October 21, 2018
Fort Stevens State Park, near Astoria Oregon
We were sad to say goodbye to our bison friends – thank you for the dreadlock, guys! I found it in a bush and will treasure it forever, or at least as long as I can go on having a creepy large bison dreadlock in a ziplock bag before I mail it to a deserving eight year old – but the PNW beckoned and time was running out. We drove through the high desert for much further faster than I managed before – it’s beautiful but we were getting beauty blasé – and arrived in Mountain Home, Idaho. The RV Park at Mountain Home was super fancy. We were a bit intimidated but all was cool and anyway, intimidation is as nothing when you haven’t had a shower in four or five days. And the showers at Mountain Home RV Resort are AMAZING. A whole bathroom to yourself! With a toilet, a mirror, a shower, a shower curtain (be still my heart) and a BATHMAT. Such luxury. We stayed an extra day and not just because it was pouring rain.
The next night we made it into Oregeon and in fact to Boardman Marina RV Park where I stayed on my trip eastward seven months ago. There were less geese and more campers and this trade was, from my point of view, less than satisfactory. I still like it there though – I like boats and water and long flat walking paths. And the day after that, which was Thursday, October 11, we arrived at Fort Stevens State Park which is to say, our destination. It was Audrey’s first ever sight of the Pacific so we drank champagne on the beach while the dogs discovered SAND! And WAVES! And SEAGULLS! And Django, at least, found SNACKS! Ew, god, why? But Django is Django and he likes crunchy shell snacks. I suppose it’s one source of calcium.
The next day we explored Astoria a bit and had a completely disheartening meeting with a disgruntled realtor. We saw a $240K house that needed approximately $200K of work, which seemed a bit steep – really, I am not picky or high maintenance but I have this thing about bathroom floors which is that I kind of want there to be one – and the cranky realtor said, ha, there is no chance, you cannot have a house for that budget and you shouldn’t move here anyway. Oh and there are no rentals. No, not just no affordable rentals – NO rentals. Give it up. I was sad. My house in Asheville was still sitting there, unsold, my bank account was (is) dwindling daily at an alarming rate. I’m going to be living in the truck forever, I said snifflingly, it’s all over, and Audrey took me to the beach to calm down. Remember, she said, you have been saying don’t move here to people moving to Asheville forever. Now it is your turn.
This is true. I feel bad about that, actually – here I am having been squeezed and gentrified right out of Asheville and what am I doing? Heading immediately to do the same thing to another poor city. Beware, Astoria, despite my own abject poverty where I go prosperity, tourists and horrible gentrification follow. I am so sorry. I don’t do it on purpose. But there is no escape: I am determined to live here. I am, however, getting the distinct feeling that I am not really wanted. The real estate agents won’t return my calls. There are essentially no jobs (I knew that – I resigned myself to never having a “real” job again a while back, just as I have resigned myself to never having a boyfriend again, all as I secretly sort of yearn for these two impossible things) but that currently doesn’t matter because as long as I am living in a truck and camper I can’t have a job, really. Dogs, ARGH.*
Despair aside – pretty minimal despair, really, and brief, more sort of despair lite – Fort Stevens is beautiful and Astoria is awesome. We had a glorious time exploring the whole area and watching the dogs learn to truly love the beach. Audrey’s friend Lauren came to visit and we all went to Cannon Beach. The weather was amazing, there were elk and miniature deer everywhere, we went to the Astoria Column (Audrey climbed it!) and on her last night here the truck got stuck in the sand on the beach.
People drive on the beach here. I don’t like it – but I am a newcomer and I am not going to go telling people not to do what they’ve been doing for, I don’t know, a century probably. I don’t get the appeal, myself, but okay, there are many things I don’t get and learn to live with. Anyway, on Saturday night the girls had stayed up late and driven Lauren’s car on the beach. It was great, enthused my daughter on Monday, now let’s take the truck on the beach! Let’s drive on the beach!
OKAY! I said, carried away by the spirit of the moment and also possibly the Buoy Beer pilsner I had just consumed (there is a GLASS FLOOR in Buoy Beer and you can watch the SEA LIONS through it or that is you can if you don’t have dogs with you and are thus condemned to cold doggy jail outside, dogs argh*) and so we WENT FOR IT. Audrey was driving.
“What if we get stuck!?” I cried
“I know how to do this!” she said, “We won’t get stuck!”
We got stuck.
I, the horrible person, decamped immediately with the dogs. Good luck! I said, I’m going to try to call AAA! And I headed way down the beach to do just that, leaving my poor daughter to try to dig herself out and also to be young and pretty and stuck, which, as I thought it might, eventually yielded a young man with a tow rope who got the truck back on terra firma before I had even gotten through the various holds and voice mail jail of AAA. Poor Audrey! She was embarrassed but I thought it went fine – well, yeah, I enjoyed my walk and then we watched the sunset.
The next day we went to Portland. Dogs, argh.* It was too hot to leave the dogs in the truck much in Portland, which put a damper on my various plans. Still, we went out on Tuesday night with my friend Adrian and had a great time and then on Wednesday we went for a walk and coffee with our friend Ruby, ending up at Lucky Labrador Brew Pub, which is designed for dogs and was quite fun. Then we visited A MARIJUANA STORE. This was exciting and novel! Whooo! Legal weed! I never thought I would see the day but LO, here it is. And now I have a pot candy bar in the cabinet that I’m sort of afraid to try – look, I was a teenage stoner but as an adult weed tends to trigger me into panic attacks. Even though this candy bar is supposed to not do that, I am still sorta nervous. But I will eat it! I will and I will report back.
Then, finally, much too soon, it was time for Audrey to go back to Asheville, on the redeye like a movie star. Her friend Lauren was also flying to NC so kindly offered to take her to the airport, thus sparing me the night drive – I really, really cannot see to drive at night anymore, it has gotten scary – and so we all met up at the McMenamins Kennedy School, which is a, uh, what is it? A bar mall and movie theater and hotel in an old school! My GAWD Portland is too cool sometimes, it’s overwhelming. Off they went and off I went back to my familiar trailer park on Hayden Island – dogs argh,* also, Django ate goose poop, of course he did – and thence back to Fort Stevens State Park and Astoria – home, now!
And here I am. I am slowly adjusting to solitude again. I confess I got used to company, these last five months of Asheville and three weeks of road trip 24/7 togetherness. I am lonely! I am scared, too, because DOGS ARGH and money YIKES but as it stands right now, although chickens, eggs, hatched not, etc, do not count, I have some hopes on the Asheville home sale front, which is making me feel considerably better. And I’m applying to be a campground host here, which if it works out will basically solve most of my immediate problems. But I am here. This is where I want to be. And here, amazingly, I am.
* I’m writing a thing explaining DOGS ARGH, it will go up soonish I hope. Meanwhile all I can say is that camping alone with large elderly – but ridiculously energetic! – dogs is a GIANT PAIN IN THE ASS and TOO MUCH WORK but also oddly rewarding.