Once upon a time in 1992, I hitch-hiked around Germany (and other Western European countries) experienced many hi-jinks and met up with my dear pal Trevor in a magical, fairytale town near the Rhine River called Rhodt unter Rietburg.
To earn some Deutsche Marks, we would gather chestnuts in the woods, and sell them to the tourists who enjoyed eating Kastanien, boiled, while drinking the excellent local wine.
While passing time at our “stand,” I painted the local environs.
Now, with the wonders of the Internet, I can find photos of the scenes I only remember has faded watercolour pencil sketches (i did not take a camera).
In this case, one of “crazy” King Ludwig’s summer villa/castle of some kind… Resplendent with ancient grape vines in the foreground.
There was a time I went to Amsterdam with one way ticket arriving with $220 in a variety of currencies and travellers checks plus an emergency (entirely useless) $100 Canadian bill tucked into my boot, a backpack with an inadequate sleeping bag, butane camp stove (somehow allowed on the plane), a cooking wok (surprisingly versatile), comically coloured outdoor gear purchased at various close-out sales and 2nd hand shops, and other sundry items, but deliberately did not take anything of value including a camera – instead took a sketchbook which is filled with poetry, doodles and other whatnots, and a watercolour pad in which I produced several paintings.
As you might expect, I got up to many adventures by sticking out my thumb and ending up coffee shops, barns filled with drying ganja, a Gwar concert, being a “roadie” who didn’t do anything whatsoever of usefulness for the Bad Yodeller’s ill-fated tour, got deathly ill at Oktoberfest in Munich and related ridiculous campground.
Then down to last few Deutsch Marks (noting pre-Euro), ended up meeting old pal Trevor in Rheinpfalz area where we embarked on fun nights in dungeons, bars and ruins, wandering forest with a giant dog called Bongo gathering chestnuts to sell in the endlessly adorable village of Rhod unter Rietburg and picking grapes – noting we were on different work crews and I fortunately got on the slacker team which included frequent breaks for wine and smokes and abundant cheese and bread and wine at the end of the day – including a couple of bottles to take back to stay warm in the tent/hayloft.
Then, after sleeping in haylofts and tents, partying at new wine festivals #secrets, a visit to hospital for a pal who couldn’t fly over ramparts and a ride with 7 crammed into a Citroen 2CV, we received our pay packets (after some trepidation thinking that any day we would be shook down by black-gloved immigration officials for illegal labor) came a hitchhike back to Amsterdam for usual unusualness, then a bus to Belgian for a ferry to England then a stretch in London which was cold wet and miserable, expensive and prone to bad decisions then via an dodgy credit card, somehow ended up in Miami in the wake of Hurricane Andrew. Following was even more ridiculous adventure of a drive-away car to Dallas, and rather shockingly we survived but, I digress…
All this is to tell you that: I have two photos and one wine label from Germany and one photo from London taken by a lovely Canadian girl we knew from “home”.
Levon Helm’s autobio “This Wheel’s on Fire” sizzles.
I especially like this part:
“First I went to Mexico and lived on the beach until I’d spent all my money. Then I met up with Kirby Pennick, a musician friend from Arkansas, and together we discovered that Florida was a bad place to be broke. We were just bumming around. We got the paper, and there was a drive-away Lincoln going from Florida to New Orleans. We just said, “Let’s go.”
I especially like the above since there is a very similar trip/experience in my dossier… But arriving broke in Florida right after hurricane Andrew on a cheap flight from London after bumming around Europe (grapes, chestnuts, bad yodellers band, Gwar, Oktoberfest etc) > Getting a driveway car from dodgy goodfellas in Miami (after food at Hare Krishnas) splitting across dark sketchy Alligator Alley through bright morning New Orleans > to beers-in-car Texas, with several police pull overs along the way. Yikes.
Oddly foosball in Austin with good ole boys met in Vegas between Dead shows, a 9-11 disturbance, canyon hotspring flings, and a medieval wedding > anyhow and almost met our/my demise dropping the car off in Dallas to a large angry man who expected something very important and illegal in the trunk.￼ Trevor Erikson and i found ourselves very out of place but adjusted rapidly and took control, even recouping deposit (in cash, not cheque) and a lift downtown.
Somehow finagled a Greyhound 2 for 1 ticket to from an even more angry tweaker who chased the bus like a rapid dachshund. Ate well in SLC on a dodgy credit card, zoom zoom ended up at Marble Arch then Tottori. This was 1993 i think or 92.
No photo evidence exists. Oh yeah: Dig Levon’s tome #theband
How to pack a large amount of non-ordinary lifestyle into a small amount of time, without a lot of money – or none really. True definition of adventure perhaps? Will love you forever brother Dave. Such memories create interesting and long lasting pathways within the soul. And, yes, it was 1992.
Puffing along a trail recounting leaving cold, miserable London en route to post-hurricane Florida with flashbacks to working in Rheinplatz grade fields, gathering chestnuts to sell for beer and bread money, strange encampments at Oktoberfest, and hitchhiking to Amsterdam with gaggle of pals. To London by ferry and rapid exit via cheap flight Florida, quickly interjecting in chaotic domestic situations, meals with surly Hare Krishnas, sleeping on unglamorous beaches, and avoiding looting commotion, while plotting forward momentum, which eventually came in form of a dubious drive-away car situation to Dallas… and beyond (in 1992).
Features music by: “Brave Captain” fIREHOSE (recorded live in Ancienne, Belgique, March 12, 1991 – via Archive.org), “Florida” by Blue Rodeo (recorded live in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan), and “Crazy Fingers” by Grateful Dead (recorded live in Phoenix, AZ, 1993 – via archive.org).