“View From My Kitchen”

December 28, 2007

The Pier Even as a restorer of some men’s souls, the seashore has less magic than it held until a few short years ago. Seldom nowadays can one seek and find solace and refreshment from a seaside wilderness — that desert of water, sand, and sky where the only sounds are the lazy pounding of a summer surf, the faint rustle of the wind in the dune grasses, and the occasional cry of a tern. No section of our shore is now free from the jeep and the airplane. It is difficult to become attuned to the ancient rhythm of the sea while assailed by rock-and-roll from a portable radio.

Taken from The National Park Service “Pacific Coast Recreation Survey” 1960.

I had been living with my grandmother for about six months and working at Northrup as a fiberglass fabrication technician. I still didn’t have a car and Thelma was my only way to get around and getting around meant going to work and back. Sometimes I would go to the grocery store with her just to break things up a bit. My life was very boring. Sometimes my old surfing friends from the Rock “Antman” and Marcos would come by on the weekend and take me surfing. How I loved those days when I could get out and hang and surf with my buddies. Not to mention the chance to smoke a little weed and drink some Mead Wine from a botta bag.

Then one day we went to Mussel Shoals to surf the pier. Our friend Arby had moved to the coast about a year earlier and was renting a duplex there right on the water. We parked in front of his house and went surfing. The surf was really good and we surfed for about six hours straight. Later that afternoon we were all kicking back on Arbys sun deck watching the other locals getting their wave quota in for the day. Really great surfers like Dan Riley, Mike Reese, and Ross Cave were tearing it up in the late afternoon emerald green waves coming through the pier.

It was then that I thought to myself “I wanna live here, not San Diego, not Huntington Beach, not San Luis, but right here!” Then Arby said something that blew my mind. “Hey if anyone is interested the place down below is going up for rent at the end of the month.” “Really!” I said “Yeah April 1st” “How much?” I asked “$450” said Arby. “It’s got two bedrooms but one is pretty small it has a nice living room and a really cool kitchen with a big picture window looking out at the pier”. I started thinkin.”I have some money saved up but If I moved I would need a car so I could get to work. Plus $450 would be a little tight for one person to swing. If I could split it that would be just fine. Plus I would need to give a first, last and a damage deposit.” Basically I needed a car and a roommate. I told Arby that I was very interested but I had to work some things out. He said “If you want it I need to know within a week and I’ll refer you to the owner.” “Cool, thats fine” I said.

On the way back to grandmas house I was determined to get that house on the beach. The money to pull it all off would completely tap my savings. Especially the car. I would have to buy a cheap transportation vehicle that would get me through the 40 mile round trip to work everyday. Then a few days later when Thelma and I had come home from work, Thelma was going through the mail and said “Looks like you got something, it looks important” “Shit not another legal surprise” I thought. I took the envelope and opened it. It was a check made out to me for $5000. It was a life insurance policy that was from my mother. I felt a tear come to my eye then I started to cry really hard. “What’s wrong Keith?” Thelma asked. I couldn’t speak I handed her the papers and check. It took seven months for my mothers death to finally hit me. “I’ll be darned” she said “What?” I said “I didn’t think they would pay on this because it was a suicide” “Well they did” I said.

I put the check in my bank account with the rest of my savings. I had enough money to move to the beach, buy a nice car and have plenty left over. All I needed was a roommate. I called Antman back on the Rock. “Hey bro whats happening” “nothing how about you?” “Well dude I called to ask you something” What is it?” “Remember when Arby said the unit down below him was going to be available next month?” “Yeah” “How would you like to move in with me and spilt the rent?” “Really” “Yeah really” “Man I’d be stoked to move in there dude, but I don’t have enough dough for the deposit.” “Tell ya what I’ll do. I’ll pay the deposit and you get the smaller bedroom. Deal?” “Fuck yeah bro that sounds great!”

I now had a roommate. The next weekend Antman and I went to Arby’s house to meet the landlord and look at the duplex. It was such a hip California beach pad. I gave them a check for everything and signed a year lease. As we were walking back upstairs to Arby’s place I mentioned that I needed to buy a car. “You looking for a ride bro?” Arby said. “Yeah” I said. Well there’s a guy right around the corner selling a really nice 1969 VW panel bus. You should go over and take a look at it.” I walked around the corner and saw the bus in the guys driveway. It was a very clean yellow VW panel van. I talked to the owner and drove it. I gave him a deposit to hold it for me for one week. I now had a car. Not just a car but a VW van to go to work in and keep my surfboard and gear in. In two weeks I would be living on the beach in Southern California. At age 18 the real “Surfing Lifestyle” was truly just starting.

Now all I had to do was tell my grandmother.

“Grandma Drove a Porsche” conclusion

December 26, 2007

grandmas-porsche.jpgI fought the law and the law won…

Well that holiday is over and New Years is no big deal with me. I’ve always thought of my birthday as a new year of life to plow through.

After I hung up the phone with “The Man” Thelma asked me who it was because a call for me at her house was extremely rare because nobody knew where I was. Except “The Man” “UUuhhh it was just an agent with the Federal Secret Service Department” I tried to make it sound nonchalant but thats hard to do with the words agent, federal and secret. “What! are you in some kinda trouble?” Thelma asked. “Yeah I think I am” “What do you mean you think you are? That was the Federal Secret Service your damn right your in some kind of trouble! So what is it?” “Uuhhhh I think it might have something to due with forgery” I said. “Forgery! what the hell did you do?” When my grandmother said “hell” I knew she was pissed off. “Well about a year ago I received an income tax check in my mailbox for a friend of mine that was fighting in Viet Nam. I held on to it for awhile then one day a buddy came over to my house and we managed to get it cashed at my bank.” OK I spilled the beans to granny. “Why did you do a stupid, idiotic thing like that?” she asked. “Because I was broke and hungry. I think those are two pretty good reasons.” I didn’t tell her about all the beer and weed we bought.”

So what are they going to do come over here and arrest you?” “No they gave me the option of going down to L.A. tomorrow on my own accord” I said. “Well it looks like we are both taking tomorrow off from work then” she said.” I’m sorry grandma but I’m trying to turn my life around” “Well your life might get turned around sooner than you think!” she said to me. “What do you mean by that? “There’s a good chance that you might be going to prison for a stay.” “Fuck! I hadn’t even thought about that yet.

