Grateful Dead Road Trip to Eugene flashback

Grateful Dead Roadtrip to Eugene 1990 - Pals and Earthship VW bus
Grateful Dead Roadtrip to Eugene 1990 – Pals and Earthship VW bus

Once upon a time, I wrangled a community of renegades, weirdos and soul-seekers from various Utah suburbs and old pals from Vancouver area to ramble up to, and rendezvous at the Grateful Dead shows in Eugene, Oregon. I recall calling the BC boys from a payphone on University of Utah campus declaring they must be there though they were hesitant. The Utah crew was handpicked but i have no recollection how. There were many ladies i knew from the community college and friends of friends or something. Either way, it was a fine combo of folks.

The Utah contingent for the most part rolled up in my beloved 1974 VW “turtle top” micro bus and Heather’s Subaru, while the BC boys rolled down in Brad Rees’ Datsun with an emergency radiator repair by Chris Gorin’s dad (done with a garden hose and zip ties if i recall correctly.

Grateful Dead Roadtrip to Eugene 1990 - Pals at gas stop en route
Grateful Dead Roadtrip to Eugene 1990 – Pals at gas stop en route

The ride up, mostly straight through from Provo to Eugene was a rollicking affair to begin with – between the soon-to-be legendary Cary Brown’s drunken revelry and bottle throwing target practice from the side door and various combos of cuddling, we ambled up and camped in the Eagles (or Lions) park across the street from Autzen stadium and launched ourselves into the pandemonium of the Dead lot which featured grassroots vendors selling everything from ganja goo balls to liquid LSD to grilled cheese sandwiches and veggie stir fry.

Grateful Dead Roadtrip to Eugene 1990 - Shakedown street parking lot outside Autzen Stadium
Grateful Dead Roadtrip to Eugene 1990 – Shakedown street parking lot outside Autzen Stadium

Walking back to out little camp late in the night, and spinning high from a mixed bag of goodness (for my part anyhow), Denise Robison and I heard a racket coming from the general area. As we ambled over, i recall saying “wow glad that’s not our camp” but as it turns out, Cary, who was a psychedelic (among other) veteran far beyond the level of any of us had decide to take a warrior’s ration which spun him to a unprecedented level of strange consciousness which led to him many strange acts from which he could not be persuaded to stop. Tough and rangy like an angry moose, he trashed my bus, then proceeded to battle a winch on the front the neighbour’s 4X4 with head, he was Jesus, Satan, a ninja and shouting oaths of all manner.

Despite the long suffering, kindly and experienced “talker downers” who with best intentions tried to help, the man was a menace to himself and a danger to others and would not be subdued. My instinct was to get the fck outta there and avoid the bad trip. However, an ambulance drove up and shit got real. My details are a bit hazy but i recall they strapped him down to a board (probably after some sort of injection) and began to haul him to the hospital – Dear thoughtful Denise (who remains a tender and talented caregiver with near magical powers) either insisted on hopping in the ambulance or managed to walk there (again im hazy on this front).

Our comrade was in an ER/intensive care unit (likely still bellowing his epithets) when Marty Kendall arrived complete with missionary identification and declared he was Cary’s clergy and would “take it from here” – Indeed Marty knew Cary well and managed to secret him away from the hospital (avoid a bill i believe) and the next day Cary had returned to the camp, and sat like a Buddha – silent and sweating.

The rest of the tribe went in to hear our future in the sounds of Jerry’s soaring guitar, Phil’s bombs, the 2 drum attack, Bob’s staccato rhythm riffs and Brent (who died shortly thereafter) hollering soul singing and keyboard poundings.

Grateful Dead Roadtrip to Eugene 1990 - Welcome to Oregon
Grateful Dead Roadtrip to Eugene 1990 – Welcome to Oregon

Other bits i recall are some of the gang going to sandy coastal Florence for a part of a day trip, Cary not paying gas money because “he was here to be the mechanic” and me limping my battered bus up to BC after the shows to work at a bike shop while the Utahns heading southwards.

Far more important than the chaotic story we all went home with was the bonds we forged between the gangs from both sides of the border which continued through many other Grateful Dead and other festival shows, budding romances and languid river and roadtrips.

Some of the folks remain my fondest friends while others i still follow from a distance.

My comrades who were on the trip can no doubt fill in my hazy gaps and fact checks and add their perspectives – as addled as they may be these years later.

Included are snaps for evidence. Can you pick out the characters?

PS Kathryn, sorry for my big melon blocking your face.

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NOTES:

Trevor Erikson Beautiful hippies

Mikala Folb This is a great story! Thanks

Boyd Christensen epic tale!

Tim Tulloch Awesome story DaveO, I fully enjoyed reading it! Great pics too. Thanks for sharing.

Shallom Johnson What a great story

Brenda Van Strepen Love!

Audio from the show: https://archive.org/details/gd90-06-24.sbd.unknown.12092.sbeok.shnf

Chris Gee I found myself wandering the dead lot in wonder. Never before had so many whispered in my ears doses. Mushrooms. It was a symphony of color that night. Searching for my 20 dollar ticket. I woke up in the middle of some gravel lot somewhere between the lions lot and the stadium. Some one had given me a blanket and pillow. I was foggy rather groggy but happy as ever. As I was folding my blanket a fellow was wandering serving breakfast cereal and milk. I enjoyed this gratefully. Yum. A tear came to my eye as I also realized a ticket in my shirt pocket and my 20 bucks gone I was in. Hell yeah here we go. Epic much more tour to follow.

Dave Olson Love your recollections Chris, hope others chime in with their flashbacks. So many more tours, so many more shows – each one a greater adventure than the last. But this is what started our journey and opened our eyes to the circus and the magic.  Chris, the stories of your school buses and VW buses and station wagons and crews of folks and your curious ways of keeping gas in the tank are all a huge inspiration man – I’ve been thinking a lot about the cleansing ceremony and your journey with Aya and look forward to learning more.

Chris Gee Yes. The love of the music on highest of levels. Fractals of infinite language one can hear As they flip and turn if your ears and mind are wide open … The bus came by……..when back in van let’s connect when it’s best. Much to share ad well as more research has been done here to assist with what we gave begun. Happy LSD day. !!! One great show was a one named just that. LSD daze …leguna seca daze California. With phish and govt mule?? That’s where I believe I saw bob snot grass ?? Spelling ?? blowing glass the first time and where I could not see the ship in one of those pics where you have not focus but look through. I was pissed. Everyone saw the ship. But did they see the flying dragons over the stage that night ? Hmmm group trip ? Awww who knows!?!

Cory DeMille Best microbus ever!

Bryan Rees I miss that shirt and those jeans make my crotch look huge. This must have been taken at the end of the weekend as Buddy on the left was in the hospital for most of the beginning then slept in the van for 30 hours straight.