Top 8 Traits of a Successful Super Fancy Business Man or Woman

Clearly, becoming a Super Fancy business man or woman is not for everyone. In an increasingly competitive global and connected Internet market, not everyone can afford to sell their soul for giant pieces of real estate and Hollywood mansions. How do you know it’s for you? Proper Big Business etiquette starts with fakery, legal thievery, and a mindset to follow the guidelines of the eight traits below:

1) An air of importance and superiority. From the morning conferences, to the daily checking of the stock market and other investments, to riding in a limousine or taxi, to taking a dump in a porcelain toilet– they do it in a manner of superior air and privilege above all other humans.

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2) They work harder than everyone else, as long as it does not involve actual physical labor. Successful super fancy business men and women around the world love to micromanage and create tasks for others to do and “create jobs” with their endless piles of cash– but put in an actual labor job before their eyes and they’ll be sure to disappear before you can say the word wage and they’ll set off immediately to assign someone else for the labor.

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3) Relentless ambition. From their so-called associates to business partners, successful super fancy business men and women will stomp all over their compatriots in a heat beat if it gets in the way of their “vision” of financial gain and power. At the end of the day, you can find these gems of society possibly smoking a cigar or drinking a glass of wine and celebrating business-as-usual. Upon viewing their excrement in a porcelain toilet, they may find its’ essence to be a shimmering golden nugget. Even the bathroom may be decorated with various awards and degrees to showcase their betterment than everyone else. You can find their social networks pampered with exorbitant awards and visuals of do-gooding and other collections of half-truths.
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4) Over-confidence. Have a good idea you want to share with a super fancy business man or woman? You better not do it without first bowing down to these Harvard-graduated, leopard-scarf wearing, pricey cologne-perfume scented, classist, fascist people who consider themselves Gods. They’re way more creative, more efficient, more savvy, more logical, better for business, better for the environment, promote more workplace equalness, and anything that comes out of their mouth hole is better than thou. So loosen your tie, put your head down, and roll out the red carpet for a Super fancy business man or woman who will save the day or even the world, all while increasing profits and the companies’ trade worth.

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5) Sense of purpose above others. Is your city or town bankrupt? Need a billionaire Super Fancy business man or woman to save the day? No problem. These elitist leaders have more purpose than any existing primates and will gladly demolish your historic towns and pull in their big business ventures. That’s a historic church, you say? Well let’s give this town a sense of purpose by ripping it down, stripping it of its’ character, and in its’ place building monochrome neighborhoods and Corporate banks. Watch a Super fancy business man or woman stride through uptown on any day of the week and you better believe they’ll let you know who you’re dealing with.
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6) Bravery in the workplace. In this constant, fast-paced, fast-priced, dog-eat-dog business climate, a Super Fancy business man or woman has to acquire bravery to rise to the top of the Rat Race. Firing employees if it affects the overhead cost-profit margin too much, sending business overseas at any time, or even going where no Super Fancy business man or woman has gone before and replacing mom and pap businesses with characterless Corporate franchises. A billionaire has to be brave when he or she has nothing to lose but a few measly million-dollar investments.
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7) Their words are impeccable, and only because they said so. If a Super Fancy business man or woman tells you they “care about the environment” or the “future of the community” or “reducing pollution”, you better believe it without question since they are the authority. As long as these words lead to power and profits, you can bet your bottom dollar and last unpolluted river that they’ll tell their customers whatever it is that they want to hear. Now go buy yourself a five-dollar Starbucks coffee chump, and save the environment while conversing with others about synergy and company core values.

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8) They care about your future. Of course they do, because Super Fancy business men and women own most of the world’s money and resources in theory, locked up in bank vaults while others starve. They care about what they are investing in and the piles of mass consumed garbage around the world can prove it. Super Fancy business men and women know what’s best for everyone at every time, and the bureaucrats and police authorities support them above others. Now stop reading this and get out of the way– there is progress to be made, loser!

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The Graveyard Salesman

He was in the business of selling stocks in souls for five cents a share. As the supply went down and the demand went up, the price for sale was set to rise exponentially. Profits to be made were at hand. With a black briefcase full of sparks and a fast hands, the graveyard salesman was in it to make quick and easy sales.

He walked up and down the rows of cracked stone grave markers, some old, some new and freshly waxed with fancy gravestone quotes. If one didn’t know any better, one would have thought even in the afterlife there was a caste system readily in place. Some angels were better than others, some devils were of lesser evils. Some required so much paperwork that the others didn’t know where to send them. “Aaaaaah, take a number and have a seat,” a woman in stiletto heels and a fat cigar lit in her mouth mumbled in between puffs at the pearly gates. She shuffled a mound of paperwork restlessly, some blowing down and torching at the edges, others blowing in the wind and evaporating in the clouds. ” Eh, just go back, there’s too much paperwork and we don’t have the time.”

