Books in Grass Valley

Grass Valley has a bookstore that’s different from others I’ve seen. BookTown Books is a single storefront with about 20 smaller stores within it. Like an antique mall. Each of the sellers is quite sloppy with their organization which makes finding anything specific damn hard. Then, each tends to some eclectic genres, or unusual collections. Come prepared to browse for a long time. I actually found a title I’ve been after for some time, so it can be done.

Nearby I picked up a pastie to take home. Pasties are a Sierra thing.

Like all Gold Country towns, this is a mining town on the side of a hill. Roads are steep and narrow, and parking is a big problem. I wouldn’t want to live here (snow, fire), but it’s a nice place to visit.

The fairgrounds has a well-run RV park, though it’s not a bargain.

Tomorrow I head over the summit and land in the desert at Reno. Washoe Lake State Park is a favorite of mine, close to Carson City. I’ll be looking for an RV repair shop and deciding on my next move.

Pot regulation in Washington

For some dubious reasons, Washington state wanted to replace it’s seed-to-sale tracking system for the marijuana licensees. After some more bungling, the contract for the old software expires on the 31st, but the new software won’t be ready then. All operators will need to keep manual records, and submit them later. This is going to be a master screw-up.

Seed-to-sale tracks every gram of cannabis from the time it’s a seedling to the package in the consumer’s hands. It’s a critical mechanism for arguing against federal intervention by “proving” out-of-state diversion is not happening.

There is nothing magic about these systems, straight-forward inventory management is what it is. Manual errors in the farm to store transfer (or any transfers) though might never be corrected. Companies might have to close down.

My personal feeling is that the licensees will smile with tightly gritted teeth and do whatever is needed to keep the market working, to cover the ass of the state while they dig themselves out, and to keep a very close watch on the taxes due the state, which goes to screwing things up.

When the new system is up, the licensees will have to pay $500 to the state, acquire the software, pay to modify their POS software, pay to train employees on the new system, and back-enter the manual data.

The stores in Washington are collecting and delivering $35 million a month to the state. When it comes to your volunteers and tax collectors, you need them more than they need you.

Grass Valley

It was a great drive into the Sacramento River watershed, a monstrous area kept wet for the migrating birds. Millions of birds.

Now I’m climbing the Sierra Nevada, and hanging for a few days in Grass Valley. The town is cute and thriving, and I’m staying at the fairgrounds rv park which is quite nice.

Unfortunately cannabis is not an appreciated plant around here, which seems to be an opportunity missed.


After a week of rain and cold, I’m in Red Bluff where it will be 90 tomorrow.

I’m interested in getting out of CA as quickly as possible to Reno, but if the weather is good I’ll take in some scenic routes in the mountains.

Grumbling Locals

Wherever you go in this part of the country (cannabis farms) you hear complaints from the citizens about the “trimmigrants”, casual labor that follows the marijuana harvest. I have to admit I can see their point here in Ashland.

There are a lot of “different” folk hanging out downtown, camping in the woods, and parking their crappy rv’s and campers on the streets. Actual disturbances by them are minimal, though not zero.

I prefer to call these folks “travelers”, and not assign a different label because of the work they seek. This is marijuana harvest season and there are a lot of jobs out there paying well in cash. Travelers stick around for a short time and then leave. Leaving the money they made behind at the gas station/convenience store as they move to the next gig. Taking a few pounds of weed to sell for gas money.

In just a few years the idea of casual labor processing marijuana will be the same as the community corn-shucking.

Let me define Trimmigrant.. The final marijuana processing is trimming, removing the extra leaves from the flower bud to increase it’s eye appeal. This cam be done by hand with scissors or by machine. Trimmigrants are said to travel from farm to farm offering their labor to trim marijuana flowers.

Some Pot Numbers

Though all numbers about marijuana are guesses, some are better than others.

California produces about 13 million pounds of marijuana a year. It itself consumes about 3 million pounds. That ratio is about the same in Oregon, though the quantities are a bit lower. The in-state consumption is regulated as “legal”, the remainder is exported to the non-legal states.

In California, about 10% of the known operators are expected to become fully legal compliant.

So most of the farmers have no interest in selling pot locally, but shipping it out of state. I talked with one dispensary operator today from New York who knew exactly what the prices were on the east coast, and then said that the price here in Ashland was zero, which makes the business decision easy. Why zero? Because there’s so much that nobody nearby need pay anything for it.

The recent Sonoma fires impacted some marijuana farms, but it’s hard to tell how much that matters. It appears the fires hit only about 30 some farms out of a probable 3000, which would be minuscule in the total CA/OR production. As reporters looked around they discovered that this years’ crop was expected to be way over expectations, and that last year’s harvest was still sitting in warehouses. CA already has a glut, and they are harvesting more as I write. Oregon matches this. Speculations about the fires’ impact on marijuana prices are a waste of time.

Pot is free to everyone living in Ashland because everyone knows a grower. Some farmers have storefronts, but that’s sold to tourists and is treated as a waste disposal method that returns a few dollars.

I think the regulated portions of the markets will only be 10-20% of the entire market in CA and OR.

Ashland, OR

My favored spot, a county park just out of town, was booked by a group. After some looking around I landed in an RV park I’d never pick next to I-5, and it’s pricey to boot. The idea is to wait out the rain for a few days, maybe several.

I’m ten miles from Ashland, and ten miles from Medford, in Phoenix. It is the exact geographic center of the most productive marijuana county in Southern Oregon. You can’t tell, except there seems to be a lot of pot stores here. But then, Oregon has a lot of stores anyway.

So now I sit around for a while.

A Change in Plans

I can dodge the rain for a day or two if I head to I-5 sooner rather than later. So tomorrow I go to Reedsport then cut east to Sutherlin, where I’ll dry camp for the night. Then, maybe go to Ashland, where the rain will catch up with me.

The idea is to avoid Northern California on 101. There aren’t any imminent fire problems, but until they get rain, I’ll go around.

Newport, OR

While I decided to avoid the Northern CA thing because of the fire danger, I’m looking now at routes over the Coast Range to avoid some rain. I think I’ve got a day of nice weather to see the touristy spot here, then the game becomes dodging rain storms.

Every ten or fifteen minutes along 101 in Oregon brings another breathtaking view. I’ve seen them many times, but every visit is different because of the weather.

Tillamook Bay was filled with thousands of crabbers this weekend. This is such a popular activity that someone has provided little docks with porta-potties on them scattered around the bay. I can only imagine the problems this solution addressed….

Garibaldi, OR

Garibaldi is a sport fishing town on the north end of Tillamook Bay, a very different place than the tourist spot of Seaside. I’ll spend the weekend here then head to Newport.

I’ve been watching far too closely the fires in Northern California. It was looking pretty good this afternoon, but the forecasts called for increased winds. There’ve been some great rain showers around here lately, I wish they would move south…