Welcome to Balanced Rocks: Pictures and Stories

Beginning March 16,2010, I began a journey of balancing rocks. I hold to the practice of setting to balance at least five sculptures a day, sometimes, many more. Of these I take lots of pictures and videos. While conducting this adventure, I have been introduced to an incredible unfolding story. Additionally, I discovered this phenomenon is manifesting worldwide. As I post pictures and stories, I found many others similarly engaged and sharing their works. Additionally, as folks come upon me performing my work, many want to find out how this is done and try themselves. This blog shares this work in both pictures and stories. Enjoy


A seeming impossibility becomes possible

Rock Balancing: The Beginning

On a fine summer day, sometime in August, 2009, I was visiting family in Toronto. Like most folks spending summer in a large city, we used up as much time as we could finding outdoor events that would cool us. One afternoon, we headed to the Beaches section of East Toronto. After spending some time playing in a large sandbox in the shade with my grandkids and some of their newfound companions, we headed to the Boardwalk that extends from Balmy Beach to Kew Gardens. Ella accompanied me, Liam took off with his mom, Natalie. They ventured down the boardwalk, Ella and I headed onto the sand toward the water’s edge. Halfway there we encountered what looked like a small size Stonehenge.

About a dozen sculptures were gathered together in a rough circle. Each was a stack of two or three rocks balanced one on another. The tallest one was slightly taller than Ella, who was small average height for a five year older. All were in the neighborhood of three feet and four feet tall. What immediately jumped out was the precarious nature of the balancing. Most points of contact were miraculously slight. Most seemed to be standing on a point. Two more folks were witnessing this amazing display. We imagined that there must be small metal rods embedded at the point of contact, or else some kind of glue was used. Each of us peered from close low angles to detect what could account for this mystical display. Ella, not being so cautious, toppled one structure over. Luckily, it did not land on her.

I hurried over and picked up the fallen rock. I saw no evidence of a rod or glue. It indeed had been balanced on its pedestal. I lifted it up and tried to place it back where I reckoned it had been balanced. I cautioned Ella, to be careful and not upset any more sculptures and went about the task of finding balance. I was not successful and struggled immensely but did not find the magic spot where stability could be achieved. After a lengthy effort, an attractive Asian woman about my age approached and gently nudged me aside offering to demonstrate her work. She pointed to the spot she would set the stone upon. She called it by a foreign name. To me it looked like a slight dimple.

Placing the small end of the upper rock into that hollow, she deftly and quickly moved it around, slightly twisting and cajoling it into position. The sight of this slender woman with longish graying hair performing an intricate dance with a rock slightly larger than her head emanated calmness. It seemed only the ends of her fingers were used to achieve these small movements. Apparently, equilibrium was close. Shortly she was done and withdrew her palms which naturally assumed an open prayer posture. The rock I had grappled with was majestically resting in its previous stable state. She next went over and reset two other structures, I had not noticed were also amiss. I just took them to be part of the rubble strewn about the beach. Now all the display was standing and providing a small sense of order in our chaotic world.

I never got this woman’s name, but heard her story. She had set this display up for the purpose of taking pictures, one of which she hoped to use for a cover of a book she was publishing. Unfortunately not getting her name makes it difficult to find her book. But I carried away with me the sight of her presentation and the incredible feeling I had witnessed an amazing ethereal event. I also felt an urge to explore this practice.

Rock in the Snow

Rock in the Snow
January in Toronto

Monday, June 30, 2008

Let's go find a waterfall. July 1990, Martha's Vineyard, MA

Lenny contracted to carve a totem pole. A friend of his, a Native woman wanted one for her store. Lenny was Mic Mac and felt qualified both as native and artist to take on such a project. He had no gear, so asked to borrow my carving tools. I agreed, provided he used them at my place. He approved and we hauled a huge pine log and set it up under shade trees next to my shed. Hot temperaturees, high humidity and physical labor exhausted us. We slumped beneath the shade trees looking for relief. I mentioned, “ Wouldn’t it be nice to be sitting under a waterfall?” Lenny just said, “Yeah.” “Let’s go then,” I shot back. That settled it; we decided to go on a waterfall quest.
Lenny had briefly lived in North Carolina and recalled he knew the whereabouts of a fine place to search. We decided to head out. Over the next couple of days we gathered rudiments of camping gear. This meant we had to visit some friends and borrow. I had a tent and light weight sleeping bag but no other gear. Lenny was hard pressed to come up with much more than a back pack. We managed to scrounge up a camp stove, several cooking utensils, a cooler and camp ax. We told all our friends, we were headed to North Carolina in search of a waterfall. Good wishes would accompany us. Finally, with all our stuff loaded into my open pickup truck we boarded the ferry to leave Martha’s Vineyard. On our boat ride, I asked, “Have you ever been to the Canadian Rockies?” Lenny had not. “Let’s go there then,” Lenny agreed. We changed our plans midway to the mainland.
Since we had a three week window for travel, we decided that we should both take turns driving and try to drive straight there That way, we would have substantial time to search for our goal. I took the first shift and drove as far as Montreal. Lenny took the next shift around 3 AM. I tried to get some rest. It seemed Lenny had never driven on broad highways and was most uncomfortable going above 45 MPH. The whole of his driving experience was on Martha’s Vineyard where no speed is posted above that limit. Since his driving was making me uncomfortable, I was not able to get rest. We pulled over at a rest stop and got our needed sleep. After a couple of hours rest, mosquitoes having a blood feast for breakfast awoke me. We pressed on, with me taking all the driving.
It seemed we would be hard pressed to make it all the way to the Canadian Rockies, but we decided to make a game effort. By that afternoon, I managed to get past Sudbury Ontario and pulled into a parking lot near a market and tourist information booth. I got into the back and took a nap. Lenny explored around and when I awoke, he announced we were right at the gateway to Manitoulin Island where a large Native Pow Wow was occurring. We headed there. That night we stayed in a campground on the biggest island standing in fresh water in the world. We were quite far from North Carolina and the Canadian Rockies.


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Picking for a living. February 1976 Orange Lake, FL

Even though we were living marginally on the bottom, we found need for some money. To support our communal existence, several of us decided to try our hand picking citrus. Cathy, Don, Alberto, and I hitched to Orange Lake and landed jobs picking in a large orange grove. We brought tent and camping gear with intentions to stay a few days. Our first day’s work was grueling. We could handle it physically, but citrus sap was pervasive, making us sticky, sweaty and in need of a bath by day’s end. There were no facilities in the grove. So, when work ceased we all bathed and refreshed in Orange Lake. Afterward, we set up camp.
We were just getting the tent ready to occupy, when a couple of our coworkers came up and demanded, “What do you think your going? You cannot stay here at night.” We asked, “Why not?” An answer came quickly, “There is a fence around this grove and they will soon release guard dogs that patrol in here at night. You don’t want to get caught by them. They are vicious.” We asked where they stayed. Apparently the grove owner also owned a run down motel where he rented rooms to his pickers. When we heard the cost of staying there we became disenchanted. We barely made enough to take back home. It did not make sense to trade wages we needed to support our commune for a sleazy hotel. We decided to leave. By now it was dark, and chances of four of us hitching together, landing a ride seemed unlikely.
Nearby, a convenience store provided us with provisions and a phone. I called my sister’s house, hoping for rescue. Her husband, David, offered to come get us. We loitered in the parking lot, offering an excuse to the Marion County Police officer, who checked us out that we had no where else to wait for our ride. We showed him a check stub that proved we worked that day picking oranges. He told us he would check back in an hour and expected us to be gone. If not, a threat that we would spend the night in Ocala City jail loomed. Before he had a chance to return, David’s car swung into a parking place, he emerged, plunked a bottle of whiskey on top of his car and asked, “ Are you the guys who are looking for a ride to my party?” After our day’s travails we passed on the party, but accepted a ride back to his house. He graciously offered us camping space in his living room and we enjoyed a comfortable rest after our brief career as orange pickers.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Helping and healing. February 1976: Free Spirit Farm

My year on the road prompted me to engage with many sorts of folks in a non judgmental way. I accepted fairly readily people as they were and traveled with them. It landed me in small trouble when my companions intruded on other people’s lifestyle. It happened when I brought John to my sister’s house. At first she readily accepted him and let us camp out in her sitting room. After we got ready for bed, it became apparent John’s feet had a large disagreeable odor. Even after bathing they smelled foul. I was able to sleep, but in the morning Karen asked us to leave. She could not abide the smell. We left and I brought John to Free Spirit Farm.
On the way, John described the nature of his problems. In his youth he spent several years on a chain gang in a southern state. For much of this time he worked in standing in swamp water. He picked up some kind of skin fungus that persisted to this day. To make matters worse, because of his shame he kept his feet tightly wrapped up in socks and heavy footwear. That way whenever they were exposed they let off a tremendous smell of rotting flesh. The folks at the farm took on the project of helping John deal with his problem. We had plenty of experience taking in animals that needed help. If it could work with them, we could probably aid humans.
The first thing we did, was make a rule that John go barefooted. To help him overcome his shame at exposing his feet, we took turns washing them. This helped alleviate the problem. Removing dead skin through bathing and exposing his feet to light and air restored his confidence and he walked about with much higher head. It turned out John had even been too ashamed to seek public aid. He resorted to begging and living off of trash. Whatever his crimes, it seemed wrong John had to still pay by living his burdened life style. As much as keeping his feet exposed raised him up, it did not take care of the lesions that persisted on his soles. It was obvious that he would need medical attention. As much as we desired living away from society, Gail took it upon herself to guide John through Public Welfare system and get him needed medical aid. After a few weeks we helped John with bus fare so he could return to his family home. Apparently he had not been there for years. It seemed the free spirit at our farm commune guided us to helping the stranger.


