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Entries in travel (44)

Saturday
Nov202004

Day 2: SLO to Bay Area

Be sure to look at the Treehugger Tour Photo Gallery with great captions to enhance these entries.

Today we woke up safely away from the suburban slime of Southern California. Sort of. San Luis Obispo is a charming little town, especially in its center, but leaving that you still end up among all these familiar franchise names. Our extremely brief pass through the town center was to go to the bank. We ended up talking to the (retired age) parking lot guard for a few minutes. He was extremely nice and told about the town and the area. Then we got on the utterly lovely highway CA-1 from SLO and drove that quite a ways, stopping for some photo ops. That road is all so lovely with its rocky coast and sheer cliffs.

the sign at the entrance to the hamlet of Harmony, CA is painted to look like a green CA state highway sign, but it is chipping in a cool rustic way.Cute little hamlet of Harmony, with nice craft and arts done in the old world styleWe stopped in to the tiny little colonies of Harmony and Cambria for some utterly tourist stops. We departed from the CA-1 road right after dark, at Santa Cruz, having managed to catch a great sunset somewhere along the road. We fumbled our route directions on the way to Kelli's brother's place in Livermore in the east bay area. We got there and had dinner, they talked and I crashed out, tired from the driving, all of which was pretty attention-demanding that day. Tomorrow we actually go see some real shit.

Friday
Nov192004

Day 1: SD to SLO

Be sure to look at the Treehugger Tour Photo Gallery with great captions to enhance these entries.

PT Cruiser for a week and a half was a fun drive for both of us. Stopped by the side of the road on the cliff areas on CA-1.Our coach for the weekI just love that Friday afternoon feeling before a trip. We went to get our rental car today and got a pleasant surprise. The price we found was stupidly low for even the modest car we signed up for. We got in for about $150 for a whole week. When we got to the lot, the dude asked us if we minded getting a PT Cruiser. Hey, not bad. It beats the Dodge Neon we agreed to.

We left today and drove to San Luis Obispo. No big fun in that. LA traffic sucks even at 10pm. We left Sandy Eggo at 6 pm and got to SLO at 12:15 in the morning. Motel 6. Basic but it's oh so nice when you are only gonna sleep for the night. I had a back and neck ache from hell yesterday and today, but opted to drive the entire distance I guess so I would have something else to think about.

Thursday
Nov182004

Honeymoon Time

using an original shot that turned out like crap. made it into a stylized poster that appears like from the 60s or so.Kelli and I are taking off for the entire Thanksgiving week on a driving tour to the Redwood national forest in northern California, and stopping at a number of places in between. This is our delayed honeymoon, so we are taking in a few places with some romantic appeal, but it's low key rural stuff. No fancy Hawaii or Bahamas or French Riviera. Nah, that shit is just too expensive and cliched. Some want to go to the sandy and balmy beach resorts in exotic locales. We chose to go where it rains a lot and is really gray. The beaches are rocky too, when there are any. I guess we'll get some good "indoor time" while we're gone. Hey, for only the second time in years, I will be away from my house and computer. I will probably go through withdrawal syndrome. I don't know when I last went on a real vacation. I believe the last time was a real ill-fated trip to Alaska over New Years Eve (coming into 1995). That trip was something worth forgetting. Man, I really know how to pick my vacation spots: go to cold northern reaches in the wintery months! I like the colder temperatures in general; Kelli has to have a winter coat on when the temps fall below 70, or so it seems. She and I have never really gone out for more than a day trip to the mountains. This promises to be a different experience, considering we've been together almost three years now.

I've never been anywhere further north than San Francisco (on a road tour), and even at San Fran I never saw anything because I was working. No Golden Gate, no Chinatown, nothing but ass ends of hotels and other venues. I've been wanting to see the northern part of the state for a long time. Actually, the Pacific Northwest is a place I like, at least in my imaginings. I have been to Seattle and some outlying areas once and liked it. I like the landscape and the still relatively undisturbed nature of it all. San Diego is total ass compared to that region. San Diego also has too many Republicans too. Kelli and I have entertained the idea of living up in the Oregon/NorCal area. Some friends of ours have regaled us with tales of Arcata, which seems to be interesting for its liberal nature, with people doing funny things like using land and resources wisely, and talking funny about stuff like "community" and "civic involvement" and other weird stuff.