“I didn’t sleep well at all that night. Early the next morning Thelma and I got up early to get ready for my big day in Los Angeles at The Federal Building. It was a beautiful sunny day as we made our way through the morning traffic. I had been thinking about going to prison all night long and I was getting to the where I had resigned myself to the point of accepting my fate. I had imagined how I would deal and cope with prison life with a thousand made up senereos going through my head over and over. I’ll just shut up, lift weights and kick ass if I have to.

We arrived at the Federal Building at 7:40am for my 8 O’clock appointment. Thelma waited in the lobby of the Secret Service Office as I went in to see “The Man” I sat alone in an office not unlike one you would see at a police department. There were men in suits and ties as well as a few uniformed officers around. Then a gentleman in a black suit came out to the room and said “Mr. Keith Miller” “Yes sir” I formally replied. “Come with me.” We went into a stark room used for questioning where another “agent” sat waiting for me at a table. The scene was just like in the movies where they beat the shit out of you. I sat down at the table while the man who brought me in stood behind me. The man at the table started his questioning with “Why don’t you tell me why your here today Mr. Miller” I told him why I thought I was there and I was right. “Do you know you could go to prison for up to five years for this kind of offense?” the agent said “Shit five years!” I thought to myself. “No I didn’t sir””Well Mr. Miller we are going to have to arrest you and put you in the holding cell until later today when we can put your case before a judge” Then they handcuffed me and a uniformed officer took me to my cell. As I was being escorted I said to anyone that was listening. “Hey can somebody tell my grandmother in the lobby what’s going on so she knows.” “We’ll tell your granny” the rookie cop escorting me said with a smart ass attitude.

About an hour later a man that I hadn’t met entered the room where my holding cell was. He said he was a public defender and he told me exactly what to say when I met the judge that afternoon. “When the judge asks you how do you plead say guilty.” he said “But if I say guilty I could go to prison” I said “So you think lying is going to get you out of this? Listen kid you screwed up and they know it. That was a federal income tax check that you forged. Your in the big leagues now.” Fuck I’m up the creek for sure” I thought to myself.

Around 1:30pm I was finally sent to the courtroom to see the judge about my case. I was led into the chambers through a door that came out in the front of the courtroom off to the side. I was in handcuffs and my grandmother was in the courtroom seating. I felt so ashamed for her to see me like that. The judge announced my name and crime then he asked for my plea. “Guilty your honor” I said. “Mr. Miller this is a serious offense I don’t know what you were thinking but I think you know now it was wrong. Because you have no prior criminal record and you are employed and have a place to live I am going to sentence you to three years probation as well as a $1000 dollar fine and you are to pay back James Colton $500 for his income tax refund” he slammed his gavel down.

I was immediately lead back to my holding cell to be released. It’s a very strange feeling when a huge chunk of stress suddenly comes off of you, but I was feeling it then. All I knew was I was not going to prison. I could be good for three years and I had the money for the fines in my bank account. No problem.

I sat in my cell and waited for my release. I waited and I waited and I waited. First an hour then two then three.” What the fuck is going on” I thought. There was no one around to ask and no one was coming back to my area. Finally an officer came back in and I asked him what was going on “Officer I’ve been in here since 2:00p.m. waiting to be released can you find out what the problem is?” I asked “Since 2:00p.m.” he said “Yeah!” “What’s your name? he asked “Keith Miller” “Hold on I’ll go find out.” “Thanks man.” About another half an hour later he came back to my holding cell with the news. “Mr. Miller!” “Yes sir” “Your still under arrest” he said “What! for what!” I yelled. “Apparently you have a traffic ticket that you haven’t payed and it’s gone to warrant.” “FUCK!” I yelled. The officer turned and walked out the door. “WAIT!” I screamed but he didn’t come back. I thought of my poor grandmother out there waiting for me. “She’s out there wondering why I’m not released yet.” Then about another hour later the same officer came back to my cell and said “Mr. Miller your free to go now” as he unlocked my cell. I walked out into the same office that I started this fucked up day in and saw Thelma standing there. “Are you alright?” She asked “Kinda” I said. “Lets go home” “Thats the best thing I’ve heard all day grandma.”

“As we both rode back to Newbury Park in the Camaro I asked Thelma what was going on with her while I was stuck inside the jail. “Well I waited for about two hours and then I asked someone what was going on with your release. They got back to me about an hour later and told me about that ticket you didn’t pay. I asked how much is the bail and they told me $1000 dollars. So I decided to call your Uncle Tom at the District Attorney’s office, he pulled some strings to get you out free and clear.” “Oh yeah uncle Tom” I thought to myself. He had worked his way up through LAPD to an assistant to the District Attorney.

“Thanks grandma” I said with deepest sincerity. “Your welcome. Now do you have anymore surprises?” “UUuuhhhhhh not that I’m aware of.” I half jokingly said. We stopped at Dupars Restaurant in Thousand Oaks on the way home and had dinner. It had been a long day and we both had work tomorrow.

“Grandma Drove a Porsche” part one

December 23, 2007

Grandmas PorscheWe come from the land of the ice and snow, from the midnight sun where the hot springs blow… “Led Zeppelin, Immigrant Song”

So according to my calendar today is the first day of winter or the winter solstice. The shortest day of the year. Once a very celebrated and mystical day in ancient cultures.

I walked home on that wet and rainy night on New Years Eve thinking about the state of affairs my life was in and I knew I had to do something about it. I was just heading down a dead end road with no direction home, a complete unknown, like a rolling stone. I needed help from someone but who? Who really cared about me? Who would say “come stay with me till you get up on your feet” Then it hit me! But staying with her meant no drugs, no drinking and no weed. Weed is not a drug. Pills and needles are drugs. I would have to be clean and sober if I wanted her help. The more I thought about it the more excited I became, as soon as I got back to my little house on Hillrose I called my grandmother even though it was 12:50a.m.

My Grandmother on my moms side was named Thelma Louise Iddings she was the mother of three children Joyce, Lois, and Dale. My mother was Lois. So my grandmother buried a daughter and I buried a mother just three weeks earlier. My grandmother was a very attractive women of Spanish descent her maiden name being Belardez. She was single but had a regular suitor for several years, a handsome gentleman named George. The two of them traveled and played golf regularly. She lived in Newbury Park California next to Thousand Oaks.

