Thursday, August 21, 2008

Strokes of ink on an empty white

A Cup of Tea

Can you taste the universe in a cup of tea?
Dance in rain as drops fall from the sky,
Nourishing the Earth,
Cleansing the soul,
The water slips down from mountain to stream,
Flowing directly to the cup of tea.

The drink of enlightenment,
Tastes so pure.
Sipped by Buddhist monks in ancient China
To sustain lasting periods of Vipassana
To clear the mind,
To discover the way things inter-be.

When the cup is empty,
It is full.

The Nature of a Poem

If poetry is the language of the heart.
Then Nature is the poetry of the soul.
The essence of which we have manifested.


Strokes of ink on an empty white.
Alone they are incomplete.
Combined with others,
They become whole.
Sentences form,
Images are born.
Webs spun,
Relationships woven.
Deeply interconnected.
Magic reveals,
A poem is born.

Nature is the poetry of the soul.
Can you read?

Baby Blue

Six weeks of walking along the Pacific,
Highway 1 cuts inland to Legget.
Time to say goodbye to good ol’ Baby Blue,
For a while.

Sitting down with her one last time.
Breathing in the cool ocean air,
I am refreshed.

Reflecting on the time we have shared.
She has taught me what it means to be free,
To live and just be.

Her waves crashing, pounding rocks and shore.
Shaping, chiseling, refining the coast.
A sculptor, creating the line.
Eternally dancing, playing, changing, molding, breaking,
and changing some more.
Always changing.
Volatile yet still.
This massive body of water,
This ancient teacher.
I am blessed.

Searching to find where the vision ends,
Where the sky begins,
My heart is lost in the abyss between.

A mysterious, unknown world,
Exists underneath it’s surface.
Above it,
I stand alone.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Life after pilgrimage

The pilgrimage has ended, yet the journey has only begun. As I have re-entered back into society, I now must use the strength and wisdom I gained on the road, and turn it into practice. I have found a beautiful 4 bedroom house here in Arcata, which is beginning to feel like home, and I am quickly making friends in the community. I am anxiously awaiting the start of the Fall semester here at Humboldt State University where I will begin my studies. I'm planning to create my own major integrating the teachings of Eastern Religion, Native Americans, and Environmental Science. As I continue on the journey, on the path of peace, I plan to share my experiences with you all.


"The resting place of the mind is the heart."

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Final Steps

After 64 days I have made it to the town of Arcata, my new hood! My last day of walking was a long one, I clocked in 21 miles, walking from the farm in Loleta to the grassy lawn of Humboldt State University. The entire day was spent walking along the busy 101 freeway. I didn't care though, I was so excited I was able to tune out the cars and cruised at an incredible pace. As I passed through the town of Eureka, a girl on a bicycle stopped and asked me, "Hey are you the guy who's walking to school?!" Yes... "I just read your latest blog last night. Congrats on making it here!" I couldn't believe it. It was Rachel, a student at HSU who had sent me an e-mail weeks ago, sending me positive vibes. We chatted for a few minutes beside the road and then I headed on, ascending my final steps to Arcata. At 5:30pm I exited the freeway and walked up the ramp, the HSU campus was quickly approaching. I had to rub my eyes to make sure it wasn't a mirage. I ran up and collapsed on the grass. I did it! I actually made it. I looked up at the sky and began laughing, thinking back at the journey, and how far I had come. There were so many times where I didn't think I would make it, not like this. I could have rode up the coast in a day and a half in a car. But I would have missed out on the journey of a lifetime. I give so much thanks and praises to the universe. To the gods, the spirits, the buddhas, whatever forces brought me here safely. I am so thankful to all of the amazing people in my life and who I met on this pilgrimage. I truly would not have had the strength to do this alone, and it was your love, support, and positivity that carried me up the coast.

I am now staying with Jocelyn, the wonderful girl who wrote the story on my journey, in her apartment in town. Now I must complete the final stage of the pilgrimage, the re-entry into society. I am exhausted and need to rest, and try to process what has happened these last two months. I need to find a home and prepare for the upcoming semester.

