On Monday morning I woke up early and headed north into the redwoods. I had talked to a guy about doing some landscaping and clean up, and had a meeting with him at 9:30AM to check out the job. I had no idea that he lived in the middle of the woods, but it was awesome back there. The house is really only twelve miles from Santa Cruz, but with all the curvy roads and stuff, it was about a forty minute drive. He lived off of a one lane road that wound through the woods and up into the mountains and reminded me of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. When I got there I gave him a call, and he came out and told me that the windstorm the week before had wreaked all sorts of havoc on his property, and he basically needed someone to help clean it all up. The wind had taken down a huge oak tree and dropped it in his driveway, blew off tarps, plants, tools, and rolled a huge tree stump right through his courtyard and broke down a section of the fence on the other side. We agreed that I would be paid in food from Safeway, which is apparently what he does more often than not when it comes to hiring people. He said he has a housekeeper that comes and cleans each week in exchange for groceries as well.
He had a couple guys coming to take care of the tree, and so for cleaning up; getting rid of branches, raking, sweeping vacuuming, folding tarps, etc., I would basically be paid with $400 worth of groceries that would be delivered to his door. I thought that wasn’t such a bad deal, since the job would normally only pay me around $150 in cash. So I worked for two days on the property, and actually spent the night on his couch at the end of the first day. It was a mess outside, and it took some time to put things back together, but the job conditions were pretty good overall. During the day he’d bring out cold beer for whomever was working, and all day he’d blast Pink Floyd and live Neil Young through his house system. It was a decent job for a couple days, and I really enjoyed being way up in the hills, surrounded by giant redwoods. He said Neil Young also has a small ranch about twenty miles from his place, tucked back in the woods as well. When it came to ordering food online, I wasn’t sure where to start. I made a grocery list, but I think I went about it in the wrong order. I should have probably started with the most expensive items and then worked my way down to snacks and such, but instead I started with Campbell’s Chunky Soup and soon ended up with a whole lot of cheezy-type snack food. I did stock up on a bunch of other essentials like toilet paper, batteries, cold medicine, rice and pasta, and Kahlua, but I’ve got more potato chips than I know what to do with.
I hung out in Santa Cruz for the next several days, played on Pacific Avenue throughout most of the weekend, and then hit the road for Los Angeles on Sunday morning. I took the coastal route, which means I made a stop in Monteray for a couple hours, not to mention a dozen other stops at various viewpoints along the PCH. When I woke up on Sunday it was cloudy and threatening to rain in Santa Cruz, and I thought maybe if I headed south that I could avoid the rain. It sort of worked that way; I went in and out of rain patches for most of the drive, but finally found some solid sunlight in Ventura, just before sunset. I had reached the outskirts of LA, and I had no pressing plans for the evening, so I decided to stay the night there and then go into the city the following day. When I woke up on Monday though, it was pouring down rain. Rain is rare in Los Angles, but it certainly exists. I had one hell of a time motivating myself to get out of bed and get moving, but eventually I crawled out from under my pile of blankets. I got some breakfast and started looking for temporary jobs; I figure I’ll be in this area for a couple months and some steady work might do me good, not to mention my bank account. So far I’ve found a bunch of leads, sent off emails and left messages, and we’ll see where it all takes me. I’ve got to go through some things tomorrow and clean out the van, but tomorrow it isn’t supposed to be nearly as dismal outside. Today I stopped at a place with industrial vacuums, but it was pouring out, so I decided to push off that task until brighter weather.