Saturday, September 13, 2008

Summing up 6 weeks.

I'm in Oregon
I traveled here in my van
Explain this to me

I am sitting here
Three thousand miles from normal
Witness to beauty

Get over here now
This is where you need to be
Ashland Oregon

Screaming, exploding
Describing various birds
Taking a deep breath

I will leave no trace
I will fade and disappear
I will keep moving

Friday, September 12, 2008

Boy, do I ever.

Boy, do I ever want to start being able to make some payments on some debts. It blows when you're unable to make a minimum payment, then you get throttled with late fees and percentage rate increases. None of the fees or rate hikes have stuck, but boy, do I ever need to make a lot of calls and keep a close watch on that stuff. It's like that game with the weasels or prairie dogs or otters that keep popping up and you need to slam them with a mallet. Wack-a-mole. This situation is truly bogus, and I scream it.

Someone suggested putting up a PayPal donation button. I'm not going to do that, because it tickles my gag reflex. But if someone wants to mail me $14,000 I'll take it. The donation is "tax deductable" in the non-traditional sense of those words. Debt is a pile of shit from hell. I'd like to trade my debt for an apple pie. I am aware that debt is boring and it's not worth talking about. I know. I made my bed, but now I cringe at the thought of laying in it. In my defense, I made the bed years ago when I was still an inexperienced bedmaker. I used mashed potatoes and burlap, because that's what I had laying around. This decision has proven regrettable.

Boy, do I ever enjoy seeing tiny little horses. Ponies. I was over at the Talent Harvest Festival, and they had little horses wandering around with kids on their backs. Talent is the next town over from Ashland. I like it over there.

Boy, do I ever like eating at diners. I'm one of the cowboys settin' at the counter. You can refer to me as 'folk,' and I'll accept that compliment with a knowing look and a nod. Biscuits and gravy. Don't make it snappy, ma'am. I'm aiming to waste some time.

I rented a movie from a Redbox location. They're in supermarkets, McDonaldses and other shopping places. It's always open, no need for an account. Return it at any other Redbox. I like it. There's not a very good selection of artsy or foreign flicks, but you don't go to McDonald's to get a cheeseburger.

I got one of those folding chairs that showed up all over the place several years ago. I'm talking specifically about the fabric folding chairs with the fabric arm rests and either one or two beverage holders. I think you call that fabric 'cordura.' Or it's similar to that. There are a few variations on this chair, and I got the cheapest one. This chair has improved my life. It's like having a mobile life-is-easy chair. It buckle-straps right onto my backpack, and barely weighs me down. I have half a mind to learn how to sleep in this chair, then get some of those glasses with pictures of open eyes on the lenses. That combo could really open up new possibilities for cheap travel. No tent - just some clothes, and you can zonk out in that chair wherever you want as long as you're wearing the glasses. I'd wear a cowboy hat too. You're less likely to get fucked with if you have a cowboy hat on. Especially if you're wearing those glasses. You could have a backup set of glasses with cat eyes for situations where you need to be more menacing and confusing.

This chair is great. Since Ashland is covered in electrical outlets and wifi hotspots, I can sit around on the internet anywhere for as long as I want, or just recharge all my stuff and read a book. As I said, the availability of free electricity in Ashland is astouding. As an example, I will truthfully state that there is an electrical outlet poking out of a bush in Lithia Park. You could charge up a moose in that bush, and nobody would know it.

An observation: In rural Pennsylvania, on the back roads around where I grew up, there are a lot of deer. Huge gangs of deer roam around at night, and stand in the roads. They get slaughtered by cars every day. The sides of the roads are figuratively awash in blood and guts. Everyone around there has either bonked into a deer, or knows someone who has. Hitting deer can kill you. None of this seems to make anybody drive much slower, as far as I've seen. The mentality seems to be that what's meant to be will be. The blame is typically shifted to the deer, even though they were there first, and they've never thrown the first punch. In Ashland and the surrounding area, there are similar numbers of deer, and similar crazy winding roads. I haven't seen one single dead deer. Everyone drives slow as hell. The following statement might be completely unrelated, but the deer don't seem to be afraid of people. They walk in the streets downtown, and lay down in front yards right next to sidewalks. I walked up to one to see if I could poke it, and that seemed to be the limit of trust. The deer edged away, and gave me a sideways glance that seemed to tell me what I already knew - "hey, there! boundaries! ... jackass..." It was the same thing that would probably happen if I'd approached a person with the same intentions. Boy, do I ever like the deer around this place.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Drug history of a happy mammal.