Sunday
Jul042004

Patriotism, 2004 Style

Sixty years ago (very likely on the 4th of July), my grandfather Norman was in the Navy as part of the war against the Japanese. Eight years ago, he died in San Diego, on the 4th of July. Twelve years ago, I had just had my first kiss with my first girlfriend, a few hours before the fireworks were about to begin. This year, I was with my fiancee Kelli, and instead of going to the fireworks displays, we went to see Fahrenheit 9/11 for the second time. So what do grandfathers, girlfriends, and fourths of July have in common? I suppose I would say these just indicate how things change, or how certain times can morph to take on new meanings. In 1992, as I began to know first love, you can bet there was no such thing as war or politics on my mind. But a week later, I was on a plane to Germany for six weeks. That time away was an important part of who I am now. That trip, little did I expect then, was a key to an understanding of the world that I feel I have now. But at the time, it was a summer of new love. This summer, all I can think about is politics, war, and well, yes, my coming marriage.

Let's face it—1992 was hardly a year when Americans felt too hassled about the world. The Soviet Bloc had failed not long before, Iraq had been tamed the year before, the recession was gone. I remember being so far removed from politics then, even though 1992 was the first presidential election year since I came of age. I voted for Clinton. I can't even remember why or how I came to that conclusion, but I never really lost sleep over it. I voted for him in 1996 too. I voted for Gore in 2000, and will vote for Kerry this year. I guess that makes me a Democrat. But not really. However, this year, I feel as if I have done a better job in doing my homework. And yes, I have done more than watch Michael Moore movies (though I have seen three of his movies this last week or so). This year, I think of this stuff endlessly. I can barely think music anymore, or much else. I am as awake to the world of politics and life now as I was asleep in previous years. Of course, anyone with half a brain knows this election is a no-brainer, but still, I have done my research.

This year, maybe unlike 1992, the long term implications of relationships are on my mind. Gone are the super carefree days of yore. Now, Kelli and I are making plans, real plans for the future. We often sit at our computers across the room, reading different web sites covering any of our favorite topics, and we trade off reading things to each other. Kelli basically got me into paying attention to politics. She has a far longer history of that than I have. I sort of felt like I had to catch up to keep up, but funnily enough, she has sort of let some of her passion for that stuff slide some. Not a lot, but it's not like before. So, in effect, I do a lot of the reading and report back to her. Either way, we benefit.

Kelli and I are in the social services. We want to stay in that field. She has more legit and documented experience, though I have some hands on experience, and hope to sort of ride a wave until I get some sort of degree to legitimize my interest (to employers or people who will pay me to snipe at the status quo, etc.) The thing is, Kelli and I are basically poor. Our particular industry of choice is really being whittled down by funding cuts, at the local, county, state, and federal levels. If it's not one thing, it's another. I have long felt that the people who build society should be revered and well compensated. You know, in some societies, teachers, religious leaders, health care workers, counselors, artists, and advocates are all the kingpins of life. Over here, lucky bastards win the lottery, corrupt career politicians buy or trade their way into office, sports stars throw a ball a few times for a million dollars, music stars do substandard and uninspired ripoffs of yesterday's music, and make a killing. Yup. As much as Kelli and I would like to think our positions as concerned citizens will pay off, in today's climate of ethical bankruptcy, it's hard to really expect anything of the sort. Kelli provides programs for seniors to spend their time with, keeping them socially involved, and having some semblance of a life. I take food to the people that are just a little further down the line than her people. I would like to think we both fill important and needed positions. But we basically work for a glorified minimum wage. We have some health benefits to claim, so it's a little better than the numbers alone make it seem, but still. People give handshakes and more money is exchanged than what the two of us make in a year!

