California Liberty March Journal – San Jose to Sunnyvale and Back

When a seven foot tall police officer asks you, “Do you like the police?” It is inadvisable to answer with anything other than, “YES!”

Hesitating and asking, “Is this a trick question?” doesn’t go over too well…

Today’s march lasted longer than I expected because I underestimated the distance I would be walking from San Jose to Sunnyvale and back. Consequently, I walked an extra seven miles in order to get back to the gym parking lot in San Jose. I took a longer route, which resulted in the extra walking.

I left the gym parking lot at 8 am and walked to downtown San Jose. As I walked, I took photos of various interesting sights: a park with the World’s Largest Permanent Monopoly Board, the Adobe building (makers of Photoshop, etc), an art museum, a veterans’ memorial, and another park with Jacaranda trees and other types of trees, where homeless people slept on the many curved wooden benches.

One homeless man named, Jose engaged me in conversation, but he was hard to follow. He spoke about immigration issues, about the powerful and their attempts to control us, and how Hollywood lies about people. I took a photo of him and skedadled. Two other homeless people asked me for drugs or money. When I told them I had neither, they acted extremely disdainful and walked on.

From downtown, I walked north-west, over a freeway, toward the airport. Periodically, jets flew by and landed, alternating with much smaller private craft. I was marching along Coleman Avenue on the bicycle lane on the opposite side of the road from the airport; walking against on-coming traffic. As I was looking at the airport, an older woman wearing shorts and a floppy hat was walking on the other side of the road.

She stopped walking, made some repeative gestures, then bent over. He back was to me, and I could see her make digging arm movements. Then, she stood upright and continued walking.

I continued along Coleman Avenue until I came to Game Kastle, the same game store I had visited yesterday, during my day off. I had left the wall charger for my tablet in a game room last night, and I wanted to retrieve it. It was 12 pm by that time. I ordered some BBQ ribs from a soul food restaurant nearby and ate it at the game store. The corn bread was awesome, but the ribs were meh.

After eating and checking the Google map, I returned to my march. I marched along Coleman until I hit the Central Expressway.

I took that busy thoroughfare westward. It was windy, so I was playing “Strangle the Jiggling Flag Pole” again. Many cars honked and I was given a lot of thumbs up. The sky was light blue, with wispy, brushed clouds here and there.

After an hour or so, I got off the expressway, and headed south. I meandered along various side streets until Iended up on S. Wolfe Street. I took that south to El Camino Real. As I walked down Wolfe, I noticed two odd things.

First, that the area was populated with a lot of East Indians. The funny thing about these folks is, they have no compunction about staring at you if you’re a stranger. Or, a stranger with a long flag pole and big flag. They will not only look at you, they will stare. Intently. Inscrutibly. There is no point in engaging them in a mad dog staring contest. They will inevitably win. If they aren’t staring at you, they simply turn away and do their best to ignore you. Either way, you are left feeling like an intruder or a madman.

The second odd thing about walking through that area was that a crow kept following me. The same crow. It kept flying from tree to tree ahead of me, then hopping or flying to different branches, cawing at me. It kept doing this for three miles.

I though it had some issue or fascination with my flag. Perhaps with me. When I finally realized that I was being stalked by this cawing pest, I took a video of it as it was in a tree above me. I was rather creeped out by it, and told it to leave. It ignored me and kept doing its tree branch jumping and cawing. Interestingly, it stopped following me after I posted something about it on Facebook.

I took El Camino Real west until I reached the center of Sunnyvale. This was the ten-mile point. I used a restroom, then started back to Wolfe.

I continued down Wolfe into Cupertino, and encountered more stares or averted looks. The neighborhood changed, and soon I saw more and more Chinese people. They did basically the same thing: either stared or pretended I didn’t exist. There were a lot of car honks there. But not for me. The drivers were impatient with one another, and usually because a good number of them drove badly.

As the sun was descending into the afternoon sky, I entered Santa Clara and then San Jose.

As I was walking eastward along Steven Creek Blvd, I saw a huge police officer looking down at a middle-aged man who was seated on the curb behind a van. The police officer was about seven feet tall, with spiked black hair. While he was not muscle-bound, he was build like a brick. Another officer, 6’2 and blonde, was running the licence of the citizen.

The officer had instructed the citizen to get up and open his van’s side door. As I walked by, I saw that there was a mattress on the floor, and there were shelves with tools, like the type locksmiths would have.

“What is the Liberty March?” The taller police officer asked as I was passing by. I was surprised he wanted to engage me in conversation, considering he was dealing with the other citizen.

I stopped, gave him my card, and told the police officer about the number of miles Iwas walking, how I have been driving from place to place and then marching with the flag, and that I demanded that all elected and appointed officials uphold their oaths of office, and protect the Constitution.

That’s when he stopped smiling and asked me if I liked the police.

“Is this a trick question?” I responded.

“Do you like the police?”

“Of course I do. I love law enforcement officers.”

His smile returned. “Oh, then good luck on your march.”

I wonder what he was planning on saying or doing if I had said something like, “No, I detest the loathsome jackbooted thugs!”

After being dismissed, the other officer walked up and asked if I’ve really been walking all the way from San Diego. The taller police officer cut him off and said, “No. He drives.”

I have gotten used to being wary around homeless people and strangers. Sadly, I am now starting to feel wary around police officers. Like the officers in Fresno, I suspect they have an institutionalized biased against us “radical right-wing types who carry the flag and talk about the Constitution.”

I walked along that road for fifteen minutes and came to a Mini Cooper lot to my left. I was looking at them, trying to see how much their price stickers were when I happened to look right at the street next to me, and I saw the two officers stopped in the left turn lane. The taller officer was in a huge police SUV, while the other officer was in a squad car behind him. They looked at me when I happened to notice them. The light turned green, and they passed me as I waited to cross the street to keep walking east.

Down the road a bit, I came to a nice-looking Surplus store. I went in and asked the man if they carried chaps. He told me of two places a few iles away that had them. One was a bondage store and the other supplied motorcycle riders with leather gear. I asked for the name of the motorcycle place. “Just Leather.”

I walked and walked and it was now getting dark. From behind me, someone asked me how far I was carrying my flag. I turned and saw a tall blonde man in his early Fifties accompanied by a tall blonde woman. Both were dressed in tennis/exercise clothes. The man was smiling and was very nice.

I explained what I was doing, and they were interested to hear more. They walked along with me until we came to an intersection where they were going to depart in another direction. We stood on that corner for ten minutes and discussed the current state of affairs in this country; where the poor are being taught to hate the rich. The woman spoke with a Romanian accent and blamed the current administration for promoting class warfare.

Based on what they both said, I deduced that they were very well off. I gave them my card and we parted ways.

As I walked across the intersection, three couples out on the town walked along from a different direction. We waited for the light to turn green so we could continue. I decided to quickly move around them and cross anyway, since there weren’t any cars turning. Two seconds later, a car full of guys with water balloons sped by and pelted the couples. Had I remained where I was standing, I would have been hit several times.

I was already across the street when I turned to hear the laughing car passengers and the startled couples getting hit. I heard several more water balloons hit the ground near where I was. I continued on.

I wondered if I was the intended target and the couples had inadvertantly been hit, or if we all were the targets. Several blocks down, as I passed a street corner, I noticed water spots and realized that the car passengers had thrown water balloons at others along that street.

Eventually, I saw “Just Leather” and crossed the street to see its hours of operation. They will be open tomorrow (Saturday) at 9 am. I have told people that if I had raised enough donations by two nights ago, that I would march through San Francisco wearing my shirt, chaps, and my shoes. And no pants. Even though I didn’t raise the amount I need, I will still go through with what I said I would do. However, I need to buy chaps.

