Caliventure Chronicles-Episode 7: The Falls

Caliventure Chronicles-Episode 7: The Falls

It was Saturday, August 10th after my “Day of Weird.” I was rested and ready to go. The plan was to go to Mt. Shasta and see what this mystery mountain offered. However, due to severe thunderstorms, I played it safe. After all, for a mountain 14,000 ft. high it was probably a bad idea to journey there in the middle of thunder and lightning. Instead, I elected to check out what’s called the McArthur-Burney Falls in Burney, CA. It toted a 129 foot waterfall and, well, yes please.

I began my journey by driving downtown and checking out a coffee shop called Evergreen! I had a fruit waffle and a pina colada coffee. It was fantastic. Delicious. Heavenly.

Also, I bought two Pokemon stickers there because… gotta catch em’ all, right? Right. Anyway, the hour drive began and, well, it was cloudy and rainy. The Burney falls was going to be much wetter than usual.

After almost hitting a gray fox that found it acceptable to dash in front of my rental car (rude!), and a perilous journey where I’m very certain I drove through a raincloud, I made it.

Fun fact: You have to pay $10 to get into the park. Good thing I had cash!

Anyway, I put on my Marvel rain jacket a student gave me and made my journey to the falls.

Listen. I feel like I should have the proper adjectives to describe what awaited me. I am an English teacher, after all. But words simply cannot capture the sight of these falls. Pictures may try. There’s a lot. I have no shame. Love the pictures. Please take note the last one. You can see the falls and a very tiny me. It puts things in perspective, that’s for sure.

There was just something stunningly magical hearing the pounding roar of the falls, watching the white columns of water crash into the blue pool beneath it, feeling the cool mist kiss your face. It was absolutely gorgeous. I couldn’t help but stand there and stare in absolute reverence. Again, how is California this beautiful?

Surprising myself, I climbed down at least 20 feet of rocks to get close to the freezing water. I mean, obviously I had to have a selfie in front of the falls. When a kind stranger offered to take my picture from afar, I was happy to race back down the rocks to pose. Could there have been snakes under the rocks? Probably. However, I’m trying not to let my fear of these legless demons control my experience. I am, after all, on an adventure.

This adventure also tempted me to play with the waterproof features of my camera and some of the macro settings too. Check out my experiments with foliage and pictures taken under water. Pretty nifty, if you ask me. You probably didn’t, but too bad. You’re getting the pictures anyway.

Once I was done admiring the falls, I walked the trail all around the falls. I paused at one point to try my hand at sketching the falls in my travel journal. An elderly woman sauntered up to me and said, “Oh! You’re sketching? Let me see.”

Ashamed, I said, “Well, I’m trying. I’m really not an artist. Like, at all.”

Nevertheless, she peered at my sketch. Her smile faltered and she said, “Oh, okay.” That was the last I ever heard from her. As I said, I’m no artist.

Anyway, the trail was beautiful, even though a lot of it evidenced storm damage. Actually, one path was closed to erosion and damage. Interesting, right?

I pushed myself to journey off trail for a little bit. Not too much, but enough to push past my fear of snakes. Yeah, I know. You’re probably reading this and muttering, “Uh, Josh, you should probably be more afraid of the mountain lions and the bears.” I mean you wouldn’t be wrong, I guess.

Yeah… you’re getting a lot of pictures in this post. That’s not likely to change anytime soon!

Anyway, once I completed my beautiful hike, I stopped at the visitor center and bought a hiking stick (which will make a guest appearance in Episode 8!).

The rest of the day hit another weird spot. I was literally super exhausted on the hour drive home. I drove through yet another rain cloud, which is not fun on twisty roads, might I add. I had to wonder if the waterfall put a sleeping spell on me. I was unexpectedly tired to the point where I was really struggling to stay awake while driving. It’s a miracle I made it back okay.

I’m not sure what hit me, but I told myself I was going to take a 2-3 hour nap and then go to a brewery.

I slept until 6AM the next day. Between my previous day and this unexpected sleepiness, I’m not sure what’s going on with my body. Let’s hope it’s done playing these tricks on me because, thanks, I hate it.

Well, next episode (which I hope to post later tonight/early tomorrow morning) will finally tell the tale of my first visit to Mt. Shasta (with my walking stick!). I don’t mean to overhype or anything, but I simply cannot wait for you all to read Episode 8. It. Is. Awesome.

Until then…

Caliventure Chronicles Episode 6: The Day of Weird

Caliventure Chronicles Episode 6: The Day of Weird

Yesterday was a strange day.

If you’ve been following my daily adventures, you already know why based off yesterday’s post. If you haven’t been following my daily adventures, you can click here to get caught up:

Most of my day yesterday was entirely uneventful. I’ve been receiving a lot of encouragement from friends that it was entirely okay that I had a day with little to no adventure. Part of me agrees. Another part of me starts to get anxious because time is ticking and I have yet to do some of the bigger things I want to do. For the record, as I type this, thunderstorms are my main obstacle. But that is a story for another day–like tomorrow. Yesterday went like this:

  • Wake up at 9 AM
  • Ugh.
  • Fall back asleep.
  • Wake up at a random time. Ow, my head hurts.
  • Fall back asleep
  • Wake up at 1 PM
  • Eat leftover Mexican food
  • Kill some tiny bugs who infiltrated my Airbnb. They stood no chance.
  • Write a blog post
  • Kill a lone tiny bug. He thought I wouldn’t notice. I did.
  • Edit blog post
  • Update travel journal
  • Contemplate what to do
  • Shower

You kinda see how my day was lazy. The true excitement was wiping little insects off the face of the planet. I eventually decided to find a coffee shop to sit down at and sort through my life. I selected a coffee shop called The Stirring because it looked really cool and Yelp said it was open until 10PM. I got ready at 5PM, donned my new Black Lives Matter shirt, and went forth into the world.

But first? I had to stop and get a Dutch Bros Coffee. Specifically the mysterious and alluring Dragon Slayer per Emma’s suggestion. Who knew something so simple would become so complicated?

I pulled up to the window and greeted the friendly cashier, proudly declaring, “I’d like a medium Dragon Slayer tea please!” I was excited. The picture on the website made it look super cool. It was a raspberry and blue raspberry drink with a red blackberry drizzle. Essentially it looked like tendrils of blood reaching into the depths of a purple vortex. Epic.

"So you want the rebel?" asked the friendly cashier. 
"Uh, the what?" was my lame response.
"Well, you see, the Dragon Slayer is normally a rebel."
I stared dumbly.
"Right. Okay. So the rebel is our energy drink mix. Of course we can make the Dragon Slayer as a lemonade, tea, or soda. However, rebel is the norm. So... rebel?"
I was not up for being rebellious. In fact, I have a personal vendetta against energy drinks. I've boycotted them strongly for nearly ten years. So I smiled and said, "I shall have the Dragon Slayer as a tea, please."
"Why, of course! I'll get that in! Any fun plans tonight?"
I mumbled something about doing something, pretty excited for my pretty drink.

