Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tales from the Road

Julia here with Erin taking over somewhere in the middle.

Well, the first part of our road adventure has come to a close. We arrived in Santa Rosa, CA on Monday after many days anchoring out in the weird and beautiful spots of Oregon and California. We took so many random pictures that we put them into an album you can link to from the Flickr icon on the right side of this blog.

Let's see if I can recount some of our journey from where we left off on the last post. We spent the weekend before this last one out on the Rogue River just outside of Grants Pass. We thought we would stay at this one free BLM spot, but after we got back from town that Friday, our amazing isolated paradise had been inundated with drunk guys. So we decided to suck it up and pay out for two nights at a nearby state campground, Indian Mary.

It was a pretty silly place with many gawking RVers but it was good to not worry about drunk people messing with us and fill up our water tank. We learned that the park used to belong to "Indian Mary" herself and it apparently was famous for being the smallest reservation in the country. Her father was granted the land when he snitched out his tribe's planned attack on a nearby village. She ran a ferry for settlers across the Rogue River for a time until they built a bridge and put her out of business. The bridge fell within a year (wonder why?) but they built a new one. Then the state took her riverside reservation and made an RV park out of it.

After two nights there, we moved to another free spot further up the river on Sunday night, above Rand Boat ramp. Had the place to ourselves. First thing Monday morning, we headed over to Pacific Truck and Trailer just before Merlin Rd. hits I-5 and got our air brake hose fixed. Super easy. $50 installed. From there, we headed down to Grants pass to try and score a California Atlas - we've been having lots of fun with our atlases. Walmart et al was sensory overload after being in the woods for days. We got out of there in a hurry.

Before choosing our destination for the night, we briefly entertained the idea of visiting one of the women's land farms in Oregon. We found a listing for one called Womanshare outside of Grants Pass. They were very nice on the phone but said that 32 feet is pushing it for their turn-around. Next time we really want to plan our trip around women's lands but it didn't work out this time. Onward. We broke off at Grants Pass onto the 199 S. that would eventually hook up with 101 S. We made it as far as Cave Junction that first day and parked behind Puff n' Stuff to stock up on food, diesel and ice. Never seen so many methheads in one grocery store but, hey, they had organic tortilla chips.

We took the Oregon Caves Hwy for a few miles and camped at Grayback campground for the night. The campground host was pretty awesome and filled us in on some of the local history. We learned that there was a huge influx of hippies that came to the area in the late 60's to set up "mining claims" up and down the river. We've been hearing for a while that getting a mining claim was (and is?) a cheap and easy way to get a piece of land. The forest service wasn't too enthusiastic about the homemade cabins springing up along the river so in 1968, Johnson wrote the Wild and Scenic River Act. I think the Rogue River got included into it in 1971. They took away back-to-the-landers spots and hired other hippies to burn down all the cabins and scatter all the stones from the fences. I had never heard about this kind of thing before and thought it was pretty interesting. Yet another example of the system polarizing two issues to keep the movement down: environmental protection vs. alternative living.

The campground host who told us all this history had his cabin burned down, too, even though the old time miners "took a shining to him" (his words) and assured the forest service that he was actually in the creek panning everyday and that he was producing enough mineral to be legit according to the prudent man act. All true. Fast forward - now our gracious host is a world renowned camp ground host and mushroom expert - check out his website: http://www.matsiman.com.

We did a lot of thinking about all this history as we continued our journey. We decided to camp just past Grayback up a forest service road for the next night. I did some sewing to bulk up stock and get ready for a website update and we listened for passing cars. You could hear them coming miles away from where we were. The second night we got spooked by two drunk guys in a pickup truck driving like maniacs, whipping around the forest, passing us and slowing down and speeding away up a split road, racing back down and cruising us again.

We camped at Grayback again and then left in the morning, picked up ice in Cave Junction and decided not to go to the Hope Mountain Barter Faire for lack of funds. Then we cruised down into CA and stopped at a free campground called Madrona, next to the Smith river, where we met Micheal and his bus. Micheal's been living in his bus for the last 30 years and it is a life work. He was a really awesome guy and a total inspiration to us. We have renewed bus building energy and got a lot of good ideas on bus decorations and destinations from him. Seeing Micheal and his bus really reaffirmed our passion for buses and bus people. We feel lucky and blessed to have gotten the opportunity to meet an old timer who hasn't given up or forgotten joy. Thanks Micheal!! Oddly enough, Micheal also talked about mining claims and noted better times for busfolk before "our rights were taken away" by the Forest Service. I guess we were not the hardcore hippie historians we thought we were because here was a huge hole in our historical knowledge. Fellow novice hippie historians take note. More research to be done?

After swimming in the Smith River and hanging out at Madrona for 2 days, we moved on to the redwoods. We camped first at Prairie Creek and then at Burlingame in the Humbolt Redwood Forest. The redwoods are completely amazing - not even gonna try to describe them here. We even saw elk! AND Wowie! CA campgrounds are so much fancier than OR campgrounds. Hot, spa-like tiled showers? Free maps, information brochures and adequate (excessive?) signage that actually tells you what is happening on trails? PHONES? Visitor's centers? Recycling bins? It was all great until...$8 firewood?! $10 6-packs?! Ahh, California. How I'd forgotten.

We got more and more anxious as we drove closer to the Bay Area. People started cutting in front of the bus, using any old lane for passing and generally being silly drivers. The roads were the worst we'd seen on the whole trip - rutted and bumpy doesn't really cover how they feel in the bus. And then, getting closer to Santa Rosa - dead stop on the 101 in the middle of the freeway. I forgot that's normal.

The trip in a nutshell: most fun we've had in a long time. Bringing your home with you wherever you go is mindblowing in ways we didn't expect; the bus makes a lot of people really excited and happy and when it doesn't its pretty funny; there is a significant portion of the middle aged population who respond to the bus with an instinctive peace sign; bus people love to see other bus people; hitchhikers feel totally entitled to a ride on your big hippy bus and take it pretty hard if you reject them; diesel is cheaper in CA.

Anyway, we are very excited to get to Santa Cruz on Monday and start in on our veggie conversion so stay tuned! Many veggie details to come....

5 Comments:

Jack said...

Sounds like you are having an awesome adventure. Still laughing at that Whalmart comment! :)

Take care,

J

http://adventuresinvoluntarysimplicity.blogspot.com/

Julia said...

Thanks Jack! =)

beadbabe49 said...

What a rush to read about your first long trip! I was so happy to hear your comments about Micheal and the two photos of his awesome bus! My sweetie and I still have a dream in our hearts of getting a small bus and converting it to a parttime living space and using it as a studio for the rest of the year.

Erin said...

oooo, beadbabe...studio bus sounds like an awesome idea! they also make great guest houses. ;) when Julia and I buy our land and build our house we plan on using the bus as a guest house/granny unit/kid's hangout zone (depending on our needs at the time). Either that or build off the bus and include the vehicle in the finished house somehow....so many possibilities!

three moons said...

I've enjoyed reading and looking at your pics. I recognize some of the landscape and realize we were there not long ago!

Thanks for sharing your journey :-)