As we were leaving the motel in Crescent City, a woman got our attention with a two-armed wave. Was there something wrong? Without saying a word, she pointed. There were elk grazing on the trees and bushes at the edge of the parking lot.
We were heading out of California, into Oregon, and Sasquatchlandia. A different state.
A different region. Different flavors of weird.
Across the border in Brooking, gas was less than $5 a gallon, and there were a helluvalota cannabis places.
We grabbed doughnuts at the Honeybee Bakery. That is, after making our way through the building’s mural-festooned maze.
Driving through the marine-layer fog, we found a coffee stand and it had decaf!
Then we headed through the mountains on our way to Bandon past Prehistoric Gardens.
Suddenly, the roadside was crowded with a lot of fantastic wood sculptures.
We stopped and took a lot of pictures.
There was a wide-open barn turned workshop that looked abandoned—
it made Mike sad to see all good woodworking equipment rusting and covered with muddy dust.
In back were some shipping containers converted into what looked like a later-day hippie commune—
some of them looked abandoned, others seemed occupied, but crumbling.
A UPS truck pulled up. The driver wandered around, quickly realizing we were tourists. A guy who looked both hippie and nerdish staggered out of one of the shipping containers. When the driver asked about the occupant of the barn/workshop, the answer was: “Oh, he’s here. Sometimes he answers. Sometimes he doesn’t.”
Once again we stopped at the place that sold Bigfoot Nuts.
We were in and out of fog all day.
In Coos Bay, I found a book on the mound builders, and we had lunch in a well-muraled Mexican restaurant called Pueblo Nuevo.
Back on the highway, I saw a truck flying a huge flag. I could make out the word FUCK, but it was flapping so hard I couldn’t read if it was meant to insult Trump, Biden or some other poor sucker.
Then, in a seaside antique mall guarded by a statue of Godzilla, one of the vendors has a bedsheet-sized JOE BIDEN SUCKS sign. Out of his radio, I heard: “I’m beginning to think we don’t deserve Trump.”
Later, back on the road, the news of the trials in Washington D.C. made us smile.
In the forest-y area near Florence, we came across what looked like a wild Halloween party in bright colors and broad daylight.
Only no one was moving.
They were all frozen in place, like statues.
That was because they were statues of a sort, scarecrow-like figured in masks and costumes, murderous clowns, witches, werewolves, lots of skull faces, and pop culture references.
No doubt someone’s continuing art project, with more figures being added every year.
One fine day, there will be so many of them that they will seem to have taken over . . .
Further north, gas was $3.89 a gallon. It just kept getting cheaper.
In a motel in Lincoln City, I had a vision: Oz overrun by suburbs and corporate land developments. The funky and fantastic stuff is relegated to junk yards, thrift stores and museums where tourists shop. Wizards and witches are unemployed and homeless. Winged monkeys beg and steal in the streets.
Lincoln City was dripping wet when we left. Even the air. A strange, cold humidity.
The spider webs on folksy western-themed wooden statues were covered in dew beads, like a peculiar Christmas decoration. Did the spiders mind the cold? Do they shiver?
The heavy mist covered the farmland.
In Hebo, the crossroads of the Nestucca valley, Mike bought us coffee at the Yellow Dog Espresso.
In Garibaldi, we saw the first Trump sign of the trip. It was small, low key and managed to be tasteful, as was the house it was mounted on.
Then the mist, that had become a heavy fog, became a light drizzle.
In Rockaway Beach we came across more Halloween yard decor that included a vehicle.
In Seaside there was a big sign advertising TSUNAMI MARIJUANA.
There were still a lot of espresso places along the 101, though most of the yoga places we saw last time we passed through didn’t survive the pandemic.
In Westport along the Columbia River, there was a weird sticker tableau. Orwellian signage and a mutation of Charlie Brown. Dystopian small town dada. Couldn’t tell if it was a statement or just spontaneous juxtaposition.
Then we crossed the bridge into Washington.
It was an urban sprawl along the I-5 with signs for all the usual franchises peeking through tall trees. Generic corporate America, except for a hand painted sign with Uncle Sam asking: “How many Americans will we leave behind in Ukraine?”
Autumn leaves were changing color.
I kept seeing signs with the names of tribes I had never heard of.
The traffic got heavy in Seattle. The graffiti showed skill, the colors were more conservative. More media than message. Not very arty. Mostly tags.
Then in Conway we found a wacko junk art place, bristling with character, creativity, and craziness. That spirit lives here too.
And the gas station across the street played jazz and sold ice cream.