crater Lake 2

0regon Reflections

Oregon Reflections

On Travel next Three Months taking a break

These are my reflections on Oregon.  I have been to Oregon many times over the years.  My father was a college professor at SF State, and we spent our summers at the family cabin near Mt. Ranier and winters too. I quit going to the cabin with my family when I was in college. We kept the cabin in the family until my mother sold it after my father passed away in 1985.  Uncle-in-law managed the family’s fruit farm near Yakima until he died in the early nineties.

On the way to and from Yakima, we frequently stayed in Medford. Later in 1990, I bought a property in Medford, two duplexes, and a house.  We still have the duplexes which we renovated in 2017,   We sold the house at the market peak in 2007  My brother was going to move to Oregon and manage our properties for us but his plans fell through so we were stuck with the properties which provided good income once we paid off the mortgages back in 1996 or so.

The plan was to spend our summers in Oregon with side trips to Northern California, Portland, Seattle, and Las Vegas.

COVID put a stop to that and we finally got back after three years.  We are back on our summer plan. Unfortunately, our tenant trashed our furnished apartment, so we had to change our original five-week road trip to two weeks – Oregon Coast, Portland, Seattle, Yakima, and Bend including a side trip to Crater Lake, and then a trip down Highway one to the Bay Area and stay in the Bay Area for about a week – with an optional trip to Las Vegas, Arizona, and Utah provided the heat is less than 105 every day.  Right now, with temperatures over 120, it is simply too dangerous to drive.


Ashland is a nice college town and the home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, one of the oldest Shakespeare festivals in the Western United States.  We usually try to take in a show when we are in the area.  The University has an award-winning English literature department due to its long-standing connection to the festival. There are lots of trendy restaurants and bars in the city.  During the winter it is a base for people going to Mt. Ashland for skiing.

Ashland is a city in Jackson County, Oregon, United States. It lies along Interstate 5 approximately 16 miles (26 km) north of the California border and near the south end of the Rogue Valley. The city’s population was 21,360 at the 2020 census.

The city is the home of Southern Oregon University (SOU) and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF). These are important to Ashland’s economy, which also depends on restaurants, galleries, and retail stores that cater to tourists. Lithia Park along Ashland Creek, historic buildings, and a paved intercity bike trail provide additional visitor attractions.

Ashland, originally called “Ashland Mills”, was named after Ashland County, Ohio, the original home of founder Abel Helman, and secondarily for Ashland, Kentucky, where other founders had family connections. Ashland has a council-manager government assisted by citizen committees. Historically, its liberal politics have differed, often sharply, from much of the rest of southwest Oregon.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival 75th anniversary banner

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival has grown from a summer outdoor series in the 1930s to a season that stretches from February to October, incorporating Shakespearean and non-Shakespearean plays at three theaters.[42] The OSF has become the largest regional repertory theater in the United States.[14]

The Oregon Cabaret Theater features musicals and comedies throughout the year.[43] Opened in 1986, the dinner theater occupies a former First Baptist Church built in Mission Revival style.[44] The Ashland Independent Film Festival, which shows international and domestic films of almost every genre, takes place each April in the Varsity Theatre downtown. About 90 films are shown during the five days of the festival.[45] In 2009, Ashland was the setting for the film adaptation of Gaman’s Coraline.[46]

The Oregon Center for the Arts at Southern Oregon University focuses on academic programs including creative arts (art, emerging media, and creative writing), music, and theater. Affiliated with the center is the Schneider Museum of Art, which has rotation exhibitions of works featuring professional contemporary artists. Also affiliated with the center are chamber music concerts, a Shakespeare institute, a piano series, and other art-related events.[47]

The annual Ashland New Plays Festival (ANPF) is a nonprofit organization that encourages playwrights to develop new work through public readings. Each year, the ANPF holds an international competition that winnows hundreds of submissions to four plays that are read to live audiences by professional actors during a five-day festival in October

(Wikipedia entry)

Microsoft Bing Travel – Ashland

Ashland Co-Op

Ashland Co-Op is a great natural foods store in Ashland.  They used to pre-covid have a great make-your-own sandwich bar. My favorite was their loaded BLT.

Sam Adams, favorite sandwich
Was the make it your own sandwich
Served at the Ashland, Oregon, Co-Op
A modified BLT sandwich on Gluten free bread
Cheese, roast beef or pastrami, bacon
Sprouts, lettuce, tomatoes, dill pickles, peppers
Mayo, mustard, ketchup
Just heaven in every delicious bite

Lithia Park

Lithia Park in Ashland is a great park that follows Lithia Creek.  It was designed by the NCY and Golden Gate Park designer Olmstead.

Lithia Springs

Lithia Springs is a small hot springs resort just north of Ashland.  It has been operating as a spa since the 1880’s.

Central Point is a small community north of Medford near the airport and COSTCO.  There is an industrial zone on the west side of the city that abuts the west Medford industrial zone. I went there frequently when we were doing the epic remodeling of our four Medford units in 2016;   We go there almost every day to go to COSTCO but have not explored the rest of the city.

Central Point, Oregon – Wikipedia,_Oregon

Table Rock Mountain

Table rock mountains are two Messa mountains north of Medford that are great places to hike.  But during the summer it is best to go in the morning as it often gets about 100 degrees in the late afternoon.

Upper and Lower Table Rock – Wikipedia

Upper Table Rock and Lower Table Rock are two prominent volcanic plateaus located just north of the Rogue River in Jackson County, Oregon, U.S. Created by an andesitic lava flow approximately seven million years ago and shaped by erosion, they now stand about 800 feet (240 m) above the surrounding Rogue … See more

Geology and climate

Starting approximately 40 million years ago in the middle Eocene, a braided river system called the “Ancestral Rogue River” flowed through the… See more

Agate Desert Park

Another great little park north of Medford, famous for natural agates.

Agate Desert

300 W Antelope Rd, White City, OR 97503 · ~6.3 mi

Eagle Point

Eagle Point is a small-town northeast of Medford.  It is on the Rogue River and is a popular staging area for river rafting trips.  There are several award-winning golf courses there.

It is also settling for some reason for most of my horror stories where I construct an eldritch Lovecraftian haunted mansion that Sam Adams of the Cosmos Institute inherits.

Eagle Point, OR – Official Website | Official Website (


Eugene in the University of Oregon campus town.  It reminds me of Berkeley and Boulder -both college towns. It has a good co-op that had great sandwiches back in the day.

University of Oregon (

Grants Pass

Grants Pass is a nice little town on the Rogue River.  It is a popular place for winery tours.  It is also the main staging area for raft trips.

Grants Pass, Oregon – Wikipedia


Roseburg is another little town on the rouge river. There are lots of wineries nearby.  But what it is known for is Oregon’s wildlife safari which is worth a visit.

It is also the northernmost extension of the Northern California climate zone and the southernmost extension of the Pacific Northwest climate zone.  Once you go north you enter into the Pacific Northwest climate zone.

Roseburg, Oregon – Wikipedia,_Oregon

Roseburg is a city in the U.S. state of Oregon. It is in the Umpqua River Valley in southern Oregon and is the county seat and most populous city of Douglas County. Founded in 1851, the population was 23,683 at the 2020 census, making it the principal city of the Roseburg, Oregon Micropolitan Statistical … See more

Wildlife Safari











Jackonsville Trolly
Jackonsville Trolly








Jacksonville is a historical 19th-century Gold Rush town.  A lot of people don’t know that Oregon had a gold rush and silver rush as well – just not as well known. And there are working wines to this day.  The town reminds me of Old Town Alexandria and old towns across the country, including downtown Medford, Bend, and Old Town Sacramento.

It is a popular retirement community.  Ten miles to Medford, and Ashland.

Lots of nice restaurants and classic bed and breakfast country inns, and easy access to wineries.

Welcome to Jacksonville, Oregon a National Historic Landmark (

Britt Music & Arts Festival

Facebook (2,000) · Festival

350 S 1st St, Jacksonville, OR 97530 · ~5.7 mi

brit festival
brit festival

The Brit festival has an amazing lineup for a minor out-of-the-way music festival.  They attract a lot of acts who add on a night at the Brit Festival which is becoming a big thing to their Portland, Eugene of Sacramento bookings.

We just missed Diana Ross




We saw Big Toad and the Monsters and Blues Travelers.  Both were pretty good. Big Todd was a bit more mainstream rock, blues travelers remind me of The Grateful Dead, Phish, and Rush, with similar style and fanatical fan base.  The lead singer is a great blues harmonica player.


Phonex Oregon is a suburb of Medford just south of the city.  It has Home Depot and a few other big box stores and a few wineries and truck stop and RV parks.  It was heavily damaged in the 2020 fire.

Phoenix, Oregon

Phoenix is a city in Jackson CountyOregon, United States. The population was 4,538 at the 2010 census. Phoenix is a part of the Medford Metropolitan Statistical Area, in the Rogue Valley, and is 3 miles (5 km) southeast of Medford on Interstate 5.


The area was settled in about 1850 by brothers Hiram and Samuel Colver. Samuel Colver laid out the town in 1854. Early residents included Milton Lindley, who operated a sawmill that provided timbers in 1855 for a blockhouse as well as a flouring mill owned by Sylvester M. Wait. For a time, the settlement was known locally as Gasburg after a talkative employee in the kitchen serving the mill hands. Wait, who was an agent for the Phoenix Insurance Company of Hartford, Connecticut, assigned the official name, Phoenix, to the community and, in 1857, to its post office. Waitsburg, Washington, was later named after Wait.[6]

2020 fire

On September 8, 2020, much of Phoenix, along with neighboring Talent and parts of Medford and Ashland, were destroyed by the Almeda Drive Fire.[7][8][9][10] On September 11, 2020, authorities said they were preparing for a mass fatality incident.[11] On September 11, it was reported that 600 homes and 100 commercial buildings have been destroyed by the Almeda Drive Fire,[12] but on September 18, that number was updated to 2,800.[13] Officials stated that the Almeda Drive Fire was human-caused.[12] On September 11, a man was arrested for arson, for allegedly starting a fire that destroyed multiple homes in Phoenix and merged with the Almeda Drive Fire.[14] A separate criminal investigation into the origin point of the Almeda Drive Fire in Ashland is ongoing.[14]


The biggest city in Oregon and a very hip and trendy town.  Center of Oregon’s Asian, African-American, Hispanic, and LGBTQ communities.   Because Oregon does not have a sale tax and Washington does not have an income tax, many savvy retirees live in Vancouver, Washington just across the river from Portland, and do the bulk of their shopping there.  Portland is one of the few cities that still has a vibrant shopping center near downtown. It also has the world’s largest bookstore – which I will visit on my next trip, several innovative universities including Lewis and Clark and Reed, as well as Portland State and Oregon’s sole medical university the Oregon State Medical University which has dental,  both oriental medicine, western medicine, Physical therapy and nursing schools.  80 percent of the State lives within the metro area, which has the only real mass transit in Oregon.  It also has one of the best urban park systems in the world, great local beer and Kombucha breweries and hundreds of nearby wineries, and of course lots of cannabis shops everywhere.  It is about an hour’s drive to Bend and an hour’s drive to the coast, and four to five hours to Medford.

