Tag Archives: weed

Golden State Green

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I’d heard the stories from other travelers. Seemed like most everyone had a story about being handed weed while flying a sign. Seemed like everyone had a story like that except me.

Maybe I looked too middle age and normal. Maybe I just didn’t look like someone who wanted marijunan. In any case, although I’d flown signs for two years in a dozen states, no one handed me weed until I went to California. Money, yes, and food–once an entire cake–and hand sanitizer and a toothbrush, all were given to me as I stood on corners and held my sign, but no one thought to give me pot until I made it to the Golden State.

I was in Ukiah the first time it happened. Mr. Carolina and I had just spent a few days with the Viking and Mick and Karl, his three friends I’d recently met in Santa Barbara. We’d made some new friends and seen some beautiful California mountain land, and now we were back on the quest to return a pipe to Sweet L’s dad and then drink from the headwaters of the Sacramento River. After we said our farewells to our friends, we headed down from the mountain and into civilization where we hoped to get fuel for the van and for our bellies too.

We pulled into a gas station next to the Wal-Mart and stood behind the van. Mr. Carolina held my two-gallon gas jug and I held our “out of gas” sign. A few different people handed ua a few crumpled dollars, and we thanked each person sincerely.

Mr. Carolina had wandered away when the man approached me. He didn’t look like a hippie or a Rastafarian , or a sterotypical stoner. He just looked like a normal guy.

Here you go, he said to me, holding out his hand. This might help.

I reached out to receive what he was offereing. He placed quite a large chunck of hash in my hand. I quickly closed my fingers to conceal it.

You can probably sell that for $60 or $70, the man told me while I thanked him very much.

I knew we weren’t going to sell it. First, I’m not in the drug sales business, because it seems like quite a risk. Secondly, who was I going to sell the hash to? I didn’t know anyone in town, and I wasn’t going to walk through the Wal-Mart parking lot and approaching strangers and saying, Psst! Want to buy some hash? while suspiciously shifting my eyes from side to side. Third, while I wasn’t going to smoke the hash, I knew Mr. Carolina would.

Mr. Carolina lived with pain. He’d been in a terrible car accident some years before. He suffered from a brain injury and what he called a “broke neck.” His spinal cord obviously hadn’t been severed, but I suppose one or more vertebra had been damaged. He told me about coming out of a coma and trying to pull out the catheter draining urine from his body before he realized where he was and remembering what had happened. He told me about pissing blood when the catheter was removed. He’d had multiple surgeries since the accident, and he’d lived with pain since then. I suspect he suffered more pain than he ever let me know.

He’d been on prescribed pharmaceutical pain pills for a while. He’d been a “bad drunk” too, he said. Now he used marijuana, when he could get it, to manage his pain. The chunk of hash in my hand would get him through the next few days.

When he came back to the van, I opened my hand and showed Mr. Carolina what was hidden inside. He had a big smile on his face when I handed it over to him.

The second time it happened was in Bakersfield. Mr. Carolina and I had picked up two traveling kids at a truck stop in Santa Nella, and now we were trying to get them to Oklahoma City.

Please don’t leave me in Bakersfield, the Okie kept pleading with me, although I’d never threatened him with such a fate. I don’t know what sort of disaster he’d experienced the last time he was in the city, but he was really nervous about being left there.

We pulled into the strip mall housing a Wal-Mart and about a dozen fast food joints, hoping the Universe would provide us with money for dinner that night and enough gasoline to get us out of town in the morning. Lil C siad he wanted to fly his sign at the parking lot’s main exit. I said that was fine with me, but told him I’d make more money than he would, and I planned to share whatever I was given. He said I should go ahead and take the main exit.

I’d been standing next to the stop sign for a while, and people had been blessing me with dollars when an older man wearing his hair in a ponytail pulled up. I saw him rooting around, trying to find something. He rolled down the window on the front passenger side and reached across the seat. I stepped over and leaned in to take what he was offering.

