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Excerpt for Observations of a Drifter; Vol II by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Observations of a Drifter

Vol II

Tennessee to New Jersey

Matthew Bryant Parham

 

  This manuscript is an ongoing and constantly evolving work, one that I slowly add to as the years go on.  Each time I make a significant addition or add more stories, I release the entirety of the work as a new volume.  This particular work, Vol II, contains new stories and observations as well as all the material from the previous volume.  This is done so that, if you buy the latest work, you are not missing anything from the past.  

   For previous readers, the table of contents is set up to specifically guide you to the new content.

   For all others, I hope you find this book both entertaining and helpful.

 

 The Beginning

 For years, I have traveled.  Walking different shoes, observing and recording the world around me and how my mind functioned within that world. 

 The idea being to record and understand every aspect of the mind; All its inner workings; Its emotions, desires, reactions to things. Understand all forms of turmoil and quell them.  Over the years, I have faced down, understood, and quelled every bit of turmoil I could find, often seeking out hardships or throwing myself into new, unusual situations, trying to find/trigger some new sort of turmoil that I could understand and quell.  The concept being similar to that of a vaccine; If I find it now, understand it and quell it, I will not be susceptible to it in the future.  So I push and seek out struggles. 

 I generally go from town to town, city to city.   Sometimes with money, often times with none.  I travel almost exclusively by foot, though I have occasionally switched to bus, bike, hitchhiking, and rental cars.  I have accumulated a lot of stories along the way, some of them quite wild.

The story is still ongoing, of course.   A constant excursion and adventure.

 In this book, I will share stories and quips from my travels, along with excerpts from the notebook of observations that I have been building for the past seven years.

  As a preface, I would like to thank all the wonderful people that I have met along the way in these journeys. The ones that are not mentioned in these stories, but who are very dear to me. All the acts of kindness and hospitality. I very rarely use names in my works, but you know who you are, and so do I.

 Table of Contents

(Vol II Content Marked with **)

Arizona to New York State

Seattle to San Diego

Tennessee to New Jersey**

Bonus Stories **

Observations

(Perspective) **

(Knowledge) **

Imagined Places

(Ice Cave) **

(Abandoned Dwelling) **

Photographs **

 

Stories from Volume One:

Arizona to New York State

(Adventure, Love, Near-Death, Trouble)

   This particular story begins at the end of my stay in Tucson, Arizona.  I had come to Tucson on a Greyhound with $20 in my pocket and a backpack on my shoulders. The idea being to live on the streets and experience the city’s grit.  While there, I would meet and befriend drifters, the homeless, gang members, drug addicts.

  I would have many experiences, both pleasant and unpleasant; Even facing death at one point while sitting on a bus stop bench. Having become too complacent in the city, too relaxed, I let my guard down and my awareness slip.

  Sitting there, with a 40-lb backpack strapped to my back, watching traffic go by, a 20-year-old Hispanic fellow jumped off a bicycle with a knife in his hand, placing it to my throat before I could react.

   As he stood there, crazed and shouting gibberish, I was resigned to the fact that this might not end well for me. But, I remained calm and waited for an opening.

  Someone from the parking lot behind us yelled in our direction, causing the fellow with the knife to look up.  Seizing the opportunity, I grabbed his wrist, pushed the knife away, and jumped up.  He looked pretty squirmy, and with a 40-lb bag on my back, I decided to jump backwards, put space between us, and pull out my knife.

  He took a wild swing as I unstrapped and threw off my backpack. I squared up with him, preparing to face whatever happened next, when someone yelled that they were calling the police.  The fellow looked at them, looked at me, then scampered off.

  I stood there for a moment, processing the events.  Had the fight commenced, it would have been an awful ordeal.  Whether I clipped him or he clipped me, either way, it would have been unfortunate.

  Only a few days later, the memories of the knife encounter still fresh in my mind, I had an unbelievably pleasant and uplifting experience.

  By this point, I had been in the city for a while, scraping along and bartering for things I needed.   While enjoyable, I was beginning to get a bit bored with it, so I decided to hit the local day labor.

