Wednesday, October 13, 2010

1999 Travelogue

In 1999, shortly after the first Portland NOTOCON, I quit my job and headed on an extended roadtrip. My route took me to the Oregon coast, down Highway 101 all the way to L.A., then to Tucson, AZ via Joshua Tree. Today I rediscovered my travelogue of this road trip, and thought to post it here. I greatly enjoyed reading it again, and did not even cringe that many times.

Tuesday, 10 August

I left Portland reasonably early, and drove south along the coast. I took with me a few clothes, a couple of books, basic magickal implements (which it turned out that I didn’t use), my Bast deity, and basic odds and ends like plates, etc. I had originally planned to be gone for about a month, but after examining my check book, realized that my funds were not equal to the purpose. Especially since I would not be coming back to a job. So, I left it open, thinking that perhaps I would be gone for about three weeks.

Realizing about two hours into the journey that I had forgotten to take my sleeping bag, I stopped at Reedsport. I also took the opportunity to munch a peanut butter and jelly sandwich while seated on my truck.

Towards evening I rejected one campground after another, thinking that I would find a better one. That wasn’t a great plan, as I pretty much ran out of coastal campgrounds a little into NoCal.

Around nightfall I stopped in a bar in a small village in Humboldt County. As I walked in I realized that this wasn’t the kind of place a chap with dreadlocks would be heartily welcomed – it’s redneck customers were rapping about their jobs at the ol’ sawmill (and there is a real antagonism between loggers and hippy Earth First! types in Humboldt County). So I was quiet as I drank my generic beer. I soon found out, though, that the two barmaids were Dutch, so I was able to chat to them in Afrikaans.

That night I got some crappy motel.


Wednesday, 11 August


I hit the road again pretty early, and got to Santa Rosa around noon. I called C- and got his machine. So I carried on driving, on to my destination of Sebastopol, the little town in which C- lives. I soon found Food For Thought, at which we were to meet, and called him again. Again his machine, but no big deal. I got a cup of coffee, and sat down to watch the people. Good, tanned hippy folk for the most part. Calling again an hour later, I finally got him, and he promised to rush down.

Rushing for C- is not usually possible, and he was there around a half an hour later. It was wonderful to see him again, and we greeted with a nice hug and ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law’.

We hung out for a while and then close to sunset left for a park in Santa Rosa, taking beer, ganja, and mushrooms with us. On the way up the mountain, I read from the Holy Books of Thelema and we took some shrooms. Getting to the top of a hill, we sat down to watch the sun and drink a few brews. Which was pretty damn entertaining I must say. At one point it was glowing bright purple, and spiraling into my brain. I don’t think I was carrying my part of the conversation too well (I think C- was discussing Robert E. Howard, one of our favourite authors). We left a little after sundown, C- being nervous that the resident rattlesnakes would get us.


Thursday, 12 August


Afternoon and evening spent on the beach, chatting, investigating rock pools, and drinking beer. We left after the sun went down, but discovered that the tide had come in so that piece of beach that we had walked across was now submerged. Manfully, we walked into the surf, which thankfully proved to be pretty shallow. We named this “Barbarian Beach”.


Friday, 13 August


I can’t really remember exactly what we did today. Hiked in the forest, lazed around by the beach. Something good, probably.

In the evening we saw a Black Sabbath cover band. Highlights included a couple of girls feeling each other up on the dance floor.

I found that headbanging doesn’t work as well now that I have dreadlocks. They tend to bash me on the back of the neck on the upswing.


Saturday, 14 August

C- and I headed out for Santa Cruz, to check out the city. On the way, we stopped at a couple of beaches and leasurely drank beer.

Santa Cruz is a beautiful city, with lovely people. Everyone is very friendly and courteous, and also physically beautiful. In fact, I think that they must not let you settle in Santa Cruz unless you are tanned and attractive. That lets me out.

C- and I had fun exploring the town, with its various bars, coffee shops, clothing stores, etc. Then at night we saw the reggae artist Burning Spear in concert. I bought a T-Shirt with the head of Haile Selassie and the legend ‘Rastafari’. The Rastaman who sold to me asked if I had any ganja for him. Hmm… when a Rasta asks you for drugs, you know that you look a little disreputable.

