I sleep like a rock. My alarm is set for 5:30 - but I lay in my sleeping bag a bit longer. I pack up my tent. It's dusty from being in the dirt ground. I eat brown sugar cinnamon poptart with some coffee water. I repack and sort my bag and I throw away all my bits of trash. It's cooler than it usually is, so I dress in my puffy and tights.
7am is approaching and I head towards the booth where Rider agreed to pick me up. It's very quiet in the campground and I contemplate what it must be like to spend all your time cruising around in an RV. I smell bacon and coffee and my mouth salivates. A strange way to enjoy the outdoors I think. I pass by tents as big as my apartment. I'm perplexed.
Rider shows up 5 minutes early. I discover he drove an hour out here and I mildly chastise him for it, but thank him at the same time. His shift starts at 11 and its no big deal to him. "Let's find some coffee," he says and I wholeheartedly agree.
We find the little convenience store in Charleston.
"How tall are you?" the woman behind the counter asks.
"6'7," Rider says. "It's usually the first thing people ask me," he tells me. For some reason I hadn't noticed his height and suddenly he seemed very giant to me as we stood next to each other pouring shitty coffee into our paper cups. We mutually agreed that being being tall people is a great thing.
I offer to buy his coffee for the driving trouble, he puts up a minor protest but I insist.
We're back in the car. I have a vague idea of where we're supposed to go and he's slightly unfamiliar with beach access I am aiming for, so we shoot off in the general direction of south.
We discuss our favorite plants and trees. The joys of living in Oregon, our adoration of the desert, his herpetology interests and my plant spirit interests and where those things might take us. Our conversation slows his driving and I find myself feeling OK with wasting a little time with him. I'm relaxed for once not knowing really where I am going, I don't care. We get slightly lost and turn back around to find the beach access.
While we talk, he refers to nature as, she.
As he speaks to me I watch his hands gripping the steering wheel. My eyes go down his thick wrist and down his arm. His skin is olive, I think. I take in the shape of his knees and how they connect to his thighs. For a second, I entertain the idea of what would happen if I asked to make out with him. Wait, were we exchanging words?
I snap out of my reverie and chide myself. Damnit. I frown and habitually bite the inside of my cheek and turn to look out the window, trees are rushing by. A flood of guilt fills me and I think about my boyfriend Daniel. I think about monogamy. I think about commitment. I finish my coffee and my heart palpitates from the caffeine. Bits of guilt and frustration are pecking at me. Everything feels right, and everything feels wrong right now.
We're in the parking lot, we hug goodbye and I pee quickly before hitting the beach. He's gone by the time I'm out and I'm heading heading to the little trail into the sand. An old hippy man turns to me, "wind ain't too bad today."
I stumble through the deep dry sand and a dog is running down the beach as I approach the wet sand, it looks like a blue healer. Its owner, a woman, is screaming after it from far far away. She seems to be sobbing and screaming at the dog at the same time. Over and over again she screams and cries to her dog, flying far down the beach away from her.
"Fuck, fuck, fuck," I say to myself stabbing my trekking poles into the wet soft sand.
I cycled off my birth-control about three weeks ago. My libido hovered suppressed just below the surface of synthetic hormones and here it was, red hot and seething up through me right now. How do I reconcile this? I feel shame and I don't. Fuck it all, I'm just a god damned human. What am I even doing here right now? I consider the state of my Venus in Aries, and what this means to me and how it manifests in my life. I never feel quite like I fit my traditional gender role in my sexuality: to be passive, meek, docile, subservient and demure - as I was raised to be. I am everything my parents trained me not to be. I am Mars. Blood, fury, penetrating, war, the hunt, aggressive, direct, the battle and conquest. Always friction, always lusting for more. "Fuck you Mars," I say.
I think of a quote I read in a great book once:
More than a King.
I take deep breaths and try to push everything aside. I come to very curious rock formations and tide pools, as the tide is out low. The air smells like raw oysters and makes me hungry. Hundreds of bright green sea aenonome cling to a long tunnelling rock crevice and they look like hanging uncircumcised cocks and full dripping wet pussies - depending on if they're open or closed.
"Whhhyyy are you mmmmocking me nature?" I say this in a whining crying voice. Then I laugh at myself.
I turn to hike the beach, utterly frustrated with everything - yet also deeply satisfied by life and it's strange conflicting complexities. Sigh, I think. I am the only person on the beach for a few miles. I can see the small feet of a woman and her pack of dogs. Eventually, she loops around and passes me. We wave at each other.
