CHAPTER TWO: AMERICAN DISCOVERY Locke to Foresthills, CA; Days = 10 (2 rest); Miles = 120.

9; People Met = 44 Our 32 mile push into Locke proved to be warranted; a deluge came the next day, partly raining out the annual chili cook-off held in town. One enthusiastic chili cook came anyways, Dan Beghin set up his grill and provided his “Tres Diablos” chili to an increasingly rowdy crowd pouring down beer as fast as the drenching rain. The locals did not view this entirely with favor. Locke was a town geared at least as much towards inward community as outward tourism. Locke used to be a Chinese enclave. The buildings reflected the Chinese ability to make the most out of minimum spaces. We slept in an apartment being renovated for rental by Brock Alexander, a high school art teacher. The space-conserving apartment served as an art gallery for many of Brock's creative sculptures and paintings. The arrangement to stay with Brock was made by Ky and Russell, a resident of Locke that Ky met in the post office of neighboring Walnut Grove. Russell was a craftsman, specializing in cutting boards made with varying decorative colors of wood. We made our first barter of the journey, trading one of my System out of Balance books for his cutting board. Craftsman and art teacher were representative of the neighborhood occupations. Creative, artistic types often pool resources together in order to make ends meet. I knew all too well the economic struggles for occupations such as writer and musician. The Chinese approach to minimizing space (and thus expense) lent itself to the community of artists that resided there. They further pooled resources with a communal garden and communal meals. This is none other than a form of community economics, sharing and bartering in order to get by. We were invited to join in the communal meal, where we broke bread with Stuart, Alfredo, Russell and Debbie, Tony and Jan, James and his son Wesley. Our communal contribution was the trail mix known as GORP (Good Old Raisins & Peanuts). Our GORP always includes a good measure of M&Ms as well. We talked well into the evening about weighty issues. With their community focus they

were on the one hand apart from matters of nation state yet very well-informed. The gathering migrated from kitchen table to outdoor fire where Stuart and I played our guitars. Such community economics was familiar to me. In Norfolk there used to be a religious community called the Bruderhof. They were centered on Anabaptist principles, similar to the Amish, but a much higher tech and progressive version. Whether or not one agrees with those religious principles, their use of community economics enabled them to have many things out of reach for us normal folks, such as their own jet and large playgrounds. Of course, they had to share in such material wealth, but for an intentional community that is exactly the point. Many “voices of mass society” claim we deserve and should have everything under the sun for ourselves. Forget sharing, with the benefits of saving and community that can bring. The financial advice broadcast by mass media do not provide a measure of balance by calling attention to community economics. Indeed, the focus is on capital markets more than anything else. Out of the goods, labor and capital markets, the latter is the one that disproportionately benefits the wealthy, contributing to the need for community economics that mass media neglects. Locke brought the message of community economics back home to me. In the process the locals of Locke revealed that this journey would prove to be more pilgrimage than mission, teaching me much that I might share with others further along the trail.

My first opportunity to share my message of kindness and community came three days after we left Locke, at the Fort Sutter Lion Club in Sacramento. Lessons from Locke aside, I mainly went with the mission, talking about the things I knew before the journey started. I provided some sobering statistics about Housing, Health and Hunger; I provided the rationale for why communities are best suited for tackling such issues. The response was quite encouraging. Two Lions even bought copies of my book. I brought many copies along on the journey, since we had a support vehicle to store them, but I had slim hopes for

actually selling any. By this time I had learned from a marketing program that my first book was much too long for a new author. I also learned you get your book reviewed BEFORE it comes out, not afterwards as I attempted. Still, those few people who reviewed Systems out of Balance gave positive feedback, and two Lions from Sacramento were willing to tackle the huge tome after hearing my talk. Indeed, over the course of the journey more of the books would sell than either the “Seeking Balance” music CDs or “Believe in Humanity” T-Shirts I had available. To get to Sacramento we first followed the levee along the Sacramento River to Freeport, where we camped by abandoned railroad tracks. Little did we know at that point how often we would hike or camp close to railroad tracks both abandoned and active. The next day we hiked by suburbs, park land, the capital district, and Old Sacramento to arrive at the confluence of the Sacramento and American Rivers. We reached Sacramento on June 6 but the weather was still cool, so much so that we hurried to end our lunch break in culturally scenic Old Sacramento. While hiking through a Sacramento suburb a woman pulled into a driveway right ahead of us. She introduced herself as Susie and informed us she thought she read about us in the paper. This was “news” to us; I did send out press releases to Sacramento papers but no one contacted me. There would be times later on when we knew about print media doing a story without talking to us; we never learned whether this was one such time. Susie was there to visit an elderly woman named Evelyn and asked us to come in and say “hi” to her. Cindy loves interacting with the elderly at home, part of her duties as a visiting nurse. We walked in with our smelly gear to say “hi” to Evelyn, along with her caregiver Richie from Indonesia. That led to a variety of photo opportunities. It was also on this suburban stretch along South Land Park Drive that we spotted the Parkside Community Church. The following night we stayed with the church secretary, Teri Guida. She was home alone with her husband away at a convention, yet she was willing to take in the three of us (Ky

included). Her kindness was not as reckless as some might think; I had a web site for people to check out the legitimacy of what we were doing. Still, a person who abided by the mantra of “Safety First!” above all else would not do such a thing. We were glad she did not put safety above all else as we enjoyed everything about our night's stay; her dogs, her turtle, her supper and, mostly, Teri's company.

