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Tijuana to Vancouver

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just a dude

Day Ω

Novato, United States

What did I learn?
- I can live out of a suitcase no problem as long as I have daily access to interwebs and upload capabilities from my phone.
- I'm not entirely a lone wolf, sometimes I really need to talk with someone, but not very often.
- Beds are better for sleeping than couches. American beds rule, European beds suck.
- Flying by the seat of your pants limits your access to sleeping places. Had I kept to a schedule I would have been able to communicate with people through couchsurfing.com and saved myself a few hundred bucks in hotel fees AND met some cool people along the way.
- I thought the views were going to be the driving goodness, but they were just scenery. It could have been the lack of pure highway 1 goodness, but I doubt it.

What was awesome?
- Seeing all my peeps. The people were the best part. Family, friends, lovers, the whole enchilada.
- Being in a great financial place where I could afford to rent the car, get the hotel room, buy easy foods, occasionally treat friends.
- Being so well received. Awww, I am loved by wonderful people.
- The smells, all the varied smells. Living in one place reduces your exposure to new smells.
- Even though it was a bit on the expensive side I'm glad I paid for a month (and soon to be paying another month's worth just to cancel) of AT&T internet access. Available at your local Starbucks and Airport terminals.
- Feeling my social newor(k/th) grow and expand. I met lots of new people and connected with known people in new ways.
- Free time to process my past, all the emotions and memories.

What sucked?
- Not enough time to see the rest of my peeps in LA, the Bay, and Portland. I saw about 60% of the people I really wanted to see and spent about 40% of the time that I really wanted to spend, face to face.
- I bought two west coast travel books that I didn't even crack open. I'm sure I have the receipt somewhere.
- Lack of kick ass music on mp3 cd. I had brought way too much chill music. While chill music is usually safe for mild mental distraction it's deadly at 10pm when my eyelids were open with caffeine and a prayer.
- The US/CA boarder kinda sucked. Next time I'll be taking my birth certificate and something else. It seems my passport is jinxed.

What would I have done differently?
- Obviously, more time to travel, sight seeing, hanging with friends. I'm thinking 6 months next time. Maybe from Point Barrow to Baja. Now that's a road trip!
- I would have sprung for internet via my cell phone as the wi-fi at hotels was spotty at best.
- I would have traveled during the summer, at least in the north west. It wasn't snowing, just a little chilly. That said, I do miss the snow, just a little bit.
- I would have posted my pictures to my flickr.com account at the same time I was posting to blogabond. One better I would have made a list of all my social networking sites and posted daily to them linking to the blogabond.
- I would have at least invited a navigator for a few legs of the trip.

Would I recommend this trip to others?
- Yes, if you don't mind spending gobs of time alone OR have a navigator. You'll be able to make better time and you'll be far from boredom.
- No, if you have no psycho-social-spiritual connection to the North American west coast. Check out a national park or two. Without familiarity I fear the whole trip would be a waste for you.

So, thank you dedicated readers for checking in when I bugged you, or even checked on your own recognizance, or even has me on your rss feed. Thank you dear readers who have come here after it was all done. And an extra special thank you to all my hosts:
Dawn and Brian
Mom and Phil, Heather and Ivan
Grandma and Grandpa
Some hotel in Humbolt I can't remember
Ralph and Patty
Autumn and Sara-Jane
Libby and Dave
Dad, Louanne, and Crystal
and, of course, BlogaBond.com


permalink written by  kleer001 on December 4, 2008 from Novato, United States
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Day 17a

Cloverdale, Canada

Here's my dad's messy office. It seems that clutter propensity is highly communicative, either genetically or by early exposure. Now, keep in mind that I didn't grow up with my dad and yet I still share the same penchant for messy messes with the messness. Growing up with my dad was summer and winter vacations up to British Columbia.
Don't feel sorry for me, but it seems to be a trend that I spend less and less time visiting every time that I'm up here. Two years ago it was for less than a week and this time only a day. A quick personal note about my relationship with my dad. I have recently realized that it's futile to be mad at him. That it's futile as well as try to explain why I'm mad or expect any type of sympathy/empathy/generosity. I don't think that he's survived with his sense of humor intact by being "soft" or open and generous. That said he's still my dad and I love him. I'll just be keeping him at arm's length for the time being.

