I know I’ve missed many days in between, and I’ve recorded some of them and will write about them soon. However, I feel compelled to write about my evening at the KOA (campground) in Ventura Ranch, CA. I woke up around 8:30am on Thursday morning, and in rolled a man in a Suburu type off-road vehicle. He had a super-tent compared to mine: a 6-man, one story high, navy blue pyramid of a forest-mansion. He was Caucasian, thin, gaunt, middle-aged, with black pepper and grey hair. He wore a neon yellow vest and a normal blue jeans and work boots. He sat down after rolling in front of his tent, and sat on a stump and spoke with family members for an hour or so. When I got out of my shower he was still there and we struck up a conversation.
Apparently, he’s from Riverside, CA and works for a union in which he sets up the fencing and various carpentry/landscaping jobs for $35/hr. He has to work 15 hour shifts away from his family in Ventura, CA for 4 days out of the week. He camps out to save money, but he also likes the outdoors and the cheaper prices than hotels. All campgrounds have bathrooms and showers, and if you don’t mind a tent (and in his case, a cot and other modern, comfortable ammenities as well) then it is the more natural and cheaper way to go at $10-20 a pop usually. However, Ventura Ranch, CA asked for a stunning $38 despite most KOA’s only charging $25 for a good night’s rest.
We talked about the nature of his work and how he works all night, gets back, and showers and may only get 4-5 hours of sleep. He has a wife, family, and a few children and grandchildren. We talked about how he left his town of Detroit, MI and how he quarreled with his parents and that his father said if he wants to go out on his own that California was the place to go. He hitchhiked 7-8 times and only had a few bucks to his name. He found work out here.
He talked about arriving in 1979, a year before I was born, and how he met his wife 2 years later. I told him I was still single and he told me that the joy of love and marriage will happen when the time is right. He also commended me in pursuing my dream. He has a hard life cut out for him as he is 52 and wants to keep this painstaking manual labor up until he is 67 so he can retire with a pension. He is making a living, but in my humble opinion he and many people are making a “dying.” They’re killing themselves just to survive.
We also talked about our parents and how he had only visited his parents 3-4 times in Michigan since he left and that his father told him as he died in his arms: “I’m proud of you.” He told me how much it meant to him, and in a way I’m glad I had made my amends with my parents long before any of us died. Being an eccentric, and black sheep of the family, many of my values and life decisions have not been hailed by my family by any means as we have different life views. After quarreling for almost 15 years I believe we had come to some understanding and have developed a relationship. Life is not perfet, but a good relationsip with the parents and seeking forgiveness and understanding is something that many parents/children do not get to arrive at even before their death beds. I am so glad I have.
As we talked more, we also discussed various places to live and their cost of living. He told me Riverside, CA is ideal and inexpensive. He also insisted I had a cup of coffee with him, and when telling him I don’t drink coffee but would for him and offered me a bottle of water and some honey buns from the supermarket.
He also talked about a funny story how he had an incident in which he was arrested for having a generic name and spent a weekend in jail on his way to a new job. His name is the same as a famous American Tai Chi master also. The judge told him he knew he was guilty because he had a tatoo of “Jr” on his left forearm and sure enough when the bailiff checked there was NO tattoo on his arm and they let him go without an apology!
He also said he meets way more interesting characters when camping than in a hotel. He asked originally if I was a “wanderer” which I answered “yes” but I had a vehicle in the parking lot across the campsite. He also told me about a Russian guy who cycled across the country and how he took him to the Familia Diaz Mexican Cafe in town once and that he treated him back before he left. Beautiful stories.
This guy was truly blessed.
We talked about God, talking to God, prayer, and meditation. He told me he was restless and I told him about the beauty of meditation. I also recommended that he tried yoga for his back and recommended Rodney Yee dvds. Lastly, he had me listen to this Christian contemporary song that I had already forgotten the artist name. He said it was his “meditation.” He also offered me more honey buns while we listened. I munched on the sweet, gooey, and crumbly goodness while we listened in silence to the beautiful song. He offered me the rest of the box, but being Chinese and raised to be overly polite and to think of others first, I declined politely with vigilance and shyness (“No, no no… while waving my hands and shaking my head politely).
When I parted, he said he’d look out for me. I hope to fulfill his hope. I will drive on with the power and might that’s been given to me.
Have a great day! 😀