The Grand Adventure -- Sacramento (1 Viewer)


Toasty Tramp

I closed my account
Libraries have never let me down, and the main branch in Sacramento is no different.
I'm talking about a REAL library, full of homeless folk tryin' to find a job or get a quick 15 seconds of porn in without getting caught like this old dude across the hall just did. The kind with security guards to quell baby momma drama that Dirty Dan over here just became aware about cause its his first time on Facebook in 3 weeks. The kind that repels the kinds of folk who'd take interest in the same books as I, which allows me to seek quiet refuge in these sacred troves of hidden knowledge. Enough refuge to figure out that there's a gas station owned by Krogers located a few miles away where I can use these gift cards. If I ride the rail, it's only about 4 or 5 blocks down the street. SCORE.
Time to put this guitar to the test.
I'm excited, because I've never been faced with trying enough circumstances that FORCE me to drop the inhibitions and play this thing like my life depends on it. Cause it kinda does. At least the QUALITY of life does, and that's enough to scare me. And so its early morning in beautiful Sacramento, the civilized folk are on their way to work. Make an attempt at playing some soft and melodic tunes, wishing I was able to sing and put some words to it, but nonetheless -- the people of this fine city see it fit to throw enough money my way for a rail ticket and maybe a bite to eat.


I'm quite a few blocks away from the stop that I hopped off at, and entirely convinced that I've made a wrong turn. There's a small barber shop right ahead with an old black guy sitting outside with half a head full of white hair, a pink/white plaid shirt, pressed slacks, and glossy dress shoes. He's smoking on a pipe and reading a collection of short stories. My kinda guy :D
Pro Tip: If you're stranded in the hood and come across a barber shop, its probably your best bet for info and how to gtfo.
I forget about the gas station for about 2 hours while we sit an bullshit outside of his shop folk come by to get a quick edge up or a fade. We talked about nothing, which is huge for me. I never talk about nothing. He hooks it up with a free haircut because "every tramp deserves to look fresh, how else ya gonna catch a ride on the highway??"
We share a beer and turkey sammich thanks to his secret stash I'm not allowed to tell anyone about, and we shared a BUNCH of stories. Talked about where we were headed in life, what led us to this point, why it was worth fighting for, the people involved in it, the people who led us to it, and the things we wish to accomplish because of it all. And departed with a HUG.
Not a handshake. Not a wave. Nor a fist bump, high five, or anything of that kinda sort. It was a hug, and not that kind that's just a quick bro tap or two. I'm talking about an embrace. From a stranger. That I just talked to for like 2 hours. Cause I passed his place of business as he sat outside and soaked up the morning, said hello, and he returned the greeting with a genuine look about his eyes.
I need to trust in the random chaos of the universe more often.

And so I ask him if I'm headed the right way towards this gas station that's my last resort for getting any kind of bulk supplies. I can also probably offer somebody a fill up on their tank for a ride north towards Seattle. Turns out I've been going the wrong way for about a mile and a half. There's still plenty of time in the day, and so I'm not even worried about it.
Nothing to it but to do it.

Start retracing my route, and notice two guys on the other side of the road who're giving me a weird kinda eye. FUCK. This is the last thing that I need today, cause it was off to such a good start.
Annnnnnnnnnnnd they're right behind me when they were just across the street and walking in the opposite direction.
Except when I turn around to get a good look at the situation, I pick up on the peaceful vibes that they're putting out and instantly feel relieved about their presence.
They're with the local church, and walking around the neighborhood to post notices of an event going down later that week.
They asked what I was up to and about my big ass bag, ask where I'm from and what I plan on doing. They were so genuinely interested that I'm seriously thinking these motherfuckers have some kind of agenda. I guess we passed each other earlier, as well, but I was too wrapped in my own mind to notice.
Mental note taken: Be mindful!

When we passed each other for a second time, they said they both stopped in their tracks and looked at each other and then looked back at me, and then looked at each other again. Excitedly, the two Guys tripped over one another's words trying to explain how they took off jogging after me without even exchanging a word. Something spiritual is at play here, I feel, and I become intrinsically in tune with every little vibration around me. Something has filled me, and the two guys I'm talking to are filled with something similar.
Go with their flow.
"Would you care to join us in prayer."

But these were trying circumstances, and I'm doing that thing where I'm trying to be open to whatever comes my way.
And so I agree.
And we pray.
They seem genuine in their requests to God for my safety and prosperity, spiritual development, and they finish by asking God to send me some kind of undeniable sign that he exists. I feel touched, honestly, and it brightens the day even more. We chat for a little while longer and bid each other farewell. with a hug!
Again -- with the hugs!!

Walk for five minutes down the street I just came up, and there is a lady getting things out of her SUV. It looks like the shit is pretty heavy, so I drop my gear and offer to help. She gladly accepts. I offer hand, and she takes notice of my pack somewhere in the process. The morning had caused me to rush the whole packing routine...And so the sleeping bag that my brother gave me was hanging out of the pack. Tina took notice of the army issue bivvy sack, and she asks if I'm a veteran. Though the sleeping bag is actually the one that kept my older brother warm in Afghanistan, I am indeed a veteran, and so I told her about it.
I'm from a city who's shit I've had enough of, and I'm off to reclaim parts of my soul that I must have left in the various places that life has flailed chunks off of me. First on the priority list was Seattle, where most of the friends I hold true still reside, and I haven't seen since I got out of the Air Force and moved back to Ohio. Its been far too long

