a year ago

wow! has it really been a year since i, literally, walked away from my life in portland? it seems like i’ve lived a couple lives since then. i’m going to try and summarize what i’ve gone through and where i think i have set my compass bearings…but who am i kidding, i carry a compass, but use the direction the wind takes me more than my compass.

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so a year ago i was getting soaked through and through on the oregon coast trail. a trail i don’t really recommend doing in its entirety. sure it has some of the most amazing views on the pacific coast. however…there is so much road walking, which sure shuttles can take you around, so it’s not too bad. if you are wanting to do it, do it for sure, but do it in the full-on summer time. let the spring storms pass. have a way to know the tides. be prepared for sandblasting your skin (and tent in the middle of the night), and being amazed at every moment you remember to look up and pay attention.

when i got to the oregon/cali border, i ran out of walking ideas. well, i had ideas, but water levels and snow levels were beyond my skill set. years and years of low winter snow levels meant that a “normal” year felt high. maybe this is why so many people the past several years have taken on the pct. if one was willing to push beyond some levels of pain and discomfort, mostly mental, one could persevere without a huge skill set, but not this year.

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so i did what i do when i don’t know what else to do, i got a job. i went inland to explore a town and area i had never been to. i sat at the chetco brewery and booked a shuttle to ashland, lived at a hostel while i looked both for a place to live and a place to work. (p.s. this is actually pretty common. when i i stayed in any hostel from slo (san luise obispo) to tijuana, there were people living at the hostel looking for housing.) i quickly found both and settled in. my pals would come into town and take me out for swimming adventures at rivers and lakes. we went to experience the eclipse. i had a wonderful summer.

my mom came out to visit. and then we visited my grandpa’s sister and i loaded up a bike and headed south once again. i have to say, this lady, ellen, is a spark. her and my grandfather were best pals. i can remember her and her husband carl visiting when i was a kid. in my child’s memory i don’t remember what muscular disease he had, i just remember her pushing him around in a big wheelchair. i remember whatever was happening, she pushed him, she smiled, she laughed like there was no issue, no problem, no inconvenience. it was just what was. she still lives in the house that she raised her kids in. she lives alone. she knows her neighbors and they assist her with whatever she asks for. she….she…well she amazes me. not with the grand and great actions, but like my grandparents, the simple enjoyments of everyday life.

at some point in the evening, she turned to me and said,

i remember once when i was visiting your grandfather, we went to your work and you made me a fantastic margarita.

yes, i remember too. it was fun.

would you make us a round?

i’d love to.

so we had “happy hour”

then she told us stories of dancing at the hall, of being a dance instructor, of love, of family….93 years of living (i think it’s 93 maybe it’s 87 it doesn’t matter really). we had moved to the enclosed patio so that i could sort and separate gear for my transition from walking to biking, but at some point, i stopped so that i could sit and listen to her. it just seemed so important to listen. to capture this moment somewhere in my body and mind. to absorb her words. i don’t remember them, but i can feel them, and it is a feeling i continue to move with. maybe in a selfish way, it was like having my grandparents with me in space and time again for a moment, and i wasn’t going to sort packages of ramen and t-shirts and forgo this moment.

that first day i didn’t get far. maybe 15, 20 miles. i needed some time to switch gears.

when my mom dropped me off at some empty parking lot that i pick as fine, and i was loaded up and she pulled out and i pulled out, i road to the beach and just kind of what the fucked for a moment. really, what am i doing? i could have stayed at that job, probably found a place i could afford to live. i could have gone back to portland or kansas… eventually, i calmed down, got my bearings and pointed the bike south and started cranking on the pedals.

i got through santa cruz and found a campground with a hiker-biker site, set up camp and watched the sunset. in the morning i chatted with some fellow bike tour folks, and the pace was set. this is what i wanted. to travel by my own power. to see…what? everything, whatever came my way. to stop and chat with people. to see the world outside of the bubble i had been living in for the past 10 years. i would say i have been successful so far.

i have met people from all over: from homeless to the very wealthy and lots of people who gave up the grind for the love of life (especially the “homeless” living in the parks). i met the owner of a brewery (who opened his doors for me to have a cold one on a hot day) who told me about the ridiculous codes he had to deal with. the couple who worked in l.a. in various projects for alternative transportation. my friends who opened their doors to me so many times as i passed through the big cities. and the wonderful folks i met in mexico. and so many people looking for something besides the prescribes socially acceptable life choices.

