March 21, 1998
Costa Mesa, California, USA
Yesterday, Diane and I drove to San Diego. She had some business to look after, and I wanted to drop off a few things at a kayak shop. On the way, we listened to an audio book called, The Man Who Listens to Horses, written and narrated by Monty Roberts. The story is an autobiography, and is focused on Montys quest "To make this a better world for both humans and horses". There is a movie coming out in the theatres soon, called The Horse Whisperer. Monty has similar philosophies as the man featured in the movie with regards to breaking horses, or "starting" them as Monty calls it. You dont need to be a horse lover to enjoy Montys book. If you have the opportunity to check it out, I recommend it.
That evening, we saw two IMAX films: Everest, and Alaska. I walked out of Everest totally inspired. The film sucked me in. By the time it was finished, I felt like I really understood what those people had to go through to stand on top of the world. I want my slide show presentation to be like that. But, sometimes... recording the experience gets in the way of experiencing the experience. Taking photographs and video, and writing about everything I do can be a drag. If I didnt have my camera and laptop with me, this journey would be a totally different experience. I would have a lot more time to explore, and my expenses would be a fourth of what they are now.
Documenting everything can be tedious, but I also find it comforting at times. My camera and laptop are my companions. Without them, I would often get bored and lonely. I continuously take photographs when I am alone. It gives me something to do after supper dishes are done. If I had a human companion, Id probably just sit with them and talk about the days events while staring off into the sunset. But instead, Ill spend a half-hour setting up the perfect sunset shot, so I can share that sunset with millions of people through my website, and years from now on my slide show tour, or maybe I wont even take a single shot at all. Sometimes, I just look through the view-finder and take pictures in my mind.
After the sun has gone down, and if there is nobody around to make friends with, Ill spend the rest of the evening writing my journal entry, and responding to email messages from friends and family, and people I dont even know, but who know me better than they know most of their classmates or co-workers. I dont have a private diary. This is the only journal I keep.
Diane and I spent this morning at Sea World. The tricks those dolphins and Killer whales can do are amazing! Their trainers have the coolest job in the world. Today was Sea Worlds 35th anniversary. I like the idea of people being able to see the marine life close-up, but I feel sorry for the animals. Sea World is trying to change the opinion of people like myself, by introducing exhibits such as J.J. the Gray Whale, who was abandoned by her mother, and was in need of rehabilitation. Since her arrival at Sea World, January 11, 1997, J.J. has grown an average of 0.5 inches and 52 pounds per day. She is scheduled to be released back into the ocean at the end of this week.
My new website is almost complete, so I should be heading back out on the water again soon. The site has cost me over $1500 so far, but it is exactly what I wanted. I would be upset with myself for a very long time if I settled for anything less.
I have gotten to know this area pretty well. Ive been almost everywhere. I have driven down Melrose Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard, Santa Monica Boulevard, and Rodeo Drive. Not that these streets are anything spectacular, its just that Ive sung about them, and seen many movies and television shows centered around them. Ive been to Venice Beach, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, and I even spent an afternoon at Disneyland. Disneyland was fun, but it definitely didnt qualify as being "The happiest place on earth." Yosemite... Now theres something to get excited about!
This area is unique in many ways, but in most cases, it isnt anything to be proud of. The air is polluted in the summer, and the water is polluted in the winter. It takes forever to drive anywhere, and once you arrive at your destination, parking the car costs a small fortune. This place is better in the movies.
One of the good things that makes this place unique, is that it is possible to go snow-boarding, rock climbing, and surfing all in the same weekend. Ive gone rock climbing at Joshua Tree four times in the last two months. The last time I went to Josh was with my buddy Riley. Half way there, we got out of the car and went for a short hike. There was a morning mist blanketing the entire valley below, except for the mountain tops - which looked like islands surrounded by a vast ocean. It was an amazing sight! It turned out to be a great day for climbing too. I "on-sighted" a 5.10c, called Clean and Jerk. It was an overhanging crack climb - all trad. I did it from the ground up with no beta. My hardest on-sight yet. I was stoked!
