Monday, September 22, 2008


I should finish this. It could be funny and maybe even say something sort of like the Barflies article I wrote a while ago. Too bad I'm lazy.

I biked past Safeway and took a left to a small house on the side of the highway, where Sheldon lived. Sheldon worked as a pizza delivery boy in Leavenworth. His job was easier than it sounded. Driving around delivering pizzas was fun if you blasted the radio, and smoked blunts all night. It could even be exciting. He drove up a road to a house on North Road once and caught the owners humping away in their hot tub. The man gave him a twenty dollar tip on an eight dollar pizza. Another evening two beautiful girls answered their door in the nude. Sheldon was normally a happy twenty year old. That night though he spent twenty-five minutes on the phone explaining to a local what a Meat Lover’s pizza was. Somehow the customer did not comprehend peppertoni, sausage, bacon, and ham all being on one pizza pie. To deal with the sex, the nudity, and the ignorant Leavenworthians, Sheldon smoked a lot of hippie lettuce. He handed me a pipe loaded with some sort of purple Gummy bear herb. I lit the bowl, and inhaled. As I coughed, I heard a loud plop. And there it was, the tiny grey sponge that made my brain, limping away. My brain was smart enough to see when it wouldn’t be needed anymore.

I pulled myself together and took off, pedaling back to my makeshift room in the basement of a Peshastin orchard house. The wheels on my back spun quickly, happy with their new life. Originally the bike came into its life as a fixed gear bike with no brakes. The wheels used to be linked directly to the pedals so when I wanted to slow the hipster death trap down I had to stamp on the pedals and skid to slow down their speedy revolutions. The long hill down from campus in Santa Cruz felt like suicide and eventually I transformed the bike to its present state as a single speed road bike complete with a front and rear brake. I ride a few miles through orchards and vineyards to work everyday, pedaling along the North Road. Last night though, the fastest path home was Highway 2, a route I rarely take because of the whizzing traffic.

Unfamiliar with the area, I rode around dazed, lost, and still quite stoned. I had just moved to Peshastin. Earlier that year I lived in Santa Cruz, but during that time I spent a month and a half in Vegas, as much time in Sonora and Yosemire, and double that in Toulumne and San Francisco. Then there I was in Washington. I wondered where my home was as I rolled to a stop sign. While I waited for the stop sign to turn green, I tried to recall the last place I called home. I spent a lot of time in Santa Cruz. But what was that place? For three and a half years, I slept in a tiny tent in the woods behind UCSC. I stacked my classes so I only attended school two days a week, spending one day on school work, and the other four heading off on climbing trips to Zion, Smith, and Yosemite. I could barely call my tiny camp a home. I kept my sleeping bag, a couple sets of clothes, and my economics books in the nylon shelter but little else. I was only in Santa Cruz to go to class and wait for my next climbing trip. I was on an extended climbing trip in Leavenworth, one that had resulted in me getting a job and sleeping in the dungeon of the Peshashtin house. I still could not remember where the house was though I did realize that stop signs do not turn green and pedaled into the tiny town of Peshastin

Half of the time, I am broke. The other half of the time, I do not have any money. I finished school at the University of California at Santa Cruz in the middle of June and headed straight to Yosemite. Graduating was not good. With the sponsorship of Pell Grants and Federal Direct Subsidized Loans, I managed to pay for climbing trips, buy gear, and climb a lot for four steady years. Recieving my degree meant a dry well; no more student loans. I needed to work and be able to climb somewhere. My old friend and climbing partner, Jens Holsten, instisted that I could find a job in Washington. “It will be rad," he told me in the Toulumne Meadows parking lot. "You can stay at the climber's house in Peshastin, you'll just have to spot and belay for room and board. Plus, we can carpool to Leavenworth." The Icicle Ridge Winery needed help in a couple days, and Jens, a typical dirtbag, needed a ride. Imagine that.

