Initially, our lives while chasing the sun-spots in the great valley under the Mendocino redwoods, was anything but enduring. In fact, the notion of us staying put for an entire week was a challenge that we were unfamiliar with, and one that was particularly difficult for Chassy and B.O. because of the fast-paced rhythm we had been getting used to in our traveling. It took some rallying on my part, to make the agreement that we would in fact stick it out for the whole week there, for several reasons.
First, being that if we were really going to successfully stretch our West coast adventures for 3 whole months- it would mean that we would have to spend some serious down time, we just couldn't feasibly live at the pace we had been- financially or otherwise. I had art on my brain, and nothing sounded better to me then the notion of wasting the week away working on all kinds of crazy art there at our lovely camp. Furthermore, was the nagging reality that I had a lot of writing to do for a small company back in Milwaukee, that was not quite on recreational terms; in fact, I was pressing myself to finish every last bit of it, so I would no longer have to work on anybody's deadlines but my own. This is without mentioning the fact that we were on the last short bit of our funds, and needed the money from the writing so we could continue traveling north to inevitably find work somewhere in Oregon- so, said another way: I needed to finish the writing in order to continue our traveling. If Chassy and B.O. didn't like it, it didn't really matter. We were stuck there until funds came through.
So it was under these circumstances, that we found ourselves at the very beginning of our week spent in the valley beneath the redwoods at a secluded little camp next to a stream, and under the overwhelmingly mysterious shroud of the vast Mendocino forrest. I was for one, very excited.
After all the hustle and bustle of living in a car in San Francisco, I was ready to do some reading, some art, and most importantly- get that writing off my plate once and for all. I was craving the solitude that our camp seemed to guarantee, but after a few days of strange silence, I realized that "Camp X" was a lot different then I ever could have imagined.
I'm going to refer to our camp as "Camp X," because I respectfully and somewhat fearfully, agreed to keep the exact whereabout of this local gem of a campsite (a very offhanded term considering the extents of it's use), a secret to any and all. I promised this to the Okies of the valley that we later discovered we were co-existing among. All I will say, is that we were in the thick of the woods, at the bottom of the valley, and somewhere in between the coastal town of Fort Bragg, and Willits (which is inland about 40 miles from the Pacific). Folks, I kid you not when I say that this was a place where cell phone coverage, simply did not exist.
I will also keep the okie tales to a minimum, as well as the certain extent of danger that we slowly came to realize was ever-present when camping in a forrest of unspoken "development" as I will so delicately put it, as these are tales that will be disclosed in the book (along with many of the essential details that are simply not appropriate for blindly putting forth to the world wide web). Suffice it to say, that along with Northern California's Humboldt County, the infamous Mendocino County, is the highest profiting county in the entire United States, for growing marijuana.
This first part of my web-written account of Mendocino, is part 1 of 2, being our first few days in "Camp X," when as far as we knew, we were simply among a few other campers in a secluded site, that had taken a great deal of research and efforts (and hassling with the disgruntled hosts) to have successfully found and gotten. When as far as we knew, Mendocino was nothin' but peaches and cream!
Believe it or not, the cars right side, is no more than 5 ft away from a 100 foot drop to the valley below. The locals zoom around these crazy passes going 30 while yawning and smoking a joint- its ridiculous! Theres a few miles of winding road like this, to get to the top and out of the valley. Because of the rough terrain, and tremendous pot-holes, we got several flat tires going up and down this enduring road every day...
...Aside from my daily writing agenda, our time was spent with the daily trip "to town," as it is so fondly put so often down in the valley; where we would go buy cheap whiskey and cheap food, and would then go to Mc Donald's to buy a coffee while I uploaded photo's to the blog for you fine people. Mc Donald's became the primary hub of our "business" regarding the blog, any cell phone calls that were to be made daily, e-mails, and for me to check in and update the said office in Milwaukee on my progress in the writing gig.
After the first night in the tent- a freezing cold night of absolute and entire discomfort- we made it our task to find a thrift store, or garage sale to purchase a few beat up blankets, and a pan so we could cook a more diverse array of cheap food, and sleep somewhat comfortably for a change. We quickly realized that we had brought tents, but had absolutely no camping supplies, and would need to acquire these few things to make the week bearable. As our luck turned out, I ended up haggling the "garage sale folks" into giving us a good pan, a wooden spoon, two stained but perfectly thick comforters, a beetles vinyl album, three Led Zepplin also on vinyl, and finally, "good-bye yellow brick road," by Elton John, on vinyl- all for 15 bucks cash! It was the steal of a lifetime if I've ever come across one...
using broken pieces of glass, and stones from our camp, Chassy made some sweet little pieces of art!
I'm starting to look like one of the locals...
...During the days, we blissfully basted our midwestern tans in the few sun spots that shined through the canopy miles above us, and we all did our best to adjust to the pace of our days that were now patiently melting away with the slow flickering pace of a tea light. We all bathed in the nearby stream. I kept busy with my writing as B.O. taunted me, calling me a square. I paid no mind.
Much of our days time was spent making great hobo-feasts. Concoctions of canned food and chicken and Ramen, and whatever else was on sale or within our budget for that days trip to Safe-way. We would awake to eat spaghetti O's off of last nights dwindling embers, and serve them out of dollar coffee cups from yesterday's Mc Donalds; Chassy would awake like a soft-eyed princess to such meals with a lingering hangover, and partake as happy as a clam.
Hash went around the campground freely, given plentifully like pamphlets on a cities corner; Chassy and B.O. bartered tobacco for it whenever they wanted to get high and didn't incidentally have some from the Okies already. I had to wait until the evening myself, otherwise I'd be writing nothing but dribble...
... And the days continued to pass as such. When the sun went down, it got very cold very fast, and we would build tremendous fires, or meek fires depending on how much wood we had gathered during that particular day. No matter what, we would warm our bellies with cheap whiskey or wine, and sit around the campfire like sages, listening to the strange noises from the valleys that we hoped were far, far away.
This was all before we really got a sense for the depth of the mysterious clamoring that took place nonchalantly in the background of our care-free days. There was much more going on there amidst Camp X, and as we later came to discover: the less we knew, the better off we were…