I was thinking: Ya know...this isn't really what I want to DO with my life -- just sitting here on the couch. I know that somewhere, 20 years from now, all we're gonna do is exchange partners and still be here on the couch.
I'd recently read ON THE ROAD by Jack Kerouac and I was inspired. The next day was the start of a three-day weekend. I turned to my old buddy Bob who was sitting next to me and I said, "Bob, we don't have anything to do for the next three days. Why don't we walk out to the highway, stick out our thumbs and see how far we get?"
Neither one of us had ever done any hitchhiking before, but the book made it seem easy. I thought, Hey, if Kerouac could do it, I can do it. Bob, being an amenable sort, said, "Hey....okay!"
Bob Wright was a freshman at my high school the same year I was. We were friends by proximity. "Wright" sits next to "Westcott." For the next four years we sat next to each other. Usually Bob sat to the right of me.
Bob started out as a skinny nerd with the worst buck teeth I'd ever seen and a weak chin. By his senior year in high school, he had grown to 6 feet, 3 inches tall, his orthodontist had cranked his teeth down to normal, and Bob had sprouted a full beard which erased his weak chin and made him look like Abe Lincoln.
Bob was very smart and he had plans for his future. The thing I liked best about him was that he was patient and eminently amenable.
The next morning we were ready to go. We were so dumb we thought we needed suitcases. We packed enough clothes and other supplies deemed necessary by Beaver Cleaver's mom for any trip. In retrospect this was about ten times more than we needed.
We hauled ourselves out to the freeway where we stuck out our thumbs and headed south towards sunny California. Neither one of us had been anywhere except around where we lived. We got rides right away and south we went.
By evening we were coming into San Francisco. We got into the downtown area and realized that the only thing we really knew about San Francisco was that Chinatown was there. We figured out where Grant Avenue was and got on a local bus and rode over there.
Bob and I went to a RunRun Shaw king fu movie (with subtitles) that night. The following day we went to the Golden Gate Park, saw the bridge, rode the trolley up and down the hills, and goofed around. Then we hitchhiked back to Oregon.
I thought, That's just amazing! We had the time of our lives. It's just incredible that these folks could just be sitting here in "Park." That was really a revelation to me.