Friday, June 27, 2008

Tale of two Ducks. January 1976: Gainesville, FL

At our farm we had two steady visitors--both ducks. One was a wild bird who visited every day to help our barnyard birds with their eating chores. The duck, chickens, a rooster, guinea hens, and a turkey were responsible for cleaning up the food we scattered around for them. They seemed to have learned the secret for peaceful coexistence. Except for one instance when the bantam rooster felt an urge to become a fighting cock, it was peaceful and not too noisy. Duck hung around all day and availed himself of the puddles and shade that were created around our outdoor shower. In hot weather, showers were in use constantly. So the duck had lots of company splashing in refreshing water. Since a steady stream of humans headed for a shower, he never had to learn to turn it on.
At the end of day, duck established a ritual that we partook in . As sun was setting, he would perch on top of the shower structure and watch light disappear. There was usually a compliment of humans making a like ceremony. As the last sunlight was gone, duck would launch into flight. He was a hefty bird and seemed almost like a plane taking off, making loud swishing sounds with his wings as he ascended. He flew the length of our field before veering off to the left and disappearing much like the sun had. If you arose early, you would catch him coming back just before sun returned the next morning. Apparently he had a steady piece of work and took it seriously.
Our other duck was of the human variety. It was not his given name, but one he assumed. He never told why he choose that label, but we accepted him. He dropped by regularly to help in our garden. He seemed quite knowledgeable about local growing environment and taught us much about achieving optimal growing conditions. Duck was a young black man whose family lived on a nearby farm. I visited with him there and his family also went along with his choice of name. I never learned his given name. But I could see where he got his green thumb. His family had a thriving farm that produced enough for their needs and a bounty for trade and sharing. On my way out, his mother loaded me down with a bag of fresh produce and several pounds of fresh bacon.
Duck had a unwavering mission about resisting any call to become a licensed member of society. He refused to accept anything that required him to register for and receive a government issued ID. His family supported that notion and had not even gotten him a Social Security Number as a youngster. In fact they may have all been unregistered. The price he had to pay was several arrests for driving without a license. He was well known in the local court and would cheerfully do his time. It was only when his sentence approached six months at a time, did he figure that if he was not going to be a licensed member of this society then perhaps he should also not be a driving member either. While one duck was taking to flying, this Duck was taking to walking and hitching. I never checked if our other duck had an ID or flying license.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Finding a new way to live. January,1976: Gainesville, FL

Being convinced that global earth changes were not eminent, I gave up waiting for tropical plants to sprout in New England and headed to Florida. Arriving in Gainesville, I sought out some of the folks I had met last year. I found Cathy right away, She took me to a house Gary and Linell were renting. In their one big room, Gary, Linell, Cathy, Don, and Alberto were camping out. I moved right in. Don and Alberto were from New York. All of us shared the notion that we did not want to work in a habitual way. We were not adverse to laboring but wanted for various reasons to live outside present culture. No one had a normal job although Cathy was a university student. Shortly we found a larger place where we could all live together comfortably. Outside Gainesville sat an abandoned farm. Bill had already taken possesion and invited others to join him there.
We settled on ten acres that had an old farmhouse, barn/garage, and an outdoor shower. Crawford volunteered to get our garden underway. Collectively we decided to name our commune “Free Spirit Farm.” We took in stray people and animals. Soon collections of outbuildings and vehicles became home to up to two dozen folks. There was so much coming and going it was difficult to tell who really resided there. One thing we held in common was our idea that the best way to fend off hot Florida weather was to shun clothing. We gardened, did housework and arts in crafts in a wide assortment of naked bodies. Since our community had contacts with the outside it was necessary that robes and pants were kept nearby to quickly don lest we offend the stranger.
Our first goal was to find a way to provide for our needs without resorting to taking regular jobs. Our needs were minimal since we paid no rent and needed only to cover food, utilities, and fuel for vehicles. We mostly scrounged small side work for cash or barter. Since we held all our money in common, we skipped keeping any tax records. If we were going to live beyond the reach of the beast those would not be needed. Occasionally we ventured out to perform small jobs lending a hand. Bill had car repair skills and we engaged in auto repair. Gail even went off to a regular job. Since we were free spirit, we let people who felt called to work a regular job go. Her income was appreciated. I even took a job at a structural steel firm. After witnessing two workers get severely injured, I comprehended another reason not to have a job and left.
Then we hatched the idea to hold the Free Spirit Arts and Crafts Fair. We spent several days fashioning assorted crafts from materials we could obtain for free. I gathered scrap cypress boards and made a few small spice cabinets. Other folks made assorted pieces of functional art. We made a large wooden sign for our commune and burned in the letters and a crescent moon and star logo. I doubt any of us realized we were borrowing the Muslim symbol. We made a large project of promoting our fair in hopes we would have a huge success and not have to go out for jobs. Our fair was a large success but not commercially. Lots of folks came, few items sold, and we attracted a lot of attention. We even managed to keep on our clothes. Though some folks were skeptical of our notion of free spirit as a life style, we widened our network of contacts that held like ideals of peaceful anarchism. The next set of stories will provide small vignettes of life at free spirit for both people and animals.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Can I stop?, June 2008: Ithaca, NY

Yesterday’s entry ended with a reference to lemmings. I have never witnessed their mass suicides and suppose their story to be accurate. My journeys that began over thirty years ago were propelled by a quest to seek where humanity, as represented by North American society, was headed. A substantial sentiment had us headed toward a new age. Some named it the age of Aquarius. Talk pointed to a dawning of spiritual enlightenment. Along side this was mentioned tales of apocalyptic visions. Shortly before I left, I was introduced to the story presented in the Book of Revelations detailing the mark of the beast. It was given to me by a young woman I met in a sub shop. She was despondent over her father’s recent suicide, a lemming perhaps. I do not know how the topic of the beast’s mark came into our conversation but I was intrigued and after going home checked the story out in my own bible.
It looked highly likely that conditions were ripe for to see the unfolding of that story in our world. In an earlier career at IBM, I remembered that we colloquially referred to the vast computer network we were constructing and assembling as “The Beast.” Coincidence perhaps. It was likely a determinant factor in my goal of not having a job during my year of travel, as an experiment, to see if it were possible to exist outside of society’s control. As the story goes, those not having the beast’s mark are not able to buy or sell. Not taking the mark meant not having money, or at least not using it in the traditional sense. I believed not having a job, put me out of the beast’s reach. But it did put me within reach of other’s who were intent upon escaping the beast’s clutch. As the Christian story unfolds it issues warnings of the dire consequences for those accepting the mark.
Besides this dark tale, was a similar unfolding story that held possibility of just as great consequence of opposite description. In this story, mankind’s spiritual progress would yield a new version of paradise. In this story we would all live in peace having supplanted our materialistic goals with those of the spiritual nature. I witnessed these two tales unwrapping in juxtaposition. In both matters spiritual sprang into prominence. So perhaps we were indeed entering the dawning of a new age, that brought spirit into play. I am penning this story with today’s dateline, but it reflects back to a state of mind, I faced while winding down the end of that first year’s experiment. These are similar thoughts I dwelled on then as I was coming to a decision about where to head after finishing my goal of not having a job for a year. As I get back to relating that tale, I will also expose underlying notions that influenced my choices.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

How do I stop? June 2008: Upton, MA

In my years of traveling, I noticed there is a clamor to receive signs. Early on, there were stories of prominent signs. Mostly notably was the Star of Bethlehem. The men that noticed, heeded and followed that sign, came to be known as wise. Often celestial events are regarded as portents. From ancient history till today, comets, eclipses, planetary alignments are given extraordinary consideration. In many religious and cultural traditions stories are told of how people received secret messages in the most common occurrences. These stories often go on to expose the dangers lurking should such omens fail to be regarded. Often those noticing and pointing out signs are called prophets and given special attention. They are ostracized, banished, committed to asylums and branded lunatic.
Sometimes they, too, have been put to death. As much as there is an outcry to receive signs, noticing them tends to be dangerous. Taking such a risk, I have conducted a survey of signs, I noticed in my venturing. By far, the sign I perceived the most gives a message summed up in a single word--STOP. Two others that occur just as regularly give the secret message to either Yield or WRONG WAY--DO NOT ENTER. It seems odd that given the cry for signs, most folks look to the skies and are often disappointed when a celestial event seems non spectacular. But on the other hand, the glut of signs ringing the planet go unheeded except in traffic matters. I wonder could some larger force be trying to signal us that the course humanity treads is headed the wrong way and needs to be stopped.
Another set of voices creates a din that shouts the message we are indeed headed for disaster. Words used summon the message we are out of control and beyond recovery. Phrases often heard include the words tipping point, uncontrollable spin, and irreversible course. If this is indeed where we are headed, the pertinent question is what and how can I stop. It seems in talking with a friend, Trish, we are prevented from stopping unless there appears to be a collective agreement that we will all come to a halt. Unfortunately, this way of thinking propels us like lemmings to the brink. So as I drive back to Ithaca from my short sojourn to New England, I will ponder what must I bring to a halt and how do I apply the brakes.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Finding roots, June 2008: Hudson, MA,

For me, settling down and staying put is possibly as frightening as living a wandering, unsettled, unattached daily life is to those accustomed to a routine life style. Even though I was perched on Martha’s Vineyard for several years, bought property, built a house, married and had a child, it never felt home. I managed to obtain several dear friends, but always felt a twinge of separation when they would state how at home they felt in our community. Home was never a value that landed in my heart. The many years I spent there were filled with longing to move on and explore beyond. Beginning last summer, some powerful force seemed to be drawing me to the Finger Lakes area of New York. My years of living on the road gave me a special sensitivity to intuitive nudges. I learned to follow them and believe they are a good guiding force.
Following an urge, I moved most of my possessions into a storage unit near Ithaca last fall. I left my temporary Pennsylvania residence in early February for an extended road trip with no apparent destination. Sure, I was aware the bulk of my belongings were stored in the Finger Lakes region of New York, but was uncertain that would be my final destination. It took over six weeks of meandering to land in Ithaca. Rather quickly, I responded to an inclination to rest here for a bit. It felt a bit unusual to be vacationing in a vehicle in the midst of winter in upstate New York. But I soon found, I was not alone. Others were roosting in harsh winter conditions, but seemed to manage. Several times, when meeting folks, I would be asked, “What brings you to Ithaca?” My answer was mostly to shrug my shoulders and say, “I don’t know. I just got here.” An affirmative response was often, “I had the same experience several years ago and I am still here.” It seemed comforting that others had followed similar leadings and were still here apparently thriving.
After a few days camping in my car, I decided to treat myself to a room. I became roommates with two others in a house on South Hill in Ithaca. Next I landed in a volunteering position with a group providing meals to anyone who was hungry. This felt appropriate and fit with my leanings of how we should be treating each other. It also had a benefit of introducing me to a larger community of like minded folks. Shortly other opportunities for engaging in helpful rewarding works sprang up. These offered me the chance to explore out from Ithaca and find other things that may provide pull for me to be here.
I found a wealth of abandoned rundown structures all around this area. A long time dream of mine was to obtain such a place and restore it to useful accommodation. I feel like a kid in a candy store with so many locations that would fill that desire. I hesitate to move quickly in that direction lest I settle into the wrong spot. Recently, I decided to stay here for a year and observe which of these gems is moving toward me. In the meantime, it seems I am expanding my connection with this community and that feels good. I am not sure what home would feel like, but for possibly the first time, I am not experiencing consideration to move on.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Checking the waters, June 2008: Hudson, MA

