California Liberty March Journal – San Francisco (Day Two)

Hello, my friends. I don’t always march 500 miles for freedom. But, when I do, and I am in San Francisco, I end up getting hit on by a drunk thirty year old model at 10:45 pm on a Sunday night after I’ve been walking for over thirteen hours. Stay thirsty for freedom, my friends…

My day began like most others have during this march, with me waking up in the back of my mini-van, sleepily unlocking my car doors and setting off the car alarm. This is followed by my fumbling for the car key, and then reaching over the seat to press the automatic door opener. I then stumble out of the car and do the hot potato dance because my feet are so sore, and I quickly unlock the driver’s side door. This turns off the alarm.

This ritual is a pain in the ass, but, it gets me up and alert.

From there, I went into the gym to shower. Afterward, I put on my marching clothes and rubbed Running Goo on the soles of my feet to keep them from getting blistered. I ordered a protein shake from the gym smoothie stand, and went to move my car to another location. The parking structure I was parked in since the morning before charges $24 for each twenty-four hour period. I thought I might find another place to park that would be less expensive.

When I paid for the parking, I was surprised to only be charged $10. I giggled like a school boy.

WHERE ARE THE DAMN GAS STATIONS IN THIS CITY!?

I noticed that I was on Empty, so I went in search of a gas station.

I drove north toward Fisherman’s Wharf, and then east, along the coast. No gas stations. Anywhere. Just stop and go traffic. I was getting worried that I’d run out of gas and cause a traffic block. And, be stuck in San Francisco with no way to get gas.

I passed many college-aged people who were dressed in outlandish costumes. They ran the gamut from risque to humorous to ridiculous. These people were in a rush, trying to get somewhere.

I continued drive along, not finding a gas station, and getting ever more concerned. Finally, as I was stopped at a light, I gestured to the passenger in the car to my left to roll down her window. I asked her and the driver if they knew where there was a gas station. They said there was one ahead and to my right.

I drove that way, but didn’t see a gas station anywhere. My car started shuddering, and I cursed. Just then, I saw an overpass down the street, and then a Shell gas station sign on the right.

I coasted in, relieved. As I gassed up, I saw a small group of revelers walking by. The men wore silly luchadore outfits. I asked them what the costumes were all about, and they told me that there was an annual race going on, and that thousands of people traditionally donned costumes and walked parts of the peninsula to party.

Once my tank was full, I decided on my day’s itinerary: go to Fisherman’s Wharf, then march to Haight-Ashbury again, and then proceed to the Golden Gate Bridge.

Since there really wasn’t an affordable hotel or motel in the area, I decided to return to the gym parking structure. I parked in the same spot, got my flag and backpack, then left the gym and walked north toward the wharf.

WILLIAM, WAR, AND WHAT ARE THE BILL OF RIGHTS?

Along the way, a man with a wonky eye named, William stopped me. He was sitting at a bus stop, and wanted to know why I was carrying the flag. I gave him my standard responses, and he grew more and more animated as we spoke. He talked about how great America is compared to other cultures that abuse their citizens, and that our citizens have gotten lazy about their rights.

William said that he absolutely believed in what I was doing and asked me if I was former military. I told him no, but my step-father was a Marine who served in Viet Nam. William seemed to love Marines, even though he didn’t look at all like someone who feel that way about the military. Frankly, he looked like a Cheech and Chong character.

I told William what my doctrine on war was: Avoid it as much as possible, but, if it happens, then unleash the hounds of hell and win it as well and as quickly as possible. With no politically-directed rules of engagement that result in needless deaths.

William pointed to my shirt and asked, “What are the Bill of Rights?”

“The first ten amendments to the Constitution that list specific rights that government cannot take away or infringe upon. Like, freedom of Speech, freedom of Religion, the right to Petition for Redress of Grievances, the rights to Keep and Bear Arms-”

“What about the right to a lawyer?” he interrupts.

“That is part of your right to due process, ” I said. “And not to be disappeared as we now can be.”

William of the Wonky Eye and Salty Tongue was so enthusiastic about our conversation, that he kept using more and more profanity. A woman who was standing on the other side of the bus stop partition leaned over and said, “Excuse, I agree with your message, but could you not use profanity? There’s a child present.”

Willie and I didn’t realize that the woman and her twelve year old daughter were there. We apologized. The girl was very pretty and shyly looked at us and at my flag; unsure of what to make of us.

The bus came, and William and I shook hands. “Oh, hey,” he said, “Do you have any papers?”

“I don’t smoke.”

“That’s alright, dude. Keep up the fight. Go all Jarhead on those motherfuckers! Oh… Sorry, ma’am…” Then he rode away.

After that I walked until I reached the edge of Fisherman’s Wharf.

IS THE PARADE OVER?

I stopped walking in order to take out my tablet. I wanted to take a photo of the west-side of the Ghiradelli Building. A Hispanic man wearing a server’s uniform came out of the garage as I was about to take the photo. He was slowly pushing some kind of can on wheels, and he looked at me. He slowed down, and kept turning back. I was getting impatient because I didn’t want to use up the tablet’s battery unnecessarily. Finally, he turned and walked down the hill and around the corner. I took the photo.

I walked down the street to the corner and took another photo; this time, it was of a boat-shaped building. When I turned, there was Stalker McStalkerstein staring at me.

“Did I miss the parade?” he asked.

“I am the parade.”

“Oh, I heard on the radio about a march for civil rights.”

“I don’t know anything about that. I’m marching five hundred miles to stand up for the Bill of Rights.”

“You’re not marching for immigration?”

“Absolutely not. I am specifically marching for American civil rights and liberties.”

He smiled, tilted his head to the side for a moment, then said, “Something for everyone.”

I wasn’t exactly sure what he meant, but I smiled back and waved.

I walked toward the beach area so I could take a better photo of the front of the Ghiradelli building. From there, I walked down an amphitheater seating area to walk along the beach to reach a dock area where several old ships were docked.

NAUTICAL HISTORY AND NICKNACKS

I walked down into the Hyde Street Pier to get a closer look at the ships. They were very old and therefore, historical. I read the placards about each of them, and took more photographs with my tablet. I looked into a building in which a small boat on angled wooden beams was being refurbished.

When I stepped back to photograph the interior of the building, a Chinese man asked me if he could borrow my flag.

“Borrow my flag?” I said, sounding incredulous. He gestured to three older Chinese woman who stood together.

“Yes. For picture.”

I gave him the flag pole and told the woman he handed it to not to let the flag itself touch the ground. She had started tilting it, so I was afraid she would carelessly let it touch the ground.

As the man took the photo, I lifted my tablet and asked if I could take a picture of them holding my flag pole. The women demurred, and scattered. The one holding my flag pole quickly handed it back to me. They smiled apologetically and hurried away.

“Well, that’s a fine how do you do,” I said aloud. “I let you use my flag and then you high tail it…”

A tourist behind me laughed, and I turned around and laughed as well.

I left the pier, and walked into a gift store next to it that had pirate figures out front.

I picked up some postcards to send to my family and to a sick boy I knew about on Facebook, as well as a bottle of Dasani.

I then walked to the beach area, looked around and wondered if anyone would ask me about my shirt. Not a peep. Despite the presence of hundreds of people swimming, tanning, strolling and riding bicycles.

So I walked westward to walk on a long dock that gave a good view of the bay and the bridge. And of Alcatraz.

An Italian couple had been taking photos along my route. I was annoyed, because they were completely oblivious to other people wanting to take photos from the same vantage points they lingered in. The young woman kept pointing her camera at the young man, ever posing with an intrepid attitude, and then panning the camera away from him to capture surrounding areas in the background. I figured it was one of those panorama-stitching cameras. So I would wait. But, the young man would never be satisfied with the results, and they’d repeat the process again. And again.

At the closest point to Alcatraz I could find, they were doing the same bit again. After ten minutes, I walked up, said excuse me, and made my way to where I could take the photo. I then asked a passing young woman and her father if she would photograph me with my flag.