The moment came. She reached around a corner and pulled out….

Well, to say I was underwhelmed is an understatement at best.

I mean. Where was the blackberry drizzle? WHERE WAS THE DRAGON BLOOD?!

So, I drove away, sipping the drink that looked nothing like the promoted picture and cursed myself. I mean maybe if I had agreed to the energy drink, things would’ve been different. Maybe I would have dragon blood. Defeated, I followed my GPS as it barked orders to The Stirring. I sipped the drink, which was actually really good, but there was a particular lack of dragon essence if you ask me. Don’t ask me how I know that. Some things are better left secret.

And then it happened.

Not even a mile down the road another Dutch Bros Coffee came into view.

I looked at my empty drink. Yes, I drink things fast.

I looked at the Dutch Bros Coffee.

I told my GPS to shut its heinous robotic mouth, lurched into the drive thru line of Dutch Bros Coffee, and resolved to order the Dragon Slayer right. It was a big moment. I was about to break my boycott of energy drinks in hopes of drinking the true form of the Dragon Slayer. Adrenaline coursed through my veins. All these years. I was about to ruin it in the name of dragons. As if to intensify this moment further, the hit song “Everybody-Backstreet’s Back” by the Backstreet Boys serenaded me from the Dutch Bros outside speakers.

Yes, Backstreet Boys. I was coming back to the energy drinks. Thanks for noticing.

The cashier was full of bubbles. She was dancing and grooving to the song. I made it a point to praise the music choice. I mean, you cannot go wrong with 90s music, especially Backstreet Boys. This ensured she continued singing the song as I ordered.

Am I sexual?” sang the cashier.

“Um, I’ll take the Dragon Slayer, please.”


I smiled at her as she tapped in my order, grooving to the beat.

“Wait. Is that the rebel then?” I frantically asked. No room for a second mistake, folks.

“Yes. That it’s normal form. You can also order it as…”

I decided to keep it as the energy drink and then tacked on a quick Passion Water soda order. It’s passionfruit and watermelon made as sparkling water. Hey, I have a limited time here. I have to try all the things.

Absolutely certain I’d remedied my prior mistake, I pulled up to the pickup window, leaving my Backstreet Boys backup dancer to her funk. You go, girl!

The moment came. They handed me the drink.

And I stared like one betrayed by the universe.

You may be like: What am I looking at here? Also, that’s a lot of fluids.

You wouldn’t be wrong. Here is what you’re seeing. At the very top is the failed Dragon Slayer tea with no notable dragon blood drizzle. The little cup is my Passion Water drink. Listen, there was no time for a picture of it. That baby was gone in .5 seconds due to sheer deliciousness.

I have no regrets.

That last cup? That’s the Dragon Slayer in its natural form. If you look closely you’ll notice that there is NO DRAGON BLOOD DRIZZLE! I felt betrayed, confused, isolated, unworthy of all dragons–you get the point. And not only that but I broke my energy drink boycott for nothing. And I’ll have you know, it was not a pleasant taste or feeling. Energy drinks are gross. This was no exception.

Sad, alone in a world without genuine dragon blood drinks, I urged my rental car forward to The Stirring.

To my horror, The Stirring, despite Yelp’s proclamation of it being open until 10 PM, was closed. CLOSED AT 6PM. I mean… coffee shops that close at 6PM should be ashamed of themselves, just saying. Interestingly, this coffee shop was connected to a church. Upon further reading, it is owned by the church but also works as a public business. Also, I’m going to guess me and my shirt wouldn’t have been entirely welcomed there. Based on my personal experiences, churches seem to scoff at the Black Lives Matter movement saying “Well, all lives matter.” Which, of course they do! But the whole point is that Black lives are still being treated unfairly through systemic racism, police brutality, and racial profiling. The Jim Crow laws are still embedded in a system set up by White people. Black Lives Matter is a movement that is speaking up against racism. It shouldn’t be so easily dismissed. Okay, that was a little political. Actually, no. That was not political–that was about social justice. Anyway, I recently wrote a 14 page research paper on racial hierarchy and how messed up and racist the system is. You’ll find I’m very passionate on that topic. If anybody is interested in reading it, let me know!

But back to our adventure where I was not going into the church-owned coffee shop with my Black Lives Matter shirt. They were closed. I was shut out.

So I decided to visit a place called T4: Tea for U. Once there I ordered a wintermelon milk tea with passion fruit bubbles and something called egg puffs.

I thought wintermelon would be green and, well, something to do with melons. As you can see it was brown and had nothing to do with melons if my taste buds were correct. It wasn’t a bad drink. I enjoyed it well enough, but it followed the trend of breaking expectations. The egg puffs were great. Think soft fortune cookies. It was so delicious that I ended up knocking my fork off the table halfway through my consumption and had to eat the rest of it with my hands as I didn’t want to shame myself by asking for a new fork.

I sat there for at least two hours updating my travel journal, researching some events I can do with my remaining time, and even writing a few paragraphs in my story. Nothing too crazy though. It was a neat little place that had board games and an Xbox in one corner of the room. Pretty relaxed place, but also got pretty loud at times.

I left from there to go home, use the restroom, change into a dress shirt, and go to a hipster brewery called The Dip. However, I wasn’t feeling so good. I still had the remnants of the migraine. I was also lightheaded and woozy. Maybe it was just the lazy day. Maybe it was the energy drink sugar spike. Maybe it was just a sign I was not to go to The Dip that night.

So, deciding to play it safe, I elected to order pizza from a place called Round Table Pizza which literally is themed after King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. And, of course, I needed a drink to go with it so I visited Dutch Bros Coffee. Again. This time?

The Dutch Mojito which consists of lime, coconut, and creme de menthe. It was heavenly and delicious and I loved it. I spent the rest of the night eating pizza, drinking magic, and watching another episode of The Boys as a rare thing happened outside.

Severe thunderstorms shook the walls. Bright scathes of lightning. Torrential rain. For a city known for primarily sunshine, this was rare weather. Sadly, it’s still a thing today. But I’m going to continue to adventure.

So, until we meet again!

Caliventure Chronicles-Episode 5: Cave Adventures and Horse Whispering

Caliventure Chronicles-Episode 5: Cave Adventures and Horse Whispering

I’m still trying to process yesterday. It’s now in the afternoon on my third full day here and I haven’t left my Airbnb. I have a bit of a migraine, and I slept in until 1PM. Let’s rewind, shall we?