When I made a decision to stay in Ithaca, I stated I would take my cue from fisherman and check out the waters before casting my line. In a physical sense, there have been torrents of water raining from the heavens and cascading down the slopes. Apparently Ithaca is not the only place being drenched. Stories abound of global downpours and flooding. Using water as symbol of spirit, could mean we are experiencing inundation. I have found this area to be rich in contrast. This adds vitality to witnessing the play of opposing forces. Apparently a way of peace is found here, for vastly opposite belief systems coexist. For example, modern capitalists work side by side with communal socialists, evangelical Christians mingle with just as fervent atheists, and ivory tower intellectuals discourse with holders of down home wisdom.
I find the sharpness of disparity to my liking. A sizeable retirement community exists along side a huge college population. These two communities come together and interact. A considerable military family intersperses with folks who wage peace. All these dissimilar elements come together and their interplay creates wonderful theater for students of human nature. This lively community has steady sources of entertainment and the price of admission is cheap. Being human is the ticket and the line between performer and audience is naught. As a witness and recorder of human activity, this location provides me with ample opportunities to dabble in language arts. Others of my ilk welcome me into the local community. It feels good to receive feedback that offers encouragement to join in locally. I feel the pull to stay.
Another decision I hoped to mull over since leaving my place of work in February was whether to begin early retirement. I had previously thought I would stay fully employed until age seventy. I now am considering drawing Social Security this year. Since arriving , I have been introduced to a considerable network of volunteers. This offers a alternative way to engage in useful, caring, and essential work that does not involve a full time job commitment. There exists a community of folks who are trying to succeed in this alternative endeavor. I feel the pull to join in. I appreciate feedback that indicates I am a welcome and needed member of this set. The key word is supplemental income.
When I choose to stay here for a bit, I also stated, I would from time to time, glance at my feet to see if I was sprouting roots. Today, I will contemplate that aspect and report tomorrow.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Update: The Present, June, 2008: Ithaca, New York

It was exactly three months ago when I arrived in Ithaca. March 21 was Good Friday, and I strolled into town around 6:00 AM. The previous night I spent in my PT-RV on the shores of Lake Seneca outside Geneva in a howling storm. I used my onboard computer to access the internet and found a list of AA meetings for Ithaca. One was listed beginning at 7:15 AM. I figured the winds to be diminished indoors, so I sought shelter there. I parked on the street and got out to check if I was blocking a driveway. A neighbor, Butch came out of his house and asked, “You want to buy that house?” “I just got into town , but that’s quite a welcome”, I answered. “I am just looking for an AA meeting this morning,” I continued. Butch pointed up the street, “It’s just up there. You can park here,” he directed.
Two days later, I made a decision to stay around Ithaca and scope out the scene. I told my sister, I would take a cue from fishermen and spend time checking out the waters before deciding where to cast. I also stated I would occasionally glance down and notice if I was sprouting roots. This is a good place to observe waters both physically, spiritually and metaphorically. There seems to be constant flowing in many realms. It also seems fertile ground to sprout roots. Having spent the past three months in focused on taking observations, I hope to use the next few days in reflection.
It so happens that I will also be taking a short journey to Boston. I was coming from that direction when I made my decision to dwell here for a while. I plan to use my travel time to make reflections. The next few days gleanings will be recorded in this blog. I will suspend my regular writing assignment while I ponder making this area a more permanent settlement. I also appeal to any of my readers to respond. I appreciate feedback, while making what feels to be an important choice.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Food Stamps? Not this year. September, 1975: Gainesville, FL

I was successful so far this year in keeping to my goal of not taking a job. I had performed much work, but nothing I regarded as job commitment. There were enough resources available to provide food. Sometimes even enough would show up that I could provide for others less fortunate. Being on the road, meant, I did not have to come up with funds to provide for utilities, rent, mortgage, insurance, taxes or the like. Besides food, I was hooked on tobacco, so I did have small expenses. Food stamps were meant to aid low income residents who had a place to prepare food. They hardly ever crossed my path.
One time, someone had a large quantity reportedly stolen from Florida. They were being sold on the street in New Orleans. They did not seem to go to those in need since even being sold for half price, they required an investment to begin. Those like me who had to scrounge for a smoke, could not invest in half price food stamps. Besides they were illegal--not a good deal. Another time, In Wenatchee, Washington, a fellow obtained some while on the road. He qualified because he had a permanent residence and was only away from home seeking work. I tried once to get some in Alabama, but failed since I had no place to prepare food.
Now I was visiting Karl, and he encouraged me to get some, in order to help with food expenses.
Karl had just separated from the US Navy and he and Bonnie were beginning to settle in Florida. Besides providing for me they had two young kids to feed. They agreed to let me use kitchen facilities and that made me eligible to receive food stamps. I marched off to apply. I filled out the required paperwork. One question asked me my annual income. It did not provide room for explanation, so I just wrote $300. That seemed about right for income I stumbled across while focusing on not having a job. The young social worker, shook her head in disbelief. “ How do you live on this?” she asked.” Curtly, I replied, “ I just eat, sleep, breathe, pee, shit, fart, and sometimes fuck. It’s a simple life style.” She was intrigued but not amused. After consulting with her superior, she announced, “I’ll give you stamps this month, but before I can give you any next month, you need to explain how you get by on so little money.” I wasn’t sure I would be around next month, but agreed.
I took the book of stamps and went back to Karl and Bonnie’s trailer. I was supposed to keep separate food, but instead gave the stamps to Bonnie to assist with shopping. It probably more than made up for the food I used, since it was only shortly after that I felt the urge to move on. I never had to go back and explain to the nice young social worker how I managed without becoming beholden to the beast.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Earth Changes?: Not this year, December 1975: Milford, CT

As I traveled, I heard much talk of an apocalyptic nature. People with a Christian leanings pointed to prophecies that indicated our world would be overtaken by a worldly government of a beastly nature. There was talk that the beast’s henchman would roam around tattooing his mark on foreheads and hands. Many folks believed before receiving that mark they would be taken out of here by a heavenly rapture. There was talk of wars and rumors of wars, and cataclysmic theories abounded. Some folks believed that the earth axis would tilt, leaving the north in a tropical zone, while bringing deep freezes to the south. Being in the north with winter approaching, I hoped tropical plants would begin sprouting. By Christmas, it was evident no such event would take place this year.
Between Christmas and New Year’s Day I was staying in a beach cottage on Long Island Sound in Milford Connecticut. It was a summer cottage and not equipped for winter. An artic blast froze some pipes and I put my plumbing knowledge to work and fixed a repair. This reminded me of a year ago when I was preparing to begin my journey. Friends I was visiting in Niagara on the Lake, Ontario returned home to find their basement flooded by a water pipe broken in a cold snap. It seemed like it was going to be a repeat. The saving grace of the beach house was a large fireplace and abundant supply of firewood. My work consisted of making and attending the fire. I acted as thermostat for our only heating system. It was pleasant meditating on fire, but going out into cold icy weather to gather and chop wood became grueling. I was certain palm trees were not about to sprout that year along Connecticut shoreline.
Rolling Thunder review was touring the country, I turned down an offer to attend their concert in Toronto in November. Jennifer offered to provide a ticket for their date in New Haven in January, I did not like the thought of turning down an opportunity of hearing on of my favorite poets---Bob Dylan. A strong ice, sleet and snowstorm, the first week in January, cinched the deal. I would not stay up north waiting for palm trees to grow, but would return to Florida and see its native palms. So far, I did not evidence earth changes, nor notice any beings ascending to heaven in rapture states. I also missed anyone coming around with a tattoo machine. Maybe these events were unfolding, but I was not going to witness them in Artic weather. Turning down Jennifer’s offer I headed south beginning my second year on the road.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Missed Chances, It's allright, September 1975: Sarasota, FL

After being let off by Teresa, I decided to take up her invitation to visit on my way north. My brief visit to Grassy Key showed that place deserted in physical sense and also lacking that caring, sharing, and friendly spirit present six months earlier. I hurriedly left the Keys and headed to Sarasota. It was around dinner time when I arrived at Teresa’s home. As if she anticipated it, a sumptuous meal was ready. We enjoyed a meal then headed to Longboat Key Beach with a couple friends to enjoy a moonlight walk. I was tired when we returned home. Teresa showed me a guest room and offered a goodnight puff of pot.. A restful night was in order.
In the morning, As I walked by her room I was greeted by the sight of Teresa practicing yoga completely bare. I had no sense of sexual come on, just a totally uninhibited female expressing safely in her own home. I sat here and admired her elegant beauty. She finished, smiled , donned a robe and served breakfast. I was torn throughout the day by Teresa’s welcoming presentation and my sense of not wanting to stop my journey. It was obvious that I was more than welcome to make myself at home in Sarasota. It was not even an strange town as I attended school there twelve years. I took a walk through the downtown area I was familiar with ten years earlier. Having a homecoming in the company of a gorgeous woman was enticing. But I was having disconcerting feelings about abandoning my traveling goals.
I had not followed up on other opportunities, because of the call of the road. During this year I choose not to accompany Marshall to Vancouver Island, turned down an offers to spend a winter working a mine in British Columbia and stay at my parent’s house on Martha’s Vineyard. I was certain that any of these attempts to curtail my travels would not sustain , as the call of the road was powerful. As attractive as it seemed to settle in Sarasota, I was certain it would only lead to heart ache as I no doubt would feel the urge to resume travel. I made my decision to leave before another night. Early afternoon witnessed our embrace and farewell as I walked away humming Bob Dylan’s “Don’t think twice, it‘s all right.”


