I parked my truck in the parking lot, went to a pay phone and called all the numbers. No one was home so I called the operator. She told me there was a party going on at the dorm cafeteria and thought they might be over there. I walked through the fog and grabbed the drink of the first person who walked out of the party and guzzled it. I looked up at this guy and recognized him. I stared at him for a few minutes and then realized I had shared a smoke with him at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. I had hiked down the Canyon that past December on my way from Florida to California and he had been on the road himself. His name was Stan and we chatted. He had cashed in his chips and was just another college Freshman starting a semester late in the winter of 1977. He had decided to give up the road and here I was a few months later with glowing eyes, looking like a bum and I was ready to give it up myself. He was a good guy and because of him I knew that everything was going to be alright. |
He went back into the party and three girls walked out and I asked them for their drinks. They obliged and offered to have me sleep with them in a barn in separate sleeping bags of course. I felt safe with my three angels. The next day I woke up sick as a dog and Jane took me into her co-ed commune-like dorm suite and nursed me back to health. I hung out in the dorms and in the town of Cotati and soon realized that this would be the best site to fulfill my New Jersey rock & roll dreams of leading a San Francisco psychedelic band. After that decision everything else just flowed. More or less.
I needed some money so on a whim I went up to the forgotten resort town of Clearlake, CA where some folks had offered me some work using my Scout. When I got there we went 4 wheeling in the hills on dirt roads but almost went down a ravine. I only avoided the plunge by turning too hard and rolling the Scout over by going up on a switchback. So there we were, me and the local party dudes, all piled on top of each other but unharmed. We climbed out and luckily a truck with a winch came by and righted the Scout back up. The windshield was a little smashed in the corner but otherwise the Scout was still working though a bit wobbly. We drank Jack Daniels and partied all night long in a little silver trailer mobile home. I played slide guitar and sang them goofy songs I made up. The next day, out of money, I drove my damaged Scout truck back to Cotati because there was an International Harvester Repair Shop on Highway 101. They said it would take a few days to fix so I walked back through Cotati to the campus of Sonoma State University where there were signs up looking for volunteers to work at a “Save the Whales” concert starring Jessie Colin Young from the Youngbloods that next evening.
I really needed something to do because this was the first time in my road experience that I didn’t have my truck to live or drive around in looking for adventure. They said the first job was only for someone willing to get up at 6 a.m. so I raised my hand and they handed me the keys to a tractor trailer to go pick up the stage in Sacramento. I was mobile once again.
The concert was great, Jessie Colin Young was the epitome of laid back hippie charm. The next day, I was to bring the concert stage back to Sacramento and I also had to pick up my truck from the IH repair shop. I had bought tickets to see the Grateful Dead at Winterland for that night as a thank you to Jane for nursing me back to health from the Moonie poisoning. I was broke, but Jane lent me the $109 dollars to get my truck out and followed me to Sacramento. But somewhere along the way, she disappeared and I had kept going. I got to the stage warehouse and unloaded the truck. Still no Jane. I waited until it got dark, and finally she showed up. She had run out of gas, hitchhiked to get some and then somehow found the stage place to pick me up. We were late for the concert but drove to San Francisco as fast as we could and parked right out front. We finally made it and it was great with the two drummers back together. I had made it from seeing them in the Spring of ‘76 at the Capital Theater in Passaic, NJ to Winterland, the Grateful Dead home field in the spring of ’77.|
The next day I went to student employment partly because I wanted to pay Jane back. My number one rule while on the road was to never take advantage of anybody who helped me. So when I ate at someone’s house I did their dishes no matter what they said. On the road karma kicks back very quickly. I went to student employment the next day and got a job at a Dairy. Being a suburban kid from New Jersey I thought it was a convenience store where I would sell milk and get free cigarettes but after going out to Petaluma, down a long dirt road, I saw that this was a full blown 600 Holstein cow dairy farm. I needed the job so I took it. I had always dreamed of being a cowboy and here was my chance.
No longer a traveler, I was now a farm hand. I shoveled shit, mended fences and fed cows from the back of a 1945 Willys Jeep that had no brakes. My favorite job was rounding up the cows on a Suzuki 185. I worked a month of days. You could smell the salt in the air my boss used to say. Petaluma Bay is where Pt. Reyes is, where Jesse Colin Young and The Youngbloods hung out. One day, I left a gate open and my boss said: “Well city kid this is it! you’re now going to see a stampede.” And these seemingly docile creatures once unleashed went crazy. So he got on his Harley, the milker got on his Kawasaki 500 and I got on the Suzuki and we rode those cows back into submission. This was the country life, and not the rock dream I had come to Northern California to achieve. I realized I would need a reliable right hand man to accomplish this. So I told my boss that I was going home and would come back in the fall with a friend to work while going to school at Sonoma State.
I drove back east with a guy I met at a free Silva Mind Control meeting in Cotati named Alan Berman from Boston who was exactly 10 years older than me to the day. We were like long lost brothers. We visited Zion National Park where you take a dip and ten seconds after you get out you’re completely dry. We also meditated at the edge of Bryce Canyon where nature has done her most incredible and best artwork with those majestic wind blown sand castles. I drove him to Boston and headed down I95 in the rain to New Jersey listening to Riders on the Storm on the radio my head full of thoughts of the road and how good it would feel to be back home and plan the dream. The Dream of the Gladden Fields.