Today, I marched from the Meeting House in Olivenhain to the Oceanside Harbor. It was a beautiful day again, and I made great time.
This march was interesting because of the responses I received in certain areas, and because of my encounters with several different people.
The march was uneventful for an hour after I had left the Meeting House and had walked into Encinitas. I got a few honks or thumbs ups. When I got to Pacific Coast Highway 101 and headed north, things got Twilight Zonish.
For the longest time thereafter, no one I passed by would return my greetings, and none of the cars honked. When I got into Leucadia, it was downright eerie. I stopped in front of a liquor store to take a picture of a city emblem that had been stamped into the sidewalk years ago. A short, sinewy surfer-hippie walked to the open doorway, looked at me and turned around to walk away. As he did, he said over his shoulder, “Why don’t you just keep movin’ on?”
I don’t know if it was my swarthiness, the Flag, the bombing in Boston that occurred days earlier, or the message on my shirt (Defend the Bill of Rights) that offended him, but I received the same kind of hospitality as I proceeded towards Carlsbad. I came upon a Kumquat tree full of fruit that was hanging over the sidewalk. I love kumquat. When I was a boy in Oahu and then in Orange County, CA, my friends an d I would always pick them off trees everywhere we went.
I seriously wanted to pick some and taste it again, but there was a blonde surfer woman nearby doing something to a chair she was going to sell. She, too, seemed wary of me, so I just took a photo of the tree and moved on.
I thought that I was just imagining things, but the place did seem weird to me that day.
On the border of Leucadia and Carlsbad, when I thought I had left behind the secret land where snooty liberal-hippie-surfers go to die, two kids on skateboards rode by and gave me a “Right on, dude!” A minute later, I came to an intersection where people started honking and waving as I walked by. I had entered Carlsbad.
By that time, I had been walking for four hours. I had wanted to eat somewhere in Leucadia but all there seemed to be were holistic treatment shops, massage therapy shops, vegan restaurants, surf board shops, We-Hate-Roger shops, etc. So, I had decided to just wait until I reached Carlsbad.
The problem was that I forgot just how far the business part of Carlsbad was from that point. I still had five miles to go. So I trudged on.
I was then walking along a very long stretch of beach to my left, asphalt before me, and newly constructed homes and developments to my right. It was interesting to see the custom homes that incorporated nautical motifs. I hadn’t been to the area in decades.
An elderly lady in a beach parking lot came over and asked me what my shirt said. We talked for a few minutes, and she said she was 78 and so scared about what is happening to our country. I gave her my card and trudged on. My feet had started hurting, and I had run out of water four miles earlier.
I could see “the Stack” (a building with a tall chimney) far in the distance. Between there and where I was was nothing but beach, road, and lagoon preserves.
After another hour or so, I reached the Stack and an area where residences once again were nearby. It was along that stretch that an older Hispanic couple drove by me, saw my sun-tanned beauty, and honked. They turned around and pulled over to ask me if I was marching for Immigration Rights. I said no. I was marching for the civil rights of all Americans. They didn’t seem to get it, so I gave them my card. I think, if they ever visit my web site, they will see I am against illegal immigration, Amnesty, and any expenditure of tax monies on illegal aliens.
THEN, I met Pedro…
He was a scrawny nineteen or twenty year old kid. Quiet, polite, and spoke fairly good English. He was obviously homeless. He asked me what I was doing, I told him, and then he announced that he was going to follow me. Great.
With him along, I WOULD look like I was doing some kind of immigration protest. But, I figured, what the heck.
Until he started asking me if I had heard about the war in Chula Vista…
What war, I asked. “The Great War between us and the Newcomers…”
It was at that moment that I realized I was having a close encounter with an alien of the illegal kind. Matter-of-factly, he began to recount his separation from mother and sister because of the war, and his subsequent escape to the mountains. While up there, he said, he saw aliens fall to the earth in pods. They had white skin (except their skin was inside-out), and they had abducted people. In my mind, I was wondering how I could lose the kid.
