to Northern California,
As you pass from the foggy womb of urban familiarity that is San Francisco and head north to the land where Chevy Vs Ford is a serious bone of contention, please take a moment to familiarise yourself with the information provided in this pamphlet. As the former Oregon Governor, Tom McCall states above: Visitors welcome, just don't plan on staying. Northern California and Southern Oregon (NCSO) is a culturally distinct area with it's own set of social mores and traditions which should be respected at all times.
If a car or truck is present. Check the license plate. Each state has it's own distinctive emblem and colour. If the plate is from the state you are in that is your first clue. A local car or truck will have evidence of mud splatter and/or will be dusty and may display a large antenna (No, this is not a Cell Phone antenna, but a Citizens Band Radio or 'CB'. Cell phones will not work in most areas where you are going). Check the make of the vehicle: locals will not drive Mercedes, BMW's, or Volvos. If a truck is present, does it have a gun rack? Gun racks are hooks placed along the rear window for the horizontal placement of rifles, shotguns, or disassembled fishing rods.
NOTE: One gun and/or fishing rod is considered normal. More than 2 guns may indicate unpredictable behaviour. Also, watch for the distinctive 'banana' clip silhouette (see the recent Serbian/Kosovo footage for example).
Are there messages printed on the bumper or window? Most locals (or even incomers) have 'bumper stickers' with printed catch phrases denoting political or social attitudes. These are invaluable sources of insight when planning an encounter. Some examples:
Watch out for any stickers denoting an affiliation with the timber or fishing industry.
Visual Inspection of the suspect
Locals have several characteristic grooming and apparel styles that make identification fairly easy for the informed novice. The local will usually be wearing blue jeans -Levi 501 or Wranglers (here is a sub-group differentiation beyond the scope of this guide) --a flannel tartan shirt or blue and white (grey) pin striped work shirt (favoured by loggers), a baseball cap with heavy equipment or beer logo (CAT, John Deer, BUD, etc) usually encrusted with grease. Many have T-shirts with similar logos somewhat distorted by protruding midriff girth.
One tell tale sign is the distinctive ring pattern worn into the rear pocket of the jeans. Many locals chew tobacco (Copenhagen brand) and store the round package in the butt pocket. BEWARE when making this identification, as staring at a locals behind may illicit unpredictable or violent behaviour.
Contrary to the popular 'hick' image propagated by the mass media, locals of northern California/Southern Oregon extraction do not usually conform to 'cowboy' norms. They do not wear cowboy boots (often) nor do they ride horses, or shoot six guns (they prefer rifles or semi-automatic handguns). Most do not listen to country music -preferring 'classic' rock such as Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, or country rock (Leonard Skenard). As a group they are not overly religious (Oregon having the lowest reported religiosity of all states), and tend to distrust government and bureaucracy in general.Social Interaction and Safe Topics: A Primer
Most locals are outgoing and willing to interact with others. Your foreign accent will aid you here, as the novelty value will give you an edge over 'bog standard' tourists. Here are some do's and don'ts that will facilitate a positive outcome -and may even get you a free beer.
Use 'Stand of Trees' rather than 'forest' when discussing a specific area of the landscape. It may help to relate to natural resources as economic quantities e.g.:
'That is some fine timber (trees), how many board feet could you get out of that one?'
Similarly, a fallen tree is not to be mourned over. The local sees this as a resource to be exploited:
Refer to animals using similar language (e.g. Deer as venison). Locals appreciate natural beauty, but are reliant on the environment for livelihood as well as recreation. Giving any hint of environmentalist tendencies could prove a detriment to a smooth and enjoyable encounter.
If guns are in evidence (worn on a holster or in a gun rack) do not feel nervous for are no more than tools to a carpenter for the local. Most locals are familiar with safe firearm operations and only shoot 'what want's shot'. If you feel so inclined (and the local is relatively sober) feel free to ask questions about the firearm and mention that all hand guns are banned in Britain (roll your eyes or scoff at the idiocy of the policy). This will warm the local to your plight, and he or she may even let you shoot the gun. This is a rare privilege and should be reciprocated with an appropriate gift (beer, food, something denoting your country of origin).Safe gun questions: If a handgun ask:
'Is that a Smith and Wesson?'
