Sunday, July 11, 2010

Part 5 - Oregon

Riding out of Happy Camp felt great! A cool breeze, perfect running moped and a rejuvenated attitude. I went past previous camp spots, saw a bitchin deer, drank some stream water and finally hit the Oregon border! Arriving near the town of Caves Junction my front tire slipped off the road then into sand causing me to "eat it". I was back up before gas could leak out of the tank and the on coming car could hit me! My dumb ass did get cut up on the hot pavement and I even ripped up my fabulous camouflage army pants.
 This would be the second time so far that I crashed. The first time was perfect. About an hour past San Francisco a few cars gathered behind me on a windy narrow road. There wasn't enough room for me to pull over so I just tried to go as fast as I could. This plan didn't work out well because I started going uphill loosing speed. Just to the right was a steep grassy bank that went sharply uphill. I could hear a bunch of cars behind me so I wanted to check my mirror. As soon as I made eye contact with the angry driver behind me I accidentally went off the road! Luckily I had a split second to slow down enough that when I fell into the bank it must of looked like it was done on purpose! I just sat there smiling and waving to the cars as they passed by. 
Trotting along to Grants Pass,I would have liked to rest, but the town was hot and sucky. Right off the bat I met a scumbag who told me the local cops are bullshit. He said they'd try to bust me for nothing, then left me with the words, "I'm homeless too, bro!" I yelled back, "I'm not homeless, I got a tarp and know how to make a moped lean-to!" He yelled back "the lean-to has stood the test of time brother". I thought, "So have scumbags!" Speaking of which, I decided that I needed to get rid of my giant Indian made khukuri machete. Since it weighed a couple pounds and I hadn't even used it, I didn't need a reason to get messed up by the po-po. Upon seeing a metal head dude and I asked him which way it was to the highway. I then asked the follow up question "would you like to buy a kick ass machete". I offered it for the price of $5, he went to his car and gave me about $10 in change, a phone card, and a little pocket knife. Awesome! I headed onto interstate 5, which was a mistake but the fastest way out.

                                                    moped lean-to stands the test of time

Driving down a main road is nerve racking enough. You've got to try to keep from getting sucked into windy drafts from trucks passing too close, avoid potholes, animals and whatever else. Driving a moped on a busy Interstate is a whole other bitch. Even though there is more room to drive on the shoulder, having huge trucks going about 60-70mph past you one after the other is a lesson in pants-shitting. I tried to think happy thoughts of having a rad girlfriend back home, a fairly radical family back east not and possibly riding a Bigfoot in the near future. but a few feet from me, a mere few inches to my left is certain death. Some assholes even added to the dilemma by slamming on their horn as they went by. I began to feel like a nervous ferret. I kept on trucking as far as I could until the road brought me to the town of Wolf Creek. Now, I was only there for about 10 minutes but I suspect that they know how to party in Wolf Creek. I stopped at the local gas station convenience store and saw various biker gangs roll in, a couple older punker types, a VW bus with hippies from a local commune, and a couple Hesh dudes that looked like they were in the movie River's Edge.

                                   Wolf Creek Oregon, near the river's edge

I made a mental note that in the future I need to visit Wolf Creek. But for the time being, I was off to Portland to rest up at my old friend Kalashia's house and check out the city for possible relocation girlfriend, Brianna.