I had another three miles to go, by this point. As it was, I had already marched more than 20 miles. I continued eastward and then turned southward toward Parkmoor. The street there was filled with residential buildings that were zoned for commercial use. Inoticed quite a few massage parlors on that road. The first, called, “Midnight Therapy,” gave me a clue. After that one, I passed three more. Across the street, I saw a closed down theater called, the Burbank.

From there, I walked eastward on Parkmoor, which was a one-way street. And, it was not lit. I walked toward on-coming traffic, getting back on the side walk whenever cars came zooming by. A few drivers saw my flag in their headlights and gave me a few beeps. After a mile, Ireached the gym parking lot. I was relieved. This march took thirteen hours.

I put my flag away in my car, got a change of clothes and my towel, and then went into the gym to shower. Afterward, I drove around until Isaw a pizza store. It was 10 pm by then. And, right next door Isaw the Winchester Western Wear store. It opens tomorrow at 10 am. So, if they sell cheap chaps and a cowboy hat, I’ll wear that as I march through San Francisco. I’m worried that if I wear motorcycle chaps and a cap, I’ll be mistaken for a Castro District village person, or something.

So, that’s my report for today. Tomorrow, I go Rhinestone Cowboy on ol San Fran.

California Liberty March – Palmdale to Lancaster (Layover in Tehachapi)

Today, as I was driving down a mountainside road in Tehachapi, I experienced the most terrifying panic attack of my life.

I thought I was going to end up at the bottom of the cliff near me, and roll down to the bottom of Kern Canyon. Thankfully, I held it together, and extricated myself from the harrowing situation.

Before I get into that, I want to report about the California Liberty March on Wednesday May 8th from Palmdale to Lancaster.

Report: It was pretty uneventful.

I had left from a community park in south-east Palmdale and walked across residential and commercial areas separated by stretches of undeveloped desert land. Cars would occasionally drive by and honk, but when I’d look to wave, the people in the honking cars were facing forward, as if they hadn’t honked at all.

Whenever a car within a group of passing cars would honk, I was always unsure of who did the honking. In fact, I wondered if they were honking in support of the flag or out of annoyance.

As I passed a middle school, some boys playing with a kick ball saw me. The first one gathered his pals, and they shouted and waved. The first boy was pumping his fists in the air and shouting. He decided to go all out and bent his knees. He followed this up with hip thrusts. I just laughed, shook my head, and walked on.

Tony A.

The only people I had actual conversations with on this march were both in Palmdale. The first was a thin man named Tony A. who was standing outside a McDonalds. He walked up behind me as I was rolling up my flag. When I noticed him over my shoulder, he said he wanted to see how I did it.

Tony started telling me about the bad nutritional effects of eating at any fast food establishment. He was going to go in and eat a yogurt parfait, he said, but wasn’t sure.

“With all due respect,” he said cautiously, looking at my gut, “Have you ever done a cleanse?”

“No, but I probably should. I want to lose forty more pounds.”

He went on to tell me about faith leader Danny Viera, who is in northern California, and who has a cleanse product that works wonders. Tony and I talked further about faith and religion. His goal is to establish an “Empowerment Ministry” in Florida. He had worked as a para-legal and loan modification agent before the present administration. His wife and father-in-law drove up, and Tony handed me his card.

Ryan

The second person I met was Ryan; a young man in his early twenties, who was wearing a black baseball cap, unzipped hoodie, and saggy pants. He was standing outside of a hobby store miles away, smoking. His bicycle was leaned up against the wall.

I rolled up my flag in order to step inside the hobby store to look around and to get out of the sun. The wind was blowing hard, so the flag wasn’t rolling up correctly. Ryan stepped up and helped me get it under control.

I walked around inside the store to see if they had any cheap plastic figurines of children I could buy to use as playing pieces for the prototype of a board game I am developing called, The Very Scary Cemetery. An artist I know (who was once a 3D animation student of mine), is going to paint the art for the game pieces and board. The store owners told me they didn’t have what I wanted, so I left.

As I was unfurling the flag, Ryan asked me why I was walking with it. So I told him.

He smiled, revealing some chipped and missing teeth. He told me that he wanted the local Sheriff’s Deputies to uphold their own oaths, as they harass him on a weekly basis. Ryan said that because of his appearance (he has neck and arm tattoos), he is pulled over as he rides his bicycle, and is asked if he is on parole or probation. He told me that he continually hands his ID to the deputies, telling them to run his card.

“Check my background. I have no record. I may look bad,” he told me, “But I’m a good person.”

He gave me another lop-sided, toothy smile, and I shook his hand. All I could think to tell him was, “Hang in there…”

I then continued to 10th Avenue West, and turned northward to Lancaster.

Desert, Desert, Everywhere

From that point on, there were very long stretches of open land, with business park developments or mini-malls punctuating the long arid walk.

After several hours, I reached Lancaster. Mike DeGrood, a member of the Sons of Liberty motorcycle club, called me at 4:30 pm to try and find me. He wanted to walk a little with me. He was going to pick me up at the end of the route and drive me back to my car at the park in Palmdale.

I was about three hours away from completing the 20 miles. He walked with me from Avenue L to Avenue K before turning back in his work shoes to get his car. I continued walking to reach Avenue J before me got me.

While the parts of Palmdale I had walked through were predominantly populated by Hispanics, the northern part of Lancaster I walked through are predominantly blacks. The expressions on the faces of people I passed by as I walked in both towns made me smile; because they all seemed to be wondering what type of lunatic I was.

I received a lot more honks and thumbs ups in Lancaster, as well as smiles and waves. The usual battle cry of, “America!” was occasionally shouted.  I even got two “Whoo hoo!” from girls driving by.

Side note: Teen aged girls and college girls almost always shout the same thing: “Whoo hoo!” I wonder why that is. Although, some do occasionally shout, “America!” like boys and men tend to do.

By the time I reached Avenue J, Mike D. was parked off to the side. “You ready?” he asked.

My arches were aching, and my right foot was once again throbbing with pain.

“All you’re going to hit from this point on is desert,” he told me. “No one will really see you and the flag.”

So, I put the flag in his car, and he drove me back to the park. It was a long drive, because of the surface streets route, even though we did take the freeway along the way. Then, I followed him back to the freeway, and then drove 45 minutes north to Tehachapi, where he lives and works.

As I followed Mike’s car, we passed through part of the Mojave. To the West, I saw hundreds of wind turbines in the distance. It was amazing. They were on the plains and on the hills. When Mike pulled over along the way to gas up, he told me that he works for a company that constructs them.

From there, we drove to Tehachapi.

That is where I am now, blogging. He and his wife have offered to let me stay here for a couple of days. Tomorrow, I will leave early in the morning to get the Bakersfield for that march. I’ll return here for tomorrow night. Early Saturday morning, I will drive up to the next route, which is from Tulare to Visalia.

After that, I drive northward.

Tehachapi

I haven’t had much time to explore. From what I have seen of it, it is a very nice rural town. I left at 3 pm today to drive around and take some photos for you guys, but I didn’t get very far. As I passed houses on acreage that had white fences around them, I came to the top of Kern Canyon.

That is where my harrowing experience began.

Yesterday, I had told Mike that I have a phobia of driving on high, curving overpasses and bridges. Driving over the Golden Gate Bridge and others is a concern for me.

I first became aware of my anxiety with driving over bridges in my early Twenties, when I was a Resident Assistant at UCLA. I was driving some students from my floor somewhere along the I-405. When I came to the I-10 interchange,  and was driving onto the overpass, I suddenly experienced sweats and anxiety.

I slowed way down and made it, but was freaked out.

