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My personal homeless adventure in the city and the woods

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  • #16
    I agree with Diesel. It would make a great book. Patiently waiting for more.
    G.I.H.S.O. Going In Hot, Safety Off.


    • #17
      Originally posted by Diesel View Post
      What an amazing story!! Thank you again for sharing, it reads really well and has me hooked! You should consider writing a book. I'm guessing the journal is what is making all of the details possible, glad you kept one.
      Yes sir! If it weren't for the journal, I couldn't remember yesterday! Ha ha!

      - Buggy
      I'm not a fatalist. I'm a realist.


      • #18
        I drove out of Reno West into California! I had (have) a love/hate relationship with, yes I will admit; my birth state. See, I can talk bad about California and get away with it because I am in essence a Californian. Ha ha. There are many good things about the state that I like. The northern part is absolutely gorgeous; crystal clear rivers and lakes, mountains and forests. I'll concede that even southern California has its beauty. The only problem with California is that it is filled with Californians! :) (See.. I told ya I can talk bad about it)

        I soon rolled into Sacramento two days after leaving Reno. I stopped at another grocery store and bought one more case of Ramen. I also bought cans of generic chili (I figured it had more protein in it than the soup) and I bought 10 cans of generic tuna fish! I was not going to place myself in a position were the lack of protein was going to be a problem like my time in the woods. I also used one of those quarter outdoor fresh water machines to fill my gallon jugs of water. By the way, I now had 5 of those jugs. I bought a small garden trowel too.

        After thinking about it, I decided to call my mom in Texas and tell her I was OK. I couldn't quite tell her how destitute I was, she knew I was in the process of loosing my house and during the course of the phone call had invited me to stay with her. All I could think about, standing there on the phone, was the guy who lives in his mother's basement. I told her I was "traveling" and would visit her later. I told her about my plans to find my father. She offered to send money. As much as I wanted her too, I declined the offer. Besides, I was in survival mode. I might have to use her offer later.

        I drove south on I-5 and crossed over to Hwy 99 near Stockton, where I had my first experience with potentially dangerous people. I had stopped to fill up my tank in Stockton. This was my first mistake. While there, a young Hispanic guy zeroed in on me as he leaned up against his ghettomobile. There were two others in the car listening to thumping rap music. I just stared back at him as I filled up the truck. (Probably my second mistake) When I drove off, he got in the car and they started following me. I was regretting not having my pistol with me.

        I drove around until I saw a cop car in a strip mall. I pulled into the parking lot, got out and walked towards the cop. I knew this wasn't the best plan. Cops don't like weirdos walking up to them in public. I was NOW the weirdo and this guy had the "Oh no, I'm going to have to write a report or shoot him" look on his face. I looked to see the ghettomobile drive by turning its music down. I asked the cop for directions to the nearest gas station and got in my truck and left.

        I got back on 99 and headed south.

        The reason why I took Hwy 99 and not stayed on the interstate was that I had partially grew up in a little town south of Fresno. I wanted to drive by and see the old place. Along the way, I stopped and started up my trusty stove and made some awesome "Tuna-fish Ramen" in the back of my truck. I had parked near an orange grove. I suddenly found a few fresh oranges in the back of my truck. *whistle* I guess I needed the vitamin C. Now listen, I grew up here and it was never unethical to grab a few fruit off a 10,000+ tree grove. So I don't want to hear anyone complain! Remember: Survival!!!!

        I kept driving south until I hit a town called Porterville. The little town I was raised in was just a few miles south of this larger town. I headed east into the foothills and pulled into a little camp at a lake called; Success.

        Lake Success and I go way back. When I was 10 or so, my single mom and brother were kicked out of where we were living. (My grandparents house) Can you believe it, we left because of a spilled bowl of popcorn and my headstrong mom and equally headstrong grandfather. Oh, and when I say kicked out, I mean more like my mom took us and left! Ha ha! Anyhow, we ended up at lake Success in a tent for the entire summer!

        It was an AMAZING experience. My brother and I looked for crickets at night and fished all day...EVERY day! We really had a good time with it. My mom wouldn't take welfare so, she worked two crap jobs during the day. Our highlight was looking for cans enough to by a six-pack of soda and some candy and , you guessed it, go back to fishing. We left, one night after a storm blew down our tent and went back into town staying with one of my mom's friend.

        It only cost $6 to car camp there, so that's what I did for a few days. I spent half of it swimming and remembering good times. I walked to the camp store and bought some ice, a squeeze jar of mayo and a loaf of bread. I also raided the "Condiment" bins grabbing, well, more of my free share of relish, mustard, ketchup and the like. The store owner just shook his head and went on reading a magazine.