Portland (/ˈprattling/PORT-land) is a port city in the Pacific Northwest and the most populous city in the U.S. state of Oregon. Situated in the northwestern area of the state at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers, Portland is the county seat of Multnomah County, the most populous county in Oregon. As of 2020, Portland had a population of 652,503,[9] making it the 26th-most populated city in the United States, the sixth-most populous on the West Coast, and the second-most populous in the Pacific Northwest, after Seattle.[10] Approximately 2.5 million people live in the Portland–Vancouver–Hillsboro, OR–WA metropolitan statistical area, making it the 25th most populous in the United States. About half of Oregon’s population resides within the Portland metropolitan area.[a]

Named after Portland, Maine,[11] which is itself named after the English Isle of Portland, the Oregon settlement began to be populated in the 1840s, near the end of the Oregon Trail. Its water access provided convenient transportation of goods, and the timber industry was a major force in the city’s early economy. At the turn of the 20th century, the city had a reputation as one of the most dangerous port cities in the world, a hub for organized crime and racketeering. After the city’s economy experienced an industrial boom during World War II, its hard-edged reputation began to dissipate. Beginning in the 1960s,[12] Portland became noted for its growing liberal and progressive political values, earning it a reputation as a bastion of counterculture.[13]

The city operates with a commission-based government, guided by a mayor and four commissioners, as well as Metro, the only directly elected metropolitan planning organization in the United States.[14][15] Its climate is marked by warm, dry summers and cool, rainy winters. This climate is ideal for growing roses, and Portland has been called the “City of Roses” for over a century.[16]

Talent, Oregon

Talent is a city in Jackson CountyOregon, United States. The population was 6,282 at the 2020 census.


  1. P. Talent, an East Tennessee native who settled in Oregon in the 1870s, platted the city in the 1880s. He wanted to name it Wagner but was overruled by postal officials, who preferred Talent, dropping one of the L’s. The post office opened at this location in 1883. Earlier names for the settlement were Eden District and Wagner Creek.[5]

2020 fire[edit]

On September 8, 2020, roughly a third of Talent, along with neighboring Phoenix and parts of Medford and Ashland, were destroyed by the Almeda Drive Fire.[6][7][8][9] On September 11, 2020, authorities said they were preparing for a mass fatality incident.[10] As of September 11, 600 homes and 100 commercial buildings have been destroyed by the Almeda Drive Fire,[11] but on September 18, that number was updated to 2,800.[12] Officials stated that the Almeda Drive Fire was human-caused.[11] On September 11, a man was arrested for arson, for allegedly starting a fire that destroyed multiple homes in Phoenix and merged with the Almeda Drive Fire.[13] A separate criminal investigation into the origin point of the Almeda Drive Fire in Ashland is ongoing.[13]

White City

White City is a small but upcoming city.  It is based on a World War 11 Army camp that closed down in the 50s.   There is a big regional Veterans hospital center and because of that has drawn a lot of military retirees to the valley.

There is a rumor that the city was called White City and was supposed to be a whites-only city.  It was the center of KKK activity between 1880 and 1940.  In any event it has the largest minority population in the Rogue Valley due to the relatively inexpensive rents.

Thankfully the KKK movement died out in Oregon.

White City is an unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) in Jackson CountyOregon, United States. The population was 7,975 at the 2010 census,[5] up from 5,466 at the 2000 census. White City is about 9 miles (14 km) north of the center of Medford[6] and 4 miles (6 km) south of Eagle Point.[7]

Oregon Demographics

Oregon is mostly white about 80 percent but there are a lot of Hispanics and Asians in Portland a thriving African American community of 80 percent lives in the Portland Willamette Valley down to Eugune and Salem the State Capitol.

Indian Casinos

There are numerous Indian casinos in Washington, Oregon, and Northern California, and over the years I have lost money in many of them. This summer we will visit at least two.   An  Indian Casino is planned for Medford, opening perhaps in 2025.  The nearest casinos to Medford are about an hour or two northwest and southwest of the city along the coast.

Indian History

The Indian tribes of Oregon and California were almost wiped out in the Indian wars of the 19th century.  Most of the tribes were forced to move to Idaho or Oklahoma. The remaining tribes struggled with getting Federal and State recognition, benefits, etc. Almost all of them have been recognized by now.  Many of the tribes are teaching their language and culture and tribal communities have come back from near death.   Many of them have become wealthy due to casinos and the decisions by most tribes of giving every tribal member a monthly stipend and full scholarships for college and tech institutions. Many tribal members live off their stipends, which depending upon the tribe can be quite generous as they usually tax the casinos about 10 percent of their income stream, returning it all to the benefit of the tribes, and investing a lot of it as well…

Native American peoples of Oregon – Wikipedia

Southern Oregon Wine Country

Complete Guide to Southern Oregon Wineries – Wine with Paige

Southern Oregon has emerged as a major winery region with over 125 between Roseburg and Ashland.   Most are in the Applegate Valley west of 1-5 and west of Jacksonville and Medford. Some are nearer Roseburg-Grants Pass.  There are a number in a town near Ashland,  Jacksonville, Medford,  Phoenix, and Talent.  Southern Oregon is also a  craft beer town and an kombucha town.  and there are lots of farmers markets and organic groceries in town including several 24/7 groceries.  There are cannabis shops everywhere now.


Roxy Ann Winery

roxy Anne winery
roxy Anne winery

3283 Hillcrest Rd, Medford, OR 97504 · ~2.3 mi

(541) 776-2315





Paschal Winery and Vineyard

1122 Suncrest Rd, Talent, OR 97540 · ~7.3 mi

(541) 535-7957


Owned by friends of our friends. They have a good menu as well as wine tasting and they often have live music.  Three swans live on the lake.  And a goose who was raised with the swans and thinks he is a swan.  The winery also has cottages for rent.



Oregon Poems

Wagontire  Oregon


In 1973, I went on a road trip
With my father

We left Berkeley to go to Yakima
Where my father had a summer cabin


He was a college professor
And had July
and August off


And we spent the summers
Every summer from 1968 to 1978
Our whole dysfunctional family

Our annual road trip
to hell and back

As we did not get along at all

We decided to drive
through Eastern Oregon


Just my father and me
Just for the hell of it

The rest of the family
was already there

in Washington
waiting for us

My father and I shared a travel lust
One of the few things we shared

This was one of our best trips
We got along

Which was unusual
Normally our relationship

Was fraught
As we were so different

We left Klamath Falls
A real nothing burg
in those days

And headed east along Highway 395
As we entered the desert
of eastern Oregon

We entered a different world
High mountain desert

no one on the road

nothing on the radio

but country music

and talk radio
from KGO in SF


my father and I bonded
Learned a lot about his past

What he liked
And did not like

He hated country music
But loved news radio

And we talked about politics
And life in general


Just a father and son
Enjoying a rare

Bonding moment


We usually did not
get each other

I inherited too much
Of my Mother’s
wild Irish personality


To suit his dour Norwegian
Germanic personality


Then we saw the sign

Wagontire Oregon

100 miles ahead
Burma shave


We counted down the signs
Miles after miles
As we drove
into the gathering dusk

along with the wagon tire

were other signs
last gas for x miles

and the Burma Shave
roadside signs


with their classic
cowboy poetry

which in 1975
were already

a thing of the past

had not seen those
since this road trip

but on this road
they still had them

every mile
Burma Shave signs


We speculated
that Wagontire

Must be a giant truck stop
In the middle of nowhere

And we drove on

Counting down the signs

Listening to dreadful country music
And endless political news

Wagontire 100 miles ahead

And we drove on
Counting down the signs

Listening to dreadful country music
And endless political news

Wagontire 100 miles ahead

Burma Shave

Wagontire 1 Mile ahead
Last Chance Gas, Food, lodging next gas 200 miles
Welcome to Wagontire, Oregon

Population 2 ½ humans 10 dogs, 50,000 sheep

We pulled into the town

Nothing there
but a gas station
Motel and café

We decided to stop

Last gas for 200 miles
to the highway signs

In the morning
We chatted with the owner

He was the sheriff,
the fire chief
The owner
of the motel,
gas station

The only business in town

And the only place open
For two hundred miles


Until the next town

John Day I believe

I asked the Sherriff
Say, who is the ½ human?

My idiot son!


And we left.

200 miles later
We finally
left Eastern Oregon


In 2016 my wife
and I drove
through Eastern Oregon

As part of our epic
cross-country trip


first time for her
in Eastern Oregon
Idaho, Montana
Wyoming and many other states


last time I had visited
was during my epic road trip
with my father
summer of 1973


10,000 miles
31 states

in three months
to celebrate my retirement

from the US Foreign Service


On the way from Medford

to Yellowstone
We drove along Highway 395


The signs for Wagontire were gone
And we drove through the town

The motel was abandoned

Nothing there at all

And that sign
was gone too

and the Burma shave signs
long ago

faded into lost

On the radio
Nothing but country

Right-wing talk shows
And Christian radio

I said I suppose the idiot son
Never took over the business

And we speculated about Wagontire
And all other nothing burgs

We drove through
that summer

Heart of Trump’s America
True fly-over country

Travels with my Father

Prose Poem Version

I grew up in Berkeley, California in the 60s and 70s, graduating from high school in 1974. My father was a local politician, college professor, and economist who served in DC under President Kennedy and Johnson. He and I did not get along that much, he was a distant aloof person hard to get to know, although I admired him and agreed with him on political issues for the most part. He was a moderate democrat which in Berkeley made him a conservative a curse word in the hyper-partisan Berkeley political scene.

