…9:00 on saturday mornings. In color!
My Wild & Misspent Youth
(The following is only a portion of an epic 8 day hitchhiking/camping trip that my cousin and I undertook around Labor Day, 1972. I shall tell the other parts over the course of these postings.)
We got into San Diego about nine in the morning and the first thing we did is take showers at a truck stop, then wash our funky cowstink clothes (the result of having stowed away in a cattle truck in Barstow) in the laundromat. Then it was off to a cafe for breakfast and plotting our day.
Randy had never been to the San Diego zoo, so we decided to head off to Balboa Park. Our trip went pretty smoothly, with a stopover at a local shopping mall for some babe watching and the purchase of a new California map, since I had lost my old one (probably in Las Vegas).
We ate a late lunch before we hit the zoo, then paid our entrance fees and went in. The zoo was jam packed with tourists and Labor Day weekend locals. We wandered around for hours, spending at least two of them with a couple of young hippie chicks who agreed to give us a ride up the coast if we could meet them at their motel by noon the next day.
About an hour before closing time, Randy and I were resting on a bench near a lion exhibit when he broached the subject of where we would stay that night. As was my way back in those days, I had not given it much thought. The park itself looked attractive for a bit of clandestine camping, but alas, had a few too many drug dealers and cops for my taste. Then, as she often does, my muse began dry humping my brain.
“We’ll stay here tonight. In the zoo. I say a really densely planted area back down the hill there. We’ll just hide out there, then leave tomorrow once the crowds arrive.”
As he was prone to, Randy began to get nervous about this idea, but once again I persuaded him to trust my judgment. And so, off we went to hide out behind a really well designed cactus/succulent planting that was about 30′ wide and 20′ deep.
Behind the cactus was a nice area of hard packed earth about 15′ wide that ran along a high concrete wall. It was here that we set up our little camp. Since it would be a cold camp, I decided we should forgo our usual hot cocoa in favor of the pint of tequila I had in my back pack. All told, our night went well, especially because the cactus area was spared the early morning sprinkler activity that other parts of the garden received.
There were, in fact, only two bad points to the night: dusk and dawn. See, in a zoo, pretty much every creature makes a ton of noise at dusk and dawn. It’s not so bad at dusk, but let me tell you, nothing will wake you up out of a sound Jose Cuervo assisted sleep like the mass roaring of big cats and the trumpeting of elephants. I was instantly awake and Randy, nervous lad that he was, was convinced that we were doomed.
After I calmed Randy down, the two of us got dressed, ate some beef jerky and dried fruit with a bit of cold water to wash it down, then awaited the crowds. Sure enough, we were able to slip out of the zoo easily once the joint was jumping.
A couple of bus rides and a stop at a donut shop for coffee, tea & sugar laden pastry and we were at the hippie chicks motel by 11:15 for our ride up the coast.
Which is, of course, another story.