Wait. I should explain that I wasn't supposed to be anywhere near California. But I had to get from Colorado to Oregon, and on the morning I was set to drive the freeway going west was closed due to ice and blowing snow. Closed all day, the gates shut. The Wyoming traffic cameras showed what looked like a perfectly untouched white meadow, no visible pavement as far as the eye could see. Colorado was equally awful. There was no way west.
Meanwhile on the national news, weathermen were warning about a vicious storm that might hit New York and surrounding areas, but fortunately hadn't made it past the Midwest yet and had a good chance of swinging down south or into Canada or somewhere else unimportant. While the West was getting hammered by blizzards, the edge of the weather map ended near Missouri.
This is always the case. Sometimes they show a map of the whole country, but the West is where the weatherman stands, even while swirling red and blue graphics rage behind him. Like this:
Or even (what the heck?) this:
Do you know how annoying this is? I find myself weaving back and forth in front of the television as if I can peer around the weatherman's head. Oh! I got a glimpse of my town behind his ear!
The rest of the world complains about the US being too US-centric, but we in the West know that this is not true. The US is New York-centric. If the weather gets bad enough to kill more than a few people, we might get a mention. Ah well. He with the national network gets the national coverage.
(But we were just a little ticked off that NBC chose to interview a woman whose morning coffee didn't percolate while we over here were having avalanches and closed roads across five states. Vent. Vent.)
Since I couldn't drive straight west, I had to swoop down south through New Mexico and Arizona, coming up the backbone of California to get to Oregon.
Thusly did I find myself in hotel in California, and late in the night was standing at the sink when I detected a strange smell coming through the air vents. It was vaguely familiar, but I couldn't put my finger on it. Kind of sweet...Where had I smelled that before? It made me think of fairgrounds, for some reason. Shopping in Boulder...stores with Free Tibet bumper stickers and tie-dyed dresses...and incense...and mandalas...
That's when I realized that I was smelling marijuana. Okay, so I'm not terribly quick on the draw. This should tell you something about how often I've actually been around it before. I'm a big believer in getting my highs from life. Better highs. Like, I don't know...staying up until 4am listening to Wagner and deliriously writing Latin poetry. Whatever.
Because it was the time of night when my imagination likes to take off, I had an overwhelming desire to find which room the smoke was coming from. Not by walking the halls (dull!) but by scaling the building from the outside, via the balconies, crawling all around like a midnight vigilante. Then kick the window in and make a citizen's arrest. I could be a hero.
But medical marijuana is legal in California, and with my luck my "criminal" would be a 70-yr old woman lighting up for her rheumatism. Also, I reasoned with myself, I'm kind of against the over-criminalization of marijuana, what with all the other directions we could be pointing our police forces. And yet...I would never have the moxy to kick down the door of anything more severe, like a meth lab or a kitten-juggling ring. Arg, what a catch-22! How am I supposed to start my career as a citizen crusader if my level of crimes are the same petty crimes being over-criminalized?
I am aspiring, but meek. I'm going to go put some firmly worded notes on double-parked cars now.
The kicker to this story is the name of the city where I was staying- Weed, California. Seriously. The irony didn't even dawn on me until the next morning. This led to a whole series of jokes about how Weed got its suspicious name. Is that really fog hanging over the valley? What happens if you go to the Bank of Weed, or try to check something out of the Weed Library? Then there's the hypothetical Weed Airport, where one might reasonably assume you can catch a flight on Weed Air. Your pilot gets on the intercom to say, "Duuudes....this plane is huuuge!" You never go anywhere, of course. The plane sits on the tarmac while everyone looks out the windows saying, "Whoaaa..."
Fly Weed Air
"For when you don't care."
"For when you don't care."