That's my dad's Porsche as I set off on my 30 min short cut to a different US/CA boarder to save 20 minutes from going through the main boarder. It could be that I did save some headache too as the more obscure boarder I went to was manned by an elderly gentleman. There must be some kind of interesting thing on my passport as I was stopped on the way out too. The bespectacled and gray haired old man told me to open my trunk, ruffled through my suitcase and did who knows what else poking through my trunk. He did let me go after a few minutes of remedial searching. A dedicated smuggler would have been relieved at his cursory job. Thank goodness I'm clean as a whistle.

The shortcut did send me past a tiny park. I had to stop and go for a little walk. The way was paved and I saw an elderly couple making their way back to their car with their little dog in tow. There were many signs warning people not to leave valuables in their cars. I didn't get a crime vibe from the place.

Mushroom, mushroom, mushroom! The trick to getting into the mushroom groove is to walk until you feel like stopping, go off the trail a few yards into the forest, drop to a squat and look. They'll pop out quickly. The teeny tiny brown ones, the orange slimy ones with vertical gills, the tall thin white ones being chomped on by a slug. They're all down there. Each time I did that the ability stuck. I saw the little guys everywhere. That little gray circle next to a leaf, those scale-like shelves growing out of a felled trunk. Oh, yeah, don't eat them unless you know exactly what they are and you're really only in trouble if you swallow several grams. If it tastes nasty then spit it out. This is not intended to be medical advice, but you'd do best by following it.

I like maps. Here's the park map from the pictures above.

Lunch time = taco time. Fish taco time, if you know what I mean. This was technically over State side.

And I don't remember exactly where this one was, but I wanted to include it and remind you kids not to take pictures while you're driving. No one appreciates your swerving and slowness as you wrestle with your obstinate cell phone camera. So, stop it.

permalink written by  kleer001 on December 3, 2008 from Cloverdale, Canada
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Day 17b

Seattle, United States

My flight wasn't until 7:30pm, but my time in Canada was done. I headed back to L & D's place in Seattle. Watching her wrap presents and helping her clean house was more relaxing than being shown off like a purebred. Here we have their lovely little Christmas shrine. She told me she wanted a full live Christmas tree, that maybe there would be one next year. She's sadly wasting away in a shit job, mind numbing and seductively offering her medical benefits. This woman is one of my oldest dearest friends and it hurts to see he so bored at a job AND she has to work weekends. She's kind to a fault, generous with her time to the right cause, she fights the good fight. She speaks fluent french and is very smart. Does anyone here know of anyone in the translation biz, or anything French related in Seattle? Please, please, please, someone must have connections somewhere up in there. I would love to see her working for a place that appreciated and challenged her.

A Seattle building snapped as I left with a bit of anxiety about getting to the airport on time.

The car. The Car. THE CAR!
2100 Miles, 18 days, 40 Miles per hour average, 29 Miles a gallon, 0 problems. Well, the arm rest folded up and down over the emergency brake, but that was the only roughness in the interface business. I didn't name her before I set off or during my journey. It was only as I was leaving the Advantage car rental lot that I realized her name was Justine. Hunh, who knew?

On to the airport I went. Everything went according to schedual. I had 45 minutes to kill. The flight was actually 30 minutes late so I had some time for data management. Ooo, exciting. I had a sandwitch and a Jack and Coke at the bar nearest the security check point. The "grilled" chicken sandwitch I scarfed down had been microwaved to a blistering temperature before serving. It wasn't a comlete waste as thankfully I was accosted by a cute young lady, T. She had come from Vegas and was heading back to Portland. So, when girls do that playful hitting you in the arm thing, that's good, right? Because she must have hit me in the arm at least a dozen times to make a point, enjoy a joke with me, or admonish my rudenesses. She has four brothers so it could have been that that motivated her to extreme bouts of frindlyness. Or she could have been drunk. I was a bit tipsy myself. And so we passed like ships in the night, drunk and happy.

