Somewhere, ID – afternoon

I did Oregon wall-to-wall in a day yesterday.

Roberta Verona has seemed as though she wants to run, so I’ve given in to the request.  I went far past the distance I was expecting yesterday, and I’ve already got three hours worth under my belt today.  I expect that will be the first of three driving sessions today, which should take me through Idaho and Utah and on into Wyoming.  That means I’ll have run the entire western portion of I-84.  84 is the only Interstate with an eastern section and a western section, I think.

I had thought of a ton of stuff to say while driving, and I’ll probably forget most of it now that I can write.

Approaching Portland from the south is not the way to see Portland.  Spend your time on the east side of town, playing in the Columbia River Gorge.  Although the scenery was going by at a steady 55 miles an hour, it was fantastic.  Around one turn you get a view of a mountain (I’m assuming Mt. Hood) that’s like all the magazine pictures of mountains.

Turns out they have desert in Oregon, too.  The good news is that the heat isn’t nearly so severe, and there’s actually little towns every so often to break up the monotony.

Not that I stopped at any of the little towns.  Apparently, I’ve decided I’m ready to be home, because driving has been easy, even long hours of it.  Although there have been a couple places that I’ve been tempted to stop (Snake River Canyon, for instance.  By the way, the Snake River has done some spiffy landscaping, even outside the Canyon proper), the overall impulse is to drive on.  So I’m driving on as long as it lasts.

Crash (that’s the kitten’s current name, due to his tendency to crash into stuff while he’s playing, as well as his ability to force me to narrowly avert crashes as I remove claws from my ankles…) seems to have taken to travelling okay.  He spends a certain amount of time alseep in my lap, then he’ll climb up the steering wheel and sleep on the dash for awhile, then he’ll climb down the steering wheel and across my left arm (this is tricky while I’m steering, and he has been known to bounce down my leg and into the floor while attempting this manuver, which gives you some insight as to how he’s earning his name) and sit on my shoulder looking out the window for a while.  Then sometimes, he justs disappears for a while.

Every time I stop, he wants out.  I keep telling him that he has to wait to get to South Carolina before he can go out and play, but comprehension does not seem to be his strongest suit.

So anyway, Crash and I are cruising through the mid-west.  I don’t know if it qualifies geographically as “mid-west” yet, but there’s lots of straw and hay and cows.  It’s pretty dull.

I saw the coolest cement plant last night.

I thought that needed to have its own paragraph for the full effect to set in.  But, seriously, about one in the morning last night (for me it was right about midnight, but I crossed another one of those damn time zones along the way), I saw a bunch of lights up in the distance.  Now, it gets _really_ dark out in that mountain/desert/prairie melange they’ve got going, so dark you can’t see more than a couple feet off the edge of the road.  Lights in the distance can be tricky to figure out.  At least twice before, I thought that there must be a river up ahead, because the lights were obviously a bridge.  Nope, just an interstate up the side of a mountain.  So I’m trying to be logical and figure out what this thing is.

As I get closer, I can tell there’s a bunch of three different types of lights, and random others here and there, all in a fairly tight grouping.  Doesn’t look like a town, doesn’t really loolk like a bridge (unless they’re building spiral bridges out west these days).

Like I say, turns out it was a cement plant.  There was a big steel frame structure, with bluish lights at regular intervals, a massive building that looked like it might have been made of stone (or, duh, cement, I guess) lit weirdly from the top and bottom with yellowish/brownish lights, and a low brick officy kind of building.  There were also a bunch of normal type streetlight dotting the facility.

The two big buildings, lit like they were, looked like something I would have seen in Las Vegas, but bigger.  And the real amazing part was the way the different lights played off of the rocky, hilly landscape, throwing multiple oddly colored shadows off of every stone.  Really neat.

That’s about all I can think of to bring you up to date, which is a Perkins just off the 84 in Idaho, past Twins Falls heading east but not to Pocatello yet.  I’m not hungry anymore, but damned if I’m going to leave any of this French Silk Pie.  I intend to stay at one or the other of two KOAs along I-80 in Wyoming, depending on just how far I drive tonight.  Hopefully, I’ll get to actually post this at that point…

Lincoln City, OR – late night

Last night on the Oregon Coast.  In some ways, the last night of the trip, because I think the rest is starting to look like one long drive.

I had wanted to get to the Northeast, but it’s just not in the cards this time around.

I knew it was going to be a long way back, at least approximately equal to the distance out here, anyway.  But, damn.  Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa.  Ain’t a narrow state in the bunch of ’em.  Except for Idaho, I’m going through them the long way, too.

