May of 1972, at the age of 18, I plucked up the courage to see if I could still cut it in the world and
decided to hitchhike across Country to Albuquerque and back.
If I made it there so much the better, if not, well at least I gave it a try.
Whatever, I needed
to get out of the house and the road was calling.
great misfortune had befallen me, I still had the remnants of a Warrior and with that Energy I planned my cross-country trek.
After scraping together $80 in travel money I was ready to take the plunge.
day of departure was rainy and cold but I'd postponed leaving twice before and made up my mind to go that day
no matter what.
Carrying a duffel bag and cheap Silvertone Guitar and wearing a trench
coat and cap, I walked in the rain down to the Garden State Parkway.
have been a sight as I stood in the cold drizzle and was feeling exactly how I looked....... disheveled, down and out.
Few people want to pick up Hitchhikers on rainy
days and by the time I got to Pennsylvania, it was hours later.
Harrisburg I took sanctuary in the Vestibule of a Church, sitting in shadowy silence warming my feet and hands before
My next ride was from a family of Christians, a husband and wife with young children who
were kind enough to invite me to their house for soup.
"Thanks," I said, "but I really want to put
on some more miles before nightfall."
South on the Interstate with no tangible destination
and every car that passed threw up a cloud
of misty, numbing wetness.
Half and hour later a car pulled over and I ran with duffel bag and guitar
"Hi, how ya doing?"
"Fine," comes the reply. A mellow
looking guy with a beard and ponytail is looking back at me. "How far ya going?"
out West, Cross Country."
"Well, I'm going to Maryland. Climb in!"
Making small talk,
I immediately felt comfortable in his presence.
He offered me a snack, pushing a a bag
of Sunflower Seeds and Raisins toward me on the front seat and I dug in.
Heavenly! First time I ever had Sunflower Seeds and Raisins.
More! Good! Hungry from the road......Grateful, I wolfed it down.
"What's your name? he asks.
"I'm Hari." he says.
"Oh, one of those Guru types," I
"What kind of music ya play?" he
said, after seeing my guitar.
"I'm into Dylan."
Dylan? What songs of his do you like?"
"Oh man, so many. 'Hard Rain,' lots of 'em."
After a pause he begins to sing "Love Minus Zero, No Limit" softly,
as if I'm
not there and I'm feeling at ease in his presence.
Deeming me trustworthy, he probes a bit.
"You into Communes, man?"
"Communes? I've never been to one."
"Well, I'm going to one in Maryland.
It's a really cool place, good people.
If you want to come they'll let you stay the night."
"Yeah, I'll go."
he said, "You'll like it. Mike Seeger stays there sometimes."
"Mike Seeger, Pete Seeger's brother,
you know the fold singer."
yeah, I know Pete Seeger."
We drove along, windshield wipers moving across the glass.
A load was lifted from my shoulders. I had a place to "crash" and relief
settled over me.
Then, in the misty rain ahead, Hari spied
another hitchhiker, a long haired student type clad in blue jeans and military jacket.
He tossed his knapsack in the back and climbing in next to me, stricking up a conversation
with Hari that pretty much left me out of the picture.
Tossing it around, things turned to Metaphysics, a subject
of which I had a developing grasp.
"I'm going to hear Krishnamurti speak," the hitchhiker said and
Hari perked up.
"Yeah, he's speaking in the auditorium at my school next week. It should
be really cool."
It wasn't by any means all over my head.
already started out on that path and had actually heard Krishnamurti speak at Carnegie Hall
and knew about Yoga and Meditation but I didn't have the Maturity to track with those guys so I sat in
silence as they went on and on.
I resented the newcomer, both for ignoring me and boring me.
reaching his destination, we pulled over and let him out.
I was happy to see him go. His energy overwhelmed me but my interest had been piqued and after a thoughtful
silence I spoke again to Hari......
"How long ya been into religion?"
This brought a smile
to Hari's face.
"I'm not into religion, man." (I knew I'd committed a faux-pas.)
"We were just discussing Krishnamurti. He lectures on Metaphysics and stuff."
"Yeah, I know who he is," I said.
