It’s been twenty-four days since we had to evacuate our home. Never before have I heaped such violent thoughts upon a man I will never know. Our woods, dubbed Too Dangerous, are still a no-go zone. US Marshals have moved into Camp with infra-red gizmos, weapons, whiteboards and night cameras. They can confirm a cougar’s out there (because one stalked a Marshal) but Aaron, the armed and deluded misfit, is playing hard to get.
Apparently he used to play war games in the forest with his Father, so now he’s in the biggest war game of his life with two murders under his belt and 80 men hunting for him.
The Other Camp Mom wrote on Facebook, ‘Forgive me Mother Earth, please kill this man.’ I wasn’t brave enough to like the post, but I nodded. I’ve never wished death on another human, but I, like half the town, want Aaron shot. Everyone’s waiting. And on edge.
The Camp Dads went back to feed the animals and watered the garden with loaded guns! Gardening has never been so grave.
Trying to do normal things like preschool and soccer practice, drifting between beach camp sites and motel rooms was making us feel like middle-class refugees. Especially in Fort Bragg where the stubborn coastal fog is more annoying than Wellington wind. Waiting, as Dr Seuss so eloquently put in Oh! The Places You’ll Go is the most hopeless feeling.
…Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or the rain to go or the mail to come, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No…. Or a murderer to GO!
By day thirteen, back in a Fort Bragg motel, there was only one thing to do: drink tequila. I embraced the idea with the enthusiasm of a Cossack and, apparently, when I got home I went to kiss the Dimple but accidentally head butted him then laughed raucously long passed the nano-second he found it amusing. Amidst my cross-eyed haze I did say, at least twice, we had to GO ourselves. There had been an invitation to a festival of sorts. Details were hazy but it was what we needed to slip out of normal life and stop waiting to go home.
Since 1972, a bunch of free-spirited, creative people head to a part of California that is so remote it’s called The Forgotten Coast. Like Burning Man, everything is taken in: water, wood, supplies, a fully functioning kitchen, BBQs, entertainment, instruments.
Everyone cooked up a storm. The women danced. The men watched. I learnt to hula hoop. The Dimple and a chap with great side burns heaped logs as heavy as coffins onto a monstrous fire. Bob and the ‘Dactyl ran wild. We felt liberated – who needs a home! Once everyone left, we decided to keep moving.
Steve Miller’s ‘Time Keeps Slipping Into The Future’ came on the radio. “That’s so appropriate it’s bordering on cheesy,” said the Dimple.
We headed north to a mountain, east to a waterfall, west to a hot tub and lake. Names floated by on green and white signs: Legget, Dunsmuir, Grimes, Mt Shasta, Nice, Burney and Weed. I wanted to go to Susanville – to find out whether the town really was started by a bunch of Susans – but we turned left at a junction and ended up in Chico, bumping into a dear friend who happened to be looking after a wine cellar for the weekend.
We’ve had those chance meetings, offerings and meals that only happen when the itinerary is wide open.
“Where are we sleeping tonight?” drifts over from the back seat most afternoons. We’ve feasted on some gorgeous scenes. Bob and the ‘Dactyl are getting fussy about campsites – does it have a waterfall?
Now we’re around San Francisco, chasing the last of summer staying with our lovely law-sis.
The murders had made me feel like America wasn’t my country (which is a really bad line to use at a party, I only did it once). Only here, I thought, could we brush so closely with a demented killer. But now that we’re exploring this goddamn beautiful state of California my mind is open again. I’ve conceded demented killers, suffering from delusional paranoia with no welfare system to prop them up, live all over the world. Even in New Zealand.
Voodoo dolls of Aaron are not occupying my mind anymore. There is an end to his story but we can’t bring it on. We’re not waiting to go home; we’re having a big fat American adventure.
We’re off to Great Places!
Today is our day.
Our mountain is waiting.
So…we’d better get on our way!