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Brian Cray - Hitchhikin', Trainhoppin', and Wanderin'

Wanderin' the world, at will, by any means

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Archives for September 2016

Houseless in Hawaii

Homeless in Hawaii

I’ve been homeless on and off now by choice for over three years so I can constantly travel. I work seasonal jobs and wander between while looking for work, which until recently only involved an ID. But, because businesses in America care about the entity instead of society and its people this is becoming more difficult especially with the Patriot Act, instituted by George Bush, one of the great ones, soon surpassed by the legacy of Trump or Hillary. We all know America is going up in the world especially with such worthy, exemplary candidates…

Homeless in Hawaii

Homeless in Hawaii

I’ve found myself homeless in Hawaii while I work at a drop zone packing parachutes. In order to do so they forced me into opening an LLC. Great of them, I say. After all, what better way to fuck employees out of health insurance, benefits, workman’s compensation, all the while paying less taxes. Kudos, I say.  Better yet, if setting up a business did not put enough stress into my life I am finding out just how important a permanent address really is…

“Well your Colorado license does not reflect your home address. Is it not a legitimate address in New York? Are you a terrorist Mr. Donaldson? My what a pain in my balls it is to get paid for seasonal work in this day and age. If you work seasonally for multiple years then you most likely have no address. You sleep outside legally, illegally, couch surf, and live for free because there is no freedom left in America. The last pure adventure left in this country is hitchhiking, walking or train hopping. Needless to say, the week long hassle with my bank only continues as I try to figure out how to deposit my check for legitimate work completed. Who knows what might happen? It either works out or doesn’t. If it doesn’t I start walking and exploring the rest of Hawaii. Long live America and our many freedoms that are slowly diminishing with more laws and restrictions.

homeless in hawaii

I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts…homeless in hawaii campin’ on the beach

Until then I keep my two feet walking or pedaling as I explore the island of Oahu.  My cheap $20 bicycle will get me around for the next two months as I “home bum” it on Kalei’s couch, doing small chores and yard work as a work-trade opportunity to continue my travels wherever the wind sways.

homeless in hawaii

The best part of being homeless in Hawaii is using my time to hike!  Here’s a view from hiking Peacock Flats trail…next is Sacred Falls and the infamous Stairway to Heaven


Thumbs and the Sand

Hitchhiking Hawaii

So I arrived in Hawaii on September 9th to start my job at Pacific Skydiving Center as a tandem parachute packer. I felt intimidated moving from a small drop zone to a big turbine operation where speed meant everything, but all worked out well, so far anyway. The bus does not run up this way so walking and hitchhiking became my main modes of transportation. I am living out of my backpack again. I found this job on an ad on dropzone.com. After speaking to Jay I bought a one-way ticket knowing my job started on the 13th of the month with no living accommodations. Where am I living then? The beach, bushes, government property, hiking trails, mountains, anywhere I can feel well rested for my long work days of non-stop tandem packing.

Hitchhiking Hawaii

Hitchhiking Hawaii – Doing a work trade opportunity in exchange for a place to live.

My feet ache, skin swelters a rosy red, but my spirit lives on as I hike each day and explore what the North Shore offers. And well, it offers everything! A luscious green mountainside thriving with a plethora shade of greens, a peaceful lulling ocean with more blues than the eye can see, and bliss at sunset as I leave my footprints behind to find a spot to camp. I love it here.
Ka’ena Point offered a breathtaking view of the island from a peninsula, the hike across from Camp Erdman offered a birds view of the coastline and the Dillingham Airport and Kealia Trail offered another perspective of the North Shore. I guess you’ll just need to fly out here to see for yourself. If you want mountains, if you want jungle, if you want snorkeling, skydiving, surfing, scuba diving, paragliding, kite boarding, parasailing, speed flying, the list goes on and on, and it’s here in Hawaii. It truly is a paradise of all realms here.

Hitchhiking Hawaii

Hitchhiking Hawaii – The great sunset on the beach near where I am living on Oahu.

Recently, while hitchhiking to the store I met a native Hawaiian woman who offered me a work trade opportunity in exchange for a place to camp for free on her property. Here I lay in a hammock with a beachfront view of the ocean as the breeze sways me with each crashing wave.

Hitchhiking Hawaii

Hitchhiking Hawaii – Hiking to Ka’ena Point

My time in Hawaii calls for another epic journey, which my wife will experience shortly when she arrives on October 3rd.

Hitchhiking Sausalito

Hitchhiking Sausalito and the Driftin’ Dream 

Hitchhiking Sausalito

As I traipsed the streets of Sausalito I watched the riches of both the land and the architecture unfold in front of my eyes.  Waterfront properties guarded the bay like immaculate fortresses of military prowess.  Their sheer size signified dollar signs, authority and prestige, but the truly rich and powerful resided on “The Hill” across the bay.  Those homes towered over the mansions making them look like dollhouses.