But there was so much I didn't know and wanted to find
Whenever I was around Counterculture People, they always seemed to have
an inside track.
They lived in a different world and I sensed
that there were good things to be had in that way of life.
Mellowness and Peace seemed to be part of it and I wanted to be Mellow and at Peace too.
This is what my "On the Road" odyssey was all about, to find some semblance
of peace, to find a sense of self.
I was hungry for answers but I knew I had to be wary.
I'd run into Charismatic Bullshitters in the past, pushing points of view and
philosophies that could really run me off the rails.
I would have
to trust my instincts to keep myself safe from harm.
The Commune Near Freeland
We exited the Interstate
and drove down a rural road to the Commune.
know what to expect but sensed things would be alright.
The main building was a large converted Mill with a stream running beneath it and a path led up a rise to the front
I followed Hari to the entrance where we were
greeted by a group of men and woman ranging in age from their mid twenties to mid thirties.
I was introduced.
"This is Dave, I picked him up hitchhiking and he needed a place to stay so I thought I'd bring
Inside I gazed around a dim lit room with a Crackling Fireplace.
I was told to make myself at home and lost no time in doing so.
Off came my trench coat and hat, off came my shoes and socks and I positioned my wet clothing around the
Surrounded by strangers I was a bit awkward but one of the woman took a particular interest in
me and tried to include me in the proceedings.
"Maybe Hari's friend will play
his Guitar for us later....."
I soon saw
that the Commune was not without conflict.
One of the
men was at loggerheads with the others over his cigarette smoking.
They wanted him to keep it outside and he felt his rights were being violated.
He stormed out the door and back in a few minutes later still angry until the others
tried to calm him down......
As dinner was being prepared I bidded my time, anticipating gorging myself full.......
The food was laid out on a large table that was very low to the ground requiring everyone to sit
on the floor.
The array of foods had me flummoxed. I'd never seen
this stuff before.
There were bowls of green veggies that had
been picked out of the backyard.
seeds and beans and sprouts and pasty substances in bowls.
I couldn't figure out what anything was or what went with what...... so I watched what the others did and
tried to follow suit so as not to give myself away.
Everything tasted strange and bland and when the meal
was over I felt totally unsatisfied.
Having burned up energy traveling I
craved a Submarine Sandwich or a Bowl of Chile, something substantial.
There were attempts to engage me in conversation
but I was withdrawn.
Overwhelmed by the days events all I was thinking
about was where I would lay my head and soon one of the men escorted me up a narrow staircase to the third floor
which was a large open room.
Lining the walls were bunk beds, probably eight
"Pick any one you want," he said and turned and went downstairs.
I crawled into bed,
pulled up the covers and lay there trying to put things in perspective.....
My first day had been a Success !!!
I started from a world away, put everything on the line and somehow found my way to a Commune in Maryland. It
was pretty amazing.
"Tomorrow I'll head out early and really put on some miles."
into the strange bed tossing and turning until weariness overtook me and I fell into a deep slumber..........
In the early morning
I felt spacey and scattered and lay in bed trying to pull my thoughts together.
I was famished and
headed downstairs where I was escorted to a pantry unlike any pantry I'd ever seen before.
Instead of packaged foods from grocery stores it was
filled with bins and barrels of fruits, nuts and grains.
I followed my host's lead scooping
up rolled oats, dropping them into a bowl and sprinkling them with raisins. I poured hot water over them and Voila!
"We really like to be generous," one of them said, "but we don't have unlimited
so anything you can give would be appreciated."
I had no problem with that so I stuffed a couple bucks into a can they had behind the
outside where chickens scratched at the ground in search of insects.
Suspended between two trees was a hammock
and I lay in it rocking back and forth as I gathered my energy to take on the new day.
Finding the Commune
was a stroke of luck but I couldn't wait to get out of there.
My body was craving protein and I had my mind set on a good meal so when some of the woman emerged
from the house and asked if I wanted a ride to town, I jumped at the offer.
"We're going to have
our backs cracked. Would you like to come and have your back cracked?"
"Uh, no thanks, but I'll take
the ride. I wanna get back on the highway."