        Back at camp I made my first tuna fish sandwich using my mayo and the free condiment packets. It was one of the best tuna sandwiches I had ever tasted. Ha ha!

        After a few days, I was down to more than half the $300 I made. I didn't expect to get a job in construction, however I knew what i could do to earn some money: Pick fruit!!!!! :cool:
        I drove up to a smaller orange grove and soon found one with an active crew. I spoke to the foreman in broken English and was able to convince him to hire me at a lower rate than the other people working for him. I was instantly celebrity with the Mexicans there: This tall bearded white guy picking oranges! Ha ha! They laughed and loved it! I made $60 in the days I stayed at the lake. I could have made more, but I only worked half the day. Remember, the other half of the day was R&R at the lake. I felt good.

        After about a week or so, I took off heading to Bakersfield!

        - End of part six -
        Last edited by Buggyout; 10-09-2012, 01:21 PM.
        I'm not a fatalist. I'm a realist.


        • #19
          I stopped in the little town where I grew up in; Terra Bella. I drove out to the crossroad where the old property was. I got out of my truck and stood there in the road. No traffic and quiet. I looked north and saw the little bar, the "Hoot'n Holler" across from that the old Sunkist fruit plant. My grandpa used to take me to the Hoot'n Holler were we would play pool, eat the new fangled food: "Microwave Burritos" in a microwave the size of a Volkswagen and drink Coke.

          My brothers and I roamed these lands. We used to sneak into the Sunkist plant on Sundays when there was just "Hermando", the old security guard working. We used to play on machinery and slide down the assembly line conveyer belts, where they boxed up the fruit. We did this until Hermando chased us out. Next Sunday, same thing! lol There was also a creepy old railway tower in back of the plant. One day we decided to sneak into it and climb the tower. We were scared out of our wits, it hadn't been opened for years, full of spider webs. We only had one those cheap red capped flashlights. Ha! We crept up the old stairway, creaking and getting closer to the top. As we neared it, an old Barn owl the size of Godzilla scared us, running all the way back to the "farm".

          The farm was south of the crossroad. There was a dirt road leading to the top of it. On either side, were orange and olive groves and then five acres of cleared land with a house on top! That's where I grew up from 3 years of age too 11! There was a small gravel driveway lined with pomegranate trees and the the house at the end and a bright red barn. I spent a long time just staring at the property from inside my truck. I hadn't been back to this place for 30 years. It was a lot smaller, trust me, I had climbed every inch of this place on all sides of the crossroad. I remembered good times. It was bittersweet. For some reason, I couldn't bring myself to drive up to the farm. It was okay though.

          When I finally left it was getting dark. I drove down the road a few miles, found another 10,000 tree orange grove, pulled in and situated my truck between two orange trees. I slept in the back of my truck in California's beautiful summer weather, smelling orange blossoms and the whole thing lulling me to sleep.

          Enough of this mushy stuff! Lets get on with SURVIVING! Ha ha!

          - End of part seven -
          Last edited by Buggyout; 10-09-2012, 01:56 PM.
          I'm not a fatalist. I'm a realist.


          • #20
            The locomotive of California puppy dog and rainbows hit head on with the larger locomotive of California reality when I entered Bakersfield! My first lovely sight was a large trash bin and some tires burning down at the end of a cul-de-sac of shanty-dilapidated family homes. No one around. No fire department. Hello you real California! Nice to see you again!

            Bakersfield is one of those towns were you have to look hard to find anything decent. (Sorry Bakersfield) I didn’t and attempted to drive straight on through….

            That’s when my truck broke down, it’s Alternator blown. In the town of Bakersfield , no less.

            I was once again plunged back into survival mode. This is a tough city. I knew I was running on battery power and knew that if I turned my truck off, I’d end up stranded. I thought up a solution, I would drive to the local airport and park my truck in one of their free lots. No dice! No free parking. I next considered Walmart and decided if I left it there, it would be towed. Time was running out for me and my old truck.

            I drove around and finally found a self-park sell your car lot in what I hoped was a good part of town and near a fairly nice strip mall. I was almost out of gas when I found the place. I pulled up and parked between two other cars . When I turned off my truck, I got no power from my dead battery. My idea was to go to a Dollar Tree store in the strip mall, buy a for sale sign, and place it inside my truck. Now mind you, I didn’t really want to sell my truck, just make it…uh…appear as if I was selling it until I could get an alternator. I walked to the Dollar Tree where it dawned on me what a really bad idea this was. I had no phone.

