DAY OFF TODAY
DAY OFF TODAY
Well all my days lately are days off but what I meant is I don’t “feel” like writing even though I am typing in a frenzy now. Bad night, short night, worry night. Millions of thoughts as usual but even more scrambled than usual therefore the need to stay away if not from writing from the blog for fear of boring others if not anything else and sounding much too much like my usual jigsaw patchwork on the spin cycle in the machine.
Thoughts: Parkinson? Tom Waits? Kerouac? Dream state changing recently well since August at least to pinpoint. Drinking habits changing drastically as well that at least since March if not before.
Wondering which one came first, the chicken or the egg? I was told it was the egg lately but who knows? By that I mean that I seem to drink more since I found out I was bipolar and also since I listen obsessively to Tom Waits and read about Kerouac and Bukowski etc. Cause or effect? Or vice versa?
“My manners, abominable at times, can be sweet. As I grew older I became a drunk. Why? Because I like ecstasy of the mind. I'm a wretch. But I love, love.” Jack Kerouac
Am I copying him, Emulating him, or just “soulmating” and agreeing with him? Walking down the same road pardon the pun. In fact I realize I walked his road years ago. Just started reading on the road barely 20 pages in and I am in awe as I thought I was the only fool on this planet. But right off the beginning it is so obvious that he was a full fledge bipolar from a young age.
If I look at his map there he seemed to have thumbed a bit more miles but stop much earlier, glory and money I suppose making life and travelling easier. But I covered at least or almost the distance of the circumference of the planet before 45 since then I went “around” it 4 or 5 times.
From a very young age many 400 miles round trip to Quebec City, thumb my way there, bummed the money to buy a Popeye Burger (way before Mc Donald’s time in Canada) and if it wasn’t too late thumbed my way back or sleep in a cemetery to wait for daylight. Oh yeah slept voluntarily in a jail once for a whole 3 hours, small bed and toilet until they unlocked me at 7 AM.
Then there was a trip to Gaspe and back with vivid memories also more than 30 years ago but as clear as if it was yesterday. Visions of me clinging to a stranger on a motorbike riding 100 miles an hour again watching the road pass under me as fast as the film of my life and so bloody thankful when he let me off 25 miles further. Then at night, really dark gravel road sitting high up in one of those big rigs and all of a sudden as another truck goes by at full speed I heard a loud bang that really scared me. A fair size pebble (little smaller than a golf ball maybe) went right through the windshield, hit the back of the cab very loudly barely 2 inches to the left of my head as fast as a bullet. I mean 2 inches to the right and I was a dead man like Goliath in front of David with a stone deep down my forehead.
Was dropped in the middle of absolutely nowhere in the middle of the night and there was some construction there and a small detour. Had a cig and a talk with one of the young workers who was signalling the incoming cars to take the detour, told him to do his job very well since I was gonna go lie down right in the middle of that gravel road, right behind that detour gate and have a snooze using my jeans jacket as a pillow. What a sweet sleep it was too I was still alive. Because there is one thing as Jack said and I knew it way before I read the book, you CAN’T sleep when you hitchhike, you have no money but your fare is to entertain and keep the driver awake, reassure him also as Jack said that you are not a creep, sleeping would not only be very dangerous (because HE could be the creep) but also extremely rude.
*Almost forgot this one How could I? 1976! Just out of detox centre. 10 PM or so, bored, listening to Supertramp nagging me to death.DREAAAAAAAMER you’re NOTHING but a DREEEEAAAAAMER...
Piss off Supertramp I’ll show you. Grab a pair of underwear and a t shirt in a very tiny Cojana plastic bag. Bus to the end of town and head to visit this “friend” I barely know 750 miles east. (Gaspe again)
Make it there after a long horrible trip knock at the door only to find out he’s gone to the North Coast. Don’t know his parents well enough so only one solution head back. I thought the trip was bad on my way down but coming back was life altering. Almost 3 in the morning, miles from nowhere, a wool hunting shirt drenched right through after 6 hours in the rain with nowhere to hide. Looking up to the dark sky and crying wondering what kind of a fool I am and if there is someone up there who could help me because nobody down here will. I wouldn’t even pick myself up for fear of ruining my back seat.