Yesterday, I woke up with two and a half hours of sleep at most. When last we talked, I had raved about the Dutch Bros Coffee drink. Let it be known that I consumed the delicious Kicker drink at 9pm at night. Did I mention it was a large? Well, it was. As such, I was unable to sleep until 3 AM. I spent the night updating my travel journal, doing some research on the area, and tossing and turning. Then I woke up at 5:30 AM and decided it was a great idea to go through my cell phone pictures from the past couple of years and do some cleanup. I went from 5,400 pictures to 2,500 pictures.

And then I rolled out of bed, showered, and made my way to the Lake Shasta Caverns. Well, first I stopped at Dutch Bros Coffee and grabbed an iced Amaretto Latte. It was perfect and needed as I began my 20 minute drive toward my spelunking adventure.

This goes without saying, but I will never get over the sights as I drive through Northern California. I have to remind myself to watch the road as I drive through lush mountainsides, pass glittering bodies of water, and revere the powerful Mt. Shasta that looms over it all. The trip to the Lake Shasta Caverns led me through scary winding roads (again!) where I had to stop the car at one point to allow baby deer to scatter safely. They did not desire to be photographed. Also, I wasn’t risking photographs on such narrow roads.

Upon arrival to the Lake Shasta Caverns, I was filled with awe. Between jagged mountains of green was the mighty Lake Shasta, sparkling in the radiating sunlight. I purchased my ticket, the first of the tour, and eventually walked down a long path to dock onto a boat.

Yes, a boat.

Here’s the thing. The cave I was about to explore is only reachable by boating across Lake Shasta. There’s absolutely no other way there. I was greeted by the driver of the boat who was impressed that I’d come all the way from PA. Remember how I said I was going to work on being better at telling people I was here due to writing a book?

Yeah. I failed. I also didn’t feel particularly social on this day–I blame lack of sleep. I was shortly joined by 8 other people: a young solo woman, a son with his elderly mother, three local sisters, and a traveling RV couple from NYC. We were a motley bunch, unlikely that we would ever be seen together in a different setting. I wish I’d known their names, but that’s one thing I never got, despite having broken conversations with these people here and there. Maybe that’s part of the adventure though. Nine people riding across an entrancing lake together where we would soon enter the depths of a cave–yet no names were given. Our tour guide, a young man named Austin, was eccentric and knowledgable as he explained elements about the area.

The journey across the lake was not even ten minutes, but it was glorious. We traveled across piercing green waters that ranged from 400-600 feet deep. The water levels were higher than normal due to a recent increase in rainy weather in the area. All around the lake you could see red shores–iron oxide–closely embraced by green trees. Ducks and their spawn flitted on the surface of the lake. It was tranquil, despite the roaring boat engine and the rippling, white waves.

We docked on the other side of the lake and then had to board a small bus. Here’s where it got really interesting. The bus was to drive us up a narrow, dirt path 800 feet up the mountain. No, you didn’t read that wrong. This is exactly how we would get to the cave.

The sights on the way up were dazzling, but looking out the windows and seeing that the tires of the bus were literally inches away from sliding down the green and rocky mountainside? Terrifying. Our entire trust was placed in the hands of our experienced bus driver who navigates this path multiple times a day.

Hard to see due to the sun, but that’s an 800 foot drop. Notice how close to the edge we are.

Once we made it to the top, and breathed a sigh of relief for our survival, we entered the depths of the Lake Shasta Caverns. I tried to jot down all the details Austin gave us as we entered the cool confines of the caves. If my information recording was correct, the cave was discovered in 1877 by a native of the Wintu tribe. Recall that the Wintu tribe is also known for their deep reverence of Mt. Shasta. Sensing a pattern here!

However, the credit of the cave’s discovery actually went to a white explorer named James A. Richardson who wrote his name on the cavern walls on November 11, 1878. What’s interesting is that I cannot find the name of the young Wintu man who discovered the tribe online, even though Austin told us his name was Charles M (I didn’t catch the last name). All the credit goes to a white explorer, but none that I can find credits the Indian man who discovered it first. Perhaps I misheard our tour guide, but given the history of a nation that places Whites above all other races time and time again, I took it as another sign of oppression. That was unfortunate and I don’t feel James Richardson deserves the praise and fame when it should go to the Wintu native. Just another sliver of evidence that shows how systemic racism is in the USA. But, alas, enough of my political soapbox.

The caves were made by water, the rocky formations made up of limestone. It is said that the caves can be dated back to 200 million years ago. There are still rooms being discovered in the caverns today. It was certainly a sight to behold. The nine of us, plus our tour guide, traveled up and down narrow stairs, saw a bat or two, and entered various rooms such as The Crystal Room and the Cathedral Room. It was beautiful, claustrophobic, and mystifying all at once. We were even introduced to Phil, a lone piece of green somehow growing in the depths of the cave. How that is possible, I have no idea.

Exiting the cavern, we had to journey down 250 septs on the exotic mountainside. The views stole my breath yet again. Honestly, I’m going to need an oxygen mask for the rest of this trip if my breath keeps being snatched away by these sights.

On our journey down I met a lizard named Alexander. He may or may not have agreed to his name and I may or may not have assumed his gender. But… no big deal.

Alexander just being Alexander. Or maybe Alexandra?

We journeyed back down the deathly mountain, boated across the lake, and the tour was over. I said goodbye to the young mother who was having her own adventure as she journeyed along the coast to pick up her daughter in Southern California. I parted ways with the older couple and a former teacher from NYC who started RV-ing across the country in 2008–and are still doing it. Honestly, I think I have a new goal in life. I waved to the three spunky sisters. And I gave a “goodbye” smile and nod to the man with his 83 year-old mom who was a total beast as she conquered all the stairs we had to climb in the caverns.

I don’t know their names, any of their names, but we were unified in a great adventure.

As I drove back towards Redding, I decided upon a little pit stop to see the Shasta Dam, a wonder in and of itself. The Shasta Dam embraces the monstrous Lake Shasta and it provides power for hundreds and hundreds of miles in California. In fact, the Shasta Dam (which stands at 602 feet high and the 8th tallest in the USA) is third on the terrorist watch list. I discovered this by talking to a security guard after I walked across the damn. He explained to me that if this massive damn ever broke, the entire city of Redding would be wiped off the map. Nearby towns would suffer the same fate and power would be lost to a major chunk of California.

Naturally, this gave me an idea for a dramatic event in my book. There will be a grand monster fight and/or threat to the Shasta Dam in my novel. I made sure to explain to the security guard that my probes into the damage the dam would cause was due to my superhero book idea. Thankfully, he didn’t call in a SWAT team or anything, finding it cool that I was writing a book set in this area. Two fun facts from the security guard:

  • Mountain lions were very active in this area. The other night he watched a large mountain lion kill a deer and drag the body to its den. He pointed the rough location of the den out to me. With some binoculars, I tried to locate it from the safety of the top of the damn. Alas, I couldn’t find it. Plus, they aren’t as active during the day.
  • He says that while he has never seen the rattlesnakes, he’s heard stories and says that are absolutely nasty creatures. I mean, he didn’t have to convince me of that, but it made me a little more nervous about hiking alone.

