Tag Archives: coffee

No Sugar

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The Man and I had spent a quiet night at a state park in a rather remote location. We woke up early, as we tend to do, and The Man realized he’s forgotten to buy ground coffee before we left civilization. The Man needs to drink his coffee every morning or he gets irritable and ends up with a headache. Since he wasn’t going to be able to make his own, he said we really needed to head back into town.

I wasn’t ready to leave the state park; I’d paid my $7–my half of the $14 camping fee–and I wanted to get my money’s worth, dammit! However, what could I do when my partner needed his fix? I could wish he’d thought about being out of coffee when there was a Wal-Mart nearby. I could wish he wasn’t a coffee fiend. I could wish whatever I wanted to wish, but my wishing wasn’t going to change the fact that he needed coffee and we didn’t have any. So we packed up the dog and the few items we’d left out on the picnic table during the night, and he drove the van to the town where we were headed, about twenty miles away.

When we got to town, he decided he didn’t want gas station coffee or McDonald’s coffee. He wanted good coffee, coffee from a local coffee shop. He asked me to use my phone and ask the GoogleMaps lady to find us a local coffee shop.

As we pulled up to the place the GoogleMaps lady had found for us, I saw it was just a drive-thru, not a place where we could go in and sit down.  A drive-thru is fine, except for the fact that the van’s driver side window doesn’t roll down. I usually avoid drive-thrus for that reason, but The Man was driving, and he wanted coffee, so I figured he could deal with the window situation.

The second thing I noticed about the place was the Bible verse posted on their sign. I wish I had taken a photo of that sign! I don’t remember what it said, but I immediately knew it had something to do with Christianity. I told The Man, This is some kind of Jesus place.

Neither of us is really into Christianity, although we both think Jesus himself was probably a pretty cool guy. We wouldn’t go out of our way to support a business whose owners are flaunting their religious beliefs, but we wouldn’t necessarily leave for that reason either. This place had coffee, and The Man wanted coffee, so we would go through with our transaction, Bible quote notwithstanding.

There were several cars in line, so we joined the queue. Two wholesome young people–a man and a woman–approached the van. The Man opened his door to facilitate communication. The wholesome young man mentioned the coffee shop was having a fundraiser. He said he and the woman were taking people’s orders before they drove up to the window in hopes of speeding up the transactions. So far, so good.

The Man told them he wanted a large cup of regular coffee. So far, so good.

Then The Man asked about sugar. The Man likes a lot of sugar in his coffee, as do I. However, because he always gets a large cup of coffee, he needs A LOT of sugar, as in twelve packets. Really, he just wants to pour sugar from a big container into his cup, but most places these days, offer no big containers of sugar, only little packets. I’ve heard a lot of rants lately about having to rip open twelve packets of sugar and pour them one-by-one into a tall cup of coffee.

Anyway, The Man asked the wholesome young people something about sugar, and I heard the young woman say she would go find out. She walked away from the van and over to the little building from whence the coffee was to come. She had a conversation with someone through the building’s window, then came back to the van.

They’re out of sugar, she said. Will Splenda be ok?

No, The Man said. Splenda will not be ok. Nevermind. We’ll go somewhere else.

How can a coffee shop be out of sugar? Don’t a lot of people take sugar in their coffee? I bet if Jesus had been around, he would have miraculously turned that Splenda right into sugar for us.

We ended up at a gas station for The Man to get his coffee. They had sugar too, in little packets that he ripped open and poured into his coffee one-by-one.

Why It’s Better for Me to Stay on the Mountain

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#1 When I’m in civilization, I spent too much money. I get into town, and I suddenly have material desires. I go into the Mexican supermarket to use the restroom, and I’m overwhelmed by wanting a sweet treat from the panadería. (I stand in front of the racks of goodies for a comically long time, weighing my options of 79 cent pastries. Thankfully, I make a good choice with a pumpkin empanada.) I go into Wal-Mart to stock up on propane, then remember I really want a tablecloth for my picnic table, then decide I need clamps to hold it down. And a stainless steel camping cup with collapsible handles would really be useful when I want to heat enough water for tea but don’t want to haul out my multiple-quart glass saucepan. Suddenly I’m almost $50 down, most of it on comforts I could do without.

#2 I eat better when I’m on the mountain. At my camp, I’m all brown rice with beans or tofu, some veggies if I’ve got them. Sure, I eat eggs for breakfast, I love cheese, and I probably eat too many processed potato products. But in town, in addition to the aforementioned emapanada, there’s a grilled breakfast burrito at Taco Bell, then later in the day, a pizza from Little Caesars. I know it’s junk food, but it’s cheap and oh so delicious. On the second day in town, in an attempt to save money (and have more time to write), I tend to not eat enough, so I return to the campground with a headache pounding behind my eyes and up my forehead.

#3 In town, I get distracted from my routine. I forget to take my glucosamine after breakfast. I find I don’t have dental floss with me when I go into the restroom of the big box store to take care of my teeth before bed. I go to sleep later than I should, and I’m generally out of sorts.

#4 The lower elevation of town means it’s hotter there. The guideline I hear from migrating rubber tramps is that for every 1000 feet drop in elevation, the temperature increases by 3˚F. My campground is at a little over 6000 feet. If it’s a warm (but relatively pleasant) 85˚F there, it’s at least 100˚F in town. By mid-summer, by the time I pull into town, I feel as if I’m in an oven and wonder why I thought leaving the mountain was a good idea. There aren’t many trees near the coffee shop I spend my days in, so the van sits in the unrelenting sun all day. Even if (if!) the night air cools off, the interior of the van stays hot for hours. (I really wish I had a roof vent.) The summer heat in town is not pleasant.

#5 I sleep poorly in town. Even since the cop knocked on my van after midnight, I don’t like to spend the night in the supermarket parking lot. (Read about that experience here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/09/07/cop-knock/.) I found a place I like on a residential street, near a couple of duplexes and what looks to be a shade tree mechanic. My van doesn’t seem out of place there. I pull in after 10pm, and I’m gone well before 6am. I don’t turn on my light. However, I’m still nervous about being there. Is someone going to notice me and call the cops? Are the cops going to notice me and decide to check me out? Is someone going to try the handles on the van’s doors? Sometimes the workers from the restaurant across the street make a lot of noise putting out the trash. Some mornings the garbage truck wakes me before 5:30am. Even the reduced traffic of nighttime is noisy and it’s always so damn bright in Babylon. Also, even with my windows open, I’m usually hot all night. (See #4)

#6 When I’m in civilization, I drink coffee. Some other time I’ll go into detail about the joy and sorrow which is coffee for me, but in a nutshell, coffee makes me all jacked up. I drink it, and my whole being hums, buzzes, and twangs for hours. And hours. And hours. Bedtime rolls around, and I’m still awake, even if I’m back on the mountain and the night is dark and the air is cool. Because I usually sleep well on the mountain, I don’t need coffee up there. Because I usually sleep for shit in civilization (see #5) I have coffee on the morning of my second day in town, and I’m still feeling the effects that night. (For real.)

#7 The mountain is good for my spirit. The mountain is peaceful. The mountain is beautiful. The mountain is (mostly) natural. Just being out there brings me peace. Seeing tall trees growing just for themselves is good for me. Sitting in a place so quiet I can clearly hear the sound of the flapping of a raven’s wings as it flies over is good for me. Feeling the earth under my boots is good for me. Being on the mountain brings me a contentment I’ve never found in any city.