I called information and was able to get my grandmothers phone number and gave her a call. She answered the phone with a groggy “Hello?” “Hi grandma it’s me Keith” I said. “Oh hi Keith how are you is everything OK?” her voice snapped right back into alertness. “Yeah well sorta.” I replied. “What is it?” she said. “Grandma I need to get out of this place. I need to get away from here. It’s not a good place to be. I was wondering if I could stay with you awhile?” “Absolutely. I would love to have you come and stay. I have that extra bedroom, it’s small but you can use it. When do you want to come out?” she said. “Tomorrow?” I said hoping it wasn’t to sudden. “Thats fine I’ll come out and pick you up.” she said. “No I’ll drive out myself” “In what? she said. “In my truck” I replied. “What kind of truck?” “My 48 Ford” “You won’t need it” she said “OK I’ll just leave it here.

“The next morning my grandmother showed up at my place I was packed with just my clothes, some sundries, my surfboard and of course that Indian rug. Now one thing my grandmother loved was nice cars not big luxury cars but sports cars. Cars that were fast. When I was little she had a Porsche SC that I would love to ride in with her. I remember once going somewhere with her on the freeway and she said “This is a very well made car Keith you can tell buy just holding on to the steering wheel and turning it just a little bit” She very lightly turned the wheel from right to left and back again and the car responded to every nudge. “Here you try it” she said. I reached over put my seven year old hand on the wheel and turned it just a little as her Porsche swerved suddenly. “She what I mean?” she said. But now she was driving a 1968 Chevy Camaro SS with a 327 V8 and a factory 4 speed. Instead of European finesse it was American muscle. I put my bags in the back seat and slid my surfboard and the rug into the small trunk and tied them down with some rope. Then with the tail of my surfboard and the rug hanging out the back of my grandmothers Camaro I left Sunland/Tujunga California never ever to return again.

We drove through the valley and got on the Hollywood Freeway to the 101 Freeway westbound all the way out to Newbury park which is just before the Conejo grade drops down into Camarrillo and the Oxnard plain. I was now living only 24 miles away from the ocean less than 30 minutes by car. But I didn’t have a car I left my truck back on “The Rock” which was how I would refer to my old hometown from now on as “The Rock.

“Life at Granny’s was pretty boring the first couple weeks. She went to work I watched daytime TV. Then one day she came home from work and told me she had scheduled a job interview for me. “Really!” I said “Yes really, I’m taking you with me tomorrow morning for an interview.” she said. “Thats great, thanks grandma!” I was really excited about the opportunity to work for Northrup Aviation. A good company with great pay! I went to bed early and got a good nights sleep. I awoke fresh and ready to interview. That morning I rode to work in the Camaro with grandma at the wheel. She dropped me off in front of the Corporate Office, a big concrete and glass building with three very tall flag poles flying three giant flags, the State of California, the United States and one Northrup Corporate flag. The people entering the building were all dressed in suits and ties and the women were wearing dress suits and heals. It was all very formal, conservative and a little intimidating. From the outside it was one of those places that made you think, “I wonder how you get a job in there?” So I walked in wearing my grey corduroy pants and my best button down shirt. I approached the receptionist and gave the name of the person I was to talk to.

One week later I was an employee of Northrup Aviation. I was working in the fiberglass fabrication area. I sanded the excess fiberglass and resin off of parts to be used as air ducts in aircraft. I would stand at a work station in a white suit that covered me from head to toe. I wore a respirator over my nose and mouth with safety glasses covering my eyes and latex gloves on my hands. The sleeves of my suit were also taped around my wrists to keep the fiberglass dust out. For eight hours a day I would sand parts with a hand held rotary electric sander. Despite the protective gear the fiberglass dust still managed to get into any little crack in your armor that it could find. I was itching all the time. But the pay was good and I didn’t have anything else to do so I worked and worked and worked. I offered my grandmother rent but she refused. “You just save your money” she said. So thats what I did I put every dime I made into the bank and pretty soon I had a pretty good lump of money saved up. I was clean, sober, employed and rich.

Then one day after work my grandmother and I were having supper when the phone rang. I answered it and the voice on the other end said in a stern authoritative voice “Am I speaking to Mr. Keith Miller?” “Speaking” I replied. “This is the Federal Secret Service Office in Los Angeles and we would like you to come down to our office for some questioning as soon as possible.” I couldn’t speak for awhile, I was thinking real fast through the rolodex in my head. “What have I done lately that I might be caught for? the voice on the other end of the phone came back, “Do you have any idea what this might be about Mr. Miller?” “Ahhhh, Ahh” and then it hit me like a ton of bricks and the man on the other end new it. “Mr. Miller you can come down tomorrow on your own accord or we can send a car out tonight to bring you in which would you prefer?” “I’ll be down tomorrow morning” I said. “Fine” the man said and he hung up. Now all I had to do was tell my grandmother about some baggage that I had forgotten about.

“A Turning Point” conclusion

November 29, 2007

Spuce I buried my mother on December 11th 1972 I saw all the relatives, cousins, aunts, uncles etc. etc. They all asked me what had I been doin where was I living bla bla bla bla. I really didn’t have anything good to say about myself and so I just sort of faded out of site got into my truck and went back to the shack. I finally got back to my little house on Hillrose street and when I went inside I was shocked! While I was at the funeral someone had taken ketchup and squirted it all over the walls, the bed, the floors everywhere. It looked like blood. I had no idea who did it or why and to this day I don’t know for sure but I have a pretty good idea. That night after I cleaned up the bloody mess I got really fucked up on pills, pot and booze and passed out. The next day I really felt like shit I was really getting tired of taking downers so I decided to clean up, not completely but just stop taking the pills. I was getting strung out and I knew it so I stopped, plain and simple. I kept on smoking pot and drinking my wine but the pills were out. No mas! Sometimes people would stop by and want to hang out but I told them I wanted to be alone. My mothers death was the perfect excuse to keep people away. I was able to have some privacy, reflect and do some serious soul searching.

Christmas came and went uneventfully. I didn’t go anywhere. I stayed home with my good neighbor Kathy. We had some wine and pot and she brought over some ham, sweet potatoes, and stuffing. We fucked. It was a cold, grey, cozy day, I liked it. By the time New Years Eve was here I was feeling alot better. I had been off the pills for a couple weeks and I noticed a marked improvement in my energy level I wanted to do stuff. I wanted to go surfing! For the first time in about a month I decided to throw my board into the back of my truck grab my wetsuit and a towel and head for County Line beach just north of Leo Carrillo. It was winter I didn’t know if there was a swell or not, “this was before internet surf checks” You didn’t know until you got there what the surf was going to be like. That was the reward of going. I knew that County Line broke good in the winter, picking up northwest swells off the top of the reef. When I hit the coast coming out of Kanan Road onto Pacific Coast Highway I saw lines of swell combing the coast and the surface conditions were glassy smooth. As I headed north towards County Line I knew it was going to be really good and I was right! The conditions were perfect the tide was a 1.2 low coming up to about a 3.7 high tide so kinda medium all day. Surface was smooth. Swell 4 to 6 foot and a little inconsistant but there were three to four waves in a set with excellent shape with a relatively lite crowd. I coudn’t get suited up fast enough.