I handed her my tablet and told her where to press. She nervously handed the tablet back to me, and smiled.”

“Did I take right?”

“Oh, I haven’t looked…” I checked, and the photos were fine. Because it was such a windy day, my flag was fluttering beautifully beside me. I gave her the thumbs up and she smiled, relieved.

With that area off my checklist, I set out to get to Haight-Ashbury.

GUNTAR THE AGGRIEVED

It was a beautiful day. People were riding cycles everywhere, including up an old Army base site that was on a hill. I walked up the hill and people looked at me with curiosity and bemusement. I could tell from their manner of dress, hairstyles, and speech that they were almost all foreigners. The Army buildings had been converted to a hostel area. Once I reached the top of the hill, I came to a large park where even more people were lying on the grass, soaking up the sun.

A tattooed woman on the grass asked if she could take my picture. I said yes and she did. Then, I walked on, past the park, and back onto the streets.

That is when I encountered a tall, lanky unkempt man with a backpack whom I shall call, Guntar.

Guntar had very bushy hair and a ragged beard. And piercing, angry eyes. He was walking toward me, then did the same stiffening I’ve seen before when someone’s really pissed about my marching with the flag.

Before he got to me, he suddenly turned right to cross the street. As he did, he took into my eyes and extended his middle finger at me. With absolute hatred in his voice and eyes, he said, “Fuck the United States!”

His voice had a gutteral Germanic tinge to it.

“Ya, ya, ya,” I said in shock and extreme anger. I then invited him to fuck himself. I was furious. I was tempted to confront the asshole, but he loped off like an angry urban sasquatch.

I reminded myself to let my anger go. Even though I still lose it from time to time, I still want to BE a Christian, not just claim to be one.

For the next two hours, I walked up some of the steepest streets I have ever seen in my life. I can’t imagine a Prius has the horsepower to carry anyone up such inclines. Twice, I had to take a moment to catch my breath. But, after marching for so many miles, I was able to walk at a quick pace until I reached the top. From there, I headed west until I passed Alta Plaza Park, and then, Masonic.

TERRITORY OF THE TOLERANT

Masonic leads right up to Haight. So, I followed it up. I entered an area where there were a lot of men walking hand in hand, or arm in arm, or some cases, crotch-in-hand. There were a lot of them around the area. They looked at me with great surprise. I just smiled and greeted a group of them as I passed by. At a street corner, as I was waiting to cross, a male-female couple in costumes walked across the intersection to my left. Just as the girl was directly behind me, she gave a yelp and cursed. She had been hit by a water balloon.

I looked up at the apartment complex windows where some of the gay men had walked into, a minute before. I saw no one. So, I  turned around and keep walking.

After five minutes or so, I was two blocks away from Haight-Ashbury. At a nearby park, there were hundreds of the costumed revelers on the grass. They were playing games and laughing. I walked up and reached the famed corner, and the day’s primary destination.

THE DUSKING OF AQUARIUS, OR, PROCLAIMING THE END OF PROGRESSIVISM WHILE STANDING AMONGST HUNDREDS OF PROGRESSIVES

There were hundreds of revelers, tourists, and locals on the corners, and along the streets of Haight-Ashbury.

I took out my tablet, set it on the ground, and turned on the video recorder. I then made my proclamation.

Despite speaking as loudly as I could, the wind was heavy and the chatter of the people walking by muffled me. I may be able to get the audio louder before I post it on YouTube. In any event, I declared the Age of Aquarius dead, and the Era of Progressive Rule over America soon to follow. There is a bit more to my speech, but you’ll have to watch the video.

Several people nearby didn’t look pleased. A young woman raised her eye brows. A black guy with dreadlocks sneered. And three white college fraternity types were too drunk to understand anything I was saying. And, I didn’t care. After seeing the hatred in Guntar’s eyes, not just for this country, but for me, I wasn’t in the mood to care what anyone else had to say.

HERE THERE BE INDIANS… AND HIPPIES… AND PIRATES!

As I was walking down Ashbury, I walked by an open garage. A tall, thin Native American man named, Gene, looked at me and my shirt and smiled broadly. He rushed out and shook my hand over and over. He asked me what tribe I was with. He was a bit drunk. I was taken aback and told him the only tribe I’m with is the American Tribe. When he realized I wasn’t Native American, he waved over an old bearded hippie and his friend to come meet me.

The hippie, named Bruce, was trying to sell his “Hippie’s Cookbook.” He was smoking pot as we talked. Bruce told me that he was a non-GMO type of cook, who once cooked for Ronald Reagan, and for French restaurants, and other places. An unmarked police car drove up the street, past us. Bruce cast a furtive glance and pointed them out to me.

Apparently, Bruce had a felony or two, and was on probation.

“I grow weed. You know, medicinal stuff. So,  they keep an eye on me. I have to keep a low profile,” he said, finishing the joint he was smoking.

Bruce went on to tell me about his views on how marijuana should be legalized and regulated, like any other product. He motioned to the garage and said something about a Grateful Dead album showing his house on an album cover. I think. Gene interruptted with something about something. Then, he laughed uncontrollably.

“It’s the drink.” said Bruce, sadly. “It’s no good for him.”  Gene said something else incomprehensible, and leaned on me, laughing.

“Here,” he said. “Let me have your flag. Take a picture of me.”

I took a photo of him and of Bruce. Bruce told me that he was one of the two creators of Pirate’s Booty, the snack. My children have that in the past, so I recognized the product.

“My father was a pirate. Our family line were pirates,” he said. “My middle name is Morgan, after the famous pirate.”

It was getting late in the day, and I was worried about getting to the Golden Gate Bridge before it got dark. So I excused myself, and headed north, down the steep street toward the Presidio.

Along the way, I saw a heavy-set curly-haired woman walking toward me. She was dressed all in black, with a giant Feminist symbol on the front of her shirt. At the end of the leash she was holding was a tiny, semi-hairless dog that hunched its back and walked on its toes as it walked. It looked more like an ugly cat thing than a dog. I waited to see if she would react negatively, but she just strolled by as normal.

YOU WANT A SANDWICH?

I trudged northward on Masonic until I got to a busy cross-street. I wasn’t sure what the best route would be to reach the Golden Gate Bridge, so I looked around to ask someone for directions. I saw a man sitting on a curb by a bus stop to my left. So I walked around and asked him.

Andrew was a late-Twenties, early-Thirties man with dark hair who gladly pointed out the route I should take. I thanked him and turned to leave when he stopped me.

“If you don’t mind my asking, why are you wearing that shirt?” He had an expression I couldn’t quite read.

“I am marching to demand that our elected and appointed officials, from the President on down, uphold their oaths of office to protect the Constitution, and, by extension, the Bill of Rights.”

Andrew then engaged me in a conversation about the state of the Union, and how Obama has been dismantling our civil rights. He decided not to get on the bus when it arrived.

“I’m a Moderate Conservative. More, a Libertarian,” he told me. “I like what Dr. Ron Paul has to say.”

“I have been listening to what his son, Rand has to say. I agree more with his stances than the more isolationist stances taken by his father,” I said.

“Yes, I agree. Rand is definitely more in line with my thinking than any other politician. I believe that none of the First Ten Amendments can or should be touched by politicians. Other Amendments might need tweaking, but not the first ten.”

I smiled. “Of all of the people I’ve spoken with over the past five weeks, you’re the only one who has told me that. That is exactly right. Our rights are inalienable. Therefore, they cannot be taken away, nor can they be regulated or infringed upon. They are rights. The Bill of Rights cannot be repealed, or even amended to take anything away. That is what our politicians simply do not understand.”

After further discussion, Andrew saw the bus approaching. “Are you hungry?”

“Yes,” I said. He squatted down and opened his backpack. “Do you want a sandwich?” Inside, I saw several wrapped foodstuffs.

“Do you like tuna sandwiches?” he asked. “Not really,” I said. “But, thank you.”

