Chapter Update: "More Spare-Changing, and Finally, On The Road Again, and Onward North Through Humboldt CO.,

In the wayward tradition of this unique blog thus forth, I'm hoping it has been accepted by readers, that: unlike the in-process manuscript being composed for my book, the voluptuously illustrated accounts I am sharing with you here on the blog, are somewhat selective in terms of content, and highly sporadic in terms of format. I feel it is important to re-iterate the fact that when traveling out on the road in such a way, experiences, life, and taking part in whats going on around you, come first and foremost. Because of this, maybe half of the writing/photography I am sharing is raw, off-the-cuff, unedited material coming at you as I get it; and the remainder, is my sharing of the accounts that have already happened, and appear in a much more contemplative, narrative-based form- although still highly unedited, and only somewhat chronological… (speaking of which: anyone potentially interested in working with me as an editor for the book, blog, or anything else, e-mail me at: JOSEPHREEVESART@yahoo.com)

Down in the depths of the Mendocino Valley, things had been beginning to get complicated, edgy, and even dangerous. As a result of mis-communication among the phone-less mountain range, some unnecessary squabbling between myself, and the editors paying me a bit to write for them had developed. I had been writing avidly the past 10 days, in an effort to finish all of my work for them, and get the 200 dollars they agreed to wire me. Aside from that, was 200 dollars I had in check form, but could not cash unless we made it to a US BANK that was 2 days North, in Arcata. This meant that the check couldn't even be cashed until we had the initial gas money to keep going North.
The desperate requests I made to ensure that my pay would be wired by our last day in Mendocino, were misconstrued as impatient and disrespectful, and after I was acrimoniously reminded that the money wire would come when they were damn well pleased with the work, and ready to wire it; we decided our finances required something more certain. The remainder of their work would have to be finished another time, in less desperate circumstances.
So, essentially, we were flat broke and badly needed to get out of Mendocino for reasons I will not detail at this point. Since I was at the mercy of my editors, and was too proud to express to them the trouble we were potentially in, we were forced to have Chassy phone-in on her Birthday money, and luckily, it was wired to us soon after. We packed up our camp, said good-bye to the friendlier okies, and made our final trip up the long, dusty, dirt road that slowly wound up the valley, and into the main town. We headed to the the main social artery of the town, the Safe-Way, and Chassy picked up the bit of Birthday money she was wired, which would be just enough to get us North to Arcata, where we could cash the check I had for 200. Talk about living check to check!
 No sooner than we could throw on some good tunes, and break furiously back into the open road, did we incur what must have been our tenth flat tire since Fulton St. in San Francisco. After packing the Le Sabre back into the homely, claustrophobic, mess that it was when carrying all our belongings- we sighed with exhaustion at the mere thought of re-arranging the trunk again to get our spare tire, and go through the patching process for the tenth time.
We got off the main road immediately, and found ourselves in the parking lot of an overpriced train history museum, with no place to sufficiently park.
In no mood to deal with anything but managing the menacing, yet majestic curves of HW 1, me and The Great B.O. snapped to work immediately.
First, we dislodged the box of food we had been collecting, from the top of the accumulating contents within our trunk- Franzia bags, perishable produce, and non perishable cans alike- which included, of course, an array of beers that were nearly as warm as they were cheap. This strategic placement was to preserve the food, and ensure accessibility as we traveled. It was one of the few constants we had in our trunk packing, actually, and pretty much the only section in our inventory that wasn't hotly debated as to its most efficient placement.
Chassy queued up our tire-patching song, "Truckin,'" by the Grateful Dead, and me and B.O. mechanically continued to disassemble the savage, and improvisational order that had been given to our mass of belongings, making little piles so to recall where this or that would fit when we maddeningly re-packed it moments later. After we had been forced to live out of the trunk for so long, each one of us resented certain contents of one another's baggage that they just "couldn't be without," and whoever's items it happened to be at the very end, that we were cramming into the trunk with equal amounts of determination and disbelief, was the person being generally taunted or sneered at. B.O.'s massive shoe collection or red-wood staff, my randomly acquired collection of vinyl records, or of course, Chassy's hair dryer or curling iron; no matter what or who happened to complicate the process, packing was always a less than pleasurable task.
We finally removed enough of our shit, to be able to dig down into the trunk and pull out a spare tire with little more hassle than delivering a baby.
I would hold everything else off the floor of the trunk by lifting a bag at the bottom of the pile- quivering, cursing, sweating and all- while B.O., acting as the surgeon, would reach under the carpet slip on the floor of the trunk, finding the wing-nut that would need to be unfastened in order to free the spare; and as he would intensely stare off into space while working the simple hardware- face reddened, and mouth gaping in a moment of precisely calculated finger work- he would un-turn the nut after what seemed like several minutes, and with an aluminum clink signifying the successful release of the tire, B.O. would pull the little donut out from the folds of the uncovered trunk proudly, with grease stained hands, and a sigh of aggravated relief.
"Truckin," was our tire patching song because we had found that we were able to swap a tire within the duration of the song, more often than not. And by the time Bob Weir was coming down off his anthem to the road, like usual, we were screwing in the final bolt to our pitiable spare-tire. Now came the patching part, and the setting time.
Since we needed some new rubber for our "tire-patching kit," we were forced to go to a hardware store before riding on our spare to a gas station, performing the patching process, filling the tire with air again, and finally, waiting for it to set. After doing so, we decided to only slightly risk our ass by riding the donut only as far as a beach 20 minutes North, where we could shake off the bad karma we were all feeling, have a few beers, sit in the sand, and give the tire an hour or so to set before going over the same process to re-apply the damned thing.