But that was then, this was here. Here was a dark night out of a Hollywood B-side movie on a rainy night as the wolves howled in the distance, the owl hooted from a direction the wind would not suggest, and nobody was around but a weary traveler and a graveyard full of healthy ghosts from different eras and strange, separate but elusively still-connected lives.

The graveyard salesman trotted on, passing the traveler and his dirty rucksack where it lay next to a pile of dusty clothes used as a makeshift pillows. He thought of stopping to try and sell him something but years of tele-marketing, social network-marketing, door-to-door selling and graveyard marketing informed him that a living person that slept in graveyards probably didn’t want to buy anything. So he let him peacefully to dream, one half of his mind out of this world, the other half on a pile of crinkled, dirty traveler’s apparel.

” Step right up!,” the graveyard salesman called out as he approached a group of young twenty-somethings dancing to Elvis. They all had died in a car crash years ago. “Step right up and buy something, we’ve got everything you’d ever want! Everything you’ll ever need and then some! Buy it today, not tomorrow! Financing available! Pay installments forever!” (This last tactic only worked since they were already dead and they existed only in a state of foreverism, so there would be plenty of time to pay bills)

The youth kept dancing, the music blasting from a tired set of crackly speakers and a scratchy, dust-blown record player. The voice of Elvis came out of the speakers like a fast-whipping hurricane:

I look at window
and what to I see
I see a bird
way up in the tree
I want to be free free

He offered them an Iphone, for sale on discount since it was a slightly expired model. To this generation, it should be something unimaginably futuristic and something to impress their friends with. The graveyard salesman even offered in a free solar panel thrown in the deal, all only for the price of 299.99, plus taxes, thank you very much, so they could charge their gadgets during the day and use them when they came alive at night.

“Imagine a juke box that fits into the palm of your hand! All of your music to dance to at your fingertips! Everything you could ever need to be happy and then some!”

The group just exchanged confused glances as they turned down the music and they passed.

Onwards to the next gravestone, that a man who died of cancer in his early forties only ten years ago. The man was in a long-sleeve white shirt, black pants and a loosened red tie. His shirt was torn, shredded and his face seemed frozen, unchangeable and blank.

“How about you, good sir? Surely, you would be interested in mortgaging a house for the low, low price of 300,000 dollars!” He popped open his briefcase and sparks and fireworks shot out, lighting the dark night sky. A hologram of a beautiful modern home in suburbia shot up onto display.

“This beauuuuuuuutiful home has 12 bedrooms, three bathrooms, a four-car garage, a 100-acre property that overlooks a beach and if you buy today, we can finance forever with low, low installments of only 200 dollars a month! Surely upon buying this good sir, as I can see you need happiness, you will be the happiest person on your block! All of your neighbors will be jealous and envy of your obvious success! So how about sir? Would you like to sign on the dotted line and move into today? Oh yes, and not to mention the fact that the government is offering a no-tax incentive for buyers that have left this Earth! So how ’bout it buddy? You look like you could use a new home!”

The man shook his head, said nothing and nonchalantly set down an old picture of a woman and two kids, frayed at the edges onto the cold ground. The graveyard salesman moved on, to an old gravestone with cracks and cobwebs draped around it. The man had died in the early 1800s of small pox while in his late-twenties.

The man wore a wig, tight brown pants, black boots, and a dignified tan shirt which had the air of aristocracy. He clearly was of European decent and held a prominent position in the society before he checked out.

“Hello, good fine gentleman! Surely I could think of something just right to sell to you! Surely your wife would like a new dress? How about four new horses for your carriage? The automotive revolution doesn’t come till over 100 years from now, but until then you have plenty of materialistic things to indulge yourself and family into! How about an umbrella to keep you dry amongst all this rain tonight? It’s one that surely has an aura of class for a gentleman of high-society as yourself and it comes with a pair of leather boots, all included complimentary!”

A woman in a long red dress suddenly appeared next to the man, glanced the graveyard salesman up and down and held the 19th century gentleman’s hand. “How about something for the lovely lady? Why yes, surely the lovely lady would like some perfume! I’m not sure how the afterlife smells, but it could always smell better for you! If not that, maybe you’d like to invest in the oil industry? Let me just give you a clever hint that it’s bound to make you a rich man sir! Why yes, I can offer you happiness in the form of tangible things, how ’bout it! Just step right up!”

