See also: Crazy, Part 1 and Crazy, Part 2
Many of you have probably already heard this story - I've told it at least 20 times in the past few weeks, and it's usually the first one I tell people if they ask about interesting people I've met.
As I pulled into Ft. Bragg, CA I spotted North Coast brewery on the side of the road. I'd stopped at a brewery for lunch, but North Coast makes a few beers that I'm a pretty big fan of, so it's probably worth stopping, even if that means I'm not making it any farther tonight.
After dinner and a sampler of beers, I decided to head to Starbucks to charge my phone for a bit since it was almost dead, and I needed to find a place to camp. I got there at 8:30 - the sign said they closed at 9, but that should be long enough to look up a few places to go, and hopefully keep it going until I make it to a place to camp. I grabbed a hot chocolate, sat down, and started looking up places to camp.
While I was sitting there, a woman walked in. She had blond, greasy hair that didn't reach her shoulders, slicked back over her head. There wasn't much else of note about her, other than the fact that after she got her drink, she did a sort of half-nod at me - you know, the kind where your head just goes up, a sign of acknowledgment or greeting. I did the same back, and went back to my phone.
Apparently she took that as a signal to come talk to me.
Well, crap. She first asks me about my helmet: "You don't usually lock up your helmet? Aren't you worried about it getting stolen?" I explained that I pretty much always keep my bike in sight if my stuff is on it, and who's going to steal a helmet anyway? There's no market for used helmets because no one wants to buy one, so anyone who's stealing a helmet is probably using it, and therefore a biker. Biker's tend to stick together - heck, we wave at each other even if we've never met and never will.
She seemed to accept that, but then asked about my saddle bags: "They're just leather saddlebags. I'd be worried someone would cut them open and steal things." Alright, now this is just getting creepy... are you casing my bike for things to steal? I told her that I didn't have anything too valuable in the saddlebags - rain gear and a little food, a few tools, nothing else.
She then started talking about this new business idea that she had, that she's trying to get started with a guy in Ft. Bragg. She wants to take your Honda Accord or similar 4-door sedan, take out the back seats, and put a kitchen in there. Because then, it's a home on the move - you could lean the front seat back and sleep there, and cook anything you want in the back seat with an oven and stove and microwave. I just went along with this whole story and feigned interest. There's no way that would work, and no way I would want to do it to my car, and I've actually lived out of my car before. Not to mention - a sedan? Really? Not a hatchback or a van or something else?
At some point in the conversation, she starts with "Now don't take this the wrong way, but your hair..." My head was shaved at the time, as it was for the entire first half of the trip and for a few weeks before the trip, so I've heard lots of these kinds of comments. I was fully ready for "Are you going bald or something?" or "Isn't it cold?" or "Did you do it to be more aerodynamic on the bike?" Or one of my favorites I've gotten - "You look pretty good with your head shaved. It doesn't even look all that much like a - " well, you know.
So I was ready for those, but that's not what I got at all. Instead, she says "Now don't take this the wrong way, but your hair... are you a ritual killer?"
Ha. That's gotta be a joke that I don't get, something about skinheads or something. So I said, with a bit of a smirk on my face, "Not while I'm awake - maybe I sleepwalk."
No smile from her, no laugh. Completely deadpan, "Because around here, people with shaved heads are ritual killers."
"Oh. Um, nope. Not me. I just felt like shaving my head."
(Sidenote: my favorite part of telling this story is watching people's reaction as I say the ritual killer line. Every time - every single person - the reaction takes at least an entire second to process. They just stare at me, face frozen, for a second or two before they even have any facial reactions to what I said.)
She then proceeds to tell me about these ritual killings, and this cult. She told me about how they look for incorruptibles (which she then informed me are "people who can't be corrupted" - thanks, didn't know that), children, or infants for their blood sacrifices. At this point, I'm wondering if I should call the cops and let them know about this lady or something.
Apparently ritual killers are first level of the cult. "Have you ever seen a guy with a ponytail?" "Uhh.. sure." "They're the third level of the cult."
