My Trip Around the World

December 3, 2020

I studied French in high school. And I actually picked going to UC, one of the UCs because of their program abroad. And so in my junior year, I was accepted into the year abroad in Bordeaux. And I packed up … I traveled just heavier than I do now. But trunks were a thing then. So my parents and I packed up a trunk, and I went on the charter ship of students. So we sailed to France. I don’t remember much about the boat but I bet it was fun. And then I studied in Bordeaux, and I had a roommate. I can’t remember her name. We were assigned an attic space that had been the maid’s quarters in an impoverished aristocrats’ home.

Anyway, so we hit it off, and we were the two blondes, and we hitchhiked places with our knitting needles in case anything happened. I don’t think I knitted, but she did. And so we each had our knitting needles. And one weekend, we decided to hitchhike up to the American army base at Angolan for two hours, maybe hitchhiking, and we were picked up for the first time. We’ve done quite a bit of hitchhiking, and it was always these businessmen.

And this time we were picked up by a very elegant Parisian woman who lived in the wealthiest part of Paris in her DS, which was the wealthy automobile to have and it was shocking for us. But it was lovely. And I guess I sat up front and we made quite a good connection. And she invited me to Paris, and I came to visit at one point and she had a charming young son in his early teens, I think, and a snotty older daughter, who was in her late teens. And she had that typical Parisian snobbishness of the bourgeois people and an American student.

But a year later, after I got home, she contacted me because she’d finished a year at Tufts. And she came out to visit me and wanted to go to Big Sur. Now, I was born and raised in California, but my parents didn’t have money. And their idea of travel when I was young was to go to Redding and rent a motel with a swimming pool, because we lived on the … almost the wrong side of the tracks in Berkeley. So she wanted me to take her to Big Sur because a cohort of her from Tufts was working at the Big Sur Inn. Well, I’d never even heard of Big Sur, I’m in my early 20s.

And so I had a little Morris Minor convertible, a very rare English car, but in those days, it was 300 bucks, and my parents had reupholstered it for me in red, in red Naugahyde, of course. And so, Isabel and I, she turned out to be nice by that point. America had rubbed the snobbishness out of her, and she took me to my first visit to Big Sur, which was incredible for me. I was at the age where I could appreciate its beauty. And her friend worked in Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn, which is, and was, and probably still is the most charming place in all of Big Sur. Deetjen had built it out of barn wood and driftwood, and it was just incredible.

And the manager of the Inn was Ed something, and he was really out there on the New Age Edge and the New Age Edge hadn’t even really come in yet. This wasn’t the hippie era yet. This was the ’60s, and he really adopted her and people he just adored he gave these bells to. Well, he gave Isabella a bell but not me. I felt badly about that. She ended up coming back and working there. So I visited it many times after that either as her guest if they had an open room.

So I was finished school and was living in San Francisco as a foreign-language tour guide. And then I moved to Sausalito, which was my dream place. It was like a European village, and met up with some hippie people and became a hippie. And went … eventually moved up to Forestville, where my ex-lover came and was rebuilding my house with barn wood. And one day this woman named Dominique came to visit Ron, and we ended up two weeks later leaving on a trip around the world.

So you never know who you’re gonna meet that’s going to change your life. And being picked up in France to go get a hamburger changed my life later on. And with the thread that went through my life for many years, I’ve lost touch with Isabel now, but that led to my trip around the world on which I had many adventures as well.

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