My conditioning was a little weak at first but after about a half hour of paddling I was back to my old self. It’s amazing how fast you bounce back when your young. I had one of the best days ever surfing that day and no one was with me to share it. The day was all mine. Late that afternoon when the winter sun started going down into the blue Pacific I climbed back into my 48 and drove back to Tujunga exhausted and stoked beyond belief.

When I got home I took a hot shower, put some clean clothes on and had an Ultimate Cheesburger and fries that I picked up from Jack In The Box. Then the phone rang it was a girl I knew named Susan, she called to let me know that there was a New Years Eve party on Pinewood Ave. I told her thanks and said I might show up for a little while since Pinewood was only three blocks away. I kicked back smoked a little weed and reflected on my day surfing, nobody in this town had a clue about how spiritual and good for the soul surfing can be. But I did and I liked it that way.

I decided I would walk down to the party on Pinewood and check it out, if it was dead I’d come back home and chill. When I got close to the house I was having a faux deja vu. I’ve been to this house once before. “Oh yeah this is where I met my ex girlfriend Debbie.” “Wow what a trip” I thought to myself “Wouldn’t that be weird if I saw her here again” I thought. You see Debbie had been completely out of my life for about 18 months. Isn’t it strange how you can be really super close to someone and then when you break up you never even see or bump into them. Even if you live in the same town.

I walked up the driveway to this California bungalow and onto the large covered front porch the stereo was playing Crosby Stills and Nash “4+20” I chatted with a few high school mates I hadn’t seen for awhile then walked into the house and got myself a red plastic cup to fill with some keg beer in the kitchen. I got a little spooked when I saw some friends of Debbies that I knew when we were dating, I said “hi” but they didn’t acknowledge me at all, fuckin bitches. I went back into the dimly lit living room and then I saw it! The bean bag chair! The same bean bag chair that I had sat in with my first love. It was scrunched up in an unrecognizable ball stuffed behind a door. I grabbed it and shook it into shape and placed it in the same corner that my girl and I sat in almost three years ago. I sat down in it. It was all just starting to get really, really strange when suddenly Debbie walked in the front door. Boy was I surprised to say the least. I was glad she didn’t see me. She was with another girl but no boyfriend. I watched her walk across the living room to the brightly lit kitchen she looked awesome. Her thick wavey long blond hair was pulled back into a loose french braid with a flower stuck in the back. I still wanted her. “God didn’t we make a good looking couple?”

For about an hour I just looked from the shadows. I had nothing to offer. I had quit high school, she graduated. I was a flunky, stoner, loser. But I surfed. Yes I surfed. I had one of my best days surfing that afternoon. I thought of my day alone at County Line and it brought a big smile to my face! I got bold just before I left the party and walked into the kitchen where she was at, she saw me and looked surprised as she awkwardly blurted out “Hi how are you?” “Good” I said “Real good” “You look like you’ve got some sun” she added “Yeah I went surfing today” “How was it” she asked “Fun” I said “Good, I’m glad you had a good time.” It was then that she along with some other girls went out to the back yard to do whatever. That was the last time I ever saw her again.

It was early and I wasn’t even high, I didn’t even smoke the genuine Tai Stick I brought with me. Remember those little pinners that got you sooo ripped?  So I decided to go home and get a good nights sleep. Then as I started walking down the driveway the sky opened up and it started raining. It was then that I had my epiphany. “Keith why are you here in this town?” “Who are your friends?” “Where are you going?” What is here for you?” “There’s no one to love” “What did that ketchup all over your house mean?” “You need to get out RIGHT NOW!” Happy New Year!

“A Turning Point” part 1

November 20, 2007

spruce1.jpg “Well it’s comin on Christmas their cuttin down the trees their puttin up raindeers and singin songs of joy and peace, oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on…” “Joni Mitchell”

I was moved into my new house on Hillrose street on the first of November when I began to see more and more of my old associates. They were dropping by to hang out and get high. Seems word got out as to where I was living and since I was in a bit nicer place than previous more and more riff raff started showing up. Now I could have just put a stop to all of this but I kinda liked having people, “even the seedy type” drop buy now and then. Then one of my buddies Tracy picked up a very large quantity of pharmaceutical barbituates. Seconal, tuinal, phenobarbitol. On the street they were known as, reds, yellow jackets and rainbows. So for awhile I was just enjoying the ride.

Tracy asked me if I would hold the stash at my house for a few weeks. If I did he would give me a hundred pills every week, so I agreed to let him keep them at my house. I started taking downers everyday. Sometimes I would go to work at the welding shop to weld those sports car luggage racks. I got alot more burns when I was loaded and my production went down. Then one day I got fired for not wearing my safety gear. So once again I was out of work but feeling no pain. People started coming over to my place all the time, getting loaded and passing out all over the place. I had lost control of my invironment. I lived in a loadie crash pad.

Thanksgiving was just around the corner and I got word from a former girlfriend that my mother had moved to Northridge California. “Northridge?” I thought to myself “why Northridge?” Apparently my mother had met another guy named Gary and now she Gary and my three younger siblings were living in Northridge. Northridge is on the very northwest end of the San Fernando Valley it’s crowded and busy almost city like compared to Sunland California. There just isn’t any nature in Northridge.

One of the luxeries that I had acquired by being employed was a landline telephone, “no cells back then” and my mother had some how aquired my number. She called me one night when I was exceptionally loaded she said I was invited to have Thanksgiving diner at the house in Northridge. I was told of this conversation by my friend Kathy the next day because I didn’t remember ever talking to my mother on the phone.

