Compass
The Beginnings of a California Road Trip
Image: Immo Wegmann

The Beginnings of a California Road Trip

Often times in life, tumultuous times will occur, and one must remain true to themselves despite external pressures surrounding them. This week I had my first two midterms, which just so happened to fall on the same day. Unlike many students from the United States who study abroad in foreign countries, the classes I am taking are not pass or fail. I have to maintain a 3.0 grade point average, otherwise I get sent back to my institution in Argentina. I have been going out a lot clubbing on the weekends, and I hate to think I would have to stop doing so, but perhaps school should garner more of my attention than I have been giving it.

The first midterm was in my biology lab class, where it was all short answer, painfully regurgitating info we were forced to memorize, with what appears to have little benefit on my overall knowledge. My second midterm was in my economics class, which was better than biology. I am taking agricultural economics because in Argentina my parents manage various farms across much of the province of La Pampa. Eventually, I hope to take over their business with my brother Alex.
That evening, after the midterms, we went out to a club called Roccos, a popular club frequented by UCLA students. I was the only one who needed a fake id, but I pulled out my Washington and had no issues. Like my previous blogs, the bouncer glanced at it and let me right in. It has been working great in California so far, and overall it was a fun night out and I continue to get adjusted to the different lifestyle here in the states. Though the weekend proved to be fun with UCLA upsetting Washington State in football after a thrilling 4 quarters, I still missed home. I got my midterm grades back and am going to have to devote a lot more proper time to studying biology – the subject that is my least favorite, but it’s the way life goes.

When I was younger, my mother would always tell me a famous Chinese short story that relates to going through hard times in life. It is about a poor farmer in ancient China who worked a small plot of land with his son. During this time horses were considered a sign of wealth, as they were valuable for their work on the farm. One day the man’s one and only horse ran away. His neighbor said, “That’s terrible! How will you plow the fields?”

The farmer simply shrugged and said, “Who really knows what is good or bad”.  The next day, the horse returned – with five wild horses! The neighbor said, “How lucky you are!”, but the man simply said, “Who knows what’s good or bad?” Soon after, the farmer’s son was trying to train the wild horse, when he was thrown, breaking his leg. The neighbor said, “That’s terrible – your only son, and with the harvest season coming soon, how will you survive?”

But the man simply shrugged and said, “Who knows what is good or bad?” The next day the Army rode through town, conscripting all young men to fight in a war. But they did not take the farmer’s son because of the broken leg. Finally, the next day the neighbor’s farm house burnt down. He was about to scream and curse but, remembering the farmer next door, he simply said, “Who knows that’s good or bad?” This taoist prophecy my mother has been telling me for years, and in the grand scheme of things, who knows what’s really good or bad? Remembering this ancient Chinese story, I had the opportunity to go to San Francisco and surf up the coast this past weekend. Though my issues were minor, I put them into perspective that learning experiences can be made out of just about anything; regardless if they are good memories or bad. I pushed those thoughts aside, and yesterday my friends from Chile asked if want to go out and explore the bay area and stop along the coast on the way up. After researching, I decided I have to go with them and explore after I had a tough week. I have limited weeks here and Big Sur on highway 1 has been on my list ever since I saw a picture of the iconic Bixby Bridge, which opened in 1932. Big Sur is one of California’s most picturesque landscapes, with the highway along sheer cliffs, which constantly get battered by the rough Pacific waters funneling down from the cold currents of Alaska.

We packed up the old 1992 4Runner, strapped the boards to the top and embarked on our journey. We stopped and picked up some Pacificos and Modelos because you truly can’t do a California surf road trip without the essentials. With Pablo driving his 4runner, which he fixed up himself, we cracked a couple road beers to combat the horrific traffic going north on the 101. Once we got out of the valley (which I now know to be Sherman Oaks, Calabasas area), we started moving. We cut in from the highway to take a more scenic route – highway 1, also known as PCH. Pablo pulled off aside PCH, showing me the famous longboarding spot; Malibu first point. With about 100 people in the water on a mediocre day, you have to share waves, but I was used to this, as I surfed Rio de Janeiro growing up. The wave breaks a perfect right, and all though we were only 30 minutes from UCLA, I felt like I was in Mexico. We packed our bags and hit Malibu Seafood, a famous seafood spot adjacent to Malibu first point. We got some drinks here, some good food, and we are off to Santa Barbra for the night.


Daniel Temkin (b. 1986) began composing at age thirteen. One of his earliest pieces was premiered in Lincoln Center and he has been a Composer-in-Residence with Music From Angel Fire (New Mexico), Chamber Music by the Bay (San Francisco), and the Intimacy of Creativity Festival (Hong Kong). Daniel’s work has been supported by many leading arts organizations including the Aaron Copland Fund, Amphion Foundation, American Composers Forum, BMI, the Alice M. Ditson Fund, Earshot, the Theodore Presser Foundation, and others. Daniel is particularly recognized for his orchestra music. In 2016,... Read more »


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