Trippin’ Roads, Rails, and Mountain Trails
Episode 18, December 1969 - January 1970
Once Rosie finished school in mid–December, we spent most of our time together. We were growing tight and on Christmas Day, we dropped acid. The sun was shining and it was warm enough to take a swim in the creek.
After a quick dip, I was standing clothed only in goose pimples, aware of a pain in the side of my chest. Man, what if something’s wrong with my heart? Not a good thought on acid!
I was cruising towards a major bummer when Rosie shouted, “God, what the hell is that?” She was pointing at my side, where I spotted a large festering mark with a tick embedded in the center, just under my armpit. Relief swept over me.
“Oh man, it’s just a tick. That’s great.” Rosie looked confused. “Everything’s relative. That’s far better than heart disease, hon.”
We went back to the house and sat naked on my bed. Rosie’s face kept changing. She looked like a cat, then a deer, then a bunny. So pretty! We touched and explored. The sensations were sizzling! We made slow, tender love, and I didn’t want it to stop. In love—I was all hers now.
After eating dinner, we wandered outside, hand in hand. A full moon was rising and it bathed everything in a mystic light. Albert’s latest dump score was a stuffed green love-seat with a rocking mechanism. We set it in the hayloft, facing out the wide opening at the top of the barn. I climbed up after Rosie and we settled into the comfortable seat.
Draping my arm around her shoulders, I pulled her close. The acid was beginning to mellow, and I was filled with a sense of well-being. Lights from a distant house offered the only evidence of civilization, and the moonlight revealed the silhouette of low hills behind the cluster of lights.
I squeezed Rosie and pointed to the scene. “With that full moon above it, doesn’t that look like a Christmas card?”
“Yes. The lights look like a small village nestled in the hills.”
We sat enjoying the scene, and then four small clouds approached the moon from four different directions. “Do you see what I see?”
“You mean those clouds? How can they all be moving in different directions?” The clouds surrounded the moon forming a circle, and then they merged, obscuring the moon. “This is really freaky.”
Rosie pointed to a cloud formation moving across the sky from the left. “It looks like a mother and child,” she said, excitement in her voice. “And look, that next cloud is a Christmas tree.” We watched for a few minutes until she spoke again. “Oh, no, here come the three wise men.”
I couldn’t dispute what she was seeing because I was seeing it too. When the parade was over, the cluster of clouds shifted again, revealing the moon, before moving off in one direction.
Now, I’m not religious, not from a Christian background, and was not the least bit interested in anything of this nature. But what I witnessed I could only describe as a spiritual experience. We couldn’t both have the same hallucination? “Wow! What the heck?”
Rosie took a deep breath. “We both just saw all that, right?”
“The four clouds, the parade … I saw it too.”
We just sat there in silence, feeling very content.
* * * * *
Our Christmas trip changed me. I was feeling more comfortable with being Rosie's man. She moved in with me the next day. On New Year’s Eve, she cooked a spaghetti dinner. Rosie, Albert, and I toasted the New Year with a glass of cheap wine, and at 9 p.m. we scurried off to bed.
The next afternoon found me in the nearby town of Dixon. I grabbed supper at a revered Mexican restaurant, and since I was close to Brad’s place, I stopped by. It was dusk when he opened the door to greet me. Charlie and Brad’s dog, Molly, celebrated their friendship by running in circles.
“Hey, Rich, good to see you, man. Come on in and get fucked up with me. Har, har, har.”
“Don’t mind if I do. How you been, man?”
“Groovy. Happy as a fly on a fresh steaming dog turd.”
He filled a cup of wine from a jug and handed it to me. Brad was usually jolly, but something told me he'd already had a few cups before I arrived. He lit a joint, took a few deep drags, and struggled to suppress a cough as he handed it to me. “Good stuff, man,” he gasped, as smoke trickled from his mouth and nose.
We smoked and drank and joked, and then two people I hadn’t met before showed up. Brad wasted no time getting them high and fixed up with cups of wine. The four of us bantered, laughed, and carried on, and then another couple showed up. I turned to Brad and said, “It’s turning into a party, man.”
Brad shot back, “It is a party. It’s New Year’s Eve! Har, har, har.”
“Today’s New Years eve? Are you sure?”
“Sure I’m sure. Tomorrow’s January first. This is New Year’s Eve!”
“Shit! We celebrated the New Year yesterday. Far out! I mean that literally. I knew I lived out in the country, but I never realized just how far out in the country I was living!
Ain’t that a bitch?”
I hated being a fickle fellow but by the end of January, my feelings for Rosie were mixed. She was young and obviously love-struck but her dependency on me was making me feel uncomfortable. We’d been seeing a lot of each other, and as much as I cared for her, the idea of a full-time relationship was freaking me out. I guess I’d been freewheeling for too long—spoiled by the lack of restrictions I’d experienced.
Nagging doubts tortured me. I didn’t want to hurt her, but I needed to slow things down.
This all came to a head when I heard that Gina, my years-long red-headed flame, was no longer involved with anyone. We had remained good friends but I had secretly pined over her while she bounced from one boyfriend to another. The possibility there might be an opening awakened old emotions.
Since it wasn’t fair to Rosie, to harbor feelings for another woman, I needed to come clean.
Of course, finding the guts to say something wasn’t easy. I finally fostered the courage after a nearly sleepless night. We’d just finished a breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon when I looked across the table making eye contact—she at least deserved that.
“Hey Rosie, we gotta talk.”
“Oh yeah, what’s up?”
“You know I care for you, babe. I’m just not ready to be tied down. Can we go a little slower?”
“Is there something I did?”
“No. It’s definitely me not you. I’m just feeling a bit boxed in. How about we take a break for a while. I know it’s a shitty thing to say but I don’t know what else to do.”
Rosie put up a good front, but I could tell she was in pain. “No problem. It can’t hurt to take it slow. I need to be in Davis most of the time for school anyway. You’re always welcome to drop by.”
“I will, babe. Sorry, but I just need some space while I figure this out.”
She said, “Ah ... If you need some room then I’ll give you some. I guess I’d better leave.”
She got up from the table, gathered up a few things and walked out without another word. As she left, my heart sank. Talk about feeling like crap.
The house suddenly felt incredibly empty!
To be continued ...
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Trippin': Roads, Rails & Mountain Trails
In book 2 of his Hippie Adventurer Series, Rich takes us on another wild ride during the 1960s as he and his faithful canine companion, Charlie, hitchhike, hop freights, work in an Alaskan gold mining camp, and manage a Sacramento Valley cattle ranch.
A Message from Rich
Trippin’ is my gift to all of you. For me, the ’60s were a heartfelt time of growth, exploration, freedom, and brotherhood. I hope to impart a truthful account of what it was like to live as a hippie in that wacky, magical era. Enjoy the journey!
To receive episodes delivered directly to your email box, sign up HERE.
If you haven’t read the first book in the Hippie Adventurer Series, the award-winning Groovin’: Horses, Hopes, and Slippery Slopes, you can find it on Amazon and Audible.
1A. Escape from Heavy Caverns