The next thing know, Tina is reaching into her purse. She hands me a wad of $100 bills, and tells me to enjoy my trip. I'm overwhelmed with emotion, and instantly break out in tears and give her a hug, its all I can think to do. I haven't held more than $100 at one time in the past two years, and now I've got a grand in my hand? What do I even do now? Wipe the tears off your fucking face and thank the lady...for starts!
It turns out the she and her husband pretty much own the entire block that I'm walking on, and they have a charity for homeless veterans trying to get back on their feet. Her husband is a veteran, and we exchange a few words. He's more interest in the things that I have to say, and again -- the genuine interest throws me off. I'm not used to people being interested in what I have to say. I'm used to them pointing out how crazy I am, how people don't understand the words coming out of my mouth, how I mumble and stutter and often lose track of what I'm talking about. Not used to them asking further questions and digging deeper from interest. I can get used to this <3
And I'm so absolutely full of joy.
And I...
I can't even.
And then spend the day fighting an internal battle, because since taking off on the trip -- All evidence has pointed towards some kinda higher power that's been looking over my shoulder.
This was the straw that broke the athiest camel's back and kinda put it out of commission.
Something larger is certainly at play, there's no denying it.
Coffee Shops are similar to Libraries, in that I ALWAYS find them to be a positive and empowering environment where I can get good work done. Considering how I've pretty well survived off of instant iced coffee up until this point because finding hot water for it is simply too much of a burden...I think I'll go crash an upscale coffee house with my trampy ass and figure out what's next.

Hop back on the train because I desperately need some gear, there's a few places on the other side of town. Strike up conversation with the guy sitting across from me. He's an Italian traveler making his way through Sacramento, decided to get a real taste of it by hopping on the train. Asks what I'm up to, an I tell him about needing to upgrade some gear and getting my trampy ass up to Seattle. We're chatting away and he's naming off brands of gear and talking backpacking stuff that's way over my head, and a black guy about my age joins in. He starts asking us both about the places we've been, our favorite cities, etc etc. Tells us if we need some new shirts, he's got a bunch of em' he just copped from the local sports store.
I ask if he's got any mediums on deck, hell yes he does :D
Price tags say $35 a piece, I'll take 2 for $20.

We make the deal, and he goes back to the other side of the bus. He's still chipping in on the conversation here and there, but he's engrossed in his phone. Casually asks me about what other kinda gear I need, and lo and behold he's suddenly the local thief who's pretty much robbed the sports store blind and has a full stock of EVERYTHING I need back at his place. Buy in bulk, he'll hook it up with a fat discount. Prices you won't find fuckin' ANYWHERE.
I ask him where his place is, and it's about 2 stops away. Already had Google Maps up to check out whatever he says, and two stops away lies what looks like the roughest part of Sacramento.
Looks a lot like home, and now I know why I feel comfortable with this guy.
Its cause he reminds me of the people I'd hang out with back in Columbus.
And I know the kinds of the things that the people back in Columbus would do to people who make the mistake of flashing a stack of hundies on public transport while carrying a big ass bag and a guitar case and looking dead to the world.
It clicks -- He must have seen the stack of cash.
There's no way he didn't, and my gut tells me that he isn't texting his girlfriend and telling her about how his day is going.
I feel like there's already a squad of goons ready to take me out, rob me blind, gut me like a fish, and leave me for dead in a dark alley.
And I want no part of it.

He's been engrossed in his phone since he saw, and I get his attention.
He looks up at me and I instantly recognize the change in his eyes from before we made the transaction.
He's hungry, and I bet I'm smellling a lot like dinner at this point.
And its time to get off the train.

I let him get off first, and call out his name.
He turns around, and I punch him square in the chin with a right jab -- his head snaps downwards and then back up, and he stumbles backwards. YACCAM.
Cause he's stumbling backwards, but I'm crouched about six inches from the ground cause ya always set up your next move with your current one and preferably use that setup to gtfo of the way of anything they're throwing blindly, and I follow through and punch THROUGH his fucking face as I explode upwards from the crouch, throwing everything I've got into it -- and he's knocked out cold. A lady screams and a guy shouts "HEY!", but they stfu once they notice there's a large knife in his back left pocket.
I hadn't even seen it until this point, he was wearing one of those dress shirts that are 7 sizes too large.
I don't say a word or provoke the situation any further, and hop right the fuck on the train headed in the direction that I just came from, after I snatch my gear from the other train.
This isn't the place for me.

Its late afternoon, and so I eat and walk around, simply trying to take in the moment and move past that unfortunate encounter on the train. I'd hate if he was actually a good guy and trying to hook a tramp up, but I can't take chances. I've seen that kinda thing too many times before, had too many friends who'd take part in that kind of thing, and if anything...Dude's friends will tell him why he got knocked the fuck out.
If you're gonna hustle the street, you should PROBABLY do your part to not sketch people out.
Some of us have a tendency to punch people who do that :p
I left unscathed, and I hope the situation died at the train stop.
I know those eyes.
My actions were just.

I tend to have a problem with fretting over the past, but I'm about 3,000 miles away from it; I have no quarrels with it today -- In fact, it probably saved me.
I also tend to worry about the future, but I've got a little over a grand in the back pocket and I'm not worried about much of...anything, really.
And so the rest of the day is spent marveling at the fact that I TRULY have no stress. And that for the first time, I'm able to enjoy a mindless kinda walk and enjoy a beautiful day in California.
Comes time for bed, but the place I scouted earlier is taken up by a drunk homebum that I try for like an hour to scare away. Even throw a firecracker that I found earlier today towards him, and he barely even snorts. Relocate to the second spot that I scouted, which is a covered picnic / staff break area behind the museum down the street.


The morning started rough, but ambition carried me through what COULD'VE been some terrible times.
I awoke AFTER the sun had already risen -- its brilliant light right in my eyes stirring me and the sound of morning foot traffic launching me out of my sleeping bag. I ended up taking refuge in a fenced off picnic / break area behind one of Old Sac's many museums. Figured that nobody was gonna be there around 5 - 6am, the time I was hoping to awake. But the place had left me ANXIOUS. The streetlights were the same ones the military uses that turns everything a dark orange color...and the trees, mixed with the wind, mixed with those fucking lights = funky shadows and lots of dark thoughts and not a whole lot of sleep.

Limp over to the comfortable spot next to the railroad museum and decided to get ready properly. The drunken asshole that slept there last night and forced me to seek shelter elsewhere was gone, so I kick off the boots and air out the feet and stretch and hate life cause I'm beginning to feel broken down in a physical sense and everything feels tight. And this is only the beginning of the 3rd day of travel, I hope it gets better.
And it clicks -- the wisdom behind the name "Tenderfoot".
I feel...tenderly trampy.
Like I'm currently muscling through one of those rites of passage.
And I feel triumphant.

