July 30, 1997
Cannon Beach, Oregon, USA

Since arriving here yesterday from Astoria, I’ve been hanging out with a group of Canadian kids who are staff at a summer camp in BC. The camp is called Camp Squamish and is for mentally and physically challenged kids. The staff are just here on a four day break, and are planning to head back to Canada again tomorrow. I think I’m going to miss them. They’re really friendly. We had a great bonfire last night. I met a chic Gwen, who showed me her pierced nipples, and a dude named Carey who played his guitar and sang for us. He did a really great rendition of the Beatles tune Rocky Raccoon. They also introduced me to bioluminescence. I’m not sure what it is exactly, but it makes wet sand sparkle and glow when you step on it. Someone told me it’s from billions of little organisms in the sand, that are like fire flies.

I’m going to stay here at Cannon beach for awhile. I have a lot of work to do, and this is a good place to get it done. I have a good campsite at Arcadia Beach State Park, 5 minutes drive south of Cannon Beach. The whole area is just sooo pretty. Cannon Beach is very touristy, much like Freeport, Maine, but the beach looks like the flowerpot rocks at Hopewell Cape, New Brunswick.

I will try to get my journal updated over the next couple of days. The reason I have not been able to do it sooner is that the weather has been great. It has not rained for weeks. I have been waiting for a rainy, stay inside and write all day kind of day. I guess I’ll just have to settle for a sunny, sitting in an air-conditioned ice cream shop and write all day kind of a day instead.

August 1, 1997
Arcadia Beach, Oregon, USA

Today I spent most of the day practicing my rolls in the surf. It wasn’t very windy but the waves were big enough that there were quite a few surfers around. Many of them were in a surfing school. I rolled about 15 times on each side, and did a few wet exits using my paddle alone to reenter.... then my sponsons alone.... then both of them together. Using the paddle float, I was able to get back into the kayak in 40 seconds.

The beach that I’m camping on is away from most of the houses. I’m tucked into a corner, so most people can’t see my tent. It’s a really great spot. When I’m not using my kayak, I keep it between a long rock and a big log, covered in driftwood. I feel pretty safe in leaving it for hours at a time. Most of the people stay around Haystack Rock, which is about 2 miles away.

People around here don’t say "You’re welcome". It’s strange. I was in the grocery store last night, and after the lady at the cash had served me, I said "Thank you"; but instead of replying by saying, "You’re welcome", she makes a noise that sounded like something between a grunt and a hum. It sounded like "Ahemmm". To me... it was like she was saying, "Yeah... whatever. Get lost!". I was a little insulted. There was no reason for her to brush me off with that kind of attitude. But the thing is... it’s not just her. I’ve begun to notice that everyone does the same thing.

At home, when a person says, "excuse me", the proper, and most common response is "certainly"....but not here. A few minutes after my first "Ahemmm", I got on the shuttle, and as I was walking down the aisle, I said, "excuse me", to a lady as I passed. There was no polite, "certainly", returned - I got the same thing... "Ahemmm". It sounds totally rude. As I was getting off the shuttle, I said "Thanx" to the driver, and she replied with a "Ahemmm". I guess it’s something I’ve just gotta adapt to.

The sunset tonight was amazing! They almost always are...

August 4, 1997
Arcadia Beach, Oregon, USA

A few days ago, I met a 15 year old kid named Matthew, walking his dog on the beach, and asked him if I could use his phone to get my email. We talked for a bit, and then went to his house. His parents own the Gray Whale Inn. They have seven kids... five still at home. I’ve been coming here everyday for the last several days to send and receive email. Each night they have been feeding me supper, so I bought them three half gallon bricks of ice cream in exchange.

Yesterday, I met three kayakers with river kayaks getting ready to go out surfing. When they came back in for a rest, I asked one of them if I could try out his boat. I got the hang of it quickly. Surfing using a river boat is easy. They can turn fast... unlike my boat which is meant to go straight. I can surf well in my boat too... it is just harder.

I was also on a surf board yesterday. It’s fun. There are lots of surfers around here. I was also on a Skim-board. They only need about an inch of water. When the tide is out, and there is just a little water on the hard sand flats, you throw this thin (1/3 inch thick) board across the water... then run and jump on it. I could skin about 40 feet. That was fun too.