Since my camera was about dead, due to taking distant pictures of Mt. Shasta looming over the lake, I decided to head back to my Airbnb. I was very exhausted. Also? I was burned. Despite having bought sunscreen, I didn’t apply it. I have a great tan line now, as you could probably guess from the shirt I’m wearing in the picture above.

I managed to grab a two hour nap before I journeyed out to NorCal Trail Rides where I was destined to meet my horse pal and take a ride through the wilderness along with our fearless guide, Alicia.

I met my horse, Reggie, and we became fast friends. We had a connection. You cannot tell me otherwise. Reggie was the man. I was last in the line of horses, a mother and daughter ahead of me, and a mother and son ahead of them. Alicia led us along the trails, her rescue dogs roaming the wilderness around us and guiding the way.

For somebody who doesn’t ride horses, I found it relaxing to adapt. I leaned back when we went downhill and leaned forward when going uphill, per Alicia’s instructions. Every so often Reggie would whip his head down to the ground and tear a greedy amount of plants and grass up, happily munching on the snack as he carried me through thick foliage and open plains. A few times, in order to stay with the group, I denied his attempts at grabbing plants. He would dramatically neigh, but oblige. Once or twice he decided to surprise me with a quick trot. I tugged on the reigns and squeaked out, “Whoa!” It’s like I could almost sense Reggie’s amusement as he snorted and slowed his trot down, happy to give me some adventure.

Every so often, I’d reach down and pat the side of his neck while we traipsed along the trail. I really enjoyed Reggie. After we got back, I dismounted him and held his rope while Alicia boarded the other horses. I used the time to snap quick selfies of Reggie and myself. At one point, Reggie turned his head toward me and tried to nuzzle against my chest. I’m not sure what such an action meant from a majestic beast, but I’d like to believe it meant he liked me. Staring into his big brown eyes was like staring into the eyes of a wise, loyal creature. I felt connected and was was truly sad to say goodbye to Reggie. I know I’ll probably never meet him again, but I have a deep respect for horses after my time with Reggie.

It was a great time. Beyond that, Alicia was an amazing person. She and her wife own a farm with lots of horses, a few dogs, and some chickens that I could see. Alicia is a teacher who trains students in horseback riding, but she gives tours as well. I got to talk to her a little more in depth as I rode with her, six horses in tow in a trailer, to our riding spot three miles from the farm. Alicia thought it was great that I was a teacher and we talked about my solo adventure, gun reform, and her career. She was down to earth and just a really cool person. I wish I’d gotten to know her and her wife, who is from Venezuela, better. I had a chance to. After the ride, she invited me to stick around and have a beer. At the time I didn’t understand the context of the offer, but it was after I politely declined the offer wherein I learned she had a wife.

I’ll be honest. My entire ride back home, I was beating myself up. Alicia had understood I was on a solo adventure. She respected that and admired it. Besides giving me great recommendations on things to do, she offered me an olive branch to spend my adventure getting to know herself and her wife. This whole trip for me has been about doing what I normally may not do. Stepping outside my comfort zone. This would’ve been a great chance to do that. I should’ve said yes. I really, really should have. It was a friendly gesture and I admired that she had a wife. If I had accepted the chance to grab a beer with them, she and her wife would’ve found we all had something in common in terms of sexuality. It would’ve been cool to get an idea on what our community was like in this area. Oh well. Live and learn, right? I’ll try to be better about this in the future. Really bummed I missed that chance last night.

I wish I could tell you that the rest of my night was exciting. It wasn’t. I came home, showered, grabbed some food at a local taco place, and elected to try the Eclipse (Passion Fruit and Peach) lemonade from Dutch Bros Coffee.

It was as delicious as it sounds. Truly amazing.

Back at my Airbnb, I watched the first episode of The Boys while I ate before climbing into bed where I spent the night having super weird dreams about Mt. Shasta. I mean super weird. I’m talking people in white robes chanting, and strange lights, and crystals… probably just my creative mind at work.



At the time of this posting, I have done nothing exciting to date. I woke up at nine this morning super exhausted and with a migraine. I slept until 1PM, ate leftovers, and decided to update my blog. I feel like I’ve wasted my day here. But I’ve been so exhausted. Maybe it’s good I took today to be lazy. Maybe I wasted the chance at adventure. Again. I hope not.

I tell myself I’m on vacation, so it’s okay to not always be running about. That it’s okay to relax. Alas, I’m feeling a little down from both last night and that I’ve done nothing all day except write this post. Gotta bounce back!

So, I’m not sure what the rest of the day holds for me. I think I might visit The Dip, a local brewery tonight. I plan to get another drink at Dutch Bros Coffee. Per a suggestion from Emma on my last post, I’m going to try Dragon Slayer and make sure real dragon blood isn’t in the mix as she suspects!

Beyond that, I don’t know. Tomorrow (Saturday) I plan to explore Mt. Shasta. I’m ready to embrace the geography that drew me here, to bask in its presence. Hopefully, though, the mountain doesn’t claim me like it is rumored to have done to others.

On that uplifting note, I’m signing off for now.

Next time on Caliventure Chronicles…. well, I don’t know. Consider it suspense. Hopefully, the rest of the day offers something blog-post worthy!

Caliventure Chronicles-Episode 4: Taking Flight

Caliventure Chronicles-Episode 4: Taking Flight

Today was my first full day in Redding, CA. Some people may elect to start such a day lightly. Maybe you go eat a nice breakfast somewhere or talk a walk through one of the many wildlife parks or maybe drive lazily on the roads, seeing what Redding has to offer.

Not me.

I decided to start the day by hopping into a little Cessna plane to take a visual birds eye view tour of the area from a couple thousand feet in the air. Go big or go home, right? Unless you die in a freak plane crash–then you aren’t going anywhere in this world anymore.


Wow. I got morbid. Let’s move on, shall we? Spoiler alert: I did not die in a plane crash.

My adventure was to begin at 7:00 AM. I couldn’t believe I’d signed up to do this. What was I thinking? I probably wasn’t. I told myself that during Caliventure, I was going to force myself to step outside my comfort zone. This means doing things I may not normally do–like launch into the air and defy gravity.

I met my pilot Tex. Super awesome name and really cool guy. I’d guess he was in his early 70s, friendly aura, but he had a great sense of humor. He asked me why I came all the way to Redding. I explained to him that I’m writing a book and that I was doing a lot of research. On that note, I have to embrace being comfortable talking about my book. tenor-1I’m here for my  book so I shouldn’t be shy about it, right? That being said, I need to work on my presentation because whatever I told Tex was a mumbling diatribe of random things that kinda went like this: “I’m writing a book…..mumblemumblemumble…. superheroes and….. mumblemumblemumble…. Mt. Shasta summoned me….. mumbleuhwhydidIsaythat…. mumble mumble…”

Tex just smiled and nodded his head, but seemed genuinely excited about whatever he picked up from the words that exited my mouth. He locked onto Mt. Shasta, the geographic entity that drew me to Redding in the first place. As I had only paid for an hour flight, Tex told me that he could get me close to Mt. Shasta, but we wouldn’t be able to fly around it at all. I was happy just for the opportunity to see this beast, as well as the rest of the sights.


