Tag Archives: Mt. Shasta

Mean Lady

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When Mr. Carolina and I left Milton and his community, we really didn’t have anywhere to go. Mt. Shasta had been the light at the end of our tunnel of plans. Since neither of us wanted to spend a cold winter in Northern California, we knew we had to hit the road and head south.

After bidding adieu to friends old and new, our first order of business was to get some fuel in the van’s tank. The few dollars worth of gasoline Milton had put in two days before was nearly gone from the driving from the camping spot to the church with the community dinner, back to the camping spot, back to the church for the clothing giveaway, and to the camping spot again.

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I made these hemp bracelets with malachite stones. These are not the bracelets I was trying to sell in Mt. Shasta. These bracelets are no longer available because they have all been sold.

Since Mt. Shasta is a woo-woo little hippy town with shops selling crystals and new-age books and jewelry, I thought I might be able to sell some of the hemp bracelets with healing stones that I’d made. I decided to walk from store to store on the town’s short main drag of local businesses and try to make some money for us.

I went into several stores. Nobody was buying. Oh, the people in the shops liked my bracelets, but they all had reasons they couldn’t buy: the busy tourist seasons was over; the person authorized to buy wasn’t in; my jewelry didn’t fit with the other inventory in a particular store. Everyone was really nice, but I was getting discouraged.

I hadn’t given up, though, and I walked into yet another shop selling shiny rocks and angel figurines and books on spirituality. An older woman, plump with long grey hair, was sitting at a desk at the back of the store. I walked up to her and explained I wanted to sell bracelets I’d made so I could buy gas for my van and get out of town. I told her the bracelets were made from hemp and showed her that each one sported a healing stone. I told her the name of the stone on each bracelet and showed her how the slip knot clasps on the bracelets worked. She wasn’t super encouraging and didn’t even smile at me as I went through my spiel, but when I paused for breath, she asked how much I wanted for the bracelets, which was farther than I’d gotten with any of the other shopkeepers.

I explained I usually sold the bracelets for $4 each or three for $10, but since I really needed gas money, I’d sell them to her for $2 each. I felt a little sad to sell the bracelets off so cheaply, but I wanted to contribute to our getting out of town. Besides, I had more hemp and drilled stones, so I could make more bracelets.

The store owner’s attitude wasn’t making me feel any better. She acted as if she didn’t really like my bracelets much at all. She acted as if she were doing me a huge favor by taking the bracelets off my hands. In a way, she was doing me a favor, but I knew she was going to sell the fruits of my labor at a profit.

The shopkeeper picked out sixteen bracelets she wanted to buy. I was ecstatic! She asked me if she could write me a check. I explained again that I needed the money to put gas in the van, told her that I wasn’t from Mt. Shasta and didn’t have a bank account, so I really needed cash. She acted entirely put out, but rounded up $32 in paper currency for me.

I was feeling really good. Not only had I earned enough money to get us out of town, I’d found someone who liked my work enough to pay me for it and sell it in her shop. I was all smiles when I reached into my pocket and pulled out one of my business cards. (Yes, it’s true, I was living dirty and broke in my van, but I had business cards to hand out.) I want to give you this, I said to the woman as I thrust the card at her.

I don’t want that, she all but sneered at me. It’s not like I’m going to order anything from you.

My bubble was burst. It was all I could do not to cry as I took my money and left the shop.

I tried to sell the remaining bracelets at a few more stores, but no one was buying. We used some of my earnings to buy a fast food lunch and put the rest in the gas tank before we headed on out of town.

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I made these bracelets from hemp. The stones are turquoise. These are not the bracelets I tried to sell in Mt. Shasta. These bracelets are no longer available because they have all been sold.

 

I took all of the photos in this post.

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!

 

 

Headwaters of the Sacramento

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Mr. Carolina and I bonded over water.

The first thing he and I did together was fill water bottles from the five gallon jug in my van. (You can read about how exactly I met Mr. Carolina here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/12/19/how-i-met-mr-carolina-and-the-boys/.) During our travels with other folks, he and I seemed to be the only ones who’d remember to fill the big water jug so everyone could stay hydrated. When I found out Mr. Carolina’s birthday is January 22, I got a kick out of the fact that we were both born under the sign of Aquarius–the water bearer–and we were the ones who thought about getting enough water so everyone could drink.

