Stranded for Four Nights at a Truck Stop in Coburg, OR

So last blog, I explained how I drove my car into a ditch, met some crazy people, and ended up stranded at a truck stop at the end of June. At this stop there was only a TA (semi trucks would come and go every two minutes, I swear.), a McDonald’s, a Shell gas station, and The Coburg Crossings Cafe. White people with mobile homes the size of Salinas tour bus wouldn’t stop! Definitely a popular stop for travelers, but not our kind.

We were parked in the Cafe parking lot. The cafe reminded me of a hospital cafeteria. I think that’s why the elder white folk liked it so much. Old people would be at that Cafe all day! And you know what? We were parked in that lot for four miserable days and only three times did someone ask if we needed any help. (I hate Oregon.) Having recently been in Humboldt County, we were shocked. There were caring people, nonetheless!

The third day of being stranded we were approached by a woman called Ariel, but when we asked for her name the first time she replied in the sweetest voice, “Just call me Mom.” By now we’re crying because this women is the only person who has spoken to us since we were pulled here three days ago.

So anyway, she just approached the ugly red truck and asked if we were ok. We were kind of desperate at this point so we let her know what had happened in the last week. After hearing us out a little she invited us to her van, which is tagged up by her grandchildren and hitchhikers she’s picked up along the way. Rad! We met her man, Critter. It was funny when we were explaining to her how these men took advantage of our lack of automobile knowledge she was like, “Who are they? My boyfriends a schizophrenic. He’ll go wild on someone!” She was great. We needed her at that moment.

Ariel and Critter were on their way to Seattle to visit Ariels mom for her birthday. They had two travelers with them. Some old drunk man, who was tolerable, I guess. And a man called Hobo. This man was probably in his late 40's and had been hopping these trains for decades. He had a farmers hat, a brown leather backpack, a bandana that had the American flag pattern on it, and the clothes on his back. All dark brown by now.

Ariel took us to her van and immediately started packing a bowl. Lifesaver! Finally Jess and I got to vent to someone who listened and cared, plus she got us stoned. Now we’re relaxing, kind of hungry. We hadn’t ate all day and had like $7 left. (Note: Food stamps were out by June 18th. Camping is actually more expensive.)

Ariel comes back from wherever she was and tells us to go eat at the cafe. We were like whaaaa. She’s like, “Yeah, there’s a man who offered to feed us but I want you girls to go in our place. We already ate today.” Here we are sobbing again, not sure how we could ever thank her for this.

We head inside with Jesse and Hobo. Jesse was meeting his recently late brothers wife at the cafe. She showed up shortly and walked inside with us. It was kind of awkward I’m not going to lie. You could tell that Jesse was hurting. Turns out he hadn’t communicated with his brother in years and now he’s dead. What stung the most was that his brother left most of his money for him. He explained to us how he drank his sorrows away for a long time. One thing I didn’t like was when he blamed his alcohol abuse on being an “Indian” (this term is used way too often in the north to describe Native Americans). It was sort of uncomfortable because Jess is native and he had just pointed that out. Besides that, he was just a sensitive guy going through a rough time. It was sweet watching him and his sister-in-law catch up while we waited for our cheeseburgers. They hadn’t seen each other in seven years!

Hobo shared the story of how he came to be Hobo. It was the head of a train hopping gang who blessed him as Hobo and he wore the name proudly. I admired that. We got into our story a little, but we could notice how overwhelming it was to hear. So much bad. But Jesse, Ariel, Critter, and Hobo were all good. They were a breath of fresh air when we felt suffocated.

That cheeseburger and fries were delicious!! I am forever grateful he didn’t just buy us McDonalds across the street because he could have. After eating, Jesse gave us some advice about loving those around you because you truly never know and by the time you do it could be too late. We all understood and took his words to heart.

We finish up. Ariel and Critter are still outside in their van. They found a man to look at the truck. About four men take a look and no one knows. Lots of guesses and no real solutions. She lets us know that we’re probably gonna have to leave the son of a bitch here and hitch it. We were well aware, but I was honestly clueless as to what to do next. I was used to traveling in a vehicle where I had shelter at night. Once I leave this vehicle I’m legit out here.

It didn’t take long for the crew to start informing us on train hopping customs. They were so tempted to sell the van and hop trains with us, but they had a destination and we understood. Before they departed, Ariel asked us if there was anything she could help us with. Honestly, letting us eat in her place was more than enough. She gave us a bag of shake (the leftover trimmings of buds) and insisted we take a picture with her. After the picture she let us tag her van. It was cool. They had places to go so we said our farewells, they wished us luck and they were off.

Jess and I knew we had to start downsizing once more. This time only enough gear to hold on your backs.

That night we chose our favorite clothes, sorted our books, our music supplies, our art supplies, some medical stuff and camping gear. We didn’t have the appropriate backpacks so I had to stack two small camelbacks on top of each other, which hurt my back and chest. (Luckily, I have appropriate gear now!) There was a piccolo snare drum, a bell kit, a few drum pads, and a lot of percussion sticks that we had no idea what to do with. We tried craigslist and nada. After we packed most of our shit, we decide to go to sleep so we can wake up and get shit done.

*The morning of the towing will be next! Thank you for reading!

@feminaflower 🌸