Before we made for the beach, we decided to stop into good 'ol "Slim Comber's," work, to say bye to the guy, and thank him for being so swell to us out-of-towners.
We pulled into the lot, and all took a few moments to rummage around and find some fresh wear to put on, so to not embarrass the guy, or put him in hot water with his superiors. He had been an outstanding fellow, and the last thing we wanted, was for his boss to spot us out as rubber-tramps (a term for car-living homeless folk), and wonder what in the world our business was with Slim. It was after all, a classy seeming joint, and we had grown accustomed to strategically using the various articles of clothing and accessories we brought, to make us blend where we needed to, when we needed to. You'd be surprised how far a collared shirt and some fresh deodorant will go. I even had the self-patented "Suit-in-a-bag," I traveled with incase I needed to impress at gallery events, or interviews. It's all somewhat of an art, really.
With a new layer of deodorant, and our uniquely designed outfits donned fresh, we walked in, feeling the cold, thin, unfamiliar atmosphere of the A/C. We looked around at each other briefly, and B.O. stepped up to the front desk, asking the hearty blonde at the counter, if we might speak with Slim for a moment. She rolled her eyes slightly, while turning around and calling for him. 
The Robust middle-aged blond I had assumed her as, told us to hang on a moment, and after stepping into a room behind the counter, she came out smiling courteously, and told us that he would be with us in a moment.
Slim came out with an enthusiastic grin, and a look in his eye as if he had known us forever. He was as clean and shaven as he had somehow remained while camping with us, and though I'd never met a man who managed to look so formal in an undershirt, the button up collar, also suited him well.
"Ohhhhh, Hey Y'all, I wasn't sure if I'd see Ya before you left town," Slim said kindly, shaking our hands, "whats up, you guys need a room or something?"
I wasn't feeling particularly talkative, so B.O. took the lead.
That's one hell of a thing I can say about traveling with B.O. too: one of us always felt up for talking, or moving, or doing- not always at the same time though. It was a strange balance we struck, but after almost a year of traveling, we worked it well.
B.O. wore his remarkable smirk proudly, and he spoke to Slim bashfully while still being earnest.
"We just figured we'd stop in to pay our respects, and say our fare-well's before we continue North." B.O. said modestly. "It's the least we could do to show you our appreciation, man."
"Oh, well, thats hella' nice of y'all," Slim proclaimed. "Where you off to next?"
After giving him our standard answer of wandering dunces, being somewhere along the lines of 'I don't know,' and 'North,' Slim asked,
"Are you guys gonna be headed through Piercy, On 101? I know a real quiet little spot that nobody knows about. It's right off'a the highway, and it's hella beautiful."
Slim had peppered the word 'hella,' into my mind permanently. I assumed it to be a Californian phenomena.
After hearing this, B.O. briefly looked at me with a spark of excitement, replying: "Well, we were just gonna take HW. 1 North towards Arcata, but we could take a little de-tour."
Slim informed us, via map, that HW. 1 would only take us another hour or two North before breaking East from the shoreline, and eventually turning into HW. 101, a.k.a. the Redwood Highway. In essence, we wouldn't be going out of our way at all. We were thrilled. Perhaps our day's luck was starting to change, I thought.
Similarly to how we had arrived at "Camp X," Slim jotted down some directions for us that were like reading a treasure map. Perhaps it wasn't quite as intricate, but you get what I mean.

