Fred Meyer Super Sucker & Coos Bay, OR – FUBA #2
I sit here tonight laughing my ass off and hope everyone enjoys a great story because you can’t make this shit up. This morning I experienced another marvelous encounter; you guessed it, Starbucks is involved and a local Fred Meyer grocery store in Brookings, OR. Last night the Fred Meyers parking lot was my reliable parking spot with other fellow RV travelers who were camped in their rigs for the night. I was just getting ready to tuck in for the night and some guy started up this machine that sounded like a turbine jet engine. I lifted my head to catch a peek of what the hell was happening outside the car and I saw guy rocking to some tunes in the cab of this enormous super sucker parking lot cleaning machine. Now this was not your average Arkansas street cleaning device that swirls the dust around, it was a west coast super charged mega vacuum that kept me up till 1am. This guy was more than thorough with his work, as he didn’t miss one inch of that Fred Meyers parking lot last night. Each time he swung around in the direction of my car I could literally feel the sand from the beach being sucked through my door jams. I was just getting ready to dose off after 2 hours of this parking lot vacuum insane marathon when he fired up his backpack blower for another hour to search out every little crumb of trash in the buggy line. Yes you know it, he even came over and blew crap out from under my car, which kind of freaked me out that he might look in the window of my car. Mr. Super Sucker finally shut down the racket around 2am, so the free styling budget sleepers in the Fred Meyers parking lot could get some dam sleep. They are very serious about their litter control here in Oregon; as they have signs displayed everywhere that state you will be ticketed $6050.00 fine for littering. I woke up this morning at 6:00am to the sound of another guy crashing buggies together in the parking lot getting the store ready for customers. I figured this was my sign to roll out of the Outback and start the morning at the Fred Meyers Starbucks for my free WIFI.
Today’s morning Starbucks conversation did not disappoint me; in fact it might rate as my personal favorite thus far. I plopped down at a window round table by an electric plug in as my computer was almost dead from writing on battery last night. I walked up to the counter and used my Gold Starbucks free refill card for my $2.40 Pike Place, heavy cream, with 2 Stevie’s, and immediately noticed the locals pouring into the seating area. There were a group of about 14 distinguished gentlemen who had pushed 3 tables together and were striking up a lively conversation about fishing. BINGO, I knew I had hit the jackpot in Brookings, OR for local history. I intentionally planned a portion of this trip to visit and learn more about my father’s history in the area during the 1920’s. My cousin Mary was extremely generous with gifting me some of her mothers prized letters from her brother Romer while he served abroad in the Navy during WWII, letters from my grandmother, and other historical family information. In addition, Mary provided me an old scrapbook of some pictures from the Brookings, OR area with the old homestead that my grandfather built in 1922. My sister and I have the originally photo taken in the 1930’s which hung in our grandmothers home in Rogers for over 50 years. It is unreal how incredibly similar the house remains today. For me personally I appreciate the opportunity that life has afforded me to trace some of my family history dating back to perhaps a happier time.
Much of my father’s family history is shrouded with two suspicious deaths of my grandfather’s first two wives, see Telegram from Western Union about Maggie the 2nd wife's death, the eventual murder of my Uncle Romer, and my grandfather’s suicide in 1948. Unfortunately, my father witnessed all these horrific events at the age of 12, which definitely impacted his social/emotional development as a young man and weighed him down throughout his life with relationships. I brought the scrapbook into Starbucks with me this morning with the hope to meet some locals and ask them about any memories they might recall from the pages. I would estimate that most of the gentleman at the fishing chat table were in their 70’s to 80’s, and a few of them had to be long term residents. After a few minutes of ease dropping on their conversation I swaggered over towards the tightly seated Boy Scout table arrangement and I plopped down in some guys seat that had just left for the bathroom. I said, “Hey guys I hate to interrupt your fishing meeting, but I have an old scrapbook that my cousin gave me about the Brookings area and wondered if any of you guys know where this is located.” I pointed to a picture of a sign called “Jacks Bridge,” which was in the vicinity of an old school house that my Aunt Pauline attended as a child. Several of the guys immediately said, “Hey I know where that is, why do you want to know?” Well that opened up a floodgate of show and tell with the guys and the memory scrapbook.
