Home > Uncategorized > The Confessions of Mike Trapp. Chapter VI: Hitchhiking

The Confessions of Mike Trapp. Chapter VI: Hitchhiking

Mike Trapp

Activism really kind of came to increasingly dominate my life in that time. I still worked at Pineview, the psychiatric unit, and I was a full time grad student, so I had kind of these three full-time lives and I’ve had.

I’ve had what was identified as cluster headaches. I would get these clusters of migraines. When I first moved to Rossford when I was 19 or 20, I had my first bad set of them. It works in a pattern where I have a migraine a month later and a migraine, two weeks later I have a migraine and week later I have a migraine. And then, a little bit down the road, I’m having migraines the entire time that I’m awake.

The first time I had them I didn’t know it was going to go away. The migraines quickly degraded the quality of my life to the point that I actually got suicidal. I had such low quality of life. They went away and and when the next cluster came, the doctor started to identify as cluster headaches. Knowing it would pass made it all much easier to deal with. I realized that working midnights, a lack of sleep from moving to the midnight shift while going to grad school resulted in me not getting a lot of sleep. I was really pushed. When I got my first migraine, I put in notice at my job, dropped a class and really started to downshift my life.

I also made some hard decisions about my car when I got my bachelor’s degree. I had never really even had a nice car, but I got a nice used car, a LeBaron convertible that had been a dream of mine to have a rag top like my dad’s ’63 Ford Falcon that we watch moulder in the garage. We used to play in it when we were kids.

I calculated how much I spent on car payments, insurance maintenance and gas. I realized I was spending about $9,000 a year. At the time I was making about $20,000. I realized that I could have the exact same lifestyle and make $9,000 less if I didn’t drive. So I sold my car and paid it off because I still owed some money on it. I still had a lump sum and I had also saved a little bit of money. My brother John had been working at a donut shop and got laid off and was collecting unemployment.

I had this pile of money and John had some money coming in. We decided that after my second year of grad school that we would take a summer and go hitchhiking around the country and we thought our goal would be that we would hitchhike out to the Arizona desert and do peyote. We set out.

John had hitchhiked some and I had done one hitchhiking trip in preparation, but I had just got picked up by a friend of the person who I was hitchhiking with and I ended up spending the long weekend with her, so I hadn’t really had a real hitching experience.  It was cool to like live out of the backpack and set off. We went to Chicago where we were supposed to meet up with someone who was going to give us a ride to Colorado, but we got to Chicago much quicker than we anticipated and it’s expensive town. So we left Chicago and went to a little town that had camping that was kind of west of Chicago where we hoped we would still be able to hook up with our ride. We camped in Morrisville and met some local drunks and got no jobs, tearing down carnival rides and just kind of embraced the whole experience living in the campground, cooking our food.

Neither of us had had a big camping experience. We both spent time in the truck and slept outside a lot, but the campfires and the tent. We had a department store tent. I don’t think I had a sleeping bag because it was summertime and we were planning on going into the Southwest.

We ended up missing our ride and, and just started hitchhiking. John sprained his ankle and we spent an extra week in Crystal Springs, Iowa near Iowa City and camped by a reservoir and hitchhiked to Iowa City for the college town culture. I was meeting all of the crazy characters and coming up with a catalog of hitchhiking stories that I still break out. It self selects on who picks you up hitchhiking: almost exclusively people who are really nice. This was the early nineties, and there wasn’t a big hitchhiking scene. There was some kind of counter-cultural folks who were still hitchhiking. It was before you could get on Craigslist and arrange rides. There was still a little bit of remnant hitchhiking culture and I think in like kind of the anarchist and the gutter punk scene, there was more train hopping.

We met some folks who told us about a Rainbow Gathering in Colorado in the Four Corners area. We decided that that sounded like us. It was an Iowa and there were these folks who just lived as transients and they would say it in the same campground as us and living on the nickel bottle deposit law that they have in Iowa. And they were going to drift out that way. So we set out towards Colorado and had bunch of adventures too many to recount. (That would be a worthy project in itself to this lay down hitchhiking stories. Although a couple come to mind, I know we had a heck of a time getting through Nebraska who’s real strict about keeping you off the highway. They had all these signs with phones and slashes through it back then. I just went through Nebraska now. And it didn’t seem like it looks like they’ve kind of lowered that vibe I think, cause you just don’t see a checkers anymore since Craigslist kind of took away the need.)

