After taking my pistol course in Reno, accidentally driving down the main drag of a motorcycle rally on my little green Japanese 250cc bike, and taking advantage of Nevada’s legal weed status, I made my way up Grant’s Pass Oregon to visit an old and dear friend of mine who has done fairly well for himself in the cannabis industry. Although on the surface we got along well most of the time, I could tell that time had changed us, and that he was still seeing the old me, not quite seeing or accepting the reality of the man now before him. We had some laughs, did some stuff, took some drugs, then parted ways, both feeling a little awkward for our inability to articulate or address the new distance between us. Nevertheless, I’m happy he is doing well for himself, and I hope he hangs onto that woman.
After Grant’s Pass, I decided to do a run of the entire west coast from the Portland area down. I avoided Portland itself like the plague in the light of all the “peaceful protests” in the area lately. The Oregon coast was as I remembered it: enchanting and magical. However, it was smothered with smoke from the intense spell of wildfires this late summer. I had this naive beliefe that the coasts would be safe from the wildfire smoke, being west of the eastward flowing air currents. I was wrong. Wind currents pulled the smoke through fingerlike channels out to sea, and from there the smoke drifted southward along the coast. Unlike my usual self, I was in no mood for gloom and fog. I was unwilling to accept the natural balance of things. Having much of my summer wasted in Covid lockdowns and busywork selling my house, I felt greedily entitled to a few weeks of sun, sand, and stoney leisure. If I found myself in smoke and fog, I made it my policy to keep driving until I hit a belt of sunshine again. The smoke did indeed stream out to sea in a veiny, fingerlike fashion; every twenty miles I drove alternated between a glistening and blissful coastal paradise, and a smothering, gloomy atmosphere of cough-inducing, dense, grey air, and hard-to-navigate, hairpin turns along coastal cliffs. The smoke persisted in a belligerant fashion all the way down to LA. Before I knew it I was in the misty redwoods, and soon after, the busy beaches of southern California. I didn’t stay too long. Along the coast, in the few patches of uncrowded sunshine I found myself in, I was in utter bliss. But once you hit LA, the coast becomes a crowded circus, beautiful as it remains to be. It wasn’t a horrible circus though. The people were fine: mostly non-political, just happy southern Californians who wanted to enjoy the very things they moved there for: the perfect weather, easy living, and beautiful coastal vistas. But there were too many of them, and I didn’t want to be another statistic. It’s my nature to be content in the most sparse and solitary of places. I didn’t need California. I needed the barren solitude of the desert. And so I preceded onward to Arizona.