"A good example is the best sermon." - Thomas Fuller


August 29th, 2007

Start: Klamath, California (Motel Trees)
End: Beaverton, Oregon
Route: Thanks to Google Maps
Mileage: 343 Miles
Estimated Road Time: 6 hours 3 minutes
Visions: Pictures 481 thru 484

The last day of the trip was uneventful and I don't say that merely because my recollection is sparse. Sure, I remember getting up and riding in the chilly coastal air. I recall going over some rough, ripped up road as we went through three or four miles of road construction on our way to Crescent City. I remember being stuck behind a semi-truck on our way up the twisting freeway towards Grants Pass and impatiently waiting for the center line to turn into that dash, dash, dash that indicated it was legal (and safe) to pass. I remember stopping for gas at a little podunk place on the Oregon side of the border and later stopping in Grants Pass for lunch as the weather had turned from chilly to promisingly warm. I remember the curvy long sections of I-5 that used with glee to shoot by slower traffic and having a short conversation with Vipassana about not speeding on straight-a-ways where the state police like to wait. I remember telling her to be extra careful once we got to Cottage Grove as we'd surely see dozens of state patrols between there and Portland-and sure enough the first black and white was sitting on the side of the road doing radar checks just a few miles south of the Grove. I recall the temperature going higher and higher and higher, reaching nearly a hundred degrees, and sweating profusely even in my mesh summer jacket. We stopped at a gas station somewhere along I-5 where our daughter was going to ride the stretch home but decided against it due to concerns that the high temperatures wouldn't only be difficult on her (esp. not getting the brunt of the wind to cool off) but that she might experience heat stroke (something she probably wouldn't know to communicate to us until it was too late). I remember mile after mile of I-5, a road I have driven a hundred times, and not looking forward to the rush hour traffic I knew would greet us in Portland--an eventuality I liked even less now that I was in a state where it wasn't legal to lane-split when the freeway turned into a parking lot.

The high point of the day was at a rest stop just south of Portland. Vipassana and I had stopped (my parents were well ahead of us). I went over to the vending machine to get a Diet Pepsi and saw a motorcyclist with a digital camera connected to a lanyard around his neck. "I wish I had one of those," I commented, "then I could take pictures while I'm riding." He smiled and we began a conversation. I bought a soda and lit my cigarillo. Vipassana came over to join the conversation and we talked motorcycles. Turns out the guy was from San Jose, where we'd just been a few days before (see stop outside Ikea), and was on his way to Washington. We talked about lane splitting and he informed us it was not actually legal to "split lanes" but instead you had to "lane share" with a vehicle to the right or left--which simply meant just staying to one side or the other of the painted lines. We discussed traffic in Portland, where it was bound to get worse, and what route he should take.

I took a roundabout way home. Going up I-5 I skipped 217 and took some back roads in SW eventually leading us to Skyline and the long, twisty, and relatively traffic free journey up, back, and around to the house. My parents were already home and had been for some time.

I parked my bike and took this picture.

As an adult I haven't taken too many vacations. When I was in my twenties much of this was due to financial and social constraints as well as the fact that I was attending colleges and university year round. Sure, I traveled to see my parents and a few friends that lived close by from time to time (when I had a car, that is), but generally speaking when spring break came I came down with the flu (after fatigue from constant studies) while my peers were out partying or going to Cancun. And then when I moved to Portland I was tended to be so immersed in work or the dramas of my personal life or looking for work that I just didn't think to take a vacation somewhere--and in a way it makes sense that it never really entered my mind as the 'vacation' had never really been a part of my adult life.

This changed a few years ago when I purchased my first motorcycle, a Honda 919. No longer did I simply yearn for the weekend when I could get a chance to catch up on house work or read a book, now I had a love of being on new and winding roads leading hundreds of miles towards the horizon. So I began planning trips. The first was to Weed, California. I followed much of the way behind my parents, stayed at night or two at my sister's family's home, then headed back home all on my lonesome. The experience was so invigorating that I immediately wanted to do another one and not too much later I went to the Hell's Canyon Motorcycle Rally in Baker City, Oregon, and again I enjoyed that immensely.

I had found a way to challenge my mind, body, and spirit, while enjoying the outdoors, randomly meeting all sorts of interesting people, and gaining a sense of joy and accomplishment.

Before leaving on the trip a good friend commented on how brave I was for going on such a long trip with my parents. I thought this was a rather odd thing to say, after all while I know my parents have their faults I love them. As I reflect on the trip now I can see why'd they'd asked the question, I mean, when I've traveled alone I've never had to face the challenges I did over this week or two period. I didn't have to communicate plans for the day, didn't have to listen to arguments, find myself embroiled in ones, or attempt to make something happen with others who might not be as conducive to making thoughtful decisions as a group. If you were to ask me if I was nuts to do it, though, I'd say that while the trip had its challenges I wouldn't have traded the experience for the world. This was my trip to Disneyland, circa 2007, with Vipassana, our daughter, and the last trip I'd probably take with my parents. It is an experience to learn from and to look back on with fond memories of the good times.

It is something to cherish.

August 28th, 2007

Start: Klamath, California (Motel Trees)
End: Klamath, California (Motel Trees)
Route: n/a
Mileage: 0 miles
Estimated Road Time: 1 hour
Visions: Pictures 442 thru 480

I started the day resolute that I wasn't going to smoke. And you know what, for most of the day I did pretty good. We went to see the Trees of Mystery (everyone but my mom) that is. Vipassana was, as she often is, kind enough to show my dad the various sites, read signs, and describe whatever it was we were looking at. Our pre-teen, though, didn't seem keenly interested at the amazing trees we were surrounded by. I suffered from acute withdrawal and knee pain. We rode the gandala and went up to the top. Unlike the prior year where Vipassana and I saw nothing due to cloud cover this day was clear and we could see the Pacific Ocean a mile or so away.

After getting back to the motel we packed up a load of laundry, jumped in my parents Honda CRV, and drove to Crescent City in search of a laundry mat (well, "search" is probably a little overstated as I'd found a couple already using Google maps). We got there, I succumbed to my desire to smoke and stopped at a local market where they only had one box of the cigarillos I like, and then we stopped at a little laundry matt not too far from the beach. We sat in the car and waited for the load to finish. I read a novel about Agnus Nutter, Witch, and the others chatted. Vipassana and I went out and sat on a curb and smoked. I had some BBQ corn nuts which I ate. We watched the random traffic move by including a handful of muffler-loud motorcycles. I finally pulled the laundry from the dryer and argued with my dad about the beach being only a few blocks away (there's nothing more frustrating than fighting with a blind man about something you can see right in front of you).

This was the beach my grandparents took me before I'd even begun school.

We went down to the beach and I began my quest for agates and while I didn't find many that were in any way grand, I found a handful in the half hour or so that I searched. Took some pictures. Walked through the tide pools. Spotted a few crabs, a couple of starfish (one of which Vipassana stepped on and claimed "screamed"), and while I had a desire to stay a little longer and find something else it really was time to get back.

Back at the motel we picked up my mom and drove back to Crescent City for dinner.

Dinner was a little Chinese Food dive on the main drag. The food wasn't exceptional. Okay, truth be told the food was old, hard, and dry. I felt antsy and wasn't in the best of moods. Finished my plate quickly and went outside to call my partner. We talked for some time before the rest of the gaggle came out. We got back in the car and did the twenty minute drive back to Klamath.

