A few weeks ago, Stag Hunt was lucky enough to stumble into a fellow pioneering spirit in Michael Jon Leonard. We met in the internets great bazaar (also known as Craigslist) and he quickly hit the ground running filming a documentary. Armed with big ideas and a conviction that change demanded the people's involvement, we set out to "walk the earth". Below we continue his unedited account of the tour.
Back in LA..
After three nights in Joshua Tree, we are back in LA.. The first leg of the tour is over. I am happy to report that no one was stung by a scorpion or eaten by a mountain lion.
Cruising into LA County, after dropping David off at his girlfriend’s house, Patrick and I headed to his parents home. These two individuals are excellent homo sapiens. They live in a suburb just north of LA known as La Crescenta. You may remember hearing news reports about this little nook in the world a few years ago, when a massive wave of mud came down from the mountains and taking with almost everyone’s car.
It is easy to see why Patrick’s dream is to spearhead Staghunt, a magazine about the Pioneering Spirit and Bureaucratic Reformation. Last night, while eating dinner, we debated about funding for state and national parks. Both his mother and father have a clear enthusiasm about conservation and political reform. Not only are they probing conversationalists, their home is brimming with landscape photography, heaps of well read National Geographic’s, Copies of the Economist and a handful of the esoteric but highly revered Nature Magazine, the Ageless Great Grandfather of all Scientific Journals..
Today we are resting and cleaning out the car. Patrick’s mother was nice enough to let us use her Ford Escape Hybrid. If there has ever a been an ideal road trip vehicle, this is it. It comes complete with a surf board rack, a three prong outlet (handy for apple lap tops : ) two outlets for cell phone chargers, built in gps, and get’s 30 mpg; road warrior! Thanks Mrs. Atwater!!
To recap the trip - since my last post,
I hammock’ed two nights at Stanford..
-The first night at Stanford we interviewed Patrick’s old college chum, who is now working on his Graduate Education in Biology.
-The next morning we woke and headed to San Francisco. We had a full day of interviews with young entrepreneurs that are exploring creative solutions on the next frontier of technology.
-At the end of the day on Tuesday a small slice of misfortune came our way. After a wonderful meal and interview with Abhi Nemani the Executive Director of Code for America. I ran out to the car to grab my equipment, for a late night interview on the peer. I grabbed my backpack and ran to catch up with the guys..
An hour later, our spirits were high after a full day of success. Sadly, as we turned the corner to head to the car. We noticed the window was shattered. After assessing the damage, we realized that David’s laptop and cell phone had been stolen. David was discouraged to say the least. None of us really knew what to do, should we end the tour early? No, we had to trek on.
David’s cell phone being gone meant we could no longer tether wifi from the Car, thus coffee shops became oh so valuable. The next morning we let David hang loose and relax, while I headed to Coho’s, the official Stanford Coffee Shop, to do a little editing..
Being at Stanford was extremely epic for me. A week before, while wrestling with my reservations about the trip, I watched the famous graduation speech by Steve Jobs at Stanford. In it he spoke of his wild ambitions, dropping out of college to couch surf. How he sat in on classes and said no to the pressures of ‘the Man,’ in order to pursue what he thought was important. He finished the speech by telling students two things, “Stay Hungry and Stay Foolish!” There I was, a week later doing just that. Hammock’ed up in the Trees of Stanford, pursuing what held value in my heart, rather than a dollar sign or a status quo.
Slept on a picnic table in North Mendocino..
-Traveling with these guys was at times frustrating. Though we have an excellent group dynamic, we do things a little differently. For instance, on Tuesday Night, David was still bummed about San Fran stealing his lap top and felt strongly that we needed to head up North a little early. He was ready to check out and catch some surf. I was reluctant. Knowing that Silicone Valley held such great potential for the documentary, it seemed foolish to head on up North. As usual, Patrick was bi-partisan. In the end, as the intern, I let David make the call. So at 9pm we headed four hours North.
Upon arriving at the Campsite at 1am, I crashed out on a picnic table with my sleeping bag; thus ending my week long stent with hammocks.
(According to Meyers Briggs, David and I are both ENTJ’s and Patrick is an INTJ)
In the morning we woke early and headed to search for some waves. It took us two hours, but what we found was gold. The first four footers of the entire trip. .
