It was 1976, and Paul Cavanaugh and I were living in Santa Cruz. California. We'd been there for almost a year, having wanted to stay put for the birth of our first child - a beautiful girl. Before that we'd been on the road, hitchhiking wherever the rides took us, then living at Project One, an artist commune in the warehouse district of San Francisco - not the best place to raise our child. We were obviously hippies and were definitely potheads. Paul went out looking for weed, since our favorite contact had recently moved away.
He came home that day excited about a new connection he'd made. He was going to score a pound for $100. Now, I know that sounds like a very small amount of money, and even at that time it was a good deal, but weed was much cheaper then. We were very poor at the time, and it was hard to come up with even $100, so we went to our friends. Two of them agreed to go in on it with us. We gathered our resources and were all set. Paul would go meet this new guy the next day.
The next day dawned, and we all waited patiently for Paul to return. To tell the truth, I was a little worried. The plan was for Paul to leave a paper bag with the money under a bridge in the local park and pick up the bag waiting for him. Apparently, this newly arrived immigrant from Viet Nam was, understandably, a little paranoid. They crossed paths at the bridge. Each picking up their respective bags and walked on, as previously agreed upon. When Paul turned around and saw his contact start running and quickly disappear out of sight, he opened the bag and took a look, just to be sure, then headed home.
He arrived home to an anxiously awaiting group. We couldn't wait to try this new stuff. He went to the kitchen and came back with three plates with three equally proportioned pieces of pound cake. We all laughed. He always was a funny guy. He sadly shook his head. No, we had paid $100 for a pound cake. We reluctantly choked down that cake and never saw his connection again. I wonder how many other naive folks he scammed. It wasn't even a very tasty cake.
One of those breakdowns happened in Salt Lake City, NV. We managed to roll down the off ramp into a motel parking lot that had a vacancy sign lit up. We were very lucky. We all climbed out of the bus, a couple of long-haired hippies and two small children, and walked into the office. We were fully prepared to be turned away, but hoped we could at least stay in our van. We were also running low on money due to the number of repairs we'd already needed, but we tried to stay positive in spite of our misgivings.
The clerk was a young man who looked us up and down then went to the door, looked outside then came back in locking the door behind him. "Do you guys have any pot?" he asked furtively. We hestitated a bit then asked why he wanted to know. "Oh man, do you know how dry this town is? I haven't had anything in months. I'll give you a room for the night, if you give me enough to go party with my friends tonight." It was a deal! He took his baggie, threw us the master keys, put a siogn on the door directing anyone with an emergency to our room, switched on the "No Vacancy" sign and asked us to keep an eye on the place for him for the night. We brought our cat in from the bus and all had hot showers and a comfy bed. We left early in the morning before he returned feeling refreshed and ready to continue our amazing journey.