Fresh shipment of skunk weed just hit town and I rolled the mothah of all joints. I fired that bad boy up, filled my lungs to capacity and passed it to Mario. Its been dry for almost two months now with nothing around. No red or gold grass, no Jamaican Ganja, no hashish, no Canibinol, not even any shit Mexican dirt weed. We’d resorted to puffing seeds and stems or the occasional resonated tar like lump of whatever the hell we were able to scrape out of our pipes. The first real hit in weeks and its some of the finest wacky tobacky skunk weed we around. Skunk weed, as its name implies, stinks like shit. Not shit exactly, closer to its namesake skunk, but either way when you stick your nose in the baggie it stinks of ass. But the smoke tastes sweet as could be and more importantly this shit FUCKS YOU UP!! The marijuana drought of 72 was now officially over so we were puffing our stone free asses off. “Oh my gawd JT, this shit is kickin’ my ass” Mario exhaled as he was exclaiming what we all were thinking after only one hit. When my turn came around for seconds I inhaled even deeper and held it as long as I could until my lungs waved the white flag and I surrendered a cough agreeing whole heartedly. “You ain’t shitting pickles my man, this is some killer ass weed. I am so stoned! I just wish Jimbo D was here to share it with us.” Jimbo D was a good friend and the fourth musketeer of our gang who moved up to the Catskills. He dropped out of school because his girlfriend was pregnant. They opted to move to Monticello to work for Jimbo’s uncle so now it was just me, Mario, and Shadow hanging around town struggling to finish school. Out of nowhere Shadow blurted out “Hey, my old man has a four man tent.”
The three of us broke out laughing wildly each holding our sides as if they may actually split and continued until we realized none of us knew what was funny. Shadow recovered first, “Haha, what in the hell are we laughing at?” I composed myself a little and looked back at Shadow to answer. “I think it was you Shadow, something about your old man pitching tents in his bedroom.” Shadow laughed again but Mario scratched his head in confusion, “Pitching tents? No he said his Dad has tents, like four of them.” At that point I understood how stoned we were as our conversations were lacking any semblance of lucidity but I needed to know what Shadow meant. “You say you have a four person tent? What did you have in mind?” Shadow exhaled another cloud of sweet second hand smoke, “Well, maybe we could drive up to Monticello to visit Jimbo and Debs and camp out in a tent. That way it’ll just cost us money for food, beer, and weed. We can split the cost of gas.” Amazingly sound proposition from someone so buzzed, and it was almost instantly that all three agreed. A plan began incubating.
That gave us three days to gather together as much drugs and money we could rustle up on short notice and get out of work or whatever else we needed to do. Shadow said he’d call in sick, Mario didn’t work, and this is my weekend off so it was perfect. We chose to leave early Friday afternoon so we would still have enough light to set up the tent. Shadow researched and found a state owned campground just about fifteen minutes from Monticello where we could campout for free. So off to the upstate New York town of Sundown we go.
“Checklist guys. I got a half ounce of weed, a full tank, and a cooler waiting to fill up with beer before we split.” I looked over at Shadow who was supplying the tent, “I got the tent, a coulpa sleeping bags, and a gas lantern. Plus a hatchet and Swiss army knife.” Shadow had a smug proud smile because like most times it was he that thought of the practical shit. Like some kind of real boyscout or something. We both looked at Mario not expecting anything but he shocked the shit out of us. “Well, I got a little cash here, and I also managed to score 6 hits of Bounty Acid.” He held out his hand and in it was a ripped up sheet of what looked like a stained paper towel. Shadow and I let out a simultaneous “Bounty Acid?” Mario chuckled, “its some clinical LSD dripped on paper towels, kinda like the new sugar cube LSD. I got it from my brother and he swears it’s some really good shit man. He’s never let us down before right? When we find Jimbo and Debs we can all trip our asses off.” Me and Shadow exchanged elated approvals. Our weekend was gonna rock and roll.
Monticello was only three hours away in normal traffic but it was Friday afternoon so it took us over an hour just to get on the Throggs Neck Bridge. But once we got through the Bronx it was clear sailing and we located our free campground area just around eight. We surveyed our temporary home, a mountainous forest with a few large clearings and an ice cold stream. We figured out what a preserve is. An isolated place in the woods with no bathroom, no shower, not much of anything but that running ice cold communal stream and a lot of wildlife. Not like Lions and Tigers and Bears and shit, but woodchucks, raccoons, possums, beavers, and foxes. Not the beavers and foxes we were hoping for, real ones. WTF, at least we may find out how much wood a woodchuck can chuck. No matter, its free, we are always open for an adventure, and we had lots of shit for our heads so we worked together and got the tent set up.
