I will find me my California. I will!

Sam Odessa

California is a Stranger side-mission featured in Red Dead Redemption.


Sam Odessa, a strange man originating from the Black Sea region in Eastern Europe, claims that he is on his way out West. When Marston meets him, he explains that he aspires to go to California, so he may forever be remembered by his family as the man who completed the span of his heritage, from the Black Sea to the Pacific in three generations.


Mission Prerequisites

Before this Stranger will appear on the world map, the player must complete:

Mission Objectives

After locating Sam Odessa, the player must:

Mission Details

This series of Stranger Missions involves finding Sam in different places and watching the resulting story. The general area of all encounters after the first are marked on your map, although his exact location must be found by searching.

First Encounter

Marston first meets Sam out in the desert, Southeast of Gaptooth Breach, sitting against a rock, playing the harmonica.

After a short talk with Sam about his goal to reach the state of California, Marston warns Sam of the presence of dangerous outlaws and gangs who roam the surrounding area. Sam explains that his horse became lame a while back and then decides that he'll get himself a stagecoach. He sets off into the desert cheerfully.

Second Encounter

After the course of about seven days, Marston runs into Sam again just outside of Cueva Seca to the Northwest. This time, Sam is showing a few signs of confusion and even though Marston gives him directions to head West, Sam decides to talk about horses who can do math problems and eat cacti. Marston then tells Sam that he should get some help if he wants to get to California, but he ignores Marston and heads off down the road once again.

Third Encounter

After the course of about seven days, Marston has once again run into Sam in a ravine north of Tumbleweed. The complete opposite way that Sam was supposed to be going to reach California, convincing Marston that he is hopelessly lost in the desert.

Sam has gone crazy and his clothes are worn and tattered. He tells Marston about his journey and how he will make it to California and begins to go insane, even taking out his gun on Marston when he offers to take him into town. Marston backs off and Sam goes off once again into the desert.

Final Encounter

South of Tumbleweed, Marston finds Sam, dead on the side of a road, with a vulture beginning to eat away at his sun-baked corpse.

Marston quietly pities the foolishness of Sam and then decides to search him for any items. He discovers a letter for his wife. Knowing that the letter would mean a lot to her, Marston decides to drop off the letter in Armadillo for it to be mailed to Sam's wife. After this, the quest has finally come to an end.

Mission Complete Unlockables

Sam's Letter

The letter found on Sam's dead body can be found in the "kit" area of your satchel. It can be read as if it were a Newspaper or Wanted Poster. It says...

"My Darling Wife,
Not a day goes by when I don't think about you and our beautiful baby boy. It is now many weeks since we parted. Precisely how long, I don't know. Time, once so predictable and reliable, has slipped away from me. I know how callous my abrupt departure in the dead of night must have appeared, and for that I am truly sorry, but I hope you will find it in your heart one day to forgive me. For it was not a choice to leave, but rather an obligation. My grandfather came to this country with a dream; a dream that was passed down to me, that is in my blood, in my very soul. I always believed it was my duty to realize that dream, to complete a journey that started in Odessa, by the black sea, three generations ago, but I have lost sight of what it is, if I ever knew at all. I am headed West towards the ocean, but I'm not sure why anymore. Day after day, the Sun beats down on me in this godforsaken desert, relentless and mocking. Every step I take forward, I seem to get further away. I thought this was my destiny, and perhaps it is. Maybe we are condemned to walk in circles, chasing the skyline. Maybe it is all a lie. Oh, this is a terrible land of broken promises.
I had everything and gave it up in the pursuit of nothing. I fear I have made a terrible mistake, but there is no way back now.
Forever yours,


  • The appearances are separated by one to two days in-game time. If more than three days pass without the mission becoming active, save your game and load it again. The locations should appear as a purple circle on your map, which will turn to the "?" symbol as you enter them.
  • On the second encounter with him, wolves may attack just before the player speaks to him. If shot at, the gunshots will scare Sam and he will run away.
  • If Sam should die or if the player's gun is pointed at Sam, you will fail the current part of the mission.
  • This Stranger mission may be a sardonic reference to the fact that the entirety of the real-life state of California is not featured in Red Dead Redemption (Gaptooth Ridge is inspired by Southern California and Western Arizona, while Tall Trees heavily resembles Northern California); Marston himself cannot swim past the Sea of Coronado, and the mountains surrounding New Austin are impassable, essentially making Sam's journey futile from a gameplay perspective.
  • Marston points out to Sam that California is just due west, which may confirm that New Austin directly borders the game's version of California.
  • Shooting the vulture that is feasting on Sam's body is an easy way to get a kill towards the Unnatural Selection achievement/trophy. However, the player can't pick up the vulture feathers until after they have examined Sam's body.
  • Several of Sam's lines are references to the They Might Be Giants song "No One Knows My Plan". Examples include "I was careless, I can see that now" and "Why the dancing, why the shouting?".
  • When approaching Sam at the first encounter, Sam is playing "Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie" on his harmonica.  This song is heard again after John is killed in the mission "The Last Enemy That Shall Be Destroyed."
  • There is sometimes a random occurrence around where Sam's dead body is, usually a Damsel in Distress. This means that the vulture will probably not be on the body but the body will still be accessible once the problem is dealt with.
  • When you complete a part in the task after the game autosaves you can reload the autosave and the mission will become active without having to wait two to three days.
  • If you follow Sam after the second encounter he will walk to the outskirts of Rathskeller Fork and stop there.
  • Unlike John, Jack doesn't seem to remember Sam during the third encounter.
  • During the second encounter Sam makes a reference to Clever Hans, a German horse that was believed to be able to do arithmetic.


Video Walkthrough

California - Stranger Mission - Red Dead Redemption

California - Stranger Mission - Red Dead Redemption


Aiding Strangers will contribute toward the following Trophies/Achievements:

10 gamerscoreGamerscore
Bronze bronzeBronze
Complete a task for a Stranger.

Rdr people still strange icon
25 gamerscoreGamerscore
Silver silverSilver
Complete 15 tasks for Strangers.

100 gamerscoreGamerscore
Gold goldGold
Attain 100% List in the singleplayer game completion list.
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