I explained the story of how my grandfather logged the wood from the area and built the house out of redwood in 1920’s. Many of the guys were retirement transplants from other parts of the country, however there were 3 men who had lived in Brookings since the 1940’s. One very cool gentleman Gerald served in the US Navy during WWII and worked in early jet propulsion experimentation at Jet Propulsion Laboratories (JPL) in the 50’s with Gen. Chuck Yeager. This man had to be in his late 80’s and should be in the Smithsonian with early rocket testing. I was in awe that we actually met and loved listening to his stories, as I am fascinated with early aviation. Gerald actually recognized Mrs. Rice who was one of the scrapbook pictures. The Rice family apparently purchased the old home from my grandfather in the late 1930’s. It was exciting to hear these guys get so perked up about someone wanting early history of their community. The men suggested I visit the local Brookings Museum as they might have more information about the Jacks Bridge School house. I thanked the gentlemen for their time and made my way back to the round table by the window, which was covered with a computer, backpack, map, papers, cords, chargers, and my coffee.
Another gentleman slid his chair over towards my table and introduced himself as Tim. He overheard the conversation I was having at the fishing circle and started asking me questions about what I was searching for here in Brookings. What happened next was a 3 hour conversation about life, personal trials, history, the future, setbacks in our country, poverty, homelessness, the KKK, living in the south, and his Father’s Day experience. Tim was very kind and curious about my blog writing, so I gave him one of my Post Cards from the Edge business cards as he wanted to follow my travels. We said our good bye with a handshake and a hug and I waved over to Tim with a happy heart full of great appreciation. I continued to write my blog till about 1pm when I suddenly received a text from Tim that said, “Hi Deb. I’m back at my place in Crescent City, CA and really enjoyed the talk with you. I did not receive the text with our picture. This phone is not user friendly as my Samsung, so I need to get the old phone activated again. I signed up for your blog. Look forward to following your adventures and you are welcome to stop by. Tim.” I wrote back to him, “Tim great to hear from you and enjoyed our conversation too. I love talking to people, as I find their lives to be authentic and soulful. Thank you for sharing your stories with me this morning. Stay in touch and follow my blog for some fun reading. Take care, Deb Walter.” I immediately resent Tim the selfie we had taken before he left Starbucks. About an hour went by and I received another text from Tim that said, Thanks for the picture and I read your blog and I’ sorry about your breakup. I was kind of shocked and did not know what to think, as I in no way mentioned that I was married to a woman. In fact we did not talk about anything personal except that he was divorced and did not see his kids much and I said I was going through a divorce and starting my life over at 48. It would not have felt appropriate to talk to a gentleman close to 70 about LBGT issues, not knowing someone’s viewpoints on same sex marriage. Nevertheless, I responded to Tim’s text with, “Life is a challenge, however it is your perspective and how you learn from each experience that adds to your future.” Tim responded, “I think we are on the same page with that. Like you I needed to get away from the drama. Thanks for all the positives.” I did not respond with any further texts and assumed that would be our last correspondence. Well the next part of the story is where it really gets funny, or at least I think it is funny.
I finished my blog post and loaded up in the Outback for a drive around Brookings and over by the harbor to check out all the boats. I absolutely love harbors, sailboats, coastal fishing boats, and seagulls. I spent about 2 hours down by the harbor and felt like I had accomplished everything needed in Brookings. I decided it was time for me to drive for a few hours and begin heading back down the coast towards Fort Bragg, CA area. I stopped at a local famers market and grabbed a pound of fresh cherries for $2.50. I drove by Harris Beach State Park one last time for a couple more pictures of those massive boulders that jet out of the sea. I left Brookings, OR about 5:30pm and planned on driving into Northern CA for a couple of hours down the 101 and catching a sunset somewhere on the coast. I had been driving about 30 minutes and I noticed that the evening sea fog was starting to come inland over the boulders. I thought to myself, “Deb you should take Tim up on the offer to swing by his place in Crescent City, CA and grab a shower.” Before leaving Brookings I did a little cash inventory on remaining funds to get back to Arkansas and I counted $325.00. I said to myself, “Deb you are in good shape with gas money, but no eating out or extra’s, certainly no camping fee’s.” As I rumbled all this information through my brain I started thinking about my last shower and I said to myself, “Oh hell Deb call Tim and just ask if you could come by for a hot shower and shave those hairy legs.” My girlfriend