Posts Tagged ‘camping’

I have done it – traversed the Oregon Coast by public bus (almost) – coming out to the coast in Crescent City, CA and stopping in Astoria, OR today, though i may continue north through Washington – yes by public bus. I have done sections before, but never have gone from end to end, and this time i did it in reverse, taking my time, camping out on the way.

Most of the coast is linked by county transit systems, as Greyhound stopped running out here years ago. There is one 24 mile gap between Florence and Yachats, and i have heard murmurs of a connection coming one day. I love this mode of travel, for here the riders often talk to each other on the bus, and you get a view of the coastal communities you would not otherwise. It is not fast – most systems run 5 or 6 days a week, with sunday service non-existent, and there are only a few buses each day. I like to camp which is an inexpensive option with the hiker-biker sites in the Oregon State Parks. Although most buses make flag stops along the way, i often carry my pack several miles. The transit system can also be handy for anyone walking the Oregon Coast Trail, or cycling the oregon coast bike route  (most buses have 2 bike racks)

These are the transit systems i used going from south to north

To Crescent City (or Brookings, OR)

SouthWest Point from Klamath Falls (OR) Amtrak,  Medford(greyhound, ashland) or Grants Pass (Greyhound) – passing through towns on the way. I got off in Hiouchi, by Jedidiah State Park (redwoods) to camp for a night.

Crescent City to Smith River (for connection north)
– Redwood Coast Transit
also connects from Arcata (Greyhound, Amtrak bus) and highway 199

Smith River to Brookings to Coos Bay
Curry Public Transit runs up the coast as far as North Bend, stopping in the communities of Port Orford, Gold Beach, Bandon, and Coos Bay, and allows for flag stops on the 101. I took several days to make this trip, stopping off at State Parks enroute .

Coos Bay – out to Charleston (side trip)

Coos Transit   travels around the towns of Coos Bay and North Bend and out to Charleston, where Cape Arago is only a few mile walk

Coos Bay to Florence

Porter Stage Lines will take you to Florence (also to Reedsport) and inland to Eugene (Greyhound, Amtrak) and Bend and beyond


There is no bus service from Florence north to Yachats (about 26 miles). I must admit, i hitched this stretch this time from the north end of town, though i walked it southbound a few years ago, over a few days. Rhody Express will take you to the north end of town. The Oregon Coast trail, takes you both along the beach and the road. There are several campgrounds, both state and forest service along the way.

Yachats to Lincoln City (and Otis to connect north)

Lincoln County Transit  serves the many communities along this section of the coast, with buses from Yachats to Newport, Newport to Lincoln City (and to otis for northbound connections), and to Toledo inland. There are also local services in Newport and Lincoln City. With many towns, a variety of trails and landscapes, and four state parks with hiker biker sites, traveling this section of the coast is a breeze. At Newport – you can go inland to Corvallis and beyond on the Valley Retriever

From Otis through Tillamook to Cannon Beach

Tillamook Transit connects through to cannon beach, with service into Portland as well. The system has several bus lines that will take you to Pacific City, Oceanside and Netarts, Garibaldi and Rockaway Beach, and up to manzanita and-Cannon Beach, with connections made in Tillamook. In addition to the state and forest service parks, Tillamook county offers several county campgrounds with hiker-biker sites.

From Cannon Beach to Astoria

Clatsop County transit – Ride the Bus – has a direct bus line that will take you from Cannon Beach to Astoria, stopping in Seaside and other communities. At time of writing, this transit system had experienced major cuts (from almost hourly service to a few times a day etc)  but hopes to rebuild.

Beyond Astoria

once in Astoria (or seaside, cannon beach( you may go back to Portland  on NorthWest Point or continue North to Washington via Pacific Transit  to Aberdeen and from there up the Olympic Peninsula to the tip and around – or take the ferry to Victoria BC and north, or inland to Olympia and from there to Seattle and beyond, the inland side of the Peninsula.

Along the route you will meet many people and see places in a new way. the journey is not quick, but life is a journey and not a destination.

Update 2015

I once again spent the summer travelling the coast by bus – the system has greatly improved. with the North by Northwest (OXO) system linking the various transit systems and offering 3 day ($25) and 7 day ($30) passes that include a return between valley and coast and unlimited coastal travel. http://www.nworegontransit.org

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Redwoods – june 10,11?

land of the trees

I am in the redwoods – i made it here – to the land of the ancient giants. The sun is going down and i will soon sleep beneath these trees. As i walked over to the hiker biker camp, here in Jedidiah Smith State Park, where i was a year ago, my right arm began to move – circling on its own. I walked back along the empty road, me and the trees and the ferns below, and it began to move again on its own – a circle – as if dowsing some energies here. I ask, what energies lay in this place, the zone of the trees by the smith river.

I have entered into the land ruled by trees – first the forests inland – as i crossed yesterday from Klamath Falls to Medford, through a land of lakes and trees in mountain zone, and today as i headed out here – but now am among these ancient giants who dwell in this narrow zone. And the hotsprings of this morning, and the town of this afternoon seem so far away in both time and space. On the bus riding through the beautiful land of hills and trees i felt lonely once again – lonely for an area also lived in by human beings – a land where all live harmoniously, I am back in California, but somehow it seems to me more like oregon.

A giant downed tree trunk sprouting life, not only moss, but plants and leaves and other trees growing on it as it decomposes. As it is all around, life growing from decay, life growing from life, a cycle to be completed and renewed.

the cycle of life - from death and decay sprouts new growth and life renewed

Thin soil covers the earth, hiding the rocks beneath, the spirits that have not yet emerged. The high canopy of the redwoods blocks out much of the sky. This zone is contained, life on the surface, between the above and the below – neither too visible, and not the focus, the focus is on the life that sprouts, that is, the colour of green, the colour of plant life form. It forms a bowl or a cocoon, not from the sides like valley walls, but from the bottom and the top, and you cannot see far, the vista is short, for forest surrounds.

I feel small and insignificant beneath these trees towering above, and their girth is wide. I am surrounded by the living, and i am just a small part, i am so small. There is so much here. it presses in. like a city in some ways, but so different, but the pulse is strong, all emit energy and the dance is dense. I feel small in a different way than when i travelled across the deserts a few days ago, on the train, with little life and green to be seen – the earth and the sky so vast, so large, and i, the train, so small, so little breathing life, so little dancing around, the above and below in full force. I longed for the dance of life on the surface, and now it is here, i longed for trees, and now i am in their land.

Redwoods Towering above

I sit beneath the redwoods. although they are not the only trees here, it is their land. The narrow strip in which they still grow, where they remain, looking over the land and us, providing a zone where the other plants may thrive. Where they may thrive beneath the guardians of this land, beneath those that have witnessed so much, who communicate between earth and sky. They are the survivors in this small place, in the groves that have been preserved, only small patches of what once was. For so many have been decimated, in the early days, chopped down with eyes for profit and their use. It feels lonely and heavy. The sun, now giving way to clouds or fog, does not shine through and the eye does not see very far.