They declined and went back to dancing to slow music, banjos and acoustic guitar, piano and fiddle.

Gravestone to gravestone and the salesman just wasn’t having any luck. Nothing he wanted to sell could be sold to the ghosts, no matter how hard he tried. His commission rates of zero floated through his head and haunted him as he left the cemetery. The salesman’s boots sunk into the soft mud and a coyote eyed him curiously as he walked out onto the main road, shortly after darting back into the bushes and field just beyond. The sun was now rising and morning was rising in a mist of fog and the rain had transformed into a light mist.

He found the first home he could in the land of suburbia. A newer black SUV and a red car set in a freshly-paved driveway and perfectly manicured lawn. The house belonged to a small family of four yet looked like you could fit about four families of ten inside it comfortably. The graveyard salesman became the suburbia salesman and he knocked firmly, two times on a wooden door.

A woman answered the door, as first tentative, but then seeing his shiny black briefcase and hearing his spill she offered him inside. ” Mam, I can offer you anything you might need. How about a new 30-inch plasma TV? A new Iphone? A shiny new car? A short vacation to a far off land where people serve you as you sip martinis? How about some imitation happiness, manufactured in a country just shortly off our own country’s shores? That’s been selling well lately, lots, lots, LOTS of satisfied customers! Why, of course, we offer payment plans with minimal interest rates!”

Before long, the graveyard salesman’s eyes were lit up in dollars and people from all over the neighborhood were lining right up. “Cometh all ye idiots, gather in long lines of blissful consumerism and order ye IPhones!,” he called out over a loudspeaker. He could always count on the next person in line to spend more money on the bigger and better version than the former.

He poured his profits in his briefcase and set off down the road, with the intention from now on to avoid the living at all costs.

He was in the business of selling souls for ten cents a share; stocks were rising.

Tabletop Mountain (Golden, CO)

At the entrance to the trail head at the furthest point the small bus of Golden is willing to take us, we begin to ascend up a winding switchback to the top of Tabletop Mountain in Golden. The mountain is a series of jagged rocks and sharp switchbacks with some scrambling at the peak. Formed through volcanic activity millions of years ago (the mountain is now dormant), it has an aged-appearance of something that is timeless and doesn’t bend or forgive to man’s petty 30 to 100 years spent on this planet. We are minuscule; a tiny drop of sand along the ocean, tiny glint of light in the galaxy, a soggy corn flake at the bottom of your morning cereal bowl. The mountain has many paths, all of which lead to death– but you’re free to enjoy whichever path you choose. That’s the gift of life.
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The erosion of sand along the trail makes it slick in some spots and it makes it difficult at time to find your footing. I find myself wishing I had brought boots rather than running sneaks. The view from the top is stunning, although everything in mountain country tends to lean this way. Below, there is the Coors brewery with its’ faded paint mixed with the pungent smell of hops and refinery. The smell is intoxicating and my taste buds and stomach crave for a fresh beer, yet up here there is just dust, grime, sunlight. The sun shoots a blanket of heat down to the hardened canopy below.
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Along the trail, there is an abandoned Home Depot shopping cart and a black widow with a red dot on the abdomen nestled beside it. It’s good to keep your eyes open before you sit down. The red hourglass on the body serves as nature’s warning for other birds thinking of dining on the poisonous spider; however, some birds dine on them anyways and pay the consequence.

Being how high up on the ridge we are, one has to ask how the shopping cart actually got there. Did someone drag it all the way to the top? Attached to the front handles of the cart is a hardened rope. It seems too steep for someone to have pulled it to the top though. It’s not till we get to the top that we realize there are other paths that are less steep that lead to the same confluence and someone could have perhaps took it along the straighter path and pushed it off the cliff…? But why, and what’s the story? You can make a guess.
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The height of Tabletop Mountain is only over 6,000 feet so it’s nothing to grueling but an efficiently-timed day hike that’s easy to squeeze into about any schedule. At the top, we stop to enjoy the view. The sky is clear blue with scattered puffs of white clouds like something out of a picture book. The artistry in the sky is nonchalant in attitude. Cactus sprout up occasionally. Someone has placed a pacifier on the branch of a bush along the descending trail. Suck on that as a landmark! There is something that’s not as nerving when you see an object along the trail of the sort that someone has put thought behind it. It’s the discarded and empty beer bottles along the beginnings of trail heads that piss me off. And why is it, almost always, that they are at the beginnings of the trails and less frequent at the top? As another mark of the sloppy people that mindlessly discard aluminum cans into the bush, most are too lazy to even make it to the top.
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On the descending trail, there is suddenly less sun and more shade offered as the sun is on the other side. We are now on the west side of the mountain. Here the climate has changed enough to offer different plant and wildlife. Sparrows shoot back and forth in between the valley. A tiny, furry critter on four legs darts between bushes along the trail but is unrecognizable. Near the bottom of the trail nearest the houses and a residential neighborhood, we stumble upon a rattlesnake which upon closer inspection turns out to be dead. Someone has taken it upon his or herself to chop off its’ head. Now nature is taking its’ course with every small insect from flies to bees bringing it back to where it came from– just dust in the ground.
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Magpies congregate at the beginning of the trail head where we began this trek; yapping away and flying from the pine tree to the wooden fence of the house beside it. The mountain said, “there are multiple trails. All which lead to death.” Still, they often times end up taking you back to the same place you came from, except it looks altogether different this time around.

