The Golden Road

It was Summer, 1988, upstate NY and I was home from college and bored. I went to school in the Washington DC area and been really into the DC punk/alternative scene. One hot day my brother asked my if I wanted to go to see the Dead at SPAC (in Saratoga Springs, NY) and I rolled my eyes and thought I'm not sure if I'm into the snobby hippy scene. He and his girlfriend smiled at me and said you have no idea what your in for...

My brother planned our little trip and he thought of everything. We were to camp on the Hudson River outside of Saratoga and we did, rented canoes and swam in the incredibly clean Hudson. We set up camp and drove to the amphitheater, arriving early and parking under the shade of huge pine trees. My brother lit up a huge fatty and we lounged under the trees and watched the cars and crowds roll in. The breeze was blowing and we were getting high on Thai....I spaced out staring at the trees and walking around our little area. Soon it seemed we were surrounded by crowds of hippies selling stuff - everything....food, art, music, drugs.....acid? My brother, his GF and I gathered at the car and each took a hit of acid. We smoked another joint. I didn't really feel anything and after 30 minutes my brother said it was most likely bunk and decided we should take some of his blue mushrooms he brought along. They tasted like crap but I took my share, as I was really getting into how this experience was developing. We were surrounded by crowds of strange people and I remember just going along with it all, as bizarre as the whole thing seemed. I went down in the wooded bank and took a ****. I remember agreeing with my brother that the acid was bunk but suddenly as I was *******, standing there staring at the thick tangled brush, branches moved and I felt pleasurable sensations crawl up and down my spine and into my blood. I looked up and laughed....and couldn't stop! I ran back to the car laughing and my brother and Cathy were clearly far into something similar.....my brother was talking to some chef from his cooking school that he ran into....dead songs...old concerts......old girlfriends....."we need to go to the show!" my brother shouts and we pack it up and head on in...

The entrance to SPAC begins with a bridge over a wide creek. We walked over the bridge and half way across I start laughing again.....it's absolutely unbelievably beautiful.....huge pine trees, a roaring brook below....summer in NY....we cross the bridge and I need to **** again and hit the porto-john. It's green and glowing. It spins and moves as I stand there. I look up at the ceiling as I **** and the ceiling is endless and I see stars and what appears to be outer space. My brother knocks....I leave and we find our way inside onto the lawn. A family of redheads are camped in front of us. Cute curly haired red heads - ALL 5 of them including Mom and Dad. We smoke more Thai. I sit back and stare at the clouds.....the face of a bearded man with glasses smiles down at me.......a clouded arm reaches to me......."welcome," he says.

Crowds fill in the lawn. Clouds darken as the sun goes down. Excitement and I am clearly tripping ecstatic energy and endless colors. Crowd roars and "Hell in a Bucket" begins....I stand and stare - the crowd is crazy - the music is blaring into "Bertha" I watch the red heads spin frantically, Mom, Dad , the kids....I understand this...something in that music....keyboard twirling....I was on my feet and dancing too...it was beyond my control. Something was happening....

It was a blur of music, color, movement.....order, chaos....I surrendered and although unsure of where i was going, I was safe. 'We'll be right back in a little bit..." I melted with the crowd and was carried away....I landed on a water fountain and held on ...I took a sip of water and looked around. I was surrounded by a huge mob of people. I thought I saw my brother and his girlfriend by a large oak tree. I jumped into the crowd and I was lost in a sea of human. My brother's face appears in the chaos and escorts me back to the lawn.....we smoke another fatty....the crowd roars....and "Scarlett Begonias" starts the second set. THis time I'm staring at the band....they are glowing skeletons in a red ocean.....are they really skeletons, I thought? The music is once again spreads joy in my veins as a guitar pierces through and lifts me higher.....higher....twisting and twirling....until ultimately slowing down into a deep wailing rhythm....."Fire on the Mountain.." As I listen to this story, I feel as though I'm suddenly visiting an undiscovered country and learning a new language - far away, thank you I say, I understand.... - and we are back....full circle. I am in awe.

After an unbelievable encore of "Knocking on Heaven's Door", in which the Dead were joined by Bob Dylan, we walked out shaking our heads. I couldn't believe what had happened that day.....and that's all I said....I can't believe it, I can't believe it. We got back to the campground and stared into the fire that night....thinking back on the journey we had been on.....things were not going to be the same. And they weren't! Thanks to the Grateful Dead for 100 plus musical journeys!!
jayconrs jayconrs
41-45, M
1 Response Dec 1, 2012

I remember those times on tour, up and down the West Coast...how free it felt..at first the goths and rock and rollers couldn't understand why a few of us would leave the safety of suburbia, but we turned on and fell in love with the Dead....Keep your eyes open, I'm a writer currently finishing a project about my experiences on tour....stay hot as a pistol but cool inside!