At some point during this conversation, I started thinking about how funny it would be to tell this story later, and was imagining texting my friends about it, and that made me want to laugh. I had to keep from busting out laughing because it was so surreal, which left a smirk on my face. She noticed this, and, with one of the most serious faces I've ever seen, said "You don't seem to be taking this very seriously." "I - uh... I just haven't ever heard anything about this before." She then estimated that about 30% of the population of the United States has witnessed one of these rituals, and that 10% have actually participated. Sure they have, lady, sure they have. I had to spend the rest of the conversation making sure I didn't think about telling the story later, so that I didn't crack up.
Fortunately, Starbucks closed pretty soon after that, and she went her way and I went mine. Though I was somewhat paranoid that she was following me - I was planning on camping, which wasn't very comforting. While I was searching for a campsite however, I circled through a pitch black campground (it ended up being full), so I would have noticed if anyone else was driving through there. I also pulled a few U-turns on my way (because I missed turns), so I'm pretty sure I would have lost someone who was following me, or at least known they were. Which is good, since I camped in an empty lot in a cul-de-sac near the beach, and there weren't many houses nearby.
The next morning I got up early before anybody saw me camping illegally, and headed to McDonald's where I met You Ain't Shittin' guy. I got some breakfast, but the fog wasn't clearing, so I decided to head to Starbucks and get some work done.
And she walked into Starbucks. Crap.
She had said she was traveling - so I assumed I wouldn't see her in the same place. She came in wearing a hat and sunglasses, got a drink, and when she saw me, gave me a little half wave. I nodded, but kept my headphones in and immediately went back to my computer screen to make it clear I was busy. She sat down at a table near me and started working on something - writing in a small book about the size of a checkbook. I ignored her.
About 10 minutes later, she came over to my table and set down a note. I gave a nod of acknowledgement, but ignored the note and kept working. A few minutes later she set a pamphlet down next to the note, and then walked out, at which point I felt it would be safe to read the note. And here is what I found (click for larger).
When it rains in Ft Bragg it snows. That's Christmas for HUNTS. Stick around. Get any job. Acquire a Honda 4-dr Sedan & contact Chris Perkins & Son to convert it into a "Home On The Move."
Do the Cult 5+ ways. Ritual Killer, Translater, Military, Sanctifier, Tranquilizor. A Justifier justifies "just as if you've never sinned."
They don't respect their babies and children. We don't either. They call on the blood of Christ to save them. We do too. They believe in eternal life like a Vampire. We do, too. Only - we do it better.
Redeem all of them.
(I'm not typing out her name or email because I don't want google searches for it to turn up this blog.) Alright, this stuff is downright crazy. I think that last paragraph is a comparison to Christianity - I believe that's who "they" are. She also left a pamphlet which was relatively normal:
This has the same name on it as the note - I'm not sure if she wrote the pamphlet, or if she found it and then decided that was her name.
But the story doesn't end there - a few days later, in Lompoc with my friend Amanda and her husband Ryan, we were inspired to do some googling. And man did that turn up some gems. We'd find one, use a keyword from that to search more, and find more stuff. And it was... well, it makes the note above look completely normal. I mean, we're talking "the best way to get someone to tell the truth is to extract their fingernails, toenails, teeth, and gonads" crazy. "There are truth-finding instruments for sale in any Wal-Mart. Use a tackle box." The parts that are actually coherent (which are rare) are either scary or hilarious. General Ross Perot and his army are mentioned in multiple postings.
I'm not going to link to them (for googling reasons again), but if you want, I'll send you the links. Or you can do the googling on your own - enjoy yourself.
After reading these things, I was glad that I made it away from her with all my fingernails - she has some serious screwed up stuff going on in her head. I think every single thing we found that she posted online was essentially within a one-month period around May of 2010, so I have a feeling she spent a month alternating between taking some hardcore drugs and sitting down to post something on the internet.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the last part of the Crazy series. All three of these happened within a 3 day period as I traveled down the California coastline.