To beat the mid-morning rain, we lit up the trike and left before dawn.
Angie, out for her morning constitutional, stopped to talk.
After Angie had a stroke, a doctor told her that she wouldn’t walk again. She did not accept that prognosis.
As a child, Angie lived on Alcatraz Island for over a year (beginning in 1969) while First Nations activists insisted that a treaty obliged the U.S. government to return surplus federal property to tribal control. She remembers being told to put a wet cloth on her face if soldiers or police attacked the kids with gas.
To First Nations people, America’s Founders were invaders. What does Angie think of modern immigrants? Jeffrey explained how America is behind many of the pressures that drive desperate Central Americans north to seek refuge, as is their right under U.S. law. He asked Angie how she feels about asylum applicants.
Angie said, if immigrants don’t keep her from doing her thing, she’s happy to have them come. She said some people complain that newcomers “take jobs” from Americans. She doesn’t agree, noting that many local jobs go begging. Angie herself worked in lily bulb production in nearby Smith River. Many Americans won’t do work like that. Why give newcomers a hard time if they just want to provide for their families? Live and let live is Angie’s motto.
Angie took some photos.
Then she gave Jeffrey her blessing, and two big hugs.
We continued north on bike lanes, through Smith River . . .
. . . past cattle and elk . . .
. . . over a tribal border into the tsunami zone . . .
. . . past an ad for a certain vegetable, past a roadside rockslide . . .
. . . to the Oregon line.
We biked 22 miles to Oregon. Now we had to bike 22 miles back to the car. In the rain.
In Crescent City, we loaded the car and retraced our route north.
Past a Crescent City lighthouse.
Along the Oregon coast (there was a moment of sun).
Uh-oh. Heavy rains washed out Highway 101 north of Brookings. It will be closed for months. We followed a 13 mile detour on scary narrow winding unfenced Route 704 . . .
. . . that climbed steeply from sea level to 1700 feet (520 meters).
We encountered logging trucks, a speeding Porsche, pickups and trailers, and pouring rain. It was no place to bike. Jeffrey complains about driving, but sometimes there is no other way.
We ended the day in Gold Beach. Jeffrey walked to the coast to see the sunset. On the rocky, muddy path . . .
. . . sat Thomas in a wheelchair. He said someone pushed him there; it was not evident how. He wanted to be pushed 50 yards to pavement. By levering and lifting the chair, Nurse Jeffrey managed it.
En route, Thomas talked about his suffering as a 1970 Vietnam War draftee. Now, he said, other Americans suffer in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said wars continue because people make money from war.
We think about contractors’ billions for the border wall. About the billions paid to public and private jails to “detain” asylum applicants (who obey our laws) and other immigrants (like visa “overstays” or unauthorized workers, who at worst committed a civil offense equivalent to overtime parking). About the billions spent to administer an immigration system that doesn’t comport with American morals or meet American needs.
Thomas is on to something.
The detour made Jeffrey late for the sunset.
After dark, Jeffrey bought a pizza. Proprietor Larry (who declined to be photographed) was an OR nurse for 30 years. He’s friendly and intelligent. Yet when Jeffrey mentioned the Ride and refugees, Larry said he doesn’t want to admit people who don’t already speak English (although English is a late import: ask Angie). Larry said prior law required newcomers to speak English (never), that immigrants’ children don’t assimilate (they do), and that there is massive non-citizen voter fraud (there’s no evidence of this). Jeffrey explained his doubts and asked for Larry’s sources. Larry said he trusts a couple of Web sites that he would not name. Hmm.
It’s hard to convince people who have made up their minds. Larry’s theories have no more effect on us, than Jeffrey’s information (to which Larry listened politely) has on Larry.
We appreciate today’s reminder that there are different points of view. Angie’s reassures us. Larry’s scares us. And Thomas’s makes us sad.