That night I stood outside the motel listening to an expert on Vampirism in America on Coast to Coast AM. I heard there was going to be a lunar eclipse later that morning and I would have loved to have walked down the quarter mile path to the beach in the dark and sit there by the surf watching, but it wouldn't happen until two or three and I needed good rest for the final leg home.

My notes from the day: "On introversion. Interesting, sometimes I don't want to talk to people I know…but would be extremely extroverted with people I don't (see San Fran). Conversation with family stinted, not listening, interrupted, half sentences and people walking away--and then having a 'real' conversation is extra hard because you're always expecting it to turn into something else. Emotional protection?"

August 27th, 2007

Start: Ukiah, California
End: Klamath, California (Motel Trees)
Route: Thanks to Google Maps
Mileage: 220 miles
Estimated Road Time: 4 hours 11 minutes
Visions: Pictures 394 thru 441

My notes for the 27th begin "sadness" and end "homesickness" and truthfully, all I can immediately remember from that day is waking up, going outside for a moke and seeing a couple colourful hot air balloons drifting slowly through the air nearby. So what can I share from such an uneventful day? We rode and we rode and we rode. We stopped in a town south of Eureka where Vipassana and I split up from my parents. I remember sitting on the curb smoking and drinking a cappuccino and just feeling miserable, sharing my feelings about going home with Vipassana and just feeling alone. I hoped staying at Motel trees, where V and I had been a year prior on our bikes, would make me feel more at home.

We arrived at the motel not too long after my parents but my mom had already gotten the room. I wished she hadn't as I wanted to get the last bill but she was impatient to lay down and have a television to watch. She expressed an interest in going home the next day but we really wanted to show the little one the red woods and go up to the Crescent City beaches the next day so we stuck to the original plan. Happy there with her television my dad, daughter, Vipassana, and I, walked over to the store and museum across the road. After exploring the Native American museum, where I bought an ear ring modeled after a peregrine falcon's feather, and then we perused the store where we got a stuffed bear magnet for my mom. That evening we ate at the restaurant that was attached to the hotel (worst food and service you can imagine two years in a row). We spent the evening watching television shows such as the HBO program "Big Love" which V and I had been curious about, oh, and we discovered another real-time comedy show but I don't recall what it was called (George Takei, Sulu from Star Trek, was a guest this particular episode). My parents went to bed early. Vipassana used my laptop for awhile (this year the hotel had Wi-Fi) then I got on and later chatted with my partner before taking a shower and going to bed. Yeah, Coast to Coast AM again but this time instead of going through the frustrating routine of jumping from AM station to AM station as the sound went in and out I streamed the program from 1190 KEX AM here in Portland.

Always strange to be hundreds of miles from home yet learn about the traffic accident that just happened a few miles from your house.

August 26th, 2007

Start: King City, California (Hotel 6)
End: Ukiah, California (Super 8)
Route: Thanks to Google Maps
Mileage: 305 miles
Estimated Road Time: 4 hours 39 minutes
Visions: Pictures 332 thru 393

As I try to look back I recognize just how important it is to jot down notes and journal during a trip, time permitting. I sit here today (October 18th) examining my sparse notes from the trip which are limited to: "Transforming past experiences. Parenting. Reconnecting. Persistence." While I have various memories from that day I can't exactly say what I was trying to tell myself I should write about. But then I didn't think I'd be sitting down to write months after the event.

So I don't recall getting up that morning nor getting on the bike. I remember the sky was overcast and cool. The road wasn't terribly exciting and we went through countless unmentionable areas of farmland (with the exception of Gilroy, the "Garlic Capitol of the World", which, smelling like garlic bread, made me hungry). I remember loosing my parents early in the day so Vipassana and I stopped in some little po-dunk town where I used (a disgusting) grocery store bathroom and talked to a Hispanic man about where I was from (the most common thing Hispanic men greet me with, I've found, is, "Where are you from?" followed by questions about what it's like to live there). I talked to my parents on the phone and we talked about meeting in Soledad.

V and I stopped in Soledad and rode around trying to find a gas station. Eventually we found a "Mom & Pop" station where we gassed up. I went in to get smokes and remember one of the women in the store getting a chuckle out of me as I had my Animal toy (from The Muppets) attached to the back of my motorcycle jacket (he likes the ride). We then searched through the little dirty town for a coffee shop, a Starbucks, anything, but without much success. Finally, we ended up in the old downtown area where we found an internet café. V bought some coffee and I stood outside smoking a cigarillo and taking a few pictures. The coffee shop reminded me of a little place called Mad Matilda's in Baker City Oregon that I've frequented on motorcycles and it felt like Providence that we stumbled on this place as I was feeling disjointed, out of sorts, and home sick for both Disneyland and my home.

Took a picture of a building I thought was ironic as hell. Said, "Odd Fellows Temple" and under that "Monterey County Republican Party". Then Vipassana informed me the "Odd Fellows" were a conservative group. Ruined that moment of humor! Then I took a picture of a smiley face carved into a tree. Maybe I did because I knew I needed a smile. The day just felt so bleak.


Anyway, we didn't meet up with my parents there as they were about 20 minutes ahead of us and we were falling behind as we were doing what many a motorcyclist does on a trip: taking our damn time and enjoying the pit stops and leg stretches. Talked to my dad on the phone and we agreed to meet in Morgan Hill to get some lunch and so we rode and rode and finally got to Morgan Hill, where my dad had grown up. I honestly know very little about the town except that it was once a farming community and is now more or less a suburb of San Jose with highly contrasting areas of extremely rich and poor. I moved onto the offramp my mother told me to take then, getting a call from her on the cell, learned they'd taken the next exit instead. So over the freeway and around in a circle, back on to the freeway, to the next exit, off, and stopped about a half mile west at a restaurant called Scramblz.

V and I parked the bikes around back next to a couple of other motorcycles. I noticed a hissing smell and sulfur smell and realized the gas line outside the building was leaking. "We need to move our bikes," I said to her. Perhaps I was being a bit paranoid but--and yes, it is a stereotype--but I could see the other motorcyclists coming out after a nice meal and lighting up a few cigarettes thus blowing the shit out of that area of the parking lot. We parked further away then went inside where I informed one of the workers that they had a gas leak out back. Empathically I got the following from them, "I'm so busy and stressed and I don't want to be here, I really can't concentrate on anything else right now."

I wonder if that place has blown up yet.

I didn't feel terribly social at lunch though my parents and V talked a bit. The restaurant was fairly interesting what with all sorts of colourful themed items hanging about and as the name of the place suggested there seemed to be no rhyme or reason behind the various non-conforming themes which ranged from 50's memorabilia to Radio Controlled airplanes (which my daughter was keenly interested in). The food was fried American fair and frankly by this point my stomach had had enough of fried foods but what could I do? Have an iceberg salad with zero nutritional value? Anyhow, I took the picture for my love who has gotten me to be a slight Scrabble nut and yes, she does actually let me win from time to time!

Next it was off to San Jose. This time we stuck together. I was in front, Vipassana behind me, and my parents in back. I was already feeling impatient when I looked back in the mirror and the others were nowhere to be found. So I slowed way, way, way down and kept a lookout, waiting for them to call.