  Unfortunately, when I checked my pockets for ID, I discovered mine was missing. It was nowhere to be found.  I had spent the last few days traversing all corners of the city, so retracing my steps would be a massive ordeal.  I would literally have to search the entire city of Tucson.   It was in that moment that I did something I generally did not do at the time.  I looked up at the sky and began to pray to the Lord.

  While I did tend to frequent religious sermons and speeches, I wasn’t particularly religious myself.   I had always listened to the sermons and speeches for the metaphors, never actually considering the doctrine as truth. But, in that moment, I looked up and made a sincere plea and offer.  If my ID were to make it back to me somehow, I said, I would take that as a motivating factor to frequently read the Word and sincerely give it a chance.  I couldn’t promise that I would be swayed or that I would begin to believe, but I would give it an honest opportunity to strike me.

 After making that plea, I took a look at my watch.  On a whim, I decided to head to the downtown library to check my messages for the day. I arrived 15 minutes before closing time, quickly signed up for a computer, and sat down. Five minutes before the library was to close, a gentleman sat down next to me, having been randomly assigned to that computer.   He took a look at me.

With a cheerful smile, he said “I think I have something that belongs to you”.

 He pulled out his wallet and handed my ID to me.

“I found this in an alleyway near the University. I saw you downtown a few weeks back, standing with a group of transients, so I recognized your face on the ID and picked it up.  But I figured you weren’t going to be getting it because I’m scheduled to leave town tomorrow.”

  Astonished and bewildered, a big smile came across my face.

  That’s when he said, “I must be your Guardian Angel.”

  I shook the fellow’s hand and thanked him.  He wouldn’t tell me his name, only wishing me luck on my travels.

True to my word, I now carry a Bible with me everywhere I go.

 With my ID in hand, I signed up for the day labor, gaining an easy opportunity to make money. Incidentally, this would lead to my departure from Tucson, sending me further along my path.

 It occurred early in the morning; I received a phone call from the day labor, asking me if I was interested in taking an out-of-town assignment. It was 7 days a week, 12 hours a day, they said. Lodging, transportation, and a daily food allowance was included.

  I was pretty content in the city and wasn’t ready to depart just yet, but this sounded like the beginnings of an adventure. A unique experience.

  So I accepted.

   I spent the day getting my affairs in order.  Walking to different parts of the city, selling a few items, repaying small debts. As the sun began to set, I opened up my map and set out towards the day labor across town.

  I walked all through the night, mile after mile in the cold, feet bloodied and raw from my worn-out boots, racing the clock, looking for Palo Verde Road.

  Daylight was nearing by the time I arrived and sat down next to the building.  I could hear someone near the dumpsters, digging around, a sound I had become accustomed to in the city.  I took off my boots and wrapped my feet, preparing for the adventure that lay ahead.

  5 am rolled around, a van pulled up to the back of the building and unlocked the door.  I went inside, along with six other fellows.  They handed each of us a hardhat, gloves, and $100.  We hopped in the van and headed off to a new town, where work and lodging awaited us.

  It turned out to be gritty work, cleaning a power plant from top to bottom with hydroblast guns, fire hoses, and chisels.  Crawling into nooks and crannies, hanging onto ropes and ladders.  It was an odd assortment of employees, too.  There were maybe 30 of us.  A diverse gathering of the homeless and downtrodden from the streets of Tucson.  Hard-working homeless and downtrodden.

  I enjoyed the new surroundings, the small desert town. Going to work during the day and having a bed to sleep in at night. I was excelling at the work, too. Though it almost killed me.

  It was the third week on the job. We had made our way halfway down the plant, using hydroblast guns to cut huge slabs of lime off the interior of the furnace walls, letting the rock and water drain into a huge bowl below, out a horizontal pipe.  When that pipe clogged, they sent me outside to clear it.

 I spent all day crawling, mining my way through the pipe. Chipping away at the rock with a small, sawed-off shovel, pushing the rock and sludge out with my feet as I went.  Until, finally, I reached the end.  I could see markings that indicated the spot where the pipe forked up at a 90-degree angle into the giant bowl above.