Do you smoke weed? he asked.

Even though I personally didn’t, I knew the boys would, so I said yes. The man handed me two skinny joints, and I thanked him very much.

Sure enough, the boys were happy when I returned to the van with enough money for dinner and gas to get us out of town, as well as two joints for them to pass around before we slept.

 

Do You Grow?

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It was in the last days of my second season as a camp host when I went to the group campground to check in the astronomy club staying there for the weekend. When I asked around, I was told the person who’d made the reservation had not yet arrived. A nice guy in my age group offered to sign the permit, so I wrote down his address and other pertinent information.

I meant to give him a fire permit too, so using their camp stoves would be legal, but I realized hours later that I’d forgotten to do so.

The next morning when I went back to the group campground, I had the fire permit ready for the same guy to sign. I’d simply copied the man’s address from the camping permit onto the fire permit. When I found the man and asked him to sign the permit, he jokingly asked if I’d memorized his address.

I explained I’d copied his address from the camping permit. Then he asked if I planned to visit.

I began to wonder if the man was flirting with me. Men never flirt with me, so I’m not sure I could recognize flirting if it actually happened. His being in my age group made flirting more probable, but I decided he was just being friendly.

I told him I couldn’t visit because I didn’t even know where his town was.

It’s in Santa Cruz County, he told me. We have a big organic farm. You could park your van on our farm.

(I don’t know exactly who the other people included in his “we” were.)

I made a bland comment about it must be nice to live on a farm. Then I  said, Do you grow…?

I meant to end the sentence with something clever, but nothing clever came to mind. (That’s what I get for I opening my mouth with no plan on how to end what I’ve already started to say.) Instead of ending the sentence with something at least reasonable, if not clever (beets? pumpkins?) I simply let the sentence hang there unfinished.

Then I realized, Santa Cruz County and Do you grow? when taken together have a definite marijuana connotation. What if he thought I was asking if they grew weed on the organic farm?

I’d never ask a stranger if he grew pot. It seems like a rude question, even in California, seeing how marijuana is federally illegal and all. It’s none of my business if someone is growing weed. It’s safer for everyone to keep marijuana cultivation on a need to know basis, and I don’t need to know!

I’m not sure if the man recognized my awkwardness. He started talking about the zucchini he and whoever else lives on the farm grows. He told me all about the big, big zucchini.

Any flirting that may have been going on was entirely incompetent.

 

Bong

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It was Saturday afternoon, and my co-worker had finished his shift and left. The parking lot wasn’t too busy, until a caravan of seven vehicles arrived.

I told the lead guy where the group could probably park together. I told him they could all pay me the fee after they parked. As the other cars pulled up to me, I gave each driver the rundown: Park with your friends. Give me $5 before you go on the trail.

The group was a mix of families in big pickup trucks and SUVs and young guys in little sports cars.

The fourth or fifth vehicle in the caravan was a little sports car. The driver rolled down the window, and I started talking, but I was immediately distracted by the bong in the passenger’s lap.

I’m not going to pretend I’ve never been in a vehicle with a bong. I won’t pretend people didn’t hit that bong while the vehicle was in motion. I won’t even pretend the driver didn’t hit that bong a time or two while piloting the vehicle. But we had the sense to put the bong away when we approached federal land, especially if the driver were about to talk to someone working on that federal land.

Not this guy. His bong was out, and he was proud. The bong protruded like a big glass erection from between his legs. I could barely believe it. I was so surprised, my words got all stuttery, and I could hardly give the driver my speech about where to park and when and where to pay the $5.

After I’d finished speaking to the driver, I leaned down further, to speak past the driver and address the passenger.

I don’t care about that, I said, not wanting to say the word bong and counting on the passenger to understand to what I was referring. But you are on federal land. If a ranger comes along, he might not be happy to see that.

The passenger thanked me. They’d forgotten, he said.

