This praxis will be wordy. This is going to be a very thorough telling of two people's Journeys. This praxis will be divided into sections. These sections will have large titles. You can feel free to skip to the section you are interested in reading at any time. This praxis is going to be a bit verbose.
We have decided to not only tell you the story of our Journey, but of how we got to Journey and our experience in San Francisco (and Oakland) on Halloween weekend. It may be a bit long for some of you. For those of you who do not have the patience to read this long accounting, I have added a tl;dr section at the end. You're welcome.
With that in mind, my Journey began about a month before Halloween. A month before Halloween I realized that I wouldn't have anything to do in Los Angeles during that weekend. So I called Waldo and asked if he had any plans on Halloween weekend. He was tentatively interested. So it was a dream for the back of my mind. I knew I wouldn't have much time in the city, so likely wouldn't be able to volunteer like I have done for every other Journey I have been a part of. So I decided I would run this one. Which was a daring choice. Because I like to win (in case you haven't seen my score
here). And by running Journey the thought occurred to me that not only might I not finish the race, but I wouldn't be able to do this as a task. Every other Journey I complete like it's a task. I know that running makes that hard. It's tough to be creative when running to and from things. It's even difficult to take photos. So my documentaion would have to be these words here (mostly). And with this handicap it is possible that I might not get m'self a fleur for this praxis. Which doesn't sound like much to you, but I'm batting 1.000 as far as fleurs for Journeys go
. So I felt a responsibility to live up to past precedent. But didn't know how to live up to it. And in my life I like to strive for awesome all of the time, and I wasn't sure if getting caught would count as awesome. And that not knowing how the night would turn out was exciting and daunting. But I have a crazy amount of hubris in my physical abilities, so I felt I'd be all right.
The week before Halloween I called Waldo to see if he was still interested, and he said that he and his friend were totally going to come (I wrote come as if he was tagging along, when in fact we were going in his car). And I had a friend who wanted to come along too. So we'd have a full car. It looked like it was going to happen. I called my friend Lank to see if I could sleep on his floor. He said he'd ask his housemates and get back to me. Plans were being made.
I had a very busy week leading up to Halloween and didn't check back with Lank
after he said he'd call back. And a day before leaving when we were all making plans on when to leave and from where, I was reminded we still didn't have a place to crash yet. I usually stay with Lowteck when coming to San Francisco, both because he's cool and I like him and because he's right in the middle of the city and has a good couch. But I didn't want to burden him this trip because: 1) it wasn't just me this time, and 2) I wanted to give him a break from having to put me up every time I come to town. But since I hadn't heard back from Lank, I called him up and asked about the availability of his place.
On Friday afternoon, we all met at my brother's place (where I had been staying babysitting all week), and headed off for San Francisco and our adventure. We were just heading over the grapevine when Waldo asked if we had a place to stay when we got into town. I realized that I hadn't finalized anything. So I called Lank
, and as soon as he picked up the phone, he said "Shit, I forgot to ask. Hang on. Let me call you back, I'll go ask right now." And he did. He said that Waldo and I could stay at Cakebread Castle. Now, first of all I wasn't aware that Lank lived there, I knew Dax
did, but that's all I knew. And I've always been a little intimidated by Dax
because he is so fucking talented and good at everything he does. So I was going to be staying with him. Which was both intimidating and supercool. Oh, and the other thing Lank said was that he would likely not be home either Friday or Saturday night, but I could call Dax to tell him when I'd be arriving. And I told Lank that I thought I had Dax's number from our Oakland Journey still. So cool. He also told me that if I was to be coming in super late to be quiet because one of his housemates was a bit sick and had to perform the next day and needed her sleep. No problem.
We arrived in San Francisco late Friday night, dropped our friend off in the city and then headed over the Bay Bridge to the Cakebread Castle. When we arrived just after midnight, Dax opened the door for us and greeted us warmly. There were two giant bean bag type things that I later discovered were called Fufs. On the furthest Fuf were three people snuggled together. One of those people I recognized as Pish
, who I had probably spoken six words to in my life until then. I was introduced to the other two people, but quickly forgot their names. Pish
was the sick one who needed her sleep, and she was the most raucous one. The six of us stayed up way too late talking and having some fun.
The next day I awoke at about 9:30 and went outside and walked around the neighborhood and sat outside and tried to enjoy the misty, gloomy, rain/mist. Eventually people began waking up and Dax made us pancakes and tea. Pish informed us that she was going to perform in a play in the afternoon, and described it a little bit before heading off on her bike to the theater. It was just after she left that I decided that I would go see her performance. Because I love and create theater myself, I thought it would be a good idea to see more of it, but also because Pish was really cool and I wanted to support her. After she left, Waldo, Dax and I got to talking. About what? I don't recall. But I do recall looking at the time and seeing that it was 1:30, and the show was to begin at 2:00. So I had to get going, plus it was a bit late to walk, or bus there, or even to borrow a bike and ride. But luckily I have great friends, and Waldo offered to drive me up to Berkeley.