I still can't believe I'm here. I feel like when I go to sleep I'm gonna wake up in Ocean Beach to find that this was all a dream. I need to find a job...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Soft Bed In the Road

I have now been on the road for over two months! It is incredible how quick this time has past, yet when I think back to the beginning, it feels like years. When you're on the road, time melts away, bringing you into the present. I have received some incredibly good fortune from the universe and some amazing people have offered me beds to sleep in as inch closer to Arcata. A friend of my fathers, a Meher Baba lover named Ron, invited me into his trailer in Gualala, a seaside town right on the Sonoma-Mendocino county line. His trailer was in the trees and was small, tight for two, but we made it work fine. Ron is a wonderful man with many stories to tell. He spent many years in the sixties, walking and hitchhiking through Europe, Asia, and North Africa, a real Dharma Bum. I really enjoyed my time with him and he even walked with me for 3 miles on my way out. Jai Baba brother!

When I got to the notorious coastal town of Mendocino, I couldn't help but walk into this little bookshop (I can't seem to walk past any bookshop without havin a peak). I asked to put down my pack behind the counter and fell into a conversation with the two women who worked there. They were both real sweet, and Mary even invited me to stay the night at her home. "I must warn you, I have two teenage daughters," she said. I told her I think that would be alright and she sent me up to her house just in time for dinner. They live in a cute little house above a record's store, right next to the post office, in the middle of town. Her daughter's are Rosie, who's home for the summer after her first year at UC Berkeley, and Margie who's in High School. A few of their friends came over and we had a little party. We all got along great and they even invited me to stay another night, but the road was calling me. 

A few days later, I reached a point where Highway 1 turned inland, and I had to say goodbye to the Pacific, for now. I took a moment to sit, to breathe in the ocean air one last time.  I walked a few miles inland and suddenly found myself surrounded by giant Redwoods. I was instantly filled with strength and a peaceful wave came over me. I stopped for lunch and had a really great conversation on the cell with my Mama and my brother Joey. She informed me that Reggae on the River was going on, right now, up near Garberville, about 40 miles north. I felt it was too far for today, but when I got off the phone I decided to hitch a few miles up the road towards Legget. My mom sent out some good energy cuz someone stopped right away. It was a women named Liz who was drivin up to Garberville to visit her boyfriend. There was already a hitch-hiker named Gypsy, riding up front, so I jumped in back with my pack and off we went. It is always bizarre, getting into a car after miles and miles of walking. My mind has to adjust quickly. This ride was great. The music was playing, the good vibes flowing, I rolled down the window and the wind was blowing. I was feelin so good I decided to ride with them just about the whole way, to the Reggae on the River music festival! We drove along the winding highway until we hit the town of Legget and suddenly, after a month of walking along highway 1, we were suddenly flying along 101. We crossed the county line into Humboldt County, my new home! I jumped out of the car at Benbow and said goodbye. A tattooed man with long gray hair working security, named Rainbow, let me stash my boots and pack in his truck, and I danced into the festival barefoot. Then it hit me, like a wave. After months of walking alone, in solitude, I felt as if I was suddenly teleported to this festival, with two thousand people in my face. It was a little intense. But the positive vibrations swept over and I had a great time dancing to the sweet reggae music. I spent the night at the Benbow Lake State Park Campground about a mile away. 

I woke up the next morning and gave Margaret Taylor a call. Margaret lives with her husband in Garberville and invited me to stay with them in their home after reading about my story in the local paper. She came and picked me up and brought me to their beautiful house in town. I had such a wonderful time with Margaret and Jay and ended up staying for two nights. They really made me feel at home. I even got to soak in their awesome hot tub! They moved out to Garberville 30 years ago during the "late 60's hippie diaspora." We seemed to share values about people and the environment and it was really great getting to know them, I feel I learned a lot. I was really taken back by their generosity. Thank you both for your incredible warmth.

Margaret took me up the road to the Avenue of the Giants, where I got back to walkin. This may have been the most spectacular part of my walk, certainly the most straining on my neck, as I walked with me head tilted up, gazing at these giant trees. These are some of the tallest and oldest beings on the earth, our ancestors, our true roots. Being in their presence produced a profound shift in my state of being. I camped at the Humboldt Redwoods State Park, and hiked into the forest. 

Swaying in the wind, the Redwoods croak. Like a door swinging on rusty hinges. 
I stare at them in absolute wonder and amazement. 
(Like a cow, watching a human walk by). 
The Redwoods are ancient Buddhas.
The most incredible sentient beings on the Earth.
This moment, my life, is just a flicker in tree-time.