I am back to the zone of the familiar- returned to the shore once again. I lost sight of it for a while as i went inland and above, but now i am back, and i am not sure how i feel. The route is known and the intensity is gone. I have come back down, closer to sea level once again, I leave the park, to go to the store, one that i know is there. I have been on this road before, going the other way.

I feel the life around pressing in – as i need not process it all. I know where the bathrooms are, where so much it, and realize that i feel similar to how i felt before, a feeling i had forgotten about when i was out of this locale. Two kids hitch on the road in front, how small and insignificant we appear but in such a different way than in the desert with broad spanses and vistas, and a seemingly lack of life – the bare earth, the sky and us. Here is it the life forms that are much greater – trees and ferns and salal and more – both the earth and sky hard to see, for life abounds, and we are just such a small part of it. Life on the surface that is so visible, all manifesting into form, all manifesting so large and grand.

Ferns are some of the oldest life forms around, and the redwoods are ancient trees, which once lived in so many other locales, their range now limited to this narrow strip of land. Here ancient forms are still alive, ancient life continuing on into the present, living in the here and now – not merely emerging from rocks and stone. All becomes manifested into the 3D. I feel the density of it all though i am 10 miles inland, out of the deep fog belt of the coast, where air condenses into a thick haze. Here the element of water, of emotions, is so present, though now the sun shines on through.

The life i called forth – life in the trees, where the life of people is in harmony, different elements dancing together. Here the plant life grows in harmony – it is us who can seem out of place. It is not merely the redwood trees, but the diversity of life forms – the ferns, the sorrel, the moss, the rhododendrons, berries, alder, salal, trillium and more that grow together, intermingle, give each other life. we focus on the largest, the tallest, but they are all part of this zone, they all are part of the intricate dance – a dance that includes the animals and birds, and yes, today, us.

The sky is now grey – much more typical of this twilight zone, this zone where the giants thrive. I walk around, no people about, myself and the trees and the plants, green live thrives, lush and magnificence. All forms in denseness become manifest – in morphological fields. It is a twilight zone – i imagine dinosaurs roaming around, giants of the past, and wonder if they still do, invisible to us now. All feels so old and enduring, the past living on, clinging on, taking hold. I remember the petrified forest in Arizona, huge logs turned to stone, all dry and barren, with fossils of dinosaurs and ancient forests about, destroyed in some great cataclysm. I remember that place that felt of life destroyed, and i remember this images that came to me the last time i was here, of waves seeping over the land.

For now all life is showing, the life that remains. It is green, more green than i imagined, the green that i so yearned for, the green of the heart and of life. Still it feels heavy, pressing down, so much energy caught in moisture, and what has become form. Thought forms hang on, emotions come alive, energy condenses in bodies and in my joints, even the redwoods have burls. And i am a small part of this all.
Mosquitoes fly around my face, a nibble here and there. I feel insignificant – then i look at the tree stumps, those that were cut down, and i see how much power (wo)man can have, despite our size – how we have cut so much of this down. A mosquito bites again – i remember their power – able to cut us down – malaria, dengue, west nile and more. how they can cut us down with the poisons that lay inside, that they transmit, that have taken hold in them. size has little to do with power, and as another bites, i realize i am just a part of the chain of life. I sleep beneath the trees once again.

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Camp 4

I wanted to camp in Yosemite park and i did. And i am glad. Now i sleep in a bed again outside and i am glad of that too. I took a chance going up there, a chance i almost convinced myself not to take.
On the train and the bus into this area over a week ago i got a sudden urge to camp. and going into the park and back out again, i asked myself why not. the temperature was not too cold at night – but i had been sleeping in a bed for about a week and appreciated the softness of a matress and warmth at night. The issue was finding a place to stay in this great park and for some other reason i was afraid.
there is one walk-in first come first serve campground in the park – Camp 4 – and that is where i stayed. i had known about it, but forgotten about it and walked by the day i was supposed to leave. It is a fairly open area crowded with tents – and few trees and i was not sure about the vibe there. it was around 11am and it was full for the day – a ranger came by so i asked about how hard it was to get a space. the kiosk opens at 830 am, but the line officially starts at 6. people come earlier but no sleeping bags or pads are allowed in front of the booth – and it fills up every morning for the night. The first bus into the park does not arrive until 730 am, so i wondered what i would do. although it is a walk in camp and priced per person, the parking lot is right beside, and people come with cars and in pairs and groups, so different from the hiker-biker sites i have been in. I told the ranger i wished there were sites for people without cars – and she said this is it as i stared out over the parking lot. she said it was crowded, turn people away, but i would have a chance if i came right over on the first bus in – the summer peak has passed but the climbers are filling it up.
I wandered the park that day not knowing if i would try, before i went and looked at the place – an open area crowded with tents, i was so certain that i would. but after i heard about the difficulty getting in i told myself i would not and my energy changed. I told myself i could not. I told myself that one is not meant to spend so much time there though i yearned to thoroughly explore the energies within those walls, to be in the place without leaving for several days. but a voice also said no, it is not meant to be. but that night it called to me but i decided to gamble and take my chance knowing that the outcome was not guarenteed. What ifs passed through my mind, but i knew i could not turn my back on this chance.
i packed up unsure if i would catch the bus out at 6am – but i did. I slept poorly fearing i would not hear the alarm – i was afraid, afraid i would be turned away. Afraid to step out into the unknown, to take a risk. but i asked god if it was his will to let me have a place. it was dark when i got up blurry eyed and made my way on down to the bus down the dark road and heard and something rustle in the bushes – and it did not feel like a deer. I waited at the stop in the dark, headlamp on so the bus could see me, looking up the road, nervous, but it finally came – and was full of park employees.
I slept on the way in, and was nervous when we arrived – the bus pulled into the visitors center and then was to go to the far end of the valley to curry village before going to the lodge – so i got off there and waited alone in the quiet of the park for the shuttle that would take me to the camp. i waited and fretted and it finally came and there were about 12 in front of the office when i got there – i asked which way does the line go, and got in the end, a few more arrived, i wanted a coffee and to pee, but waited until the kiosk opened up at 830 am. I got a space at about 9, and decided to book for five days. I was but was told could not set up until noon – i was releived but still not calm, wondering what was in the air.
This is what i wrote:

I walked the park and then set up my tent. Six people share a site to which you are ramdomly assigned – you are assigned a bear box, but one table between the people there. I had felt unsure, and when i arrived there was a small tent, with two people on the tag, and then a mom and two twenty something asians arrived with a monster tent – a six – eight person one that dwarfed all that was around and cast my little tent in a shadow.
The campground was full of climbers – for it is prime rock climbing season and this is the place to do it. I wrote