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the ocean as a companion just cannot be underestimated. she is wonderful. and all those who call her home: the sea otters, lions, gulls, crustaceans, birds of all kinds. the trees and plants of the shorelines that changed the scents and quality of the air i was breathing.

the landslides and wildfires that affected where and how i passed through. these are the events that shifted and changed the way i see climate change. it was a year where i not just knew climate change through numbers, statistics, lectures, and subtle shifts. this year i felt it even more than ever. and not in just that yes, the climate is changing as a part of natural evolutional shifts and changes, but as a force humans are changing faster than nature can keep up with.

and not just that we are unbalancing the balance of nature, but that nature will restore her balance even if it means the demise of the human species. this planet is not as fragile as people seem to poetically like to consider her. maybe it is because we view nature as feminine and we like females to be fragile. however, any being who brings forth life, cannot be fragile. she is strong and she will fight for life, the life she has created. if we don’t drastically shift and change our individual lives, we are the ones who will die…currently, it is something like 600,000 people a year die from climate-related deaths-at least i believe that is close to the number i read recently.

this journey so far has opened up my life in ways i could never imagine. it has helped me realize the vision of my life as a kind of loner and rebel that i have always felt that i am. i’m so thankful for my pals and family in all its shapes and sizes so that i don’t have to be a true loner and who celebrate and inspire my kind of rebellion…so far. i couldn’t be me without them.

so i sit here in a small moutain town in colorado setting a foundation for this vision. a vision that doesn’t see me really attatched to any specific place except for this planet and where i am resting my head for the time being, but more attatched to the people who’s path i cross in the process. i am also taking more of an interest in the health of this big blue rock that, no matter that science fiction finds other planets for us to inhabit, is our only home.

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so yup, this year has pushed and stretched me. it has afirmed that i made the right choice. it has caused me to question my life choices and ethics that have only reaffirmed them and made them stronger. i’ve listened to so many people’s stories that only makes me want to hear more.

i have renewed respect for humanity and disgust for capitalism. i truly believe that capitalism is the root of so much disharmony and disease in the northern hemisphere. the root cause for increasing use of opiates and anti-depression drugs in n. america.

i have renewed faith in local communities. in fact, i believe that it is the direct actions and how local communities respond to the various crisis where we will find solutions. i don’t mean in large city councils and such, but eventually maybe. i mean in our neighborhoods. in conversation with our neighbors…who were once strangers. getting to know that person who picks up the bottles we leave out for others to take for their deposits…their income. going for walks with people. know the trees and birds who come through the alleyways. do you have birds and bees in the gardens? what do your neighbors grow? cook? have tea on the front porch.

so what is my vision?

well. i plan on staying in this little mountain town for a year to save money and work on that foundation i was talking about. i want to find my voice as a writer and figure out how to use it for good. to face my fears that keep me from stretching and pushing myself and risk failure on all levels. and then i want to point the bike in a direction and see where it takes me. to visit my friends, some of which i haven’t met yet, but deeply looking forward to meeting.

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eclipse escape

with all the hype and cluster issues i had to listen to for the past 3 months in oregon, i wasn’t sure just what i wanted to do for the eclipse, if anything. part of me was totally just be where i am when it happens and do that then. but as it approached i started to get excited. it is a pretty big deal and i was just miles from the totality range AND  it was on my day off. i got even more excited as i found out some of the local businesses here were going to close so that their staff could take off and enjoy and adventure. in a tourist focused town, that is a big deal. then i got the text…come with us

so that is what i did. i went with some pals up to silverton oregon to experience the eclipse. i had met the people who invited my buddies and really like them, i had no idea how big the group was going to be, but it seemed like a great plan.

so i got off work sunday morning, we loaded up our gear, food, beverages, breakfast burritos and headed off to silverton. i napped in my little nest in the back of the jeep, waking every-so-often checking on the smoke and progress. when we arrived we were greeted by some great folks on some lovely land not far from the main park in silverton.