And then the calls began. First my parents. V was having trouble with her bike. Then my love in Portland, a conversation that I found difficult as it's hard to be fully present to someone when you're on a bike, trying to look out for the rest of your gaggle while not ending up under someone else's bumper. And then I'd hear my parents called as the call waiting was going beep, beep, beep, and I was going back and forth, back and forth. On an animal level I was ready to chuck my phone, forget everything, and go off on my own!

I pulled off by the Ikea in San Jose and pulled into a Home Depot parking lot near a Taco Bell. Called my parents and as is their M.O. I was chastised for x, y, and z. I told them where I was at so they could meet up with me then walked to the Taco Bell for a soda then I lit up and started sucking down a cigarillo then sat down on the curb and called my love who I promised to call when I could give her my full attention.

What an annoying day it'd been so far! I was dreaming of winning the lottery, being a Dharma Bum running around on my motorcycle all over the country and just being without the arguments, seeming constant criticisms, and feelings that I was continually dissapointming people when truth be told I was doing my best. I just wanted to live and drink my coffee and feel the road and breath the wind and enjoy the hills but no, there was always something going wrong and someone finding fault with me and god, I was just trying not to be completely down on myself but I'd become so frustrated with the bumps of this vacation and how I wasn't burdened with these kinds of irritating challenges those times I'd traveled alone. Yes, I was sometimes lonely on my own but that was it, otherwise things were smooth as silk and right as rain and sunny as, well, sunny as it was at that moment as I sat there on the curb drinking my soda.

V and my parents showed up about fifteen minutes later. V's bike was running rough, probably from the "Mom & Pop" gas she'd gotten earlier, so I suggested just burn through it and get super at the next Shell. I told my daughter to get out so she could ride with me. When my parents took off we agreed we might not meet up for awhile as I wanted to take some time to show the little one downtown San Fransisco from the back of a bike. Back onto the road we shot up the freeway and my daughter, in her typical fashion, had forgotten something (her motorcycling gloves were in the grandparent's car). Fortunately it was warm out and I didn't plan to do anything stupid like lay the bike down.

Riding with my daughter can be fun or it can be a source of frustration but always it is challenging. This day, as I knew we'd be hitting some major roads and going through the big city, I hooked my daughter's helmet up to the Starcom unit hidden under the backseat and instantly we were both able to listen to music and talk to each other through our helmets (though most of the time I prefer to listen to music as it keeps me focused on the road). I was pleasantly surprised that she wasn't wiggling as was sometimes her M.O. and there were times where she was so still I forgot I had a passenger.

Being able to chat with her was a blessing once we hit the slow-heavy traffic of San Fran. I gave her instructions about balance and told her I was going to lane-split, this time with her on the bike. She seemed a little nervous about this at first but after a few minutes sliding gracefully between the stacked traffic I think she started to enjoy herself more and more.

We exited 101 into the south end of the city. I'd only been there once, years before, and only for a short afternoon, but I tend to have an amazing ability to find my way around using only a few landmarks and geographic features.

Clue #1: Skyscrapers.

Skyscrapers mean downtown. Downtown on the hill. The hill goes down to the water front. Easy enough.

So down the roads we went, stopping at lights, me looking left, right, and ahead, gauging my approximate location. We stopped at a Shell station and tanked up then continued east then took a left and headed north and after a few turns and hills hit the bay.

"Sitting by the Dock of the Bay" always goes through my head when I'm in Frisco.

I was a little worried trying to find a place to park. We rode to within a block of the waterfront and began to park then someone came up and told us we couldn't park there because the curb was painted some colour that only native San Franscisco-ites seem to know how to translate (in Portland, Oregon, the city has this silly habit of putting signs up that say "No Parking" or "Loading Zone Only" to communicate such things!). So I turned around and parked on the other side of the street next to a parking meter, got off, and asked an older man on the street working at a coffee shop if it was appropriate to park there and he said with a thick European accent, "Do you have a license?" to which I, barely hearing him through my helmet, said, "Sorry, I didn't hear you. Can I park here?" to which he again repeated himself and asked, "Do you have a license?" Giving up I just said yes and he said yes so I threw change in the machine and saw it was only good for 30 minutes at a time.


I walked Vipassana and our daughter down to the warf where there's a maritime museum with old sailing ships and the like. In my mind I was counting the minutes to when I'd have to get back to the bike as I'd told V that she and the little one should take in some of the sites, as I'd only been there a few years before, and I just go back, feed the meter, and enjoy some coffee. Before leaving them I looked out into the bay and pointed out Alcatraz which made Vipassana's eyes widen. "That's Alcatraz?"

Remember that whole speel about David Hasslehoff and star appeal causing frazzled brains? Well, imagine you were walking down the street, turned the corner, and saw the Great Pyramids. That was the reaction Vipassana had on her face.

I went back to the bikes and went into the coffee shop where the little old man was diligently reading the paper and ignoring me. Finally after some minutes he came out and made me a cappuccino and gave me change for the meter which I diligently began feeding it. One quarter, two quarter, three quarters, more!

Pulled out the cell phone and called my partner. We'd talked about catching up once I got to the city but then I'd gotten a text message that she might be busy watching movies with her sister at my house which she was house sitting. Did I mention she's the most wonderful and beautiful woman on Earth? (and I don't just say that because she skims my journals!) So I got ahold of her and we talked for a little bit then Vipassana and the kid came back.

I looked for a bathroom. Took forever to find it in the building on that block. Second or third floor, maze of hallways, dump of a bathroom. Got back on the bike, hoped my coffee wouldn't make me need to go again, and mentally tried to plot a course to 101 that would be direct but also avoid some of the steeper hills which I wasn't interested in being stopped on with a hundred pounds of twelve year old on the back. My worries, though, were unnecessary as I quickly spotted signs for the freeway and in no time we were on it, going past the Presidio.

"Get close to me and keep good balance," I said to my daughter through the microphone as I'd learned coming down that it could be unpredictably windy on The Golden Gate Bridge (can you say, "Sudden wind gusts"?). We went over without incident but it was getting colder. Fortunately I knew of a place to pull off on the other side, which I'd planned to stop at anyway, so we could look at the Golden Gate and the city from across the bay. We stopped. It was windy and cold. I pulled out a cigarillo, accidently breaking it in half, and then had to smoke it from the broken end which caused little nasty bits of tobacco to get in my mouth and on my lips. Coughed. Put it out. Grabbed the inner lining to my jacket. Got on the bike. Couldn't back it up because I was on a slight hill. Had my daughter help me push and we finally got it backed out. And then, yet again, we were off.

Thirty minutes later we stopped. V had to P. Found a gas station to renew my stash but this decent sized mart didn't carry them. Much warmer now that we were away from the bay. Weren't making the best of time but oh well. My parents called. They were already at the motel, probably an hour or more away, up in Ukiah. I wasn't too worried though. Granted, I had been, I'd never had my daughter on my bike this long without her getting a little loopy and unsettled which, for those who haven't had to balance a motorcycle going 80mph, can make things a little more dangerous than they need to be. Another thirty or so minutes later we stopped at another gas station where I could renew my stash. Smoked. Drank. And we were off.