And it made me realize that like the animals and birds and plants that thrive in some areas and cannot live in others, we as people have out zones where we may thrive and others where we may just eke out a living. Adaptation is possible only to some extent, and when we adapt what do we become. And also like energy attracts like, and i am not part of the nucleus here.
The tents were crowded together, and most we here to climb and bond. With the noise at night and feeling pushed out of the site i became a bit of a bitch. six people officiallly share a site, but in this case it became many more – the family and all their friends, become 10-12 instead of three and all sharing a picnic table. And i spoke up, and spoke up again and instead of joining in i cut myself off more. And the loud fire pit in the site behind my tent – one of the loudest in the campground one night – called a bitch by one drunken youth when i mentionned the quiet hours. I spoke with the guys from boston at my site who drank constantly. i did not like being there and avoided the campground. i wonder if it was bad karma for if i had been assigned another site, it might have been different and I could have met some with whom i could bond. But a lesson was there for me. I felt disconnected from that which was around, and energy acted up, and instead of getting along, i withdrew, avoiding the place, felt isolated, and was not kind for i wanted to change what was. The dance was not one for me to join, so instead of finding my own music, i wanted the music to be different – but it was a rhythm so many shared, and the music they came for.
Still, i debated staying longer than planned for other places in the park i loved. but i could not renew my site. you are supposed to be able to renew if you do so the day before you are to leave, but a clean-up was happening in the park, something i thought to join, and the climber volunteers had reserved a few of the sites – including the one i was on. Several complained as it had not been announced, as did i. I could have lined up the following morning, but i decided it was time to leave. Although i was up at 6 when the line was short, i knew it was time to go, my time in the park was done. I was turning inside too much, and staying in part because i was afraid to leave. And i knew that it was time to move on.
And i realized yosemite valley is as much the campgrounds and places we have built as it is the walls themselves. i value my time there, and learned as much from the challenges in the campground as it did from the natural forces. And i realize that places call up activity, and there are places where we bond, and to some extent there are energies we choose to align to and others we do not.
I finish this entry a long ways from the valley in terms of space and time and have experienced much since i left and it now seems but a blur, but a blur that led my onto other paths, both inside and out.

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I sit in my tent in the grassy flats campground in the six rivers recreation area of the national forest and wonder why i paid for a campsite last night. or do i? for i was exhausted when i arrived here after 7pm, and felt that i could move on no more, and did not trust my decision-making to stake out a backwoods campsite for the night.

the land is do different here – hot and sunny and dry. I still hear the waters of the smith river, but my tent is on rocky ground surrounded by spindly madrone (arbutus) trees, the seem so thin with their peeling red bark.

now it is morning and i do not know what to do – i feel that i have really crossed the line this time, sitting alone in the national forest, five miles up the road from the tiny town of gasquet. and i do not know where to go or understand this road i am on. it’s like i have taken the final step outside, and do not know how to make my way back – so what if i am a bit crazy i want to say, don’t understand why much of the world lives its way, and here wondering how i will survive in a landscape that does not like people like me.

Yesterday i left the grandeur of the redwoods about 11am, i woke up to the sun and did not want to go – but there is the two day limit on the hiker sites, and it was time for me to leave. i talked for a bit with a biker who pulled in, one of the many who lives 6 months of the year on his bike, moving around from place to place, carving out his own kind of life – for i know he would not fit in with regular society. and he had an attitude, one of getting back at people, but seemed to be accepting of who he was.
i walked to the store, a mini-mart- a mile up the road, and hung out there drinking americanos from the espresso bar and cheap deep fried burritos from the “deli” as i made a decision on where to go – had missed the bus that would take me inland to grants pass, medford, or klamath falls, and none of those places appealed to me would i go back to crescent city and camp and on monday when busses run, catch one down the coast?

Harbin has been calling me, a place to be, but was not sure if it was the devil tempting me. and more redwoods as i passed on down, but through an area, humbolt counrty, that i have avoided travelling through. and for a day or two i would be close to the ocean again.

so i decided to hitch out to gasquet, and find myself a campground or camping spot for a night or two. buses inland pass through every morning, and on Tuesday one goes out to the coast that will connect with others going south. but i cross the road and see a woman sitting there with a sign and all of her stuff – and she had alot of stuff – two pull trailers piled high with bags and crates for the two (more?) cats that travelled with her. Her sign said oregon – roseburg please, and as we talked i found out she had been sitting there for 26 hours or more – waiting for the lift to appear. she said old folks were the best, and talked on how she had been in the paper elsewhere, the lady on the side of the road. She told me i had a lot of stuff, but it was nothing compared to her load. Yes, she was crazy but nice and kind, a story to tell and a life to share and we chatted for a little while. i would have liked to talk longer (i think i might have seen her before elsewhere, but with the uniform that the road life leads to, it could have been somebody else) but we both needed to move on from where we were. and i recognized myself in her

i walked up ahead, but there was no place to stand without competing with her, so i crossed the road and said ok, i will go back out to the coast, but as i stood there for about 10 minutes, that direction began to feel so wrong to me, so i turned around and started walking against the traffic on the road, thinking there must be a place to stand though the sign said winding road – 5 miles – and in california that really does mean something.

so i walked and i walked and i walked all day – finally stopping in gasquet about 8 miles up the road and now the walk seems almost surreal – a haze and zone i was in outside myself, putting one foot in front of the other, at times taking my bag off to rest, walking that narrow winding road, with minimal shoulders in some places, and through rock slide zones, in the heat of the sun and burning my shoulders as i have removed my coat and long sleeves and am wearing only a tank top – and almost running out of water as well. actually it was the lack of water that made me push my way on up the road – for if i had enough i would have found a patch in the woods to camp out for the night a long way back. But i plowed on, the scenery beautiful, dryer and more a mountain fee, and i looked at the smith river down below, rushing down, or some pools in deep rock formations where people were jumping off cliffs. and the beauty of the land beyond the coastal zone spoke to me so loud and clear – a very different zone. the walk was tough as i had to step into the brush as rvs or trucks made the blind curves, and i felt in zone, so alert, as i watched and was aware of all that was around. and the land got dryer the further i went, and my legs felt like jelly after a while – at one places as i walked on the other side of the barrier on a narrow path on the edge of the cliff, i wondered if i would give way, but then i saw a sign for a crossroad and knew i must be nearing the town. and i felt exhausted and so alive simultaneously.

I finally got to the town of gasquet and saw nothing on the road – only a broken down, closed biker hotel and a village of houses off the road and wondered what the hell i was doing here. then i found a little store – cafe further on up and sat and drank soda and water and had a bagel and checked my email – it was about 6pm and i felt like i could walk on no more. i sat then asked about a place to camp, and was directed here up the road.

I could not walk it so i stuck out my thumb figuring i would be out of the town boundaries quickly enough and if need be could sleep in the bush but i felt a rough edge around the town despite the kindness of the people in the cafe. A woman in a small truck stopped and gave me a lift – a native woman from crescent city (i think) on her was to washington – her truck was full of stuff and smelt like fish, and i wondered if all her belongings were in there. the road turned to four lanes and widened as we passed the town, and she did not hear when i pointed to the first campground three miles from town on the other side of the road.