I got to the theater later than I wanted to at about 2:05 so I ran to the box office, and saw the lobby of this huge theater was all closed down and I knew it wasn't going to be in the big theater, but I didn't know the campus well enough to figure out where it might be if not there. But the guy working the box office was helping somebody else, and wouldn't help me until he was finished, and the guy seemed to be buying season passes and figuring out his seating for every show. So it took awhile before he told me where the show was and how to get to it, which he did poorly. I got to the right place eventually, but they wouldn't allow late seating, so I had to leave and not see theater. I called Waldo, and he came to re-pick me up. Disappointed, we went back. When we got back, Dax was leaving for what appeared to be a band rehearsal.
I don't remember what Waldo and I did for the next few hours before Pish came back home from between shows, but when she did come home, we three went out for pizza. Waldo drove. We had delish vegan thick crust pizza and good conversation. In the middle of dinner, Waldo's deaf uncle stopped by, and his wife recognized Pish from a sign language class, so once we were all together, Pish and the wife talked in sign language while Waldo and his uncle talked, and I was left out of all conversation, but it didn't matter as I was fascinated by Pish and her sign language. That was super cool. What're the odds? After a few minutes, Pish had to go home to get ready for a second show. And I wanted to get ready for Journey, so we walked back home and left Waldo there with his uncle. It was on that walk home that I realized that I really liked Pish. She is one of my kind of people. There aren't many people in the world who get your specific type of humor and sensibilities, and she is one of them.
When Pish left for her show, I wanted to leave for Journey as I told Ian that I would help register people before the race, and was told to arrive at 6:00. But as I was getting ready to leave, I realized that part of my costume was in Waldo's car. So I had to wait for him to get home. And once he got home, I figured we may as well go together. And by the time he was ready, I saw that I wasn't going to get there by 6:00, but I was OK with that. The real problem was that when we got on BART , we got on the wrong train and went toward Berkeley, we realized our mistake and got off and got on the next train going the other direction, and I did the math and figured we'd be getting there just before the race started at 7:00. But then we started going the wrong way again, this time toward Alameda. So we got off again, and eventually got the correct train going the correct direction, but got to Embarcadero at around 7:30 and we figured we might have missed the race entirely, but walking up the street we saw a huge crowd, and realized we made it in time after all. The first people we saw in the whole crowd were Loki
and anna one
. We said hi and then went to register, thinking the race would begin any second. I saw all kinds of people I knew up behind the registration tables. Ian
of course, and Artmouse
and Jason 7au
. I saw Shalaco
on bikes and Shalaco
said he was going to catch me, and Sean
had a sound board on his bike so he could play Ride Of The Valkyries or Yakety Sax whist chasing down runners. Pretty cool.
It began with a countdown from Ian
and a horn blast from Sam
. I got a call from Dax
telling me to go to Checkpoint 1A, so that's where we headed off to. I told Waldo to follow me as we took the straightest possible route to the first safe zone. You see, for this part of the Journey I had a slight advantage to everybody else running. I have organized and been a volunteer for previous Journeys. I know that the job of chasers between the starting line and checkpoint one is to scare runners, not to actually catch them, so with my insider knowledge, I confidently walk/jogged to Checkpoint 1A. There was one point where chasers came running down the sidewalk towards us, but because of my special knowledge (that I hoped was accurate here this time), I simply stepped into the street and let them run right past me talking about how they were going to catch me and I should run.
So getting to the first checkpoint was uneventful. But man, were there a shit-ton of people there. And once to the checkpoint which was situated between two giant concrete columns which were holding up the Bay Bridge, we found the line which was only about fifteen people deep. I went to the front of the line to try and figure out the etiquette at this checkpoint. I saw that there were two lines, one from each direction to account for the two ways runners could arrive along Main Street. We went back and stood in the line from our direction (we came the long way around from Embarcadero). While in line, Dax came right up to me and put a bullhorn in my face and shouted something at me. I forget what he shouted, but I do remember that I had no retort. And all of the other runners around me wondered how the checkpoint agent knew my name. We got to the front of the line and the agent at the little desk that was set up there stamped my manifest with the words " SOUS LES PAVES LA PLAGE!" in red. Appropriate to our actions this night. Thanks Dax.
