I met my Warmshowers host, Michael, yesterday. He lives about ten miles west of Santa Barbara in the suburb of Goleta. By the time I arrived to his neighborhood the day was well into the golden hour and all the houses, shrubbery, trees, and cars were painted in a warm and softly glowing yellow-orange light, that was patterened and broken up by trees, limbs, leaves, rooftops and so on—a magical experience as that period always is on the California coast, even in such a place as mundane as a suburban neighborhood.
Michael is a fascinating man. Of Korean descent. Adamant that I leave feedback on the Warmshowers site so that others may read about how wonderful a host he is (fair enough—I appreciate positive feedback too, and he was an excellent host). Possibly lonely, though his wife who previously lived elsewhere has recently moved in with him, so now he is no longer living alone, but seems, if possible, lonelier than ever. I met his wife. They do get along well, and she is a pleasant lady herself. I get the impression though, that he was used to living alone, having all of this space to himself, but is now finding it necessary, and finding it difficult, to share with another person (and not just any other person!). I don’t recall the details of her reappearance in his home as I didn’t put it in my written journal, and I’m typing this up more than two months after actually having been there.
He has a large backyard that he allows travelers to camp in. Even provided me with a better tent to use than my own seeing as I had lost the tent poles in an airport in Kuala Lumpur months previous (if you’ve been reading this sorry diary of mine you might remember my having written about that). I wanted nothing more than a warm shower (surprising, what!?), but got corraled quickly into conversation about my travels before I could so much as even remove my shoes.
Eventually I was allowed inside to meet his wife and to shower and to cook my dinner. By the time I got around to setting up the tent it was long dark and all I wanted was to lay my head down and fall asleep.
Miractulously, as sometimes it seems, I have finally found a spot to “pitch” my tent. I thought it might possibly be quite private, in a field behind some buildings at a school, but apparently not because a bunch of kids found me while they were running around playing a game with flashlights. Seemingly they disappeared though, just as I’m writing all this. I wonder if they noticed me…
I like this town. But it’s easy to like California towns that are on the coast or relatively close. They all seem so idyllic. Pictures of paradise where everyone is happy and the weather is always perfect.
I think I have a flat tire, but I’m not sure. Not what I wanted after a near 70 mile day of riding, with something like 3000 feet of climbing. The tire was flat when I came out of the grocery store, but I thought some mischievous kids might have let the air out, so I reinflated before pedaling off to look for a place to camp, but after bout 15 minutes I noticed it was low, so again I added air, but then at this school it was a third time. Currently seems fine though. And it’s been about an hour.
I met a couple of nice guys in Los Alamos. One dude was on a road bike. Clearly he has money. A lot of fat too, according to him. Said he was 240 but wants to get down to 200 because “it’s the perfect weight.” Whatever that means. 200 might be good for some but not so good for others, and seems bit of a strange blanket statement to make. Anyway, I’m eating a potato and garlic sandwich on a great baguette from this incredible bakery in Los Alamos. Possibly the strangest meal I’ve ever had. Anyway anyway, this guy rolls up to me so excited to see me, all hi-fives. You would have thought he was meeting his best friend. I couldn’t make heads or tails out of him. He’s in his fifties but races dirt bikes. Works 80-100 hours a week, so he claims (which would justify/explain his waistline), and generally seems like maybe a fun guy, but kind of a blockhead. I want to say he was on some sort of drug when we met, but I dunno… in this heat and all decked out in lycra cycling? Maybe he was just suffering from heatstroke. I’d totally talk to him again. Not sure how much of that energy I could take, though.
The other guy I met, at the bakery actually, was typical Cali chill. Stoked on my adventures, and only words of encouragement. It’s good to meet folks like that when you’re out there alone. Meeting people, whether they exude positive energy and vibes, or even if they’re complete knuckleheads, is one of the most enjoyable aspects of solo travel.
Oh, looks like the flat is indeed for real. Will deal in the morning.