One thing we did share was the love of travel and road trips. My father had inherited a summer cabin near Yakima, Washington, and from an early age to when I was 20, I spent most summers in the cabin with my father, my mother, my brothers, and my sister and visiting my uncle and his family. We were a dysfunctional family, always bickering and did not get along at all. Our road trips were fun actually despite our dysfunctional family dynamics.

We made several memorable trips over the years. We drove across the country twice from DC to California both times taking the northern route and stopping off in Yakima before returning to California. Along the way stopping off at Yellowstone, Grand Teton, etc. On one trip we went through Canada stopping off in Montréal, Toronto, Calgary, the Canadian Rockies, and Vancouver. We were 90 miles from the Alaskan border and my father decided we were not going to go to Alaska although we all begged him to do so. It took me almost 50 years before I finally got to Alaska, on a cruise, and I thought Meh was overrated and not for me. But still, I would have liked to have seen it when I was 11 years old.

One summer we drove just my father and me to Yakima and we drove through eastern Oregon just for the hell of it. We drove down a lonely country highway dubbed the loneliness highway in America that started in Nevada and goes through eastern Oregon and Eastern Washington the Nevada and Oregon sections are among the least densely populated areas in the United States. We started noticing signs for Wagon Tire, Oregon, with signs like 99 miles to Wagon Tire’s last services for 200 miles. 99 98 97 every milepost had two signs to Wagon tire and a Burma Shave sign. Burma Shave signs were a feature of the American West from 1920 to 1974 when the interstate highway system ended most roadside billboard advertisements, and the Burma Shave company ceased as an independent company the Burma Shave billboards were cowboy poetry at its best three to five short tanka like advertisements like

You must remember this
Driving fast
Kills you fast

Burma Shave

When we got there, we found a run-down motel/gas station, cafe, and general store.
We spent the night; we were the only customers as it was mid-week. We had noticed a sign-out front

“Welcome to Wagon tire


30,000 sheep
20, 000 cows
10,000 pigs
5,000 chickens
Thousands of bears, coyotes,
deer, elk, and antelope
two  and one-half people

We asked the owner who had identified himself as the owner, fire chief, sheriff, and landlord what the sign, two and one-half people meant. He said,

“Oh me, my wife, and my idiot son, that’s the half person.”

In 2016 when I drove across the country with my wife to celebrate retiring from the foreign service we drove through Wagontire, which entire was now a ghost town with signs for sale. I wonder if anyone bought the store? And whether anyone lives there anymore. In any event, the idiot son never carried out the family business.

Travels with My Father Free verse

I grew up in Berkeley California
My father was a local politician,
college professor,

we did not get along that much
he was a distant aloof person
hard to get to know,

although I admired him
and agreed with him
on political issues

One thing we did share
was the love of travel
and road trips.

My father had a summer cabin
near Yakima, Washington,
and from an early age to
when I was 20

I spent most summers
in the cabin with my father,
my mother, my brothers,
and my sister
and visiting my uncle and his family.

We were a dysfunctional family,
always bickering
and did not get along at all.

Our road trips were fun actually
despite our dysfunctional
family dynamics.

One summer
My father and I drove
through eastern Oregon
just for the hell of it.

We drove down
Highway 395
dubbed the loneliness highway
in America

the Nevada and Oregon sections
are among the least densely populated
areas in the United States.

Outside of Klamath Falls
As we entered Oregon
High desert outback

We started noticing signs
for Wagon Tire, Oregon,
with signs like

99 miles to the Wagon tire
last services for 200 miles.
every milepost
had two signs a sign to Wagon tire
and a Burma Shave sign.

Burma Shave signs
were a feature of the American West
from 1920 to 1974
when the interstate highway system
ended most roadside billboard advertisements,

and the Burma Shave company
ceased as an independent company

the Burma Shave billboards
were cowboy poetry
at its best

three to five short
tanka like advertisements like

You must remember this
Driving fast
Kills you fast

Burma Shave”

When we got there
we found a run-down motel/gas station,
cafe, and general store.

We spent the night.
we were the only customers
as it was mid-week.

We had noticed a sign-out front

“Welcome to Wagon tire


30,000 sheep
20, 000 cows
10,000 pigs
5,000 chickens
Thousands of bears, coyotes,
deer, elk, and antelope
2 and one-half people

We asked the owner
who had identified himself?
as the owner, fire chief,
sheriff, and landlord

what is the sign,
two and one-half people meant.

He said,

“Oh me, my wife,
and my idiot son, that’s the half person.”

In 2016
when I drove across the country
with my wife
to celebrate retiring
from the foreign service

we drove through Wagontire,
which was now a ghost town
with signs for sale.

I wonder
if anyone bought the store?
And whether anyone lives there anymore.
In any event, the idiot son
never carried out the family business.

Note: according to Wikipedia there are still a few people living in Wagon Tire. When we drove through in 2016 it sure looked like a Ghost town.

Wagontire, Oregon – Wikipedia,_Oregon

Wagontire is an unincorporated community in Harney County, Oregon, United States, along U.S. Route 395.

The community was named after the nearby Wagon Tire Mountain. From 1986 to at least 1997, Wagon Tire was home to just two people: William and Olgie Warner. The Warners’ property included a gas station, cafe, motel, general store, and r…
Wikipedia · Text under CC-BY-SA license

BING AI seems to think that Wagontire might be a Ghost town but as far as I know, it is not yet listed on the state list of ghost towns.

Oregon has a rich history of frontier towns, many of which have become ghost towns. According to several historians, the state contains over 200 ghost towns1Some well-known ghost towns in Oregon include ShanikaGolden, and Sumpter2. These towns were once thriving communities, filled with people who followed their dreams to Oregon. Now they remain as a window to another time, full of places to ponder and history to discover2. Is there a specific ghost town you would like to know more about?

According to my sources, there was a business called Wagontire Cafe and RV located at 53358 Highway 395 South in Riley, OR that offered services for RV and Camper Repair1. However, I couldn’t find any recent information about whether this business is still open or if there are any other businesses currently operating in Wagontire. Is there anything else you would like to know?


Burma Shave

Burma-Shave was an American brand of brushless shaving cream, famous for its advertising gimmick of posting humorous rhyming poems on small sequential highway roadside signs.

Burma-Shave was introduced in 1925 by the Burma-Vita company in Minneapolis owned by Clinton Odell. The company’s original product was a liniment made of ingredients described as having come “from the Malay Peninsula and Burma” (hence its name).[1] Sales were sparse, and the company sought to expand sales by introducing a product with wider appeal.  the Burma Shave signs were written in cowboy poetry style three lines with Burma Shave as the fourth tag lines.

The signs were everywhere as the automobile era commenced.  The last signs disappeared with the opening on the interstate highway system which banned outdoor billboards.




