July 5, 2014

leaving Carpinteria

I was so wiped last night when I arrived at Carpinteria State Beach. They told me that they were full on the Hike and Bike and I was just crushed, of course it was the 4th of July and EVERYONE and their brother was out. Fortunately, when we went to double check, there was plenty of space, so I got to tent and sleep for the night. See the 2014/07/04 video for just how bad I looked (not sure what the hell happened to the audio).

Yesterday was definitely California Wildlife Day... I saw enough lizards and some amazing birds, but the large snake sleeping on the path I was on and trying to get around without bothering him, that put me on edge for a bit.

I have been keeping a collection of maps of my routes for later reference, but yesterdays is totally screwed, thanks Google Maps. Some of the bike paths are not listed on Google and when it put me into "Map Editor" I could not make heads or tails out of it, so I did the best I could and made notes for myself.

There was a section of the hiking yesterday that ran on the 101 freeway, fortunately they have a line of K-Rails to separate the traffic from the bike-lanes. Even with them there, a bit unnerving to walk along.

I am trying to do some video a bit each day, I think they are going to get pretty messy, but supposedly that is what people want. Well, if I go to far, forgive me and tell me.

On leaving Buenaventura on the 3rd, I had a Park Ranger totally screw me up.  As tends to happen when I get to a beach that has camping, I end up walking from one end to the other to check in and often go back to the start to setup. Well at Emma Wood State Beach I get to the far side (it is REALLY far) and it is starting to get dark. I stopped at the kiosk and see that they do have "Hike and Bike", so I ask him about signing in. He tells me that you have to go to the group site and that is all the way at the other end, go out of the park, cross the bridge and then get on the path on the ridge and follow it.

I had just come in that way. So unless he was sending me all the way back to Buenaventura, where Main St ends at the paths, he was full of it. First, there is a kiosk there, it was not manned. I am not walking all the way back there, so I followed it back to the bridge and took the ridge route back up along the trailer camping area and found a great spot to sleep, or so I thought...

What is it with me and ants?

After about an hour, I started feeling like my skin was crawling, when I turned on the light on my phone, I was right in the middle of a swarm of ants, again! Fortunately, I have found a little trick; I have this mosquito repellant that is made from lemon eucalyptus and ants don't seem to like it either. So I sprayed a little around the edge of the tarp and they left me alone for the most part.

Next Segment concerns

I am a touch concerned about the upcoming segment from Mission Santa Barbara to Mission Santa Inez. There are a few routes I can take, but they are all going to take around three-days and I do not really have much in between them. The most direct route has San Marcos Pass Rd connecting them via Lake Cachuma but there is not much in the way of road shoulder and people FLY down that street. The other way is a bit longer, but is pretty barren from what I have heard, I will be pretty on my own for most of it.

Once I pass Mission Santa Ines, I am in uncharted territory for me. I have never been north of Solvang in California so it will be a totally new thing. I have been told that this part of the trip will be beautiful.

Oh well, I find that I am stalling, I need to get my ass in gear. The phone is charged, last nights video is uploaded and the battery unit is well along on its way to being charged. I really should get going and be ready to guerrilla camp this evening. So Ta!

Suddenly all I want to do is take a nap, talk about stalling...


July 1, 2014

The West Valley and Santa Susana Pass

OK, lets start with the down side of the last two days...
  1. San Fernando Rd from Burbank to Mission Hills
    What a desolate road to walk along.  If you were to call Central Casting and ask for the most boring piece of road in the history of the planet, I suspect San Fernando Road would definitely get a call back. With the right angles, you could cast this street as any lonely highway through the desert.

  2. Devonshire St across the Valley
  3. Mostly residential and mainly middle to upper-middle class, there is just no life to this street and on a warm Valley day, well it could give Dracula a run on it's ability to suck the life out of living beings (of course it may just be that I don't like the Valley, Fer Shuure).

Mission San Fernando Rey de España

I had been to this mission once before, I cannot remember exactly why or when.  I arrived late Sunday evening and it was too late to get my passport stamped so I was going to have to spend the night.

Now tell me just how crazy this is, I actually called LAPD and told them what I was doing and that I needed to crash, where could I go and not be harassed for it. I had a very nice officer that not only offered to pray for the success of my quest, but basically told me that unless someone called to complain, anywhere was pretty much fine.