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

If it's Paradise, there must be an angel,September 1975: The Keys, FL

After several days living, working and playing on Bill and Melissa’s lobster boat, I felt the urge to head further down the Keys. I was given enough money for a pack of smokes. I had not seen any cannabis for awhile. Bill preferred alcohol and we would get some everyday after returning from fishing. I left first light in the morning while the roads were still empty. It was clear and I didn’t mind the walk, enjoying an early morning smoke. At the sound of an approaching car, I whirled around just in time to flag down a ride. A sedan rushed to a halt several feet past me. I broke into a run to get to my ride.
Opening the door and sitting down I was greeted by an incredibly beautiful angelic being. Teresa greeted me with a smile and the words, “I am so glad to see you. I wanted to get stoned with someone and you’re the first person I‘ve seen this morning. We drove all the way from Sarasota and I always like to get high just when the sun is rising.” We meant Teresa and her daughter Izzy, asleep in the back seat. I was dumbfounded, after several days on a fast I was blessed not only with an offer of sharing a joint, but the chance to be in the company of a radiant friendly woman. I felt the gods smiling. Teresa handed me a small baggie and rolling papers, asking, “Can you twist one up.” My reply was short, “I’d love too,” as I grabbed the baggie and performed my artistry.
Just as soon as we finished our smoke, Izzy awoke and joined us in the front seat. She had just finished climbing over and sitting between us when a police siren broke the peace. We were being pulled over. Teresa quickly handed the small baggie to Izzy and ordered,” Put this down in your panties honey, I ‘ll go take car of the Man.” Izzy obeyed just as a Trooper approached the door. It seemed Teresa had expired plates. She quickly rebounded and announced, “ I’ve got good plates in the back seat. I just haven’t had a chance to put them on yet.” She got out and they searched the back seat for her plates. Finding them, the young officer scolded her but then offered, “ I got a screwdriver in the car and I can put your plates on for you.” Teresa joined him behind her car and I sat with Izzy.
Shortly Teresa rejoined us and uttered with a sigh, “He was nice but still a pig. He wanted me to leave Izzy with you and go with him to a motel room. I’ve seen this before. Cops just pulling over young women and offering to let them go in exchange for sex. I’m glad you’re here, I don’t know if I could have resisted his threats if I was alone.” I guess it was fortunate for both of us to meet up. I enjoyed the company and agreed to spend the day with them going to Key West and becoming sightseers. At the end of a gorgeous day, Teresa announced she was headed back to Sarasota and offered me a ride. We climbed in the car and headed up the keys.
I was having trouble accepting my good fortune. So much so, that I thought with luck this good, some dark cloud must be approaching. I caved in to my negative thinking and asked to be let out near Grassy Key with the flimsiest of excuses, “I’ve got to visit some friends here.” Teresa pulled over, gave me a buss and offered her address if I should ever want to visit Sarasota. She pulled away as I stood there thinking, “What the Hell‘s the matter with me?, I should have stayed with them.” Just another day in Paradise.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Headed back to paradise, September, 1975: The Keys, FL

Having spent the summer traveling first to New England, then across Canada to British Columbia, I arrived back in Florida at the end of summer. I felt curious about what had become of the small beach community I had left he previous spring at Grassy Key, Florida. It felt much like paradise, but when I left was largely dismantled. I held hope that a small remnant remained. I left of the Keys to try and find it. It was late evening when I got to Islamorada and met up with Bill and Melissa. They offered to let me stay in a an abandoned Jeep Wagoneer that was not running. It offered all the amenities of a tent , but did not have to be pitched on a daily basis. Bill and Melissa lived on their lobster boat.
When their car broke down they barely had enough money to repair it. For the same amount they could purchase an old looter boat. The boat won hands down. It was idyllic. In the morning I would help Bill with minor maintenance work on the engine or hull. Melissa would prepare the gear for hauling lobster traps and diving. Before mid morning we would head out to harvest traps. On the way back we stopped at an old sunken freighter hulk. Here we would dive down and plant undersized lobsters to fatten up. It was almost our own farm. After removing a couple of lobster for our dinner, Bill would sell the rest at market. We seemed to garner enough money to buy gas for another days excursion, a few beers, some groceries and incidentals, and have enough left over to provide for the boat. I did not mind working of no pay expect food, lodging, and small amenities. It seemed a good wage.
The paradise I was seeking, may not exist where I left it, but it seemed to persist in small places like this where folks took care of each other, shared their resources and regarded the experience of being together ample reward for a days work. It seemed that side by side with a culture that felt cold hard and unyielding, existed one filled with caring, compassion, and love. Dotted about the landscape were small havens like the one Bill and Melissa provided, not just to me, but to anyone willing to stop by and join in the lending hand society.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Driving in Boston, November 1975: Boston, MA

Driving in Boston, November 1975: Boston, MA
Sue was kind enough to lend her car, so that I could take Natalie to visit her grandparents for Christmas. We drove straight thru from Toronto to Boston. I had never driven in Boston before. It was around 3:00 AM when I found myself on the elevated highway carrying I-93 through downtown. Lack of attention forced me off the road when I ended up in a lane that had to exit. Next thing I knew I was below the highway scrambling around deserted streets near city center.
I could see the elevated highway where I wanted to be but could find no way to get there. I circled around and could find no signs pointing to an entry ramp. Natalie was fast asleep on the seat next to me. She seemed not to care her dad was lost in Boston in the middle of night. I was concerned that I didn’t lose sight of the elevated roadway. As difficult as it was to navigate in a small area where I felt an entry ramp could not hide for long, I worried that should I wander farther away I may become like the character Charlie who couldn’t get off the MTA in the song by the Kingston Trio.
Finally I came across an open gas station. I pulled in and questioned the attendant. “I can see where I want to go, but I cannot find how to get there,” I said, pointing to the highway right above us. Without a pause, he pointed down the street and directed,” Go down to that traffic light where it says ‘NO LEFT TURN,’ make a left there and you’ll see the ramp on your left.” I thanked him and proceeded away perplexed. “Should I take advice to disobey traffic signs?,” I pondered. Getting to the traffic light I joined two other cars ahead of me waiting for a red light to change. For the length of the light I wondered could this be a setup to entrap out of town drivers. I imagined the cars surrounding me were perhaps undercover traffic cops. Maybe I had been on the road too long without a break.
Finally the waiting was over and the light changed. The first car in line immediately turned left against the rules. The second in line did the same. Having had two in front of me as examples, I suddenly found the courage to become a scofflaw and turned left. Sure enough, the ramp to the highway was there on my left. Making a quick turn, I ascended the ramp, made an escape, and became one of the many who take traffic rules in Boston with a grain of salt.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Separation bonus, February, 1975: New Orleans, LA

Settling matters with the US Army occurred with typical military efficiency. As soon as I showed up on base, I was driven to a barrack that housed others who similar to me had resisted the call to engage in war making. We were provided a place to stay while we were processed through procedural tasks. Two elements stood out. First, when I asked each fellow where he had spent the duration, the most common answer was, “I just went home.” I was surprised about the lack of tracking down other resistors. Secondly, I was overwhelmed by the numbers. According to a tally kept on a blackboard, at that point almost two hundred thousand people were processed through the amnesty program. This figure likely reflected, only those who were applying for readmittance and repatriation. No doubt countless others were not choosing the same course.
The last procedure we faced was filling out paperwork that would provide us with twenty five dollars gratuity pay and a plane ticket home. For many of us, home was indefinable. It was explained that their offer was to return each of us to the precise location where we entered service. For me, that was New York City and that most definitely was not home. At one point a sergeant produced a form that made a request for a travel voucher. He stated, “At the top write the location where you want to go.” Taking him at his word and not wanting to travel to New York, I wrote, “Hawaii.” After he gathered all the forms and left, he hurried back in and asked in a command voice. “Who is the asshole, who thinks he’s going to Hawaii?“ I quickly volunteered it was me. Calming down, he asked, “Where did you enter the service?” I answered truthfully, “New York.” He replied, “That’s where your going then,” and scratched out Hawaii and wrote in New York. It looked like I was headed to staying in northern winter.
Soon a busload of us were headed to Indianapolis airport with a vouchers and money in hand. Another fellow also had a ticket for New York and like me was not interested in traveling there. At the ticket counter we inquired whether we could exchange our vouchers for other destinations with like fares. We were told we could. Unfortunately, Hawaii was not even close in fare, but New Orleans was. Soon Chuck and I were boarding a jumbo jet for the sunny south. Chuck was in a celebratory mood and took advantage of the airlines complimentary booze. He drank up his allotment then requested and got mine. By the time we landed in New Orleans it was 7:00 AM and Chuck was well lit up. Our seating companion informed us it was the beginning of Mardi Gras and offered us a ride to the French Quarter, the focus of the celebrations. We accepted and soon we were let out at Jackson Square. Chuck wanted to go into the nearest bar and resume his intake of alcohol. I left to followed my own path. Later, I discovered I was carrying his portfolio of paperwork. The next several days proved fruitless in finding him. Luckily, his father’s address was inside and I forwarded the parcel to him.