People snubbed me as I walked past giving me a look of disapproval, but whatever, I just wanted to continue north towards Washington.  After all, I spent the last three years on a journey there, which originally started out on my bicycle.  I planned to cycle from Delaware to Seattle, Washington, only making it as far as Colorado.  It felt like the right time to wander there, hopping trains, catching planes, hitching rides and bussing it all became an individual piece of the puzzle.

Sausalito charged for bicycle parking, which made me chuckle, as I walked closer to the ramp for the 101.  The sun plagued my spirit after hours of tramping as I looked for a place in the shade to sit down and rest.  The hill across the bay caught my eye once again and I wondered what it felt like to swim in more money than life itself?  Then I thought about the stress that came with the money and felt content with my own life, my own stories, and my own adventures.  Biggie Smalls said it best, “Mo’ money mo’ problems.”  I wasn’t broke, but sometimes I dreamt about taking the other path, the path of the college graduate, business-owner, etc.  But, no amount of money could buy all of this and these experiences.

I fell out of my daze and “Dream” came over to me, an old hippie rockin’ out in the sun with a bowl in hand, puffin’ on some weed.  He spoke philosophically about life with mumbo jumbo spewing from his mouth getting deep into thought as I lost track of his points in our existential crisis.  My soul was his soul and our souls joined with the souls of every other soul to make one soul exist on the planet we call Earth, or something of that nature.  I lost him after I soared high as a kite after scoring some California weed.  Two hits and I sat there baked off my ass like laying in a cloud of marshmallows.  He lived on the waterfront in Sausalito and asked if I knew his friend Larry Moyer, an advocate for Marinscope community.  Honestly, I never heard of him or Sausalito until that day of tramping through it.  He paused and his head sunk slightly in disappointment.

“Awe man, too bad, he was a great guy!  I wished you knew him I’d invite you to “A Tribute to Larry Moyer”…,” said Dream a bit too optimistically.

“Ohhhh…his funeral,” I said confusedly?

“Nah…not like that man.  We are celebrating his life at the Community Media Center of Marin later.  We’re gonna have a big party.  He inspired a lot of people around Sausalito.  Made a big impact on our lives man.  Just one of those free-spirits.  Did everything….an artist, filmmaker, photographer, just everything.  A pure soul man,” said Dream as he reminisced the past with his beloved friend.

Moyer fought for the community of Sausalito in the 1970’s becoming an organizer along the waterfront to protest the development at Waldo Harbor Point impacting the lives of his neighbors and friends whom also lived in along the bay.

Moyer ended up on the Waterfront as a “transplant” back in 1967, “The Summer of Love.”  After World War II, specifically Pearl Harbor, he ended up in California, becoming a resident of Sausalito for over 40 years.  He lived on a houseboat residing on the waterfront with one of his great friends, Shel Silverstein, a traveling buddy and companion he met in Moscow during the war.

In the old days, the waterfront comprised of free-spirits, paying no rent, trying to make it by as an artist, author, etc., just floatin’ around on the bay hangin’ with your buds.  Moyer’s support saved the waterfront from developers and although they lost the battle so to speak they did not lose the war.  As they fought for the right to stay and won.

“Sounds like a rad dude…wish I had met him…,” I said.

Dream nodded.  “Well, I gotta get ready man.  Here’s some stuff for the road.  If you’re lookin’ to hitch north, just hang out by that intersection up there…you’ll get picked up.  You headed to Garberville,” he asked.

I reached out my hand and grabbed a small chunk of dank nug, tucking it in my pocket.  “Yeah…how’d yo know,” I said in a shocked voice.

“I told you bro, our souls….our souls…you’re in for an adventure in NorCal…safe travels,” said Dream as he walked away in a clouded state-of-mind.

I tried walking myself, putting my one foot in front of the other singing Christmas music in my head, man was I fuckin’ stoned.  Talk about all the crazy shit he said too.  It just blew my mind.  What an interesting guy?  How on Earth would I hitchhike now, with bloodshot eyes and the inability to stand up straight?

I flew a sign on the 101 that read, “North.”  Time felt like it stopped.  Each minute felt like a black hole, reaching a dimensional of time that did not progress forward, at all.  But, really I just stood there stoned, my face frozen with a goofy expression, restricting me from hitching a ride.  Yet somewhere out of thin air a king soul picked me up.

He rambled on the phone the whole time, in his business suit, with a Bluetooth headset and before I knew it he dropped me off literally 6-miles down the road, off an exit with zero traffic, in a city called San Rafael.  Normally, I asked where the driver headed to, but he kept shushing me, as he talked on his private business phone call.  But, whatever, I slept on the on-ramp that night on the hill.