At 7:21pm I was washing dishes. Supposed to be off, but I'm covering for someone. I need money, and I barely mind.

I've spent enough time mentioning drugs, and not enough time yapping in explanatory detail about exactly where I stand. I don't like dancing around this subject, because I resent being a good person who is still made to feel like he needs to hide in corner to avoid people's stupid laws and stupid opinions. Outta my face with that nonsense. I'm of the impression that everyone should be allowed to do whatever they want, as long as they're not hurting other people. I resent the paranoia and need to be careful when I'm not bothering anybody. I play along only because of my strong dislike of handcuffs. I think that laws are too often unconstitutional, tyrannical, and moronic. But in practice, I'm more of an optimistic realist than a whiner. I prefer solutions or acceptance of reality over copious dope smoke and boo-hooery. But that's there. I'm going to talk about here.

I just spent a day in the National Forest getting stoned as hell and climbing around on a mountain until my shoes fell apart. I got some very good pot from someone at work, and it's the best I've seen since I had the good fortune of enjoying the convenience of a delivery service in Philly. My thoughts on getting high as hell? Meh - okay. I enjoyed the part about listening to 10,000 Hz Legend by Air with my van all full of smoke - hidden on a mountain, looking out over a beautiful moonlit vista. I like smoking at night, and before movies. I like smoking with friends who I'm close enough to have comfortable silence with. Marijuana is basically harmless. The most derogatory thing I can say about pot is that it tends to keep people from standing up and going outside. That's why I don't enjoy smoking during the day when other possibilities are so ripe. My thoughts up on the mountain? Good times, but the pot isn't so necessary. I'll still be smoking before a lot of movies, and probably lots of other times. But it's not the same as it used to be. It's not a giggle-fest, and nothing is left to be discovered. There's not a whole lot to keep me smoking, except that I enjoy it sometimes. For all the fuss, it's a lot more benign and silly than alcohol.

I just got finished spending a lot of my years drinking. I fully intend to be finished with that chapter. I started drinking late in high school, and got off to a roaring start without realizing exactly what I was doing. I had no regular supply, so I bought in bulk when possible. Jugs of liquor. Jugs of rum. I had no gauge for normal amounts to buy or drink. Over time, every situation and activity became a drinking occasion. Getting plastered felt something like taking a deep breath. I quit several times - once for over six months - but otherwise only had the odd days off here and there.

I never tried smoking pot until well after high school. I said I wasn't ready, and I passed a lot of joints and bowls from all of my friends who were. I have never even come close to what I would consider being a pot head. I smoked every day for a long time, but I waited until night. It was more of a wind-down activity. I never understood smoking pot before going to work, or smoking early in the day. Not fun. I've never really liked smoking more than once a day. Seems pointless. Getting super drunk and high at the same time is another matter. I was always a big fan of that. Super drunk, super high. Pot alone is something that I'm not nearly as fond of. It has it's place, and should be respected and abstained from at all other times. Keep pot in it's place.

Now let me talk about all that crazy LSD I've done. One time years ago, and again more recently. Twice, total. One single tab each time. The first time was in college, in Boston, before I ever got high from smoking. I thought it was great, except that I couldn't fall asleep. I didn't know that I wouldn't be able to fall asleep for a long time. I also didn't know that it was unwise to take it the night before final exams. Fortunately, my classes were all pieces of cake and I got A's on everything regardless. My second time taking acid, I considered it carefully and was prepared, cautious, and respectful.