August 11, 1997
Arcadia Beach, Oregon, USA

My average day here at Cannon Beach goes like this.

Wake-up between 7 and 10 (depending on how late I was at the bonfire the night before) -- Go for a short walk on the beach. -- Maybe take a few photos. -- For breakfast I’ll have oatmeal and a piece of fruit. -- Put my lap top and camera in my day pack. -- Make it look like there might be someone in my tent. -- Put my day pack on. -- Read "Deep Trouble"(A book which describes past kayaking accidents and tells how they could have been avoided) as I walk a mile down the beach toward town. -- Let myself get side tracked if someone or something looks interesting(who knows where that will lead) -- Catch the shuttle into town. -- Sit and type for a few hours. -- Go to the hair dressers to get my email -- Set off to explore town. --Check out neat shops. -- Go to the skate park. -- Borrow a kid’s skateboard. -- Go to the Mariner’s Market.-- Buy a massive cup of lemonade and a bag of whole wheat tortillas. -- Eat peanut butter and jelly tortillas. -- Type for several hours. -- While typing, let myself get distracted by the people around me, start a conversation, eat lots of black licorice and Little Debbie Oatmeal cream pies, and get up to go pee often. -- Go to the mariner’s Market to buy groceries. -- Take the shuttle south to the end of the line. -- Find a home where I can get my email.-- Walk back along the beach toward my tent. -- Say "Hello" to a family cooking sausages or hamburgers over a fire. -- Walk away stuffed. --Drop my day pack at my tent. -- Find someone on the beach to start a conversation with(who knows where that will lead or how long it will last). -- Take photos of the sunset. -- Go to a bonfire -- Tell jokes. -- Make friends. -- Eat their food. -- Go to another bonfire. -- Make friends. -- Drink what ever they offer(usually beer). -- Tell jokes. -- Set off bottle rockets / Roman candles / fire crackers. -- Watch shooting stars. -- Give new friends my email address. -- Walk back to tent along the water’s edge. -- Be amazed by bioluminescence. -- Crash in sleeping bag.

I’ve met many interesting people over the last couple days. After my third full day at the Local Scoop, the ice cream shop where I was writing my journal, they kicked me out because I was taking up a table and not buying anything. Since then, I’ve been coming here to the Coaster Theater. I come here because it’s the only place I could find that has the three things I need: a bench in the shade, an outside power outlet, and no one to hassle me.

A few days ago, as I was sitting here, I met a man named Jerry traveling by bicycle. He was in his thirties, single, and a year ago was working as a security guard when he decided that his life sucked, so he quite his job and hopped on a bike. "I didn’t know what I was working for. Existence alone isn’t enough.", he told me. He has now covered a good portion of the US, and plans to continue on for another couple months.

The next day, as I was sitting here writing, a dude came limping into the court yard with a cane, a big smile on his face, and was sing’n something funky. He had an amazing presence. The second I saw him, I wanted to meet him. He looked to be around twenty three years old, and was wearing grungy clothes, with long greasy dread-locks. His pants were constructed of patches; one of which was a slab of carpet that looked like it was going to fall off with each step he took. He had a tie dyed Bob Marley t-shirt around his waist. He picked a flower from a hanging basket on a store front, and placed it behind his ear.

"Hey..." I called out to him, "Are you a traveling man...?"
"Yeah man..." he replied.
"My name is MAX. I’m on a journey myself. Where are you coming from?" He told me his name was John Olive, and that he had just gotten out of a hospital in Portland. "A couple nights ago..." John continued, "I was sleeping in the back of my van which was parked on the side of the road. A drunk driver hit me, and both the van and I got busted up. I was really bummed".
"That explains the cane. I thought you might have been putting on a show." I commented.
"I was..." he replied, "This is what I call my Worrier Clown costume. This is just an act. I’m just playing the part." He now spoke and moved his body differently - as if had just dropped out of character and turned back into his normal self(Normal: more like the average person). He definitely was not acting normal while he walked through the court yard. I asked him why he acted like this. "It’s fun. I like it when people watch me." he responded.

