This last week or so is all a bit of a blur, and I’ve been very slack in jotting down notes, memories and things.
Since Yosemite we have stayed in South Lake Tahoe, Sacramento, San Francisco and I am now writing to you from Brooklyn, New York.
South Lake Tahoe was a beautiful little town, I woke up early that morning and had this strange urge to go for a jog. I crept around the apartment attempting to make as little noise as possible, got changed, slipped on my vibrams and ran out into the cool, crisp and very fresh morning air. I didn’t really have much of an idea of where I wanted to go so I just started running haphazardly and stumbled across a bike path. After a thumbs up to another jogger and waving to a guy who yelled ‘good morning!’ across the street I got off the beaten path and followed the bike path through what looked like the border of a state park. On one side was grasslands, short trees and pines and on the other was a panoramic view of distant mountains covered in snow. After jogging for about fifteen-twenty minutes the bike path reconnected with the main road and I ducked into a tiny tiny cafe and had a delicious smoothie. I promised I’d return with more people and two hours later myself, Tay, Katelijne and Yves were sitting out the front downing smoothies and bagels. That early morning job and subsequent feast has to be one of my favorite starts to the day on this trip so far.
After S.L Tahoe we spent a little time at Taylor’s family home in Sacramento eating delicious food, drinking mighty fine wine and eating till breathing felt like a chore. Taylor’s dad, John cooked up some of the best roast chicken I’ve ever had in my life and I spent a few minutes in the morning with my head stuck in the fridge sneaking a few extra pieces after breakfast…
On our first day in Sacramento we explored Old Sacramento, a local vintage store and tried out some interesting ice cream flavours and delicious caramel apples. Whilst in Old Sacramento we took a stroll down the boardwalk to watch an old steam train pass by and meet up with one of Tay’s friends. We were all sitting on the boardwalk not really doing much when a man rode up and parked his bike in front of us. ‘How are you all doing?’ he said, we all replied fine and asked him the same, ‘not good’ he said, ‘I’m looking for a tour guide, he just got me fired’….we all just kind of stared, said we hadn’t seen a tour guide and made a few sympathetic noises… he continued on, ‘yeah when I find this guy hopefully this stays in my pocket while I’m talking to him’….he reached into his pocket and started fishing around, I just kind of looked at him and his pocket with a horrified expression on my face. He slowly drew his hand out of his pocket and produced a knife, which he then flicked open. As far as blades go, this one looked nasty and like it could do a bit of damage. He just stared at us with the blade drawn for a few moments and everything was silent….although I may have made a few more random cooing noises like a scared dove. He then slowly retracted the blade, placed it carefully back in his pocket , wished us a good day and rode off. I think at this stage I just uttered ‘shit’ under my breath, Tay may have said ‘welcome to Sacramento’ and we all just stood around looking shocked in general.
After that crazy little moment, everything was pretty smooth sailing. We checked out the local Walmart, ate more ridiculously tasty food and spent that night around the dining table drinking good wine and talking about everything from American politics to baseball.
After a few days in Sac we headed off to San Francisco and set ourselves up at Taylor’s place. We hit up a few of the main sites such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard St and the Castro. What I most enjoyed were the moments that provided opportunity for people watching, such as getting my hair braided in the Tenderloin, lazily strolling down streets in the Mission or down Haight Street and perusing the racks of Amoeba music shop. On my third day in SF I spent a decent eight hours in an African hair salon getting my hair braided. The woman who braided my hair, Amma, was from Liberia and had moved to SF in her teens. Amma told me all about how her parents had arranged a marriage for her but the guy had passed away, which she called a blessing in disguise. She also told me about how marriage just wasn’t for her because she loved sex and wanted to have it with a lot of people and how when she was younger her Aunty had told her that if a man ever asked for a blow job she had to make sure that she bit down hard. It was a seriously entertaining eight hours, during a break Amma put on some Nigerian music and bought some rice for lunch that we shared. We sat in the salon, listening to pure Nigerian pop, eating fish with our hands and cleaning our teeth with the bones. Spending the day at the salon opened my eyes to the African experience in America, so often it is easy to focus on the ‘African-American’ experience from the days of slavery till contemporary society and racism and not modern day migration to the United States.
After doing my hair Amma showed me a few different styles and ways to wear it, she put it up in a knot and said ‘this is the one that gets all the rapper boys’, I’m pretty sure she knew what she was talking about because within five minutes of walking out of the shop I walked passed a guy who turned around to talk to me and said something like ‘hey baby girl, how you doing? What’s your name? Where you going? You’re so fine, lets get to know eachother’ it was seriously all in one sentence and made me feel mightttyyy fineeee haha.
That night Tay, Diana, Ben, Zach and I did go to a rap gig in Oakland at a really nice theatre that was kind of similar to the Forum in Melbourne except a bit bigger and instead of roman gods there were giant Indonesian looking statues with fiery eyes. It was a bizarre place for a gig and I’ve never seen so many people smoking so much weed in one location. One of the songs sung by the support act literally just repeated the lyrics ‘I got weed, you got weed, I got weed, you got weed’ over and over..and over.
We had a lot more great times in SF, including Tay’s birthday, a little more hiking and bubble tea. Right now I’m kicking back in Brooklyn with a glass of red, scanning through the NY times trying to figure out just how bad Hurricane Sandy is going to be.
Hope you’re all well!