Drive on a blustery early spring day out north of Cannatown, up the foothills past Black Reefer Falls, into the the dona Juanita Valley, and you’ll come upon Ripped, a small little town known to few outside its forest walls. Without thinking, you can zip through the main strip, in and out and further skyward in just seconds, unaware of the living history you’re passing by. But for those who stop to explore, this strangely magical destination presents a truly unique world apart from the one we know.
Hidden among the lush trees and cavernous rocky pleats cleaving Mt. IcyBong’s south face, the alpine village sports a grand view of some of the Highland’s highest peaks, a sort of last-stop chill before adventuring into the clouds, all with a laid-back country lilt some would even call “old-school.”
Time moves differently here. From the first butt-plant in the benches at the local train station, to the passage through skunky fields and into the picturesque downtown, the vibrant colors and resonating mountain sounds usher in the serenity that comes once in a blue moon, away from the stresses of every day life.
Despite the remote location, it doesn’t take long to bump into new friends; from the front steps of Ginny’s coffee emporium to Dale’s back porch, to the couch at Fred’s, everyone has shared the smoking circle. They still use a match to spark up a bowl. You can still buy dime sacks down on the corner from Willie. There’s a free bubbler on each corner, and a giant communal bong in the public square.
There’s a calmer air here too, a thick smoke rolling in every morning just half-past nine, when the earliest of risers traverse to the misty morning rigs to spark up the dawn dabs that billow and blast anyone in a giant valley-wide hotbox. “We’re family here,” says Harmony Blazer, head of Nails at the local utility. “I just really can’t think of anything more self-actualizing than rolling out 50-gallon barrels of wax to wake and bake a whole valleys’ worth of people at once.”
“To me, that’s it,” she says. “That’s the job.”
With each morning’s roast follows a knee-jerk hunt for breakfast, a ritual yearning that sends many locals straight into the streets, wandering like zombies for the nearest café. Which isn’t a bad thing, because the local economy exists on the premise that people are ravenously returning to diners about every few hours.
Foodies with munchies will want to frequent the Krispies King, the local “devil’s workshop” of decadence, and an establishment that actually touts its formal boycott by members of the Dentist Association. Try a donut-and-icecream sandwich, drizzled in strawberry sauce and topped in Mike and Ike candies. Follow it up with a double-shot of pure Hershey’s syrup and Foreman-Grilled Hotdogs with aged ketchup.
Those who grow suddenly tired after a grand journey into the Highlands will want to check out a number of the boutique inns dotting the rocky landscape, all with their own unique charm. The Wax Well offers just that -- a large vat of wax for midnight vapers -- in the foyer at an old country hospital converted to a lodge. For the ghost-hunting adventurous pursuing a more hair-raising experience, there’s always Harold’s Haze, a mysterious hillside manor with a litany of haunting stories going back a hundred years.
“Most of our guests freak out,” said 3rd-generation proprietor Alfred Haze. “Even with warnings, the paranoia is still pretty common. Every sound puts you on edge.”
A few of the older folks in town will tell you this is the birthplace and eventual hideout of Gamut Perin, the infamous alchemist said to have engineered the highest, stonedest bud the Highlands have ever seen. It made Ripped infamous at least for a period of time nearly a century ago, when it was second-most-populous in the Highlands and county seat. Everything was lost, though, when a late-night-fire in the townsquare iron bong leapt via windy gusts to nearby buildings and the entire town nearly went up in flames.
“And that was the last time they made the bricks out of hemp,” says town Historian Bartelby James of Resinville.
The question most asked by touring gardeners is “How?” a daft grower, with barely any prior knowledge of cannabis, could walk out of the Highlands decades later with now-lost seeds of the world’s most potent bud? Some say he found it. According to local archeologist and hobby farmer Gwen Hinckel the answer isn’t what you think. The stories pre-date Perin--we’re talking hundreds of years ago.
Hinkel notes that Ripped is built on “hallowed” ground. It is a place the ancients called “Blessed Earth”; the first settlers from Amsterdam hailed it as “Groen in Onze Ogen,” literally translating to the “Green in Our Eyes.” Each group in history noted the peculiar sluggishness derailing the thought process, psychedelic sensations felt throughout both day and night, the occasional bouts of raging munchies, and how cool the black light posters of traveling gypsies looked at 4:20 in the afternoon.
“Science would tell us it’s a strange mix of limestone and other minerals, creating a rare geological high not unlike the sedentary tendencies felt by the residents of Couchlock,” says Hinckel. “In plain English, to be here is to be high. To lived in Ripped is to be high. To live the high life.”
The theory could explain the magical buzz--if not, aura--felt throughout your stay. It explains, why, even if abstaining for journalistic integrity, you may still find yourself wearing mismatched pants and coat, seeking directions to the local ice cream shoppe from an angry chipmunk at three in the morning. (Cont. on pg 181)