We spoke for over a half -hour, and in that time I learned a lot. I learned that John had been to university, taken acting classes, and was quite intelligent; far more than he originally appeared to be. He spoke of Homer, and his philosophies were similar to that of Shakespere’s notorious "All the world is a stage." theme. "Every body is playing a role." Mr. Olive told me, "The man who works hard every day.... just so he can drive down the street in a fancy car... he’s playing his part. That’s acting. What happens when he gets in an accident, and his car is demolished...? He is now a man who had a fancy car."

I received a message from what John was saying. It may not have been his intended message, but what he said, triggered something in my mind. The message I received, was that we are the sum of our experiences - not our assets. The man who works every day so he can have a fancy car... is a man who works every day... period. You are what you do.

John told me that he had no money after purchasing the van, and didn’t have insurance, so I asked him, "What do you do for food?"
"I find ways to make money.", he said.
"Do you panhandle?" I asked.
"No... that’s lame." He replied. "I like to be more creative. Sometimes I’ll team up with a girl-friend and we’ll ask people to give us their change to make LOVE on the sidewalk. It works... there’s a lot of curious people out there. When they give us their money we use it to spell out the word LOVE on the sidewalk with the change. The more people that give... the more our LOVE grows. It’s kinda funny... the people who don’t give... walk away with a bizarre image in their minds."

John was looking for a place where he and his two friends could lay their heads for the night, so I suggested they camp at Arcadia. They were already asleep by the time I got back to my tent that night. In the morning we shared our breakfast, and John introduced me to his Friends: a big dude named Little John, and an ugly dude named Venus. John Olive showed me his sketch book. I gave him two packs of bottle rockets in exchange for one of his drawings.

One day, while I was in the grocery store, a women came up to me and said, "My daughters saw you typing on your laptop in the ice cream shop, and when they came home they told me about it. We’re curious what you are up to."
"I’d love to tell you ma’am, but if I don’t hurry, I’m going to miss the shuttle back to the beach I’m staying at." I told her, "If you are willing to drive me there, I’ll tell you whatever you want to know."
"Sure..." she said, "I can do that."

The lady who approached me was Margie, and her sister Maggie was with her as well. Before taking me back to Arcadia Beach, they took me to their beach house to meet their girls. I sat down on the couch, and the five girls, Margie, Maggie, and their Mother and Father sat around me. They insisted I start from the beginning. The video camera was rolling. Eighteen eye balls were watching my every move. The attention felt undeserved. After the interrogation, I was invited to join them for supper.

The following two evenings, on my way back from town, I stopped off at their beach house to get my email. On the second day, they asked me to join them in the living room again. There, they presented me with the Flexible Award. The Flexible Award is a family honor they bestow on a family member or a guest as a commendation of an adaptive and yielding act. They felt that the alternative I gave them at the grocery store showed that I was a flexible person - deserving of the gratuity. The trophy was a flex straw, which they stipulated had to be carried with me for the rest of the journey. And my reward, was a pack of M&Ms, Hershey bar, and a beer. The straw is now duck taped to the bulk head inside my front hatch .

I have also met many interesting people on the beach. I met a martial arts expert, who has been trained by a dude who trains Ultimate Fighters. I asked the guy to teach me a few moves. In no time at all, he had turned my hands into lethal weapons. Well, maybe that’s stretching it a little bit... but he did show me some cool stuff. The guy was flipping over his back... twisting my arm... choking me... I thought it was great!

One evening at sunset, there was both a wedding, and a "Name Changing" taking place on the beach at the same time. The wedding was going to take place in the nook where my tent was, but I wasn’t around to move it when the wedding started. When they were taking the wedding photos, I quietly suggested to the person taking the photos that they should move out of the shade; adding that the light from the sunset was perfect for taking portraits. The lady shooting was the bride’s sister, and she smartly replied back "I know what I’m doing... I’m a photographer!" It didn’t look like she knew what she was doing... and I doubt she was any kind of a photographer.

The "Name Changing" was new to me. It looked like a Pagan ceremony. There was a lady wearing a white gown with a wreath on her head, slowly dancing in the center of a dozen people sitting in a circle and holding burning candles, as Enya played softly in the background. I sat and watched from a distance. When the ceremony was finished, I offered to take their group portrait. After doing so, they invited me to join them for cheese cake and champagne. I asked the lady what she changed her name to. She told me, "It was Kathy... and now it is Kathleen." I told her I thought it was strange to go through all the shenanigans for such a small difference. "It’s just symbolism", she replied, "I’m showing that I’ve become a new person - one who has transformed, and left the past behind." Kathleen and her friends left me on the beach holding the box of cheese cake with four pieces remaining, and quarter of a bottle of champagne. Life was sweet. After storing the remaining cake in my tent, I joined some surfers around a camp-fire, and we shared jokes until the wee hours of the morning.

