I ran away from home when I was 35 years old. Left my wallet in my desk, and hitch-hiked to the Bahamas and back.
Why would I do that? And how did I pull that off, with no money or ID?
You’re invited to come along and see, as I reminisce.
CHAPTER 1, A Double Dilemma.
In my first book titled, ‘Miracles Happen!’ I said, “Miracles tend to fit seamlessly into normal reality, making them impossible to prove scientifically, and easy to write off; about the only way to spot a miracle is by the timing.”
For example, scientists say strong winds may have blown back the Red Sea exposing a land bridge, but the Bible says the sea parted the moment Moses stepped into the water with his staff.
Pharaoh’s timing? Not so good.
Pharaoh and his army were right in the middle when the walls of water collapsed.
In this short story I plan to introduce a new more subtle way of identifying miracles.
I coined a new phrase, ‘pre-sequential gifts.’
Imagine a stranger walking up to you and placing a key in your hand; he says, “Don’t lose this, you’re going to need it.”
A short time later a door you need to go through has been padlocked, and the key fits the lock.
Another point I make in my book on miracles is life tends to come in cycles. A period of growth, followed by a comfortable plateau, with the feeling of having it made. After a while your life seems to form a cozy shell.
Then just when you least expect it, your shell cracks wide open, forcing you into another growth cycle.
Anyway I was feeling like my dreams had all come true.
I was happily married to a beautiful wife, with four healthy children, and co-managing a thriving flying service with my brother, in San Diego.
Then suddenly everything went sideways. My wife Loretta announced that she didn’t love me anymore. She had a boyfriend named Gene, they had already spent a weekend in Tahoe.
And my brother Wayne was prepared to fight over control of our family business. He said, “My hero is Howard Hughes, and Howard Hughes didn’t have a partner.”
Wayne had been preparing a stock issue that was supposed to make us all a lot of money, but now he was willing to hold up the stock issue until I signed papers giving him twice as much stock.
I won’t repeat what I said, but I refused to sign, so there was a problem.
Tensions were mounting, and my father’s blood pressure was going up. Dad was determined not to take sides between his two boys.
Meanwhile Loretta wasn’t ready for a divorce, and her and Gene couldn’t decide what they wanted to do.
I was facing two complex situations that I couldn’t seem rationalize my way through.
It felt like my life had been placed on hold.
Much of my self image was wrapped up in my roles, husband, father, pilot, and successful business man.
If all of these roles were cancelled, then who would I be?
For a while I thought I could be having a nervous breakdown. I was stressed, confused, and disoriented, but I wasn’t depressed.
I took some time off, and walked around feeling things to see if they were real.
One day I was sitting on some rocks by the ocean. A good looking lady came jogging by.
She stopped and said, “You look like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders, what are you thinking about?”
I said, “Responsibilities.”
She said, “No one can place responsibilities on you, you have to accept them yourself.” Then she turned and jogged away.
I was concerned about Father’s health, and I didn’t want to fight with my brother; even if I could win, I didn’t want to run the business by myself, and I was becoming fed up with the ruthlessness of the business world.
CHAPTER 2, Miracles.
Recently I had been going through some spiritual and psychological changes; and some miracles had been happening in my life.
I crashed while attempting to fly a damaged airplane off of a deserted beach in Mexico.
The airplane was demolished, literally broken in half, but I walked away without a scratch.
I spent the night at the beach, guarding what was left of the airplane.
Just when I started feeling cold, the wind came up and a log suddenly caught on fire. It was charred on the inside from a previous fire.
The following morning as I was walking on the beach thinking selfishly about missing breakfast, a jar of pickled pigs feet
washed out of the surf right in front of me!
Pickled pigs feet, ugh. I decided I wasn’t really all that hungry after all, but breakfast had just been served on a deserted beach in Mexico.
About a month later while riding a biker friend’s chopper to Sacramento, I decided to stop half way and spend the night sleeping in a canyon behind a gas station.
To my surprise there was a boxspring and mattress.
Each of these times I was impressed that Someone was watching over me, who would take care of me if ever I stepped out in faith.
Well soon after that that’s what I decided to do.
Besides leaving my wallet with my ID, money, and credit cards, in my desk, I wrote a note, saying, “I won’t be back, at least until 1980.”
It was 1972.
I said to myself, “They can have it all, but they can’t have me!”
I decided to leave Vance and his problems behind, and let my subconscious self, who I called George, run things for a while, he seemed to have a closer connection with God.
I knew Wayne could find a way to issue the stock without my signature, and Loretta and Gene would eventually decide what to do with me out of the equation.
Leaving a fifteen-year marriage, and the security of the family business all at once, was stepping out all right; but I wasn’t sure if I was stepping out in faith, or stepping into insanity.
Having some serious second thoughts, I asked God, “Please give me some kind of sign.”
I stopped at a bank I knew always served complementary coffee.
When I walked through the front door I was greeted by a hostess. She smiled saying, “Here’s a special gift just for you,” handing me a Ran Mc Nalley map book with red letters that said, “See the U. S. A. first.”
This map book was my first pre-sequential gift.
Besides free coffee there was a table full of cookies and sandwiches.
CHAPTER 3, The Open Road.
I walked to the second street on ramp in El Cajon, it was the best place for an out of town ride. I got a ride almost right away, but they only took me two miles.
I was at a bad ramp. I was wondering if I would ever get a ride. About an hour later a young boy in a VW Bug pulled over, he was about 16, and looking nervous, he said, “I’ve never picked up a hitch hiker before.”
His name was Joe, he was running away with his dad’s car, trying to drive to Ohio to see his girlfriend. He was afraid he would get stopped at the Arizona boarder, and all he had was five dollars and his dad’s Shell credit card.