To avoid the 5 interstate I decided to take a "shortcut" through a state forest. Four hours later I ended up where I should have been three hours before. Not only were there no signs on the forest roads, they weren't on the map, which incidentally blew out of the little yellow basket affectionately referred to as my "bitch basket". It was dark, late, I had no map and when I finally found my way out of the forest I was so worn out and ready for sleep I could have pulled over anywhere. Having a bad feeling, I decided to keep going until I found the perfect spot. Somewhere quiet where I wouldn't get woken up by people or animals or at least somewhere where I felt safe. At around midnight I thought I was onto something. I saw from a great distance huge amounts of light illuminating the sky. I imagined a Super Wal-Mart with plenty of room behind it to build a great sleep shelter. About 15 minutes later I rounded a bend and was sadly mistaken. The lights were that of a 24hr plywood making factory. Maybe it was my state of mind but this whole thing was very eerie and creepy to me. I wanted to get far away and never build anything out of plywood again, not even a skateboard ramp. I rode on past all this to the town of Riddle. I rode around trying to solve the riddle of finding a good hiding spot to bed down in. There was something unsettling about the town and I got a feeling it was a redneck, speed-soaked place. I decided I couldn't stay there and rode on. Unfortunately with no map I got lost again, this time in a weird ass trailer park. I know that you won't believe me but guess what happened!? A shirtless mullet dude burst out of the shadows on a beat up bicycle and was riding neck and neck with me. He grinned like a maniac and reached out with one hand to try to grab my arm! This was some wicked bullshit so I full throttled it and got out of there. It was like the twilight zone, almost every house had its lights on and it was one o'clock in the morning. I took off down a long dark road with visions of dancing scumbags nipping at my heels, finally falling off my moped and sleeping where I fell. At this point I had been on the road for at least 12 hours and somehow I circumnavigated back to Riddle. This was not cool. I turned the other way out of town and finally got to a 24hr. gas station and got a new map. I saw the layout of the current Hell I was in and wondered how to get out. Soon enough a car full of punk kids rolled up and I figured they were the ones to ask. I asked the kid wearing a Misfits skull shirt (who I thought was wearing eye makeup) where a good place to camp was. As he told me I realized he didn't have makeup on, he had one of the worst black eyes I had ever seen! He pointed me in the direction of the town Myrtle Beach. There was a campground about 4 miles away. I didn't think I could make it, but I had to try.
I arrived just fine to the campground, but found that it was fully booked because of a 3 day music festival. Wondering if I was going to get any sleep at all, I went the 7-11 and got some shitty pizza. While I was eating outside an old hippie dude with his dog inquired about my existence. I told him my story and we talked about music for awhile. He told me how he was washing dishes one day in the 70's, listening to Blue Oyster Cult, and out of nowhere was "turned on". I then related how tired I was trying to get away. He suggested that I don't sleep, stay up all night with him and his dog and wait until the music festival starts. Then fully exhausted, I could lay down in the middle of the field to let the music run through my body and take me away. I said goodnight, went back to the campground and passed out next to a telephone pole.
After a long cold sleep I woke up somewhat refreshed. Even though I could make it to Portland that night I decided to take it easy and break it up into two days and save what was left of my mind. My friend Kate offered me a place to stay in Eugene but I decided to keep going north to the town of Corvallis. After arriving there I called Brianna and complained of my last 24hrs wishing I could transport back to Long Beach. Driving around Corvallis for a awhile I decided to keep going. Just past town I saw a state park on my map. I figured I could make it there before dark so I went for it.

Attack of the Christians

I drove up to the small state park right before it closed to try to sneak a sleep somewhere since there was no overnight camping permitted. Seeing the host of the campground's RV and motorcycle parked just outside I decided to knock on the door and plead my case. After the first knock it was obvious that there was no one there so I prepared to go find my hideout spot. As I was passing the still opened front gate an odd looking man pulled up to an odd looking dude on a moped. I introduced myself and told him my story and asked if I could camp out even though it was against the rules. Bikers hate rules, even if they're the kind of bikers that don't ride Harley's, so I figured I was in. The awkwardness was building as he paced around my moped and eyed me up and down without saying a word. The silence was making things weird and I figured I should say something to convince him that I wasn't a psycho. I opened my mouth and muttered nonsense. Going to plan B, I just stood there and tried to look innocent. He then took his turn at muttering something and introduced himself as Dwayne and indicated we should walk to the back of his RV where there was a patch of grass for me to plop down on. Even though I was hoping to be camped in the little woods, this would do just fine. I started to put down my tarp and sleeping bag when he asked if I could lock up the gate for him when he left. My heart leapt! I could play around in here screwing around with raccoons and whatnot all night! But then my heart sank when I heard him say "that is unless you don't mind some good Christian company and want to come along".
It was about that time that I noticed his shirt was a Gold's Gym rip off with Jesus doing a push up, bloody, with a cross on his back and the words "LORD"S GYM, his pain your gain"." 

"Holy shit", I thought," I'm about to get christianized!" Not wanting to be rude I politely declined, saying I needed some rest. He piped back with "Oh, that's okay, we won't be long, hop in!" By now I was visibly bummed as I climbed into his pick up truck. I didn't put on my seatbelt cause I read about some serial killer who rigged his seatbelts so they clip in but not off. I kept one hand close to my knife 'cause this guy had something creepy about him, that glazed stare, that something-lurking-in-the-shadows feeling or maybe it was just a sweet love for Jesus. He told me we were on our way to pick up his wife who was horse back riding. I started to feel a little relieved. Then he went on to tell me how seeing me on my moped reminded him of a not too long ago time when he left his first wife. All he had was his bike packed to the brim with his belongings as he ride off into the sunset...... to his parent's house, never feeling so free. I was all "right on" and he was all "the lord works in mysterious ways". Avoiding that subject as much as I could, I stared out into the surrounding country of miles and miles of farmland and nothing more.
 The ride was long enough for me to convince myself that I was about to be eaten by Dwayne. Fear grew as we arrived at a texas-chainsaw-massacre type farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. I started to panic. I relaxed a bit as we met everyone else. I met  Dwayne's wife, another lady whose house it was, and her cowboy son who had probably watched Brokeback Mountain 30 times. I've never seen a cowboy with such good looking frosted tips before!  Dinner was about to be served and I hoped I lived to tell the tale. But before I got to tell these seemingly nice people my tale, Dwayne tells it. Complete with over exaggerating how much stuff was strapped to my moped and what a ridiculous journey I'm on. Before I can get a word in he pipes up with how he promised me a "devotion". I don't recall any such promise and my mind raced to figure out what that meant. Growing up non-religious, my mom didn't tell me about the lord, just that fairies and Bigfoot existed. For real. she built a fairy table out of rocks in the woods by our house. Now they have a proper picnic spot. What a nice lady! 

