Impulse struck. I slowed and flipped a U-turn on Highway 1 in Northern California. I had just left Mendocino and found the town to be charming. Classic island architecture dotted the landscape and surf roared in the distance. Locals and visitors roamed the streets and the state park that surrounded the quaint village on all sides. There were only a few hundred people in the entire town and it proved to be immensely friendly. As I departed, I found myself feeling remorseful about my decision to leave. So... I changed my mind, because I can.
I parked on a sliver of land that juts into the Pacific, just outside of Mendocino in Northern California. I am putting my moon roof to good use. The moon peeked through the fog at me. Its yellow warmth provided just enough light to illuminate the whitecaps raging 100 feet below. Every few minutes a muffled boom echoed as a larger wave beat against the cliff, sending spray nearly as far as my car. The wind kept shaking my car so I did not sleep especially well, but it was worth it. That might be the prettiest place I have camped thus far.
Notably, I haven't paid to sleep in a single spot this trip. No motels, no campgrounds. I've slept in truck stops, grocery store lots (Whole Foods and Safeway are the most ritzy as far as parking lot sleeps go), coffee shop lots, random places in the backcountry, and quiet spots in the Eastern woods - and of course an abundance of spare bedrooms. I even slept on a roof deck in Oakland for several nights, cozied under a mosquito net in a temperpedic mattress. I've managed to avoid sleeping on couches, save for my trips to the Bay Area, but only four nights of couch-pitality in 5 months is pretty good! (Notably, my last couch was a critical traverse point for an intense game of rock climbers playing The Floor's Lava. It's possible that the white paint from the molding will never come out of my toes. It ended, as many good things do, not in flames (in spite of the fireplace crossing) but blood. Oops.)
And let's not forget, Laundretta gets the laundry room all to herself when visiting my father. (It's never good when your stepmother starts making Cinderella references about you.) That said, I slept in my car over Christmas so as not to be be woken quite so early by my little brothers. The last time I slept in the house, I awoke to Gabe screaming "Mooommmm! Jake pooped all over the plaaacccee!!!". Notably, I pretended to sleep through the incident, as I was not keen on getting involved. I have excellent 'possum' skills.
I just now remembered that I stayed at the AAC for a week but it was $5/night, whereas campgrounds are usually $20+. I'm pretty sure that $5/night hardly counts as paying.
Ah yes, finding places to sleep tends to be quite a game!