Since then, I have done alright while driving. But last Summer, while I was driving my children over the Coronado Bridge to reach the island, I once again experienced a terrible panic attack.

I didn’t want to freak out my kids, so I remained calm, breathing slowly. All the while, my mind kept seeing the bridge in front of me collapsing, and I was deathly afraid we were about to plunge into the bay below. I just kept talking myself through it, telling myself to remain calm, to check my speed, to look at the road ahead (instead of the open sky above and around the bridge).

We made it. I was so shaken by this, I let my eldest daughter drive us back over the bridge (even though she was still a new driver).

Today, I was trying to find a famous landmark where trains do a turnaround. So, I followed a road Mike had pointed out. That road went through the rolling plains lands of the houses with fences I mentioned. It was when the road started to descend alongside a mountain when the panic attack occurred.

All-Consuming Terror

I was driving down  for a few hundred feet when I was struck by how interesting the landscape in the distance looked. I pulled over on a very slim patch of gravel on the side of the road, on the lane closest to the canyon. I was a little nervous, so I double-checked the parking brake, and that I was in Park.

I got out of my car, walked up the road a little to take a photo of the canyon with my tablet. When I got back into my car and started driving down again, there suddenly was a sheer cliff alongside me. There were no longer any trees alongside me to provide a point of reference for my eyes.

I suddenly panicked and felt my heart race. I told myself to calm down, and I prayed.

“Through God, all things are possible…”

I slowed down and came to another gravel pull-over spot. Luckily, it was twice as wide and long as the first. I hit my Hazard lights and drove slowly onto the gravel. I was terrified. To my right was a canyon far below.

My heart raced and my head was spinning, and I thought I was going to drive off the cliff. From where I was at, on this narrow two-lane road, I was able to see oncoming traffic from both directions for about forty feet each way. There was a hairpin turn ahead of me, while the road had a shallower curve behind me.

I had to get off of that road as soon as I could. The terror was quickly building. It took a lot of talking to myself to keep track of what I needed to do:

Is your foot still on the brake? Are there cars coming from the north? Are there cars coming from the south? Am I sliding into the canyon? How much space is there to turn left into the mountain, so I can back up onto the gravel again and complete turning around..?

I looked up and down the roads again, saw that they were clear, then I went for it. I turned hard left, drove across the lanes until I was facing the mountainside, then I looked back to see where I needed to go as I backed up.

When I looked back, I was completely horrified, all I could see was the sky. I didn’t know how much road there was until I hit the gravel patch. I was afraid I’d accidentally hit the accelerator and drive off the cliff. But, I knew I couldn’t remain blocking the road. Someone could run into me at any second.

So, I drove back slowly until I felt the car roll over gravel. I then turned quickly to see how much room I had left ahead of me. No cars were coming, so I turned the wheel hard left, then accelerated back onto the road, and headed back up the mountain.

I retraced my route back to the DeGrood’s. When I parked the car, I was nauseous and shaky. My head was throbbing and it hurt. I went into the house and into the bathroom. There, I splashed water on my face and I was overwhelmed with emotion. I started to cry.

So I went into the guest room and cried into a folded up towel until the feeling went away. I rewashed my face and left the house. I wanted to go to bed and curl up but instead, I left the house and drove into town along a different route.

There, I saw a Starbucks next to an Italian restaurant called, “Pacino’s.” I felt queasy so I decided to eat something. I hadn’t eaten any other than a protein shake up to that point.

Inside Pacino’s, I saw that it is essentially a shrine to the actor. There are movie posters everywhere, as well as framed head shots from throughout his career, and painted murals of the man and of his work.

I ordered water and spaghetti with salad and bread sticks. I was still shaken but slowly feeling better. Across the aisle from me was a woman named, Darlene F. She and I started talking.

She told me that she is a commercial and competitive Bass fisher. She travels throughout the South fishing and competing. She told me of how the weather conditions were so extreme at times that she and other competitors questioned their judgment in doing what they do. This fascinated me.

She told me that they sometimes band together, sleep over in rented houses or campsites, and share stories of their day’s travails with one another. They compete for money, boats, and sometimes houses. Mainly, for money. But they pay $3000 entry fees to enter competititons!

“It’s all about winning,” she told me. “It’s to be competitive.”

Talking with her calmed me. I told her about my march, and she told me to contact some of her FB friends who are fishermen and who are Conservative. We shared names and then she left.

After I was done eating, I drove around the town for ten minutes. It had started raining, and it was overcast. I felt exhausted, so I drove back to Mike’s house.

Excelsior Henderson Motorcycles

When I returned to the house, I started blogging. After an hour, Mike returned and needed to use his computer. So, I got off and went into the guest room for a while. I then went into the den to ask Mike a question.

He was looking on Google for images of motorcycles that have the same type of windshield he needs for his motorcycle. That is when he began to tell me the story of the resurrection of an American motorcycle brand called, the Excelsior Henderson.”

Apparently, the first American-made motorcycle was the Excelsior. Ignaz Schwinn, the famed German-born mechanical engineer, and bicycle maker, purchased the rights to the Excelsior and another motorcycle brand called the Henderson. He then began producing the Excelsior Henderson motorcycle.

The “X” was the favored motorcycle of law enforcement officers in the Twenties. Charles Lindburgh rode one, and even Henry Ford was an owner. It was the first motorcycle to reach 100 mph.

By 1931, though, because of the Depression, Schwinn walked in and informed his employees that he would no longer be producing the X. Thus, the Excelsior Henderson faded off into obscurity. Until the 1990’s.

It was in 1993 that Dan Hanlon, and his younger brother Dave, reintroduced the Excelsior Henderson. They had spent $50,000 on each of several prototypes that were based on the last known designs of the motorcycle’s previous incarnations. The Hanlons’ designs were supposed to take those designs and extrapolate what the motorcycle would look like at that point, as if it had never ceased production.

From 1993 to 2000, the Hanlons produced one thousand nine hundred and fifty-eight motorcycles. But, the Hanlons needed more money to continue to do so. Each production model cost $1000 more than what they sold for. The Excelsior Henderson name still needed time to build a customer base, and thus, be more affordable.

Despite a push for venture capital, the Hanlons had to file for bankruptcy. While litigation was in process, an outside company came in, promising to revive the company. The principal of that company put down $300,000 as a deposit against the millions needed to finalize the reorganization.

As it turned out, the principal of the investing company was an unscrupulous man wanted in other states. He sold all of the assets and dies and machines used to construct the X. He sold all of the early models from the showroom, and liquidated all holdings.

Hence, the Excelsior Henderson was once again lost. No one knows where any of the machine dies have gone to, nor are there any of the original plans known to be in existence. Whomever has them hasn’t come forward. As Mike said, “It’s a mystery.”

Mike has two Excelsior Hendersons. He proudly showed them to me after he told me the story. They are beautiful cycles. I intend on acquiring one in the coming year, once I am working once again.

Apparently, they are becoming less expensive because original replacement parts are dwindling. They can be modified with parts from other brands, though. From a historical perspective, the X is a collectable. It represents American ingenuity and determination and courage.

I want to be courageous. I want to overcome my fear of heights and of falling. Everyday on this trip, whether I want to or not, I discover something new. I learn something I need in order to be able to leave behind my previous bad habits and fears.

When I Drove Off of a Cliff

I suspect that my phobia and anxiety is due in large part to the day I drove off of a road that ran alongside a ravine. From the center of the ravine was an elevated area on which a train ran.

I was 16, and I was driving a Ford Pinto to the Trestles with three friends. The Trestles was a train bridge over a lagoon in Carlsbad, CA. We would jump from the bridge into the water below. Once in it, the water currents were strong, and wee’d swim against them to reach the shore.