FINALLY, Finally a car stops and I am singing Hallelujah and so gratefull for a little bit of heat and dryness. My joy is very short lived though. The man is dead drunk and driving at 100 miles an hour on a dark country road and right down in the middle of the road riding the white line and every time there is a car coming toward us I see the film of my life and have my hand ready to grab the steering wheel in case my wino doesn’t here. Well a very very long 10 minutes later he stopped at the next hotel. And I almost fall on my knees to thank God for still being alive and I don’t mind the wet and cold rain so much anymore all of a sudden all things considered. Get another short ride from a police car and they have to let me out since there is no handle on their back door. Stopped at the local prison to ask for shelter for the night and this time I am not as lucky as they kick me out. Anyway made it back “home” a very tired and humbled man.
Then 1978 Went around Gaspe for my “honey moon” thumbing all the way down and around, about 1500 miles I’d say. Pulled an, unusual for me, hare and tortoise story then taking my sweet time for the first half of the trip and then having to rush the last half. Picnic in pouring rain, dubious can of herring and horror of horror when you’re on the road awful diarrhea which made the rest of the trip somewhat perilous. No Imodium at the time and Kaopectate by the bottle wasn’t helping. So when this really nice Chrysler Imperial with immaculate white leather seat stopped to pick us up I prayed to God for our benefactor to stop at every toilet on the road and luckily for his car without knowing my condition he did.
When I say unusual for me I mean that when I travel usually by bus or train or plane I never take my time or rest or relax between “escales”, layovers. I rush to my next gate or door and stay wide awake no matter how sleep deprived I am and will not relax until my butt is firmly sitting on that bus or plane. No worst nightmare in what could already be a nightmarish trip than to miss a bus or plane and be broke and stranded somewhere.
Then in 1982 I had to thumb my way again all the way from Winnipeg to Montreal.
Little pause here to talk about my style or system learned through the years. Unlike most hitchhikers one would meet I do it differently. No big humongous pack sack on my back here and no signs saying where I am heading and also rarely stop walking in between rides ‘cept for a rest or when it is really pointless and downright dangerous.
K One I always travelled as light as can be, once with only a tiny plastic back with one t shirt and one pair of underwear oh yeah gotta go back on that trip now.* Also I take no sign with me figuring every small ride is a step ahead as per that scary bike ride mentioned earlier. Also in my crazy mathematical mind I keep walking on a highway under the delusion that maybe the car that is going to pick me up is entering the highway at the next entrance. So unless it is dark or very long or very dangerous I walk.
Alright back to 1982 at least 6,500 miles under my belt and barely started yet. J
1982 oh yeah that long long Winnipeg Montreal thingie I was covering for the first time but not my last.
Won’t even mention how I got to Winnipeg to begin with passing by Tennessee and having a baby in Vermont on the way , a 1500 miles detour on a 1500 miles trip for a total of 3000 since this one was a “GROUP” thing to begin with and even though it was mad and hectic it wasn’t hitchhiking or for the sake of adventure.
Winnipeg-Montreal is 1500 miles, 50 miles in Manitoba, 1400 long miles in Ontario, and 50 miles in Quebec. Getting out of Manitoba took somehow a little longer than I expected and then a couple of baby steps at the west extremity of Ontario were somewhat discouraging. One feels so helpless out there alone at times. I’ve had time where I thought I was going to die of thirst either in the country or even right in the middle of an industrial area on a Sunday.
Another short ride in Manitoba by a rather strange looking fellow well strange looking for me anyway since you are always on your guards on the road. They think you’re a killer freak and you thing THEY are the killer freak so... Anyway this bloke looks like the killer in Frenzy with his suit and his red hair I mean if he’d be using his tie broach as a tooth pick I would have been freaking out. And then he starts with the weirdest question asking me if I had money. Booo-ee, Booo-ee Red Alert! Everyone at your combat station. Brace yourself for impact!