Backpack Full of Bush Dust

A caravan with a camper trailer cuts us off causing the driver to swerve out of the way. She just about honks the horn but something causes her to refrain. “Oh well,” she says. “Without tourism this town would die.” This is in the small town of Ingham, Australia.
The car rambles on, the motor thumping away at the beat of its’ last legs of life. The lady who has offered me a ride is an older country woman. “We have a chicken at the farm that lays 8 to 10 eggs each day,” she says with a measure of pride.

Hitchhiking has been slow-going and tough in this area.
On a winding road through the tropical region near Cairns and sprawls of sugar cane plantations I wait on the side of the road for over two hours before a ride finally comes. One short ride had gotten me into a tough spot where the traffic was too fast and it was difficult for anyone to pull over, even if they wanted to.
I get a lift from an Aboriginal man named Matt, who has picked up a couple that are hitchhiking together all around Australia. Not only are they hitchhiking Australia but they say they have been continuously wandering the roads, landscape and culture of Australia for over five years. They make their travel money from their online business. They seem cautious to tell me exactly what that online business is.
Matt, the driver works for a company called Linked-In that helps Aboriginal people link with their lost relatives from the Stolen Generation. I ask him what his job ensues.

“It’s a mixture of using library databases, computers, and speaking with local communities,” he says. “Some kids were taken away as far as New Zealand, even the United States in some instances.”
Amanda tells me a story about her and Alex driving a desolate road in Australia once and a man came out of the bushes with torn clothing and a three-foot long beard. “We usually pick up every hitchhiker we see, it’s our commitment,” she said. “But that was the one guy we actually passed up. “He looked like he had been living in the bush for years.”
Hours later, we arrive in Cairns and I call Max my host. He says that he won’t be around till tomorrow, so it looks like I’ll be camping again tonight. I throw out my guitar case and busk for awhile and in over an hour I’ve done considerably well. People appreciate the music, except for a disgruntled fat woman who acts as the authoritative manager and tells me I have to move along. I wonder how she would feel if someone came and told her to “move along” with her job? I’m creating a pleasant atmosphere for her customers; some people can be thoughtless and robotic in nature.

I can’t fully blame her though. It’s only the pressures and the weight of the world. Her boss pressures her to behave and remain obedient to the rules of the Corporate Masters.

I stealth camp right in front of the grocery store, in a small island of grass filled with trees. I lay low inside my bevy sack and take shelter from the misty rain that falls and comes down off the mountains.

Read more by purchasing the book “Backpack Full of Bush Dust” by J.R. Clancy, available for paperback and Kindle on Amazon!

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Back in the Saddle– Misadventures to Come

In less than a week, I’ll be either sharing a ride or hitchhiking to Los Angeles, California to fly out to Bangkok, Thailand for a self-supported bicycle trip around the country of Thailand. I’ll be cycling in Thailand-Malaysia for a month and ending the first segment in Singapore. On April second, I will be flying out of Singapore and into Darwin, Australia. The next three months or so will be spent cycling and exploring the Outback and the eastern coast of Australia. (that is the plan anyways!)

Here is a picture of my intended route of Thailand-Malaysia and Australia (up for improvisation of course!) Solid lines are intended cycling and broken lines are intended bus/hitchhiking.

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I’ve never traveled to either one of the countries ever in my life, and I do not speak a lick of Thai. If you have been following the news, Bangkok has been going through a sort of people’s revolution at the moment, so things might get interesting. I will be winging it and hopefully meeting lots of locals and wild camping along the trip, in both countries. I’ve been living frugally and saving for this trip for some time. I’ll also be living frugally during the trip in order to stretch my funds. It makes it for a more interesting trip and more adventuresome– I won’t be staying in any five star hotels, although I might give in and stay in a hostel or two here and there.