It was dark when we arrived at the water hole (aka Super 8). Vipassana and I parked and we all got situated in our room which was on the first floor, the two rooms connected by a door. I don't remember much but I remember being in a somewhat foul and tired mood after the day which, though having some high points, had been physically, emotionally, and spiritually draining. I decided I wanted to skip dinner, as we'd had every meal that week together, and spend some quality time talking with my partner on the phone. Thanks to a free Wi-Fi internet connection I was able to take pictures of myself and send her a few as we talked. So I did that for a few hours. The others brought me back a turkey sandwich, half of which I ate after getting off the phone. I spent the remaining part of the evening on the laptop and watching a stupid old Chevy Chase movie with my daughter. Shower. Coast to Coast. Bed.

BTW - Super 8 has the best Wi-Fi of any hotel/motel I've been at so far whereas others either were inconsistent or non-existent (forcing me to be sneaky and use the signals from neighboring hotels, ha!).

August 25th, 2007

Start: Anaheim, California
End: King City, California (Hotel 6)
Route: Thanks to Google Maps
Mileage: 305 miles
Estimated Road Time: 5 hours
Visions: Pictures 294 thru 331

I was not keen on getting up this morning. Sure, I'd be back on my beautiful FJR putting hundreds of miles of highway, I'd have some "alone" time listening to podcasts and music as I dodged in and out of traffic, but I wasn't headed anywhere except another meal and hotel. No rides. No visits with the ghost of Walt Disney. No. Just the trip back home.

That morning I engaged in what's in the psychological field called "checking behaviors". Checking is a form of Obsessive Compulsive disorder defined by, well, checking things. People who truly suffer from the condition might have to check that their house door is locked…ten, twenty, or fifty times…before they can feel safe to leave. While I say I don't suffer from an extreme form of the condition when I'm under stress or say I don't want to leave Disneyland I might spend more time than I normally might checking to insure I packed everything, that nothing's left under the beds or in the bathroom, and so on. I suppose it all began years ago when, as a preoccupied teenager, I left a candle lit in my bedroom and it burned down to the bottom (not terribly safe given the candle holder was something I built out of Pine in shop class years before). Since then I've had moments where I wonder, "Did I turn the stove off?" and I can become a little anxious over it. Also, after living six years with a child my checking has extended to her inability to unplug toasters, turn off the stove, turn out the lights, close windows, lock or close doors, and so on--and so part of my daily routine, as a father and homeowner, has ended up being checking that the fort's secure.

It wasn't too long before I was saying goodbye to the room we'd spent three nights. Vipassana and I walked to the parking garage, rode the elevator up, then mounted our bikes and hit the road.

I-5 was light that day as I'd expect for a Sunday. Instead of taking the long way round we decided to just stay on I-5 until we got to 101, after all, we wanted to go by downtown L.A. And it was worth it. Once we hit the city the traffic became thick. We took our time going through and saw the buildings, murals, gang art, the Hollywood sign, Universal Studios, the exit to the real Mulholland drive, and so on.

And yes, I had half a mind to take that exit!

And then the traffic became thick and I decided what the hell, let's lane split! The first few minutes riding my bike between cars was quite unnerving but after I found a safe speed and learned to trust that most motorists would give me ample space the experience was exhilarating. In fact, I had to slow way (way) down to insure Vipassana could keep up! We did this on and off throughout the morning to insure we were never at a stand still and frankly, after seeing how well it works I believe all states should make it legal (if done safely, of course). Portland and Seattle rush hour traffic need something like this to help facilitate more expedient traffic flow.

We eventually stopped for lunch at an exit we'd stopped at days before on the way down. I remembered the gas station where the blue Yamaha FJR I'd passed (then had later passed me) was parked. Next to it was a Mexican restaurant that looked empty. We went it. It was the best goddamn Mexican food I have eaten in my life! So if you're ever down that way make sure to stop at Timbers Farm and pick something up, you won't regret it!

After eating my parents took off ahead of us. I walked to the gas station and bought some cigarillos. Hell, there was no way to ignore it, I was smoking again and that's just the way it was! So I stood out by my bike drinking a diet Red Bull and sucking away at this cancer stick, chatting with Vipassana a little, before mounting up for the ride again.

I know it's bad for me but I do love a cigar and a Red Bull.

While we were ten minutes behind my parents we knew we'd eventually catch up and catch up we did after about an hour or so when I had an intuitive feeling they'd be pulling out of the next rest stop and sure enough, as I shot by they were about to merge back into traffic.

Now there's a book out there called Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Heard of it? Well, it's a good little fiction about philosophy and motorcycling which has a place in the hearts of millions. Anyway, I think there should be a book called The Psychic Motorcyclist because motorcycling, in my limited opinion, has a natural ability to encourage one's psychic abilities.

I'd noticed this after getting my first bike. If I rode day in and day out and especially after long half or full day long rides…I found my ability to intuitively pick up on things that were about to happen quite strong and undeniable. I wondered about this for some time and began to theorize that maybe there was a logical reason for it. Think about it. A motorcycle is a much different animal than a car. A car is basically an ecosphere on wheels, a small, private environment that in some ways detaches the rider from the outer environment. A motorcyclist, on the other hand, is a machine that the biker becomes one with, holding onto it with hands and thighs and feet, leaning with it, hugging it, feeling every bump and ripple of the road under it. Riding a bike by it's very nature is a unifying experience. Next, add the fact that a successful ride is all about being awake, paying attention, focus, keeping your mind constantly open to what might be around the corner just ready to jump out and ruin your day. Take all this together and a biker is in a consistent state of focus, a state of being connected to everything around them and with everything inside of them. Do that for five or six hours straight, several days in a row, and you start picking up on things you really "shouldn't".

Now I can't tell you if other bikers have this experience but I can say I have read an editorial in a popular motorcycle magazine talking about the same thing, just using the terms "intuition" and "gut feeling" in place of "psychic". But call me hopeful, I'd like to think there are other bikers out there that, like me, have a deeply spiritual experience on a motorcycle that somehow helps them connect to their higher being and potential.

If you've had a similar experience I'd like to hear from you.

That afternoon we were hurried as we wanted to stop at an old historic mission Vipassana wanted to see but we had not been able to stop at on our way down. There we met my parents who had passed us at some point as we'd probably stopped for gas or smokes or god knows what. The buildings were old and there was a tangible energy around them. Quietly, reverently, I walked about taking pictures of the Mission San Miguel Arcangel which you can learn more about by browsing to: http://www.missionsanmiguel.org/

It was getting dark by then and Vipassana was on her reserve tank. Me? I don't like to push my luck when on a motorcycle but the consensus was we continue pushing forward instead of heading back down the highway ten or so miles to the little town we'd eaten McChuck's at the week before. So we followed the road and the sky became darker and there were no gas stations to be seen and finally we take an exit, I tell my parents to head on up and find a hotel at our agreed upon finishing point for the day, then V and I head back towards the mission and the town we know to have gas and the whole while I'm praying, "Lord, please don't let her run outa gas!" and I'm thinking about all the interesting ways I'd have to carry a gallon back to her if she did (that is if her carberator didn't get so clogged from the experience she wasn't able to start it up)!