Man I was starving. Felt like a pack of wolves was inside
A few minutes
later about seven of us piled into a car and rode into town. At a nearby diner I had a good breakfast which
brought my strength back and I was ready to take on the new day.
Staying at the Commune was a good positive
experience, a Credential.
I would have to retain
the details for posterity.........
Hitchhiking To Albuquerque
It was now time to deploy
my secret weapon.
Back in Jersey I'd taken
a piece of cardboard and drew a large hand on it with the thumb in the hitchhike position.
I cut it out, gluing it to a flat stick and now had an Oversized Prop.
I 'd seen others use it before.
When you stood at roadside and held it up, people would strain to see.
Once they realized it was a giant thumb it never failed to
get a smile.
If the guy hitchhiking
has a sense of humor he was probably okay to pick up right?
Over the next few thousand miles it would get me many a ride.
into another hitchhiker around Knoxville who was visiting his girlfriend at college.
He, like me, had no place to sleep that night but was able
to wrangle the use of a car and he and I slept in a friend's Station Wagon not far from the dorm. He in
the front and me in the back.
morning I was making my way along a stretch of Highway when I was besieged by huge clouds of black flies.
They were everywhere.
At first I thought I could swat them away but soon they were in
my eyes and ears and when I coughed or breathed, in my nose and mouth.
Even though weighed down by my
Guitar and Duffel Bag I had to high-tail it out of there.
I ran a hundred yards and still under siege, had to stop and take a tee shirt out of my
bag and wrap it around my head to keep the damned things off me. It was a horror.
In Little Rock I snagged a ride from a guy in a Pick Up Truck going all the way to Los Angeles.
He drove into the night and when he got tired I took
over while he dozed.
Later, I got tired
myself and almost drove off the road starting the poor guy awake.
He got me all the way to the outskirts of
Albuquerque, leaving me off by the side of the road where I watched lizards scurry by in the heat of the brilliant
It was definitely
a new world for me.
I made my way over to the University, spending the afternoon and evening at the Agoura,
where students congregated to talk and hang out.
Thinking I could
get away with spending the night there, I found a corner in an out of the way place but after an hour or so I was awakened
by one of the staff who broke the bad news:
"Hey bro, I'm gonna have to ask you to leave. You're not
allowed to sleep here."
I was forced to gather up my things and go out into the desert chill, still groggy,
and spent the night on a park bench as the temperature plunged to near freezing.
I was paying my dues again....
The next day there was an Viet Nam
anti-War rally at the local park and I made my way over, mingling with throngs of students.
Some were preparing
to do battle with the cops which I wanted no part of.
It wasn't going to prove anything and I didn't want to get my head stoved in
for no reason.
I did though, offer to get up
and play guitar when someone requested music, playing "Hard Rain."
I'd never played in front of a crowd before and I
was nervous but was able to pull it off.
One thing I remember from that day was two large dogs getting
into a vicious fight and people being too paralyzed to do anything to stop it.
Finally, one intrepid soul grabbed one of the dogs by the
neck and yanked them apart.
I thought that was
the bravest thing I'd seen in a long time.
From Albuquerque I hitchhiked up to Denver where I stayed
in a low rent downtown hotel.
It was sparsely
furnished and provided only basic comfort but I was able to take a bath and dislodge some road grime and soothe my aching
Before going to sleep I wedged the back of a chair under the door knob to allow a few seconds reaction
time if anyone tried to enter.
I wasn't all that worried about my physical safety.
As far as fighting skills went I was quite efficient but a little caution couldn't hurt.
In the morning I hooked up with I-70 heading east....
In Missouri I had a close call west of
I was standing with my thumb out when a Convertible approached at a high rate of speed.
A girl in the back seat launched a beer bottle at me and
though I saw it coming I didn't have time to react.
Before I could take evasive action it hit my duffel bag and shattered.
If that duffel bag wasn't in front of me it would have hit my knee probably injuring
After almost two weeks on the road I rolled back into New Jersey with a slew of new experiences under
Soon though, the
same old problems surrounded me and I began to stagnate once again.