As I said in my earlier post, I’ll be bringing a Dahon folding bicycle as it can be shipped easier (and hopefully for less hassle and without bogus fees!) on the airplanes. My plan is to package the bike each time into a cardboard box, which I can discard once I reach my destination. Three flights- one from LA to Bangkok, one from Singapore to Darwin, and one (that I have not yet booked) most likely from Darwin back to LA. I’m not sure that I’ll find time to post here as I travel (or want to, really) but I will be posting some pictures and reflections if not during, definitely upon the return from the trip in about four months.

I’ve been thinking about and dreaming of this trip more or less since I returned from previous travels, and it’s hard to believe it’s around the corner. I’d like to connect with other travelers on this blog and swap stories, especially with vagabond- bicycle tourist-musician type travelers.

Where are you traveling? Why are you going there? I’m interested in your stories.

Why not go on the trip you’ve been dreaming about? I’ve always been interested in Australia and Southeast Asia. I think bicycle is the best form of travel in my experience and a great way to meet people and move at a decent pace as you go. Not to mention that you get exercise and stay healthy as you do so. You are able to travel with goals and you don’t waste time just lounging on beaches with the other tourists. I can’t wait to eat as much Thai food as I possibly can!

It’s about following passion, it’s about improvising with limited resources and using your imagination. Being committed to following what you love and honestly, thinking for yourself, listening to but also developing one’s own opinions through travel. Supporting everyone else who stays true to who they are. I’ll be bringing a small travel guitar, of course. (gotta keep chops up and I’m sure I will meet musicians on the road)

Who knows what’s going to happen along the way. Misadventures are bound to happen and they’re always the shittiest things to go through when they happen, but the best to talk and laugh about in hindsight. I’m going to have the time of my life no matter what.

What I’ll Be Bringing

Life on the road will include the following: (I’m going minimal as possible this time to save weight!)

1 Dahon folding bicycle

1 spare tube ( no more, I figure I can patch them as I go and buy more if needed at a local bicycle shop)

1 mini bike pump

1 sleeping bag

1 bivvy sack (in case I get stuck in rain in the middle of the country!– this replaces the bulk weight of having a tent)

1 pair of pants

1 nice shirt (for going to dinner, stuff like that)

1 shorts

1 shirt

3 boxers

3 pair socks

1 tire lever

1 bicycle lubricant

2 bicycle panniers

1 toothbrush, tube of toothpaste

1 raincoat

1 pair shoes

1 pair lightweight sandals

1 Martin travel guitar (weighs 2 pounds!)

1 journal, 1 I-Touch device (for pictures and Wi-fi connection)

If anything goes majorly wrong with the bike– which I hope it doesn’t but could happen– I’ll just hitch into the next town and have it fixed. It’s not worth it to me to carry heavy tools around to fix it myself on the road. Every kilo counts! Life will be simple– the less the better. Really, what more does a person need?!

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(The bike, loaded down. )

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(Makeshift backpack for carrying my guitar and food/ what-not. A good use of an otherwise junk backpack.)

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(More or less everything I will be carrying on the trip.)

In First Review: The Dahon Folding Bicycle

ImageThe Dahon folding bicycle fits well into place along San Diego beaches.

 

Have you ever been in the position where you’d like to take your bicycle somewhere but transporting it to that place hold you back?  Take, for example, fitting a full-sized road bicycle onto a crowded train that has no designated area for bicycles during rush hour in a city.  Or bringing your bicycle overseas to bicycle tour in a foreign country.  Or commuting by bicycle to work but having no convenient area in your small office to store it safely while working. Dahon offers a possible solution to these problems for cyclists. 

Personally, I’ve toured the United States and Europe a few times and folding bicycles and it truly is nice to have over twenty gears to choose from, especially on long stretches of rolling hills or mountain passes– this, of course, is a no-brainer.  However, I’d reached a point in my bicycle touring adventures where I had to come to a compromise.  

Developing my style of travel, I’ve decided that it’s nice to have the option to hop off the bike and take a train or hitchhike whenever one feels like up.  It can help to change the pace and also break up what can become monotony while cycling– which is, ironically, usually the very reason one jumps on a bicycle and starts riding cross-country in the first place.

So enter the Dahon folding bicycle, pictured above.  It folds at four key points in less than a minute, making it for easy transportation.  It can fit easily into any car (which is often a problem unless one has a proper bicycle rack), it can fit easily into trains (without taking up too much space), and it can easily be transported from one country to the next on planes (hopefully without excess fees, more to come on that!).

