The Singing, Shaman Filled Road between Northern and Southern California

The time to leave Northern California finally came, I was out the door and backpacking down the street to the freeway once again. I stuck out my thumb, not far from Sierra Nevada's hop field, looking to begin my trek down California to see my brother in time for Thanksgiving.

I got a ride in no time catching a short ride from a guy who told me about his trafficking days, recently getting caught with a hundred pounds of grass in Arkansas. Trial was pending, but he wasn't too concerned, "at worst it'll be a year or two in minimum security prison, so nothing, and even that is unlikely."

He dropped me off 10 minutes down the road where he split off a different way. My next ride would be a good one, the car pulled into the shoulder and made room in the backseat for me. It was a couple who'd met in Africa on a Christian mission; the girl was a college student at UCONN and the guy was 10 years her senior, a surfer among other things.

They were both firey and full of life, they said the same for me as we swapped a few stories about travels. We cooked down the road, blasting music and singing into a microphone he had attached to a powerful battery operated amp. They kissed frequently in the throws of their newly sparked love, we swerved and sped through traffic as we continued south.

They dropped me off a couple hours south of Sacramento, but only after they said a prayer for me as we circled hands with eyes closed at the top of the exit ramp. We parted ways, them to the coast and eventually south to see family, me trotting down the ramp to the flow of traffic in the freeway in the last breath of the sun.

That breath expired in a matter of minutes, leaving me near invisible to speeding traffic with only a faint street light as exposure. I left the obscurity in favor for the top of the ramp, there was far less traffic of course, but I hoped that the slow cars pulling on to the freeway might be more opt to stop for me.

The cold crept in quickly, after some time with no rides I wandered to the nearby gas station, but returned to the ramp shortly. A police car guided a car into the shoulder nearby talking on their loud speaker instructing them to do so. Once the officer was done with this speeder, or whatever their offense, she drove by me only to speak through her loudspeaker, "Hitchhiking is illegal, stay off the freeway and find another place to hang out", she drove away as I scooped up my bag and started wandering off and looking around.

There was darkness in most directions, no sign of any town in walking distance, just the gas station truck stop, so that's where I wandered back to. I'd hoped there was a diner there to sit for coffee and test my luck in talking to a driver. No diner, I got a coffee and a bite to eat anyways and stood around, keeping my eyes open for someone who may be heading in the LA direction.

I discovered a lounge in the back, just a dark room with a big TV playing sports highlights. I made myself comfortable there, but I realized it was still quite early, the coming winter season and daylight savings time had significantly shortened the hitchhiking day.

All night and through the early morning I stayed in the room, I took the time to get some writing done, but other than that it was just me and various TV shows. I was surprised that I remained there undisturbed, not a soul came in the room for the solid 10 hours I was there, however I didn't get much sleep other than nodding out a couple times for next to no time.

After a snack and a cup of coffee I was out the door just as the world was lighting up again, just minutes before the sun itself could be seen poking over the horizon and into some stretched out clouds. I was down on the freeway, a simple jig and a smile to keep me warm, watching my breath blast through the cold. I was now armed with a huge cardboard sign with "Orange County" written on it.

A guy picked me up, citing the blistering cold as the reason why. He took me just a little ways, I was happy to be moving and out of the cold, feeling looser and as free as I ever had. He told me about his girlfriend in Vegas and about the first time he'd ever been to the city. It was a great story, walking out of a casino he had three dollar coins that were only good at that particular casino, he stuck them in a slot machine and miraculously won big, triggering a week long winning streak resulting in hookers, multiple hotel rooms on both ends of the strip, a motorcycle purchase and memories for a lifetime.

I stood at the next onramp, a nice curvy one with a big dirt pullout and steady traffic. My feeling of freedom grew stronger, my destination was fairly close and it was early in the day still. I sung the songs I like to sing, the pretty girls smiled at me and I hopped up and down enjoying the air. A white van soon arrived, a mystic of sorts with intriguing insight that further instigated some of my more recent ponderings of life.

He first shifted things around before opening the door for me, I got in and he introduced himself as Cirrus, lowering his sunglasses to make eye contact with me. He had medium length blonde hair, a mexican from the southern part of the country. After a story about police harassment and an upcoming court date for such things, he began talking about shamanism and various perceptions of life.

His journey had seemed to begun with a surfing accident, bleeding out on a reef alone when a woman had rescued him and nursed him to health for 17 days (meanwhile, friends and the community had found his broken surfboard and assumed the worst, he'd come back to civilization to find his own tombstone). This woman was a shaman of sorts, teaching him things and healing him with a touch.

He became frustrated with the woman and left, but later went back to her and became her student. He told me about this and natives, encouraging me to read up and learn more for myself. I remained mostly quiet, eager to let him tell me more, communication through listening, although I did share some things and had questions of course.

We ran through a lot of topics as we cruised south through LA, a couple things I'd been experimenting with like time travel and moving into other dimensions, concepts I was just recently grasping and he was going deep into before I'd even brought them up. He also talked about rights of passage in his culture that he took very seriously and adamantly said I wasn't ready for.

As we got even closer to Dana Point (where my brother lives, he was going further south still) he talked about his goal, or "the" goal, which is to be immersed in pure nature. We debated this a bit as I pressed him to define a line where nature ends and artificial begins. That line moved as we went back and forth, he cited things like "anything that has human influence in no longer natural". This was after I'd pushed the line when talking about bees pollinating and so forth, anyhow, an endless conversation that leads to in a multitude of different directions. "Making love in the wilderness" was his only direct example of this pure natural state, further arguable, but agreeable in the sense of satisfaction anyway.

After this journey through spirituality and philosophy, we were in Dana Point, he drove me to my brothers house via some u-turns and back and forthing due to my poor directions, but it didn't take long, I was hopping out of his car and to my brother's new place for good times involving Thanksgiving the next day and great beer throughout.