With our manifests stamped, we took off for our next checkpoint. I looked at the map and decided that we could just walk straight down Harrison to the next safe zone. We would only be exposed for about six blocks, and I figured I could outrun just about anybody for six blocks. Unless of course there was a bike chasing us, but I had a plan for bikes. My plan for bikes was the cars parked along the streets, I can fit between them easily, bikes not so much. Also, my plan for avoiding chasers was to walk in the streets. When you're walking on the sidewalk, people can get right up next to you, or jump out of doorways or from behind cars. From in the street, it's a lot harder to be surprised. Although we didn't use that strategy to begin each leg. We only employed that method when crowds got big or danger seemed near. And we walked down the left side of Harrison, and for some reason that side was a ghost town. Nobody was walking over there. Walking up a hill with very little sidewalk, we noticed a big group of people heading toward us. I couldn't see any yellow on their arms, but there was a lot that was hard to make out in the dark. We were on the sidewalk and they were both on the sidewalk and in the street, forming an effective roadblock. I was wary, but tried not to show it. It's important not to show your hand in this game. As they got really close we saw they were indeed wearing armbands, but I couldn't see if they were yellow or blue, the darkness robbed them of distinguishing colors. Plus they were walking away from checkpoint two, something a runner might not do. I was just about ready to turn and run the other way, when somebody in the group shouted my name. It was Bryce dressed as the Sutro Tower. And his armband was blue. I was so ready to run and planning my escape that I didn't really greet him as warmly as I perhaps should have. But we said hi, and kept moving in our respective directions. He and all of his friends disappearing behind us.
A few blocks later after a freeway entrance, we saw a guy walking towards us and then duck into a doorway, or behind something about a block away. I told Waldo about him, and we went into the street. As we got closer, we were walking much more in the middle of the street than on the side by the cars, and when we got close enough to look, we saw that he was just a security guard on a cigarette break. But at that same time from the opposite corner a little further up were two guys that were without question making a bee-line straight for us. I heard Waldo say as quietly as he could: "Chasers." and then he took off running back the way we came and one of the guys ran after him. I kept going the way I was going looking to see what the other guy was doing. And this other guy was big and athletic and I remember thinking looked like Carl Lewis. But he was still all the way across the street and the safe zone was only a block and a half away, so I kept going the way I was going. Towards him. When we got almost even with each other, he broke for me at full speed. So did I. I had one advantage over him (which I realized we runners have over all chasers), I had more to lose by getting caught than he did by not catching me. So after a half block of all out sprinting right down the middle of the street, I looked back and he had already slowed to a jog. So I did as well. But always wary that he wasn't chasing me right into another chaser. Looking all around me, I discovered that I was alone and while the chaser that chased me was still behind me, he was losing ground even at my new slower pace. His heart wasn't really into it. I looked around for Waldo and he was nowhere to be found. I strolled into the safe zone easily, and then found the van in that alley and went to get my manifest signed, and when I saw the guy that was going to sign my manifest had a pen and no table or clipboard, I turned my back to him so he could use it to write on. He thanked me and said I was the only person who offered his back. He gave me a business card for his art project. I left the checkpoint and went across the street and after a bit of looking at my map for future routes, I found Waldo leaving the checkpoint. Reunited, we headed off for checkpoint three.
Having already checked my JesusPhone for the best route I told Waldo that I had discovered that there's a bus that would pick us up in the safe zone and let us off in the safe zone for checkpoint 3 and was leaving in seven minutes. I thought that was a pretty good deal, so we headed out to 5th & Folsom and caught the 27 bus which set us back two bucks, but the driver gave us a little slip of paper which I later discovered was a transfer. The bus was packed with runners and a few chasers. A few people tried to inform the chasers on the bus that we'd all be let out in a safe zone. I don't think they cared very much. So we got let off of the bus at 9th & Harrison and we walked the short distance to the checkpoint. On our way to the checkpoint, we saw Kristina
(with a K) dressed up as a safety jellyfish leaving the checkpoint. We asked for her to stay so she could escort us to the next checkpoint when we finished with this one. She was indifferent to our pleas. She left us and didn't look back, we continued on to the checkpoint building which was a music store of some kind. The line for the checkpoint was pretty long. It went out to the entrance of the building. So we waited in line for about fifteen minutes. Maybe more. Hard to say. Time was moving strangely all night long.
Whilst in line the people leaving the event were telling us that the checkpoint agents were making everybody switch their clothes with another runner. I thought that was a cool idea. A group of three people in front of us in line asked if there was anybody that would like to join their group to switch clothes with. Waldo quickly jumped at the opportunity. Their cunning plan was to switch clothes here in line so that when they switched up at the checkpoint they'd be switching back into their own clothes. Clever. So with my partner gone, I asked the woman behind me if she had herself a partner, she said she did not, she was running alone. So I told her she would be my clothes-swap partner. She acquiesced. She didn't talk much, but I did manage to drag out of her that her name was Hannah. A palindrome. Cool. Waldo got to the front where he played Change Your Face and one of the checkpoint agents was Bjorn Teuleuse
. I didn't get to say hi to him. Waldo came out in his own clothes, and then it was my turn, I went in with Hannah and I changed my jacket, tie and bowler hat. I was going to do my pants as well, but since I was going commando, that might not have been the best choice. Hannah gave me her hoodie and backpack, and we put on each other's clothes (I had a bit of trouble getting my jacket off as I had affixed my blue runner ribbon with a pin, and the pin also pierced my shirt underneath, so getting the jacket off required me to remove my ribbon and pin). Victorious, we made our way to the waiting area where we switched our clothes back. On our way out of the checkpoint Hannah decided to hang out with us because we had a plan of attack for the next checkpoint. Also, the line went out the door and halfway down the block. I thought it was long when I got there, holy wow, did we have good timing on that one.