So I took the Dahon folding bicycle on a mini-adventure to San Diego from Denver, Colorado to really test this bicycle out.  I could ride it around locally all day long, but the real test for me is how it holds up on long-distance trips– the ultimate test is coming up soon when I fly into Bangkok, Thailand with it at the end of this month and start cycle touring Southeast Asia.  

So, after a mix of hitchhiking and cycling from Denver to San Diego and back, I’ve got the results in my experience to all interested!

Portability- This bike has proven to be extremely portable!  I fit it into a tiny little Mazda hatchback with four passengers total and extra luggage without a problem.  The Dahon bicycle folds once in the center, and at the front fork so the handlebars come down.  The pedals also fold inwards.  In total, the bicycle weighs close to twenty pounds–extremely light!  The model I have also has a rear rack for touring or town commuting.

ImageDahon bike folded nicely along the road while hitchhiking in northern-inland California.  

Rideability-  I was questioning this one when I bought the bike.  I thought it might feel like a cheesy kids’ bike and not something truly roadworthy.  To my pleasant surprise, I was wrong.  It handles and feels like a real bicycle, and I’m confident to take it touring with me.  It handles bumps smoothly, doesn’t make any strange squeaky noises, and moves at a surprisingly quick speed.  Hills, however, can be more challenging, but nothing that will make someone determined enough quit.  The steering can take some getting used to– a bit different than a regular road bike for sure.

Affordability-  There are a variety of models available online starting around $500.  One site worth checking out is nycewheels.com.  

Touring Worthiness? -  In my experience so far, yes.  I only had one flat so far, and since the wheels on mine are only a size 20, they were thoroughly easy to change tubes on (sure beats fighting with a mountain bike tire!) and maintenance on this bike is very simple.  Only having seven gears to choose from keeps things simple, although slightly a bit more challenging.  

Overall, I would give these bicycles a 9 out of 10– 9 being because there doesn’t seem to be a place on my bike to install a simple water bottle holder.  Perhaps I’ll have to drill installments myself!  More reviews to come on this bike, and follow the blog to track my bicycle trip through southeast Asia on a Dahon folding bicycle!  

In the meantime, check out the bicycles available on Nyce Wheels here:

http://www.nycewheels.com/dahon-folding-bike.html Continue reading

Hitch-biking adventure- Denver to San Diego and back

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I’d been thinking about visiting San Diego for some time so a week or so I set out on a short trip to actually do so. San Diego has some of the best weather in the country for active living, cycling, and outdoor activities. Outside of this, I was curious as to how the San Diego music scene currently sits and the overall local scene. Hitch-biking from Denver to San Diego and back in a short mini-adventure, I would find out.

First, I met Gary in an Albertson’s parking lot in Denver and helped him change out the tires on one of his wheels to one with better tread. Gary and I made contact through a Craigslist post– he was heading to the Oakland/ San Francisco area. It sounded close enough to me, so I agreed to ride along, helping with the driving and unloading of the items he was delivering through U-Ship across the country.

Gary drives an old Ford F-250 pickup truck with a homemade trailer on the back. He is shipping some furniture to Salt Lake City, Utah and also a piece of exercise equipment to Oakland, California. On Gary’s dash sits a clutter of items, one including what Gary refers to as a “dash frog.” Gary says that it is important to always keep a dash frog on one’s person during a long journey.

We pass through a part of the desert of Wyoming and it somehow feels like we have been temporarily transported back in time fifteen years. Gas attendants stand around bored and BS-ing, one girl comments something about a Facebook post someone made. Gary and I exchange stories on the road. Some of the best are when Gary met the actual Craig of Craigslist at a wedding reception in San Francisco, and another of a bear that broke into his tent while he was camping in the mountains with friends as a boy.

We crash in Reno, Nevada for the night at one of Gary’s friends house and I roll out my sleeping bag and sleep on the floor. Gary’s friend’s house is filled with interesting art collections, world maps, cats, and a box in the corner that is sealed and reads : DEPARTMENT OF FUCK YOU.

In the morning, we try leaving the small town of Reno, Nevada and as forgotten episodes of Reno 911 play through my mind, we hear an unsettling sound coming from Gary’s trailer and realize that the bearings on the axle have actually broken apart and we won’t be going anywhere till we fix it. So we pull up to an RV business and re-pack new bearings and set the axle back together in a hurricane-like wind that shoots down the mountainside directly at us. An hour or so later and we are back on the road.

We make it to Lake Tahoe and find out that chains are required for the mountain pass. We are now entering the state of California from western Nevada, and we find ourselves regretting not have purchased chains beforehand, because the price isn’t “discounted” when you are forced to buy them at the mountain pass. A worker sets up our chains and we are off, through ice and snow. A Suburban nearly slides off the cliff as we make the summit and descend down the sharp hill. After the mountain pass, the snow disappears and the scenery begins to look more like what I envisioned of California.