10 miles after you pass 'random town,' you'll see a broken down Mobile. Pass that up, and soon you should see a fork in the road that you should go left on. Count 7, or maybe 8 mile markers past that, and when driving really slow, you'll see a very small, wooded trail that curves around back towards the Interstate you came from. If it looks like you should not drive in there, its probably the right trail. Carefully turn in, but make sure nobody's behind you to follow. You should pass under a small bridge after a short drive through the woods- park at the bridge, and walk the rest of the way on foot. DO NOT try and take your car past the bridge, even if the trail looks decent, believe me- I learned the hard way…

We took notes, listening thoroughly to his directions, and once again, we said our sad farewell's to Slim. I collected his contact information, and after briefly hesitating, told him to check out the blog. Slim insisted that if we ever found ourselves in his neck of the woods again, that we come rattle his cage. Everyone you meet on the road seems to say that- It's as customary as a handshake. Slim wasn't just saying it though, and that meant something to me.
You get that kind of thing allot with the strange breeds you meet on the road. Americans have become so pathetically isolated from the strangers all around them, that they need to have something to show for any given social experiences that somehow occur without planning. As if saying 'hello,' to a fellow on the bus, isn't worthwhile unless you can find him later on facebook, and add him to your friends. 
I'm just as guilty as anyone else to make those kinds of false-ass statements, and I even consider them a social necessity some of the time- the important thing, is that when you say it, and you mean it- both parties know.
Slim was a rare find, and a genuine character. I just might take him up on his offer someday too- if I find myself in that neck of the woods at least.

We continued North on our spare-tire, and made it to a State Park just on the outskirts of the main town. We didn't want to push the spare any more than we already had on the trip, and we needed to let the patch set for another hour before we could get going again, so, we decided the beach was the place to be.
We parked next to another old rubber-tramp who owned one of those great pick-up trucks where the bed had been converted into a small trailer. In all of my beat-inspired haze and glory, It looked like a dream home. B.O. simply pointed to it and said, "Thats us!"
We arranged the car as was necessary to retrieve a few 16 oz beers, and I put them into a small canvas day-bag along with my camera, and a notebook. B.O. added the little metal one-hitter that was disguised as a cigarette, while Chassy rolled a few real cigarettes of her own with the last of the tobacco. With everything in order, we made for the nearby beach.
I made a last minute decision to go shoe-less, and quickly regretted my choice as I painfully tip-toed across the scalding pavement toward the beach. Looking back toward the car, I stubbornly decided I was too far away to go back, and my pace became frantic as I fluttered gauchely toward the sand, stepping as lightly as an awkward irishman might well be capable of. Much to my chagrin, the sand was nearly as painful, and by using the much cooler pieces of driftwood as checkpoints to run from one another to, I finally made it to the ocean shore, and basked my tempered feet in the ungoverned wakes of sea-foam that endlessly came upon my ugly white toes.
B.O. came back from the bathroom in shoes, laughing at me, and we dug a few small divots into the beach to reveal the cool, pleasant sand that we hoped to comfortably mold our asses into while watching the tide. An organic inclination it seemed to be among us land faring mid-westerners, to merely sit and ponder the mass of it all. We all insisted upon each other to go run into it, and though I felt that I was nonchalantly considering a refreshing dip, really, I was piss scared of the enormity.
We discreetly drank our beers, casually passed the one-hitter around, and talked about where we were at, and where we were headed.
I wouldn't have given a damn if we slept in the park for the night, actually, I was all for it. With money being our primary obstacle, the option was on the table. Any day we could get by without cost, was a free extension on our expedition, as I saw it. B.O., although amused with the view, and our seating, was itching to hit the road again. I could always tell with him. And Chassy, as usual, was pleased with simply being. She left the disputes for me and B.O., and would insert her lovely voice to disassemble whatever kind of ruckus we would rouse in our brash attempts at planning. She was the perfect moderator. Her one complaint was that she hadn't seen a seal yet.
We stuck with our plan to get moving in the end. Although it had already seemed like a long day, it was really only just past 1:00. As long as we could make it to our new camp site by dawn, we would be fine.
It was finally time to get back on the road- something we had been failing to do all day. With the bottom of my feet already tender, I toughed it out, and sprinted back to the car with no more strategy than getting from point A to point B, hella' fast! When I got back, I put an extra layer of socks on over my throbbing feet, and cursed my confidence in the clearly insufficient callus I had built up that summer. We hopped into the car, and in a flash of new momentum, we pulled away from the drivable dream home we were next to, so to find a parking spot that would afford us some space to jack the car up, and do our thing.
Chassy knowingly queued up Truckin' once again, as The Great B.O. and I commenced our choreographed ritual. And wouldn't you know it, that we had that sonofabitch tire switched before the Grateful Dead could even tell us, 'what a long strange trip it had been,' something that apparently, had only lately occurred to them. Once again, we performed our spare tire operating procedure, except this time, putting the spare back in its cozy little crevice before securing the wing nut snugly- as if we were positive that this would be the last time the same battered tire's enormous gash would blow out on us.
With newfound conviction to the road ahead, we placed the rest of our piles of belongings back into their given spots in the trunk. While arranging some items to fit the final box of food in the trunk, a half bag of wine happened to catch my eye, and before closing the trunk, I grabbed a Power-Aid bottle from the car, and quickly filled it up with rhine, fondly remembering our magnificent drive up HW. 1, from San Francisco. I figured if the drive was half as amazing as it had been on the way up, I would want a bit of wine to sip on.
I was prepared to have a bit of writing time in the back seat, but as I began to arrange my set-up, B.O., in a rare moment of affection, and vigor, insisted that we continue up the coast sitting three in the front. Together. Like a team. Since I'm openly, somewhat of a sap for those sentimental moments in life, I did not hesitate to indulge my best friend. Chassy scooted over to the middle seat and lit a cigarette that her and B.O. shared. I closed the trunk after a few tries, and finally, we were on the road again.