I didn’t really want to go to my mothers for Thanksgiving but I thought “what the heck I’ll give it a try.” I fueled up the old 48 Ford truck and drove the 25 miles out to Northridge to my mothers new house. When I arrived there seemed to be a really weird vibe. It seemed as nobody really cared if I was there or not, you know like they were just shining me on. Maybe it was because the last time I saw my mother it wasn’t the best of experiences. Read “The First Downward Spiral.” So I sat alone in the living room looking at Cosmo magazines while everybody else was outside or in the kitchen. I brought about 10 seconal pills with me because I knew my mom like em once in awhile to relax. I got up from the couch and walked into the kitchen and discreetly gave the pills to my mother and wished her a happy Thanksgiving. I walked out of the house, crossed the street, started my truck, popped a couple of reds and drove back to my crash pad. I didn’t like being there at all. When I got back home I popped another red and took the phone off the hook and plopped down on the sofa closed my eyes and started to get some little rushes. I loved that feeling when the seconal really starts to hit your head. It felt good just to be alone in my house when all of a sudden there was a knock on my front door I yelled “Who is it?” “It’s me Kathy.” Kathy was a really cute brunett that lived next door, she would come over and hang out with me now and then but that was all. “Come in” I said. She walked in wearing a Led Zepplin T-shirt with no bra and hip huggers tucked into some black knee high boots. Her hair was shoulder length with heavy long bangs just barely above her green eyes, she was looking exceptionally hot! “Why are you home? she said “I thought you were going to your moms house today. I saw your truck in the street so I thought I come over to see you.” I told her the whole story about the vibe at my moms house. Then without a word she got down on her knees and leaned over and gave me the most passionate kiss I ever had. She slowly pulled away from me and looked closely at me and said “Keith, I want you to fuck me!” As loaded as I was I didn’t refuse her offer and she was fantastic. She spent the night with me on that Thanksgiving evening I never even missed the turkey. A couple of weeks went by, Kathy and I had a casual easy thing goin on nothing really serious. She was using me and I was using her and that was just fine.

I remember it was December 7th Pearl Harbor Day when I was coming home from the store and I saw my Aunt Joyces car in front of my house. Now if my mother didn’t even know where I was living how did my aunt find out and why was she there. I hadn’t seen her for five years even though we lived in the same town. I pulled up got out of my truck and walked over to her sitting in the drivers seat of her car. She was very distraught. “Hi Aunt Joyce are you allright?” I asked her. “Whats the matter?” She looked at me and could barley get it out “Your mother is dead” she said “What?” was my next reply. “Apparently she’s committed suicide” I wasn’t shocked, I wasn’t surprized, I was emotionless. The only thing that bothers me to this day is the fact that she killed herself with the pills that I gave her on Thanksgiving. Is that karma?

I buried my mother at Forest Lawn Cemetary in Burbank California I cried at the funeral but only because everybody else was. Kathy came over to me when I was crying and held me close to her. For a few moments I really thought she was Debbie.

“Ebb and Flow”

November 9, 2007

ebb-flow.jpgI drove the Pontiac Chief for about 4 months until one night while returning from a Surfing Movie in Santa Monica with my date the Chief blew up. I blew an oil seal while going over the Mulholland pass. I looked out the rear view mirror and saw a huge billowing white smoke screen blinding everyone in my path, I slowly began to lose power at the apex of my climb and pulled off on a nearby off ramp. I left the Chief there on the roadside never to see it again. My date and I hitch hiked the rest of the way to Sunland California.

I quit my job at the machine shop because without a car  didn’t feel like taking the bus again. I was back to square one. No car, no job and now no home. Yes the landlord had returned from his European vacation and was looking for his three months of rent. Needless to say I didn’t have it and I was told to leave so I packed up my clothes into a duffel bag, grabbed my surfboard and walked down the driveway with $75 and started walking the hood. I’m sure it looked a little odd seeing this kid walking around with a duffel bag and a surfboard in a town that’s 70 miles from the nearest beach. I was living on Commerce Ave. which is technically in Tujunga California, in fact I think Commerce Ave. is the divide between Sunland and Tujunga and I was living on the Tujunga side. There are alot of duplexes, mother in law, converted garages, and other non-code type dwellings in this older, more run down part of town. I walked only two blocks and on the Sunland side of Commerce I saw what looked like an empty dwelling down a long driveway. At the top of this driveway there was a big white beat up run down house. I said to myself “Hmmm looks like no one is living in that place back there, I think I’ll walk down and take a closer look.” I walked down the drive and looked through the windows and saw it was vacant. I went to the front door and it was unlocked so I went in. The power was on and so was the gas and water. It was a studio apartment 1 living room, 1 bath, a small kitchen and some closet space. But the real “coup de gra” was the Indian rug that was left rolled out in the living room over the hardwood floor.
I don’t know what it is about me but I have a floor fetish and I love beautiful rugs, not carpeting but rugs and rugs and wood are perfect together. I also like my rugs and floors swept, mopped, and vacuumed at all times.

I inquired about the empty studio with the people living in the big old white house at the top of the drive a hippie couple named Ebb and Flo. They told me it was $100 a month including utilities. I told them about my dilemma and they let me “move in” right then with a $75 deposit. At least I had a place to stay on my very first night out on the streets. This place was a step up from my last shack for sure. But now I was broke again. No food, no car, no job, no furniture. I had to find work fast! I needed money for phone calls and bus fare so I went into survival mode. I went to the local grocery store one afternoon and waited for the Coke, Pepsi, or Seven Up trucks to come in and make their delivery’s. When a truck arrived at the store and the driver wheeled in his delivery I would sneak over to the truck and take off a couple racks of empty glass bottles and stash them behind a dumpster. When the driver left I would wait awhile and then redeem the bottles for $1.25 or $1.50 that way I could make phone calls and ride the bus.

I found another job in Van Nuys California as a welder. I was working on an assembly line welding sports car luggage racks for British sports car enthusiast. The pay was OK but the little burns you got every week were a bitch. Working at speed around hot stuff isn’t real safe, however I did get pretty good at braising a nice bead with my acetylene torch. I befriended a guy at work named Art that lived about four blocks from my place.  Art would take me to work each day for cash or grass but not ass.  I didn’t buy another car but I did get some furnishings for my pad.  Stuff from ads in the  paper or garage sales. I got a couch that was comfortable enough to sleep on, an easy chair, a coffee table, and a floor lamp. I never saw much of the old gang during this time and if I did I never told them where I was living. I had a couple of one night stands with a couple of former one night stands but my social live was almost non-existent. I lived there for 5 months and paid the rent every month on time. Then one Friday afternoon I came home from work and all of my stuff was out of the house and on the driveway. “What the fuck is this all about!” I went to the front house to find out what was going on but no one was there and it looked like it was almost empty inside, like they were in the process of moving, turns out they were. I never saw Ebb and Flo again. So here I was again with nowhere to live only this time I had “stuff” including that really nice Indian rug. I slept that evening outside on the couch under the stars. It turned out to be a nice night for sleeping outside with a full October harvest moon and mild Santana Winds. I laid down and starred at the moon and thought about life, did a little soul searching, gave myself a good talkin to, then made a plan for tomorrow.

