Equipped with a ‘91 Nissan 240SX which would make many loops around the country, I was off once again. Didn’t take a scenic route for no real reason other than a lack of educational travel resources so I rushed across country. Unfortunately in too much of a rush I was pulled over in Oklahoma doing a whopping 5 miles over (if I was even that much over is debatable), and following that I may or may not have been detained until I paid the man as well as the other bribe to get my car out of lockup, and once again much angrier than before I was off. I got to New Mexico late that evening and stayed with my friend from Sarasota, who had since moved to Albuquerque. Explored Albuquerque for a week and in that time fell in love with the Sandia mountain range as well as connected with some good people, then continued on my way to California.
For the first few months I stayed with my brother and his girlfriend, working alongside him on random construction jobs.
When it was slow I would soak up the beach, walking miles a day thinking about life up to that point and since I was cleaning up my mental health I decided I’d clean up my lifestyle too. Started eating mostly organic to go with the long walks and weight lifting, swimming and even got into yoga regularly, which I had tried a handful of times before.
Every now and then I would take a weekend trip to a new beach. To this day my favorite California beach is Crescent Bay Beach in Laguna, and for some reason Oceanside holds a dear place in my heart and is a close second.
One day in Laguna heading to the beach I noticed a large billow of smoke, snaked my way up a hill through a neighborhood and was first on the scene to a house fire, even before the firefighters.
I had become friends with a girl who moved to San Diego from New Mexico, so I would visit her from time to time and had a lot of fun with her and her roommates that always threw parties and had a jacuzzi/pool and a fancy weight bench.
Enter Rob, my soon to be best friend, who started dating her at some point soon after, he became a very entertaining character in my life over the next years and basically a little brother.
Within 48 hours of meeting we were on our way to New Mexico for a drug-fueled weekend, but back in time for (his) school on Monday. Over the next months we’d meet periodically to go get in trouble on various beaches in San Diego or down in Rosarito if we wanted to raise the stakes. I’ll be leaving out a few plot lines here maybe to be later included in a more detailed book some day, but one of the highlight trips would have to be him getting black out drunk at Papas and Beer and me not too far behind, us almost breaking up a couple because the girl was very persistent with us on the dance floor and after that stumbling our way back to a hotel parking lot where we had parked. I nonchalantly relieved myself in front of my vehicle only to turn around to three heavily armed Federalis with very stern faces standing around my car staring at me. Luckily for me since an ATM had ripped me off earlier, the drunk girl of the couple kept sliding money into my pockets for unknown reasons and after the first few times of giving it back to her she succeeded. The Federali told me the problem could be solved for $20 and “act less drunk” after I finally convinced him Rob was too drunk to drive to be able to pick me up from the jail they wanted to give me a tour of. So I dug through my pockets and discovered the miracle my guardian angel had gifted me, $60 so I wouldn’t be spending an evening in a Rosarito holding cell with Juan “The Cigar” Gonzalez and Senor Papi Grande. Slightly more sober I zoomed up dimly lit roads to the border with Rob asleep in the seat next to me and patiently waited in a line of cars for my bladder to explode. We got to the border agents who apparently don’t believe in breathalyzer tests because after a brief conversation and them waking up a grumpy Rob insisting he remove his socks and shoes to check for pills and what not we made it through. I pulled off the first exit of the highway took a right in a round about of sorts, opened the door and projectile vomited, pulled up a few more feet stepped out and took the longest piss of my life, got back in, drove across the street, parked on a bridge and fell asleep until sometime in the morning. Good times… That definitely wasn’t the last or best of them, just a respectable benchmark and summary of our average weekend.
At some point I reconnected with a friend from Richmond who was living in San Francisco. He drove to L.A. and picked me up for a trip to Havasu Falls, which is a 14 mile hike each way deep into the Grand Canyon. We did next to no research, hopped in the car with minimal gear and set out after a few hours of sleep in the car as we waited for the sun to rise once we arrived. We hiked the entire day with a few snack and water breaks, but didn’t actually make the falls because we got lost in darkness so we threw a tent down on the side of a trail and awoke early to the sound of horses and Indians telling us we couldn’t camp there. We got the last mile done, found a stealth camp site after discovering it was $30 a night as we had not brought proper funds then explored the waterfalls for the next 2 days. Besides the Bahamas I’ve never seen water so bright blue, it was quite the site, especially after the barren waterless hike in. All of the sudden you’re surrounded by lush foliage, high cliffs and a large bright neon blue river that winds to 3 spectacular waterfalls.
A couple months later it was my grandpas 99th birthday, he lived with my uncle in Montana so I went to see him for what turned out to be the last time. I stopped in San Francisco for an evening and stayed with my friend then drove straight through except for a brief nap in a hotel parking lot at the bottom of a snowy mountain. For driving it doesn’t get much better than Montana, one moment you’re driving through farmland with nice streams and rivers, then suddenly through massive rock quarries up into huge snowy mountains, then back down again into what I can only imagine Alaska would look like and then you arrive to a really small random town called Great Falls and the Montana mystique ends with a thud. For the return trip it was a 14 hour straight through drive to Las Vegas where I crashed with Robs cousin for a few days, who can also lead you into trouble if that’s the goal, along with his back flipping Asian counterpart Ben Chi.
A few months later I reconnected with a friend in North Carolina that I’d started a budding relationship with so I decided I would head back east and we would go on our own road trip around the countryside.