We left at 11:30 am on Thursday. 11:30 was a little later than we thought because we’d supposedly packed up the whole camper the night before, just a few sundry items left like phone chargers and tooth brushes. I was moving a little more slowly than usual, considering the fact that I’d accidentally weed whacked my left calf the day before in a freak yard work accident. In case you’re wondering, weed whacking your calf accidentally feels exactly the way you think it might. Take my word for it and mark it off your bucket list.
Another reason we left so late was because we had a giant mushroom growing in a vintage Corning Ware casserole dish in the kitchen and we couldn’t decide what to do with it. If we left it it would die because it needs to be spritzed with water twice a day or it will dry out and turn brown (it’s normally white). The last time I left a mushroom growing when we left for a weekend I tried putting half an inch of water in the casserole dish and wrapping it in cellophane. Upon reentry to our kitchen two days later, we were greeted with the stench of a thousand necrotic slugs with poopy diapers. So the half inch of water didn’t work and a second go was out of the question. I thought about asking a friend to take it, but in the end, we decided the responsibility was too great for a stranger and we would have to take it with us. By the time we had the cold stuff and the toothbrushes and phone chargers and the mushroom packed and I’d changed the gauze on my calf twice, it was 11:30. We headed out west 11th toward the wild blue yonder.
Once when I was in college I wrote “wild blue yonder” in a paper while referring to exploring the woods and the teacher made a note in the margins that that phrase refers to traveling on the ocean, not on land. I’ve had serious doubts about the veracity of his claim since I read that note, but I never looked it up until just now. Turns out I was right, as usual. It can mean basically anyplace unknown, as a quick google search would’ve told that teacher. The phrase is taken from an Army Air Corps song written in 1939. I’m not sure google was invented when I was in college, based on the many books I checked out of the library during that time, so he’d have had to do some less casual research to find the truth, but still.
That whole digression reminds me of an internet meme I read recently that said that the first fax machine was invented in 1843 and it was called an electric printing telegraph. That’s thirty years BEFORE the Revolutionary War, just to put things into linear perspective. I was reading about it just now and it said something about Napoleon witnessing one of the early demonstrations of a third generation fax machine, but it was Napoleon II and I didn’t realize there was a II. There was also a Napoleon III as it turns out, and he was the last monarch of France. There’s a cannon named after him-the 12-pound Napoleon. Ostensibly the shells are twelve pounds, not the cannon itself. Or maybe the Napoleon complex lived on throughout three generations and the titular cannon was a last rebuke by a comedic enemy.
Anyway, we left at 11:30 and went to our favorite restaurant in North Bend (Tin Thistle Cafe) and the lighthouse at Bullards Beach, where sea lions flapped their little feet at us through the ice cold waves. We were at Face Rock when we realized that we’d left the mushroom spritzer on the kitchen table, and now we had a rapidly drying mushroom block taking up a third of the floor space in our camper. We decided to hit up the $1 store in Bandon to find a new spritzer.
I went in by myself because my partner Marika cannot exit a $1 store without several hundred items. Upon entry, I encountered an older gentleman wearing socks, sandals, and wide American flag suspenders holding up his cargo shorts. He had on a baseball cap and I hesitated to read it, wishing to keep our encounter politics free.
“You really outta be smiling on a fine day like today!” he told me, grinning up a storm himself. I read his hat. “Bernie for President.” I smiled at him, because, while I understand it’s not right for people to ask other people to smile, it’s really not that hard for me to pull one up. Plus I liked his hat.
I went to the spray bottles and there were about 150 styles to choose from but luckily there was a woman there who had cat litter and athletic socks in her cart and I told her I was having a hard time choosing. She told me the short ones are cuter but 3 out of 4 of them don’t work and stick with the ugly one. I thought to myself that she must have a lot of mushrooms at home to keep moist.
Later on when I pulled up to the checkout line, the suspenders guy was chatting up an old woman, still smiling away.
“This store has the best deals in town!” he announced as his selection of cards (get well soon? birthday? graduation? I couldn’t tell) rode up the belt. The old woman was packing her stuff in bags.
“I’m just so angry that they decided to raise the prices,” she answered. His smile faltered for a second.
“Is it $2 now?” he asked. We all looked at the cashier, who kept his eyes glued on the cards he was ringing up. I imagine he would have to listen to this conversation a number of times per day.
“No,” she answered icily, still looking at the cashier, like he was the one that made the whole decision. “It’s a $1.25 now. And gas too! I don’t think gas should be so expensive.” The cashiers eyes flicked over at her for a split second, I think checking to see if she was going to try to pin the gas thing on him as well.