I didn’t ask, but I wondered, Forgotten what? Forgotten he had a bong wedged between his thighs? Forgotten that the bong wasn’t invisible? Forgotten they were on federal land? Forgotten the feds are still opposed to the possession and use of marijuana?

I Shouldn’t Have Said That

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It was the Memorial Day holiday and my first weekend back at the parking lot. I was happy to be back on the mountain.

A Jeep pulled in, and I approached it. The window rolled down, and I got a whiff of what smelled like weed to me. Instead of playing it cool, like I usually do, I said, It smells gooood in here!

The young people crowded into the Jeep remained noncommittal. They weren’t looking for the trail or our parking lot, but had pulled in to ask directions to some other place.

Instead of letting the weed thing drop, I pressed the issue. I can’t remember what I said, but I actually used the word weed (or maybe pot). I wanted them to know I was hip and cool and with it. I wanted them to know that I may be a middle-age lady, but I know marijuana when I smell it. I’m not sure why it seemed so important to me that they knew that I knew, but in the moment it was.

As I talked to them, my tongue went slack and my words were slipping around loosely. I took that as a sign of a contact high.

A couple of the people in the Jeep said they didn’t have any weed. I said, Oooookkkaaaay, as they drove off to wherever they were going.

I turned to my co-worker and said, I know they had weed in there!

He said, So what?! We’re in California. I love to see young people smoking dope.

I explained I didn’t care if they’d been smoking weed, I just wanted them to admit it.

Then I realized (as so often is the case), I should have kept my big mouth shut.

#1 It wasn’t my business if they were smoking weed.

#2 Recognizing the smell of marijuana does not make me hip or cool or with it. Thinking I’m hip (or cool or with it) because I know what marijuana smells like actually makes me pathetic.

#3 If they weren’t smoking weed, I probably came across as really weird.

#4 If they had been smoking weed, I possibly make them paranoid. Here’s this woman in a uniform asking them if they’d been smoking (a still federally illegal) substance. I imagined them driving away, muttering at each other, She knows. Everybody knows.

I totally should have kept my big mouth shut.

But if the people in the Jeep hadn’t been smoking weed, what did I smell?

#1 Maybe the Jeep was a diesel? I once (foolishly) lived in close proximity to marijuana of a diesel variety (sour, I think). For a long time, the smell of it was seared into my memory, and whenever I smelled a diesel engine, I thought of that weed. Whenever that happened, it was more of a dirty exhaust smell with marijuana undertones. The smell in the parking lot was different because a) I didn’t smell it until the window went down and b) it didn’t smell dirty at all.

#2 Maybe I was having an olfactory hallucination? I’ve noticed a couple times this season I’ve thought I’ve smelled weed when I was in a place where such a thing was impossible, like alone in a campground restroom.

I think those people had been smoking weed and didn’t want to tell me. Fair enough. Admit to nothing is a good guideline when engaged in illicit activity.

I’m going to work harder on keeping my mouth shut.

 

Ohio State and Marijuana Leaves

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The woman who sits directly behind me seems to be in her 60s. She has the sort of hair I see on “respectable” older woman with money: curled, by not necessarily naturally so, sort of sculpted, and definitely maintained. I don’t think any of it is gray, although at her age, I think it would be, think it probably is, under the very tasteful dye job she has going on. She wears glasses, and on her feet sandals that say “casual, but still put together” to women of her age-group and socioeconomic class. I’m making a lot of assumptions of a person I’ve never spoken to, but that’s my assessment of her at a glance.

HOWEVER.

This woman has a travel cup that sits next to her computer screen. I see it every time I’m walking back to my desk. It’s a tall, black travel cup, upon which is emblazoned “Ohio State.”

But that’s not all that’s on the cup. There are also multiple white circles on the black cup. In each white circle is a green leaf. The leaves looks something like this:

 

For two weeks, every time I saw those leaves on that travel cup, I thought why does that lady have marijuana leaves on her mug?

These were some of my ideas:

The woman is a stoner and she doesn’t care who knows it.