as we settled in and caught up and met all the friends of friends that brought us together, i immediately relaxed and rolled with the open plans and got excited for those really excited. it is rare, in my life anyway, that one gets to experience science nerds excited for an event, and it was easy to get swept up in it all.  my pals and i talked about setting eclipse intentions and embracing the nature and energy and history of these events while we enjoyed breakfast burritos, so while team telescope went out looking at places to set up in the morning, we sat and absorbed and explored where we were.

once everyone gathered back at our main camp, we sat in a circle of lawn chairs making conversation and learning about one another. the owners of the property and spaces we were on are so amazing. they are world travelers who tour around on bikes! yes! one of them is a teacher and the other seems to be someone who can build/fix/design about anything. we talked and shared and swapped until dinner time. our little group went up to make dinner and more conversation until the stars and planets came out. we eventually made our way out to do some more test runs with the telescope and technology. my pals and i made cowboy camps on the lawn and watched the evening sky turn….actually i passed the french toast out! 

 

IMG_2444morning brought dew and a peaceful waking. we loaded up and headed off to the pre-scouted area to make coffee and experience the eclipse. the space was great! a raised area of freshly harvested and burned fields with a 360 view to hood to the east and the peaks near the coast to the west. i stayed off to the side while the “experts” set up the technology making coffee and beermosas. we played with puppies and kids. we chatted. we rested. mostly we laughed and played. then…

the light shifted and it was on! we didn’t need to look into the telescope or put on our special glasses to look and know, though we did, but it was such a shift and so subtle. like those moments when you notice that suddenly that summer had become fall all based on a shift in light and shadow. there was a kind of collective exhale. we were going to actually see this! no smoke! no cloud cover! just clear sky. kids where running around. there was a person dressed as a dinosaur. some kids had special little masks they made because the glasses don’t come in kids sizes (notes to designers….make kid sizes).

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as we approached totality people were torn on were to focus…the fast passing shadows? the shifting of our shadows as they became less and less distinct and a little wavy? the way it passed through leaves? various holes in various objects, including ear piercings? the temperature dropping? the 360 degree light shifting that felt like both sunrise and sunset as mt. hood turned pink? so much to feel and pay attention to! so much excitement and joy!

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and then, after so much shifting, it was suddenly totality! some people counted down, some of us just felt it and then finally looked up at the sun or was it the moon? the moon in front of the sun. it was so amazing! we cheered! we hugged! we wanted to experience so much and then, just like that, the moon continued on its path and  opened the sun back up, and the light shifted again.

and then people started leaving! all the cars and trucks that were pulled off where we were decided it was over and took off! what the hill-of-beans? to my estimation the eclipse was only half done. to me, and our crew, the excitement was the whole process. so we kept watching, and the kids in the area came to see the sun through the telescope. they were shown the sun spots and all the things visible. we all hung out and dreamed of the food we would eat when we got back to “camp”. we also talked about how we could understand why people travel the world chasing eclipses. they are amazing!

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some of us talked about how it can’t be true that indigenous people believed the world was coming to an end when the eclipse season would come. maybe the first time, but many of those ancient cultures were amazing astronomers. why is this so easy for so many to forget? what would it be like to experience an eclipse at say one of the mayan or incan areas where people go to see the solstices? what stories did they tell explaining them. i am curious and will do more searches for sure before i experience the next one.

eventually the sun was once again fully exposed and we were packed up and headed back. once we got there and our hosts arrived too, we all shared experiences and asked questions, checked traffic, and started to outline plans for the next possible eclipse chase! for the immediate plans we agreed to meet at this little pub i know about (the mom of a former housemate owns it). its off the beaten path but has a great patio so the dogs could hang out, also vegan options! yes! we hung here for 3 hours so that the traffic back to portland for our friends could have a better journey…also it was hard to say goodbye. none of know when we will meet again and there is just so much to share and enjoy.

there was just so much to this group that was hard to take for granted. so much respect for all our different backrounds, and all in our group is a nerd of some sort, one of the couples where the resident official physicists that brought the technology. even though they both study physics, they study different disciplines and it was wonderful to watch them defer to one another depending on the question. in fact the guy most often differed to the woman and she eventually talked openly about the racism and sexism in the sciences. there really didn’t seem to be anyone talking over the other, including the professional scientists vs. the armature astronomers. the whole event felt super collaborative from the making of dinner to the setting up and sharing of the whole event.