The following Saturday morning I went to a U-Haul rental place and rented a small moving truck for the day. I didn’t know where I was moving too but I needed a truck for my stuff so I went back to my driveway and loaded up the truck and started driving around town looking for places that were for rent or vacant. I didn’t use a newspaper, all of those places were to expensive.
Later that evening I found a little one bedroom house at the top of Hillrose Street in Tujunga with a For Rent sign in the window. I went up to the sign and read the details written in black Marks Alot. “1 bedroom 1bath and kitchen $125 a month including utilities. Owner next door at 1552.” I went and talked to the owners and they let me move in the next day. This was actually another step up from what I was living in before because of the separate bedroom and it was a little bigger, plus it had two big pine trees on the property complete with pine-cones and pine needles, it gave me a feeling of being high in the mountains and I like the mountains almost as much as the beach. I moved my stuff in, did a little decorating ie. hung a couple of framed pictures of waves breaking, and I even bought a cheap single mattress at a garage sale that I threw on the floor in the bedroom.

I was still a loner, still working at the welding place and I just bought another vehicle a 1948 Ford pickup truck primer gray, straight flathead 6. Things were going OK for about a month then some people stepped back into my life and it got real, real bad.

“It lights up at night!”

November 8, 2007

it-lights-up.jpgThey call me the workin man thats what I am. “Rush”

That summer on Commerce Ave. in Tujunga California was full of beer, drugs, and sex with very little if any responsibility. No job, no car, no bills, no rent, nothing. My friends started to turn on me. I was the loser, slacker, free loader. All I had to offer was a place for them to hang out and party at if they had no where else to go. Then one evening a bunch of the people I had been associating with came over to my house. Everyone was in a great mood and we were all having a good time when a buddy of mine took me over to his car and in a quite tone said “Hey Keith I got some really good acid wanna try a hit?” “Sure” I said and I took a hit of Orange Sunshine. After about an hour I started to come on to what was to be the strongest dose of LSD I had ever taken. I went into a complete separation from reality with momentary fades into real world, or what I thought was real world. All I could do was sit on a chair for hours unable to stand or communicate, I was completely helpless. People started to come up to me with grotesque faces and spew insults about me, my mother, my life, they called me a fag, a fuckin nobody, a worthless piece of shit, they poured beer on me and threw empty cans at me, they flicked their cigarettes on me. They took this opportunity to just fuck with me and my mind, and there was nothing I could do or say. I was completely helpless.

Early the next morning I found myself alone lying in the driveway under that messy pepper tree amidst all the debris that was thrown at me. There wasn’t a sound except for an annoying blue jay above my head. I was a filthy mess both physically and spiritually I had not spoken to God in a long, long time but that morning while steeped in humility I prayed.

Now my faith has always been lazy but it has always been there, and it has always come through for me. On that morning it came through for me again. After my prayer I got up and went into my humble little place, took a shower and cleaned up. I walked down to the local liquor store and got a newspaper and sat on a bench and started looking for a job. I made a few phone calls with what little money I had and soon I was asked by two employers to come down and fill out an application. Two days later I had a job working at a machine shop in that God forsaken town of Sun Valley California. Sun Valley was about twenty miles from where I was living and I didn’t have a car or bus fare, so for about two weeks I would hitch hike my way to and from work. I rode with some strange freaks in those two weeks. As for food, I would pick cumquat’s, pomegranates, cactus apples, oranges and my personal favorite avocados from neighborhood trees for food. I also had to do a little bit of shop lifting at the grocery store every now and then.

After a couple of weeks at the machine shop I got my first paycheck $135 “Alright!” I finally had some cash. I went to the local Sizzler Steak House and had a steak a salad and a baked potato for supper. Then I walked to my local liquor store and bought a bottle of wine. I never purchased beer to bring home because I didn’t have a refrigerator. But a big jug of Red Mountain wine was perfect. In fact wine became my beverage of choice. I found the buzz from some red wine and a little reefer to be very mellow and relaxing after a day at the office.

I was working at “the shop” for about a month and I was getting really tired of taking the bus. The bus took to long. I wanted my own car. I managed to save about $200 that first month of work because I had no bills. Then one day a co-worker named David said “Hey Keith I heard your interested in getting some wheels” “Yes I am” I said. “Well my mom is selling her car for $500” “What is kind is it?” I asked, “It’s a 1952 Pontiac Chieftain and it runs perfect. Plus the Indian Head hood ornament lights up at night!” Wow that sounds really cool!” I said but I only have about $300 till our next pay period. “That’s alright we can go over to my mothers after work today and you can take a look at it and talk to my mom about it.” “Right on dude lets do that” I agreed. “Cool see ya after work.” I rode with Dave over to his mothers that evening to look at the Chief and see if maybe we could make a deal. When we arrived I saw the Chief in their driveway. It was so cool. It was big and black and kind of mean looking. Lots of chrome on the front end and an Indian head hood ornament that really did light up at night. The inside was spacious, a big bench front seat and a big bench back seat. The headliner was completely intact and there were no holes in the seats. I talked to Daves mother Mrs. Gonzalez about buying the car, she agreed that I could pay her $300 dollars and take the car and then give her $200 in two weeks. We agreed and Dave gave me a ride back to my house where my money was stashed and I drove my black Pontiac Chieftain back home with the hood ornament lit up and showing the way.

I paid Mrs. Gonzalez her balance as agreed, the Pontiac ran beautifully with it’s straight eight engine and HydroGlide transmission. I felt good, really good!  I started going to the beach again on weekends, I bought a new surfboard and a wetsuit. But what I find interesting about this period in my life is that during this “success” I was very much alone. I did not want to share  this with anyone. I became a loner and I liked it that way. Just leave me alone and I’ll be happy and for a brief moment I was.

“The First Downward Spiral”

November 8, 2007

spiral.jpgMy last year of high school was a total disaster. I just didn’t give a shit about anything. The only class I went to was drafting, I was really good at it and I liked it. The teacher Mr. Gardener who was also a surfer/sailor would let me come into his class and work on my own projects and assist other students with questions and problems. I guess you could say I was a drafting rat.

