Saturday, August 2, 2008

Negative Mohican

In the 70s my friends and I hitch hiked everywhere. When we were 14 or 15 Dom, Kent and I decided we’d go on a camping trip. We had no idea how to prepare for such a trip. We didn’t care.

Very early one morning we threw a little food and blankets into a back pack, ate a hit of STP, and left my Soulard apartment. We didn’t have a cent on us. Dom and I actually hitched to New York like this.

I’m not sure where we got the STP but it had been described as a “Businessman’s hallucinogen.” You tripped for 4 hours, then back to business. I remember a mild speedy effect but it didn’t matter we were tripping on youth.

Jethro Tull’s “Passion Play” had been out less than a week but we already knew it by heart. Every experience along the way was a scene from the album. Our first stop was Washington State Park and its main dirt road was the “Fulham Road.”

From the top of a hill we could see a perfectly cut path through trees. I think they were going to put up poles for some king of wires. We called it the negative Mohican. We laugh about it to this day. I guess you had to be there.

Our first night we found a sand bar in the middle of the river and slept under the stars. In the middle of the night we awoke to strange noises all around us. In silhouette, against the backdrop of glowing embers from our fire, we could make out a raccoon. One of us shined a flashlight into the dark. We were surrounded by hundreds of them. One of them was carrying our backpack. We ran up to it and it dropped our food only to grab it again. We threw rocks but the raccoons weren’t intimidated by anything. In desperation we lit rolls of toilet paper on fire and lobbed it at them. The next morning we inspected the damage and took inventory. We had a can opener and one can of peas left. We hit the road.

We made it to Elephant Rock Park and then the Johnson Shut Ins. I’m not sure how long we were there but at some point we decided we were starving. The three of us shared the can of peas.

I’ve been trying to remember for years where it was that we were picked up by a moon shiner from Arkansas. Dom says he wasn’t with me but I think it was our return from this trip. I think Dom was sleeping.

I had to throw this post together quickly because my son Dylan and I are leaving for a camping trip of our own. I didn’t tell him we were retracing the steps of that previous trip. Now I have all the latest gear and lots of camping trips under my belt. I wonder if he’ll ever suffer through his own learning experiences without the impediment of adult supervision

Photos are a very young Dominic and a camping trip with my kids.


...Sharon said...

I certainly hope you two took more than a can of peas.

As far as his own adventures... he's bound to have his share - you just won't know about them until years later . That is, if he does them well.

My folks never knew of mine and now with my only child living in NYC - I don't want to hear of hers. With all I've done, raising my child has and still scares me more than anything. It's also the best thing in my life.

Doggie said...

Dylan and I hit all the stops of my youth on our trip-- and more. Dom, Kent and I had more food until the raccoons took it all. I don't think they could negotiate the can opener.

Valerie Pennington said...

Ah, I know that tent well . . .

dominic schaeffer said...

what an awesome pic! Matt, Marge or Roy, y'know?

that was a very fun trip- i remember thinking "negative mohawk" didn't sound right so Mohican came out- and we three thought it was hilarious! (i still do!)

at first i thought the return trip was with the Otto (simpson bus driver) looking dude in the gren/white 57 chevy with the KADI sticker on the side that had the blown head gasket and was certainly gonna break down before we got home, billowing smoke behind us all the way to Lemay Ferry and 21. But i think Don Belk was with us and his then girlfriend Betsy Punch.

were you there?

have you checked out Elsewhere? it's far more morose than My St. Louis but maybe worth a read.

Doggie said...

I took the photo. Logos don't you know? I do remember the guy you're talking about and I'll check out the blog.

Anonymous said...

Dom, you talkin' about the Gary Sullivan blog?

dominic schaeffer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dominic schaeffer said...

naw this one-