Northern California is unlike the rest of the state. A staple retirement mecca for old hippies. Here, the trees canopy the roads winding along the coast, with large snaky S turns that reveal cliffs covered in lush greens. It is Eden at it’s best.
This was the only day of the trip entirely devoted to rest. We surfed and bouldered on the beach until 3 (all three of us forgot to put on sunscreen). After verbalizing our slight remorse for our skin, we ate some avocados and packed in the car to head to my Cousin Bob’s. We drove through the Redwoods to get to Wine Country. We were greeted by a feast of grilled pizza, kale salad, pinot noir and some incredible bleu cheese.
Bob and Kathy are physically the most distant of members of my family, however, the kindredness is vivd in my heart and mind. Bob was the best man in my parents wedding, he lives in Sonoma and has been working in marketing and advertising for the past three decades..
He marveled us with the stories of his own adventures. i.e. falling in love with Kathy from across the country, and the day that Steve Jobs and Apple walked into his office for the original Apple Marketing Plan.
He went on to tell me, the story of my Great Grandfather Dutch (of Dutch’s in Hyde Park). How he had traveled out west with Bob’s Father in a Model T Ford. That it was the Leonard Family Vision to return and live in California. The Spirit of Cincinnati swallowed up that dream, for three generations. He said, “When I was your age, I would have rather been a garbage man in California than a marketing executive in Cincinnati. The spirit here is so much stronger, you can became anything, and people believe it!”
Salud to healthy lifestyles!
That night, we were all so happy to be in a home. I slept on an air mattress and had vivid dreams of the future.
The next morning we woke, headed into Sonoma for coffee and made a surprise visit to Jack London State Park. This was serendipity at her best. Jack London is a famous California philosopher, not to mention, David’s favorite author. We explored his work, had an interview with the Park’s Head of Education, and then drove to a Winery.
Leaving Sonoma, we headed to Berkeley. Berkeley was complete improv. We were only going to be there for the night and were toying with the idea of sleeping with the homeless. However, as we parked the car, Serendipity Graced us once more. Walking from the car to Freedom Cafe, we heard, “Oh my God, Patrick Atwater!” We turned to see a Beautiful Young Hawaiian Woman named Rosie. David and I soon learned, that she had studied with Patrick in undergrad. She had just moved to Berkeley, to begin work on her PHD in Clinical Psychology and was flabbergasted to meet us.
This gal was lovely and within minutes she had offered us her couch and balcony for hammocks. In return, we made her dinner and together we shared stories of our adventures. She had spent the Summer in Patagonia, and was brimming with the Spirit of the Mountains.
In the morning, after a latte, we headed out for the craziest 18 hours of driving that I have ever experienced. We had three interviews, here is how it went.
—Berkeley to Bakersfield (4hrs. South)
-Josiah Royce Foundation- Famous California Philosopher-Export on Community
—Bakersfield to Tehachapi (1 hr. East) -
Caeser Chavez Foundation (immigration reform) *shout out to Sonny Varela
—Tehachapi to Fresno (3hrs. Northwest)
Marcus Evans Ruiz, author of California’s Next Century 2.0
—Fresno to Joshua Tree (5.5 hours South, into the desert)
Landing in Joshua Tree (@4am) we were greeted by a wild dog and a scorpion. This encouraged me for the first time on tour to break out the tent.
In Joshua Tree, I was able to teach the guys a small bit about rock climbing. By 3pm it was 110 degrees , this is where the story shifted from adventure to survival and for the first time, I was ready to be off the road.
For the next two weeks we will be story boarding and draft editing. I am looking forward to telling this story, and using it to offer creative solutions to the opportunity deficit our generation is working to overcome..
Later this week,we are launching Staghunt TV Episode 2. It it a teaser interview from our bit in San Francisco. Capturing the Silicone Valley Zeitgeist, episode 2 highlights the value of a shared economy, expresses the need for governmental innovation in education reform, and praises companies like AirBnB.com, that have pioneered recovery by developing creative solutions during our economic fallout..
Needless to say, as I regain strength from proper rest, there are many more posts to come.Thank you to all of you for your encouraging thoughts and prayers along the way..