My social life with the girls was non existent. I slept with a couple of girls from school but it just wasn’t the same thing as being with Debbie. So I just didn’t even try. I immersed myself into drugs. Drugs like pot, bennies, reds. rainbows, LSD, stuff like that. I started hanging around like minded individuals and we would share our drugs with each other like it was a form of honor as to who could provide the best stuff. These people didn’t have a clue about surfing.

My new “friends” and I would go up into Tujunga canyon with guns that they borrowed from their fathers collections. We would get some beer and drop acid and drive the narrow canyon roads and go shoot stuff. Blast a tree in half or kill a jack rabbit or bring an old car battery up to blast apart. “Look! a Blue Jay blast him with the shotgun!” “BOOM” “look here’s his head.”

I wasn’t working or going to school. I had no car. My mother was constantly telling me to “Get the fuck out of her house” So at seventeen I did. A “friend” of mine had told me that there was a place in Tujunga on Commerce Ave. were I could stay. It was a one room cracker box with a toilet and a shower. It was the servant quarters on an old estate a 1/2 acre lot full of weeds, old boats, old cars, cactus and those messy pepper trees. I grabbed my clothes and an old throw rug that my mother had forgotten about and got a ride to my new “place” I thew down the rug, put my clothes in a built in dresser and lay-ed down on the mattress that was already there on the floor. “Ahh…home.” The next day at my new house I was sitting under the pepper tree talking to a neighbor when I suddenly saw my mother and my sister Linda driving up the long narrow driveway that headed up to the compound. “I wonder what they want? Maybe their bringing me some stuff that I might need that would be nice.” I thought to myself. My sister Linda got out of the car and came up to me and said “where is it?” “where is what” I said. “where is that god damn rug you took from US!” “You mean that little 6X4 braided oval that was rolled up in the garage?” I said kinda stunned. “Yeah that one!” yelled Linda. “It’s in my place” I said. “Go get it, it’s not yours.” “Are you fucking kidding me? I take an old rug that hasn’t been used in years to cover the cold concrete floor and you want it back?” I went into my house and rolled up the rug and started walking down to the car to give it to my mother. “Is this what you fucking want you piece of shit fuckin whore?! Well here take it bitch, and get the fuck out of here and don’t you ever, ever come back to this place again because there is nothing left of yours here anymore, not even your son!” Those two bitches got back into the car and left for good.

I walked back into my little place and I was pissed off big time, I started crying. Later on that day a couple of my friends came over because I now had a place where people could go to party. We drank beer and got high. A girl named Susan stayed the night with me. She made me feel better on my mystery mattress.

The best thing about my new living arrangement was the fact that the landlord was on a European vacation that summer and was not to return for 3 months. It was my responsibility to send a check to his house each month until he returned from his holiday. Well I didn’t. I just lived rent free for weeks and months at a time. I would work here and there but not much and as soon as I had any money I spent it on beer and dope. I don’t think I surfed once that summer. My surfing friends had abandoned me. Then one day I went to the mailbox and I found a check inside. It was an income tax return check for James. James was the former tenant that had lived here before me. But James was now in the Army and in Viet Nam. I took the check and put it in my dresser and forgot about it. Then one day another “friend” named George came by my place just to hang out, I asked him if he had a few bucks and he said he was broke. He asked me the same and I said ditto. “But I do have an income tax check for James in my dresser” I said. “Really?” said George “How much?” “I don’t know I never opened it” “Well lets take a look” said George. I went inside and got the letter and went back outside and opened it up. $200 “Wow” I said. “Hey I got an idea” said George. “What” I said, “Do you still have a bank account” George asked me. “Yeah but there’s only $5 in it just to keep it open” I said “Cool here’s what we’ll do. I’ll go in the bank with you and tell the teller that I’m James and that we just got back from the river and I lost my wallet, but you have an account here and you will vouch for me that I’m James then I will sign the back of the check and you endorse it for me.” “It’s worth a try I said.” We drove down to the bank in Georges 65 Buick Riviera and went in. We walked out $200 dollars richer. Lets party! This was going to catch up to me later in life

“Rights of Passage” conclusion

November 8, 2007

passage-ending.jpg…and the colors of the sea blind your eyes with trembling mermaids, and you touch the distant beaches with tales of brave Ulysses, how his naked ears were tortured by the sirens sweetly singing. “Cream” “Tales of Brave Ulysses”

Marco’s and I were stoked to finally be at our destination in one piece with no mishaps or weirdos on our hitch hike adventure to Jalama beach. Our ride dropped us off at the far north side of the beach park near the small Jalama Store where they sold basic camping and fishing supplies, as well as grilled burgers and fries. We dropped our gear and filled our canteens with water from the drinking fountain. No bottled water back then. “Which way dude?” I said to Marcos. “North.” said Marcos “Not many people go north of the creek and the trestle, besides the waves at that little rivermouth can get pretty good sometimes.” We picked up our gear walked out on the sand and started our 1 mile hike north to our “own” campground. You see Marcos and I were penny-less so we couldn’t stay in the park campgrounds even if we wanted to. Not having money can really make things exciting and adventurous!

The wind was howling hard as we strained to hold on to our surfboards as we walked headlong into the stinging sand hitting our faces. We needed to find some kind of shelter from this nasty wind. Maybe a little southeast facing nook or better yet a cave. We kept walking looking for a spot, we finally found a small little crack of a canyon and walked up into it to test its “wind sheltering qualities.” It was pretty good but not perfect. Our camp had to be wind proof. How could we smoke that hashish if the wind kept blowing out our “supply” of matches? We had a dilemma. Marcos was a seasoned camper, survivalist and naturalist he was to earn a Masters degree in horticulture at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo later in life. So what does he pull out of his backpack, but a 6′ by 8′ nylon swatch of lightweight military parachute. “I thought we could use this as a makeshift tent.” he said “Awesome!” I said. We started to comb the beach for stones and driftwood to secure and prop our parachute, the wind was still howling.

Our first attempt to put up the “tent” in that wind didn’t succeed. We needed complete blockage, like a fuckin brick wall. “We need to go underground.” Marcos said, “Huh” I responded. “Yeah we need to dig a trench and fortify it with rocks and driftwood and then cover it with the chute.” “Good idea” I said. Marcos was digging the trench while I went looking for better pieces of wood. I ventured up into the little canyon and low and behold I found a pile of old railroad tyes thrown from the tracks up on the hill. “Dude come here look what I found its perfect! we dug our hole about four feet deep and stacked the tyes up along three of the walls, the fourth wall was our entry. We covered the pit with the chute and tested it out. It worked like a charm.The only time a match went out was when we blew it out.