California Bay Bridge Hitchhiking

Hitchhiking San Francisco and Gay Graham

Hitchhiking San Francisco

I woke up in a boxcar in the Fresno train yard practically peeling my eyes open with every last bit of energy.  I never made it to Stockton, hoping the train might roll on through, but when I came to the realization it was a low priority work train, I expected nothing more than to stay dry.  It worked, for the most part, sleeping in 30-minute spurts in tons of metal, bouncing along 2-inches of steel slowly rolling along the tracks.  It was less than ideal, in fact, quite nauseating.  But waking up in the yard took me by surprise and a sudden fear enveloped my body.  I hid in the dark shadows of the boxcar, lurking in the corner, for the upwards of an hour.  From my peripheral vision I noticed the bull drive by the train in both directions after some time, waiting for any train hoppers to exit the unit. I stood there still and shivering from the cold steel walls blanketing my body.  No matter how many layers I felt a tingling sensation electrify me, my hairs shot up on their ends, spreading Goosebumps everywhere as I mustered the courage to peep out of the boxcar.  I leaned out as the rain pelted my naked face; the only area of my body not covered in jet black material, and made a run for it between the trains.  I knew nothing of the yard, other than the low priority of my train and noticed nothing stopped on the main lines for a crew change.  I desperately climbed the ladders to get through each string of trains, safely looking both ways on the track for any slow moving trains, as I shuffled my way towards a bundle of steel I-beams for cover.  I heard too many horror stories of broken ankles or even death from precarious situations of hopping over pressurized couplers.  I took my time and safely found an exit from the yard as I peeped out towards the roadway.  Vehicles cautiously squeaked by on the back country road as they drove to work and I patiently waited to break free of trespassing charges as I found my window of opportunity.  Gripping my hands against the perpendicular fences, I forced my body between the “T” for just a split second.  I stood there just long enough to hop over the barbed wire fence, hitting the ground with a loud thud.  The slippery fall soaked my pant bottoms and shoes in the process.  I stood up from my squatted position and casually walked down the street as the rain laughed at me.

I tramped through Fresno for several miles until I hitched a ride with a Chukchansi Indian, one of the Chukchansi Casino owners.  He told me how they recently renamed the park down the road to Chukchansi Park for the cost of one million dollars.  The short hitch took me out of the rain to the bus station where I found a cheap ticket to San Francisco for $30.  My body covered in wet grime and grease latching onto the pores of my skin as I wandered in front of the station.  Fresno felt like communist China.  I walked the streets with my backpack flung over my shoulders dodging large puddles on the sidewalk while Big Brother watched me from every security camera on every street corner and building.  I heard stories about the violence in this city so I steered clear of any bridges, homebums and junkies, keeping to myself as I waited for my bus to arrive.  Fresno sucked.  It felt like San Bernardino with more cameras and police than any city I ever traveled through in the United States.

The bus arrived late, as usual, and I chose two empty seats in the back, sprawling out into the isle, sleeping with my neck jarred against the cold glass window.  I awoke unaware of my location forgetting I set foot on the bus arriving in San Francisco well past sunset.  It sprinkled outside like walking through the mist of a powerful waterfall so I lay down in the station across a row of chairs, hoping to catch some “zzzzz” to wander the streets in the morning.

“Sir, EXXXCUSSE me…SIR,” cried the security officer.  You can’t sleep here sir…station closes in ten.  Do you have anywhere to go or anyone pickin’ you up?”

“Nope…,” I said in an irritated voice.

The rain ceased despite the stormy cluster of thunder clouds looming overhead.  My feet scuffed along the sidewalk as I wandered looking for a place to sleep along the dead roads.  I roamed around randomly, seeing nothing but corporate buildings, and secure parking garages until I hit a stretch of sidewalk following the San Francisco Bay.  The tide softly whispered to me with faint waves slowly kissing the shoreline as the Bay Bridge stood tall in the distance shining bright with twinkling arches.  The subtle sound of humming whirs from automobiles faded exiting the bridge.   I saw few people lurking about as I moseyed along the promenade towards the Golden Gate Bridge.  My walk felt long, but tumultuous like I owned the city.  I saw no one for hours as I roamed the streets in the early morning, poking along up the sudden hills looking for a place of refuge.

I stumbled upon the path of a peculiar man who carried a single trash-bag flung over his shoulder.  He looked confused, homeless, and needed help.  He tried to read a map of the bus routes while searching the street signs for the correct stop.  Circling the street corner, he moved his head quickly, shaking his head and muttering to himself in a crazy schizophrenic manner.  He stopped me curtly.

