I walked into the Beachcomber Cafe in Trinidad and instantly recognized Johanna, though I had never seen her before. She had been a virgin, a Christian, a teenaged bride, a dutiful wife, a loving grandchild, and then had grown disenchanted, been taken for granted, divorced, abused. At 30, she was a mother of four. She had just passed her thirtieth birthday in Maui, where she had gone through a ceremony to marry herself. We were both Scorpios, and we talked passionately about our lives and our ideas of ourselves. At the Motel 6 in Arcata, Johanna posed for my first ever nude photo shoot.
The next day, we drove back to Trinidad and walked along the cliff towards Arcata. The road led to the busy, four lane freeway linking the two cities, and we bushwacked through twisted blackberry bramble to avoid walking along the side of the road. A calmer footpath led alongside Clam Beach. We stopped for water and got to talking with Phoenix, who had moved out to study in Eureka after finding god on the Appalachian Trail. He played the banjo until his fingertips succumbed to the wind coming off the ocean.
Johanna and I continued on towards Arcata as the sun set, passing through farmland south of Mckinleyville. Phoenix called: he had a motel room for the night and invited us to share with him. This night, the Motel 6 was busy with young people, and music and pot smoke leaked out of every room. I had reached Arcata, the midway point of my journey between Canada and Mexico, and I was keen to let loose a little and relax. We stayed up late telling stories and playing music, before falling asleep while watching Borat, which helped remind me that things can sometimes be hard to understand.