Well, hopefully by sticking to Interstates (84, 80, 70-some-odd I think, then 75) Roberta Verona will be on level enough ground to do some serious hauling.  I do have a nifty book from National Geographc that list interesting sites by the Interstate they’re near.  So you just turn pages in the I-84 section as you go east.  So I might still find some cool stuff to take pictures of.

But overall I’m done.  I’m overextended, financially and mentally.  There’s no structure to my life right now, so I keep veering off one edge or the other.  I’m getting tired more, even though I’m sleeping more.  I slept for eleven hours last night, that can’t be normal.  And paragraphs end up looking like this.  Never a good thing.

I’m not going to schedule very far ahead, but I’d like to make it across most of Oregon tomorrow, then into Utah the next day.  Because of extended days driving, I may not be able to post updates very regularly at all.  We’ll see.  On the road is when I do the best writing, I think, so maybe they won’t get posted until late, but hopefully they’ll be worth it.

I’m not sure what else to say right now.  Like I mentioned, I’m tired, and I’m weary, if you understand the difference I’m talking about.  It doesn’t feel like there’s much there to come out at the moment.

I made last trips to both the Rogue Tasting House (Garlic Cheese Bread & Beer Sampler) and the Rogue Public House (“Public House” is where “pub” comes from, I found out some people didn’t know that.  Oh, a Hamburger and a Brutal Bitter).  The guy at the Tasting House is really cool, and he recognized me even though I randomly shaved off my moustache and goatee last night.  By “randomly,” I mean I couldn’t say why I did it, not that I sliced away random parts, leaving others.  I think I’m going to grow them back.  My mouth looks uneven and my lips got all chapped today.

Alright, I’m just going to stop even attempting to have paragraph breaks mean anything.  Sorry for my behavior, but I told you I’m not operating at peak efficiency (just to underscore my point, it took a couple tries to spell “efficiency”).

It’ll be good to get home, although I’m not looking forward to some of the things I’ll have to do once I get back.  You know those little junky details that pile up at the end of the day?  I’ll have two months worth of those.  Ouch.  And Scout’s _really_ going to have to go out… (Just kidding.  Suzy and Mark have been taking good care of the kitties, I understand).

Okay, so there’s not much for me to say here.  Hope to keep updates coming, otherwise, I’ll see you all in a couple weeks.

Newport, OR – evening

Well, I’m still in Newport.  Apparently, getting an existential imperative to get out has little practical weight when compared to the necessities of laundry, full holding tanks, and an RV full of junk just tossed around over the past week.  And when I told them I was staying one more night, they told me that was my sixth night, and I get the seventh free.  So I’m now scheduled to leave Friday morning.

I did my laundry, and got most of the junk appropriately stowed.  It was early afternoon, and it was a nicer day than it was yesterday, so I decided to revisit some of the cool places I went to yesterday, to see if I could get more color in some pictures.  Of course, I ran out of 100 speed film, which I was using a lot of because I am hoping to do some enlargements of this stuff when I get back.  Oh, well.  I put some 200 speed in and hoped for the best.

It’s hard to judge whether some of the shots were better or not, I’ll just have to wait to get them developed.  But at Boiler Bay, I saw a whale.  I say “saw” because I only got one shot of it, and I’m not sure how well it came out, so I’m not promising anything.  I’ve got the 210mm lens, but that’s really not enough for wildlife shots (in case anyone’s looking for a nice Christmas gift for me, we’re talking Nikon Auto-Focus, something in a zoom to 350mm or so…).  And besides, whales are mostly underwater animals.  You can spot the spout when they surface, but try getting a camera aimed and a shot framed before the thing’s underwater again.  I stood out there a while, eye to camera, pointed in the general direction of the last surfacing, but no luck.  Oh, well, again.  Perhaps the one I got will turn out to be wonderful.

Now I’m back at The Chalet having dinner, because my stomach didn’t let me sleep well again last night.  The dinner I had here a couple nights ago was the only one this week that has let me sleep.  I’m going to try to get to sleep at a reasonable hour tonight and tomorrow so that I can start travelling early Friday.  Hopefully, my stomach and the kitten will go along with my little plot.

Well, I should have had pancakes again.  The chicken pot pie was kinda disappointing.  So was the strawberry pie, but at least it did have real whipped cream on it.  Not enough, of course, but it was a step in the right direction.

