can do Internet again, so don't expect comments or replies from me.

Isaac, Jen, and I didn't have much success finding a boat to Hawaii.  Yachts & sailboats rarely go to Hawaii this time of year, and port security for freighters is way too high to even get near a port much less into it to even ask people.  Everybody we talked to was pretty clueless.  It's probably worth trying again in warmer months.

Both Isaac's and Jen's families wanted them home for Christmas, so both families bought them round trip plane tickets back to Illinois.  They want to return to San D after the holidays and, this time, hitch south to Costa Rica (and maybe hookup with our friend Aaron on his farm there).  I don't like San D and didn't want to wait around there, plus I feel the risk of hitching without ID, much less passport, past the border just isn't worth it right now.

So I started walking east, through miles upon miles of mcmansions in Chula Vista (a SD burb).  I thought I'd see if I could make it back to my parents' by Christmas.  But the rains and wind hit, and I hunkered down in a baseball field bathroom "foyer" for 3 days until the rain sort of passed.  The next day I started walking and came to Lower Otay Lake.  I was absolutely overjoyed to finally be out of the city and hit the beautiful countryside.  But it started raining again.  Border patrols were everywhere, and a man and woman stopped to see why in the world I was walking in the middle of nowhere in the rain, 4 miles from the Mexican border.  The woman seemed way too serious, but the man was friendly.  He seemed like a classic, young, idealistic military type.  He said he thought my living without money was "cool".  They told me where a campground was miles up the road, and took off.  Then they screeched a u-y and came back.  The man asked if I wanted a ride to the campsite, and the woman seemed annoyed at him.  He told me there were hot showers there.  There was a shelter there which I stayed in until the rain subsided.  Then I found a tree outside the ground and set up my hammock high in its branches.  And I went into the campsite and took a hot shower.  Thought I was in heaven.  It rained all night and I got kind of wet, but stayed warm.

I walked further until I found a creek and a bridge.  I camped under the bridge.  The sun finally came out so I could dry my bag and wash my clothes.  Border patrols were everywhere, watching my every move.  But they were all super friendly with me.

I decided to hitch up Honey Springs road, more away from the border, than Highway 78,  A man picked me up right away.  I asked him what day it was and was surprised to learn it was Christmas Eve.  He was really kind and took me way out of his way to I-5.  He gave me a burrito, too.  Very few cars were going east on 5.  One man with "Jesus" and a big fish on his TShirt stopped and handed me $10.  I then decided it would be better to hitch the road crossing under I-5, and found out it was highway 78.  It was the road going north to 79, which heads to the Salton Sea.  I had had it in my mind days before to go that way anyway, so this was working out!  I'd heard Slab City was that way, so maybe I could check it out.

Hundreds of cars passed me by.  People have more important things to do on Christmas Eve than practice the teachings of the one who's birth they celebrate.  Finally a couple Jehovah's Witnesses (who don't celebrate Christmas) stopped and gave me a ride, going way out of their way to the town of Julian, but preaching my ear off in the process.  I was told it was going to rain again, and my tarps were leaky, so I hunkered down at an awning at an elementary school.  I found lots of apples in Julian, and lots of good food thrown away at the school.  The sheriff kept watching me, but didn't seem to be bothered I was staying around the school.  It rained crazy that night.  But the sun came out on Chrismas and I started hitching again.  Hundreds of cars passed me by that day until a 70-something man named Fred stopped.  He said he thought I was a Pacific Trail hiker.  He asked me what I did, and seemed extremely irritated that I lived without money.  I actually appreciated finally meeting somebody willing to tell me that to my face.  Hundreds do it anonymously on the Internet, but few to my face.  That's what I like about old people, they often speak their heart.  Anyway, we discussed it and went round and round with my philosophies until he started getting what I was saying and doing.  He then got really friendly and we enjoyed each others' company thoroughly.  He told me about Slab City and Salvation Mountain and Leonard Knight (who created the mountain).  He took me all the way to Brawley.

I dumpstered some food there, and a couple stopped and handed me a delicious Chinese dinner-to-go.  I started walking up hiway 111 toward Slab City.  There were lots of feral date trees, and a fig tree, so I stocked up their fruits.  I found an abandoned warehouse and slept there in my hammock.  The next morning I got a ride right away from a woman named Helen.  She took me to her home town of Nyland.  I started walking to Slab City from there, and a super nice Slab resident named Evergreen gave me a ride in, and introduced me to some folks.  A woman named Karen showed me a place to camp near here little trailer.  We've quickly become good friends.  I've met some good people here so far, and am glad I'm here.  It's nice to rest.  I'm clueless how long I'll be here.  Maybe until the winter passes.  I had no plans to be here, but here I am.  It's a strange, funny place, and it's growing on me.  I met Leonard Knight and his Salvation Mountain, too.  A beautiful spirit he is. 

For days I felt really lost and disconcerted.  But, deep down, this is state of mind I so wanted to experience.  It's a beautiful thing, believe me, to find yourself in a position of being totally lost, discouraged, and full of doubt - ready to throw in the towel on everything; but, then, to take those feelings and sit with them.  Find out where they're coming from.  Hand them over to God, if you want to use that lingo.  Then watch the infinite Peace come.  It's absolutely splendid.  I've been getting into the Baghavad Gita again, and seeing again its shining splendor.  For me, it shines light on Christianity, revealing it's deeper mysteries, rather than diminishes it. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

San Diego

I'm in the San Diego area with Isaac and Jen. Computer time and access is rare so this could be the last post for a while.  Jen's cellphone died, too, so texting email is out, too.  This is a quick and scattered post.

