Oct. 10, 2012

My final night of camping in Southern California before leaving on a trip to the Caribbean. Oct. 8, 2012

Here are my up-coming travel plans:

Leave Ojai on buses (to Oxnard then) to Los Angeles (cost: about $15) — going to Couchsurf in L.A.

Going to Miami Oct. 16 Spirit Airlines $97; will
Couchsurf there and in southwest Florida (Naples, Cape Coral)

Fly to Port-au-Prince, Haiti Nov. 3 $83 Spirit Airlines

Bus to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic c. Dec. 1, 2012 $50

Fly from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic to San Juan, Puerto Rico Dec. 15 $147  JetBlue Airlines

To Jamaica

To Trinidad

To Tobago

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Fly from Boston or New York to Mumbai, India in April or May, 2013. Should cost about $700 (one way).

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In the autumn of 2003, my dog, Ginger, and I hitched from Ventura, Ca. up to Washington state. First I stayed on the edge of Seattle for a month with a really bitchy, mean old woman. Then, in October I hitched east and a little north across the state to the little town of Tonasket*, where I rented an apartment for the winter.

(*People along the way suggested Tonasket because it had a natural foods store and a small, local contingent of hippies. Otherwise, much of northern Washington state is packed with extremely conservative, fundamentalist Christians. I got a ride from one of these guys…)

A few houses down the street from us were two small dogs chained up in a backyard. These dogs were never let off their chains, and they had no shelter. The weather up in Tonasket gets very cold (it’s 25 miles from the Canadian border).

All winter I campaigned for getting dog houses for these dogs. One was named Mojo; he was great. I put posters up around town; I went to the police; I sent letters to the newspaper. People said to me, “I’m glad you’re doing this; you get to leave when it’s over. I have to live here.”

The Tonasket police department’s secretary told someone to tell me, “I have a gun.” The police were very angry with me. The newspaper editor (in the next town) supported my cause. The Washington state Humane Society supported me and they notified someone in the state government who supported the issue. I wrote to PETA (in Virginia), and they supported me and sent me a gift box of Kiss My Face soaps and stuff.

Finally, the issue was put before the town council meeting. I spoke and others spoke–some for dog houses, some against. It was decided that the dogs should have shelter. A local guy built the dog houses. Soon after, the dog’s owner (a crazy man) moved away and took his dogs with him. By then, I was back in California. I hitched back in April snow, glad to be out of that mean little town.

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This past spring on Kauai, I was joined by 22-year-old Marc Styleman. We met late one afternoon on a beach outside Hanalei. Marc had his hammock all set up and was preparing to make a fire out of a big stack of driftwood on the beach. I was looking for a place for the night, and I knew that section of the beach was good for camping.We made a huge bonfire and settled down in our sleeping bags (me on the ground).

That was the beginning of a nice friendship. Marc  is from a wealthy New Jersey family, and they had suited him up with all kinds of expensive camping equipment, including a gigantic pack, the hammock, about 4 water bottles, and all kinds of other fine, but unnecessary stuff).

Marc wanted to learn how to live outdoors and how to do it simply. We hung out for a few weeks, split up for a week or two, then got back together for another week or so. By the time we parted ways permanently, Marc had sent half of his stuff home, had trashed and left behind a bunch of other stuff, and he had a little, thrift shop backpack of absolute necessities. He devised a way of keeping warm at night by sleeping in warm clothes with very little bedding.

Marc was a very pleasant traveling companion. He went from Kauai to Cinderland (an eco-village on the Big Island where I spent a few weeks before Kauai), and then he went back to New Jersey.

The people with huge backpacks (often very expensive) are usually either locals who move around within a small area, living outdoors, or new travelers who don’t know how to pack light. And they don’t know that most of the things they’ll need will be found along the way (unless, of course, they are going into the wilderness for weeks –or more– at a time [which I have never done]).

My pack is medium-sized and inconspicuous. I got it for about $5 at a thrift shop. It doesn’t look like a “traveler’s backpack.” It just looks like a pack someone would use for school or maybe a little day trip.

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Thursday Oct. 11

I took Greyhound to North Hollywood, Ca. yesterday; then, I took the Metro redline to Hollywood/Highland ($1.55). Now I’m here at Catherine’s sweet little house a few blocks off Hollywood Blvd. This part of Hollywood Blvd.  (I don’t know if there’s another part that’s different) is wild and crazy and packed with young people in sometimes-fantastic clothes and has famous Hollywood people’s stars (with their names on them) all over the sidewalks. Everyone from Liberace to Ann Bancroft to Halle Berry to Pee-Wee Herman to Marilyn Monroe to Jimi Hendrix, hundreds of stars.

I saw two funny signs people were holding up along the Blvd.: “Smile if you masturbate” and “Need money for a penis reduction.” A guy said to me, “Can you spare a smile?”

I have a cold which I get when the seasons change and also, it seems, when I “come inside” after months of traveling and/or camping.

Catherine with Chimney Sweep. Oct. 2012 Hollywood, Ca.

Catherine is new friend. I’m staying at her little house in Hollywood, Ca. She’s an actress (she does “voice-overs,” for one thing) and she plays the cello (which I haven’t seen or heard yet). She’s about 40, single and happily childless; Cat is completely into a hedonistic lifestyle. Deevine. She has a cat so I’m on my allergy meds.

Catherine’s a Couchsurfer; that’s how I found her. Almost as soon as I arrived, she and two relatives (visiting from Minnesota) left to get a “fantastic sandwich” somewhere; she just left me alone here in her house. That kind of trust and generosity is wonderful! I took a shower, washed some clothes, and then I went out on Hollywood Blvd. for an hour of just walking and people-watching.

Kitchen windows built from salvaged wood by Beachboys guitar player (for 20 years) who owned this beautiful house before Catherine. Oct. 2012 Hollywood, Ca.

I saw a couple dressed up as Elvis and Marilyn. I saw a street performer setting up the crowd for his “tricks.” I saw lots of gay men (I think). One guy had a sword and scary mask on; I thought he was scary, waving his sword at passersby. I finally found a liquor store and brought home some cheap ($8) Vendange chardonnay. The cat, Chimney Sweep, ran out into the night when I opened the door.

I have my own bedroom and half-bath (sink and toilet, no shower). The guy who lived here before Catherine moved in a year ago plays guitar for the (modern-day version of) The Beachboys. There are millions of costume shops in this section of Hollywood Blvd.

Coffee with Catherine at Hollywood’s “Audrey,” a cafe devoted to actess Audrey Hepburn. Oct. 11, 2012

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I still don’t have a couch for some dates around Oct. 22, but Puneet–the Colorful Hitchhiker [CS friend]) says to not over plan. Yeah. Leave room for magic and miracles.

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