Pull a fresh shirt over the head, turn around to grab some deodorant out of the bag, and a police officer rolls up to the exact spot that I had just left from, and he has a fucking canine with him.
I'm across the street and about 50 yards down, so I watch with a curious eye for a moment before hitting the deck and shoving my boots back on and packing things up as casually as I can but without wasting time. Considering my homeless nature / appearance, how I'm literally carrying $1,112 in cash, 6 grams of weed, and a hit of what I'm thinking is LSD....This can end TERRIBLY.

Bag is packed as I'm crouched between two rows of picnic tables and sheltered behind the wall, and my paranoid ass literally low crawls out of the rear of the awning with the guitar nestled in my arms as if I'm back in basic training and low crawling underneath barbed wire with the rifle in my arms, and I crawl into the back side of the railroad museum and I can hear the goddamned dog barking like a nut. I explored yesterday and found a popular tourist trail that you can get to by leaping down from the ledge behind the museum, and I hop the barrier and fall about 8 ft onto the path and startle a couple who was jogging their morning away. Pain shoots up my left ankle and up through the knee, but all I can see is the frantic way that fucking dog was sniffing and making a fuss when it came across last night's sleeping area.

"Oh yeah officer some chick just randomly gave me a stack of hundies cause I'm a homeless vet on a spiritual escapade. The drugs and rest of the money are just tips I got yesterday from jamming out on this guitar."
Right. I'll write ya from jail and tell ya all about how it went.
Limp over to Sacramento proper after walking about 2 miles down the waterfront and AWAY FROM THE FUCKING DOG and try tracking down a hot breakfast, this tramp needs FUEL.


Lugging this giant pack on my back, hip straps locked in place and tightened tight, a full size guitar slung about the shoulder, and coming up on my favorite part of Sacramento so far -- The Rainbow Underpass. I don't think I've bathed or changed clothes yet. Haven't even taken a shit this morning. The mountain man look is starting to come in, and I'm sweatin' like a pig. The pants have a coat of dirt and a couple of stains already, my eyes have bags under em', and the picture is painted quite clear -- I'm traaaammmmpy :D And so are all of these guys.
Surrounded by a bunch of other tramps.
And a couple of tourists.
But the tramps. Oh, the tramps.
They're causing a scene this morning.

The first kindred spirit I collide paths with is a fiddler, right at the entrance to the Rainbow Overpass. She's free spirited, I can hear it in her music. A traveler, too, by the looks of her patchy pack. I can't really decipher what the fuck she's talking about in her song cause its echoing all over the place and her bow should be catching on fire at any moment now...But I absolutely love the energy and the vibes, so I post up against the wall about 5 ft away from her. Shed the gear cause I love shedding gear, and take a minute to focus. Smoke a cigarette, stretch, get my bearings, and enjoy a proper wakeup.
Her energy is fierce, so is her music...but so are her eyes. Oh, the eyes.
She has em'.
She's playing wildly and wailing about "These lonely bones don't seek no home, no home." when we make eye contact. Bad choice. It seems we both have that nasty habit of burrowing into other peoples' souls by gazing deeply within those two windows. She fuckers up the song as the sparks fly and our eyes dance, and she bursts out laughing.

"Don't just stand there!! Grab your guitar out! Let's make MUSIC."
"I'm TERRIBLE, you don't want me to play with you!"
"I don't care how ya play. Music isn't about who can play better! Don't be a pussy!"
"How about ya quit flailing that fucking bow around like yer tryin' to cast spells and shit!"
"Avada Kedavra!"
And I fall over dead :D
But eventually get up and unpack the guitar.

I'm terrible -- atrocious, really, and I'm amazed that she's still talking to me after this shit. I can't concentrate on what she's saying at the moment, because I'm preoccupied with just how far I have to go on this thing. Thought I'd be able to come out here, strum a few strums while holding a couple of chords, make a few bucks, and keep the travels going. And yet I can't hold a rhythm with this beautiful fiddler for more than a minute or two at a time, and it frustrates the shit out of her its evident. We'd make some harmony happen, gather a crowd, and my fucking arm gets tired and cramps and locks up and everything melts away...and though the spotlight was OURS, I drop it time and time again cause I needed to rest this meat bag's left arm.

We pack our instruments and pull up the packs and take a seat.
Naturally, we make small talk and exchange stories, but then our eyes begin to dance again. Poking, prodding, analyzing, and dancing away -- our voices carry a conversation but our eyes are doing so much more. Its one of those things I've never been able to explain properly, dunno if I ever will. I'm digging her, I really am. She tells me about the hostel she's staying at, and I remember passing the place on my way to Old Sac. It was this huge green building full of SO MANY interesting looking folk hanging out around the area. Definitely took a lot for me to NOT stop by and see what was up right then and there.
Lesson learned -- ALWAYS GO WITH THE GUT. That place is party central by the sounds of things.
Anybody worth partying with was probably staying underneath that one roof, and it only cost like $40 a night.