Seattle UW Blues

I have a long history

with the city of Seattle

dating back to my grandparents

who met there at UW


and my father who attended UW

and became a student leader

fighting to integrate the University


I first visited the city

when I was a young man

when we spend the summer

in Yakima


where we had a family home

decades later I visited the city

before I went to the Peace Corps


Before I went to the Peace Corps

then my wife and I lived there

for four years


while we were attending graduate school

at the University

and we fell under its seductive spell

living and Breathing Seattle

falling in love again

with the city


we left the city

and traveled the world

came back twice

once to take and pass the foreign service

oral exam


and once decades later

to take a cruise to Alaska

and found that the city

had changed in many ways

but the old Seattle remained


and I wanted to come back

and now my nephew lives there

adding another element to our family’s


ongoing Seattle family history


why I had been there before

I cannot say, but this much I do know


Seattle remains a part of me

and I a part of its history


Because of You, I’m In A Seattle Kind Of Mood

Because of you, I’m in a Seattle kind of mood

When I look out my window


And see the rain drops gently falling all around

And I feel that special Seattle kind of chill


In my bones

I think of you with a Seattle kind of mood


In the morning

Wherever I am in this crazy world if I see raindrops


Gently falling all around

Blue mood dissolves in the rain’s gentle mist

And I cry out with all my heart


Because of you

I am in a Seattle kind of mood


As I walk down the street

In distant foreign lands


Whether I am in Bangkok, Taipei, Tokyo, or Seoul

New York, Moscow, Rome, or San Francisco

Whether I am in India, China, Thailand, or Europe


Whenever I feel the rain’s gentle embrace

I get into that Seattle kind of mood

Seattle, a Seattle kind of mood


Fresh Salmon sizzling over a hickory smoke fire

Ivar’s clam chowder


And Red Hook Ale Pike Place market

Bums in Pioneer Square

And angry hippies preaching in Red Square


Yuppies drinking downtown

Geeks in Redmond


Making the world safe

For the Microsoft King


And the Mariners lose again

While the Huskies dream of Rose Bowls to come


And everywhere rain falls down

oh yeah


A Seatt1e kind of mood


Because of you

I get into that Seattle kind of mood


In the morning

As I fight the horrendous traffic

And breathe in deadly, killer air


I cough, cough, and remember

The green, green air of Seattle


And because of you,

I get into that Seattle kind of mood

Seattle, Seattle, kind of mood


The Huskies are number one in my heart

While the Mariners are always last in the nation


But what the hell

I’m in a Seattle kind of mood


I sit in the International District

Eating Dim Sum and drinking Ballad bitter

Watching the crowds dodge the ever-present raindrops


Seattle Kind of mood


As I wake up each day in crazy foreign lands

I hear the falling raindrops calling me home


Oh why did you leave me they cry out

In a Seattle sort of voice


Whispering in the gently falling rain

Seattle, Seattle kind of mood


And so my Dear

Wherever I roam in this wide planet of ours


From here to entreaty

And beyond


To the red plains of Mars

Whenever I hear the gentle patter of raindrops


I’ll get into that Seattle kind of mood

And dream of spending eternity with you


Watching the Seattle rain

Gently falling on our bumbershoots


As we walk down the beach hand in hand

Digging the gooey ducks while drinking Rainier Ale

All because of you


I’ll always be in the Seattle kind of mood


Medford Beckons

Once boring, humble Medford Oregon

and I have a long history

dating back to my childhood

when we would drive through there


often spending the night

back and forth to Yakima

from our family home in Berkeley

with my father during our summer vacations


Medford back in the day

was a sleepy little town

but the biggest town around

Ashland was more famous


but Medford grew on me

decades later my wife


Decades later my wife

and I drove through there

as we yo-yo up and down

the coast going from Seattle


where we were graduate students

and Berkeley to visit my family


we bought five pieces of property

in Medford in 1990

and were absentee landlords

for almost thirty years


coming back every few years

finally coming back in 2016

renovating the property


and now we are spending

our summers there

and preparing to become

Oregonian residents


Medford humble boring Medford

has become a trendy place

we have become part of Medford


and Medford is part of our hearts and soul

I am now an Oregonian

complete with a beard, no ties, and Western shirts


and my love affair with this humble city

will continue to grow

as my life winds down

in Medford city of my soul

Yakima Dessert Blues

Yakima, Washington

The ancestral home of my father’s family since 1920

Kept alive in my family’s history

Went back and forth like a Yo-Yo between Yakima

and the Bay area, mostly when I was a young man

In 2019, I visited the ghosts at my father’s grave


I did not realize how much Yakima had not changed

Ever since I was a child I thought that Yakima

Simply was too much of a desert outpost


Even then I knew why my father had led the town

Rarely did I think that my father would want to return

That he did over and over until the day he died


But for me, the Yakima of my childhood no longer remained

The lesson learned from all of this is Yakima remains in my heart

Until the day I die, I know that my family’s history in Yakima

Even now Yakima the desert town of my father will not be

Remains a foreign outpost and is not anymore for me

The Lighthouse of Whispers



Sam Adams,
a paranormal researcher
For the Cosmos Institute in Berkeley

Received reports
Of a mysterious event
In Brandon, Oregon
Along the coast

A mysterious lighthouse
Appeared one night
Flashing red lights

Several locals went inside
To investigate
And came out different

Sam and his team
Arrived and talked
To everyone in town

But no one wanted
To say what
Was going on

They went to the lighthouse
And found inside a gateway

With a sign

“Gateway to other worlds
Enter at your own risk
For madmen only.”


“what the hey”

They entered the gateway
Came back differently too.

Joining the rest of the town
As members of the alien
Hive mind.

Sam wrote back
Nothing to see here
Just an empty old lighthouse.

Soon other mysterious lighthouses
Caves and buildings appeared

As the body snatchers
Spread out
Infecting the whole world.

Until there were only
A few feral humans
Hiding from the hive mind.

Check out the new prompt in “The Writer’s Cramp” – write the best story or poem in 24 hours or less and you will win 10,000 GPs AND a Merit Badge from me!!

” WINNER AND NEW PROMPT DUE SATURDAY MAY 21″ 16 hours 25 minutes 45 seconds
Today’s prompt comes from Chatbot <insert spooky music here>

In a small coastal town, a mysterious lighthouse suddenly appears overnight. Its beacon shines with an otherworldly glow, captivating the locals. As people begin to investigate, they discover that the lighthouse holds a secret power. Write a story about this enchanted lighthouse.

The title of your static item must be: The Lighthouse of Whispers

© Copyright 2023 JCosmos (jcosmos at Writing.Com). Al
Rare Family Meal

Rare Family Meal

Growing up
In Berkeley
My family seldom went out
For a meal together

My Father and Mother
Depression babies
Were extremely frugal
Not wanting
to waste money.

Once in a while
Though particularly
On our family road trips,

We would enjoy a meal together
One of our best meals ever
Was in an Italian restaurant

In the town of Medford, Oregon
On the way to Yakima, Washington
To go to our summer cabin
In the woods

A two-day road trip
From our family home
In Berkeley, California.

We ordered pasta pesto
Combo Pizza with all the meats
Lemon ice cream
And the first time
I ever cappuccino

They ran out
Of everything
Late at night
In a small town.

An hour later
It all came together
And was one
Of our best times

A rare event
For a dysfunctional family
On the road.

Today’s winner is:
This Task (E)
Searching for that needle in a haystack.
#2295842 by Dave (929)

New Prompt: Use in your poem or story – BOLD or colorize for tomorrow’s judge:

An Italian restaurant
pasta pesto
lemon ice cream

Use food as your genre.

The Mystery of Sam Adams’s Death Writers’ Cramp


Sam Adams was a paranormal detective
For the Cosmos Institute in Berkeley, California
A real-life X files funded by black CIA money

Their mission explaining the unexplainable
Explaining the paranormal
Exposing hoaxes and fraudulent claims
Of the supernatural

One day his uncle died and left him
An old haunted house in Eagle Creek, Oregon
A small southern Oregon town
That Sam had grown up in.

He had not been back
In decades as he had grown up
In a dysfunctional family
Spoke to his siblings once a year
His father and mother have long gone.

In the house, they found the dead body
Of his distant eccentric uncle
Who left beside his body,
A letter, his will, and the infamous Neromicron
A book bound in scarlet leather.

The letter ended,

“Turn to page 666, and recite the chants
The truth will set you free.”

He started chanting
A spinning scarlet portal appeared
The grim reaper walked through.

Sam Adams asked him
“What happened to my uncle”

The grim reaper said
“He got what was coming to him
As all who summons us to do.

Be prepared to meet your maker
For judgment day is at hand”.

Sam spends the night
At the mansion where his uncle had left him
Sorting through his stuff.

The next morning a crater
Was found where the house had stood.

And his notes left behind
The scarlet leather bond Necromicron
Solved the mysteries of his uncle’s death
And his disappearance.

On Dec 1st, 1887, the first Sherlock Holmes story, “A Study in Scarlet”, appeared in print.

Write a poem or story in which:
* The narrator/POV character is a detective (or his assistant)
* A mystery is solved by the end of the piece
* One of the clues used to solve the mystery is scarlet

One of your genres must be MYSTERY

NB: The mystery can be ‘traditional’ (e.g. solving a murder), more light-hearted (who stole my socks?), or even more abstract (figuring out the cause of galaxies’ redshift).

Evil Spirit Haunts Oregon Town 

In an old, haunted house
Along the Oregon coast
An evil spirit emerges
Unleashing a tidal wave
Of terror in the town
Ripping off
the torn curtains in the house
fallen mask fall off
as madness descends
on the unsuspecting town.

Please select “Ghost” as one of your genres.

A strange Place Writing com

Sam Adams was a paranormal researcher for the Cosmos Institute based in Berkeley, California. They considered themselves the real X files and worked for various governmental and other institutions. No story was too outrageous. They believed that the truth was out there-really out there. They mostly uncovered hoaxes, scams, and grifts, but once in a while, they uncovered things that could not be explained. These x files made great stories, and Sam and his buddies were dreaming of writing a movie based on their exploits.

One of the strangest events they ever encountered took place in the small Oregon town of Eagle Creek outside of Medford, Oregon, 20 miles north of the California border. Sam Adams had grown up there and had family in the area.

One day he heard that his Uncle had died and left him some property, an old, abandoned farmhouse rumored to be a haunted house where cultists conducted secret rites.

He went to Oregon with his two workmates, Maria Kim and Jason Lee, who were a couple, and his best friends. They got to town, met Sandra the realtor, got the key, and went to the house at sunset. The realtor told them,
“I’ve lived here all my life, but that is a strange place you inherited. Be careful.”

They got out and looked around

Sam said,

“This is a strange place.”

They decided to spend the night in town, but Sam wanted to stick around a bit longer so Maria and Jason went to find Oregon beer, wine and kombucha, and food, and they would dine al fresco in the park down the street.

When they got back shortly after sunset, they found the house and Sam was missing. There was just a big hole in the ground where the house had stood.

Prompt for 8/15 Write a story that includes the Line, “I’ve live here all my life.”

Prompt for 8/14

Write a story that includes the line: “This is a strange place.”


Jason Lee the Fashion Violator

37 lines

Jason Lee was a man
Born without the fashion gene
Born without a fashion clue
Did not understand fashion.

In his mind, the best male fashion was
the Northwest grunge look
Well-worn khaki, plaid Pendleton shirt
boots, and perhaps a bolo tie.

He often thought
That the irony of his life
Was that he married a fashionista.
Proving that opposites do indeed attract.

His wife, Maria Lee
Tried repeatedly to change his fashion sense,
Tried to make him look nice
Taught him basic color coordination.

He resisted but over time
He gradually become
A bit more fashioned aware
Even spent years wearing a suit and tie.

She threw out his horrid ties
Which made him angry
He loved his garish bugs bunny ties.

But when they retired
and they move to Oregon
from the halls of power in DC,

He told her that he would never wear a suit again,
Going back to the Oregon lumberjack look
Khaki or Jeans, boots or sneakers, plaid Pendleton shirt.
complete with a scraggly beard.

She merely smiled at him,
Finally resigned herself
to her fate as the wife of a man
who would always
be a walking fashion violation.

Favorite Cheese PSH

My favorite cheese
Has always been Tillamook
cheddar cheese

My father turned me
On to it
When I was a young lad

Once during our annual
Migration from Berkeley
To Yakima

During the summer vacation
When we drove to the family cabin
And stayed almost two months

Just my father,
My mother
My two brothers
My sister

Our whole dysfunctional family
Forced to be together
For the summer

It was hell on earth
But the road trip
To and from
Was and adventure

One year we drove
Up the Oregon coat
And we stopped
At the Tillamook creamery

And did the tour
Learned how they made
Their famous cheese
And ice cream

Tillamook cheese
Is made in Tillamook, Oregon
A small town
Along the Oregon coast

The cheese is dark yellow
Comes in two flavors
Sharp and regular
I prefer the sharp.

It has a delightful aroma
And is among the most
Favorable of cheeses
I have ever eaten.