The man in the suspenders shook his head. “Well with this pandemic..,”he began, but she cut him off at the knees.
“The pandemic, the pandemic! They blame everything on the pandemic. I have my doubts about all of it.”
The suspenders guy’s smile came back bigger than ever and he threw out his best Rodney Dangerfield: “I don’t blame the pandemic for my wife!” he said, and congratulated himself with a big laugh. I forgave him again because of that hat. The woman finished packing up her stuff. “You have yourself a great day!” he commanded.
“You too, honey,” she said flatly, like she said it a thousand times before. I doubted her sincerity very much.
I think he was right though. Where else could I get this mushroom house and three ladies to occupy it, plus an ugly spray bottle for just $3.75?
We pulled out of Bandon and laughed at the giant sign advertising Oregon jam. “JAM!” it said in 2 million point font, which we thought was very hilarious but then we both sort of wanted to stop and get some. We didn’t, because we have a million jams at home and a giant mushroom to keep track of.
We went to a few more beaches and hikes and then ate the BEST pizza breadsticks I have EVER, I mean EVER tasted at Zola’s in Brookings.
We stopped for gas at a 76 station and our chihuahua tried to kill the gas station attendant, even though he was just a nice old man. Like every time we get gas in the camper, Marika wrapped his little dog body up like a pig in a blanket, just his brown head sticking out one side and his tail out the back. I got out to talk to the old gas guy about the weird gas hole in our 1989 camper. He gave me a biscuit for the dogs and muttered “I swear to god, if that dog is named Precious…” I laughed and told him his name was Dingo. We got our gas and as we drove away Dingo snarled and snapped his teeth, more like a wild boar in a blanket.
“Goodbye Dingo!!” the gas man yelled through the window. “Grandpa loves you!! Have a nice trip!!”
We went to Boardman Scenic Corridor and I hiked down into this treacherous and gorgeous spot, where the water is deep aqua and the waves rimmed it’s edges like delicate white ruffles on a fine giant doily and the trees stand on sea stack islands against the blue sky, so perfectly silhouetted against the sun it feels almost fake, like this is how an engineer at Disney would make an Oregon beach look. I made a TikTok video of that place that has 103 likes on it, the second most I’ve ever had, after the one where I demonstrated a special peanut butter stirrer that I got on Amazon, which has 170 likes.
I whipped out my yoga mat at the campsite that next morning and tried to do a yogasthenics workout. It didn’t go well because I was right next to the bathroom path and I felt self conscious. I tried to tell myself that nobody cares if you’re doing cat/cow and breath of fire next to the campground toilet but I didn’t believe me. Later Marika and I quarreled when she was trying to put some dirty clothes into a brown paper bag and cursed my yoga mat, which kept falling down on her. I took her cursing of my yoga mat personally and held up her bag of polyester stuffing, which had been in my way a number of times, and cursed it. Neither of us much liked that conversation and we went on a thirty minute alone hike and met back up later on the beach, feeling much better. Then we went to Natural Grocers and bought sandwich fixings and had soy curl chicken soup and some massive tofurky sammies with vegan mayonnaise that comes in an aluminum toothpaste tube and cost $7. I could’ve bought fifteen gnome ladies in Bandon for less than the toothpaste tube of mayonnaise. It was a gift though and it was delicious.
Next we found our camp spot and Marika used her polyester fill and some brown felt to make a mushroom prototype, while I read chapters from James Herriot’s “All Things Bright and Beautiful” out loud for entertainment. The mushroom prototype didn’t work out, but it was a learning experience.
The last night of our trip I had a dream that Marika and I were staying in a giant dark aqua B and B on the beach. Its windows were rimmed with fine delicate white. I was standing on the side of the house and the waves were getting higher and higher until I finally had to call out to Marika to come see them. They weren’t like any waves I’d ever seen, they were hundreds of feet tall, but thin like a deep aqua wall with a dainty white ribbing along the top, curling down like a beautiful doily. We watched as a wave crashed over the topmost turrets of the B and B and I decided they must’ve made it strong so that it could take a few wave hits. I made a flash decision to lay down on the ground as the wave was coming down from hundreds of feet high and let it smash over me. I second guessed myself and Marika called to me to come back to where it was safe, but then, in a very dreamlike turn of events, the wave turned into the B and B house thundering down toward me. It was too late to move now so as it fell toward me I lined myself up with an open door hoping to not get crushed. I woke up just as it crashed down. I don’t know what it means, but I’m sure it was important.
And now I’ll end with a sunset picture from the last day:
Actually, I’ll end with a photo of the vegan crab cakes I made from the Lion’s Mane:
Happy spring, everyone!