The day before I was driving to the Trestles, I was a passenger in my friend George’s station wagon. He was driving on the dirt road, doing fishtails. We thought that was fun. So, the next day, when I was driving, and George and two others rode along with me, they told me to do fishtails. Being a teenager, I did.

And I did them beautifully! Until I saw an indented patch of sand ahead. So, I stopped fishtailing, slowed down a bit and held the steering wheel straight. For  whatever reason, the car suddenly turned in a 70 degree angle, and we soared into the air.

As George and the others screamed, I was trying to get my foot from under the accelerator so I could hit the brakes. Which would have been pointless, but it gave me something to do as I thought (with a sinking feeling in my stomach), “Aw, damn… And I’ve never ever looked to see what’s down there…”

I thought we were going to die. But, after being airborne for a few seconds, the car landed on the side of the ravine and was about to roll on the side when it hit a large concrete block (the type of block used to support power poles). The front right wheel well was lodged against it, prevent any further movement.

For the first half minute, we all sat there. Stunned. Suddenly, the others started nervously laughing. “Let’s do that again!”

Despite being glad we were alive, I was afraid of my parents finding out. I happened to have $50 in my wallet, so I called a tow truck to pull my car from the ravine. He did and it seemed to run alright. Though my step-father asked me why the front end was elevated. I don’t remember what lie I told him. But, thereafter, I have never been in a car accident that was my fault.

As far as I can tell, that may be the genesis for my phobia. I wonder how to conquer it. I want to be able to ride my future X on windy mountain roads without experience that terror again…

California Liberty March – Santa Clarita

When I first arrived in Santa Clarita, I stopped at a Starbucks to update my FB pages and to recharge my cell phone for the next day’s march. I needed to find a laundromat, so I walked up to four teenagers outside the Starbucks and told them I had just driven in from Santa Barbara, and would only be there for a day. I asked them if they knew of a laundromat nearby. They looked it up on their iPhones. My Android was still not bringing up web pages, which is probably the result of settings being changed as I walk with it in my pocket. That, or gremlins.

One of the kids asked me why I had just driven in from Santa Barbara, so I told them about the march.  Forty minutes later, after they asked me a lot of questions and listened to me go on about how ObamaCare will impact them, and how their rights are disappearing, etc., they took my cards and wished me well. One wanted a photo with me. They were very bright kids and expressed complete support for my effort.

The laundromat they told me about was another twenty minutes away, but I was too tired. So I drove to the 24 Hour Fitness center, showered, and went to sleep in their parking lot.

The next morning, I drove to Valencia Heritage Park, left my car there, and started my march. It was raining, so, I wore a long yellow raincoat that had been loaned to me by Rick C. of Temecula.

I walked over to McBean, then headed south toward CalArts. I figured I would stop there and look at student work. As a 3D animator, I was curious about the school’s character animation program.

Along the way, many cars honked, and people waved and smiled. As the hours passed, the rain stopped and the sun came out. I finally reached CalArts, but was stopped at the parking lot gate by the security guard. Apparently, a man with a long flag pole and large flag and tee-shirt read,”my Rights Are Inalienable” was cause for alarm. Or, at least, for a full body cavity search.

I overheard one of the people driving up to the gate mention a student portfolio event, so I told the security guard that I was a visiting professor from San Diego, and that I had scheduled a visit with a woman in Job Placement. He waved me on. As I was walking toward the main entrance, a tall bearded man with glasses, longish hair, courderoy coat, and an imperious attitude walked toward me from the faculty parking lot.

He looked at my flag and shirt, then stared ahead. I smiled and gave him a cheer, “Hello. How are you?”

He practically snapped his neck TSKing and then spat a disgusted, “Whatever!” He walked on, toward the Herb Alpert Music building. I stopped, stunned.

“Really!?” I said. “Douchebag!”

When I walked into the reception area, things were less antagonistic. I asked the receptionist if I could stand my flag up in a corner while I looked around. She was worried that someone would knock it down. She offered the floor behind her, but I told her that the flag could not touch the floor. So, she told me to lie it across the upper part of her reception desk; which I did.

I wandered the halls of CalArts, looking for food. I found a lounge, but discovered I had left my wallet back at the park, in my car.

So, I went to Student Services to ask about the 3D animation program.

At the Students Services Office, I got directions from one of the counselors. Near us, I saw bowls of candy on the coffee table, and one bowl of colorful condems. I took a photo of the condoms because it was just so weird to see.

I got the information I wanted from an Animation Instructor, then I went back upstairs to leave. However, there was a lot of activity on the other side of the lobby. The receptionist told me that the Theater students were having their end of year portfolio presentations. She told me I could look, so I did.

For the next half an hour, I spoke with students at all levels about their work, their goals, and their education at the school. One of the students served in the Army, and was using her GI bill to defray the expense of attending ($40k per year!). When she asked me about myself, I told her about my background as an animator and instructor, and that I was marching through Santa Clarita that day.

She hugged me because I told her that our servicemen fight and die to protect our rights, and so, I thought it important to fight for theirs. As soldiers, they are not allowed to publicly express political opinions. As she told me, they give up their rights while in service.

Once I was done looking around, I retrieved my flag, and walked on.

I went to a small park further on, which was the original start of my march. I walked on, then back to McBean. I then headed east for 2.5 miles before turning back. My right foot toe is infected and has been hurting me for a week. So, I couldn’t do more than 15 miles yesterday. I decided to walk back the way I came, in order to reach my car.

The final encounter of my first day at Santa Clarita was Rolando Alvarez, from Ecuador. He was squatting down on the sidewalk, waiting for a bus. As I walked by, he stood up and called out to me. He was smiling broadly. He told me that he was so proud to see the flag. He had left Ecuador when he was 14 after his parents had received papers to immigrate to America. “New earth, new life,” he told me. He seemed very anxious to tell me how much he valued being an American. He has children, and he loves our Constitution. He sees the dangers of Socialism creeping into our system.

Rolando apologized for other Hispanics who are hurting America by illegally immigrating here, and not wanting to be “Americans.” I was moved by his passion and sincerity. He exemplifies the very best of us all: committed to being productive, responsible, and loyal to our country.

After that, another man came up to thank me for carrying the flag. I gave him my card and he went off with his wife.

I returned to the park at 6 pm. I loaded my things, and drove to look for a laundromat. All of my clothes were dirty. For some reason, my cell phone was not allowing me to use the Internet to search for a place to wash my clothes. I then went looking for food. After ten minutes, I found a small food shop, next to a game store. I ate, then went into the game store to relax. I asked one of the customers if he knew of a nearby laundromat. Luckily, there was one just around the corner.

When I drove there to wash my clothes, I found it to be a disaster. Most of the machines were out of order, there was no laundry detergent in the vending machines, and it was late. SI was in a sketchy neighborhood, and didn’t want to encounter any of the locals who had spraypainted the sides of the building and insides, as well. I decided to look for another place in the morning.

I went to the gym, showered, took my medicine, and went to sleep. It was a good rest.

This morning, after I washed my clothes at the swankiest laundromat I’ver ever been in, I walked over to the nearby Starbucks to video a message to you all. After I finished, I was offered a donut by Jesse and Paul. Jesse told me that she had moved to Santa Clarita a month ago from Ohio in order to be with her sick boyfriend. Paul has kidney problems because of Diabetes.

Jesse told me about her life of poverty (her father lost a leg, lost his business, and then died from a terminal disease, and her mother was a flighty hippie-motorcycle chick). Growing up in trailer parks and “the hood,” Jesse told me she believed in herself and in God. I asked them if I could pray for them, and we held hands as I did.

