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Today I was talking to my friend about graduating college – a thing he and I both are going to experience here pretty soon – May 5th, 2013, to be exact. He was telling me his post-graduation plans, and I was keeping quiet about my own. I don’t really know yet where I’m going go, what I’m going to do. I also told him that the more college classes I take, the less intelligent I feel.

I think there’s a lot of different ways you can take that statement. It can mean that I’ve realized how unintelligent I am, or how bad at college I am – But that’s not what I meant.

I meant that the more college classes I take – the more information I take into my brain, the more subjects I get exposed to, the more history I find out about, the more people I learn about that I previously didn’t know existed – the more unintelligent I feel. I’m graduating from college soon, but I don’t feel like I know very much at all.

As my graduation date approaches, I’m beginning to wish I would have double-majored. Or took a third minor. Or majored in Theatre, or Linguistics, or French, or Biology. I’m not done learning – I don’t think I ever will be. I don’t think I’ll ever feel like I know enough – like I’m intelligent enough.

Sure, I could keep going to school for forever – for the rest of my life. Maybe I would do that, if it didn’t cost thousands of dollars per year. But people don’t go to college to learn, they go to get jobs.

So, in order to keep learning, without going to college – what do I do? How do keep experiencing things in my life  which will improve my understanding of the world? Or the universe? How can I feel like each day is improving the person that I am?

Do I just have to find a job that I like? That makes me happy? Do I just use my college education for what it’s meant for: getting a higher-than-minimum-wage-paying job?

Do I travel? Do I meet and talk to new people as often as possible? Do I read books and blogs and listen to podcasts and radio programs and watch cool movies?

What do I do?

Once they had me that scrap of slightly-thicker-than-normal paper with my name on it, what do I do?

My entire day in San Francisco was kind of a hilarious disaster.

Nicole and I got up early in time to catch the free breakfast at our hotel. Carrying our bowls of cereal, cups of juice, and plates of waffles, we headed back to eat in our room since the “breakfast room” was full.

That was the plan anyway. Our hotel room door wouldn’t open. Somehow the lock mechanism had broken or gotten stuck in the door, and our door card couldn’t open the lock.

So, I set (carefully!) my waffles and juice onto the floor, told Nicole to guard them, and headed down (from the sixth floor) to the main lobby via the staircase (the creaky old elevator is an entire, even longer, story). I told the guy at the desk that my card wouldn’t open the door – so he gave me a new one – card, not a new door. Although, as it turned out, that’s what we needed… sort of…

Did the new card open the door? Nope! Although, we did try to make it work several more times. Then, Nicole took over (while I guarded the now-soggy cereal) and marched (again) down the stairs to the lobby.

After about 15 minutes (and one European couple’s strange looks at me as I stood looming over several plastic plates full of food in the corner of a hallway), Nicole returned – with the Manager! We were finally saved!

Yes, it was that dramatic.

Only – no, we weren’t. The manager had brought another key. And, when he tried to open the door himself – it didn’t work! Surprise! So, back down to the lobby he went. Finally, he returned with the (magic) master key (card), and got our door open in one swipe!

In we barged into our room, soggy cereal and waffles in hand. The manager said he would get us a new room, and then he left. Yes, we then ate our cold, soggy, breakfast. And it was good!

Later, after transferring all of our stuff into a new room (right across the hall from the “breakfast room”!), we were off to explore San Francisco. We even had a route mapped out. First, to the cable cars! Then, to Pier 39 to see the sea lions, then off to the Golden Gate Bridge, and, lastly, a stop at the Golden Gate Park.

However, disaster followed us throughout the day. I could write forever on all that happened to us, so I’ll just give you the summary.

Cable Cars? That went well enough. We found the ticket booth easily, stood in line for twenty minutes to get tickets, and then went to board a car. Only, there was an hour-long line to board. The walk to Pier 39 was only 45 minutes from where the cable cars were located – it would have taken us way longer to wait for the cable cars than it would to walk there! So, we decided to walk down a couple blocks and try to get on the car further down. However, that didn’t work out – turns out, most of the people who got on at the first stop wanted to get off at the last stop.

“Next car, guys!” – Cable car driver, as he drove past the group of people waiting under the bus stop sign.

So, we walked. Up, up, up the steep roads between us and the bay. Finally, we reached Pier 39.

There were no sea lions at Pier 39.

Turns out, we visited during their mating season – a time when they are far, far, away from San Francisco. There were only three sea lions to be seen. Two of them were snoozing on the “sea lion dock”, while one was attempting to snooze on the “boat dock”. We watched then as a dock worker, pushing a large garbage can in front of him, attempted to scare the sea lion off the dock and into the water. He managed to do so – but only after the sea lion ran towards the man, literally barking mad.

With nothing much else to see at the pier, we were off to the Golden Gate bridge. We hopped on a city bus – which promptly took us in the wrong direction. Yes, we took the wrong bus – all the way to its last stop. Then, we waited for the bus driver to take his break… and, finally, we hopped on the bus again, this time headed in the correct direction, and made our way to the bridge.

It is beautiful! Quite a sight. Once we had snapped enough photos of the bridge itself, we wandered around the area a bit and read up on some Golden Gate history.

It was about 6:00PM when we decided to head to our last stop – the golden gate park.

To get there, we had to take a bus, and then another bus – and then, one more. We were bus-riding professionals by the end of the day! Well, sort of…

We got off at the wrong stop – one stop too early. We were close to the park, though! And during our walk of several blocks to catch a bus towards our hotel, we managed to see some pretty spectacular sights. We saw some of the park, so we were happy.

Until we realized, about an hour later, that we were, in fact, horrible bus-riding professionals.