Shadow was beaming with pride over our accomplishment and I gotta say the tent looked professional. I stated happily, “All the comforts of home.” Mario was not as enthusiastic not being much of an outdoorsy kinda dude, “Yea ‘cept television a kitchen and a place to shit in peace. JT, light up a joint will ya?” I reached into my cigarette package for the ready to puff fat doob and struck it up, “Capital idea my most awesome brother, lets commence to getting stoned.” Before the joint even reached its destiny of being fastened to a roachclip I lit a second one and Shadow got us each a cold Pabst Blue Ribbon. Now we were feeling good and buzzed and not caring about the lack of amenities in our camp, which we baptized as “Camp Stoned-henge”
Time to begin our search for Jimbo. We had an address, no idea what part of Monticello it was, but being naïve young stoners we believed if we drove around town we would eventually find the street, surprise Jimbo and Deb with some weed, LSD, and beer an have a big ole party. That was the plan anyway. Mario was by far the best driver especially when we were all stoned so I handed him the keys to my little red Simca “La Bomba”. “Okay Mario, the coolers is packed, I rolled eight doobs, and you got the acid. Here’s the keys bro, take us away.” With that the three of us headed out into the higher regions of the Catskill Mountains smoking joints and having fun. We laughed and drove and drove and laughed and we all three were in a great mood. The sun had just gone down to what they call sunset, but sunset way up in the mountains can be very different, and with the thick fog settling in it was more like horror movie cliché at dusk. It was nearly impossible to see but fortunately not many other cars were out on this foggy eve. Then we hit the road that would alter the complexion of our trip in ways we could never have foreseen. Twist Run Mountain Road. The road was long, with many a winding turn, that leads us to who knows where. Mario was doing his best to negotiate the twists and turns but between the fog in the mountain and the fog in his stoned out head his driving was far more erratic than normal. More than once he crossed or straddled the double yellow line and we couldn’t see more than ten feet in front of us. We kept moving, but at the speed of an old man in a wheelchair. We prayed we would not be noticed.
Prayers are funny things. Sometime they are answered, and sometimes they act like they are intercepted by the Karma police. None of us were very religious so instead of being answered they became some kind of karmic retribution, some sort payback for being evil Long Island suburban kids smoking devils weed. With the bright white headlights being refracted in the fog it was easy to see the contrasting rays of red strobe like lights which bounced off of everything. “Oh fuck man, I’m getting pulled over.“ Paranoia can make you freeze or give you paranormal quickness of thought. My panic first kicked in frozen as vision of an upstate New York prison until intuition filled my brain. Paranormal quickness took center stage as I immediately pulled the remaining joints out of my cigarette box and handed each of the boys two, leaving me with two. “Quick Mario, take out the cid an toss it out the window.” As Mario grabbed them from his pocket the always frugal and efficient Shadow pulled them from his hand and yelled “No wait, lets eat the acid first then the joints. We don’t wanna get busted tossing shit out of the window way the fuck up here. Besides Mario spent good money on it, hate to waste that.” At the time it seemed like a great idea. Mario stalled by pulling over slowly and we each ate two hits of LSD then began chewing the pot. Funny thing about skunk weed, and a fact I had previously been unaware of is it not only smells like skunk ass, it tastes like skunk ass too. Not to say I have eaten skunk ass before, but using my imagination that’s what it would taste like. I chewed and swallowed my two rodent shit tasting big bamboo sticks, Shadow ate his two, but Mario could only finish one. “Hey man, I can’t get this down it tastes horrible. JT, ya gotta take it man.” I grabbed the stick shoved it in my mouth and began chewing just as the cop came up to the window shining his flashlight on us. “Whatcha boyz a dewn up here, eh?“ He shined the light around our eyes and I stopped chewing, allowing the skunk ass flavor to proliferate around my cheeks awhile. Mario took control. “Um, sorry officer, we, uh we’re like here looking for our friend who lives up here in Monticello and like we got like lost in the mountains, he he, and well like the fog is like I mean like I can‘t like even see” Suddenly realizing he told a cop he couldn‘t see yet was still driving Mario made an attempt at a save and blurted, “I mean not like CAN“T see, but like not like really well, I mean this fog is like I mean can’t.. How do you do it officer?” The cop began searching our faces using his flashlight like a spotlight while I frantically tried to swallow inconspicuously the last of the skunk weed and rolling paper. He looked directly at me and suddenly that was me in the spot-light, nearly losing my biological functions. “Y’all looking fer a friend ya say? In Monticello? Well you boys’r in Ellenville now. I think maybe Y’all aughtta step on out the car.” He stepped back and shone his light on Mario and I took the opportunity to swallow the last of the wad of pastey skunk ass saliva soaked crap in my mouth. I was sure my breath stunk like a skunks ass and that’s something I wouldn’t want to try and explain to a hick cop way up in the Catskill Mountains. I wished I has a mint or something but at least we had no drugs to get busted with now. The cop frisked each of us then made us open the trunk of the car. Inside we had a cooler and my Moms wicker picnic basket. The lawman focused on the basket and said, “That’s a helluva nice basket there boys. My wife sure’d like something like that.” I said nothing, but Shadow was quick on the draw. He picked it up and handed it to the cop, “Well officer, why don’t you take this back to the Mrs. We’d be honored if you would take this as a token of our appreciation for helping us figure out where we are and how we can get back home.” Between Shadows charm and my Moms basket the cop took the bribe, smiled and said, “Well thank you boys, that sure is awful nice. My wife is gonna be right happy tonight. Now why don’t y’all get on back in your car, don’t move for about one hour an let the fog settle down. Make sure y’all go straight to where your staying” I looked at Shadow then at Mario and thought about how pissed my Mom was gonna be when she finds out I, or rather Shadow gave away her wicker basket. Anyway the cop was leaving, both Shadow and I mumbled good bye but Mario thought he would add to our new found friendly relation with the officer. With his goofiest big smile he added “We call it Camp Stoned-henge” The cop stopped glared in our direction and paused for a brief moment, then just shook his head as put his prize in his car. “You boys just get on back to your camp whatever, I sure don’t wanna run into y’all again tonight. Unnerstand?” No answer was necessary, we got into La Bomba, waited until the cop was out of sight and split.