I told them about my Liberty March, and Jesse, in her early Twenties, said things are messed up. She recognizes that out rights are being taken away. She also called the Democrat Party and President Obama, “Socialists.”

After a long conversation, I got up to leave and to upload my video message. I went into my car to listen to it to make sure the audio was working. Then, I went into the Stabucks and started blogging.

Right now, I am trying to figure out how to raise more money for this trip. Ialso need to finish walking five miles through Santa Clarita before I leave tonight for Palmdale.

Tomorrow, I march from Palmdale to Lancaster. Mike D. , a Sons of Liberty vice-president, will pick me up from my march, drive me to my car, and then I will follow him to his home further north. I will be able to use it as a base of operations for the next three marches.

That will make it easier for me to keep up with blogging and communicating with you.

Sleepless in Santa Barbara

Last night, at 11:30 pm, as I was in my car getting ready to go to sleep, I heard beautiful guitar music being played by a man named Bruce G. He had laid out his guitar case and CDs, a guest book, and business cards on one corner of the second floor parking structure walkway. He also put a feedback monitor on an isand across from him.

His music was improvised Flaminco-style renditions of classics such as, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” Ode to Joy,” “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and classical guitar pieces I had never heard before. I was enthralled, as the music resonated beautifully throughout the structure. He performed like a virtuoso, thumping on the guitar for percussion while expertly playing; his fingers plucking, strumming, and sliding faster than I could keep up.

I got out of my car to listen to him. I asked if I could videotape a bit, and he nodded. I remained outside in the cold, barefoot, listening. I closed my eyes, and felt transported. The situation was surreal. Almost no one else was around, but here was this gifted man playing in the oddest of places. Despite my sadness from the past few days, I felt so much better. A few couples that happened by and who heard him playing, walked up the stairs to investigate. Bruce told them about his CDs for sale, and he offered them some hard candy while they listened.

He continued playing for over an hour. By that time, I had gotten back in my car and lay down to sleep. Eventually, he stopped and packed his things and drove away. I fell asleep.

I woke up at 5:20 am after a difficult night of restless sleep. Lately, I’ve had leg tremors and night sweats. I’ve also experienced mood swings and increased edemia in my hands and feet. These are all signs that my Diabetes in not under control.

I just tossed out the of the insulin I had with me as it is obviously no good. I can survive for a few weeks without it, though it will require me to diligently monitor my symptoms and respond accordingly. I lived with raging Diabetes for years. It was not pleasant but I can do it again. My doctor, upon checking my blood sugar three years ago told me he didn’t know how I had lived for as long as I had with a blood sugar level of 428. The normal range is from 70 to 100.

Now that I am experiencing the same symptoms as back then, it is apparent that the insulin I have been keeping in my car (with the windows partially rolled down) is no longer viable. I had always thought that it was supposed to be refrigerated until you needed to use it; at which time, I would keep it on my office desk for a week, at room temperature. Last night, my wife called me and told me that insulin, when not in use, needs to be kept refrigerated. Apparently, I still have a lot to learn about this disease.

Since I was first diagnosed, I have been a stubborn bastard about accepting my condition, and about identifying myself as “Diabetic.” But today, l now understand. I have had the persistent nausea and ‘increased emotionalism that plagued me for years before I finally was taking insulin. Those symptoms were mitigated by my eating food. Eating seemed to make me feel less sick. It comforted me. l but I see now that I was essentially self-medicating. Thus, I got fat and complicated my health even further. Well, I Am not going back to poor health. Not after coming so far.

I intend on losing another 40 lbs and being healthy and active again. That means I have to be absolutely diligent about my diet. Which means I have to change my habits. l realize this now. I am sick, and I have been thinking of Diabetes as a personal weakness. So, I have been denying its seriousness, and thus, my need to take it seriously.

So, Hello. My name is Roger, and l am a diabetic…

As part of the monitoring process, l am going to elicit feedback from you.

I need to raise money again in order to continue with this march. The uncertainty of not having enough has been wearing, and has made me anxious and feeling guilty about undertaking this endeavor. Am l selfish for doing this march? Originally, I thought that I would get media coverage and, thus, enough in donations to accomplish it. But, nothing has happened as l planned, and now, I have only enough for the car trip from Santa Barbara to Santa Clarita.

What do you think? l don’t want to give up. I have endured a lot to get here. I can and will go all the way, At the same time, for what? What good will l do? SOMETHING’s got to be done and said about our rights. If I Stop now, I won’t be doing what I can to stop politicians from stealing our rights. In the grand scheme of things, though, what can just one man do?

I need perspective. I need your help. Again. Please post comments below.

California Liberty March Journal – Santa Barbara

Beautiful, carefree Santa Barbara! Spanish Colonial and Mission Architecture abounds. So do wealthy individuals, college students, tourists, tradesmen, hippies, and homeless…

I arrived in Santa Barbara on Thursday night. I bypassed Ventura County because of the wildfire in Camarillo. I found a parking structure in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara, behind a movie theater. Two blocks away is the 24 Hour Fitness I bathed at, and another block away is the Starbucks I have been blogging from since.

On Friday, I decided to walk around with the flag instead of just resting my feet. I walked slowly, looking around at the sights. Several homeless people gestured to the flag and gave me a smile or thumbs up. Some passersby said, “Good for you,” or “It’s good to see someone patriotic!” or “Look out for that party bus!”

A college girl who was sitting with two of her friends said, “Hey, mister. What’s the deal with your flag?” Don’t you just love how kids speak to their elders these days..?

Our conversation was interesting to me because she nodded in agreement with everything I said, even though she looked like the type who would’ve put out her cigarette in my arm and spit on me for being over Thirty. Instead, she said, “Right on, that’s what I’m talking about. We need to fight for our rights.” Her two friends didn’t seem interested in the conversation, as they got up and wandered away. The girl noticed this and the conversation ended.

For the most part, people who passed me kept their distance or avoided eye contact, or whispered to each other about my flag. I didn’t experience anything negative. I just walked, made sure the flag didn’t blow into anyone’s face, or get caught in the branches of the many trees that lined State Street. Occasionally, a child would be amazed by the flag, and I’d smile at him or her.

Around 1:30 pm, I went looking for something inexpensive to eat. I noticed a pizza place on one of the side streets. There was a crowd in front of the establishment. As I approached, I saw two college-aged men wearing white short-sleeved shirts and black ties and slacks standing there. One of them saw me and asked my why I was carrying the flag. I was not really in the mood to speak with anyone. I was tired, my feet were throbbing, and I was hungry. And, I really missed my family. So, I felt a little sad.

But, seeing that others had turned to listen to what I had to say, I said, “I’m walking a total of 500 miles with this flag because I’m sick and tired of our politicians speaking as if our rights are negotiable, and can be taken away from us. Our rights are inalienable. No one can take them away. And so, I am going to Sacramento to have my voice heard.”

A blonde young woman off to the side came forward and extended her hand. She introduced herself and told me that she was raised to stand up for herself and to believe in fighting for one’s rights. She said she had gone to a march that was held in Washington, DC a while ago. Other people who had been seated on the cafe chairs had stood up and were listening.

I answered other questions, even though I felt pretty discouraged. In a moment of profound sadness, I told them that I had walked through a number of different cities so far, and had spoken with all types of people; including the homeless. I described how those who are least among us, those who have no reason to believe in anything, much less our flag, still lit up when they saw me walking by. In fact, everywhere I looked, I had seen people struggling to survive, to work, to exist with dignity despite the economy. Despite the policies that keep them down.

I recited an impromptu poem that described these people as seeds that had fallen between the cracks in the concrete of our society. They push and struggle to break through to the sunlight, becoming saplings that just want a chance to live free and to reach for the clouds. I said that if the homeless can still believe in America and in our flag, that we should, too.