“Are you sure? How about a pastry?”

“Oh, no thanks. I’m Diabetic. But, thank you. I’m craving spaghetti. So I’ll wait until I find an Italian restaurant along the way.”

Andrew took my card, and told me he would send me an e-mail. He wanted to continue or conversation.

After he boarded the bus, I continued northward to the Presidio.

I eventually reached a summit called Presidio Heights, which was populated with spectacular Victorian houses with manicured hedges, groomed trees, and the same type of permit parking restrictions found throughout the city. This area “felt rich.” There was a gated children’s park. I could see the children laughing and running around while their well-to-do parents watched and mingled.

I walked down Laurel from Washington, and passed down the other side of the summit. As I did, I saw a vast forest below. It looked awesome. I had reached the south-side of the Presidio.

INTO THE WOODS…

There was a road along the edge of the Presidio forest that ran left to right. I looked into the forest and decided not to walk through them as I might get lost and take even longer to reach the bridge. I wanted to cross the bridge no later than 7 pm or so, while there was still daylight. So, I turned left and walked up the road.

Along the way, I took photos. I love forests. I love the greenness and the trees and the open glades in between stands. I love wildflowers and creeks and meadows. I am happiest when I am walking through nature. Which is why I have been so unhappy in San Diego for the past ten years.

I have yearned to move to a place that is foresty. Inland San Diego, of course, has a lot of nature trails and several lakes to walk to and around. But, the area is chaparral; dry and desert-green. I prefer the vibrant greenery of Minnesota or the Pacific North-West, or Hawaii.

When I was a boy, I lived on Oahu for three years. Those were some of the best years of my life and, at the same time, some of the worst. My family life was wrought with alcoholism and very traumatic domestic abuse. To escape the fear and pain of those night-time episodes, I would climb over fences marked, TABOO during the day and wander through the jungles.

For hours, I would explore the environment, gaze at the waterfalls and streams, try to catch catfish or crawdads, and watch insects buzz around or crawl or wriggle. In secluded areas, I would find small pools of maggots, or the dens of wild boar. It was a magical, beautiful playground.

Because I was always a spiritual person, I would climb to the highest branches of swaying trees and sit there, rocking in the balmy breezes, meditating. I pondered about life and death, about God and Heaven, and about who I could and should be. I dreamed of what it would be like to be rich so that I would never know hunger or insecurity or want.

I would also dream about finding my soulmate one day; that one person who would love me for who I was and who would understand my pain. In addition to being spiritual, I have always been a romantic. Which is why I have always been drawn to poetry and art about the Idyllic, and to fantasy and ancient time periods.

As I walked up the road alongside the Presidio, I saw a sign pointing to several trails into the forest. One of the trails led to the Golden Gate Bridge, which was 2.6 miles away. So, I went down the trail, and into the forest.

My heart soared when I saw the sights within. The sun had descended in the sky, and so, rays of sunlight streaked through the canopy of trees and illuminated patches of wildflowers or fallen trees or deep crevasses. The tall pines and leafy trees surrounded me and I loved it. Occasionally, other people walked by, but for the most part, I walked alone.

The trail led out of stands of trees and back in again. A few times, I would have to cross a street and then reenter a wooded area.

I came upon a cemetery dedicated to fallen veterans. There were two plaques on short stone walls. They contained quotes about the deaths of those who served, and that the meaning of those deaths was dependent on what meaning the living decided they would have. Hundreds of white marble crosses spread across a hillside that faced the bay. I could see the Golden Gate from where I was standing, which reminded me to move on.

From there, I walked down the trail to a road with a nearby overpass. On the side of the overpass, it said, Camp Winscott. Red brick colonial-style houses were on a hill on theother side of the overpass. I turned right down the road and then down to where another road intersected. I took the new road uphill.

WHAT ABOUT OUR RIGHTS?

I came upon three high overpasses that stretched out and curved above the road I was on. I looked up at the bottoms of them, and just imagining driving on them made me feel very queasy. I saw a sign that called them the 101 Freeway and I knew I would indeed have to drive over one of them the next day. One of the three overpasses was very old and in the process of being demolished, while another one was newly built. As I was examining the metal girders of the old overpass, two women walked down the hill toward me.

“What are you marching for?” asked the short, slim blonde.

“I’m marching to stand up for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.”

The taller woman, a plain-looking brunette carrying a Tigger banner on a flag pole looked at my shirt and pursed her lips.

“The problem with the Constitution is that everyone interprets the Constitution differently.”

“There is no interpretation needed with the Constitution,” I replied. “It is based on the Declaration of Independence, which explicitly states that our rights are unalienable. And, so, the Constitution, viewed through that prism, clearly protects all of the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights as being rights of the Individual that cannot be taken away or infringed upon by the State.”

“Well,” said the brunette, “people interpret rights differently.”

“Yes, they do,” I agreed. “Many don’t understand that a right is only a right as long as it doesn’t infringe upon another person’s rights.”

The blonde said, “We’re a lesbian couple. What about our rights?”

“Yes,” interrupted the brunette, clearly upset. “We don’t have any rights. We don’t have the same visitation rights or property rights as everyone else.”

“And, why is that?” I asked. I was wondering if they would bring up the marriage issue, and what they had to say about it.

“The religious right won’t let us have these rights,” said the brunette.

“The majority of people keep voting against what we want. Everytime,” said the blonde.

“So, it’s not just the religious right who are the problem, then,” I said. I was treading on dangerous territory with these two, so I tried to maintain a sympathetic tone.

The brunette unleashed her frustration. “We’re tired of waiting. The hell with everyone else. We don’t care what they think. Damn Americans. They want to keep the country stuck according to laws passed by religious fanatics.”

“Do you believe in separation of church and state?” asked the blonde.

To an extent. But, that’s not-”

“We need freedom from religion,” said the brunette. “So, that even those who don’t believe in what the damned Christians believe don’t have to be forced to live how they want. They’re all warped.”

“Getting rid of the individual’s right to freely worship as they wish, or not wouldn’t be possible in America,” I said. “Not with the Constitution in place. We have freedom of religion. For a reason.”

“But, we’re atheists and we are sick of living in a country that is run by extremists. We shouldn’t have to abide by laws put into place by fundamentals. We should be able to be free to be spiritual or Buddists or Muslim, or not believe at all.”

I thought about what to say next. “You are able to do these things now. That’s what freedom of religion is. You can believe, or not. In the past, when the majority of Americans  openly expressed their beliefs, they were Christian beliefs. But, even then, we were never a theocracy. No one can say we ever were or are a majority atheist or Buddhist or Muslim nation. That’s just not the reality. The majority always were and still are Christians.”

“Makes me sick,” said the brunette.

“So, on your march, you’re marching for the Bill of Rights?” said the blonde.

“Yes. Everyone’s rights.”

“But, how can you say that? Do you support our equal rights?”

“Yes, I do. I have absolutely no problem with civil unions. You’re human beings. You’re Americans. You have the right to pursue your happiness.”

“But what about marriage?” asked the brunette.

“No,” I said, bluntly. I knew that this was the point of no return. “Marriage is a term that has a specific societal and religious meaning. It means the sanctified union between one man and one woman, which is a religious sacrament.”

“But what about people who are straight who get married through City Hall or in Las Vegas? They weren’t married in a church. Aren’t they married?”

“Technically, they have a civil union. They weren’t married in the traditional sense.”

“Well, everyone calls it marriage.” The brunette was getting very agitated. “And, they have the same rights as people who were married in church.”

“Well,” I said, “Wouldn’t you get those same rights if you had a civil union, too?”

“We want marriage,” she said, angrily.

“But, that would mean you’d get to force churches to have to marry you, despite their beliefs.”

The blonde put her hand on her partner’s shoulder. “That’s why we need freedom from religion.”

Mi”So, you would deprive others of their right to believe in what they want to believe in, as protected by the Constitution, because you want the word, marriage.”

The women sighed and restrained themselves. “We want equal rights.”

