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Day 1 ~ 9/7/15:
Leisurely morning hanging out at George’s house. I was supposed to pick up Jean-Marie Jobs at SEA-TAC airport at 1:30 but it was delayed 3 hours. So I had a leisurely while to pack up. Have I told you it takes me about 30′-40′ to set up or dismantle all my gear? That is one aspect of this trip that I won’t miss. I don’t relish an added hour setting up before getting into my jammies and taking pills, etc, at the end of a long day.

George graciously stuffed my gear in the van and I was off to the car wash. The van’s 2nd since this trip began. Poor thing, she was buggy and filthy. My try at the Costco car wash was a no go as the automated box wouldn’t recognize my card. Arrggg. Then the highway drawbridge was up, so another “no go”. Lol. I decided to get a manicure while waiting for her flight but the place I tried was booked for another hour. No go again! Probably a good thing because the place stank of chemicals. I feel really sorry for the people who work there all day. Most are in face masks, but I bet studies will show eventual severe health problems for them and their children. It seems like an entry job in the USA for many Asian immigrants, like indentured servants, or worse.

Finally I Yelped a car wash that wasn’t do it yourself or fancy expensive detailing. Clean van! I decided to go to a park and wait out the last half hour detailing the interior as best I could myself. My range of motion is limited from my shoulders and my left arm is restricted but I’ve learned a lot about physics, pivots, weight balance, fulcrums, etc. to do pretty well.

Got the van spiffed up from the road dust at a beautiful and popular park called Angel Lake close by SEA-TAC airport. Besides the lake it had water features for kids, with water squirting or spilling out of colorful pipes or spinning wheels. I like how many parks are doing that. Fun on a hot day.

Then it was time to get Jean. Yay! Leg #11 officially begins with my final companion escorting me home. This was practically a last minute arrangement as my slated rider had to back out. Jean had told me if I needed rescuing and she was able that she would come help drive a leg. Blessed be because that’s exactly what happened and on the most convenient portion because she lives half an hour from me! So only a one-way flight was in order.
That the flight was late really tied us up though. We had grand plans to leave Seattle at 2pm and log 200 miles. Instead we got heavy traffic on a Friday at 5pm. Last look at Mt. Ranier, and I drove a while then we switched drivers. Jean ran the red light on the I-5 entry ramp. Lol! I assume she was thinking we were a carpool. Which we were. It’s just fun to tease.

View of Mt. Rainier from the freeway. Far away but so huge it looks close.

View of Mt. Rainier from the freeway while I waited for a drawbridge to lower. The volcano is far away but so huge it looks close.

Two hours later we were only 50 miles away and so stopped for dinner in Olympia. Cute downtown in this college town. Murals, pedestrians, funky shops, bars, cafés. Drove up Jefferson St. to get there. Jean thinks this might be a theme as I had told her we were going down the “State of Jefferson Scenic Byway” in Northern California to Eureka in a couple days. More on that later unless you look up “State of Jefferson” now. It’s a hoot!

I Yelped a diner called King Solomon Reef. Sign out front said something about good day for a reefer. Lol. Washington state has legalized recreational marijuana. I always love breakfast food so chicken-fried steak and eggs for me with hash browns and extra gravy. I asked the waitress about the area as it seemed groovy. She said it was fun with the college here but there was a homeless/junkie prob. Services and needle exchange were compassionately available but that meant that other suburbs took advantage by avoiding those services in their area and bussing those in need to Olympia. Stinkers. So downtown businesses were losing a bit of affluent foot traffic and was in slight decline. Although they were trying to rectify it. I’m not sure how unless they adopt Giuliani’s rezoning tactics I heard of in New York City and move the services elsewhere. A ‘NIMBY’ (not in my back yard) domino effect of passing the buck. The answer is not clear.
Leaving the restaurant, Jean tried to steal someone’s Honda Odyssey van parked 2 spots from mine. She hit my clicker and was able to open the side door. The baby seat confused her though. I dunno. Ran a red before and now breaking into someone else’s car! Ha. We’re having fun already.

We arrived late. Nighttime meant we got to see a shooting star on the way in so there’s always something to appreciate. Hamptons are nice hotels. Large ADA entryway to the rooms. Set up my gear and by midnight we went to sleep. We’re bending to each others schedule. I’m a night owl and Jean goes to bed at 10. We’ll see how tomorrow plays out. Lol!