'How many rounds does that hold?'
'What calibre is that rifle?'
Don't worry about gun faux pas, as the local will understand you are ignorant and will probably be more than happy to educate you.Avoid mentioning things like
**American police ('cops') love talking about their guns. This can be a method for distracting the typically sub-normal maladjusted individual from your lack of driving care or other minor offence. Remember, all 'non-shooting' offences are considered minor in the great US of A. (see Police in the wildlife section).
It is generally safe to say something disparaging about Clinton or Government in general. It would probably be best not to bring up the issue yourself, merely react to the local as appropriate regarding this subject. Use bumper sticker clues to modify your answers, although the local may enjoy a good debate. Use your discretion and if necessary bring up WWII and or offer beers.
Beer: That Liquid Courage
The subject of beer is touchy and ever changing among citizens of NCSO and two main group and one minority have been identified:
Brand Loyalists: These people have formed an emotional and or political attachment to a particular brand and will generally drink that brand throughout life. They are usually 'premium brands' from large corporate brewers such as 'Bud', 'Coors', or 'Miller'. Brand loyalists will drink other beer if offered, but will pass comment about the aesthetic inadequacies of the offering and refer to the 'usual brand'. Do not take this as an insult on your person as this is usual behaviour. If they are a strict brand loyalist they may have some of the preferred brand on hand.
Brand Pragmatists: These people surf on the ever changing economic ocean, and so may show a wide range of brand consumption based on environmental circumstances, internal drives, and desired drunk level end state:
for every day drinking or for getting seriously blasted this sub-group
will choose: 'Hams', 'Lucky Lager', 'Old Milwaukee' and 'Pabts Blue
Ribbon', 'Blitz',or other 'on sale' brand. Of these I would recommend
'Hams' and 'Pabts Blue Ribbon' as the least terrible. Prices range
from 4.99 -7.99 a case (24, 12 oz cans) and may be sold in half-case
('half rack') or six-pack sizes. Note: Lucky Lager can be sold
in 12 oz bottles ('Stubbies') that have puzzles etched on the bottle
tops. The beer is terrible, but the puzzles are sometimes very tricky
and can be used to help pass a rainy NCSO night.
Beer Snobs: Yes, even here you can find 'real ale' enthusiasts. No longer are all American beers 'like sex in a canoe: close to water'. Most mid-sized towns in NCSO have small breweries that produce beers of varied quality and at a premium price. Although the 'micro-revolution' has been greatest in the larger cities, even the smallest local store will carry several local brands -with new additions finding the shelves monthly. There are a wide variety of stouts, 60,70,80 shilling (bitters), and other odd flavours available (raspberry oat stout and other trendy mixes). Brand Pragmatists will dip into this cornucopia of goodness and in order to dispel the American beer stereo type you are advised to try them all at will. Some examples are : Rogue Brewery, Bog Water ale, and Pyramid -but there are countless others.
Note: do not waste a micro-brew on a brand loyalist, however a brand pragmatist will appreciate a 'touch of the good stuff'. Fear not the Brand Snob, as they are very rare and probably too boring to capture your attention.
You should also remember that laws regarding alcohol differ in each state. 'Hard Liquor' is available in super markets and normal food shops in California (where it is cheaper) while vodka, whisky and the like must be purchases in a state run liquor store in Oregon. Cans and bottles in Oregon have a redemption deposit, so each can has a 5c additional charge (with some bottles being 10c or 20c) above the advertised price. However, empty bottles or cans can be returned to a store for the same value, --a policy that reduces rubbish and can make you money after a large party. Note: the cans must be whole (not crushed) to redeem the deposit.Drugs
Drugs are readily available throughout the NCSO area, however discretion is advised when seeking out a contact in order to purchase the desired substance. If 'white' drugs are desired (coke, heroin, methanphetamine, crack), it may be best to make a larger purchase within San Francisco, as possession of these substances carry significant fines and/or prison sentences and rural dealers may be difficult to find (although there are many large smuggling operations taking in quantities from fishing boats etc, they are not disposed to selling to tourists). Within the city, you may wish to interact with a homeless person who could put you in touch with a local dealer. As always beware of getting ripped off.