We three walked down Harrison until we hit the end of the safe zone. From there we walked West along the safe zone which brought us a little closer to the next checkpoint. When we got to the end both borders of the safe zone and were standing on the corner of safety, we spotted a lot of chasers wandering around. We decided to come up with a better plan. There were a couple of runners who kinda wanted to stick with us, and followed us out of the last safe zone, but then we lost them, and then found them again here. We discussed strategy, and we stood on that corner waiting for a break or a new idea to hit us. I saw a jellyfish walking across the street with a group of people surrounding it. I called out Kristina's name, but she didn't turn around. She didn't turn around because it wasn't Kristina. It was a guy. I didn't realize there were two safety jellyfish. Well, this one was walking further away from us and there were a fair number of chasers between us and it, so we stayed put. Another group of runners walked past us and headed West under the freeway. They asked us about which way they were going and stopped and there was a pretty big group of us now. Then a small group of chasers came toward us from deeper within the safe zone. They walked up casually to us, and when they got to us they started tagging us, and three girls from the new group took off running. Out of the safe zone. We yelled at them to try to get them to stop and come back, but all they heard was panic and kept going. Once we explained that we were safe to the chasers, and they got bummed about that news, I told them that the people that just took off running were now out of the safe zone. So off they went after their prey. Everybody at the corner of this safe zone had different ideas about how to get safely to the next checkpoint. I was kinda in the "fuck it, let's just run for it. I'm sure we can outrun any chaser we see." But others were less sure of that tactic. So we all decided to walk along the safe zone while I checked my JesusPhone for a possible bus route to get us there or close to there, or past there which would allow us to walk in from the opposite, less expected way. What I found was the 12 bus leaving from within the safe zone (at Harrison & 11th) to a couple blocks from the next safe zone. So we went to Harrison & 11th. And when we were within half a block, we saw the corner with the bus stop and it was packed full of people. Like hundreds. A stupid number of people, and we had seen some buses crowded with runners already, but if that many runners was hoping to get on that bus, it would have been very unlikely. When we got to the bus stop, we saw that it wasn't a line for a bus, but for a club. And we were the only runners there. Well all right.
The bus came after a few minutes and we got on that thing and the transfer I got from our first bus ride worked here. That was a pretty good deal. We couldn't decide where to get off the bus because of a discrepancy on our maps. The maps said the safe zone was between 17th & 19th, but the checkpoint location on the other side claimed it was between 16th & 18th. We decided to play it safe and got off at 18th and Folsom. The three block walk into the safe zone was uneventful, although I once again walked down the middle of the street because the large number of people on the sidewalks made it feel unsafe. Entering the safe zone was easy and getting the the checkpoint was a breeze. We had to go up several flights of stairs to get to the location, and on the top rise, there was a bit of a line. And we saw people in the line turn away without going in saying the line was too long. I kinda couldn't believe that they would just give up like that. That wouldn't be me. I was going to fight until somebody with a yellow ribbon wrestled me to the ground to rip off my blue armband. When we got into the space we could see that some kind of game was being played, but we couldn't tell what it was. But I saw Jason 7au
in there helping out, so I called to him and he greeted me warmly. He was glad to see me still alive. I was glad to see him. We turned a corner and we found ourselves in a workshop. And it was then that I realized that 2169 Mission was in fact Noisebridge. I had heard a lot about this place and just the night before Dax was telling me how they had a workshop for everything and it wasn't just about computers. So seeing this workshop was what clued me in. While my friends waited in line, I wandered around the joint checking it out. It is a cool space. I approve. When we got to the front of the line, there was some kind of game being projected on a screen in front of us on the other side of the room, and squares taped onto the floor. I think we were supposed to read the instructions on the screen and move the appropriate number of spaces on the floor. Except the screen was legible from the distance we were at. We got through it and got our manifests stamped with a giant red LGTM. Cool. As we were leaving, Spidere
came in and took a picture of us. We said hello and goodbye. Off to Checkpoint 5.