Day 2 ~ 9/8/15:
Jean-Marie’s Facebook post Aug. 8: “Considering the dynamic between wisdom and gratitude today, I’ve always been grateful for my high school experience at Ursuline Academy, for the incredible teachers and the girls in my class. Almost 35 years later, I have a new appreciation for the friendships, depth, character and heart of the Class of 81′ as I am honored to enjoy the last leg of Kim Fusch’s North American adventure! Ashland, here we come!”

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Salem to Ashland. I got up earlier than usual (bending!) and we were packed up and out of the room by 11. Fast for me! Straight highway run today down I-5. We chatted and enjoyed the woods and small mountains of Oregon, and glimpsed pointy, big Mt. Lassen. Interesting people here too. A real range of old hippies, doomsday preppers, homesteaders, loners, farmers, red necks, the right and the left wing politically.

It was a bit hazy, and at one point we passed a firefighting heliport which had a large chopper taking off with a bucket of water. It looked so small even though it was probably decent sized. Tiny though, compared to the size of fires. Almost seems not worth the effort to dump it there. But of course it is. This is a bad year for fires, both here in the western half of the States and in Canada. More crazy climate change. I remember the rains in the center of the country, to the point of flooding. In the east I saw evidence of a long winter which equally late spring wildflowers long into summer and lush fields. Here, dry and crackling.

On our highway run I wrote some, too, to give myself chat breaks as I like to converse and it tires me out! Hunger struck and I Yelped lunch spots in Roseburg, Oregon. Found a highly rated drive/walk up called Smokin’ Friday BBQ. I had to have the Pulled Pork Sundae. Shall I leave you to try and figure that one out?? Ahaha!

Pulled Pork Sundae

Pulled Pork Sundae

We got to Ashland at the decent hour of 4pm. Did a quick unpack and headed off to shops in the charming downtown we’d seen in the way in to our hotel, The Stratford Inn. So named because Ashland is famous for its Shakespeare Festival.

I was a bit winded so Jean took off first. I didn’t realize we were almost at 2,000 feet. I got on my scooter and found a locals Art gallery on the way. Couldn’t get upstairs but I found a couple small, affordable items. We texted ourselves back together to confer for dinner. Kobe, a Japanese restaurant looked good. On the way we saw shop that had yellow warning sign for Suicide Deer. Lol! True!

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Funky Ashland

Funky Ashland

At the corner of the block that Kobe was on I saw a large metal sculpture that looked a bit like a story, or totem, pole. A man was looking at it and I said it was beautiful. He informed me that it was a copy of a wood totem that had stood there but that the sites owners had torn everything down including that for a new building.

He said town folk tried to save it but money won out as usual, with a quasi goodwill gesture to try and preserve the carving. I say quasi because they didn’t follow recommended preservation dictates and the thing got partially ruined. I’m not sure who put the metal copy of the carving up. I hope it was the site owner.
My fellow onlooker historian and I chatted about the State of a world run by greed, the power mad, and corporations. We shared a hope for future with progressive awareness, activism and in education, but were also dismayed that those corporations are funding college chairs, politicians, museums and influencing research and public opinion to cover up dirty practices. We agreed that campaign finance reform would help. I shared my personal political theme, which is to live lightly on the planet, channel your spending dollars as best you can to companies that care about the world and the little guy and vote for who you think is best. Oh, and don’t watch the news cuz it’ll drive you crazy. That’s all we can really do to affect change and stay sane besides raising our kids right and living by example, right? Jean watched patiently near by. She’s learning that chatting up strangers is the way I roll.

Bronze replica of the Prayer Pole originally carved in 2006 from the "Gateway Alder Tree" by Russell Beebe, Native American carver, honoring the First Nations of the Rogue River Valley.

Bronze replica of the Prayer Pole originally carved in 2006 from the “Gateway Alder Tree” by Russell Beebe, Native American carver, honoring the First Nations of the Rogue River Valley.

The sushi restaurant was yummy. Creepy adult man/young boy scenario next table over though. Obviously didn’t know each other. They went to the bathroom together and Jean and I immediately shared our dark thoughts, trying hard to attribute it to a infrequently visited uncle? No. Too many odd questions about parents to be an uncle. Cancer kid and wish list volunteer taking him to eat sushi? No, there was hair under the kids cap so not a chemo receiver. We settled on a Big Brother program. I couldn’t resist on our way out asking the boy how he liked his sushi (he did). Then I brazenly snuck in the “how do you know each other?” question to which they replied, “Oh, we just met!” Ahhhhh! Jean and I fled, hoping for the best. Lol.