While waiting at the gate I did have a little fun tying to find other macs with my mac who had open drop boxes. There were none. This missing pay phone symbolizes my inability to connect with other people at the gate through data drop vandalism. All I wanted to do was upload a picture of the Burningman man getting burned. It's a really pretty picture. I mean that'd be totally awesome, right? To find a randomly dropped image on your computer?

I arrived an hour late into SFO, picked up by my good friend Suzanne in her gorgeously decorated car. I was so excited to see her, to be home again. Home again, jiggidy jig.

permalink written by  kleer001 on December 3, 2008 from Seattle, United States
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Day 16

Vancouver, Canada

I admit this is a poor image of the breadth of family I experienced though it is just uncomfortable enough to be genuine. Here is a small moment we shared. Sister was covering for the office receptionist, step mom is the regional manager (or some such high level), dad is visiting with me behind the camera. Do notice there are very few pictures of me in this thing. I'm not one to pose with cardboard cutouts or wax figures. Man, wax figures freak my shit. When my dad and I walked into the building there was the strong smell of paint. I thought it was latex based, he said water based. It wasn't overwhelming, but it was pervasive. The kind of smell you get used to after a few hours. The kind of smell that reminds me of summers painting houses, summers long ago.

I did say that I was looking forward to not driving today. Sadly I forgot about that and volunteered to drive us around town running errands and visiting his coworkers (he does tig welding). So, here's a couple dudes in a car. He wanted to go over the boarder to get gas. I was having none of that. They stopped me last time going US-CA. Didn't need to do that again. We did stop frequently which was a relief against the 2 hour bursts of the previous few trips.

Here is the machine shop where he works part time. There was the smell of oil, ozone, graphite, and what I now think was a melange of atomized metal. There was a large vertical lathe, there were several drill presses. The men who worked there, their blue overalls were splattered with black stains and pockmarked with holes and rips, their hands were roughly callused and scarred. Sadly the work board was mostly empty.
Looking back on it I think it was a bit of dog-and-pony show with me. All I wanted to do was go to the park, but whatever.

My step-grandmother had a quadruple bypass surgery a month ago. We stopped at the florist he frequents to pick up a bouquet for her. I smelled patchouli, cinnamon, winter holidays, sweet florals, scented candles, more perfume than alive. The smell of a pleasant death.

When we stopped by their pace to drop off the flowers I got to quickly see her scars on her pale wrinkled legs. Very impressive, lots of black stitches and puckered wound edges. Grandpa gave some good hugs. There was an old snoring beagle in there too. The place was as clean as the prototypical grandparents place, a little sterile and well dusted.

We stopped for lunch at an Indian buffet. Before the meal I washed my hands. There, hidden under the soap dispenser, was this strange little sticker. Sanitation is such a fleeting thing. Why would there be a sticker to loudly announce the obviously false claim of cleanliness? A perfectly and beautifully absurd little nugget of filth.
Lunch was pompadoms, dal, chicken curry, chutney, pickle, paneer. They had chow-mein in a warming dish next to the curry. Eeew.

My dad is a jack of many trades. He's done contracting, construction, sales, charity work, painting, pressure washing, and general all around hustling. When I was born he was working on the Alaskan pipeline. One of his newest hobbies is wine making. The wine cellar was just around from my room. I smelled dust and fermentation, a little bit of old saw dust as well.