Errrrrrrr If I HAD money I wouldn’t be here sir. So he starts fondling with his pants and then I go to extreme panic and wonder what the hell did I get myself into and he reaches for his wallet and gives me 20 bucks! Errrrrrr OOOOO KKKKK! Thank you very much sir! (mumbling to myself what the hell is he expecting ME to do for 20 bucks) Then very shortly after drops me off and say walk a few steps look up to heaven and say thank you. Well needless to tell you it wasn’t up I was looking it was over my shoulder for miles in case this kind and gentle creep popped over again asking for services for his 20. J But no! He was genuine and honest in his own kinky way and I was just a little paranoid from too much travelling on the road. Anyway this 20 dollars came to be very important in my story.
Shortly after I get a ride from a 4 X 4. The man has been driving straight from Vancouver non-stop, short, sympathetic, wiry, pleasant and he is going to Toronto non-stop as well. So we drive 100 miles an hour right behind semi trucks in the dark like at 3 inches from their tail lights not sure if it’s to clear the road for us, see the road for us or only to save gas in the downwind. But we ride hee haw! 1400 hundred miles in less than 20 hours! Woohoo! Catching up on lost time. We stop briefly at truck stop for a quick coffee and a grilled cheese, one thing for sure you can’t stuff up when you stay up 20 hours, eat light, drink a lot of coffee and do it often. And then when we got to the fork leading to Toronto I made the wrong decision. Like Jack again thinking the shortest distance between two points was the straight line I asked him to drop me at the fork instead of making the long detour south via Toronto. In hindsight it would have been “better” to go with him despite the extra mileage in account of much more traffic on this road. So here I am standing at the fork in the dark and walking and walking telling myself if I cross the town which was miles away I’d be in the clear. Well after 6 long hours I am still at the edge of that town waiting and waiting and despairing.
So after at least 26 hours awake tired and exhausted I don’t have the stamina to entertain anyone else for another 20 hours. I look down the hill and I see a bus station there. Walk up and asked how much was one way to Montreal and lo and behold it was exactly what I had on me INCLUDING that 20 bucks. So I thankfully walked on that bus and strangely enough chit chatted my way through Montreal with a nice old lady instead of catching up on much needed sleep. When I got to Montreal at supper time, I bussed to my mom and she was going with a friend to Parc Belmont (some sort of fair ground with crazy rides) I joined along but needless to say I stayed far away from anything too exciting for my tired heart that was ready to pop after 48 hours up.
First night home in a real bed are so sweet.
When I was barely 18 also this doesn’t add much mileage to my story but sure adds to the craziness of the author. I worked 2 or 3 weeks for $400 quit without a notice and left for Laredo Texas on a one way bus ticket with a 14 year old friend and barely any English at all at that time well he comes that needless needless to say again We didn’t make it to Laredo very luckily for us. Since our mad plan was to then hitch hike our way though Mexico and Central America all the way to Colombia.
Destiny did not want me to rot in a Columbian jail I guess. We made it as far as Detroit and there some angelic customs guard kicked our crazy young asses back home. In hind sight if I would have been “smarter” then I would also certainly be deader as well.
What we should have done duh J is take a ticket to Windsor. Take a return trip to Detroit. Lie though our teeth at the border. Take a bus ticket from Detroit to Laredo and then Die somewhere in the middle of Mexico as I doubt we would have made it much further even making it to Columbia as doubtful as it was would also have been as deadly.
Alright Wanted: Good editor to unscramble my very interesting yet very scrambled crap.
I mean I could have written on the road if it hadn’t been written. I could write on the road again but Willie Nelson has done this one also. Being French Canadian I could ride Frog on the Toad I guess.
Lost the odometer here but will do the maths later.
Now my cross country extra extra was probably one of the most interesting. By cross-country extra I mean Montreal- Vancouver-San Francisco- Vancouver- Montreal roughly 8000 miles with like $60 in my pocket at the beginning.