Janine told me before I left, “Deb don’t go all granola on us while you are out on the west coast.” What does this say about me since I have not showered in three days, wear flannel everyday, stopped wearing a bra, and pull my grungy hair up in a ponytail everyday? Considering I manage to talk to a lot of people everyday I figured it was time for me to clean up so my friends in Southern CA don’t make me sleep on the porch. Now let me clarify for my friends grossing out on the no shower issue. I always utilize the hell out of nice public facilities to brush my teeth and wash my face at night. In fact tonight I am at a swanky Safeway parking lot tonight in Coos Bay, OR, which is half way to Portland, OR. YES I said Portland, OR! I could just drive up and actually visit my friend Linda T and get that shower, as she is only a few more hours NORTH. I have performed my 2nd Epic FUBA of the journey. Earlier tonight when I called Tim and said, “Hey can I take you up on that hot shower offer on my way through Crescent City tonight?” Tim said, “Deb absolutely you are totally welcome to come by, but I apologize in advance that I have not unpacked a lot of boxes from my move.” I said, “Tim, don’t worry about it as I am just grateful and my friends will be grateful if I take a shower this week.” I mentioned to Tim I would see him in about an hour as I had just left Brookings, OR. Tim told me this morning that he lived about an hour south, and had driven up to Brookings, OR to check out the real estate options. Now I will admit that I did call my friends Beth and Janet in Sacramento telling them I was great and heading to Crescent City area tonight. I mentioned to Beth and Janet that if I did not show up for some reason tomorrow at least someone knew my last reported location. Janet is like a modern day Magnum PI and she would figure out what happened to me if I went missing at a strange mans house. I am not a foolish person and did run the scenario over in my head that I was heading to a strange man’s house to take a shower and had only met him once at a coffee shop. However, I have a pretty keen sense of people and did not have any red flags of a weirdo setup. Hell I was the one who called Tim asking for a hot shower, as the poor guy probably thought I was coming on to him. LOL. My plan was to put Tim’s address in the GPS, as I got a little closer to Crescent City, as I did not want to waste data on my phone. I set the cruise control on the 101 and was memorized and swept away by the absolute beauty of the ocean waves and giant rock formations off my left hand side of the car. I even stopped twice to take jaw-dropping pictures of the Oregon Gold Coast. I have run out of descriptive words to give details of the beauty in OR, so I better go hang out with Mary so she can get me up to speed with advancing my vocabulary. The evening fog decided to roll in early tonight, so I eventually lost sight of the ocean and actually had to use the windshield wipers. I am going to call this my JFK Junior FUBA moment, as I actually felt disoriented and lost my bearings in the fog. I started to wonder if I was ever going to see any signs through the thick evening fog with a mileage update for Crescent City, CA. One of the saddest aviation tragedies I have studied was the loss of John F Kennedy Jr. and his lovely wife Carolyn and her sister Lauren, when JFK lost his bearings orientation/vertigo when flying to Martha’s Vineyard for a wedding. A pilot’s worse nightmare is to develop what is termed, Black Hole Vertigo; which is a 3-way disconnection between reason, instinct, and reality and even an inability to tell the difference between up and down. They never made it to Martha’s Vineyard as their Piper Saratoga crashed into the Atlantic Ocean.
When I finally exited the fog on the 101 tonight I saw a sign and it did not say Crescent City, CA, it said Coos Bay, OR - 5 miles. I said, “What the hell is going on here? Coos Bay is heading NORTH on the 101 and I am suppose to be heading SOUTH. SHIT!” I pulled over to the first gas station and punched in Tim’s address into the GPS and it said - 106 miles, 2 hours 4 min fastest route usual traffic. OMG this was another EPIC FUBA, however I started laughing my ass off as this was such a great story to tell Tim. I called him and said, “Tim, this is Deb and I am not going to make it for that shower tonight, as I ended up in Coos Bay, OR and will be bunking it at the Fred Meyers again tonight. How about we meet for coffee tomorrow and I grab that hot shower at your place?” We both started laughing as he shared a funny story about how he pulled a similar FUBA while driving a truck in Texas as he realized he was driving EAST not WEST as sunset was behind the truck. I should have realized the obvious red flag that the ocean was on the left hand side of the Outback and should have been on my right heading south. Well at least when my brain finally checked into what my instincts had been telling me for 30 minutes I was not flying an airplane. I just pulled the Outback over at the Coos Bay Fred Meyer and decided to write this crazy blog FUBA story for everyone’s week to laugh with me, not at me! I pray to GOD that Mr. Super Sucker is not at the Fred Meyer parking lot tonight, so I can actually get some sleep.
May the Journey Begin Within You…