So i came in here, and there was space, did not take one of the walk in sites, a group of guys partying had one and i questioned their vibe and there was no one else in that area so i took a regular site – all the same price at $10 a night. just after i paid a forest service person came in- and i talked with him and he said you can camp almost anywhere outside campgrounds where not posted for free, and i feel that maybe i should have done that. but i feel sound a sleep on the hard ground, the highway just through the trees, and sleep 12 hours and felt relaxed and now i feel it is time for me to leave.

i stay another day – no energy to move on – now after 5 i sit in my tent – running out of food, knowing tomorrow i will have to go – but where? i wish that i had a place to land, to plant my feet for a while, but i do not, and it seems that the road is my only home. i have ventured out into the unknown and feel i have no place to land, but as i sit in my tent and at my picnic table, wander down to the river for a short while, i feel restless and alone, talked to nobody all day, and so little conversation in the past few. how i long for a place that i can grow and shine, feel accepted and not have to hide away – but just as i do not understand the others, they do not understand me.

i send this message from crescent city where the temperature is much cooler and the sky is grey once again. i will go down the coast and inland from there. i walked two miles in land towards gasquet, the road and nature was all there was – beautiful and dry, nature abounds, and ride the rest of the way into down in the open back of a truck with a brown lab looking up at the sky and the tress and backwards as we wind on down the road.

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I am camping in Jediah Smith Redwood, my tent planted between three old growth redwood trees, and it seems so small compared to their grandeur. and so do i. My site, probably the best in the park, is circled by many more of these ancient life forms – hundreds and hundreds of years old, and others in the campground may have seen a thousand or more. and i think of all they have witnessed in thier lives, standing, growing tall, enduring the changes and catastrophes of the years , the endure and thrive and have such a rich presence. and i thank god for bringing me here. and the park of this morning on the coast, and the towns i passed through and bus rides i took seem eaons away.
my energy has calmed since being here – was rushing through and off kilter for the early part of the day. i woke at 3am and never really went back to sleep and packed up my tent in the damp grey before 7am and walked into town to catch the bus south at 8:45 not entirely sure of where i was going to. and by the time i got to brookings at 8am a steady drizzle was coming down as it would on and off for the ride south to crescent city california.
and i could feel the energy, the twitching in my face and movements of my arms, overnight and i felt more and more that i had to get off the coast. the afternoon before when walking back to the campground, i had a feeling of walking in that twilight zone where all seemed a bit unreal – and i felt that life was going on but something big was about to give. and at night in my tent the cool damp earth beneath seemed less stable than it usually is.
the first bus took my south to smith river, the convenience store beside the casino, and the whole ride down i felt not myself – a transformation or something, that energy rush that i had experienced in santa cruz and down the coast – the landscape seemed sad beneath the grey, the homes and people all worn down, a guy at one stop before 10am out in sock feet, drinking a cheap can of beer and smoking a butt, but giving another money so he could get on. Crescent city was still a grey sprawl. I thought of previous times i passed through and hated it here, sitting in mcdonalds for 2 hours in the rain waiting for the bus to continue on a few miles south when greyhound ran through back in 2001. and i try to remember seeing the beauty, but that was another time in the winter sun. i still felt like the earth was about to give and could i get away soon enough, and i sat by the bus stop waiting, waiting, for 45 minutes but what seemed like days hoping i could get out of this place. And that energy and those feelings kept on rushing through.
I catch the bus out of town and get here to this magical place, down highway 199 which twists through the ancient groves. i feel calmer away from coastal air. But, then when i go to the bathroom i see a sign marking the high water level of december 22 1964, the tsunami from the huge alaska earthquake, and the line was over the top of the bathroom door.
the sun broke through for a few hours – at about 330 pm. i sit at my picnic table in this quiet area and thank god that i am here. and tonight i get to sleep beneath the trees, my tent in an alcove surrounded and dwarfed by three. And i feel their presence within me and marvel at their lives. somehow the magic of the world has come back alive.

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Sunset bay is a bit of a misnomer for i never saw the sun. and maybe the fog came down on me. The hiker-biker camp here like in all the state parks is a world of its own set off from the main campground. The camps at 5-6 dollars per person for cyclists or pedestrians are in all or most of the oregon state parks along the coast, and they are where i spend my nights. will free showers and individual pricing they are the best deal around for a foot person like me. While the parks all have a standard, and there is a certain overall feel, each park and hiker biker site has its own flavour and community, and of course with people passing through nightly it is never quite the same. and now at the end of july they are getting more crowded than i have experienced them before – in previous octobers, and sometimes in the rain, and the past week the number of “serious” touring cyclists on vacation seems to have grown, and i don’t know if it is this area or the week, but fewer nomads, bohemians, and long term cyclists are to be found, and as a walker i have felt myself more of a curiosity.

i feel claustrophobic here in this camp – something else i wrote this morning as cyclists in pairs and threes were pulling out, and now some more have just pulled in. This is the smallest site i have been in, and as i noted the bike traffic has picked up – and as i have just discovered this is a stop listed in ‘the book’ – a tour guide many follow as the bible. and here all look out on a common area, no trees to divide or spaces between, and there is so little flat ground here, that i had tents on each side a foot or two away – or rather one was not a tent but a couple sleeping on the bare ground. two guys moved in and almost took over my table – yes, or course i would share i said, but then a bike parked at each end and their stuff strewn about – i bristled inside but then talked a bit, and shared an evening in conversation with them – two 60 somethings that are friends from junior high, one still living on long island – and i realized i picked up his new york vibe, and while he enjoyed his trip felt a bit out of his element and the other in mount shasta who had taken more of the hippie route. And had hot water for some tea and hot coffee in the morn. And today a dad and his daughters and a more elderly man are here – and they two are following the cycling book. for a while i felt lonely despite the people around, more lonely that at times when i am alone for i realized all else shared a common bond – a trip much the same and i was out of the loop, on my own voyage of sorts. And i have noticed a bit of a split between the hikers and bikers before, for they are two very different trips with different joys and frustrations, and tips and speed shared between those on the road.

Though with the cramped quarters in this zone – with three picnic tables in the center – people tend to mingle more. It is not like the little alcoves at tugman the night before, or my space hidden away under the tree at beachside, or the larger treed area at honeyman where i was able to grab a nook, or at washburn, then an emptier place – and a bit of privacy, and though south beach in newport was more open and right by the drive, it seemed emptier and people were not on top of each other – and as a result many kept to themselves. But elsewhere i have met other walkers and those who travel by foot and thumb and had more a connection to a few of those around, and here those that come through in groups often know each other, having already met several times on the road, and know they will probably meet each other the following night. and in this camp, i have met no one else truly on their own. The first nights out, further up, met other solo travellers, and now i also see more of a gender balance, for a few days i had been the only woman around.

And while i sit and enjoy a campfire, i know i am slightly out of place – i talk to the older man at first, a 77 year old retired physics professor who is doing the coast and then a inland and across the mountains, meeting his wife somewhere in land for a few days. And the college students from minnesota are going to the bay, as is the dad with his teenage daughters from arizona who is going by the book. he takes his daughters on a major trip each summer to expose them to the world – samoan islands, scotland, and the pyrenees’, are just of the few places they have gone – and as a result the girls seem open to the world around, and more open than him to a hiker like me – and so different from the other teenagers who i see in the bathrooms with long showers and their makeup cases and blow dryers complaining about the cold. He asks questions of the guys like what is your favourite book, and what do you feel is the biggest problem in the world.

