I flew out of Fayetteville, Arkansas, on Thursday, April 11, 2019 – my 45th birthday. During my layover in San Francisco I wrote the following in my journal:
April 11, 2019
Today I am forty-five. I’m presently at the airport in San Francisco; I have a layover, awaiting my flight to Medford, Oregon. My day began at 4 AM – two hour drive to Fayetteville, Arkansas, four hour flight here, two hour layover, then a two hour flight to Medford.
I’m flying to Oregon to look into a job I’m being “recruited” for. If it all works out, this could be one of the biggest decisions I’ve made – a huge move and career change, a big win for me and Chelsea and the kids. My best friend Cornelius is behind it all. He’s the COO of Trato Diablo Farms – he wants to pull me in as Project / Farm Manager. I’ll be in Oregon for the next several days, getting it all worked out.
There is no Plan B. This has to work, and I feel confident it will. There are some…
I landed in Medford at 1:30 PM. It was overcast and chilly. Cornelius picked me up in his white Porsche Cayenne outside baggage claim. I opened the door and climbed into the passenger seat.
“What’s up, brotha?” I asked.
“How was the flight?”
“I made it here, so—”
Cornelius hit the gas as soon as I shut the door. “What do you think of the Porsche-Uh?”
“The Porsche-Uh,” he repeated. “What do you think of it?”
“Why do you keep saying it that way?” I asked.
Cornelius laughed and turned up The Grateful Dead on the stereo. “The dealership corrected me. Now that I’m officially a Porsche-Uh owner, I need to pronounce the name properly,” he paused. “It’s not Porsche. It’s Porsche-UH.”
“I know how it’s pronounced, you dork. What are you, fifteen?”
We chuckled a bit. Giving each other shit goes way back.
“Good to see ya, man!” I said, “Great to be back on the West Coast. This place is beautiful.”
Medford is the major metropolitan area of the Rogue Valley, a gorgeous area of Southern Oregon famous for its artisanal wines and organic produce and dairy. Its micro-climate and nutrient-dense soils also make for excellent cannabis grows. Small and medium farms are speckled throughout the landscape and influences the local culture. Trato Diablo Farms was located on a narrow strip of land outside Central Point, a small city (pop. 18,000 at the time) five miles northwest of Medford.
“I gotta tell ya, Nate,” Cornelius said, “I made a deal with The Devil.”
“What?” I said. I have a reputation for profundity.
“I made a deal with The Devil,” he said, turning his head to look at me. “LIKE ROBERT JOHNSON, NATE, I MET THE DEVIL AT THE CROSSROADS!” he shouted.
I laughed through my nose thinking the next thing he was going to do was blast “Roadhouse Blues” by The Doors and produce a bottle of Jim Beam from underneath his seat and start swigging and passing. That’s an old ritual between us. But seriously, I had no idea what he was actually talking about and next thing I knew we where driving through Central Point. Cornelius pulled into a drive-thru coffee shop called The Human Bean. I never knew Cornelius to be a coffee drinker, either.
“Hi there, welcome back! Getting your usual?”
Cornelius leaned out the window, “Yeah, extra-large four-shot vanilla latte with three extra sugars,” he ordered.
“And for you, sir?”
“I’ll take the same,” I said. Little did I know I’d soon become a regular at this place, too.
Coffees in hand we sped down 99 to one of Cornelius’ favorite marijuana dispensaries. Inside I was dumbstruck by the array of products at this place and before I could even figure out what gummies I wanted to try, Cornelius had maxed out his purchase limit with flower and extracts and was making his way out the door.
Back in the Porsche-Uh, I couldn’t have been happier. I was with my best friend – my BRO – in Oregon, about to check out an opportunity that could potentially make us both rich, and I had over an ounce of legal marijuana products in my lap. And it was my birthday. Speeding around in a Porsche-Uh didn’t hurt none either.
Within minutes we were surrounded by rolling hills full of towering pines and in the near distance, shrouded in fog, I could see the looming shadow of what I would soon learn to be Table Rock. Cornelius’ cellphone rang – it had been the same tune for years: Roger Miller’s “Robin Hood and Little John”:
Cornelius turned down the stereo and put a finger to his lips. “It’s Dick,” he said. “I gotta take this.” He then touched a button on his console and said, “What’s up?”
“WHERE THE FUCK ARE YOU AT?” Dick shouted through the speakers.
Cornelius gave a nervous laugh and wiped his nose, “What do you mean? I had to pick up Nate from the airport. We already had this discussion.”
“IT TAKES YOU FORTY FUCKING MINUTES TO DRIVE TO THE AIRPORT AND BACK? DON’T GIVE ME THAT SHIT. WHAT THE FUCK?” Sounded like Dick was scarring of his larynx.
“We had to grab lunch, Dick. Look, I’m almost back at the farm. I’ll call you as soon as I get back,” Cornelius hit the button on the console to end the call.
“Who the hell was that?” I asked.
Cornelius looked at me with his eyeballs over his sunglasses. “I need to tell you about Dick.”