After a half-hour of walking to our next bus stop, we sat down at the bench and waited. I noticed a phone number that was available to call that would tell you the next time the bus was predicted to arrive at your particular stop – so, I called.

“There are no predicted times for your stop. Either the prediction equipment is damaged, or there are no scheduled stops for your location in the next 90 minutes.”

What? Oh, crap.

With the way our luck had been going so far that day, we decided that the latter was probably the actual reason there was no prediction. So, on we walked, toward the direction of our hotel – miles and miles across town.

Then, we spotted a bus on the route we had been wanting! It was going in the wrong direction – but we knew how to handle that: We would simply ride the bus all the way to its end, then ride it back again. We were desperate for a ride at that time (it was getting dark, and we were tired), so we hopped on the bus, and waited.

“Last stop!” – Driver

“Are you going ‘round again?” – Me

“No, this is the last stop. Busses don’t go in that direction anymore tonight.” – Driver

“…” – Me and Nicole

Yes, we had taken the bus in the entirely wrong direction, and now we found ourselves even farther from our hotel, with no bus to take us in the opposite direction.

We stood on the corner as our last hope drove away.

Yes, it was that dramatic.

Then, a woman walking nearby asked if we needed help. Yes! Yes, we did!

(I would like to interrupt myself to say thank you! Thank you, San Francisco, and your people, for being so kind to visitors in your city! We had several people offer to assist us over the course of the two days we were in your city, and whether we needed it or not, it was much appreciated. Thank you!)

Turns out, we were only a block away from where we needed to be: At the stop for the bus that would actually take us all the way back to downtown San Fran. And, as the cherry on top of that good news: the bus was going to stop right by our hotel! We were saved!

Yes, it was that dramatic.

Getting on that bus was the best moment of that day. We didn’t have to walk anymore! We were on our way home! To food! To our beds! To not being lost!

And, after arriving, finally, at our hotel, we marched right over to our trusty Jack in the Box and ordered dinner. (Well, we marched there while assisting a blind man across the street… but that’s an entire different, and longer, story.)

What a day. What a long, hilariously disaster-filled day. What a wonderful, San Francisco filled day. Good night!

I’m going to California tomorrow.

Ok, ok – that’s not totally true. I’m going towards California tomorrow. I’ll be on my way to California tomorrow. It just sounds better the other way.

Me and my pal Nicole [N.] are off on a 8 day summer journey – from Detroit, Mi to Phoenix, from Phoenix to Las Vegas, and (finally!) on to California. We’ll be renting a tiny car to drive up and down and all over California and the west coast (also Vegas).

And it all starts tomorrow. My bags are (partially) packed! I’m ready! Let’s do this!

Since I’m pretty sure our packed-full days are going to fly by, I’ve decided to lug along my computer (through airport security! wish me luck!) and write a daily nightly post here on my beautiful site!

So, if you really want to, you can follow along with me as I discover California…

California is important to me in a big way. I’ve never been there (I don’t count a 30 minute drive-through on a family trip to Arizona), not really, but I’ve wanted to go there for a long time now. A lot of the people I really admire either lived or worked or visited there. (Also, I really like oceans…)

I just feel like there’s a force that’s pulling people towards certain places – like London, or New York, or… California. There are places people just want to go.

So, this isn’t just a fun summer vacation with friends – this trip holds a lot of meaning to me. Who knows, I may fall in love and move to CA after college – or maybe I’ll hate it there! (Yeah, right.)

We shall see… Oh, and if you’re reading this and you’re from the LA area, or you’ve been there — Where should I go? What should I see? Tell me everything!

This is a picture from 1601 of what our world was thought to look like.

I feel like I could end this post right now and it would be amazing enough for someone to spend their time reading it. I mean, did you see that first sentence?

  1. In 1601, people were drawing pictures of our planet.
  2. In 1601, people were pretty darn close to drawing pictures of our actual planet.
  3. In 1601, there were actual people doing actual things – like, for example, drawing pictures of our planet.

Just look at that map. Look at all those markings of places that, in 1601, were known to exist.

Today in my travels across the world that is the internet, I discovered that there is such a thing as a World Heritage Site. Basically, a world heritage site is a place that is considered to be significant in our world. Think: Pyramids of Giza, St. Petersburg, Russia, Easter Island. Many buildings are also world heritage sites. Even a field of agave in Mexico is on the list!

Since I’m from the US, here’s map of World Heritage Sites near me:

So many! All of these places are important to our culture and history as a planet.

A few of these markers are close to where I live. I could travel to them in less than a day! These things are so close to us. We are literally surrounded by history! But, we don’t care.

We really don’t! And that is so sad to me. We all go about our own lives – whatever they might be. We are all so caught up in the importance of whatever it is we’re doing at the moment, that we forget about the past.

We forget about 1601. We forget that there have been billions of people who have lived on this planet before us. Before any of our living relatives. Before any of our family history occurred.

Ultimately, it is such a small thing to forget about when compared to everything else we ignore on a daily basis. Our neighbors. Our in-laws. Our melting glaciers.

We own this planet. Earth. It’s ours. All of ours. Yours, mine. And it came free to us, however we came to be here. It should be our most cherished possession – not our iphones, not our t-shirts, not our cars. Instead, we ignore it. And in doing so, we ignore ourselves. We ignore everything we are doing now, and everything we have done. We don’t care that there are special places scattered around the planet. We don’t care that we could go to a place where someone else stood in 1601. In 1201. In 801.

Well, I care. I’m going to go visit those places in my life. I’m going to care about our planet, and our history, and our present, and our future. I hope you will, too.