Stranded in Oregon, Part 5: Illegal Firewood Operations and Blown Engines

in life •  3 years ago  (edited)

Our last money making venture in Oregon (other than spanging, which is literally asking people for money) was an interesting one to say the least.  In our last post about our story we introduced the people that started our neighbors and eventually became our friends.  Long story short, Rob and Cassie were a couple with a son that had recently had to move back in with his parents because of Rob's (and maybe a bit of Cassie's too, we never knew that one for sure) addiction to meth.  Through friendliness and selling them weed, they became our friends and a good escape from the people we lived with, which were borderline hostile at points.  

I mentioned in the last post that Rob won the lottery, for 10,000 dollars off of a scratchoff.  With that money, he and Cassie intended to get out of his parents house and into their own place, as soon as possible.  He could have just spent the money on the security deposit for a place and a few months rent at least (which is actually what Cassie was bugging him to do), but he decided he was going to make more money with it. 

His plan was an illegal firewood business, with the intent to become legal before long, once enough money was made.  We all knew there was firewood all over those forests, left over from loggers.  Wood that was too buggy to sell but perfect for firewood.  The plan was to buy a nice chainsaw and a trailer and to harvest firewood, selling chopped cords to locals.  After talking to people he knew, he found he already had customers in need, so we went in on it with him, providing labor and John's chainsaw skills in return for him putting up the money.  At the time, it seemed like a decent plan, so we went with it.  He wanted to help us get out while helping himself get out, which seemed noble.  At the end of the day, that probably was his intention, but his issues got in the way of his success. 

He bought a Stihl (costly, name brand, for those who don't know what the hell that means) chainsaw for too much money, when he realistically would have been better off buying 2 cheaper bigger ones to start with.  He also bought what was probably the weirdest looking trailer I had seen, literally made out of the bed of a small pickup truck. We went out scouting for wood and found a little, so we decided to start then, even if it would just provide us firewood.  We were living in a shack with a woodstove at the time, really dependant on a steady firewood supply that wasn't steady.  By that point, we were only dependant on the people on that property for firewood and the physical place to stay, we were providing everything else, even toilet paper. Even still, we were treated like the worst burdens.

Within a minute of him using the thing it became clear he wasn't very good with chainsaws.  He'd mentioned he had done this work as a kid, with his family, but who knows how much actual experience with a chainsaw he had.  What we knew was his stepdad wouldn't let him near his, regardless of the fact that he never used it himself. John did most of the work with the saw, as he didn't want to see it broken over something dumb like hitting a rock.  I helped to move what wood I could, but realistically Rebel and I sat and watched the surroundings, in case anyone came to investigate.  We needed a permit to do what we were doing and we didn't have it. 

The plan was to become legal, especially because Rob's aunt, who lived further up the hill, was nothing short of a bitch.  She had started problems with the people we were living with, trying to get them in trouble for doing things like building a pond without a permit, even though they weren't actually doing that (and it wasn't in the plans, as far as I remember).  She was known to call the cops for nothing and if she noticed there was a lot of firewood activity going on at her sisters, she'd call and report illegal harvesting, regardless of if she knew he had a permit or not.  It was one of those things where we would risk it for a cord or two, but soon we needed to get the permit. 

The reality of the business was a joke.  We needed to work at night to have the least issues with law enforcement.  We could see anyone coming from long away due to headlights, which would give us opportunity to pack up and leave before they reached us.  Whenever night rolled around however, Rob was always itching to go to the casino.  The few times we did go out were nearly fruitless.  In the whole endeavor we got less than a cord of wood and we ended up using most of it before we left.  We found what was a glory hole of firewood, but he had other priorities and dicked around.  During the day he'd go out and get pulled over or something, always making it so nothing got done. 

We went out a few times during the day, but we were always redirected by seeing law enforcement presence or something else.  Sometimes it was that he had to take care of his son, sometimes it was that Cassie needed the truck for work. One time we were out working and Rebel dog went barreling down a snowy hillside, headfirst into my supersharp axe that John was carring by the handle leisurely as he walked.  We left expecting Rebel to have serious issues from the head injury.  Some dabs, superglue and sleep literally made him good as new.  Not sure how he survived that one, but it suggests he has a very hard head. 

By the end of it Rob's behavior was more erratic and we had suspicions of him using again.  They were more concrete suspicions when he started bringing around an old friend of his, someone notoriously known for being a tweaker.  Things with him and Cassie seemed rough at best and things with his parents were rougher.  He didn't have a job and was trying to make a joke of an illegal firewood harvesting business work, without actually trying. 

The truck we bought had issues, one of them being an engine issue.  The brake job that guy did wasn't finished, he never did the last step of bleeding the breaks.  When we took apart the brake setup, John found he now needed a new part.  We got that from a junkyard and noticed it needed a new tire too.  On the way to go to Roseburg to get one, we had Rob drive in front of us in case we broke down.  He was driving so fast we blew the engine trying to keep him from losing us, as we didn't have a phone to call him. His behavior that day was extra erratic, it as the first day we really questioned "Is he back on meth?"

Later we went back to get the truck and to have him essentially pull us with a rope back to the property.  This is something generally done at slow speed by most people's standards, because there's always the chance that something could come up, causing you to need to stop.  If you're going to fast, that's going to cause an accident.  We feared for our lives, as we rode in our truck to control the brakes and it as best we could.  We had a friend up in the car with him, who was literally yelling at Rob to slow down.  Rob was nearly going the speed limit, about 40 miles per hour with us tied to the back of his truck, only a distance of 3 feet or so.  We actually bumped into him pulling into the driveway, almost to prove a point as to how close we were to disaster.

We were pretty upset about it and he just didn't get it.  He didn't heed the warnings of our friend, who I'm pretty sure was Acid, to slow down.  It was a mess and I'm glad we survived.  We were immediately faced with the reality that our truck, our ticket out was broken.  We had less than a week before we planned to leave the house and move south towards the border.  

We did what we could to get the truck to function, without much result. As things developed we decided we needed out of that house, regardless of if the truck worked or not.  Us leaving that property is a story I'll save for next time, as it's an epic tale in itself.  We were mad about the truck breaking at the time, but in hindsight we got lucky with how things happened.  If we hadn't logged, we would have broken down in California, which would have been really bad.  We ended up getting our new truck in Oregon and it saved our ass, at it literally had no more than 10 dollars worth of car trouble total in our whole epic adventure southward to Acapulco. 

So sometimes life gives you shit before it gives you roses, and that's okay because most of the time there's not much we can do to change it.  We can only really deal with our reaction to it, and evidently we reacted correctly because we reached our goal of successfully crossing the border with a reliable vehicle and our stuff, which was realistically the best it could have gone down with the circumstances.  

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Quite a journey you guys have had....

Resteemed ☆☆☆☆☆😎