Our dread locked vagabond remained in Colorado after that Winter of 92′ in Crested Butte, Colorado. He was known to be seen at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival from time to time and the Old State Bridge rail house that got converted into a bar which played great music. He seen Deep Banana Blackout there once. It was also the point where you could take a old forest road to Steamboat Springs through some beautiful mountain valleys, somewhere out there was a place called Casa del Rio (the River House) a commune of river rats, mountain bikers, nudist, retired criminal bikers and those seeking to soak their bones in the plentiful hot springs were among the banks of the Colorado River. It was surrounded by buses and tents full of river raft guides and old ski bums summering in the lowlands. In the center was a outdoor restaurant that would literally open their walls that only served the best Bar B Que ribs in the middle of no where, every dog had a bone. He used his sisters boyfriends house in Grand Junction as home base and started venturing out into the surrounding country as far west as the Manti La-Sal range and town of Moab, Utah to the West, Mesa Verde Anasazi N.P. to the South, Crested Butte to the East and the Bookcliffs to the North. there was no shortage of gorgeous country to try and get lost in.
He found the freight train Hobo lifestyle indicative along with the hitchhiking mode of transportation more to his liking than owning a car. Every fast food truck stop was a opportunity to grab free condiment packets. KFC was a favorite because they had handy wipes to go, perfect for hippy bath’s when those hot spots get ripe. It’s here on a highway outside of Rifle Colorado that he and a random hitchhiker find themselves on the side of the road where no God fearing cowboy would dare pick them up.
“Hey check out that dead deer, must’ve got hit recently.” the stranger admits.
“Hmph” the Wannabe Tramp replied.
“Shit, I’d eat that, wouldn’t you?”
“Uhm… I dunno man, looks a little bloated.”
There they stared down at the poor beast frozen in it’s death throws, eyes wide open- black, lifeless. The guy with the huge backpack was hitchhiking to Snowmass Ski Resort up near Aspen. He had been collecting Pepsi proof of purchases and ripping others off the boxes in order to cash 250 of them in for a free voucher deal, he took full advantage of collecting enough to get him a week’s worth of free tickets. It took him about 2 weeks to gather them all begging, borrowing and stealing them all. He had his trusty backpack still full of outdated camping gear from every thrift store he could find along with a Dayglow Green 169 Barfoot he got from some dready gal in Crested Butte earlier that year when he hitch hiked from Oakland. He had since hand painted all kinds of tribal shit and runes in crazy dayglow colors that had the power to induce hallucinations in recovering addicts just by the sight of it. He met the other hitchhiker as they both were trying to get a ride for half the day with no good results. It was getting towards nightfall and the temperatures were beginning to dip as the Sun wen’t behind the steep red sandstone cliffs.
So as the hunger starts to creep up on these two tramps hitchhiking outside of town, a figure was seen walking up the on ramp to where they were hitch hiking. It was definitely female from the strut she was luring drivers with. To their dismay, as she got closer it became apparent that her glory days were over and had been through one hell of a life. It looked as if someone tried to put out a fire on her face with a ice pick. She must have just got released out of jail from last summer festivities and looked like she had been detoxing something fierce. She was of some kind of Indian tribe, which one? I couldn’t tell you and she had some battle scars along a tattoo on her neck to prove it. Now as I mentioned before these two guys had been sitting out there all day as the Sun went from one side of the valley to the other and only one car pulled over only to speed away as they ran with wild abandon up to the truck to only be left spitting out rocks as it sped away. Dick.
Now comes this gal wearing go go boots, daisy dukes barely concealing her her old weathered saddlebags. There she was in the middle of winter working her Mojo on the roadside as the two watched in amazement. Whatever incantations she was shrieking to the sky along with some rudimentary twerking maneuvers ( In her defense it was the early 90’s so they were still perfecting the new craze) it damn near near caused a 20 car pile up as all them blue collared tweekers were vying for position like NASCAR to pick her up. It happened so god damn fast it left their heads spinning as all these pick up trucks pulled over to get her, then as fast as they pulled over they all left after she got in one. There they stared in disbelief as no one offered them a ride. The old tramp cursed most of “woman kind” in a verbal tangent and it was all he could stand, said he was going to hop a freight train to Denver. The Wannabe rubbed his old battle wound from that Crazy Train years before and bid him farewell and started making plans to seek shelter for the night when a car pulled over and offered him a ride.
Staring at the bloated carcass he got to thinking about how he got in this predicament out there on that cold lonely highway. Reminiscing how he got a mountain bike at a pawn shop in Grand Junction that folded in half which was great to start riding from Orchard Mesa up onto the Highway 70 on ramp on the outskirts of town where he could then fold up bike to stash in the trees until he returned later. The bicycle ride was half the adventure. Here he was with this huge metal frame backpack on his back w/ a snowboard, gear and boots strapped to that. Once he was at a good hitchhiking spot which needs to be both an easy place for people to turn off to pick you up but also a place where your going to be seen by all. He had by now had a routine of setting the backpack and snowboarding gear front and center which usually got someone to realize he was not a psychopathic killer out on the highway. He always thought it was funny how people would worry about him hitchin’ rides everywhere. He had done it for years and when that didn’t work he would hop freight trains to get somewhere he had never been before.
Sometimes things went bad as it did in Oakland one time while hopping a freight train after the bars were shutting down in the heroin infested suburb of Jingletown. He was too shitfaced drunk from the Tropicana bar to walk home. He knew the train that was going by would take him across the Fruitvale Bridge into Alameda where he lived. He attempted to run alongside the rail cars and half ass dove for the ladder on the side of it like shit James Bond would do. That’s when he heard a loud bang then nothing. Everything hurt and he found himself lying in front of a car waiting at the railroad crossing arm. He couldn’t tell if he was seeing red from all the blood in his eyes or from the flashing red lights from the railroad crossing as the bell was ringing in his ears. As the train steel wheels ground out their shrieks he thought he might have lost his legs as he reached down to feel if they were still there. He couldn’t hardly move and he wasn’t sure where it hurt more. The wheels were inches from his head as he lay prone on the ground in terror. Then he heard a voice yelling at him from the car he had landed in front of after getting hit by the train (or “he hit” as some may argue) he was an elderly black man
” Hey man?,……. get the fuck away from that train!” He shrieked standing alongside his old Buick.
It was all he could do to crawl away leaving a trail of blood towards his car.
” What the fuck is wrong with you man? You trying to get yourself killed?” The old-timer cursed as he helped him to his feet. He went on to tell him how he watched his futile attempt to dive for the ladder and instead got hit and flung twenty feet into the road where he was waiting for the train to pass.
“I thought for sure you was a goner!”…. lucky fucker.
” Guess so,..” he muttered
He turned and walked back into the bar where some old Mexican Boxers stitched him up on the spot. A huge gash was alongside his jawline. He would wear that scar for years and was the main reason he started to sport a long goatee which he would make popular for grunge rock stars to imitate.
He ended up digging a snowcave into the hillside and spent the night out there in the Blue Spruce and Aspen forest. Eating a piece of beef jerky and a peanut butter and jelly tortilla roll, wondering how that deer would taste. Happy as fuck to freeze his ass of in order to get some free turns on yet another ski resort in the Colorado Rockies.
He got rides from all sorts of people and found most had some soft spot for his plight. Just the size of the backpack spurned images of Jesus bearing his cross and for those who had to suffer the grind day in and day out thought it was something nice they could do for him because most of them wished they could drop it all and do the same.