“I believe you,” I said. “But, marriage isn’t a right. At least, it currently isn’t. It’s more a societal privilege.”

“It’s a right,” argued the brunette. The blonde nodded vigorously.

“No, it’s not. At least, it’s not a right that we have collectively agreed upon as citizens as being a right. Right now, even straight people have to go to City Hall, pass some test- usually a blood test– and meet certain standards- like not be siblings– and then they are given permission, vis a vis a license, to marry. So, it’s currently not a right, per se.”

“That’s ridiculous. Government shouldn’t have anything to do with marriage.”

“Not even for the purposes of societal order?”

The blonde shook her head. “No. Not at all.”

“So, anything goes?”

“Let’s go,” said the brunette. She couldn’t restrain herself any longer.

The blonde looked down and then up into my eyes and just looked.

“Good luck on your march. Defend our rights, as well…”

Then, they turned and left. I continued up the winding road.

THE CRISSY FIELDS

I soon reached a point that overlooked the Crissy Fields below.

The fields were once populated by the Ohlone people, and was a wetland. But, the lands were covered over, and stables and warehouses were built on it. In the 1920’s, it became an army airfield.

I looked down at the equestrian buildings, which had equinine symbols above the large doorways. Since it was late on a Sunday evening, no one was down there. I wondered if there were horses in them, or if they were just relics of bygone eras.

There were large abstract scuptures near the shoreline. Beyond them, was the northern tip of the peninsula.

I walked up the road and finally reached the outskirts of the bridge area. Three people in their early-Thirties walked by me, and one of them started singing the “America, Fuck Ya” song from some South Park-related movie I can’t recall. The entire song. He didn’t stopped until they passed me, and disappeared around the bend.

I walked another quarter of a mile, and there it was, the Golden Gate Bridge.

THE WINDY BRIDGE OF FEARS, TEARS AND CHEERS

My heart started beating faster as I realized I was about to walk across the bridge. I had been told that there was a railing and fencing on the side, and that it wouldn’t be too scary. But, I was still getting very anxious.

Before I went on the bridge, I asked a young man from another country to take my photograph with my tablet. I posed, with the bridge in the background.

I put the tablet into the backpack, girded my loins, and grasped the flag pole with both hands. Then, I walked up to the pedestrian entryway to the bridge and started marching across.

My heart started pounding. The wind was so strong, that I thought I was going to be dragged off of the side of the bridge by the fluttering flag. My imagination and phobia were getting the best of me. As I slowly walked forward, gusts of wind would hit the flag and I would lurch a bit to the right, toward the railing. Slowly, terror started to flood over me.

There were people on the bridge who were walking toward me. This forced me to have to move closer to the railing; which, by the way, was not all that high. In my peripheral vision, I could see sky and parts of the bay below. I kept stopping in place, nervously peering to my left at the vista, and then continuing on.

I held the flag pole in the middle, tightly against my chest, at an angle. It was far too windy to raise the flag pole higher, and to be able to hold it by its base as I usually do.

The entire first half of the walk was nerve-wracking. Because the flag was so big, and I was holding it so low, it fluttered in the faces of others who passed by from behind me.

I came to a walk-around point where the wind was blocked by a massive bridge support. I started trembling and so I sat in a corner. After the panic attack I experienced on the mountain road in Tehachapi a week before, I was sick of feeling phobic. In fact, I started crying because I decided to confront this fear and not let it keep me from doing things I’ve always wanted to do. The more I thought about how long I have lived with the fear, the sadder I became, and the more I cried.

I stood up, took out my tablet, and waited until someone walked around to where I was.

Two young men walked by and I asked one to photograph me at the railing, looking down. I asked him what language he spoke, and he said, Espanol.

“Me voy a caminar por aya, y me voy a leer abajo,” I told him. With tears in my eyes, I said, “Tengo muy miedo.”

He understood, and solemnly took my tablet. I cautiously edged my way toward the edge with the flag. I sobbed as I did. Normally, I never would have let anyone see me that way, but I was determined to conquer my fear of looking down.

I took a breath and repeated, “Through God, all things are possible.” Then, I looked down.

For a few seconds, I felt the old familiar vertigo I experience when I am at a high place and I inadvertantly look down. I pressed myself again the heavy metal railing, holding in as tightly as I could. Slowly, my vision cleared, and I could see the waves below crashing into the side of the support pylon’s base. My breathing slowed, and I felt the terror subside.

I turned around, and the young man took another photo of me.

I walked back to the corner, thanked him, and sat down again. I cried again, but this time, it was from a sense of intense relief and accomplishment.

After that, I continued on my march. It was still scary, but the terror never returned. From time to time, I would stop short, my feet planted, and I would turn my head to look directly out at the bay beside me. Then, I’d walk on.

A Mexican family walked toward me, then the father wanted to pose with me. He motioned for his children to join us, and his wife took the picture. He looked at my shirt and smiled, giving me the thumbs up.

Cars drove by and honked from time to time. Across the busy thoroughfare, on the other side of the bridge, I saw bicycle riders headed in the opposite direction. I wondered how they could ride in such windy conditions. People casually walked across the bridge, and I realized this was nothing to them.

Marching across the Golden Gate Bridge, when I first conceived of doing it, seemed like a good symbolic act as part of my Liberty March. But, as I was walking across, all I wanted was to reach the other side. Once I reached the other side, I really didn’t want to do it again. But, by that time, it was after 8 pm, and it was getting very cold.

My car was parked at the gym parking structure miles away, and I was starving. I hadn’t eaten anything since 9 am. I started wishing I had accepted the sandwich and pastries that Andrew had offered me.

I then turned around and immediately marched across the bridge again.

This time, I walked on the side closest to the cars. On-coming vehicles honked and people inside wave or pumped their arms.

From time to time, I would stop and walk to the railing to look down. It got easier and easier to do as I walked across the second time.

Twice, though, a bus would zoom by, and the air wake would pull the flag, which in turn, would lift me up onto my toes and backward. The wind had shifted and so I was leaning into the wind, clutching the flag pole.

Finally, I got across, and went down to an area where there was information about the building of the Golden Gate Bridge. I had done what I came to do, and I felt proud.

It was dark, but I could see some of the information on the plaques and statues and small scale bridge models. Because the wind was so cold, I knew it was going to be a miserable walk back to my car. I kept thinking of a hot plate of spaghetti, and thought about finding a restaurant along the way.

I went to use the restroom, and when I was out, looking at my tablet, a man with an Israeli accent walked up and asked my why he had seen me on the bridge marching with the flag.

“Because I am a citizen, not a subject. And I demand that my elected and appointed officials uphold their oaths to protect our Constitution. I want my rights protected.”

“So, you march with the flag,” he said, impressed.

“Like Forrest Gump,” chimed in the young woman with him. She was smiling.

“Yes, except no one’s following me,” I said.

“You keep doing this,” said the man, who patted me on the shoulder. He turned around and they walked away.

My tablet battery was almost dead, so I turned it off and put it away. I put on the backpack, hefted the flag pole and walked into the dark of the Presidio.

LOST AND FOUND

I walked down the road I had followed before, loudly singing the Liberty March song I wrote (it’s on the Liberty-March.com web site, on the MARCH subpage). I was elated that I had completed the two biggest things I wanted to do on the march: the Haight-Ashbury proclamation and the bridge march. Hunger was starting to make me tired. I realized that I was getting lost as I walked. I had been heading in the general direction of the city proper, but the unlit roads and dark forest area caused me to become lost.

Luckily, I happened upon the Presidio Visitors Building and nearby was a fire station.

I walked up to the front door of the fire station and rang the door bell. A minute later, three firemen appeared. All were dressed in night clothes. I apologized for disturbing them, and told them I was lost.

One asked me in and led me to a wall map. He pointed out where I was at, and which roads to take to get back to the Civic Center area. I was still a long way away.

I thanked them and handed them my Liberty March business card. “This is in case I get lost and die, or something,” I joked.

