Down, down, south, south. Highway 101 on a Sunday morning. A three-hour trip begins in rain, substantial rain, falling straight from the sky. No wind to move it like walls.
I’ve got local radio on. Obscure stations coming in and out, playing equally obscure songs such as something by Maria Muldar I’ve never heard before. Just who was Maria Muldar and why is she singing to me on February on the Oregon Coast?
I dig her voice a lot. It’s got rain in it, which of course strikes me as irony because her biggest hit is about a midnight oasis in a desert.
I see a young woman wearing a small back pack, walking in the shoulder, taking on the phone. I see a young man carrying an enormous black umbrella. I see a woman walking a husky. Shaky-looking men ride shaky-looking bicycles. The men and the bicycles are heavily laden with their stuff of transient life.
Drive on. Watch. Listen to the radio and think about rain, and my recent reunion in rain with a friend.
This feels like it could be a five inch day on the Oregon Coast.
Through a clearcut that seems to last forever, one of the most brutal I’ve ever seen. Murder. Mud. Stumps. Slash piles. Slides. Death. Deconstruction. How can this be legal? Driving through this ecocide darkens the soul.
Water running over the roadways. Puddles. Ponds. Lakes. Police lights. I slow down. I see a wreck on the highway, well, a actually off the highway. A driver apparently splashed through a lake, lost control, flew into the air, and landed in a flooded field. I look for a body and don’t see one.
Big trucks tailgate. Who are these men?
Concentration wears me out. I need a respite from rain. I detour to a tavern I’ve always want to visit. I pull up and go inside. It’s 9:47 in the morning and the joint is open. I order coffee and meet the owner of 42 years, working the Sunday morning shift. We talk. It takes all of 30 seconds to realize I’ve just walked into one the greatest Oregon Tavern Age stories of all time. I take notes. I’ll write it up later. I’ll add it to the book about Oregon Tavern Age life that never seems to end, but how can it when you visit a tavern in a deluge at 9:47 a.m. on a Sunday in February, and a great story greets you like a nice welcoming pat on the back?
The coffee jolts me to life and I drive away, taking my time, noticing rain, wondering if I’ll make it home before a culvert plugs with beaverwood and 101 becomes impassable.
I drive and drive. The creeks flow brown and swollen. The rivers run think with wood. Rocks tumble down from the cliffs. Radio disappears. Into the heart of record rain, but it’s not dark.