Go West Young Man! How I Finally Got My Act Together….
The next spring, in 1972, I sailed the boat back from the Netherlands to Sandwich on the SE coast with Milton and Stephanie, feeling very disillusioned after suffering through my 18th bout of seas sickness. My American girl friend had pretty much dared me to leave the boat and try flying. So I took up her challenge, reluctantly decided to park the boat again, and flew to the USA a month later.
Of course I had the advantage of speaking the language (more or less) when I landed in Chicago in 1972, but it still felt very foreign in many ways. The effect of running headlong into the youth movement in the early 1970’s was so powerful, I cheerfully joined in the exodus from the cities that saw young people heading for the hills “to get their heads together.”
I never did figure out what that meant, but I did find the courage to leave the serious sailing to people who actually enjoyed it. There were still a lot of difficult issues to resolve: fly home and sell the boat for whatever it would bring, explain to my mother I was going to leave England and seek my fortune in the USA.
On my second summer in Chicago, I painted houses in Winetka/Wilmette all summer, then I learned to drive, bought a van, and drove from Chicago across Canada, to the Pacific Northwest, which I have made my home since 1973. I took a surprising detour to Canada in 1974 when I was accepted as an immigrant and lived on Bowen Island caretaking a marina over the winter. But I couldn’t shake the memory of life in Portland and drifted back in 1975 to help re-build the Cherry Grove Center in the foothills of the Coast Range west of Portland.
I settled in easily and soon began to drop my very-English world view and take advantage of the opportunities that came my way like working as handyman in the growing suburbs around Portland. After exploring Oregon, Washington by van. I turned my gaze south and drove my well-worn Ford Econoliner van to Mexico and Guatemala with my new teenage girl friend Christine Perala. Six months later, we returned with lots of hand-made souvenirs, and I contacted an established import shop about the business of selling Mexican handcrafts.
I soon found myself alone again and running a booth selling imported d clothing at the Portland Saturday Market. I quickly learned to overcome my reticence and develop the persona of an English “barrow boy.” I also had a good excuse to return to Mexico twice to buy more products to sell. 1976-80 I worked every weekend and had enough money and time to relax and play a little.
Some of the new interests and passions I developed in the 1970’s were Balkan folk-dancing, teaching myself Spanish to travel in Mexico, yoga and meditation, comparative religion, and self- employment. I taught myself auto maintenance and repair, and re-directed my energy to some sports I was physically suited for. Casual jogging turned into full-on competitive running, which I had not done since college and I returned to cycling through City Bikes, the earliest co-op/collective bike-shop that started an entire movement in Portland.
Oh yes, I designed and built another multihull, and swore that this time I would stick with it and improve it if necessary–wherever and whenever I could.