We arrived in Santa Cruz around 7:00 and looked around for almost an hour for parking only to find that the parking lots are free if you are associated with an organization (Gaining Ground).  So frustrating.  Anyway, everyone except T-Crutch and Daniel decided to leave for the beach which is directly adjacent to an amusement park.  T-Crutch and Daniel meanwhile continued to sleep on the bus.  The beach was packed with tourists so we decided to just grab some lunch at the pier.  While eating, T-Crutch arrived!  The food was pretty good, but we kept hearing odd sounds while we ate.  Turns out, they were sea lions, in California!  So cool.

After eating, we decided that the beach was simply too populated for a great deal of enjoyment and we needed more grease anyway, so we drove off to Capitola for veggie oil.  After a few failures and tantalizingly near successes, we stumbled upon Shadowbrook Restaurant.  It was, in Sterling’s words, the swankiest restaurant we had ever seen.  There was an elevator … to the entrance!  It was awesome and the grease (as well as the food, we hear) was incredible.  The only thing was, Sterling and I (David) had to muscle a nearly full 55 gallon drum about 40 feet to the bus.  That was a piece of work.

Afterwards, we drove not even half a mile to Lynn Hunter’s house.  She is an old friend of Daniel Doyle’s and she and her husband, Andrew, treated us to so… much… food.  There was spaghetti, garlic bread, apple smoked sausages, tacos, pasta, salad, chicken, and roast beef.  After dinner the guys pretty much just fell out of their chairs.  Oh, and did I mention that we all took showers with Star Wars Bodywash?  (Sorry, it was just kinda awesome.)  After our hunger was sated, Andrew asked if we needed our clothes washed and we almost broke his washing machine!  They were spectacular hosts.  Oh and Andrew drives an Audi S5 (I was really excited about that). After we left Santa Cruz, we drove up the coast to San Francisco and slept for the night.

From Santa Cruz our adventure lead us to the windy and chilly city of San Francisco. Our schedule had us presenting at the San Francisco School early the next morning so I woke up to find myself parked in front of the school with Daniel Eisler asking me if I wanted some donuts. Of course I wanted donuts! I wolfed down more than perhaps recommended by the Surgeon General and washed them down with some bus temperature orange juice. As you can tell from the pictures, I couldn’t find my favorite hat and had to teach the kids with what is hands down the sexiest afro San Francisco has ever seen (or the rest of the country for that matter). The kids were so enthusiastic I had to make them raise their hands before talking. I was equally surprised that they listened as they were amazed that we were living in a farm bus.

Those of us who weren’t quite bright enough to buy a jacket in the last city were freezing while presenting and by the time we were done were in desperate need of a jacket. All of our friends from back home who only turned your computer on for a brief second to read this blog and are sitting in the dark trying desperately to offset the inflation your electric bill experiences every summer from running your air conditioner full blast, 24-7 are wondering why in the world we need jackets. Trust me–it’s freezing in San Francisco. I made the mistake of saying to the cashier that I would hate to be there during winter. She giggled before informing me that California is “temperate”–it stays the same temperature year round. Mississippi is definitely not temperate. I suppose I’ve digressed a little much–we mentioned to a lady who worked for the school that we were fixing to go to the largest Goodwill in the country looking for jackets. She offered for us to dig through the schools lost and found. This process, however, required loading all seven of us into her Prius to drive across town to her girlfriends Prius. It was a comical sight to say the least. We found a few jackets but still decided to check out the giant Goodwill and many other thrift stores in San Francisco. Most high school students like to brag about how expensive their belongings are. Students at MSMS are much more unique, and intelligent, in that we like to compare good how good of a deal we got our belongings. What’s the moral of the story? We were psyched to go to the largest Goodwill in the country.

From there we went ahead and checked Fisherman’s Wharf. As usual I’m not a fan of touristy areas but I enjoyed the Machine Museum. We didn’t get to tour Alcatraz and if you ever make it out to San Francisco be sure to make a reservation for the prison. Once we had our fill of being tourists, we went to the home of a friend of Daniel Doyle’s, Natalie, for dinner. After we ate, Natalie and her friend took us to the Twin Peaks to watch the sunset and the city’s lights at night. We slept that night parked in front of her house.

The next morning we drove to a farmer’s market in Concord. The people weren’t nearly as receptive to our project as the Mississippi fundraising stops. I suppose the people in California are used to all the sustainability type projects being thrown at them (although I was surprised at how ignorant many were on the subject matter). A lady who owned a permaculture business proposed that many people saw it in their daily life but didn‘t really understand the real life application. Sounds like California and Mississippi’s educational problems aren’t too far off.

After the farmer’s market we drove to see the Golden Gate Bridge. Afterwards we did a quick GPS search of the area only to find that San Francisco did not have a Wal Mart (what kind of town doesn’t have a Wal Mart). The nearest one was in the town of Oakland where we planned to crash for the night. I quickly whipped up some chicken quesadillas and fiesta potatoes on our camp stove which the gang devoured before passing out in our bunks. I woke up in the morning and drove us to the John Muir Woods. The place is known for having beautiful redwoods and Giant Sequoias. The ride there was along highway one and was full of steep hills and sharp turns with quick drop-offs on one side and high cliffs on the other. I had just as much fun driving the bus there as I did hiking in the woods.

After a short day hike with tallest organisms on the planet, we returned to Wal Mart for the night. I cooked stroganoff and seasoned fries in the parking lot but security ran us off before we could finish cleaning up. We decided to drive the rest of the way to the Yosemite National Park and crashed right out side of the park.

In the morning we were privileged to take in the picturesque Tuolumne River, Yosemite Falls, and Half Dome. Daniel and I went to the Wilderness Center to obtain overnight camping permits and our “bear canisters.” This where the ranger told us that if a bear became “interested” in our camp we should yell at it and act like we’re bigger than it. The last time I weighed myself I was a few pounds short of going head to head with a bear. I think if a bear becomes “interested” in my campsite, it can have it. Yosemite National Park contains more than 750,000 acres. I think I can find a new campsite. After rounding up our gear, the gang hiked several miles into the wilderness. The ranger told us to hike at least a mile off of the trail to help maintain the “illusion of wilderness” that the park liked to maintain. Once we found a nice flat spot with a close proximity to running water and a beautiful, snowcapped, mountain range backdrop, Tyler, Sterling, Dillon, and Ryan set up the tents while David, Daniel, and I collected firewood and water. I quickly built a sizeable fire to fight off the mosquitoes and provide a source of light and we all indulged in a scrumptious, peanut butter and jelly dinner. Once the stars were good and out, we doused the fire and stared into the night sky until we drifted to sleep.

The next morning we had to get Dillon back to the San Francisco Airport. He had to get back to Ocean Springs for the first day of his senior year. Good luck Dillon. As we were exiting the park, we saw a young man holding his thumb out. We stopped and found out that his name was Marty and he needed a ride to his hostel in the China Town. It didn’t take long for us to realize that he was Australian and we rocked out to Aussie hip hop on the ride back to San Fran. After we dropping Dillon off, we caught a bus to China Town where we parted with Marty and had a feast at a local Chinese restaurant ready to start pointing the bus back in the direction of Mississippi tomorrow.

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