I saw that the 22 was leaving Mission & 16th in about ten minutes, so we hustled up to there. And since there was some dispute about where the safe zone ended, I decided that the last block to 16th we should treat as not safe. We saw a lot of chasers at 16th & Mission. So we ducked into a bus cover and waited. We needed to get to a bus stop caddy-corner to where we were. But we were surrounded by chasers. I decided that if we ran out into the middle of the street and into traffic as the light was about to change, we could make it across both streets without harm (from chasers) so we waited for the right time, and just as we were about to run, I noticed a cop car in the intersection, and remembered that Journey is played in the real world where there are real laws. So we waited for another opportunity. So the next light, when it got close, we took off into the street. The chasers on the corners just watched us go as we ran through the middle of the intersection and across 16th and into the bus shelter. They didn't even move. Maybe they thought it was safe like one side of the map said. Well, we made into into the bus shelter which was certainly safe. And the bus wasn't on time. It wasn't even really that close to being on time. We spent the time talking to the other runners in the bus shelter. A group of girls asked me what my costume was, and after I let them guess a few times, I put on my blue sky mask, and one girl knew exactly what it was and she said it was the best costume ever and that I had made her night. Art history geek. One guy at the bus stop who seemed to like our little group was a fellow called Albert. Albert was French and really super nice. A half hour late, the bus shows up. And I discovered en route that it would drop us in the safe zone. As the bus was approaching the Safe Zone going up Church, we saw two chasers chasing the bus. I saw them as we were passing Safeway, but they could have been chasing us from further back. I'm not sure. One of them had no shirt and I didn't recognize, the other was dressed as the Sutro Tower, and I recognized him. They continued to chase us as we turned onto Hermann, and when the bus stopped at the bus stop on Hermann and Fillmore, I decided not to get off, because the bus let us off on Hermann and not Fillmore. And while that was the corner of the safe zone, the bus stop was technically about ten feet from the safe zone. So I decided to go one more stop, Albert and Hannah stayed with me, but Waldo got off. I tried to call to him, but he didn't hear me as he was on the other side of the bus, and it was crazy packed. So the bus turned and went up Fillmore and let us off around Haight, which was technically in the safe zone. The three of us decided to walk back down to where we lost Waldo, and we found him right where he got off the bus trying to negotiate between a runner and a chaser who were disputing. We beckoned him over to us and we four walked into Duboce Park.
We entered Duboce Park on the downhill side of the park and it wasn't tough to find the checkpoint agents surrounded by the group of people at the top of the hill. There were a few things I noticed right off the bat; one, it was dark, two, the grass was wet and muddy and slipped and slided with every footfall, and three, it smelled of dog poop. All three things combined made it a physically unpleasant checkpoint. The checkpoint agents were dressed as witches and one was hunched over a cauldron, I went to her first and she asked if I had the ingredients, I didn't know what she was talking about and told her so, and she sent me to see her sister. I did. She gave me a list of things to procure. I don't remember all of the things on the list, but a few were; ginger root, gemstones, bugs, and coins. So we had to search the wet, muddy dark hillside for these items. OK. I told everybody what we were looking for and off we went. The darkness was the real problem here. Also we were not the first people here, so the ground was well trod, and a lot of the items weren't where they were supposed to be. I saw sticks in the ground that seemed like where the things were supposed to be, but had nothing. I stumbled accidentally upon the ginger, but had to ask somebody about the other items and where they could be found, one guy told me where the bugs were, so I got those, and Albert found other items we needed. Eventually our group managed to get all but one of the items, we figured it was close enough and we went to the witch. She checked the items off, and agreed that we were indeed, close enough. We were sent to the second witch, who poured us some drink from the cauldron and on the bottom of the plastic cup was a sticker we were supposed to stick on our manifests, but my sticker had gotten wet and wouldn't come off of my cup. So the other witch signed my manifest. I would have rather had the sticker, but instead I got Lara Black's
signature. I didn't recognize her at all at the time behind her witch get-up, and I suppose she didn't recognize me with the dark and the throng of humanity swirling about. With our manifests marked, we all headed straight North.
