By Ryan Freeman
My two days in California were probably the most eventful of the entire trip -- and more or less calls for an actual literal blog post of actually describing events, rather than my usual reflection.
Naturally, when you’re as far away from home as you can possibly be, things would start to go wrong. Here I am in Rohnert Park, CA, about 3,200 miles away from home, when all of a sudden I can hear the sounds of scraping metal whenever my Prius kicks on the ICE. I joked about this situation with nearly everyone -- about how it’s inevitable with the way my life seems to go -- that once I got to California my car would break down. And here I was, about to be living it.
Luckily for me, the situation was nowhere near as bad as it could have been. I pulled up to an auto shop right down the road in a near panic and I could tell the guy nearly laughed at me while I was explaining everything. He asked if I had a few minutes, I said sure, and he had the part swapped out in 30 minutes for just $30. Turns out that when I bottomed out in Virginia, I must have loosened a heat shield over the exhaust, and it waited until now to come loose. No big deal. Crisis averted.
(Quick note -- I write this now after being home for about a week. The auto shop sent me a “thank you” card that I just received and honestly that’s the coolest shit. Anyone in or around Rohnert Park might want to check out Bowen’s Automotive, cool dudes and got it done for me quick and cheap.)
After narrowly avoiding an automotive and mental breakdown, I went to go pick up my internet friend Jake. Jake was a friend of a friend that my “IRL friends” would play League of Legends with and we became actual friends through a shared appreciation of photography, music, and a distaste for conventional politics. He took me up to Clear Lake and we walked around playing Pokemon Go and smoking (fairly) legal marijuana. He opened up about a lot of anxiety issues he had which was fairly strange to me, because I always kind of saw him as a fairly put together dude. It’s weird how you can know people, but also not really know them at the same time.
He suggested we go to Chipotle after and I was hesitant. This is a kind of weird hang-up I have regarding “order as you go” food style places, but I just have never been able to bring myself to try Chipotle or Subway or any other type of place like that. Even though it felt really lame coming out of my mouth, he was entirely understanding and even suggested that he could order for me because he really wanted me to try it. I said sure, we went, he ordered, we ate. It was amazingly good and at this point, I feel like I could walk through hellfire to eat that food again -- ordering would be a piece of cake.
I dropped him off at his apartment, he told me I would seriously regret it if I didn’t go to the Golden Gate Bridge, and so I decided to head right over. Seeing iconic things in person is a weird feeling because pictures will never do them justice. I crossed it twice, chilled on the vista for a while and watched the military planes doing flyovers, and then started my journey home, eventually stopping to sleep in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Fernley, Nevada.