I made it to the little town of Loleta. The town is real small. There's a "main" street with a Post Office, a Bank, a market, a few empty buildings, and a bar with live music at the end corner. It looks like a movie set. I got in touch with Jeanne Van Der Zee, another woman who read my story and has invited me to stay with them. I'm here a day early. I can hear her surprise and excitement through the phone and in minutes she's there to pick me up. She gets out the car and gives me a big ol' hug and tells me I'm beautiful. Then she took me up to the bar, her bar, that she owns, and treated me to an ice cold local beer. She introduced me to everyone in town, telling my story, and how she read about me in the paper. I felt like a local celebrity. Jeanne is an incredible women with so much love to give. She took me to her home, on the farm, where Peter her husband, and Taylor her daughter were waiting to meet me. Taylor just graduated high school and will be attending HSU this fall too! She took me around the farm introducing me to Papi, their watch dog, their goats, and chickens! The goats were real friendly and came right up and licked my hand. We went back to the house and had a lovely dinner and conversation. Jeanne and her family have been wonderful and I feel like a part of the tribe. I slept incredibly on the soft bed in the road. 

A Californian Summer Song

California sure is a beautiful state. I have lived here all my life but have not truly experienced the land until now. I feel like I have earned the right to call myself a true native Californian. As I walk along the highways of the north, I wonder what life was like for the natives, the Pomos, and other tribes of the land. Before the roads, before the buildings, before the pollution. I imagine walking through vast Redwood forests  in between villages, sipping cool, pure water from rushing creeks. I look out at the vast Pacific to the west, and the powerful mountains to the east.  I pick delicious blackberries on tip toes beside the highway. I wipe sweat from my brow and look down at all the dead bumble bees beside the highway. I have seen thousands. They must be flying into windshields. 

In between sets of speeding traffic,
Empty spaces of deep silence.

The ocean is timeless,
Neither coming nor going,
Eternally present.
Constantly changing,
Rock formations re-arranging.
yet still.

A perfect moment. Breathe.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Footsteps of a Pilgrim

After crossing the Bridge, I entered into beautiful Marin county. I am now literally following in the footsteps of John Francis, as I walk along the same roads as he did, in silence. A couple days later, I entered into the small community at Pt. Reyes Station. As I walked into town, after a long 15-mile day along the highway, the first person I see, is none other than, John Francis himself, standing in the street talking with a friend. I limp over and we give each other a big smile. We sat down on his favorite bench in front of the post office and chatted for a while, making plans to have lunch together the following day. I met up with my moms' friends Steve and Susan, who live in town, and they kindly let me stay at their beautiful home. I had a really great time with them, and exploring the town of Pt. Reyes. Susan is an incredible artist who's paintings I found spread all around town, and Steve is a carpenter who's working on developing an electric vehicle kit for the Prius. Wonderful people.

John turned me on to another active Peace Walker, a man named Brother Northstar, who actually just recently passed through Arcata! I looked him up and found out that he has walked over 15,000 miles on his One Earth, One People pilgrimage, following in the footsteps and continuing the message of Peace Pilgrim. Walk on brother! Click here for a story on his pilgrimage. Learning about Brother Northstar, and spending some quality time with John was incredibly inspiring. I felt as if my pilgrimage was taken to a new level of meaning.

While of course I knew John has had an impact on me, greatly inspiring my walk, it was not until going out to breakfast with Steve (who is also a friend of John's), on my way out of town, that I realized just how much his life has altered my own. Steve and I both noticed how subtly John's life and story has influenced countless peoples' lives, including our own. Steve is now working to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, by creating electric vehicles. Shortly after I read John's book, "Planetwalker", I sold my car to my roommate, for two months rent, and began walking and busing around town. Now, for the last 2 months, I have been walking on this Pilgrimage for Peace. John is an incredible, inspiring man, who I now think of as a friend and mentor. But I think what is so powerful about his story and being around him, is how clear it is that he's just a "regular" guy. When you're with him, it's just two people talking, having a conversation. If you look deep into his eyes though, you can sense his incredible journey. He has showed me that one person's life truly can make a difference. For the last two months, this pilgrimage has completely changed my life, it has become my life. Because of John, I am a much better person today than I was a few years ago. It fills me with such hope and excitement, and I wonder how I can direct my life to have such a positive influence on others as well. Thank you John, may we each be the change!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

40 Days and 40 Nights

After 40 days and 40 nights, I made it to the Bay Area at last! There I spent 6 days resting and visiting with family. I even got to meet my niece for the first time and was officially dubbed, Uncle Seth. Welcome to this world, Karly Alexandra Powell, you are a beautiful shining star.

