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Travel Log - Hunting, Hitchhiking, Painting & Getting Dirty: Traveling Across America


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Got a job trimming for an obscenely rich fellow in Fairfax. He grew 5 or so pounds for his friends and was a terrible trimmer. My girl got the job and invited me along. $200 for every trimmed pound at around 8 hours a pound, it was pretty fun. Working with my girl was amazing, and we're in a fucking mansion on top of a mountain jamming to whatever we want on this ridiculous stereo and the guy buys us lunch every day. It was good weed too, and I'm making hash from all the goodies left over. And a 1967 Shelby Cobra in mint condition isn't too bad either.








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I would like to formally thank every Trader Joe's I've been to for steadfastly refusing to jump on the self contained crusher dumpster bandwagon, and never questioning my stooped figure arising from the dumpster lids.


Seven pounds of strawberries, as much bananas, and trail mix galore.




One of many finds.

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This is a quick and dirty transcript of an event which occured a few weeks ago.




It was early October then, and the days were getting shorter, and the nights on my boat increasingly cold. I spent a day floating about the coves and curious little inlets of Angel Island. I was headed back to my anchor on a nice wind when I pulled into Raccoon Straights, a little spit of sea that is notoriously difficult to tack up through without engine power. I had only enough gas to make it out of the straight, but if I did, when I got home I’d have to navigate the wickedly unorganized anchorage under sail alone – a formidable task for a sailor green as I was. After several tacks and as many hours, I was frustrated beyond belief at what little progress I’d made. Night was gaining. Slowly, a boat came up from behind and began to make way round me. It was a pearl white 32 foot sloop with one man at the helm and all lines led to the cockpit. In a few minutes he’d passed me and was making good course out to the anchorage. Just as he reached the curve of land which splits the current into favorable conditions, the wind suddenly gave out and the great mast which was bent so lovingly toward the water now eased up, wavered a bit, and righted itself. Though he had sailed well, without wind the tide was ever increasingly shoving us out to sea. I saw him wave to me seemingly to say, “Fuck this shit ass fucking windfuck.” Soon we were within shouting distance and he hailed out to me.

“Halloooo there – do you know of a spot to anchor around here?” “Aye aye, captain! It’s over in Richardson bay, follow me!” “Ah, thanks. So there’s room for me to put in or..?” It was getting dark, and setting an anchor is tricky business, not only for the solo sailor, but especially one who is not familiar with the area. “There’s miles of room, but if you’d rather take the easy route you’re welcome to lash your boat up to mine. My anchor’s got a death grip on the floor, they’ll hold.”

We passed the doldrums, and I raised the mainsail again with just enough gas to get the dinghy to shore. The wind had come back, and we sailed on a fresh breeze up to the great mass of derelict boats which surrounded my anchor. I lashed up the tiller with the jib sheets to set a straight course, and ran up the deck to lower the sails just as I glanced by the anchor float. Grabbing an anchor solo by without engine power is a rather delicate business, indeed! You must come upon it at a very specific angle, not intersecting the anchor and the float, but close enough to grab the line with your pole-hook. Should your anchor line be caught between the keel and rudder, it is a long and arduous process of pushing the rope under the rudder, hoping against hope the constant chafing won’t cut your line and drop the rode into the seabed.

As it were, I was able to hook the anchor line just before it passed under the boat, check the momentum, and pull the line to the bow cleat. A few seconds later, my new friend had pulled beside me, caught my tossed line, and lashed our boats together head to toe. I jumped on his boat and caught his hand. “Good god man, how did you pass me on that ungodly current? I was straining everything I had to keep from making back-way!” He smiled. “Well… I suppose I’ve got a bit more sail. A bigger boat makes better headway. You did everything right, but I suppose sometimes the odds are stacked against you.” A slight, and almost imperceptible twinge slid across his face. He opened up a cooler and pulled out a Budweiser. “Well anyway, I’m Robert. Want a beer?”

We talked sailing for a while, mainsail luffing, jib placement and the like, the silly conversation that people make to test the waters of their companion. The kind of fluff that fills aspirin bottles so they pills don’t shake around. I was entering into a state of courteous complacency when he suddenly started about and said, “Do you know why I’m here?” It was not the exact question that was interesting, but the strange intonation of the word why. The phrasing was almost desperate. “Why I am here… It’s strange, isn’t it. Not why are you here in this particular boat, on this particular bay on this particular night. That’s easy enough - you can string together all the little stories about how you bought it, who you bought it from, learning to sail, how you got the money to buy it. There’s a thousand little branches on that tree that all stem from another. But why you’re born where you were, why you’ll die where you will, and why all the things so precious and awful and sacred in between?”