Well, ganja we had not, but still had shrooms, and we took ‘em. But they did nothing for me: I had eaten a largish meal previously. But it was still a damn good concert: Spear was right on with the music, and the crowd had plenty of eye candy in the form of hippy chicks. There was a really beautiful energy there to tap into. Towards the end of the concert a black Rasta chick gave me a nice big hug and told me that she loved me (as a brother, I presume). Cool.

We did a fine job of driving off into the country at 2 AM and found a campground. All credit to the navigational talents of C-.


Sunday, 15 August

Spent hanging round Santa Cruz. C- decides to move there, he likes it that much. We drive back to Sebastopol in the evening.


Monday, 16 August

Had breakfast with C-, and then drove down to Berkeley.

After the rest of northern California, Berkeley was something of a disappointment. I mean, it’s interesting enough, but has a sort of unwholesome feel to it. Still, I had a good time looking around the various stalls, etc. And I found a couple of issues of the journal Red Flame, now out of print.

I met T- in the late afternoon. T- is a delightful chap, who for all the world resembles Tom Bombadil in spirit (if you don’t get that reference, you need to read Lord of the Rings). I spent the night at his place, with his other housemates I- (who I also know) and M-J-. I chickened out of trying her San Pedro, but did sample some of her whiskey.


Tuesday, 17 August

Driving south, bound for Los Angeles. A boring day, except for driving through the beautiful Big Sur coast.

At one turnout I stopped to look at the magnificent view, consult the map, and take a leak. When returning to the truck, I saw a California cop heading towards me in a big Suburban (or maybe Blazer, I dunno). When pretty close, he boomed out of the loadspeaker “Be more discreet next time!” I nodded gravely. He nodded gravely back, then got back on the road.

In the evening I tried to get a place in forest service campground around San Luis Obispo. But a campsite was $10, I only had $9.40, and the attendent was unyielding. Durn. A motel on the credit card again.


Wednesday, 18 August

I navigated my way to Fullerton, in Orange County, California. Though I had not given him much of a warning that I was coming, he received me with hospitality and warmth. That afternoon we chatted about weirdness, punk rock, etc, until he had to go to work. Then my friend G- came over, and we carried on chatting on similar lines.

Chatting was more or less the reason that a went down to LA. I have spent much time in the SoCal before, and, quite frankly, it sucks. But R-, G-, and P- (to be introduced tomorrow) are such interesting conversationalists and superb raconteurs that they are worth the drive. They are also fine writers. We share an interest in metaphysics, UFOlogy, and general weirdness.


Thursday, 19 August

I spent the early morning and afternoon in Hollywood, where G- lives, then drove over to (hmm… not sure where) to see my friend P- in the evening. More fine conversation, and P- even did Thelemic grace with me over pizza.

That evening we went down to the Santa Monica pier with P-‘s wife M-, to see Burning Spear again. Show was not as good as Santa Cruz, though perhaps one just could not recapture the atmosphere.


Friday, 20 August

I took my leave of Los Angeles, and drove east to the Joshua Tree National Park. Before looking around the park itself, I investigated the towns of Yucca Valley and Joshua Tree. Nothing worth reporting.

I then headed north to the town of… oh crap, what is it? Linder, to see the Integratron, a building erected by the famous UFO contactee George van Tassel, but now deserted. A fine building it is too, and I took many photos.

I had a drink in Linder’s only bar, and found myself the only person in the bar that was under 50, had hair past the collar, not a redneck, and not the close friend of every other person in the bar. But fuckit, I needed a beer. As it turned out, I had two while the conversation around me dwelled on hunting and trucks and such matters. Everyone was cool, though. They weren’t antagonistic: they simply ignored me, especially when I made halfhearted attempts at conversation.

I had Joshua Tree Park to myself: it is so hot in the summer not many people are fool enough to visit. I had a nice hike, and then went back to the campsite to drink beer and read.


Saturday, 21 August

Headed west to Tucson, AZ to visit my friend M-, who I know from working on the same archaeological project a couple of years back. I found her large house in disarray, her new housemate S- arriving just 20 minutes before I did. Apart from S-, she has two other housemates, both gracious people. And around three cats, one of which is the second cutest that I’ve ever seen (cutest being Sid of course…)

That evening we climbed to the top of a saguaro-covered hill to watch the sunset, drink beer, and talk of old times. We had a grand conversation as the sun set over the desert hills. On our third beer, though, I had another cop encounter.