Oh, well.  It doesn’t look like I have much of value to say right now.  I know, par for the course.  I’m going home.

Lincoln City, OR – late night

I met a girl today.

But actually, that happened pretty late in the day.  Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  Let’s put the horse up front there.

The vets in Lincoln City were finally open today, so I took Stray Boy in for a once over.  I’d already bought ear mite medicine, and the vet gave him some worm medicine.  Apparently kittens are basically born with ear mites and worms.  Other than that, he checked out great.  About 10-12 weeks old, they guessed.  Born on the Fourth of July, maybe.  So I felt pretty good about that.

The pancakes from the night before had gone down relatively smoothly, so I figured a patty melt wasn’t too far out of line for lunch.  Wash it down with a nice smooth milkshake.  So far so good.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do.  The vet and lunch had ended up taking a bit longer than I had planned, and I had knocked around the ideas of shopping (at least one guitar store and no less than three used book stores had caught my eye.  Plus there was one of the omni-present Outlet Store Malls, and the Toy Liquidators and the Starter Outlet signs were tantalizingly right there on the freeway.  Starter does the Dolphins’ uniforms, so I figured I had a decent shot at getting a non-Marino jersey there.  Not that there’s anything wrong with a Marino jersey, it’s just that they’re everywhere.  I kind of like to get the oddball numbers.  I’ve got a Mark Clayton era #83, for instance.  Would you believe there’s not a #83 on the team this year [unless Gadsden picked up 83.  He was added to the roster after I last checked it.  That would be cool, he’s going to be something]?  I’ll have to web crawl around to see what I can find once I get home), or going to see Keiko off (the whale from _Free Willy_ has lived in the aquarium here for some time, and as of tomorrow, he’s off for his new home in Iceland), or stopping at several of the numerous State Parks dotting the coastline to see if there were any cool places to take some pictures.

I decided on a combo shopping and picture trip.  The Starter Outlet and the Toy Liquidators were busts, but there was also an Eddie Bauer outlet and I got a great fleece jacket.  I found a graphic novel at one of the bookstores, one I almost paid full price for at San Diego.  I got it for half cover, here.  I also got _Dianetics_ and _Dianetics Today_ for a buck apiece, both of which appear to be internal editions printed from within the Church of Scientology.  The _Dianetics Today_ looks for all the world like a first edition.  I have such problems dealing with my life that this type of book, that gives you the straightforward answers to everything, fascinate me, even when all external evidence points to it being a fresh steaming load.

I started getting into the scenery as I left Lincoln City.  The day was rather overcast (which, as far as I can ascertain, is par for the course in this area at this time of year), so I’m not entirely sure my pictures will come out as well as I hope.  But I shot places with such colorful names as Boiler Bay, Foulweather Point, and Devil’s Punchbowl.  Hopefully, the photos will live up to the names.

Along the way I stopped at a music store I’d seen.  No Napa Valley tape shelves (sorry, Dad), but they did have one of the Epiphone Firebird re-issues.  I was sorely tempted to just slap that puppy on a credit card and go, but good sense (or chickenshit, I can never tell the difference.  See below…) prevailed.

The last stop was Yaquinto Head (I think I’m spelling that right).  The sign along 101 says “Yaquinto Head Outstanding Natural Area” and has some government seal on it, in what about amounts to a challenge, in my book.  So I gave it a shot.

The main thing that everyone sees is the lighthouse, and, hey, it’s a lighthouse.  But some of the views elsewhere on the promontory are eye-popping.  Right out from where I parked was an inlet where the bay had cut holes in the cliff walls, so there were tunnels and pillars of stone with surf pounding through them.  On the other side, you could actually walk down to the beach, which in this case was covered entirely in small black rocks worn smooth and round by the waves.  Dozens of yards of them, in every direction, who knows how deep.  It was like walking in a sandbox full of marbles.  At the far end of the beach, away from where the stairs were, was an area where two huge rocks guided the surf a particularly long way up the beach.  As I got closer, I noticed this… sound.  As the waves receded and the undertow pulled at the beach, hundreds of these little round rocks clattered and bounced their way back into the ocean.  The sound was like being inside the biggest rainstick ever.  I felt very alone realizing that there was no way to even take a picture of this, no way to share even a shadow of it.  You’d just have to go there, I’ve never heard that sound anywhere else.

So, after agreeing that this was, at the very least, a noticeably Above Average Natural Area, I started to leave.  There was one road off down the side that I hadn’t taken, so I did.  Something about tidepools.  I parked the car.