We walked the last three miles, so out in Nebraska and got to this bridge in Colorado and slept. Then the next morning, we got picked up by this guy who was, it was before the militia movement, but he was kinda like a proto-militia guy. He didn’t have a driver’s license and didn’t believe in licensing his car. He had these great stories about getting pulled over by the police and widen up their tickets and throwing it back in the chest and he didn’t pay his taxes. He was driving to Denver to go to federal court because he had a federal lawsuit against the Sheriff’s Department for coming on his land with the bank when they tried to foreclose it. He’s just a total character. And we had a good time with him. He wanted to take us to some strip bars after he did his court stuff, but we didn’t want to get stuck in Denver overnight. Cities are expensive and kind of weird places to camp. We had them drop us off at an exit. When we were at the exit, we wanted to leave at, there was this big bearded guy who had a a beach umbrella and a gallon of vodka. He invited us to join up with him, but we thought three of us being being drunk wouldn’t have it not be helpful. So we went and got some Mexican food. We came back and he had gotten a ride. We got rides and we got dropped off. We had kind of a rough idea where the Rainbow Gathering is. We got dropped off at this exit and there were like five or six other hitchhikers there, including the vodka guy. The vodka was all gone by now.

We knew there was no way you’re going to get people rides for that many people who are hustling rides. Everybody was at the exit. We had heard that there were these gold mines, so we hiked off into the woods looking for an abandoned gold mine that tried to sleep in, but we didn’t find any so we just camped on a hillside, I think in someone’s yard. Their dog came out and was messing with us. We got up real early and left.

We ultimately made it to the Rainbow Gathering thanks to a ride with these two drunken guys. They were real rural, redneck types. They knew where the Rainbow Gathering and were thinking about going. They took us on this ride. First they had to stop at this bar because they were going to try to score some cocaine for the trip, which from our understanding wasn’t really the vibe of the rainbow gathering, but that was their plan. They ended up not having any luck, which is just as well. And but they took us right to the Rainbow Gathering and we parted ways because we thought these fellows were going to be trouble. They got us to where we were going. The Rainbow Gathering was everything we imagined. It was like 20,000 hippies building a city in the middle of nowhere in the National Forest. It was at 14,000 feet, a place that only had 14 frost free days a year. We were ill-prepared without a lot of warm clothes or blankets, but there were these Baptist missionaries that were giving out blankets. We were able to get some extra blankets. They were not getting a lot of love from the pagan types but we appreciated the Baptists showing up and showing people how to take care of each other.

So, Rainbow Gatherings, how they work, if you’re not familiar with it is organized around kitchens where a group of volunteers from a certain area have a name and they put together meals and they bring food and then people who are going to eat, help out by hauling firewood or carrying water or helping clean up or doing prep cook work or whatever. You just make yourself useful and you get fed. They might have a tip jar and they might not.

We just had a great time. We got there early because there’s need for a setup crew. The Gathering builds slowly. The big event is for the week of 4th of July. There’s a line that gathered in this Valley and it was probably four or 5,000 people and you stand and you stand in a big circle and hold hands and have an hour of silence for world peace at noon and it’s kind of a beautiful thing. At one o’clock, everybody charges in and then hundreds of drums get broken out and becomes this big drum circle. So John had some altitude sickness, and after the after the holding of hands and humming for world peace, he went back to his tent and I was going around and people were drumming. Some people were going around with bags of psychedelic mushrooms, like grocery bags, just handing out a handful of people, but only to drummers. And I didn’t have a drum and I know rhythm and I don’t know what I would’ve done with one if I had one.

They passed me by, but there was this Samoan and they filled his big hands with mushrooms. He gave me half of his handful, as he didn’t have any pockets on his sarong. I ate those mushrooms on an empty stomach at 14,000 feet. I stayed and danced for about four hours. The music was flowing through us and we were chanting and they were like just hundreds of naked people and just dancing pretty fanatically.

I had really my first kind of non-Christian religious experience that was as powerful as the times that I had found that Jesus spoke to me or spoke to my heart or that I was felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. I felt like there was the spirit and I was dancing with this spirit. And it was was felt like a spirit of a woman who was just brokenhearted. And then the dancing provided this kind of release and it was powerful and real. And that really made a basic challenge to my belief systems because I had gotten very diverse in my thinking, but I still held this kind of core that was pretty much Christian based. And then started to accept that there were ideas that were right for other people. And then I was incorporating good ideas from other places that were in alignment with kind of my Christian faith.

I had this kind of overtly powerful the cosmic experience with the spirit that had nothing to do with that kind of construct or reality base. It was just as real as anything else that I’d had. As I assimilated that, I stopped calling myself a Christian or a Christian Taoist. Realizing that each of these kinds of belief systems and this is more of a kind of traditional pagan seeing spirits and everything kind of experience or some spirit of the ancestors. I was out almost animist if I was trying to categorize it. I just started calling myself multi-construct because there are some times that I want to use certain different concepts and ways. Sometimes it’s helpful to think about God being in everything. Sometimes it’s very helpful to think that there is only the material universe that answers to natural laws. And sometimes it’s helpful to think that that an all powerful God or the universe and I have a personal relationship and  unable to communicate with that for support or encouragement, or mostly gratitude.

