Through the terminal I happened to follow an attractive woman from the same flight who wore a MontBell Down Jacket. I followed her insouciant gait that had an L.A. swagger. I could see the contrast of what I was about to embark on already. I was already seeking for the connection between the city and wilderness. The hustle and bustle of the airport moved in agitation with people moving faster than they usually do. Most trundled in hurky-jerky steps towing their roll-on luggage that lumbered clumsily behind. I followed a path of least resistance within the terminal, weaving in and out of the awkward walkers. I eluded bottlenecks of travellers along the escalators and eventually I found myself in an outside world of concrete. I headed the direction opposite of which the incoming cars were coming from. I followed a sidewalk figuring I would have to walk along side of a narrow shoulder of oncoming traffic. But the sidewalk just winded its way around the curve of the massive runway and dumped me down unto a staircase landing on Lincoln Blvd, otherwise known as the Pacific Coast Highway or Highway 1.
I hiked with an adrenaline rush I have never felt in thousands of miles of hiking. The roar of the city bellowed in a stentorian thunder. My heart pounded furiously through my chest. Cars, truck, motorcycles sped on by; buses coasted near curbside that left a pocket of wind to erupt in my face, and huge jumbo jets raced across the sky above the highway perpendicular to the flow of transporters only a few hundred feet above it all. The madness of the city presented itself to me as I now headed towards the city Santa Monica. I hiked tall with my shoulders wide and I felt myself breathing heavily, panting almost, from hiking with so much gusto.
In Venice, I found alley ways to move through. Ivies and other creeping vines, garlands, and a slew of exotic trees tunneled over the few allies I took. Some residents even took to painting murals on their garage doors. These alley ways were quite peaceful and attractive. Then a bike pedaler came towards me, seemingly out of place. Nearer and nearer, the cholo on a cruiser bike meandered in sweeping 'U's' as he passed me. He reminded me of a shark patrolling a feeding ground. He glanced at me through his 'loc's', as I did the same through my shades. We both flicked up our chin at each other and continued going in the direction we were headed. As I walked on, I increased my senses, especially my hearing, just in case something came up from behind me. One advantage I have over most people, especially from being in the woods for so long, is an heightened acuity in my senses.
I bedded down under a canopy used mainly by cyclists to escape the heat of the day. I looked down at the twinkling city lights rather than up at the fading stars in the night sky. I found this to be strange since my southwest Vagabond Loop held the glamour of beauty above me at night. My eyes slowly closed but not before noticing the difference in blackness and emptiness between the mountains and the ocean.
Dusk began to settle in on the end of my first full day in the city. I began to pick up the pace in order to meet my buddy Steve who was to pick me up. One of the last staircases I climbed I found a trio of hip-hop heads posting up with L.A. Dodger hats on.
"Whatdya got there? Mickey's or OE?"
"Shit, man, we got mineral water, " one of the dudes chuckled. I chuckled right back. Memories from my early 20s flooded back.
"Damn, y'all got some mota too! Livin' the good life, makin' me jealous," I casually told them. They all smiled, I am sure mostly because they realized I wasn't a Narc. At the top of the stairway I spilled out into a street and the air suddenly smelled of barbeque, a typical warm, sunny day smell in L.A. This was the right place, right now. I met Steve and he treated me out to the Golden Road Brewing Company near Atwater Village. We slugged away a few pale ales and felt the jumping vibe in the alehouse. My eyes almost jumped out of my head with all the excitement, as Steve and I spoke of the natural world, trails, and connections...