Needed Break on a Road to Greener Pastures (Doree Days - Part 5)

It was time to take a break from the big boat for a familiar harvest time trip to Northern California. Other than the year prior to this one, I'd been heading in that direction like clockwork to visit friends and make essentially my year's worth of funds.

The boat days were showing signs of wear and stagnancy, so I was particularly excited to make my escape for a while.

After spending the better part of the day sanding this and scraping rust off of that, Jake and I took the dinghy over to the dock where the showers were. On the way back we were stopped by the harbor patrol.

No registration for our dinghy, no proper tags. They gave us a bit of a talking to and cited that they'd dealt with this dinghy before, probably with Mitch, the owner. They were aware of the Doree and seemed to speak of it like the Dennis The Menace of the harbor. We'd indeed been shouted at before while working on the boat about flying paint chips and other such things. The dinghy itself was obviously not tagged, on top of that we had no light on nights we were shuttling back and forth. We were running out of warnings.

Good timing to get moving. I grabbed my pack , we scanned the water up and down for the harbor patrol and raced over to the dock where Jake dropped me off on shore, ready for something new.

After hours of navigating through the transfers of buses and trains in the chaotic Southern California landscape, I arrived in Hollywood to my sister's place. Earlier on the train I must've looked pretty dingy and beat, a guy had randomly handed me a bag of pity Cheetos. My clothes were in fact pretty stained with a month's worth of the boat's sanding, paint and grease. All told after paying for the various pubic transit I was also sitting on just coins and one crumbled dollar bills to call my net worth. But I was moving again.

I spent the next day in Hollywood running around checking things out. My sister was going to school for acting and had a performance that night, so I was staying to see that before getting on the road.

The next morning I got going, northbound to the greener California. I hadn't stuck my thumb out in a month and this day wasn't about to shine on me. It equated to a bunch of walking, onramp to onramp as I gave it a shot, finally getting a ride from a Hawaiian woman, but not all that far north.

I waited and waited until the damn sun was getting as low as it gets, too far from my sister's without being that far at all. I took advantage of my phone and hopped on couchsurfing.org to post to the group of the nearby neighborhoods, sure enough I got a message from someone in no time.

A guy and a girl came and scooped me up, they lived south of where I was now, basically in the direction of my sister's place...

Despite the slow day (I could have walked further then how far I'd gotten), the night turned out pretty good. This couchsurfing couple took me to the best beer bar they knew about and filled me with bar food and amazing beer. Once back at their house they had even more amazing beer, including Oaked Aarogant Bastard in one of the giant bottles with a lock and key. I was happy.

In the morning they dropped me off on the highway for another attempt on getting north to Humboldt. The day started slow again with light rain here and there. A long walk, a two mile ride, another walk, another wait, another long walk and then finally a ride to Santa Clarita. From there I got a ride from a woman heading just over the grapevine.

We cruised with friendly conversation and she offered to take me back to her place for a quick bite to eat. She lived some twenty or thirty minutes off the freeway and I knew all together I'd lose an hour or two of the day's moving opportunity, especially with it getting later now, but after the long day of walking without much movement I was thought chilling out and filling by stomach would be a good idea.

We cruised through the countryside up to her property where her husband was already home, intrigued to meet this traveler taking a break from the road. We shared some stories while they cooked up some pizza.

Eventually they gave me a ride back to the highway, along with a little jar of weed infused coconut oil. The timing on the gift was funny, seeing as I was heading to the land of weed and would soon be knee deep in the stuff for some time.

I did manage to catch one last ride that day from a trucker all the way up to Patterson, less than a hundred miles south of Sacramento.

The next day I started getting some more rides. First a guy going to Oakland who took me to the highway split, another short ride from a guy going to Yosemite, then an "it's all about the love" guy up to Stockton. After seeing another hitchhiker at the ramp where he dropped me I took a walking detour through some dirty neighborhoods to get to the next ramp and got picked up by a hitchhiking friendly guy to the north end of town.

From there I got the ride that I was looking forward to most, the one that got me north of Sacramento, as Sacramento can sometimes be a black hole. He was handyman kinda guy who's last story before dropping me off was that of building a big riding sex machine he called a Sybian and hod he'd get all kinds of girls coming to his place just for the experience.

After that was a ride from a mostly toothless guy holding a small dog, he was heading just shy of Redding. We stopped at one point for gas, then getting back on the highway we saw two girls.

"You're lucky there's room for all of you, or I'd have to be kicking you out to make room for them!", he told me. He'd already been talking girls and even had some stories of girls he'd picked up hitchhiking.

The two street girls crammed into the truck, they were also heading to the little town of Willow Creek for the harvest. They just recently bailed from some ride, a guy had made a pass at them or at least hinted at something and they weren't having it, apparently throwing rocks at the guys cars when he drove away.

