Down around San Diego, Family and Brews

After good times in Sacramento for beer week, I was ready to head on down the state towards San Diego. Jess dropped me off in Elk Grove on her way to work; a police car lurked down the road from the on ramp where I was dropped off, but they never bothered me.

A carpenter picked me up, out of work because of a back injury. He'd learned workman's comp law in order to deal with things and was now receiving a check every month as income. He took me along the road near a truck stop, suggesting I go in and ask around for rides, I instead opted to stay by the on ramp with my thumb. I stood there a while, then tried the other ramp, then back to the first, and finally started walking down the freeway with my San Diego sign.

I got picked up by a guy heading to Phoenix, it was a good long ride. He told me about his daughter being in his wife's custody and the legal battle around that, she'd apparently skipped town a number of times. He took a few phone calls with his mediator while we rode, he wanted nothing more than to spend time with his daughter.

He got us some jack in the box along the way, and even handed me $40 when he dropped me off where I-5 meets the 210, his turn off to Phoenix. I thumbed out from there until another guy picked me up, he had a laptop mounted between the driver and passenger seat. I talked with him through the LA traffic all the way down to the Laguna Beach area where he dropped me off.

I stood on the on ramp spinning my sunny San Diego sign, eventually getting picked up by a guy stoned out on pills, or at least that's what I imagined. He got me as far as San Clemente with few words. I flashed my sign by the freeway there for a bit, but it quickly got dark. I was close enough at that point though, my brother came and picked me up and we headed back to Oceanside.

First thing we did was go to an Italian restaurant he'd recently discovered, we had a big meal and some Stone IPAs, a perfect way to come to town. After watching a movie back at his place I passed out easily upstairs in my own little room.

The house was empty when I woke up, except for a couple dogs, Blake and his landlord/roommate were both at their jobs. I relaxed with tea, playing tug-a-war with the bigger dog here and again. Blake was home early afternoon and we went to Fudruckers for burgers, a chain I hadn't been to since I was much younger. We played video games a while too, something he said he'd been doing more of, then finally decided to go hit the night.

We made our way down to Stone Brewery, we had some beers and a great meal. In particular I had one beer from Stone called Sublimely Self Righteous, an amazingly interesting beer that's dark as dark gets, but smells like a flowery IPA, I loved it.

I had some leftover sausage the next morning from Stone, got a shower in, and then we hit the road again. We headed down to Ocean Beach in San Diego where we met up with Sean and Kelly, they were in town from New York. We had fish tacos, I enjoyed a Green Flash beer while Sean tried to enjoy an O'Douls, part of some 40 day stance against alcohol, to test his will I suppose.

I dipped my foot in the Ocean, then we headed to Kelly's family's place to relax. Blake and I enjoyed some beers, Sean puffed on a cigar, passing it around every so often, filling the air with smoke and conversation - conversation that didn't matter so much, it was just the kicking back together, only a Mark shy of feeling a full sense of home. After living on the go for almost three years, this has become my idea of home, being in the presence of my oldest friends and family.

We had a big meal and some more relaxation. As the night winded down, Blake eventually headed back to Oceanside and I hopped in the car with Sean and Kelly. They gave me a ride east a little ways to the town of Alpine, I had a couchsurfing host setup there to stay the night. I said my goodbyes to them, then hellos to the girl I'd be staying with, along with her baby girl and the girls daddy. I stayed up for a little while talking with her and doing shots of Southern Comfort, she claimed to hate the stuff and was eager to be done with the bottle.

The morning brought rain, stifling my hitchhiking agenda, I'd have to put off Phoenix until the next day. I stayed in the town of Alpine with my host and her daughter, reading and lounging the day away for the most part, napping in a comfy chair as they did in the other room midday. She made a big shrimp pasta dinner I enjoyed, we rested a while after that watching TV until sleep was the thing once more, in the morning I'd be thumbing out again in the Phoenix direction.