Alternative Remedies (USA Day 116)
“Now George Law Curry, he was a gold miner, but he wasn’t a very good one,” began the man, loud enough so that everyone on the bus could hear. In this case, everyone on the bus consisted of Amy and me, the bus driver and self-appointed tour-guide himself. He reached into a transparent plastic wallet and picked out some notes, handwritten on coloured paper. “He was in fact a writer, and a talented one at that. George Law Curry, who gave his name to Curry County where you’re currently riding, was actually the first man here in Gold Beach to…” and the speech continued despite even its imaginary audience’s failure to listen.
This was the Bandon to Brookings public bus: a vehicle much smaller than most of the RVs that infest this road, but big enough to carry our bikes and a strange man who knew a lot about the local area and was hellbent on presenting it.
“See, we get all the A-listers coming here, all the Hollywood stars, but all they do is get out an’ take a picture. What I want to do is give them something to see, something to stick around for.”
His tour was clearly over, and now we had the explanation for its fictional existence.
“I’m gonna lay it all on. There’ll be kayaks to hire, sodas on the beach, and folks’ll learn all about the Gold Beach area. Well, this is my stop. See you next time.”
On the pavement, the man fiddled with his papers, getting them back into presentation order. We rode for a further stop into the ugly, cookie-cutter superstores-in-a-grid Brookings, then scraped our bikes off the bus and re-loaded the bags. A planned 85-mile day had been shortened by 70 thanks to the bus, leaving the final 15 along a shoreline drive, then up into the southern Oregon hills to find our hosts. This was our first day of riding since the injury, so protection and monitoring were the key words on today’s powerpoint. The views of hazy horizons and sparkling seas had once again been stunning, marred by the regret of not being able to ride them, but we know there’s much more of that further south, and we’d feel worse if we hadn’t moved at all since the tendon twanged that full week back.
Halfway up the hill, Amy felt the ankle pull, and spent the rest of the ride pushing hard enough with the left to spin round with the right, which any cycling expert will tell you never to do. Right at the top, on a hillside overlooking actual real-to-life California, we met Karen and Jim and their friends Bill and Sue, who were struggling to make their television work due in no small part to the quantity of cannabis that they’d claimed to have smoked.
Deep in their eighties but never too old for a new interest, Karen and Jim had been introduced to this haze craze fairly recently, and were now all-in. Aware of Amy’s injury, Karen offered us cannabis balm, cannabis chocolates, CBD oil and cannabis. Their three dogs (who came in a range of sizes, ages and scents) all enjoyed a CBD-heavy diet thanks to an oddly delicious-smelling rice and vegetable bake that Karen cooked up, laden with turmeric, apple puree and weed.
The house was full of handcrafted soap (Karen’s latest hobby), jars of homegrown fruit, delicious baked goods and other delights, which we were encouraged to partake of without needing to ask. “I’m a democratic socialist,” Karen repeated. “What’s mine is yours.”
We obliged gleefully, relishing in the added frisson that anything in the house might unexpectedly be packed with cannabis.
The four of them had been trying to get the TV to work for hours. I suggested resetting the router, eyed the blank faces, reset the router and watched the Netflix logo appear on the screen. It’s tough being a genius. You tire of the adulation after a while.