 Thinking all was well, unaware that they had continued to use the hydroblast guns while I was mining, filling the bowl above me full of water, I hammered away at the remaining rock. 

 After several minutes, a small chunk finally broke loose.  That’s when I noticed the whole thing starting to buckle. I instinctively flipped over onto my back, and, in a flash, the remaining rock crumbled and I was shot to the other end of the pipe by a river of water and rock.  

 I slammed into a metal ridge at the end of the pipe, one of my legs sticking out of the horizontal opening and the rest of my body being pulled down a vertical opening that led into another pipe.

 I remember observing the river of water flowing over me, coming from behind me. The immense amount of pressure pushing down on my torso, pushing my hardhat-covered head into my chest, pushing me down the vertical opening. 

  I didn’t know it at the time, but outside the horizontal opening, one of my coworkers had a hold of my leg, likely saving me from getting pulled into the vertical opening. He held onto my leg despite the river of water and rock, leading to a good gash on his hand.

  When the water finally subsided, I could see daylight and hear people shouting.  I was pulled out of the pipe by my coworker.

  He and I had our share of disagreements in the past. We were always cordial, but we didn’t exactly excel at working together.  But his reflex and selfless act in that moment, I’ll never forget    When it came down to it, he stood up and took action.  Standing outside the pipe afterwards, adrenaline still flowing, he kept repeating to me, “I wasn’t going to let you go, man, I wasn’t going to let you go.”

  I escaped the ordeal with only minor injuries and was back working within a couple of weeks.  Things went smoothly, work went well.  I was even hired on as a full-time employee with the company.   However…  I ended up getting into a bit of trouble.

 After 6 weeks of working 12-hour days, 7 days a week, getting off work after hours in a town with not much going on, I began to get a bit restless. 

 Stopping at one of the local stores, I struck up a conversation with a cashier. A young, pretty Hispanic girl.  We hit it off quite well, but I knew I wouldn’t have the time to cultivate anything or put energy into dating.

  So, with clouded judgment, I slipped her a note and walked out.  Now, I’m not saying I solicited her, but I DID mention that I was in town on a work assignment… that I had $800… that I was staying in a nearby hotel, and that I would be there at 7 PM.

  Well, 7 PM rolled around and there was a knock at the door. 

 I opened it to find a cute Hispanic girl, but not the one I was expecting. This one had a police uniform on.

  She looked at me and smiled, sweetly uttering “Do you know why I’m here?” 

  I looked at her, then looked back at the bed, money sprawled across it.   “Why are you here?”

  She was very sweet, calmly explaining that this sort of thing didn’t fly in a small town like this.  Apparently, this wasn’t the first time this had happened with an out-of-town worker. 

  In any event, this ended my stint with my employer. I was once again a free man, looking off towards the horizons.

  I checked out of the hotel the next day and headed off towards the town, going into all the restaurants, museums, and shops.  Being a hedonist and taking it all in.  Getting one last hurrah before possibly heading out of town.

  As the sun began to set, I spotted a movie theater. A good end to the day, I thought. I went in and bought a ticket and paid for popcorn.  Moments later, a dreadfully cute girl strolled up to the counter with the popcorn, with a shy smile on her face, her cheeks blushing, her eyes glistening.  

 As I took the popcorn, I looked at her, and innocently quipped, “I would ask you to join me, but I’m sure you’ve already seen them all.”

  I took the popcorn into the theater and sat down.  As the previews began to roll, the girl appeared and sat down next to me.   We hit it off instantly. So much so that we left five minutes into the movie, unable to contain our talking. 

 We hopped into her car and headed into town, stopping at the local diner.  At this time, I had $1800 or so shoved into my pockets.  We ordered ice cream and sat in one of the booths.  Talking, laughing, we never even touched our ice cream.

