Water is a charged word here in California and many of the places I visited this summer were feeling the effects of the global climate change currently underway. Reservoirs and mountain lakes were desperately low. Places such as Grant Lake, Shasta Reservoir, Don Pedro and Hetch Hetchy all were well below norms. Photos of the discolored granite and long stretches of rocky shores tell the tale better than any words do. Of course, as I sit here typing this, rain has been pouring down in Yosemite all day. I'm sure it won't take long for Californians to forget about any silly notions of drought and it'll be back to car washing and lawn watering in no time.
Certain places feel good from the first moment you're there. Mount Shasta was one of those places. Sitting at the southern end of the Cascade Range, Mount Shasta rises like a lone giant out of the surrounding forests. Below it's western flank sits the small town of similar namesake. It's just like any other little mountain town, but this has a little more of a sixties, hippy flavor to it. The volcano has been shrouded in legends for centuries. Some of the Klamath Tribes speak of a time when the sky god, Skell, who resides at Mount Shasta fought the god of the underworld, Llao who lives at Crater Lake. Skell won and placed Mount Mazama on top of Llao and filled it with water to restore peace. I always liked this image of two great gods having a battle of epic proportions from peaks hundreds a miles apart. But if that legend is too old for you, maybe you'd enjoy reading about the crystal city of Telos that lies beneath the mountain. Apparently, in this city relationships are based on unity and universal consciousness and people only work 20 hours a week. It seemed odd that a legend like this would bother with the work week schedule. Although the Bible did tell people to chill on Sunday.
Humboldt County is home to some of the most majestic trees on the planet, the Coastal Redwood. For some the redwoods bring visions of hiking through tree covered mountains and dark forests. For others the redwoods bring visions of dollar signs. That makes logging a touchy subject. Some people like the jobs the timber industry gives. Some people like trees. Some people hate loggers but love stick built homes. Some loggers just want to work and not be bothered. I know if I went into my office one day and some guy hand cuffed himself to my easel then started screaming in a bull horn and refused to let me work, I might be frustrated as well. But I guess I'm not cutting down old growth and ruining towns.
It's not the act of logging that's reprehensible, it's the corporations that use awful practices. Let's use Pacific Lumber as an example. They practiced logging with a sustainable growth policy for decades until taken over by Maxxam in 1985. They wasted no time and soon afterwards, clear cutting of the redwoods began in earnest. Eventually the company tried to strong arm the government into dropping environmental protections. In the end, they just declared bankruptcy after they got what they wanted.
It seems that if you want to pollute and nab all the resources, you just do it while the court case is proceeding. That can take years. If you are found guilty, who cares, the trees are already gone and the profits dispersed. It's really quite an ingenious little system if you don't give a fuck about the planet, salmon, the Eel River, local communities, forests, and future generations. The whole scene got people riled up. Protestors were pissed, students mobilized, car bombs were set off, Maxxam left, a small token of trees were left standing and the tax payers footed the bill. If you enjoy getting angry and you want to read more, I suggest googling: Charles Hurwitz.
Northwest of the scene of that crime lies the community of Petrolia along the Lost Coast. This entire area is amazing. A long winding road takes you from the isolated community of Whitethorn past acres of farm lands then redwood groves, beaches, meadows, and lots of cows. Then just repeat that cycle for hours until all of a sudden you pop out in this surreal little neighborhood decked out in these overly ornate victorian buildings. It actually felt a little Twlight Zoney, but no aliens came and no clocks stopped.
I did get jealous of all those cows living in paradise though. I wonder if they realize what a great situation they have? They just get to eat grass and hang out in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Of course they are then slaughtered, chopped up and sold to the market. So I'm not sure if I'm really jealous of them. I guess I'll find out if I'm jealous after I learn how I go.
Just like every rose has it's thorn, so too does Petrolia. A few miles outside the town lies a Scientoology vault. Apparently they build these cement bunkers spread throughout the country and fill them with their literature in case of a nuclear war. At first I laughed a bit, but then I imagined a world where the only literature that survived some nuclear holocaust would be found in these bunkers. It's kind of a horrifying thought. Maybe what they teach is the truth but any organization that practices such secrecy, has got to be hiding something sinister. In the beginning most religions start out being filled with weirdos, so why would this one be any different? Maybe Scientology will take over the world in ways that Mormonism, Catholocism, or any other similar cult never could. It makes me want to build my own bunker filled with facts to counter act the spread of ridiculous knowledge.
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