Fire From Under The Car Dash

Go west, to L.A., or go to New York. Those were the options. Better weather easily won out. And in L.A., we already knew some music people.

Bill, and I, would be hitchhiking. I had $7.00. Joey drove us across the 210 bridge and dropped us off on the freeway, and caught the connector back to town.

We got our first ride pretty quick. He was only going to Orange, just across the state line, thirty miles ahead. Just before Orange, crossing the Sabine River, a fire burst out from under the dash. I was riding shotgun, and the flames were lapping at my knees. As quick as it started, it stopped.

We thought. It started up again as we neared the next exit. We got out on the freeway. He took the exit and was gone.

Not an auspicious start for our trip, but we soon caught another ride. He was going to California. All the way to Half Moon Bay, just south of San Francisco. He was going home to see his family.

It was still dark when he let us out on Highway 1, and the Pacific Coast. We were not yet two days from our start. We bought a pack of cigarettes for the homestretch into San Francisco. Bill had a quarter left. I had a nickel.

By late morning, two days and 2000 miles from our start, we were in the Haight, at Golden Gate Park. It was the first day of spring, and flower-child hippiedom with music, marijuana, and more, the order of the day.

We found a friend we knew, picked up a couple days work house painting, and after five days, instead of going across the Bay to see Berkeley and Telegraph Avenue, we took off for L.A.

We got off to a good start, but one of our rides let us out at an exit on Hwy 101 that had zero traffic late at night. After a couple of hours, we decided to get up on the freeway.

The very first car to come by was a state trooper and we got a ticket for being on the freeway. It was a five dollar fine. The trooper took us to a better exit just down the highway. Pretty nice of him.

Eight years later, I was back in California, after three and a half years on Cape Cod, in Massachusetts, and nine months in Houston. Needing a California driver’s license, I had to pay the fine. It was now fifty dollars.

We got a ride over to Hwy. 1, again, at Watsonville, and continued south. Past Monterey, in the early morning, we were at Pt. Lobos, overlooking the rock cliffs and the Pacific Ocean.

At Big Sur, I called my sister. It was now a week since we left. She told me the word was that the police had run us out of town. That was news to me. My band had become the token bad boys and the cops were out to get us. Truth was, we had broken up and it was time to move on. Leaving there was easy.

Walking down the road as we hitched, we came to Pfieffer Big Sur State Park and decided to check out the beach. It was a good walk down the dirt road to get there. The ocean was smooth as glass. It was gorgeous.

Early afternoon we were back on the highway and were picked up by two guys in a convertible going to L.A. We were living large cruising down the highway.

Late that night, in Hollywood, we made it to the apartment of a friend of Bill’s. We had arrived, and the lights were bright.

Have you ever hitchhiked? Let me know.


  1. nikkowills on July 9, 2022 at 7:16 am

    Ron, I love your writing as always! The stories are vivid and clear. Keep ‘em coming! Love you, my brother.

    • James Ron on July 9, 2022 at 8:36 am

      Thank you, Lynn. I love you, too!

  2. nikkowills on July 9, 2022 at 4:49 pm

    Great story with interesting points. How lucky to be so close to Manson. Those were crazy times.

    Keep the posts (?) coming.

  3. nikkowills on July 9, 2022 at 5:46 pm

    Surely, Kent is being facetious!

  4. nikkowills on July 9, 2022 at 5:53 pm

    Dale here —thanks for the blog— You were so brave and forward looking to go on a trip like that with not much in your pocket 🙂 I think I made it to California about 15 years later.
    Looking forward to the next report!