After much anticipation, Monday July 7th crept up, and it was time to celebrate my journey and cross the Golden Gate Bridge. Thanks to my Pops, who put in tremendous time and effort organizing the gathering, around 30-40 people showed up in support of the pilgrimage. We all circled up on the grass with a beautiful view of the Bridge, standing strong in the backdrop. The highlight of the event was the appearance of John Francis, the "Planetwalker", who spoke about pilgrimage and the ability for individuals to make change. It was a culminating event of my journey and left me feeling good all over. I felt an overwhelming feeling of joy as I looked around at all the smiling faces who were gathered. It was the first time in fourteen years that all three of my brothers and our father were together. Even my little niece, 6-month old Karly crossed the Bridge with us as my brother Adam strapped her to his chest. 

The fact that my walk, this Pilgrimage for Peace, has the power to bring all of these people together fills my heart with joy. It was an epic moment, and now a memory I will cherish forever. Thank you to all of you who came out. Your love and support was strongly felt and I am filled with gratitude, reminded once again of the incredible abundance in my life. 

There is now nothing standing in my way between here and the redwood forests of Humboldt. Re-fueled with strength and faith, I now walk tall, as I inch my way North along Highway 1, for the final 300 miles. Ho!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Path With Heart

It has been a long while since I've written a post, and I have covered a lot of ground, both mentally and physically. I have now been on this pilgrimage for just over a month! Thanks to some help from new friends and family, I have made it to Santa Cruz in incredible time. I am now resting and spending some time re-visiting my childhood with my bestfriend from elementary school, Tom. So far this has proved to be an incredible journey, the most exciting, challenging, and adventurous time of my life. I have seen almost half of the beautiful California coast and have connected with so many amazing people. I have learned that once you embark on "A Path With Heart", the entire universe conspires around you in support, propelling you forward along the path. The positive energy and intentions which I am putting forth, are coming back to me even stronger in all dimensions. I have received food, rides, money, shelter, warmth, inspiration, support, love, blessings, and much more from the most unexpected people and places. I have found that by doing my best to stay open, to shed attachments, and let the journey unfold organically, everything happens beautifully and perfectly at the exact moment it's supposed to. If you do not resist or oppose the Tao, you can simply ride the wave. I am learning to allow my heart to carry me through this dance of life and am having a ball. I want to share with everyone the hope and inspiration I have been receiving along the way. People are good, when given the opportunity. There is a conscious revolution taking place this very moment. Seeds of change have been planted and beautiful flowers are blooming in the minds of individuals all up and down the coast, and all over the planet. It is an incredible time to be alive! Thank you so much to everyone who has supported me in my efforts for peace. Know that you are supporting and loving yourself as well.

"The mind creates the abyss,
The heart crosses it."

Friday, June 6, 2008

Thoughts From the Road

My mind is an emtpy vessel, similar to a glass. It can be filled with water, which is pure, or the glass can be filled with alcohol, which paints the illusion of fun and happiness, however, robs me of my will and ambition, leaving me emtpy and dry in the morning. The alcohol in fact dehydrates my body, sending me aching for water, for the purity I needed all along. I have a choice what to put in my body and with what thoughts to fill my mind. Positive vibrations are key. Like water, they are refreshing and cleansing. With the right ingredients and intentions, I will only manifest good. Peace Pilgrim speaks of human potential, of how we have only scratched the surface. Once you begin living a selfless life, for the good of the whole, she says, you tap into an infinte energy source. Call it what you will, God, Buddha, Jesus... I think we are all connected to this source for it is within us, however are not accessing it daily due to the power and influence of our Ego, which creates an elusive barrier, a false self individual indentity separating you from me. Walking with a heavy pack on all day takes a tremendous amount of energy and is quite draining. Throughout the day I must continue to refuel my body and mind with water and positive thoughts, reminding myself why I am walking on this pilgrimage and of all the people supporting me. It is quite remarkable how much energy I can recieve from something as simple as a colorful flower along the roadside, passed and unseen all day by the hustle and bustle of modern life. Or maybe an elegant bird will perch itself on a tree above and chirp me a tune. Or even a simple thought, a memory of my friends in OB. Like Barclay, ripping it on the guitar as we sit around the living room and Jeremy pours us Chinese tea. These simple things provide me with much strength and joy as I walk and give me fuel for the long road ahead. While they can be external things in the environment which trigger this spark, like a flower, a bird, or the powerful ocean waves, this energy is found within in me and can be accessed at any time. It's a beautiful thing. The only thing limiting me from doing or attaining anything, is the same thing which allows me to do it, my mind. As I spend more time away from the city and in tune with nature, I notice a profound shift in my state of mind. For the first time I feel some of the conditioning and mental pollution of society starting to melt away and I'm beginning to uncover my true Buddha-nature (which has been forever flowing like a stream underground).

