“The car rental agency in Crescent City, CA had one car. We have water, and we have food,” Vince stated abnormally joyfully. He flashed his wife a boyish grin. “It’s actually kind of enjoyable here,” as he headed out the door to catch a ride with the tow truck driver.
The road between Coos Bay and Klamath, California couldn’t have been more beautiful. The fog looked like an elegant veiled gown draped across the beautiful landscape succeeding in making it more seductive. Each more curve in the road revealed yet another grove of tall elegant lacy redwoods, their symmetrical branches dangling moss speckled in mist. Every once in a while the redwoods would part, and frame a perfect view of the Pacific Ocean, gleaming white foam radiating a fine spray to the top of the cliff feathering to the tips of the giant trees.
The car went through a series of jerks going up the grade. “What are you doing?” Marsha asked Vince, who typically tested and retested everything to make sure things worked correctly. “This really isn’t the place to be testing out the brakes.” For some reason it didn’t occur to her that he would not be testing the brakes going UP the grade.
“That’s not me,” he answered seriously as they entered California. Only 10 hours or so to go before they got home.
Marsha had visions of ending up at the bottom of the cliff waiting for the rescuers. She was still concerned about brakes. “Even new brakes fail,” she thought to herself. They pulled over and watched a rescue operation, and gave the truck a chance to rest and recuperate from pulling its unaccustomed load up the long steep climb. “It wasn’t any steeper than this over Interstate 5, or was it? Well it wasn’t this pretty,” she continued her internal conversation. “Well, it was gorgeous, and not wet, but there’s nothing like having semi wheels rolling down the freeway less than 12 inches from your face at 80 miles an hour,” she reasoned, confirming to herself why they had chosen the longer coastal route over the freeway.
Vince pulled over just north of Klamath, CA. “I’ll be right back. You wait here with the dog while I check things out.” Vince disappeared inside the Jet Boat Tours Store. Within minutes he came back, bubbling with enthusiasm. “The man in there says that there’s a steep grade up ahead, and they have a nice RV park here,” he told her when he returned to the truck. “What do you want to do? Do you have cell service?”
Marsha knew that his mind was already made up. There may as well not have been any punctuation marks between the two questions if she had seen the words typed out instead of spoken. In fact there might not even have been space between the words either. What she heard was, “Whatdoyouwantododoyou have cell service?”
“No,” she answered before he started his next sentence.
“I’ll go check us in. I think that is best. Is that ok with you?” he said in one breath.
“Muh huh. I’ll wait here with the dog.”
Somehow she missed the part when he told her they weren’t going to even look at the truck until Monday. She walked over to the campground office to use the phone. She cancel their reservations for that night in Eureka KOA. Then she went back and canceled the next few nights in Eureka, and the following one at Durango RV in Red Bluff. She had already cancelled the KOA in Sacramento, and she had thought she was done. The truck would be fixed Monday, and they would be on their way. She could be optimistic, too!
The campground manager rode around on his bike back to the office. “There’s no TV service here,” she told Vince when she got back from the next trip to the office. “No phone, no internet.” It was a good thing they had brought a deck of cards.
“We’ll be here until Tuesday.” Vince told Marsha as they drove to dinner. The paper on the wall of the campground office advertised a “Prime Rib dinner for only $15 a plate.”
“Tuesday, ….. I told the woman in Eureka, we’d be there Monday.” Marsha knew she was whining a little when she realized another call was in order. In fact it was beginning to dawn on her that they would probably not even stay at Eureka. They would drive on to Red Bluff.
The Country Club turned out to be a smoky bar just a half-mile from the campground. They ordered at the door, and paid the glum cashier-waitress. Vince heard the total incorrectly, and reached into his pocket and pulled out an extra five. The glum one looked at Marsha with a challenge in her eye, gave her the change from the original amount, and quickly latched onto the extra five without batting an eye or uttering a thank you. The prime rib dinner, which had sounded so good on the flyer, reminded Marsha of a potluck dinner at the Nazarene Church, except that they didn’t have to stand in line to dish their own food on paper plates. The same well-used waitress came by and threw a rolled up napkin at her side of the table. Wrapped inside was the silverware. Vince asked her if he could have some silverware, too. She nodded, seeming irritated that he should ask for silverware with a burger and fries order. After about a half hour of watching the two elderly servers carve and serve the rest of the customers, Marsha’s meal arrived. Marsha decided that the mashed potatoes on her foam plate were probably as instant as the gravy. The canned green beans had bits of bacon and onion in them just like her mom used to make. The prime rib slab was real meat that probably weighed three pounds. She decided to take 90% of it home. She knew Vince would throw it away in a couple of days, but she couldn’t bear to discard it at the Country Club.
“Isn’t smoking illegal even in bars?” Marsha wondered almost to herself.
“It is in California,” Vince answered as if magically his ears were open to her mutterings. “Oh we are in California.” He touched the ashtray in the center of the table absently as he said it. “It doesn’t look like it’s enforced,” he finished with a little grin. They didn’t realize they were on Yurok tribal lands. Reservations have different laws, and even have their own police force. The Yurok Tribal Police car rolled by them as Vince and Marsha left the Country Club Diner. The foreigners were pretty sure that the enforcement officers weren’t going to the Country Club to enforce the no smoking in public buildings law. They looked like prime rib kinds of guys.
By 7:30 Vince lay curled up on the couch with his head resting on his arm, and his mouth open. It had been a stressful day, even for the optimist. He would be uncomfortable when he woke up, but he was nowhere close to that yet. The book that he dug out of the cabinet to read, lay closed on his lap, and his chest moved rhythmically with each breath. Vince never snored.
Marsha read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – for the first time. Puppy Girl put herself to bed in the bedroom. She wasn’t stressed.
She had her tribe.
What is your home away from home?