We soon enough arrive in Oakland, California and Gary gives me a short tour of his home town and the former steel factories that have been converted to industrial-type art studios. Giant creatures forged and welded from metal stalk the slums of the city, and someone has added “Studios” at the end of “American Steel” to make it “American Steel Studios.” We are distinctly in Oakland, California.

He sets me off at the trolly station and I purchase a ticket to head close to the highway where I plan to hitch hike with my Dahon folding bicycle the next day. I ask one of the local riders for directions, and he asks me if I have a place to stay for the night. I tell him I do not, but I’ll be alright, but he kindly insists that I can stay at his place and crash on the couch if I want. Sure beats sleeping on the streets!, I decide. One night while in San Diego, I decide to sleep in Balboa Park, which is enormous and one of the largest public parks in the United States. I nearly step onto a homeless man who is sleeping near a picnic table. “Sorry! Just looking for a place to crash, didn’t see ya!,” and I laugh to myself and move on.

So I meet Andrew and his friend Silvia, and we end up having a great night going for Mexican food, jamming on guitars, and drinking some whiskey.

The next day, Andrew and Silvia give me a lift to the start of Interstate 5, which goes directly south into Los Angeles and San Diego. I try hitching out of the exit for an hour or so, with no success in my efforts, so I decide to take a moment and hang out with the cowboy playing banjo in front of the gas station in the middle of the desert. “Name’s Red,” he tells me. ” Welcome to the armpit of California.” He tells me his stories about train hopping, his life on the road. ” I’m just trying to get to the coast,” he tells me. “It’ll get better from there.”

For me, it only gets better when I finally decide to take Plan B and cycle out of this hole of a rest area, and I make my way south for about 40 miles along the five until it is fast-approaching dark. The weather in California plays tricks on you in the winter time, since it feels like summer but gets dark early because it’s actually winter. I get a flat tire on the rear of my bike just as night approaches, and I really luck out when one of the Craigslist rideshare calls and says that they are headed southbound for San diego and I can ride with them. I push my bicycle one mile to the exit that they are parked at and we head off.

It turns out that both of the guys riding are college students heading to San Diego to surprise their girlfriends with a visit and flowers, which we stop at a local grocery store to pick up while ” Love Song” by the Cure ironically plays over the speakers. We crack jokes and laugh about the whole thing, and eventually I get dropped off at Lestat’s coffee house in San Diego, a 24-hour coffee shop I had researched prior to arriving. Overall, I have nothing but positive things to say about this coffee shop, first being that it seems to be one of the only 24-hour coffee shops in the city of San Diego. The air is pure, and comfortably warm for the month of January. The weather stays perfect throughout my entire visit.

The next day, I meet Corey and Barbara, my couch surfing hosts for my stay in San Diego. They are a super-friendly couple, Corey being from Australia and Barbara a native to San Diego. They offer me insights to the city that I otherwise would not have discovered, and Barbara’s mom makes a fantastic dinner for us.

I spend a lot of time just cycling around San Diego exploring– it proves to be a great city for that. On one day, I go see the band Pinback perform at the Casbah along with the opening band Deathfix. They were both spectacular live bands.

One day, I decide to go to Tijuana and visit Mexico. Despite the fact that Tijuana is only a long southern trolly ride away from downtown San Diego, once you cross the border, it is very much Mexico and it becomes clear that one is not in Kansas anymore. I walk freely across the border without anybody asking for a passport or any proof of identification. This is a double-standard, and not the same process when one crosses back into the United States, but even so, they only asked for my passport on the way back and it was relatively painless.

A woman apparently on drugs lays on the sidewalk and babbles about “propane” as I walk along the walkway into the border. There seems to be a lot of people traveling from Mexico to work in the United States for the day. I’m overwhelmed by the amount of people bustling about; the smells of garbage, of food, of old rusty shopping carts filled with anything and everything imaginable, with Mexicans running up to expensive-looking cars and rubbing them down for a tip (which seems to make it dirtier than before), of people dressed as clowns in traffic and juggling for tips, of cars honking, of the pace of the morning traffic as the sun slowly rolls over the horizon– most of the shops seem to still be closed for the day. At eleven o’clock, doors seem to open for business and more people bustle about.

I wipe out on my bike as the tire gets caught inside a crack on the decaying sidewalk and just get back up like nothing happened. A local guides me to downtown as a rush around on my bicycle, sometimes dodging traffic and taking the only detours that we possibly can to get off the busy streets. My Spanish is limited, but I do speak enough to understand mostly what people are talking about, and I gather that my “guide” is going for food and has work in about an hour.