Signing my life away, I climbed into this little plane, buckled up, and made sure my camera was ready, notebook in hand. I even got to wear a cool headset that would allow Tex and I to talk while in the air. I was nervous, excited, and a little terrified all at once.

Tex smiled at me and said, “Don’t worry. If there is an emergency while we are up there, I will try to stay calm and you may never know anything is wrong. More than likely what’ll happen is that I’ll lean over and tell you to kiss your ass goodbye and hope for the best.”


I laughed because I was nervous and wanted to hide the fact that heart did exactly 459 cartwheels in my chest.

My fate was sealed.

I’m totally relaxed. Totally.

Tex started the engine, communicated to the air towers (very official!), and up up and away we went.

I lost my breath. My heart stopped cartwheeling.

The view was nothing short of majestic.


Absolutely breathtaking.

My tongue couldn’t even form words at first. Tex was talking to me about the area and all I could do was stare dumbly at the little trees thousands of feet below me. To gaze upon the rolling hills and mountains. To watch the rivers and lakes glisten like heavenly beings. There is really nothing quite like it. Is this what eagles and falcons and hawks see all the time when they are flying high in the sky? Is this what it feels like to be a bird? If so, I wouldn’t mind turning into one because it was so beautiful.

I could spend pages and pages detailing all the sights. Instead, enjoy this photo slideshow which includes:

  • Sacramento River
  • Trinity Lake
  • Shasta Lake
  • Turtle Bay
  • Whiskeytown
  • Castle Crags
  • Shasta Dam (602 feet high!)
  • Anything else I found beautiful or snapped pictures of because pretty

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The true theft of my heart came in the towering giant beast known as Mt. Shasta, the reason I am in Redding, CA to begin with. It’s set to serve as a key location in my Elementals novel. I have so many plans and ideas surrounding this mountain simply based on what I’ve read about it online. Seeing it? Well, now that’s something else entirely.

Tex told me that Mt. Shasta is revered by the Wintu Indian Tribe. It draws many people to it, tales of superstition and mystery provoking them. He explained that he and his pilot friends joke the clouds that kiss the top of the mountain are concealing UFOs, discreetly depositing aliens into the mountain. He said it’s because the shape of the clouds have a UFO look. I know he’s joking, but there are people who actually believe the clouds hide UFOs to deliver resources to the rumored crystal city Telos underneath the mountain–a place the last of the Lemurians are rumored to live. *cue dramatic music*

Tex even said that Mt. Shasta, due to is properties, tends to create its own weather. If you didn’t know, Mt. Shasta is a dormant volcano. Geologists conclude that one day Mt. Shasta will erupt. It’s just a matter of time. It doesn’t seem like something that’ll happen soon, but it’s crazy to think that this rocky beast is waiting to explode. The mountain offers trails, camping, skiing, and many other things. People have gone exploring on Mt. Shasta only to vanish, never to be found again. That should probably deter me from visiting Mt. Shasta. It won’t.

The best I can say about Mt. Shasta just from the view I beheld today is that it genuinely seems like its own character. It sits on the landscape like a king, lording over everything around it. Watching. Waiting. You can sense the mystery rippling off its jagged and elegant structure. If it had eyes, it would regard you with a regal gaze, consuming you and your soul in one fell swoop, piercing your very core.

Of course, I know I sound crazy talking about Mt. Shasta like that, but you don’t understand. You can’t understand until you gaze on this giant with your own eyes. While Mt. Shasta is home to mystery and intrigue, there is certainly no mystery as to why this beast holds the reputation it does. It is terrifying and beautiful and powerful. Pictures don’t do it justice, but here you go:

It will serve as a perfect element to my story; it’s something I will respect in my telling. It’s what Mt. Shasta deserves.

Call me crazy. Come. Visit the mountain. See for yourself. I promise you will not disagree with me about its majestic energy.

Keep in mind that I’m speaking from only gazing upon it from the air. I have yet to step foot on its surface. That’ll be a tale for another day.

I took tons of pictures. I took so many notes. Tex was a wonderful pilot and gave me all kinds of information. He even told pilots over the radio that he was showing a writer the views for a book. I’m not published by any means, but that made me feel good.

After my epic flight, Tex and I departed ways. I ventured into downtown Redding where I stopped at a local coffee shop called Brew.

I will visit it again. It was inviting and peaceful and great. It’s going to serve as inspiration for the coffee shop in my book–another setting that’ll play a big role in my plans. Perhaps the coolest thing about my time in the coffee shop was that I overheard a customer talking to the barista about writing and his adventures creating and writing characters.

Normally, I’d probably keep to myself. However, I’m forcing myself to step outside my comfort zone on this trip. Therefore, I pulled the generic, “I couldn’t help but overhear that you’re a writer…” Yeah, I know. I need to work on my delivery. I’m still new at this!

Anyway, I talked to a nice guy named Jack who is actually working on a screenplay. Those of you who know me, know that screenwriting is something I want to dabble in at some point. I took a screenwriting course and loved it. I was excited that I met another writer. Of course, conversation allowed me to share why I was in Redding. I was less awkward on my delivery, but awkward nonetheless. Regardless, it’s always neat to connect with other writers.

After I asked the barista for some food suggestions (and he gave me a lot of great ones), I decided to eat at a place called Cafe Paradisio. Why there? Well, they had an elk burger. Legit elk meat. Flashback to George the Elk I saw yesterday… sorry, George. Hope I didn’t IMG_2121eat your cousin or something.

Not only was the Elk burger absolutely delicious, along with the local beer, but it was the first time that I sat alone in a sit down restaurant. Okay. To be fair, I elected to sit at the bar to feel less awkward. However, it’s a step. Next time, I’ll force myself to sit at a table instead of the bar. Baby steps. Even though this whole trip is far from a baby step!

After my meal, I decided to visit the Sundial Bridge, something Redding is known for. You should know what led to the decision of me walking to this bridge. See, the barista told me all these wonderful places to eat. He mentioned that the Sundial Bridge was not far from where we were at all. Granted, that’s true.

If you’re driving…

I didn’t drive. I was under the impression that the bridge was in reasonable walking distance. Alas, I proudly began my journey. With a drawstring bag. In flip flops. Wearing a darker shirt and heavy cargo pants. You see where I’m going with this, right?