Click on image to zoom in and read the sign.

Click image to zoom in.

Click images to zoom in and read.

IMG_9079We walked through lovely Lithia Park afterwards. 96 acres along the Ashland creek that the locals are lucky to have. There are local springs infused with Lithium which are supposed to be good to soak in, hence the name. There were dinner picnickers, late playground families, a few feral travelers, and couples enjoying the warm evening. We met one couple and started chatting. Turns out they were going to New Orleans later in the year. I gave them my blog address because she wanted tips.

They also warned us of fires near tomorrow’s drive. Good tip because our windy road over the coastal range was going to take all day so being turned around due to fire wouldn’t have been fun. After a quick ice cream and a photo of a guy with a beautiful face painting, we made it back to the hotel. I hit the hot tub while Jean checked fire info. Looked ok. Bed. Two more days before I’m home!

An Ashlandian

An Ashlandian

P.S. Pulled Pork Sundae: Take plastic milkshake cup, layer garlic mashed potatoes, pulled pork, more mashed pots, green beans, more pork, one last mashed potato mounded like ice cream, drizzle with BBQ sauce and top it with a cherry tomato. Yum!

Day 3 ~ 9/9/15: Ashland to Eureka via the State of Jefferson. (AKA “A State of Mind”)

Well, Jean and I enjoyed Ashland immensely. As I overheard one young woman say to her friend in a yearning voice, “I wanna live here!” I love where I live but this is a great place to visit. Next time I’ll try to take in a stage play. It’s not just Shakespeare anymore.

Jean grabbed me some breakkie items (Australian slang. Lol. Picked up a lot, or heaps as they say, in my time there.) This was a great hotel, it’s crowning glory was the intelligent approach to the room doors. Permit me to perhaps join your sentiments in detesting heavy, awkward hotel room doors that one has to wrestle with to hold open while you try to tame a belligerent trolley or persnickety luggage. The room cleaners hate them too.

As a handicapped person either in a scooter or walker I am fed up!!! Not going to take it anymore!! Hotel chains and associations will feel my wrath when I get home! Don’t even get me started in the damn card keys that literally do not work 20% or more of the time so you have to go back to the desk for new ones, etcetera.

Do you feel me? I know you know. Ok, seriously. The Stratford had an evenly weighted door, and a little magnetized thing on the bottom corner that marries the receptor on the inside wall SO IT HOLDS THE DOOR OPEN. No brainer, right? Happy clients, happy handicapped, happy cleaning and maintenance staff. Duh! Plus they have REAL keys. Heaven.

Ah, that felt good to rant. 142 days and 52 different beds on the road can do that to a person. I have, however, discovered the secret to the damn trolleys. The two wheels at one end are fixed and only go straight. The two other wheels can pivot and give you directionality. This doesn’t help in elevators or backing out of rooms because suddenly you’re facing the wrong direction to have control. I think it’s a sneaky Buddhist rap on the knuckles to test our vanity that we are masters of our destiny. Lol. I can laugh because that’s a perk of having traveling companions to help the handicap chick!!! (Bwahaha!)

Meanwhile, back in Ashland…(I know my posts are getting longer but today was very fun so do read on! Relax! Enjoy the journey!) we made a quick stop to pick up something Jean saw in a store to take home and we were off. Nipped down the I-5 some until almost to the town of Yreka, speculating on it’s historical reason for spelling it so. My thought was that illiterate miners had just spelled it the way they thought Eureka should be (sounding like yer-eeka!) but who knows? Google, probably. Isn’t modern day cool? We have such information literally at our fingertips with the Internet. If we have cell service. I need to devote a whole post to the raging inadequacies of AT&T.

Starting to follow the Klamath River into The State of Jefferson

Starting to follow the Klamath River into The State of Jefferson

We turned on to Hwy. 96 to follow the swiftly running Klamath River, flowing even now in the beginning of August. Our world tightened into a winding river valley between the small mountains thinly covered with pine. A few homes followed the river banks, finding any flat land they could. These weren’t holiday homes, but seemed like long-standing residents looking to get away from the world a bit. Which speaks to some of the mindset up here.

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Part of northern California and southern Oregon would like to break away from their respective states that they feel ignore their needs, and become The State of Jefferson. Over the history of our nation a few territories and such have sought to honor our third president who opened up the West and made the Louisiana Purchase. Indeed, the man himself wanted to create a separate republic on the west coast. I’m not sure what his reasoning was. There are those in the Pacific Northwest today who agree and want to secede, but they call themselves Cascadians.

