J.D. Smith

J.D. Smith

Athena, Ore., is the largest gathering of humans I’ve lived with in the last 50 years. By most measurements it is a small town.

For instance, a few weeks ago I sat in a lawn chair in my back yard, smoking and staring at the stars at three in the morning, waiting for my lapdog to pee. Another dog was barking on the west side of town. We live one house off the wheat on the east edge of town. Not only could I hear the pooch complaining from the far side of town but I could also make a pretty good guess at the dog’s name.

That is small town living, but quite gentrified compared to our last residence.

We used to live 15 miles away and a few thousand feet higher, in the forested lava flows known as the Blue Mountains. A couple of miles up the road from us was the Tollgate Store and Cafe, which is presently a pretty darn good place to eat. It is also home to a modest collection of plaster Bigfoot tracks. Studying those tracks through four changes of ownership has prompted me to develop The Cannonball Adderley Approach to Contacting Sasquatch.

Here is a list of materials you will need for a weeklong expedition: One stock truck. One milk cow broke to lead. A bovine halter and 25 feet of lead rope. One pack saddle for a cow. One human backpack. Fifty pounds of Swiss muesli. (A type of turbo oatmeal. Familia is the brand I prefer.) Ten gallons of water. A bucket. One large bowl and spoon. One cellphone with solar charger and selfie stick. Sturdy boots with Vibram soles. One change of clothing. Comfy sleeping bag and favorite pillow. Lawn chair. Cheap tent. Alto saxophone with extra reeds. Toilet paper. Zippo. Hatchet. Toothbrush.

OK, ready? Load the cow and provisions in the truck and go to within a half mile of a bald mountain with a trail to the top that overlooks civilization. Fit the pack saddle on the cow. Attach as much stuff as she will allow. You carry the rest. Sing a few Bob Dylan tunes while on the trail. I suggest “Ain’t Gonna Work on Maggie’s Farm No More” and “Desolation Row.” That will keep the cougars and bears entertained.

Set up camp on the mountain top after you are sure you have a phone signal. Unload, stake out and water the cow. Place the lawn chair at the highest point and the tent a hundred feet away. Make your bed. Use the hatchet and Zippo to build a small fire close to the tent. Open the bag of Familia. Fill the bowl. Feed it to the cow. Milk the cow into the empty bowl. Pour in Familia. Use the spoon to feed yourself. Nighty night.

The next morning, repeat feeding and watering the cow and yourself then carry the cellphone and saxophone to the lawn chair. Open the YouTube app. Search for “Beginning Saxophone Lessons” and follow the instructions. This will work best if you have never held a sax before.

As you will discover, an alto sax can produce some strange tones. Don’t worry when all you can blow at first are weird honks and squeaks. That is the object of the expedition. If you practice for one hour at promptly eight in the morning, noon, and eight at night, every creature within ten miles will eventually come to see what sort of critter is in distress. That includes Bigfoot, or Sasquatch, or “Sassy” as we in the inner circle call her.

If she does show, take a selfie with her. You won’t have to work another day in your life. If she doesn’t happen to contact you before you run out of Familia, load up the cow and backpack and sing your way back down the trail to the stock truck. Do not be discouraged. At the very least, you will now have 20 hours of saxophone practice behind you. Use the toilet paper and toothbrush to clean your Vibrams. Believe me, you don’t want to spend two hours in the cab of a truck with bear poop on your boots.

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