            I sat their outside the store and thought about what I could do. The only options I had were to call my mom and take her up on wiring me the cash? I could sell my truck for a tiny amount? I could leave it parked there hitch a ride to Los Angles, find work and then take a bus back once I had enough money.

            The idea of not having my vehicle rattled me. I started getting down. I only had a few bucks left and I was stuck in Bakersfield. I remember sitting there saying to myself: “Think dude, think”. It looked like a no win situation.

            I walked back to my truck. I left the cooler in the front seat, and took my pack out. I left one propane tank in back of the truck along with my water jugs. I left two pairs of footwear behind the seat, along with my tools and, which I would later regret: My tent. I stuffed my pack with as much food as I could carry. When I heaved my pack – now over at least 70 Lbs because of the canned goods, I decided to take one jug of water.

            Here we go! This is when the story gets interesting.

            I had no clue where I was immediately going. I again thought about finding a Mission. I thought about flying a sign. I thought about calling on the bank of mom. Without getting to far into my relationship with my mom, that was a hard thing to do. I was a type-A personality (Former!) and the whole ego and pride thing…. I had eased my pride, going against my dithers and beliefs a few times during this little trip already. Mom help was WAY down the list.

            I walked a good seven miles or so into the main city ( or so I thought) of Bakersfield. I passed fast food joints and a bunch of Hispanic ethnic stores. It dawned on me that I could possibly be in trouble.

            -End of page 8 -
            I'm not a fatalist. I'm a realist.


            • #21
              I walked through Bakersfield as the sun went down carrying my pack over my shoulders and the water jug in my hand. I wish I hadn’t left my spear, or, I mean “Walking stick” back in Idaho. You really can hear gunshots and screams and such in southern Cali! It was getting dark, and I was running out of options.

              I did find a 7-11 that was quite busy. I thought maybe I could just hang around the place all night. The people the night brought out changed my mind. In a rash and unsettled mind, I decided to vamoose the city and head for the hills! I knew that the “Grapevine” was south of Bakersfield. I also couldn’t remember how far. The Grapvine is a steep pass into the Los Padres National Forest leading to LA. Bakersfield was 50-70 miles from the outskirts of Los Angles.

              I couldn’t see the mountains as it was dark as I made my way out of the city. The stores and homes trickled down until finally I hit farmer’s fields. I tried to stay within sight of the main road heading south. I kept walking checking my compass by flashlight, to make sure I was heading in the right direction. This part of California is generally dry, so water would be a problem. I didn’t want to hit the foothills (mountains) without losing sight of the main road; Hwy 99.

              The good news was that there weren’t a lot of fences and such separating the fields. I was pretty much able to walk straight through and keep the road in sight. I walked until I couldn’t, then laid in a ditch with my poncho liner. Even though I had done this a hundred times in the Army, this was a tough time for me. I didn’t sleep much and was really questioning my decision making abilities.

              In the morning, I was awoken by farm equipment in the distance. I took a long drink of my now half jug of water and ate Ramen raw and a can of chili cold. I could now see the Grapvine and mountains in the distance. I figured they were another 20 miles the very least. I had far underestimated the distance to the pass.

              I decided that I would head back to Hwy 99 , find a gas station and try to hitch a ride. I walked another 2 hours.

              Now, this was the first time I had really done any arduous exercise. Remember that I had spent four months inside my house before leaving. I was in good shape during my career as a soldier and cop. Four months of lying around killed my endurance and cardio though. Add that with all the weight (Muscle) I lost and the pack I carried - you could imagine how difficult it was for me to trudge my way through these fields. I wrote that I wasn’t sure how far I walked the previous night. Using Google maps now, to the best of my recollection, it was at least ten miles to get out of Bakersfield. I hiked around another five miles the next day until I came upon a truck stop.

              It was hot out, I was able to fill my now empty jug of water using a hose at the station. I went in and bought two Power Bars with the rest of my change. I sat outside and ate both of them. It’s , to this day, still hard for me to ask for help. I knew I needed it though. Bakersfield was too far back to walk. I had to make a decision whether to hitch a ride back to Bakersfield and use the Bank of Mom to wire me money, or hitch a ride to Los Angles, get a job, make money and take a bus back, repair my truck and be on my way! The whole LA idea wasn't looking as good of an idea as I thought.

              I had far...far underestimated the situation. Once again.

              - End of page 9 -
              I'm not a fatalist. I'm a realist.


              • #22
                I sat there, in the gas station and mentally went over my predicament. To tell you the truth, I didn't care about my truck. I would rather just find someway to the Grapevine Pass and into the wilderness again. Well, That's what I wrote in my journal that evening, anyhow. I'm glad I didn't abandon the truck!