eventually we all found a way to go our separate directions, my pals and i to find a camping spot that wasn’t going to be a bunch of bucks nor too over crowded. so we went on the recommendations of the friends who invited us. and it was perfect. it’s a small campground that is converting their atv trails to mt. bike trails. and it includes a great hike that goes behind the namesake water fall! it was so peaceful! all that was going to have to wait until the next day. for by the time we got there (it was a long winding road up) we set up our tents and passed out! i woke a couple of times. the first i heard a howling that wasn’t a coyote and the second time to an owl….so deep and close and amazing! then the sun rose through the smoky haze from the wildfires. i laid there in my tent to watch the sky, listen to the silence, and read my book.

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eventually we all stirred enough to start some coffee to take on our walk to the falls. it was so wonderful to be walking on rainforest duff again! it was like having a spring in my step and the ferns and the moisture…so different from the southern oregon experience i’ve had so far this summer. i was so happy and relaxed! we made our way from the top of the waterfall down to the pool it formed and the canyon it carved. the water was cool to the touch and sweet to the taste. we all climbed over boulders and logs until our hungers pressed us on to put together a breakfast of champions. for the record! the three of us can make a good meal together!

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reluctantly we packed up again and headed south. we found out that the people who hung out with us for 3 hours at the pub made it back to portland only 20 minutes behind the other couple who choose not to join us so that they could get back early….crazy!

we took a little lunch break outside of eugen. it was a nice little break, but afterword there was talk of a special cold coffee drink and suddenly we all wanted some kind of treat. and since my pals may locate to eugen for continuing educational pursuits, we decided we should stop and get some treats.

we went to the wondering goat for some caffine….a great place to stop by the way, but as we arrived we found ourselves in the middle of a brewery neighborhood. i actually don’t much care for most breweries in eugen, but they do have this place called the beergarden! so we put our coffee drinks in the jeep and walked to the garden. what a nice place! looks like an old service station with the garage doors and such. they have really good beverages on tap and outdoor seating surrounded by food carts! we talked some more of our potential plans, and fears, and hopes, and jokes. once we hit the road again we seemed a little more focused.

the plan was for them to drop me off and then they would go find a place to camp, but as we approached ashland the smoke just kept getting thicker and thicker! i didn’t want them to camp in this air and it was going to take them another 3 hours drive to get to clear air, so they camped out in my room while i took the jeep to work. when i got back, they were ready to head off to start their next adventure, and left me to plan mine.

i don’t know when i will see these great humans again, but we have been here before, most likely we will be here again. what we do know is that there has to be a refuge/ a sanctuary for us queers to find even a temporary haven in this world of chaos and violence; of uncertain safety. we recognize that even the apparent liberal ideology of places like portland don’t really even have the illusion of safety any more. we have to arm ourselves with knowledge and skills, with reverence for nature, with empathy and solidarity. we will keep watch from our respective places, and we will love.

i wonder…what is a love that comes from fear? what is love that is based in anger and hatred and violence? as we fight for our respective rights to exist and live our lives how much is lost if it is surrounded by fear, hatred, greed, violence, dilusion….would i rather die/be killed by whatever is coming than succumb to the actions of violence and hatred? to false love? i can’t sacrifice my need for a nonviolent life for a longer life…blah blah blah.

these are the questions i find myself wrestling with as i make my plans to leave ashland and continue on my travels. i am more open to that fact that i really am in search of something more than stories to share. i am looking for some kind of connection that i cannot quantify or really even describe. i’ve been trying. but i do believe that it has something to do with a community that isn’t necessarily based on identity, but on connections…knowing that you get to one via the other. i am not a single issue activist/human and i don’t want a single issue community.

i plan on leaving ashland in the next week so i may post a few posts this week to catch everyone up on what’s happening and the thoughts i want to take as i continue to roll on.