                                                                           fairy table

Since a devotion wasn't a fairy ritual I sat perplexed! I was sure it was something Christian but it could also mean they wanted to eat me. They seemed too nice to eat people, but I reminded myself for all I know about cannibals, they could be the nicest bastards right up until they roasted you. The lady of the house offered me some food and warned me that I might not be used to such unusual dishes (it was vegetarian). Since I love vegetarian food I got excited and eagerly went to dish up some hot stuff. Veggie dogs, potato salad and some fruit wasn't the most exotic dish I ever had, but it was more than good enough for my road weary self. I sat at the table and noticed everyone start to pray before they ate. Wanting to be a good guest I prayed to the pagan god of Nature for the food I was about to get gnarly on. As we ate and I told my version of my story in more depth and could feel that they wanted me to renounce my sins or something. Its not that I have a problem with Christians, I think if Jesus was around today I would have met him at a house party and liked him. The problem I have is with anyone who forces their views through violence or dickheadedness (I mean, I stopped beating the shit out of people who don't believe in Bigfoot years ago). But this wasn't the case here, I was just out of my element. After dinner the soon-to-be-gay-and-disappoint-the-family-immensely son went to bed. Dwayne was lying on the couch with his wife and I was past ready for bed. I thought the whole devotion thing was going to get side stepped so of course it wasn't. That's not how my luck has been going this trip.
I was brought into the piano room where they decided to read me a story. It was a ridiculous tale of doughnuts and push ups. Set in a college, the professor Dr. Christianson offers his class donuts and when they refuse he makes one of the students do push ups. Soon this guy is doing a million push ups because people don't want to eat a bunch of fat-ass donuts. They're also crying for this guy that has taken on the task of doing push ups for their “sins". This story went on for way too long and in the end didn't make a whole lot of sense to me, but what do I know? After the story we all picked up psalm books. I could handle a couple songs, hoping that would be it. I could see it in their eyes that I was a lost soul, searching for something, needing to repent my evil past sins and they were going to save me from eternal hellfire. In a way I guess they were right. I was kinda lost, being that they drove me way out into the middle of nowhere, but I knew exactly what I was searching for. A giant North American ape about 6-8 feet tall, commonly known by the name bigfoot or sasquatch. As far as my sins of drinking, frolicking with devil women and stealing from "the Man", I didn't need someone to do push ups until their dumb shoulders fell off. I was already sick of these things and moved on in my life. Sure, I looked like a scumbag, but inside I felt golden. I knew the chances of finding what I set out to find were fairly slim, and the risk of death or injury quite high, but for some reason I had to keep going. Back at home I had a beautiful lady waiting for me as well as an indifferent cat who I think started to like me before I left. That was there, and this was now. And right now, then, I was flipping through a psalm book trying to figure out how to read sheet music.
They asked me if I had a favorite song and I said "well, they all look pretty good". The nice-feed-you-dinner lady began playing the piano and everyone cheerfully sang along to the chosen song. I tried to sing but mostly listened. I thought about piping in real loud to try to out sing everyone but figured I would start laughing. It didn't matter though, with the excitement of all the singing, all I could think about was laughing. I could feel it start to build, first with a slight smile, then with a bigger smile. Then an embarrassing thing happened, almost like a voice said "hey man check this out", my eyes darted over to the odd looking bearded man stoically singing along in his deep voice and I envisioned so perfectly that I think he may have been there, my friend Hal, sitting beside this guy giving me the finger. The imagined sight was too much and I started laughing so hard I cried and jerked about in my chair. I tried my best to hide my face in the book but it was so obvious that when the song ended they decided to call it a night.