Mushrooms, I've done with a much greater frequency. I think it's a pretty safe drug. I honestly recommend it, which is something I won't say of any other mind-altering substance. I think there's a value to mushrooms. Things get funny and you can laugh or get emotional, or become introspective. It can present your existing ideas and circumstances in a new light. It can be a very positive experience. If you keep taking mushrooms, you probably won't keep pulling epiphanies off the shelf, but you're still probably on the safe side if you have a respectful and cautious attitude. I wouldn't recommend tripping massive handfuls like a jackass, but I don't think mushrooms are going to do anybody in. They are absolutely not addictive, and you wake up strong, smart, and sexy.

There you have it. I drank too much for several years, I've smoked a lot of pot, and I've hallucinated a little bit. I have never tried anything that is considered a 'hard drug.' I have never smoked an entire cigarette, and only had half of a flavored one before I got bored. I smoked a nasty cigar once, and puked. Alcoholic? In a technical sense. Pothead? Possibly laughable. Drug addict? A lousy example if that's what you're looking for.

I am a happy mammal. I'm deciding my path, and I'm loving life. I appreciate concern, and despise anonymous condescension. I cannot scream any louder about this.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

National Forests hate my shoes

I woke up and drove back to the free camping area during daylight. The view was much better. I parked in a spot off the narrow dirt road right in front of a fire ring, and shaded by two huge pine trees. My doors opened up to give me a nice view of the dirt road, and the mountains beyond it. On the other side of the van, the mountain continued up to a crest where three tall rock formations sat at the peak. It looked reachable, though no official trails were present to make it very easy. I went for it.

Though steep, the first part of the little trek was easy enough. The ground was mostly loose dirt with some rocks and small shrubbery. People talk about snakes being around, so all the little holes weren't comforting, but didn't do enough to deter me completely. I kept an eye out. Little pseudo-trails weaved around the brush and rocks, and every minute or so I stopped and looked up to find the next higher point that looked reachable. The terrain kept getting steeper, and about halfway to the rock formation I was trying to reach at the peak, I had to employ my hands to help me keep balance and gain altitude. I kept checking, and my van kept getting smaller and smaller. I didn't get to the top. I got high enough, decided "could if I wanted to," but was ultimately satisfied with the incredible view from the last perch that I reached.

The journey down was a trip. Within a few minutes, the sole of my left shoe detached itself from the heel all the way to the toe. My shoe was flapping around and I was taking huge steps and sliding down the dirt patches on the side of the ridge, trying to steer myself toward the van. It was a blast, but I was afraid that the sole would come completely off, leaving me with a kind of moccasin. I made it down fine. Both soles peeled off all the way up to the toe. They heated up, and the adhesive failed from the sideways pressure. Since my life is so awesome, I just stashed those shoes and went to my brand new ones that Matt Klopp gave me. He acquired them on the set of some photo-shoot in Brooklyn. My size, not his.

At 7:21pm, the sun had already gone behind the ridge of a mountain, and I was looking at a big pot of beans on my stove. Nobody else took advantage of the free camping, so it was just me up there. I took down my curtains, opened my shades, and let in the moonlight.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Night of Theater

I just got finished standing around the small outdoor stage on Pioneer St., around the corner from the movie theater. I have a ticket to Our Town tonight, and I showed up early to see the outdoor pre-show happenings. It was worth showing up early, because 1) I'm not up to shit-else that's worth a quarter of a slightly hot damn. 2) The improv group, Playback NYC, gave me plenty of smiles.

They ask the audience some questions, then perform their interpretation of the information that they got. Very good. This is one of the better things I've seen where anybody interested is free to gawk and enjoy. Happenings like this are one of the reasons that Ashland is so ripe and oozing with positive energy.

Our Town was good. I felt kinda awkward sitting around alone at the theater, but I felt better when the lady next to me gave me a Snickers bar with almonds.