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queer vegan goes to a 4th of july parade

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i am not a fan of many american holiday celebrations, but to say the july 4th is one of my very least favorites is a fair statement. i can still remember one of my early childhood experiences. we all went with some family friends to any even smaller town for a whole day shindig. i can’t remember exactly how young i was. what i do remember… a competition where they (the adults i assume) grease up a little pot belly pig for the kids to chase around and try to catch. i remember a terrified pig squealing all over the park. i don’t know what happened when the pig was caught. maybe the pig was the prize or some other equally horrific award.

then there were the horse races. for some reason i remember the adults in the group being super excited about this, maybe the reason for us going? i don’t know. what i do remember was sitting in the grandstands where the rodeo happens (i think maybe there was even a tractor pull?) and people placing bets. i remember thinking it was kinda cool that whomever picked the winning horse got the pot of money. i remember it just being mostly quarters in our group of people and that it was supposed to be a secret. but it seemed like the whole grandstand had similar little groups. i know white middle and working class folks getting excited about breaking the law out in the open…

the next thing i remember….hiding under the blankets because of the sound of the fireworks. i can still feel the shaking and tremors in my body. i remember being made fun of because my little sister was more brave than i, and she was totally enthralled with them. i remember being torn between wanting to see them and the fear of the sound. i hated it and couldn’t wait for it to be over.

over the years i mildly participated. i really enjoyed bottle rockets. going out in the country. finding a field that had recently been harvested and cleared. setting up empty beer cans and bottles with the little rockets. the cute little pop they make when they go off. the whooshing sound of roman candles. drawing figures with sparklers. but then there were the high school years of going to the fair grounds to watch the big productions. i used comic relief of the oohs, aahs, and lovely to mask my internal tremors that never really went away. i just tried to hide them. as an adult i would make it a mission to find the most remote place to see them, but not hear them. i used work as a way to avoid going altogether, or a 4 day backpacking trip. in portland i would work then usually had an animal companion sitting gig and would cuddle the dogs, cats, or chickens until the nights turned to days and all our torments finally quieted.

so ya….i hate the 4th of july and all it represents. i hate the nationalistic pride. i hate the fuck you it seems to say to the indigenous people who’s land the country we are supposed to be celebrating, enlisted genocide, war, slavery, and religion to occupy and steal. i hate the gluttony and mass consumerism that goes along side it, the eating contests, people who spend hundreds of dollars to blow shit up and then leave messes in the streets for, i don’t know who they expect, to clean it up. i hate getting caught at dusk, riding my bike as fast as possible to get home before the nightmare begins. those nights i didn’t make it and felt like i was caught in a war zone. sometimes, depending on where i was, not know if those blasts where gunshots or fireworks. many times seeing roman candles, bottle rockets, firecrackers wiz past me as i dodged through the city streets. i hate the fourth of july.

so when the calendar flipped this year, i didn’t really think much about it. after all, i am in a town where i don’t really know any one, so no bbq to get invited to (actually i began to like the vegan bbqs i went to, i just went home early), no fireworks date, no animals to watch, no big deal. i was going to go to the farmers market, get some good food and watch some movies….then my housemate said “i’m going to go to the parade wanna go?”

i didn’t think about the parade. i pictured central oregon, flag waving, patriotism, huge amounts of white people waving the flag…but i am in ashland oregon….white liberal southern oregon. at the mention of trump people shake their heads and nervously chuckle. no one here admits to voting for trump, but i also do not see/hear many clinton or sanders slogans or stickers…its kind of a weird liberal stepford-town. so i could go and see how this town is going to celebrate this day and all of its awkwardness, or i could hide away and make fun of it from afar….i went.

i have to say, i rather enjoyed myself…eventually. the crowd was full of manners (as a friend of mine would say). they didn’t pile up on each other. kids were up front as they should be. paths on the sidewalks and crosswalks were kept open with out anyone directing it. when it got hot, room was made for elders and youth in the shade… but it started for me with a little trepidation. a little after 10 some people in front of us moved into the street saying “here they come! here they come!” i thought cool the parade started on time, but nope it was the f-something-or-other fighter jets in formation making a fly over. i hadn’t heard that sound in over 10 years and i have not missed it.