I'm just not really into the story. It wasn't traumatic, I swear. I'm just trying to let out that last bit of steam. Go see the movie, The Tale of Despereaux. It'll be ok, I swear. Don't expect it to resemble the book, if you've read the book. I hear the book is good, but I never finished it. If you want to know what I worked on, it was the candle flames and the cobwebs, some torches, and lots of web surfing. Ha.

permalink written by  kleer001 on December 1, 2008 from Vancouver, Canada
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Day 13

Portland, United States

Thanksgiving, day 2, part 3. What a lovely spread prepared by the B family. This is a snap at the presentation of dessert.
What I saw was love and the deep tendrils of this arm of my social network, of the social network which radiates around from me, from which I am but a small part, but for my ego I could never say "this is mine". Oh, the flow. I had come to this house, years ago, guest of one of its occupants, S, and now I feel dug in and branched out: friends, friends of friends, children, parents, friends of children, soon to be married partners, strangers and old friends. It's embarrassing to say, but it seems that the only way I could stay grounded was to claim a seat and plant my ass there. Through dinner and dessert I had the following view (faces chaging, of course):

The population of this house has changed. What was once a party nexus populated by singletons and beautiful has grown. Now it's a family home, friends moved out and fiance moved in, sister, husband, daughters. A new chapter? A new book!
As for the new people my social toolbox had little to offer. One on one would have been preferred, to make any connection. It's fine to go slow, like "Hey, didn't I see you last year at Thanksgiving?"

Everyone takes pictures of bathrooms, no? Of all the sweeping change I saw in the house and her participants this bathroom seemed to be nearest the eye of the storm and has changed little.

permalink written by  kleer001 on November 30, 2008 from Portland, United States
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Day 14

Seattle, United States

I want to see this in my dreams, solid and pulsing with spoiled organ music, reaching out oily rainbow tentacles to gather the ripe fruit of my soul.

Not a lot to say here. Gas top-up for a 20$! FTMFW!

Was blessed by a train splattered with graffiti. Hey, kids, don't take pictures while driving.

Tacked up on a telephone pole were two pairs of shoes. I wasn't able to tease a story out of them, maybe you can make heads or tales of this bit. It's comforting to see the palimpsest poles, generations of bill detritus, ripped letters and words and graphics. They just layer them in Berkeley. I guess they're a bit more fastidious here.

L, D, and I went to see the "Clumsy Lovers", a wonderous bluegrass band from Canada. This is the jug band that opened for them. I don't recall their name, but they freakin' rocked the Led Zepplin "Whole Lotta Love" with mighty aplomb.

Yes, my hat gets around.
The band was great. Such high energy hoe down madness. These guys (and a girl on violin) rocked it with such high intensity. I really should get out to live shows more often. I wonder what the scene in Novato is. Hmmm.

I twittered while I was drinking here:
"They drink 16oz PBR without irony. The wear flannel without irony. Seattle."
"Bluegrass cover of "You shook me all night long" with sing along FTW!!!
"Thunderstruck" into "Dirty Deeds" into "You are my sunshine" boot stomp till midnight.

permalink written by  kleer001 on November 30, 2008 from Seattle, United States
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Day 15a

Seattle, United States

I love cats. I've just realized that every friends or family member's house has had a cat or three. I wonder how far the human/toxoplasmosis symbiosis has gone, how deep it is, how its changed over the last dozen millenia. I have cat sat these little kitties in the past, back in Berkeley.
These cute little monkey coconuts sit proudly in my hosts entertainment center. They're from Aruba. I love the sustainable nature of these things. Yes, they're kitschy and nonfunctional objects, curios, tschotchkes, etc... I remember similar ones in Hawaii, but they were nothing compared to these in terms of detail, character, and expression.

As far as tourist attractions go I'll go out of my way to avoid them. At least that's how I used to be. If it wasn't for my friend's vertigo and anxiety issues I would have gone up the thing.

