Sunday, May 29, 2011

Seeing Green Again

North California Dreamin' & The Grove
Leaving LA, I headed east for Death Valley, it was kind of an intimidating drive to be honest, absolutely nothing for miles but once you actually got to the park it wasn't bad since there were actual people around in RV's and what not.  I made a stop at a big boys and a goofy little "Alien Jerky" place when I was getting some good ole 4 dollar gasoline.  From Death Valley I headed up another famous park, Yosemite, but to my disappointment the main road which leads up into the park was closed off, I'm guessing this is a seasonal thing, I found a back road which I took but it just wasn't worth the trouble.  So I got to see the outskirts of Yosemite at least.  I headed up to Carson City, Nevada to grab a shot of the capitol and stayed there for the night.  I booked it to San Francisco the next day, passing through Sacramento, stayed there a night, did the Golden Gate Bridge thing for a bit and headed northward along the Pacific Coast Highway. swinging past Muir Woods and stopped in Eureka after doing a quick excursion at the Bohemian Grove.  I debated making a kayaking trip up to the owl statue, but I was due to meet with some of my family in 2 days in Portland and I didn't want to fall behind schedule (as you can probably tell by this post, I've been making quick stops and passing through things rather quickly now).  I did however, finally get the guts to try and hike the wilderness to the owl but I was stumped when I ran into 3 steep hills that were impossible to walk and climb up so I turned around and asked one of the locals where I could find a trail.  She warned me that they have video surveillance all around and once you get to a certain point the local sheriff's office basically swarms the entire area....I figured it'd be worth the fine and would be a good story...but once logic and time constraints came into play, I decided to forgo my invasion of the grove.  Most of the locals there at some point or another have kayaked to the grove where they are merely given a stern warning by authorities to leave....a lady told me that people come up there to protest during the annual retreat but not as much any more.  The protestors were mostly active during the Vietnam War and at the height of the Iraq War.  She did say, that the locals have mixed feelings about the Grove.  The local feel that while it's weird and creepy what goes on in the grove... and yes they do ship prostitutes in from San Francisco (a lot of male prostitutes) the rich vacationers do bring in a lot of money into the community.  Bill Gates loves tennis and apparently the Grove does not have a tennis court, so he paid money to have people fix the local run-down tennis court which the whole community now enjoys.  The local golf club gets a nice economic boost during those two weeks in July as well.  Again, I'm not going to tell you what the Grove is, just google it, but that's what the locals told me.

The Pacific Coast Highway
What a gorgeous drive, I had to keep stopping every couple of minutes to snap photos, either of the coast or the redwood trees or one of the ridiculous tourist traps along the way.  I saw everything from a tree house to a bigfoot shop (apparently I was in bigfoot country) to "mystery" trees, to you name it.  When I entered north California and into Oregon what struck me was all of the green.  I didn't realize it, but I hadn't really seen green grass and green landscape in weeks and I was taken back when I saw it again.  It was an awesome scenic route which I followed up a ways into Oregon before heading to Diamond Lake for the night.  I was so excited that I finally got to use my new fly fishing rod there, although only for an hour before it got dark, it was stocked with lots of trout.

Out w/ Asian, In w/ Moroccan
Portland, Oregon is a very large and very cultural place to be.  The downtown area was pretty cool, and was a hippie paradise (I fit in quite well with my beard).  I stayed with my uncle Don and his family for the night and we went to this Moroccan restaurant where you have to sit cross legged on the floor for dinner.  Thank goodness they chose Moroccan because me and asian food had not been getting along lately.  It was fun, even when I was shamefully pulled onto a belly dance floor with one of dancers....shaking my head as I type this, there's an embarrassing moment I'd like to forget, I'd rather be playing horribly on stage in Nashvillle.  Again, I fit in great at this place partially because I speak some Arabic and also once again because of the beard.  If it wasn't for all the rain and the terrible traffic, Portland would be a nice place to live.

Homeless In Seattle
By now, you may have figured out my obsession with homeless people.  Not really sure why, maybe it comes from a deep fear of being homeless myself.  It just fascinates me as to how people can get themselves into those situations, I don't quite understand it.  I arrived in Seattle late the next day, since I just HAD to get my picture taken in Salem at the Oregon capitol building, putting me a couple hours behind....stupid.  I'd been wanting to spend a night and a day as a homeless person just to see what it was like (thanks Mr. O for the idea ;-)  )so I parked near, I think it was I-5, and slept under the highway in my sleeping was quite warm surprisingly, it was a bit frightening but more so out of a fear of getting picked up by police than anything else.  Seattle is known for having the friendliest and safest homeless population in the country which is why I chose Seattle as a prime place to do this.  I do regret that I wasn't able to interactive with the homeless people there as much as I would have liked but from what I could tell they did seem quite polite and down to earth.  Standing around asking for change got kind of old after a while so I checked into a place and went to the Space Needle.  I wanted to hop around the grunge music scene, since that is another thing Seattle is known for but I was just to tired due to the lack of sleep the night before.  However, the place I was eyeballing was called "The Funhouse", definitely check that place out if you're ever in Seattle and want to hear some good underground music.

My head is turning east, and I am more than ready to come back home but there is still much to see, please continue to pray for a safe journey home.


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