  I knew, inevitably, that I was going to move on, but I couldn’t help but be drawn in by this girl.   We would end up sharing a lot of exhilarating moments together, building memories and a strong bond over things I thought I would never bond with anyone over.  Even now, I still have a fondness for that girl.  I am grateful for the time we had and those memories ingrained in my brain.  I often replay them on the road, bringing a smile to my face.

  I ended up spending a total of three more months in Willcox, spending a month in a hotel before reverting to backpack living, where I would venture into the desert at night and head back into town during the day.

  My time in Willcox, was fairly interesting and eventful. Walking around as I do, I developed a relationship with the community, getting to know all its different groups.  Befriending the Sheriff, the local police, the shop owners, the youth.

  I joined the Mormon Church, learning about their beliefs and way of life, joining the missionaries on door-to-door visits.  I also took a job at the local truckstop, meeting a lot of interesting characters passing through from the interstate.

   It was a nice town, one that I could see myself settling into.  But, as always, adventure kept calling. The need for progression. More stories, more experiences.

  I began to plan my next move, considering taking a bus to San Francisco and living on the streets there. But, before that could materialize, the Universe sent another opportunity my way, adding a twist to the story in the form of a unique character.

  It took place while I was on shift at the truckstop;  I was patching a leak in one of the restrooms when a rather tall fellow came in wearing shorts, a shirt, and a boonie hat.  He had a cane in one hand and a large bowie knife on his hip    He seemed vibrant, but a bit off. Like an upbeat, energetic Chevy Chase.

  He said he and his girlfriend were travelling across the country and were looking to buy a good off-road vehicle. He said he was willing to overpay and would give me a small finder’s fee.

  I didn’t know of any, but spent a few minutes talking to him anyway, as I did with most interesting characters that came through the door.

  We hit it off pretty well and he invited me to smoke marijuana with him and his girlfriend outside. I declined, figuring it wasn’t a smart idea, but said I wouldn’t mind talking a bit more.

 After patching the leak, I headed up front to take lunch. The fellow was outside, sitting at one of the tables. He had a bag of bottled waters and food, saying he found a recently-used illegal- immigrant camp spot in the brush behind the parking lot.  He said we could drop it off for the illegals and smoke the marijuana back there, if I didn’t want to be seen by my employers or the customers.

 Alarms went off a bit. If someone were going to try to kill or rob you, this would be one way of going about it.  But I didn’t much care.  I was a bit bored and had a firearm concealed at my waist.

  I walked across the parking lot with him, staying a couple of steps behind for good measure.

  He said he was medically retired from the Army, having been a Cavalry Scout, serving in the initial invasion of Iraq. He was rich, he said, and travelled the country looking for interesting things to do.  Also taking time for scenic photography, gathering rocks and minerals, and capturing and reselling animals.

  This all seemed pretty interesting. I asked a few questions, to test out his knowledge on a few of his claims and to get a glimpse into his perspective.

 We arrived at the immigrant camp spot and dropped off the supplies, maybe 20 feet into the desert.  We covered it with a small cloth and he etched his “call sign” into the dirt.

  At this time, I could hear the cashiers calling my name over the loudspeakers at the truckstop.  It sounded pretty urgent, but I couldn’t leave without asking a few more questions.

  He produced the marijuana, and we began to talk. I told him a bit about the adventures I had been on, the places I had been and the people I had met.  I told of my time in the desert and how, even now, I still ventured into the brush to sleep at night

 That’s when he offered to bring me along with him.  Pay me to help collect animals and rocks, help shoulder the gear when climbing hills and mountains.   He said he would teach whatever survival and combat skills I didn’t already know and pay for all food/lodging expenses.

  I mulled it over for a moment.   I was OK with the possibility of ending up stranded somewhere. I was prepared to fight if this fellow turned out to be a deviant.   I had nothing to lose by leaving; I was already on my way out of the area, considering hopping on a bus. So, I accepted.

  He said to gather my things and meet him at a local hotel in an hour to head out.

