Tripping Through Wonderland and Hobo Punks - On the Road #21


Hey y'all,

Every time I think my little road-tripping book tour has hit a lull, something happens.

Way back on my first stop in Homer, a free-spirit that found his way to my Arabian Nights booth-style set up, whose roommate had listened to a story and bought a book, mentioned that he was selling "the key to art."  

And pray tell, what is your key to art?

Oh, a concoction of chocolate and mushrooms.

It had been years since I jumped down the rabbit hole. 


Since he supported my endeavors, I felt obliged (and happily so) to support his. And then I didn't use the key to art to open the door to new dimensions until last night. 

But that's okay...

My date from last week had never done mushrooms before. Since he expressed curiosity and willingness, I offered to share “the key to art” (and other dimensions) with him, excited to have somebody to share them with.

Anyway, he and I ate the magic chocolate, and walked to the park near the neighborhood of Turnagain, in Anchorage.

It wasn't long before we crossed paths with the professional, purposeful couple wearing matching jeans, matching down jackets, and matching boots purposefully striding their way back home, hunched over in joyless discomfort. 

They had had their healthful walk in the outdoors and were ready to return to where they could be at ease.


Then we came across the group that halloed into the dark and walked past us with their faces to the breeze and their shoulders back. It was clear that they were enjoying the cold and themselves in the cold.

After the woods, we wandered in the very pristine neighborhood of Turnagain with their artistic houses.

Thus our voyeuristic trip began as the mushrooms hit a peak.

Being from the South where most of the really nice neighborhoods were in areas that had been built a long time ago, it was something to see the expression of affluence in a city that is still growing into its personality. 

Many of the homes were showy and I couldn't get over all the huge picture windows, with tasteful lighting whether people were up and about, at home, or away.  

Looking into somebody else's world, we saw fine art displayed in tastefully decorated homes. It was as if their privileged way of life was on display to anybody who cared to look.

"Looky here! See my fabulous home! My beautiful art, luxurious furniture, and unique knick knacks. Wouldn't ya just love to live here? Aren't ya jealous?" 

It was Life as a Peepshow, now you see me, now you don't. 


Occasionally, we'd see signs of human activity, a mother dancing the boogie woogie to show off her moves to her son, her head obscured by the glass, with a bird's eye view of her gyrating torso.

We also passed houses with normal windows, as well as bushes to hide from the stares of the nosy, mushroom-tripping voyeurs like me and my date. But for the most part the houses in the neighborhood screamed:

"Here I am! I have arrived!” 

There was a car that kept creeping past us. The neighborhood watch wondered what we were up to. 

We were clearly not one of the Joneses. So were we casing the neighborhood? Looking to defile one of the virginal showpieces with our criminal intent?

Then there was the house with the huge yard, and the only thing on display was the blue room in the basement.

I overstepped the boundaries, and entered the yard to get a better look. And that’s when we got caught. 

But the guy who did was even more of an oddball in that neighborhood as we were. But he was perfect for us in the state we were in.

His name was Bradley.

He was clad in tight faded black jeans, a black Carrhart jacket, a grubby black tee shirt, camouflaged by a red and black checked scarf, a gold chain with a medallion, shiny black cowboy boots, a faded American flag bandanna wrapped around his head, and metallic pink sunglasses (it was night) perched from his ears to his crown. 

He was very compact, no taller than five foot four and he had the scratchy vocals of a skid-row drunk. 

Bradley was the lost soul younger brother living in the basement of his brother's and his brother's girlfriend's house. He smelled like an Altoid factory.

He came out of the blue basement to find out who we were and what we were about. While he was there, he indulged in a forbidden cigarette and told us about himself and how he came to be there.

I couldn't stop staring at him as he talked incessantly of clearing out the yard we’d just invaded.

It had been crowded with the abandoned vans, trucks, and other vehicular junk the brother’s girlfriend's deceased father left behind. 

Apparently, the dead dad had been a hoarder when he was alive, and his daughter was having a hard time letting go of her daddy's excess baggage.

"She will not get rid of the abandoned airplane parts in the back yard. This was her father's house. She has four or five houses all over. She calls me brother-in-law, but I don't see my brother getting married. He says she's the one though."

The car that had been following us for our walk redoubled its vigilance after this interaction.

I figured the neighbors must have been grateful to have the yard cleared out of the junkyard effects, even if they gritted their teeth at the presence of Bradley. 

Whoever that woman was, his brother’s girlfriend must have been really in love. Chances were, Bradley was probably very helpful.

On a professional note, an unexpected thing has happened.

I may have an opportunity to freelance an article to the Anchorage Press, so I'm interviewing people who used to be the homeless teenagers in major cities with a liberal bent across the country - who have done their fair share of squatting, hitchhiking, and train hopping. 

I found out there is a large community of hobo punks from Anchorage on out because they've found a niche here. 

They have one hell of a story, kind of nice to focus on telling the tale that belongs to other people. 

It’s been a couple of years since I've been in reporting mode, but it's a good change. 

The Press has at least nibbled on the bait, keep your fingers crossed for me. Will they bite?

I'll be back in Juneau from October 25th to November 1st when I go to the lower forty-eight. Look forward to seeing everybody...



PS If you’d like to read the blog post where I met my date that I later tripped on mushrooms with, click here.