Still i feel apart on a different trip like i often have felt in the mainstream – the goals are different as is the road, and i connect but partially. And they all move on together and i continue my journey alone – but to encounter new stories and adventures and connections of my own.

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Lakeside seems so long ago though it was just this morning. i woke up to the bright sun in my tent in william tugman park. the sounds of traffic on the highway – the roar of the engines were so intense as traffic streamed on by. Though i heard the crows and was surrounded by trees, i also felt like i was in an industrial zone. Now i am near charleston and feel crowded out by the bikers in the site – no peace of mind with those milling around. I spoke up and asked for a corner of my table back – one guy was open as they moved their stuff to one end, and the other said we were taking up just as much space. i feel angry and pressed on out and do not have the stillness i need to write.

I got up, ate, and walked down to the lake with a lawn of grass around, and then over to the local market to get a coffee and then to try my luck. the market was busy with locals in trucks stopping in – mainly for the deli of deep fried food. I crossed the road wondering where to stand, and the second car along pulled over and gave me a lift. he said he was going as far as coos bay, to downtown near the bus stop, but as we talked he said he had to go to charleston to work and would it be better if he dropped me off there instead. he talked of his travels and how he had hitched and hopped freight trains in canada. now he has a seasonal gig for the fisheries – monitoring the hatchery returns – or scanning fish and cutting their heads off. But the fishery is slow, was closed the past two years, so he gets paid to sit in his truck and read books for most of the day – still he would rather be doing some work.

After getting changed to his work clothes where he lived in downtown coos bay – a sad downtown, a depressed town – logging disappeared many years ago – there is still one small mill, a bit of fishing, tourism and the grand casino. Then off to charleston, down the back road, a the fishing center. i get dropped off outside another local market full of canned goods and another crowded deli with the fishers and workers buying the deep fried food – i gave in and had an eggroll and a burrito as well, and coffee with the creamer and bought a little bit of food. but the people are friendly, the older ladies in the tourism office said congratulations for the way you travel, and the man in the store told me of another woman walk who passes through most years and manages to get almost everywhere – montana was one place he said. and the town is friendly, about a block long, with a few stores and an overpriced resto and the fisheries – but seem to be almost as many commercial buildings that standing empty with out of business signs or for rent. The towns along this stretch south of florence on down, seem harder and rougher – industries gone long ago, but still more of a blue collar zone.

I walk out of town to the road to cape arago where there are several state parks. the two mile walk turns to four- past woods and shore and small farms and a few cows – the first i have seen in a while – and larger places with sunset views. The sky begins to fog over as the horn is heard by the shore. I walk and walk and come to the park – a bit of a line to get in – a weekend in july, and has been with most of the other places, the park is fully booked – except the hiker-biker spots thank god though this place is filling up. i camp at sunset beach where there is fog, and explore the parks around.

The hiker biker site is smaller here and the regular area seems more tightly packed – as families and friends come to life a different life – where you hear and see your neighbors and enjoy communal restrooms and cook outside and sleep on the ground – a life that for most on a daily basis has not existed for sometime – but here is a place to get closer to basics if even for a short while.
my legs are tired but i take a walk (after a long hot shower of course) I go out to shore acres state part with a botanical gardens, with a fountain and flowers and it seems like such a different place. then i come back and write this and engage in dialogue for a while.

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It feels weird to be typing this in a tent -and i see my battery is not as charged as it was when i turned off this machine the other day.

I slept long last night – with intense dreams – saw a script though i do not remember what it said, a scroll of sorts. my dreams out here and the sleep have been full, a good part of my time it seems in that other world. the sleep was deep, though i still feel i need padding for my hips. Clouds or fog have come in and it seems that all around have slept late.

I heard the ocean last night, it caressed me and became part of me, lulling me to sleep, and i felt like i was in a womb. I crawled into my tent, the clouds above forming a container with the ground beneath – and so many containers, or now that i type this maybe veils – the wind-blown distorted straggling low-lying spruce that form a roof, then my tent beneath, and within my sleeping bag pulled up over my head – and the ocean continues, and it feels like a womb, that i am being lapped in the salty water.

An interesting sunset last night as a low bank of  clouds came in off the ocean, and another, slightly higher, came down from the north, meeting and starting to join just as the sun was falling behind – the yellow ball hidden from sight, but rays of gold streamed through the gap reflecting off the water below, beaming through like in one of those old religious paintings. (tonight it was different, the sun did wobble above the clouds, felt a haze around it, then it appeared to balance on top of the thick grey, and then it sank behind – and i though of the earth turning and of the moons rotation as i looked to the south and saw it in the sky.

Today the sun has gone, or has hidden away, and i come back to a coast i remember so well and i did not want to crawl out of my cocoon. but the day has come, and the roar of the traffic on the 101 joins that of the ocean, and i can spend no more time in that other world.

And i feel a bit weak – my diet i wonder – switching more to that packaged american fare – the stuff we call ‘food’ that comes from a package or a factory or is shipped hundreds or thousands of miles. I bought broccoli last night and it was bad, spit it out and it churns in my stomach. I lay in bed, or in my bag, before the ocean entered in, longing for fresh food, sun, from the garden, harvested then and there, a true farmers stand and seasonal bounty not stuff made in a factory or shipped from away, the seasons irrelevant, where time and place matter no more. i thought of fish and the oceans bounty, and all i have had is tuna from a can. But soon i will eat my organic peanut butter and conventional banana sandwich on whole wheat bread and i drink my coffee from a can. I feel a slight chill from the ocean air but i dare not long for the heat, for a week ago as i sweltered under the blazing sun i longed for the cool, and to appreciate what is here. like the food i crave, to be here now, in this time and space.

Last night i sat behind an outcropping – a barrier from the wind. a woman came over with her cane, said what a good location, and her adult kids brought her over a chair. “these bags i have are full of sand, i make beaches from my grandniece back east – sand and shells and rocks from where i go, her little beaches in a jar. She has never seen a beach, and probably never will.” i say “you never know, the beaches you gave may call her forth one of these years”. “times are tough all over’, she says, “they may never get to travel.”

A family sits not far away, later she says they are from wisconsin, living in their van, all their possessions piled in there, the dad looking for work across the country and now down the coast. I think “they have nothing, and are on the road, a different type of travel you see” and i remember all those i have met living on the road – the home a van, an rv, a car or a tent. an old dog tries to run with the kids, and they cook hotdogs on sticks on a fire of found wood as the sun is setting, laughing, making lemonade from the lemons in life – and part of me says how lucky those kids are.

I talk to the woman – she has been in the state just over a year and tells me some of her life; “when you see me staring up in the sky at planes, you know i have been somewhere too long.” “If i were 40 again i would become a truck driver and see the country that way” – she smiles as she recollects the two years she rode with her son in his truck. I love to travel solo, but the world was not ready for me – different then – a woman travelling on her own. And i rejoice in the stories and a moment shared.
But that was last night and now it is morning.