  As we began to head back towards the parking lot, two large Tarantulas emerged from the brush in front of us.  They came from opposite directions, heading towards each other.  We each grabbed a container off the ground and carefully scooped them up.  He handed me $20 and said he could sell them for a decent profit.  This is starting off well, I thought.

  We spent about a month on the road, hitting different destinations. Exploring the hills and climbing rock faces in Tombstone, monkeying around in the Grand Canyon, hitting all sorts of small towns, exploring off-the-wall shops, restaurants. Heading through Utah, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska. Roving the backroads, stopping to climb giant hills and formations, collecting chunks of rock and minerals.

  It was a wild time, certainly, and it didn’t seem like it would end anytime soon.  The plan was for the three of us to head to New York, gather up a few of his belongings, then head back to Colorado, buy a house, and start a business.  Unfortunately, we never made it to New York…

 We had been traveling all day and night, making our way towards New York.  Following the direction of the GPS, which led us on to Michigan into Detroit. 

 It was night time, a bit chilly.  I remember looking over the smog-filled, uninviting, barren concrete jungle and thinking to myself  “I would hate to get stranded here.”

  Traveling along the interstate, the GPS directed us to exit.  We took the exit, being greeted by a large sign:

 “Bridge to Canada”

 “No return from this point”

  Hmm…

  I was without my passport, my license; any valid ID.  My friend had marijuana on him, and the car was filled with swords, lead balls, black powder, spears.  All innocently-collected antiques and novelty items, but not something you want to take to a border crossing.  

 We pulled into a small parking lot next to the road.    There were two gas pumps and an office of some sort.  It was the middle of the night, the whole area was vacant and quiet.  Straight ahead were the tolls, leading to the actual bridge.

  My friend went inside the office and explained the situation, how we took the exit by mistake.  The officer inside told him to speak to a toll operator for instructions.  The toll operator seemed unsure of what to do, but told us to go onto the bridge, tell the Canadian toll operators, and they would authorize us to turn around, escorting us back to the US mainland.

  We crossed the bridge, giant Canadian flags hanging above, and reached the Canadian tolls.  We explained the situation.

   After a few moments of hesitation, the officer told us to pull into a secondary area.

   Five officers appeared and ordered us out of the Jeep.

  That’s when they opened the doors and began to search the vehicle, immediately discovering a firearm under the driver’s seat.   They ordered us to turn around and face the vehicle, pulling out handcuffs. 

 We had two firearms in the vehicle, both registered and legal, but since we had technically crossed an international border without declaring them, they considered it to be smuggling. The spears, swords, marijuana, and war memorabilia in the back wasn’t likely to help matters, either.

  I remember the moment we were being handcuffed.  My friend planting his head on the hood in disgust, knowing how serious of a moment this had become. This wasn’t small potatoes. All our plans had now been derailed.

  It’s funny, though. I remember viewing the event with indifference. Viewing it as just another twist, another story. Actually looking forward to going along for the ride. It was exciting. It was interesting.

  I spent the night in a holding cell and was interviewed by one of the detectives.  Satisfied that I wasn’t a terrorist or a drug runner, they ended up letting me go. They did, however, seize my firearm, the vehicle, everything in it, and charge my friend with possession of unlawful goods and smuggling.   I assumed he must have claimed everything as his, knowing he had the resources to pay fines and hire a good attorney.

  In any event, they gave me the dog and bearded dragon we had with us, put me at the border in Detroit, and wished me luck.  With no ID, no money, no weapons, no phone, and no friends in the area, I took a good luck at the city in front of me, took a deep breath, and set out on my way.

  I was no stranger to surviving in big cities, gathering resources and clawing my way up, but I had never done so while also caring for animals.

   I decided I needed to get things rolling quickly, so I headed off into the city.

 It was a strange world. The buildings were crumbling, graffiti littered the roads and walls, even on the abandoned cars on the street. Grass was growing wild.  It was… post-apocalyptic.   I found a couple of pieces of plastic on the ground and fashioned them into shanks, then began to look for a Mormon Church, figuring I could use it as a place to have a replacement ID and debit card mailed.