I spend the day touring Tijuana and eating as much authentic Mexican food as I possibly can. I count about 30 people that ask me “Cuanto diner la bicicleta?,” (How much did you pay for the bicycle?) which I begin to respond with “No say, es mi coche, gracias.” (I don’t know, it’s my car, thanks.)

Despite it’s rawness, pollution, noise, traffic, and standing out somewhat uncomfortably as the distinctly ONLY gringo walking around Tijuana at this time of day, I do easily fall for the city and it’s mysteries. I stopped at a place called Nikki’s, which is a local establishment that serves food and soda and is a low-key place outside of the red-light district. The owner comes over to chat with me, and I feel comfortable and at home at this place. Highly recommended if you ever make it to Tijuana!

I’ve met so many different people during my travels that I can’t possibly talk about all of them here– but the experiences will surely stand out for the years to come. While talking to a San Diegan at a street corner for five minutes, we are approached by two policemen on foot who question us as to how we know each other, what we are doing, if we are carrying drugs, and seem to stick their nose around, digging for any kind of dirt. There is none, and they go on their way. It’s a bit like looking at a cute cuddly grizzly bear face to face– seems perfectly harmless, but one can sense that the situation could easily change for the worse in the form of intended bribery– a common occurrence in Mexico, unfortunately. All goes well and they walk away and let us be.

I make it back to San Diego and the next day I get a lift from Sreka, a college student in Indiana who is originally from western India; Bombay to be specific. Sreka tells me about a bike ride he did with some friends along the western coast of India and his experience actually falling asleep while riding a bicycle! ” I had about two hours of sleep the night before,” he says. “.. and I guess I just kind of got into the rhythm.”

We pass giant cactus and deserts of Arizona, which all seem a bit like driving on planet Mars to me. How is this area of the country even hospitable for humans?, I find myself asking. We make it to Albuquerque after nightfall.

In Albuquerque, I meet up with my great friend Natalie and have dinner with her family. We also go out to a nice sushi dinner packed with New Mexican green chili. I try hitchhiking out of an Albuquerque truck stop, but have no luck and the attendants end up trying to run me out, although not in an aggressive kind of way. I do end up getting a ride from three people from Amarillo, Texas who left Texas for various x boyfriends and girlfriends and other drama. ” I caught my x in bed with anotha’ man,” one of the girls says. ” So I just up and left.” Leeroy insists on telling me that he knows federal agents who will “take care of any of his problems at the drop of a hat” for some reason. Everyone in the car chain smokes cigarettes as I struggle to keep my nose as close to the open window for precious fresh air. All drama aside, they seem to be good people and I roll with it. I give them gas money, but at every gas station they insist on flying a cardboard sign for money. Surprisingly, this tactic actually works. They are people kind enough to give me a lift, so I roll with whatever comes my way. Leeroy and his new girlfriend argue in the front seats constantly as myself and another girl remain crammed in the back seat. Eventually, we finally make it to Denver, and the trip is over– back to the normal life.

Through this short trip, I’ve met people and characters that I’ll never forget, experiences that will probably always stay at the forefront of my mind. I’ve decided to move to San Diego after seeing nothing but positive things about the local music scene, culture and of course the weather. First, I’ll be traveling to Thailand and Southeast Asia for another epic bicycle trip.

(A fun jam with a Mariachi band in Tijuana, Mexico)

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Jamming with red at some filling station in the California armpit

Jamming with red at some filling station in the California armpit

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Cruising on a folding bicycle in california

Cruising on a folding bicycle in california

Everything you could ever need on the road.

Everything you could ever need on the road.

Driving through utah

Driving through utah

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My ride from Denver to Oakland.  Slow and steady at 55 mph gets the job done.

My ride from Denver to Oakland. Slow and steady at 55 mph gets the job done.

Chains on the tires required along the Lake Tahoe mountain pass-- and for good reason!  Chain installers "hablo espagnol!"

Chains on the tires required along the Lake Tahoe mountain pass– and for good reason! Chain installers “hablo espagnol!”

Welcome to sunny California!

Welcome to sunny California!

Jamming with Andrew, who I met on the Bart while traveling from Oakland, california

Jamming with Andrew, who I met on the Bart while traveling from Oakland, california

"It's always important to have a dash frog," Gary says.  Various uses range from blocking the sun, softening long road trip seat belt rash, and good luck charms.

“It’s always important to have a dash frog,” Gary says. Various uses range from blocking the sun, softening long road trip seat belt rash, and good luck charms.