We’re playing pool in a back room of the only bar still open in town. The pockets are so big we can hardly miss. Americans like to win at things and big pockets means more winning. Tim steps outside for a cigarette and in the time it takes me to calculate my next improbable angle shot he’s befriended and infiltrated the local band of mis-fits, (they’d take that as a compliment believe me) the local theatre group hanging out after rehearsals. Pool is indefinitely postponed and conversation topics range from Shakespeare to Trump and back again. One couple are in the middle of the should we have kids discussion, with Trump’s America not the only factor in play.
“His family’s f****d up, my family’s f****d up. I don’t think we should be having kids.”
We leave Coos bay the morning after and wind through the low lying mountain ranges that start to lead us gently eastward away from the Pacific. This is full-on logging country; trucks transporting red pines make their way up and down the valleys between the forest and the sawmills. We pull off for gas in Glendale which a plaque tells me was founded in 1888 and housed the first US community of Russian Jewish immigrants escaping persecution in their homeland. The railroad tracks that gave the town its raison d’etre still run through the middle like a rusty line on an old map. We grab a drink at the Morning Star cafe which looks like a jumble sale clearance room. Photos of John Wayne jostle for space with life-size wooden figures of Native American chiefs, cheesy portraits of 90s sitcom stars, old sandwich toasters, Perry Como LPs and a paperback collection made up almost entirely of sci-fi and fantasy novels.
All the men in town have tool belts and carry hammers. Tim and I look somewhat incomplete and start to feel inadequate. Time to get back on the road…
Ashland is tonight’s gig destination and reminds me of West Chester from my tour in June earlier this year even though it’s on the other side of the country. It’s a well proportioned university town known for its annual Shakespeare festival and it’s the last Oregon date before hitting California.
Time to head to the venue and plug in…
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