We grow tired of sitting and talking, and take off into Old Sac, through the Rainbow Underpass.
There's historical plaques with tons of information and fun facts and maps and pictures all along this underpass, and we take turns doing dramatic readings and creating fictional stories for all of it. We start talking music again, and the next thing you know our instruments are back out. She tries her hardest to help me find the music, but she doesn't understand that I'm physically incapable of maintaining the music. She asks if I'm self taught, and I go on to explain that she's actually the first person I've really jammed with.
"I can tell. Oh, I can tell."
Apparently, my form and technique are fucking atrocious, and are the culprits behind my cramping hands.
Fucking great.
She's excited to exclaim that she took my jam sesh virginity, and decides to make a song of it. I jump in because why not, but again -- the cramps and pains.
And so I change it up -- Until this point, I couldn't find the courage to play the crazy ass style where I slap and slam and bang around the guitar to create percussion as well make music with the strings. Something about playing the guitar this way...The cramps and pains aren't a problem. Her music skips a measure the moment I change it up, but she quickly gets back in time. I'm thankful that she knows what the fuck is up with making music and can pick up which key I'm playing in and the time signature and all of that other technical jazz that lets her jam along with me flawlessly...Cause I have NO idea how to play with her. Let me be the backdrop upon which you'll shine, beautiful Canadian girl. We've got MUSIC to make, baby girl, vibes to blend.
Our vibes collide and blend to a finer and finer degree until we make the kinda eye contact that completely dissolves all bodily barriers and for this moment in time, I feel as if we are one.
Our music shows it, our bodies feel it, and the eyes stop dancing because of it.
Can't tell ya when the crowd dissipated cause she's the only thing on my mind. No racing thoughts, no comparisons, no judgement, nothing but pure music.
And she's worn out.
And has to stop
Before I do.


We keep bumping into each other, smiling sheepishly, and our eyes keep digging and carrying a much deeper kinda conversation than words could ever attempt. We stop at an old pub for a drink, and end up taking 4 shots of rum. At around 9:30am. After a joint. That came after a couple of bowls. Fuckin' California, man. I'm feeling relaxed. And the fiddler forgot something at the hostel, needs to run back real quick.
Do I wanna come? Well I mean...You probably DO need protected if the zombies decide to strike before ya get there. Why not?

I grab her hand because I want to grab her hand.
And that's huge. Because it's the first one I've felt compelled to hold since hers.
And my mind travels back to when I didn't get on the rail with Audrey with a D from earlier.
Her hand tightens around mine for a moment, then loosens. My stomach hits the floor, but she just wants to slip her fingers in between mine :D
We derp around and talk about the thing that launched us into our travels, hand in hand and feelin' connected -- both spiritually AND physically -- and it turns out that she faced a similar situation as I.
We walk with every belonging that both of us own strung across our backs, and we casually talk about past contemplations and plans of suicide, and being saved by dreams and purpose. To explore the world, fill up on life, taste what it has to offer, and perhaps impact a little bit of good during it all.
Do it for long enough, and purpose shall hopefully unviel itself. You can't do much for the world cooped up in the same city you were born in, doing only enough in life to keep the mundane cycle running smoothly.
She, too, has no idea about what she wants to do in life.
She, too, had previously decided that living life out of a backpack while traveling the open road is the only kind of suicide she'd commit.
Because we agree that it was the ego that we'd kill, not the capable meat bag.
The ego -- All those things that we're attached to, the things we identify as...toss em' away. Peel away those hundreds of masks that we've found ourselves wearing all of our lives, and see if we can't uncover the true face below em'. Spend a little bit of time forgetting about all of the things everyone else wants you to do, cause the only purpose that I can possibly attribute to life is that it is our purpose to venture out and create our own.
What remains is a perfectly capable meat bag given over to the spirit of whateverthefuck larger power is at play to do with what it pleases. A vessel through which the universe shall operate, its commands communicated through the whims of intuition.
Perhaps there is a little bit of method to all of this chaos.
And perhaps that method resides in folk like The Fiddler and I. Who're -- just for now -- simply enjoying the company of kindred spirits.
We walk with our fingers interlocked and let those embers burn softly, no thoughts given to the people we remind each other of, or the future we might or might not have together.
As fate would have it, we had to split ways because of forgotten cargo and plans of meeting back up at dawn.

I had your number twice, just in case.
And I lost em' both, plus your name.
As I went onwards to explore while you went onwards to cause more tidal waves.


By "explore", I mean that I walked 20ft from where The Fiddler and I danced eyes and on to the group of German musicians who're still causing a SCENE. Its still relatively early on this beautiful and cloudless morning, but there's a crowd gathered around these guys and they're dancing & laughing & smiling & hugging each other & swaying to the rhythm...There's a couple of girls hoola hooping to the side and one guy with an unlit / practice fire staff who's doing his thing, and there's even a live painter to the other side who was busy blending the vibes of the music, the dancing, the happiness, the carefree lust for a good time, the stressless approach to fuckin' EVERYTHING.
The moment is intoxicating, and I can't help but join the group. The musicians take notice of my guitar as I'm lying it against the wall, and they beckon me to come to the stage, and I find my arms unzipping the case against my will. I'm freaking the fuck out as my world trembles and risks shattering, and the smile on my face must've been the most genuine I've flashed in years. I remember what just happened with The Fiddler, and I decide to launch straight into the crazy ass music I can keep playing for ages.

EXCEPT -- I lose it within 5 minutes and I don't understand. I think all of the musicians understand, as there's a humorous twinkle to every one of their eyes. Or perhaps they find it funny that a guy who's obviously homeless and out trying to get by with a guitar can't even play for five minutes.
I'm really hoping these are just growing pains and not indicitive of something serious. I'd be devestated. But currently, I feel humbled beyond measure while these guys are just floating along and making beautiful sounds with a carefree and effortless kind of demeanor as I'm over here struggling like a motherfucker just to play something that even slightly goes with what everyone else is playing. HAVE to step the fucking game up and find more time to practice, gotta find musicians to travel with.
And as it goes -- I pack up the guitar and take the place I earn among the audience.

The lead guitarist leans his guitar against the wall and walks over, hands me a beer, and cracks one open himself.
We try to conversate for about 5 minutes and fail terribly. I'm typically great with understanding accents, but this one's a no go. Thank god for the beautiful girl that comes up to us and mediates/translates. The rest of the band finishes and pack their gear, and Peter / Monica take off with the rest of em'. On to the next adventure!