Friday, June 13, 2008

Turning around, January 1975: Lexington, KY

Yesterday, I had briefly been stopped by State Police in Athens, TN. Then I spent the night camped perilously close to the brink in Chattanooga. A kindly FBI agent who sprung me from lockup suggested I report to Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis to settle my matters with the US Army. He suggested if I kept hitchhiking, I would constantly be hauled in and investigated for being a deserter. It would be advantageous to settle that matter and take advantage of President Ford’s amnesty call. Even though I was liking the warmer weather associated with heading south, I decided to be prudent and return back to wintry north. Heading back to the Interstate I ran into Ron who was also northbound. We seemed to have an instant bond and stood by the roadside wondering about our chances of getting a ride should we hitch together.
Before we could arrive at an answer a flatbed stake sided truck stopped for us. The driver pointed us to climb in the back. We joined several young folks huddled together to deflect the breezes springing up soon as we got under way. We joined in and found we were in the company of a Jesus community based in Chattanooga. They were openly friendly and invited us to come along with them. Today they were headed to a farm they owned and worked. Although they were pleasant, both Ron and I were heeding a different call. They arrived at their turn off rather soon and let us out with an invitation to return and join their community if ever we came back to that neighborhood. It seemed an enticing offer.
It took the rest of the day to get to Lexington, Kentucky. Here Ron introduced me to Sallie Ann. He learned the ropes in his travels and quite often availed himself of Salvation Army shelters for the homeless and suffering. I accompanied him and went through their registration process. The price of a warm meal and safe bed in which to sleep was an agreement to attend a prayer, lecture, worship session that lasted two hours after the meal. I could afford that so agreed to attend. I was put off by the feeling that there brand of salvation seemed to have a price--adherence to their program. It did not fit with my beliefs that salvation was a free gift, not a consumer product to be pushed at the unfortunate. Since I had paid my fees, I decided to spend the night and likely leave this life style to Ron.
They did provide a breakfast. I discussed with Ron, my feelings about Sallie’s program. He heartily agreed, but regarded pretending to go along with their program a cheap price for a meal and warm cot. In a material sense I agreed, but wondered what other unseen charges might occur. After breakfast the day program began. Men were ushered outside and admonished to go job seeking . They were not allowed admission to the shelter during the day. Mothers and homeless women, could stay inside and help with chores. Outside several men were milling about figuring where to head for the day. We were joined by a couple of woman who came outside to enjoy a smoke. One claimed to be an artist.
Melissa offered to sketch my portrait in a small pad I was carrying. It seemed a nice gesture and I agreed. Before she began, she stated that while concocting such work, she found it advantageous to hold a possession of mine while she rendered my features in pencil. The ruby ring I was wearing would suffice to serve this purpose. It took perhaps a half hour, to come up with a rudimentary likeness. While she worked, Melissa spilled out her story. Her two young children were inside. She managed to obtain a lengthy stay at this shelter and felt a permanent victim of life’s circumstances. There was hint that her solution would be to hook up with a man. There were plenty around, but no takers. I had nothing in the way of a solution for her. She managed to pry from me enough money to buy a pack of smokes. After she finished and handed back my sketchpad, she took leave and returned inside. I realized she still had my ring and I could not follow her inside to fetch it. I felt relieved the accursed thing had finally left me. I hoped it would not bring her harm. It did not feel worth hanging around to retrieve it, so internalizing a prayer for Melissa’s well being, I headed back to the highway toward Indianapolis.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

It's time to leave, December,1974: Niagara on the Lake, Ontario

I first planned to leave on December 1, 1974. I gave notice to the folks whose house I was restoring and offered to help them find a replacement. They cajoled quite a bit to get me to stay on longer. I acquiesced and agreed to extend my employment until the New Year. They continued to pry at me to extend even further. I was having trouble staying firm. On New Year’s Eve my monthly pay arrived and I hurried to the bank to cash it. Otherwise I would have no money to go out and celebrate the new year. I got to the bank just as thy locked the door. Customers inside were able to finish their business. No amount of pleading succeeded in gaining me entrance when a customer exited. I had to leave with my check still in hand.
I went back home dejected I would not be able to go out and party. I decided to spend the small change I had at a grocery store. It looked pretty dim when all I could do for New Years was buy a little stew meat for my ongoing simmering feast. Coming out of the store I met Rosie. She was quite young and after listening to my dilemma invited me to join a party with her friends. I jumped at the opportunity. We drove to Saint Catherine’s and joined with a bunch, younger than I by several years. It did not matter, they liked to welcome in the New Year with the same sort of revelry as I was accustomed. At the end of the evening I offered Rosie a ride home. On the way she disclosed her distress.
She had just that day come from Toronto where she underwent an abortion. She did not want to return to her boyfriend’s apartment. Apparently, they were not together on the decision to end their pregnancy. I offered to let her stay in the house I was working on until things cooled down. For a couple of days she rested there until her boyfriend came and retrieved her. I t seemed they would patch up their difficulties. As a token of gratitude, Rosie left me a large Ruby set in a silver ring. At the same time, the family employing me continued with their efforts to get me to change my mind and stay on. I had already moved into my truck,, but was having trouble completing the break. I told them I would go away for the weekend and have an answer upon my return.
Monday as I drove up, Neil, the family spokesman stood at the doorway. He asked me if I had any idea what went on here that weekend. I wasn’t there and had no idea. He informed me that when they arrived a young girl named Rose and her boyfriend Ron were in the house in the midst of conducting some sort of Satanic rituals. Dog feces was spread about the whole house and graffiti was scrawled everywhere. They had been taken away by the police. When first questioned, this young couple claimed I gave them permission to enter. The fact that they gained entrance by breaking the front door exonerated me. However, Neil finally announced that, “ It is probably best that we break our work relationship now.” I agreed, saddened by the circumstances that brought about our dissolution. He reiterated their offer to let me keep my stuff in their basement and invited me back after my travels were finished. He indicated, there may even be more work for me after the current fiasco settles. I thanked him and after checking that my belongings I was leaving behind were secure, I mounted my van and headed off to Kingston, Ontario to discern my direction. I felt a slight discomfort in the finger sporting a Ruby ring that had previously been Rosie’s.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

There goes my van: January 1975, Toronto, ON

In making preparations for my journey, I loaded all the gear I planned to take on my travels into my 1965 Chevy van. Though it was winter, I hoped to make it into a camper-work vehicle. On one side was a cot. Underneath it were two suitcases of clothing. A rather large wooden box carried an assortment of hand tools, I figured I would need in case the van broke down or I found small work. The possession I valued most was a stereo radio with a turntable along with over two hundred LP phonographs. This would only work on household current, so, I brought along a lengthy heavy duty extension cord. I hoped I would be able to find places to plug in. For entertainment, I carried a guitar, two flutes and a diminutive collection of books. Most of my larger possessions, I arranged to leave behind in the basement of the house in Niagara-on-the -Lake where I had been living and working.
It was still open where I would head first. Both west across Canada or south to the United States had appeal. Taking a cue from sailors, I felt a shakedown cruise was in order. All packed and ready to go, I first headed to Kingston, Ontario to visit Dennis and Jennifer. Natalie, who would shortly turn four, accompanied me. We visited for the weekend, then headed back to Toronto. Almost as soon as we pulled out a high pitched squeal erupted from the front wheels. A gas station confirmed the wheel bearing was shot and needed replacement. Having only enough funds for gas, I deferred replacing the bearing until we got back to Toronto. Along the way, the bearing whined and complained about its state. I was in constant worry that we may break down on the road, an auspicious beginning to my trip.
But it held, until we hit the driveway of friends, I also wanted to salute before leaving. Coming to a stop, the van lurched to one side as the wheel collapsed sideways. Inspection revealed a worn spindle ground away by the failed bearing . A twenty dollar repair escalated to a several hundred dollar major front end overhaul. Rick one of the people I was visiting accepted the carcass of my van in lieu of a small debt I owed. Now I had to whittle down my belongings to what I could carry. This pretty well determined my direction of travel. Without a vehicle, crossing the Canadian prairies in winter did not seem a good idea. Heading south meant warmth and going with the flow of traffic. After dispersing the contents of my intended traveling home and shop, I was left with a small pack, and many layers of clothing. I suppose most of my wardrobe was on my back, not in my pack. For utensils, I carried a small tin kettle, tin cup, and spoon. My only other possession was a silver ring set with a large ruby that Rose had cursed me with. After getting Natalie off to her mother, I headed south toward Niagara Falls.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Prologue. Spring, 1974: Toronto, ON

Before I began my journey, several months were spent in preparation. I shall digress here and relate this preparatory story. Events that unfolded during the spring and fall of 1974 shaped my vision and direction that I chose for this journey. It almost seems seeds were planted, gestated and gave birth to my need to go out, gather story and seek Truth. I was exposed to psychic phenomena that could be regarded as bordering on psychosis. I make no judgment but will relate them as I experienced it. Where the Truth lies, I make no claim, but will let that conclusion fall where it may. Much of this story is of a subjective nature. Intuition, and primal imprinting meshed with social and cultural programming provided a path through this unchartered territory. The soil these seeds were planted upon came from the turmoil and uncertainty that characterized the 1960’s.
During this period there sprouted germs that would develop into the Human Potential Movement. A bevy of groups spread throughout the world carrying the fruits that were developed in California primarily at Esalen and through EST (Erhard Seminars Training). Many of these groups explored realms of paranormal experience. I attended a workshop in Toronto during early spring, 1974 sponsored by PSI Mind Control. Techniques of relaxation, meditation and visualization were explored. It seemed powerful spiritual forces were being summoned to enter our physical world. I intuited a sense of caution when I realized these powers could fall into wrong hands and lead to evil ends. I felt we were bordering on culmination of ancient cultural myths. I uttered my first prayer. Sitting with this group I asked, “May I not use this experience to harm anyone nor derive personal gain. May I walk in the path of my Creator.”
When it was explained that the point of this work was to garner the ability to create the worlds of our desires, I felt much like facing the Tempter that Jesus faced after spending time in the desert. Even though it was stressed that we were to use this force for the good of mankind, it did mean that individually we could determine what was Good. It frightened me to realize that most abhorrent of our schemes spring from a desire to do good. I made a decision to distance myself personally from these forces. I neither regarded them as good or bad, just as something that was not for me. I sensed that we were perhaps on a brink that could lead to our unraveling. I gave myself the assignment to watch and observe.
The last experience I had with this group consisted of a group guided meditation. We were to individually visualize ourselves sitting in a pyramid structure meditating. As I sat there, I felt my consciousness travel upward and forward, I rushed over land that had been blackened by a fire storm. I followed over miles of devastated space and time. Finally, I traveled over a hill into a lush valley where a remnant of survivors were beginning anew. As the experience came to an end, many in the group shared experiencing a similar scene. Crying and sadness predominated. It was almost as if we knew, that tremendous pain would accompany such a birth. That theme carries with me and overshadows the landscapes I see. I am aware that idea also is woven throughout many cultural scriptural tales. As I travel about ,I run into that story as told in many languages. This is the backdrop against which I paint the picture of the world I perceive.