We left California, and headed to the northwest. Outside of Seattle, Jens picked up his Toyota Tercel, a rusted washing machine of a car, whose muffler was held in place by a coat hanger. The hour and a half long trip took its toll on the car and it broke down in the Grocery Outlet parking lot the next time it drove more than twenty miles. Ghetto. But before the big break down, I followed the rattling rig across the Cascades, heading east on route two, passing through the evergreens of the wet side of the Cascades towards the dry side of the mountains. On the way through Goldbar, one of the local bouldering spots, a crew of firemen plied a sedan from the inside of the local bar. The driver had backed up six feet into the building, all the way to the rear doors, knocking over a section of wall onto her car, and destroying the neon Budweiser sign. The woman, who looked like she had gotten lost on her way to a Twisted Sister concert, swayed her frazzeled hair while she talked to the police. The woman’s teeth described the scene in Goldbar. She could have eaten corn on the cob through a chain link fence.

A few miles beyond Goldbar is Leavenworth, a town loggers established in the middle of the Gold Rush, around 1860, making a strip of businesses out of the saloons and brothels. As the need for lumber decreased, the economy declined, and the boom town slowly became skeletal and desolate. While Leavenworth's fruit industry made significant contributions to the economy with the hills of pear, apple, and cherry trees, the town needed more. In the 1960's Leavenworth locals made a last ditch effort to bring business, adopting a Bavarian theme. Now the town boasts status as Washington's second most popular tourist attraction with a strip of restaurants and gift shops all built like a village in the Swiss Alps. The alpine setting of the area also attracts many adventuorous Washingtonians. A half dozen rafting outfits run daily trips down the white water of the Wenatchee and Tumwater, both of which feature excellent kayaking and raftin. Besides the boaters, Leavenworth attracts backpackers and hikers, who often make the twenty mile trek to view the Enchantments and the large trees, conifers which burst into glowing yellows and oranges in the autumn. After their outings on the river, their hikes on the rocky hillsides of Icicle Canyon, or listening the non-stop accordion waltz in the town green, the tourists often walk along the Bavarian fronted streets, stopping by the Munchen Haus and Kink Ludwig's to stuff themselves. Most people come to Leavenworth to eat and drink and they are fat and drunk.

When I first arrived at the Peshastin house, a dirty Bjorn Borg was already sprawled on the living room furniture. Luckily, Max, one of my housemates, banished the dirtbag to the basement and I replaced him on the couch. I searched for work in nearby Leavenworth, stopping at Der Copy Shoppe, the Gingerbread factory, and Das Rad Haus. When I applied for a bussing position at Visconti’s, a local Italian restautrant, the manager examined my resume, glanced at my academic work, and told me, “Don't you think you are overqualified?” He had obviously never seen me work. Still, Max and Jens assured me that I could find employment. They had even found jobs, though they were not always ideal. The Fudge Hut once employed Max, having him sell chocolate and wear the local costume for Octoberfest and the tourist filled summer months. He packed fudge in his liederhosen. Eventually, I took the job, at Visconti’s; the manager, John Morgan, needed help and he hired me three weeks after I dropped off my resume I cleared plates, set tables, and boxed food. I also broke glasses, dropped dinners, and hide next to the ice machine when the restaurant became busy. The other bussers wondered why I worked there. They asked me how old I was, if I was married, and what my degree was in. Then they shook their heads. The servers thought I should apply for John’s job, a start to a career with responsibility, benefits, and stability. I wonder if they hated me.

In four weeks, I would start an internship at Climbing magazine, a small step toward a real career. I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to sit in front of a computer, and stare at a monitor til my eyes lost focus, arranging twenty-six letters into something understandable. Though I worried that my brain might plop out of my head, the internship gave me a direction. Boulder, Colorado. And with another move, I needed money, so the bussing job made sense. It was temporary, I hoped. I did not want to get stuck in a vortex of a gypsy life style, moving from one climbing destination to another without ever settling down. Either way, I would not remain a bus boy nor would I stay in Peshastin. I was going places.

I wished I could remember where the Peshastin house was as I biked back past the tavern, then past the post office, then past the tavern again. I tried to settle everything out in my head. I knew what I was riding: my single-speed. I knew how I got to Washington and I knew that I would leave soon too. I knew where I was and where I would end up but nothing in between. I was Leavenworthless.

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