So we keep our eye on the matter of politics, war, societal issues. Sometimes it's flat out depressing to think that there is so little economic future in what we do, but so damned much need for it. Or sometimes, we think we'd like to slip through the cracks of the corporate America that governs nearly everything any of us do, from eating to dressing, to thinking, to you name it, there is some sort of corporate underpinning. We talk about learning how to make our own clothes, so we could live cheaper, or with less weight on our conscience. Or we talk about driving less and biking more (we do have bikes and have taken to using them more often), or maybe learning how to grow our own food. But it's hard to get around a lot of that. Making our own clothes would be okay for around home, but would be hard when it comes to making a business getup. Living in San Diego, or almost anywhere now, requires a car. Or farming is hard fucking work. And where would we have to be in order to farm?

The thing that depresses me is that we are utterly hamstrung, unless we live in some hick town or out in Montana, or in order to remain relatively civilized, move to Canada, where the social support network is valued more, by citizens AND government.

In 1992, when I was in Germany, I enjoyed Nutella—the peanut butter smooth spread made from hazelnuts and cocoa. That stuff still rocks my world. When I went home from Germany, I had several containers of the stuff, because it wasn't available here. It took me five years or more to find a reliable supply of the stuff, and even then, I paced myself and didn't buy too much of it. In the rural area of the southwest part of what was then West Germany, I glimpsed a way of life that was so much simpler, so much more at ease. Sure, the Germans had trains, cars, planes, and all the accoutrements of modern life. But they also had a respect for a way of life that their ancestors lived. I think about it in different terms now, but there was a different pace, or a decent attitude that supported sustainability. It seems to me like what America must have been maybe between the wars. I didn't know much then, but I did like what I saw and experienced. It seems that they could balance the drive for progress with the respect for their past. They didn't just trash yesterday in favor of tomorrow. Their schools were sophisticated, instead of gutted and crumbling. Their old people still were engaged in society, doing what they always have, not relegated to the nursing homes that evoke images of cows being put out to pasture. They had affordable and accessible transportation options so that no one felt like a second class citizen for not owning a car. They ate healthy and tasty food, had tasty beer and pretzels—the same as their ancestors did. They had huge corporations, but there were also many small businesses that served small communities, for generations, even. Your butcher was the son of your father's butcher.

So what is it? I have a feeling that my grandfather went to war to support a lifestyle like I saw in Germany in 1992. I just think that the post war era has done a lot to destroy America, even while it purports to build it. More cell phones and bigger cars do not make stronger families if the people are put out of work, and the kids don't get to know anything resembling a stable and maybe even happy home. More TV channels don't make better parents for kids, or better lovers for adults. More goods and services from overseas or Mexico don't make our social fabric tighter here at home. Faster food doesn't give us time to sit down and have dinner with the family. We are now beginning the 3rd generation away from traditional practices such as farming/agriculture, textiles, heavy manufacturing, and so forth. I was the second generation; my grandfather was actually FROM a farm. But my dad, one generation removed from farm life, can't grow a garden to save his life. I don't think he ever slaughtered a steer or milked a cow to live. I certainly haven't. It's not looking like my kids will, either. So tell me how that makes us great? We can't support ourselves, even for survival. The nation has given itself over to convenience, leisure, and waste. And the corporations are only too happy to oblige. Our president sucks the cocks of the corporate interests. Without them, he can't be in office. On the flip side, maybe without them, we could all go back to the true investment in our communities—working for our own well being, making a modest but needed contribution. No wonder everyone is so fucking depressed. We all feel unneeded and unwanted. People need to feel like their lives are worth something. No wonder the Americans are so apathetic about voting. No one feels like they make any difference.

My patriotic act for the 4th of July was to forego the empty flag waving and fireworks, the boozing and the hanging out (something I rarely ever did anyway). I went to see the most amazing movie I think I have ever seen, with someone I love, with the memory of my grandfather surging in me when Michael Moore asks at the end of the movie (about the use of poverty poor soldiers in the ethically bankrupt Iraq war) "will they ever forgive us?" My grandfather didn't fight for nothing. At least I hope he didn't. He never let on if he knew differently.

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