And there she was.

There was only one car in the parking lot, presumably hers, and she had on blue sweatpants and an overshirt that matched, so I assumed that she was a park ranger type getting ready to tell me this area was closed for the day (it _was_ getting late).

She was stunning.  Tall and thin, dark skin and eyes, with unweidy amounts of black hair that moved as though she had conscious control over it.  She walked as though she’d been outside all her life.  She talked as if I was her oldest friend.

It didn’t take long before I realized she wasn’t a tour guide, she was just there looking at cool stuff.  She confessed to touching the wildlife, in spite of the signs.  Well, there were great reds, and great greens, but not in the same picture… so she improved upon nature somewhat.

Her name was Cherie (I’m assuming the spelling.  She did say it was French).  We talked about the things she’d seen, and where she’d traveled.  When I say “we talked” I of course mean that she talked and I stood around with my mouth half open.  She talked about the tidepools, how they didn’t seem to have as much life in them as she’d thought they would, about how one of the plaques had said this was an experiemental area, about how she thought these were man-made.

I regrettably added little to the conversation.  She seemed so excited, so full so life, so thrilled, just to be… there.  I felt so small, so far away, so insignificant compared to what was… there.

I have friends who would have stayed in touch with Cherie for years, have traded letters and hostel addresses, news of low airfares and names of people who’d let you stay in their garages for free.  I have other friends who would have slept with her right there in the tidepool.  I was there, she was there, I could have done any of those things, if only…

If only…  If only I knew what I’d wanted to do.  If only I had any idea what I was doing.

She was there talking to me and I felt as shallow and lifeless as the artificial tidepools.

We walked back to the cars and I managed to say something about loving to travel and see things but being hamstrung by fiscal realities.  She talked more about youth hostels and places in Norway and Guam and Guatemala that would pay your way in trade for some small amount of work restoring castles, digging for fossils, or even shearing sheep.

I think we both realized at that moment that she was in a place I can’t yet comprehend.

I have not found my middle road.  I do not understand where necessity ends and sacrifice begins.  I cannot see the difference between a calling and an impulse.  I celebrate the trivial and fail to believe in the meaningful.

I drown in what I don’t know because I can’t stand on what I feel.

We got into our respective cars and drove off.  I turned on the radio so I wouldn’t have to hear myself think.  Steve Winwood told me: “When some cold grey wind is blowing, and there’s nothing left worth knowing, and it’s time you should be going…”

I’m leaving Newport tomorrow.

Newport, OR – late night

I guess approaching ten o’clock on the left coast qualifies for late night.  I’m in The Chalet, a restuarant and bakery, for the second time.  Both times I’ve not been feeling particularly well, and both times I’ve been eating a meal inappropriate for the time I chose to eat it.

The first time through Newport, Suzy and I stopped here for breakfast on our way out of town, and I was sick from drinking way too much the night before at Rogue, and I ordered lunch instead of breakfast.  Hey, I’m a wild man.  You never know what I might do.  This time around, I’m sick to my stomach from I don’t know what, and I felt that pancakes might help.  So far, so good.

I’m not sure where this update is going to go.  I’m pretty depressed right now.  I’ve spent the majority of the day in bed, sick to my stomach.  I don’t know what I might have done to deserve it, unless the new kitten gave it to me somehow.  I found him so Saturday night, so there weren’t any vets open yesterday or today.  Thinking back, I didn’t even let Scout sleep in the house the first several nights (but I made a nice space in the garage for him).  I guess you probably just shouldn’t sleep with something you pick up on the street right away.  Hmmph.  Mom was right about that, too.

But the point is, I don’t feel good.  And as I brought up in that weirdo, disconnected update from late last night, I’m starting to be concerned about what my financial situation is going to be like upon my return.  It’s difficult to think positively about anything when you feel like you’re going to throw up, so everything just built on each other.  Add to that the fact that I’m here in Newport and instead of being out playing with whales and seals, I’m stuck in the RV (hey, it’s a lovely RV and all, don’t get me wrong.  It just that I can spit from one end of it to the other, not that I’d ever admit to actually trying it).

Oh, good, a big party just came in.  I was afraid I was going to be the last customer in the place, and I hate that.  It sucks, too, because, personally, I feel that if a place says they’re open until 10:00pm, and you get there at 9:59, you should be treated exactly the same as if you’d shown up three hours earlier.  Instead, you usually get some punk kid rolling their eyes at you because you came in at 9:15 and now they’re going to have to refill the sugar at your table again.  What, they can’t read their own hours of operation sign?  Actually, with the state of public education, that’s about a 50/50 proposition these days, innit?  This paragraph brought to you by the Liberatarian Party…

Jeez, that wasn’t even a paragraph, just sentences in the same geographical region.  I’m clearly not up to this right now.  I think I’ll head back to the RV and try again there.