To make it worst went out drinking with my son the first night and drank half of my money. LOL
Oh Jack! I Know where you’ve been! Wish we could laugh about it together now.
Year is 1997 or 1998? I am 42, 43 years old. Diagnosed with Diabetes.
Montreal Ottawa 100 miles and money half gone already.
That long Ontario quite perilous again. Spent a whole night at the outskirts of a small town to get a ride back with the same trucker that had driven me there as I was too shy or embarrassed to sleep in the same cab with him and he never offered. So as an exception this time I did take his offer to lie down while he was driving the other half of the province. Spent another night at the edge of another town after that and remembering seeing an RCMP police station a mile before decided to walk back and pull my gimme shelter once more. Got there and horror of horror the station was unattended in the middle of absolutely nowhere but luck had decided to smile on me this time. The porch door was unlocked and in the very bright lit porch there was a nice comfortable 3 seater with no bars in between the seats so I had a really nice sleep not worrying about a thing. If ever the cops show up they can always invite me in.
Top of the morning after all fresh from a good night sleep I get an offer I could not refuse. Some bloke was in a hurry to get far west but much further north than I wanted to but this time haven’t learned from my past mistake I joined in his offer of shared driving. Luck was on my side again because I got a ride back to the main road right off the bat from the only rough pulp truck that was driving on this mud track. Could have died in the woods again.
Back to the edge of Manitoba now I finally make it to Winnipeg and stopped by my old friends the Hutterites, former neighbours for five years from 80 to 85, still remember the minus 40’s of January.
Spend a couple of days there feasting and enjoying the best of life: water and a bed. My boots were lethal weapons after having been in them for more than 72 hours. Had a nice barbeque and even a small plane joyride that nearly got my dinner back.
Then they asked me how fast I wanted to go to Vancouver drove me to the airport paid for my ticket and gave me some spending money! How awesome was that?
In Vancouver again some miscommunication led me to one of the scariest night of my life. As I was waiting for my Friend at the Vancouver Airport and she was waiting for me at the Victoria airport by the time I realized my mistake I was stranded in Vancouver and missed the last ferry boat. Find a cheap room in a very sleazy and scary neighbourhood where everyone looks suspicious. Found out the morning after that one of my travelling mate had just been robbed that very night. So here I am in a cheap room with a very cheap and flimsy door to it with a bit of money to make it more tempting for others and more scary for me. So for the first time in my life I slept with the chest of drawers leaning hard on that flimsy door to give me some sort of time for a plan of escape but all went well made it on the ferry and enjoyed my 4 days on Vancouver Island.
Another gift from a friend allowed me to take the bus to San Fran where I spent another 4 days there too and since she loaded me with very heavy and bulky computer parts I ended up having enough money to take the bus from San Fran Via Vancouver straight to Montreal!
THAT MY FRIENDS IS A VERY LONG NINETY SIX HOURS OF MILK RUN. Stop in every town, make a loud announcement right in the middle of REM sleep , get out to stretch my legs, have a ciggie and back on. After 96 hours of that I was ready like the one arm bandit in the Fugitive to confess to any crime. PLEASE, PLEASE just let me sleep. Guantanamo Bay 20 years before 911.
It took me weeks to take a bed for granted again
So here is in a big nutshell my rambling on my ramblings! Hope you enjoyed it was fun for me to reminisce on the “Good Ole Days”
Now my last attempt at craziness was 8 years ago jumping on a much delayed plane to Australia to meet a “complete Stranger” across the planet 12, 500 miles away. So far so Good!
Still Crazy After All Those Years.
Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
Fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way
Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain
And you are young and life is long and there is time to kill today
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun
And you run and you run to catch up with the sun, but it's sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in a relative way, but you're older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death
Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
The time is gone, the song is over, thought I'd something more to say
Home, home again
I like to be here when I can
And when I come home cold and tired
It’s good to warm my bones beside the fire
Far away across the field
The tolling of the iron bell
Calls the faithful to their knees
To hear the softly spoken magic spells.