Mr. Carolina was picky about the water he drank. He wasn’t very enthusiastic about the water we encountered in Arizona, and once at a New Mexico rest area, he refused to fill the big jug because he said the water there was crap. He kept talking about the headwaters of the Sacramento River in the town of Mt. Shasta, California. Now that, he maintained, was water.

I didn’t get it. Wasn’t water, water? Wasn’t any water just about as good as any other water? Sure, some water might not taste great, but everything Mr. Carolina complained about tasted good enough to me.

After a couple of days in Las Vegas (read a little about that trip here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/11/20/the-other-las-vegas/), and dropping off Robbie and Sweet L at the Los Angeles airport and going on a mission to Laytonville, CA and running out of gas in Redding (read about that adventure here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/02/13/broke-down-in-redding-california/), Mr. Carolina and I headed north to Mt. Shasta.

(Sidenote: Mt. Shasta is a mountain. According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Shasta,

Mount Shasta (Karuk: Úytaahkoo or “White Mountain”)[5][6] is a potentially active volcano located at the southern end of the Cascade Range in Siskiyou County, California. At an elevation of 14,179 feet (4321.8 m), it is the second highest peak in the Cascades and the fifth highest in California.

A small town near the mountain is also called Mt. Shasta. According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Shasta,_California,

Mount Shasta is a city in Siskiyou County, California, at about 3,600 feet (1,100 m) above sea level on the flanks of Mount Shasta, a prominent northern California landmark. The city is less than 9 miles (14 km) southwest of the summit of its namesake volcano. As of the 2010 Census the city had a population of 3,394…)

I was glad when Mr. Carolina said he would take me to see Mt. Shasta and drink from the headwaters he’d talked so much about. I felt as if I were on some kind of spiritual journey. I needed to see that mountain, if only from a distance. (It was the end of October, and there was already snow on top of the mountain. No way was it a good idea to take the van up there. But I was happy to see the mountain even if wasn’t walking on it.) I needed to taste that water Mr. Carolina had been raving about.

When we got to Mt. Shasta the town, Mr. Carolina drove us directly to the headwaters. According to http://www.exploringnorcal.com/2011/07/sacramento-river-headwaters-mt-shasta.html,

The headwaters of the Upper Sacramento River are located at the base of Spring Hill in the Mt. Shasta City Park. You can park within about 200′ of the spring.

The website of Mt. Shasta Recreation & Parks District (http://msrec.org/) says the

26 acre Mt. Shasta City Park [is located] one mile north of downtown Mt. Shasta City…

Mt. Shasta City Park is the site for the Headwaters of California’s powerful Sacramento River.  Even in the driest years, clear, icy water rushes from the hillside feeding a picturesque pond area.

As soon as Mr. Carolina stopped the van in the parking area, we jumped out with containers.

The headwaters were as Mr. Carolina had described: water came of rock (I can no longer remember if it was a trickle or a gush), then filled a pool which became the river. We (and the other people there) stepped on large stones to collect to collect water as close as possible to the source. (I wouldn’t want to collect water downstream from where people were walking in the pool.) We collected our water and stepped back onto dry ground.

I tipped the jug to my lips and took the water into my mouth. WOW! WATER! This water was the most watery water I had ever drunk. This water was nothing but water. Or maybe it was more than water. All I know is that this was absolutely cold and absolutely delicious and absolutely refreshing and absolutely water. WOW! WATER!

Mr. Carolina was right. This water was the very best water I had ever tasted. It was possibly the very best water in the whole world. It was the only water I ever wanted to drink for the rest of my life.

I miss that water almost as much as I miss Mr. Carolina.

 

 

Avenue of the Giants

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I did not take this photo.

We were traveling north from Laytonville, California to drop off the young French Canadian man who needed to go to Redding to catch a bus to Oregon. Mr. Carolina was driving my van, and we’d just left Garberville.

