Thursday, August 4, 2011

Days 3 & 4

Hey everybody—
Sorry for the irregularity of our posts. I can imagine it’s probably incredibly frustrating for you hundreds of loyal fans out there to be kept in the dark about the minutia of our daily experiences, but bear with us. Wi-fi is a rare commodity out here on the open road.
I’m writing this having just left the good ol’ 101/Highway 1—and with it, the Pacific Ocean. Horea is driving us along Highway 18 East toward a certain Motel 6 in Portland, Oregon, our final destination for tonight.  The salt is still dried in his hair from our parting plunge into the Pacific just outside of Lincoln City. Boy, is the water cold up here.
 But I’m getting ahead of myself. Allow me to start from where we last left all you devoted followers: the morning of day 3.
Monday, August 1st
Departed from: Berkeley, CA
Arrived at: Eureka, CA
With nothing but Cliff Bars in our bellies, we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and headed North. After about an hour we made a stop at a turnout overlooking a particularly breathtaking section of the 1. We hopped over the guardrail, sliding down cliffs and running through scrub as we narrowed the gap between us and the ocean. Only once we had reached the boulder-laden shore did Horea realize to all three of our respective horrors that his wallet had fallen out of his sweatpants’ pocket on the way down. If we didn’t find it, Horea wouldn’t be able to drive, he’d have no ID, and our trip would be potentially crippled, but by some miracle Hor and Ra found it after a mere twenty minutes of frantic, despairing searching.  
Having averted disaster, we once again struck out North along the 1, detouring at Point Reyes National Seashore to see what we could see. A wonderfully secluded peninsula of rolling hills, sheer cliffs, cattle ranches and pristine beaches, it provided us with scenery enough to keep us there for close to 3 hours. After Raffi snapped some pictures of the place, we chased deer, climbed a ramshackle water tower, and hiked around for a while. Horea and I did our best to sprint back up the three-hundred-seventy-something stairs we walked down to get to the Reyes Point lighthouse. We ate in a nearby town and proceeded with the long haul up the 1, and later, the 101, stopping only briefly to admire the scenery and snap a photo or two.
We finally decided to stop for the night in the city of Eureka, as it was the only place within a reasonable distance that had a Motel 6, but after Horea read an online review of the place that compared staying there to “sleeping in a sewer”, we instead found lodging at a place called The Lamplighter Motel. This proved to be a big mistake. Long story short: the place was shit. The Indian family running it was insane. But the beds were soft and we were tired, so we called it a day and crashed. Day 3: fulfilling

Tuesday, August 2nd
Departed from: Eureka, CA
Arrived at: Humbug Mountain State Park, OR
The three of us woke up at 9 and got the hell out of Eureka and that godforsaken motel as fast as possible. We planned to drive up to Redwood National Park, hike around for a while, and then drive up as far into Oregon as we could and camp on the coast. Thus, we set out again, fueled by a breakfast of Cliff Bars and water. The arid grass-and –shrub patchwork soon gave way to towering forests of thick-trunked redwoods. After a few hours of driving, we pulled over at an elk viewing point and observed a few of the beasts through binoculars from a healthy distance. Just as we were about to leave, I overheard a man in a group of fellow observers say something about a whale trapped up a river. I walked over and inquired further, and sure enough, he confirmed that there was a whale that had wandered up the Klamath river, gotten lost, and was now circling around a bridge located just eighteen miles North of where we were. Raffi, Horea and I all exchanged looks of exhilarated disbelief. We hopped in the car and made a beeline for the Klamath River.
We arrived at an RV park on the bank of the Klamath shortly thereafter. We gathered from our inquiries that the whale was, in fact, still circling the bridge just a quarter mile north of the camp. However, there was no trail from the campsite there, and a couple suggested that to get a more intimate look at the whale we should wade along the river’s edge to the base of the bridge. Horea and I decided to do so, but Raffi didn’t feel like it, so he stayed with the car. After about 20 minutes, we arrived at the base of the bridge. We could hardly believe our eyes. The thirty-foot-long titan of the sea swam no more than 40 feet from us, circling the bridge and sending up geysers of mist from its blowhole every so often. The fact that this scene was unfolding in the middle of a redwood forest made it all the more surreal.
I jokingly suggested that we should go swim with it, but Horea didn’t miss the hint of uncertain earnestness that lay under my jest. We slowly gathered up our courage, and before we knew it, we had stripped down to our boxers and jumped in the water, swimming towards the spot we had last seen the whale surface. The crowd of about a hundred people gathered on the bridge to observe the whale erupted in cries. Everyone seemed to be either encouraging us or telling us to get the fuck out of the water, so we decided to listen to the former camp and persisted in our pursuit of the enormous animal. We did so apprehensively, however. I know logically that a whale won’t harm a human, but the primordial fear that arises when you’re in the water with something that big is difficult to overcome. The closest we got was probably about 35 feet. At that point, someone who might have been a park ranger (we couldn’t really tell) shouted at us in a booming, authoritative voice to “get OUT of the water!” We obliged him, snuck up a narrow trail, and hitchhiked back to Raffi and the Golf.
We continued our journey through the redwoods, detouring of the 1 along the 199 with the intention of eventually rejoining the 1 by way of the 197 North. We stopped along the beautiful, powerful Smith River to take pictures. I brought my goggles down as well, and, finding the water surprisingly warm, swam around in its pristinely clear waters. At some points it was over twenty feet deep, but I could still see all the way to the bottom. We got back in the car and I soon fell asleep.
When I awoke, we were lost. We had taken a wrong turn (we stayed on the 199 instead of turning onto the 197 back toward the 1) and ended up well west of where we thought we were going. We figured out that we would have to take a huge detour to get back on track, a detour that would add a full hour and a half to our trip. As it turned out though, making the wrong turn that put us on this detour was an excellent decision. The road climbed through redwood-covered mountains and took us to some unfathomably beautiful views. As Raffi put it shortly after the sun set red over the blue mountains, “That might have been the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen.”
We finally pulled into the Humbug Mountain camp site at around 11 p.m. We set up our tent, cooked some franks and beans on our camp stove, Horea and I packed a lip, and we fell asleep. Day 4: unforgettable.

