Harvesting Weed, Hops and Emotions

Over the years traveling I've picked up various odd jobs, like helping in breweries or pretending to be a ski instructor, but the most money that's come my way has come from the California marijuana harvest.

I kinda got sick of standard jobs living in New York, it's part of why I started traveling. There were no jobs in that town anyway, not unless you wanted to work forty hours a week.

After another good year (2014) of travels, Beer Camp release parties and traveling with Marilyn I was ready for harvest once again. I flew from Atlanta to Sacramento, a speedy alternative to my default of hitchhiking.

I'd been traveling with Marilyn and she convinced me to head to South Carolina to join in on her parents vacation, the plane ticket was so I could get back to California in time. While I was at the harvest Marilyn would be out and about doing her own thing around the country.

Even a day of flying isn't without hitchhiking, though, not this time. I hopped off the plane at the Sacramento Airport and walked down to the freeway, I still had to get myself up to Chico. I caught my first ride from a Jehovah's witness driving a taxi, that was a short free ride over to the 99 freeway.

A truck driver got me up to Yuba City and dropped me off with a burger and a Gatorade. I walked to the north side of town, it was already getting dark. I waited a long time under a streetlight, determined to hit Chico instead of getting stuck.

A guy who used to hitchhike in Mexico came along and rode me up to Live Oak, from there a teacher got me to Gridley and somehow I scored one last ride from a few people on route to Chico. I got myself to my friend's house and we caught up over beers, I was happy to be in the area.

I wouldn't be working the harvest right there in Chico, instead outside of town for a bit, but I'd be close enough to spend quite a bit of time around town. I always loved Chico, I had good friends there, good beer spots I liked, nature and things always seemed to happen.

I spent a solid day there before heading up into the hills, relaxing and paying a visit to the Goose, a great beer bar with some friendly people always around.

Up the hill I went, ready for another season. The rhythm of this harvest season would be living up on the hill during the week, then hanging in Chico on most weekends. While I was up on the hill I'd harvest both the pot and the hops. I was also getting paid to brew beer, which was some of the most fun.

The main harvest involved everything from cutting plants out of the ground to standard trimming. My days up there usually involved mixing some coffee together, relaxing for a few minutes, then getting to the harvest as others filtered in and out, coming up just for the day to help out before heading back home. I stayed overnight, an added protection or deterrent to any potential bad guys wanting to rip off the farm.

Many nights I'd sit on the porch, sipping a beer and glancing at football news, listening to noises in the dark.

On the weekends I'd go and hit Chico, usually eager to unwind, armed with my a growing stack of cash to support the pints and six packs and so forth that came with it. I'd either be playing disc golf, shuffleboard, partying around and always watching football on Sunday's with some friends.

Eventually I fell into this girl Holly, a tall blonde girl who loved beer as much as I did. We'd fool around a bit and otherwise drink some great beers at the Goose or the brewery. I talked her into joining me for Sierra's Single Wet Fresh and Wild beer festival, an afternoon of amazing hoppy beers outside the brewery.

Altogether things were going pretty chill. A couple more weeks went on of trimming, home brewing with fresh hops, poker games and Sundays full of football, pints of Sierra Nevada and goblets of different brews at the Goose.

Halloween came along, with it I'd concocted a blend of potions I made consisting of vodka soaked in various jars of pot, hops and mushrooms. It made for a great buzzy cocktail we passed around at a house party.

The weekend after Halloween I made it down the hill again, the season almost wrapped up. I met up with Holly that night for some beers planning to spend the night. As it turned out Marilyn got into town that night as well, a day earlier than I'd expected. She was staying with my friends, I'd just have to wait to catch her the next day.

Marilyn and I had an understanding, or at least a discussion of an understanding, that we were free to hook up and otherwise have fun on our own time without it being a problem for the other. I was bordering on an overlap here, but things were already in motion.

By the morning I took off from Holly's place and soon met up with Marilyn, her hair had grown a bit in the month or so since we'd parted in Georgia, she looked electric. We got in a round of disc golf that day with some friends and otherwise hung out, some house parties and other good times were to follow.

