Tuesday, August 20th 2013
I drove into Los Angeles for the first time ever. The weather was warm and the blue skies had room to spare. I pulled up to my couchsurfing host’s home, and she came out to greet me. The moment I saw Vicki, I could tell she had a big heart. Vicki was a yoga instructor, an entrepreneur, and an all around young soul. She came over to give me a hug, and my first response was “Hold on! I was just camping in the desert and I haven’t had a chance to shower in 2 days.” But she welcomed me with open arms anyway.
I got inside and Vicki introduced me to her son and her songwriting partner before offering for me to take a shower. I stepped under the hot running water and let the desert grime rinse off my skin. I thought about how far I was from home, and how many people had taken me in to their own homes, some modest and some grand, and treated me like an old friend.
I reflected on how I was literally homeless. I was grateful just to have a shower in which to bath. Even better, I was surrounded with good people.
When I got out, I enjoyed my new host’s company, and she invited me to join them for dinner. Vicki’s home cooking warmed my heart as I enjoyed it on her balcony, overlooking palm trees and passersby.
Wednesday, August 21st 2013
The next day, I started the day by joining Vicki for a yoga class in her apartment, which also doubles as a yoga studio. It was my first time ever doing yoga, and it was such a stress relief! Just what I needed, as my body still ached from the Grand Canyon.
I took a drive to Santa Monica, the beachside community which marks the very end of the road for Route 66, a road that I was off and on since Texas. My car was filthy from the dirt of states spanning the east coast straight to the west coast.
I hung out on the beach playing my guitar as beachcombers stopped sporadically to listen and talk.
In the distance, the Malibu hills watched over us.
After a day of hanging out on the beach and walking around Santa Monica, checking out the coffee shops and talking to strangers, the sun hung low in the sky and a beautiful palm tree sunset began to overtake the coastline.
As the evening set in, I took a stroll over to Venice Beach, the next town south of Santa Monica.
Venice was a little more eclectic than Santa Monica, with street performers and skateboarders lining the sidewalks. I felt right at home.
The palm trees scraped the blood red sky as the ocean breeze blew the salty air across my cheeks.
Thursday, August 22nd 2013
I woke up with a desire to explore Venice Beach more, so I posted on the couchsurfing.org message boards to see if anyone wanted to join me. A young lady who was staying in the next town over responded, so I swung by for her.
Valeria had come from Germany for a few months of travel in the United States. As she walked up to my vehicle, tattooed skin and piercings gleaming in the summer sun, I could tell we would get along. When she pulled out her camera, I was even more convinced.
We made our way to Venice and walked through the canals to make our way out to the beach. Walking along the board walk, a host of street performers did their thing. One group was especially good at drawing a crowd, getting onlookers involved in a little dance-off which was hysterical to watch.
We walked to the skatepark and watched as the locals laid it down.
The weather was perfect, as usual in SoCal. The beach was calling, so we answered.
Laying in the sand, soaking up the sun just seemed like the right thing to do. The hours passed as my new friend and I got to know each other.
We people watched and enjoyed the landscape, laughing, trading stories of our travels and sharing photography tips.
As the day grew longer, I felt happiness embody myself as a bond was forming with this kindred spirit now at my side. For as far as I had driven, companionship wasn’t hard to find, but a deeper connection was fleeting. It was nice to find something with substance.
The day was ending and we both had places to be. We took a long drive down the sunset strip (thanks LA traffic!), staring out the windows at the orgy of lights and the freak show lining the sidewalks.
I got back and enjoyed a deep heart to heart with Vicki. She gave me some true insight that made me rethink my relationships a bit. It was enlightening. We then went out to Pasadena for some Thai food and a $3 matinee.
All in all, she hosted me for a hospitable three nights in her welcoming Glendale apartment, but the experience was worth so much more than just a place to rest my head.
Friday, August 23rd 2013
I had made breakfast plans with Victor Vic, my friend from Joshua Tree. In china town, he showed me an awesome dim sum restaurant where the food was so cheap it was mind blowing.
After sharing some food and stories, Victor was ready for a photo shoot, and I was ready to depart towards San Diego.
Farewell was said, and out the door I went. I got on Highway 1 and drove down the coast, where another beach city awaited…