I awoke to a cool morning with a light, misty rain and wind gusts. I packed up my tent quickly after taking a photo to “destroy the evidence” that I’d been tent camping there, and then took some time to appreciate the gorgeous views while eating half a sandwich from the previous day. It amused me greatly that I was in clear view of highway 1 – dozens of people must have seen the tent if they’d only bothered to look up...
You know, the tent might suck, but some people pay millions of dollars to wake up to these views...
Proud of myself for managing to camp for free on some of the most expensive coastline in California (even the campgrounds charge $30+ a night), I headed north on the 1 into the mist.
Met an ADVRider randomly at a construction stop – he said his name was “Stealth Camper”, although I haven’t been able to find him by searching. He was on a 1000cc+ displacement BMW, painted camoflauge colors, with very bulky luggage. He explained that although it looks huge, the extra luggage only adds another 150 or so lbs of weight (?!?), and includes a lot of useful things, such as a motorcycle ramp. He had a camoflauge tarp to cover everything with while he stealth camps, and was wearing at least 4 jackets layered up. It looked like he’d been out on the road for a while. He mentioned that I’ll want a bigger/heavier bike eventually for touring, to which I replied “my other bike is a Rebel 250, this IS the bigger bike!”. I couldn’t imagine taking anything that heavy off road, or picking it up if it fell over... Different strokes I suppose!
I made my way up to Monterey. While I was refueling, the rubber gasket underneath my IMS tank’s fuel cap disintegrated in my hands. I looked into the tank, and noticed that several chunks of the rubber had already come free and were hanging out at the bottom of the tank. I assumed that the rubber bits had somehow gotten into my jets and that was causing the hiccuping. Son of a bitch! Why would you make gas tanks for a living and not ensure that the rubber bits were ethanol-resistant?!? FAIL
On my way out of Monterey, I noticed that the bike was trying to die at lights... I had to keep on the throttle while stopped or the hiccuping would stall the bike. Also, without any kind of gasket, every time I hit a bump gasoline would creep out from under the cap and drool down the sides of the gas tank. Exciting! I quickly learned that I should try to avoid filling the tank the last gallon or so.
I headed toward Oakland, where my friend had been staying. On the way, I stopped to grease my chain, as it was exceedingly noisy, and got into a conversation with a homeless woman for about half an hour. She’d been living out of her car and seemed rather hopeless at life, mostly due to getting fines and fees and finding it difficult to get ahead, as well as feeling like her life had no direction. I tried to give her some encouraging words, and I think it did a bit of good to talk to somebody.
Eventually I hit Oakland and found my way to the Musick Box, which was recommended to me by my friend, who’d stayed there for a week.
I introduced myself, and asked if I could stay there. After a brief interrogation, a few of the people remembered my friend and the fact that she was a decent person, and so I pulled my bike into their backyard and made myself at home.
For those of you who have never visited such a place, it’s a bit strange. Houses like this exist in every city I’ve been able to find, as long as there is a college there. (For some reason colleges attract this kind of living situation, even if none of the residents are students). In most of them, you are free to stay there for a short duration as a traveler, as long as you do chores and help out around the place. Somebody usually has to vouch that you’re not a drunken slob, snitch, or other undesireable.
Rent is usually exceedingly cheap – I think bunks at this place ran $150 a month, and the people tend to be pretty awesome if you enjoy folks who live outside the box – hippies, punks, musicians and artists.
In the upper right there is one of the cheap bunks. This photo was taken in the living room. Pretty sure this is not up to code, but eh, who cares!
There’s always something going on – music jams, somebody cooking up a big pot of free grub, etc.
Oh, and lots of art everywhere!
Here's the kitchen.
I grabbed the wireless key from one of the inhabitants and contacted my friend. She said we could meet up the next day, so I settled in, ate some lentil soup that somebody offered, and had some great conversation. I claimed one of the couches for the night and slept like the dead.