We made it with a hint of light to spare! We gassed up! We smoked! We changed into some slightly warmer clothes and I changed from my daytime face shield, which is shaded, to my all-day shield, which is not (duh), and we got back on the freeway at which point one side of my face plate started to rattle and shake. "Shit!" I'm thinking, I didn't put it on right! I've never done that. It was dark. Okay, whatever. So I try getting it back on and locked while I'm riding which just wasn't working so screw that, I took the first exit, probably to V's confusion, took off my helmet, and fixed it. Started off again, got lost (well, not really lost but couldn't find the onramp), and then the other side of my freakin' faceplate came loose and started rattling!!!

Fuck, fuckity, fuck-fuck-FUCK!

By this time Vipassana was probably getting pretty impatient. Whatever. We're back on course. We find the onramp. We ride at a moderate speed to stay safe in the dark (motorcycle headlights are generally not good over 35mph). It gets cold. It's dark. My dad calls, tells us where they're at. We ride. We ride.

It's a beautiful cloudless night out but I can't gaze at the stars as I'd like.

Six headlights approach quickly behind and I can tell from their movements that they're motorcycles but strange, they're moving in a way I haven't quite seen motorcycles move before and I'm thinking they're a bunch of squids. Soon they're right behind us, overtaking us. Six sports bikes, most of the riders in full armor, each of them sticks out their closest leg at me.

The light bulb goes off in my head.

These guys were probably some of the most efficient, professional, and safe bikers I've seen in my riding days. Like other riders they didn't wave at me with their hands, no, they gave me a polite nod with their free foot thus insuring all hands were where they needed to be during a high speed maneuver and their balance wasn't thrown off. As I watched I realized like jet pilots they were moving in and out of formations for three reasons: 1) to own the section of freeway they were on, 2) to maintain a safety buffer between themselves and other traffic, and 3) to light as much of the freeway with their six headlights as possible for maximum safety and speed!

It was at this point that the light bulb in my head shattered and I felt really stupid. Why were Vipassana and I staggering while we rode at night? Sure, my FJR has killer headlight (almost as good as a car's) but just like a car we had a pair of headlights between us! Why not ride side by side (albeit in different lanes)?

And so I spent the next five or so minutes trying to coax V up next to me. I think at first she thought I just wanted to get her closer so I could give her another signal or that I wanted her to lead and this confusion was apparent as she'd speed up, slow down, speed up, slow down, and I tried to just keep her on my left. She finally got it and we increased our speed and though shivering, made good time to King City, the little town we knew from our trip down.

We met my parents in the parking lot of our bunking place. Took our things to the room. I musta stepped in something nasty by the bikes as my foot smelled like cat pooh so I washed that off before we walked over to get a later dinner (or in my case breakfast for dinner which I love!). Parents then went to bed. I went out to smoke and listen to Coast to Coast. Predictable? I suppose. These entries seem to so often end the same: smoking to Coast to Coast AM, a hot shower, then alone I am the last to fall asleep.

Goodnight to you all.

August 24th, 2007

Start: Disneyland
End: Disneyland
Route: N/A
Mileage: 0 miles
Estimated Road Time: 0 hours 0 minutes
Visions: Pictures 175 thru 293

The next morning I woke up early again and was the second to be ready to head out the door. Again breakfast consisted of a cappacino and something simple like a muffin. Again we rode the monorail back to Disneyland where we walked over to the Matterhorn which was a unremarkable "must ride" experience, mostly for my daughter. We then walked to the other side of the park where we got on the Rocky Mountain Railroad, my favourite roller coaster ride from my childhood, before heading down Main Street towards California Adventure.

For those who don't know, California Adventure is a fairly new park that was built years ago. Last time around there was a huge parking lot where the park now stood. I remember thinking it had been the biggest parking lot I'd ever seen (and having come from a small town it probably was).

Neither of my parents had anything positive to say about California Adventure but not having been there we felt it important to go. That said, my first feeling about the park was that they were indeed correct, that it was a joke. And why would I say such a thing? The first sight on entering, for those who haven't been there, is a miniature version of the Golden Gate Bridge straddling the entrance. Having just crossed the real thing only a few days before on my motorcycle looking at this contraption--the words that come to mind are "grotesque", "impotent", and "fake". And so it was with the entire park, a continuing feeling of being in a fake sub-universe trying to make itself out to be California which just seemed silly considering we were already there.

We spent the early part of the day going to The Muppet 3D movie, which I loved for the obvious reasons (obvious being The Muppets rock!) and to a Twilight Zone ride which neither my mom nor I went on (V and daughter did it twice). We stopped to get pictures with several characters then my mom and I went shopping on our own for a little while the others were finishing up their Twilight Zone extravaganza then we met up and had some glorious ice cream at a little joint by the entrance.

Vipassana had left to get a smoke during this time and a parade for High School Musical II or III came by to which my daughter commented, "Those aren't the 'real' people from the movie!" That was a major growing up moment for her and I suggested she just enjoy it for what it was.

We then walked to the airplane area where we got in line for a ride my mom said she really enjoyed. It really just turned into a glorified I-max movie giving one the semblance of flying over California but everyone else enjoyed it so who could complain?

Next it was off to a white water ride that my father mysteriously decided not to go on but we did get my mom to go. The line seemed like it went forever, winding around various pathways, up and down a hill, around a building. We started playing a game to guess what colour the tube we'd be riding in would end up (I seem to recall about five or so choices including yellow, green, blue, and orange). Dangit all if the little girl won!

We got in the tire which was circular and fit eight or so people. We were all facing each other so unlike other rides conversation was struck. We learned that two of the older women were on a road trip across the country and they seemed excited to just savour life while they could still get around. And so we went, up the mountain of water, chatting away, talking about our lives, learning that one of the older ladies had once lived in Aloha, Oregon, not to far from my home, and then rapids would hit, we'd all start screaming and laughing at whomever got most wet (some of us would get drenched while others remained almost entirely clean). Once the ride finished the older women, almost like two ten year olds, shouted out, "Can we go again!? Can we go again?!" to which the attendant, recognizing the difficulty in their and my mother's handicaps, said yes. And so we went another time, sharing more, screaming, and laughing.

After our second trip finished the attendant asked if we wanted to go a third time but I think the general consensus was that they'd been more than fair to us and we should be considerate of others. And so we spent the next few hours drying out in the warm of the California sun.

There really wasn't much else to see in Californialand, as I grew to call it. We went on a ride called Mulholland Drive which was alright but nothing to write home about (though I am technically writing about it and reading this at home). We went on a huge roller coaster on the other side of the park which was worth writing home about. We went on a fake boardwalk which was an absolute joke compared to being at the real one at Santa Cruz. It took awhile figuring out lunch as my parents were again bickering and we finally settled and ate. An all woman mariachi band played a few tables away and I went to get a $6 beer as I'd rationalized the need for an emotional buffer between my sanity and my parents' continued fighting.

It was getting to my daughter as well as she was becoming more short tempered and irritable as the day went forward. Shouldn't we just be going from place to place enjoying the sites and sounds and people and rides? Couldn't we sit down to eat without the menu becoming a source of argument and frustration? I'm sure she was thinking all the same things I was (while also frustrated that we expected her to behave appropriately regardless of how she felt) and it wasn't until we returned back to Disneyland that afternoon that she finally went right over the edge and I had to tell her it was "quite time" which she begrudgingly endured while we rode the old train around from the main entrance to Tomorrow Land.

I knew there were difficult moments for her and I cared but being on vacation--being at Disneyland--doesn't make it somehow acceptable to act out. A hard lesson, but one I'd like to engender as a parent.