And by "next adventure", I mean that I walk to the end of Rainbow Underpass by Old Sacramento and start getting pelted with snack sized bags of pretzels and popcorn by an Asian guy carrying a huge box that has booby shaped helium baloons attached to it. I mean he seems harmless enough and like he's just having a blast while on a myriad of substances...and he's wearing a panda suit minus the headpiece.
I walk up to the mass of floating boobies and grab one and huff it from the nipple cause that's the ONLY way to do such a thing, and give the cheeky guy a chipumunky "yooooooooooooo. Dawg." with as serious and GANGSTA of a face as possible. He cracks the fuck up, and it looks like he's trying to headbutt the front corner of his box to let me know about a bowl in there, we spark up right on the hilside at the end of Rainbow Underpass. End up calling him Franklin the whole time we're kickin' it, cause I recall his real name being about 6 syllables long. He's as old as I am, local to Sacramento, and just got off of work.
This guy is crazy :D But in the best of ways.
He's aggressively complimenting people from about 20 ft away.
Asks if I have a marker, and he's baffled at the industrial sized sharpie I have. He huffs it a couple of good times before creating a "Free Hug" sign, and for some reasons he's just passing up all of the beautiful women who want hugs.
I feel bad for em', so I try to capitalize and whip up a "Free Kisses" sign that lands me 3.
From old ladies.
Franklin found alcohol from one of the old ladies I kissed, they're doing a shot.
Cops ride by on their bikes and we begin discussing politics for some reason til they pass.
A gang of black guys on their bicycles just rode by, and most of the bikes are decked the fuck out and a couple of em' have sound systems.
Franklin is chasing them, hope he doesn't get beat up :(
His panda suit is KILLIN me.

The thing with the Rainbow Underpass is that there are hills on both entrances, and the hills are grassy and not too steep and they have ledges that are PERFECT for sitting upon.
And so we do.
In the fluid manner that all relationships tend to go on the road -- from musical mentors to intimate sparks to kindred spirits colliding to simply passing the time with some enjoyable company -- Franklin and I chow down on the snacks he snagged from work while fellow travelers join us to rest their feet for a few moments, grab some free chow, enjoy some boistrous company, perhaps get smoked out if they're cool enough. About 20 different groups pass through and rejuvinate and continue onwards, and Franklin and I marvel at how this lifestyle isn't more widespread.

I mean SHIT, there's nothing to it!
But perhaps my experience is different.
I have a wad of cash in my pack, and I'm beginning to feel guilty about it.
I KNOW that this money can do tremendous things. I can buy a fucking vehicle, or multiple train tickets, and I can get to Seattle no prob and not have to show up empty handed save a guitar I can't even play and stories for days. I mean, shit -- show up with a stack in yer pack, and perhaps yer' old military buddies will take you a little more seriously when ya aren't showing back up 4 years later with just as little as ya left with. But I'm torn -- because didn't I JUST surrender this fucking meat bag to the will of the universe? Didn't The Fiddler and I JUST revel behind the way we succeeded in murdering our ego and sense of self and our selfish agendas to become a vessel through which the good natured will of the universe shall work?
And so what purpose is all of this fancy talk if I'm gonna keep living like I used to? Hoarding material posessions to ensure a safe future because I'm too big of a pussy to envision life outside of a comfort zone. Because I'm not confident enough in my ability to secure FOOD, or my ability to establish a STEADY INCOME so I can simply gather the money I need for the moments that I need it, and because I crave the sense of security that being able to afford a bed in a hostel or a room in a hotel brings.
I'm torn -- What am I to do?

It'll come to me.
Til then, this wad of cash simply means that I'm not meant to die for a little while longer.
To the will of the universe I pray: Guide my actions and make them good. Let these racing thoughts rest and give me the tranquility to enjoy this moment because I'm REALLY HAVING A GOOD TIME for once and I've felt more alive in this past week than I have the past four years combined. I have bowed to the almighty Dollar for long enough, help me stop.
And so I feel compelled to meditate. Seek refuge in pursuing the one single task (The RELIEF!) of focusing on deep breathing.
In with the good shit, out with the bullshit.
C'mon, Franklin, join me. We've been fuckin' wired and going hard all day, give yerself a moment to relax.
Whatcha know about meditation?
At all?
Alright, it's simple -- get comfortable.
Ya comfy? K.
Lock your fingers together and touch the tips of your thumbs together.
Hold on...lemme adjust em'. K.
Hold em' like that. If shit tenses up, you need to relax.
Focus on bringin' in the good shit, and exhaling the bullshit.
If they get too LOOSE, then TIGHTEN UP.
But just a little.

Franklin the Asian and I enter a meditative state. I'm able to guide him into a state of relaxation, and our peaceful vibes begin to collide.
I'm able to guide him to a deep state of meditative slumber, and he reports that he has never felt such a calm.
General tourism and city life presents a small problem to Franklin the Asian's focus, and I try my best to help the guy out.
Poor soul has never experienced a session of meditation.
And eventually, he's so deep into it that ya couldn't pull him out of it if ya tried. On his first sit!

I've been trying to egg on my voracious and energetic spirit to go an talk with his.
Cause I mean...Why the fuck not?
And I'm hoping that this is...well...that.
Because Franklin and I are deep within notingness, and a soft drum enters in the background. We're in tune enough with one another that I don't have to open my eyes to see if the drum has disturbed his focus.
I know it hasn't.
Its guiding him deeper, and its exactly the kind of thing that I could only hope for as far as a guy with zero exerprience goes. Its a bongo drum, and the drummer maintains a simple and steady beat. Nice and slow, calmly rhythmic but spiritually invigorating. A soft flute joins in, providing a Native American kind of tune to the ordeal. And then the maraccas. I open my eyes.
I'm fucking SURROUNDED by people.

Some have yoga mats stretched out, others lie back upon their packs and significant others and trees and ledges and sprawled out upon the grass. There's a guy hanging upside down from the lowest branch of a tree, and he seems to be at absolute peace. Franklin is looking at me with the widest eyes that he can manage, he's FRIGHTENED, and has no idea what the hell is going on. Neither do I, so I let my mind frantically do its thing and I snatch one of his boobie balloons and huff as much helium as I can, then give the crazy ass jamboree a high pitched "CYA LATER". And we get the fuck outta whatever it is that we might have accidentally just caused.
We walk along the water, turns out he has a squat around the corner that he stays at -- An abandoned construction project who's basement he took over -- and we offload our gear there. Words can't properly explain how amazing it is to shed this giant pack and be able to just...leave it. I grab the guitar and stuff all of my high value gear into the case, and Franklin and I take off.