Now there was some considerable silence in the car, each of us processing what just happened, and wondering what two hits of acid was gonna be like once it kicked in. Mario was driving and spoke first, “Lets just do like he said and head back to camp. Maybe tomorrow in the light we can find Jimbo.” As obvious and sensible as that was I still wanted to talk about my Moms basket, “Man, why the fuck did you give him My Moms basket? She’s gonna fucking kill me!” Shadow was already prepared with his answer, “Dude chill! It got us out of trouble, what if he kept us there and we all started tripping? We’ll chip in and get a new one, just tell her you left it somewhere.” Satisfied but not happy I had to agree, and off we drove back to Camp Stoned-henge in relative quiet.
No sooner did we get back to our tent did the tingling feeling of an oncoming LSD trip began. We popped open some brews, and waited. I don’t think I ever hallucinated so much before. I was seeing animals that weren’t there, probably not seeing animals that were, and we laughed for about three hours straight all the time having no idea whatsoever why we were laughing. Trees grew extra branches then bent over and kissed the ground. The sounds of the wilderness were symphonic, and even in the dark the colors were magnificent. Time seemed suspended and life looked distorted as if through a kaleidoscope tube but it was okay, even humorous for some bizarre reason. The acid changed the complexion of the evening and we had a blast.
We knew we were never gonna find Jimbo and Debs now, but we were high as shit, tripping and laughing away. We got lost in a mountain fog, had to eat almost all of our weekend supply of drugs including two hits each of acid, got pulled over by a corrupt hick cop almost getting busted, gave away my Moms wicker basket, but at least we’re safe, and happily tripping. Would be for at least the next 5 or 6 hours. We were laughing uncontrollably, happy as clams and the worst was over. Then something fell on the top our temporary canvas abode. Maybe a small twig or something. Then another, and another. Shadow peeked through the tent opening and gave us the news, “Oh oh, looks like rain guys” As the words began to sink in the rat a tat tat on the tent picked up speed and decibels. Within seconds the light rain morphed into a mountain downpour and I felt the earth move under my feet-I felt the sky a tumbling. Before we knew what happened we had wall to wall mud carpeting. Mario began freaking out, I began laughing harder, and Shadow stared out to tent opening and with a prophecy told us the wind was kicking up which reminded him of a time he and his Dad were camping, got caught in a storm so bad that the wind yanked the tent spikes out and one stuck in his leg.
The last lucid memory I had was Shadow showing us this little scar on his calf. Less lucid is a memory as vague as the mud carpet, of three tripped out stoners laughing with a mixture of delight and horror as we became part of a canvas blob of a soaking wet mudpack. We managed to pop our heads out of the openings, Mario found some cans of mud crusted PBR’s and we partied until well after sunrise. At some point we finally fell asleep.
We slept clear through to Sunday morning and when the Sunday morning sun menacingly shook us awake we looked like burnt and crusted Woodstock wash outs, completely covered in dried mud and probably woodchuck piss. We rummaged through what was left of our campsite, the weed was MIA, the cooler had tipped over but still had a few warm beers in it, and the sleeping bags and everything else including the tent were a damp collaboration of musty half dried shit. We tossed it all in the trunk where my Moms wicker basket once resided, went down and bathed in the ice cold stream. We set out home to Long Island and despite having a ton and a half of fun each vowed to never return to Camp Stoned-henge…..PEACE