Getting off the train I experienced something quite strange. The ramp area going down is one of the few "smokers" areas in the park. So to get from the train to Tomorrowland one must go through a tunnel of smoke as at least a dozen people were sitting there smoking as there was only one or two other designated areas. Granted, I've been a smoker on and off at times during my life (and was struggling to not smoke over the week) but it seemed as if the Disney designers had gone out of their way to create a smoker vs. non-smoker environment instead of simply building a separated smoking area.

Conspiracy Theory #1: The same group of people responsible for the changes in Tomorrowland and designing California Adventure had designated the smoking area in one of the most rediculous places possible.

The rest of the day is somewhat blurry in my memory. We talked about seeing some of the things we'd missed but decided not to on account of many were little kids rides that our kid wouldn't enjoy. We rode Indiana Jones a second time. We did some last minute and hurried shopping at which point my daughter finally picked out something for herself (a Tinkerbell wrist watch) then we rushed over to Californialand to see the Electric Parade which I'd seen many times as a youth. I remember being unable to sleep as a youth, that darned annoying music blaring over and over in my fortunately, while I remembered the music perfectly, it did not stick this time around.

I snapped a picture on my cell phone for my beau and sent it through satellites back to Portland, Oregon. "Wah!" says I, "Wish you were here!"

We then split up. Vipassana and daughter went to Disneyland to catch the fireworks from a better view (Main Street). My parents headed back to the hotel to call it a night. I…well, I walked briskly down the mall towards the hotel trying to find a small cigar kiosk Vipassana had told me about dying to ingest carcinogens after another tense day and trying to get there and back in time to see the fireworks. Finally I found the stand and bought two small and very expensive cigars which I threw in my man-purse before heading back to the Disneyland entrance which was crowded with people who had left Californiaworld and were trying to get back in Disneyland to see the fireworks which were exploding in the distance.

I missed it.

Finally I was in. I went shopping in Main Street looking for gifts for my beau which I finally decided on in a coffee shop, then called Vipassana and told her I'd meet them at the smoking tunnel near the train (see above).

There I smoked my cigar but it only brought a foul taste to my mouth. Vipassana finally showed up and said she'd left our daughter not too far away where a live rock concert was blaring. We talked and smoked then went to our girl. Did we go on any other rides? I don't recall so. I think we sat there close to the stage loosing our hearing then I got two hamburgers for my daughter and myself which was sat down and enjoyed as the music continued to blare. The concert, possibly unlike anything she had seen, was clearly exhilarating to her.

A few minutes later we got on the monorail and said goodbye to Disneyland…and my heart, it felt like it was being slowly pried out of my chest as the doors to the monorail closed and the train moved into the darkness. I felt like I was leaving an old friend and promised myself to return again some day before my death.

That night I stayed up listening to Coast to Coast AM. I went down by the laundry room and slowly smoked my last cigar. I did not want to go to bed. I did not want to sleep. I wanted to go for a walk through the park. I wanted to go back into Disneyland and be alone on the streets in the calm and the dark. I didn't have many options so I walked back to the parking garage to check on the bikes. The air was cool and the sky clear and the bikes were still there yet I was not ready for the trip back home.

August 23rd, 2007

Start: Disneyland
End: Disneyland
Route: N/A
Mileage: 0 miles
Estimated Road Time: 0 hours 0 minutes
Visions: Pictures 68 thru 174

I don't often wake up to my alarm much less wake up before anyone else but Thursday morning I was wide awake as soon as the alarm on my Motorola RAZR went off. Everyone was still in bed except my dad who was in the shower. Instead of going back to sleep, as would be my normal routine, I quietly dressed and waited for everyone else to get up.
Our first challenge that morning revolved around breakfast. Vipassana and I wanted something light and quick as we were excited to get to Disneyland (a place both of my parents have been to much more frequently--V had never been). My mom, however, wanted to find a sit-down restaurant. We suggested they go down and do that and we'd meet up with them but somehow this turned into something bigger than it needed be so Vipassana and I just went down to the coffee shop near the main Disneyland Hotel building. I got myself a wonderfully yummy cappuccino and a buttery croissant. My parents met us there and we sat down outside to have a small but filling breakfast before heading away from the hotel and towards the monorail.

I'd been looking forward to riding the monorail since I bought tickets for Disneyland. Back in the 80's when I first went to the park the monorail was out of service due to construction and I was bummed. Finally there it was, ahead of us, and while I knew it was just a glorified bus on rails I was excited to finally have the experience. We went through the checkpoint (yes, they now have people that check your belongings for bombs and such), walked up the stairs, and waited.

We boarded the train with a little difficulty as the monorail employees had to place a special platform at the door to help my mom get her electric wheel chair onboard. And then we were off, cruising by the outdoor mall separating the hotel from the park and then there it was, just as I remembered it!

I may not be someone who is emotionally demonstrative but inside I was ready to jump out the window as I saw the Matterhorn come into view. Tomorrow land came into view and I saw the little cars on tracks my brother had enjoyed decades before. And there was the submarine ride (now the Finding Nemo subs) that I was disappointed by because they didn't truly submerge. I couldn't believe it but I was here, at Disneyland, again.
I felt like I was home.

I have to admit this feeling stayed with me the entire time I was at Disneyland and there are only two other places that produce a similar "coming home" experience for me: being in Prineville, where I grew up, and Eugene, where I grew up in other ways. It was odd because I'd only been to Disneyland for two days as a young-young teen and yet--and yet I couldn't help but feel I'd left part of myself back in this magical place and part of me just wanted to take off and get to Main Street where so many flash bulb memories were first snapped and touch the buildings with my hands.
And that's when I began to learn the Disneyland I had left behind wasn't exactly the same place. Sure, I was now an adult, and sure, things change, but the energy...

There was a tremor in the force.

It started in Tomorrowland where we disembarked the monorail. We started to discuss what we'd do first and decided to go into this round two or three story building which promised to teach us about the many advances of technology and such. We went in expecting either a ride or some sort of thoughtful tour but instead found ourselves walking through a series of advertisements.

Yes, advertisements and not just that, all (well most) targeted at children. In one section were a dozen computers with games children could play and when we went to see if these were educational programs we found that yes, maybe one could argue some were educational, but for the most part all were straight from Disney.com or some associated web site. My daughter shot to one of the closest computers and began to immerse herself in the game. Knowing the price tag for our visit I went up and suggested we keep moving.

We explored the rest of the building and I couldn't help but wonder if this was really the kind of thing Walt Disney would have signed off on. The energy just wasn't right. If it wasn't an advertisement for Disney.com hidden behind some "space age" video game, it was one for X-Box or...
A non-interested looking black man asked us if we'd like to take a "virtual vacation" so we said yeah, sure, that sounds interesting. So we went into a room and sat on a couch. On a coffee table in front of us with a small dumbie replica of a 50's style television set. Built into the walls were four or six flat panel digital televisions. The doors closed behind us and then it started, a five minute "virtual vacation" to Greece where we learned how clear Pioneer speakers are and how crisp the picture is on Pioneer HD TV's. The only thing that was Greek about the "vacation" was...no, I take that back. The Greek salesman was dressed like he was going Greek for Halloween. The buildings behind him, if memory serves, were computer generated. I'm still surprised I didn't get up and walk out.
By that point we were all ready to leave the building but couldn't. All the exits were locked close until a rotating section of the building was aligned correctly. Here we are, a blind man, a woman in a wheel chair, Vipassana and I and our daughter, going from locked exit to locked exit trying to get the hell out of this place and asking employees and being told take that one, no, take that one, no, take that one. Finally, we wait at one door where we're told to wait and when the building stops moving the sign says the door should open--it does not--so I push the doors and an employee comes from the other side and berates me for more or less doing what another employee already told me to do.