May all beings be Happy
May all beings be Well
May all beings be filled with Peace
May all beings be filled with Loving-Kindess

Dancing Through the Concrete Jungle

I am now at a library in the quiet beach town of Ventura after quite a ride. I made it through the concrete jungle of Los Angeles, with the help of a few vehicles and friends, and am now in my fourth county thus far. (Tomorrow I will actually be in my fifth as I make way into Santa Barbara!) I made the conscious decision to ride on a few buses to get through parts of LA, for I would have been walking through the industrial LA Harbor and most likely been stuck on the streets at night, as there is no beach camping or hostels near by. I stayed with my friend Ty again and his family in both Huntington and Longbeach, and then said goodbye as he set off for his own journey to farm in Costa Rica. Thank you for your generous hospitality and valuable friendship, bon voyage brother! I then walked and hopped on the Metro to Venice Beach, where I met up with my friend Sean, whom I worked with last summer with Environment California. This turned out to be a full day of walking, waiting, and busing through the craziness of LA. I could not believe how inefficient the public transit system is, in a city with such terrible traffic and pollution. It was quite an interesting ride as I met some strange folks, and journeyed through Compton, Inglewood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and so on. I finally made it to Venice and met up with Sean just in time for the infamous Sunday night drum circle of dancing on the beach and a wild night of fun in Venice.

I set out from Sean's place and headed north through the affluent town of Malibu, on my longest day of walking so far, 23 miles! Spotted some dolphins again in the early morning, mid-asana. The beginning of my walk consisted of dodging the tide along ridiculously luxurious coastal homes, each with their own private beach access. I'd say at least half of the homes today were going through renovations and had Mexicans working out on the deck. I spent all afternoon smiling, saying "hola" and "como estas" as they were all very friendly. About half of the walk today was spent along the shoulder of the Pacific Coast Highway, and half on the sand. I was getting real hungry for lunch and was confronted with eating fish tacos as they were highly recommended at the local seafood joint. The idea sounded delicious, however, once I got up to the restaurant, I could not pull myself to do it. The seas are drastically being over-fished due to human consumption and I decided I wouldn't be supporting it that day. I reached a coastal access staircase along the road where I collapsed to the ground for a rest. I looked down and noticed a professional photo shoot taking place on the beach. Just then, I heard what sounded like the Mexican Ice-Cream Man, as a Taco Truck came and pulled up right beside me, blasting a Spanish tune. It's truly unbelievable how things just pop up at the perfect time when you're on the road. Things have a funny and beautiful way of always working out. I got a delicious veggie burrito and chocolate milk, and the kind women even through in some free chips and guac! I headed back to the staircase to chow down. I looked down and realized there was actually a topless photo shoot taking place. So here I am, chomping down a burrito, reading my Diamond Sutra, while below me is this model, half naked and sprawled out on the sand with some blond surfer model in underwear laying on top of her. It was quite a funny scene, and a delicious burrito. I continued north through ritzy Malibu, with million dollar homes and cars zooming by me. Everybody staring at this wandering dharma bum. After walking along some beautiful shorelines, I reached the magnificent Point Dume. I hiked up the steep wooden steps and sandy trails to the top which offered a spectacular 360 degree view of the area. While taking it all in, I met three businessmen, one of which said he grew up surfing in OB! They wished me well and I hiked down to the other side of the cliff to Zuma Beach, where I rested for a little while. I walked a couple miles and then actually hitch-hiked for the first time. A friendly couple whom I had asked for directions at a gas station, pulled me over just ahead and offered a ride up to the campground. They said they were headed north and I was so exhausted I jumped right in. After much hesitation, I have decided to ride in vehicles sparingly. Like John Francis told me on the phone, it's not as if I'm giving up riding in cars for 22 years. This is my own pilgrimage and I've got to do what feels right for me. So I'm going to attempt to travel leaving as light of an imprint as I can, without killing myself. This may include riding on a bus or hitch-hiking here and there. As a guideline, I will only ride in a vehicle if it is already heading north. That way no real extra gas will be burned by my decision to ride. The bulk of my journey will definitely still be on foot.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Who Ate My Tent?