Marijuana is another matter entirely. NCSO is an optimum environment for growing marijuana, and many small communities depend on dope money to boost the stagnant rural economy. Hombolt county is particularly famous for the sticky 'golden' buds produced by a combination of cool morning breezes and high mid-day temperatures. Unlike the Hash imported into Britain, most marijuana is available in the raw form 'As God intended' and comes in several varieties:BUDS: These are the flowering cylindrical structures from the female cannabis plant. They are typically very high in THC -a little goes a long way. Prices are between 20-30 dollars an frac18 (1/8th) ounce, or 10 dollars a gram. Restrict your purchase to fac14 (1/4th) ounce in order to avoid a larger fine if caught by the police. Best smoked in a pipe or bong. Can be mixed with tobacco or shake (see below) and rolled into a powerful spliff. Variants include:
Indica Bud: The classic bud: compact, sticky, usually very heavy high. Yields are high on this bushy plant making them a favourite among growers.
Thai Sticks: Occasionally a shipment of Tie sticks washes up on the lonely shores of NCSO from far away Thailand. This rare treat appears as a long green/brown cigar shaped structure, with smallish buds wrapped around a ridged bamboo or cannabis stick. A premium eastern delicacy, one should smoke carefully as opium can sometimes be added as a bonus.
Mexican Brown: Nasty but cheap, Mexican buds are to be avoided unless there are no other choices available. These small brown buds are dry to the touch and dense (as they are packed for import). May have seeds which should be removed prior to smoking.
Purple Cush: the Bolinger of buds, these gems wash ashore from paradise itself: Hawaii. If fresh, the green outer leaves are fine and tangled around a red-purple interior. Light (not sticky) these buds are a wonder to behold and will likely cost above the mean. May be offered as a gift by friends.
Skunk or Swamp: Do not be put off by the unattractive nature of these buds. Born in a harsh swampy environment, these sativa or indica buds are typically small with almost black leaves and are ultra sticky. Pressing lightly with a finger, these buds will rise with the finger seemingly defying gravity. Well worth the price. Many local growers will have favourite strains that have distinctive flavours and mental effects -much like fine wine. If a choice is available, avoid buds with seeds, as those will usually have lowered THC due to unfortunate male fertilisation.
SHAKE: Shake is the 'cheap beer' of marijuana. These are the dried plant trimmings and is usually much lower in THC. It can be smoked much like tobacco, with a single joint giving a short lived moderate high. Rasta spliffs are made from this, as large quantities are required for a full gonzo experience. Sometimes 'Bud Shake' is offered. This premium shake is made from Bud trimmings, small immature buds mixed with the larger less powerful leaves. Bud shake can be identified by small red or purple strands residing within the mass, small (1 -2 cm) buds, and a fresh heady fragrance.
Shake can be purchased for between 20-50 dollars an ounce and is a favourite for making brownies, cakes, and for mixing down more powerful buds for smoking in spliffs and for general smoking pleasure.
There are many edible (and very tasty) mushrooms growing in NCSO including, chanterelles, meadow, sutashi, and of course psilocybin varieties (Liberty Caps and Cubensis). For fuck sakes get a good mushroom book before eating anything
How to score:
Always a difficult subject. It may be best to broach the subject with a friendly local or to seek out surfers or other scruffy types. Use your best judgement and be discrete.Wild Life: Not just a case of beer and a willing sheep
Unlike your own 'civilised' country, NCSO hasn't yet made extinct all dangerous animals, and in fact, some noxious species may outnumber hominids in certain areas.There are four main species that can cause trouble to the uninformed visitor to our fine land.