I asked about the park, unlike other LA Parks, there was no notice about hours and trespassing, so I thought it was worth checking.  He said that unless they had a complaint about something they would not be checking the park, so not only did I find a decent place to crash, but I found a spot with no sprinklers to worry about.  Sore butt was another issue!

In the morning I wanted to clean up before I went to the mission and there was a bathroom in the park to use. Now I have been asked on several cases about sleeping and bathing, so let me tell you that for the most part you can clean up anywhere if you have a washcloth, I do, soap, supplied or your own, and a sink of any kind. What I had not thought about was how to wash my hair; I did not have a cup and trying to use one of my water bottles was a recipe for frustration, so I decided to see if I could fit my big-assed head into this little sink, with a few bumps, bruises and words I am not going to repeat here, I determined I could and managed to de-skunk myself, sadly the question turned out to be, for what.

I went over to the mission and there were two ladies working the desk, one around 18-20 and an older lady who was definitely in charge. I asked if she would stamp my passport and she told me that there was a $5 charge for the museum and then basically threatened to withhold my stamp until I coughed up the money. I just didn't have it on me.

Though this weekend had been an interesting experience with people who were definitely the priests of the temple of money.

On this trip and with the warming weather, I do not take any chances with my water supply.  I keep two one-liter bottles on my pack and when the opportunity comes up to top them off, I do.  Most of the time I ask if I can get water, from fast-food restaurants, 7-Elevens, the occasional liquor store and/or gas stations, basically any place that has a soda dispenser because they most often do have a plain water dispenser (strange, who knew?).

I had a lady at a 7-Eleven tell me it would cost me 75¢ for about 16-ounces and at a small liquor store the gentleman said that the sink does not work, and yet he was drying a plate as I walked in, large industrial kitchen sink in the back of the joint. A few other places just looked at me as if I were speaking a different language.

None of these were huge impositions, so I really did not concern myself with it, but when I got to the mission and this woman tried to extort me for the five-dollars, I just thought (I think out loud), "How commercial."

Starbucks and Santa Susanna Pass

I was about to start the cross out of the valley via the Santa Susana Pass, but since I was not exactly sure how long this would take and my phone needed a charge, I stopped at the local Starbucks, Lassen and Topanga Canyon.

As luck would have it, one of my back-up batteries was taking its dear sweet time to the point I finally decided to just take what charge I had and get going.  Santa Susana Pass has a bit of a reputation for crazed drivers and some of its most remembered guests were the Manson Family while staying on the old Spahn Ranch in 1968, apparently the energy is still there.

I had been talking with some of the staff and what my plan was when Klarissia informed me that there was a bit more danger than I had anticipated and gave me details on where and how far to go to be safe.  She then asked if I would like a ride to someplace that she was sure I could camp the night as she lived in the area. I said sure (what, you thought I was going to say no?).

Here is one of those places where the Universe likes to mess with me.  As I was setting up the tent and getting ready to crash in short order, a young couple came walking toward me and asked what I was up to. I did not get a threatening vibe, so I explained that a friend had recommended the location for a one-night camp. They told me that I was right out in the open and some of the local homeless might mess with me and that it might be better to go behind the treeline.

My experience in such situations over the years is that people tend to get concerned when you look like you are trying to hide, so I tend to be right out in the open and it puts them at ease since nothing sketchy is possible.  We also talked about my trip a little and they decided that I was ok and they would go intercede on my behalf so that no one would mess with me. Cool!

About 15 minutes later, they came by again to inform me that the police would likely be coming by sometime in the morning as the group that lived further back had been given an eviction and tomorrow was the day they would be there to remove them, great...

Well, either the date was off, or I just happened to leave before the police showed up, but I got my first horizontal sleeping done in about a week and I got to use my tent, I like my tent, weird? I also managed to do some dreaming, my first on this trip, not anything I could make sense of, but dreaming none the less.

Ventura and Mission San Buenaventura

So today I am in Ventura and fellow El Camino Walker has opened his home to me for a short respite. I am finding my feet in much better shape than they have been and I have decided to take tomorrow off and continue on to Mission San Buenaventura on Thursday morning.  It is only about six or seven miles away and supposed to be an absolutely lovely walk. Then I start heading up the coast for Santa Barbara and all points north.