The buses were treating us well thus far, so we decided to grab the 71 along Haight because the stop at Pierce was nestled safely in the safe zone. Again, there were a few runners with the same idea, but not as many as I would have thought. I also wondered what all of the bus drivers in the city thought about us playing this game at their work. When I got on, I fought my way through the huge group to the back exit of the bus, but Waldo, Hannah and Albert stayed up in front, which made communication hard. So it was going to be tough to coordinate when to get off the bus. Because no matter where we got off we would be at least a block away from a safe zone. We had discussed going past the safe zone and walking back from the opposite end, but we also discussed just getting off at Central and just outrunning any chasers we might encounter. But that was before Bryce and his chaser friends were on the bus with us. When we stopped at Central I just decided to go for it, it was only a block, and a lot of other runners were getting off, and I thought I could at least outrun them. So I signaled to Waldo and our new friends that we're getting off, and I did. And nobody followed me off, I saw Waldo get off from the front exit and he was walking toward me, but then I saw Bryce get off, and he had bad intentions on his mind. I remember thinking he looked like one of those cartoon bad guys like The Coyote with a cooked roadrunner stamped on their eyes, except he had blue ribbons on his. I saw him start to run after all of us, I spun around and saw his shirtless, young, really in-shape looking friend get out of the back door and he too began hunting. I think. I'm not sure as I was already running. I turned the corner down Central and just ran as fast as I could. I'm pretty fast, but maybe not as fast as a high school kid, because I heard those footfalls getting closer and closer, I turned my head around once and saw Bryce steaming toward me. It looked like he wanted me. I felt like The Roadrunner all tied up and cooked and steamy on his plate in his mind. I remember the footfalls were getting way too close for my comfort, and I was still on the sidewalk, and the street is always safer, so I tried to cut in between two parked cars to make my escape, but I was running way too fast to make that tight turn, so I did a Starsky & Hutch slide over the hood of the car there (inadvertently. Kinda). I hit the other side running. I was running right down the middle of the street when I got to Page which I thought was the edge of the safe zone, but I didn't want to chance it, and didn't want to whip out my map just then, so I ran another block down to Oak. I noticed that Albert was still with me running in the street. When I got to Oak, I stopped and met Waldo, who had been running on the sidewalk the whole time (I guess). Reunited and a little bit out of breath, we waited for Hannah down there on the corner and traded stories of being chased. I told them I was impressed I landed on my feet instead of my face after my Dukes of Hazzard hood slide, and we soon realized that Hannah may not have been as lucky or swift of foot as us, and was likely tying a yellow ribbon onto her arm right then.
So we walked down to the sixth and last checkpoint. On our way to the checkpoint I saw Kristina
(with a K) was walking away from us with her jellyfish costume protecting a couple of runners. She was leaving checkpoint six as we were approaching. I told her to hang out and wait for us (again), and she said she was busy (again), and I begged and she said maybe, so we ran to the next checkpoint to try to get though it quick-like. No such luck as the line for this last checkpoint was pretty long. It was in an old building with a spiral staircase that we went up to get to the checkpoint. There were fake thousand dollar bills taped all over the walls in the stairwell, and we got to talking to our fellow runners in the hall. One woman came down and waited for her boyfriend who was still up in the checkpoint and we talked about my shoes, and she couldn't believe I ran without them. And I told her it was way easier and better and healthier this way, and she kinda couldn't believe it. And then I told her that I never wear shoes, and she was a little incredulous. It took Waldo vouching for me for her to really believe it. When she left she said that meeting me was the best thing that happened to her all night. I don't know if I believed that. There was a lot of cool shit that happened already and we were pretty close to the end of the race. We went up another quarter flight of stairs, and there waiting for us was a blackjack dealer with a table in front of her. She beckoned us forward to play a game of blackjack, she needed four, so Waldo, Albert myself and somebody I didn't know played a hand, I got an 18 from the deal so held pat, Waldo hit once and then held, and Albert hit three times and held. Dealer hit and got a 20. Waldo got a 21 and redeemed us all. So we passed and went up to a dark hallway in an apartment and there were lasers criss-crossing the hall. They needed somebody to go through it without setting off the alarm by disrupting a laser's path. I volunteered, and approached the obstacle. As I was strategizing how to do it, somebody told me I had already failed. Apparently there was a laser right at the beginning a few feet before the rest of them, but it was invisible, and they apologized and sprayed more mist or whatever in the air so the lasers were less obscure. So I went through without a problem, I had to hit a switch to deactivate the alarm, and then my team came in behind me, there was a laptop there that we were told we had to break into in a minute. I gave the job to Waldo and stepped aside. I wandered around checking the place out, but noticed he tried and failed a few times, but after about thirty seconds, he cracked it. I have to admit I was impressed. We went further in and there were ladies at a bar and they put a gold star sticker on my manifest and off we went. We heard that because it was getting so late, and there was such a long line, that we were the last group to go through the whole scene. Everybody else would just come in and get their star and leave. Sucks for them, because I kinda loved the effort that went into checkpoint six.