Did I mention Disney employees are human?

Outside fresh air and freedom. I looked at my cell phone to get the time and we walked over to an area where a large crowd had gathered to view the Jedi Knight Training. At ten years old my daughter would have pushed her way up to be in the front row but now, only months from being a teenager, she watched on with a milder sense of interest as five or six Jedi Knights came out to greet the crowd and gather volunteers for training. My daughter did raise her hand when they called for interested people but, given her age and previous experiences at Disneyland, I knew they'd stick to the younger crowd (5 - 10 year olds). We watched for about five minutes, listened to some questionable Jedi Jokes, then headed towards Space Mountain.

When I was a kid I was deathly afraid of roller coasters. I went on Space Mountain but remember it scaring the bejesus out of me. I mean, you get on, get in, and it's completely dark. I couldn't tell what was coming.
We went in the exit to the ride which is where the handicapped lines are and we waited and we waited. I wasn't looking forward to the ride as I still wasn't huge on rides where I couldn't see around the corner but wanted my daughter to have the experience and that she did. As soon as our cart climbed the first ramp we were surrounded by lights and galaxies and noises. I looked over at my daughter and her eyes were wide with anticipation--she'd never been on a ride like this before.
This time instead of being scared I found myself bored. There were no loopty-loops, no huge drops, nothing to get my adrenaline pumping. I spent the ride trying to get my eyes to adjust to the dark enough to see the tracks which I could barely make out.

The ride stopped and it was clear my daughter had enjoyed herself. Then my mom, struggling to get out of the ride, fell onto the ground. None of us quite knew what to do including one of the Disneyland employees who did her best to help. Finally my mom said she was okay and struggled her way back into the wheel chair.

Fifteen minutes later while I stood alone with her outside Space Mountain she told me she was in quite a bit of pain but, "Don't tell your dad," she insisted as, "he'll just call me a klutz."
I wasn't sure what to do. Do I get her to a doctor? Do I respect her request? Do I confront her with a speech regarding the importance of communication and taking care of oneself? I was beside myself with frustration.

She didn't go on many of the rides for the rest of the day but instead waited outside for us. I felt like we'd traveled all this way and spent quite a bit of money to enjoy the place but what could I do? Force her to enjoy herself? Force her to ride with us?
It took a great deal of patience for me to make it through the day.
The rest of us then went to a 3D movie hosted by Python veteran Eric Idle called, "Honey, I Shrunk the Audience", which was by far the most well done 3D movie I've ever seen. Afterwards we went to a few Tomorrowland shops then stopped at Star Tours.

A little back story for you. When I first went to Disneyland it was the summer before Star Tours was ready for its first customers and I was a huge Star Wars geek. Hell, I was retarded for Star Wars and neither my brother or I could get enough of the movies, toys, or video games. But Star Tours was not open and we both felt cheated.

So I was excited to finally enjoy this ride and while it wasn't anything terribly spectacular ("dated" is the word I'd use) it was great to allow my inner child the joy of going two decades back in time for this amusement.
We then headed towards Main Street where we stopped at a little joint for food that was nearly as bad as I remember it being (though I'm glad I didn't have to pay for it as a kid--they really do take your wallet for a ride!). A barber shop quartet sang and then we walked down the main drag enjoying the shops and I shared a penny arcade with my daughter which I remember being fascinated by as an inquisitive youth.

I spent much of that day and the next looking for mementos of the trip. I had about $200 on my Disney Rewards Card which I split up between everyone and told my daughter to spend the day just looking for something she could really love and remember the trip by. Hardest, though, was my own desire to find the perfect gift for my beau who I hadn't seen in nearly a week.
What says, "I love you," more than a set of Mickey ears?

Getting my daughter to pose for pictures was quite the accomplishment as well. We didn't see as many characters running around the park as I remember but the few we saw were inundated by families taking pictures. We bumped into one of the monkeys from The Lion King and I said to my daughter, "Ask him if you can pose." Acting shyly she would walk up behind him and tug on his fur not thinking that whoever was in that hot suit was constantly being tugged and pulled at and was most likely having a difficult time communicating with those in the outside world. Finally, after about a minute of this Vipassana jumps in front of him getting his attention and both she and daughter pose for a shot which you can see at the Visions page.

Later, while near the castle, we see Mary Poppins and her cohorts singing and we almost lost our tween. Yes, she saw this and it pulled at her inner child and without a word to tell us she was going right when we were going left she was gone for a moment before we realized she'd been mesmerized by this live performance. After so much concern that teenage cynicism had taken her over it was good to see that part of her childhood was coming out to enjoy the sun.

We were off then into Jungleland or whatever the hell it's called and Vipassana convinced us to go on the Jungle Cruise. I had a bad feeling about this and after we got on I remembered why.

For those who have not been on the Disney Jungle cruise it's essentially a jungle boat on rails. It slowly goes through a fake looking jungle with FAKE looking animals. I won't say much else besides that the tour guide was a darkly humorous chap (you'd have to be to do that job every day) and that the only real animals in this "jungle" were the ducks.

See Disney Vision number 111.

Next was the Indiana Jones ride which I'd never heard of before and wasn't there last go around. The line didn't look long but as you can see from the Visions it went on and on and on and on seemingly mile after mile. After awhile I wondered if it wasn't really a ride, per say, but a self guided tour through ancient passageways where various sorts of excavations were being done. As it turned out it was a ride, a ride on a huge jeep through deep, dark tunnels filled with skulls and booby traps. At one point the jeep goes through a tunnel where simulated poison darts fly through the air (thanks to air compression)--when this happened I looked over at my daughter who was ducking in sheer terror that something would hit her. But then who was I to talk, only seconds later that huge boulder from Raiders of the Lost Ark came barreling down at us and I was sure we were going to slam right into it when the jeep went straight down through the floor. Even the next day when I just had to ride this one a second time I freaked out when I saw that boulder coming right for our front bumper!

That ride rocked!

And I gotta say so did my dad. Taking him to a theme park is like taking a ten year old. Maybe it's that he's blind so can enjoy the physical thrills the ups and downs of a ride promise. Maybe it's his childhood memories of going to county fairs and boardwalks. All I know is the scarier the ride the more likely it is that this nearly 70-something will be raising his hand to get on board then screaming wildly in excitement as twists and turns hit. Yeah, my dad is a riot on the rides and always has been (except when I was ten or so, scared to death of roller coasters, and was forced onto a few by this nut-ball).

At a store across from the Jones ride I bought a stuffed monkey. Go figure, me and my monkeys.

