Monday, September 01, 2008


To my friends and acquaintances in Louisiana, I hope you're all right, as I've heard there is another hurricane heading your way. Be careful, y'all, and stay safe. I'm thinking about you.

Aimless Video Evidence

Cambria, California

Friday afternoon I walked out of Carmel toward Big Sur. Many miles down the road, as I walked that evening, I started feeling a pain on the right side of my torso, in the area of my lowest rib. It didn’t bother me too much that night, but the morning would be a different story.

I woke up Saturday morning thinking I might try to walk 20 miles, but my rib had other plans. Even though I hadn’t had any traumatic impacts to the rib, I was beginning to think I’d somehow managed to break it. After only a mile, the pain became pretty intense, so I found a very out-of-place piece of cardboard and decided to hang out in a parking area overlooking the ocean, hoping to get a ride toward LA.

On the cardboard I wrote ‘SOUTH’ and stuck it on my backpack, which was propped up against a guardrail, so the southbound drivers could see my sign. Eventually I wrote ‘(INJURED)’ below SOUTH, but thousands of drivers drove on by anyway. Of the dozens or hundreds of cars that stopped in the parking area right beside me, no one even spoke to me.

After about six hours, finally someone spoke to me. It was a fortysomething woman with a European accent. She introduced herself as Gisela (GEE-suh-luh) and said she was from Germany. Gisela told me she’d been cautioned not to pick up hitchhikers but gave me a ride anyway, saying she was going to Big Sur.

Big Sur came and went, yet still I rode in the black Suzuki with Gisela. Stopping at many roadside parking areas to take pictures of the coast, she gave me the job of telling her not to stop unless it had been at least ten minutes since the previous stop. I didn’t like that job, so I let her stop whenever she wanted.

When I told Gisela about the pain in my rib area, she asked me if I thought it might be something with my kidney. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t considered that already, especially because I’ve had a couple kidney stones this year, with the most recent only a couple weeks ago. It made sense that the pain could have been another kidney stone, or at least something involving the kidney, because I don’t pee a lot when I‘m on the road. Even though I drink up to two gallons of water a day, I sweat most of it out, which means not much fluid makes it to my kidneys. But I guess this pain was a lot different than that of a kidney stone, so I was left stumped and in pain.

As we approached San Simeon, Gisela became more focused on trying to find a campground because she really wanted to see Hearst Castle, but all the campgrounds displayed signs indicating they were fully booked. San Simeon State Park’s campground displayed the same sign, but Gisela drove up to the guard shack anyway, just to see if there were any cancellations. Nope.

The lady at the guard shack gave us a list of the nearest campgrounds, but the closest one was 30 miles down the road and Gisela didn’t want to drive that far, partly because gas is over $5 a gallon along the coast. So she decided to drive away from the ocean on San Simeon Creek Road, where we could look for a nice little spot to camp for free.

A mile or so up the road, we came upon a little house. Gisela stopped and talked to the house’s occupant, seeking some local knowledge, but she came up short. Another mile up the road, she stopped at another house and talked to a taxidermist named Denver in the garage. He said he would gladly let us camp in his yard if he only owned the property, but as a renter he just couldn’t make that decision. However, he told Gisela to go another mile up the road, and after a one-lane bridge, take a right. That’s where the ranch owners live.

So we continued up San Simeon Creek Road for another mile, crossed the one-lane bridge, and took a right into the driveway just beyond. Pulling up to the house, still in daylight, there were two women outside in the garden area. Gisela got out of the car and began talking to them while I stayed in the car. From my vantage point inside the car, the women gave a clearly warm welcome to the German stranger, and within a minute or two, one of the women said, “Well, let me show you the guest house.”

I will continue this story if I get a chance. By the way, my rib area still hurts like hell and I have no idea what’s causing it. I’m starting to worry that it might be something serious.

Aimless Video Evidence