“Do you know where Harrington is…the bus stop around here…you know the shuttle…that bus…the one that goes around the city…,” he said in a stuttering tone?”

“Sorry man…I’m not from around here,” I said solemnly.

He looked roughly shaven, with dirty jeans, an old black leather jacket and white t-shirt.  His hair slicked back in its own grease, covering a prominent bald spot with a come-over.  He called himself Graham, a 57-year old homeless man from San Francisco trying to get his life back together.

We talked for a little and I tried to break free of his pestering questions, but in a nice fashion.  He started telling me his life story of anger problems, alcoholism, abuse, drug-use, sexual promiscuity or lack-there-of I should say.  I listened to him.  I found listening made an enemy a friend.  The subject of sex escalated quite heavily and out of nowhere he became vulgar and weird.

“You ever…you ever…you ever have sex with a man…like…would you wanna have sex with me…and try it,” he stammered in a nervous voice with dilated twinkles in his eyes?

I cringed and stepped back a few feet, “No, I don’t switch hit man and I’m happily married.  I actually ought to be goin’ now…I gotta find a place to sleep,” I exclaimed with a stern look of “get the fuck away from me now.”

“Okkkkay,” he said in a soft tone, and turned away walking in the opposite direction.

Hitchhiking San Francisco

Hitchhiking San Francisco – Golden Gate Bridge

Sprinkles scampered sporadically from the sky as I strolled the streets of San Francisco slowly making progress towards the Golden Gate Bridge.  I stopped mid-walk turning my head to make sure Graham disappeared before continuing my trek through the rain.  He creeped me out a bit with his proposition.  As I made it to the high-point on the road I walked over to a hill overlooking the bay.  I spotted big red arches of the bridge, barely visible through the dense fog floating below as if I set foot in horror film.  “Where was the drought,” I thought?  I found the only bushes in San Francisco to set up camp in, finding trash, and odd articles of clothing like women’s underwear, as I traversed the maze in the gloomy sky.  Walking deeper into the bushes I found a cozy section with minimal trash and no signs of homebums.  I called it a night, just as the sky crashed down its fury.

I awoke several times during the night to sirens, flashing lights and a commotion just feet from my head.  People scuffled about and I heard the distinct sound of shoes slipping across the wet pavement.

“Owwwaaahh!?  What the fuck just fell out of the sky and hit me in the head,” I whispered softly under my breath?

I waited, expecting more ruckus from the park, but heard only the soft sound of raindrops and leaves rustling in the wind lulling me back to sleep like a child’s bedtime story.

I awoke in the morning, groggy, distraught, hoping for a cloudless day with sunshine, but nope.  It looked just as shitty as my other days bumming around California.  As I packed up my gear I noticed a glossy one-hitter gleaming next to me in the dirt with resin in it.  I chuckled a bit.  Did I get hit in the head last night with a fuckin’ bowl?  Hahaha…no way!  I cleaned her out and stuffed her in my pocket.

The sun slept in that morning and the clouds started to mellow out.  The fog completely dissipated while I tramped a few miles closer to the golden arches, making the bridge more visible than the previous night.  Tourists flocked to this area.  San Francisco jam-packed rich people in its city.  Everywhere I walked I saw luxury, expensive sailboats, yachts, million-dollar homes and the further I walked, the richer it became.

Hitchhiking San Francisco - Golden Gate Bridge

Hitchhiking San Francisco – Golden Gate Bridge

When I finally made it to the bridge I wished I stayed on the beach.  The congestion with tourists, bicycle traffic, and the annoying voice over the intercom directing traffic, made the memory of reaching San Francisco less than enchanting.  Here I stood in, “The City of Love” and I only loved the idea of almost getting out of there.  Yes, the bridge was quite impressive from an engineering standpoint.  I just enjoyed the less congested paths of beauty.  Not to mention the annoyance incurred from overzealous picture takers making constant flashes strike my eyes every few seconds.  It felt like a rave up there without the music or drugs, just the chance of seizures.  Suddenly, the idea that the bridge held the 2nd highest suicide rate in the world also felt less than thrilling, as I trudged across it.

The view made it worthwhile for at least one moment of my life, but once I crossed the bridge how would I get out of there?  I knew damn right well, no family of tourists, or rich white-collar workers would pick me up hitchhiking north on the 101.  I tried though, flying a sign at the on-ramp to the highway before getting shut down by a police officer relatively quickly.

Hitchhiking Sausalito

Hitchhiking San Francisco, Sausalito and everything North!

He seemed nice enough, telling me to hitch out from the ramp in Sausalito, a city even richer than where I stood now, just a few miles down the road.  So what did I do?  I walked some more.

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