Monday, August 1, 2016

Day 93 : Nero At Callahan's Lodge

6 miles today
934 miles to go

It's dark, it's still, it's quiet. The breeze I fell asleep to last night stopped some time in the night. It's four am, pancake day. I start shuffling around. I deflate my mattress. The hard ground rises up to greet my back. “Okay, I'm up.” I eat breakfast in my tent. It's so dark I can barely see to pour water. This adding-a-Starbucks-caffe-mocha-to-your-granola thing is becoming a habit. I do so again today. I camped here last night with only a liter of water so I really don't have enough water to have a mocha and granola unless I combine them.

I leave as the sun rises on Mt Shasta. I see it pink in the early morning sun while I and the world around me is still in the shade. I can see interstate five down below me in the morning’s pink half-light. I wonder if I have service. I do! My phone beeps and it's a voicemail from some family friends I haven't seen for years. They live in these parts and want to get together when I get to Ashland. The message is from a few days ago. It's early in the morning. I call Andy back, I talk to Patty. Yes, they are available today. Cool! Lunch with friends. The hiking here in Oregon is so mellow, relaxed. Or maybe it's just me. “Six miles? That's easy.” It is, 

I arrive at Callahan’s at seven forty five. I buy the works, the ‘all inclusive’ package. I get a robe, a couple of towels, some soap, shampoo, lotion. I set up my tent on the back lawn. I sort through my clothes, dirty and clean, and put them all in the dirty pile. Then I bring them along with the clothes I have on to the combo laundry-shower room for Thru-hikers. There’s no wait. I'm the only one. I throw all my clothes in the washer then stand by the shower. Always stand by the shower rather than in the shower when you turn it on. Two knobs, hot and cold, which one's which. Not what you'd expect. For some reason the reaching the correct shower water temperature is proving to be elusive to me. I stand there fiddling, too hot, too cold, too hot again, too cold, again. Is the candid camera? Are they switching the hot and the cold? Is the washing machine sucking all the hot water? The cold water? Finally I get somewhere close, a little cool, but tolerable. Shower time! A slight tweak, a little warmer, oops, wrong way, or wrong knob. Hot, hot, other way! There's a delay in the system. Cold, cold! Slowly, small movements on the knob equals big changes in temperature. Okay. Now shower. 

My clothes are done about the time that I am done. That whole knob adjustment thing took way longer than it should have. I throw some clothes in the dryer, other I'll let air dry. I put on my wet shorts, they'll dry fast. I walk to the front desk in my robe and shorts. Two boxes for me. My food, my shoes. I walk my boxes back to my tent. Then I walk back to the dryer to get the rest of my clothes and walk them back to my tent. My tent in the sun will dry these clothes in no time.

A young friendly guy approaches me and my tent, the only tent on this vast lawn. A lawn, I've been told, that sported a hundred tents last night. “Is this your tent? I am going to be watering the lawn. I can start down at the other end to give you a chance to move it over behind the gazebo.” I look where he's pointing, it's a gravel road. “You can move it back after I water, about two hours from now.” Well, you can't just ‘move’ my tent. You have to take the stuff out of it. Which means pack the stuff back into my pack. I carry my boxes to the gazebo. I repack my pack and pack my tent. I stuff my mostly dry clothes into the top of my pack. I move to the gazebo. The water comes on and soaks the lawn while I repack my food in the gazebo

In all my walking to and fro from my tent to the shower-laundry I see fellow thru-hiker Five Hundred sitting in the breakfast bar waiting for his food. I joke with him every time about not being served yet. I walk in and sit down at a table for my unlimited pancake breakfast and he comes and sits with me. Finally, the server walks out with his first plate. A few minutes later he comes out with mine. A computer glitch, “the computer isn't working right,” we are told. What? the computer is making pancakes? Pretty cool computer, except when it goes down and they have hungry Thru-hikers expecting unlimited pancakes. They must have called in a human cook because the pancakes came out plate after plate until I was stuffed. So it's not unlimited, I misunderstood, it's all-you-can -eat. When I stopped eating them they stopped coming. 

Patty and Andy come while I am lounging in the shade of the gazebo. I note the time and run to the front. Sure enough they're here. Yay! We sit and have a great lunch in the restaurant. Except the computer is still down and we got a handwritten bill. That and they were out of tarter sauce. Fish and chips with vinegar and ranch dressing is a reasonable facsimile. The service and ambience more than make up for the minor inconveniences. We had a fun time remembering the past and reliving moments that we both remembered filling in details that each of us forgot. Like the time we almost died sailing his boat, but that's a story for another day. Thanks for lunch Patty and Andy. 

I lounge back under my favorite gazebo. Sour Rip and Swag show up. We hang out resting in the shade. I decide that the grass has had enough time to dry and re-set up my tent. I start seeing more Thru-hikers we sit around laughing and chatting until dinner time. I go into the lodge and sit at the bar. I order a peach milkshake. Sour Rip told me they make them with half and half. She wasn't kidding. I consume my shake then get the all-you-can-eat spaghetti. I get the local Amber Ale to go with my pasta. I sit with Early Bird, Anthony, and a bunch of other Thru-hikers. The owner comes by and asks us to send them a picture of our shoes when we finish, they want to start a tradition of creating a collage of all the hiker’ shoes who stayed with with them. She also tells us about the Russian computer virus that has crashed their entire computer system. The staff has been awesome and so friendly to us thru-hikers even though behind the scenes it must be really hard and frustrating to have to doing everything by hand. This is an awesome place to stay. Batdance and Rockbiter sit down with Five Hundred. It's like a trail family reunion. I see people I haven't seen for hundreds of miles. One giant plate of angel hair pasta with meat sauce is all I can eat. I sit for a long while after laughing and hanging out. I'm feeling tired even though it's still light outside. I sit down and visit with Five Hundred, Batdance, and Rockbiter. We sit and laugh and talk for a couple of hours. Now I'm really tired. I head out to my quiet tent on the lawn. Less quiet than I thought, the freeway is so close. I stick in my earplugs and lose track of everything else.

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