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yes, it was still a very very white event

[wichita use to start the fireworks with the b1 bomber, canons, and the 1812 overture synched to the fireworks…i worked like mad to avoid these events.]

then the cops on motorcycles led the parade down the street. my heart sank and my stomach rose to my chest as i braced myself for either 2 hours of this, or a long walk home (i brought my backpack with notebooks and reading material just in case i needed to bail). then a woman walked up to me, a river rafting guide, who thought she knew me, and my guard dropped and i relaxed as the fun floats started to go by.

there wasn’t super overt patriotism. the people in the parades where on point. the environmental groups, the fire departments (for urban and wild fires), the representatives of ashland’s sister city, guadalajara in mexico, the library…the local bookstore dressed as the covers of banned books, the roller derby team, bands, silly folks, oh and we learned that the blacksheep english pub recently got new owners and will stay open!

it was actually a nice way to get to know some of the service organizations of the area. like talent (just up the road a bit) has a pollinator and bee project! i had no idea. there is one of the few health clinics here for immigrants to get the care they need for their application process. it was actually a fun day.

after the parade we walked up-stream of the people flowing to the park, as we searched for a place to have a refreshing cocktail.

when we got home, i was feeling brave, so i thought i would walk up to the movie theater and see wonder woman! maybe i could handle the red, white, and gold of a super hero movie with a woman as the lead hero. at first i was excited. the “older” women as badass amazon warriors on a paradise island?!

but then…i was heart-broken, and not just because it had to have a love story in it (why do they always have to do that? thank you once again madmax for not doing that). it felt like a feminist version of a gay film, in that we will except meritocracy and nods to issues without actually dealing with them, just for some visibility. and yes, visibility is great. i don’t want to make light of that, but….sigh. i’ll take sense8 any day over wonder woman. sure all the characters are flawed, maybe that is what i like about them. they also support one another without question or explanations: queer, trans, thief, hindi, korean female martial fighter, and the sex scenes? hot!….yes, you have to suspend some disbelief to follow, but name a show where you don’t.

so…my take away, if i may, for this “holiday” celabration…i don’t know. i like the idea of community coming together and dressing up and walking down the street like some kind of moving talent show where we are proud of what we do together. that we have a lot of work to do and so much to share. that we are imperfect and flawed, but if we can find these things that bind us together….well we just might survive for a little while. that we can share space, food, music, and good cheer. it doesn’t have to require buying or being some major consumer of capitalistic greed, hate, and delusion. in fact there were more than a few floats in this parade that called out capitalism as the major force of our current struggles in this country.

this is still not a holiday i enjoy. i don’t know if i’ll brave going out in it again. i am grateful that i got to stop at the farmers market and get fresh fruits and veggies for the week. i was able to hide out from the fireworks and snuck to work at 11 pm between the city display and the neighbors’ doing their bit. from the guests at the hotel, i heard that the jazz concert in the park was really good. and the next day when i went out, the streets were not full of firework trash.

maybe i need to make my own holiday….what kind holiday would a queer vegan on an adventure come up with…..hummmm

soooo

 

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so ya, i finished up the oregon coast trail a few weeks ago, actually i left brookings (the last town on the trail) just short of one month after i started. i stayed in brookings for 4 nights. the state park with a hiker-biker site was just a 20 minute walk from town, but i did get a hotel the day i rolled in, or should i say floated in. it was a hella-rainy day and i was done DONE done with having wet feet and cars splashing road grime on me. most people were really nice and gave me some space when i had to road walk, but sometimes, there were these people who i could actually see swerve to splash a puddle my direction. it didn’t matter if i walked with or against traffic (i walked where there was the widest shoulder). anyway, i digress.

i stayed in brookings trying to decide where to go next and what i should do. i was still getting reports about snow still falling in the sierras and the cascades. i knew it was still raining at the lower elevations so streams  would be flowing high, wide, fast and cold. i don’t have super strong skills for either, well i have stream crossing skills, but it makes me nervous, especially with how cold the rivers run here. one slip, that’s all it takes to get everything wet and invite hyperthermia to the party. some times the best skill and piece of gear one can carry is intuition. so i parked myself at the chaco brewery tap-house for a few days and did some writing out of my options and having conversations with friends about living to hike another hike.

i was trying to decide if i should go on south into california and try to find a job in some place like arcata, or take a bus up to eugene, bend maybe… and as i was exploring the beach around harris beach state park some voice in my head said, “how about ashland? its close to the syskiyou wilderness area…you know how much you love the syskiyous”. so i did a little search on how to get to ashland. first i was tempted to take the rougue river trail. its 40 miles and would dump me close to I-5. but then i saw that there was a bus! and the bus would take me down one of my favorite highways and would follow the smith river for a bit! sweet! yes please.