The Jeffersonians simply want to form another state of the Union. The movement surged forward in 1941 but the death if it’s leader and the advent of Americas involvement in WW2 unfocused it. Recently many counties in Northern California have reintroduced the issue, although to date, the more populated southern Oregon counties haven’t embraced it.

So it was with great interest that we ventured into this land of mavericks by heading down the Great State of Jefferson Scenic Byway that follows the Klamath River. As with any foreign land, or unfamiliar territory, one looks for clues to the local culture. There was a house with a series of stacked rocks. Could that mean something?

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Pulling into one of the very few small towns, we saw lots of signs demanding “NO MONUMENT”. Hmm. Had to pull over at the local hub minimart to see what was up. They displayed the State of Jefferson logo in a large sign out front. Two X’s meant to represent the disassociation Northern California and southern Oregon feel from state governments in Sacramento and Salem.

The cashier sniggered when I said I was happy to be in Jefferson, but she was friendly. Said two years ago there was outside talk of making the area a national monument. She wasn’t sure why or what happened with the proposal, just that everyone was pissed off because they’d lose their land rights after the current owners died and therefore couldn’t pass their homes onto their heirs. That would piss me off too!

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Jefferson would be a dangerous place to live. The area is dry and hot even though timbered and mountainous. Evidence of past and recent fires continued as we passed by. For a great deal of the time our view was hazy and it thickened badly coming around another few bends. We could smell smoke and even see it wafting across the road not far ahead. It must have been close, up in the hills. We passed an “Incident Base” sign. I’m sad to say that was the fourth or fifth I’ve seen on the Odyssey. They are helicopter and fire fighter bases, dotted with tents for the fire crews and water trucks supplying the choppers.

 

IMG_9131After that the air cleared and we seemed past it. The only danger we encountered then were dare-devil chipmunks who seem determined to dash in front of the van whenever we pulled off the road to try and access the river or use a camp ground restroom. There was the spiky yellow flower that poked my ankle on the way to one too. Jeffersonians must be a tough lot. I know this because there was another danger loose here: Bigfoot.

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Oh yes. Over half way down the Great State of Jefferson Scenic Byway (i.e. too late to backtrack) there’s a cheerful highway sign alerting you that you are now on the Bigfoot Highway as well. The local signage is much more realistic and ominous. There’s a mural map outlining his ranging habitat and a life-size replica made of metal, perhaps as a sign to him that they believe he exists so please don’t wreck the village, thanks. Travelers beware.

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The 15′ creature himself!

There were a few native peoples back in here, too. A couple towns that seemed to be dominated by the two tribes we saw signs for. The Karuk in Orleans and Happy Camp, and then the Yurok around the village of Hoopa. We saw evidence of casino profits being put to good use in schools, sports facilities, housing, community centers, outreach services, medical facilities and I’m sure much more we couldn’t see from the road. There seemed like a real sense of grass roots recovery by these historically and brutally marginalized peoples so decimated by invaders, disease and government policies.

The advantages from casino money available to the young tribal members today in education, job opportunities, and cultural pride I hope will resurrect these ancient peoples. There were a few men from an older generation in evidence hanging around drinking. Their world was no doubt bleaker growing up and they seem like a lost fringe of yesteryear.

But I met a fantastic man in South Dakota, recovering from drugs and alcohol, and finding a purpose with his ancient tribal dances so I think the unblending of this melting pot we call America is helping. By that I mean the reclaiming of one’s heritage instead of the old way immigrants had where it was thought you had to completely shed your roots and “Speak English now, you’re in America!” or the Eurocentric ideas that indigenous peoples should be barred from their language and rituals. I see their returning pride and hope that they will continue to flourish.

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Their new found wealth may be giving them clout. It wasn’t until I was looking over my pictures taken from the van that I realized there was a controversy between the predominantly white folk at the eastern end of the Byway and the tribal dominated towns further in. Where we had seen “No Monument” there were a few signs saying not to remove the dam. The cashier I’d spoken too was cagey about that, or maybe she just didn’t know. I suggested it might be about reestablishing salmon runs and she had shrugged and said maybe, looking uncomfortable. When I saw a mural promoting dam removal in a tribal area it made me wonder but I never found out. I guess with all states there are two sides to a story and bipartisanism.