Black Bears Ursus Americanus:
The bear population, like that of all predators, have risen in NCSO due to reduced hunting and increased logging that has opened up areas to prey foraging (Deer, Elk) and berry bush growth in the new spaces open to the sunlight. Still, the chances of seeing a black bear (the only species in NCSO) is very small and if you do see one consider yourself privileged.
Bears are big hairy omnivores with huge teeth and sharp claws that can weigh in between 200-500 pounds. Grain fed tourists (Vegetarians) are favoured by these animals as they tend to bury the half dead individual for a few days to allow 'ripening'. This decomposition process is hampered by preservatives and food additives stored in the fat cells of the unhealthy quarry and so the meat takes on a chemically smell and is less than pleasant to the pallet. None the less, a hungry bear will take what is on offer -however, in an attack situation it is local custom to push the vegetarian/hippie in the path of the charging bear, while the meat eating smokers make their way to safety. Hey.. it is you or them and what tree hugger wouldn't appreciate giving his or her body to nature?
What to do really if you see a bear.
Black bears are very skittish and do not seek the company of men. An encounter may only be evidenced by a fleeting black tail and a horrendous crashing through the forest as the great beast makes between 20-30 miles per hour through the thickest brush land. However, spring doth bring cubs and mother black bears are not to be trifled with. Take heed
Never never mess with bear cubs, no matter how cute they are. Mama will attack and likely eat you for lunch. She is never far so don't be a dumb tourist.
If you see a bear cub or cubs and no mama: Calmly retrace your steps going back from whence you came --keeping an eye out for mama. It is less likely that she will be where you have already been (or you would have spooked her). Walk slowly making little noise -do not run.
If you see a bear cub and the mama together: If they are together you are probably OK. She may rush you but will probably not bother as long as the cubs are behind her and away from you. Keep faced forward and back away and try not to make any threatening gestures. Remember, keep the vegetarian between you and the bear.
If you are between the bear and the cub: This is the worst situation you can hope for. The mama wants to get to the cub, and you are in the way. This is probably the only time when black bears are known to do an all out attack. Fuck the vegetarian it is everyone for themselves.
When Bears Attack!: If a bear decides you are on the menu -for whatever reason-you should follow these guidelines: ** Bears sometimes make a 'bluff charge'.. but who can know if it is a bluff ?? best treat it as real
Run down hill: If it is time to run, try to run down the steepest slope you can. Bears have short front legs and large powerful back legs and so tend to fall over when moving down hill. This is your best chance as even Linford Christy cannot outrun a black bear on flat or upslopes.
Climb a tree? Not unless you are fucked: Black bears are great climbers and the general rule is, if you can climb it so can she. If it is too small for her to climb she can push it over (really). If you are pushed this may be your only option, but expect the bear to rock the tree back and fourth either breaking it or dislodging you. You might try jumping from tree to tree. Make a lot of noise and throw branches (or better yet shoot the thing if you are armed).Some good advice from our Alaskan brothers:
It is also a good idea to watch out for fresh signs of bear activity. Outdoorsmen should recognise the difference between black bear and grizzly bear droppings. Black bear droppings are smaller and contain lots of berries and squirrel fur. Grizzly bear droppings have little bells in them and smell like pepper.
Bold bears are known to frequent camp sites in order to plunder rubbish and are generally harmless, preferring carrion, berries, and grubs to hard-to-catch prey. Make your body too much trouble to catch and you shouldn't suffer as there are many other less troublesome sources of food to be had in the lush NCSO.
Indeed, for all describe the same beast. The cat in question is between 90 and 200 pounds with a long tail (as opposed to the Bob Cat which runs between 20-40 pounds and has a short stubby tail). This rarely seen creature is also growing in population and so is suffering from territorial pressure which has altered traditional behaviour in recent years. The male generally roams a 50 square mile patch, which in heavily forested land, gives plenty of resources for the animal. However, the deforestation has increased deer populations (the primary food source) and so cougar populations have risen. Many housing developments have infringed into cougar ranges - but have maintained sufficient wild life areas to sustain a viable food source for these large cats. Thus, the lions have been known to live within suburbs of large cities and have developed a taste for poodles and children (who could blame them -yum).
