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It was on the last night before we left to head North, after Fin had gone to bed early, that the hostel was suddenly all but over-run by a high school girls basketball team from Ireland who were there for some sort of championship tournament the next morning. Duke and I, as high schoolers ourselves, had no complaints on the matter as the night’s air was then fated to be filled from that point on with Irish-accented giggling and chatting and all-out laughter of a dozen or so girls our age until well past midnight. There, under the stars and moon which seemed to hang weightlessly in the night sky above the bay, the sharing of traveling stories between newly-met travelers from different sides of a great ocean was a fun way to close out the night.

The next day, Duke and I slept in late and then, throughout the day, I remember reading through my old Jim Morison poetry books and my new copy of a Hunter S. Thompson book and making sketches and poetic notations in my notebooks. With Duke and Fin both plugged into the music on their headphones, my mom drove onward, as we made our journey up the coast for many hours…

We got as far as about an hour and a half outside of Portland when we started discussing the ‘pros and cons’ of either stopping for some lodging or driving on until we made it into the city.

Duke and I exclaimed in a very Beastie Boys type of way, “No. Sleep. Till Portland!!!!” and laughed amongst ourselves in the back seats.

We made it another half hour or so down the road before Fin took over driving the rental vehicle and ultimately, we stopped at a small motel on the outskirts of Portland. The motel was connected to a Mexican cantina and so, while Duke and I hung out in and around the motel, Fin was occupied till well after midnight with his bar experience.

Once in Seattle, we also stayed for several nights at a local hostel there. Duke and I played pool with some of the other travelers there with the topic of music, once again, naturally coming up in conversation (as was rather common for us in those days) and almost-immediately. We ended up finding out about a concert at a venue called Pier 71 the very next day. A folk-indie artist was touring for her latest album, which one of the two of us had stumbled onto a few months back, and we were indeed interested. We managed to phone-in for some will-call tickets and the next day, we packed a backpack with snacks and other items including a disposable camera… From well before that early age, I was already in the prolific habit of documenting through poetry and prose as well as pictures and videos about as often as I could and at the time, that disposable camera was what we had. No camera phones or whatnot.

Well, security took the camera when they went through the bag, and we were forced to enjoy the show without snapping any pics.

About 2/3 of the way through the show, however, from center stage, the artist raised her hand to her brow between songs and squinted out over the crowd towards the back.

“Is that what I think it is?” she said with a chuckle into the microphone. Someone from the back of the venue had managed to smuggle in a small potted cannabis plant and everyone was sort of crowd-surfing it towards the stage. She ultimately said, ‘thanks for the new house plant’, basically, and went about her show before it even made it all the way up to her, if I recall properly.

It was a rather beautiful thing. At the time, though, I was still so new to things that I was genuinely perplexed how or why my small camera couldn’t make it in, but somebody out there could manage to make that happen.

Nowadays, I can imagine with ease how it would make all the difference in the eyes of those music-loving individuals working as hourly security for a show like that… Cameras? no. Weapons? no. A potted pot plant… (?)

Also, I know better now than in those days just how practiced some folks can get at sneaking into shows or getting shit past even the most scrutinous of security setups. So, in hindsight it comes as no great mystery, but it was an instance of amazing irony to me at the time.

At some point, my dad flew out to join us all for a day and then my mom, Fin, and Duke all flew back to the home area while Pops and I found a rent-a-wreck type of company and rented an old ’69 Caddy convertible and drove a few hours into the desert and stopped for some photos and music and food and then began our drive back towards San Francisco to ultimately fly back home as well.

It was a blessing of a trip…

The day before we were leaving to start that trip was the day Duke had finally gotten his license. So, by the time I was getting back in the area, he was able to drive his parents’ little 4-door Subari, and pick up me and our buddy, Huxley, just about anytime our schedules and gas money allowed …and let’s just say, a whole new world seem to open up after that.