Thursday, September 27, 2007
Saturday, September 22, 2007
I love the rain.
I love a rainy afternoon, cloudy skies, dripping trees, water running down the windows, the smell of the soft dirt and wet wood.
I love the sounds, everything's different; it is quiet, the normal sounds of an afternoon are gone. Above all is the carried sound of dripping, thumping, almost a clicking... whatever it is, it is constant – continuous, steady. Soothing, like a night ride on a train. Voices are softer, people run inside to hide, normal activities cease.
It makes me want to hold a hot cup of coffee.
I want to see the steam from my cup rising to meet and mix with my breath in front of my face.
It's crisp and cold. It might snow, but I'm still strolling around in a sweatshirt, now soaking wet.
The water, softly like tears, is rolling down my face and everything that I can see.
Suddenly I can see and feel, externally, everything I am inside, now reflected, carried up and out to be shared with everyone else walking around in this world with me. Can you see it? Can you feel it? Watch, listen; these things don't need to be spoken. Let's just sit here and feel it. Together.
There is no wind. Everything is still. Content. At peace. Sliding along the edges of joy. It catches and holds like the clouds, hiding the mountains, revealing the trees, loose and soft, drifting and mysterious. Dripping with joy, but withholding happiness, steeped in melancholy. Here I am. Oh, there you are. That's okay, we can sit here together for a while. I've got nowhere to be, and if I did, well, it's gone now. We can wait for tomorrow.
Consequently, shooting a highlight video for a couples conference at Hume Lake in the rain is quite adventuresome, and not very easy. Oh, yeah, and very, very wet.
I hear that there is snow above seven thousand feet. Possibly up to 18”. I am going to go exploring in Shifty tomorrow and see if I can find some of this snow.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Beauty and Adventure are way more fun when you have somebody to share them with.
Waking up on the ocean shore.
Getting buried to my axles in the side of a dune.
A bike ride with The Governator.
Hearst Castle, but not the castle.
A car crash,
because someone pulled a “Denmark”.
The most expensive Gas in California.
Oh, her bike got hit by the car, too.
Playing Host at Andrew Molera Campground.
A private beach.
Dinner at a public house.
Cold nor-cal water.
Cliffs, dunes, and a sunset.
Up at 5:30am for a drive back through the fog.
What's a weekend without adventures?
Well, I'm not too sure, so I guess this was a pretty normal weekend.
My friend, Eric, upon hearing that I was camping on the beach decided that this was just the adventure that was needed for him and his wife, Alexa. After several phone conversations and directions over the phone they showed up on the beach with me at midnight. Somehow I forgot that it was the weekend. The crowds are crazy now, I could hardly find a place to park my car and make camp near the water. I just spent the last three hours just watching huge motorhomes and converted busses getting stuck and rescued over and over again. This shouldn't be so entertaining.
After we finally snuggled into each of our sleeping bags under the stars, and effectively blocking the bright blue beacon light floating above the trailer next to us, just as I was drifting into dream land...
“What's the beeping noise!?”
“Is somebody backing up?”
-Why is it raining sand?!
“Oh, there's a big trailer stuck right next to us.”
-But, what is that beeping noise?
“Why is there sand on my face!?”
“HEY!! Could you turn of that Beeping!!”
-I think they said it was “just” carbon monoxide.
-I have sand in my mouth.
-Hey, look, we have new neighbors.
Eric woke with the sun apparently, because he was running around bare foot near the water with a camera when I woke up.
Then Alexa woke up:
“Why is there sand on my face!!? What happened?”
“Oh. There's a big trailer stuck right there.”
We packed up camp, and climbed into Shifty for a romp in the dunes. This is a little bit difficult and uncomfortably loud when most of what I own is piled into the back of my car. I think it rearranged itself three times before we settled deep into the side of a dune.
“Well, that's what I have a shovel for. Eric, jump out and help me.”
“I can't. The door won't open. I think the sand's too high.”
Eric's car truck was stuck in the sand where we had camped, so shifty had to do a little pulling down near the water.
We were finally on our way off the beach with way more adventure than most people have before 9am.
Coffee and Internet at Zadok's next to YWAM Pismo Beach. A quick check of the campsite available up towards Big Sur, and off we go.
The coast is gorgeous! Sharp cliffs, wild looking trees, the winding road going over large bridges... a bicycle... another bicycle... another...
“Are they in a race?”
“They all have jerseys and numbers.”
-They don't look very... athletic?
“I don't think there in a race.”
“Hey, look, that one has a dog on her back!”
“He's wearing bag jeans!”
“It must be just a ride.”
I found a newspaper later that showed Arnold in one of the jerseys on his bike. It was a ride to raise awareness and support for Best Buddies, an organization "that develops friendships and job opportunities for folks with intellectual disabilities."
We stopped at Hearst Castle, just to see it. None of us had. It turns out you can't actually get near the castle without dropping $24 per person. So, we looked at pictures and interior samples at the visitors center before moving on up the road.
-Hey, look more bikers.
And, cattle. The beach is pretty.
“Those bikers are coming down the other way.”
“They look like they might actually be in a race.”