“Don’t worry,” one of them said. “This is the good part of San Francisco.”

I left the fire station and headed up Lincoln, as directed. Then, I turned left on Lombard and headed east, toward downtown.

It wasn’t too long before I reach the end of the Presidio and was once again on surface streets where houses and commercial businesses were once more present. I found a small Italian restaurant called, Marina Pizza and Caffe, and I went into eat. I ate lasagna and garlic bread. And it was good. I sat at a table next to an electrical outlet and partially recharged my tablet.

By this time, it was 10 pm and I still had another two hours of walking to go.

HER NAME WAS RIA… SHE WAS A MODEL…

After forty-fives minutes of walking, I saw a corner bar that had a sign saying, “Karaoke Tonight.” I love doing Karaoke, though my voice is shot since I stopped practicing, and since I started having serious problems with my Diabetes over the years. I can no longer hit upper register notes. Anyway, the sides of the bar were big windows, and I could see a lot of people inside dancing while someone sang and was being projected onto a large screen television.

As I stood there, a dirty blonde ran out and started talking to me as if she knew me and we had already been talking about something.

“Oh, my god, that girl is so hot,” she told me, about someone inside. “She is the hottest one in there. I want her so bad…”

Despite my confusion, I just smiled and kept watching the action inside. Some guy with a huge blue afro wig and shades was squatting as he danced, and bouncing his ass.

“That’s a big flag pole,” the young woman said. She was about 5’9″, skinny, with no make up and her hair pulled back in a ponytail. She wore jeans and a zipped up hoodie with a light jacket over it. She was very very drunk.”What are you doing?”

I told her I had just marched all day. From that point on, things got strange. She started looking up and down at me.

“That’s tight. You live around here?”

“No. I’m from San Diego.”

“You ever been to Venice Beach?”

“I marched through there just a couple of weeks ago.”

“No shit? I have a house there. I’m a model. I’m thirty years old. I’m signed on with (unintelligible agency name) for five years. My house is the one with the (unintelligible description). You know it? You should come down sometime. Here…” She pulled out a book of matches from an establishment in Venice Beach. “My house is just six houses up from here…”

Before I could respond, she launched into another barrage of questions.

“So, what are you? Mexican? Your skin is really tan.”

“My mother is Puerto Rican, and-”

“Tight!” she said, running her eyes over me again. “I’ve never been THERE before…”

I was wondering if she was playing some kind of game. She actually seemed to be hitting on me. Through the window, a younger woman with make up, who definitely looked like a model, was trying to get her attention. She was holding a camera, aimed at us.

“Uh… excuse me,” I interrupted. “I think someone’s trying to get your attention.

The young woman in front of me turned and waved, then turned back to continue her full court press. I was amused because I knew that the other model was taking the pictures in order to use the to embarrass or maybe blackmail the girl the next morning, when she was sober. At the same time, I didn’t relish the idea of being the “creepy old guy” they would forever be joking about.

“So, my name’s Ria. What’s yours?”

“Roger.”

“Roger,” she repeated, using a deep voice. “That’s hot. What are you, like forty-five? What rap singers do you like?”

I stared at her, my mouth open. “Not a music guy? That’s cool…”

I couldn’t believe this encounter, and didn’t think anyone else would, either, so I shrugged off the backpack and took out my tablet.

“Oh, ya! Let me give you my digits…”

“Actually, would it be alright to video you while you talk?”

This sobered her up a bit. “No, no. I can’t. The agency (unintelligible)…”

“Okay, then just talk and I’ll video the Karaoke scene. As I did, she told me what links on YouTube to check out in order to listen to several rappers she liked. She liberally peppered her speech with “motherfucken-this and motherfucken-that.” On the whole, she was pretty hard to follow.

I turned off the tablet and put it away.

“My nieces are all, like, Aunty Maria… When are you going to take us to San Francisco? Well, I’m here now. Not going to bring kids to a motherfucken club. Oh, there’s my brother, waiting for me. Here…” She handed me the book of matches. “See ya… Roger (with the husky emphasis voice).”

Then, as quickly as she entered my life, Ria was gone.

I walked around the corner of the bar and walked on. As I did, a huddled group of models and the men with them watched me go. One of the young men looked baffled. I looked him in the eye, smiled, and strutted off.

I had walked almost four hundred miles by that point, had battled my fears, and after that strange encounter with Ria, I was feeling like a manly man once again…

I got to the gym parking lot without any further incident. It was Midnight. I showered, got dressed, and then got into the back of my mini-van, and quickly fell asleep.

It had been a long day.

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.

California Liberty March Journal – Day Eight

This California Liberty March was on Saturday April 27th, from California State University Long Beach to Torrance Park in Torrance. Of all of the marches I had done to this point, this was the march during which I felt I actually made an impact on someone’s life.

That morning, I drove from Orange and parked on Bellflower, near one of the university entrances. I got ready, stretched, and headed off toward PCH.

It was a nice day, and I thought it was going to be a pretty boring one; considering the university was closed (and so, there wouldn’t be students around to engage me in conversation). Also, the route I had planned out passed through a very long stretch of industrial zones.

Various Encounters

While I was making my way through the college residential areas, a thin blonde college girl came jogging toward me. She was listening to something on her headset. She had a very serious expression. She looked at me and said, “God bless you,” and ran by.

During every march, I have to continually look up and adjust the tilt and angle of my flag pole so that the flag won’t get caught on tree branches or stop signs, and so that it won’t flutter into other people’s faces as I passed them. This makes my neck and shoulders sore. But, it has strengthened my hands and forearms.

As I marched on this day, a number of cars honked and people waved. It’s always nice when someone does that. It gives me a lift to see someone smile, and it makes walking on sore feet much less arduous.

As I was leaving the apartment building-heavy college area, I reached a commerical area with fast food places, office buildings, and older homes. I was on a corner, about to cross the street, when a man rode up behind me and asked about my “cause.” I told him the abbreviated version. He told he was a Viet Nam vet. I took out a card and held out to him. Instead of taking it, he smiled and held out his arm, his hand balled up into a face-down fist. Awkwardly, I gave him a fist bump and he rode off. I put my card back in my pocket and crossed the street when the signal indicated it was safe to walk.

After awhile, I entered an area with thrift stores, and shabby shops, and even older houses. This led to a low-income business district.

I passed a car wash business where eight Hispanic men were leaning against the gate, talking.  The first one I came to saw my flag and asked me something in Spanish that I didn’t understand. Interestingly, they were all smiling broadly at me and pointing at the flag. One thanked me for carrying the flag.

A block later, I heard someone across the street call out to me. “Excuse me, sir. Do you have a minute?”

I stopped and Ken, a thin, muscular thirty-something black guy with glasses, ran across the crosswalk. He wore a loose blue tank top and shorts. As he approached, he said, “I wanted to engage you and ask why you felt the need to do this…”

I was not sure what he meant by the question since his tone wasn’t aggressive. I handed him my card and told him my objective in Sacramento. Before I had a chance to ask him what his questions were, he saw that his bus was coming, and he ran off.

Dave K., a Tea Party activist who lives in Orange County, and who had called me the day before, called again. He was driving to where I was so he could march a bit with me. I gave him my general location and kept walking. The area I had been walking in was pretty blighted, and had started becoming industrial.

Omar

A young man, no older than eighteen, rode up on a bicycle and asked me what I was doing. He had a heavy Mexican accent and spoke in a lazy manner, so I had to ask him to repeat himself twice. He listened to my spiel and looked amazed. I asked him his name and he said it was, Omar. He pointed to a shop down the road and told me that it was his sister’s sewing shop.

I continued to tell him about what the Constitution was and about the concept of inalienable rights, and how no one, not a president, not a congressman, and not a bureaucrat has the constitutional power to take away our rights. He asked me who I was and I told him I was nobody, just a dad who has had enough of corruption and abuse of power by our politicians. He then told me that he had a son. For a moment, I was stunned. Omar was not much more than a boy. With a boy of his own.