And it has an aftertaste
That lingers in your mouth
For several minutes

As you savor
The aroma, the taste
And the texture
Taking you to cheese

I was perhaps 13
At the time

And interested
In everything

Learned a lot
About cheese
That visit

But the most important thing
Was I learned
That was my favorite cheese
Tillamook. Cheese.

Still is
Almost 55 years later.

Spring Time in Oregon

Spring has finally sprung in Oregon
Escaping from the long winter prison
That has covered the land with snow

They say that this winter
Was a colder than normal winter
Wetter than normal
As the long drought finally ended

As nature resumed its normal spring thaw
I rejoice

Seeing all the signs of spring
Especially the sight of young beautiful women
Shedding their winter clothes
And walking about in the spring sunshine

So wonderfully alive
So beautiful and sexy
As they sashay about
Here and there

It makes me smile
All day long

Yes I love Spring time
Everywhere in the world

But especially in Oregon
My new found second home

New Year Visit to the Oregon Coast

The end of the year
We drove to Bookings on the Oregon Coast
We had a pleasant drive through the mystic fog shrouded Redwoods.
The gathering gloom of the dark woods foretold my dismal mood

Slept soundly to the sound of the ocean.
The super moon light filled
the beach outside our window
with an eerie light all night long.

As we slept people walked the beach
Enjoying the full moon
And the unusually warm weather
Setting off fireworks at midnight

In the morning I went for a nice walk along the beach
and thought about the year that was.
As the waves pounded the shore

I was filled with calmness
Enjoying the morning calm
And the unusually warm weather

Thinking that the storm is coming
That perhaps we are in the end of our days
With the political storms threatening us all

Yet the ocean reminded me
This too will pass
And we will endure
Until the end of our time
On earth

The ocean waves soothed my soul
And I prepared to drive back through the mystic redwoods
Back to my home

And the peaceful ocean waves
Reminded me
the end of my life
Comes closer to my door

published in Former People

Oregon Demon Cat

evil cat
evil cat






The demon cat
Lived in Medford Oregon

The demon cat was a big black cat
His eyes were filled with demonic energy
He stared at you

Looking into your very soul
Filled with anger, and hatred
For the entire human race

He seemed at times
To be not from this planet
Perhaps an alien species
Studying the human race

Or perhaps he came
Form hell itself

The demon cat loved to torment visitors
For some reason he hated the man’s daughter

The cat would stare at her from his perch
Down the hall from the old man

Then he would run at her
Screaming like an escaped banshee
Straight out of hell

She told her dad
Either the cat goes
Or I go

He said
See you later

The demon cat smiled
At the small victory

And she left the house
With the demon cat
Screeching good bye

The Demon Cat from Oregon v2

cat jpg
cat jpg





The demon cat
Was black as hell
Vicious temper
Mean hearted
As only demon cats can be

He lived with an old man
And his daughter
In Medford Oregon
In an old house.

The demon cat
Hated the daughter
Who hated the demon cat.

The demon cat
Would rush at her
Hissing making her back off
Or leave the house.

One day the daughter
Told her father
Either get rid
Of the demon cat
Or I will have to leave you.

The old man
Smiled at his daughter,
Well good luck on your move
The cat is staying.

The demon cat
Looked at the daughter
With hate in his black eyes,
Smiling at his victory.

The daughter moved out
Refused to step foot
In the house
As long as the demon cat
Was around.



Monkeys Run Amuck in Seattle

I am a member of Earth First, based in Seattle.  We decide that we will do one action per month to radically change the environment and generate publicity for our efforts and gain recruits.

After much discussion, we decide to liberate all the animals being used for testing at UW medical school and in other labs in the city and to free the animals in Zoo.  We would take the animals out to the woods outside of town and let them run free.

We plan our attack with great care and we strike with military precision in the middle of the night one week and liberate 5,000 animals.  We release the animals and film them on U Tube.  The U-Tube goes viral.

The animals run free and soon establish themselves in the forests near Seattle.  The Tigers and lions soon breed and become established eating deer and other animals.  The monkeys move into the city and the City of Seattle soon becomes their home.  The monkeys do very well and even survive the winter.

They soon become a tourist attraction.  The zoo is closed down as they can’t afford to round up the animals who have all gone native.  The UW Medical School denied that they were engaging in animal testing so we publish their secret research online.

It is a great victory for Earth First.   Other animal liberation actions take place across the country.

Within five years monkey troops have become established throughout the US.  Lions and Tigers have also flourished eating deer and helping to keep deer populations in check.  There were isolated lion and tiger attacks on humans but for the most part, the lions and tigers stick to deer meat.

Other animals also flourished – Elephants take to the Central Valley and most of the African animals we had released were released into the Central Valley which became known as America’s Serengeti.

The wild animals become a huge tourist attraction.

Ft. Ashland


First Three Chapters

Chapter One Best Day of Sam’s Life Ends as Worst Day of His Life

Sam Adams was having the best day of his life, he had made love to Maria for the first time since he had met her a few weeks ago and felt he had met his soul mate.  They stayed up until midnight when the world ended, and the worst years of their lives began.

Sam Adams was a tenured professor at Southern Oregon State University teaching English literature.  He had been at the University for five years and had just gotten tenure.  Sam was 35 years old.  He had grown up in Berkeley, California, and gotten his BA in English literature at CAL.

Sam had gone on for a Ph.D. at Bowling Green University in Ohio where he did his Ph.D. thesis on “End of the World Fiction”.    had divided the genre into five basic scenarios, “Nuclear War”, “Zombie Apocalypse,” “End of Power, Oil or other critical infrastructure”, “alien invasion” or other natural disasters – climate change, super volcanoes, new ice age, meteor collision, etc.     His favorite though was “nuclear war” because he felt that was the most likely to occur, his least favorite was “zombie apocalypse” which he felt was too far-fetched.  Climate change was also a good one to study because it was beginning to take shape in real life.  The others were “black swan events, ” civilization-ending but unlikely to ever occur.


In these scenarios, 90 percent of humanity dies within three months as no one was prepared for the collapse of civilization.  Only a few smaller communities would survive intact.  Any town bigger than 30,000 would end up with most people dead, with a ruthless warlord in charge of the remaining people who would be virtual slaves.  He had just finished writing Ft. Ashland which was his vision of how Ashland could survive the end of the world.   The Police chief, the Mayor, and the President of the University loved the book.  They were all part of Sam’s weekly poker party and had all agreed to be beta readers for his first novel, “Ft. Ashland.”  The Police Chief appointed Sam to be chair of the citizen’s emergency action planning committee and had asked him to map out various scenarios for consideration by the town council at next month’s council meeting.  The council would review the various plans and scenarios and adopt the official joint-city-University EAP.  The country director for Emergency planning would be there as she was on the committee.  They planned to adopt a similar countrywide plan based on the Ashland prototype. Sam had based his plans on both the official DHS-recommended state and local planning documents as well as his review of the Emergency planning literature as well as SF stories.  He thought that many of the post-world war stories were quite relevant and he incorporated ideas from the best of the literature.    Sam would reveal the various plans and then direct the first city-university joint emergency planning drill where they would walk through various scenarios.  Little did Sam know he would have to carry out the drill in real life.

But that was fate Sam thought later that eventful night. Someone was looking out for him and the town he was sure.  Sam did not believe in guardian angels.  He had grown up in a secular family.  His mother had grown up in a Southern Baptist fundamentalist church and had fled home from Arkansas in the dust bowl.  She was part Irish, and part Cherokee and pure witch as Sam often thought as she was psychic and mad.  But in a good way, although she later developed Alzheimer’s and spent the last few years of her life in an assisted living facility. His father had grown up in a stern Lutheran family in Yakima, Washington.  He was of German, Scandinavian, and French background.

Sam was enjoying living in Ashland which he had visited as an undergraduate to see the Shakespeare plays.  He had been hired by the English Department to modernize their curriculum which had been heavily focused on Elizabethan literature as many of the students and faculty were associated with the Festival in one manner or another and they had become well known as one of the best English Departments for that sort of literature.  Sam and his colleague Jonathon Goodman, who was from Nigeria, had been told to develop classes on contemporary literature.  Sam taught SF, Fantasy, Thriller, Mystery, and contemporary literary literature.  He also taught the creative writing program.

Maria, his new finance, was also 35 years old.  She had grown up in India and was from Goa, most people assumed she was Hispanic or Portuguese because of her name, Maria Francesca De Lopez, and her looks.  Her father was the son of a Portuguese colonial administrator who married a local woman and stayed on after India took over Goa.  They were due to arrive in town in a few weeks as Maria and Sam had just announced their marriage.  Sam had to agree to convert to Catholicism and to have a church wedding followed by a honeymoon in Goa, his first trip to his fiancé’s native country.  And Sam knew that she believed in Guardian angels. She had told him that on his first date when they had a passionate debate about religion.  Sam had expressed his doubts and his reservations about Christianity, and she had defended her faith.  At the end of the night, they reached an agreement.  Sam would be welcome to attend Church or not. She would go every Sunday for mass. She would respect his atheistic heathen ways if he respected her Catholic ways.  If they had a child, the child would be told that he can make up his mind whether to be a believer or not.  They would raise their child in church but on their 18th birthday would make their case to their child.  The child would then choose, and they would respect the child’s opinion on the matter.

Maria had moved to town last year to accept a position at the local hospital as director of Emergency services.  She had just graduated from the University of Washington and had served in a hospital in Portland getting her residency completed so she knew that she wanted to be in Oregon.  Her cousin ran the local Indian restaurant and had invited her to come down to Ashland. When she got there, she found that there was an opening as the ER director at the Asante Community Hospital, the biggest and best hospital in Ashland, and she took the position.  Sam had gotten to know her through his work on the Emergency Planning Committee (EPC) which he co-chaired with Maria.  Maria also loved his story, “Ft. Ashland” but thought that it was a bit too pessimistic.

That night they had gone to see a play at the Oregon Cabaret as the festival had just ended.  It was a few weeks before Thanksgiving, just before Veterans Day.  And next to the end of the hunting season.  Although Ashland was a “blue city”, large parts of Oregon were “red states” especially up in Medford.  And even in Ashland there were a lot of hunters, and some of the students disappeared to go hunting as well.