She's 50 feet behind me when her three dogs decide to turn on me. They barrel at me at full speed, snarling and snapping. I turn to them with my trekking poles to keep them at a safe distance (these poles are surprisingly handy with aggressive dogs).
"YOU MOTHER FUCKERS!" She yells.
"REALLY? REALLY YOU'RE DOING THIS RIGHT NOW? GET THE FUCK BACK OVER HERE!" She screams. She's in a rage. Apparently very angry at her dogs and so I don't fault her. I keep walking. The beach is desolate and windswept.
Soon, I see hoof prints and then there are two women on horses coming towards me in the distance. Arabians it looks like, by the way they hold their tails high, the cadence of their feet, their whole conformation. They're well bred and expensive horses by the looks of it, also large for their breed.
They loop around something big and sandy colored. Buzzards hover on the high winds.
Eventually I make it out, a dead bull sealion. No obvious reason for his death.
I pound my way an easy 8.8 miles into the beach access to the State Park, I snake my way down a flat road. The sun is bright and the winds high. The ranger at the booth flirts with me while I check in. I can see the glint of his wedding ring - he's taking his time telling me where everything is and asking me questions.
It dawns on me that I might be ovulating.
I head to the hiker biker site and I'm the only one there. I poke around at the food lockers. They have USB chargers in each locker! What kinda magic is this? I plug my things in and dump my gear on a picnic table. I wander around to select my tent site. The ground is both sandy and mossy. In the moss though, is rattlesnake plantain. I find it very strange to see this little plant growing so ferociously in such a high traffic spot.
Eventually an elderly man shows up, a cyclist. We eat together and he tells me about hiking the PCT and old PCT lore. He talks a lot about ultralight pioneer Ray Jardine.
"You'll meet people out there and hike with them for two weeks and then never see them again. You'll never forget them though," he tells me while putting a handful of almonds up to his mouth.
The day is still young, and my carb laden meal of fancy ramen hits me. I lay out my ground sheet ontop of the rattlesnake plantain and moss and nap in the dappled sun. In and out of sleep, the wind swooshes through the pines. I can hear the arrival of other cyclists. I shoot up out of sleep, suddenly very awake.
I stumble from my sleep spot and to the lockers.
"Hello!" comes from behind me. I can feel that my face looks like sleep. Two cyclist around my age are sitting on a bench. They introduce themselves as Reese and Josh. They ask if I'm a cyclist and I tell them I'm a hiker. I have a routine spieI give them, because I get this question a lot. They're nice and friendly to me.
I walk in a daze towards the lockers. It would appear that the USB charging ports know that my battery pack is a battery pack and it won't charge, but it'll charge my phone. Whatever.
I grab another round of ramen and sit at an unoccupied picnic table. I flick my lighter into a pool of alcohol contained in a modified soda can and it pops into life. Water boils and then I add my ramen while squishing up a packet of spam. I get a whiff of tobacco on the air and the deep craving rears its ugly head.
Reese is cooking his own dinner and smoking a rolled cigarette. "Hey! Could I bum one of those from you?" I ask. To my own discomfort I suddenly realize how much I miss nice good people and conversations. I bring all my food and cooking gear to his table and roll a cigarette. I'm excited for the heavy buzz I know I'll get. Reese is boiling pasta and speaking at me but I am so focused on this perfectly rolled cigarette. I light it and, puff, puff.
Reese flirts with me a little. We talk about Montana. I feel a little needy and I hope that I'm not crowding his space and table. He's 5 years younger than me but I can see the wear of sun on his face, he offers me food. Definitely ovulating. As we eat together and whole bunch of Belgians show up and they're fascinated by my cuben gear. They take pictures and ask me questions. They pop bottles of wine and speak in a sinuous language and cook a rich feast while laughing and drinking.
Josh comes back from the showers. There's talk of a beer run and I pitch in. They both ride into Bandon.
I decide to call Daniel. We talk for a while, and I miss him. Everything feels really weird and I don't know how to explain to him my experience out here. Reese and Josh ride by and wave. The beer has arrived so I hang up with Daniel.
We all sit together and bullshit, swap stories and smoke too many cigarettes. I learn that Josh is a Gemini/Leo and Reese is a Taurus. In our slightly drunken state, we grab head lamps and Josh smacks his knee on a very ill placed fire pit. His kneecap is split open and blood is pouring out. Reese and I gather all of or things and patch him up. We all gravitate towards our respective tents and in the wee hours of the morning and wind, pass out instantly.