Current location: Carpinteria, California
Miles traveled since last update: 830+
Max miles traveled in one day on this leg: 290
Total miles traveled: 6100+
Whoa whoa! It's been a little extra time since my last travel update (has it already been almost two months on this journey???) since I took some time off to return to Boston after the sudden passing of my grandmother. I've been in the city of San Francisco for a while. City life and visiting friends doesn't leave a whole lot of room for travel/nature/life updates, but I'm back in action now so here we go.
Redwoods Recap and My First Bear Sighting
I know I posted about Redwoods in my last full update, but even after that I had stayed two extra days in the area. I had to. This place was so magical I had to explore some more. I won't go into a lot more detail here but if you ever get the chance to visit this place you MUST take it. I've added a few more pictures to my Redwoods album but they don't come close to showing the magic and scale of this place.
One quick story though. After finding a cool site to camp for a couple nights I asked the ranger of the campground if there were any good swimming holes in the area since it had been pretty hot out. He told me about a nice hiking trail that ran along a river and that if I went of the trail at certain points I could find some really nice clean pools of water from the river. This is exactly what I was looking for so the next day after I hiked in some Redwoods areas I went to this trail to look for a swim. I wasn't on the trail very long before I stepped off to find a place to dip into the water. I walked along the river for a while before finding an awesome spot where I could fully submerge and swim around. As I got there though I did feel a touch of nervousness. I was off-trail and just feeling slightly uncomfortable for some reason. I took a dip in the water, dried off and decided to lay on the beach for a while. It was a beautiful day and after drying off I laid down on my blanket and started to read a book. Almost the moment I finally started to feel comfortable where I was, I heard huge splash in the river near me, looked up, and saw a young grizzly bear. I didn't get a picture of the bear (last thing on my mind at the time), but it was very close to me. As close as the shadow on the shore in this picture.
First thought: "Where is the mother?" as I slowly started to sit up. The bear had stopped and was staring right at me. After looking around I was pretty certain there was no mother around. Then my thoughts went to the young bear in front of me. Of course this was the one time my whole trip I was on a hike in the forest in bear country and hadn't brought my bear mace. I remembered the what many parks had told me when going back country camping when encountering a bear: Stand your ground, move slowly, and talk in calm tones.
As I stood up I calmly told the bear "we're cool" several times. It was young but bigger than a large breed of dog and I knew if it wanted to come at me that it could easily have taken me down. I stood there with my hands raised for a bit more and finally the bear turned around and walked into the forest, taking one more look at me before disappearing. I could feel the adrenaline pumping through me while feeling a huge sense of relief at the the same time. I decided it was time for me to leave. Lesson here, ALWAYS bring your mace when you are in bear country! Luckily I didn't need mine this time but if I did I would have been in some trouble!
After leaving Redwoods I spent a lot of time in the fine city of San Francisco. This city is charming, beautiful, and home to one of the best things about the many areas of the west coast, supreme hospitality. I am always refreshed when visiting areas like San Francisco and exposed to a level of generosity and kindness that you don't seem to find a whole lot on the east coast. Sure there is kindness and generosity there but it is nothing like what you find in places like San Francisco. To any of my generous friends in town who might be reading this, thank you for the bottom of my heart for everything and for those that I could not see, I appreciate all the offers of places to crash and to meet up! Hopefully I can see you at another visit.
I had some amazing experiences in this city including seeing a some live music for the first time in a while. Seeing live music is one of my most favorite things to do and I hadn't seen much along my way. I was able to see a band which included members from one of my favorite trip hop groups who have been around for almost 20 years. The show was awesome and reminded me that no matter where I decide to live in the future I would hope that it is near a place where I can see some live shows from time to time. There is nothing like a band creating an energy that is absorbed and flowing through all those in attendance. If you're not familiar with Morcheeba, I made a Spotify playlist with the set list from this show or jam out to one song (my favorite). Great music for chilling out!
Another great stop I made was the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. They have a superb mix of fine art and contemporary, along with a wing of art from tribal cultures of many different countries. The collection had masks, dolls, jewelry and so much more. Great exhibit!
For more pictures of the de Young Museum and San Francisco you can check out the album I created on Flickr.
San Francisco Rant
While I do love San Francisco and the Bay Area in general, I do need to voice one major complaint. This area is known as one of the biggest, if not the biggest, tech and innovation centers in the world. With that you find startup culture and so much money flowing through this area, making housing extremely expensive, among other issues, which are making some things very difficult. Aside from people with blue collar jobs that don't pay the huge salaries needed to afford a home or apartment in this area you have a the major issue that is homelessness and mental health problems for many who live on the streets.
One day I was riding around town enjoying the sites of the city and in awe of its beauty, that is until I tool a ride down Market street in downtown and saw some terrible things. On the same block where I'm seeing dog walking services walking 6+ pure bred, finely groomed dogs and bars where I can hear people pitching their idea in hopes of getting millions of dollars of funding for the next app that will "change the world", you have countless people walking around the street with severe mental health problems. I saw so many people talking to themselves, others who were so mentally challenged that it seemed like asking for extra change wasn't even something they cared about too much, and outside the patio of a nice bar where people sipped cocktails a man was crawling around on his hands and knees and didn't seem to know where he was. It was so sad to see in a place that constantly tells you they are changing the world yet right in front of them is a major problem that if improved truly would change the world.
That is one reason I am on this journey. I used to be the person who needed that stuff. I was the first person to get the newest iPhone or gadget that I thought would make me better. I see now how much of this is pure bullshit and am trying to explore thoughts on how I can do more to help those I know and meet to realize that there are more important things in life. I can only imagine how much better off this world would be if we focused our energies more on things like the health of our planet as well as the humans, animals and other living beings that live here. That stuff surely is going on but far less that it should be. Instead around this time of year on social media I always see long blog posts and discussion on things like "how scratch resistant is the material on the back of the new iPhone and will it "look all scratchy after a while if I don't buy a case for it"? Excuse me just a moment while I barf.
Ok rant over! I just hope speaking about things like this will bring more awareness in that so many of the things society claims to be important are in fact some of the least important things.
Pinnacles National Park
For all of my pictures from Pinnacles, check out my Flickr album.
I was excited to leave city life and get back into nature for a bit after San Francisco. While I had planned to explore Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks, I've fallen even more behind in my timeline for when I'd like to get back to Boston so I decided to skip the massive crowds of the Yosemite and visit a place I was unaware of in Pinnacles National Park. This is actually the newest National Park in the national park system. I was appreciative that it was smaller and with zero crowds of people known to be in the larger more well known parks. This one was formed out of glacial and volcanic events making some of the rocks and views absolutely stunning. I hiked to the top of a ridge and saw some great views; just what I needed after being in the city for a while. The universe also delivered me some great conversation and friendship in the form of a fellow hiker that I met on the trail. With each step I take things continue to appear when I ask. Beautiful.
After taking the beautiful drive down Rt 1 Pacific Coast Highway, a must if you find yourself in the area, I've found rest in the town of Carpinteria, just east of Santa Barbara. It's been great spending time with one of my best friends in this cool little beach town. Just to quickly recap, I can't say thanks enough to those who I've encountered during my time here in the state of California. I've met some great people who were overly kind and generous to me, visited friends I haven't seen in a while as well as some I haven't seen in years, and had some of the best experiences and conversations I've had during my entire journey. Gratitude to all beings and speak to you in a week or so! For now I'm going to explore a little more of southern Cali, especially Joshua Tree National Park.