I must’ve delivered a sermon, because a brunette young woman in the back of the small crowd had tears in her eyes. She softly said, “That is so cool.”

I then said I needed to eat. I handed out my cards, and everyone disbanded. I went in and ordered two slices of Pepperoni.

Later that day, I wandered down State Street and saw a game store. I am a life-long game designer and player. So, I went in to see what was new. The college girl behind the counter, Natalie, told me about the latest boardgames and trading card games. As we conversed, she told me that she was taking a game development class. I asked her what she was going to do in life and she told me that she was going to do concept art for games and entertainment.

Really good concept artists are in demand. I gave her professional advice as someone who has contracted artists for years. She showed me her web site and her work was very good. At this point, a family walked in. It was a young man named, Christian, his girlfriend, and his parents. Christian asked me about games, thinking I worked there. As the conversation evolved, he mentioned that he was an aspiring game producer. His parents beamed with pride about his accomplishments and told me to look at a game their son had completed with a group of college friends.

I introduced Christian to Natalie and told him that she was a very good artist, with an excellent understanding of anatomy. They exchanged e-mails, and he gave me the e-mail of one of his friends who was a game designer.

I went across the street to get dinner, and met an older man from the Bronx. Jerry was alone at the bar counter of Joe’s Cafe. As I waited for my club sandwich, I asked him about himself. He appeared lonely, like me. I figured he might like it if someone took notice of him. We spoke for a while about Santa Barbara, and how it hadn’t changed much since he had moved here in the Sixties. Once my food was done, I thanked him for our chat and walked back toward the parking structure.

I realized that I didn’t want to sit alone in my car as I ate, so I stopped and sat on a bench in front of another movie theater along the way. I ate my sandwich, watching people walk by. I then went to Starbucks and started blogging about the previous march. I hurried to finish it before the battery in my tablet was drained. Then, I went to 24 Hour Fitness, stretched out, showered, and went to sleep in my mini-van.

Thankfully, the parking structure is free if you drive in after a certain hour. I’ve been sleeping on the second story of the structure for two days. I am going to move the car to a different space tonight, just in case someone has noticed it’s been there for two days, and plans to tow it.

Today, I marched from downtown Santa Barbara, down State Street, to the pier. Despite feeling lonely, I wanted to avoid others. I walked to the beach to take a photo of the pier and the buildings that were on it. I wanted to be alone for a while, so I walked south along the waterline.

A blonde college girl was sitting on a towel next to her boyfriend. She asked me if there was a reason I was carrying the flag. I told her who I was, why I was marching, and where I was going. She seemed impressed and agreed that our rights are being trampled on. Her boyfriend nodded, as well, and also said that he was glad I was doing what I am doing. I gave them a card, then walked on.

I decided to get back to the road and continued south. As I walked, I looked at the chat messages my eldest daughter has sent me the night before. I had been feeling very alone, miles from home, doing an insane quest, not knowing if it would make any difference, when I received her first text.

“I miss you.” I started crying after reading it. Tears streamed down my face as I was blogging in the Starbucks. My relationship with Ashley has been strained for years. She has pushed me away and refuses to let me hug her or give her a kiss. My wife and I aren’t sure of what is going on with her, as she has always been a difficult child. But, she is my baby and I love her very much. So, it hurts not being allowed to hold her.

That’s why, when I read her text, I was overwhelmed. I was already emotional. I responded with, “I miss you, too, Shlee. Very much.”

She asked me how I was doing. I admitted that I was lonely but that I was meeting a lot of people and spreading my message. She told me she was texting from a Padres game with her boyfriend. She said she hoped that I was proud of what I am doing.

“I hope you are proud of what I’m doing,” I responded.

“I’m glad you’re doing what you feel is right.”

I asked her if she was happy, and she said that she was.

That is the longest conversation she and I have had in over two years.

When I first left on my march today, I encountered three aged hippies singing on a street corner. They were singing Sixties songs and protesting Obama and the War. I honestly have no idea what they were saying with their signs and songs. I didn’t ask. It was just too comical a spectacle. The woman in the trio was dancing in place, holding up the peace sign. One of the two men looked as if he were a little embarrassed to be there. He kept his sign near his face. The other man was on a magical, mystical, mystery tour of his own. I asked if I could take a photo, and I did. Then, I got on my purple carpet ride and headed west to the pier.

After I had Spoken to the blonde girl on the beach, I walked south until I reached a lagoon preserve. I ate flan at a restaurant near it and checked in on FB. Then, I walked up into the foothills where older residences are, and walked north again, toward downtown. Since I didn’t have a ride today from anyone, Idecided to walk in a circular route. Tomorrow, I will walk from downtown toward the north and back.

Something that strikes me as funny is how people will sometimes yell, “America!” as they pass me. Sometimes it’s, “A-MERica!” Other times it’s, “‘Murica!’ Yet other times, it’s a Geronimo-like, “Ameri-Caaaaaa!” If they follow the cry with a laugh, I get the sense they are just making fun of the dude with the flag. In any event, it’s a funny phenomenon.

When I reached downtown again, I put away the flag and my hat and went to Starbucks to blog.

Tonight, I feel a little less alone. I am almost halfway done. From Santa Clarita on, I will be in unknown territory. I have come to realize that this march, this journey, has been one of rediscovery as it has been one of political defiance and protest.

I had lost myself sometime ago, and had come to despise my “gifts.”I had been escaping from myself and in doing so, had forgotten all of my dreams and goals. I now no longer seek to be anything other than who and what I am:  a dreamer, an artist, a writer, a father, a husband, and a patriot.

I want this march to be over. I want to go back home. I want to fix things back there. But I still have more to learn. There are still more people to talk with, and miles to go before I have my say in Sacramento. The journey is just as important as reaching the destination. So I’m going to continue trusting and walking, and talking to anyone who’ll listen.

End of Day One in Santa Barbara

The next morning, I woke up at 5 am  again, and dragged myself to the gym to shower. I tended to my feet, got dressed, and decided on waiting until after lunch time to finish the last five miles of marching. I have been breaking up my marches into 15-5 mile chunks in order to rest my blistered feet. This has actually been better for engaging people, as I am not rushing to cover all twenty miles in a single day.

Consequently, my feet are healing better, and I’ve been having longer conversations with those I encounter.

After I ate lunch, I got my flag pole and set off to walk toward the opposite end of State Street and then northward.

It was a blustery Pooh Bear type of day. Except I had no Christopher Robin to walk with, and my rumbly tumbly belly was not craving honey. The flag was fluttering wildly again, so I had to keep holding it steady with both hands.

I stopped by a Mexican food restaurant to use the restroom. As I was walking toward the front door, a black-haired Irish woman pocked her head out and asked me if I was part of a parade.

“I AM the parade,” I joked. She smiled then went back in. I rolled up my flag and left it standing against an inner covered area. After I came out of the restroom, the Irish woman’s mother asked me why I was walking with the flag.

After I told her about my demand that our politicians uphold their oaths of office, she said something about what she didn’t understand or like about America. Her daughter shifted uncomfortably. Her mother said that in Ireland, they “open their door to all types of immigrants, and don’t expect or demand that immigrants give up their heritages.”

I told her, that America opens its arms, as well. But, we are not Ireland, or any other country, for that matter. Unlike any other country, we were formed to be a republic of free individuals. While our nation is a nation of immigrants (of which the Irish are an integral part), they have been, by and large, legal immigrants. A republic is a society governed by rule of law, not feel-good legislation.

The woman continued telling me about the differences between our nations, and why she took exception to how we do things. Oddly, she talked herself into a circle, ending up on my side of things after I told her thatthere is no such thing as “free” anything.