Day 2

Departed from: Berkeley, CA
Arrived at: Berkeley, CA
After waking up past noon, we were ready for a day in San Francisco. I had never been in the city, and was extremely pumped to see what it was like. We took the BART (a subway type thing) that actually runs under the ocean. We took the BART from Berkeley to San Francisco and saw some pretty strange people on the way. A 40-year old white man was wearing a large, incredibly shiny “San Francisco marathon” gold medal around his neck while dressed in short shorts and running shoes. I couldn’t help but chuckle. We started walking around the city and immediately spotted 2 bulldogs sleeping parallel to each other in the exact same position. They were cuter than bunnies nibbling on baby carrots so we had to take a picture with them. Soon after, we went to Chinatown and ate at Sam Wo’s. This authentic and run-down Chinese shop was the epitome of value. The tea was served in a rusted metal tea pot, the water that Duncan ordered came in a crusty plastic jug type thing.  Not to mention that our chow-Mein with duck that we ordered came from the first floor to the second floor on a pulley system that was maneuvered through an old laundry chute. Damn. We then walked through a random park and saw a group of drunk hobos and decided to walk by. I took a video of us walking by the hobos while the hobos asked us if we were on a bobsledding team. We said no and ignored whatever crazy statements they might have slurred. Randomly walking into an Roman Catholic sermon in an enormous cathedral was our next escapade. We kept walking around the city and enjoyed its company for a couple more hours until it came time for us to return to Raffi’s brothers house for dinner. We had surprisingly tasty chicken quesadillas. Next, Duncan and I got dismantled in a game of beerpong, and then decided to play some smash bros. Levon, Raf’s brother, taught us the rules of drinking smash and we all proceeded to play for a good hour. Every time you die, you have to chug while your character is floating on the platform (no touching the controller of course). After a good hour of this game, we were ready for bed. The two 30’s that Levon had bought were almost gone. Almost…
                Waking up the next morning was great. Beer cans everywhere, plates with greasy avocado and quesadilla remains scattered any open space. It was a beautiful sight to wake up to. Day 2: colorful.
-          Horea

Day 1

After 3 incredibly frustrating hours of trying to jam all the things we’ll need this month into Raffi’s VW Golf, we finally departed from my house in San Pedro, CA at 1 p.m. today. Our goal that day: Raffi’s brother Levon’s place in Berkeley. Our departure was somewhat discouraging; traffic was worse than usual on the 405 and didn’t clear up until well into our route on the 101.
When we got hungry we made our first stop in Santa Barbara at an incredibly indie health food place called Backyard Bowls. Like reaaaaaaaaalllyyyy indie. Its menu consisted entirely of things like organically grown acai berries and goat’s yogurt and hemp seeds and stuff. I even asked the guy who worked there if the plastic spoon he gave me to eat with was recyclable. When he replied that it wasn’t, I was for an instant deeply disappointed, but then breathed a sigh of relief when he elaborated that it was compostable and offered to put it in the store’s own compost heap.
We were still running way behind schedule so we hauled ass to toward 1 and didn’t make any stops for a long while, which was kind of a drag. The only way this trip is going to succeed is if we stick to our itinerary, but it also won’t be much of a success if we don’t have time to jump out of the car and climb a mountain or chase some goats every once in a while.
The second stop was this beautiful viewing point near Big Sur on the 1 at around 7 p.m. We snapped a few pictures, threw some rocks off the cliff, and hopped back in the car. After that it started to get dark, so we didn’t get to see the rest of the coastline or Big Sur, but that wasn’t too much of a loss seeing as the three of us plus Mark and Danny camped up there this past winter.
Around 9:40, we passed through Monterey and decided to stop for clam chowder bread bowls. On the way out of the parking lot, some guy who was stranded with a bunch of kids asked us if we had jumper cables, so being the outstanding samaritan that I am, I ran back to the Golf while Ra and Hor went to go order the chowder. After 15 minutes of excavating our mountains of bags and supplies to find the jumper cables all the way at the bottom of the trunk, and somehow spilling motor oil all over the car in the process, I ran to the poor man’s aid. Only he was gone. Someone else had given him a jump, and he hadn’t even waited around to tell me “thanks, but we’ve got it”. Well fuck you, stranger in distress. You’re a complete asshole. Waiting around long enough to say thank you wouldn’t have killed you. We ate our chowder and left.
The final 100 miles to Berkeley passed without incident. We finally arrived at Lev’s place just before 1 a.m. We chilled with Lev and his roommate Konrad for a while and called it a night. Day one: classic.