I'm trying as hard as possible to destroy my sleeping schedule. No particular reason. This is day number one of my 3-day no-work-athon. I got a huge push-button mocha cappuccino, and headed to the Mt. Ashland National Forest about an hour after the play let out. I'm not a fan of night driving, due to the fact that I don't like driving when I can't see shit. I was on one of the wildest, rockiest, narrowest, and least guard-rail'd mountain roads I've ever seen. It was 2am. I missed the free camping zones, and eventually had to just pull over at the first spot that looked like I could jam a van into it. Fortunately, there wasn't too much jamming needed. I found a little pull-off with amazing views and plenty of space to park and walk around in the chilly, windy, crisp night air. I like to take every opportunity to make sure that there are still billions of stars.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Bicycles, Vans & Land, man

That's a Bike Friday Tikit being ridden by Rob English, one of the designers, and an engineer / racer on staff. He's entering races with that bicycle, and placing respectably. All I can say for myself at 7:21pm was that I was washing dishes again. This photograph is way more interesting than hearing about carrot circles that fit perfectly into drain-holes. Those wheels are 16 x 1 3/8. This specific bicycle is decked out with a lot of options which would make it cost several thousand dollars - Campy Record brake/shifters, titanium seatmast - that kind of stuff. Washing dishes was pretty typical. Looking at this tiny pink high performance bicycle is exciting. It can fold into a very compact and secure package in 5 seconds according to Bike Friday - so maybe 15 seconds tops? No quick releases - it just snaps into a little package.

When comparing folding bicycles of several years ago, I would have said that the contest is between Bike Friday and Brompton for the best one. Choose a Bike Friday for performance and feeling the most like a "normal" bicycle - choose Brompton for the quickest, easiest fold into the smallest tightest package. It looks like Bike Friday made the Tikit to compete more directly with the Brompton. The Brompton sports the same 16 x 1 3/8" wheels, and both Bromptons and Tikits require no quick release fooling to fold. The Brompton has a variety of gearing options, but they're all based on either a single speed, or a 3 speed hub. The Tikit uses more typical gearing components (cassette hub), and the options for a build kit are close to infinite. If you can get by with the 16 x 1 3/8" wheels, it would seem to be the best choice. Those Bromptons look pretty classy, but in my mind, I think Bike Friday wins. I think the Brompton might have a little bit of a better fold.

I haven't ridden a Tikit yet, but I have ridden a Brompton. The steering is not the same as a big-wheeled bicycle. I think I would prefer my wheels to be at least 20 x 1.5" - and even then, you can't expect to ride hands-free. Something about the scientific gyroscopic-ness prevents it. Little wheels don't allow for much hands-free action. That said, I owned a 20" wheeled custom (bright pink) Bike Friday NWT, and I thought that bicycle was just awesome. It took me awhile, but especially now that I own such a small home, I'm finally kicking myself for selling it. At the time I sold it, I needed money and I could make great bicycles appear from thin air for next to free. Now I kinda want my little pink bicycle back.

As tempting as the quick fold and probably-awesome performance of the Tikit is, I'd probably prefer to stick with the 20" wheels and the somewhat slower fold. (Actually, I'll just stick with the awesome bicycles I already have until I'm rich again). That said - I'm a vandwelling person who requires an awesome bicycle and likes to travel. That smacks of the need for a really nice folding bicycle that can carry a load. Bike Friday. Until then, I'll keep my huge road bicycle beside me while I sleep, and my cheap travelin' bicycle strapped to the back of my house.

As my needs, situations, and land-owning status develop, I hope to move toward having one of these parked in the shade:

The ass-end of this house can store whatever bicycles I feel like having, which will allow me to silence myself and sit around a fire.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Solutions and a shower bag.

I worked, and it was kinda lousy. At 7:21pm, I was feeling authentically lonely and tired. It wasn't so bad, but I'm not interested in looking for any brighter sides.

There are other small sources of worry which did nothing to help my mood:

1) I've been waiting on a 'general delivery' letter from Pennsylvania containing my replacement credit card. It was sent well over a week ago, and should definitely be here. I need the credit card in case I don't have enough gas money to get to North Dakota for the sugar beet harvest.

2) I have not gotten final confirmation that I am among those who will be working this year's sugar beet harvest in North Dakota. I am awaiting this confirmation so I can put in my notice at work. I like leaving good jobs with the chance to continue operations seamlessly after I leave.

3) I need a fkn shower. My efforts earlier today were thwarted by a guy standing around. He looked like a hot shower sentry. I left as unclean as I'd arrived.

... from this numbered list, all issues and questions got a smart answer, and a bonus was served up from thin air...

