State of the Hobo Lifestyle

It's been a while since I've written, in this gap I've gone mad, dollarful, dollarless, high and enlightened - from Phoenix to Vegas to Utah and up and down California, in various sequences, and to where I am now, the place I first left to embark on this Hobo Lifestyle, New York City.

A more detailed account of these events is something I'll get to writing eventually, I've noted the subtleties of the day to day, every day, but this will be a jist of what's been going on.

I left off getting as I got back from Mexico and had a short stint in Phoenix thereafter, with Vegas as my next destination. The hitch up was a good one, watching the most impressive lighting storm through the windshield of the pickup truck that had stopped to give me a lift for the majority of miles. The Vegas trip was like many in the past, I met Candice and some others from around Salt Lake, lots of drunken stories up and down the town, ending with me riding out with a few hundred dollars more to show for it.

A few of us went camping in southern Utah for a night before continuing up to Salt Lake City. A day or so there and I was thumb out heading west towards northern California. A few decent rides and one really long one brought me in, finally settling me in on a marijuana farm where I'd stay for the next month. I had a parked RV to myself as a place to sleep, I spent the days watching the plants - watering, fertilizing, finding bugs who were set on destroying the plants and whatever else was needed to make things go smoother. At nights I'd stay up watching a security monitor and listening for the dogs, great dogs, to ensure that no one was attempting to rip off the place.

I also brewed my own beer in this time, it was about the longest I'd stayed put in one spot in years, so I took advantage. Harvest finally came around and the trimming began, a group of us cut away the excess, basically making the buds look nice for whoever it was who would wind up smoking them. Marijuana is legal in California, among a slew of other states, for medical patients.

I was getting itchy for certain, being confined geographically. In all that time I only made one short trip to see my friends Aaron and Jessica in Sacramento, which included a day trip to the casino in Tahoe where we bet on football and I made a little extra cash at the craps table.

My last night near the farm was at a big party, Candice has just got to town as well. In the morning we headed further west and north to another farm where we both trimmed for a week or so more, actually at a couple different places.

The idea then was to go to San Francisco in time for the Halloween mayhem. As it turned out, we wound up just south of the city on the 31st in a house by ourselves, the girl who lived there was out of town and had arranged for us to pick up her keys so we could stay the night. With the night getting towards the peak, Candice was tired from a mostly sleepless night before where we'd slept in her car on a side street close by. She finally decided to turn down the few parties and options we had in favor of her air mattress. Determined for some sort of anything on this anticipated Halloween night, I walked out for a six pack at the nearby grocery store, kicking back only a couple on my own before slumping into the sofa.

We parted ways in the morning with an ending she called "bitter", empty at least. I found myself standing next to the on ramp of a freeway pointing south, my possessions on my back, feeling unfinished and uncertain about this new direction, but unable to replace it with a different destination. A short ride took me less than five miles where I waited with similar thoughts. I waited more and more, my thumb suggesting I wanted a ride, my mind suggested otherwise.

The sun came down, I debated various spots to camp, I even stopped in a hotel and asked about the rate for a night and got a ridiculous answer that kept me thinking of other options. An ounce of pot was packed tight in my bag, a slight concern when considering possible police reactions to a hitchhiker or an urban camper. I walked far down the side street loosely following the freeway, at last settling in a thick patch of bushes near an on ramp further south.

I woke up feeling surprisingly clear and refreshed, despite the air traffic coming from the adjacent airport throughout the night. I made my way to Bakersfield by nightfall, about 8 rides all together from a mix of interesting, generous and quirky people, along with some walking and back tracking down through California.

I spent a couple nights in town at Kindra's place before getting on the road again, Oceanside being the destination where my brother was now living. I got a solid ride straight through LA to where I needed to be, and wound up spending a few nights or more at my brothers place. It was nice to catch up with him and enjoy some good times, including a couple brewery trips to Green Flash and Stone.

I caught word that a couple friends would be in Vegas, I'd already been considering going there to make a move. I have student loans that add up to be a lot, it's about the only reason I tend to try and gamble my way into a position to be done with them, but this sin city trip, like a few others, would prove to reverse any progress with this.

Rides were slow going, but as the sun went down I got picked up by a guy from Belgium who was in the US for the first time on a 2 week trip that started in Austin and would end in New York City, now he was going to Vegas. I was able to get a free hotel room at the Luxor through the complimentary offers I frequently get via email, I offered him this place to stay which thrilled him, as well as saving him some cash and hassle of staying at a hostel somewhere.

We quickly got to doing Vegas, drinks and gambling, I met up with my friends who were in town next door at the Mandalay Bay. It was a wild night of this general craziness and so went Vegas. Six days later they were long gone, as well as the guy from Belgium, as well as my money, I was staying at the Excalibur at this point. My things scattered about the room, piles of change and dollar bills floating around, a small cheap out-of-tune guitar laying on the bed I'd won by throwing a whiffle ball in a basket. A miscommunication had me charging things to my room, mainly great beers from the burger bar, that wouldn't be complimentary after all. This little issue would drain the modest reserve of funds I had on my paypal debit card.

Days earlier my mom had gotten me an early Christmas gift of sorts, a plane ticket to NYC so I could be around for the coming holidays. I looked forward to that, and to the excitement brewing around my friends in Astoria and the recent growing success of their music.

I checked out early that last morning, my debit card just a few dollars shy from being able to cover the bill, a folded up invoice wedged in my pocket to consider later. I made the walk to the airport a few miles away, gently strumming my cheap, or perhaps very expensive, guitar. I'd sadly flushed that ounce of pot I'd been carrying around, it was some of the best I'd seen, but there was little other choice with the plane ride ahead and a lack of a better owner to be found before departing.

The plane bounced me to Albuquerque, Chicago and finally Queens. The M60 bus was a short trip from the airport to the familiar cross streets of Astoria Blvd and Steinway, as I walked up the block to my old apartment, Carl was on the street just off the stoop ready for a smoke. I caught up with him with an obligatory shot of rum. We then relaxed with some neighbors the building watching the fight, live from Vegas of all places, enjoying wine and laughter before all but myself headed to sleep.

I was up for a bit, and as I guessed, I soon heard feet stomping up the stairs and the drunken fiddling of keys at the door, it was Mark. After hysterically falling to the ground in the humor of the scene, he ran to the bathroom for a long pee he'd been anticipating for longer than a subway from manhattan. Before even saying too much, we knew we needed a six pack. With both of us near broke, Mark dumped a coin jar on the coffee table as I emptied my pockets and reached in the recesses of my backpack for spare change. We laughed $6 together and ran to the corner store with handfuls of nickels, dimes and quarters, grabbing a six pack from the amused, yet not surprised guy behind the counter who knew Mark's habits well by this point.

We stayed up a long while catching up on the times since I'd last took off from Portland and into Canada, the beers and a couple shots fueled the night until something like 6am rolled around.

Here I am, New York City, the intention to be more or less in this area through Christmas. My idea is to spend the time enjoying the music scene, improving Trip Hopping and doing a lot involving beer tasting and brewing. It should be productive and above all, good times.