If you see a Cougar: If you see one, you are again lucky.. and in little danger. They are not stupid creatures and can be intimidated if faced front on. More likely it will meander off leaving you with the fleeting memory of encountering one of the world's great predators.
When Cougars Attack!: Cougars have been known to stalk humans, but seem to be intimidated by height. Many attacks take place when the full grown human is bending over -perhaps tying a shoe lace- or drinking from a stream. Like all cats they are stealthy and try to reach pouncing distance before striking. If you see a cougar stalking: DO NOT RUN. It can catch you. Face the animal and grab up a branch or stick. Make a lot of noise. Jump around screaming like a madman and swing the stick. Make yourself a difficult prey.. and if you have more beer than sense advance on the creature slightly. It will likely run off as you more trouble than worth.
SKUNKS: Maphitis mephitis: Not a new breed of kitty but a smelly menace.
Skunks come in two forms: the traditional skunk (much like Pepe Le Pew) and the Civet Cat (a much smaller version with narrow tail and perhaps even a worse smell) . The skunk is bold and seemingly immune to fear and packs such a sticky stench it is any wonder Nato isn't bombing Serbia with these pernicious creatures. The musk glands located near the butthole can imbue the unfortunate tourist with a stench that can last for a week or more - making the recipient most unwelcome in polite society or even the local pub
The skunk or civet cats will spay when threatened SO DON'T MESS WITH IT. They are mostly nocturnal, but may decide to partake in your camp supplies. The one danger is if you happen to step on one while hiking -as you are walking it may be sleeping- they are cranky when woken. When Skunks Attack!: An old woodsman told me that if you pick up a skunk by the tail, it cannot spray. Well.. do this only if you are insane or in a desperate situation. Grab the tail, and in one motion, heave the skunk away and run for your life. May the force be with you. If you are the unlucky bastard to be sprayed by a skunk, there are some tricks for getting the smell down to a manageable level:
Fill a bath with Tomato juice and lemon juice. Soak and shower many times. Old wives say the tomato and lemon neutralises the stink. Also, get rid of your cloths.. they are a lost cause.
Otherwise, just go up into the mountains and hang out for several weeks.
The Sasquatch: This hairy large footed hominid inhabits the most remote areas of NCSO usually presenting with brown long hair and a twinkle in the eye. Known for it's uncanny ability to reproduce sounds, any night sound -no matter how innocuous-may actually originate from this fur laden great ape. In fact, any unknown sound in the forest is likely one of these great creatures. Silent and fast, these creatures are known to raid camps for chocolate or red wine (particularly Gallow Red Rose), but are mostly harmless.
There are reports of a juvenile sasquatch being captured in the sixes river valley in the 1930's and the famous Patterson Film was made in Bluff Creek, California in the heart of NCSO.
One Variant of note is the Wendigo, which appears as an overly large Sasquatch with white fur and glowing red eyes. Not related to the humble sasquatch, this creature is a soul sucking vile spirit inhabiting the dense woods, bent only on evil and destruction. Avoid at all costs.The North American Police Officer (NCSO variant)
Superintendent (chief Oregon State Pig) LeRon Howland
Although not exactly wildlife, the police officer (cop) is another potential hazard you may encounter while touring NCSO area and are best avoided unless extraordinary circumstances are called for. There are three primary variants, each with different habitats and behavioural idiosyncrasies:
Warning: A police officer is more dangerous and probably less predictable than a Bear or Cougar and should be treated with respect.
State Police ('Stater'): Habitat: interstate freeways and major highways anywhere within the state. Occasionally within non-incorporated cities. Significant behaviour: usually older, experienced and less apt to discriminate against tourists (at least unlawfully). Overworked and sometimes testy, this breed is rare within Oregon as many traditional nesting areas have been eliminated by reduced public spending. California may have more. Can be identified by state crest on vehicle and sometimes wear octagonal hats.