It is now Friday, May 30th and I have now been on the road for one week! I am currently at a library in Laguna Beach and am now in Orange County. A lot has happened since my last post so I will try and fill you in. My big pack and I seem to attract some attention so I have been meeting some friendly folks. Ray, who wants to hike the AT (do it!), Allen, the surfer with Surfrider Foundation, I met at Swami's who was so stoked about my trek we both let out a cheerful howl as we parted. I met Edna from New Zealand who thinks that the population size is the big problem. I met a wonderful family who I hung out and had lunch with, Jeff, Jamie and their two kids. We shared traveling stories and Jeff told me about his recent eye-opening trip to Uganda, and the atrocities take place over there right now. We played duck-duck-goose. That same night, after a long day's walk, as a I was staggering around the campground, I ran into a family from Idaho who invited me to stay with them for the evening. Their son had left early that day so they had an extra tent and cot already set up, ready to go for me. I felt like I was getting spoiled but I couldn't turn down the offer. They were having BBQ wild Elk for dinner which they had killed in Idaho and brought out to California. I briefly considered trying it, but politely refused. (This was probably the closest I've come to eating meat since I became a vegetarian. But since I didn't need the meat for survival, I chose potato salad).

My first big scare came on Monday as I was heading into Oceanside. I had been walking barefoot along the shores all day when I ran into some serious trouble mid-afternoon. I reached a point where the shoreline and the cliffs were becoming one and I could not see around the bend to know how far it would stretch or what the conditions were like. It was 2:30pm and the high tide was not supposed to peak until 4pm. As I approached, two guys were leaving the area and it looked like there was enough sand for me to walk around, so I went for it. I got around the first bend fine, however, it rapidly got worse. The water was rising and the sand was quickly disappearing. Before I knew it, I was stuck, standing on a slippery mossy rock, bare-footed with my heavy pack. For the first time on the trip, I was truly scared. All the doubts and fears I had about the journey suddenly came crashing down on me with each wave that hit, splashing water and fright, ricocheting off the cliffs and knocking me back. I steadily hopped from rock to rock, timing it in between sets of waves. A few times I slipped sending me and my pack in the water. I finally was able to make it back to the sand. I dragged my defeated body up a long staircase leading me back to the street and civilization. I dried myself off and reassessed the situation, only to find that my tent was gone! I retraced my steps back to the water to no avail. The sea had eaten my tent! I was pretty bummed but luckily found an Adventure 16 store not too far up the road and managed to purchase a new tent just before closing. Thank you Evan! Hopefully this tent will last me a bit longer. I can't take chances like that anymore and am now being extra precocious.

The next big event was walking through Camp Pendleton, San Diego's rugged 130,000 acre Military Base. This proved to be the longest and most strenuous days thus far. When I walked up to the South Main Entrance, where thousands of cars were coming in and out all day, it appeared I may not be able to walk through the designated bike path, recommended in my guidebook. The soldier at the entrance, checking ID, told me I could not go through. He said the trail was for bikers only and since I didn't have a bike, I was out of luck. Just then another Marine came running out of the office and asked what was going on. I explained that I was walking up the coast and how I needed to get through. He seemed impressed. He asked for my ID and ran inside the office. He came back out with another Marine and I told my story once more. Now they were really excited and actually invited me inside for coffee and donuts! They told me I was "like Forrest Gump or something" as I chomped down a big sugary donut. It was fun hanging out with the boys for a few minutes. Someone tried to drive through with a forged ID card and got caught. Suddenly, there was a commotion and one of the younger soldier's got real excited because he found some "action". Their job looked real boring and slow, checking vehicle ID's all day. A few of them said they wished they could walk with me. We said goodbye, unfortunately they wouldn't allow for a picture, and I headed off towards the bike trail. I was officially walking through the Military Industrial Complex. It was eerie, like an artificial town, with a shopping mall, gas stations, grocery store, suburban town-houses, even an elementary school! Much different from the "Marine World" I went to as a kid. The walk itself was brutal; long, hot, and mostly uphill.