The next day was a football day, so Marilyn hung back with the girls while we went and vegged out for the day at the bar. At a certain point I had to run back to Holly's place and pick up some beers I left there. Shortly after football we all headed back to the house, but I slipped away again and met Holly at a bar for a last drink, I'd be leaving town altogether pretty soon.

I got back to the house and the night went on with Marilyn and my friends watching the night game and carrying on, and eventually sleep took over. Marilyn and I did the deed first thing in the morning, then for a minute she stayed sitting on top of me of looking down.

"I know you've been seeing another girl", she said down to me, looking matter of fact, yet still slightly inquisitive.

"Yup", I said, smiling, it was pretty clear I supposed and didn't matter all that much.

As it turned out she wasn't all that stoked about it, though. She asked me who it was, I told her the name "Holly" not thinking that was even important, but as it turns out the two of them had met before as well. I recalled that once she said it, she seemed to be boiling over the whole thing now, seemingly concerned that I was going to leave her for Holly, who she also recalled for being pretty and beer loving, kind of a weakness for me.

I explained to her then and later that it wasn't in the cards, Holly and I had just drank some beers and fooled around a bit, we hadn't delved into anything. Marilyn and I had traversed the country for months and actually had something going on, but it's not always easy to get points like this across.

We both headed up the hill that day to help out a bit more for a couple days. We trimmed along and I helped get some more plants out of the ground, the season was quickly coming to an end.

Meanwhile Marilyn was still boiling over about Holly, she smashed a coffee mug in a fit of anger over the whole thing. She seemed convinced I was set to run off with some other girl, that and she was hurt that I'd given extra time to the other girl, hurt that I'd slipped away the other night, hurt that I was still in touch in any capacity.

It was getting harder for me to care. Clearly I was set on whisking away back into the winds of endless travel with Marilyn, she could either believe it and cruise on or stayed pissed and move on. The circular conversations, now better categorized as arguments, were boring at best and annoying at worst, now resulting in breaking my friend's stuff and tears I didn't like to see.

After a couple days on the hill we caught a ride with my friend back to town. My next move was to see my friends in Sacramento for a big movie premiere. Marilyn wasn't exactly welcome there after a previous time there where she'd kinda blew up, but she had some friends in the Bay Area she could see while I did my thing.

She decided to rent a car and we buzzed on down to Sacramento where we also planned on getting a room for the night. First we hit some breweries and food spots, running around and enjoying the day.

By night we'd got some good bottles of beer and wound up back in the room. Before long we were hitting some pain pills and sipping beers, drunk and buzzing as we fell into a night of talking seriously, whimsically and freely, banging in between, back and forth sloshing around the hotel room reaching some new blissful understanding of ourselves in the process.

She dropped me off at my friend's the next day, then she was off to the bay area.

Now, as everyone knows, the best movie ever made came out in 1994, "Dumb & Dumber". Here in Sacramento, it was time to see the much awaited sequel, "Dumb & Dumber To". Aaron and I were ready. We rocked the premiere, a line full of fans and a theater full of people quoting the movie up and down before the true sequel began. Good times a plenty.

Beyond the premiere I hung out a couple more days in Sacramento, but then it was time to head back up to the Chico area and completely wrap things up. Aaron gave me a ride to the freeway to start hitching.

It only took three rides to get up there. First a singer to the 99 split, then a guy who produced giant fans to Oroville, and finally the back of a pickup truck into Chico, they gave me a taco for the ride.

I spent several days between Chico and going up the hill to help knock out the few last things. Many trips to the Goose and catching up with all my friends there some more, football and the rest of it, getting the rest of my Chico kicks out of my system for a while, I didn't know when I'd be back next exactly.

Finally it was time to head out. My pockets were as full as they've ever been, ready for whatever I might run into for the year to come. My next move was to head towards my brother's near San Diego for Thanksgiving, scooping up Marilyn along the way, then out into whatever adventure we could conjure up next, of which there was plenty. Always plenty, always some more good times to come, the road would take me there.

September 15, 2014 to November 24, 2014

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