The Poor Part of Silicon Valley


The fire in Modoc Forest successfully put out by the firefighters that we fed and our pockets significantly heavier, Jade and I decided to resume vacation mode. After completing some overdue truck repairs, we fled the incredible heat of the Sacramento Valley and headed to the coast for some sea breezes and long hikes. Though unregulated logging companies had managed to destroy more than 90% of the old growth forests in the Pacific Northwest, a handful of Redwoods in far NW California still stood, and we made camp a few miles south. Not wanting to miss a thing, we decided to walk the longest day hike in the forest. Though our calves regretted this decision about halfway through, the views of some of the last remaining old-growth Redwoods was unforgettable, and a highlight of the trip so far. Filled with awe and soaked in sweat, we snuck into a nearby campground and showered, then headed south again. The Bay was waiting for us.

Highway 1 is famous for its incredible views and sharp curves, and Jade and I ingested a full day’s worth in our loaded-to-capacity truck at about half the speed limit. We made it to the Bay and shot through to Palo Alto, cradle of Silicon Valley and a city welcoming to RV-dwellers. We camped on a busy thoroughfare with dozens of RV neighbors, paid $8 for a beer at a bar hosting a Google Corporation function in the back, and crashed. The next few days were spent searching out the cheap bars and reconnecting with a few of Jade’s friends – Eddy, a fellow survivor of Grand Island, NE, and aspiring student loan-sufferer at Stanford, and Blake, a roving communist currently fighting corporate control and government censorship of the internet at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. We toured the Museum of Capitalism, a traveling exhibition of the horrors of the free market, and sampled some of the finest faux meat we have ever tasted first at a Chinese Kitchen and then at a Vegan Soul Food joint. After hearing horror stories of rental prices $2500 for a one-bedroom is considered reasonable in San Francisco proper), we decided to commute in the rest of our Bay activities, and moved our parking spot to my new in-law’s driveway.

Christa and Jeremy (along with their lovely au pair, Andrea) raise their two young children in a small exurb called Orinda, and graciously opened up their home to us for a long stretch of our stay in the Bay. We talked politics and rent prices, cooked for each other, and generally hung out for a few days. In between the nights in Orinda, we managed to find vegan sushi burritos, visit the former HQ of the Black Panther Party (now a pastry shop), tour Berkeley’s campus, avoid the worst-smelling of the hippies in Haight-Ashbury, and generally see everything that was free to see in the Bay.

Seeking to work in food service a bit more, we met up with the Oakland Catholic Worker, a very well-organized group of Christian anarchists who had us help them with a grocery giveaway, one almost identical to one the Des Moines Worker runs but with 5 times the food and participants. Like every good Catholic Worker, the Oakland CW operates a hospitality/charity function but also regularly practices political activism, and we made plans to meet up at an upcoming demonstration. After the terrorist attack in Charlottesville, right-wing extremists were launching a new wave of rallies, including two in the Bay area in two days. Because Nazis don’t protest themselves, Jade and I are preparing for a weekend of antifascist demonstrating with comrades from the San Francisco DSA and Oakland CW. See you on the streets!


The legacy of the Panthers lives on at ‘It’s All Good Bakery’. Kind of.


Beach camp, twilight.


Jade is on a pier, with a new hat.


Patrick is also on a pier, and also has a new hat.


These are some Redwoods that are alive.


This is Jade on a Redwood that didn’t make it.


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