                                                         nothing gay going on here!
On leaving the singing room they asked me what I thought of the songs and I smiled nodding my head murmuring "uh huh….yes" and that was that. We said our good nights and I thanked them for their hospitality. Dwayne drove us back to the park and I was happy that no one tried to eat me or nothing! I was glad to have survived the devotion and really, it wasn't that bad. The people fed me and showed me their way of living without being preachy. In retrospect I was the dickhead! Total freakin dickhead! Arriving at the RV, Dwayne told me I could sleep inside and insisted that I did. I explained I couldn't relax unless I could look up at the stars throughout the night. I took off my shoes and climbed in my sleeping bag clutching my knife as I fell asleep.
In the morning when Mr. Sun painted some golden rays across my stupid face I woke up with a new found vigor. I was ready to get to Portland and explore. Dwayne was up and insisted that I take a shower, and on this trip a warm shower is something I don't pass up! I got rad-ly naked and hopped in the shower only to realize that it trickles out cold water only. Freezing, I washed my hair and got out. Dwayne made a pot of coffee for me while in the shower which was nice, but the night before he asked if I wanted coffee in the morning and I told him I don't drink it. Upon reminding him of this he looked bummed and told me he doesn't drink it either and it would be a shame to waste it all. I thought about the story they told the night before about the jerk of a professor who bought everyone doughnuts without asking and made someone do push ups when they weren't eaten. Having learned my lesson I drank the damn coffee. I figured I would have a cup or two and be off. Dwayne was a hard hitter though, and had "the greatest story ever told" on vhs and I was immediately swept away. I drank the whole pot of coffee and made it through the first tape like nothing. Before the second tape could be put in there were some strange people arriving at the park. Dwayne, being the park's host had to sort out this mess. Apparently a church group reserved a spot to do baptisms in the stream and another group was at their spot. The church lady was having a fit and giving Dwayne and his wife a hard time. I have to admit I wanted to stick around and see all this baptism stuff go down but I was so amped up on coffee I had to get the hell out of there. With the proper good byes and thank you's I was on my way once more!
                      Arriving in Portland 
I got to Portland without much fuss except for my crazy coffee dump along the way. If you do the crime your gonna do the time. I wasn't too sure where I would be staying but since I had a couple friends, I wasn't worried. Besides, there's plenty of camping to be had in Portland. I called my friend from Connecticut, Kalashia who recently moved up there. I found my way to the southeast side of P-town with no trouble and met up with her. Even though I had only been on the road a few days since Headwaters I was still pretty wiped out. Kalaisha told me she was seeing a dude named Patrick and was always at his house so basically I would have the apartment to myself. Her cat Bella however would be keeping me company, Bella was a fluffy fucker to whom I took an immediate liking and petted the crap out of. 

 Most of my six days or so in Portland was a blur, I went out a little but mostly stayed in the apartment and listened to Kalaisha's Misfits box set, singing along to the words I guess I had wrong all these years. I was invited out to meet her scooter gang friends and wasn't too sure if there was going to be a moped vs. scooter fight. From what I gather there are some places where mopeds hate scooters and scooters hate mopeds. Some people don't know the difference between the two. A scooter goes around 60-70mph, is highway legal and costs a few thousand for a new one. A moped goes 30-35mph is not highway legal, is a two-stroke 50cc engine, has pedals so you can ride it like a bike, and costs around $700-$1,000 new. It's cool to go fast, but really a moped is all I need.

                                           Kalashia, happy to greet me
After flying through town trying to keep up with Kalaisha on her scooter, we got to the bar and partied down scooter style. I did not get punked for having a moped and all went well. I tried my best to down some Pabst but found I couldn't. This would be the start of me losing all my drinking skills I've gathered over the years. I had just spent all this glorious time in nature and experienced the magic of a sweat lodge, and here I am with a pitcher of Pabst. I never felt more bored of alcohol. I talked with some dudes and they seemed pretty cool, one of them, Bob, loved mopeds and wanted to start a chapter of the Moped Army called “the puddle cutters”. The Moped Army is a cool website that offers a forum for moped riders from all over and has different chapters in different states. We talked about mopeds and scooters for awhile and I told of my plans to head north to the Gifford Pinchot national forest where in 2001 The Skookum cast was made. Named Skookum because it was cast near Skookum meadows. The Skookum cast is a huge plaster cast that apparently shows where a sasquatch sat down and had some fruit. Skookum is a Native American word for powerful. Supposedly this area of the forest is really beautiful and can be creepy. I wanted to spend some time in there. While in Portland I tried to locate a good map of the area in question. Needless to say, I couldn't find one due to lack of hustle and figured I would just wing it. As the weekend was coming up Kalashia told me that she was going south to a scooter rally campout and I should go. Bob reminded me that there was a moped rally in Seattle that weekend as well. Feeling recouped and ready for action I decided to head for Seattle. I would have to skip going to Gifford Pinchot but this would mean that I could go to the Olympic forest after Seattle! I always wanted to go there but didn't think I could make it this summer on my moped. If I timed it right I could stop at Gifford Pinchot on my way back to Portland where I would meet up with Brianna and her band, the rap duo known as “Foxy Autopsy”. They were doing a Northwest tour from Southern California to Vancouver then home. I would be getting a ride home with them in a little over 2 weeks, so I had to pack in as much squatchin' and mopeding as I could.

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