I wanted to leave Arcata, CA.  I was uncomfortable there. I was staying in a hostel a few miles from Redwood National Park.

I have never seen more hippies in one place in my entire life. I felt uneasy talking to them. I feel more comfortable talking to the suits than I do hippies, especially young ones. I admit I come with preconceived notions. They are stoned all the time. They make no logical sense. They are physically dirty. They have no focus or purpose in life. They seem to care about the environment and the world but don’t seem to do anything productive to make it better. They talk a lot about preservation and conservation but spend a lot of time getting high. While in Arcata I saw hippies living in vans, cars, converted school busses and on the street. It was unsettling to me that in a project where I am trying to free myself from typical “corporate America” I couldn’t bring myself to talk much with those who claim to be most “free”.

Maybe they have a backup a plan. Maybe there is a hidden hippie support network they can tap into at any time. What I did see reinforced many of the stereotypes. At $40 per night the hostel in Arcata was for the slightly more well off hippies. Many were from outside the US. Regardless, there was a lot of pot smoking, random people sneaking in to sleep on the couch in the common area and scrounging of the shared kitchen for whatever has been abandoned. After some quick research I come to find out that Arcata is one of the top destinations for hippies in the U.S. (https://www.thrillist.com/travel/nation/the-most-hippie-towns-in-america)

However, I feel like I missed an opportunity to learn more about their lifestyle and values. I am all for minimalism, conservation, environmental stewardship, travel, life experiences and having a good time. It just seems unfocused. Maybe that’s the point?

As my trip continues I will not miss opportunities to learn again. I need to expand my comfort zone. Now time to learn from the everyone. We can all learn from each other.

Now, I’m sure many of my friends are thinking, Bill leaves his corporate job to visit our country’s most unspoiled natural locations and spend hours in the outdoors running long distances for no apparent reason. He lives in a tent on top of his Subaru. He sold or donated almost everything he has. He wears the same clothes for a week. He wears Birkenstock sandals, sometimes with socks. He spends his “free” time meditating, reading, writing and contemplating life and fate. I thought Bill was a hippie.

Wait, maybe I am.