I am entering into an interesting phase of the trip.  I have been to Mission Santa Barbara and Mission Santa Inés, in Solvang, but I have never been further north in California than that, all unexplored country for me, a new beginning and a new place. I officially exit the known for the unknown and I am looking forward to it.

See you soon,


June 30, 2014

from Mission San Fernando

I have people who want me to write more while I am on this trip, I am trying, but the simple fact is that after you have trudged 12-15 miles while carrying 45 pounds of "stuff" in your pack and, strangely, there have not been that many places to plug in and get online near my daily stops, it is hard to write, little less get it out.

I am trying some new things, my blog has an app, why does that scare me?

Most of my writing has been in a little journal app on my iPhone.

The other part is that this first two weeks has been extremely tough and painful and I don't want to come off as a whiny child (trust me, I have been one a LOT this week).  My feet hurt, well duh! I have noticed that my legs and butt are looking amazing, too bad that I now have too much skin on them, maybe it will tighten up (please please please).  The rest of my weight loss is out of my face and my gut seems to be about normal for me (DAMN! LOL).

Other than the gut part, I expected the rest. This is a huge transition for me.  I have been a fairly sedentary type of guy living in the usual LA way, TV, driving, pretty much an easygoing lifestyle.

I have been surprised by how little I actually miss certain things:
  • I do not really miss TV, I thought I would; God knows I spent enough time in front of it.
  • I am not really missing the banal BS conversations that make up the majority of Angelino-speak.  When I talk to people, they are actually interested in what I am saying and I am interested in their words.
  • My feet hurt from the walking, but I do not really miss driving and definitely not missing traffic and the insanity that passes for "safe driving".
Not so surprising is what I do miss:
  • Showers - regular showers
  • Nice bed with sheets
  • Climate controlled environments
  • Sleeping lying down - see below...

Guerrilla Camping

One of the things I am getting used to, especially the last few days crossing Orange and LA Counties is what I refer to as Guerrilla Camping. This is the art of finding places where you can sleep at night without being harassed or, in some cases, arrested.

When looking for a place to sleep, you want something out of site, not particularly well lit (not a problem for me as I have the straw hat) and someplace the cops will either not see or not care.  I spoke to LAPD last night about this and their response was that even in public space, other than parks, as long as no one calls to complain, they really don't worry about it.

Parks are a different story as they often have posted hours, so after those hours you are officially trespassing. Even then, unless they have some reason to go in, the odds are that you are likely ok, but it is a risk.

I have noticed that the police do not seem to bother you for sleeping in public spaces at night if you are upright. I am learning how to sleep sitting up with my pack behind me. The toughest part is that after a while, your butt really hurts because the ground tends to be hard and uneven, so it wakes me every hour or so to shift, oh well...

The one thing that I have become aware of is the great mystery of sprinklers. You never know if and when they are going to go off and the last thing one wants is everything one owns soaking from a poorly timed sleep session.

The other night I had found this space and was so tired that I almost did not worry about my tarp. I had bought this tarp for under my tent, but it has been more useful for this than anything else...

The way this works is like this, I open up a little less than half of it (I should have bought a larger one) and put my pack in the fold and then take the rest over the pack and then over me.  I sleep on one end of it and the opposite end acts like a blanket of sorts. 

So the other night, I set this up and at 5:00am, suddenly I heard the dreaded sound of water heading into the sprinkler system. Thanks to having taken the time to set it up, my boots got a little wet and that was basically it, I and everything else was dry.

The other aspect of Guerrilla Camping that takes some getting used to is something close to public bathing.  When you do not have anywhere else to clean up, you clean up where you can, park restrooms are not the easiest to work with sometimes, but water and walls are about all one really needs, assuming you brought a washcloth and a towel.

Am I spotless? Oh Hell no! I am reasonably clean and feeling like I might actually pass for something akin to civilized.

So this is the practical things I have been dealing with and I think I have at least a passing grade.

On a more metaphysical/Spiritual level, I have been practicing a form of walking meditation that allows me to be somewhat conscious of what is happening around me while focusing on my meditation.  I'll write about that later.

I have some other things that I am working on, this trip has been something of an eyeopener when it comes to some of the contradictions that make up our society, but that is going to take a while to write the way it should be, give me time...

