I had just turned 23 years old and was still in Yonkers working for my Dad's Waterproofing Co. My spontaneous trip to Santa Fe, that I had made about a year ago, by airplane, was teasing my imagination and egging my spirit on to take another road trip out west. Work was slow and my Dad laid me off. I was now eligible to collect unemployment and a road trip beckoned at my heals. I found out, that you could just stop in any unemployment office and grab a courtesy claim form, which you would then fill out the ten places you looked for work in the past two weeks, (the nearest phone book was handy) then turn it in and you'd be done and on your way to the next town. Sweet! Getting paid while cruising the U.S.A. I was living the hippie dream. Every two weeks, I would stop in a different town, fill out the form, then drop it off and be on my merry way. Coming from New York gave me the hustler's edge and with cash coming in, I was unstoppable. My street musicianship worked rather well in the rustic Santa Fe Plaza and served as a financial mecca for me, allowing me to make a few coins and occasionally some greenbacks. This hustle, was there for me on a daily basis.
I had been to Santa Fe before by airplane, just to surprise a lady friend and while visiting, got to know a few of her fellow students and friends over the two weeks that I had stayed with her. This would be key, in getting my own room at the College Of Santa Fe. This guy named Tito, who I partied with a year ago, was now the proctor at one of the dorm buildings, where there was a vacant room that no one occupied. This became my room. Awesome! The school was not quite in session yet and only a few early comers populated the grounds. The sunsets were visually stunning and the pinks and oranges that were cast on the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, were lingeringly mystifying and tranquilizing to my soul. This time of the day was sacred to me and my way of life. Many evenings I would play meditative flute music to enhance my day ending experience with the setting sun, while giving thanks for the fading day and the oncoming night. I slipped away to many places in my mind during these moments and was now refocusing my thoughts on the blond that had just entered my distant blurry encompassing vision. With a squint of my eyes, I noticed that about 200 feet away, was a pretty girl walking my way, slowly getting closer and closer. Like my flute wielding hero, Ian Anderson, of Jethro Tull. I too, was standing on one leg, with my other foot propped up against my knee. I was trying to hold my pose and be impressive, like guys do, as I played on. Closer and closer she came. She was coming right at me now. My magical spellbinding notes had drawn her seductively to my lust driven lair, when our eyes first met, we both knew what had to be done. We informally introduced ourselves, then hopped in my van and were off like two heat seeking missiles to the ski basin, where we would consummate our provocative meeting by doing the wild thing in the back of my van at 9,000 feet. My confidence grew even more, Now I had a girl friend, my own room,..... and oh yea!, Lisa was also a vegetarian and her cafeteria card was easy to counterfeit. So we removed her name and replaced it with mine, in which now it would be put to good use. This was getting sweeter and sweeter.
We joined a hiking club in which we would be hiking every Sunday, in high elevations, sometimes as high as 10,000 feet. We both loved to smoke weed and would smoke even while hiking strenuously in the thin high mountain air. I was in great shape in those days. We usually hiked around 15 miles and stayed stoned all the time. She would also out smoke me all the time and my stash didn't last very long. What a toker.
Weeks would unfold and my unemployment checks had still not arrived back at my parent's house. Playing music and hustling at the plaza wasn't cutting it and New York State Unemployment was not in any hurry to send checks to a new claim, so I needed to accelerate my hustle, or catch a break somehow along life's path. Everything seemed to be fitting together so well that it was only a matter of time before I would be back on top. This was my mind set, after all, I now had a girlfriend, my own room, free food and a good pot connection. I didn't want to push my luck at this college, so I went over to St. John's College and talked them into letting me throw a concert in their auditorium, featuring me of coarse, a well known musician from back east, touring out west for the first time. This was my story and it worked. I then made posters that I passed out and put on cars, so I may get some action. I charged $3 and about thirty students showed. Not bad for three days off the cuff. But still not enough to sustain my habits.
Sunday found me and my squeeze hiking up Glorieta Baldy Mt. Another high elevation climb. While on the tail end of our hike we came across a large roll of uninsulated copper wire that was just kinda leaning up against a tree, with no workers around. I'm not a thief at heart, but leaving it would have been heartbreaking in my poor economic state, so we rolled it to the van and were guiltily off to cash in our bounty. The next day we found out that the 80 lb. copper wire was worth $45 at a junk yard. We cashed it in and although my heart was guilt ridden, I had just lined my pocket with some much needed cash.
It was Monday morning and classes were back in session. I even went to a class now and then, to keep the facade of being a legitimate student going. I was with Lisa, in one of her classes, studying cave dwellings near Bandelier National Monument, when a forest fire broke out nearby. They needed all the help they could get, so I was forced into volunteering to fight these fires. They said I would get paid and off I went to move the line back. The experience was dangerous, but I was a great help in getting the fire under control. They returned me to Santa Fe and to my waiting girlfriend, Lisa. I was gone for two days and man was I tired. I just passed out and rested my tired bones for a while.
The weekend was now upon us and the black dudes in the other dorm were having a card game. Like the sound of trumpets to my ear, I was off to gamble with the enemy. The game they were playing was called guts. I had never played this game before, but could instantly figure out that these guys were bad gamblers and easy money was waiting to be won. I was a natural at this game and after a few grueling hours, I had won everyone's money and they even owed our dorm a keg. Heck, I even loaned out some cash, feeling sorry for those nice guys that gave me all their money.
Amazingly enough, my unemployment checks finally arrived after 11 weeks. I was getting tired of my college scam and Lisa and I both were ready to move on from our wild fling, when I told her I was going to go to Oregon. We had a great run and lots of fun but it was time to boogie. I had just found out that my Brewster bud, Diane, was living around Portland and I was pumped to catch up with her, so off I went. Eleven weeks at $95 a week, gave me a nice comfortable bankroll, so I could rent a place when I arrived at what would become my home base for years to come. I said my goodbyes to Lisa and thanked Tito for the awesome room he so kindly provided for me to use.
Santa Fe was a great stopover for me in years to come. Fiesta, the Sangre de Cristo Mts., the magnificent art, the history, the college, that I so boldly attended. These memories along with many other momentous occasions that I was lucky enough to experience, seemed to magically unfolded like a fairytale for me, in The Land Of Enchantment. Santa Fe will leave many happy imprints in my brain, I was young and life's wonders were at my fingertips and I made sure that I grabbed my share of them and am so glad that I was able to share these fond memories with you and in turn relive one of my life's favorite adventures.
Take life with a grain my friends Wizzzmo