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  • Diane’s story about her first LSD trip reminded me of mine. It’s amazing to me, today, how cavalier we were about doing things to ourselves, to our bodies and to our minds, that could have caused lasting damage. I knew people who never really made it back from an acid trip in their right mind. I had a few very close calls, myself.

    Back in the early 70’s, it seemed like it was everywhere - some took it like candy. I made it a point to not trip too often, as I didn’t want to become one of the “burnouts”, the ones who got really strung out from doing too much acid, too much “mind-blowing”. My first 2 years of doing drugs was pretty much all fun and games. Later, it would get far more serious and disconcerting, as addiction took hold of me with its ugly grip.

    My first “trip” was certainly a memorable one. I wrote of it here before, but I’ll go into a little more detail, now. It was the summer of 1971, when I was 16, also the year that I first smoked pot. I had been invited to join Mike and Mark Bernardis on their family vacation at Lake Atwood, Ohio. They were fellow busboys at the Red Bull Inn restaurant in Pittsburgh. Their friend Harry was also with us, along with their little brother. 1 day on the vacation we decided to take a bike trip around the lake, and to enhance the bike trip with an acid trip. It sounded like a fun thing to do. 4 of us each took a hit of Strawberry Fields LSD as soon as we hit the road with our bikes. The younger Bernardis brother did not take any, and didn’t know that we had. He was about 13.

    As we pedaled along down the road, we were giddy with anticipation of what it would be like to trip while riding our bikes. Neither Mark nor I had ever tripped before – Harry and Mike were more experienced “travellers”. 20 minutes went by, then a half hour, and nobody was feeling any effects at all from the LSD. We had presently ridden away from the side of the lake where there were cottages and cabins and were now into the more wide open countryside, surrounded by mostly farms and open fields. Harry announced that it must have been bogus acid. We were still enjoying the bike ride and the countryside and just goofing off.
  • Then my rear tire blew out. I told the others to go on up ahead, and if they came across a gas station or garage, to send someone back for me. I started to push my bike along the country road. There was a large herd of cows in the field to the left of the road. I still wasn’t feeling any effects of the drug. Of course, I had no idea what it was supposed to feel like.

    I began to get extremely thirsty as I walked along that road pushing my bike, with the hot sun pounding down on me. The bike began to get very hard to push, and I began to sweat. I noticed each drop of sweat, before it even broke the skin – I could feel it bursting through my pores, and was highly aware of it’s progress as it trickled from my forehead down my face. I was completely fascinated by the whole process. I felt how it cooled my face, and understood sweat in a whole different light. It felt like a real revelation to me.

    Then I heard what I thought was someone saying “Mi-i-i-i-lk?” What was that? I looked around. No one but me and the cows. Me and the cows…hey, wait a second. No way! I walked over closer to the fence, and a couple of the cows came over towards me. We communicated for awhile, telepathically, me and the cows did. There weren’t words, really, but I was completely tuned into them. I felt that they were totally “zen”-ed out, zoned in - they were on it. They had the answer. This did not strike me as strange, at all. I’d just never noticed how cool cows were, before. Just something I had overlooked. This was turning into a very interesting bike trip.

    Way up the road, like a glimmering oasis, I spied a little road side snack bar. It took me forever to push that bike towards it. I felt like I was in a movie and crossing a desert that never ended. I felt like my tongue was hanging all the way down to the ground, like a cartoon character. I kept my focus on the stand, and quite parched and thirsty by the time I finally reached it. I parked my bike, sauntered up to the window, and saw a sign for a “Monster Milk Shake”. It looked gigantic. I had to have one. I said to the girl at the window, “I’ll take one of those big shakes”. She smiled and looked at me, and said, “Do you want a big shake, or do you want a B-I-I-I-I-I-I-G Shake?” Her mouth opened impossibly wide on the second “big”. I completely lost it, and couldn’t stop laughing. It was only then that I realized what was happening. “Ohhhh, I must be tripping!” It was all so much like being in a strange dream.
  • I carried my Monster Shake back to my bike, and resumed pushing my bike while sucking and slurping down that incredibly delicious shake – it was SO refreshing. Just then, a car drove past me, and stopped a few hundred feet down the road. It turned around, and started heading right towards me. “Oh, my God, they’re coming after me!” I was scared to my very bones. I dove into the ditch, the shake went flying in one direction and the bike fell in the other. As I cowered in the ditch, my head buried in my arms, trying to make myself invisible, I heard, “Hey, Pete! It’s us, man. Look at him, he’s a mess!” It was my friends, coming back to get me, and they were laughing their asses off. I was never so relieved in my life. They helped me throw the bike in the back, and we rode back to the garage in town, all laughing hysterically at each other and mostly, at me. I had provided the entertainment for this bike “trip”. They obviously were now feeling the effects, as well.

    The garage was in the little town of Magnolia, Ohio. This was shortly after the Grateful Dead album “American Beauty” had come out, and we all started singing “Sugar Magnolia” from that album. Ever since, whenever I hear that song, I think of this first trip.

    The garage couldn’t do anything for my tire – it was shredded. I was going to have to push it all the way back to where we rented the bikes on the other side of the lake. Then, Mike’s mother and aunt and little sister drove by, and stopped, offering me a ride back to the bike rental place and the cottage. That’s when I got my first experience trying to appear “straight” while tripping and being around people who weren’t. I just mostly kept my mouth shut and sat in the back seat in utter awe at the depth that everything around me had.

    I’ve never seen cows quite the same way since that experience. I’ve always loved riding bikes since then, as well. I did make note of the fact that tripping could become addictive, and decided that I wouldn’t do it more than once a month.
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