I've been a recluse, a hermit, a monk, a blogger - among other vile things - lately. Go West, I said to myself. Get thee to Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, see the greatest car show on earth and, yes, also seek ye the Maserati Holy Grail on this the 100th anniversary of their formation. Previous men had come to California seeking their gold. I would come seeking mine: M-A-S-E-R-A-T-I!
Flying grieves me so. To put oneself in the hands of little people, to be herded, poked and prodded, to be shuffled along like a string of convicts to chow - somehow that has ripped the charm and allure away for me. I knew I would need muster the entire force of my persona to plow through this miasma of misguided thinking and pervasive self-paranoia to which we have succumbed in this society. Sigh.
Perhaps my negativity caused a self-fulfilling prophesy as sure enough Mister Blue Gloves punk asks to rifle through my carry-on. This I needed to nip in the bud.
"Look, son, don't let a false sense of importance get you carried away. This isn't security, it's security theater. Put some thought into your work, don't be random and blindly stupid."
"But, but - they told me -"
"I know what they told you. But ask yourself: do you want to die a man or a boy? If it's the former, then grow a pair and stop substituting their morality for your own. They just pretend to know better. OK?"
"Yes...yes...I see what you mean. You know, I've had that very same thought! I just thought I was being, uh - "
"You don't have to explain. It's the conservatives in every society who fuck things up."
"It's so clear! Why didn't I see that before? I can see the light!"
He kept raving like a blind man healed by Jesus as I crossed the gateway to the plane. I hadn't sat down five seconds when I get a tap on the shoulder from the seat behind.
"Sir, please, may I speak to you?"
Damn, everyone wants a piece of me. "Sure, what do you need?"
"I recognized you right away, Mr. Homeless. I'm the air marshal for this flight but I just wanted to say I'll completely defer to you in any crisis situation."
"No one has seen you in years. Your legend has only grown..."
"Oh, what men dare do..."
A supplicant stewardess approached me. "Sir, the pilot would like to see you before take-off."
"But, of course!" I snapped. Was I to be made door greeter as well? All this for being too poor to own my own plane. The trials of poverty never end.
The Captain took his hat off in my presence. "Sorry to bother you, sir, but I just know I forgot something in my pre-flight check but for the life of me I can't figure what it is. If I could just borrow your keen eye for a moment?"
"Dude!" I immediately pointed towards the offending switch. "The fog lights are off!"
"Yes, of course! I feel so embarrassed."
"You should be. Can I go now?"
"Well, uh, " he stammered. "If you wouldn't mind, later, maybe - I could use some advice on my love life."
"Consider it done," I declared (he had no idea I meant it literally). Then I dismissed him with a high hand, signifying my patience had come to an end. I overheard two stewardesses whispering as I headed back.
"Do you know who that was?"
"No, but he seemed really important!"
"Yes, that was Harry Homeless, the most interesting homeless man in the world."
And my journey had begun.
Driving out of the San Jose airport, first thing I noticed was the hills - and this boy knew he was far from home. I've heard the California experience sung about my entire life so I reserved the first day for a trip up the coast into San Francisco. The rolling of the land and the light atmosphere can only be understood firsthand. I felt I had stepped into a dream. Misty mountains, rolling hills, the constant farming - there was something in the feel of the place that made me understand why people flock to live here.
I checked into my hotel in Gilroy about 25 miles south of San Jose then started my planned trip up Highway 1 into San Francisco. Taking 152 to H1 was an adventure in itself! I was driving at the base of steep hills through a canopy of tall trees, like nothing I'd ever experienced. But then I found myself winding down a vary large hill in a wild ride of dead man's curves. I decided to stop and put the top down on the convertible. This was too good to pass up!
Getting on H1 was a bit of pain, but once on, it was magnificent, everything I'd imagined. Bear in mind, for every picture I took, there was a thousand more I passed up. I'd go nuts living out there. I had the sun, temperate weather, the smell (and taste even) of ocean salt in the air. I was drawn to stop, to explore, or just simply soak it up. I understand how the lifestyle could override the rest of your life; jobs just a means to an end.
San Francisco was exactly as I expected - only more so. My God, what a place; magical, wondrous. I wasn't sure if crossing the Golden Gate would live up to the hype - it surpassed it. I was envious of the many walkers, wishing to be one myself, to take my time and fully understand Journey's "Lights" song. Hard to imagine I'd ever get tired of making such a trek.
I had intended on visiting the Japanese Garden but I'd gotten toasty and burned in the convertible (which hampered me the rest of the trip). So I decided to avoid outdoor activity and head to Japan Town. I got lost along the way - but that was fun too! The steep hills in the movies are even steeper than you think and the views are breathtaking.
Japan Town was cool but the mall was a bit run down and cheesy in spots. Still, it had the high quality and unique shops I'd hoped it would have. I will treasure my new tea cup and my example of famous Ryukyu glass direct from Okinawa. Having not eaten in 15 hours I was running on fumes. I found a Japanese robata grill north of the bridge, dined on some fine yellow tail then drowsily made my way back south to Gilroy at the end of a very long twenty hour day. Even with that, I just felt my appetite had only been whetted for more.