Tags: fishing licenses


Fear and Loathing in California

Posted by admin on 12/06/11  ~  Posted in: Highway 211

Today things really started to sink in.  We have no home.  We?re not welcome in most places.  We have to pay to be left alone.  Sanctuary only comes to those with money.

The day started off well enough; we woke to the sound of waves crashing against the shore, our window view was the expanse of the Pacific Ocean meeting North America as far as one could see from left to right.  Then as we were laying in bed enjoying all this, taking in the moment, this jackass comes to a skidding halt in front of our van, backs up right in front of it, begins laying on his horn, gets out and starts shouting ?IS ANYONE IN THERE?!  HELLOOOOO!!?  I unzip the window and respond that yes, there is in fact someone in here to which he shouts ?YOU CAN?T OVERNIGHT PARK HERE, ALL THIS LAND ALONG HERE IS PRIVATE PROPERTY AND OWNED BY PEOPLE, I SAW YOU HERE LAST NIGHT!?  ?Alright?, I say ?well we?ll be moving along today.?  Away he storms and takes off down the road.

First of all, there were absolutely no signs denoting anything whatsoever about private property, trespassing, no parking, no camping ? in fact, there were no signs at all.  There were signs across the street along a fenced-in property on the hillside, but we had turned off the road toward the shore, into a large gravel pullout, away from this land on the far side of the road.  Second, I got the impression, by the way he said ?owned by people? that it wasn?t even his land that was across the street ? in fact, I?m sure of it.  After he left it occurred to me that this guy had some serious issues.  We were in our van, which is completely self-contained, parked along a very remote stretch of the California coast, and this guy felt compelled to spoil our enjoyment.  What?s your deal dude?!

This event then launched a long conversation with Shan about property rights and how corrupt our system is that awards some people huge tracts of land while others are given literally nothing.  And ironically, the ones who are given very little tend to be the biggest contributors to society vs. the ones sitting on eight bajillion acres of beachfront trading stocks all day.  But that?s another conversation altogether?

So anyway, we made some breakfast and enjoyed the view from the beachfront gravel turnout we were in, and a hour or so later the guy comes back, skids to a halt behind our van then apparently sits there to write our license plate number down, then skids away.  Whatever.  Ass.

We spent the next hour or so driving the very windy, very rough 211 down the coast to ?town? after ?town? (more like outposts), only one of which had unleaded gas (not premium, which our westy requires) for $4.75 a gallon.  We decided to head back up to the 101 to find some real gas.  At one point, we had to pull over and siphon pump our reserve gas tank into our main tank to ensure we wouldn?t run out entirely.  This was a bit of a pain, but certainly less so than actually running dry.  Thanks Randy for that gas can ? saved our butts!

Finally we ended up in Garberville, a quaint, potentially charming little town if it weren?t for the high population of whacked-out-on-drugs-or-what-have-you-type-folk who were lingering everywhere.  Seriously, it looked sort of like a Stephen King setting, a bit scary and depressing as hell.  It was here that I attempted to purchase a fishing license.  Here comes another rant.

The California fishing situation is like some sort of exercise in just how asinine and convoluted bureaucracy can get.  This may be true with many other states but it?s particularly absurd in California.  For a non-resident annual fishing license it runs about $120.  Ok, a bit steep, but ok.  Certainly better than a $44, 10-day pass.  Or a $250+ fishing-without-a-license ticket.  Oh, plus you have to buy cards to fill out what you catch (as if I?d know a steelhead from a hammerhead shark).  That will run you another $12 or so.  BUT, and here?s the punch line folks, THE ANNUAL CARD IS ONLY GOOD FOR THE CALENDAR YEAR, NOT FROM WHEN YOU BUY IT!  So here it is, December 6th, I don?t know how much longer I?m going to be in the state, we?re passing beautiful rivers every day, and I?m given a choice of a $44, 10-day pass, a $120 annual pass good for the next three weeks, or simply not fishing.  Oh, and to add to this, just because you have a license doesn?t mean you can actually fish.  You have to call the ?fishing hotline? and find out what rivers are open, what rivers closed, for what types of fish, and for what kind of tackle.  So if you?ve got a license and are caught fishing the wrong kind of fish, or with the wrong kind of hook, you can still be fined!

How did we come to this place folks?!  There was a time, not that long ago, when a person could walk, ride or drive across the country, fishing the rivers and lakes, pitching his tent on any flat ground he could find, and wake up to the sun, not an asshole in a pickup truck with nothing better to do than harass passersby.  There was a time, when every piece of land wasn?t privately owned.  There was a time before every river was managed and taxed (and ironically, simultaneously polluted).  There was a time when travelers could travel freely, unafraid of persecution and harassment, reliant only on themselves and their abilities, and those of their travelling partners.  There was a time when things made more sense.

Every parking lot has a price, every campsite a fee.  Every river has a warden, every lake a regulation.  Every tree along every drive has a ?NO TRESPASSING? sign, every overlook a ?NO OVERNIGHT PARKING? sign.  Every transaction has paperwork, every dollar passed, a tax.  There is no free.  If you want to be free in this country, you?d better have a LOT of money.  Freedom doesn?t exist.  We are never free.  We are simply given more choices by an ever smaller, more elite group at the top of the pyramid.  Do you want this microwave meal or that one?  Do you want ESPN or FOX.  Do you want the $25 county park or the $35 state park.  This isn?t freedom, this is the illusion of freedom.  We?re only as free as our purchasing power allows us to be.  If I were in the 1% I wouldn?t want to give it up either.  I?m sure the freedoms they enjoy are very nice indeed.

So here we are, in Mendocino County sitting next to the beach.  We ?stealth camped? last night, a hundred yards down the road from the county park, in a gravel pullout across the street from the ocean.  We rose early, moved the van across the street to the day-use area (NO PARKING 10 P.M. TO 5 A.M.?) and are enjoying the freedoms that we do have.  We can travel, as long as we can pay for gas, food, parts, repairs, campgrounds, permits, taxes, etc.  We can write, as long as our laptops keep running.  We can run and breathe, absorb the sun and the salty air.  We can sit for hours and discuss philosophy and the possibilities for the future, and the future beyond that.  We can contemplate our existence, our individual power and our interconnected nature.  We can be one with the universe, with everything, with everyone.  We can live in the moment.

We just have to stop and leave at 10 P.M?or pay $20.