I try to make meeting people my top priority. Usually I’ll stop what I’m doing if I see an opportunity to meet a person who looks like they might know something I don’t. One evening, as I was starting to get my supper ready, I saw three men looking at the rock formations around my tent. I asked them, "What do you see that I don’t?". One of the men was a professional geologist, one was a professor at Portland State University, and the other was a student. Thomas, the pro geologist said to me... "Did you know you are sleeping in the throat of a submarine volcano...?" "Say what...!??" I replied. He then went on to give me a full geology lesson - explaining in detail, how all the geological formations in the area were created. I thought it was fascinating. It just goes to show it never hurts to ask what you do not know.

After the three men left, I noticed three ladies sitting on the beach. I was starving, since I still had not eaten my supper, but I was anxious to meet them, so I abandoned it, and headed off down the beach. I wasn’t bold enough to just walk straight over and introduce myself, so I walked past them 500 feet, then stopped to say "Hello" on the way back. We got along well, and I sat talking with them for over an hour, before escorting them to their van. After they had started to pull out of the parking lot, and I was already half way down the path going to the beach, Lillian(one of the girls) came after me, and asked if I’d like to join them for supper.

We went to a really expensive restaurant called Pulicci’s, and Zeile, Lillian’s sister, treated me to a big dish of lasagna - A vast improvement over what I would have had for supper. Our waitress specified that we should call her "Sandy the Sea Hag". "That’s what my kids call me..." she told us. Zeile’s friend Myla, didn’t eat anything. She is a Vegan, which is like a super strict vegetarian. There wasn’t anything on the menu she could order. My lasagna was fantastic. Lesson #2... It never pays to be shy!

On another evening, just before sunset, I met a woman on the beach sketching, next to a man playing a guitar. The man played and sang my requests. His name was Cicerly. He too, was a big Stan Rogers fan. I was surprised Cicerly had even heard of Stan. When Kerry was finished with her sketch, she drew my portrait. She did a very good job. Cicerly and Kerry told me they went to the Unitarian Universalists Church, and said... "It’s more like paganism than anything else. Christians think we are satanic, but it’s not like that at all! We are just more in-tune with the earth." I often seek-out others who have spiritual faith. No matter what their religion, I try to understand different people’s beliefs, and why they believe it to be the truth.

A few nights ago, I met a guy at a bonfire named David. He was around my age, and was married with two kids. (I can’t even imagine being married... let alone having two kids. That’s what I call a life sentence...!) What I found interesting about David, and his wife, is that they are Orthodox Catholics by choice, as opposed to being Orthodox by tradition; which means they were raised in an Orthodox family - which they weren’t. I found this odd. I figure most young people would be more likely to tend toward religions that are more up-beat, with less rules. David said that he had been Pentecostal before switching to Catholicism, and added "All that speaking in tongues they do is totally fake... there is no reason for it. I even did it myself. It’s just a show." He told me that the reason why he likes the Orthodox faith, is because, "It’s more reserved and sincere. People shouldn’t be dancing around in God’s house. You have to be respectful ...It shouldn’t look like a party." I didn’t agree with everything thing he said, but I had to respect him for his knowledge of scripture.

August 14, 1997
Arcadia Beach, Oregon, USA.

My parents, and little bother & sister, have been visiting with me here over the past two days. They had flown to Alberta, Canada, to attend a convention, then they rented a car to drive down here. They camped with me on the beach, we did a bit of hiking, and they helped me shop for supplies. They just left this morning. I was going to leave this morning, as well, but I didn’t have enough time to pack my kayak. I’ll head out tomorrow.

This morning, I also met a young lady on the beach named Cindy. She was sitting on a blanket dealing Tarot Cards to herself. I asked her, "Would you mind telling me what my future holds...?" "Not at all..." she replied, "Sit down. How many cards do you want?" "Seven." I responded. "Before I deal them out... you need to transmit your energy into the cards." She told me. I took the deck, stuck it to my forehead, and hummed softly for a few seconds, before handing the cards back to her. She then laid down my seven cards, one after another on the blanket between us. "I’m new to this..." she told me "I’m still learning what the cards mean, so I’ll need to read from the book."

