California Cruising

Getting from Phoenix to California only took two rides, one from a concrete worker a few miles and the bulk of it from a guy heading to LA to get his passport. I spent the first few days in the state with my brother south of there, then started heading north.

My brother dropped me off in Victorville and I started hitching from there. I got the first little ways north from a guy in a jeep heading to Vegas. "I gave a lunatic a schnitzel", he told me when I thanked him for the ride, "He looked homeless and hungry, I like helping people out when I can".

Fair enough. I kept walking until I was running to catch up to a trucker that had slowed to a stop a ways up. The driver was heading far up north and then east into Nevada. We came up on Bishop by dark where I hopped out and stayed over night with a friend's brother she'd connected me with after discovering where I was.

In the morning, back on the road, I got a ride from a guy on his way to go skiing in Mammoth. Where he dropped me off I had a beautiful view of the snowy mountains to look at while I waited on the next ride. The next one was a good one, a guy going to Napa for probation that got me all the way up and over to the Sacramento suburbs where I met up with Aaron.

I stayed a few days with him and Jess brewing tasting beers all over town, including their garage homebrews on tap.

I aimed for Chico afterwards, walking out to the freeway hoping for any easy day of hitching. I got a ride a little ways to the northbound road from a standup comedian and kept walking from there. I came across a place called Boneshaker that Aaron had told me about, so I stopped in for a pint before continuing on. After that I only managed two more short rides that got me as far as Marysville by dark.

I walked and walked for hours along the dark road. It surely seemed like I wouldn't be getting any more rides, I was ready to camp, but there was absolutely nothing in terms of cover, all open fields. The only trees were either sparse and directly in front of houses, or those in perfect rows in the orchard.

Eventually I became so tired I decided I'd just go into the orchard and camp, hopefully waking up before the sun made me painfully visible to a potentially confused or angry property owner. I walked ten or fifteen rows in before I began unloading my gear to sleep. Suddenly I heard the fast sprinting of dogs coming for me, I stood still and braced myself for the attack trying to pinpoint their exact location and trajectory. The blazed right past me the next row of trees over and kept on going. I didn't know if they'd seen me, heard me, smelled me or if they were even going for me or some other motivation in the night. Either way, I was out of there.

Back on the road I plodded along. A good ways later I at last came to a spot where the road bridged over a little creek, just below there was thick bush and the perfect place for me to tuck away, even despite the thorny nature of these surroundings.

I woke in the morning still appreciate that I'd managed to find this spot and actually get some sleep. I was further rewarded by a quick ride once I was packed up and back on the road that took me straight to Chico.

I'd hang around Chico through Saint Patty's day, having delicious meals at Donna's and nights of darts and beers with other friends. I also went on a pretty nice hike near farmland with Donna and her poodle and would also make a nice Pi Day apple pie with her.

Chico is always a good stop on my travels, there's great friends there and an easy city to like, surrounded by and close to even more goodness. I'd discover one more great place nearby on this trip, a little town called Quincy a couple hours east.

That's where I headed next, it would be my last stop in California before heading back across the country towards Indiana. I found a couchsurfing host named George there who said I could stay a couple nights with him and his family while checking the place out.

Donna gave me a ride out of Chico a ways to the turn off towards Quincy for me to get started hitching. I got picked up quickly by a guy who handed me a can of beer to drink down for the short ways he was going, I walked a while from there until getting picked up by a couple who lived just up the road. We stopped in their house quickly where they made me up a couple sandwiches, then I walked down to the river with them where they filled up a jug with some soil they were going to later check for gold.

I parted with them there and started back down the road right as the rain picked up. I walked a good ways until getting to a big pull out I thought would be a good spot to get picked up. A cop came along to see what I was up to, "I can't give you a ride", he also told me.

"That's fine, I'm just coming from Chico", I smiled, "I hadn't expected it to rain at all, it was beautiful and bright over there, but I think I'm getting pretty close to Quincy, so it should be cool".

"Ah, hop on in, I guess I can get you to Belden", he said, changing his mind. I threw my bag in the back and hopped in the passenger seat as we cruised along. He told me stories of working the coast in California where he pulled bodies out of the water, victims of shark attacks. In more recent days he had stories of hanging from helicopters there in Northern California busting giant Mexican cartel marijuana grows in the National Forests. He seemed to like it OK, but said recently cartels were acting like police and "busting" rival cartels grows. This caused cartels to become much more cautious and suspicious when actual police were busting them, so instead of hiding their guns and putting their hands up, there would be occasional fire fights in the confusion.

We rolled right past Belden, he said he might as well give me a ride to the junction where he was turning left and I could hop out and catch a ride to the right, just some ten miles or less from Quincy. I thanked him for the ride and quickly caught another from a couple having their date night in Quincy.

They dropped me off right in front of the Pangaea, a cafe in town where I found Quincy reading at a table waiting for me. We chatted for a minute before heading back to his home where I met his mom and sister, both as friendly he was.

The house itself was a great big one full of thoughtful rooms and spaces, secret passages and even had a trampoline in the attic, which I fully enjoyed. George's dad had it built before his passing, he'd certainly done an awesome job. George took me over to the barn as well where the top floor was filled with books, thousands and thousands stacked on tables and boxes stashed away, many they hadn't even sorted through or had a chance to notice yet.

We spent the night telling stories of travels and adventure, also watching a movie projected on the wall he'd rigged up to view from the hot tub.

The next day George, his sister and I went into town to a couple coffee shops and the like before heading out to a hike along a beautiful river near town. We did a little driving around the area after so they could show me some more cool spots, I was starting to like Quincy pretty well.

Back at the house that night George taught me a bit about fencing, he had the gear and we battled proper out on the deck for a while. We talked more that night while he showed me videos of speed flying, one of his latest hobbies which was a bit like paragliding, but with a smaller sail that allowed you to cruise faster and closer to the ground, some people even did it on skis. It had my mind racing about rigging together an all-in-one backpack with such a feature.

Amy, George's sister, took me on a walk up and around the property, up on a high hill and showed me where George planned to build a small little lookout structure, it seemed like a pretty cool hideout idea to me.

By the afternoon George was ready to head to Reno to take care of some things, so I took the opportunity to get a head start on my trip eastbound where I was looking forward to seeing Marilyn again in time for the Indiana beer festival. I wanted to go through Idaho instead of Nevada, so he dropped me off at a junction where I was on my own, just about done with California for a while and ready to blast off back east bound towards the next adventure.

February 26, 2013 to March 21, 2013