Mt Rainier, August 12, 2012

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411 on San Francisco

I’ve always proclaimed that San Francisco is my favorite American city, and I still believe it is. However, I learned two very important things about San Francisco today:

1. It is not a driving, nor a biking city. It is a walking/metro city.

The public transportation (at least during the day) is fantastic. I’ve been to San Francisco a few times, twice for meetings of the American Society for Cell Biology, and been able to walk or hop on a quick bus or cable car to everywhere I’ve needed to go, within minutes. The distances between Fisherman’s Wharf and the financial district, as well as over to Little Tokyo, are pleasant jaunts, and the hills are good for the butt.

It’s not that the city isn’t bike-friendly, but most of the blocks are short and require frequent stops for traffic and pedestrians, or they have an incline rivaling some of the slopes that I ski in the winter.

2. San Francisco only has one season, and that season is autumn.

No wonder I fell in love with it immediately. Autumn is my favorite season, despite the fact that I have skipped over it for the last 3 years consecutively. Even in July the highs seem to be in the 60’s (Farenheit – regularly less than 20 Celsius). Everyone here dresses in sweaters and long pants in summer time (except for the guy down at the wharf who missed the memo). The cool and mildly humid air feels fantastic on the skin.

Pacific Coast Highway: The American Dream

Today I am spending the whole day driving the coast of California on Route 1, more popularly known as Pacific Coast Highway. I was able to live my own current dream of driving until the point I felt like stopping, then finding an inexpensive camp site and resting for the night. The state campsites along the coast are all booked out, especially since it’s the weekend, but I managed to find a county RV park in Oceano. The tent site was only $25 for the night.

I continued north after stopping for fuel this morning in the town of Grover Beach, just north of Pismo Dunes. The skies were extremely overcast all morning, and stayed cloudy through early afternoon as I drove north through the coastal towns. I finally managed to get myself a digital camera, though not the one I originally wanted, during a short stop in the suburbs of San Luis Obispo. A few exits up the highway I stopped in the downtown area and went for a short bike ride through the bike-friendly college town, both quaintly historical and trendy.

When I got back onto the highway I forgot that 101 and 1 separate and I went a few miles inland by accident. After getting back onto route 1 it wasn’t long before I stopped at Morro Bay, another scenic and touristy coastal town, which had a trolley system and a lot of kayak rental shops. There appeared to be some sort of crafts fair going on in one of the parks as I drove past. I parked near the embarcadero and ate my take-away BBQ pork salad from one of the restaurants in San Luis Obispo.

As I continued up the coast, past roadside beach areas and sleepy coastal communities, it reminded me of my drive up the east coast of New South Wales, from Sydney to Newcastle in Australia. The same peaceful marine ambiance hung in the air. Every few miles there was another small town and another strip of coastline filled with parked cars and children playing in the water, but no two beaches looked the same.

After I passed Hearst Castle, near San Simeon, the scenery soon changed as we drove up the cliffside and onto the section of road where all commuters, motorists, cyclists, and tourists alike, take their lives into the hands of everyone else traveling through. The two lane road is narrow, windy, and scarcely has room for two cars at a speed of 30mph to pass each other, let alone the random cyclist hiding around the corner, or tourist looking for a good view. With all the safety warnings and labels and disclaimers we’ve come to expect in modern dumbed-down society, driving, the most dangerous thing we do on a daily basis, is hardly foolproof.

This is why PCH is the American Dream, a highway built so that we could enjoy nature, by conquering a small part of it, setting up a roadway, despite most safety considerations, so we can spend the day driving along the coast line. We can stop every mile or so and look out into the ocean, and down the coast, looking off onto the cloud layer below us, and the waves crashing up upon the cliffs. We can ride bicycles and motorcycles, packed down with all the belongings we need for a long solo journey, or drive our RVs and minivans full of families, dogs and camping gear, or even our sports cars we take out for a luxurious Sunday stroll.

The road trip along the coast and across the country is a symbol of the American Dream. I ramble along California’s roadways listening to country music and thinking about my life and the world, and remember the lyrics of a song I heard as I was flipping through channels on the radio earlier today, “Every day is Independence Day.”

PoleCon 2012

The first major stop on World Tour 2012 is the International Pole Convention in Los Angeles, California!

While I don’t have any photos of my own to post, I invite you to see some of the performances on YouTube (though online streaming never does a true performance justice) to see some incredible talent! I would like to congratulate both Ravan and Charlee, both of whom I trained with in Salt Lake City, for winning first place in the mens and womens divisions of the Masters Cup held at Circus Disco in Hollywood, California on Thursday June 21st.

During winter 2011-2012 I was privileged to perform at Studio Soiree’s winter recital and train for four months at Onyx (the studio formerly known as Pearl). The convention was a fantastic opportunity to see my friends and instructors from Utah, as well as meet new people from all around the world.

My main focus at the convention is to meet people at different studios and see what they are up to. The creativity of the performances far exceeded my expectations, especially the costumes, props and choreography of the group performances. During Roz’s performance I decided I definitely need to make a trip to her studio in Brooklyn, New York!

Many of the convention attendees came all the way from Australia, or have Australian roots. I was greatly amused by the costumes and showmanship of the Japanese performers and was happy to see a good showing from one of my favorite countries. A small percentage represented South America, and I believe someone in the audience said they were from South Africa. There were probably a decent number of Canadians, but it was difficult to tell since they tend to blend in with Americans until they finish their sentences, or ask what all the fuss is aboot. ❤

I managed to collect a few business cards from pole studios in Boston, Connecticut, Boise, Tokyo, Calgary, and a few other scattered locations. I want to put them on a huge map and connect the dots during my travels!

Although I wasn’t in the market to make any big purchases, I perused the clothing selection. I was impressed by the craftsmanship of Pole Skivvies and fell in love with Zoraya Judd’s style of clothing and accessories (think Renn fair meets pole dancing). I did purchase 2oz of Dry Hands, and copies of two magazines, Pole Dance International, and Vertical Art and Fitness, in the hopes of one day submitting my writing to the pole community. Being paid to report on competitions or pole communities in other countries doesn’t sound like a bad career objective at all!

Pole Con 2012 was a huge success and a great kick off to my travels!