October 17, 1997
Santa Cruz, California, USA

This afternoon, John picked me up at Rip Currents and Rapids, Fred and Jim’s shop, then drove me to Ken’s place in Santa Cruz. I walked into the house at the address Ken had given me, but no one was home. I went into the backyard and checked out the property. What I saw looked like a house without walls or roof. There was a living-room area with a couch and a coffee table, a bed-room with a bed and a bed-side table, and another area with a couch and a fire pit. I found out later that this is where Ken lives. The house is being rented by four university students. They are letting Ken use the facilities and live in the back-yard for fifty bucks a month.

When Ken got home, he cooked up some vegetables from the homeless garden where he volunteers. He made supper for me and a few of the students. After supper, I went over to the home of Dave and Elizabeth, the next door neighbors, and spent a few hours writing emails.

October 18, 1997
Santa Cruz, California, USA

This morning, I borrowed a bicycle and cruised around Santa Cruz doing errands. On my way back to the house, I stopped into the carnival on the boardwalk and went on a roller coaster. It was a huge old fashioned wooden coaster, and the ride was a good time, but it didn’t last near long enough to make me feel like I got my money’s worth.

Ken was making supper when I got back. I offered to contribute a potato. He asked if it was organic and I told him I didn’t know. Out of nowhere, from a total mellow state, Ken started yelling at me, "You think you’re doing your body such a big favor by not using Marijuana, but you don’t care what the hell is in that potato. The toxic chemicals they put in that thing are far more harmful to your body than a little herb." Ken wasn’t angry at me, he just gets really intense at times. It can be quite unnerving to be around a person who always says what he thinks.

Ken had a friend of his over for supper. His friend’s name is Heron, and he brought along his wife Opal and her child Beta. Opal is twenty, and Beta is three. Heron said he had married Opal just so they could continue living together, and collect social assistance. "But it really doesn’t mean anything..." he said, referring to the marriage.

After supper, Heron, Opal, Beta, and I drove to a birthday party for a friend of Heron’s. It was a very low-key get-together with about 20 guests. The host had a hot tub, so everyone got into their natural form and spent the evening just chill’n, sitt’n, talk’n and telling jokes. As I sat in the tub, I thought how fortunate I was to be with all these beautiful people. Very few tourists get to experience a community's true culture like I do. Some people can travel their whole lives, sleep in hotels, eat in restaurants, and never get to see how the people really live in the places they have visited.

October 19, 1997
Santa Cruz, California, USA

Before sun-down tonight, Ken and I hopped on bikes and rode over to The Arches State Park to check out the Monarch Butterflies. For some unknown reason, Monarchs like to stop here on their migration, and gather in massive clumps on the Eucalyptus trees. When we got to the spot where they were concentrated, there was already a chill in the air and the butterflies had stopped flying around. A dozen people were there looking up at the trees, but I couldn’t see what they were looking at. "Where are the butterflies?" I asked. "Look over there. Those are all Monarchs." someone said. They had closed up their brightly colored wings, and there were so many of them, it looked like they were leaves. I’m sure it would have been much nicer to see them in the day-time.

On our way back, we stopped at the homeless garden and gathered some veggies and walnuts for supper. There was also a large strawberry patch, so I sampled the goods. Ken made an amazing pesto and steamed vegetable dish for supper, which fed me and five others.