“The more in taxes I am forced to pay, the less money I have. The less money I have, the less options. The less options, the less free I am. Hence, a society that promotes the idea that the individual should be less free and live at a lower quality of life so that government can be enlarged in order to provide free things, is an unfree society run by a tyrannical government. I am a citizen, Ma’am. Not a subject.”

From this point on, she decried the social system iin Ireland, where the producers like her are penalized by higher taxation and the depletion of her pension, while those who live off of the system, don’t pay taxes, yet are given a place to live, healthcare, and food assistance.

The woman’s daughter was smiling to herself during this time; as was I. At the end of our conversation, the mother said she was going to go back and fight for her pension.

I left the restaurant, passed several Sheriff’s Deputies who looked at me and nodded when I waved at them, and headed west toward the beach.

It was starting to get late, so I walked toward State Street again after an hour. I  walked through neighborhood streets to get there. On one of them, I heard a male voice yell, “Viva, Mexico!” as I walked by. I could tell by the tone that he was trying to be a smart ass. I stopped, turned, and glimpsed a figure move out of the doorway. I just laughed and walked on.

When Igot back to my car in the parkimg structure, the guitar player was back. I could hear him from half a block away. It was 7 pm. Iasked him if he played there often, and he said he did every Sunday night.

I loaded my car, then listened to him play for fifteen minutes. I then programmed my TomTom GPS car unit to direct me to Santa Clarita, and I left Santa Barbara.

California Liberty March Journal – Day Nine

This march was on Wednesday May 1, 2013 (May Day). I marched from Venice Beach Pier to Santa Monica Pier to Westwood and UCLA then to Beverly Hills. This at once a boring and yet interesting march. I met hippies, artists, potheads, tourists, street poets, vendors, and college students. This doesn’t include the homeless, skeeves, geeks, Greeks, and nymphos. Oh, and Chris.

Elegance and Lace. And Peacocks.

At 9:30 am, I parked in a lot right near the pier. I had spent the previous two nights at the home of Tracey and her husband, Greg. I knew Tracey over thirty years ago in high school (ah, the glories of the Internet and Facebook… ). Tracey and Greg are of the more politically-conservative stripe, and offered me a place to stay when I was in their area.  Their home is an impressive one; located in the exclusive hilltop community of Palos Verdes.

Their home is appointed with slate-trimmed touches, a magnificent backyard with pool, patios, poolhouse, and fruit trees. And peacocks. I thought Tracey was kidding and having a peacock, but, on my first evening there, I saw one strutting on the back lawn. That night, I listened to him call out to the other wild peacock that roam freely across the pennisola. They were introduced into the area by one of the main landowners of the time, and, not having natural predators around to limit their population, the peacock have since proliferated.

Greg is a spine surgeon and Tracey is a pharmacist. They are an interesting couple; each with their passions. One of their passions is watching musical theater. On their walls are autographed stage production posters, as well as framed animation cells from cartoons. Greg and Tracey take their health and fitness seriously, and cooking fine cuisine is part of that. Greg cooked a delicious meal on my second night there: roasted chicken, asparagus, baked cauliflower basted with duck sauce, small seasoned potatoes, and a hot baguette.

The Merchants of Venice Beach

As I gathered my things together for the march to Hollywood and Vine from Venice Beach, I looked around at the architecture of the nearby buildings. There all sorts of styles; as eclectic as the denizens of the area I walked through that day. The very first person to greet me was a pastor visiting from Hollywood, Florida. He and his wife were walking along the boardwalk near me when he greeted me as his brother, and then asked me where I was going with the flag. After explaining my goal, he prayed for me.

After we parted, I walked by the beach to get a view of the Pacific Palisades miles north from where I was. I continued toward Santa Monica.

I passed vendors in beach shops, as well as artists selling their crafts and paintings, etc. Several were selling traditional painted skulls, others were selling handcrafted jewelry, and others, clothing or dreamcatchers. There were many homeless people about, lying on open cardboard boxes, or sitting on the park benches. They seemed to regard me with suspicion; perhaps because of the flag I was carrying and because I stopped from time to time to take pictures with my cell phone.

I passed by a Marijuana dispensary called, The Green Doctors.  Not once, but three times along the strip. The Green Doctors looked suspiciously like pot dealers dressed in pastel green scrubs who were standing outside their “clinics,” hawking their wares. Gathered around each of these places were homeless drug addicts, overaged skateboarders, and surfers.

I stopped by an older black lady who was sitting on a fold-out chair singing into a microphone. Next to her was a CD player and speakers. She sang with such style that I had to listen. I bought her a bottle of water and gave her the only cash I had left: $2 and change. I asked a woman sitting at a cafe table to video me swaying with Starla as she sang. The woman told me to ask her son, Lukas. He videoed Starla and me and when I got the camera back from him, his mother asked me about the website address on my tee-shirt.

I explained why I was marching and what I hoped would happen. The woman had a Scandanavian accent, and spoke as if rights were very important to her. Her mother was sitting across from her, nodding. Lukas listened as we talked. The woman asked me if I had eaten lunch yet. I wanted to accept her invitation but I had arranged to be picked up in Hollywood by my friend, Tracey at 7 pm. So, I declined, gave them my card, and continued on.

Steampunk and Punks Who Got Me Steamed

I spoke with an artist about his Steampunk art pieces. When I return from this march, I am interested in finding Steampunk craftsmen and arranging to selling their wares to collectors. So, I got his phone number, gave him my card, and walked on.

That’s when I heard two men off to the side call out to me.

“Hey! You with the flag. Why don’t you shove that pole up your ass?”

“Ya,” chimed the other, “Why don’t you burn that f’ing flag!?”

I stopped walking, the smile I had on up to that point was replaced with a grimace. I turned and walked up to them. I have been ignoring offensive comments as best as I could during my marches, but the flag burning comment was too much. I planted the flag pole beside me and looked them each in the eye. The two men sat back down on the stone partition thy had been standing in front of as I had passed by. Their bravado drained away. I was ready to kick ass and they could see it.

“Now, WHAT can I do with flag pole?”

Johnny B., a tall angry-looking black guy, suddenly wasn’t so eloquent. He rambled on about what the flag stands for, and how humanity is nothing more than parasites.

“We consume and consume. We are a danger to the universe.”

He continued on, ranting, and I could smell the pot they had been smoking. Beside Johnny B. was “Trip,” a husky heavy metal ogre: shaved head, missing teeth, tattoos, and leather wristbands. He was an interesting counter to Johnny B., who kept interrupting him, and who gave him a hard time when Trip told me that he would rather be called, Andrew. Johnny B. was pinching the tiniest joint I’ve ever seen.

Deciding that these two melonheads were baked, I smiled, introduced myself, and, after a Comical and hard to follow conversation, I wished them well, and moved on.

End of Route 66

After walking for an hour or so, I reached the Santa Monica Pier. Along the way, I was passed several times by a Suicide Girl who was jogging back and forth along the walkway. She had jet black hair, fair skin, tattoos, and makeup. Another young woman dressed in a black bodysuit rollerskated by. She had a headset on, and she was loudly singing; but her voice was not very good at all. Still, she was having a good time, so I just smiled.

A long-haired man on a bicycle asked if he could take apicture of, and liked what I told him about my march. A t the Santa Monica Pier, I took some photos, and looked at the restaurants, shops and attractions as I walked through. I then walked several bklocks to the Santa Monica Promenade on 3rd Street. It was bustling with tourists, local shoppers, and street performers.