  With no luck that day, I ducked out into a set of bushes next to a fence for the night. It was in a shady neighborhood with houses just on the other side of the fence. 

 I spent most of the night keeping mosquitoes off the dog. He seemed to understand the situation and our surroundings, keeping quiet and not barking.  Occasionally, there would be yelling or loud noises. He would look up, then look at me. I put my hand on his shoulder and he would lay his head back down.

  The next day, I managed to contact one of the churches and received directions.  I spent the day traversing neighborhoods, alleyways, and parks, finally reaching the church at dusk.

  The church grounds were surrounded by a giant fence, almost resembling a prison. Inside, I could see the city’s missionaries, all six of them. To their great credit, they had gathered together, preparing to head out and look for me.  They handed me a gallon of water and said there was a church service the next day and that I could speak to the Bishop about receiving mail.

  A bit relieved, and tired, I waited until the missionaries left, then scaled the fence, pushing the dog through a small opening down below.   I found a nice corner behind the building and the two of us napped.

That morning, I woke up early and made my way back over the fence, waiting for everyone to arrive for the service. I ended up speaking to the Bishop of the church who, to my grateful astonishment, offered to pay for a bus ticket out of the city and provide a good home for the dog. He even paid for a hotel and fast food meal for the night.

 At sunrise the next morning, I made my way to the Greyhound station and hopped on a bus to Tennessee.

  On arrival, I reacquired my IDs and debit card, then headed to my brother’s house in Kentucky.  Spending three weeks there, recouping, before getting a call; My buddy had been released and was back in New York.  He was told I had made my way south, and was on his way down to pick me up.  Unfortunately, he never made it past the New York border.

  As it turned out, he was mentally ill, suffering mania due to a war injury.  And, as a result of a mix-up with his debit card, he had been picked up by the police and placed into a mental hospital.

  I hopped onto a bus and headed for New York, ultimately arriving in Erie, Pennsylvania and using a string of local buses and taxis to make it to Jamestown, where he was being held.

 I arrived in Jamestown in the middle of the night. I had the driver drop me off a couple of blocks away from the hospital, where I began to look for a place to sleep.  The only covered areas were exceptionally steep, tree-covered hills, nearly 45-degree angles. Tired, I climbed up into one of the hills and laid down, pinning my body between two trees to keep me from sliding down.

 I awoke the next morning at sunrise, cleaned myself off a bit and began to head for the hospital, finding a place to stash my knives and mace along the way.

  I arrived, showed my ID to the guards, and was directed to the third floor. I stepped off the elevator, was let through a buzzer operated door, and was greeted by the nurses.  My friend was eating lunch in a large room, listening to rock music on the radio. There were games and books everywhere. It was actually sort of nice.

  For over a week, I visited, spending my days at the hospital and my nights on the steep hill. It soon became apparent that they had no intention of releasing him, even denying his request to be transferred to a VA Hospital. That’s when he began to talk of… escaping.

  I dutifully presented the option of not attempting an escape, to give a platform to reason, but it was not to be.  He wanted out and I was the only one who could help.  We spent a few hours talking about it, coming up with a plan. There were several security guards and cameras throughout the hospital, but there was a hole in the security. An unlocked, unguarded exit on the south side of the second floor.  A quick bolt could get us out.

  I left the hospital and spent the rest of the day scouting the layout of the town.  The plan was to head south, towards the Pennsylvania line.  I followed the roads, taking note of residential layouts, wooded areas, proximity to police patrols and commercial areas.

 With a route set, we were ready.  I staged supplies along the route, then headed for the hospital.

  I went inside, walked up to the door, and pressed the buzzer.  The nurse recognized me and buzzed the door open. I held it wide open and my friend bolted past me, down the stairs.  The nurses came running, but I shoved the door closed and hopped down the stairs.  He followed me as we ran towards the south exit in full sprint.  

 Pushing the door open, we took off down the hill onto the residential streets. After 250 yards, his energy started waning.  At his current speed, I could see we weren’t going to make it to the woods quickly enough, so I diverted, ducking us into a series of backyards, eventually hitting woods and making our way towards the south end of town.