We left the last checkpoint and knew that the buses that were so handy and helpful for most of the Journey would be of little use getting us to the park. I called Kristina to see if she was still near to us. She said she was just entering the park just now, I told her to come back for us, because whoever she just escorted were now safely in the park, and she said she was too tired to continue. Fair enough. We were going to have to do this alone. So we crossed over into the panhandle and started walking down it toward the park. I suggested we just walk the panhandle the whole way, wide open, room to run, straight shot, but I was vetoed and we went another block up to Hayes and walked over along it. Waldo said "I am not getting caught this close to the end." And I was happy to oblige. We went up to Hayes and walked the six or so blocks to the park without seeing one living human the whole way. Which was in and of itself a little eerie. But when we got to Stanyan and saw that low rock wall on the other side and knew that that grass on the other side was safe, we kinda jogged over to it. Once in the park and had our feet on the grass, we made our way toward the Shakespeare Garden. We had no idea where it was, but we had a map and a JesusPhone, so we got to heading in the right direction. When we got to Kennedy Drive and began walking in a direction we thought was correct, we saw Loki & anna one coming our way going the same place. I noticed they had yellow ribbons on, so I moved over to the grass and began walking on the grass, because technically, the manifest said that you're only safe in Golden Gate Park if you're touching grass. And sure enough, when anna one got to us she said "I'm sorry." and hugged me. I asked why she was sorry, and she said that it was a mean thing to do to catch somebody this close to the finish line. I informed her of the Golden Gate Park rule. They were fine with it. Most of the fight was out of them. We let anna one and Loki lead the way to the end. I was wary with every street we crossed though. I would make excuses like rolling up the cuffs on my pants or wandering over to look at statues to get further away from those two whenever I wasn't touching grass. They didn't seem to notice or care. Well, after not many wrong turns, we made it to the Shakespeare Garden, although we kinda came at it through some bushes, but we did manage to go through the gate with the hanging glow sticks, which was pretty danged cool. We were told to go to the center of the place, and we got to the middle of the glow stick path, and asked if we were where we were supposed to be, and were told to go back to that table back there. I went to that table and Ian & Sam were there doing something and they came to congratulate me on finishing the race still blue, then they asked if my manifest was signed yet, and when I told them it wasn't, they sent me back to the middle of the glow stick hall. There I found Orion in a hooded costume, who had to tell me who he was. He put my name in a book, and signed my manifest. It felt pretty good. Corpus Callosum
was playing (well, some of them), so I went over to hear them play. I sat at the foot of a bench that Artmouse
were sitting on. (most of) Corpus Callosum played and they were good. It was my first time hearing them play ever, and even though the band wasn't all there, it was still mesmerizing.
When they finished playing for the night, and I found Waldo, and we were discussing plans to get back to Oakland, he showed me his runner medal that proclaimed him the 111th runner to finish. I didn't get one. I went over to Sam and asked where mine was and he said they were all out. That was disappointing. It said right on the manifest that if I finished the race I would get Something Nice. And I'll admit the memory of running this race and Orion's signature, and this blue armband and these 50 points are Something Nice, I still wanted a medal or Something. But only because everybody else apparently got one, and they just forgot to give me one. Luckily Praximity
was at the finish line with us and going to Berkeley, and knew how to get there because BART stopped running. This was handy for us because Oakland was on the way to Berkeley. It took a long time to say goodbye to everybody, and get us all together for our trip home that my JesusPhone was telling me was getting real close to time to go. So Praximity and Artmouse led Waldo and I on a bus journey home, and the first leg of the trip left from 9th Street and a block or so away really soon, so we had to get moving. Eventually we said goodbye to everybody and got on our way. We crossed Lincoln to get out of the park and Praximity saw our bus at the stop a block away, so we had to run for it. We managed to catch the bus, but man, were our running muscles complaining. After the sitting after the constant moving, this last sudden burst of energy was not pleasant. But we made it. We got off near the Safeway near Duboce Park where we saw Bryce chasing our bus which seemed like days ago. We walked behind that Safeway to Mission and waiting for the bus which Praximity had a special name for, which I forgot, but was a pun on the words "bus" and "vomit". And sure enough, when we got on within a few minutes, somebody let loose. Waldo was very excited about sitting in the section of the bus that connected the front and back halves that rotated on turns. We were all sitting on that thing, but when a seat opened up, I sat down. Rest the dogs. Praximity sat next to me. He kept falling asleep on my shoulder. It was an exhausting night. We met colorful people on that bus ride across the bay, but the best part was getting off at a stop close to Cakebread Castle. It was still a six block walk, and that was a difficult walk on my old, tired legs, but the promise of sleep on the other end of that walk kept me going. And when we got there, sitting and resting was glorious. Pish and Dax were there already, They probably rode back in Dax's car with the moon and stuff after their show.
You would think that after such a long, eventful night, that sleep would have grabbed me by the throat and wrestled me down into it's murky, blissful depths. But in fact I was jazzed up and energized, and wanted to hang out and talk. Which we four did for a little while, but then Dax got tired and went to bed. And Waldo was trying to sleep, but Pish and I talked and talked and probably kept him up way longer than he wanted to be kept up. The conversation is now mostly a blur. I remember enjoying every part of it, and I remember she acted out her entire play that I didn't get to see that had closed just hours earlier. Talking about theater with somebody that is way into it is amazeballs. We stayed up way too late. But I wouldn't change a thing. People like Pish and Dax are reasons to consider moving to the bay (I'm not a big fan of the place otherwise). But I do love people, and those two in particular are pretty great. If you're reading this and you have an opportunity to spend some time with either of them, do that. OK, then eventually she ran upstairs to go to bed, and soon after I drifted off and joined her in slumber.