I walked to Waldport on the beach, and back again – between 3-4 miles each way depending on which map you read. The tide was out and the beach was wide, and with the grey sky the winds of days gone by had mellowed into merely a breeze. As i walked i felt myself on the edge of the continent – wondering why with this immense land mass i cling to the edge – the edge where it descends into the sea, another world not for us humans to live – a different place where i or others will never truly understand. and i thought of the gulf coast and imagined the oil slick and the animals and life that was suffering there and i prayed. Then i turned the corner into the small alesea bay, up towards the town and i realized that the ground or sand i was walking on had been part of that other world, under the water, just a few hours before and it would be again.

when i got to waldport i asked myself why? why had i come? as i know i have done time and time again. The sky was grey and the town felt empty and sad – as it had before from time to time. the resto with the fish and chips had changed hands and it was empty inside and many more places seemed empty or shut on the road that makes up the town. I sat by the bay with a weak coffee, and remembered my thoughts of earlier that day.

Thoughts of the return to the familiar – how i have done it once again, and i thought back to that time in monterey when i first was truly conscious of my tiredness of exploration and how i was doing so little of that anymore. The familiar – need not search out for much. you have an idea of what you will encounter – though it is never truly the same and what you had forgotten comes back and you see the sameness once again. And with the clouds of today the familiarity of the coast came back and Walport, the more blue-collar town – though that world doesn’t really exist out here anymore – with its flea market, and laundromat and wifi not to be found on a sunday with the library closed, made me think of robert and doing laundry on a cold rainy day, and my search for books, and how it seems to be more his type of town – life goes on – such a different vibe than yachats a mere 8 miles down the road, and where i sleep is in between the two, and i feel that way myself. then i went into Rays, the grocery store, more down to earth, with much lower prices, and friendly service all around; they were cooking chicken in the deli, and put aside a piece for me upon my return. and it is the genuine kindness of the place i will remember – though i know it can hold back as well.

I walk through the town one last time before heading back to camp – i feel sad, nothing here for me, as i go through this small town. I walk on back, the tide’s coming in, so i walk down the highway a bit, a half a mile to where i can cut down to the open beach again. The miles seem longer going this way, the return to my place a more arduous journey. The day had warmed up and i am hot and feel sweat before i remove a layer, and i am carrying a few extra pounds of food. My legs feel heavy and i am hungry for i did not eat in town – i can wait i say until i get back to camp. I walk houses in view, but the small headland is not the one i thought – still one more to go, and i want to sit and rest on one of the few logs. a group is when i left them, playing croquet or something similar, a few hours before, seeming the same and i think all that has passed through me in the few hours since i came the other way. I am almost there – my feet are hot – and i take off my boots and walk barefoot in the sand – and how much freer i feel and a patch of blue grows in the sky. I walk across the parking lot, the uneven concrete felt upon my bare feet.

At times i dream of cities or larger small towns – but what am i to do and how am i to survive there? I think of the kids i saw by the bench where i smoked on my way out of waldport – young with huge sleeping bags and ragtag gear making their way on down the coast. And how it is a kinder, gentler life out here. And i remember that roadtrip with robert, after we left this place for i just had to get out, hiding away in a motel room feeling like i was shrinking everyday – a trip to the inner lands – the valleys of california, arizona, new mexico and beyond, with some such hard-scrabble trailer small towns – beaten down with a harsher glare – that we passed though, and at times it seemed not quick enough – and now as i type i remember there was kindness there too, at least in many places. and in waldport too are the posters “meth kills” and the vibe of the kids who hang out behind the store. But here the strange health food/pet food store has expanded and moved across the street – not better times but cheaper rent so i was told as the storefront where it once was sits vacant – just up a bit from the drive through espresso stand.

I come back to camp and talk to a new arrival – a guy on a bike riding north against the winds; a circle around the country he hopes, started in Florida a year ago – the winter spent in colorado. he goes off to scavage free firewood. The kids who were here yesterday have also stayed and have a tinny radio with hard rock on low volume that sounds like it comes from headphones that bleed. i get agitated, and then i say to myself, this is all our place too and moments later go on over and talk to them. she has gone off, but i ask him where their journey goes – on foot as well and i am curious – started in Astoria a few days ago – packs too heavy – his almost 100 pounds, and walk and hitch as well – hope to make it to Maine, may take a couple of years with the winter down south – texas or so where family is – day four of the trip now and hopes are high. I think of my old dreams of crisscrossing the country that way – dreams that sometimes come to mind until i put on my pack and stand on the road and then long for a place to stay. Sun comes out and i take a nap as showers are being cleaned – and i forget the radio and when i get up it is off as it is for rest of the day.

It is another day and the sky is grey once again after the brief respite of yesterday’s late afternoon sun. And this is familiar – too familiar as the greyness seeps into me. The robins still sing so why not i?

But coming back to familiarity, that comfort we crave, the knowing of where one may stop, find a bathroom or a bite to eat. but there is the other side too, both the joys and the sorrows that come back in – and all is simultaneously as one remembers and so different too – not just the fact that a store has moved, or the sunset is different each day, but of that landscape inside, brought back in time, yet incorporating, however buried, all that has happened in between – but it takes time for that in between to arise again, because for a moment, be it a short or long one, one is thrust back into time, into the place that one was.

The feeling of loneliness arises again today – a feeling that has been gnawing at me out here on this coast – or maybe everywhere i go.
The wind blows down and the highway – the 101 – runs north to south, nestled between the waters and this narrow strip of land – movement – up, down, passing through. I think there is a reason why this land is so sparsely populated and it feels lonely here – and maybe that is what i have felt before. Yes the calm and the beauty draw me in, but then that loneliness seeps in – and maybe that is why people reach out. Or become hunkered down under the skies when they cry endlessly, bracing against the winds.

And once again i feel the need to rejoin the rest of humanity – the slowness enters in and i want to reach out and dance with others – to step out of this cocoon i have wrapped myself in. To engage in life, but what does that mean? and just how to connect – for here i meet others with stories, those which i feel inside. And i wonder what is the me – the i – who is she – already i forget that person who existed but a week ago in eugene and i wonder why she thought as she did – but veils have already been draped, and events and peoples and memories have been revisited so many times, the story line altering a bit each time, and i wonder what was, what was merely part of the script i wrote, and what is now just part of the story i write. but as i reflect back, to then and so many other times since i have last been here, i remember the people, the teachers in life, and all i had to learn and give – and i did not always see the lessons, and my face in the mirror, and did not see what i gave or failed to give in return as well. and i thank those teachers – the people passing through – for though nature and solitude have taught me well, and given a quiet to incorporate lessons from more hectic times, it is from one another we learn and grow.