In New Orleans we stood in the handicapped line for Pirates of the Caribbean. The women talked about where they wanted to eat and I got into a short altercation with my mother who kept trying to guilt trip me about where to eat when I told her several times in a row, "I really don't care where we have dinner, you guys decide." Oh man, I was frustrated and finally went to the head of our group where one of the Disney employees struck up a conversation but I wasn't in a mood to talk so I people watched and watched then only a foot away David Hasslehoff crossed my path.
I had to do a double take. Was that really Hasslehoff? He looked quite a bit skinnier than he had the last time I'd seen him (in the Sponge Bob Square Pants movie). Yet having lost thirty or so pounds over the last eight or so months I knew people change and why not him? I also knew, having accidently spotted William Shatner once through a hotel door, that people we grow up seeing thousands of times on a TV or movie screen don't look quite the same in person. Hell, our brains fritz out a bit because our psyches can't quite put 2 & 2 together. "That person should be on the tele screen," the brain insists, "They don't really exist."

[The only times I haven't experienced this mental disconnect is when meeting Michael Dorn (Worf from Star Trek, the Next Generation), Wayne Pygram (Scorpious from Farscape), and Virgina Hey (Farscape's Zhaan), all of whom are covered in fifteen inches of costume and makeup while in character.]

I watched Hasslehoff go up the back ramp onto Pirates with his VIP escort and listened to people getting off the ride exclaim, "That was David Hasslehoff," to which my mom turns and asks what just happened. "Oh yeah," I comment with a shrug, "David Hasslehoff just walked by," at which point she mildly berated me for not saying anything. God people! I was dealing with my brain and it happened to be short circuiting! Now that it's back on straight I can put on a calm demeanor while I feel somehow special for crossing the path of a television and movie star while waiting to get onto Pirates!!!

Anyhow, as we were waiting I was contemplating this strange mental and emotional experience and the Disney employee at the head of the line was bragging about all the celebrities he'd met and how he didn't think it was a big deal (while it was pretty obvious he did enjoy sharing the experiences). And I found myself thinking how I would have reacted if I'd seen him (Hasslehoff) as a kid at Disneyland and truth is, being a HUGE Knight Rider fan then I would have died to get an autograph from his alter ego Michael Knight (pictured above).

For those interested in all things Hoff visit: http://www.hasselhoff.com/

That said, much of my time at Disneyland was spent contrasting my experiencing as a child to that as an adult.

Next it was time for dinner. They choose a little place in New Orleans where we had some spectacular and healthy food (that cost only a few dollars more than the HOT DOGS on Main Street!). I wish I could recall what I ate as it was just delicious.

Oh yeah, outside across the road they were setting up in the second story of one of the New Orleans building to film something. They had a green screen up outside the window, lighting equipment, the whole nine yards. Was this something Hasslehoff was involved in? We'd not find out.

I don't recall much of the next few hours. We went into the haunted mansion which was just as cool as I remembered it (though this time around I was fascinated by the optical illusions knowing how they work). We stopped at various shops. And we stood in a huge crowd trying to see over everyone's heads at a magnificent display of music. Clips from Disney movies were displayed on sheets of water shot into the air from the pond, live entertainment as Mickey fought the forces of evil, pirate ships sailing by, and then finally, some pretty amazing fireworks. I think they call this an "extravaganza".

For those who haven't been to Disneyland every night at 10pm or so they have a fireworks show. This nightly show, while beautiful, is probably ten times as expensive as the one my home town holds every years.

Next we got in line for Splash Mountain, which was another ride that wasn't there when I was as a youth. The lines were long and we were surrounded by obnoxious (and rude) teenagers and me--well, I'd started to develop a feeling I was going to have diarrhea soon. Is it going to get bad? Am I going to have to jump through the line and race through crowds to a bathroom? Will the drop on the ride make me "loose" myself? I maintained myself though, surviving the thirty plus minute line, and we finally boarded.

As it happened Vipassana and I were lead towards the first two seats in the "log". Having ridden in similar contraptions before I knew everyone gets wet but the person in front sometimes get soaked so, being the good friend that I am, I took the second seat. Up down, round and round, until we see the final drop and down and down and black and SPLASH!

Vipassana was so wet she decided to head back to the hotel with my parents who were throwing in the towel for the evening.

So there we were, my daughter and I, finally alone. We walked about a bit, went to the castle, and went on some of the older rides like Pinocchio and Peter Pan, the latter of which she said was boring, dumb, and for little kids. Vipassana then calls on my cell and we agree to meet in front of the castle so the tween and I head out there where we relax, talk, and take a few pictures.

And then she screamed, "There he is!"

Yes, David Hasslehoff had chosen to grace our life twice in a single day. And so we did what any sane and reasonable people would do, we decided we'd case him. Yes, we followed David through the castle and watched as he got onto the Peter Pan ride to which I turned to my daughter saying, "See, if David Hasslehoff likes it then it's not a kiddy ride!" We then followed him into an adjacent gift shop where we watched as he looked at shirts and was randomly inundated with fans who wanted to say hi. My daughter, though she had seen him only a few times on TV and in the movies, stood only yards away with her mouth dropped open and she couldn't stop staring. This was a star and she was taken aback.

"Stop staring," I said to her, "We're casing him!"

After a few minutes of this I went out the second entrance to the store and called Vipassana on the cell, told her we had him cornered, and she'd better hurry up to the magic castle if she wanted to see him. Ten or so minutes later she caught up with us, saw him just five feet or so away, and her drop dropped too.

Well hell.

When we left the store he and his VIP guide followed behind us, literally only three feet behind. When they passed David almost brushed my shoulder--yes, my brush with fame and glory! Vipassana and daughter got on the merry go round and me, I watched David as he walked around it a few times before heading off towards Tomorrowland.

Reflections on the Hoff: Cheery, often smiling, energetic, sociable with everyone who said hi, and maybe a little tweaky. I'm glad he enjoyed his day at the Magic Kingdom.

Now don't believe the day was all full of smiles. There were the difficulties inherent in guiding a blind man and a wheel chair around. There was the intermittent bickering between them. There was the near-teen who's cynicism was becoming increasingly abrasive. There was Vipassana and I trying to keep our heads on straight and keep everyone talking, moving forward, and having a good time. And then there was my body, my knees, ankles, and hips were, by this time, miserably hot with pain and there were times I could barely balance normally.

We did not take the monorail back. Instead, we walked out the front entrance and through the blocks of outdoor malls between there and the Disneyland Hotel. Stopping just across the street from the hotel V handed me a small cigar. Our daughter, two tables away, rested her head and nearly fell asleep.

It was there that we smoked and shared our frustrations, vented, and talked about solutions to make the next day go smoother. She complained that I was taking too long with my stogie but you know, after such a day I was going to take my bloody time!

We went back to the hotel. They went to bed. I took a shower. That night I fell asleep to Coast to Coast AM.

August 22nd, 2007

Start: Watsonville, California
End: Anaheim, California
Route: Thanks to Google Maps
Mileage: 382 miles
Estimated Road Time: 6 hours 40 minutes
Visions: Pictures 54 thru 67

That morning we got up early. We must have had breakfast but I don't recall where. I do recall heading down highway 101. The weather was cool and the sky was overcast. The road was straight for mile after boring mile.

All along the road I kept seeing these bells with the sign "Historica El Camino Real". I'd seen them the day before on 101 and every time I saw them I said, "Aslynn, remember that and Google it tonight." And of course I kept forgetting, even this day when I saw so many, one after another, shooting by on the side of the road as I shot by in the other direction. Only days and days later would I remember and learn that it was Spanish for