I’m still not up to it.  The pancakes are now just so much ballast in my lower abdomen.  At least I’m not getting the turmoil that last night’s fish gave me.  My nose is starting to stop up again.

Sigh.  The kitten is asleep at the moment, no doubt resting up so he may bounce on my head when I try to sleep in a little while.  He looks so peaceful now, it’s hard to believe in just hours he’ll be pure evil hellspawn.

Hey, the Dolphins won the other day.  I had been on a web site, I think it was The Sporting News, while I was in Portland.  They wanted people to write in with who they thought would have a breakout season.  I wrote that Terrell Buckley would finally get the defense he likes to play in, and would have a bunch of interceptions.  Hopefully, they got it posted and spelled my name right:  T-Buck picked Peyton Manning twice on Sunday.  I would have a smartass comment welcoming Mr. Number One Draft Pick to the NFL, but, hell, he gets paid the same either way.  The Jets looked decent, right up until that last play, anyway.  The Bills seem laughable, and I was too sick to see what the Pats did tonight.  Go Denver.  It would be great for Miami to lead the division outright all year, right from week one.  Who’s rushing for New England, now that Curtis Martin is cashing a Jets paycheck?  And Seattle over Philly, 38 to SQUAT?  Hoying does not belong in the NFL, and Rhodes is looking like he might not, either.

Oh, well.  There’s not much to say about football when I only got to see one game (Jets-Niners, mostly to see the Miami score updates, but it turned out to be a fun football game, if you didn’t care who won.  I don’t know what anyone else thought, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that San Fran [particularly Steve Young and the defensive secondary] never really got going [although Young had, like, nine hundred yards passing.  I’d hate to have seen it iffin he’d got hot], and the Jets were constantly pulling stuff out of their ass just to stay in it.  In other words, I thought San Fran was better than the game indicated, and the Jets not as good.  That could be my AFC East tunnel vision kicking in, though…)

Okay.  I’m spent.  So it was a crappy update, big deal, what do you want, your money back?  Yeah, I know, I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and you can kiss my hairy white one.

Wow.  That went from depressed to agressive awfully quick.  Sorry.  Upset tummy, you know.

And I’d also like to apologize for the imagery of “my hairy white one,” you’re right, there was simply no call for that.

Lincoln City, OR – late night

Things I’ve noticed.

If I have people around, I don’t do updates very often, nor are the updates very long.  “People,” in this case, can mean friends from home, new friends I’ve just met, or real time internet friends, when I’ve had an active connection (just twice so far, unfortunately).  In addition to not writing updates, I tend not to write songs or record them.

Since I got to San Diego, I haven’t written or recorded any songs (wait, that’s a lie, I did do a little taping in Las Vegas), and the frequency of updates has bottomed out.

I briefly mentioned that I worry about this.  I can also connect it with certain other instances in my history that make me wonder how able I am to create, to write, as long as I’m not miserable in a hole somewhere.  This is a concern beause I really feel better about things when I’m writing about them.  I hope to be able to actually make a living at writing things, but once I get started in a direction, things distract me.  I lose touch with whatever was so important that I had to write it out in the first place.

At some point, it becomes like work.

I have to find a way to create regularly, to write to deadlines, to meet obligations, while maintaining the urgency I feel when I write because I have no other choice.

I just can’t go back to changing passwords for a living.  I’ll be fixing an idiot problem for the same person for the third time that week and I’ll snap and the headlines will read  BALD MAN CHANGES EXECUTIVE PASSWORD TO “FUCKING PINHEAD,” KILLS DOZENS.

Aside: My mother hates that word I just used up there.  And it’s not like I’m doing it just to get the ‘R’ rating.  I mean, I have friends who might like to read these to their grandparents, or to their kids, or even to their friends from church.  I worked on that line for quite a while (I know, kind of takes away from the magic, doesn’t it), and there was just no other way to do it that had the same impact.  I mean, even _reading_ that word, my eyes close, my head turns to one side, and I almost spit it out.  Sure, it’s childish and asinine, but then again, it’s childish and asinine that you make twenty times my salary and you can’t remember which of your kids name you used as a password, you dipshit jerkoff.  Oh, hell, there I go again.  Sorry.