The decision is made -- it is in the night's best interest that we narrate and bring music to the lives of as many folk as possible. Franklin the Asian starts singin' and hollerin' about anything and everything going on around us, and I'm doing my trampy best to give music to it all. I'm certain that the joint wasn't made up of just weed, cause I feel like I'm on top of the world, and in a...I dunno...a synthesized kinda way.
But it rocks, hopefully no pun intended.
I go with it. I mean hopefully it wasn't rocks, but I'll never know what the lace was to go out and seek it further.
So fuck it, let's party on.

We head back to the squat, and Franklin and I enter through the broken window in the rear. We climb the rotten staircase that's full of holes and other pitfalls, and eventually make it to the roof access hatch. I make a quick dash to the basement to make sure everything is still there, and to my surprise -- it is :D
The hatch swings open with an ear piercing creak, and a chunk of the cieling falls and hits me in the face and I would've fallen off of the ladder had those goddamned Spider Man reflexes not kicked in and caused me to clamp the ladder with a death grip. We get to the roof and sit off of the edge. I'm strumming away lightly and Franklin is humming away, happily munching on pretzels and humming a melody. This is the life :D

Not a long time later, three crusties join us on top of the roof.
They're carrying booze, green, ether, and their eyes look like motherfucking saucer plates. 4 hits of acid a piece, it turns out, and none more to share :( I politely decline the ether, take a couple of shots, and one of them hands me a perfectly rolled "Presidential Sized" joint -- A 1ft. Joint. Something you'd see in a D.A.R.E Commercial, I swear to God. The girl pulls a small bongo from her pack, and the other guy has a harmonica. The five of us scoot away from the edge cause we'd hate for such a good moment to be ruined by power hungry piggies, and we all post up against the massive HVAC unit passing bottles, joints, instruments, and good vibes.

I've found my people, and I identify the feeling in my chest as being the joy I've so desparately sought in life.
The three crusties move onwards, and Franklin the Asian tells me I can crash at his place.
Wake up to the rising sun, and Franklin is nowhere to be seen.
Nothing's missing, it seems, and there's even a couple of snack sized bags of cookies, a bottle of water, and a packet of instant coffee sitting upon the guitar case :D
I'm going to leave Sacramento today, and I will probably never meet Franklin the Asian again.
As a parting gift, I roll and leave him a couple of joints from the stash of weed I managed to accumulate through playing the guitar.
He REALLY likes to smoke, and so I leave him the remainder of my pipe tobacco and the pack and a half of rolling papers. Write a note, seal it with candle wax, and take my departure.


Back in Downtown Sacramento.
Sacramento has been kind to me so far, and I can't see it acting any differently if I were to ask 10 of its citizens for recommendations for breakfast.
And so I do.
And 9 out of 10 recommend a place called Claim Jumpers.
Except Smitty. Smitty shrugs when I ask him what he'd eat for breakfast, and tells me that he's on his way to pick up a gallon of vodka from Walgreens.
And if I don't mind, can I watch his service dog, Katalina, while he wheels on in and gets the bottle? I'd be more than welcome to join, if I feel so inclined.
My kinda guy!

So we go over to CVS and I get us coffee while Smitty grabs a bottle of super cheap Vodka. We start chatting and one thing leads to another. Balls deep in convo and I go grab us more coffee cause the conversation was good and I didn't want it to end. Not yet! Dude might be one of those drunk veteran ghosts that nobody pays attention to, but intuition tells me that this man is essential to whateverthefuck I'm doing in Sacramento.
As usual -- Intuition was right.

Smitty and Katalina (The dog that dragged Smitty to help when he overdosed on heroine [fuck heroin])...They invited me back to their comfortable little abode. Its a recessed exit / patio at a bankrupt business, located in an alley that nobody uses -- which is why its so great. Solitude in a squat = HEAVEN. Doesn't matter where you're sleeping. If its quiet -- I'll find a way to get comfy <3

Smitty invited me over, and we chat. Dude has obvious problems, but so do I. So do we all. Smittys are a little different, though. He's been locked up for the past 28 fucking years like a dog. As I expected upon first meeting him; Smitty went to Vietnam with the U.S. Marine Corps. When he returned home, he went to the bar for a couple of drinks. In the back of a bar was a group of guys that were talking about beating their woman and keeping them in their places. "Beat em' hard, beat em' often", they said. Turns out that the guy boasting the loudest was dating Smitty's sister.

And so Smitty walks up to the group, laughing and chuckling and pretending to have a grand ol' time. He agrees with em' and tells a few jokes about women, buys a round of whiskey for the table, and invites the guy out to have a cigarette and get some fresh air. When they got outside, Smitty guts the guy from his pelvis to the mouth with a grappling hook, and spilled the man's organs across the alleyway. He goes back inside the bar, grabs a jug of whiskey and downs it, then proceeds to turn himself into the police.
Managed to get out of a life sentence because of California's lottery.

He told me about his daughter, and how she was taken away when he went to prison. And about his addiction to heroin & general non sobriety that he developed after getting out of prison. Told me about watching somebody be cut to shreds right next to him, and being soaked in the blood of another man as he told the Warren that he didn't see a goddamned thing and faced a month in solitary confinement. He told me about being shot, killed, and revitalized TWICE. About how his family dropped all contact, how his addiction grew worse, and how he can tell that its taking a toll on his health but he doesn't give a fuck anymore.
I can kinda see where he's coming from.

He told me about how his sister intervened finally, and got him Katalina -- A German Shepherd as pure bred as you've ever seen. She listens well and generally just chilled the fuck out on her awesome green mat next to Smitty's sleeping pad in the recessed exit. Something about black people and passing trains piss her off, though. Dunno WHAT her deal is, but I've never seen anything like it. Viscous as a demon when a black person or train passes by...And she whimpers and cowers after the fact, then goes back to sleeping. Whattteevvverrrr, she's got beautiful eyes :D Don't care too much for her personality though.