Maria had finally agreed to spend the night together with him and had accepted his proposal of marriage made at the Taj Indian Cuisine.   The owner, Samuel Lopez Gomez, was a distant cousin of Maria.  Maria had hinted that she thought that Sam was going to propose and wanted to surprise him with a traditional Goa dinner.  The restaurant was known through the Indian community in Southern Oregon as the only place to go for traditional Goan food as all the other restaurants served the more common Moghul or North Indian fare and the Indian Kitchen in Medford served South Indian food as well as the stereotypical North Indian fare.  The Taj served both Maharashtra, Gujarat, southern Indian style food and their specialty, Goan food – as well as the expected North Indian fare.

After dinner, Sam called Samuel over to the table and told him,

“I think it is only fitting that you serve as a witness since you are Maria’s cousin’s brother. And Sam dropped to his knees and said,

“Maria Francesca De Lopez Gomez, will you marry me, Samuel Joseph Adams?”

“          Of course.”

And they went to the Oregon Cabaret to see “She Loves Me”.

They walked home from the theater in the rain and snow (early for snow) to their cottage on B and First Street down the street from the Ashland Co-op and just a few blocks from the theaters.

Maria told Sam

“Let’s call it a night.  Tomorrow let’s plan our life together.   I think we both know we are the one for each other and let’s pledge to each other that we will always remember this night, and always remember the love that we feel right now and that we will always be there for each other.  I think we both know we are the one for each other and let’s pledge to each other that we will always remember this night, and always remember the love that we feel right now and that we will always be there for each other until death does us apart. “

“Okale dokoli honey bun.”

“Wait.  Are you going all Ned Flanders on me?  I always thought of you as more of a Homer Simpson guy and I would be your Marge.”


“Nope. We cannot ever use the phrase “whatever or dismissive language.  You as a professor of English should know that words matter.”

“Okay, no whatever. Can I respond?”

“Only if it is said lovingly.”

“Okay.  I am asking you a second time, just to be sure you have not changed your mind. Will you, Maria Francesca Lopez De Gomez from Goa marry me, Samuel Jacob Adams, from the People’s Republic of Berkeley?”

“That’s more like it.  But I already said yes

 But, let’s have some champagne and watch let’s watch the news for a bit. I want to see what happened at the Peace talks. I have a bad feeling about this.”

Chapter Two CNN Broadcasts the End of the World

CNN and the global media live-streamed the end of the world.  The world as we knew it ended in a fiery nuclear war that engulfed the entire world killing half the population of the world within the first month of the attacks, and within one year more than 75 percent of mankind was killed.  The remainder of humanity hunkered down in small heavily fortified towns scattered in the more rural areas of the world as the major metropolitan cities were all wastelands.  The new dark ages began that morning.

The whole world watched in horror as the events spun out of control.  It started a few weeks before Thanksgiving, early November.  The North Koreans had kept up the pressure on the President as they saw he was becoming more and more unstable with the political scandals threatening to overwhelm his administration.

The attack by the North happened without warning early in November. The North Koreans had announced that they would join five-party talks in Beijing in early November.  The U. S. Secretary of State and the Foreign Ministers of North Korea, China, Russia, and Japan were all in attendance.  The President of China chaired the meeting. As the meeting began, the North Korean foreign minister rose to make his opening statement. He announced that the North Koreans had made a grave decision.  He announced that the high command had just approved a nuclear attack on the U.S.

CNN Announcer: “This is Jake Smith, CNN Beijing Bureau Chief with Breaking news from the last chance peace conference.  The North Korean Foreign minister has just announced during the opening session of the five-party last chance for peace talks in Beijing that they had launched a nuclear attack against the U.S. targeting the mainland.  Going to his remarks now.”

FM Lim Taewoo: “The dotard Trump and his hapless minions have brought this upon themselves.  We have said we would be open to discussions to end the conflict peacefully because we do not desire this war. But dotard Trump and his senile henchmen have continued to provoke us by flying their bombers into our airspace.  We told them that this was our final warning. But they did not listen to us.  So, the war is on them. “

He turned to his South Korean counterpart,

“We have launched a great patriotic war of unification and our artillery are turning Seoul into a sea of fire even as we speak.  And we have launched missiles against Japanese targets, and U.S. military facilities in both South Korea, Japan, and Guam as well as in the U.S., mainland.  The South Korean government can stop the attacks by agreeing to a total surrender to the Korean People’s liberation army right now.”

The U.S., Japanese, and South Koreans demanded the right to respond.

“The U.S. condemns these cowardly attacks and you must know that you are your leadership have just committed national suicide.  We will retaliate at once and know out your artillery and your offensive weapons. Then we will attack North Korean military assets and let there be no doubt if any North Korean missiles reach the U.S.  we will destroy North Korea.”

The Secretary turned to the Chinese President and said, “Considering the North Korean actions we demand you join us, Japan, South Korea, and Russia in condemning this attack and that you dismiss the proceedings for the rest of the day and provide us and our colleagues access to secured communications, so we can all check in with our respective capitols to coordinate our responses.”

FM Park Changsu from South Korea spoke next.  He said,

“The Republic of Korea will destroy you arrogant bastards and you will not survive the war.  We will never surrender to you and will fight you until every North Korean soldier is killed.  There is nothing more to be said.”

FM Harshiro Watanabe from Japan spoke last.

“It is unfortunate that it has come to this.  But Japan too will never surrender and will fight to the last man, woman, and child to defend Japan. We are ordering bombers to begin bombing North Korean targets in conjunction with our American and South Korean allies.  We and the South Korean and U.S. forces will not send ground forces into the north if the Chinese and Russians agree to do so and agree that once hostilities ceased we will reconvene and discuss forming a unified Korean government.”

The Russian FM spoke up,

“The Russian government also condemns the actions of the North Korean regime but also notes that President Trump bears some responsibility for his reckless comments and provocative actions.  Nonetheless, we will assist in any way we can including sending armed forces into the North and we will coordinate with the US, Japanese, Chinese, and South Koreans regarding bombing targets.  Might I suggest that we after consulting with our respective capitols reconvene to discuss immediate next steps?”

President Xi looked at the assembled diplomats and made his closing comments:

“Indeed, Secretary Moore, the PRC condemns the reckless actions of the North Korean government and asks that they pull back their attacks and cease all hostilities.   We also ask that the U.S. not attack North Korea if the North Koreans withdraw their attacks.  If the missiles reach the U.S., obviously the U.S. would have the right to respond but the PRC will not tolerate any incursion by ground troops by the U.S., Japan, or South Korea into the North Korean territory.  If ground forces are needed to restore order, Russia and China will do in consultation with the South Koreans, the Japanese, and the United States.   This concludes today’s formal meeting.  We will resume a meeting with just the FMs and military leaders of South Korea, Japan, China, the U.S., and Russia regarding terms of engagement and coordinating air strikes.   And we remind everyone that neither China nor Russia will tolerate coalition ground forces north of the DMZ.

We remain ready to resume peace talks if it proves useful.  And FM Watanabe after hostilities cease and order had been restored in the North we will not only host a peace conference, we will also hold a war crimes tribunal. And of course, we will support the creation of a unified Korean state.  In the meantime, please follow our aides who will escort you to secure communication channels. “

CNN Announcer: “We have breaking news.  NORAD has just confirmed that the U.S. appears to be under cyber-attack. The Hoover Dam and Colombia river dams have all burst.  All airports appear to have lost power.  And traffic management systems across the country are failing.   Our local affiliate in Las Vegas is showing the dam bursting.

CNN Las Vegas:  Yes, Jim.  As you can see from our helicopter coverage the dam has burst and a wall of water 500 feet high is flooding down the river heading towards Las Vegas and Phoenix.  It is expected to hit in less than twenty minutes, and power is out all over Las Vegas.  Thousands of people are trapped in high rises across the city and as you can see the entire city is black. There is a mandatory shelter-in-place drill = meaning if you can get out of town and into the nearby mountains do so, if not, go to the highest floors of the nearest high rise.  The casinos are all operating on emergency power and have announced that they will be giving out free food and booze if they can and free rooms for anyone who needs shelter. Everyone is being directed to floors about 20 floors (the flood waters will hit the 15th floor).  The hope is that the high rises will remain to stand, but no one knows for sure.

CNN HDQ:  This is Jake Smith, with a breaking announcement.  NORAD has announced that there are hundreds of incoming nuclear missiles coming from North Korea, China, and Russia. The Chinese and Russian government has just informed the US that rogue elements in their government are behind the attacks and are joining North Korea in the attack on the U.S.  President Putin and President Li have condemned the attacks and are trying to recall as many of the missiles as they can.   NORAD has confirmed that the North Koreans took out most of the electric grid in the West in a cyber-attack.  And the New York Stock market is under a cyber-attack as well.  FEMA estimates that half the country is without power or water and they believe it may be months before water and electricity can restore.  We are breaking to Vice Preside Brown who is announcing to the nation.

“My fellow Americans. Today is perhaps the darkest day in recent history. The North Koreans have attacked the U.S. aided by the Russians and the Chinese.  As many of you have long suspected, our president, President Johnson has been showing signs of Alzheimer’s, and therefore considering the crisis we are facing, we felt that he should step aside and let more experienced and steadier hands deal with the consequences of the attack. During this crisis, I ask that you keep Donald and his family in your prayers.  His heart was in the right place, but it was clear that he would not be able to handle this crisis anymore.  And so, under the provisions of the 25th amendment, he has been removed from power and I am now your President.

As your president, my first responsibility is to ensure your safety.  To that end, we will keep broadcasting from this undisclosed location if we can.   We have evoked the emergency broadcasting notification system, but cable news channels can and will continue broadcasting as long as they can. All other programming will be suspended during the duration of this crisis.

We urge you if you are in one of the 25 cities on the following list to hunker down and prepare for a nuclear attack which will commence in less than ten minutes.  Do not look at the bomb bursts and stay underground if possible.  Stay home or at your office.  Once you receive the all-clear go home and take care of your loved ones, and your neighbors. Remember that we are all Americans and we will survive this.