The walk was about a mile. Now, normally a mile walk isn’t bad. In fact, that’s feasible. However, throw in the fact that, oh I don’t know, it is literally 100 degrees out and the sun is merciless in its glory, then that mile is destructive. By the time I crossed various pedestrian walkways, marched down and up twisting hills, and found my way at the Turtle Bay Exploration Park (where the bridge is), I was nearly depleted in energy. My shirt was soaked. My feet throbbed because flip-flips, while cool, are not meant for longer walks like this. I already have a blister on one heel. The bottom of my feet hate me now too. Keep in mind that by the time I reached the park, I understood that I’d have to journey back. Life can be cruel.

Deciding I needed water, I popped into the air-conditioned welcome center and bought a Pear Peach Apricot smoothie (super delicious), a bottle of water, some souvenirs, and then collected touristy pamphlets. I felt a little more energized.

That didn’t last long.

The Sundial Bridge was stunning, but it radiated the heat of the day. It bridges the Sacramento River, sporting beautiful views. There are trails all around it, following the river. I think I read that one trail was 15 miles long. Had I been better prepared, I’d take that challenge.

Needles to say, after a few pictures, I journeyed back to my rental car. I was dripping with sweat, feeling like a melting wax figure. I threw my hat off and sweat splattered on the car dashboard. Gross. If you’re interested in more details on the beautiful Sundial Bridge, click here for some fun history and facts. There’s some really cool facts and info about it!

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I retreated to my Airbnb and took a solid 2.5 hour nap. Did I want to nap? No. I’m on vacation and supposed to be researching. A nap is wasted time, but I was spent. Plus, I think my body is still trying to register the time difference.

The rest of the day was nothing too crazy. After my nap, I went out to buy some essentials such as insect repellant, sunscreen, snacks, water, and then I went for the big guns.

A pocket-knife of which I tell myself it’ll save me if a bear or mountain lion or snake tries to get me.

Spoiler alert: It won’t. Maybe it’ll be a noble effort. My plan of attack would be to stab my attacker in the eyes, but let’s be honest. It’s my eye that’ll be destroyed if I’m attacked. Or my neck. Yeah. More morbidity.

I also bought a can of bear mace spray. It declares it’ll spray up to 35 feet. I figure that’ll be effective–if I can aim and shoot accurately while a bear charges me. Instead, I’ll be too busy soiling myself and in the confusion spray my own face. Maybe the bear will realize how pathetic I am and leave me alone to whimper as my eyes burn. Or he’ll enjoy the free snack my body will offer.


Hey, perhaps the spray will work against rattlesnakes. I hope it does. However, with my luck this act will end up pissing off Satan and he’ll chase me through the mountains where, naturally, I’ll be screaming and flailing my limbs in desperation until Satan bites me in the buttocks.

Essentially, if I encounter wildlife on this trip, I’ll be meeting Jesus sooner than expected. But, hey, at least I’m prepared to try to fight for survival.

I also bought a $20 hydration backpack. I blame my experiences today for that. This weather is no joke. Hydration is key. If this trip ends in tragedy, it better not be because of dehydration. That’s all I’m saying.

Now, I sit in my bed wide-awake because I drank a large blended coffee drink from this magical place called Dutch Bros Coffee. Do yourself a favor. Look at their menu. From tea to lattes to lemonades to sorcery… the possibilities are endless. So. Many. Options. Apparently, there’s even a secret menu. Be still my soul.

So, it’s decided that I will visit Dutch Bros Coffee three times daily. The plan? A coffee type drink in the morning, a tea type drink in the afternoon, and a lemonade at night. Take all my money, Dutch Bros. You’re totally rad and I have no idea how I’ll decide what to order during my time here. If you’re reading this, and you check out the menu, what do you think I should try? Let me know in the comments and I’ll make sure to order it. You’ll even get a shout-out! Tonight I had the blended version of the Kicker. Suggest anything besides that!

Okay. This post was a tad long. I hope you enjoyed sharing in my adventures today. Tomorrow promises to be even more exciting. I hope to see you back for another episode of Caliventure Chronicles tomorrow evening. Here’s what you can look forward to:

  • Hearing about my journey deep into the Lake Shasta Caverns. Will I vanish beneath the depths of the Earth? Meet a caveman or cavewoman or two?
  • Hike around Lake Shasta, probably get chased by some type of beast, maybe lose a limb. Who knows? Endless possibilities
  • An evening horseback ride through the wilderness of Northern California. I hope to be best friends with my horse. For. Life. That’s all I’m saying.
  • Share the Dutch Bros Coffee drinks I try!

See you next time!


Caliventure Chronicles-Episode 3: Ancient Giants

Caliventure Chronicles-Episode 3: Ancient Giants

Hey, blog fam! (Look at me talking all hip like my students do!)

This might be a slightly longer post as I’m going to talk about the past two days. I spent most of yesterday and the day before traveling along the coast, jaw unhinged. It was an adventure and, to be honest, when I stopped I passed out due to exhaustion. Therefore, that’s why the blog has been spotty at best. Now that I’m in Redding, CA I’ll be able to update regularly.

Let’s do a quick time warp back to Monday, August 6th after I got off my flight to San Francisco. When we landed, I felt exhilarated. Reality hit me like a crashing wave, sprinkling me in bits of awe and excitement. I mean… I was here. I was actually here. The adventure was to begin.

But first?

I needed my rental car. Despite having made an online reservation with Fox Rent-A-Car, I still had to stand in a long line to do all the fun processing and necessary paperwork. My 1:00 PM pickup date quickly got pushed closer to 2:00 PM by the time it was all said and done. I was notably frustrated, bored in line. As such, I began to read reviews of this place (something I should’ve done in the first place!) and discovered that the majority of people have a bad experience with this agency. 58673104505__FEE6BB24-969B-4227-8A4C-B4E0A38793C3I’ll admit that I was pleasantly surprised, receiving a white 2018 Kia model–which I don’t know the make off the top of my head. It looks sporty, fresh, and like a worthy travel buddy. To date, my experience hasn’t been bad yet! The bonding with this vehicle led me to the second adventure:

The drive out of San Francisco.

Admittedly, this was one of my more nerve wracking moments. I didn’t want to be overwhelmed by busy traffic and new sights. What if something went wrong? What if I got into an accident? What if my GPS failed me? However, despite my concerns, the drive wasn’t bad. It took me over the Golden Gate
Bridge which, to put plainly, is mystical in and of itself. Driving on the bridge, looking up at the huge steel arches and cables made me feel so small. A dense fog wrapped around the higher reaches of the bridge so that it truly felt like I was driving a roadway into another dimension.




And honestly? Since I’ve been here, it does feel like I’ve been dropped into a foreign world, another reality. Every wind and twist of the road unveiled new surprises that made sure my jaw didn’t close. Ever.