                I had food to last a week and a half. Water wasn't a problem as I thought in these farmlands, there was always a leaky irrigation pipe main. I filled my jug often. I sweated a lot that's for sure!, Whew!

                I then made the rational decision to head back, hitch a hide and maybe fly the sign for money (Panhandle). I remember standing, stretching my sore and tired body and heading back towards Bakersfield. It took me most of the day to get a ride in the back of an old pickup truck. I made it back to my truck late into the evening, still having to hoof it a bit. It was there, undamaged. The propane canister in the back bed was gone. I was so tired, that my need for sleep overcame my paranoia. After scratching in my journal, I slept in the truck until morning.

                The next day I woke up early. I was sore, hungry and ticked off. (Go figure!) I got up and headed to use the bathroom at a gas station across the way. I changed clothing and put my dirty, sweaty clothing in a plastic bag. I washed up as best as I could and headed out.

                My next stop was an auto parts store. I priced an alternator at only $40! This was a lot less than I expected. I was thrilled and rejuvenated at the prospect of repairing the truck. I knew that I had the tools to make the easy repair. Now, my big problem was getting cash! Mom option was still out. Getting temp work was still a problem in this town for some reason. That left panhandling. Again. *sigh* I was very passive the first time I did it. I now had a better idea. I found a large cardboard box, and using the charcoal from the inside of a burn barrel I found, I wrote in huge black letters; "VET needs HELP" I put it in front of my truck and opened the hood.

                I'd like to tell you that the money came in by the boat-load. It didn't. I had parked in a very busy part of town so that nobody would mess with my truck. People looked like they were just ignoring me as they drove about. Maybe they thought I really didn't need the repairs. Maybe I just looked like I wasn't desperate enough. Maybe, and this one probably right, they just didn't have the money to give. I made $15 that day, $9 dollars the next and $26 the day after. That was $50! Enough for the part. I still needed gas. I had another idea for that. The alternator went in easy. It was a little hard finding a jump. I finally got the truck running!

                - End of page ten -
                Last edited by Buggyout; 10-10-2012, 11:01 AM.
                I'm not a fatalist. I'm a realist.


                • #23
                  I think you should wright a book on your experience…Wow!!!That is quite a story.
                  I bet you feel better just getting it off your chest. You should be really proud of yourself, a lot of people can learn from reading this.
                  "One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors." Plato

                  That Government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves.

                  — Thomas Jefferson

                  You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.

                  — Abraham Lincoln

                  I was so embarrassed today. I got caught peeing in the pool. When the lifeguard yelled at me I jumped and damn near fell in.



                  • #24
                    Damn Buggy, that sure is a tale. These others are right though. if you could expand this a little and maybe even try going back to a few of the places to get some pictures, you've got a very good short story going here.

                    I'm eager for the next installment and I appreciate the sacrifice you're making by digging into your past and sharing with us all.
                    I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you!


                    • #25
                      Originally posted by CountryGuy View Post
                      Damn Buggy, that sure is a tale. These others are right though. if you could expand this a little and maybe even try going back to a few of the places to get some pictures, you've got a very good short story going here.

                      I'm eager for the next installment and I appreciate the sacrifice you're making by digging into your past and sharing with us all.
                      I wouldn't be able to really write anything without my Journal. I just found the thing a few weeks ago. It really helps me remember things in order of how they appear. I've been told that "Baring ones soul not only helps you, put those around you" Or some such...

                      I appreciate you all reading my dribble, it gives me something to do. :)

                      - Buggy
                      Last edited by Buggyout; 10-10-2012, 12:10 PM.
                      I'm not a fatalist. I'm a realist.


                      • #26
                        My next problem was gas. I decided to go to the local police department and ask if they had "ministerial assistance" program, helping with gas and such. A thing not a lot people don't know, is that most larger departments do have these programs. I was given information on a few churches in town that helped people. I traveled to the first one and told the staff there a little of my story. I was always honest with people during this whole trip. I didn't need to make up a stories that a lot of homeless do. Come to find out, because of the economy was a mess, a lot normal folks were needing help.

                        Now, there is what I call the "Professional" homeless. These guys, like "John" I met in Boise know all the tricks. They actually enjoy being homeless. Or they nurse a chemical addiction problem. I talked with one guy back in the mission in Reno who told me that he could easily make $200 in a large city like Seattle or San Fransisco panhandling off the streets. He told me that he would choose the more liberal cities because they were the ones most likely to give more. Funny that. He even said he would make himself appear MORE homeless when he was out there. Ha ha! Actually dress the part.