We have authorized retaliatory strikes against the targets in North Korea, China, and Russia targeting where the missiles were launched, and we have targeted Pyongyang, North Korea. We are not targeting Moscow or Beijing now as we believe that rogue elements in their governments were behind the attacks. The Presidents of Russia and China have assured us that they will find the culprits and deal with them.  And they are prepared to help in the recovery.

We have attempted to shoot down some of the incoming missiles and have succeeded in knocking down some of them. But we are prepared to take a direct hit.  The cities that we believe are targeted include NYC, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, DC, Atlanta, Miami, Chicago, Indianapolis, Denver, Kansas City, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Portland, and Seattle.  And most air force bases and army bases across the country are potential targets.   We are concentrating our anti-missile defenses on protecting these cities, and DC.  The entire cabinet and top leadership of the Senate and House are en route to this location which will serve as the central nexus of the recovery efforts.  However, once the bombs have hit, the federal government will be short-staffed, so local towns will have to cope the best that they can.

We urge people to be calm, to share resources, and to fight to maintain law and order and to preserve our civilization.  That is all.  God bless America and keep us strong. We will overcome this with God’s help.

CNN announcer breaks in:

NORAD has just informed us that there are incoming nukes that are about to detonate causing an EMP blast that will knock out the remaining pow….

CNN goes dead as does the EMB system.

Chapter Three Watching the Planes Go Down

It was 1:30 am.  Just as the power went off there was a blinding flash of light like the most intense lightning storm ever experienced and then moments later everything electric, – cars, computers, microwaves, blenders, and lights blew out with an intense blue spark and fires broke out all over town.

Thus, began the worst year of their life.

Sam immediately knew what needed to be done.  He had just finished writing an SF story about the end of civilization after watching Jericho and realizing that story was way too optimistic.  The reality was that an EMP could wipe out industrial civilization for over a thousand years.  This was more like the Fall of Rome or the novel, “Dying of the Light”. Same knew because he had done his Ph.D. on post-nuclear war fiction and had just finished writing, Ft Ashland, and also just finished writing the EAP for the City of Ashland and the University.

Sam swore.

“God Damn the President, and Kim Jong-un.  WW111 has just started and ended just as I predicted.

Within a week all law and order would break down and armed gangs would rule. Ashland being a compact small town with a liberal reputation, would be a prime target for the criminal elements largely based in Medford and White City, 15 miles up the road.  To prevent that fate, Sam knew that they would have to dust off the EMP that he and Maria had just drafted based on his novel and his research.  Fortunately, the major, the University President, and the Police Chief, his poker-playing buddies, had all read his novel and were big fans.

Sam turned to Maria,

“We had better go and see the Police Chief.  Afterward, you need to get to the hospital.  All the medicines in the refrigerators will go bad within days.  Call Joe in the History department in the morning.  He is a sort of expert on early modern civilizations.  He may have some ideas as to how to jury rig an ice box system to keep the essential medicines cold enough.  And then let’s get your cousin over so we can figure out how to preserve the frozen foods in the restaurants. “

And they walked out the door into the changed new post-nuclear world.

The first thing that Sam and Maria noticed as they stepped outside into the post-EMP world after the blast was how quiet and dark it was.  All the lights had blown out, all the vehicles had stalled, and a few scattered fires had started, but the snow was putting them out.  Some people were out on the street and Sam and Maria told their neighbors what they suspected had happened.

George and Samantha lived next door. George was with the festival as an actor, his wife worked in the front office.  They had been here for five seasons and had re-up for a six-season. The actors stayed one to three seasons then move on.  The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, like most professional theaters, rotated actors and tech staff every year to give fresh talent and fresh ideas.  George was from England and his wife Samantha was from Barbados.  They met working the cruise ship entertainment circuit which was also common in the theater world as those gigs paid well and gave well free room and board and cruising. What not to like thought Sam to himself.

“So, Sam, I know you’ve researched all this. What are you thinking happens next?”

“Well, come with me to meet Police Chief Chuck and Mayor Joe.  If the Mayor is asleep, we will have to wake him up.  Go to the theater.  It might be difficult to perform in the dark!   But what happens next is up to us.  If we all pull together and drop everything else and concentrate on three core tasks, collecting food and setting up community kitchens, starting community gardens sprouts for now, hunting as well; and building a Fort around the town to keep out predators including humans, we might survive with most people alive as we are just small enough to be viable.  Medford is already history although gangs might take over and enslave the population.  Portland is too big to survive.  SF Los Angeles.  Sacramento, Oakland, San Jose, and San Diego are gone by now.  According to the news just before the bombs fell those cities, and most major metro areas and military bases have been or will be nuked.  The only ones near here are Portland and the Klamath Falls reserve air base.  We might be okay as Oregon is just too insignificant a target compared to the target-rich California and Washington State.

The food will go bad in seven days.  No new food will arrive, and the growing season is over, we won’t have fresh food except for sprouts and indoor lettuce until June.  Looters will get most of the canned goods, but no one will cook without power unless they have a pre-1960 stove or wood stove. Gas stoves won’t work as the gas distribution systems and water systems also depend upon computer circuits which are all fried.  There may run water for a while as the water systems may be okay but eventually, toilets will fail.  I’d give that about six months sooner if we have a cold winter which we will due to nuclear winter.

In any urban area over 50,000 people will have 90 percent of the population starve to death, eaten by animals, including lions, tigers, and cheetahs, – they will escape soon from the wildlife parks, and zoos across the State, -cougars, wolves, coyotes, feral dogs, vultures, and eagles and bears.  The dogs are going to go bad within a week and join up with coyotes and wolf packs.   Cats are going to go feral but probably not attack humans.  The animals are going to attack deer, cattle, and horses.  Which means they are going off the same game that we need to hunt.

And cannibal gangs will soon form and prey upon survivors.   Or people will die of falling out or die of disease or freeze to death.  We can avoid that fate if we all pull together today.  Join me in convincing the Mayor and police chief.”

“Sam, stop it. You are scaring me. Can’t be that bad.”

“George, it is going to be a lost worst up in Medford. By this time tomorrow armed gangs are going to take over the city, within a few days they will be coming out of the way. We had better be ready.”

“Sam seems to me that we can start by piling up old cars and buses and then building fencing and posts behind it.”

“George, I knew your past as a construction contractor would prove useful. The acting not so much. We must think that we are back in 1400 or perhaps 700 ads with the Fall of Rome. The dark ages have started.”

A crowd had formed about 20 people were milling around listening to Sam and George discuss the unfolding situation.

Just then there was a flash of blinding light to the East towards Klamath Falls where there was a reserve air base.   Sam yelled at everyone inside my house now.

Everyone ran inside.  Sam told everyone

“Okay.  That was Klamath Falls being hit by a nuke.  Fortunately, between here and there are high mountains so we might be okay.  Hard to know.  We need some of the scientists at the University to tell us.   So, here’s the deal.  George and I are going to get the mayor and police chief. We will bring them here for an emergency management committee meeting.  Marisa will take volunteers to the hospital to get stretchers and ER supplies then divide up into teams. One team will go to the crash site north of town, one south of town, and another team will hit the freeway entrances, north, and south.  Look for survivors. Take them to the armory which we will set up as an emergency shelter. Someone wakes up the management and opens it up and someone organizes emergency bedding supplies, water, and food.  We may have injuries and may have refugees. For now, we won’t turn people away, but in a few days, that will change once we have the Fort set up.

George on the way to getting the mayor and police chief let’s sketch out how we will build the Fort where the barricades will go first and what we need to do to build it fast and ugly at first then over time make it a fortress surrounding the core downtown and the University districts.  And someone goes to find Joe Turner the history buff.  He will know what to do. We need his expertise.”

Joe had arrived.  He was a big burly fellow, a college football player at CAL who had gone back to graduate school after his two years in the NFL did not pan out. But he had the funds to pay for graduate school.  He studied at Bowling Green and was a classmate of Sam’s.  His Ph.D. was on 17th-century technology in the colonial era. Sam and Joe had talked about EMP effects when Sam was writing his book. He had done his research and told Sam,

“Sam, I figured you could use me.  So, it is the EMP we talked about?”

“Hacking first I think then EMP and nukes. Seems that Klamath has been hit by a nuke but probably no other nukes except for the Bay Area, Sacramento and Portland, Seattle, and Los Angeles.  There should be massive forest fires starting but the snow and rain will put them out soon enough. More worried about Medford burning up.  We also need the fire crew to put out the fires that have started.  But the snow and rain should help prevent a massive fire.  Joe come with me we must get the Police Chief and the Mayor to call a mandatory town hall meeting.”

Joe went on,

“Well Sam, folks. We are going to have to go through the town and pull together pre-1960 stoves, refrigerators, radios, TVs, and lighting fixtures.  I may be able to get some solar power and wind power and hydropower up and running in a few weeks so once those are ready we can set up the pre-1950’s stoves and refrigerators.   In the meantime, we can put food outside and medicine outside in bear and raccoon-proof containers that will have to be in the trees or on the rooftops.  And we can set up some emergency ice boxes as well.   That should last us until Spring time when we can restore power to the University and the downtown corridors. We have to re-wire everything and set up solar and wind power systems.  Fortunately, if the solar panels were not installed they should work, they are low-tech. The computer gizmos won’t work but we might be able to do a workaround.  The wind turbines may be a problem as they tend to have computer gizmos but some of the engineering chaps can figure that out. “

They soon divided up into emergency teams and went their separate ways. Sam was proud that his towns folks so far, were doing what he knew needed to be done.  But Sam also knew that what he was going to propose the next day would be resisted by half the town folk who will naively feel that they just need to wait for the Federal or State government to organize recovery operations.  Sam knew that they had about five days max to prepare for an invasion of armed bandits from Medford as the food ran out.  If they weren’t ready it would be game over and Sam did not want to be a slave or killed by bandits or cannibals or wild animals.  Or starve to death.  Sam knew what had to be done.

Chuck the police chief saw Sam and welcomed him, George, and Joe Turner to the station.

