Deb’s Saturday Psychedelica – On Becoming a Hippie – Chapter 16
Written by Deb Cavanaugh on June 27, 2020
Paul and I both had to admit that Wyoming was gorgeous, but we were burning out fast. We were tired of being trapped in a cramped and fully packed car with our traveling companions, tired of juggling entertainment for a 2 ½ year old and just plain tired of being on the road. We had no desire to sightsee. We were ready to get to our final destination. Ha, ha! Did I just say final? No destination ever seemed final. However, when we made it to Wyoming, we decided to stop at a scenic spot called Wind River Canyon. It was time to let Jessie run around a bit, and this seemed like a great place.
It really was an amazing spot. Like its name, it was very windy with the big rushing Wind River running through the canyon. When we all piled out of the car, Debbie and Steve went one way while we went another. It was a much-needed break for everyone. Paul and I watched Jessie running through the tall grass. Wow! She seemed to be running faster than usual. It looked as though her feet weren’t even touching the ground. Then suddenly, we realized that she was airborne. The wind was so strong, it had picked her up and was whisking her away … toward the river. We both took off running. I’ve never seen Paul run so fast as he did then. Luckily, he grabbed her foot, as she went flying ahead of him, and pulled her into his arms. As I held her close to me and turned to go back to the car, expecting her to be traumatized, she laughed and said, “Did you see, Mommy? I was flying in the air, just like Piglet!” I had been reading Winnie the Pooh stories by A.A. Milne to her, and she was referring to Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day. She loved that adventure more than her dad and I did and remembered it for a long time to come. I, on the other hand, didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Later that day, it was no surprise when we hit a snowstorm and had to spend the night in a motel. This was an expense that we hadn’t expected or prepared for, but it turned out to be a good thing since Jessie had picked up some stomach bug and vomited all night long. I didn’t sleep again that night, but it was nice to take a shower and lie down on a real bed in our own room, away from all the tension of the trip. We left the next morning and finally dropped our friends off in Portland, Oregon before heading on to Amber’s home. We were awfully glad to see them go. It was probably the most stressful road trip I’ve ever made. However, we did remain friends for years. Debbie and Steve became especially important people in our lives. By the time we reached our destination, I had a constant headache and was running on fumes from lack of sleep. I needed to rest, but I was there to help Amber with her first child. Her partner was being no help at all, and their relationship was floundering. Now they had two more adults and a toddler to contend with as well as their own drama.
They lived in a small place in Husum, Washington which is located on Mount Adams, one of the snowcapped Cascades. Unfortunately, we were not the best house guests. Jessie was a little wild from being cooped up for so long on the road, and Amber had an infant who needed quiet to sleep. Paul and I were completely exhausted and frazzled. We needed to land and recharge. There were no facilities in the cabin they were living in, so trenches needed to be dug, water had to be hauled, cooking and cleaning needed to be done. Amber and Greg were fighting, and we had just left a situation where a couple was fighting constantly. We soon realized that Paul needed to go out and find work fast. So, he started looking. He finally found a job at Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood, on the other side of the Columbia River, in Oregon.
Timberline Lodge was built during the Great Depression by the WPA. Franklin Roosevelt had decided to create work for the artisans in the country. There are huge hand carved newel posts and other carvings. There are mosaics and murals, beautiful tile work, sculptures, stained glass and more. The entire place is a masterpiece of craftsmanship. I highly recommend visiting there. Mount Hood is a snowcapped mountain and an active volcano expected to erupt again at some time. There is skiing year-round, and it is always busy there. In order to maintain his job, Paul had to live close by, and they offered free room and board to employees, so he moved in. I soon found out that I was pregnant again. It never seemed to take much for me to conceive. I used birth control religiously, but it didn’t seem to matter. My children came when they wanted to come regardless of any precautions. I never had any morning sickness with any of my pregnancies, but I was exhausted. I hated having Paul living so far away and made the drive once a week to visit him there. He also came back to Amber’s every other weekend, but things were getting more tense at the cabin as each day went by. I knew I had to move out soon.
Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore, and neither could Amber. She was my closest friend but was struggling with her partner and trying to manage a brand-new baby. I was newly pregnant and exhausted with a rambunctious 2-year old. Unfortunately, by the time I moved out, Amber and I were no longer speaking to each other. We were two very strong personalities trying live in a tiny cabin under unforgiving circumstances, and our friendship broke under the strain. I had to get out fast, so Paul found us a weekly motel room rental with a living room, bedroom and kitchenette near Timberline Lodge, at the base of Mount Hood, in Zig Zag, Oregon. We loved the name of the town, loved being in the mountains and, even though the space was small, it was finally our own. Debbie and Steve had settled in Portland, and we had reconnected. One day, I made the drive into Portland to visit with them while Paul was at work.
Steve had decided to start growing his own psilocybin mushrooms and insisted that I bring some back for Paul. I wasn’t doing any of that now that I was pregnant and wasn’t tripping around my child anyway, so it was just for Paul to do alone. That would have been fine except that we didn’t really have new friends where we lived, and Paul didn’t want to trip alone. Steve had warned me that they were strong and quirky. The dose seemed to vary from shroom to shroom. Paul started pressuring me to join him. “Just take a little bit. It won’t harm the baby, and we’ll take it after Jessie is asleep,” he said. After an hour of arguing, I finally agreed to take the tiniest little bite. I figured it would appease him, and I wouldn’t have enough in my system to even get a little buzz. But boy was I wrong.
I put Jessie to bed in the main area and went to join Paul in the bedroom. I took the tiniest little nibble while trying to make it look as though I had taken more. The last thing I wanted was to have him start his trip angry with me, but I also didn’t want to eat them. Then I settled down with a book. Before long, Paul started moaning, so I went over to check on him. He had eaten one and a half small mushrooms heeding Steve’s advice and not wanting to go for a blowout trip alone. It took a while before he responded to me. When he finally opened his eyes, he looked scared. He rambled on about a monster inside his head eating a hole right through his brain. Then he started screaming. I wasn’t sure what to do. I tried to quiet him down, reminding him that Jessie was sleeping in the next room. At that point, he curled up in a ball with the pillow and blankets over his face and just moaned the whole night long.
I stayed by his side saying soothing things, but I was getting worried. Surely that little crumb that I’d eaten wouldn’t do much, or would it? When I started feeling otherworldly, I knew I might be in trouble. I’d made a vow not to trip with my kids around. I had seen all of those TV shows about the dangers of drugs, like the Dragnet episode where they found a child drowned in the bathtub because the parents were too high. Maybe it would be okay if she stayed asleep. However, luck was not on my side. Pretty soon I heard a little voice saying, “Mommy, I need to go potty.” Okay, this should be easy. I got up off of the bed and realized that I had no idea where the bathroom was or even how to get out of the room that I was in. The fact that everything kept getting larger then smaller wasn’t helping any.
I knew that I couldn’t find my way to my daughter, so I thought fast and called out, “Okay honey, can we play a little game? Come find Mommy in the dark.” She giggled and said, “That’s easy. I can find you.” Once she came in, I said, “Now can you find the way to the bathroom, too?” At this point the room had shrunk down so small, I thought I would bump my head on the ceiling, so I was crawling. I felt like Alice in Wonderland. Of course, Jessie loved the fact that we were crawling around in the dark, and that she got to be the leader. We made our way – very slowly – to the bathroom and back to her bed. She settled back down while I sat on the floor next to her bed. I sang her to sleep and just kept on singing until I was finally drowsy enough and aware enough to find my way back to bed where Paul’s moans had quieted to a dull hum. He apologized the next day for having pressured me into tasting those mushrooms, and we spent my whole pregnancy worried about any ill effects they might have had on our child, while Jessie remembered that night with glee. She would comment on how much fun it was to play with Mommy in the dark in the middle of the night. All’s well that ends well. My son was not harmed by that night, but I learned a valuable lesson about mushrooms. I never liked them anyway. They’d always had a dark ominous vibe for me, and I never ate them again after that.