Also in living in my prayer life. I still don’t bow my knee to anything less than the guy who made the universe. But open to the idea that expresses itself in lots of different ways and that I’m open to having experiences and it’s like: do you know who are you with and what are you doing? When you get into psychedelics, you could say, okay, this was a drug experience, but I’ve read a lot of Timothy Leary and I think this theory holds true from my personal scientific experience and reading the clinical literature and talking to other people is that psychedelic experiences are fundamentally set by your mindset, by your environment, and then, and only then, the drug and the dose of drug. Some of my most intense psychedelic experiences have been through things like sleep deprivation and meditation.

That kind of confirmed that I was on this different path of, I was open to different States of consciousness and, and look to how to get there. And, and one thing that I had learned the reading my stuff and in what I would call the Western esoteric tradition, you know, this kind of Robert Anton Wilson, Aliester Croley, lots of other kinds of bases that looks at lots of different belief systems and looks at how to pull that out into practical spiritual reality of reality construction and personal power to implement positive change in the world is that there are a lot of ways to get there. And when you are using substances to achieve different States of Consciousness, to be aware and, and take a piece of this to observe and note and then looking at other times in life to find feeling States that are similar and to be able to cultivate and grow those and to learn the lessons that you need from them without the use of the drugs.

I have never been musical. I am tone deaf. My mom was tone deaf. My brothers and sisters are tone deaf. My dad was the only musical one of us in the family, he just didn’t want to participate with us because we were all so bad at it. Listening to bands, I could never separate out the individual instruments until I was at a concert in Columbus, Ohio and I had taken some LSD and I was like: There’s the lead guitar. There’s the bass guitar, I was able to pick out the individual instruments and hear them each on their own. That’s something that I’ve been able to do ever since. It provided this kind of organizational understanding of breakthrough or what I think Robert Anton Wilson called these reality tracks and when we use psychedelics or have spiritual experiences, then we remove those tracks and we’re able to lay down new kind of neural pathways and develop new ways of organizing ourselves and identifying who we are and how we operate in this amazing universe.

It was a powerful experience. We’re doing psychedelics every day. You couldn’t hitchhike out of there because out of the 20,000 people who were there, probably 5,000 of them hitchhiked there and were leaving at the same time. There is this hippie bus tour line that called Green Tortoise bus lines and they were coming back from a charter and they’d picked up some hitchhikers and they had detoured to the Rainbow Gathering without permission and they just parked under some trees to hide from the GPS and spend a weekend at the gathering. And then they realized that they would like to keep their jobs when they got back. So they sold some low price tickets to pay for the gas for going out of their way. So we got a $50 ticket and arrived to San Francisco. And it was just fun because it was a busload of folks from the Rainbow Gathering. And as we left the Gathering, we all started to shed our hippie personalities where everybody was like, ‘Hey bro, Hey sister’ and all that kind of Rainbow language and we realized that some people were punks and some people were whatever. We dropped people off along the route and the remains of us made it to San Francisco. Then, a smaller remnant of us got a hotel together in San Francisco. We were all off the chain at this point, kind of living under our own rules and being young and tripping every day for weeks. Then, add a bunch of alcohol to that in San Francisco.

John and I came to blows over something dumb. I just drunkenly grabbed him to pull him along when he wanted to call it a night and go back and he punched me in the face and we were throwing knuckle. It was really kind of the last brawl that we ever had. We fought a lot as kids. It had been a while as we grew up. We got pulled apart by these folks from New Jersey. I just decided that I was just going to hitchhike home on my own. I left early that morning, packed my stuff and I’m like, “I’ll see you.” I started to hitchhike out. I got a ride across the Bay over to Berkeley and stalled out and couldn’t get a ride and I was there for a number of hours. And then lo-and-behold, John got dropped off at the same accident that I was at. Since we were stuck together we decided to hitchhike together and see what happened. We shook hands and apologized. This guy Glen picked us up. We were at this this gay pickup park and he didn’t think we were ever gonna be able to get a ride.

And he invited us back to his place and Napa and for a long weekend. And he had done a bunch of hitchhiking in his misspent youth and caught a shrimp boat to Japan and stayed at a Buddhist monastery for a few years. And, and he was a really cool guy and his wife was really neat. She was a nursing home administrator and they had this beautiful home in Napa. He called her and said, “Honey, I’m bringing home a couple of hitchhikers.” The night before we were drinking 40-ouncers with this homeless guy, Cowboy on the streets of San Francisco. The next night we show up and she had thrown this cocktail party. We ended up becoming pretty good friends with Glen and Linda. John went back and house-sat for them where they went to Hawaii and when we moved back to the Bay area, we hung out with Glen and Linda a lot became lifelong friends. That’s kind of one of the neater hitchhike stories.

We decided we had had enough of each other with 24 hours a day, seven days a week for six weeks. So we just hitchhiked. We hitchhiked back immediately.

 

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