The next morning I woke up to find Kristina (with a K) in the kitchen with Pish. I don't remember what they were talking about, but I do remember I joined them and talked about it with them. Then Dax came down and joined us and then made us pancakes and tea. Waldo was difficult to wake up for pancakes (again) but Pish and Dax went and serenaded him to wake him. It was so adorable, that I had to record it (or at least the end). The video is below in amongst the photos near the end.
To be honest, I don't remember much about what happened after that. We talked a lot, we shared cool videos on the interwebs, Waldo went to lunch with his uncle. All I really remember for sure is that I had a great time at Cakebread Castle. I loved it and the hospitality. I wish I could have built some puppets or set pieces with Dax. Maybe next time. I do remember discussing how I was sad that I didn't get to meet Kate Saturday. I thought I'd see her at the party at the end. I just assumed she got caught and didn't make it to the end. I guess. I also didn't see her at the starting line, but that's not surprising as there were a shit-ton of people at that starting line.
On our way out of San Francisco, we stopped at Frjtz, which is pretty much my favorite eating place in the city. After eating our fries, we decided to not see my cousin play music in the city or go to Kate Saturday's performance in San Jose in favor of getting home and to sleep at a reasonable hour because we had work in the morning.
The important thing is that two people decided to go to San Francisco together, they made the trip happen, they ran the Journey together, and they both made it to the end of the night without having been caught. That's a pretty great story right there.
I went to San Francisco for the weekend to run Journey. Waldo drove. I called my good friend Lank to see if I could stay with him while in town, and he said sure, but he might not be home, but that was cool, because his housemates, Dax and Pish would take care of us. Which they did. We fell in love with Cakebread Castle and Dax and Pish.
Waldo and I got to the start of the race a bit late due to poor decisions in regards to BART travel. But when we arrived at 7:20 or so, the race hadn't yet started, so we were fine. We met a lot of old friends while waiting for the race to start. Waldo and I headed straight for Checkpoint 1 because I knew chasers' jobs were mostly to scare runners at the beginning, so we took the most direct route knowing chasers wouldn't harm us. We went to Checkpoint 1A, which Dax told us to go to. We got there and dax yelled at me with a bullhorn and stamped my manifest with "sous les paves la plage!" in red.
We took the most direct route to checkpoint 2, and Waldo and I got chased around for a bit, I outran my chaser and Waldo outmaneuvered his. We both arrived at the van and got our manifests signed. Then we took a bus from this sfae zone into the next safe zone. Possibly a flaw in the design of the route.
Checkpoint 3 was a game show called change your face where two runners had to swap clothes with one another. Waldo went ahead in line to be somebody's partner, and I recruited the girl in front of me in line to be my partner, her name was Hannah. We completed the checkpoint and moved on to the next. We tried to just run it, but the borders of the safe zones were lousy with chasers, so we went back in and found a bus that took us to within a block of the next safe zone. This all seemed a bit too easy.
We three (Hannah decided to stick with us) walked the block from the bus stop to the safe zone without incident, and then we went up to the checkpoint which was Noisebridge. We played a life-sized board game that was underwhelming, and got our manifests stamped with LGTM. Then we went to Mission & 16th to wait for a bus to take us to Duboce Park. I found one that would take us safe zone to safe zone.
Bryce in his Sutro costume chased our bus until it stopped, and some people got off in a non-safe zone and Waldo was one of them, Hannah and I and a new friend we made called Albert got off one stop later which was in the safe zone and a bit further away from the park. We walked back to where Waldo was and we headed to the park where we found two witches manning checkpoint 5. We had to find some ingredients that were hidden around the dark, mushy, poo smelling park to put in a brew before getting our manifests signed. We were supposed to get stickers, but they got too wet to stick. We again found a bus in this safe zone that took us to within a block of the next one.
When we got off that bus, Bryce and his friends chased us a block down a hill like I have never been chased before, I did a Dukes of Hazzard slide over the hood of a car to escape into the street (where it was safer) and we made it to the next safe zone. Well, almost all of us, Hannah didn't make it. The next checkpoint was Vegas themed, and we played a hand of Blackjack, made our way through a laser maze and then hacked into a computer to get our gold star stickers.
There were no buses to help us get to Golden Gate Park, so we walked. We went a couple streets out of our way to avoid chaser patrols, and we saw not one other person until we were deep within the park and safe. The endpoint was magical looking with a glowstick hall and music playing and we got our manifests signed by a hooded figure with a giant book. We watched Corpus Callosum play, and then Praximity, Artmouse, Waldo and I caught a late bus back to Oakland where we made our way back to Cakebread Castle. I stayed up way too late talking to Pish.
Dax made us pancakes and tea for the second morning in a row, and then we hung out until the evening, when we left and had fries at Frjtz and then headed back home so we could sleep and function for work on Monday morning.
And now for the pictures Lincoln took during our Journey. Not a lot were taken as more time and energy was spent running and searching, but enjoy what we have here.