Wednesday was a short day in terms of walking, and most of it was spent head-down looking at the sand, jumping and dodging rocks along the shore. The sand was burning hot on my bare feet as I reached the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant. I slowly tip-toed my feet along a strip of gravel paved around the edge of the facility. It was a strange feeling, walking around nuclear power. The facility itself oddly resembled a prison, with warning signs all along the towering barbed walls, reading "Do Not Enter, armed response." The eroded bluffs along the San Onofre shore, however, were amazing! My guidebook says that this is how most of the coast would look if not for human development.

As I rise into my morning headstand,
The world turns upside down.
A dolphin shoots out of the ocean sky.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Journey of 1000 miles begins with one step.

Yesterday was the first day of my epic adventure and it was quite an interesting one. My Pops had flown down from Oakland to San Diego the night before, so that he could walk with me the first day, and send me off right. Friday morning came quick. I finished boxing up my room and loaded up my new home, to be worn on my back for the next 2-3 months. I said goodbye to my roommates, and made it to the People's Co-Op for breakfast, my last meal in Ocean Beach. Jeremy served me up potatoes, fruit salad, brown rice, and cuban black beans. Delicious. I said a final goodbye to my friends and community I had established in OB, took a few photos, and hit the road. It was very special to have Pops accompany me for Day 1. We made excellent time as we left OB, passing through Mission Beach and Pacific Beach. Then, my first real challenge hit, hard. I know walking in California, I will be facing some of nature's harsher elements. The sun and it's heat will be a difficult obstacle. However, I wasn't expecting to deal with rain until I got closer to Northern California. But, that's just what I got, wet. Luckily I had a plastic poncho with me that I purchased at REI, which I wore over myself and my pack, saving us both from getting drenched. Pops, however, did not. We ducked inside a coffee shop in PB for an hour to let it pass through. The thought to check the weather didn't even cross my mind. It hadn't rained in San Diego in months and we just had a huge heat wave! And so it goes. While in the coffee house we learned from the television that there was a tornado that hit Sierra Madre, California, flooding the town! Rainstorms in San Diego at the end of May? Tornados in Southern California? Climate Change??? We found a dry cleaners and got Pops decked out in plastic.

Here comes the sun! When we got to La, Jolla the sky opened up and blue patches began to break on through. The timing couldn't have been more perfect as we entered the most beautiful part of our days walk. We stopped for lunch above the Cove and watched the Sea Lions. We walked along Coast Walk, which is the first of the actual California Coastal Trail ground I stepped on. It's an amazing little walk above La Jolla's caves, offering spectacular views of the area. We reached the La Jolla shores where we were to actually walk on the sand for the first time. The plan was to walk along the cliffs until I reached Torrey Pines State Park, where I would set up camp for the night. This, however, was not an option. The tide was much too high, and there's no way I could make it. The nearest campground was San Elijo, which was another 10 miles north! It was already 6pm and would start to get dark in a few hours. I was starting to get worried and had to think quick. Ty! My new friend who lives on UCSD campus! I had just met Ty a few weeks prior in a pretty cool way. He actually bought a tent from me off Craigslist. He came over to my house in OB to pick up the tent and we clicked instantly. He was gonna use the tent for his upcoming adventure in Costa Rica, and I told him all about my pilgrimage. We were both very impressed with Craig and his brilliant List. So I called up Ty and right away he told me to come over for the night. While walking to his pad, something extraordinary happened. A magnificent rainbow lit up the sky, actually leading the way to Ty's! My roommate Al came to pick up Pops, and we all said our goodbyes. I will now be walking solo. Crashing at Ty' house was a huge relief and I am now having a wonderful time with him and his friends. I decided to hang out here for the day, let the storm pass, and finish up a few things online (Hence this blog and post!) I will set out again early tomorrow morning. More to come! Many blessings.