Heading out of Sacramento we hiked on the American River Bike Trail, a new experience in hiking for us. We shared the path with many bicyclists, along with rollerbladers and people jogging with or without infants in racing strollers. The unseasonably raw and cold weather was gone as we left Sacramento. The temperature climbed each day. By the time we arrived at Folsom Lake the weather and water conditions were fine for water recreation. We followed the north/west shore for a few miles, spotting people in all manner of boats and rafts. People were out as well at the few beaches we past. Yet there was a reminder of the large snowpack and late rains of the year as the lake was flooded, with all the trees around the shore popping out of the water like mangroves. We would continue to see flooding elsewhere over the course of the year. At Folsom Lake the trails transitioned from being suitable for wheels to hooves. We encountered several groups of people horseback riding, sometimes to inconvenient effect. As big and powerful as horses are, most seem to be absolutely terrified of people wearing full packs. My full pack in particular can look intimidating, as an external frame pack with the load kept high. We had to step away from the trail for the horse riders, or they for us, as we warily slid by each other. As we traversed the shore of Folsom Lake we met a most remarkable person. My same external frame pack that had horses spooked caught the eye of Carlos de la Fuentes. As two women ahead of him passed on by us he stopped to comment that we looked like serious walkers. As soon as we met I sensed an aura about Carlos, the aura of a gentle yet passionate man. He looked somewhat like a Hispanic Einstein with a Schweitzer glow.

We obviously fulfilled his expectation of “serious walkers.” He shared with us that he and his wife-to-be were on the 1986 peace march across the country. During that peace march a heckler shouted out: “Why don't you do this in the Soviet Union?!” Carlos thought to himself: “Well, why not?” and he organized the 1987 peace march in the Soviet Union that occurred the following year. Carlos gave us his card stating his occupation as a classical guitarist, and invited us to stay at his house nearby Auburn. We definitely wanted to make that happen. When we arrived at Auburn in late afternoon Ky met us with the news she found a place for us to stay at the Auburn United Church of Christ (UCC). We decided to drop in on Carlos that Friday evening with Ky (Day 17), then put in a short mileage day on Day 18 where we could be picked up and brought back to the UCC. Because of our support we were able to “have our cake and eat it, too.” Our stay with Carlos and wife Mariana included the “downer” of my foot having the greatest pain I experienced during the journey. Everything else about that stay was a pure positive. We first got acquainted with his home, particularly the peacock strutting his stuff around the yard. We then settled down to eat a terrific Bulgarian meal prepared by Mariana and listened to Carlos play his guitar. I played my backpacker's guitar for Carlos as well. We talked about our common interests for a long while and I learned more about Carlos's meaningful life. He started out as a police officer, then a lawyer, then a judge. After some dramatic life changes, a parent dying and a divorce, he started following a new path. He was doing pro bono advocacy work for the homeless when he heard about the 1986 peace march. In addition to the two marches Carlos also paddled along the Central American coast for peace. Now he was mainly a classical guitarist, with a burning desire still to be doing something like us. We learned later that he was (proudly) arrested, this former police officer and judge, for participating in Occupy Sacramento. While interviewing Carlos for a podcast he shared a sobering perspective about his peace marches. The one in the Soviet Union drew tens of thousands of spectators. Musicians such as James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt performed in concerts over there in support of the march. All in all it was quite

the newsworthy event …. that was not covered by mass media in the United States. Recall that saying: “If a tree falls in the woods, but no one hears it ….” The “voices of mass society” are ultimately self-serving, not voices for promoting community economics or even peace marches that run counter to corporate economics. There is nothing overtly conspiratorial about that, yet we are all the more misinformed because of it: staunch liberals, conservatives and libertarians alike. The Internet holds promise for maintaining independent, decentralized and diverse perspectives. So, too, does simply going from community to community to get people thinking and talking about the things not echoed by the “voices of mass society.” Our stay with Carlos energized our mission, partly because Carlos obviously supported us and wished he could again be part of something like that, partly because of the realization that if we don't champion communities in our own decentralized way, consolidated and centralized mass media won't be doing it for us. These thoughts came to me as we followed the American River from Auburn to Foresthills. We now encountered mountain bikers instead of horseback riders; but still no backpackers besides us. Glancing at the American River, sometimes nearby, sometimes far below, we saw a whitewater frequently churning as if being stirred by an egg beater. This meant prodigious snow melt up in the mountains which in turn meant prodigious snow. We were still too far town in the foothills to be affected by Sierra snow, outside of admiring a raging river, but that was soon to change. Photo Album: Locke to Foresthills Podcast: Interview with Carlos de la Fuente

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