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We got closer to the coast and the air got noticeably cooler. I think the Humbolt Bay Area considers itself part of The Great State of Jefferson now, although it was not part of the original 1941 proposition, but it has a slightly different vibe than inland. The town of Eureka on the coast looks like it is a working fishing town for one, as well as local hub and traveler stop over. The historic downtown is very nice, if sparsely peopled. It may just have been the fact it was a Sunday evening.

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We Yelped a restaurant that looked fantastic, so good we couldn’t get a table! Option #2 turned out to be great though, and the last great dinner of The American Odyssey Tour was shared with my last great companion of the trip, Jean-Marie. It’s been short but we’ve been having some great conversations and the journey home has been sweet and easy.

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Back at the hotel I hit my last hotel hot tub. The hottest yet! Nice finish to a series of American hotels. I wrote a bit before bed. I must now add one Utopian State of Mind to the 32 U.S States and two Canadian Provinces on the American Odyssey Tour. OMG. Home tomorrow!

My Facebook post Aug. 9: The final great restaurant (we hope!) of 🗽 The American Odyssey Tour. Wow. What a journey! Home tomorrow. The kittehs are going to flip. I know they think I’m dead. LOL.

THE FINAL POST OF THE AMERICAN ODYSSEY TOUR

Aug. 10, 2015 ~ Day 142:
How can I write about the last day of this amazing Odyssey? I’m a delta of mixed emotions spreading out from the rushing flow of this adventure. I am slowing and filtering and finding my seabed again.

I smell the Pacific and the humic redwood forests towering above my path and know I am near home. I am thrilled to reunite with my animal and human companions. I am sad to leave the journey. I hold dear the sights and sensations of the past four and a half months, the 16,000 miles, the 32.5 States, (see previous post!) and 2 Canadian Provinces, my entire family, over 30 old classmates, many old friends and a few old lovers. I enjoyed meeting everyone I could and giving out my blog address. I have seen and done SO MUCH—bucket list, nostalgic, and by chance. How can that be distilled? Perhaps it can’t.

I can at least give profuse thanks to the friends and family who rode with me or joined the Odyssey, or put me up en route or both. Ginger & Cameron, Blake & Lindsey, Betty, Mike & Rebecca, Jennifer, Shari, Sr. Madeline, Louise, Brooke & JT, Janice & Linda, Julia & Audrey, Stacey, Cheri, Dina, Garine, Jennifer, Devon, Monte, Rachel, Gale & John & Robert, Terra & Dean & Tré, Susan, Kate, Anette & Andy, Robbie, George, and Jean-Marie. Thank you also to Lindsay who kept the home fires burning and acted as my proxy for business matters, and to Kathy for stepping in as my research assistant when I was in the wilds of South Dakota and in need. How can I ever tell y’all how much your part in the Odyssey was essential to its success? Or how I cherish you all in my heart? Thank you.

❤️

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The last day’s drive was familiar and heart-warming. Redwoods to rolling, honey-colored hills dotted with oak trees, vineyards, familiar towns. I dropped off super companion Jean (efficient, quick-thinking, kind, fun) at her house half an hour from mine and appropriately drove by myself the last 30 miles home. I had left the same way at the beginning to pick up Ginger and Cameron at San Francisco Airport on March 22nd. That sounds so long ago.

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I reduced my speed and slipped into the slow lane, listening to a Pat Methany CD I used to play over two decades ago when traveling and camping by myself. It makes me think of the open road and mountain ranges. It was surreal turning onto my street. The yard man, Lupe, was at the house and greeted me. My good friend Jan had opened the house up and helped me to unpack. It was great to see them.

Now as I rest at home, feeling disoriented at the strange familiarity, brimming with memories, brain dead tired, I simply take pleasure in the happiness of our cats who seemed to always believe I’d be back and needing their sweet kisses.

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I’m slowly putting things away and approaching the mountain of mail and other obligations. When I tire I rest and enjoy catching up on TV I’ve ignored happily for so long. I think less TV and more creativity is in my future. However, I’m binging on a couple old faves, and Game of Thrones which my nephew infected me with, and have just watched my first episode of House of Cards because Linds got Netflix while I was gone. Uh-oh!

My favorite thing that I’m saving for last will be to open all the swag bags of little souvenirs I procured on the trip. It will be like Christmas!

Thank to my friends for following my posts, living vicariously, checking in, giving feedback and making me feel connected and happy to have you along for the ride. Special shout out to my Facebook “regulars”. You know who you are. Y’all are the BEST! And spend entirely too much time on Facebook like I do. LOL!

Ain’t life grand?!?!
Much love to ALL, 😘
Kim