In light of some recent turmoil, and after calculating cost-per-hour compared to therapy, I decided to utilize my free flights and fly to California to camp for a few days. Luckily, I have a friend with insomnia who was willing to drive me to the airport at 4am, which meant I still had a full day ahead of me when I landed in Santa Barbara. The mountains in Los Padres National Park were only about 15 miles from the airport, so I decided to walk. I enjoy a physical challenge, and getting a taxi would have completely negated the impulsive momentum from which this trip was born.
Locals looked at me like some sort of vagrant as I crossed town. Which is absolutely valid in context of ragged camping clothes and having the posture of a pack-mule lugging around a small cooler of full of snap peas and bagels that I had just bought at an en-route Trader Joe's. I made it to the foot of the mountain in a few short hours. Accompanied only audibly by Jon Foreman, and assisted for a mile or two by a nice girl who gave me a lift, I hiked to the top of the mountains—about 1,800 ft. above sea level. It was an all-day ordeal, and well worth the sense of accomplishment.
"Holy Shit, I Started at the Water" by Bryson Schmidt. Cheesy Panorama on iPhone. c. 2015.
I set my hammock up high in a tree off a trail near the road. It's branches framed view of the the whole hike and the city that preceded it. Before long, the sun set and prompted the city's illumination. I hung my food and supplies in a nearby tree, and slid into four layers of Florida-grade winter clothes. It had been forecasted to reach about 42° that night. However, my dear friend, The Weather Channel, had betrayed me. Santa Barbara now had a low of 34°, which was meant it was god-knows how cold at the altitude of my little perch. After many hours of freezing my ass off in foolhardy denial, I decided to reevaluate my sleeping situation.
Maybe I'd use travel points to get a free hotel, or go hammock on the beach in town. I wasn't about to walk back down, and for some reason, no Uber driver wanted to pick up a stranger off a tiny road deep in the mountains in the middle of the night. Lucky for me, there were some friendly stoners parked at a nearby lookout. I politely refused their beer, but was thankful for a ride back into town. My new stoner friends, Robert, Mario, and Luca (pronounced loo-sa) were pretty swell dudes. They even gave me a tour of the city before dropping me off at the hotel.
Even though mother nature foiled my plans, it was a fairly successful trip. I proved to myself that (despite people's warnings) an excursion like that was no big deal. But more importantly, life was felt to the fullest—on many ends of the spectrum.