The teenagers we had just met on the trail were coming up from the beach and were louder and faster than us, so we yielded and bid them ado. Ten minutes later we could still hear them chattering when we came around a bend and saw a small blue plastic prescription bottle lying on the left side of the trail ahead. How incongruous I thought, a clean medicine bottle in the trail dirt surrounded by the natural beauty of the litter-free Marin Headlands.
Then I remembered the teenagers ahead and imagined what might be in that bottle. The thought came to me that another of my currently criminal fantasies may be coming true.
I have been finding useful things along the beaches and bluff trails since starting out on a series of section hikes last year hiking the whole California coast, from Tijuana, Mexico to Oregon. So far I've walked from the southern border to Bodega Bay, just north of San Francisco. Along the way I found a ten dollar bill on the beach in Orange County, a great knife that must have slid off a bumper and onto the shoulder I was walking on west of Santa Barbara. An very welcomed unopened, one-liter bottle of blue Gatorade appeared just south of Lompoc. In that same day I found a clean apple with the store label still on it, probably having fallen off a car because it was at the end of a ranch driveway. And about four miles after that I found a fresh, almost full, box of Preminum Saltines that had recently, probably the night before, fallen offsomeone's car when they pulled out of a small paved parking space. After careful inspection, um, um, salty good.
I have found drinkable water in already opened plastic bottles in ditches at critical times. But trail sanitation is a different story and would distract from this trail miracle story.
We picked up the blue prescription bottle from the trail and noticed the familiar black and white label glued around its midsection. I squeezed the bottle, popped the top and peered inside. Our findings might be describe as one gram or so of a mid-grade sativa, Not ditchweed, but not the best Californians grow, or so I'm told.
I'm not good with dilemmas. Hate them. And I had one facing me here right in front of my daughter. Do I (WE) keep the pot or give it back to the likely owners ahead of us on the trail?
Chandler seemed ambivalent. She was leaving it me to decide the right thing to do. And I thought 23 year-olds knew everything. I certainly did!
My solution was to do what I learned from Gerry Spence, the famously successful buck-skinned trial lawyer from Wyoming. I thought about it for a moment, then I followed my heart and adopted a set of facts to support my decision. They would never miss this tiny amount, I would have to make some effort to return it to them, and they probably wouldn't care anyway.
So with all the integrity I could muster, I whispered as loud as I could towards the teenagers, "Hey, I have something that may be yours."
They didn't respond.
Let's just say that in our tent that night I shared with Channy some of my favorite stories related the the subject of: Partying with Willie Nelson at his Pedernales country club, recording studio in the hill country outside Austin.
And when I was finished bragging about smoking pot and rebelling with Willie, my snarky daughter insulted me with, "Hell dad, who hasn't?"