Suddenly, I looked Omar in the eye and told him that he, as a father, had an obligation to teach his son about the Constitution and about his rights. Omar sat rapt, as if I were bestowing upon him a sacred obligation. Omar promised he would. I wished him luck and said good bye.

Dave K.

Thereafter, I walked along a heavily-traveled part of PCH where freight trucks passed and blared their horns for the flag I carried. There were refineries and train yards on either side of the road. As I was crossing I-103, Dave K. drove by, videotaping me as I limped along. By that time, my soles were burning and it felt like I had a large blister on the pad of my right foot.

Three motorcycle riders rode toward me. The one in the middle took his hands off the handlebars, sat up, put his left hand on his hip and extended his right hand straight out for a moment before bending it and extending it out again into a Hitler Salute. Then, he leaned forward and they rode past me. That was a surreal sight and I was mildly disturbed.

I walked down the side of the overpass and met up with Dave a half mile later. He called out my name and I turned to see him walking toward me with an armful of flags, banners and a sign. We introduced ourselves to each other, and then Dave started videotaping me for his own blog. When he was done asking me questions and adding his own comments, we started marching together.

Just then, a city bus pulled over and stopped on the corner, past the bus stop. The bus driver, a large black man with a big grin on his face leaned over and asked what we were doing. I rushed over, handed him my card, and loudly told him and his passengers that I was marching for the Constitution and for all of our civil rights. At this he said, “Right on, man!”

We waved good bye to each other and he drove off.

Then, Dave K. and I walked toward Torrance. As we did, a well-groomed Mexican barber walked out of a business establishment and gave us a look. He, too, asked what we were doing, and so we told him. I wasn’t sure what his reaction was, as he seemed perplexed and perhaps a little intimidated by our act of protest. Still, he nodded and walked to his car.

Dave K. walked about a mile with me, took some photos, then had to head back to his car in order to get to work.

More Encounters

After he left, an old Mexican man, who I shall henceforth call, El Borracho, walked toward me, gestured to the flag and said something in Spanish about “Residents…” and “…the flag…” before muttering in disgust and waving me away in a dismissive manner. That was the first time I actually felt angry about someone’s response to my march. Earlier, two people in cars had driven by and yelled, “Mexico!” as they did. Those were annoying. This man’s response was just plain confrontational and rude.

As I was about to walk over another canal bridge, someone on a bicycle came to an abrupt stop just behind me. I turned, startled and was about to apologize, when I saw that it was Omar from miles earlier. He beamed, as he breathlessly held out a cold bottle of water. I thanked him for his kindness and he smiled before riding back. I was amazed that he would ride all that way to do that.

He must have been following me for sometime, because I read on Facebook after the fact, that Omar had also given a bottle of water to Dave K. as he was walking back to his car.

Later on, as I was walking briskly despite foot pain, I was making good time. A garrulous fellow named Tim J. from Tampa Bay, saw me coming and he gave me the thumbs up. He was talking on his cellphone and when he finished, he ran up to me and said, “Mister Patriot man.”

“I’m making to demand that our politicians and all appointed officials uphold their oaths of office and protect our civil rights,” I told him. After hearing this, he walked along with me for several blocks, and told me about himself.

Apparently, Tim J. felt that his life would have taken a much different path had the Sheriff’s Deputies in Tampa not been #@*&!s. He told about his troubled youth and of persecution by local deputies who abused they authority. As a result of his rebellious behaviour, and, perhaps due to his crack addiction (and other foibles), Tim J. had ended up in prison. Twice. He hqad a boat in Tampa Bay, but is now a fisherman in Long Beach.

Despite his troubled past, Tim J. recited his life’s motto as a rap. I remember something about his future being his destination and that destination was going to be bright.

After Tim J. met up with a man on a bicycle who offered to sell me a cell phone for $10, I continued toward Torrance.

An hour later, a thin sinewy cyclist named, Jeff rode up and stopped next to me. Again, we repeated the cycle of Question and Answer. He told me that he was on mental disability, and he had lived in the area for decades. He told me that the majority of Hispanics in the area were very patriotic. As I told him that our rights are God-given and inalienable, he asked me if I was “Born-Again.”

I said, actually, yes. But I wasn’t sure what I had said to lead him to ask that particular question. He told me that he was no longer was religious, per se, but he felt that the problem with America started in the Sixties, when God was removed from schools.

We walked a long a bit until he finally hopped onto his bicycle. He was wearing cyclist garb, so, as he sped off, he looked as if he was trying to catch up with others in a race.

The Final Stretch

I headed north from PCH to Sepulveda. An hour or two later, after walking west again on Sepulveda,  I finally reached the turn from Sepulveda toward Torrance Park. My feet were absolutely burning with pain.

I limped toward my friend Dan’s car, relieved. He had driven to the park to pick me up. He patted my back as I sat in his car, and then he drove me back to where my car was parked by CSULB. After that, we drove back to his house in Orange.

I took a shower and examined my feet. On my right foot, I saw that my foot pad had a large oval blister with a bubbled blister on to of it. My right heel and Achilles tendon were enflamed. On my left foot, there were small blisters on the toe pads. Both feet have Plantar Faceitis (which makes the tendons in the arches feel tender and painfully stretched out.

I knew I couldn’t continue walking on my feet and risk getting an infection. Because of the Diabetes, it now takes my body much longer to heal when I get cuts, insect bites, etc. If I get an ulcerated infection on my feet, I risk amputation. I knew this going into this endeavor. I just hoped it wouldn’t happen.

It was only 8:30 pm on Saturday night, and Dan, his wife and I were all tired. So, we retired for the evening. I updated FB and Twitter, then went to sleep in the trailer (this time, with the door closed).

Next Stop: Bummersville

The next morning, when I went to blog, I couldn’t. I was so discouraged that I couldn’t walk. I didn’t want to quit and had thought about marching on crutches. But, I realized that that was not really a solution. I would just end up injuring my arm pits and hands. Then, I decided that I would push myself along on a wheel chair. I was determined not to quit until I was absolutely unable to continue.

I spent the day at my friend’s home in Orange, and relaxed. Dan and his friend, Stew (sic) brewed beer in the backyard. I finally started blogging about the march from Newport to Orange. I had received a phone call from Robert P. the day before, telling me he was going to donate money for a Liberty March banner. So, I was online trying to find a company in the area that could do one for me. But, it was Sunday, and almost nothing was open that day in Orange.

Dan and his wife Deb kept telling me not to attempt a 20-mile march on a wheelchair. They pointed out that I would only injure my back and hands, and, I wouldn’t be able to go that distance in a day. After we thought it over, Deb offered me the use of her Townie cruiser bicycle.

After thinking about it, I thought that that was the only practical solution. But, I said I would ride 40-miles per march day, to make up for not walking them. That would also solve the problem I had of not having rides lined up on most of my routes back to my car.

I decided to cancel the Pasadena to Burbank march so I could rest. I was exhausted from the pace I had been keeping over the previous two weeks. I would just add another march day sometime during the next four weeks.

That night, I spent the night in the trailer again, and wondered if I was wimping out.

Palos Verdes

For the past two days since leaving Orange, I have been staying with a high school friend and her husband in Palos Verdes. They live in a magnificent home in an exclusive estate community in the hills of Palos Verdes. It is a beautiful place. There are white picket fences around homes that have horses grazing on grass. And, wild peacock roam freely.

Both Greg and Tracy are Conservative, and have, in the past, invited me to visit with them. I figured that since I was in the area, that I would take them up on it. I had decided to cancel the Pasadena to Burbank march in order to rest my feet another day. I spent the night here and this morning, I tried finding a place to get my banner done.

Today, my feet felt a lot better and I was able to walk on them a bit more. Greg is a spinal surgeon and Tracy is a Pharmacist. Greg examined my right foot, said, “Yup those are blisters,” and then gave me some over the counter medication for pain and inflamation. Tracy gave me moleskin, which is supposed to prevent blistering.