-Oh, we're slowing down. Why is the car in front of us stopping?
“Yeah, it must be a different event.”
-Maybe they are racing down from
-NO, NO! Go! Gun it!
A couple on vacation from Denmark was enjoying the scenery a little bit too much and smashed their small rental car right into the back of our stopped Nissan Xterra. I thought for sure that our three bikes hanging on the back had been smashed. But, apparently not. Their car was all smashed up in the front. I guess Nissan trucks still use metal bumpers. At first glance you couldn't even tell that we had been hit. But, on closer inspection, the bumper was bent, the spare tire jammed under the rear differential, the rear hatch handle had broken from the bikes during the accident. Everybody went into cordial but down to business “We just got into and accident” mode. Everybody was fine, we were just all shaken up. It could have been way worse. “Not another accident.” A guy from Denmark, a girl from Sweden, flew to San Diego, driving to San Francisco and to New York, then flying back to Denmark. I guess we're part of their trip now. “Sure, you can take a video of us.” Pictures all around. Smile! We've got their passport information. Maybe I'll send a Christmas card.
-Okay, we're on the road again.
The car rest of the car ride was super tense. How could it be otherwise?
“We need gas. How much farther to the next city?”
“I don't know. Twenty miles?”
“Okay, I think we'll make it.”
I turns out, that the next city was just three buildings on the side of the cliff with two full-serve gas pumps. $4.79 per gallon. Ouch. After a quick calculation, we got only what we would need to get to cheaper gas and got out of there. I saw a motorcycle with a video camera and LCD screen mounted on the handlebars.
The campgrounds around Big Sur were all full, even the last and most rustic, Andrew Molera.
The ranger at the guard shack told us it was full, then glanced quickly over her shoulder before she told us that the camp hosts were not staying there tonight and we could rent there space. Okay.
We unloaded the bikes, inspired by the bike race to have a nice long ride of our own. That's when we discovered that Alexa's bike had gotten hit by the car. The wheels were both bent out of shape like Curious George's. Now that I think about it. I guess he “pulled a Denmark” in that story. George was so distracted by the things around him, he didn't see what was right in front of him. I tried to straighten the wheel, but like George, I couldn't. This bike ride was the thing that Alexa had been looking forward to the most and it just wouldn't have worked to have her ride a wheelie the whole way. We were all sad.
So, we hiked to the beach.
We hiked to the beach through hedges of Poison Oak. It was a short beautiful hike with plenty of wild life and a water crossing. The slowly arching beach cove had shelters made of driftwood, and smooth perfectly curled waves rolling in from around the point. Wow. I wish that I had my sufboard. I tore off everything but my shorts and headed for the water as Eric explored the nearby cliff. We joined up out toward the point where the cliff met the deep water, and we explored more discovering the other side where there was a hidden beach with a large pure dune coming down from the cliff. I jumped into the water and caught a couple of waves just body surfing. Then we ran back to get Alexa and spent the rest of the afternoon running in the sand, jumping down the dune with the thrill of jumping off a cliff, exploring the tide pools -Alexa picked up a large crab, I found a star fish, and Eric claimed that he had already done all that as a kid. Our feet hurt terribly bad. Those rocks are sharp.
The sunset was beautiful, but I was cold so we didn't stay long after the sun was hidden behind the incoming fog bank.
We had hamburgers and fish 'n chips at a pub/art gallery/grocery store. The food was good, the environment was great for people watching, there had been a community art project that afternoon, so several people had painted faces, and I could hear the hammers still going outside as they erected the large pieces of a 3D mural, and there was a band setting up for a concert while we ate. The guy who ran the place looked like he really enjoyed his job and he reminded me of a Brad Pitt character. Actually, I most of the people looked like they were straight out of a movie scene. It felt a little surreal.
The stars were once again, amazing. Thanks God, You make greatness! We watched two episodes of The Office on my laptop in the host spot of the campground and went to sleep.
Actually, I was just about to doze off when a truck pulled up, shinning it's brights right on us. Two, rangers stepped out and told us that we weren't allowed to be here. This area isn't for camping.
“This is the Host's spot, right?”
“Yes. You're not allowed to camp here.”
“But...” We explained our story, what we were told, that we paid for this...
“Okay, you can stay, it wasn't your mistake.”
I felt bad for the lady that let us in. She had been nice, there wasn't anybody sleeping here tonight, and the campground had made money from us.
Alexa needed to be back in LA for a wedding shower, so we woke up at 5:30am packed up, jumped in the car and headed back down the beautiful coast, watching the fog lift as the sun rose over the mountains.
We got a bit of light breakfast and coffee at Zadok's in Pismo again with some good conversation, and sent them on their way.
Why did all that happen? I don't know. But, I think it was just what we needed. And, despite what I think, God knows what we need.
We experienced all of it together, the good and the bad.
This was a beautiful adventure.