The three of us were dropped off at a desolate exit about fourteen miles shy of Redding and the junction road heading west towards Willow Creek. There was already another lonely hitchhiker waiting on the ramp as well. Rather than waiting around with the sun getting low for him and the rest to get a ride I did what I always do and most other hitchhikers tend to avoid, I walked directly down to the shoulder of the freeway and started walking.

I didn't manage to score a ride in the last bit of daylight, of which there was only a half hours worth, so I walked off the next exit to find some food and have a thought. Looking at my map I saw there was a frontage road that ran parallel to the freeway which looked like it had some options for camping along the way. After my luck in California I decided I'd also post to the Redding couchsurfing group in case there was a hero waiting in the wings.

I got to walking, thumbing headlights and mostly looking ahead for a suitable place to tuck away. After some time I got to a spot where the road bridged over a dried up creek and decided this was home for the night. I unpacked my bivy sack, got my camp all set up and crawled into my sleeping bag. Just right then my phone buzzed with an email, a message from a guy in Redding from couchsurfing willing to pick me up.

I gave him a call as I scrambled all my gear back in my backpack and got back to the road. Soon enough he caught up to me and I was hopping into his car. He was a big dude, an ex-cop about 40 years old with a happy-go-lucky-starting-a-new-life kind of attitude. We went out for a beer and then headed back to his place where I was happy to have my own bed in my own room, a step up from my spot under the bridge.

In the morning we talked over coffee for what was probably a couple hours about all kinds of things. He'd recently been divorced and was embracing the opportunity to start a whole new life, which included picking up on things he'd put off or compromised out of his life in the start.

He drove me to the edge of town, then a little further still to get past another slew of hitchhikers who'd already claimed the spot. There were three or four of them with a couple dogs to boot. Harvest time in California brings out all kinds of people hitching there way around in hopes of finding trim work.

I got myself a ride after a while from a woman for a short way, then an older man to French Gulch and then one more ride from a girl from Chico to another junction as it was already threatening to start getting dark. I was determined to make it to Willow Creek by night though, as the drive there from Redding is not that far really. A minivan delivered, a self proclaimed socially awkward guy who was heading to the coast. He had halitosis, a bad breath disease that he said crippled his self confidence, he even cited a girlfriend who ultimately broke up with him saying she could just no longer tolerate it.

The front seat was covered so I was riding in the far back, so I never experienced his life altering breath, but I was happy he got me to Willow Creek. I made a phone call and soon I was riding deep into the Humboldt abyss to the sanctuary in the woods.

I spent the next week and a half amongst some familiar and some new faces, clip clip clipping away. The couple who owned the spot, and their giant dog I always looked forward to seeing, were mostly absent. They were living on the coast now with their newborn and only dropped in a couple times. I'd missed out on the season the year before being overseas and had been looking forward to seeing them, but the scene had change a bit in just a couple years.

Finally the day came where I was done, happy with the money I'd earned and ready for a change in my day to day. Even with the threat of rain, I got a ride down the hill, cashed up, a substantial pot stash and now with Chico and Sacramento friends on my mind before descending back down California to the boat.

I got a ride back to town where I stuck my thumb out - one short ride, then another from an Arcata crab fisherman right as the heavy rain was picking up. That ride got me to Red Bluff where I caught one last ride to Chico, soon in the warm house of Donna. Beer, wine, delicious dinner and several other good friends popping in and out, the way of the Donna house.

I stayed in Chico a few more days or so. The first day I helped out and then made the needed visit to Sierra Nevada Brewery. That night I visited another friend, Kerry, and flirted with her sort of roommate, a girl living in her trailer in the driveway, Natalie.

A couple nights later I was with Kerry and managed to use a coat hanger to break into her friends car, she locked the keys inside. I went with them and some other friends to watch them during a story telling contest at a coffee shop. That night we all went back to Kerry's for some drinks. As the night was closing I was set up perfectly and left to join Natalie in her trailer as everyone else was calling it a night. We talked and watched a movie laying in her bed before falling asleep, or rewritten, I blew it like a shy dumbass. I'd apologize to her days later, simply for the obviousness of the blunder.

The next day even Natalie was the one to give me a ride to my friend's house in Sacramento, she had to drop a friend off down there at the airport anyway. This further rubbed it all in. I contemplated what should have been a night of discovering each other, a morning of smoothed out bliss with a pinch of absent awkwardness, and then the last horah in a friend's empty house before parting ways with words of a "maybe meet again soon, maybe not, ah, life is good".

I dropped the ball, but that just gets it rolling again. I still promised in my head to be less foolish in the future.

Beer soon filled the void, my next love. Aaron and Jess, my friend's I was staying with, had their Black IPA homebrew on tap. I got to that and soon some more beers, a trip to their favorite beer bar and back to the house for some more of everything and more friends all around.

I spent a couple more days with them in this fashion, but it was time to head back to the boat, back to the Doree. I'd made some spending cash and a smoking stash that I knew Jake would be more interested in than I would be, gotten some road time in and a much needed break from the boat. Now I was ready to get down there and hopefully set sail as soon as possible.

October 8, 2012 to October 28, 2012

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