The only cards I remember her reading were the first and the last. The rest applied to me in many ways, but were very general in meaning. The first card was The Fool. I felt that this card was so specific and appropriate to me and my situation, I’ve copied it word for word.

The Fool...

Beginning -- entering a new phase -- striking out on a new path -- expanding horizons -- starting something new -- beginning an adventure -- going on a journey -- heading into the unknown.

Being spontaneous -- living in the moment -- letting go of expectations -- doing the unexpected -- acting on impulse -- feeling uninhibited -- surprising someone -- feeling carefree.

Having faith -- trusting the flow -- staying open -- letting go of worry and fear -- feeling protected and loved -- living in joy -- recapturing innocence -- believing.

Embracing folly -- accepting your choices -- taking the "foolish" path -- pursuing a "pipe dream" -- being true to yourself -- taking a "crazy" chance -- trusting your heart’s desire.

The Fool lies at the beginning of the Major Arcana, but also somewhat apart from the other cards. In Medieval courts, the court jester was someone who was not expected to follow the same rules as others. He could observe and then poke fun. This makes the Fool unpredictable and full of surprises. He reminds us of the unlimited potential and spontaneity inherent in every moment. There is a sense with this card that anything goes - nothing is certain or regular. The Fool adds the new and unfamiliar to a situation.

The Fool also represents the complete faith that life is good and worthy of trust. Some might call the Fool too innocent, but his innocence sustains him and brings him joy. In readings, the Fool can signal a new beginning or change of direction - one that will guide you onto a path of adventure, wonder and personal growth. He also reminds you to keep your faith and trust your natural responses. If you are facing a decision or moment of doubt, the Fool tells you to believe in yourself and follow your heart no matter how crazy or foolish your impulses may seem.

My last card was The Hierophant. This is how it read.

Eventually the Fool ventures out of his home into the wider world. He is exposed to the beliefs and traditions of his culture and begins his formal education. The child is trained in all the practices of his society and becomes part of a particular culture and world view. He learns to identify with a group and discovers a sense of belonging. He enjoys learning the customs of his society and showing how well he can conform to them. A Hierophant is someone who interprets arcane knowledge and mysteries. Although this image is religious, it is really a symbol for initiations of all kinds. Except in rare cases, every human being grows and develops within a culture. We learn the ways of our society by living with others, and this molds who we are.

In readings, the Hierophant often represents structured learning with experts or knowledgeable teachers. This card also stands for institutions and their values. These can be enriching or stifling depending on circumstances. Sometimes we need to follow a program or embrace tradition. At other times, we need to trust ourselves.

Getting an education -- pursuing knowledge -- becoming informed -- increasing understanding -- studying and learning -- seeking a deeper meaning -- finding out more.

Having a belief system -- sharing a cultural heritage -- learning a religious tradition -- honoring ritual and ceremony -- identifying a world view -- following a discipline knowing -- where to put your faith.

Conforming -- following the rules -- taking an orthodox approach -- staying within conventional bounds -- adapting to the system -- fitting in -- going along with the program -- doing what's expected.

OK... well maybe it’s a little off...

August 15, 1997
Arcadia Beach, Oregon, USA

I tried to leave this morning, even though there was a small craft warning. The surf was nuts! I was such a fool! I thought I could handle it. Across the horizon, all I could see was foam. I would never go out on a day like today ...now that I know better.

I got pummeled! It was like I was in a washing machine. The waves just kept crashing down on me, one after another... after another. Some were 5 feet over my head. I was terrified. The wave that finally did me in was like a punched in the face. It tore off my scuba mask and knocked my paddle-float out from under its bungee cords - sending it floating away. My cockpit was half full of water. I barely made it back to the beach. My kayak easily could have been destroyed, and my journey finished.

After getting my tent set up again, I walked up to one of the houses above the beach, and got the owner to drive me 30 miles south, to the town of Garibaldi, to replace the scuba mask I lost. I called the shop owner ahead of time and got a deal on it. I am staying at Arcadia again tonight.