A gallon of vodka is downed -- Mostly by Smitty, I've got coffee -- and a local tour guide (The YELLA JACK'T) cautions Smitty against the cops being out and about looking for drunks, trying to meet a quota today. Smitty understands and begins packing up his home for the day so other homeless folk don't steal his shit. Quickly thereafter, we depart with a hug / handshake, and we go our separate ways. I just spent the early afternoon getting shitfaced with a homeless murderer who has a racist dog that hates trains :D Smitty needs to meet up with some folk anyways, and I'm ready for more adventure.
Different adventure.
The kind that only Seattle can provide.

Lunch, and then the AMTRAK.
The train for Seattle departs at midnight -- I have an entire day to kill. I'd LIKE to drink the day away, and I certainly have the money for it. But I can't imagine that the woman who gave me this money would be happy if she were to hear about me spending it on booze and other bullshit. And so I busk Old Sacramento til I get kicked out -- probably for being so terrible :D Got about an hour of play in, and there's more than enough money to get the alcohol necessary for the day. There's money for food, too! And a couple of folk dropped more green into the case, so that's cool too. And so is the random polo shirt that a guy gave me after asking if he can take my picture.
I mean sure :D


Its early afternoon and I'm stumbling through Sacramento with all of my gear, absolutely exhausted and worn out but full of good vibes, when an old black guy with a head full of wiry white hair and a beard that resembles an old worn broom rolls up next to me on this giant tricycle. It has a wagon attached to the rear, and the wagon is full of winter gear with a snowboard attached to it (In Sacramento towards the beginning of April). He's looking down at the ground, and starts mumbling. I listen in and hear him naming off the various scales and modes that I remember vaguely reading about in Columbus. He asks if the words mean anything, and all I can think to do is give him a mischievous smile and a clap on the back.

I explain the current situation, how I've been humbled beyond measure, overwhelmed with how much there is to learn, and how I'm doubting my resolve as a musician. I only discovered music's true power two years ago, I haven't had the lifetime of exposure to good music that all of these other musicians have, I'm self taught and just realizing how much my knowledge of music is lacking. The guy laughs, tells me to pull out the guitar and play what I know. Fuck judgement, fuck my thoughts on how it sounds. And so I start playing, and he begins asking a set of rhetorical questions that I had never thought to ponder while playing. The line of questioning causes me to listen to the music in a different kind of way, and I begin to feel it deep within me. Truly feel it. The way the bass strings vibrate through the rear of the guitar and through my chest. The way that the guitar feels like simply a tool that translates the message a soul wishes to convey, because music is the medium through which its best presented. The fretboard isn't so mysterious, and fingerpicking patterns aren't so fucking perplexing. There's no need to fit layers within layers within layers and beat and slap the guitar around like I usually feel compelled to do. Instead, I'm only working with one string and where the hell did this pick come from? I've never used one of these, but the guy who's name I can't even remember is kind enough to spend 20 minutes teaching me.

Empty the thoughts of the past and future. Focus on breathing until the even the breathing is forgotten. Feel the contours of the guitar as it lies upon the leg, nestled with the arm and elbow. The indentions of fretted strings upon the left hand, the chafed and raw edges of my middle/ring finger upon the strumming hand, the way the thumb is bleeding and throbbing but none of it even matters. Because I can feel the tone in my throat and chest and abdomen and I'm aware of a spiritual energy that is slightly out of tune with the music that I'm playing.
And so I focus on making the adjustments, and I feel my soul weep with joy as it experiences its song's first breath of life.
Hand the guitar over, and yet again I'm humbled. I've learned to not feel a feeling of resentment or angst or stress when listening to other musicians play. Those feelings are symptomatic of a comparison that I'm making between us, and that's the wrong kind of approach. I should be feeling positive things about this stuff...And so I begin to seek the good. I shed judgement and soak in the music for what it is, and things just kinda begin to make sense.


Behind Old Sacramento there's a river, and along that river is a busy path that everyone walks along...But there's a way to cut down and away from the path, to the bank of the river, and around the corner to escape all the tourism and get a nice and quiet place to relax, perhaps catch the sunset. I get the feeling that a lot of bad things have happened in this area and that there might be a couple of bodies buried underneath me, but its quiet and thats all I that I seek. My feet are in terrible shape, and I need to take it easy for a couple of days at this point for them to properly recover. Parts of my right foot feel like they're "shorting out" -- Definite nerve damage.
I've been in the same city for about four days now, and I'm beginning to feel an urge to head north. I've gotten what I came to Sacramento for, and its time to take the adventure elsewhere.

Finish gathering the thoughts and getting my head screwed back on straight. Time to limp over to the AMTRAK and get the fuck outta dodge.
I've been considering skipping fare and just kinda hopping the AMTRAK to Seattle. It leaves 5 minutes after midnight, and I'm certain that I can make it work without ending up too terribly fucked. A ticket to Seattle tonight costs around $200, which I technically have, but I think about how $200 could feed me for 40 days. Offset the cost of produce by being a helpful person at the Farmer's Market and trying to work farms. Offset the cost of meat by catching your fuckin' own. Stay mindful of the fact that you're eating to sustain your health and not appease your taste buds...and the options available to ya suddenly become inexhaustable. $5 a day is more than enough to eat when you don't need other people to find and prepare your food for ya :D If anything, the $5 goes towards a 6 pack of Steel Reserve for desert because the road certainly does have a funny way of providing.

But I don't have the balls, or the desire, to go to jail for some stupid shit. I walk to the counter and the lady at the desk is about as professional as they make em'.
Her hair is tied up in a French Braid, her clothes are obviously freshly pressed. She's got that sweet and highish pitched tone of a seasoned receptionist, and she's extrmely jittery and does a lot of jerky, sudDen movements. She's wearing a no shit suit and button up shirt and tie, and she's fucking beautiful. I'd flirt, but I haven't showered in a week. I'm still slightly tipsy and probably reek of stale beer, extremely stoned because California, looking like a mountain man cause I can't even find water to drink let alone shave. Her nose even crinkles, lol I'm traaamppppppyyyyy.