He shook his head in a flabbergasted manner of absurdity. “No, no…It’s no longer how. Too many people worry about that. It isn’t how you live your life, but why. Does the latter not dictate the former? If you can decide why you live – and it is a decision, not a discovery – then how you live will become quite natural. That is to say, you do not simply look at your life and all the circumstances and decisions you make, your taste in music and art, your jobs, your family, and just say ‘Ah – the trend here is such and such – I have discovered why I live the way I do’. No, no – on the contrary! You look at your life and decide why you live. It is not a matter of realizing what groove you’re in on the record and saying ah, I’m a Jonie Mitchell album! I’m The Dark Side of the Moon! No, but realize that you can change the record at any time! I’ve heard too many times people telling me they wish they could just pick up their stuff and travel around for a while, unabated by all the little ties and relationships they have. Those little ties – your job, your car, your relationships – those are all one big groove on the record you’re playing. It’s a massive spiral which you are the needle and your life is the vinyl groove. But look here! Why not pick up the needle and put on a different album for a while? You can always come back to the old one if you don’t like the new one!”

He paused for a moment and we listened to the halyards clanging softly against the mast. The lights of the city reflected off the water and it seemed there was a massive colony of cave men nestled into the hillside, each little hole with a firelight inside, mirrored by the sea in an alternate and reflected world.

“Do you know why people are angry all the time? Why a normal person becomes depressed, or hates his job, or just feels that he wants to slip out of his skin and wander naked through a forest? Why people are bored? I’ll tell you why. It’s the record they’ve set their life to. They’re playing easy listening when what they want is bebop jazz! Or they’ve got on The Beegees when they want to read a book! How would you feel if you tried to write a novel while listening to Brittney Spears? These people lead these lives, these coiled grooves of destiny, all the while not realizing that they have the power to change the fucking record. What’s the reasoning – or better yet – what’s the fear? Ah! They’re afraid of that silence. That silence that comes between changing one record for the next. Do you know what that silence is? Have you felt it? Have you ever tried to think about absolutely nothing for any extended amount of time? It’s almost impossible. Almost. All you need is but a sliver. When you go there, when you let go of all thought of your life, when you stop thinking, you get a brief and beautifully clear vision of why you are.”

“Ah, I’d say you’d changed the record a few times, haven’t you? Look at you. What’s playing at this moment? Sailing around by yourself, making up your ship, eating tuna and beer. Looks like good soundings to me. But there’s something else there too, something I once felt. Something dark and strange… You’re getting close to the center, I can see it. You’re about to reach the end and you don’t want to start back again at that outer edge of this groove. You’ll need to change it soon, you know.”

How could he see it? Was it that well written across my facade? Of course - I could see it, too. It was what made me so apt for drugs and drink. At dark, every night, the whispers began inside my head. I fashioned earmuffs out of liquor bottles to drown the noise, but as it was coming from within, it only served to amplify and contain it. “Yes, I can see it too, I suppose. I think you’re dead on, my friend. But what of all this record business? What’s got a man in his forties going out on the sea by himself and pondering vinyl life changes?”

“Oh, it’s not all that complicated really. I’ll be dead in two months. See, recently I’ve been collecting different brands of cancer – the latest one is lung. But I’ve got the classics too – colon, prostate, liver, you know, all the good ones. So they told me I could eek it out in a hospital on chemo, and I might live nine months. Without it, probably six. That was about four months ago. So my wife says, ‘Honey, what do you want to do?’ and I said to her, ‘I want to buy a sail boat and go sailing down the coast. That’s what I want to do.’”

“We had a little bit saved up, not much, but enough to buy a cheap boat and fix it up – I’m a contractor by trade. It sucks though, cause the wife gets terribly sea sick. So we made a plan. Her family lives in Guadalajara, so I’m going to meet her there – hopefully before I die or get too sick to sail. I should be getting there with a few weeks left to live, spend it with her, and be done. I’d been sailing a couple times before, but never solo. But you know, I figured if I died out on the ocean, fuck it. That’s how I want to go out. Buried at sea living the hell out of life.”

In the morning, he knocked on my hatch and we shook hands. I thanked him and he pressed me to keep an eye on the needle, and change the record when it’s time. We detached our boats, and off he went into the Pacific, dancing the jig of immanent death.


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An amazing, inspirational, heart-breaking story. Did you tear up at the mention of his situation? I knew a lovely women who specialized in teaching inner-city mothers the importance and benefits and skill (yes skill) to breast-feed babies. She decided against chemo. She died at work teaching love and understanding. I can barely type it without crying.


When those record grooves got you it is indeed scary to face the silence, to change the album. The people like you and that poor man, with his beautiful outlook on the inevitable do it, you show us, all complaining and in our ruts, that we must see that anything is possible.


KIR, nothing but respect. I just painted with some of the youngin's in your crew the other day and we were trading stories and admiring the path you took these past many months. Holler when you're back in Tennessee, would love to paint or kick it.

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