Roads lead inland, over the mountains to another valley more unknown to me, and over more mountains to a world beyond. and what is it that holds me back – has my life become stuck upon the groove, to take one of them, or is it fear or the knowing that i cannot run away from the lessons i have to learn. It is cool and damp and i must soon pack up my tent and venture on up the road – when will i turn to join the dance of life once again.

The sun came out as i packed up camp and i remembered the joys off this place. earlier i remembered a time a few years back taking down a soggy tent with one glove on and wondering where the second had gone. i was late – almost noon as i prepared to leave, and the south tempted me once again – and i remember the last time here – the man walking with his cat and how the sky turned to blue and i decided to walk down that way. And the temptation arose but it was late in the day – and it made me wonder (again) if i came out to florence this time hoping for a miracle, a rescue of sorts, as i had been “rescued” last time – the solo journey south aborted there, and i stood on the road not wanting to go to Eugene. He appeared and the story has unfolded and i am back here alone, coming out from eugene as i had on my first camping trip to this coast.

but as i stepped on the lonely road to wait for the bus, i felt lonely again. and the sun is out and the wind is up and i send this from the library in waldport – on monday and there is wifi. and i head up to newport for a day or two and another chapter to be written.

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I don’t know if this trip came easily or if it was hard. In one way it took me four months, one relationship and many thousands of miles to get here, and in another, it happened instantaneously in a single day. And the decision to come here was not all that clear. But looking back i know i was meant to come, not for an event that happened in the city, but of a decision i made on where to leave to – a decision that opened a new chapter of my life.

In some ways this journey started in Alaska, and with decisions i made, and did not make the summer i spent there. All i knew i that i no longer wanted to travel aimlessly, and when i left at the end of September, i never imagined that i would come back here. That summer is another chapter yet to be written, but one like many others ending with a future barely planned and a destination unclear. I thought of going to many locales, Hawaii, Colorado, or back to the Northwest. And as usual when uncertain, i turn back to paths i have tread before, and headed back to Seattle, out of which i had flown, and to where tickets were cheap, another point on a circle returned to yet again.

I spent no time in the city but went out to camp on the Olympic Peninsula. After a few days of more camping in the rain, i “realized my folly” and thought to go to Colorado, where i imagined maybe i could work for the winter, and to where cheap tickets could be found. That time is another entry of decisions and circumstance, but the road called me, i went down to Oregon, one last time i said. Another plan was in my mind to check out a few other towns, and also i had not lived my dream of walking and taking transit all the way down the coast, at least as far as Crescent Beach. I was wavering, i was unclear, but slowly i journeyed down. And my intension to make my way south to San Francisco was made late one morning in Yachats, Oregon – the library with a computer where i could book a ticket to Colorado, opened an hour later than i thought, and i would barely make the bus back up north, So i decided to walk on south. But that snap decision, made sitting on a log by the shore, brought a new adventure, and changed my life some more. And now that i sit here and write, i realize how many small decisions took me to that time and place, and the decision i made that day. I never made it down by bus and foot, but that is even a longer story. I arrived in San Francisco four months later, from the south, having travelled thousands of miles and having my beliefs, dreams, and emotions turned every which way, inside and out.

The day i actually arrived here, I came up here from Washburn campground, between Cambria and San Simeon, from that area below Big Sur to just south of Morro Bay, that had been my home for about 6 weeks, and almost all 2009. The story of how i got there is long and complicated, but the morning i left, the doors opened up and i made my way here almost seamlessly. As if i was meant to come that day.

I arrived to Morro Bay with Robert on January 3rd, the first two days of the new year spent driving madly from Elephant Butte and Santa Fe, New Mexico back out to the California coast. We camped together one night at Washburn early in the month, but this time i was there camping on my own. I had not liked th e campground when the two of us had been there, too open with too few smaller trees, and a long walk down a hill to the shore. I pushed us to leave never imagining i would find myself back there. But our trip had been stressful, our differences shown, and on one fateful warm sunny morning in Plaskett Creek on Big Sur, all came to a head, we got in yet another fight, i went too far, and he drove away to look at the sea (in Oregon). And so Washburn at San Simeon was the campground i made it to when i hitched out of there a few days later.

So the Washburn primitive campground at San Simeon State Park would be my home for 10 days and then another 7. And it became my home indeed, a place of rest, or recollection, and a place where i came to see the many angels in our lives. The first angel picked my up thumbing on the 101 and drove me all the way down, though his stop was really miles above, to catch a woman also named alice, who i met and sent her love. He drove me to town to the grocery store, said he need to shop (though he picked up just a few quick items), and then to the primitive campground up at the top. And there many people were so good to me, from some who gave me lifts to town, to the camp hosts and the park ranger, some of the fellow campers who were staying there with no place else to go, to the ex-police chief from mormon utah who found me my first lift out, was concerned for me a woman camping in a tent alone and there without a car, and Ron who drove me out of Washburn when i had originally thought to go back to San Francisco.

But i was not ready to leave, still in shock and feeling so lost, San Francisco just a place that came to mind, a familiar place to go back to, so when Ron suggested splitting the costs of the more expensive campsites in Morro Bay, i rejoiced at the opportunity. We shared a site for a week, him in his beat up old van and me in my little dome tent, sharing morning coffee, and a chat in the evening for a week, until one day the site we were on had been reserved, so we went back up to San Simeon, and the primitive campground at Washburn where i stayed just over a week.

Yes, I spent a month lost, not knowing what to do, just living day by day – slow walks to town to buy groceries and more walks on the beach, meditating and reading and taking life in stride. I also felt that i had stepped so far outside, sneaking showers at the pricier campground down below, days unbathed, boiling water for coffee in a scratched dollar store teflon frying pan and so accustomed to living outside, could i ever now make it back to the norm. But with the help of the angels, and the nature of the coast, i slowly came more alive. The stories of that time and the people and that place are valuable and many, and need to be told more elsewhere. And though i grew in my time there, seeing angels around, and a base in myself, the rains were coming in heavy and steady and i had to go.
The weather in early ’09 had been variable to say the least, from record hot sunny days, to periods of rain which turned to snow on the hills just above. The rains were coming in and the ground was becoming saturated, unable to absorb anymore. i had been in the campground for quite a while and my time was running out. A place where i had found peace, and a place where i did grow, but again a place i was not meant to stay.

How was i going to get out i asked myself, major storms were coming through, weather alerts all around. to go to the hostel there with its lockout? The hotel prices had skyrocketed for the weekend. i had been thinking san francisco off and on for maybe a week or several days – not a place of desire, or a place to be, but a major hub around, and i really saw nothing there for me, but then again, i did not see anything anywhere for me.

I barely slept that night planning to make my way out on the bus. Late that night a van pulled in shining its bright lights on my tent – a trailer different from the rest – created for the outback in australia. In the morning, a twenty something with dreads emerged and a curiosity and strange bond arose in me. we said hello and a little while later Ron came by and asked him where he was going. San Francisco or Monterey, and offered me a lift later in the day.

So that intention put out four months or so before, let me to san francisco – a circuitous journey and as i think of it, what felt like 10 years lived in four months, and age me it did do, older, wiser and more worn down. And that morning, valentines day, i was on my way up there.