that last night was one of the worse nights on the trail for me. actually almost every night at this campground was not great for sleeping. the first night i ran into a guy that i had seen a couple of days before who was biking from portland back to l.a. we spent the morning chatting while he packed up. we both were confused by the noises that night. we couldn’t remember seeing any construction that would go on all freaking night, except for a couple of hours maybe around 3 am. later as i was walking around town, i figured it must have been the lumber mill on the edge of town. but that last night, it was the worst.

it started with the rain. it wasn’t just a nice light rain. it was a hard heavy rain with big drops and it rained all freaking night. then at some point i could hear a loud sniffing sound right by my head, and because of the sound of the rain, it really had to be right next to me to hear. at some point, whatever it was, i like to think of it as a dog from the nearby neighborhood, tried to get into my vestibule area and started pushing things around. i finally got it shewed away, but i think it came back a couple hours later, but left quickly. after i thought about it (like in the morning on the bus) it was probably looking for some shelter. all my food and whatnot were in the bear canister so i doubt it could smell anything, and i didn’t cook any food there that night because well rain. but geez! there were a lot of odd noises that night, so when morning finally came, i was more than happy to pack up and head into town. yes, it was still raining, but i’ve gotten pretty good at packing everything but in my tent then using the umbrella to cover the pack while i roll up the tent and head on down the road. that lightweight backpacking umbrella has sure come in handy!

so i arrived in ashland, got a room at a hostel, dried everything out and started looking for, and found, a job fairly quickly. my second day on the job, i found a place to live for a few months, till the end of august. then i will decide: “should i stay or should i go now”. i’d like to stay here a year. ashland is an odd little town surrounded by wilderness. the city park has trails that will take me to california and connect with the pct and i imagine the other trails i want to explore in northern california. i’ve started avoiding the co-op here like crazy. the first couple times it was nice. the first trip i reconnected to some great portland friends that have relocated here. later i ran into people who i had to ban from the co-op i use to work at. and to be honest, their buying guidelines are not that great and i’m not sure how they treat their staff, but they don’t usually seem very happy. then again i don’t think their customer base is inspiring. i shop across the street from where i am currently living, at shop-n-kart! its affordable, they have great vegan options (not so much at the co-op), and i see more working-class folks, fewer hippies, more crusty punks, more people of color, and i can walk there. to be honest ashland is small enough i can walk across town in an hour, bike across in 10 minutes, from end to end in 20.

i did finally make it to the farmers market. it happens on saturday (downtown) and tuesday at the armory in south ashland. the tuesday market is huge! its amazing! and most of it is organic, so i’ll be going there more for my fruits and veggies. it certainly had a community feel. and for being from 8 am to 1pm on a weekday, it was packed! lots of vendors. lots of people having lunch. it felt really good. there was also an animal rights group with a chicken cage challenge. they had a cage the approximate proportion for a human that a chicken gets. when i went to thank them for being there, they asked if i wanted to get in…nonononono. i have done that before, no need to do it again, but i do recommend that people do it. as i walked away the women at working the booth said nice hoody, it was then that i noticed i was wearing my ALF hoody that my pals sent me when they sent me my tablet. ha! maybe that is why i was getting some looks.

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anyway, so here i am in ashland, oregon. my plan is not really no plan, but i am kicking around some ideas. i think it would be super rad to be able to spend at least a year here working and saving money, but also getting some writing projects started. i hope to take the time and space to really deepen my practice and maybe come up with some tangible projects that can pay my way around this country. i also want to re-evaluate my goals/desires/purpose for the adventures, so i may reframe it more. so i have some ideas that i want to flush out or try out while i am here. i’m just really realizing how much energy the co-op in portland took, how much of my time and energy i gave to it even when i wasn’t there. i know i need to give that some time to sink in and to let go of some of those feelings and process what it means for me personally. i will forever be grateful for the experiences i had there, the connections and friendships i made, and how much i learned about myself and community. and yet, i am so glad i am no longer there.

alright so, here is what i have planned for the next few posts: write-up a review/wrap-up the oregon coast trail, i am still going to do a gear list and review, and i want to write about some of my ideas on the current political climate on climate change, as well as maybe start a regular month post on changes we can make in our daily lives that require no governmental accord! and this week i hope to get out on some longer hikes in the area so i will post some pics and such soon.

so that’s the rambley long update!