A cop car pulled into the parking lot and examined my truck, shining his flashlight inside. Oh crap, I thought, as there we were close by drinking beer illegally. He didn’t go away as we hoped, but called out for us on his loudspeaker to return. So we did, leaving the beer behind.

As it turns out, he was a really nice cop, not even talking vaguely harshly with us. I have good luck with cops. But I had left the beer in a white plastic bag on the hill. A real eyesore, and I felt very bad about it.

That night we went out and saw a punk show. One of the bands, the Weird Lovemakers, was really good.


Sunday, 22 August

After coffee, M- and I hiked up the hill again to get the beer. That took care of that, and we had a well-earned breakfast.

In the evening, I went with M-‘s friends to Mount Lemmon to hang out, watch the sunset and drink beer (yes, a recurrent theme of my holiday). All of M-‘s friends are very friendly, funny, intelligent people, and I enjoyed hanging out with them. I took many pictures, mainly for my friend K- in Portland, as one of M-‘s friends suits his stated fetish of being an Asian Goth chick. I think he’ll enjoy the photos, as she really is very beautiful. Though she was not receptive to my suggestion of coming back to Portland with me and being a dominatrix. Go figure.


Monday, 23 August

I spent the morning at the Desert Museum in Tucson, one of the best museums that I have ever seen. I saw many critters there for the first time: javelinas, an ocelot, coatimundi, big horned sheep, as well as others more familiar.

In the afternoon I got a new tattoo: the 7-pointed Star of Babalon, with the word “BABALON” on my left forearm. (Now, a Tucson idiosyncracy: there are lots and lots of tattoo joints here, about as many as there are coffee shops in Portland. And everyone seems tattooed. Maybe because it’s hot and so clothing is more skimpy, folk want decoration on their flesh. I dunno. So I thought it appropriate to celebrate my visit to the city with a tattoo.

Other things about Tucson: it’s fucking hot, people can smoke everywhere, everyone seems to like boring Butt Rock. Oh, and a really cool one: at every pub, club, etc. women seem to outnumber men. Hot damn. Need to export some of them to Portland.)


Tuesday, 24 August

I went to the Catholic Mission of San Xavier, south of Tucson. It is on the Native American village of Wa:k, and is a pretty impressive building. Presided over first by the Jesuits, then by the gentler Franciscans, it is an imposing edifice to the continual efforts of the loathsome slave religion to stamp its authority on everyone.

In the church I lit a prayer candle that I had bought and proclaimed my will: that Thelema would spread throughout the world, including this little Indian Village and with it joy, love, and spontaneity would win out over Christian guilt, repression. I asked the image of Saint Xavier to help me in this. Then I meditated before the beautiful statue of the Virgin Mary, an aspect of Babalon.


Wednesday, 25 August

I visited the touristy town of Tombstone, scene of the famous shootout between the Earp brothers and their foes.

I have never experienced anything so horribly touristy. Where I was hoping to find history, I found the cheapest kitch. It seems designed to appeal to the most idiot of idiot American and German tourists. No museums, but plenty shops selling cheap trinkets. Ugh!


Thursday, 26 August

Lethargic, I pretty much spent the day reading at my two favourite places in Tucson: the Café Quebec, and Hotel Congress.

The Congress Hotel is where the Dillinger gang was captured back in the day. Apparently, a big fire broke out in the hotel. One of the gang bribed a firefighter a hefty amount to carry his heavy luggage backs to safety. Said hefty bags were filled with guns, and the firefighter informed the coppers.


Friday, 27 August

M-, her lover C-, and I went to see our friend K- in Phoenix. We had a good time catching up, and then went to see K-‘s death metal band FKR (yeah, pronounced fucker) play that night. It was a really good show, and I wish that FKR could have played longer.

Back at K-‘s apartment, M- and C- took sleeping pills and were soon out like lights. K- and I amused ourselves by taking pictures of M- with a can of beer on her head, with hand arranged so that she was flipping off the camera, etc. We then settled down to talking of Nietszche, Rimbaud, Bukowski, etc.


Saturday, 28 August and Sunday, 29 August

Drove a marathon drive from Phoenix back to Portland, sleeping a couple of hours at a rest area.

Canby Depot Museum