  Unfortunately, much to my dismay, he decided he wanted to start walking on the road.  We weren’t yet out of town, and I knew we wouldn’t exactly blend in.  He had no shoes, long hair, and his clothes were dirty from the woods.  I had on a large camouflage trench coat, was soaking wet from a recent rainstorm, and had leaves stuck in my hair.

  As expected, within a few minutes of walking on the road, we were passed by a patrol car, which stopped and questioned us, quickly discovering who we were. They took him back to the hospital and let me go.

 From there, I headed on, as I do, leaving Jamestown.  I haven’t spoken to my buddy since our separation.

 He was fooling around with one of the other patients in the hospital.  The nurses didn’t know.  It was comical to see them sneaking around, going into the restroom right behind one of the nurses.

 There was an extremely cute girl as a patient. She had dark, shark-like eyes and was on antipsychotics, but she and I hit it off quite well. I would have been willing to marry her, circumstances permitting.

I liked those stress balls. With the happy faces on them

 

 Seattle to San Diego

 (Oregon, Matt and the Cat, Death Valley)

  This story begins after a 2-month journey from Seattle, having walked to Tacoma, then Castle Rock, hitching a ride to Portland, and making my way out to the Oregon coast. I headed down, hoofing Highway 101 by day and ducked off into the woods and beaches at night, nestling down with my usual tarp and blanket. I had my sights ultimately set on San Diego, but was soon entranced by a small town near the Oregon/California border. Gold Beach.

 I had initially arrived in Gold Beach looking for work.  Tired and a bit malnourished, I rendezvoused with a fellow I had met a few towns back who had offered to bring me in on a short construction job. A bicyclist, he roamed the coast year-round doing carpentry and stonework.   Unfortunately, by the time I arrived in town, the job had ended. 

 Undeterred, I decided to set up shop in the town anyway.  I slept in a grassy area near the river at night, I spent my days roaming the roads, collecting stray cans and containers, taking them to town and turning them in for the recycling deposit.

  I soon became enamored by the tranquility of the area.  A quiet, friendly beach town, sitting at the base of a bordering mountain wilderness.  All its businesses on one stretch of road.

 It was my third week in Gold Beach when I met a couple that was staying on a nearby gravel bar in their motorhome.  They had seen me walking around town and thought it would be interesting to hear of my stories, so they offered to pitch a tent for me next to their motorhome. 

 They were stocked full of food, music, and alcohol.   For several weeks, we had an enjoyable time; Sharing stories, enjoying music by the river. They even offered to restock my gear and provide a few days of employment pouring concrete.

  However, as usual, a series of unexpected events led to adventure.

 One day, on a return stroll from town, a fellow in a dusty green truck pulled over and offered to give me a ride.  After a short conversation, he said he had a remote camp up in the mountains where he was dredging the creeks for gold.  He liked my story and asked if I would like to help him out with the dredges for a few days.

 I accepted.

  We stopped at my friends’ campsite to grab a few light items and leave a note, then headed up to the mountains.

  We spent days exploring the wilderness creeks, traversing boulders and fallen trees, navigating rock slides, looking for signs of gold.

  On the fourth day, back at the mountain camp, the truck lost power and wouldn’t start.  Being accustomed to walking, I volunteered to hike the 20 miles back to town and send help.

 After eight hours of travelling, cutting through the woods and making my way down the winding trails and roads,  I finally arrived in town and made the phone call for Dave, sending help. 

 At that point, I decided to head back to the gravel bar to rendezvous with my friends. 

  Shortly after setting out, I heard a wailing noise coming from the other side of the highway.  There, on the grassy hill, was a kitten, stranded, frightened by the traffic.  I went over and sat down next to it, feeding it a bit of food, then standing up and motioning for it to follow me.

  I didn’t really have the resources to take care of a kitten, nor did it fit with my current plans… But it was stranded and alone, and I wasn’t going to leave it.  I figured I could take care of it and keep it safe long enough to find it a home.


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