We arrived in Oceanside, California at about 8am after an overnight bus ride from Merced via LA. Joel and I were there to catch up with a couple of mates from back home, Jason and John. They were staying with Dave, a local surfing photographer. We found out Dave’s address and walked there from the bus station. At first glance Oceanside, right on the beach, seemed nice, quiet and safe. Nothing bad could happen to two happy go lucky blokes from Australia… or so we thought.
We got to Dave’s place and unloaded our kit. There had been no swell for days so Johnny was pretty keen for a few drinks to celebrate our arrival. To the pub it was. It proved to be a constructive session; beers, conversation, a bit of Spanish was learnt and quickly forgotten. Good fun was had by all.
A club offering drink specials was our next port of call. The fun continued unabated long into the night. But there came a point in the early hours of the morning when a thought took root in the depths of my mind. The feeling grew until there was only one option left open to me. It was time to go walkabout.
I am not really sure but there was walking, a freeway, a fence and a fall. And then there was a police officer. He had received a call about a man in a blue shirt wandering the streets carrying a gun. I tried to explain to the officer that my shirt was not blue but he assured me that the stripes on it were blue. Lucky for me, I had left my piece in my other shorts.
I was patted down and given a seat on the curb. More police officers arrived and each one took delight in patting down the drunk Australian. I had a Victorian drivers licence and three bucks in my pocket.
Where was I staying? Ummm, Dave’s place in Oceanside.
It was the best I could manage but after prolonged questioning I managed to convince them that I could find the house. If not, it was to be the drunk tank for Rees Quilford Esquire. Good deal really. I was cuffed and escorted to the free taxi back to Dave’s house.
After the initial shock of seeing me, in handcuffs, being escorted up the stairs by one of Oceanside’s finest, Dave and Jason saw the humorous side of the situation. It turns out that I had had been on quite an adventure, wandering about 8 miles into one of the seedier parts of town. A place where bad things happen to drunk white boys walking by themselves.
The following day was filled with obligatory sightseeing, it was followed by a Saturday, the day when legends are made and broken. Dave’s brother Chris was planning to celebrate his 29th birthday. Johnny, Joel and myself decided that it would be rude of us not to assist him in his time of need. Word on the street was that the Violent Femmes where playing as part of the San Diego race day festivities, so that was were we intrepid travellers headed. For US$5 we had a day on the punt, saw the VF greatest hits playlist, not bad if that’s your bag. Then it was back to Oceanside for a night of chuckles.
Sunday followed, with the hard work of the weekend out of the way we shared a few hands of cards and a couple of cold cervezas, relaxed and reflected on memories past and future prospects. As is its nature, this innocent Sunday session led us to the bar. The night went along smashingly if not uneventfully – chatted to a few of the locals and had a few drinks.
It was around stumps that things started to go pear shaped. It seems that Joel had unwittingly managed to piss one of the local marine boys off. Not a bad effort since he couldn’t recall even talking to the guy. Obviously this dude didn’t like Jozza’s style, which as many would attest is fair enough.
Anyway we were standing at the ATM outside when he came charging across the street. Made a V-line straight for honest Joel. There was a bit of biffo with a bit of man cuddling (wrestling) thrown in for good measure. Security finally broke it up. The cops arrived and low and behold, my mate from the previous night was one of the attending officers. He told me in no uncertain terms what a silly sausage I had been.
I agreed, I had a black eye and Joel copped a few in the back of the head. Chapped knuckles were proof we did alright though.
We left Oceanside and headed for Los Mochis, Mexico. We had been out three nights and potentially life-threatening incidents occurred on two of them. I am not so sure that I like those odds. It was time to take the advice of my policeman friend and pull my head in.