Greg cooked tonight and served up a delicious roasted chicken, asparagus, small potatoes, artichoke, and baked cauliflower. Cooking is one of his passions. It was absolutely delicious.

Tomorrow, when I do the march in Los Angeles from Venice Beach to Hollywood and Vine, I will do so on foot. If it becomes too excruciating to walk after that, then I will have to do eight marches on the bicycle until my blisters dry up and my feet heal.

Tracy works in Little Armenia by Hollywood, so after I am finished marching, she will drive me to my car in Venice Beach.

Good night…

California Liberty March Journal – Day Five

Yesterday, I marched from the Civic Center Park in Palm Desert to a small park called, Victoria Park near the north-end of Palm Springs. This was the most eventful march so far.

For a month, I had been trying to find someone in Palm Springs to give me a ride from Victoria Park to the starting point in Palm Desert, but no one came forward. I was searching for bus route information for the 111 Sun Bus in P.S. when a man named Robert P. called me up. He had read that I was in need, and so he called to volunteer. I was so relieved.

On Monday morning, he met me at Victoria Park as I was getting organized and preparing. I was rubbing anti-blister ointment on the soles of my feet and then loading up the backpack. I had spent the night at my in-laws’ home in Temecula, and had just arrived myself.

Robert is an older man with a magnificent handle bar mustache. Dressed in a light blue corduroy long-sleeve shirt, jeans and boots, he spoke in a soft, country-style accent. He had driven in from the east. I felt bad because I thought he was a resident of P.S.

Once I was ready, I took out my flag pole and Robert’s eyes got big. He had arrived in a very small car, and was worried that the pole wouldn’t fit. I put it flag-end in, diagonally across the car, sticking out of the passenger side window. He programmed his Garmin to lead us to the starting point, and away we went.

Robert and I didn’t speak much as we traveled, but those will be the most cherished 40 minutes I have ever spent with a man. From now on, he and I will be going on annual weekend trips together. I cain’t quit choo…

Okay. I’m kidding. But, he was nice, and gave me a generous donation once we reached the destination. Thank you very much, Robert!

I wandered around the Civic Center Park, looking at the statuary and man-made lagoon. Then I stretched out, checked in on Twitter, unfurled my flag, and set off.

Already, it was 95 degrees in Palm Desert. The night before, my father-in-law had let me pick from his collection of hats, and I was wearing a Nabisco Golf Tournament fedora-style hat. I decided to wear sun glasses that day because of the brightness all around me. It’s a good thing I had the hat and sunglasses. Later on, they saved my ass.

Palm Desert is a nice area. I traveled north until I reached Bob Hope Drive and then veered north-east, and then north. An older man with a gray brillo pad of chest hair rode past me on a bicycle. He snidely said, “Happy Earth Day!”

Though I had a CamelBak backpack, I haven’t had the time to fill it with ice and water to sip from. Instead, I decided to carry water bottles, and to stop at Starbucks along the way.

I figured Starbucks, like Syphilis, could be found on every corner. I was wrong. There were some parts of the town without one, and so, I didn’t have wi-fi connectivity to check my travel route as I went.

On this day, I did an experiment. I plastered a broad smile on my face and waved at people as the drove in my direction. Usually only 3 out of 100 honk, wave, give a thumbs-up, or wave a finger from the steering wheel.

But, by smiling at them and waving, that jumped to 50-90% of passersby.

Because of this response, it wasn’t so tiring to walk, hold the flag pole and wave. So, the miles just passed fairly easily. Twice, I was flipped off, when I entered the south-eastern part of Palm Springs from Rancho Mirage. It was a low-income residential area; predominantly Hispanic.

I ended up distracted from waving and nodding to people who responded enthusiastically, because I found myself on the northern-edge of town before I knew it. Before me was nothing but dunes and desert, and a casino way in the distance. Beyond that, I found out, was I-10.

Looking at the expanse of sand, cactus, and asphalt before me, I paused. I took a photo of the daunting sight, wondering if Dean Martin Rd really the next road in the distance as Google Maps had shown.

Just then, some young guy drove by and yelled, “F***ing f***ot!” As I was the only pedestrian around for miles, I surmised he was addressing me. This really bummed me out. But, I said a prayer, forgiving the guy and asking God to bless him. When you are tired and you extend yourself freely to others, it is a kick in the gut when an anonymous person treats you so disrespectfully.

I went into a CVS that was to my left, on one end of a strip mall. There was nothing else around for miles. I purchased a giant can of an energy drink, and drank it as I marched into the sandy expanse of the desert.

Many people honked and waved, from both directions. And, despite the heat and occasional sandy breezy that filled my mouth with the taste of Palm Springs, I smiled broadly.

When I reached the next intersecting road, I saw that it wasn’t Dean Martin. I was by the Moranga Casino, I think, and saw that the I-10 lead east to west before me. I knew I needed to follow the road I came to back to Palm Springs. But, I didn’t want to carry the industrial-sized can of Monster.

I tried waving down some cars, but they drove by. Finally a twenty-three year old guy with black wavy hair and a grin asked me if I needed a ride. I asked him if it would be alright to give him the can. He agreed and I asked him his name. He said, “My name’s Brandon. Tell people, I’m the guy who’s going to save the world!” With that, he drove off.

I headed west, waving at oncoming cars, and saluting those who saluted the flag. By that time, I was pretty drained. I had run out of bottled war, and started feeling dizzy. The hat and sunglasses enabled me to endure what would otherwise have been a very dangerous situation. For the temperature even hotter by this time, and my blood sugar had dropped.

When I was back in the neighborhoods of P.S., I headed south to make up for having missed the southern portion of the 111 Hwy route. For another four miles, I walked, waved, and saluted.

Finally, I decided to head west to get to S. Indian Canyon, so I could head back north to Victoria Park. It was 4:40 pm, and I was staggering.

I was about to throw up when a pretty Mexican soccer mom walked up to me from a park I was walking through. She asked me if I spoke Spanish. “Un pocito, Senora,” I replied. She spoke in awkward English, telling me that she had seen me earlier in the day, waving and carrying the flag on the other side of town.

She asked me if I wanted some water, and I gratefully said, yes! She went to get a cold water bottle from a bag. She said her son was playing soccer but that he had plenty.

I drank the entire bottle in ten seconds. I thanked her and walked toward the community center that was on the west-end of the park, just south of Mesquite Road. There, I rested, and bought Gatorade and a candy bar. After fifteen minutes, I started toward S. Indian Canyon Road.

Somewhere along the line, I came to a commercial district, and saw a Carl’s Jr and Starbucks. I went into the Carl’s Jr and ate a Bourbon Bacon Cheeseburger. I was famished. I would just say, starved, but in this case, famished was the absolute perfect word to describe how hungry I was.

A woman named, Kim was being tutored in math. She was in the booth in front of me. She asked my why I was carrying the flag and wearing a shirt that said, “Uphold Your Oaths.”

I told her about the march and that I demand that our politicians uphold their oaths of office, and protect the Constitution; and by extension, our civil rights. She was very interested in my march, so I gave her my card.

After I finished, I went to Starbucks to check on via the wi-fi. There, a liberal woman named Laurie asked me the same thing as Kim. Only Laurie wanted to know if I supported gay rights, and the right to choose abortion. I didn’t get to respond, as she spoke rapidly and jumped from subject to subject. She said the Republicans want to control women’s uteruses.

I told her that the War on Women meme was a Democrat Party construct and was absolutely false. Laurie then told me that her husband was a gun owner, and was concerned about control laws. I wondered if he, too, shared his wife’s views on the subjects she raised.

I left and from that point on, it grew dark. Very few, if any people saw me as they drove by. Hardly anyone was on the streets. P.S. seems to have seen better times. There were many empty shops and economically-depressed commercial complexes.

I reached a trendy zone, though, where hipsters were out having dinner, or looking at galleries. As I passed on such gallery, a man came out, looked at me and said, “Hey, Bro. Peace.” The way he said it sounded more like a statement than a greeting.