The woman is a proud supporter of medical marijuana.

The woman’s kids (or grandkids) gave her the cup as a joke, and she thinks it’s hilarious.

The woman’s kids (or grandkids) gave her the cup as a joke, and she has no idea why they giggle whenever they see her sipping her coffee from it.

Today I saw the cup and the mysterious leaves right before break, and it occurred to tell my friend about them. My friend is from Ohio and know one or possibly two things about marijuana. I thought my friend would think the whole situation was really funny.

This is what I texted to my friend:

A woman sits in the row behind me. I’d say she’s in her 60s. She has an Ohio State mug. The mug is black, with white circles. In the white circles are–I Swear–pot leaves! I am so curious, but what if I ask her and they are not pot leaves or her kids gave it to her as a joke and she doesn’t know?

My friend texted back:

Ha!! It’s the buckeye leaf but it totally looks like weed!!!!

Apparently, I am not the only person who’s been confused by the buckeye leaf.

While googling to find images to go with this post, I stumbled across a 2013 article titled “Marijuana vs. Ohio State Buckeyes leaf: Jonas-Boggionis pulled over after decal confused for pot.” You can read the (short) article here,http://www.wptv.com/news/local-news/water-cooler/marijuana-vs-ohio-state-buckeyes-leaf-jonas-boggionis-pulled-over-after-decal-confused-for-pot, but basically a 65 year-old woman was driving down South (the website belongs to a West Palm Beach news station, but the article references Memphis and Shelby County) and after being pulled over,

[t]he deputy asked her why she had a marijuana sticker on the back of her car.

The woman

looked back at her car, dumbfounded, and wondered if someone had stuck something on there when she wasn’t looking.

What she saw was an Ohio State Buckeyes football helmet, which is traditionally decorated with the buckeye leaf to signify gridiron success.

When this was pointed out to the officer, the situation came to an end and the couple got back on the road, without receiving any sort of citation…

The article continues,

…the buckeye leaf bears little resemblance to a marijuana leaf. The Buckeye has five points while marijuana leaves generally have seven.

For folks like me, with little knowledge of the public plant life of Ohio, I’ll leave you with this image of a buckeye leaf and a marijuana leaf for the sake of comparison:

My Time in Mt. Shasta

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Almost as soon as we pulled into the town of Mt. Shasta, Mr. Carolina saw his friend Milton. He pointed out the guy (an thin, older man), but we were on a mission to drink from the headwaters of the Sacramento River. (Read about our mission here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/03/26/headwaters-of-the-sacramento/.) After we’d filled our bottles and drunk our fill, we headed out to look for Milton. He wasn’t difficult to find, as he hadn’t walked very far from where we’d seen him. Mr. Carolina pulled the van into a nearby parking lot and he and Milton had a huggy reunion.

Milton needed a ride up the road to Weed. Yes, that’s the real name of a town. According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weed,_California,

Weed is a city located in Siskiyou County, California, United States. As of the 2010 Census, the town had a total population of 2,967…

Weed is about 10 miles (16 km) west-northwest of Mount Shasta, a prominent northern California landmark…

The town of Weed gets its name from the founder of the local lumber mill and pioneer Abner Weed, who discovered that the area’s strong winds were helpful in drying lumber. In 1897, Abner Weed bought the Siskiyou Lumber and Mercantile Mill and 280 acres (1.1 km2) of land in what is now the City of Weed, for the sum of $400.[7]

Milton said his errand wouldn’t take long and asked if we could give him a ride. He said he’d have some cash after his errand and could give us gas money and treat us to lunch. Mr. Carolina and I readily agreed. I was really hungry, but all our money had gone to buy gas to get us to Mt. Shasta. I’d told myself all day that when I arrived in Mt. Shasta, someone would feed me. It looked as if my prophesy would come true.

