August 6, 1971 – The Real Don Steele – The Retro Radio Joe Collection –
Best times – weird times – great times – sad times. What a year. Summer was never like this before. Six guys from L.A. decide to drive up to Yosemite and get back to nature before they get back to being Seniors in September. You figure it’s now or never – Labor Day is an insane asylum and you’ll never get a camping space – not in the Valley anyway. Lucky one of you has a Plymouth Station Wagon, because the rest of you have Beetles and motorcycles. So you pile in, bringing the really important things for the trip – two jugs of Red Mountain – a lid of rumored Acapulco Gold – six tabs of Orange Sunshine – a bag of Reds and a change of socks.
You haven’t been to Yosemite since you were 10 – National Parks don’t change – Half Dome is still Half Dome – Park Rangers still look like Smokey the Bear. But the Valley, where all the camping spaces are, is full of Winnebagos. This is nature, why did all these people bring TV’s?
So you pick a place far away from the noise and close enough to the meadow where you can all hang out and set up camp. Nature is amazing, even if it is hard to see at night with all the smoke coming from campfires.
First day you head over to the Yosemite Village Store. Wall-to-Wall tourists. You’re checking the place out because you remember none of you thought to bring food. You’re starving. Food ain’t cheap in the Valley.
You didn’t really notice her at first but you keep bumping into her all around the store. That split second you stop concentrating on what to get for $2.00 and notice the face gazing in your direction you stop – your mind goes totally blank – thoughts of finding food and the five guys back at camp vanish while you open your mouth and start talking. You don’t know why, but you feel this urge to tell her your life’s story. She laughs a lot. She’s unbelievable – you see your entire future with her – you don’t even know her name.
From that point on you’re joined at the hip – you meet her friends, she meets your friends – you have joints – they have a jar of peanut butter. Guitars appear from out of nowhere and start playing James Taylor songs.
By the time dawn rolls around the camp is quiet, broken up by periodic snores. You’re sharing a sleeping bag. You have finally died and gone to heaven – the moment you have been keeping in the back of your mind since you realized you had funny urges has finally arrived. All those years.
You have been known to fall in love on the average of a dozen times a day – you admit it. This time it’s different – this time it’s real. Yosemite has officially been dubbed Heaven On Earth.
There’s just one problem – she lives in Ohio. She’s leaving later on in the day and going back to Ohio. Back to school – back to life somewhere outside Cleveland.
No. That can’t happen – you make the sales pitch – you tell her about the Beach and Venice and the Sunset Strip. You tell her she can live with you (even if you do live with your parents and they would vote no on the spot). You try to get her to stay.
But it doesn’t work and by noon she is off with her friends, packed and leaving. Heading home.
You are heartbroken; a shell of your former self. You will never be the same again. You make a promise to yourself to go East and find her the second you graduate.
If you only knew her name.
But since it’s August 6th 1971 – dive into an hour of The Real Don Steele from KHJ and look for your soundtrack. It’s in there someplace.
(Disclaimer: This is a work of total fiction – any similarities to persons living or dead is purely coincidental).
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