Monday, June 9, 2008

A free lunch?: July, 1975, Toronto, ON

Because I enjoyed landed immigrant status in Canada, there was never a question about my lack of funds when crossing the border. Usually, it was required that a visitor bring enough money to cover costs of intended stay before being allowed to enter. Since my status allowed me to seek employment, I could be admitted without having any money. Even though my goal was not to seek a job, that was not in question. I made my way across at my favorite border entry point. I walked across Rainbow Bridge, linking towns with identical names-- Niagara Falls. This was about six months after I began this journey crossing same bridge headed in the other direction. I headed to Toronto to have a brief visit with my wife and four year old daughter.
Sue and Natalie were living in a small apartment. Even though they were willing to let me share space with them, I preferred to manage outside on my own. This fulfilled my notion of not being encumbered by family constraints while I pursued a spiritual journey. What I was not able to garner was my blood relations were of equal status as children of God. I was grateful Sue allowed me to continue to enjoy time with my daughter though I was not able to commit to being with them full time. Natalie was in an combination day care and preschool, while Sue was attending to a university degree. For a while, I was able to be a part of Natalie’s care. I regularly helped at her daycare. There I was able to discover a source for nourishing food that came in quantity enough to share with other homeless folk. In parks next to schools after lunchtime, garbage cans are loaded with half full brown paper lunch bags. Upon inspection many contain a whole sandwich still wrapped with motherly love but untouched. Sometimes there would also be pieces of fruit or raw vegetables. Almost always a scrunched empty candy or snack wrapper was included.
I called on a friend nearby and we made an agreement that I could stay in his basement in exchange for converting it into a spare bedroom, recreation room and utility room. This was in keeping with my goal of not having a job commitment for this year. I was also able to comply with wishes of Canadian government that I not become a public charge while a guest in their country. This was an extraordinarily hot summer. Canada still reported temperatures in Fahrenheit. Many days in a row reached over a hundred. I was grateful to have space in a cool basement and access to Natalie’s time. In small ways I felt sadness that neither Natalie nor her mom could join my journey.

Note: Dear reader, the next part of this story although lived sequentially was recorded in this blog earlier, beginning on April 14. You may go back and pick up the log of the rest of this summer's journey.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

A close call?, July, 1975: Schenectady, NY

After spending the night camped in woods alongside the New York Thruway, I awoke to find there were over a dozen other travelers sharing that space with me. There was a bustle in the air as folks were gathering their gear to prepare for hitting the road. Obviously there would be a preponderance of hikers vying for rides. Besides, we would be joining the parade of folks headed to work making rush hour madness. These did not make for the best of conditions in which to be begging a ride. Most on the road at this hour were only going short distance to a job and they usually were in a rush to get to that place they would rather not be. Those of us in a rush to not get to a job not in control of this market. I decided to tarry around the camp site and leave last. My hope was that by the time I got ready to leave, many of the others would already been lifted away.
When I ventured out to the road way, I was greeted by the sight of probably more folks than shared our campsite stretched out along the roadside thumbing rides. Individually or in groups of two or three, it seemed no one had been successful in flagging down a lift. Custom was in such situation to walk to the end, placing yourself last in the long line of people headed away. Realizing you were last item on the shelf to be viewed did not promote a positive feeling that you could escape. Stories circulated that groups sometimes were stranded in obscure places for days. I could see why. Begging a ride while exhibiting a negative bearing was usually not a success. There were signs that attitude was descending here. Pessimistic remarks and disgruntled looks predominated. Not wanting to sink to that level, I just kept walking. The end of the line seemed a least a mile away from where it began. When I got there, stopping and thumb did not feel worthwhile. I continued walking. It was a good day for a hike.
It was quite awhile before a car pulled over unbidden. Jeff offered me a short ride to Schenectady. He also offered to provide me with a lunch. Seeing it was near noon and I had not even had a cup of coffee, I accepted his offer. On the way to his house, he disclosed he was a professor at a nearby university. He claimed he was in the midst of a research project on human sexuality. He made it sound intellectually interesting. After preparing a meal he let on his other motive. He wanted to have sex with me. So, “this is the nature of his studies.” I thought. I was not interested in having sex with a man, but, I was curious about how he would make his approach. I had nothing to compare it with except the female approach. As it turned out,, he was more direct, He exposed his huge erection. That did nothing for me. I felt a tinge of concern that I may be trapped.
I have no experience in retreating in such situations. My exposure to wild animals, taught me to not show fear. Somehow, I was able to extricate myself from this uncomfortable situation and ask to be permitted to get back to my journey. Jeff readily agreed to give me a lift back to the highway. He also acted hurt I had not accepted his offer. He made comment that indicated he was certain I was missing a good thing. It took little time to gather together and hit the road. After being let off, I pondered the vulnerability of people who choose a vagabond lifestyle. I also felt gratitude I did not become a statistic of homicidal predatory behaviors. I began to realize there may be some force hovering over me offering protection though I walk through the valley of shadows.


Saturday, June 7, 2008

Reflections on the journey. July, 1975: Albany, NY

As soon as I exited the ferry boat, I captured a ride directly from Woods Hole Massachusetts to Fort Lee New Jersey. A couple of weeks ago traveling in the other direction , I was deposited on the other side of George Washington Bridge. This side was the same: there was no good place to position my self to thumb a ride. In both cases the solution was to walk away. This time, I headed up the west bank of the Hudson. Quickly I found a foot path that follows the upper edge of palisades overlooking New York City and Westchester. It was a good day for a hike and breaking in my sneakers. Additionally, the incredible vistas provided sitting places to ponder this journey from different vantages. Maybe it was the air, or maybe the heights but it seemed a good setting to mull over the spiritual dimensions of my pilgrimage.
I made a decision to begin this journey with no notions of what I would find. I believed I was open to gathering stories whatever they may be. At the time of leaving, I carried two volumes with me. I can only guess why I choose them, but my tome companions were “ King James Bible” and “Wisdom of Insecurity” by Alan Watts. So I guess, I was not only peering at physical realms but also those of a spiritual nature. It is likely that by traveling lightly, I could have better access to where these kingdoms meshed. Traveling in the physical sphere provides allegory for roaming in other worlds. Both journeys provide forks in the road where decisions concerning which way to proceed must be made. Today’s reflection revolves around our spiritual relationship in family. Having just visited my family of origin, I was headed to another family--my wife and four year old daughter. I was leaving them both behind while conducting this search.
I was aware of Jesus’ message asking that we leave our families to follow him. Another of his statements admonished that if we could not leave our parents, siblings, and other family behind, we could not be worthy of the Kingdom. I was not certain of the meaning of this but was willing to turn from my blood relations to commence this journey. These are not straightforward or clear choices to make. For instance how far away from my family must I separate. At this time, there seemed a preponderance of spiritual communities vying for individual’s allegiance. Many of these also demanded that members separate from their families of origin. This brought into play another aspect of combining spiritual and material worlds. The main selling point of spiritual groups of people was that by joining, all material needs would be provided.
All that was asked was turn your back on this world and all this world could be regained. I remembered Jesus meeting the Tempter who offered him all that he could see if he but swore allegiance. Jesus famous response, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” I could not detect much difference with today’s groups offering all the desires of my heart should I swear loyalty to them. Some even used the Jesus name for their associations. But there were others, ranging from followers of Sun Myung Moon to cults whose leaders used the name of Christ. There were others whose leaders adopted the title Guru, Rinpoche or others of Eastern origin that denoted ascendancy above mere mortals. All these groups seemed to demand a commitment to their leader. By so doing, even to those using God’s names, I felt like I was being asked to have other god’s before Thee. These were the depth and breadth of my ponderings while I meandered and sat along the cliffs heading north from New York City. I preferred to rely upon Jesus’ message advising when we are presented with an offer to go somewhere to find him, “[sic] Do not go, that is where false prophets dwell.”
Having spent the larger portion of the day with these musings, I felt the urge to continue my travels. Getting to the New York Thruway , I joined company with another traveler. Andrew was on the road also. He traveled even lighter than I did, his only possession a worn bible. Andrew was adopting the task of following the teaching to take nothing for our journey, but to trust that he would be provided for. The refreshing thing about Andrew was he was not trying to sell me anything or get me to follow him. He was only on his journey following the guidance and beliefs that he held individually. It was after midnight when we were let off at the intersection of the New York Thruway with the Northway Extension. It was mild, dark and quit. I left Andrew and walked over a rise and found a large contingent of travelers gathered round a campfire, settling in for the evening. They offered to share with me some light fare and a place to rest. They did not demand my faithfulness or submission to a person or belief system. I choose to camp there for the night.


