Trippin’: Roads, Rails, and Mountain Trails
Episode 40A, August 1971
We spent a couple of days in and around Aspen, giving up on Lonnie’s Nebraska cousins—out of respect for our butts! To avoid the desert, we turned north near Salt Lake toward Idaho. It was the third day of a health-conscious, three-day fast, and I was on a natural high, feeling light as a feather.
I was leaning against the sissy bar, hands on my knees, with the wind whistling past my helmet. The evening sky was turning all kinds of pretty colors. Things couldn’t be sweeter as we rolled along I-84 at seventy miles an hour.
We were a distance past the town of Mountain Home when Lonnie shouted something, but the noise from the speeding bike and rushing wind made it impossible to hear what was being said. I later found out his words were, “Grab the handlebars. I’m going to take a picture of the sunset.” I also was later able to see a terrific photograph of the front wheel leaving the road as we went airborne. It was at that instant I did what I always do when pain seemed imminent—I left!
The next conscious moment found me lying face down in a wide depression between the east and westbound lanes. The crumpled bike was revving at top speed, nearby. I watched two cars pull over on the eastbound side. Lonnie ran towards me holding his shoulder. “Are you all right, man? Didn’t you hear me say, ‘Grab the handlebars’?”
I felt intense pain radiating from my right pelvic area, but my upper body seemed to be in good shape and my head was clear. I told Lonnie, "I couldn't hear anything over the engine." Not to mention that it would be impossible to reach the handlebars or even see through you! “If anyone asks, you got a fly in your eye and you better hide the hash in the handlebars.”
Lonnie scrambled to the bike, quieting it by shutting off the key. He grabbed the handle grip and pulled it free, and then threw the foil containing the hashish into a huge drainage pipe. I noted how the sharp galvanized metal pipe would have sliced and diced me if my trajectory had been a hair to the right.
Removing my dented helmet, I assessed the situation. It felt like a ten-penny nail had been pounded into my right hip bone. I figured the pain might be diminished if I could change position.
I placed my left leg next to my right and stiffened it to act as a splint. “Hold my legs tightly together and roll me slowly over this way,” I asked Lonnie, pointing to my left. Keeping my unharmed leg rigid and using my arms to move the top half of my body, I let Lonnie maneuver the lower end. My assessment had been correct. Now that I was on my back, the pressure on my injury had ceased, and the pain was bearable.
By then, a black couple had made their way to us. The man and Lonnie decided to improvise a stretcher out of my sleeping bag. They edged it under my body, and it worked to transport me to the back seat of their sedan. I was sitting up against one door with my legs stretched across the cushions. The man told his young son, who was standing on the front seat, “Stay here and don’t make a sound.”
He was a cute little guy who couldn’t have been more than four years old. Just then, a highway patrol car rolled up. The officer started questioning Lonnie and the couple about the accident. The kid just stared at me with big eyes. I gave him a warm smile.
My throat was really dry, so I asked the kid to ask his dad for some water. He leaned out his open window and called, “Dad.” His father shouted at him in a sharp voice, “I told you to stay quiet!”
Judging from his hurt expression, the poor little fellow might as well have been punched in the face. I said to him, “Hey, little man. We know you were trying to help. Your dad just didn’t understand. Don’t worry about it. Thanks for trying.” The boy’s face softened as our eyes locked. Then the doors flew open, and I was being moved again—this time into the back seat of the police cruiser.
With Lonnie and our gear in the front and me in the back, lights flashing and a siren screaming, we raced to a hospital in Mountain Home.
The diagnosis for Lonnie was a cracked collarbone and I was dealing with a hairline fracture in my hip socket. Not bad, considering what could have been. Still, it was a real drag not being able to walk—not even on crutches for at least a month.
I asked Lonnie, "Call Rosie, and see if she will drive my truck up here and break me out of this damn hospital." The nurses were nice but kept hounding me to eat the processed garbage they called food. I'd become more health-conscious over the past year, losing my appetite for white bread and Jell-O—especially when I needed to heal.
While the nurses were away, I took supplements I had packed for my fast, that I now stretched out for a few more days. The nurses thought I'd starve, but I paid them no mind.
I just wanted out of this place and hoped it wouldn't take Rosie long to get here.
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