The Police Chief, Chuck Conners, was a career law enforcement guy.  He was in his late 40’s and well built, muscular guy.  He had served as the police chief for five years.   Before joining the Ashland police, he had been a policeman in SF.  He had served five years in the military as an MP and had done rough service including interrogating prisoners.  He was married to Lisa Marie and had two adult children.  Jack was in the military and likely to make it for life.  Maria was a struggling actress.  His parents were elderly, and he worried about them a lot.  Sam, George, and Joe Turner were great friends, sharing a passion for SF movies and books, and avid poker players. They played almost every Friday night at Sam’s house.

The mayor was on his way.  Sam offered to host the emergency action team at his house and they all agreed.   Joe Turner had been mayor for five years. He was a medium height medium build average looking white guy, the most remarkable thing about him was his remarkableness.  He was planning on running for Congress when the fall hit and changed his plans.  He and Sam had become fast friends when Sam first arrived.

When the mayor arrived, Sam told them what they had already done.

“Okay, let’s do this. Sam, George, and Joe, I am deputizing you right now as deputy sheriffs and you will have full authority under the law.  We are going to find Tom Strange who is the armory manager.  He lives a few blocks over.  If I know Tom, he may already be at the armory and opening it up.  He is a man of action and a good egg.  Let’s go and find him.  I will send a couple of my officers to the two crash sites and to the two freeway entrances to meet up with the volunteers and escort survivors to the armory.   After that, we will go to your house. Joe, can you figure out how to make coffee and food for 30 people without power?”

“I sure can.  Let’s do that at the armory.  I can rig up a makeshift kitchen fire out back, but I need a few volunteers. How about I put a few of the refugees to work building a kitchen so we can have hot food by 9 am and coffee of course.  Sam, can we swing by your house and get supplies first?”

“Sure. “

They walked back to his house, put together emergency food rations including coffee, and went to the armory which had a fully stocked kitchen as they hosted all sorts of events there including community pancake breakfasts etc.  On the way, they collected more volunteers. Everyone turns to Sam as everyone in town knew of his book and his service on the EAP committee. Most thought that he was a bit eccentric, but everyone realized that between Joe and Sam, the town had a fighting chance of survival.

Tom was waiting for them and had opened the armory. There were about 25 people their volunteers setting up cots, blankets, and emergency food and water ratios.  Joe spoke up,

“I need about six people to go out back with me and set up an emergency fire pit kitchen.  We will start brewing up coffee and making eggs and pancakes. We have plenty of paper plates for now. Someone will have to wake up the Safeway manager and get them to donate more supplies. We expect the whole town to show up sooner or later.  Fortunately, most of the tourists are gone for the season and some of the residents as well are out of town.  So, we are down to about 20,000 people vs. 30,000 during the tourist season. We are going to have a town hall at noon and the EAP will start meeting as soon as we can get them coffee and breakfast.  Later we will need to get those pre-50 stoves up and running once we get some power but that is not today’s problem.  So, let’s go.”

Sam, George, Chuck, and Joe Brown the Mayor sat down and begin mapping out the details of the EAP following a written copy that the Major had printed out before the power failed.

“Sam, this is the worst-case scenario, isn’t it?”

“Yep. Joe. End of civilization as we know it.”


the Haunted House in Eagle Point

Sam Adams was a paranormal researcher for the Cosmos Institute in Berkeley, California.  He had grown up in Eagle Point, Oregon, a small community just north of the town of Medford, twenty miles from the California border.

When he was growing up there stood an old mansion on the north end of town. The mansion was rumored to contain secret doorways to other worlds. The owner of the mansion was Eugene Small, a retired English professor who had taught at Southern Oregon University and worked as an advisor to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival before Alzheimer’s caused him to retire at age 60. He became a hermit held up in the house where he was rumored to conduct secret Satanic rituals involving animal sacrifices. He had a small stable containing horses, cattle, pigs, dogs, and cats.

When Sam first worked at the Cosmos Institute, he became interested in the rumored satanic rituals being conducted at the small old mansion which was down the street from where he had grown up.  He called up his father one day and talked to him about the rumors surrounding the old mansion.  His father told him that Eugene had not been seen in over a month and strange ghostly figures were walking about the property and urged Sam to come up and take a look as part of his job.

Sam told his boss about the strange cooccurrences she authorized him to return home to investigate it.  When he returned home, he found that the mansion, the stable and Mr. Small had all mysteriously vanished in the night leaving behind an empty crater.

Sam reported the case as inconclusive and went back to the Institute.

© Copyright 2023 JCosmos (jcosmos at Writing.Com). Al

He walked along the lonely coast picking up shells and thinking about life. He came upon an eagle feather on the beach and looked up and saw the eagle looking at him. He imagined that the eagle was blaming humanity for destroying the world.  He screamed at the eagle “don’t blame me for the misdeeds of the human race. I am the last human alive so leave me alone.”

The eagle screeched and flew off looking for breakfast. Soon he came upon a gruesome sight. He saw a fellow survivor who had somehow survived the zombie flu-fighting for his life against a pack of feral dogs. Sam chased the dogs off throwing rocks at them. The man thanked him and joined him for breakfast in a new abandoned cabin. They thought about the end of humanity, and the revenge of the natural world. The wildlife was resurgent everywhere. The few humans left huddled together trying to survive the collapse of the old-world order.  They went back out to the world walking the beach. They saw a pride of lions chasing down a deer. They shot at the lions who ran off snarling into the woods. They came to another abandoned cabin and prepared to spend the night. They heard a commotion and saw another survivor walking down the beach towards them. They joined her and had dinner together. That was the moment that Sam Adams realized that although the world might have ended, he was still somehow alive.


The Cosmic Bench in Lithia Park

Short story

            One November afternoon, at about 5 pm, Sam Adams, a white man in his late

The 60s was doing his usual daily walk in Lithia Park in Ashland, Oregon.  Sam had retired to

Oregon after serving in the U.S. government as a diplomat for many years.  He had grown up in

Berkeley but had visited Ashland over the years.  He and his wife, Linda, were big fans of the

 Shakespeare festival.   Linda was worried that Sam was showing signs of Alzheimer’s but Sam

was not worried.  He told Linda every day he would always remember how to find his way back

to her.  They had been married for 45 years.  They met on a bus in South Korea when Sam was

teaching there for the US Army before joining the State Department.  Linda Lee was from Korea.  It

was love at first sight and they got married two months after meeting.

Since retirement they were inseparable, but Sam often went for his walks alone.   He would walk deep into Lithia Park following Lithia Creek upriver until he came upon his favorite bench and sat there a while.  The bench was a simple wooden bench, surrounded by Japanese Maple trees which were in the full-color display that afternoon. It was a pleasant spot and Sam had been going there every day for almost two years.

Soon, as usual, he was lost in thought, dreaming of his past life, thinking of his past loves, thinking dark thoughts preparing mentally for the coming end times of his life.  Sam had a premonition that death was stalking him and that his time was near.  He never told his wife that because he did not want to worry her. But he had insisted that they had gotten their estate plan completed, and he felt ready to go any day now.

            Sam had plenty to think about – he and Linda had had an eventful life. He had lived in over ten countries around the world and traveled to 50 states. After retiring he became a blogger and worked on that off and on. But lately, he felt that time was slipping away from him.  As he sat on the bench, meditating on his past life, something strange occurred.  The bench woke up and spoke to Sam.

“Sam, how are you doing? An old friend of mine.  Delighted that I can speak with you.”

Sam looked around and could not find out where the voice was coming from but realized that the chair had spoken to him.  Sam laughed and said,

“Well, chair if you can speak tell me what you know.”

The chair spoke of Sam’s life and of the life of others in the community that Sam knew.  The chair said he knew everything that occurred in the lives of the people that sat on his bench.  And the trees knew too as did the cosmic cat and even the squirrels knew.  But people, well they just did not know how to listen to nature and the world around them.  In a way, it was too bad because the bench had so much wisdom to implant.

Sam and the bench began talking.  Soon a black cat appeared.  He said that he was a cosmic cat as most cats are.  Cats, he explained, are special creatures – not originally from this planet and descended from great warriors that crashed and landed on Earth millions of years ago.

Humans as alien freaks or as annoying pests so often dismissed cats. But cats were man’s best friend.  And all cats had a sixth sense about death. They knew when it was time to go.  The cat said the Grimm Reaper was coming to Sam’s place that night and that Sam would be gone the next day.

Sam said,

“Cosmic cat, do you know what will happen to me? Will I go to Heaven or Hell? Is there a heaven or a hell?”

“Sam, that is beyond my pay grade as they say. I do know that life continues after death but heaven and hell I don’t know much about. It is different for us cats. We come back to life again, and can’t seem to escape our karmic fate. Humans will then move on to the next level of existence and we will never see them again.  Oh, here is the Grimm Reaper himself.”

The Grimm Reaper walks up to Sam and introduces himself.  The Grimm Reaper was a handsome man dressed in all-black clothes, with a black hat and tie on.  He said that he is just part of an army of Grimm Reapers and was breaking protocol to talk with Sam.  He was so impressed that Sam had developed the ability to talk to animals, trees, and the cosmic bench that he had a deal to make.

Sam intrigued said,

“what’s the deal?”

I will give you one more month to live but you let me into your life like in the moviI always Black. Always wanted to try that. At the end of your life, God may grant me my wish to be a mortal for a few years.  Here’s how it is going to play out.  I will introduce myself as your long-lost son from an affair long ago.  You will welcome me into your life and Linda will eventually accept me as your son as well.

Every day we will come back here and continue our conversation. At the end of the month, you will go on to the other world and I will stay behind as your son and stay with your wife to comfort her until it is her time to go and then you will be reunited. For you are special true soul mates and will be together forever.  Do we have a deal?”

Sam said, “Sure.”

The bench smiled, the cat was happy, and the squirrel came down from the tree after getting assurances that the Cat would not eat him that day and congratulated him as well. The Maple Tree finally spoke and blessed the deal as well.

As night deepened, he turned slowly towards home, accompanied by the Grimm Reaper who decided to call himself Joe Black, and the cosmic cat.

He said goodnight to the cosmic bench in the park, acknowledging that he would be back

same time, the same station, day after day until Joe released him from this mortal world.

the End



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  1. Hi Jake–what a nice tour of Oregon. I’ll consult it again if I decide to go there. It sounds as though you’re having a nice retirement. I remember when you remodeled the apartments. Cheers!

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