April 8, 2016 - H1 - The Great Hitchhiking Adventure

 

From an early age, I felt my destiny to be an artist but I vowed not to be the starving kind. Anyone can have a hobby but it takes a magnitude of energy and expertise to transform that amusing little sideline into a lucrative way to make a living. For years, I devoted many hours a week honing my craft yet many a person told me, “The artwork looks good but you have nothing to say, come back in ten years.”

Nothing to say… Wait ten years?

I didn’t think so.

It was time for a quest.

I announced my teenage intent to trek across the good old USA to my good friend, Brent Noakes from high school, and he went all-in with me. Maybe he was searching for something, too. We closed out our seedy apartments, sold our clunker cars, stuffed a couple of backpacks and stuck our thumbs out on the ratty Dixie Highway down there in Lake Worth, South Florida, our eyes squinting towards the northern horizon.

This was before the serial killers, binge battery, and In-Your-Face hostilities of today so one could harbor reasonable expectations of human empathy towards a fellow traveler and, back in 1977, we had a real shot at high adventure, Brent and I.

Young and strong, full of life, wearing college t-shirts and mock captain caps, our yacht-solid beanies did little to hide our shoulder-length hair. The south was not your optimum place for a young hippie back then, let alone two, and we probably seemed like a Bourbon-induced double-vision redneck-nightmare thumbing along the side of the road like that.

And speaking of whiskey…

Our first ride came from a little thirty-something, wrinkly-eyed hunchback who grinned at us through a dozen teeth and the rolled-down window of his bleach colored station wagon that looked suspiciously like one of today’s ultra–modern SUV’s.

“Where you boysh headed?”

Boysh?

Probably just a derivative of some sloppy southern accent, right?

“North.”

Wrong.

We creaked open the steel doors and hopped in, Brent up front, me in the back, and immediately fell upon the precursor to Mister Toad’s Wild Ride. Our stupid friend in his drunken stupor weaved and skidded and thundered across recessed reflectors, smashed through pylons, churned up sidelong grass and elbowed screeching cars out of the way. He closed one eye to clear his double-vision but looked out the wrong eye.

We screamed, we cried, we prepared to die.

Brent offered to drive, either of us, both of us, but Pickled-Pete didn’t believe the smudged ink on our driver licenses. Yes, this was before the days of picture ID’s and laminated plastic… Ours were wrinkly pink paper that matched his complexion and blurry typed words that mimicked his speech.

The highway took a fork but he didn’t and we found ourselves bouncing through sandy weeds at sixty miles an hour. Fortunately, the station wagon with the plastered homeboy came to a rambling stop in a soggy field.

We fled with our backpacks and our lives, notching up a win in the survival column.

But, you know, today…

Texting and driving is even worse…

And it’s effing legal.

Cheese Us Cry Ice.


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Sandy had little experience with alcohol and mixed drinks but her mother, on the other hand, was a staggering Wikipedia of all things booze.

- TURTLE ISLAND