God smiled, and the rains held off for the morning, and i was able to dry out my tent, and pack my stuff without all getting wet. We left mid-day for the drive up Big Sur, that scenic drive on the coast. We chatted a bit, he going north from LA back to his family, his business had crashed, designing specialty outback trailers, and he was going home for what he hoped would be just a little while. The sky opened up, rain poured down, bouncing back off the ground just as we passed Plaskett Creek. We stopped for coffee at almost $3 a cup on the way, he got a call and said he would have to stop in Monterey and would drop me at the hostel there.

When we got to Monterey the sun was out again. The traffic was heavy, and we both felt overwhelmed. i did not know it was the weekend of the major golf tournament. I had not called for reservations, and we found the hostel was booked full for the weekend. I breathed deep, and he agreed to drop me back off downtown – i guess i would go to San Francisco after all. The Amtrak bus to San Jose no longer stopped at the place it had a year before. I looked at the schedule and saw that it was due in just a few minutes, i walked up to the transit plaza, backpack on my back, and a policecar slowed to look at me. I made it to the stop a minute after the last bus for the day was to leave, but thankfully it was a few minutes late. It took me up to San Jose where i caught the Caltrain into the city and saw couples with flowers and remembered it was Valentine’s Day. I had no reservations, and it was evening when i arrived, but my hostel of choice, the city centre had plenty of room, and the rains did not begin until the next day.

I remember little of that time here, but i know i slept in a real (bunk) bed, alone – first time in a long while, and took a bath and washed my clothes and spent time in the library and walked around, and cooked full meals involving several burners on a real stove. The rains lasted several days, but the storm on Big Sur and below did not cause the landslides they feared.

I came down to the hostel at fort mason after a few days, still not knowing where i would go. The weather turned nicer, that i know, for sun was out the day i walked in the Marina district, and took the first cash advance on the visa card, taking money from my dad. I also know that i went to Ocean Beach and spent a day in Golden Gate Park with a guy i met who live there – yes in the park, a secret shrub, where he had spent much of the past two years. I had sat on a bench to eating a snack and he came up and talked to me – i remember his eyeglasses with bright blue safety pins – and something striped that he wore. He was schitzo he said, cut off from his family, his disability check mailed to them and they sent him the cash, just enough to get by, and from the amount he quoted, i could tell, they kept some behind for themselves. We talked of journeys, he’d travelled around, of retreat centres and energy. i met him another day outside his safety zone, for a coffee up on van ness another area i had never been, we spoke of life and became increasingly paranoid, feeling the edgy vibes of those who walked determinedly were directed at him. From our previous conversations i believed that he saw auras and human energy, but like so many in our culture had never learned to work with the perception he had, and then saw it all directed at him. I never saw him again but he sticks with me, for i had seen so many just like him, whose gifts in seeing more were dishonoured and denied, and rather than being a blessing, to be nurtured and refined, had it turn into a nightmare, distorted by the pain of having it denied.

Now sometime in my week or so here, i had picked up the free new age magazines from the boxes on the street. This is something i do all the time so there is nothing special about it per se. But as i browsed through i saw the ad once again for Harbin Hotsprings – hotsprings, yoga, meditation, sound and more with camping at a great price. now i had seen the ad a year before and it called out to me. Like many other retreat centres, of new age and alternative health and spirituality i was drawn to them but did not give myself permission to go. I almost went in 2008, but became afraid, and convinced myself it was too cold to camp and worried about the clothing optional policy. I had been looking at retreats for several years, yearning, but told myself no.

But this time, i dared to take a chance, i really had nothing left to lose. I would go though it was colder out than it had been the year before, but i was toughened up by 8 months of so of mainly living outside. I delayed leaving by a day, that is for sure, went with hesitation, but left to there, taking the ferry across the bay and a long bus ride up through wine country. And so began a period of healing and opening up, and trying to live – a spiraling circle that has brought me back here.

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I am getting soft, no longer as tough as i once was, as i became. I have been sleeping in beds and in warmth and no longer want to go back outside. I wish to avoid the cold, the hardness of the ground, and can not imagine living as i once did. I am longer prepared, and i am getting tired and old.
I no longer have the tools i once did – the tent is gone, the sleeping pad too. My bag is getting thin and another strap on my bag broke off too. I imagined Alaska and remembered it too, and then said the time for travel is over, and i just want to write.

I have felt that way but god puts me on the move. the places are booked, and i may sleep outside. I pray that i can do it, for earlier today, i told myself, that time is over, it has passed you by. But now so much seems blocked, and i have nowhere to go.

I survived one night out in the cold, but now i sit inside on a soft cushioned chair dreading the night that lay ahead. I slept last night, and sleep i did, listening to the sound of the rushing creek and feeling the fresh mountain air. At times i woke, feeling the hardness of the platform that lay beneath, no cushioning for my bones, and turned my head from side to side, my knapsack making a lumpy pillow. I adjusted the emergency blanket of silver reflective plastic, hearing its crackle as i moved it over my sleeping bag. And i felt the plastic of the tarp i bought, that lay directly over my head. Still the morning came, and i had slept and could sleep some more under the warmth of the sun, but my bladder called once again and i rose to greet the day. My knee hurt a bit from where it pressed down into the wood, my neck a bit kinked, but i was fine. And i started to wonder, is sleeping outside really that bad. But the night was fine, it did not rain, and frost or thick dew did not appear upon the ground as i heard it did the day before.

The times before when i was here, i slept outside as well. Once on the platform just next door, when the creek rushed even more. I had my tent, my home back then, but still i shivered in the night. I was tougher then, at least i think, more used to sleeping out in the cold. My tent was dry, and a blanket i borrowed, and slept well for much a time. I came back later, but it was June, and slept outside too. I no longer have that tent, or the thin thermarest below and my bones are starting to feel old.

She said to me your face seems different and others have told me that too. Am i calmer as they say, or am i feeling drained? The answer i believe is both, I went to yoga today, and she remembered me well, and i realized i have changed over the year. My body moved more easily, many kinks removed. I felt more calm, more serene and i realized i have let go. I feel the energy processing through, no longer as stuck in muscles and joints though still stiff in many places. But i feel tired as well, as if the energy is slipping away and I no longer as tough as i once did before.

Still the road no longer calls, and it did not then either, when i arrive in this place the first time over a year ago. I have gone in a circle but it is a spiral. I remember the mess that i was then, and the effects that wandering has. I have seen it on the streets as i have travelled for the past few weeks, and do not feel the strength to head out there. I feel the time is now, to set it all down, the stories of the road trips i have had.

The fresh air upon my face, the stars in the sky and the sound of the night bring me peace. The movement and searching i no longer seek. Still the rains will come and it will be time to move, to where i do not know. I have gotten soft, or maybe i am just getting old. But can i remain in the softness of the chair?

I slept another – or tossed and turned in the night. i can feel the effects of the hardness creeping up in my shoulders and back, still i return for one more night. But i am getting soft, and do not know if i can become hard again.

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