Tourist BS aside ("Always a traveler, never a tourist"), we did get to the EMP museum. Mad rock guitar god Jimi Hendrix featured heavily as did an exhibit on old school block printing art. There was a very through sci-fi museum downstairs. There was all sorts of lovelyness collaged up, old movie props, sound bites, vintage books and fan magazines, an on... I wish I could share some images from this meuseum, but a kind looking portly man with a bit of facial hair kept haunting me and pointing out the "No Photography" policy. What's the worse that could happen? People see my pics and decide to visit? People see the pics and decide not to go? People see the pics and decide they want to make their own sci-fi museum? People see the pics and try to sell them? I'm confused.

don't be sad

this is an adventure

permalink written by  kleer001 on November 30, 2008 from Seattle, United States
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Day 15b

Vancouver, Canada

a gorgeous adventure, a lovely trip, a solo journey. Sunset on the way to the Canadian Border. Did I ever tell you that I see God in glorious sunsets? I do. Not necessarily this one. The detail, the glowing colors, the scale of the thing triggers the god chord in my 8th circut, the Psycho-atomic Circuit. God bless you Saint Leery.

The US/CA border was a little rough, but no worries. I had my Zertifikate in order. Thankfully I had remembered my passport. During the short interview I told the officer that I had been traveling for the last 14 days, all alone. I did get a little lonely in a few spots and had to call a friend. I'm not 100% lone wolf, I do run in a few packs, strong ties to family and friends. More like a lost crow, maybe. The officer seemed quite confused that I would want to go it alone for so long, anathema. I don't think that was reason for keeping me, but he was genuinely confused. It wasn't really the best time or place, but I regularly am entertained by the trippping I radiate.

a little meta here with the fam. Sushi, all you can eat. The menu was a little limited and the presentation of food was a little lacking, clean, but the decor was nice. Strangely all I heard over the dinner table about the place were comments about how the place sucked. It was alright.

I'm looking forward to not driving tomorrow. I need to trim my nails. I need to do laundry. I'm looking forward to spending some time with my family.

permalink written by  kleer001 on November 30, 2008 from Vancouver, Canada
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Day 11-12

Portland, United States

I arrived in Portland in the late afternoon.

There was crazy thick traffic.

The skyscrapers and overpasses were a comforting sight. It's been years. Too many years since I've been here.

I love my friends here. Someone asked me while I was in the fierce glow of my first post Burningman experience if I had met any new friends. Yes, yes, I did.

This was my first Thanksgiving with 90% new people, and I liked it a lot. New stories, new faces, friendly faces and stories about how happy people were to get away from their families. Quick aside, I know I'm very lucky to have a family that I dig, that there's no overt and fantastic drama, that we're all mostly chill.

My host A and I enjoying a post dessert Lemoncello, so tart.

At big loud raucous parties I enjoy the small times where I can be at the quiet center and just watch the madness spin and roll around me.

permalink written by  kleer001 on November 28, 2008 from Portland, United States
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Day 10

Eugene, United States

Was welcomed heartily by my hosts R and P. Old friends back from early 00's Burningman style. The two humans of the house serve kindly three cats, two of which I renamed (temporarily) to Stubbins and StepCat, see below. The third cat, who's royal sounding name I cannot recall. She was old (15 I think) and I think it best if I respect that cat.
Again it was quite the relief to get out from behind the wheel. This is the bedroom door in their guest house. As you can see it's lovingly covered with words and designs of thanks and signatures and funky awesomeness. I did my little doodle there too.

R is quite the painter I insist. We spent time trading stories in his studio down stairs, catching up on histories and sharing the joys and life. This is one of his first paintings. I definitely get a Vinny Van Go-go vibe from the foreground character, don't you? The little curvy lady off to the right, as she poses and blends in she elicits closer inspection and offers only mysteries. This delight was in the bedroom and greeted me in the mornings and saw me off to sleepy time. Dude also set me up with a Hip mix cd. Freakin' awesome. I'll definitly be coming back. So lovely gracious the hosts, thank you thank you.

