HITTING THE COAST: Crimson and Clover (album) – Tommy James and the Shondells
Pot Pit Stop
I admit, with little shame, that there are few cliched philosophies to which I do not religiously adhere to. With When in Rome being foremost, I inevitably and immediately found myself at T.E.R.P Collective in Lincoln City, Oregon. Having already spent a whole 24 hours in this notorious marijuana-legal state, my economic contribution towards the ever growing dispensary population was due.
Situated just off the highway as you enter the wee(d) town, the house-like building with grey shingles and white pillars would hardly strike you as a store front of this degree apart from two green crosses marked at each door and a small sign above that reads, RECREATIONAL AND MEDICINAL MARIJUANA SALES.
The parking lot was empty save for a battered station wagon and a contrastingly pristine looking bicycle lying flat on its side. I nestled Van Morrison comfortably between the two and arrived at a locked door, a surveillance camera staring deep into my pot-curious soul. A buzzer sounded, the lock snapped open and my admittance was approved.
Sterile, white walls surrounded glass cases of neatly displayed jars, their labels all facing immaculately towards me. Two men stood behind opposing counters. One had dreads, the other did not. The dreaded man was helping another dreaded man, clad in khakis and a notable tie dyed T, bearing the comfortable gait of a regular.
I stood for a moment, wondering if this segregation was intentional and whether every dispensary has a prerequisite of at least one dreaded employee, for ambiance or solidarity. Then I began to question my own appearance against the likes of the dreads and tie dye, before rationalizing, mere seconds later, that if anyone had seen the beast I had pulled up in, my validity in this joint (pun intended) could certainly not be challenged.
“Can I help you with anything?” I turned my gaze to the non-dreaded man from the opposing counter. He wore a navy blue button up and a disarming smile.
“Well I don’t have dreads so it seems you can.”
“Nothing. Sorry.” Awkward silence ensued. “Well…” I searched for a name-tag in the standard vicinity of his chest in hopes of lifting this abysmal first impression with a few drops of icebreaking familiarity, but none could be found. “….friend… it looks as though I am in the market for some government approved gonga. A little Mary Jane. Chronic… Broccoli, if you will.”
“Yeah, sure… I heard it in a movie once.” This was a lie. I had not heard it in a movie. In fact, I had never heard it at all. I had simply run out of street names and ran with the first green object that popped into my useless void of a brain.
“Huh. What movie?” Shit.
“Uh. No clue.” Not your best, Chels. “I was stoned.” There you go.
The nameless friend’s smile turned to that of a smirk. Nailed it.
“Well, then. Any idea of a specific broccoli you’re after?” He winked. I stared at him blankly. “Sativa? Indica? Hybrid? Pre-rolled? Concentrates? Edibles? Vapes?”
“I’ll take them all.” More silence.
“You don’t do this much, do you?” I racked the same void for something cleverly contrary but alas, only the truth prevailed. I shook my head in resignation.
“Alrighty. Well, how bout this. How bout I make you up a little package. A bit of everything. Except maybe not the concentrates… or the vape… I’m assuming you don’t own a vaporizer?”
Another lowly head shake.
“Right. Give me five to put this together.”
“I drive a 1978 Dodge Van Guard!”
“…….” He looked at me with mild inquisition, then shrugged his shoulders indifferently.
He twisted off the lid of a jar labeled 9lb Hammer as I wished desperately to be struck dead by one. For the remainder of my dispensary devirginization, the now impenetrable silence swallowed us whole; not unlike the way by which I would eventually consume the special peanut butter chocolate chip cookies that this fine, dreadless gentleman placed last in my custom bag of herbal boom.
Coastal sunset in Lincoln City
With just enough time to watch the sun set on this quaint, seaside town, I pulled Van Morrison up to what seemed to be the waterfront hotspot for Lincoln City locals and their wayfaring friends. The pinks and blues of dimming light fell upon crowds within the masses. Children with toes braving the cool, rolling waves. Elderly couples bundled in layers, huddled close on intervals of park benches. Boys throwing balls, narrowly averting heads of the otherwise occupied. Infatuated, young couples intertwined, their feet buried in heaps of sand, their bodies becoming a single silhouette against a setting backdrop.
A soft breeze swept my hair from my neck. I licked the salt from my lips and closed my eyes. I had made it to the coast.
Getting the boot in Newport
Having previously decided on “camping facilities” in the neighbouring town of Newport, I waited for the last of the clouds to shift and darken before hopping back into my trusty transportation for the final stretch of the day’s travels.
Not ten minutes into hunkering down amidst towering blue and yellow signage, book in hand, whisky freshly poured, a rather aggressive knock on Van Morrison’s exterior jolted me to attention, whisky flying from its glass and onto open pages.
“Security!” I opened the door to two figures aglow by an alarmingly efficient flashlight.
“I like your curtains.” A thick, masculine woman in her later years nodded in the direction of the pink and orange flowered fabric that hung from my door windows. This was the voice that had announced their presence, and almost certainly the same knocking fist that had cost me half a glass of booze. Already, I didn’t like her.
“Thanks. My mom made them.”
“You can’t park here.”
“But it’s a parking lot.”
“But it’s Walmart.” The large, young man beside her stood in silence as we rallied back and forth. It seemed his job was merely to intimidate, though he looked no more ominous than a puppy chasing its tail in a field full of daisies.
“Not this one. Newport has the right to refuse after hours parking. Off you go, now.”
“Huh.” I hung at the doorway, helplessly looking about, in an attempt to emphasize my lack of alternative squatting measures. I sighed.
“There’s a truckstop a couple miles east out of town.”
“Ah, marvelous. How do I get there?”
“Leave this parking lot. Go east.” I couldn’t tell if Mrs. Robust was kidding.
“Right. Here’s the thing. When you say east to me, what I’m actually hearing is a completely foreign concept which means absolutely nothing. I’m gonna need more from you than that.” The woman leaned her head in closer to the doorway, inspecting what should could see of Van’s internal organs.
“And you’re traveling in this thing alone?” I nodded, confidently. Rosanne looked at the daisy puppy and raised her eyebrows. “Get on this main road, take a left at the Subway. Keep driving past the cemetery and you’ll eventually see it. It’s not that big.”
“Right.” She had lost me at Subway. Suddenly, my head was filled with visions of meatball subs and soggy bags of pickles. No room remained for rights or lefts. I resigned myself to getting lost. But at least I’d be lost with a full stomach.
“Just the one. Where’d you get that flashlight?”
“Canadian Tire.” My gaze immediately shifted to the daisy puppy. When he spoke, his voice was much lower than I had expected, but his face made no change. Much like his parking-nazi partner, if this was an attempt at a joke, it was 0 for 2.
Somehow, I managed to find the disconcertingly lightless truckstop, but not the Subway. My skill for alternative navigation should have been rewarded. With a footlong sub. Alas, only a constant whizzing of fast cars would abate me; their velocity rocking us ever so slightly into a wary slumber, keys in one hand, pocket knife in the other.