My one unexplained “paranormal” encounter happened on a trip to the so-called Lost Coast of Northern California. I camped there the summer of 1994 with my girlfriend Mary, in one of our relationship’s great death spasms. Near the end of this expedition, I heard the singing of a ghostly choir in the woods around Mount Shasta. It was singing Mary said she couldn’t hear.
This vacation was important to us. Austin transplants, we’d been cooped up at retail jobs in the Berkeley-Oakland sprawl for a year. We hadn’t explored the wilds of California like it really deserved. So when she caught wind of the Lost Coast, we arranged a matching week off to go find it.
We drove north from the Bay Area in her white Chrysler minivan. We were listening to a mixtape of J.J. Cale, perfect road music with his driving early drum machine sound: “They call me the breeze, I keep blowing down the road.” We also had some Jerry Garcia Band, which we’d been seeing at the Warfield during its unofficial residency. And, we were still coming to terms with Kurt Cobain’s suicide a couple months prior, three days before my 25th birthday. His widow’s album Live Through This was released within days and we were listening to that too. We couldn’t believe she recorded the line “Someday you will ache like I ache” months before he died. Now that line screamed across the radio like live anguish. So those were the vibes.