But can you see why I can’t go back to doing something like that?  I mean really.  It’s only a matter of time before I get fired, or punched, or shot.

So does anybody know of someone with a job opening for an elitist smartass?

Postscript:  I’ve noticed that typing updates with a kitten nearby is a lot like that game Whack-A-Mole…

Lincoln City, OR – evening

Well, Mark is going to kill me.

Late last night, there was an addition to the clan.  Mark had barely learned to tolerate Scout when Kato showed up, and now…

He doesn’t have a name yet.  Cats will usually name themselves if you give them the chance (although if he keeps clawing at the laptop, his name will be “Dog Chow”).  Last night I was walking around down at the Newport Bayfront.  I was meeting some people at the Ro344egue Ale Public House, and had gotten down there early.  There was a kitten in the street.

Now, I’m no zoologist (looks at his watch, “Am I a zoologist?  I’m not a zoologist…”) but I don’t think a kitten’s natural habitat is the middle of the street.  So I at least got him to the sidewalk.  I watched him for a while, he poked around here and there then went off down an alley that looked like it had residential type doors along it.  So, I figured, that must be home, and I walked on down the street.  Well, as I’m waiting for the light at the next crosswalk, who should I hear yelling at me but… this guy.  Sitting there behind me, it seemed as though he’d picked me.

He’s stopped playing with the keyboard.  He’s now very politely sitting on my left shoulder, watching me type.  He’s still small, Scout could never get away with that.  And Kato would rather just knaw on my arm.  He just tried to walk down my arm and promptly fell into the seat beside me. He’s not even enough of a cat yet to act like he meant to get down that way.  I didn’t get much sleep last night because he refused to go to the bathroom and I refused to sleep until he’d proven to me that he knew where the box was and precisely what it was for.  Eventually, nature ran its course and he passed that test (reason #736 why cats are better than dogs).

You can probably tell I’m hooked already.  I’ve really been missing Scout (Kato, too, but Scout’s been my buddy for a long time now.  I think he and I understand each other.  I just hope he forgives me for going away for so long), so this is pretty cool.  And it’ll mean my adventure won’t end just because I’ve gotten home… Mark and Scout and both still kinda cranky that Kato’s moved in… so this should be quite interesting.

I can’t tell you how much I’ve been enjoying Newport.  Everytime I go out I meet cool people and end up doing or talking about interesting things.  I’ve found great restaurants and drank great beers.  There’s three (!) used bookstores that I want to try to get to tomorrow, along with the aquarium (might as well say “sayonaro” to Keiko, as long as I’m here).  And I’d like to run the new guy through a vet’s office real quick if I have the chance.

And, speaking of him, he seems to be all wound up right now.  He keeps attacking the long-sleeve t-shirt I just took off (Rogue clothing, ask for it by name), but never decides to finish it off.  Perhaps it’s putting up a struggle that eludes my non-feline powers of detection.  Uh-oh, I hear footsteps.  I think I’m being stalked.  If you’ll excuse me, I must defend myself, for the sake of my species.

Lincoln City, OR – afternoon

Finally back in Newport.  Or, more precisely, just north of Newport, still on the coast, in Lincoln City.  Since the trip home is looming on the horizon, I’ve been looking ahead to the best route back east.  “Best” meaning the fewest, easiest hills (for Roberta Verona) and no damn deserts (an imperative of my own)

I am _so_ happy to be back here.  When I left Portland (from a tire store–and “don’t ask, don’t tell” is my new policy on this kind of topic), a sign told me it was one o’clock and ninety-five degrees.  When I got into town here, a similar sign gave me the far preferable reading of three o’clock and sixty-three degrees.  I am sitting in a fresh seafood restaurant overlooking the ocean, where I was just served a crab cocktail with a scoop of Dungeness Crab as big as a softball.  And while the price is eye-opening, it’s not even as much as I paid for less than half this amount of not as fresh crab earlier this week in Portland.  And this cocktail sauce shows all the signs of being made in-house.  Oh, yeah, B.B. King is on the restaurant sound system.

And this was just some place I stopped because I was hungry and a sign said “fresh seafood”.  I haven’t found a place I didn’t like here, yet.