It was when he started telling me that the people who had been taken were being turned into murderers and rapists that I realized I really need to have a means of protecting myself as I travel. Pedro and I came upon a beachside port-a-potty and he said, “I need to pee.” I had needed to pee myself; for the previous ten miles. But, I couldn’t find a place I could do so while making sure my flag wouldn’t get stolen.
Pedro told me to wait for him and he went into the loo. I proceeded to continue walking north, as fast as I could run-walk, hoping he would come out, find me gone, and then forget me and wander off.
Sadly, I was not half a mile away when he was by my side once again. “I didn’t wash my hands, ” he shared.
By that time, a lot of cars were honking at me. Pedro liked that. He asked to hold the flag and I told him, No. We were in full view of cars and people in cars in the parking lots, so I wasn’t afraid of being murdered or raped. I was more afraid of having to shake his hand.
I started walking in the bicycle lane and picked up my pace. Little by little, he fell behind, and I was no longer the Pied Piper of Lost Souls.
After another half an hour, I finally reached eateries. It was Downtown Carlsbad, one of my favorite places to visit in San Diego. I stopped in what used to be the Twin Inn, and ate food. After twenty minutes, I continued northward.
The distance from Carlsbad to the southern end of Oceanside was not too far. Between there, I stopped by the Army-Navy Academy, asked permission to take a photo of the main building, and walked on.
The home stretch was very familiar to me, as I had attended El Camino High School in Oceanside, decades ago. Back then, I lived at the beach, and had been a surf rat myself.
I passed by old landmarks: Angelos Hamburgers, Roberto’s, the skanky liquor store where we used to buy beer and wine coolers, the once X-rated movie theater (now Christian playhouse), and the heart of Hill Street and Mission Blvd.
A lot of redevelopment has taken place there, and so, the area was bustling with residents, tourists, wannabe gang bangers, skate rats, beach folk, surfers, Faces of Meth types, and Marines. One side-street, Tremont, is now a pretty happening place. Back in my day, it was empty and forgotten.
As I passed a bar, a rather skanky woman with bleached blonde hair and ill-fitting halter top stumbled out, followed by a 29 year old drunk man who looked like he had broken bad somewhere along the line. His eyes were red and he blinked in the late afternoon light. He saw my shirt and asked, “What are the Bill of Rights?”
The woman, at least fifteen years older than him, slapped his arm and said, “What are you, a dumbass?”
I told the man that the Bill of Rights are the first ten amendments to the Constitution that enumerate inalienable civil rights, like, Freedom or Speech and Religion, the Rights to keep and bear arms, and so on.
His eyes rolled up slightly as he tried to process what I had said. I just waved and walked on.
I veered to the west, toward the beach, to visit the Pier. The Oceanside Pier is very long and has amusement park-style buildings at the end of it. In the middle of the pier, I spoke with a 26 year old guy who was playing a guitar. He told me he didn’t trust the media or government anymore, and that he was struggling to pay for bills; including health care.
I told him that it was young people his age and younger who helped vote Obama in. He said he was not an Obama voter, but that he wasn’t a voter, either. I took a picture of him, went to the end of the pier, and continued toward the harbor.
Another half an hour, and I was almost there. That’s when a toothless homeless woman on a wheelchair yelled out, “America!”
All day, I had passed homeless people here and there, and every one of them did the same thing, they saw the Flag, smiled, and yelled, “America!” That made me sad. The Disenfranchised, who had no reason to still believe in Her, still raised a hoary cheer as I walked by.
As I was walking down an incline into the Harbor entrance, I noticed the woman in the wheel chair had been scooting herself along, following me. She was looking at the large flag I was carrying, and she was smiling. I was very tired by this point, and this touched me. I choked back a sob as I felt so sad for her and the other Lost Souls. But, it also made me feel proud. Like Pedro, and the smiling homeless men after him, and now this woman, I felt like I was bringing hope.
Two minutes later, I was at in the harbor. I had reached the twenty miles. It was still daylight, and I hadn’t been there in twenty or more years. So, I took pictures, relaxed, and walked around.
It was nice to be back…