This is the 21st and final chapter of Reggae on the River, 2016. This is an account of an event which occurred after Casey and I had left French’s Camp, and were traveling south on the 101. From watching the performers to being watched as a “performer,” it’s all good.
Returning from Reggae on the River, Sunday, Casey and I were traveling south down the 101 corridor, just north of Leggett, where there is only one lane in each direction. Coming around one of the many bends in the road, we came suddenly upon the brake lights of probably twenty vehicles, far short of the signal that controls one-way traffic.
There was a tree down, blocking our lane entirely, and extending into the northbound lane as well.
“Definitely a tree, and it must have just come down; otherwise, there would be CHP on-site,” I said to Casey, as we drew to a stop. “Doesn’t look that big to me.”
“Doesn’t look that big to me either; let’s see if we can move it.” was Casey’s response.
I opened up my door and exited the truck, striding [purposefully] alongside the stopped vehicles to get a better look at what was going on. There were three dudes already there, similarly assessing the scene, one of them removing a smaller branch that had broken off.
The line of vehicles alongside me started moving, and just as I reached the scene, Casey eased past the downed tree, and put his Yodi in reverse, backing right up against the one end of it.
There were two parallel trunks, sprawled out across the highway, attached at the base, that were probably thirty or more feet in length. The diameter of each trunk approached eight or ten inches at the base and tapered off as it got taller.
Our first thought was to attach a strap to the tree and try to pull it off the highway. It wasn’t optimum because we would be more dragging it lengthwise, than sideways, but it was the best we could do. If we could start it, maybe in conjunction with some timely grunt-work, we could maneuver it to the side.
It took two minutes set it up and watch it snap, without any prolonged drama. There being five of us, we then attempted to drag/push/muscle the fallen oak to the side.
Our first effort produced almost no gain. I looked up at the lines of cars in both directions. Every person in every car who was awake, was watching us. If even a couple of scrawny dudes had gotten out of their air-conditioned vehicles to lend us a hand, it would have helped.
However, if you are not countrified, then it does not occur to you to do something like this. As sad as it seems, it’s been bred out of you. It’s not good; it’s not bad, unless you hate sitting on the highway, waiting for someone to do the job that you are capable of doing.
We shifted our attack to one end and heaved. The tree grumbled but moved six inches grudgingly. We heaved it again with the same results. We focused on the other end, and accomplished the same few inches of forward progress. In this manner we “walked” it off in less than three minutes.
While scampering about, regrouping, applying muscle, and gauging results, we learned that the first guy on the scene, had pulled over to let others pass, when the tree came crashing down.
“Had I not pulled over, it would have come right down on my roof. I was that lucky,” he explained.
I pondered the implications of being a jerk in the corridor, road-hogging it and refusing to pull over, and then getting flattened by a falling tree. Poetic justice, some might say. I then looked at the man in front of me and thought to myself, “Instant Karma. You are standing here today, because you did pull over.”
I strained my back and scraped my palms when I fell at one point, and in general, did what I had no business doing. I also felt pretty good about it all. We joke about country living and getting it done, but this was no joke and we got it done.
It wasn’t about being heroes or doing it for the publicity. I even forgot to take photos. No, it was just about encountering a chore and knocking it out, so that hundreds would not have to be inconvenienced, sitting there waiting for the CHP and the tow truck.
After being in the midst of 12,000 reggaers for the past four days, and watching others perform, it felt good to do some performing myself.
Why did we do it? After all, we were already on the south side when we stopped and we could have kept going.
We did it because we could.