If I overhear someone say they’re looking for a computer guy or a guitar player (or, hell, even a bartender, at this point), Susie and Bill are going to need a plane to get their RV back…

Portland was okay, but to be honest, I was actually expecting a bit more from it.  It seems that once cities grow past a certain size, they’re pretty much all the same.  The zoo was pretty cool, and Suzy knew about a fantastic book store called Powell’s downtown.  I imagine that there are other really cool places scattered about, but for someone just in town for a few days, who doesn’t know anyone and who is not looking for anything in particular, trying to find them proved pretty futile

I’m still not sure if I’m going up to Seattle and Vancouver, which I never realized was just across the border.  For some reason, I always pictured it being more northwest than it is.  Part of me thinks Vancouver in particular would be awesome, but I’m concerned that it’s the same part of me that felt exactly that way about Portland.  Without knowing what in particular to do, I’m left driving randomly in a city I don’t know at all.  Not that that’s such a bad way to spend a day, but the reality of what I’m going to do with myself and how I’m paying for stuff once I get home has started to set in.  So I’m beginning to do mental math on possible stops for the trip home.  Newport made it (and when I got here, I extended my campground reservation an extra two nights.  Nyaah), Vancouver (and Seattle, which is on the way there) has not yet proven itself in my mind.  We’ll see.

I apparently will have ‘net access from here, but it’s back to the once or twice a day in the campground office.  I did get spoiled by the fantastic campground in Portland where I had phone lines in the RV.  It didn’t show up with extra updates (there wasn’t a lot to say, really, I spent the better part of two Portland days in the RV sick), but I did get caught up on the Dolphins’ preseason thanks to Curt Fennel’s great Dolphin site.  I have a feeling Peyton Manning is in for a rude welcome to the NFL Sunday…

Anyway, this late lunch is about over.  Too bad I just can’t eat any more, is was wonderful.  Pier 101 Seafood in Lincoln City.  Go there.

Portland, OR – morning

Well, it’s now pretty clear that I write updates as a substitute for human interaction.  One tiny update in the last week, but Suzy gets on the plane for home last night and here I am at breakfast, writing away.  This, coupled with the fact I’ve already mentioned in an update that I tend to write songs only after I’ve broken up with someone (I’ve written a few on this trip, but again, far away from people) make me wonder if I’ll only be able to pursue a creative career by cloistering myself far from human contact.  I’ll have to work on that issue.

Back to a couple things you all missed while I wasn’t writing.  After the extra day in Reno waiting for RV repair, Suzy and I hit the road for Crater Lake.  It was the most spectacular thing I’ve seen so far.  Painted Desert was awesome, but it was kinda one of those things you have to have a predilection for to really appreciate.  I can’t imagine anyone not having their breath taken away by Crater Lake.  Particularly the way you approach it from the south.  As the name implies, it’s a lake in a big crater that used to be the top of a volcano (actually, “crater” is not the correct geological term, but at this point, who cares?).  So you spend quite a bit of time serpentining up the mountain through some beautiful scenery, but with no indication of what’s ahead.  All of a sudden, you crest the rim, and there it is, blam, all at once.  The bluest thing you’ve ever seen.  I really hope my pictures came out (I shot more than three rolls of film), I had to learn something new about my camera to take many of them (the autofocus couldn’t “see” the water at all, and refused to open the shutter if the lake itself was in the center of the picture.  So in my brilliance I figured out how to focus all by my manual self).

The only thing left to say is that you really should go see it yourself.

After Crater Lake we went to Newport, where I wrote the brief Rogue Brewery update.  We came in on SR 20, because the map showed that it was about the most direct route west from where we were (if you’re playing our home game, we went north from Klamath Falls to Crater Lake, continued north to Bend, then all the way to the coast on 20).  Unfortunately, maps have this nasty two-dimensional limitation.  If I’d seen how much up-and-down ground we had to cover on 20, I would have gone any other way.

In any RV, hills are a bitch, both up and down.  Going up, you slow way, way down.  And with Roberta Verona, there comes a point in the day (after about two hours of driving) where “slow” becomes “stop” on hills.  We spent about an hour and a half in an alledged Oregon State Park that looked suspiciously like a Rest Area waiting for Roberta to decide that “up” was a legitimate directional choice again.  And down, you’re simply completely out of control.  One of the things that got fixed in Reno was the brakes, and if you’ve ever gotten new brakes, you know they can smell and squeal, just because they’re new.  Well, when you’re rocketing down the side of a mountain in an RV and you overuse the brakes, they’ll start to squeal and smell.  I am not nearly educated enough to detect the differences between these sets of squeals and smells.

