Today, in sun (at last!) and moderate wind, we took a 23 mile counterclockwise spin around the Coos Bay area.
Collin is an Oregonian. The others just arrived from small town Nebraska to look for work. Jacob, raised in California, is sick of Nebraska’s boiling humid summers and frigid winters. California rents are too high for them; Oregon is more promising.
These guys aren’t hicks. Two of them knew the expression “kangaroo court”. Many lawyers don’t understand that idiom!
Jeffrey told the gentlemen some of the things being done to asylum applicants in our names. Separating their families. Putting them in “detention” (jail) for private profit. Sending adults and kids to court where the only lawyer is on the government’s side.
Our new friends are good people. They don’t like it.
We saw some of the area’s touristy bits. Fish restaurants and an eatery with BACON spelled out on its roof.
Then we recrossed the bridge and pedaled east over the center of the peninsula. We passed residential areas, woods and fields.
Just before we completed the circle, we stopped at the Coos History Museum. Jeffrey took my photo between a log-grabber, and a pulley embossed “Skookum Timken 8080”.
Then we loaded the car and left for Newport. We limit our daily drives to biking range. As when we pedal, on these “Ride drives” Jeffrey doesn’t listen to music. He focuses on the road and, to the extent he is capable, he thinks.
He thought there would be room at the first motel we tried. He was wrong. But we lingered to talk to Valerie.
Valerie has worked in construction and on road crews. She takes indoor work for the winter. Jeffrey told her about the Ride.
Valerie was married for 13 years to a Mexican man. He lived in the U.S. for 15 years, worked, paid taxes, and was a good father to the couple’s two children. For technical reasons, Valerie’s husband had to leave the U.S. to be processed for a green card. But because he was present in the U.S. for more than a year without authorization, he was barred from returning here for 10 years. A waiver is possible for spouses of U.S. citizens. But in those days, he could not ask for the waiver in advance. He had to leave the U.S. first.
The waiver was denied. Thus Valerie’s children, aged 4 and 6, lost their father. And in the sixth year of the 10-year waiting period, their father, Valerie’s husband, died in Mexico of cardiac arrest.
Our heart goes out to Valerie. What was done to her and to her family, was done in our names.
At our next stop we met Chirag.
Chirag lives in Portland and owns various businesses. Sometimes he comes to his Newport motel to supervise.
We asked him how he has been received in this part of the world. He said that he lived in Toronto for years, and got to know the NYC area on visits to a friend in Jersey City. Chirag said people in Portland and Newport are generous and welcoming—moreso than back east.
Like the proverb says, “An example is not a proof.” Valerie and Chirag each have a truth. Talking to both imparts a greater truth: Good people coexist with bad laws.