From there, I saw businesses with rainbow flags flying outside their door. I figured they were advertising that they were gay-friendly clubs or perhaps something the city has established.

It was 8:30 pm by then, and I stopped in from of a small restaurant that had a “Free Wi-Fi” sign in the window. I was unpacking my tablet when a young woman named, Ericka leaned out the door and asked me if there was a parade.

Again, I told her who I was and what I was doing. She offered me ice water in a large styrofoam cups. I gave her my card and walked the last mile to where my car was parked.

I was so glad to be finished. I had walked well over twenty miles, and I was sandy and tired. I sat in the car, next to a firestation, using their wi-fi to locate the 24 Hour Fitness Center I wanted to go to in order to bathe and rest. When I found two listed in P.S., I drove to the first one, when was in Cathedral City.

I couldn’t find it. I drove around several time, but didn’t see the sign or building. I asked several locals, but they barely spoke English. The fourth one was at a Taco Bell drive-thru window. He told me there weren’t any 24 Hour Fitnesses there anymore. I did a Search for Gym location using my Android, and it said that the nearest club was almost 15 miles east.

I decided to drive to Riverside, instead of wasting even more gas. I knew there was a club there.The drive was sketchy, as there was a powerful windstorm. Sand obscured visibility for seconds at a time. It was harrowing, as my car veered left and right. I had to drive less than 45 miles per hour.

When I got to downtown Riverside, I learned that that particular 24 Hour Fitness club was closed on Mondays. I was bummed. And feeling gross.

I tapped into a nearby Starbuck’s wi-fi again and saw that there was a club in Redlands. So, I drove even further to it.

Thankfully, it was open, and bustling with exercisers, even though it was 11 pm. I took a very hot shower, got dressed, and went to sleep in the back of my mini-van after I stretched out.

Despite the noise of freight trains passing by, I slept well.

This morning, I drove to Rancho Cucamonga City Library to update my blog, and to park at the end point of tomorrow’s march.

Until tomorrow…

California Liberty March Journal – Day Four

On Day Four of the march, I walked from Old Town Temecula across the freeway to Temecula proper, back across the freeway to Murrietta, into Wildomar, and finally, Lake Elsinore.

O and Brad A. met me at the starting point by an Arco station, under a huge American Flag atop a giant flag pole. Once we got organized and stretched out a bit, we started northbound on Old Town Front Street.

The men and I were greeted by JR, a patriot from Orange County. He was standing by his truck, holding water bottles. JR then drove ahead to meet up further down the route.

Someone on the other side of the road drove north in a pickup drove and stuck his arm out of the driver’s side window to give us the thumbs-down signal. He did this twice, to make sure we saw. I was the only one who noticed.

As we entered Old Town, residents and tourists had already started filling the area. There are restored buildings, as well as new development; all in the old town motif. It is a very cool place to shop and eat. One place, Texas Lil’s, has very pretty waitresses with country-style clothes that accentuate their assets. It is my father-in-law’s favorite place to eat in Old Town.

We got a few honks and thumbs-up from people, especially from motorcycle riders. There are a lot of riders that hang out there.

After a continuing discussion about the health benefits of staring at breasts, we had left Old Town and walked east, over the freeway,  into Temecula proper. The route went past the Duck Pond, almost to where my in-laws live, then north to Winchester Road, where there are a lot of large shopping centers.

We were tired and hungry by then, so we stopped at a Carl’s Jr. After twenty minutes, we ventured on, back over the freeway, into Murrietta.

For the most part, we passed long stretches of business parks, empty tracts of land, undeveloped lots, and rural areas. This type of zone is what I call the “Paying Dues and Wracking Up the Mileage” zone. When I walk through such areas, I am not being seen by as many people, but it is the only way to reach the areas I want to go to on foot later in the routes.

Once again, JR met us along the way and gave us water. I received a cell call from Mike D. with the CA Sons of Liberty motorcycle club.  He and a friend were riding down to meet us for lunch. They had left three hours earlier, and had just gotten into Murrietta. Mike told me they were going to get food, and would then ride down to find us.

O, Brad and I continued talking about bewbage, then about hunting, shooting, politics, and how hot it was. Mike and his friend rode down the road and greeted us. After introductions, we continued on.

When we finally reached Murrietta Town Center Park, it was 3 pm. We all went to Bob’s Pizza for lunch. Mike and his pal paid for food, which was very generous of them. The pizza was very very good! It’s in a strip mall just to the north of the park. It has PowerAde, which I drank, to replenish my electrolytes.

During lunch, Mike’s friend, Darrell (whom I will call, The Wise One) gave me very encouraging words. He helped me realize that what I am doing is SOMETHING; even if I don’t know what it may or may not result in. He rode down, he said, because he regrets not doing things in his past, and that he now worries for his grand-daughter’s future.

By helping me out, he felt he was contributing to the fight against the theft of our civil rights. Darrell is but one man, like me, but collectively, we can make a difference.

I expressed my frustration at not receiving a single reply from any of the Conservative media folks I spent two months trying to contact. I said I should march through San Francisco wearing just a tee-shirt, chaps, and shoes. I said that that’s one place I could wear “ass-less chaps” and not get arrested. “You’ll lead a parade then, he joked.” The Wise One offered to “cover the rear,” and defend me from any “boys” who followed along.

Once we finished lunch, we said our good byes. Brad had gone home with his wife Mary, who, once again, had been waiting and waiting on us to reach the march mid-way point. JR and the Sons of Liberty also left.

O and I then set off toward Lake Elsinore, refreshed and cheered by the company. It was after a bit of walking, on the edge of Wildomar, where an SUV full of people honked and stopped. Out piled the Jonson Family, Holly and Mark and their kids: Derek, Sierra, Ashley, Aaron, and family friend, Francesca. “We’re here to march with you,” they announced.

They held out water bottles, and I was so glad.

For the next five miles, the kids took turns carrying our flags. We chatted as we walked, and waved to people who honked at us. It was exactly what I envisioned when I came up with the idea for the Liberty March: small to large groups of citizens, banding together with flags, marching in public in the name of the Constitution and our civil rights.

As the sun started to set, the Johnsons took their leave, and O and I thanked them for walking so far with us. They are a great, patriotic family! I will be posting their family business link the next time I blog.

O and I trudged on. By the time night had fallen, our feet and shoulders ached.  We passed through Wildomar and into Lake Elsinore area.

Many dogs barked at us from every homestead along the rural community road. A lot of dogs! We passed a cluster of old houses where a Mariachi band was playing. Past that, a bear of a man named John called out to us from the far side of the road.

John asked why we were carrying the flags, so I explained. He asked how I reconciled what I was doing with Scripture and my faith. I wasn’t sure what he meant, so I asked for clarification.

John mentioned End of Times and Revelations, etc. and how, despite our efforts, what will happen, will happen. I told John that as an American and a Christian, I am not going to give up on America. I will continue to try no matter what. Because that is what we must do.

I don’t know if this is, as others have been telling me as I march, God’s Plan for me. I certainly have been praying, and asking God for guidance. I ask Him to join me as I walk, and to let me know, if possible, that I am doing His will.

But, since God doesn’t speak to me directly, I am taking it on faith that what I am doing is what he wants me to do. So, I am going for it, without hesitation.

Interestingly, John quoted Jesus, who said something about not seeing and still believing (in Him and God).

Toward the very end of the march, as we were just a mile away from the end point, O noticed a foreign-looking man in his thirties circle around from across the street, and then up behind us. As O undid his flag pole to use as a club, I was taken by surprise when the man asked what we were doing.

I handed him my card and gave him the ten second presentation. He had what sounded to be a Middle Eastern accent, possibly Israeli.

Off the stranger went to a Stater Bros nearby. O and I walked just a bit more, to reach an Arco station where his wife was waiting to pick us up.

Overall, this was one of the best marches I’ve had so far.