More Photos to Follow
Friday, September 7, 2007
I just finished my first whole summer working at Hume Lake. I've worked there just bits and pieces for years, but never a whole summer. I'm not sure how much this one can count, since I was in four different departments and spent three weeks in San Diego running camp off the mountain. I was working up there all winter at the Joshua Wilderness Institute, since September. We had trips once a month to San Francisco, LA, Las Vegas, San Diego, Ensenada, Israel. So, I've by no means been stuck in one place. But, I still feel stir crazy and unsettled. I'm restless, still.
So, I find myself with some time off...
I made last minute plans to head toward the central coast of California. I thought maybe I would hit up a few hostels or a campground or two. I had a few errands to run in Fresno, and finally bought a cheap computer, without which you wouldn't be seeing this. I had dinner in Fresno with some Hume staff, spent the night and next day with them. Then, I headed back to Reedley for a house concert with New Heights on tour from Washington. I spent the night with the band at Ryan Corum's Road 56. And, then got on the 41 South toward Pismo Beach.
It had to be the beach... the ocean, the crashing waves, the sea gulls, the salty smell calling me. So I drove.
After spending money on a computer, I decided to go super low budget on the rest of the trip. As much as I love Shifty, he is not Fabulous for his consumption of gas. My major cost on this trip would be gas. Pismo was the closest beach. A stop at Food Maxx (That's Food-4-Less in SoCal) and $10.41 bought food for the week. (Bagels, Tuna, Black Beans, Corn Tortillas, and Tapitio) The Oceano Dunes in Pismo are the cheapest place to camp at $10 night. I didn't have a tent, so I spent $3 on a tarp to lay my sleeping bag on. I had this great plan to grab scrap wood from some dumpsters for a fire. I found a broken pallet behind a Vons and loaded it into my truck. Unfortunately when I got to the security booth at the entrance, I wasn't allowed in with the pallet. So, I ditched it behind another Vons, and actually spent $5 on firewood. The tide was high; the beach wasn't too crowded. I drove about three miles south and found a fairly open spot in the flat sand, fifty yards from the edge of the water.
I made my camp and started a fire. The hot fish tacos were delicious, especially because I was just sitting on the sand with a little fire. I think that if Jesus was from California ( I know some of you think that He was, but He wasn't.) But, if He was, He would have cooked fish tacos on the beach and shared them with his disciples.
I walked over to the edge of the water and just stared out to sea. Slowly, then suddenly a huge smile crept over my face. a big smile, one of those ones that I couldn't hold in if I tried. At first I didn't know why I was so filled with joy, or that I was smiling at all. It was that goofy kind of smile that you might normally try to hide if you knew others could see you They couldn't; it was dark. Suddenly, I realized that I was crying, tears streaming silently down my face, happy tears. This is good. God is good. I remembered standing on rocks out in the surf at the cliffs above Del Mar with Nick Maybury and Tim Mika six years ago on night like this. Our moods had been heavy all day, and suddenly it was all gone, swept away by the tide. So we sang songs of worship together standing together in the midst of God's overwhelmingly beautiful creation. It's like standing in a waterfall. I remembered that same spot a year later on one knee with a girl. Bittersweet. The tears taste sad now, they were happy then. Still the waves wash over the rocks and sand, smoothing out the holes, carrying out to sea all that is temporary.
So I sang songs of worship to the God who is Faithful, who is constant, who Is.
He is so, great and mighty, so powerful and unchanging, full of justice, yet intensely personal!
He is so close to the broken hearted.
I need this.
I need Him.
Just as my fire was starting to die down, a huge motor-home got stuck in the sand forty feet away, between my camp and the ocean. They couldn't get it out with their "Bakersfield Truck" (Lifted, full-size, quad-cab, with tires that look like off-road, but are designed to never leave the road.) So, they set up camp right where they were stuck. Turns out, that was just the beginning of their caravan. Next came, two more motor-homes with dune buggies in tow and another truck with Sand Quads stacked high. I would call it a flotilla, but they weren't floating. I would call them Summer Folk, but Summer is over. Still, I felt like Willy Potts: "Thick as sand fleas and twice as pesky."
They revved their engines, testing and tuning each vehicle, driving in circles around me, shining their HID Baja lights at me in my sleeping bag, over and over till 2am. I could see the light of a light house off in the distance cutting through the fog over the ocean. I thought it was beautiful. But, now, I felt like I was inside a light house. Closing my eyes didn't help much.
I realized, that most of the people who camp down here have spent lots of money on camping toys. It's definitely not the same crowd that we see up in the Sierra Nevada mountains around Hume. I haven't seen a single pair of Birkenstocks and mine was the oldest vehicle on the sand, except for a large yellow Yamaha 400 from the 70s. If I hadn't just seen it out of gas on the road to Shep's house at Hume, I would have thought that it was the old Ferreira bike that was on my first desert trip to Ocotilla Wells in High School. Once they were done, and cozy in their luxury-mobile toybox, it got real peaceful. I couldn't see the stars for the foggy clouds, but the sounds of the ocean and the feel its cool breeze on my face put me to sleep quickly. I slept hard, not waking until 10am. I broke camp and took Shifty out to play in the dunes while they were still asleep. It's not the most peaceful beach, but it's the cheapest beach, and I'll probably spend one more night down here. Then I'll head north toward Big Sur.