After the errand was run and the hamburgers were eaten, Milton invited us to stay at the free camping spot on public land  where he pitched his tent. We drove out there and met the motley crew making up his community. There were several young men living there, a middle-age woman with a history of mental health issues whom they’d taken under their collective wing, and several dogs. These folks planned to spend the whole winter in that spot, living in their tents.

We hadn’t been in the woods long when the group suggested we drive to a free community dinner at a church near town.

The meal was pretty good: pasta with red sauce, salad, and garlic bread.

At the dinner, I recognized a couple I’d met a few years before at a music festival and again later on Further lot. (To read more about Furthur lot, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/12/19/how-i-met-mr-carolina-and-the-boys/.) The world felt really small to me after randomly meeting up in Northern California with acquaintances I’d made on the other side of the country.

After the meal, we went back to Milton’s community for the night. I slept in my bed in my van and passed one of the coldest nights I can remember. I had my sleeping bag spread over me like a blanket, but it didn’t do enough to contain my body heat. I couldn’t wait for the sun to rise. I worried about the folks who planned to sleep out there in their tents in the winter snow.

My recollections of the second day with Milton’s crew are vague, although I do remember a few things. I remember we went back to the church where we’d had dinner for a clothing giveaway where I got a pair of white and blue billowy pants. I barely remember the guys shooting a pellet gun; I took a turn and to my delight, I hit the target. I remember shocking Milton with one of my stories (maybe the one about the man offering me $40 for a blowjob once when I was flying a sign), and him saying, I didn’t see that coming, sister. I remember one of the guys (a Southern boy from North Carolina, I think), always referring to me as Miss Blaize.

Late in the afternoon, the community members invited us to stay for dinner. Mr. Carolina seemed hesitant to stay another night, but I didn’t want to get on the road so late in the day. We agreed to stay for dinner, spend the night, and leave early-ish in the morning.

On the menu that night was chicken of the woods, collected locally by someone in the group. I’d only heard of chicken of the woods a few days before, and had never tasted it.

Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laetiporus) says,

Laetiporus is a genus of edible mushrooms found throughout much of the world. Some species, especially Laetiporus sulphureus, are commonly known as sulphur shelf, chicken of the woods, the chicken mushroom, or the chicken fungus because many think they taste like chicken. The name “chicken of the woods” is not to be confused with the edible polypore, Maitake (Grifola frondosa) known as “hen of the woods”, or with Lyophyllum decastes, known as the “fried chicken mushroom”.

The mushroom can be prepared in most ways that one can prepare chicken meat…

In some cases eating the mushroom “causes mild reactions . . . for example, swollen lips” or in rare cases “nausea, vomiting, dizziness and disorientation” to those who are sensitive.[5] This is believed to be due to a number of factors that range from very bad allergies to the mushroom’s protein, to toxins absorbed by the mushroom from the wood it grows on..to simply eating specimens that have decayed past their prime.

There wasn’t much food in the van, but we were able to contribute cooking oil for frying the mushrooms, and I think we offered up rice as well. I was glad we had some food to share with the group, food that was actually going to help make the meal delicious. (The Southern boy who was doing the cooking maintained it was the process of frying in oil that brought out the chickeniness of the mushroom.)

The meal turned out to be tasty. The mushrooms did have a meaty texture and a chickeny taste, and I enjoyed myself until the guys did the dishes by letting the dogs lick the cooking pots and then washing the pots with cold water. (At least they did use dish soap.) I tried not to think about the dog germs that were probably on the pots before dinner was cooked. I tried to convince myself the hot oil had killed all the dog germs in that pot, but what about the pot the rice had been cooked in? There was no hot oil to kill germs there. Gross!

After dinner, I retired early to the van. I got inside my sleeping bag, so I stayed plenty warm. However, it wasn’t long before I had another problem: a rumbling tummy. Scary thoughts ran through my mind. Had the person gathering mushrooms gathered something poisonous instead of chicken of the woods? Had I gotten food poisoning from the unsanitary kitchen? Was I going to die?