Friday, June 6, 2008

A homecoming respite. June, 1975: Vineyard Haven, MA

I was now intent upon calling on my parents who had moved to Martha’s Vineyard, while I was living in Canada. I had not visited there. On the way, I stopped to see some folks I met early in this journey at Grassy Key, Florida. They were part of a special time when it seemed Paradise was upon us. They left before it got dismantled. I was interested in stopping for a visit and make out if any remnants survived. Jennifer had given me her address. It was right on my path, so I dropped by for a stopover. The only resemblance to Grassy Key and her home, Woodmont on the Sound, Conneticutt was they both had beaches. Except for the small area surrounding her house little of the spirit of sharing and caring for one another was present. But enough of a remnant clung to us, that I perceived a sense we would not only survive but thrive.
By now, I was light on possessions, be it money or medicine. I had long ago used up mushrooms I carried from Florida. I had no way of knowing that between my parent’s house and I lay a ferry boat. I also did not realize that the ferryman would require paid fare before I could gain passage. One of Jennifer’s neighbors wandered over looking for some help moving house. Terry and I volunteered and after spending about a half a day loading a moving van were rewarded with some small cash. Terry found a way to turn some of our booty into cannabis which we shared. I was able to head off toward the ferry with resources to pay the ferryman and a small taste of pot should anyone need it.
It was late afternoon when I walked up to my parent’s house. Draped over the deck railing was a banner proclaiming, “Welcome Home Rob.” By its worn expression and saggy look, it had likely been hanging a long while awaiting my return. It was possible my mom did not realize the slow pace of my journey and hoped I would come over as soon as I returned to this country. This was one of the many adjustments we had to make over the next week or so while I took a light break from my pilgrimage. Both parents were not expecting their son to show up barefooted, broke, homeless, and with no intention to change that affectation. My dad quickly laid down his rule. “You can stay three weeks, by then you need to get a haircut and a job,” he said. Mom colluded; she was just glad to see me.
I intuited that a discussion about my goal to not have a job would be fruitless. I also decided to not waste my time trying to convince him to give up his. We were on different beams and that was OK. The haircut was not important, but since I was probably going to get the boot because of my lack of job stance, I decided to hold on to my ponytail. In the brief time sojourning on Martha’s Vineyard I found none of the spirit I was seeking. Instead of that sharing caring atmosphere was one that felt like a band of service workers awaiting the landing of wealthy hoards that could be relieved of their money. There was a feeling of Robin Hood in the air, but not one that would care for the stranger. I felt I would not be staying the full term of my Dad’s ultimatum. Shortly before I left, my dad offered me a pair of old sneakers to replace my bare feet. I took the sneakers and left my bare feet for my next visit. My mom handed me a ticket to give the ferryman and another to be used for a return. I headed toward the setting sun.


Thursday, June 5, 2008

Barefoot in the City. June, 1975: New York, NY

I left Wayne in Baltimore and continued on my way to New England. The Interstate corridor between Baltimore-Washington and New York City is perhaps the most difficult to traverse as a hitchhiker. Patrols are most vigilant sweeping pedestrians off the roadway. Ramps and rest stops are the only areas that being out of a vehicle is permitted. Even bicycles are not permitted to enter the highway system. Yesterday’s travel covering a couple hundred miles in only a few hours was to be balanced out by prolonged periods of waiting off the roadway trying to entice someone to give me a lift. It was especially difficult to thumb before a toll booth leading to a highway that split in different directions. Then if someone did take a chance and stop for me, they may not even be going in my direction. I had yet to invent a sign that disclosed my direction to those available to give rides.
Trudging along with these impediments, it took most of the day to cover the two hundred miles to New York. When I got there, I was let out right after crossing the George Washington Bridge. Here the highway was a conglomeration of ramps, tunnels, no curbs or breakdown lanes where I could try to catch a ride. So I found myself in far upper Manhattan with no way to get out. I knew the transit system could get me across to the other side of the Bronx where the New England Thruway commenced. Experience taught me that once on that highway hitching conditions were vastly improved. My dilemma was I did not have enough carfare to take public transportation for more than one ride. Getting across upper Manhattan and Bronx would require multiple fares. I remembered that a single fare subway left from Times Square to the far reaches of East Bronx, quite near a highway ramp to New England. The solution required I hike to Times Square.
I reckoned I was on an island and as long as I did not cross any bodies of water, I would stay on that island. I also knew that Times Square was several miles to my south. I was currently near 177th street and my destination was near 42nd Street. So long, as I kept following declining street numbers and did not cross any rivers, I would reach Midtown. Then it would only be a short hike to Times Square, just about midway between the shores of two rivers that bounded Manhattan. What I had not figured was hiking barefoot, carrying a small bundle was immensely different going through the rubble strewn streets of New York than the damp mountains of West Virginia. But again I was embraced and carried through as a result of human kindness.
As I picked my way downtown, it was glaringly noticeable that uniformed officers largely ignored me. It wasn’t because I was so well camouflaged that I was not noticeable. A long haired white boy, carrying a bedroll, would not hide well in this environment. I figured they likely had enough tasks at hand and were quite willing to leave me to the fates. My attire also attracted good attention. Several times an elderly black man sitting on his stoop would motion or call me over. My hike was punctuated by small conversations with these block mayors. They showed interest in my journeys and likely were performing watch duties for their streets. More than once I was offered a swig of wine. I welcomed these breaks because it turned out that New York streets can prove perilous to bare feet. This whole walk felt less threatening than my hikes on clean rain washed roads in the mountain a few days ago.
Finally, I arrived at Times Square Station and used my last funds to get a subway ride to the far end of Buckner Boulevard, Bronx. From here was a short hike to an area next to where New England thruway commences. It also provided a sizeable space where I could spread out my bedroll and rest my weary feet. Being late evening, this became my campground for the night.


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

That was quick. June, 1975: Baltimore, MD

I awoke to a world that was at least as damp as the one I put to bed. But it was a warm wetness. It probably wouldn’t be uncomfortable walking in the hills barefooted. It was not only the steady drizzle that made me feel like it’s time to head out of the mountains toward the coast. I was feeling the urge to visit my folks and I felt more trips to a bootlegger might slow me down considerably. Brenda finished her gracious hospitality with bacon, grits, biscuits, gravy and coffee. She let me help clean up after myself and wished me well as I walked away on slick roads. It was not a long hike before I was scooped up by Mark and Paul. They were headed to Logan and spent the whole trip sharing their angry story.
Both were Viet Nam veterans and claimed they only wished some Vietnamese would move nearby. They stated a desire to murder any that they could find. If only they lived near Galveston Texas they would have that chance. Some Army buddies of theirs told them plenty of Vietnamese were now fishing Gulf waters. On the way we stopped at their shop tool shed. There Mark fished out a revolver from his toolbox. He proudly displayed the tool he would use to eliminate any Vietnamese who ventured into his hometown. He told me, “It don’t matter, all them gooks are Viet Cong. I’ll kill them over here just like I did over there.” What could I say, “Nothing.” I wondered why this display and why me. But in my travels it was not uncommon for males to want to show off their weapons. It seemed to have psycho-sexual overtones. Or were they just trying to rattle my pacifist nature? Besides having a stated intent to engage in homicide, both Mark and Paul were pleasant folks and they did give ride to a stranger. Next they offered me a ride downtown so I could see Logan’s Farmer’s Market. Mark assured me there would be an array of fresh goods to eat.
I was dropped off amidst the bustle of Saturday morning Market that seemed to leak over onto side streets from Main and Stratton streets. Mark was correct; there was an abundance of fresh picked and baked goods to choose from. My only problem was I had no cash. Farmer’s Markets seem to not be good places to beg or panhandle and most vendors looked like they had enough hands. So not having opportunity to eat, I walked out of town hoping to get a ride out of the mountains. Wow, did I get one. I climbed into the backseat of a late model Thunderbird.
My driver was Cheryl, her boyfriend, Wayne rode shotgun. Cheryl gunned the engine and we were off to Baltimore. She drove much like the ride I got yesterday morning--too fast for conditions and occasionally drifting across the center line. The only difference was yesterday’s driver was a local and knew the roads. Cheryl looked much younger and learned to drive in Baltimore. In between gasps for air, I got her story. Her aunt had left this car and Cheryl just the day previous passed her road test and obtained her license to operate. I do not know how. I tired minor interventions like, “ Did they teach you to drive this fast.” She would only nod her head and say, “ Yup.” Wayne, seemed to agree and wore the look that trying to change her would be of no avail. I just held on. It took less than forty five minutes to cover the forty five or so miles until we hit the Interstate. We shot up the ramp then Cheryl brought the Thunderbird up to speed. We had a short run south on I-77 before we could head north on I-81. At no time did we travel less that 100 MPH. Traffic was light, so Cheryl would just zoom around or weave through it. Even though it was unnerving for both Wayne and I, Cheryl did handle the car expertly. Perhaps there was some NASCAR genes in her pool.
We were able to almost eclipse Virginia before one of her finest pulled us to the side of the road. A State Trooper approached the driver’s window and Cheryl piped, “ Did I do something wrong, Officer?” She acted demure but there was an honesty in her question and perhaps she thought her driving normal. The Officer was decent and explained patiently the meaning of speed limit signs. He offered her a ticket and informed her since Maryland and Virginia had reciprocal agreements, he would not have to haul us to jail. She could pay her fine through the mail unless she wanted to contest it . He also offered it would not be not be worthwhile to argue a 110 MPH speeding ticket. We proceeded onward to Baltimore at just slightly above the speed limit. When we got home, Wayne offered me a place to stay at his mother’s house. He also try to convince me to get a job and stay around. Perhaps he liked the way I didn’t try to handle Cheryl.