1) The credit card arrived. Phew. Didn't feel like having it canceled and re-issued a second time. The timing would be too close for comfort. This is awesome. Big sigh of relief that general delivery is not a scam.

2) I got confirmation that I will be working this year's sugar beet harvest in North Dakota.

3) Solar shower. I have to admit that I had a solar shower sitting unused on the floor of my van in front of the passenger seat. It's been there on the floor for as long as I've owned the van. I had it during the era of Truck House. One might wonder why I haven't used it yet. I am beyond trying to answer such questions about how I operate. It takes me awhile to get around to the simple things. Examples abound.

4) Bonus: my parents got a letter from the New York City Court of Some-Such. We were talking on the phone, and I said to just open it. My trespassing charge has been dismissed. Now I don't even need to call anyone or sort anything out. Boom. Dismissed. Just like the cop said that it would be when he gave me the ticket almost apologetically. He said I'd have to show up and do something about it though. Now I'm glad I didn't even bother to do that.

All of my simple little difficulties had a solution. The solar shower was especially good. Now that I finally got around to trying it, I have discovered that it is an invaluable vandwelling tool. My test was incredibly half-assed. I put about 2 gallons into the 5 gallon bag, and left it on my dashboard starting in late afternoon as the sun was already making it's retreat. After 11pm, I drove up the mountain to a little spot I know, and hung the handle of the shower bag off the corner of my open passenger-side door. This put the "shower head" at about waist level. Good enough. My expectations were very far exceeded. The shower lasts long enough, and it made me feel clean enough. The water was warm enough. Now picture 5 hot gallons hanging from a tree.

Vandwelling? Get a shower bag. (I think I'm actually the last person on this boat, so it would seem that I'm only telling myself).

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Poking around in the drain. PICS.

The other dishwasher got pinkeye. Now I got his hours. Now I'm poking my fingers around in the drain, removing saturated bits of vegetables, rice, bread, and paper.

It's a good night. I don't mind washing dishes at all. I hesitate to say that I like it. I might as well not like it, because I know this type of work gets old. When the music is my choice, and there's a steady flow of dishes without getting too wild: it's kinda fun. I'm still outta here.

I continue to not have any friends here. That's normal enough, but I'm constantly frustrated by my own shyness. By "constantly," I mean constantly. I wasn't always like this, was I? Didn't I used to be way awesomer? I realize that I probably was always like this. Maybe saying weird shit had more leverage in the past.

Here's some pictures:

Here's one kind of spot that I really enjoy. Hidden in plain sight. There are no houses to the right - it's a steep hill with a big tree, located behind a nice hotel. This is one block from the very center of downtown Ashland. This is where I slept after I went to the theater.

This is the view going down the hill toward downtown. This is behind the van in the previous picture, turned 90 degrees and facing east.

This is a picture showing my DIY van conversion skillz. I'm a whiz with a... a bungee cord... and a... sleeping bag. I'm as stealth as a bunch of shit thrown in the back of a van.

This is a view looking toward the front. Notice how cavernous a van is with no cabinets or raised beds. This is an option to be considered. That's the arm of the life-is-easy chair to the left, facing the doors. Those "curtains" are K-Mart "table cloths." That's my awesome foot.

This is my spot right next to the creek. It's a good place to cook, read books, or take a nap in the shade. If you stay late, you might get cops banging on your van. But to be fair, I slept around here multiple times before that happened. I was begging for a visit.

That's my roommate. That's the KHS Professional bicycle. 531 tubing, Phil hubs, 32c Pasela tires, Brooks, Nitto 177 bars, Kelly Take-offs with Rivendell 'Silver' shifters, and more. Phew. I like it.

Ok... I hear you bro. Tone it down a little? People are trying to sleep around here, and don't need you yelling. To be fair: I think everyone should do whatever they want - so okay.