I stopped at the Muir Outlook, which gave a stunning view of the ocean and rocky cliffsides. Funny thing, though, was that the temperature was much cooler there. I’m talking law 60s with a gentle breeze. A cool fog hovered in the area, creating a magical element that contrasted with the heavenly view. I took so many pictures and then retreated to my vehicle.
I had in mind to travel Highway 101 up to Eureka where I’d stay the night and head to Redding the next day. I allowed myself the freedom to stop as I desired. I put Eureka into my GPS and it told me to turn off CA 1, the coastal road, so I could hop on Highway 101. But this would mean sacrificing the views during my drive.

Not today, Satan!

There’s nothing like the lush green mountains hugging the shore, rocks jutting out of the IMG_2092.jpegsides of these colossal beasts as if they yearned to take a summer dip in the waves. The ocean water stayed to my left, glittering like an expensive jewel in the light of the sun. The roads twisted and turned so sharply, I felt like I would careen off the edge at a certain point and become one with the fishes. You ever have those dreams where you’re driving on a road that suddenly propels you into open waters? I felt like that as I drove. Not willing to sacrifice the views, I ignored my GPS and paid a timely cost. You see Eureka should’ve been reached within 3 hours. My journey was to become a seven-hour one because I wanted to stay on the twistiness of CA 1. Along the way, I would stop and take pictures of the ocean. One time I climbed down to the black, gritty shore and planted my feet in the crashing waves. I clambered up a rock in the midst of the waves, letting droplets of salt water christen my skin, thrown up from the crashing waves below.



It was amazing. I drove and I drove and I drove. I could not get enough of the beauty and I didn’t mind the lengthening drive time–especially when I’m pretty sure I saw a seal swimming in a bay.

I drove through quaint little towns, the locals grabbing ice cream and smiling. I drove through construction work, an added challenge on my drive, and I drove under trees that couldn’t possibly be real. Little did I know what awaited me next.

Around nine, with three hours left until I got to Eureka, I decided that adventure had exhausted itself. I pulled into a Super 8 motel, figuring it best to rest and continue my journey tomorrow. I was surprised that it was in the low 50s when I got out of my car. I could hear the distant waves as I checked into my motel, confused at the temperature. After grabbing some dinner and watching the season finale of Euphoria, I crashed, blown away by all I’d seen.

Tuesday, August 7, 2019

IMG_2107.jpegThe next day I got up early and did the same exact thing.


I continued on CA  1 and stopped at a beautiful beachfront. I had to hold myself back a little bit for if I stopped at every little thing I saw, I’d never reach it to Redding, CA around 7 PM. That’s what time I gave my Airbnb hostess so I wanted to honor that. While the views were still beautiful, CA 1 became a fluid serpent, forcing me to whip around crazy corners in the middle of IMG_2106.jpegdark, vibrant forests. I know… dark and vibrant are contradictory adjectives, but that’s the truth. The vegetation and trees and plants were lush in green, but the atmosphere was dark due to the towering trees shielding the road from the sun. I’d be alone on this road for miles and miles. Due to the nature of the road, I began to get severe motion sickness. I took some dramamine, but it wasn’t helping too much. I decided to let my GPS take me to Highway 101 as I wanted to go to the Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

I saw signs for the World-Famous Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree Park. Feeling both impulsive and carsick, I veered that direction. This drive took me to a 350 ft tall tree that I literally drove through. It was amazing. I can’t even put it into proper words. How is this planet Earth? Seriously. Again… little did I know what awaited.


I finally drove Highway 101, following signs for the Avenue of the Giants, a Redwood forest you weave throughout. Trees, hundreds of feet tall, kissed the sky. They created a dark canopy above the ground, casting the forest floor in green-hued shadows at points. I wish I could capture every detail of that drive, but I can’t. It’s a magical experience best, well, experienced. One cannot truly understand such a view unless they witness it with their own eyes. IMG_2114

After stopping for some coffee and lunch in Eureka, CA, I ventured north to the Redwood National Park to see some elk. It was elk mating season. Enough said. I definitely saw elk–they weren’t mating, thank Jesus– and I even named one George as he stood in some pour soul’s driveway, sizing up the mans’ vehicle. The thing was about as tall as the man’s truck. I’m pretty sure George looked at me and spit out his tongue. But… let’s not get too silly, eh?


I explored some of the Redforest trails, but due to my agonizing blister and the uncanny feeling of being watched, I fled. I mean if you’re alone in the forest, it’s deathly silent. Too silent. Like the calm before the storm. Maybe if you listened hard enough you could hear the trees whispering to each other in their ancient language. But I doubt you’d have that honor due to the thick blanket of silence that embraced the area like a sacred vow. Deciding I didn’t long to become a snack in such silence, I made my way to Redding, CA.


The closer I got, the higher the temperature became. It went from 58 degrees to 99 degrees within an hour. I drove through more mountainous roads, telling myself not to think what one wrong flick of the steering wheel would mean as I careened around steep cliffside roads.

Redding, CA was a welcome sight by the time I arrived. It has personality. I can’t quite describe it yet as I’m still learning who Redding is. I have gathered how conservative its people are. I may need to be mindful of wearing my Black Lives Matter and Pete Buttigieg 2020 shirts.

The drive to my Airbnb solidified the start of a new chapter in this adventure. My hostess is very kind and helpful. After meeting her and unwinding a little bit, I rewarded myself with pizza, a local beer, and some dessert. I planned to blog last night, but upon my return I crashed–hard.

Which was a good thing because I had a date at 7AM to hop into a little Cessna plane and fly over the valley. That is an adventure I cannot wait to share with you, but you’ll need to look for episode 4 (tonight) to hear about that. It’s amazing.

So, that’s been my journey so far! It’s been scary, crazy, and exciting all at once. I’m awed. I’m inspired. I’m giddy. This place radiates so much beauty and wonder.

I’m excited to spend the next week here. More stories are to be told. More people to meet.

And maybe, just maybe, I will survive to tell the tale 🙂

Next time on Caliventures:

  • Journey in a Cessna plane as we get up close and personal with the mystical Mt. Shasta, the geographic entity that drew me here.
  • Coffee shop adventures
  • Hiking 101
  • And who knows what else?

Stay tuned!

P.S. I will probably create an album with more pictures. I’m currently having technical difficulties.



Caliventure Chronicles-Episode 2: Vagabond (Sneak Peak)

Hey all!

I regret to inform you that I didn’t post last night. I admit that I checked into some motel in a place off the coast. I have no idea where I am, to be honest.

I have so much to share. Lots of beautiful pictures! In a nutshell? California is otherworldly. Beyond belief.

I’m driving on roads structures like an elegant serpent, twisting and turning around lush and rocky mountainsides. Glittery ocean water charms me from the left, beckoning me.

It’s wonderful. I continue my drive today. I will give a better episode next time! Until then!