The RV repair shop guy in Reno had talked about brakes and the importance of using lower gears when going down hills (I did this.  It seemed to have the same approximate slowing effect as does holding your hands out the side windows) in order to keeps your brakes from actually bursting into flames.  Which surprised me, because he also said tht brakes are made of asbestos, which is not a material that I thought was supposed to be particularly combustible, although I am aware of it’s carcinogenic effects.

So you can imagine my stress-free level of driving as I plummet down mountain roads in second gear, fairly standing on the brakes, the stench of asbestos cutting neatly through the piney forest air in its quest to give me cancer, as I wait for the flames to begin erupting out of every wheel well

But, hey, at least the engine was running cool.

So, we’re about fifteen miles from Newport, and I’m wondering which of the next couple turns is going to pull us free of all these mountains.  See, Newport is a coastal town, and coastal towns, in my experience, are different from mountain towns.

Well, how about that, more education.

It seems Oregon (and who knows what evil example they’re setting for Washington and Northern California) rudely stacks its mountains right up to the edge of the ocean.  I was nervous enough about stopping on some of these downhills without the threat of being pitched off into the Pacific, should I not quite make a stop sign.

Now, every stop I’ve made on the trip so far, I’ve called ahead to reserve a spot.  Sometimes only a couple hours ahead, but still.  Even so, I don’t think I’ve ever been in a campground that was full.  And this includes more than a week in San Diego, during Comic-Con and some of the nicest summer weather you’re ever likely to come across.  For some reason (I suspect I had flaming cancerous death brakes on my mind, but I can’t be sure) I failed to call ahead to Newport.

Newport was freezing.  Well, okay, not freezing, but late afternoon when we got there it was high fifties or low sixties, and with a vicious wind.  Even the crabs and seals were like “Screw this weather,” and stayed in drinking.  The “beach” was the small area at the base of a cliff where the ocean was currently dashing boulders into their component atoms.

This was the vacation environment in which I arrived to be, literally, laughed at when I asked if there was someplace to park me RV.  The one time I didn’t call ahead.

Now, I thought this type of weather was fantastic, but I slept with the window open during the winter at Syracuse, which I have been told is not quite normal, so I was kinda surprised that everyone wanted to be here now.

Anyway, we did finally find a place, and we went out to the ocean and then got dressed (long pants!  I haven’t worn long pants since June 3rd…) and went to the Rogue Brewery, which I’ve already mentioned.  I drank enough to where I shot my immune system and ended up getting kinda sick.  I’m only now getting rid of my stuffed up nose and sore throat.

Well, I’ve long since finished breakfast, and I’ve worked on this off and on all day between napping.  I don’t feel like it’s particularly finished, but I’m done working on it, so that’ll have to do.

Newport, OR – late night

I may not come home.

After I drop Suzy off at the Portland airport on 9/1, I’m coming back to Newport.  And I might not come home.

I felt more comfortable here, 3500 miles from my house, than I have in several months.  It took me about twenty minutes at the Rogue Brewery Tasting House.

This was not the big restaurant where they serve Rogues.  This was the thirty seat Tasting House suspended up above the floor of the brewery and bottling facility.  I realize that this will mean little to most of you, but I sat and drank with John Maier tonight.

To give you some perspective, drinking with John Maier is in the same ballpark as tossing the pigskin with Dan Marino, swinging some BP with Ken Griffey, Jr., snapping some pics with Ansel Adams, jamming on guitar with Mark Knopfler, or knocking out some sketches with Carl Barks.

I was sitting, having what I consider to be fun, with the human being who does it professionally the best way that it has been done.

John was… well, John was just a guy.  It was obvious that he loved what he did, and had forgotten more about it than anyone else in the room had ever known.  I’ve brewed three batches of beer myself, and I intend to do more once I get home, and I feel like I learned more tonight just chatting with John than I have in three years of reading, brewing with others, and toying around on my own.

I did the geeky thing and got his autograph on a coaster.  Actually, some cool people I met and talked to got the autograph for me before I worked up the courage to actually bug John for it.  I’m looking forward to Labor Day weekend, when I intend to be back in Newport, buying cases of Rogues at the big sale they’re going to have, and talking and drinking with John at his bar/restaurant (there’s a blues act there next weekend he really wants me to see. I think I’d shoot my mother if he really wanted me to [no, Mom, that’s just an expression]).  I’m really enjoying referring to John in the second person familiar, in case you haven’t noticed.

Anyway, I’m really, really drunk right now.  Suzy has already… well, she’s not responding to me at any rate.

Let’s just call it a really good night.