The young French Canadian man (whom I’ll call Pierre to protect his privacy and because I can’t remember his real name) had been doing trim work in Northern California. (For those who don’t know, folks get paid to trim the leaves off marijuana buds. Lots of folks travel to Northern California during harvest season in hopes of getting lucrative employment trimming weed.)

Mr. Carolina and I had met Pierre the night before in Laytonville while waiting to hear from Sweet L’s dad. Mr. Carolina was on a mission to return a hand-carved pipe to Sweet L’s dad; my van was the transport vessel, and I was honored to be along for the ride. While waiting in a parking lot, we were eating the cheese I’d acquired by standing in front of the tiny town’s one grocery store panhandling, (quite literally) asking shoppers, Spare change for cheese? A kind woman handed me a $10 bill, and I promptly went inside and bought a block of cheddar. As Mr. Carolina and I were partaking of the cheesy goodness, Pierre strolled by the van, and I invited him to our cheese party.

It turned out he was trying to get to Redding to catch the aforementioned bus. He had money (thanks to the aforementioned trim job, I presume) to catch a bus in some little town before Redding, but said he’d rather travel with us and would help pay for gas.

Mr. Carolina didn’t have anything planned after he completed his pipe returning mission. He’d been talking about the magical Mt. Shasta, and I wanted to see it, but we hadn’t made any decisions. I wanted to stay with him as long as possible, so I was down with going to Redding. A trip to Redding would not only prolong my time with Mr. Carolina, but it would get us closer to Mt. Shasta.

We spent the night at the nearest rest area, me in my bed, Mr. Carolina on the van’s floor, and Pierre in his tent, set up a little way into the wooded area surrounding the parking spots and restrooms. We hit the road in the morning and headed to Garberville to gas up and decide how to proceed.

There were traveler kids everywhere in Garberville, and Pierre found some French Canadians with whom to speak his native tongue. I went into a hemp store, and the woman working there (the proprietor?) was downright rude to me. We didn’t linger in the town, but were soon back on Highway 101.

With Mr. Carolina at the wheel, I was free to sit in a middle seat and munch almonds. Suddenly I saw an exit labeled “Avenue of the Giants.” Can we go there? I asked. Please. Let’s go there!

During our travels, Mr. Carolina often asked me what I wanted to do, but I seldom had a strong preference and was usually content to go along with the whims of others. I can only assume Mr. Carolina was pleased to help me fulfill a definite desire.

He took the exit, and we soon found ourselves traveling a narrow road rimmed with the tallest, most majestic trees I had ever seen: The Redwoods.

I did not take this photo either. I wish I had taken this photo.

I’d heard of the redwoods, or course, and seen photos, but this was my first time among them. The golden light filtered in through the leaves above us, and I thought maybe we’d crossed through a portal and into a magical dreamland.

Without warning, Mr. Carolina pulled off the road into a spot barely big enough for the van. We jumped out, and Mr. Carolina led us across the narrow highway to a giant redwood that had been uprooted and was lying on its side. Mr. Carolina showed me I could enter the tree from the end that was once in the earth. I crawled inside and sat quietly inside the tree. I felt surrounded by purity. The air was clean and moist and felt good to breathe. I took deep breaths and within a few minutes felt like I was tripping on acid. I honestly felt as if my reality was altered, as if I were experiencing a higher state of clarity, a higher state of awareness. I felt absolutely blessed by the sheer beauty I was experiencing and began to cry with joy.

I knew in my deepest heart that if the boys took the van and left me there, that I would be ok, that I’d be nourished by the air, and I’d live a clean, pure life unencumbered by the trappings of Babylon.

(It’s ok if you need to pause a moment and shake your head and sneer hippie.)

Of course, the boys didn’t take my van and leave me there. The came back to me after they’d finished their explorations, and we departed together.