There are huge mountains east of Los Angeles. But, unfortunately, the only time you can see them is immediately after a big rain storm. It doesnt take long for the smog to come back. In the summer, it almost never rains here. The smog just builds and builds until the Santa Anna winds blow it out to sea. Its best to visit here in the winter and spring, when everything is green, its not too hot, and breathing is considered good for your health.
If they didnt irrigate this area in the summer, it would look like a desert. Most of the trees around here are imported. Very few of the Palms trees are native, and not a single Eucalyptus or Cypress was here 400 years ago. They almost suck the Colorado River dry to keep this place alive. Ive been told, that by the time the Colorado River gets to the Sea of Cortez its nothing but a stream. This has really screwed up the ecology of that area which also depends on the flesh-water for its life. I guess theres a lot of unhappy and thirsty Mexicans, but it doesnt matter... they cant afford lawyers.
There has been no shortage of water around here lately. El Nino has brought record amounts of rain to this area. San Francisco has already received over 3 feet of rain. There have been several instances where million dollar houses have been destroyed, because the mountain in their backyard turned into mud and found its way into their living room, or the whole house fell off the cliff it was perched on, when the soil became saturated and gave way. A few days ago, it was raining hard during the morning commute and there were 150 car accidents reported. The average is fifty.
I have done more, and seen more around here in the last four months... than most of the people that live in the area do in a life-time. Many of the people Ive met have no idea where Topanga State Park is located, and have never been to Joshua Tree National Park, or have seen a show at the Planetarium in Griffith Park. Yup... I do believe I have gotten the full Southern California experience. I even borrowed Dianes car on several occasions, and drove on the freeway. Now thats what I call living dangerously! Because people spend so much time on the freeway, and because is often bumper to bumper traffic, they tend to flip-out easily while driving. I heard on the news a few days ago, that a woman cut a guy off, and then he pulled out a pellet gun and shot her in the head.
Most of my time here at Dianes has been spent sitting at her kitchen table, converting my journals into HTML, the language web pages consist of. Often while sitting here, Ill be lured out to the street by the sound of skateboards on pavement. Mike, and Chris, kids from across the street, always let me use their boards. Im pretty good. Theyve never seen some of the tricks I can do. "Thats old school!", they say to me. As a going away present, Chris and Mike gave me a three inch long wooden skateboard they had carved and signed.
Diane belongs to the Church of Christian Science. I sprained my thumb while skateboarding on one occasion, and Diane called Helen, a Christian Science practitioner, and asked her to pray for me. Followers of Christian Science believe it is impossible for a person to be injured or ill unless they believe that it is so. A Christian Science practitioner is their equivalent of a doctor, but they work strictly on a spiritual basis. My thumb did get much better the day that the practitioner was praying for me, but it still continued to hurt for a long time.
I have also gone to Christian Science Wednesday night testimony meetings, and Sunday morning services. The Church of Christian Science was founded by Mary Baker Eddy in the late 1800s. The Christian Science followers read from the Bible, but spend an equal amount of time reading from the Christian Science text-book, Science and Health, written by Mary Baker Eddy. The text-book has what is called, a key to the scriptures, which explains what Mary Baker Eddy believes the scripture are saying. Im not a big fan of organized religion, so I didnt dig that aspect of it. I prefer to get opinions from many different sources.
The Wednesday night meetings are for the purposes of sharing testimonies of physical and mental healing. One evening, we just sat around for fifteen minutes waiting for someone to say something. There wasnt a sound. Nothing. Just silence. I wanted to know what each person was thinking. I was thinking, "What if there was a day with no news? A day when the newspaper had nothing to print but the comics and the stock prices, and the television news anchor-man said, "Sorry folks... nothing interesting happened today." Naaa... that wouldnt happen. People always think-up something to say."
Diane and I have become close friends during my stay here in Costa Mesa. I have taken her climbing at Rockreation, the indoor rock climbing gym down the street, and kayaking in Newport harbor. We paddled past the house where John Wayne used to live. Its a pretty sweet pad. Diane is out on a date tonight. We both know the relationship is going to be a dead end. Speaking of coming to an end... its time for me to hit the sack.