This is StepCat. StepCat is on the step. There is no explanation. That's just where he wants to be. His eyes really aren't glowing, that's the flash. Maybe his cat soul shines out like that, but I couldn't tell you. At parties StepCat is on his step. At night, StepCat is on his step. In the morning? Yup, you know it, StepCat is on his step. I think this orange beauty is getting along in years too.

Everyone, this is Stubbins. He has a stubby tail. Don't no one know how it came to be, just another one of those cat mysteries. It is a fact that the ungrateful little tramp scratched me while I was feeding him toast. Seemed he wanted to eat off the floor. Well la-de-dah yah fuzzy bastard. Otherwise a nice cat, I'll give him 8 out of 10, just a small penalty for the drooling and scratching.

Helped out a friend of R's dump some refuse at the dump. A little hard labor is good. I stated that I wouldn't mind 2 hours a day. This was more like 5 minutes. I think a few hours would keep me in good spirits and fit. I read it in Aldus Huxley's "Island" and it stuck. Well, sounds like a good idea to me. Too much of this monkey puzzle sitting behind a screen and tap tap tapping away, not so good for the soul.

This is the dump. It's this big trough of filth and debris, a tractor rolls endlessly up and down the ramp pushing it into a container and compressing it. I thank the gods for the cold weather as it did not smell bad at all. I can easily imagine that during the summer months the miasma becomes truly fetid. It was entrancing to watch the garbage rolling over than through the tractor treads, something dry and fluid at the same time.

R's friend D sprung for lunch at Anatoia, Greek and Indian food. I had the spanicopita. Too bad they were all out of the special, some indian dish. Greek and Indian, wtf? The decor was chill northWestern, wood everywhere and huge rugs and tapestries on the walls. We sat near the large bay window in the front, fishbowl out to the street. Big burly man on two crutches worked his way by, a woman with a trench coat made of ornate carpet and jogging sweats under neath, small clots of people walking, sporadic traffic.
D has a lovely house, sprawling space and a labradoodle and a pug.

Jump cut to later that night at a local used book store. Sure, they had your best sellers and new books, but where they really shined was their taste. They had featured things relating to living off the land and sustainable practices, poetry, languages, and a whole section on the beats. Yum.

As you can see I got some serious treasure here. Marshal McLuhan's War and Peace in the Global Village, I'm not 100% sure what the gibberish is about at this point, but it's strongly peppered with quotes from Finnigan's Wake. That book with a white spine is "The Manifesto" by Anonymous. There's no ISBN #, no publisher, no author information. It starts rolling on the first page and on the last page it's done. Sure, it does come with a little red mimeographed page foled into it with more specific informations, but the insert reads like the grandson of the Dr. Bronners bottle. Something about "dedrabbit". My goal was to pick up unique books, books that I would have a hard time picking up at the local library. Then there's "The Medium is the Massage" and "The Gurenberg Galaxy". Take a moment and look up Mr. McLuhan. I'll still be here when you get back.
The next thin little spines are three chap books for writers, two by Gregory Benford, woot! Some good looking stuff from my favorites over at the magazine "Fantasy and Science Fiction". I was raised on that stuff. After school at my grandparent's place, just around the corner from grade school. I would have a ham and cheese sammich on a plate and milk in a glass. The magazine would be turned to some thrilling tale of hard sci-fi or a stimulating essay by Issac Asimov. Then there's "Mind Parasites" by Colin Wilson. It looks intriguing, something about a horror from beyond or somesuch. Printed in 1972 in Berkeley, no ISBN # and amaturish pen and ink drawing on the cover. I'm not expecting "The Darkening Sky", that's a hope beyond hope. Finally a compilation of "Lively" folk tales, "Lovers, Mates, and Strange Bedfellows" compiled and edited by James R. Foster. Again, yum.

For those following with baited breath there may not be an update until after Thanksgiving. Just sayin' I'll see you on the other side.

permalink written by  kleer001 on November 26, 2008 from Eugene, United States
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