Caliventure Chronicles- Episode 1: Vagabond Part 1

Caliventure Chronicles- Episode 1: Vagabond Part 1

I hate selfies; I do. But this was me at the moment I sat down on the bus. Also, I love my shirt. That is all.

On this two-part episode of Caliventure Chronicles I’ll discuss some of the key moments of my first leg of the journey. I want to do a blog post a day, at the end of each day, to recap the adventures. The beginning of my trip certainly puts me in a conundrum there as my trip technically started August 4th when I boarded the looming Megabus and it has carried over into today, the morning of August 5th, where I am currently sitting in the Denver airport on a two hour layover due to a delayed flight. Wow. That was a long sentence. Forgive me. Anyway, I’m going this post will focus on what led me to Denver and I’ll post again tonight with the rest of the day’s journey.

So far the trip hasn’t been too eventful. I’ll be straight up honest with you all. I was panicking quite a bit last night. I boarded the Megabus, climbed to the second level, claimed my seat, and took a deep breath. Then the Megabus lurched into motion and Philadelphia was drawing nigh.

I freaked out, texting a few of my friends various GIFs that highlighted my emotions. I mean… I just got on a double-decker bus to solo travel to the complete opposite side of the United States! My mind was assaulted with a plethora of crazy thoughts: What if the bus crashes? Am I safer on the second-level or doomed? What happens when I get to tenorPhiladelphia at 1AM? Why if my Lyft driver can’t find me? What happens if the plane, like, blows up or gets hit by lightning or we land and I’m in a different timeline? Most of my family has no idea what I’m doing–if something happens…. wait… what if Bigfoot kidnaps me and serves me as an appetizer to his Bigfoot family? What if… what if… Look, these are totally rational concerns. Okay, fine. Most of them are. I’m telling you, though, the plane traveling to another timeline? It could happen! *cue Twilight Zone music*

My friends pretty much told me to relax, embrace the journey, and try not to get kidnapped by… Bigfoot, of course. So, I took another deep breath and decided to try to sleep. After a fellow passenger bought some food that, from the smell of it, he definitely should not have been eating and proceeded to crunch LOUDLY, I had to put my headphones in or risk going to jail. I don’t handle loud chewers well. And this crunchy spawn of torment was a bit excessive. So, headphones in, I let the Backstreet Boys and Coldplay serenade me to a very uncomfortable sleep.

I may have some regrets about not buying a neck pillow. They just look so… silly. Alas, I’m reaching the point of not caring what they look like. Probably would’ve been a lot more comfortable with one! My regrets only got worse when I got to Philadelphia at 1AM.

First of all, my Lyft driver was really nice. He talked about his family (two of his kids attended/will be attending Penn State), his job, video games, and his appreciation for teachers. It was a moment that made me excited because traveling alone means I will have a ton of opportunities to meet and talk to new people. Who knows what adventures that alone will initiate? When the kind driver dropped me off, I wandered through the airport, which was notably dead that early in the morning. It was a tad eerie, to be honest, like what an airport may look like after the zombie apocalypse. But as I explored the barren airport, it wasn’t zombies that attacked me. I painfully discovered my hiking shoes granted me a terrible blister on my right heel. Did I take the time to break the shoes in before my trip? Nope. Regrets were felt–again. So, here I am, all alone limping through the airport, wincing with every step.

After settling in the right lobby in the airport, I tried to sleep in a chair. Lo and behold, I couldn’t get comfortable, and opted for the cold, hard floor because certainly that would

I just made myself at home on that terrible floor. And, no, we will not discuss the sanitary ethics therein.

be more comfortable. I mean… I did fall asleep for an hour or so before my alarm woke me up. So, that had to be a good sign. Granted, a little scary to wake up to find a considerable amount of new people in the area. Hopefully none of them paid any attention to the vagabond napping on the floor.

I did get really anxious about going through the TSA checkpoint. You read all these things about what you can and can’t have and then there’s exceptions and it’s just a lot to keep in mind. So, I snagged two plastic bins for my stuff, one for my shoes and pocket items and another for my computer and electronics. I was just following the signs and tv monitors like a good airport citizen.

I got yelled at.

“Whoa! Whoa! See? Already you’re using way too many bins!” yelled TSA agent Snatchy McSnatcherton who plucked my pocket items out of the bin and demanded I put them in my bag before he took the bin away.

I wanted to say, “Whoa! Whoa! Hear that? Already you’re speaking way too loud at 3:45 in the morning!” I practiced some great impulse control tactics there.

tenor-1I also had to throw away a sealed coffee drink I was excited to enjoy because, well, liquids are not permitted on carry-ons. It was a sad moment. I’d bonded with that Super Coffee drink, promising to love it by drinking it and here this guy was, snatching and snapping away at me. So, I said my goodbyes to Super Coffee. And realized that I’d need to find another way to energize myself.

To be fair, he was like that with everybody. He was clearly on a power trip and I had to resist glaring at him because, again, I don’t want to go to jail.

It’s been low-key since. The plane didn’t crash or warp into another universe–that I know of–and I’m currently in Denver. Fun fact: Did you know that Southwest Airlines

I almost broke out in song, but decided my version of “Circle of Life” would be frowned upon on a plane of very tired people.

does not assign seats? You get called in A,  B, and C (my assignment) groups and it’s a first come first serve seating process. I wish somebody had told me this because once I got on the plane I was staring dumbly at my fellow travelers, trying to understand what I was to do. Realizing nobody was going to help the gawking fool blocking the aisle, I took a risk and claimed a seat by the window, right on the wing. I mean… the safest place of the plane… right? Nobody kicked me out of the seat. I won–and got a great view of the sunrise, too.

Oh! And one lady complimented my Pete Buttigieg 2020 Pride shirt. She became my best friend even though we only spoke once, and I’ll never see her again.

Sleeping on the plane was less than pleasing and, once more, I berated myself for not buying a neck pillow. But this is how we learn, right? You may be thinking, “Dude, go buy one at the airport stores?” But I refuse to spend $30-$50 on one! So, no thank you! I will suffer.

So, that’s my journey so far. I just listened to a flight attendant board his plane (not mine) as if he the passengers were being auctioned off. It was… uncomfortable. I bought some hippy stickers because why not? And I decided to do some writing before Part 2 of this episode begins in less than an hour. Which, on that note, this time change is freaking my body out. I mean… the whole airplane time warp theory? Pretty sure I lived it.

Anyway, here’s what Episode 2: Vagabond Part 2 will cover later tonight:

  • My (hopeful) safe landing in San Francisco at 12:20 PM (PST)
  • My daring drive out of San Francisco in a rental car. Pretty sure I’ll have high blood pressure.
  • Suspense awaits because beyond that, I have no idea where I’m stopping, what I’ll see, and where I’m sleeping tonight. I know the Redwood Forests will play a role in some way. Any suggestions along Highway 101?


To be continued….