Post-Alaskan Ramble

by macksemil

My feet have hardly been itchier. After a long, cold winter working on commercial fishing boats in Alaska I needed some escape. I was immediately taken aback by how green everything is in Oregon, as the Alaskan winter features only brown, grey and white hues. Everything was exploding in green in early May when I returned from the far North.

By a strange twist of fate, three of my buds I went surfing with a lot in college were in town for a while. Nate, Nick and Dave. Nate in for a brief escape from film work in Montana, Nick getting things together before he goes to Mongolia with the Peace Corps, and Dave who is actually residing here working as a rock climbing instructor.

We had a good few weeks of surfing quite a bit, and even managed to get all four of us in on one trip. The sandbar at Pacific City was set up nicely and early morning wake ups gave rise to glassy waves.

Visiting friends led me back down to Eugene on the way to Coos Bay to pay a visit to Idyltime. Everyone is doing well, the homies in Eugene are all finishing up school for the year soon and Eugene is beginning to wake from a long winter. The spring rain is persistent but the spring sunshine wills its way through the grey from time to time, a brief respite that reminds of river swimming and sunsets on rooftops. Soon enough.

Beltaine was a cause for celebration with the Eugene friends, culminating in two different celebrations. Emma invited a group to the land she has been living on outside of Eugene called the Peacock Farm. There was acoustic black metal, campfires, whiskey, homebrew, wrestling, jokes, good stories and camping in my new ENO Hammock setup.

I woke up to the remainder of a spring shower falling softly on my rain fly through the sunshine. A welcome sight after a night spent waking often due to horrible peacock screams and cold feet. It was a comfortable sleep however, and I will figure out the insulation issue soon.

I’m afraid the pictures end here, but sometimes it’s better to keep it in your mind. The next weekend we went out to the land of Emma’s father outside of Reedsport. Grace “Fatsy Pine” and Clark “Mr McPants” made a surprise appearance upon their return from sailing in Baja Mexico. Cass, Emma and I tipped the canoe while trying to row across the river, three strokes from the dock. Instead of keeping the rain out, my raingear was keeping the river water in. So, I stripped down to my underpants and rowed the damned thing across with Emma. There were many a sopping wet nearly naked hug when we finally got across the river, which spawned a mass skinny dipping party in the mighty Umpqua. The music, boozing, stories, jokes, exploring, bonfire, and general weekend fun was culminated in a real maypole complete with accordion accompaniment. Leaving was sad, but Corby welcomed us back for another visit, which I may take him up on.

Clark met me in Salem a few days later for a good week of adventure. I had met some very nice Canadian ski bum girls traveling down the Pacific coast in an RV named Chester a week prior while surfing and camping in Pacific City. The night I met them we ended up staying up late and drinking around an epic PC beach bonfire, and I told them to let me know when they were coming back through, and they did. They pulled up to the place in Salem around 11:30 and I drove their RV all the way to Bagby Hot Springs, arriving at around 3:00am. The RV was a little sketchy to drive on those bumpy roads but we kept it real and arrived in one peice.

We soaked until sunrise and I think I was the last one asleep in the RV around 8am. I woke up first too, at 1:30pm. The sun was warm and the river cold, so I took a skinny dip and wrote in my journal in the sun for a while. After breakfast I drove Chester and the crew back to the outskirts of Portland where Kara took over driving. We ended up cooking dinner in the beast at Laurelhurst park before the Canadians dropped Clark and I off by the tracks. We ended up walking a mile or so North to the catch out spot but we filled up on train food and water on the way.

Not ten minutes of waiting and we see a southbound, so we jumped into an empty boxcar and howled at the moon as we cruised down the Willamette Valley. We got into Eugene around 4am and our train broke up so we waited until daylight for another train then went to try and hitchhike out by Glenwood. I pulled the plug on it after an hour due to lack of food and sleep and general hate for hitching long distances. We slept by the river for the day instead, then made our way downtown for burritos at Burrito Boy and beers by the tracks at the Jackalope.

At the Jackalope we saw some good friends by chance and ended up being introduced to an on again off again UP engineer who we had the pleasure of chatting with for a while. He gave us some good insider info on the trainyards and even called us with the schedules for the night a little bit later. We met up with a friend who was catching out as well, then got a ride from a friend out to the yard to wait for trains.

Missed the Z train due to no ridables, but caught a Roseville train around 3 in the morning. Clark and Ant got into one grainer and I another and we were off toward California. I slept all the way to Klamath Falls but Clark told me that there was still a bunch of snow on the pass. I needed the sleep however, and will hopefully get some good views on the pass soon.

Around 3pm the next day we hopped off before downtown Dunsmuir and tried hitching. A little into the hitching, one of Ant’s friends Larkin showed up and told us she was on the same train. We took the bus into Weed, on which we met an old tramp by the name of Silver Miner Larry. He warned us of the FTRA and said some other silly things but was a nice guy overall and I hope to run into him again and get some stories from riding back in the day.

We had a great weekend at the Black Butte Center for Railroad Culture, putting in a lot of work and meeting a lot of new friends. We had a blast down there, and Clark and I split ways to meet up in Oregon this weekend. I ended up riding back to Eugene in a highwall gondola in the rain with Ant, both of us huddled under tarps through the rain in the mountains. I woke up just before 6am in Oakridge, the town was shrouded in morning mountain rain-mist. It looked like something out of a Japanese painting, but it was cold and rainy so I went back down the ladder and waited for us to start moving again. We got off the train in Eugene an hour later when it stopped for clearance by the river.

We got some coffee at Barry’s by campus to warm up, then parted ways. I took the Amtrak back to Salem, I couldn’t bring myself to hitch in the rain with my bum leg so I caved and got the ticket. Oh yeah, I whacked my leg good on the way in the grainer on the way down and I believe that I have a deep muscle bruise which renders my lower right extremity painful and useless for the time being.

I got some crutches from Bob and I am still going to go up to Portland before heading to Coos Bay for the weekend to kick it with Idyltime at the Glasgow Gathering. The last one it seems like, since Beth and Tate are moving to Boise in July. The grange hall is going to be host to a big show on Saturday night so it should be a great time. End of an era in Coos Bay, Beth and Tate have put a lot of time and energy into the music scene in Coos Bay over the years. It is sad to see them go but I know everyone wishes them the best out in Boise while Tate is studying at Boise State. May you find a thousand musician friends in your new home, you deserve them!

I will get better at pictures, I promise. I also am going to try to update the Amateur American Hobo series very soon, given that I am semi-laid up icing my leg so I can walk again soon. Perfect time to get caught up on some writing. Well, I guess I should post up some pictures of Alaska as well, so keep your eyes open for them.