This photo does not fit with the others. This scene occurred in Bar Harbor, and that's me being as dirty as dirt itself. On the left.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Socks with no feet

There's a nice lady sitting next to me on these concrete steps. She's using my laptop to search her email for the telephone number of a client. She is the type of person who might not like it if she were aware of me using the term 'lady' to describe her - but I use it now, regardless, and with no disrespect. It's 7:21pm, and I'm sitting in the narrow alleyway between a coffee shop and another shop, the wares of which I have difficulty explaining. Several fashion-conscious girls with tall boots and made-up faces have exited this store. There were scarves and accessories involved, which uniquely layered and individualized their wardrobes, setting them apart in certain ways, I'm sure. This store is one source of such items. A pair of long green socks with no feet caught my eye. Green tubes. "Those would keep my calves warm on a chilly night," I thought. Then I remembered that items have prices, and I dismissed them. "Footless socks are another man's purchase," is the adage I add when pondering such purchases.

I'm sitting in the alleyway between a store that carries green footless socks, and a coffee shop that makes it's own delicious bagels. The employee at the coffee shop who was performing the closing rituals was listening to The Dismemberment Plan, though he didn't know it. He's lucky to have friends who make good mix CDs for him. He took my chair and table at closing time, but I assured him that it was not a bother. In fact, I moved the chair and table inside for him, just to prove that my heart had no malice for protocol. The outdoor electrical outlet remained - my laptop is plugged in, and my phone is charging.

If there happened to be rain, which there is not, this would be an excellent place to sit. This small pedestrian walkway is completely covered from front to back. I am sitting in a walkway. This area which I am in is more accurately described as a walkway, rather than an alleyway, as I previously referred to it. When I think of an alleyway, I think of a stream of trash juice, a haphazard stack of cardboard, and a couple of dumpsters. Maybe some greasy five-gallon buckets. No - this is not an alleyway in that sense at all. This is a very nicely maintained covered walkway, and now that my table and chair have been taken inside, I am perched on the top row of a set of three concrete steps.

I'm sitting in a clean, covered pedestrian walkway, and the lady sitting next to me is using my laptop to check her Gmail account. She is using the search function to find a client's telephone number. Her husband is leaning on the wall of the coffee shop, which is now closed, and soon they will be going to the theater to see a play. A few minutes ago, this lady, who has short dyed blond hair, walked by on the sidewalk in front of this walkway, and turned back when she noticed me using a computer. She asked if I was connected to the internet. "Do you have the internet?" I explained that the coffee shop provided wifi, and yes, I was connected quite well. "Yeah, the signal is pretty strong here." She noted that the coffee shop was closed, and at that point I realized that she was looking for a place with a computer that she could use. I told her that she could use my laptop for as long as she needed it - I was plugged in, and on no time schedule whatsoever. It would be no burden. She found the telephone number of her client, and her husband saved it on his phone. She was very grateful, and thought herself very lucky to have found me there, sitting between the bagels and the socks with no feet. This was neither the first nor the last time I have lent my computer to somebody so they could check their email, or find directions. I'm a nice guy. In spite of the fact that I am a horribly unforgivable shower and bagel thief, I try to make up for it by not pissing in anyone's oatmeal.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

...of greater value

I woke up at the truck stop. You can park here. Everyone can always park here, sleep overnight, get wifi from the Super 8, have bathrooms upon waking up, and have breakfast in the morning served on an Iron Skillet. You are welcome to this. I did most of these things, but nixed the skillet for being too familiar. I'm the ambassador of strange happenings, and failing this, would at least prefer new situations, and failing that would graciously accept an opportunity to at least spend my dollars at a new diner. Preferably one with a guy in a bear suit waving me in.

Shortly after waking up, I decided that with the next three days off, I would be stupid not to head straight to California. I was loafing around, twenty miles north of the border, and I had a half tank of gas. I felt like I needed to at least accomplish something with that. Before plans materialized further, I was at a diner in Yreka California. I sat at the counter, 90 geometric degrees and two stools away from an older version of myself. More accurately, an old man two seats away reminded me exactly of my slightly younger self. He performed every bit of nonsense and mild antics to gain a little bit of notice or a crumb of spare affection. He secretely gained my affection and strong approval just by having an honest smile and a wife who seemed to have loved him for many years. I drank coffee, coffee, coffee, and felt blessed to be present, because that added a value to my day that I could never have extracted from any other source.