Blessings all!


June 23, 2014

Mission San Juan Capistrano

OK, what can you say about Mission San Juan Capistrano?

Well, it's being restored beautifully and the entrance made me think more of a hotel than a historical sight.  Well my guide book did say they were "public ready" so I guess I should have expected it.

I didn't get to take the tour, just to tired to do all the walking and I needed to start working on the next leg of my trip, four to five days walking across Orange County to get to San Gabriel.

Now my OC friends will not exactly love this, but I have never really been a fan of the OC.  I find it over-planned and over-developed and large chucks of it could be picked up and dropped into another area and no one would even notice.

So it looks like I'm going to be going through Mission Viejo, Irvine, Santa Ana, Orange, Anaheim, Brea, Whittier, Monterey Park and into San Gabriel.  Can we say FUN FUN FUN?!?

One route suggestion had me walking PCH to Huntington Beach and then walking Beach Blvd all the way up.  OK, I was saying about boring?  I've nearly fallen asleep driving on Beach Blvd so a few days walking it just does not ring my bell.  Ha ha ha, Robert makes an El Camino Real joke.

This is the beginning of the leg that I am most not wanting to do.  I go WAY inland and not a lot of non-city to deal with, so I see a lot of strip malls, residences and the usual urban sprawl for at least a couple of weeks, approximately 143 miles, a bit over double what I have done so far (not counting the bus across Camp Pendleton).

I am hoping my feet get their act together and let me increase my mileage, I have been averaging about 12 mile a day and I would like to get that up to 20-25. When your feet say, "ENOUGH" you either stop or seriously pay for it later.

I was reading something online that may help, had to do with taking the boots off and letting my feet breath and dry more often, I have been avoiding that since it takes me SO long to get them back on and the best times for me to do such things, Starbucks breaks, etc, they really frown on my running around barefoot.  Oh well...

Had a potential problem, when I stopped in Oceanside for a day off at the RV Park, when I took the tent down on Sunday, one of my poles had a bubble right smack dab in the middle of the segment.  Of course it then broke when I set the tent up last night, fortunately there was a Big 5 on the way. Unfortunately, the direct route has a "No Pedestrians" section so I had to work a detour, no to bad.

So, I get to the Big 5 Sporting Goods - Capistrano Beach and I ask the helpful associate if we can solve my tent issue.  Since I bought it at the Culver City store and I don't have the receipt he cannot replace the tent.  I don't want to replace the tent, but maybe one of the pole sets.

The best he can think of is to sell me a replacement pole segment which looks to long and we are not sure it will fit.  He grabs a box of my tent from the shelf, strangely open on both ends, and takes it and the spare to the Store Manager, Nick. Nick is not sure if the replacements will work, but when we tell him what happened with the original set, he tips the box and out slides the poles from this open tent, he hands them to me and says have a safe trip!  Nick is my new Customer Service God!

So, I'm waiting for my emergency battery to finish charging, but I'm kind of wanting to get out of here.  I want to get a couple of miles in and I am burning daylight.  It should be nearly complete and I can always finish at the next Starbucks I run across and it charges my phone at least four or five cycles before draining itself (thanks Mr. G!).

Anyhow, enough rambling, I need to finish this up and post it so I can be ready to get out of here when they close in a half-hour.  Later!

June 18, 2014

Made it to Encinitas!

I am SO tired, but I managed to make it to Encinitas.

Spent the night in UCSD's "park" and woke up freezing about 2am. I was really fine, but I had taken my shoes and socks off to give my feet a breather, not such a great idea...

I was to tired to fight with finding clean socks to put on, so I just put the pair from yesterday back on and slid on my boots and went back to sleep.  I stayed like that till about 8am, a miracle for me as of late.

I had hoped to make Torrey Pines last night, didn't quite make it, but it turns out that when I came out from the UCSD campus I was there (well the street at least).  Not real far down the road was the park, beautiful! A park employee saw me working on a couple of blisters I have developed and came over to confirm that I wasn't setting up camp.  I told him it would be a beautiful place for it, but it's to early in the day and I am hoping to make it to Encinitas.

Oops, just found out that my coffee house here, Surfdog's Java Hut, is closing in a few minutes, so I am going to have to continue this later...  Sorry!