City Police: This dangerous (and particularly inept) breed generally stay within a single nesting site and can be particularly annoying. Small towns and cities in NCSO seem to be 'training' grounds for young cops hoping to one day become a 'Stater' or move onto a more glamorous crime area. They are fresh from cop school and looking to impress. Also, City governments get a percentage of traffic ticket takings, and sometimes impose ticket quotas. Always drive the speed limit within cities and pray these bastards don't decide to pull you over.
Sheriffs and Sheriff Deputies: This breed moves within a 'county' or geopolitical area defined by the lowest devolved form of government. The sheriff is elected, and renown for enforcing 'Local Justice'. Remember, a sheriff is given power based on the votes of people from within the county: Not You.. They are judge, jury and executioner. I AM THE LAWWhen Cops Attack!
If a cop is following you (in a car) stay at the specified speed limit and don't panic. Wait for them to signal (via flashing light or siren) and then pick a safe spot to pull over.If they pull you over
1) DO NOT GET OUT OF THE CAR: this can be seen as an aggressive posture by the pig, and may result in gunfire
2) Roll down the driver side window before the cop approaches. This reduces arm movement when the cop is next to the car (see item 3) (best done while pulling over)
3) When the cop approaches your car, keep your hands in plain sight: on the wheel of the car and have passengers keep hands visible
4) Do not offer any information before initial contact. Let the cop do the talking. Smile and look the cop in the face and address the officer as 'sir' or 'mam'. Remember, the cop deals with criminals and scum all day long -and they can kill you and get away with it. A positive attitude can save your ass and can facilitate an advantageous outcome for you -and the fascist pig bastard.
5) After giving over the requested documents and shown you are not an immediate threat, feel free to banter. Inquire as to why you were pulled over (in a friendly way, as though you are not concerned), and mention that you have been enjoying the united states: 'Northern California (Southern Oregon) is great'.. etc
6) No matter what lame excuse the pig gives for pulling you over try to shrug it off as 'one of those things'. The pig may have a reason, but more likely they are just hassling you. Do not question the pig. They can kill you and they don't give a damn about the law. The pig may ask 'Do you know how fast you were going?'. Tell the truth.
7) It is at this point where the pig is making a judgement about if he or she should give you a ticket. Get the pig talking. Tell them you are from Britain and use the gun talk option
History: Not my strong point but here are some interesting titbits.
The NCSO coast was settled in the 1800's and in fact, Lewis and Clark made their final destination at Astoria. Oregon was a territory encompassing most of where Washington, Oregon, Nevada and California are today. There were lots of Indian wars and most of them were wiped out at some point. As you drive up the coast you will find various small family grave sites denoting this or that Indian massacre. It was pretty harsh apparently.
Things got interesting in the 1940's when NCSO almost became the 49th state of the Union, and many still yearn for freedom from rich mid-southern California and northern Oregon (Portland) political and economic domination.
(Originally produced November 27, 1941 and handed out to motorists stopped at highway blockades on route 99 outside of Yreka, CA.)
You are now entering Jefferson, the 49th State of the Union. Jefferson is now in patriotic rebellion against the States of California and Oregon. This State has seceded from California and Oregon this Thursday, November 27, 1941.
Patriotic Jeffersonians intend to secede each Thursday until further notice.
For the next hundred miles as you drive along Highway 99, you are travelling parallel to the greatest copper belt in the far West, seventy-five miles west of here. The United States government needs this vital mineral. But gross neglect by California and Oregon deprives us of necessary roads to bring out the copper ore. If you don't believe this, drive down the Klamath River highway and see for yourself. Take your chains, shovel and dynamite.
Until California and Oregon build a road into the copper country, Jefferson, as a defence minded state, will be forced to rebel each Thursday and act as a separate State.(Please carry this proclamation with you and pass them out on your way.)
State of Jefferson Citizens Committee
Temporary State Capitol, Yreka
There was also that incedent where Gov Tom McCall bought a bunch of surplus navy boats and formed the Oregon Navy. I am going to investigate that and give a full report
That's all for now. I'll keep working on this as and when I can. OH Here is a photo of my little bit of Jefferson