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  • When we arrived in Portland, I soon found out that the apartment was not an ideal situation, at all. The others weren’t happy to see me adding to the crowd, and they didn’t trust me. When something went missing, I was suspected of thievery, and was tossed out on the street. I decided that the whole thing was a really bad idea, and decided to turn around and go back east. Since I was broke, I hitch-hiked. It was a lot more common back then.

    Early in my journey back east, I hooked up with another girl, and we travelled together for a couple days. There was a lovely night spent on a large stone tablet under the stars, on top of a cliff overlooking a river valley, with this beautiful brunette and a bottle of wine, making love in my sleeping bag. I felt like I was on top of the world.

    When I awoke the next morning, she was gone, and I was left with just the memory of a beautiful night. The rest of the trip became very difficult. I was broke, so the only food I got was from the kindness of strangers who picked me up – I was too proud to ask or beg, so I went for long stretches without any food at all. The going was very slow.

    It took me two full days to make it as far as Ogden, Utah, where the highway climbed high into the hills east of Ogden, and where it got quite cold in the evenings. A nice Mormon lady picked me up and asked me how long it had been since I’d had anything to eat. I told her I wasn’t sure, but that I was fine. She made a deal with me – she would treat me to lunch if I would promise to contact my mother. I agreed to the deal, and she took me into a little town and treated me to a great lunch.

    After I had made it east of that mountain range, I wound up on a stretch of highway that had very few cars heading east. I stood on my side of the road and for about 5 hours, only counted about 10 cars heading east. There were a lot more heading in the other direction, and with still about 2500 miles to go to make it back to the East Coast, I decided that the 800 miles back to Oregon was a lot more doable, and that I should go back to Plan A, and go back to Portland. So, I walked across the highway and stuck my thumb up heading back west.

    I was overwhelmingly lonely at that point. The trip back to Portland was pretty bizarre. At some point on the way, someone told me about a girl in a town called Durkee, Oregon, who could help me out, so when I got to Durkee, I got off the road and went into this very small town and started asking around about this girl. She was no longer there, I was told.

    There was a bar in the town, so I went in and ordered a beer with the last of my money, and put a quarter down on the pool table to challenge the winner of the game that was being played. It was, literally, my last quarter. The deal was, you kept playing on the table until you lost, and the challenger paid for the next game. I wound up playing for several hours, maybe 15 games, and just kept winning. It was the best pool I have ever shot.

    At one point, the lady behind the bar asked if I was hungry, and I told her that I was, but I was broke, and she proceeded to provide me with the most delicious bowl of chili I have ever eaten, along with two big slices of fresh-baked bread with big gobs of butter, and another beer.

    I kept playing and winning on the pool table, and she kept supplying the beers. At the end of the evening, I pulled my leather-covered German stein out of my backpack (why I was travelling with that in there, I have no idea), and gave it to her. She made me carve my name and the date onto it, and put it up on the mantel above the bar, and said that if I ever came back, it would still be up there. I never have been back. I have often wondered if that bar is still there, and if it is .....
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