The wind blew hard for three days straight. We didn’t surf. We gathered firewood, continued to strengthen and improve our sand floored dwelling, we explored the coast, and of course got high. Our food consisted of stretchers like rice and beans, pasta, peanut butter and honey, Ritz Crackers, popcorn, canned veggies, granola and dried fruits. No refrigerated stuff and no meat. Just healthy food actually.

The fourth day dawned still and quite like earthquake weather in California. All we could here were the waves breaking on the beach. We walked south of our camp and surfed the rivermouth. The waves were small but fun clean peaks. It felt good to rinse those first three days of sand out of all the nooks and crannies. The ocean was our bath tub. It was a beautiful sunny blue day and all we did was surf and hang at the hut and surf some more. We lived like this for days and weeks until we started, “running out of food.”

After about two weeks into our adventure, we were bronzed, weathered, bleached, lean, fit and hungry as hell. By that time we were starting to live on rationed portions. The reason we didn’t want to leave was the fact that a really good swell was starting to fill in and we wanted the surf more than food. We ate one tablespoon of granola and one tablespoon of honey three times a day with water. We surfed all day. On the third day of this “diet” we were sitting hunched over on a sand dune watching the waves, we saw a girl sitting on a towel in her bikini looking over at us, probably because we were looking over at her. We weren’t looking at her because she was smokin hot, but because she was peeling an orange. That juicy vitamin C filled, mouth watering, scurvy curing orange. Then for some reason she offered us half. Like little sand crabs we scurried over to get our offerings. It was the best three wedges of orange I ever tasted.

That evening Marcos and I were seriously considering going home due to the lack of food. Maybe one more day but that was it. When suddenly we heard voices in the distance. Not many people came up this far from the campgrounds unless they were hiking or fishing, especially this late in the afternoon. We poked our heads out of our hut and in the distance we saw Marco’s Mom and Dad and his little brother coming up the beach! “Wow it’s your parents!” I said to Marcos.The first things we started to think were, there gonna tell us we have to go back with them, there pissed off about something, or there’s a family emergency.” NO to all of the above. They came to see how we were doing and asked us to come down to the campgrounds for supper!” We had the most incredible barbecued burgers and potato salad, corn on the cob with butter and strawberry rhubarb pie with milk. Marks folks left that evening, and they left us with another weeks worth of food. How awesome is that! We walked back to our hut in the dark. I couldn’t help but think about how lucky Marcos was to have a mom and dad like that. I got a little teary eyed to myself in the dark.

A week went by, the swell got insanely good, we surfed hard everyday. Then one day the surf went flat and the food was low again. It was time to head back to “Sunland California.” We were ready. We packed our gear, walked back through the campgrounds and stuck out our thumbs heading south. Despite our shabby weathered appearance we got back into our little town in four rides in one day, phenomenal!

When I finally got home and I walked up my driveway to this drama ridden, God forsaken, heartache excuse of a home, I felt a heavy heart. The whole time that I was up at Jalama I never thought of my mother, of my breakup with Debbie or anything negative. Now I was back in the fucking real world with summer coming to an end and my senior year in high school coming up. My sister told me to call Debbie apparently she was worried about me and wanted to talk. I gave her a call.

“Rights of Passage” part 2

November 8, 2007

passage-part-2.jpg…”I wanna live my life in the rivers and trees, I wanna spend my time just making ryhme and be free… and be free… and be free…” Loggins & Messina

After Marcos and I climbed back up onto the 101 highway from our little surf session at Emma Wood beach we felt refreshed and invigorated. “Lets break off a piece of that hash” said Marcos “Sounds good” I replied. We lightly heated a small corner of our “Hashy Hershy Bar” and a nice little chunk softened and fell off into our small little pipe. I took a good hit while Marcos swirled the match above the black chunk keeping it perfectly heated. I did the same for him. We finished it off and stuck out our thumbs on a sunny summer afternoon heading north on “High” way 101. The ocean to our right and the RR tracks and mountains to our left. It was perfect.

We got a ride by some cowboy in his pickup truck. He was going to Lopoc which was just past the road to Jalama Beach we threw our boards and gear into the back of his truck and headed up the coast. “Where you guys goin?” he asked “Jalama” we both said back “Where did you hitch hike from?” “Sunland” “Where?” “Sunland” I said back. “Where the hell is that?” the cowboy asked. “About 120 miles southeast of here” “Oh you mean LA” our driver said. “Yeah LA” I said, I didn’t feel like getting specific with him. “Thats a long way especially with them surfboards” “Yeah but it’s worth it” I said.

We reached the small two lane ranch road off of highway 1 that curves through the rolling hills to the beach at dusk. The cowboy dropped us off with a warning. “If in you guys are gonna stay out here tonight you better find a good spot to hide off on the side of the road.
Alot of weird ass shit has happened out here. There’s alot of crazy motherfuckers out here in these parts.” “Thanks man” Marcos said. And our cowboy drove of into the sunset. “Dude sounded like he was from Texas or somethin” I mumbled.

Since it was getting dark we decided to sleep out in the cattle pasture under an oak tree. We thew down our sleeping bags and pulled out the “Hashy Hershy Bar” for a night cap. It was pitch dark out. We did the usual smoking ritual and lay-ed down to go to sleep. We were both just about into dreamland when we heard a car engine in the distance. It wasn’t on the paved road but on a dirt road within the ranch’s property. “I wonder what there doin out here” I said to Marcos. “I don’t know” he said. We could see the headlights of the vehicle, it was about 200 yards away. Not real close but still kinda strange, especially after what our cowboy friend had told us. We watched and listened, you could hear the doors close and voices mumbling. Then we heard a gunshot! “What the fuck!” “Shit!” We froze stiff and watched. The trucked doors closed and the engine started and they drove off. “What the hell was that all about?” I asked Marcos. “I think we just saw someone get wasted” he said. We didn’t know what to do. There were no cars, no houses, no cell phones back then, nothing. We decided to stay put and be quite. We slept very, very lightly that night. The next morning at dawn I walked about a 2 thirds of the way to where that truck had been the night before to see if there was a body. Nothing. Marcos yelled “Hey we got a ride!” and was waving me back to the roadside. I raced back glad that I didn’t find anything.

The road into Jalama is a winding two lane road through hills, valleys and small canyons dotted with a few ranches. Classic California cattle country. The last hill you climb takes you to the crest with a panoramic view of the blue Pacific Ocean and a long white sand beach down below. This is Jalama Beach. This was going to be home for three weeks