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In the mountains of O'brien Oregon!

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O'Brien is a typical little mountain town on a highway to the Southern Oregon/Northern California coast. There is one blinking yellow light, a small general store, a restraunt that only the passer-throughs stopped at, public bathrooms, and a gas station. But down one of the side roads a piece and you come to a dirt driveway split in two by a large pine. Up that driveway is where I lived and I'm here to tell you about the five months I spent there.
It all started when I was placed in a youth shelter that I had been abused in 3 years before. I had never had nightmares about that abuse until I was back there. I made plans to run away and succesfully made it. I had made plans to meet my boyfriend, Matthew, at the Ashland cemetary that night and I managed to get there fine. From there a friend of his gave us a ride up to his parent's house in O'Brien. That was in January of 1994 and I had just turned 17 the October before.
Matthew's place was unlike any I had ever lived. There was no running water. We set up tarps to collect it in rain barrels in winter and when it wasn't raining we loaded the 50 gallon rain barrels into the back of the truck and drove them down to the store to fill. There was also no electricity, except on Saturday nights when the batteries were charged enough to watch 2 hours of television and run a light bulb to play cards by. Every other night it was candles or lanters, whichever we had on hand those nights. The stove was propane, but to save on propane we mostly used the wood stove to make coffee, heat water for our sponge baths and make soup and other watery dishes.
Since there was no running water, we had no shower. Sometimes when we wanted to do more than sponge off, we would heat water and put it in a camp shower, like a bag with a hose, and take showers that way. It was a luxury to get to go into Grants Pass because we could take showers at the community college there. Along with no shower, there was no toilet. All we had was an outhouse. And not a full outhouse either. The place was originally built by a man with no family or companions to worry about, and therefore the outhouse left no privacy to be had. It was completely open faced, with the only full wall being the back of it. Even the sides only extended half way forward.
The first month we were there it snowed, and it snowed a lot. There was at least a foot of it. I was walking from our small cabin to Matthew's parent's large cabin and to get there I had to pass the outhouse. As I went walking by, who should be sitting there but none other than Matt! As I found out that he was going to be there awhile and couldn't get up, I decided to have a little fun. I began pelting him with snowballs. I still remember him roaring when the cold snow hit him, or worse, when he ducked and the snow hit the back wall and splattered down his bare back. It was such fun! And afterwards when he did manage to get off the bench, he held me under a tree and shook snow on us both.
Our little cabin was built by us with the help of his step-dad and his brother. It was 8x8 feet, the floor made up of two sheets of plywood side by side, as was the roof. The roof however, slanted on poles that were shorter in the back than the front so that the water would run off. The roof was also covered in tar paper so that the rain and snow stayed out. The walls were made of plywood sheets as well, and since the sheets were only 4 feet wide, the walls were only 4 feet high. The rest of them were made up of plastic bags. The door way was a blanket, the shelves boards set on crates. The bed was hand made by Matt. He tied slender logs together to make a bedstand and ran rope zigzagging across it to hold the foam pads that we used for a matress. It was the size of a single matress, but since there was no heater we needed whatever warmth we could get.
Matt's brother Tom lived in an old bus across the property and they had a man that rented another bus from them down the hill a little ways. The renter's name was Dave, and through him Matt and I learned to play dominoes and juggle three bean bags. When I left the mountain, I was working on juggling four.
There were crazy neighbors as well. The kind of neighbors that you'd expect to hear about in places like the back hills of Arkansas. No offense meant, I was born in Arkansas! But these neighbors were rather crazy. One of them would shoot at your car if he didn't recognize it, and he would shoot at you if you were walking past his property and stopped for any reason, even to tie your shoe. We only walked past there if the back path was too wet or muddy to make it down. The back path went through Max's property. Max was one of Matt's best friends in O'Brien. Max was a little crazy, but what made him stand out was his nine children that were always running everywhere. Sweet kids, all of them, although rather unruly. There was one of the girls, about 9 or 10 that loved the wolves and would come to sit with me in their pen.
That brings me to our pets. Matt and his parents raised wolves and had about nine of them at that point. One of them, Cheeva, was mine. At night we would take Cheeva and her mother from the pen and stake them in front of our blanket-door. As for other pets, we has two scorpions, Cali and Tallie, that we picked up from under a rotting log. Then there was Buggar. Buggar was a rattler that Matt had caught. Buggar was only a baby, rattles not yet developed. Don't worry, we never held Buggar or the scorpions.
On sunny days we would go hiking. Matt's parents only owned 20 acres, but it was backed by thousands of acres of BLM land. We would hike into the BLM land, and one day we found a large canyon, half of it surrounded by tall rocky cliffs. The canyon itself was a long, narrow valley filled with green grass and wildflowers and was absolutely beautiful. Now, Matt can do a great impression of a cougar screaming, but it always lacked something. I found out what it was that was lacking as we heard a cougar scream. It was lacking the hair raising terror that goes along with it.
There it was, absolutely gigantic and coming down one of the craggy walls after us...the biggest cougar I have ever seen. We called the wolves to us and took off running. We ran all the way to the big cabin and didn't leave it the rest of the day. We never went back to the valley after that.
Other than playing games, when it was raining we told stories. There are a couple that were my favorites and one goes like this:
Matt would tell of how his brother saved his life. Tom and he were walking down the road on their way to the river to swim. Matt needed to use the bathroom so he stepped into the bushes and squatted down to go. Next thing he knew, Tom was grabbing him and throwing. Matt said he went sailing through the air. When he got up he was mad but Tom pointed to where he had been squatting, and there, right where he had been, was one whopper of a rattle snake. Matt had almost gone on the snake, and if he had, the snake would have bit, and seeing as we were far out and a long ways away from any help, Matt most likely would have died.
The other story that Matt used to tell me was one from when he still lived in Florida. He used to catch aligators and sell them to pet stores. Well, one day he went walking through the swamp and saw a baby aligator sitting on a log. He waded out in water that was up to his chest to pick the baby up. As soon as the baby was lifted into the air it started giving off chirping sounds, almost like a car alarm that has been triggered. Well, as the baby began chirping it's distress, the log opened it's eyes. The log was it's momma! Matt slowly lowered the baby and as soon as he let go it stopped chirping. Momma kept watching him as he backed out of the water and walked away.
Come May, Matt had been having some trouble with his parents for a few weeks and decided to move us onto Max's property and into a tent. The main problem with the tent site was that it was in the middle of a poison oak patch. I am highly alergic to poison oak and soon found myself covered in it. The main problem lay in that I was pregnant, so covered in poison oak and two months along, I left the mountain.
There are many things I have left out, such as drug use by certain people on the mountain, and a few other tales that aren't as memorable to me. I went back later on, but only for a two week visit. There are many more tales I can tell you about that! But I will save those for another time.
 
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I'm sorry I made this so long! That's why it's going to be split into two parts, when I lived there and when I went back to visit.
Just to let you all know, this is a completely true story. I was two month pregnant with my oldest daughter, who will be 10 on January 13th, when I left the mountain the first time, and she was about 9 months old when I went back.
I'm going to give everyone a little time to read this before I write the second installment. I hope its enjoyable!
 
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