My Old Alma Mater

From there, I headed to Westwood. As I was walking there, it occurred to me that not one car had honked in the two hours since I was walking. I was on a thoroughfare, and no one seemed to see me or care. I thought that was interesting. As I continued walking, I started thinking about how each march I undertook seemed to teach me something new; something I needed to learn at that time. It was exhilarating, walking all day, going to new places, and meeting new people. I started wishing I hadn’t let my Diabetes take over my life for a decade. It’s time I will never get back; years of adventures and experiences that could have been.

I was feeling regretful when I looked up and saw a billboard that read, “By 2020, the number of 100 year olds will double.” In two weeks, I turn 49. I realized that if I take care myself from here on out, I could still have many good years ahead of me. Thinking this, I marched on, smiling. Until a woman in a shop I passed by yelled, “Viva Mexico!”

Several cars gave me honks as I approached the UCLA/Westwood area. I also received enthusiastic waves and praise. I crossed Wilshire and encountered Willy, a young black man wearing silver-colored pants and a dark hoodie. He was reading a notebook as he walked. As I passed by, he asked me if I were a flag carrier in the service. I explained who I was, etc, and he told me that he hoped I succeeded. He read me a poem he wrote, reciting it with the cadence and delivery of a slam poet. It was very good. I gave him my card and asked him if he could sent it to me so I could share with you. If he ever does, I’ll post it.

Walking into Westwood, I noticed all of the changes made to the village; unfortunately, many were not for the better. Many storefronts had “For Lease” signs. There was a general garishness to the store fronts; one decades-old fixture there, Elysee, was overgrown by ivy, almost obscuring the sign. Headlines, a diner my wife and I used to eat at when we went to UCLA and were dating, was still there.

I walked up the street, toward my fraternity house. I had sent two e-mails to the president, but never received a reply. It had been my hope to get several brothers to march along with me through the campus. When I walked up the stone stairs to the front door, a college kid was tapping in a keycode for the door. introduced myself and asked him to let the president know that I wanted to come and look around. I showed the kid my ID and was let in.

Inside, I mentally noted what changes had been made over the 24 years since I had last been there. I asked for water and was offered dinner. As I ate, I told two brothers there about the time I tried “rescuing” a pledge class brother of mine from yaving been “captured” during a Pledge-Active event. The story involved a lot of sneaking up two flights of fire escapes, hanging on to a 3 story rooftop, and then, outrunning twenty Actives; including one on motorcycle.

Ah…. Good times… Good times…

After I ate and also told them about the march, I walked to the dormitory area, then down Bruin Walk to campus.UCLA has a stuent populace of 30000. Not a single student asked me about my flag and shirt in the hour I walked on campus. I walked down Sorority Row, took a photo of my wife’s old sorority, and left Westwood to reach Beverly Hills.

The buildings in the interceding area were high-value condos and apartment buildings. It was 7 pm by that time, so I knew I would not go further than Beverly Hills that day. My ride was coming. I texted her my location once I reach Santa Monica and Wilshire.

Tracey drove me back to my car, and I ate at an Italian restaurant. Then, I drove to the 24 Hour Fitness in Hollywood so I could shower. I decided that I would continue the last five miles the next day. Once Ifinished my nightly ritual of organizing my car, taking my medicine, and making sure my cell phone was off, I went to sleep fairly early.

The next morning, I set off with the flag and walked to Hollywood and Vine. From there, I headed east, toward Beverly Hills.

There were a lot of people on Hollywood Blvd. When I reached the Chinese Movie Theater, I saw tour buses dropping off foreign tourists. One such group was comprised of teenaged tourists who wore the same American Flag caps. They were foreigm but I couldn’t place their accents. I asked one of them to take a photo of me standing next to a replica Marilyn Monroe. After I made it through the crowds, I continued down Hollywood Blvd.

I then walked south to Sunset Blved. As I did, a taxi cab driver with a Russian accent, waved and gave me the thumbs up. He was parked along the street, reading a newspaper. When I turned west on Sunset Blvd, I came upon a McDonalds. I was thirsty and it was pretty hot. A homeless woman was sitting on a staircase, eating a sandwhich. Near her was a shopping cart full of bags. I offered to buy her a drink and she was happy about that.

I came out and sat next to her. I gave her the drink and a bag of french fries. We talked about politics, and she was really aware of what is going on, nationally. Debbie told me that she believed in America and that she thought something needed to be done to save the country. I didn’t ask her how she came to be homeless. Instead, I just spoke with her as if she were just another human being. She thanked me for the food and I got up to keep limping a long.

I eventually passed several landmarks I used to visit when I had lived in Los Angeles as a UCLA undergrad: Samual French Bookstore, The Roxy, and The Comedy Store.

I continued down Sunset Blvd until it started going into Beverly Hills. I took a side street toward Santa Monica Blvd. That street took me along beautiful homes that one would expect to see in Beverly Hills. They were 1920’s, ’30s and ’40’s era houses with nice lawns, flower gardens, and fences. The only people around were maids, gardeners, and contruction workers making repairs or restorations, or building additions.

Once I reached the fountain on the corner of Santa Monica and Wilshire, where I had left off the day before, I rested for ten minutes as a nearby park.

I returned back to Sunset Blvd via Doheny. It had quaint cottages and older homes. As I was walking east on Sunset Blvd, I was stopped by a homeless man named, Chris.

Chris was bare-chested, with an open, sleeveless blue plaid shirt, shorts that were rolled up at the waist and at the ends, purple socks, and colorful body paint. On head was a wide brimmed straw hat, and he wore aviator glasses. Around his neck was a pink necklace. He was quite a character.

Chris offered me orange juice. Then food. Then drugs. He even offered me the use of his bare mattress, which was lying on one end of the parking lot he was busy sweeping. The mattress was on the asphalt, under the shade of a pepper tree. Nearby, was his “pantry:” An open wooden cabinet he had salvaged, and in which he had placed several cans of food, and his hooch bottles.

He kept fussing over me, offering me this and that, including sunflower seeds he said he personally harvested and salted. I was tired and hungry, and it was nice having someone cater to me after the past two weeks of travel and marching. Despite Chris’ siren song of homelessness and parking lot luxury, I resisted the temptation to remain and become a fixture along the Strip. Besides, I already have a wife.

There were several piles of fallen leaves, trash, and dirt along the corners of the lot. Chris was quite the hospitable urban domestic. He wanted me to put my flag pole within the piles of clothes he had stacked up on a rickety wheel chair. I hestitantly complied. This was his “house,” and I was his guest. So I went along. I took a photo of him and posted it to FB. During all of this, he asked me about my flag, and then about my march.

When I stood up to leave, he looked down at the ground, thought hard for a second, then told me to come back once I had reached my car.

“I will go with you,” he announced.

My inner voice screamed something about having just acquired a second wife, and to run. I smiled, thanked him for his hospitality, and limped off.

The rest of the walk back to my car was uneventful. Except for being asked by a strip club owner, “What the hell is all this about?” He was a stocky Greek man with a big stogey. He was standing outside of his club, flanked by two “dancers.” He was pacing around, waiting for someone or something; like a mob boss impatiently waiting to hear about a hit. I told him what I was doing, and he was immediately disinterested. He resumed pacing and looking down the street.

One of the two strippers came up to me, touched my flag pole, then ran her hands down my back. The other stripper smiled nervously. She thanked me for carrying the flag. Another stripper came out of the club, saw me and laughed. The touchy stripper invited me into the club for a lap dance. The third stripper, who looked like she was about to perform, came up and grabbed onto my left arms. She started pulling me in, but their boss barked at them and said Iwas busy.

I took that as my cue to beat it.

An hour or two later, at my car, I dropped off my flag and got things together to shower at the gym.

I then bade Hollywood good bye, and got on the 101 to drive toward Ventura.