Seems like camping brings out the writer in me. Is it because of the enforced downtime or because the great outdoors inspires reflection? Maybe I’m high, the altered state we achieved just by crossing the border into OR. Not to cast aspersions on this border town on the OR coast, but Mike and I have noticed that there may be a correlation between the impressive number of marijuana businesses and the abysmal driving of the locals. By the time the third van has drifted in front of your car and the second person has crossed the highway without regard for laws or personal safety, you have two choices: stop driving or give into a contact high. I used to hear about contact highs at concerts but I thought that was from the smoke permeating the air. With the preponderance of edibles, the drifty, spacey feeling that overtakes one can only be from proximity to high-happy citizens. Even here at an RV Park that seems to be populated exclusively by retired couples with little dogs, there is a suspiciously laid back vibe in the air.

Yesterday I was sitting innocently outside the fifth wheel, enjoying the cool air (at 66 it was 40 degrees cooler than home) while crocheting The Project that Never Ends. A 70ish man and his small white dog stopped by to tell me how much he hates his fifth wheel, Direct TV and the people who sold him his fifth wheel and overcharged him on Direct TV. I’m continually amazed at the things people tell me. I must have an interested face because I can tell you my mind isn’t interested in listening to random complaints. The man and his dog kept looking around in a way that seemed paranoid to me. Ah ha! I thought, this man is stoned. (Does anyone say stoned anymore?) He wandered off in the middle of a sentence so I may be right. Another man congratulated me on our not hitting the Cougar trailer at the end of a row when we first came into the park. His mother did not achieve this feat and after meeting her I can see why. She was entirely too happy for an 85 year old with arthritis and too many grandchildren, her words not mine. She must’ve been hitting the happy gummies—no other explanation. The couple next to us have a Pomeranian named Mr. Lippy; I know this because they wear matching t-shirts with the name Mr. Lippy emblazoned on the back. All three of them. I rest my case….

All of this makes me wonder what effect the legalization of recreational marijuana will have on the more uptight folks of the northern Sacramento Valley. Somehow I don’t see a transformation from our current citizens to a dazed and happy population, wandering aimlessly, looking for people to talk to about nothing. Nonetheless, I think this is a great improvement on previous trips to Oregon, pre-legalization. In those days no one talked to me unless they wanted to ask me to attend their church. Having written all this I have to put forth a caveat. This weird sh*t only happens to me. Mike, with his genial Irish face and open demeanor gets the normal folks. For instance, the same man who bored me senseless with his griping talked to Mike about awnings—normal stuff. Here’s a perfect example of the different experiences Mike and I have with the same people.
Several years ago, we had an inconsiderate rat dig its way into a wall in our house and then die. You can talk about snakes and spiders all you want but rats are my phobia. If I believed in previous lives I would muse that an earlier self was attacked by rats or saw a loved carried off by the vicious rodents. But I’m pretty sure this is a genetic phobia as my mother and sister share it. Back to the story. Mike hired an exterminator who was jolly and nice, assuring us that it was no problem, not a big deal, he could take care of it. He was very reassuring and said he would make sure that any other rats would be “dealt with” and that he would seal the house to prevent further vermin incursions. I started to relax and then Mike left the room. The exterminator turned to me and said, “Of course you’ll always have rats around the house living this close to the river.” Before I could vomit or faint, Mike returned with a check and it was all hail fellow well met, sunshine and lollipops. In other words it was all good…until Mike left the room again. In fact Mike left the house and the mean exterminator man told me that in Red Bluff, a city ON THE RIVER about 30 miles south of us, a woman had been trying to get rid of the rats in her house for two years. Cue creepy music and muffled screams (mine). This is the way it went though the entire process. Mike leaves the room; horrible rat tales come in. I’m not sure Mike ever believed me but it’s true and now it’s in print. After the Rat Man had exterminated our house and left a lingering smell behind, we hired a guy to seal every opening, no matter how small, on the outside of the house. Why, you ask, did every tiny hole have to be sealed? Because Rat Man told me that a rat can squirm through a hole the size of a quarter and a mouse through a dime sized opening. Of course when this little tidbit was shared Mike was not in the room.

What I’ve learned from all this is to wait for strangers to strike up a conversation with Mike before I participate. By then the people have already established themselves as non-crazy and they can’t swerve to weird just because I’m there. Unless Mike leaves, of course. Today we went to a farmers market, hiked in Jedediah Smith State Park, and enjoyed a late lunch at the Fat Irish Pub. I participated in several conversations with very nice people. Fiona, our regulation little dog was with us and she’s a great ice breaker. If you’re one of my eleven faithful readers you know all about Fiona and you know that the nice dog act can be dropped in an instant. Luckily for me, today she was sweet and Mike didn’t wander off.