I needed to use the toilet, but the free camping area was free of amenities; there wasn’t even a pit toilet. I was going to have to dig a cat hole before I took care of my business, and I wasn’t sure I could deal with that in the dark. I cowered in my sleeping bag all night, my stomach rumbling, feeling a bit nauseous, hoping I wasn’t dying, trying not to shit my pants.

I was relieved to make it to first light, when I was able to exit the van, dig a hole behind a bush, and let what was ailing me out of my system. Oh relief!

 

 

You Need Some Hemp (to Go with That Tie-Dye)

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When I sold regularly at the Bridge, I often saw people wearing tie-dyed t-shirts. One of my marketing ploys was to yell out as these people walked by, You need some hemp to go with your tie-dye. Often the person wearing the tie-dyed shirt ignored me or laughed and kept walking. But sometimes the person in the tie-dye actually came over to my table and looked at my merchandise, and sometimes the looker turned into a buyer.

One Labor Day weekend, I saw a young man across the street walking toward the Bridge. He was wearing a tie-dyed t-shirt, so I hollered, You need some hemp to go with your tie-dye. He hollered back that he didn’t have any money. On a whim, I told him that if he came back, I’d give him something.

He probably didn’t believe I was actually going to give him something, but he and his friends did stop at my table after walking out on the Bridge. There were four of them, young people in their mid-20s. They worked for AmeriCorps or some other service organization and had decided on a whim to go camping on Labor Day Weekend. Once they’d gotten out in the wilderness, they’d realized they’d forgotten both the food and the drinking water. However, someone had packed booze, so they’d basically spent the last couple of days drinking tequila. Now they were on their way to town where they would go to a restaurant so they could finally eat.

They didn’t sound drunk, and they certainly weren’t obnoxious. They seemed to be really sweet young people, and the story of their weekend amused me. I ended up giving each of them a bracelet.

They couldn’t believe I was giving them something so nice for free. Usually when I gave away a bracelet or a shiny rock (to a little kid or because it was someone’s birthday or because I was feeling generous toward someone who didn’t have any money for a souvenir in the budget), I was met with disbelief. I guess it’s not often a business person gives away her or his wares to a stranger.

These young people loved my bracelets and each carefully chose his or her perfect one. Then they said they wanted to give me something. I said it wasn’t necessary for them to give me anything, but I did concede that I like trades.

One of the women gave me a pair of earrings made with little stones of snowflake obsidian. (To read about another experience of mine with snowflake obsidian, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/01/04/snowflake-obsidian-2/ .) I didn’t (and don’t) typically wear earrings, so later I passed them on to a lady vendor friend I suspected was involved in an abusive relationship. I hoped the snowflake obsidian could help her break patterns that were no longer useful to her.

Then the guy in the tie-dye said, And we wanted to give you this, and held out his clinched fist. I instinctively held out my hand—cupped palm up—to him. He opened his fist over my open hand and deposited a good size bud (of marijuana, for anyone who needs it spelled out).

I was surprised, but quickly closed my hand around the weed. I didn’t want to be showing off the fat bud in my hand  in front of God and everybody .

When people asked me if I smoked (marijuana or cigarettes), I always said no. I’ve never been a pothead and particularly don’t like coughing or feeling paranoid and stupid. As a homeless woman on my own, I needed to be alert all the time, so I wasn’t drinking alcohol or smoking poet or doing anything to make my brain sluggish. Also, because I was homeless, I knew I ran a greater risk of a cop hassling me and using my homelessness as an excuse to search me and my belongings. I didn’t need to be caught with anything illegal.

However, I had the bud in my hand. It seemed wrong to hand it back. I could tell these folks really wanted to meet my kindness with kindness of their own. So I smiled and thanked them and wished them a safe journey.

As soon as I saw them drive away, I walked over to a vendor friend who I knew smoked weed.

I have something for you, I said.

I held out my closed fist to him just as the young man had done to me. My friend held out his open palm to me. I put my hand over his and opened my fingers. You should have seen his smile when he saw that bud in his hand.