Anyone who has been following the loosely dubbed "chronological" portrayals of our accounts, surely recalls "Part 1" of my "Life in Mendocino" post, which is a few pages back by now, and focuses on the first bright and sun-shiny half of our time while living among the valleys of the redwood forests in Mendocino county. "Part 2," as I had so ingeniously plotted, would focus on some of the deeper, more revealing points in this portion of our trip, which has been arguably, one of the most startling perspectives of society we have seen thus forth.
When preparing to write about our accounts in this mysterious valley (for the web, mind you), I had been prepared to tread quite cautiously in choosing what I do and don't say; for reasons of respect, privacy, and even law. We never expected to find such a colorful tragedy out there, and because the nature of this study in sub-culture became so emotionally taxing to me in its totality, I put too much an emphasis on how I would honestly present the "private" so damn publicly.
After writing the over-due "Part 2," twice, I also began to struggle in considering my format of blog writing vs. writing the book (YES, I am still diligently composing a manuscript, though the scope of it as a whole, has continued to evolve simultaneously with my life)... ANYHOW, as it happened, I began writing the post two different times, and after a few pages in, both times- I realized I was writing for the book, not the blog.
So finally, I have come to accept that this portion of the journey, just wasn't meant to be released on the web. This is true with much of my experiences thus forth, only I didn't make the mistake of buttering you up for the delivery. The complexity of my experience was too great to be put in brief, plus, I've still gotta' preserve much of the zest my american journey has entailed, for the book. I don't want people to consider my book to be "based on the blog," but vice versa.
So in an effort to keep on truckin', I've decided to do a character profile on one of the more delightful locals we were fortunate enough to meet; throw down a few final photo's I may have neglected to share with you; and move the hell on. Finally, right?
"Slim Comber," as I will call him, was one of the nicest fellows we had come across since our enduring trip to the west coast, and our subsequent stint of "car living" in San Francisco. Right off the bat I was intrigued by Slim's demeanor. He was a laid back, smooth talkin', California native who I immediately identified as a caricature of the typical rural Californian for me to be studying. In reference to the "pen name" I have given him, Slim reminded me of the blue collar, land working men whom I had always read about with great satisfaction in Steinbeck's portrayals of the magnificent California countryside.
Slim had a good, steady job back in town in which he held modestly, and an absolutely adorable young daughter named "Jasmine,"whom he unabashedly prided as the joy in his life.
Slim had apparently gotten three full days off from work, and had decided to take his daughter down to his favorite local camping spot to get some quality relaxation time, and introduce his daughter to the local beauty which he so fondly prided. Upon arriving at the grounds, he found out there was some sort of mix-up with his site, and after he introduced himself and his daughter to us, and shared a few beers and even some smoke, we couldn't help but invite him to set up camp at our enormous site.
Slim did just that, and for the next two days we had a local among our camp, that undoubtedly led to the okies accepting us as "good folks" so quickly. Although we were hesitant to draw attention to ourselves as obvious outsiders, Slim drew in various people from surrounding camps, and we slowly began to understand the circumstances of our social surroundings, and even got to know some key figures in the camp.
When "Slim Comber" and Jasmine eventually left our camp, we were sad to see them go. In part, because of all we learned from him about what this forrest, and the local town, was really all about; but mostly, because he was such a helluva nice guy. He was a genuine sort, that could get along with almost anybody- which was a rare quality among the isolated locals- and his trust in us, allowed for their trust in us.
When we finally left camp a week later, we stopped into Slim's work to say good-bye to him, and thank him for all the good advice; and I'll be damned if he didn't have another absolutely golden reference for us! He jotted down the complicated directions of another free hidden camp site along the river, a day or so north, in Humbolt county- which turned out to be another wonderful stay.
It always seemed to be the good nature of people that got us along, and throughout all our struggles and achievements, the beauty of the landscape always seemed to reflect the beauty of the people...
COMING SOON: THE ONWARD JOURNEY UP THE PACIFIC NORTH WEST!!!
Until we meet again...
Joseph R. Reeves
I spent some time trying to whittle a backscratcher for Chassy's birthday- too bad the unfinished product split in the hot car later...
Chassy was kind enough to carve me a custom "nose picker" in return. Thanks Chass :)
This shot is particularly funny, because as I sit in the cool shaded camp site writing like a nerd, B.O., Chassy, and a few locals play cards on the picnic bench- whats funny, is that they drag the table a few feet every half-hour, in order to follow one of the few massive sun-spots available down in the valley.
These massive buggers are called "Bananna Slugs," and though I couldn't convince B.O. to try licking one, we heard from the okies that one lick makes your entire mouth go completely numb!
A final farewell "family style" portrait of the gang. It was sad to leave...