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Monday, February 20, 2012

A love for building

     I had always loved to build things. When I was younger I'd often get these urges to just go out and create shit. At first it was cardboard box houses, then it progressed to popsicle stick models. I'd create plans, research ideas and build model homes that had working lights, pools that were hooked up to air pumps and roofs that were hinged so you could look inside. Photos Here As time progressed I started working with my father who taught me everything I know about construction, carpentry, electrical & plumbing. Slowly I got the skills and confidence needed to take on bigger projects.

If you're reading this by any chance Dad, I just wanted to Thank You. I know I wasn't the best student but I hope you know that I appreciate what you have taught me more then anything else in the world.

I got to Las Vegas three weeks ago and renovated a friends condo out here. We put in Laminate flooring, slate tile, tiled kitchen backsplash, moldings/ thresholds and 7 new high hats among other things. Doing all this work made me realize how much I truly love working and how I have missed my tools. Everything is pretty much finished and the place looks great, it's a job that I'm quite proud of.

I've always tell people that I have a trade and love working with my hands when they ask me about college, but was never sure about my answer in the past. I think this whole experience has made it clear to me how much I love what I do and that I don't need to keep questioning myself anymore.

Kitchen backsplash, slate floor. Tile/ Laminate threshold. Moldings
Master bath tile/ threshold. Tiled entrance. Sexy tan lines.

I am now off to Los Angeles where I will spend a week cycling and training with a couple of teammates. After that it's back to Fairfax where I will pick up my bike and continue onto part 2 of my Tour around the country. (:

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Hitchhiking Escapades.

The short version:

Stopped by the police, shoo-ed off on-ramps, mistaken for a homeless druggie, confused for a "The Price is Right" contestant, hiked on the Pacific Crest Trail and walked for more hours then I was in cars for. All in all I made it to Las Vegas unharmed and well. Will be working here for at least 2 weeks.

Long version:

It all started on a rainy morning North of Frisco. Peter gave me a ride out to Vacaville as he was heading up to Oregon. I made my sign, "I-15 South!", got an umbrella and found a good on-ramp.

It took quite the mental effort to fly that sign. I normally don't ask people for help, and standing there being passed by hundreds of cars feeling as though you're being scrutinized by each and every person was tough. I was in a town that I knew nothing of, in the middle of California just standing on an onramp trying to hitch a ride. The level of pathetic-ness I felt was overwhelming.

Thankfully within 5 minutes a guy in a pick-up stopped and got me to Woodville. I was on a pretty busy on-ramp when a couple came up to me and told me I had no chance getting a ride here, should take the bus into Sacramento and hit the truck stop. I foolishly listened to them.

I got into downtown Sacramento, checked out the city and took a bus out to the truck stop. What I forgot to consider is what Interstate that truck stop served. Not mine! After a couple of failed attempts at hitchhiking I pitched my tent in a city park and dealt with a mean wind set on ripping my tent to shreds all night ):

I left early in the morning to avoid trouble, took the bus back into Sacramento and figured an on-ramp going out of the city should get me a ride. It didn't; I ended up walking the whole day and covered some 20 miles. Before nightfall I went into a McDonalds to weigh out my options and wait for it to get dark (so I could sleep in someones cozy-looking backyard) when a fellow hitchiker came in. He told me he's been stuck in Sacramento for a week (thought I bet his appearance didn't help in getting him a ride). At that point I figured I'll just walk to Vegas.

We talked for a while before a couple next to us came over and started asking questions. "So how long have you been living on the streets?"

"Uhm, I'm not living 'on the streets' I might be living on the road but not the streets". The guy talked to us about how he was involved in all sort of bad shit when he was younger and how it's not a path we should take, instead we should find God. He offered us some food and got the other hitchhiker 6 burgers and a milkshake.

The next morning I had a plan. I took the bus to the other side of town, dryed out my shit at the laundromat (the look on people's faces when I dumped my whole backpack into a dryer was priceless) and with positive energy emitting out of me got on to the on-ramp, flew my sign for a whole 5 minutes before getting a ride from George who was heading down to Orange county to do his taxes. He thought I was homeless and gay but was relieved when I told him I'm neither (half-true on the homeless part)

I slept under a bridge in Anaheim and in the morning walked along the Santa Ana River trail. I had zero luck on 3 on-ramps and started walking north on a side road. Got a ride from Autumn (who stopped to picked me up even though she had her kid with her) and later from Max who got me to a great on-ramp on I-15. Bobby (a retired business woman originally from Virginia) took me to Cajon Pass. I found out I was right on the Pacific Crest Trail from a gas station attendant and decided to camp out by a creek.

In the morning I didn't want to head back to the road just yet, so I went hiking on the PCT. I hiked some 20 miles headed southbound past Lake Arrowhead, mostly all in the nude. I camped by a creek and made a fire for the first time since South Carolina. When I awoke that morning I was once again enchanted by the woods (desert), serene quietness, and my self-sufficiency.

I hiked back to the road but spent another night on the trail with yet another fire. In the morning while hitchhiking on the side of an on-ramp a highway patrol car pulled over on the other side of the road and with his loudspeaker blasted "NO HITCHHIKING". I got up and he waved while pulling away. I moved up a bit to the intersection ( I was still on the un-paved shoulder, technically not considered a "road" and therefore according to the law I was in the clear.) He didn't seem to think so and on his third round (I managed to see him coming by the second time and pretended to be on the phone) pulled over on the other side of the road again and this time blasted " No hitchhiking... ANYWHERE!". I tried flagging him down to come by and talk to me so I could explain to him it is in fact legal but he just waved. Not wanting to be in handcuffs when he came by the fourth time I started walking up a side road, thumb out. After 3 cars a guy stopped and got me to Hesperia, where another stretch of no rides, miles and miles of walking, and police stops resumed.

I couldn't take the bus into Vegas as I only had a couple of dollars and wandered the streets. I saw a guy charging something by an outlet so I asked him "whacha charging?" - "Just my gps".

Thinking we could compare Garmin models and talk about getting .gpx files to work he lifted up his pant leg and showed me his parole- issued tracking device. He used a whole bunch of street terminology to ask me whether I'm into crack, like it in the rear, and how long I've been homeless. He told me the local church gives bus vouchers and that there is a homeless shelter down the road as well as a squatting place under the bridge. Why anyone would sleep there when there is an awesome mountain with an incredible view up the road is beyond me. I hiked up to the top and slept under the stars and above city lights.

the view from my sleeping bag, oh<3
In the morning I gave in and called up my friend in Las Vegas to ask him to pick me up. I was some 240 miles from LV but knew I wouldn't get a ride. I waited for 3 hours on the on ramp with my sign out (just to see if anyone would stop) and no one did. We cruised to Vegas top-down.

It took me just about a week to get here. While not ideal I definitively did learn a lot about this fine craft.