Our encounters with friends, new and old, has been absolutely grand.  We spent Thanksgiving with Roy's family. One of the funnest Thanksgivings I've ever had.
Then we spent time with my close friend Grace, as well as our friends Jeromie and Jayme.  We also got to stay over at the house of Grace's boyfriend Eric and his roommates, Paul and Jupiter as well as Eric's daughters.  Paul wowed us with his sitar music, having studied under Ravi Shankar.

From Jen's cellphone.  Our camp beach.
Sun dim like moon through clouds. 
I don't have time to figure out
how to right-side-up these.
Paul took us down to Santa Monica where we walked the coastline trying to check out all the harbors and docks in our attempt to find something to Hawaii. Futile attempts. We found some shopping carts for our packs and walked for 3 days to the southern side of LA. Then we hitched southward, camping on the beach and in random crannies of civilization. And who should pick us up and take us half way to San Diego, way out of her way? A young woman named Apania, Jenna Jameson's personal assistant. Apania was so friendly and funny - had us laughing the whole way. Gave us an inside tour of California's chic spots down the coast. What a foreign world, almost creepy to me. Apania commented on how she serves the rich and is around unbelievable wealth and celebrities constantly, but hasn't enough to pay her own rent. But she said she has a deep bond with Jenna, a priceless friendship.

We camped the beach that night, were told in the morning it was illegal. We tried hitching, then walked. We camped in a crack under a road overlooking the ocean. We tried hitching out of Carlsbad but some cops told us hitch-hiking was illegal, and we'd be cited if we got caught again the next 15 miles. I discussed with one of the cops how unjust the law was, telling him both he and I knew in our hearts such a law has nothing to do with serving and protecting humans, but it had everything to do with economic status. He couldn't officially agree because he has a job he has to do, and has to say what he is paid to say, and that helps me not be angry.  Slaves to mammon cannot do other than what mammon says, otherwise they would not be slaves. I understand, I've had plenty of jobs where I sacrificed my mind for the mind of the institution I worked for. After the cops left, a man named parked at the beach, named Carlos, called us over, asking us what happened. "Fascists." he said, "I'll give you a ride, though I can't go very far." But he ended up giving us another royal tour of the entire coast, all the way to San Diego! "I didn't have anything to do, anyway!" He said.

So we've been walking a lot, with shopping carts again. It's strange, this lifestyle. I go from feeling overly flattered from publicity to going to feeling less than scum from the looks and the treatment of quite a few people. Both the flattery and the ill treatment are based on distorted images in the head, not on reality. Isaac and Jen have discussed how troubled it makes them feel, sometimes, too. My masochist side actually gets off on it all, like it's some big wonderful challenge to maintain noble dignity at the bottom of the heap. I love it in fact, usually.  But we're almost always treated with real respect by the Mexicans here, who now an then astound us with their generosity and friendliness. I've found there isn't much to eat in dumpsters in Mexican neighborhoods. They keep giving us what they don't eat instead of throwing it away.

Then there's the authorities. Most everything is military and high security here. Cops, military all around, continual helicopter surveillance from above. Pretty much everything is illegal when you don't have money. I'm not being facitious by saying that to live freely is to live illegally. You simply cannot live without money and be legal here. I suppose that's true all over the US, but especially here.  But I can also see it from the viewpoint of law enforcement. There are simply too many people here, and it's out of control. Everybody wanted to move to beautiful southern Cali, and everything turned into money and privatization and business and military. Humanity has been almost squeezed out of the picture. You try to rest your bones at a business, the owners shoe you away. You try to rest your bones on "public" land, the cops shoe you away. You walk, you're tresspassing. You hitch-hike, you're an illegal "threat." If you live free, you remind people that something matters besides business, and that might be bad for the economy. But people are "free": "free" to shop, "free" to buy plastic surgery and botox and silicon injections, and look at all the "freedom" of choice at supermarkets and malls! Okay, I'm seeing this place from a different viewpoint than most. But few get to see it from the bottom. So now you get to see it from homeless eyes. I hope it's a bit uncomfortable for you.

We've been sleeping in a park and found an abandoned rowboat on a nearby fenced-off beach. I found some discarded cans of latex paint and used it to patch up the holes. So we might take it into the bay tomorrow and float south. That's probably illegal too. We're still open for a chance to find a magical boat to Hawaii, but not attached to expectations if it doesn't happen.

I'm still learning guitar and feeling good about it.  We have flutes with us, too.

I love Jen and Isaac more than I can say.  They're amazingly still with me though I've led them on a wild goose chase.  We are amazingly compatible.

Accept disgrace willingly.
Accept misfortune as the human condition.
What do you mean by "Accept disgrace willingly?"
Accept being unimportant.
Do not be concerned with loss or gain. . . .
Surrender yourself humbly;
Then you can be trusted to care for all things.
Love the world as your own self,
Then you can truly care for all things.
(Tao Te Ching 13)

He who takes upon himself the humiliation of the people
Is fit to rule them.
He who takes upon himself the country's disasters d
Deserves to be King of the Universe.
(Tao Te Ching 78)