A plan sprang forth: Wondering how I was going to utilize the rest of the gas in my tank for more than it's monetary value, I arrived at an obvious, though embarassingly belated, realization which caused me to pull over with an abruptness uncharacteristic of my typical driving style. The west is covered in National Forrests, and you can camp for free in most of those. I goog-411'd myself over to the operator at the closest office, and asked where the free camping was. After describing my location, I was convinced to visit the office for a free map and directions. The office was only a few miles away, back in Yreka. (Why-Reek-ah)

I got my map, and a few supplies, and was on my way. Covering a majority of the distance on tiny roads, I went slowly and arrived at possibly the best camping site I have seen to this date. I settled in (backed up the van), cooked big food (pot-a-pasta), and was satisfied. My free campsite was only 20 feet from one of the cleanest streams possible. The water was as clear as glass, and if I could think of something clearer I would say it. At 7:21pm, I sat in my small house in the very rural mountainous region of northern California, reading Don Quixote. This book. Read this one. I was interested, but not impressed with the prologue. I distrusted the size and publishing date tremendously. No need. This is a simple story, easy to follow. The words are unbeatable. I look forward to reading all ten billion of them, because the order in which they are put is nothing short of remarkable. It's not famous for nothing, apparently.

The clear night and my location collaborated to make this one of those nights in which people famously realize how many stars there are. Big stars, smaller stars, and the mist of stars between. To avoid making it sound too enchanting for credibility: fuckin' mosquitos. I'm trying to read, here.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

...of little value

I worked again. See how much I'm working? I know. Too often, and still not enough hours. I'm going to roll with it for now. I've already discussed this. 7:21pm: I'm working. I have lead coursing through my veins. It's a slow day, so I don't have 10,000 dishes prodding me to hurry up. With only a handful of dishes, I can't convince myself that I'm competing in the dishwashing Olympics. If this isn't the Olympics, then what's the rush? The time passes more slowly than I would like.

After work, I went straight across the street to the plaza to witness the drama continue to unfold. What a disappointment. Disappointment is inaccurate. More accurately, I observed reality, and I was maybe expecting a more uplifting version of it. I was there because I had nothing better to look at or listen to. I have nobody here to relate to, and sitting on the concrete down there didn't change that in the slightest, as maybe I wished it might. Of course I wished it, but did I expect it? No. I was there as a witness.

I sit and keep my mouth mostly shut, and don't even bother to introduce myself. I sat on the sidewalk in the midst of that scene, and was less than thrilled with what I saw and heard. I have met some really respectable and awesome people before in my life. I hope to meet many more. After this session, I felt a deficit. I need good people and positive energy to flick a hidden switch inside of me. This was a paranoid, accusatory, belligerent, and frighteningly psychotic visit to the plaza. My first inclination is to describe the whole circus. My second and final inclination is to forget it.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Money, birds, and my future.

I'm really not getting anywhere financially. Obviously. I'm working some, but I don't think it's adding up to anything. Look at me - look how much I'm working. It's not adding up, I'm sure. These minimum wage jobs are way crazy. I'm happy that I'm making enough tip money for coffee and some food every day. I'm very happy that I get a free meal when I work - as long as it's $9 or less. I'm very happy with Ashland Oregon. This money situation is something else, though. I'm not going to get a new job here. I'm going to leave. I'm putting in my notice soon. Maybe today. Then I'm going to go to North Dakota and harvest some sugar beets, if I can make that work out. I have a line out in water over there.

I love Ashland. It's a beautiful place where you can act how you want, and to a very large degree you can do what you want. We have all types of birds hanging out on this wire. Kids are smoking dope in the plaza after dark, and there's a lady riding her bicycle around with no shirt on. I was standing six feet from a cop at a Food Not Bombs feeding, and she strolled right by on her way toward splashing around in the stream. We've got a lot of hippies with dogs around here. We've got older bearded cats and couples living in VW buses and Vanagons. We have every type of bird I've mentioned sleeping in the park every single lazy afternoon - moms, dads, babies, bums, and all their respective cousins. A small child in the library gave me his two coolest stickers, and then a third one as an afterthought. We have people taking time to wave to me across three people drinking coffee, 'cause one of my eyeballs peeped at their big beautiful dog for a second. Smile and wave. I have all day reserved just for that.

