Trippin’: Roads, Rails, and Mountain Trails
Episode 24, May - June 1970
“YOU CAN DISCOVER MORE ABOUT A PERSON
IN AN HOUR OF PLAY
THAN IN A YEAR OF CONVERSATION.”
Picnic Day was the University of California at Davis’ big annual event, and thousands of people were expected to attend. Rosie and I showed up for the sheepdog trials. We watched the dogs go through their paces, herding sheep through and around obstacles.
I said to Rosie, “Can you believe how smart these dogs are?”
“Yeah. It’s really a thing of beauty.”
But it was hot out, and after watching seven or eight dogs, we left looking for shade.
I strolled along with a hand on my lady’s hip. Rosie was looking mighty enticing. Her hip caressed my fingers through her flimsy red sundress. It was nice to be in love but I was sure feeling horny! On cue, Rosie leaned over and whispered, “Jeeze, I’m really horny.”
Now, there's horny and there's HORNY! This was the latter—blazing, combustible, irrepressible desire! One thing for sure: I was going to find a private place.
We walked to the quad area but there were lots of people around. I looked at the parade bleachers to see if we could hide under them. Too visible. Won’t work. We angled towards the vegetable crops building, and I searched around and behind it. Nothing.
Then I spotted a huge hedge. It was six feet tall, about four feet wide, and ran thirty yards along a walkway. I found a spot in the middle of the foliage where the growth was sparse. After pulling back a few branches, we squeezed into the bare opening, about the size of a trash-can lid.
Though space was tight and carried the threat of getting jabbed by branches, we adjusted our clothing and our bodies took over—which required considerable skill, dexterity, and flexibility. We froze when a family walked by only inches away. Then we carried on until we finished the task. Rosie purred, “Oh, yeah!”
Our delightful Picnic Day poke brought great relief. Now to deal with the heat!
* * * * *
It was late June, and for two weeks the temperature had been in the high nineties, with a few days breaking a hundred—not good when living in a tin-roofed shack. Relief required sitting in the creek for the hottest hours of the day. So for too many hours to count, we’d found ourselves up to our shoulders in the swimming hole.
The musky air filled my nostrils. I was watching Rosie’s rippled reflection, wondering how long she would remain frozen in her pose. I knew she had endurance. She did that strange thing before falling asleep where she’d lie on her side with her arm straight up in the air and her hand horizontal, palm down. She said it relaxed her, and I’d seen her hold it like that for ten minutes. I tried that goofy thing, but couldn’t see any benefit.
I looked at her again. She’d been staring at her hand for a while with a quizzical eye. Her other eye was hidden behind a matting of wet blond hair. Finally, she spoke.
“Why raisin fingers?”
“Why raisin fingers?”
“Better than cauliflower ears, I’d say.”
“I don’t know. Cauliflower ears are quite fashionable, don’t you think?”
“I guess unless you have a beet-red nose. Then it would clash a little.”
“With a black eye, it could be great Fourth of July garb. Very patriotic. Muy patriotico, si?”
“That’s true. You could lead the Independence Day parade.”
“But why raisin fingers? What causes it?”
“Must be an osmosis thing. But you’d think they’d swell, not shrivel.”
“Swelling would be swell. It seems that lately, we’ve had raisin fingers and toes more of our waking hours than our normal everyday digits.”
I shifted my butt off a sharp stone. “You’re right. This heatwave has been going on for far too long. I believe we’ve reached a new level of absolute boredom. Contemplating shriveled fingertips has got to be up there somewhere.”
She splashed me. “We should call the Guinness guys about this.”
“Seriously, something has to change or we’ll end up totally batty.”
“You’re assuming we didn’t start at that level. Do you think the Guinness guys have a category for that as well?”
I looked up at the walls that sheltered the creek. Twenty feet above, poison oak tendrils crept down along the rocks. That sinister plant had my full respect, and I made it a habit to keep a safe distance.
Our swimming hole was beautiful. The high-rising cliff was concave, offering a sheltered hollow below it. I imagined a time past with a small band of Native Americans seeking shelter there. On the south side, the bank was about half as high, leading to the abandoned orchard. It was scenic, but being here was getting old. Day after day, the creek had been the only way to stay cool.
I wondered if June is this sweltering, what will July and August be like?
My punctured buttocks could stand it no longer. I stood and stepped out of the water. Rosie followed. We picked up our clothes (my shorts and her bikini) and carried them a few hundred yards to the house.
One advantage of living in a secluded place was we didn’t need to bother with dressing. It also helped that we weren’t shy.
My brain was dulled by boredom. I hoped something would change.
I plopped down naked in one of the stuffed porch chairs and picked at the white stuffing that peeked out of a tear in the arm. Rosie soon joined me, carrying a plate with apples, cheese, and a knife on it. I began dissecting an apple.
As we finished our snack, I heard a vehicle rattling down the drive. I leaned off the porch and saw Russ’ Jeep. “It’s Russ. I guess he still hasn’t left for New York. I wonder what Kelly’s thinking?” We remained in our birthday suits, too damn hot to care.
Rosie giggled. “It’s been forever. Didn’t he tell her two weeks or something?”
As Russ approached, I whispered, “Yeah. But Russ has always danced to a different clock.” Russ stepped out of his Jeep and I called out, “Hey, man, you’re overdressed.”
Russ eyed us and replied, “Yeah, I guess. You guys beating the heat?”
“Trying. But it’s been a killer. What brings you up here? I thought you were in New York with Kelly.”
I actually knew he hadn’t left yet. It had been a running joke that his leaving in two weeks had extended to almost four months. We knew Russ had his own unique concept of time, but this beat anything we’d ever seen.
“That’s where I’m heading.”
“Be careful not to rush now,” Rosie kidded.
“Yeah, I’ve heard it all before. But now I’m actually on my way. I dropped by to see if you guys wanted to do some fishing in Montana.”
“Yeah. They have great fishing in Montana, and I’m going to stop on my way to the Big Apple and catch a big fish. I got a bamboo pole and everything. You nudists are invited to join me.”
Could this be the answer to our prayers? I looked at Rosie, “Hey, can’t dance. Anything to escape this heat. What do you think, babe?”
“How do I say it? Get me out of this holy hellhole of hideous heat as fast as you can! I’ve got friends in Saint Paul that I’ve wanted to visit. Do you think we could go through there?”
Russ smiled. “No sweat. It’s basically on the way.”
“I wouldn’t mind visiting my friend DJ in Ann Arbor,” I said. “I’ll have to let Albert know. He should be back in a few hours. We could leave when he returns and stop at Greg and Jeanette’s in Reno.”
Russ sat down and smiled. “Cool. This'll be a kick.”
We busied ourselves packing my truck and were ready to depart when Albert got home. I filled him in on our plans and received his blessings for good travel.
It had been a long time since I'd felt out-of-state asphalt under my tires. The song of the open road beckoned.
And now I had a new engine in Evergreen and my sweetheart Rosie by my side. This was going to be a blast!
To be continued ...
Watch for the next installment of my true-life adventures from the ’60s. To receive chapters delivered directly to your email box, sign up here. All released episodes of Trippin’ are available here.
If you haven’t already 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.
“If you enjoy what you read, please share it with your friends!”
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