Monday, August 2, 2010

Lifestyles of the Poor and the Homeless

(San Jose, CA)

We drove in a giant loop, Vegas, Zion Canyon in Utah, the Grand Canyon in Arizona, and sadly back to Vegas, to pick up the truck from the shop. We camped two nights at a trailer/RV park near Zion, baffled at how cool the temperature got. During the day, we hiked the canyon. I was particularly attracted to the trails with descriptions like “steep dropoffs” and “not for anyone afraid of heights,” so we tried a few. The warnings did not lie. The views were awesome, and we wore ourselves out scrambling, or sometimes more like stumbling, up and down rock faces for a good five hours. Ended the experience with a dip in a cold canyon stream and lunch on the riverbank.

By the time we got to the Grand Canyon the next day, we had seen so much desert and so many giant rock structures that we didn’t mind speeding through. Just a few quick photo stops, to say we did it.

Grabbed the truck in Vegas and moved on to L.A., where we stayed with my cousin T.J, who lives 3 blocks from Hollywood Blvd. Spent the first evening/night exploring the neighborhood – favorite spots: Amoeba Music (record store with untold treasures) and Mission Cantina (restaurant/bar where we got the best tequila/jalapeno cocktail - $4 during happy hour. Also offers dollar tacos on Tuesdays.) We navigated through crowds of tourists near the Chinese theater - not that exciting of a sight - and perused the celebrity stars along the boulevard.

We ended up liking L.A. a lot more than we thought we would. Rather than the hot and snotty plastic crowd that TV and movies brought us to expect, we found a lot of friendly, laid back people, happy as any to chat with a couple of dirty homeless stragglers like ourselves. We hung around Venice Beach for an afternoon, Santa Monica Pier the next, where we tried our hand at these beach jungle gym/gymnastics rings that are set up all along the shore. Much harder than they look, but such a fun thing to have out there, that anyone can use. Where we visited, the beach crowd was especially full of hippies/artists/people scraping by without a steady income, all seeming to enjoy it that way. We also spent a good deal of time drinking with T.J. and his roommate, hitting up both bars that my cousin works at, and celebrity spotting. At Houston’s, where T.J. bartends (and therefore provides free drinks), I sat three seats down from Ben Harper. I would never have known it if I wasn’t told, no idea what the guy looks like otherwise, but still exciting.

I spent the last pennies of my budget in L.A., which really brought me down when I realized it. That was the same day we went to Houston’s. But we got the best surprise when, within five minutes of sitting at the bar, these two middle aged ladies next to us just up and gave us the uneaten half of this huge brownie/ice cream/nut/fudge monstrosity they said they couldn’t finish. It was like they and the powers that be just knew that I was broke and depressed. Since that moment, money has caused me little stress. I’m aware that I don’t have any and I act accordingly, but I’m much less worried about it. The world provides, and when all of this is over, Katie and I will pay everything forward. We are well aware that our debt to karma is mounting exponentially.

Now, two days away from leaving for Mexico, and still enjoying beautiful California. One more update to come before I start out on the second leg of this crazy journey I’ve planned...

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