I'll almost be sorry to leave this place. I love it here. My desire to keep moving is stronger than my desire to stake a claim here at 25 years old. And I'm definitely not going to stake my claim in a half-eaten bowl of salad. I have a feeling that Ashland might play a role in my future. Or not. I don't have that planned. Pedicures, airplanes, and a macrobiotic diet could also play an unexpected role. Who knows? I haven't planned beyond my hope to work with sugar beets for a few weeks. I'm keeping my schedule open. I love all of you.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Way to be clean

Campgrounds and RV parks.

I called 1-800-GOOG-411...

"Ashland Oregon" I said.
"Camping" I said.
"Number one" I said.
"Details" I said.
"Text Message" I said.

"I'll connect you" the recorded Google voice said.

Some Guy: "Hello, _______ RV Park."
Chris Harne: "Hi - do you have tent sites, or just RV sites?"
SG: "Um... Yes, we have tent sites, too"
CH: "Do you have hot showers?"
SG: "Yes, we do"
CH: "Excellent - how much is a tent site?"
SG: "$21.75 per night"
CH: "Great - do you allow dogs?"
SG: "Yes, but they need to be on a leash and you have to clean up their poop."
CH: "Of course, umm - alright, that's awesome. I think that's it. Thanks very much."

Only one of those questions really mattered, but I didn't want to sound like a dude who was planning to head over there just to dance around in all of their hot showers. I had all the info I needed. I checked the Google-sent txt message, and put the address into my GPS. 5.6 miles away. Located right next to that beautiful lake that you can park beside. Since I'm a spy and I over-plan small missions and re-use the same themes in my activities, I'll continue to describe my admittedly ridiculous modus operandi. I drove into the place to scout out where the showers might be.

I always try to have some kind of story in place just in case anybody tries something silly, like talking to me or asking me any questions. Just in case: I was looking for Mark Peters who should be there by now. He's in a little Chinook, and we're meeting here and going out for breakfast. In case of anything else: "Damn. I don't know what's going on - I'll need to give him a call." Unrelated information adds authenticity to the story, and leaves any questioning ripe with opportunities for a subject change. ie: "do you know of any good breakfast spots in Ashland?"

The story part is completely unnecessary 99.9% of the time, but it's fun to make stuff up just in case you're required to open your mouth. I gave the place a once-thru and decided that the showers were probably located inside the men's room - I didn't see any other buildings that looked like they would contain a shower. I put my towel in my jacket sleeve, put my cell phone to my ear, and headed in. The cell phone on the ear allows you to put up your index finger ("one second") in response to anything whatsoever. No phony conversation. You're on hold - it's important. You can use this to avoid talking to any civilians in any situation. This is perfect for scouting around when you know what you're looking for, but not exactly where it is, or if it's possible for anybody to notice or care.

Warm showers. Right in the men's room. I probably should have been way less lazy and figured this out weeks ago. But now is just as good. I have a job now, and it's not a particularly clean job, and it's getting too cold to swim in the reservoir to stay clean. I enjoyed one hell of a hot shower. Now that I've seen the layout, I know that I can park somewhere else, wander in on a path towards the back, and not be seen by anybody who could possibly care. I own the world, I own all the bagels and breakfasts contained therein, and now I own all of the showers as well.

(Rewind 15 hours).

It's 7:21pm. I'm looking at myself in the bathroom mirror at work, and wiping my face with a damp paper towel. This is it. It's shower time. Tomorrow, I will find a shower. I've only had two showers since leaving Pennsylvania, if you don't count swimming in various rivers. Most people don't count rivers - but they should.

Another note on showers: I've been hanging out with the hobo squatter hippie punk homeless folks in the plaza downtown. Do they take showers? No. Or very rarely. Do they stink? No. They smell like humans. Showers are a luxury, and something that should not cause undue stress and worry when you need to go without. You don't need to base your life around showers. I like my showers because I'm a suave guy, and I like [needlessly] smooth [and simple] operations.