We had already reviewed the map a bit with Slim earlier, and B.O. seemed confident with the directions; so, like road junkies addled by our recent lack of momentum, we took to the highway as effortlessly, and knowingly as a long time user's return to junk.
Very suddenly, HW 1 broke from the forrest as we looked upon the flashing new instants of landscape passing our window. All three of us cheered in the front seat excitedly, and I took a sip of the wine and passed it along. B.O. stepped on the gas while barreling down a whopper of a hill, and we seemed to coaster weightlessly there along the highway for moments at a time. The road continued to wind up, and down, and through, and about; in the same beautiful and treacherous manner that had previously drawn our awe. These lively two lanes followed all along the rigid peaks and valley's of the beautiful Shoreline HWY, continuing up through Newport, and then Westport, where nearly everything seemed vast enough to be 'as far as the eye can see.'
Then, as we continued North, the edges of the redwoods came nearer and nearer to the passenger side, in a robust flank of forestry that's beauty could only be countered by the teeming edges of the climbing peaks on the drivers side, that majestically overlook the endless Pacific. By the time we reached the towns of Hardy, and Rockport, HW. 1 crossed inland a few miles, and we found ourselves on the same drastic roads, but this time, engulfed entirely by the forrest. The shady squiggles of Highway that would meet with the progressively thick, ensuing, mass of Red woods, were like a dark, wooded tunnel with flashing, golden white beams that felt heavenly when passed through, yet were blinding when focused upon. I passed my wine along merrily, in utter disbelief of it all.

There was an unmistakably reverent sense of awareness we seemed to share while gliding along the winding roads of Northern California;
all three of us buckled into the front seat, together;

chasing clouds up the steepest peaks, triumphantly;
seeing far across measurable meadows of gold atop;

peeking yonder cliffs and dawning upon the endless ocean-

the sheer godliness of the countryside,
mockingly employed the potential of catastrophe,
as a harmonious inevitability.

A tragedy we were not meant to understand,
until our final, fleeting moments.

We were young, foolish, and hell-
ready to go,
if the time seemed right.

Until we meet again...

Joseph R. Reeves

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