Monday, October 6, 2008

Chance encounters of the close kind along the Central Coast

Ryan and Amber got an early start leaving Kirk Creek campground on Friday morning and Israel and Luke stayed behind to cook some food and hang out around the scenic hiker biker site and watch the fog and smoke intermingle above the mountains.

We had a bit of a hard time keeping up with Ryan whilst still getting shots of Luke and Israel bringing up the rear. After the last of the mountains were behind us, and the terrain began to level out we decided to push on ahead to San Simeon and stop driving back and forth between the two pairs. We were distracted by a beach full of elephant seals, though, and spent a while watching them belch and roll around on the sand.

We met up with Ryan at the visitor center for the Hearst Castle - an astounding building perched up about San Simeon built for the wealthy William Hearst at the turn of the last century. Emily began to panic about finding a spot to camp in so late in the afternoon on a Friday and left Max on the side of the road for about an hour as he talked to Ryan, met up with the rest of the band, and then watched them bike away. Two friendly girls also on adventure, April and Vicki stopped to see if Max would take their picture in front of the sign. They had seen the band up the road and were interested in the project and what we were up to. Emily found a beautiful spot in the more primitive part of San Simeon State Park, but forgot completely that a storm was coming and managed to choose the only site without two trees to hang a tarp from. This required Max to climb the only tree and use the car as the other "tree." Our distance from the main campsite also thwarted us from hanging out with the band and a new group of touring bicyclists down at the hiker/biker site. We did manage to stay dry, though.

After stopping in Cambria for some breakfast, the band easily made the 30 mile push to San Luis Obispo, where randomly, April and Vicki drove past us at a burrito stand and yelled hello. Jayson in Big Sur had given the band the phone number of his friend Abbey who runs the Spirits of Africa gallery in the Creamery building in San Luis Obsipo. Once the foursome had arrived, we headed over to meet him. Abbey was awesome and provided a needed burst of energy for the afternoon. He didn't know that they were touring by bicycle and hoped that they would make it for a drum rally for Obama that he held at his gallery the night before. The gallery walls were adorned with brightly colored paintings of African vistas and many portraits of Barack Obama. His friend played a bit of hand drums for us before Abbey began trying to figure out where they might be able to play that night. San Luis is a pretty big town and trying to find an opening on a Saturday night proved to be quite difficult. The band stored their bikes behind the gallery and began to walk around for a few hours trying to find a show, and when that seemed to not be a possibility, tried to figure out a plan for lodging. Israel decided to take a walk around town, while we hung out at the Frog and Peach trying to find a close enough campsite for them to ride to, and talking to some friendly locals. Emily met one who had also attended the tiny Pinewood School in Thessaloniki Greece, that she had also attended 12 years ago. Small world.

Israel returned from his walk feeling ready to busk on the street before riding to the campsite. They set up in front of a little archway up the street from the Frog and Peach and almost immediately had a small crowd watching them play. It was a great, diverse group of traveling 'street' kids, college students from Cal Poly and people heading home after a dinner out on the town. Vicki and April (who began to see Blind Pilot as a theme in their road trip adventure) also happened by and were really excited to see them play. After Emily chatted with them for a while, April mentioned she was from Eugene, and Emily helped her make the connection that she went to school with Ryan's older brother Paul. Once again, this world is small.

One couple, Barry and Joanie, stayed for the entire set and when Israel asked if anyone would take them home, they offered their place a few miles away. We continued on to the campsite to set up camp and took advantage of the hot spring pool the next morning before driving back into town to find them.

Amber called the next morning to let us know that Barry had invited a few friends over to hear the band, so we hopped over to catch it. They were really kind couple and it was great to see another example how good music can move people to open their hearts and their homes.

After getting a bit of a late start, the band set their sights on Lompoc. Almost immediately, we began having logistical troubles including: one of the hard drives almost crashed and needed to do a full backup, Max realized that he didn't have his debit card anymore and Emily sat on the modem, breaking it. It took us many hours to visit Verizon and Best Buy, find out that it would cost about $200 to replace the modem, then have Max use his wizard skills to fix the modem using tape and a screwdriver, and then park the car in Pismo Beach and tear it apart and put it back together again in an attempt to find the debit card. By 5pm, we realized that we weren't going to be able to track the band and that we really needed some time off from shooting. We headed to Lompoc, did laundry and searched for a good restaurant with steaks. By the time we tried to go eat, though, everything in Lompoc was closed, so we chose the nicest looking steaks from Albertson's and headed to River Community Park for the night. We were able to stay in an RV site with power, complete the backup of the data and enjoy Max's famous steaks cooked over a fire. The band came by around 9:30 to wish us goodnight.

We woke up this morning and made pancakes with the band and have been having fun today trying out various ways to attach the camera to Ryan's B.O.B. trailer to get some in motion shots. It's a beautiful sunny day and it's hard to believe that we will be in Santa Barbara tonight and in L.A. on Wednesday.

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