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Barefoot in the hills. June, 1975: Williamson, WV

I awoke early, before any traffic was moving. I was feeling a little foggy getting over the effects of helping Larry get rid of all his beers yesterday. Just as I approached the highway a fast moving car screeched to a halt a few yards away. I hurried over and climbed aboard. Shirley gunned her engine and we took off quickly getting back to speed. Her fast driving forced her to drift to the other side of the road going through curves. I remember seeing many coal trucks on the road yesterday and wondered how we would manage should one appear in our path today. When I put this idea to Shirley she had a quick answer, “I head this way every morning on my way to work. No coal drivers are working yet. Believe me honey, I serve them coffee before they start.” She was charged with opening a diner and making sure hot coffee was ready when the doors opened.
It seemed we traveled long and far before we spun into a parking lot and slammed to a halt right in front of the kitchen door. Shirley offered me cold cereal and a taste of fresh coffee. She was my fast moving road angel for the day. Shortly several coal trucks parked, their drivers came inside and got breakfast before going out and hauling their loads over roads Shirley blazed. I left determined to get to West Virginia. It would take nearly all day to cover those few miles. My fast start slowed down. Though it was not raining, a solid mist permeated the air and thick dew covered everything, making for a damp hike. Wanting to preserve my sandals from getting soaked, I removed them and proceeded onward barefooted. Although soggy it was comfortably warm. It was probably afternoon before I caught a ride. Eric was heading into town to his bootlegger. I would get to see the urban way of plying that trade.
We pulled into a gas station that seemed to have a thriving business. The pump jockey came and took our order. In the few moments it took to fill it, several other vehicles came and went, none getting any gas. This bootlegger seemed to conduct only drive in service. Eric purchased a bottle of whiskey and offered to take me to the other side of town before returning back from where we came. On the way, Eric made his pitch. He claimed to be a retired career Marine drill instructor. He revealed he liked that work because of his attraction to men. He had that same attraction toward me. I reflected back to several months previous when I was traveling south through West Virginia when a late night driver offered a ride in exchange for a sexual encounter. Here I already had the ride but the offer was on the table. Eric wanted to give me oral sex. I decided to let him try. He was quick and professional. I closed my eyes and thought of women. We quickly got finished and Eric let me go on my way. He seemed satisfied with our encounter. It did not leave me with a feeling of wanting to seek that type of sex again.
I resumed by barefoot journey on dampened roads. After school was out a carload of boys offered me a lift across the border into West Virginia. We climbed a hill and they let me out in front of a field full of rusty coal hauling equipment. They quickly headed off while I looked over the gear for any that might be large enough to offer me shelter from the damp and a place to lay down my bedroll. It was then I realized my sandals were not with me. I had left then with the carload of teenage boys. I wondered what lay ahead. Today’s journey had been a long strange trip but did not cover many miles. Two blond headed young girls approached me from across the road. They looked to be sisters if not twins. One chimed. “Our mama sent us over to get you. She wants to know if you need something to eat.” When I nodded, “Yes,” she sweetly commanded, “Come with us.” I followed them over to meet mama.
Brenda was straight forward and it did not seem I would get away without at least a meal. She did not explain herself but made it clear, I could get a meal and showed me a couch on the open porch that overlooked a creek running behind her house. “That’s where you can sleep. I saw you looking over those trucks. You don’t want to get caught over there. I got plenty of kids to help with chores, so don’t expect you have to do any dishes or anything else. You just eat some my chicken and taters, then get your rest. You look like you could use it.” She made it sound like I could not refuse. I did not. After a fine meal I enjoyed telling stories to some of the kids. I was not sure there were even all hers. There was no television only music, talk and laughter we made. Before going to sleep I noticed the effects of swollen creek. The limbs of trees held much debris and personal articles that most likely came from far upstream. I was amazed at the combination of simple poverty, open friendliness, and charitable spirit comfortably squatting next to a creek that could rise and wash it all away.


Monday, June 2, 2008

Riding on the edge. May, 1975: Cumberland, KY

I broke camp with Jack and Jill early, before sunrise. Since we were headed in different directions, we bid our farewells. I got a lift with a park ranger who deposited me on the highway outside the park. Before I got out he warned me, “I cannot see why you would hitchhike through here. This place is worse than Redneck Alabama. It’s like Bible Belt mixed with Devil’s Belt.” I did not ask him where he was from, but thanked him for the lift and got out. I was not concerned but figured to be wary. I enjoyed a lengthy walk before Earl stopped and offered me a ride. He was going to the bootlegger’s and did not mind showing me where that was. I suppose I did not look like a revenue agent. We followed a dirt road quite away uphill. Occasionally, it would offer an incredible vista of the surrounding area. Earl was quite proud of his home and often would stop so he could point out landmarks and we could soak in the scenery.
Finally we managed our way to the peak. At the top a solitary ranch style house sat in a field with a commanding view in all directions. A driveway circled the house. We followed it around back. There the driveway went right next to the house and up to a window that sported a built in counter. It looked much like any fast food drive in establishment. Once we pulled up, I could see inside was a large room filled with refrigerators and coolers. A man there quickly filled Earl’s order for a case of beer. I was surprised that even bootleggers offered modern conveniences like drive thru service. We pulled away just like normal shoppers leaving a legal mart. Earl offered me no beer, maybe since it was still morning. We slowly descended the same road we followed up and I was let off at the highway as Earl made hi way back in the other direction. With not much traffic, it felt like a good time to have a hike.
Sometime later I ran into Larry. He did not have a car but approached me on foot. He quickly made an offer to come to his house and have a beer. As he explained, “I got some beers to drink, but I’m all alone sitting in my basement, and that’s no fun. So if you want, I got a case and you can have a few and we can listen to music.” A few beers in a cool basement on a day that was getting too warm for much more enjoyable walking seemed like a nice idea. Since Larry seemed harmless, I accepted. We spent a good part of the afternoon sucking in dingy air and dank beer. It was obvious Larry had a considerable head start on me in consuming beer. It also was apparent that he spent much time in this activity and probably was depressed. I got to listen to quite a litany of complaints about the negative life style he had. As his guest, I just listened. Then he relayed a disturbing piece of information that perhaps answered why I was invited to share in his gloom.
Larry had lifted a case of beer that belonged to his uncle. It was hidden and kept cold in the creek behind the house. In dry counties where bootleggers are in business, cold creeks often act as refrigerators. The problem was that his uncle was due to return today. Larry feared that if his uncle came home and found his beer gone, he would be irate. And, if he found evidence Larry was culprit, he may turn homicidal. Larry needed help getting rid of the evidence. Luckily, since Larry began his crime the previous day, we did not have much work to do to dispose of the rest. Quickly we finished our task, got rid of the empties and walked up to a roadside café for a hamburger. While waiting around a buddy of Larry’s summoned him, “Come here Larry, I want to show you my new revolver and show you how it works.” Larry turned down the request. It was reiterated, “Come on, you’re going die some day and I only want to help you get where your going. It’s only the Christian thing to do.” It may have sounded funny, but contained a veiled threat that I would not accept either.
We returned to Larry’s and he settled in for a night of watching television. I did not like the taste of our encounter at the café, and the threat of an irate uncle appearing, made me feel like continuing my hike. Larry seemed sad, I would not stay for the evening. Larry seemed sad anyway, so I stuck with my plan to leave. It was only a short walk out of town to a nice field that offered peaceful; sleeping accommodations once I unfurled my bedroll.


Sunday, June 1, 2008

Continuing to catch up on this journey. June, 2008: Allentown, PA

Last night, I stayed with a friend, Wilson, in Allentown. I visited here and posted a journal entry on February 15. Coming back provides opportunity to reflect on this journey and obtain bearings. I just read the journal entry I posted then. At that point, I was just beginning to go forth not sure where I was headed. Part of the entry for that day states, “During our life span we are endlessly choosing a route, engaging, disengaging, losing our way, pausing, reflecting, changing course, and finding new beginnings, all the while praying and hoping we are not met head on with disaster.” That pretty well sums up my past 4 months. Last night I was heading this way, driving in drenching rain and thunderstorms. I certainly was praying and hoping, I would not meet disaster. I was also slightly lost because I was approaching Allentown at least fifty miles north of where I expected to be. Consequently, I was driving in the dark over unfamiliar roads at a much slower pace than is normally comfortable.
I did arrive safely and was warmly welcomed. It seems appropriate that Providence gets me here at a time when I am choosing to reflect on my journey and its significance. When last here, my journal posting alluded to the allegorical and metaphorical nature of my travels. When I left, I did not have certain heading, but a sense, I would eventually get to Ithaca New York. I also stated my goal was to not take a job but work with the purpose of developing a habit of writing on a daily basis. It took over a month to land in Ithaca. I have been successful at not landing a job, but have worked steadily to keep up with my scribing goal. Posting these gleanings and having contact with several readers who have been with me on this journey provides a means of accountability. It seems though, I may have landed a job--I seem to have fulfilled a long term goal to be a writer. That mostly certainly connotes an occupation. The job description is just so unfamiliar, it crept up on me that I may have joined that circle of authors. Writers dominate the crowd I merged into as I settled into residence in Ithaca. I feel small confirmation that, have arrived at a destination I began heading to over thirty years ago.
If this journey indeed circles back to the time, when choices I made are being fulfilled, then the potential for much greater significance exists. I get the sense that paths seem to have a way of unfolding once we pick a destination. Often on the way, we may lose track of where we are headed, but nevertheless proceed onward based on our initial footstep. I remember, as I commenced viewing life’s journey as Spiritual Path over thirty five years ago, hearing the phrase, “The longest journey begins with a single step.” Encompassing my passage in an expansive time frame, reduces many of my choices and goals into minor supporting roles. In the moment, almost anything can take on the appearance of major consequence, when in fact it may be only a diminutive particle of small impact. I hope this can give me the perspective that whenever, I experience “Carpe Diem,” I do not let it overwhelm me.
With this in mind, I choose to continue my daily writing, and view all other projects as support of that goal. My hope is that this task becomes habit and requires less sustained effort. Then, I hope to expand my writings beyond what I post on a daily basis. Perhaps in a slight way, I feel less need to have occupation as essence of my self. I recognize my goals but they no longer provide my identity. I guess I will just continue writing and see want happens. I also remember an artist’s lesson about separating our art from its outcome. With all this in mind, I will head out today to visit another writer friend who tomorrow undergoes bypass surgery. If this post seems a little rambling, I reserve to right to edit it in the future.


Blog Archive

About Me, Part One

My photo
Rock Balancing: The Beginning. What began as a journal of my travels took a hiatus when I began to settle in Ithaca NY. In the meantime, I took up the practice of setting rocks to balance. I returned to my blog to begin recording this story

Part, The second

On Easter Sunday Morning, 2008, I made a decision to settle in the Ithaca New York area. At the same time, I decided to continue to post my blog, However, the stories now will come from the archive stored internally. These will be the stories I gathered while on previous journeys and never entrusted to paper. The date of each posting will not reflect the date of the story being related but will mark the date that narrative got inscribed.

Carry wood

Carry wood
33 years later

Part: The third

I took a brief hiatus from my daily blog writing. I did not know the direction it would take. part of me thought I would abandon it. It turns out I missed it. The old title "On the Road Again' is no longer apt. It appears I am settling. The travel stories will age to a point, when I will probably resusitiate them and do something with them. I dusted off some old stories and begin this new series.
Thr first is one was written two years ago. I edited it and begin again a series that is more apropos to someone settling in upper New York State. They are meant to warm, amuse, educate and sometimes inflame.