Next ticket to Seattle, please.
And she looks at me sideways. Literally cocks her head like 20 degrees to the left, and I bet she's contemplating calling the cops cause I'm obviously twisted out of my mind and need some assistance. Its cause I look like shit, smell like it too, and she doesn't believe I'll be able to chalk up the change. I'm sure of it. Her head tilts an extra 10 degrees and her left eyebrow shoots up when I bust out a wad of $100 bills and a bag full of change that reeks of marijuana for some reason.
Its California, I don't even need to explain it.
But I got the ticket, and that's all that matters at this moment in time.
I'm happy, and I know I'm going to survive.

Got a couple of hours to kill, and I spot the vending machine. I haven't had anything to drink all morning, and cotton mouth is waging a ferocious war against the good vibes that the universe is sending my way. Its becoming serious, so I power walk like you see those suburban soccer moms do, and I almost crash into the damn vending machine because I'm exhausted and forgot that I'm lugging 85lbs on my back.
Momentum, you have got to stop fucking with me.
The first Dr. Pepper I've had on the entire adventure, I'm gonna go outside and enjoy the cool breeze.
Step outside and go around to the side of the AMTRAK building where there's shade and a lack of foot traffic. Kick off the combat boots and throw away the socks cause I don't need 12 pairs. Apply some medication to the feet and rebandage them after they dry. Consider seeking a hospital, but its like 4 miles away and I can't rationalize calling the squad or paying for a taxi, and I've gotta get to SEATTLE, MAN.

Instead, I lay out the contents of my sack, consolidate all of the trash I've managed to accumulate and toss that in the garbage, repack everything, and keep a fresh outfit on the top. Wobble back into the AMTRAK, give the woman at the desk a sheepish smile, and I enter the handicap bathroom because it locks. I'm an asshole, I know, but I just want to rexperience the beauty of being clean, man, gimme a break.
Wash, shave, put on a freshly-scrubbed-in-the-river-with-hand-soap outfit, throw some gel in the hair and style it, and I'm honestly just trying to do what I can to start the ride north as pleasantly as possible. Its not every day that you get to take off to reclaim your soul in a place ya haven't seen in what feels like four and a half eternities. When I leave the bathroom, I make eye contact with the woman behind the counter again, and all she can do is smile.
On top of the fuckin' world, I go outside to enjoy a joint and cold Dr. Pepper cause I just winked and she winked back ;D

Take a seat in the only remaining bench that has shade, and the scene is peaceful. Not much going on except for the crazy bitch who's dancing to no music in front of me. She's really into it, and has the fiery eyes of the recently converted. Light up a cigarette instead of a joint cause I don't wanna do anything to attract her attention, but it seems that I fucked up that plan from the beginning by purchasing a Dr. Pepper. She really likes Dr. Pepper, I assume, cause her eyes made contact with my unopened bottle and now she's slowly dancing her way over to it like she's engaging in some kinda primalistic mating call. Crazy bitch makes a reach for it, but I bat her hand away. It was probably the sleepless night that guided my hand...But I put my finger about an inch from her nose and barked "No!", like she was a dog or something. I instantly felt like a douche, but she didn't even seem phased. Crazy bitch then asks for a drink of it, and I tell her I fuckin' hate germs. Get away from me, ya nasty! She reaches out with lightning quick reflexes and manges to grab my precious fucking bottle of Dr. Pepper, and she quickly starts gulping it down. I would've empathized with the situation, wrote the whole thing off as her dying of thirst at the end of an ecstacy binge...But the bench I sat at was literally connected to a perfectly working drinking fountain.

I'm far too exhausted to give a fuck, and I'm about to write the whole thing off entirely, but this guy comes flying into the scene from out of nowhere and SLAPS the bottle of Dr. Pepper away from Crazy Bitch's hands.
"Yah fuckin bitch I jus watched the whole goddamned thing and ya blowin' my fuckin' top lady I dunno what the fuck yah thinkin but thats kinda fucked up ya know!? Dude's so tired he can't slap a bitch but if it were ME, lady, if it were ME, I'd a punched ya right in the kisser, yah hear?? Least yah can do is apahlogize to the guy for bein such a bitch for fuck's sake. GET THE FUCK AWAY, LADY, SHOO."

She smiles as she picks up the bottle of Dr. Pepper and dances away, and me and this random guy just lock eyes and I fall over -- Partially cause I'm laughing so hard, partially because my feet are shredded and torn to hell. The guy reaches his hand out and helps me up, telling me his name is Matt as he helps brush the dirt off of my pack.

"Ya know what, I'll be right back man, hang out right here for a sec." And Matt disappears.
When he returns he has two bottles of Dr. Pepper and a can of Yuengling for each of us. As is natural here in Cali, I spark a joint and we crack open the beers and dive into conversation for an hour. His train arrives, he takes off, and I grab my stuff to walk over to the coffee shop I remember seeing down the street. Get about 4 steps away from leaving the AMTRAK property and decide I need to sleep.
As if the lessons from that upscale park in Yuppie Hell weren't enough -- I further understand why the homeless folk fall asleep in such RANDOM places.
I'm just too fuckin' tired to continue.
And so I sleep.


"Sir...Sir. Your train has arrived. Natasha told me about you limping over to your bench and crashing out, said you looked exhausted and were on your way to Seattle. Didn't want you to miss your train."
"You wink at women who's names you don't even know? Shame, shame"
And she gives me a light punch on the shoulder, served with a warm smile.
"You still got about 15 minutes til the train takes off. Have a safe trip, sweetheart."



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Toasty Tramp

I closed my account
@creature -- This was what I could recollect after the fact. I was in Sacramento around the end of May, but I'm currently in FL :( Less than two weeks til I take off for the Slabs, though! Ya gonna be there??

@couchissatan -- Thanks for reading it :D I was afraid that the 11,000 words would be a little off putting.

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