I did a little research, and according to http://www.roadtripamerica.com/GettingOutThere/Avenue-of-the-Giants.htm,

[t]he Avenue of the Giants is a thirty-two mile scenic byway that parallels US-101 about thirty-five miles south of Eureka, California. The road was originally built as a stagecoach and wagon road in the 1880s and roughly follows the South Fork of the Eel River…The road meanders through the Humboldt Redwoods State Park, a redwood preserve of nearly 52,000 acres that includes over 17,000 acres of “old growth” (never been logged) coast redwood trees.

Broke Down in Redding, California

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In October of 2012, I was traveling in Northern California with my new friend Mr. Carolina. We’d met in Colorado on Furthur lot. I traveled with him, three (sometimes four) other adults, and two dogs all the way from Red Rocks to Santa Barbara in Old Betsy, my 1994 Chevy G20 van. Two of the adults and their two dogs found a new ride in Santa Barbara, but Mr Carolina and I drove to Los Angeles to deliver L. and R. to the airport so they could catch their flight to Guatamala City.

After our brief stop in LA, Mr. Carolina and I kept heading north, eventually making it all the way to Mt. Shasta, California.

In Laytonville, we met a young French Canadian man and invited him to our cheese party. (By “cheese party,” I mean that Mr. Carolina and I were sitting in the van eating cheese.) The French Canadian man was heading north to Redding to catch a bus and offered to help pay for gas if he rode with us.

My van broke down in Redding, after we dropped the French Canadian guy at the bus station. By “broke down,” I mean we let her run out of gas. It was really my fault. The directions to Wal-Mart I got on my phone were wrong, or I misread them. In any case, we headed off in the wrong direction and ended up on some side street with no gas.

We pushed the van off the road, into the gravel between the road and the fence of the closest house.

We had not money. I flew a sign for a while and collected $24. (Blessings to the kind strangers who handed me a $20 bill.)

My gas can only held one gallon, so we walked to the closest gas station and back twice.We put in the two gallons of gas, and the van still didn’t start. We thought we had fucked up the fuel pump.

At that point, I gave up for the day. I just didn’t have the energy to figure out anything else. We walked back to the Jack in the Box near the gas station to use some of our meager funds to buy dinner. We met a really nice guy named Bernard there. He was in his 50s, maybe his early 60s and had been out to The Hog Farm back in the day and had seen The Grateful Dead a handful of times. We bought him a couple of tacos out of the little money we had gathered up, and we ate together. After dinner, he smoked his roaches with Mr. Carolina. He is one of my very few nice memories of Redding.

After dinner, we went back to the van and  slept right there on the side of the street, me in my bed and Mr. Carolina on the floor.

Here’s a poem I wrote about the first night of the experience:

This Night

We sat in my broke down van
pushed to the gravel
next to a random street
on the West side
of Redding, California
and said good-bye to the sun.

Without my glasses,
distant headlights became
vivid bright snowflakes
with blurred edges.

Raindrops pinged randomly
on our metal roof
while the scent
of nag champa
soothed me.

You smoked fresh Cali weed
in the dark
and a train whistle blew
far away and lonesome—
the exact sound
of this night.

My car insurance covers roadside assistance. I don’t even have to pay up front and get reimbursed, it’s just totally covered, so the next day I had the van towed to a nearby mechanic.  It turned out that once Old Betsy was out of gas, it took seven gallons to get her started again. My sweet friend KJ  called the mechanic shop with his credit card and paid for the gas and the jump start we needed after killing the battery with so many false starts.

By the time the van was running again, it was late in the day. Mr. Carolina and I each had one McDouble for dinner, and we saved the rest of our money to put into the gas tank when we headed toward Mt. Shasta the next day. We ended up spending that night in the parking lot of the Redding Wal-Mart. There was such a weird vibe at that Wal-Mart. People at the entrance were pulling some card trick hustle, and a guy in the parking lot came over and tried to make very fast small talk with us while we were playing cards in the van. (In all the Wal-Mart parking lots I’ve slept in, no one else has ever approached my van and tried to get friendly.)

Redding was my #1 Let’s Get the Fuck Out of Here town. The energy there was very harsh, angry, negative, dark. I said to Mr. Carolina, It’s starting to seem like everyone in this town is on meth. He said to me, That’s because everyone in this town is on meth.