                        Now, the ethical dilemma of me getting help, I have to be honest with you all. I still struggle with it. I could have called family at any time during this and had a way out. So the question was, did I really need the help? Once all the dust settled, I found out the reasons why I was so irrational, angry and depressed during those days. I found out just why I had lost my job, marriage and! I was dealing with a deep rooted case of untreated PTSD from the war in Iraq. Shoot... There is more to the story that I am not telling you all because I want to stay with the whole survival theme. About me taking a second mortgage on my house, flying out to Denver and spending it on a gal I had met on the internet - buying HER a dang wedding ring! Ha ha! About just why I had lost my cop job! It could have made a darn good TV crime mini-series! I'll be glad to PM anyone with the story!

                        The whole reason for all of it was this; I was suffering those days from all the crap I had seen as a soldier and then keeping it hidden and shoveling all the crap on top being a cop. Once I started treatment, PTSD is treatable, I was near right as rain after a year or so. *crazy eyes* :cool: lol Enough of that!

                        The church I visited was able to fill my truck's tank and give me a coupon for lunch! I thanked them and soon was driving down Hwy 99 instead of walking. I made it to the steep incline into the foothills of the Grapevine. I had walked nearly 12 miles the other day and would have walked another 20+ to make the foothills.

                        The mountains(foothills) separating California's interior farmlands from the big city of Los Angles are pretty sparse in trees and vegetation. As anyone familiar with these areas know, it's more grassland than forest! I decided to camp before I hit the turbulence of the big city.

                        I found a nice dirt road ten miles from Santa Clarita. There are a couple lakes up here that I fished with my grandpa as a small kid. The land had changed though. There were people, houses and more people. I could start to see the slow surge of humanity towards LA! I drove past people car camping, like me. People with packs hiking or with motorcycles. Homeless people. These mountains were not desolate anymore as I remembered. It was a sad thing.

                        I wasn't looking forward to Los Angles. The last thing I wanted to visit was a teaming super-city. I knew that LA would be my best way of making money. There was the whole "Finding my dad" thing also. Shoot, I didn't know if he were alive, much less where he was. I guess deep down this was the reason drawing me to this place. I started up my little stove and made some hot ramen and mixed a can of chili and a can of tuna fish into it. YUM! I laid across my front seat, and went to sleep in more or less peace.

                        The next morning I drove south then again up onto the foothills to take a look at the sprawling expanse of Los Angles!!! true to form, It went as far as the eye can see. I decided to drive in, park at one of the giant malls and head on foot. I would have loved to have a sack full of change for the buses and such. I had sucked up all the spare coins I could in the truck back in Idaho.

                        Back on the road onto I-5, the interstate! it opened up from a two lane to a five lane highway! (And MORE!) Full of cars after dipping into the city and they were all doing 80+ Mpg!! Bumper to bumper 80+ Mph!!! I was way out of my comfort zone to say the least. I hit the 405 and headed towards Santa Monica. It was there I found a mall, parked and hoofed it towards the ocean. I ended up in Venice Beach. I was unprepared for the amount of weirdos I found there!

                        -End of part 11-
                        Last edited by Buggyout; 10-10-2012, 12:19 PM.
                        I'm not a fatalist. I'm a realist.


                        • #27
                          Glad to hear you got help for the PTSD. It's a strange creature that can stalk you for years. Almost lost my wife because of it. Glad to hear the treatment helped you.



                          • #28
                            Venice Beach??!!!!



                            • #29
                              So buggy, I see a running theme and I have to ask; do you anywhere in your preps today have room for Ramen noodles, chili, or tuna fish? I'm thinking after a few months of combining that every which way you'd probably care to not have it ever again...

                              That or your hopelessly addicted to the stuff and now own stock in those companies...
                              I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you!


                              • #30
                                Originally posted by CountryGuy View Post
                                So buggy, I see a running theme and I have to ask; do you anywhere in your preps today have room for Ramen noodles, chili, or tuna fish? I'm thinking after a few months of combining that every which way you'd probably care to not have it ever again...

                                That or your hopelessly addicted to the stuff and now own stock in those companies...
                                lololol Nawww! I stay away from those items to this day! Ha! Ramen is okay, you can eat it raw! Taste like potato chips. . I carry Lipton sides, peanut butter, soup mixes, spices when I'm hiking nowadays. For preps, I do beans and rice - plus canned veggies and spices and gravies and such for the long haul!

                                Here are some pictures from a car camp where I traveled around the south a few months back:

                                - Buggy
                                Last edited by Buggyout; 10-10-2012, 05:56 PM.
                                I'm not a fatalist. I'm a realist.