I assured Joe that the boarder wouldn’t be problem, and showed him my map book published by the Shell Oil Company. It had a big red dot by every Shell gas station.
In Winslow Arizona Joe stopped to spend his five dollars on a meal. I said, “Let’s go to a grocery store instead, buy a jar of peanut butter and loaf of bread.”
About three hours later a red light began flashing on the dash, Joe pulled over. His dad had told him to stop and not go any farther if that light ever came on.
I opened the hatch and saw why. The pulley had broken off of the generator, and the cooling fan was attached to the pulley.
We could have made it into the next city by driving short distances and letting the engine cool, but Joe would have none of that.
I said, “Then we’ll have to hitch-hike to town and rent a tow truck.”
Joe didn’t want to leave the car unattended, he was afraid to hitch-hike, and wasn’t sure he he could trust me with his dad’s credit card.
After fretting about it for a while he decided to stay with the car, and send me into town with the credit card.
The next city was Santa Rosa New Mexico, and the Shell gas station had a tow truck.
I explained our situation to Rex, the owner of the station while we were driving in his tow truck. I said all we had was the Shell credit card, and we needed a generator for the VW.
Rex said his friend Art owned a parts store across the street from his station; he might have a generator.
After towing the VW back to his gas station Rex called Art. He had the generator we needed, I could walk over and pick it up, Rex would add it to the credit card bill.
The problem was, Rex was busy and couldn’t do the repairs for a couple of days.
I said, “I could install the generator if I had tools.” Rex said, “Ok, I’ll loan you my tools.”
While I was working on the car, Joe was in a phone booth; I could see him crying.
He came out wiping his eyes, Joe had made a deal with his parents. If he would come back and finish his school year they would buy him an airline ticket to visit his girl friend next summer.
We slept in the VW that night, at least tried to. I marked his way home with an orange marker pen, and gave Joe the map book. He thanked me again and again, and gave me his last dollar.
CHAPTER 4, Wings.
I walked to the freeway ramp. It was filled with hitch hikers, the rules are, last person stands the farthest up the ramp, but people were already standing all the way to the no pedestrians beyond this point sign.
I waited for an hour or so, and no one had gotten a ride.
I had seen some small aircraft landing and taking off just over a small hill, so I walked over to see if I could catch a ride.
A big black guy with a Beach Bonanza was gassing up. I told him I was a commercial pilot and if he was going East I would like a ride. He asked if I had an instrument rating, he was concerned about the weather.
I said, “Yes, I’m an Instrument Flight Instructor. He said, “Ok lets go, you can fly.”
Most people who hitch-hike around have road names. I met a James Twilight, a Charlie Brown, a Space Rooster, a New York Dave, Stan the Man, and a Smiley that never smiled. My alias was George M. (middle initial only) Miller.
Hitch-hiking by air felt like cheating, but it’s not against the rules.
The flight was uneventful, and now I was walking around in Dallas Texas. I visited the Kennedy museum and the place where he was shot.
The first night I slept in an all night laundry, the second night in a van in a used car lot; then I thought I can do better than this, so I moved into a Hyatt Hotel.
I walked around like I owned the place, spending much of my time on the fifth floor lounging around the swimming pool.
There were bowls with fish shaped crackers in the lobby.
I found a linen closet I could sleep in. It was dark and quiet, with fresh pillows and linen that I would dump down the linen chute each morning, but I had to wake up and be out of there before the maids showed up.
One morning I noticed a room service tray setting out in the hall with some leftover food. There was a slice of cherry pie wrapped in plastic, and some mixed vegetables.
After that I would ride up and down in the elevator, checking for food trays.
I visited a church a few blocks away. The second time I attended an adult study group, a guy dropped by and invited us all to a five course meal. He was studying to be a Chief, and needed us to eat his next assignment. No strings were attached, not even forms to fill out.
Apparently there is such a thing as a free lunch.
I blended in with the hotel crowd because I was wearing slacks, but they were getting soiled and wrinkled, so I took them to a one hour cleaners that would clean and press my slacks for the dollar Joe gave me.
I was sitting on some concrete steps of a house that had been demolished, behind the Cleaners waiting for my slacks, when a guy came walking by calling, “Scooby doo, Scooby doo.” He asked, “Have you seen a calico cat?” I said “Nope.”
In a while he came back by. He said his name was Jim. “Why the Hell are you sitting on the steps of a building that’s not there, in your long johns!?”
This was a story Jim always loved to tell.
He’d been in a fight with his girlfriend, she went one way, and Scooby Doo went the other, – – – Jim followed the cat.
Jim was the best pre-sequenced gift of all. A best friend, and a truckin buddy; a gift that kept on giving and giving, up until three years ago when he died.
He invited me to stay at his place for a while. Jim gave me a pair of his Levis, he said my slacks were totally un-cool; they were bell bottoms.
I said, “The only thing I had was a going East direction, and now even that was gone.” Jim said, “No problem, I’ve been meaning to visit some army buddies. Stick around for a couple weeks while I finish up my night job, and we can travel together.”
CHAPTER 5, Truckun’ Buddies.
Jim wanted to head North through Oklahoma City, so I decided to visit the FAA records department. The guy treated us like we were celebrities, he hadn’t seen a real person for a while. I asked if I could get a copy of my pilots certificate and medical. He said, “Sure thing, all I need is three dollars, and your Social Security number.”
Another important pre-sequential gift.
Next we would be traveling through Saint Louis Missouri. King Povenmire, one of my former students, was now the Chief Flight Instructor at a flight service in Saint Louis, so I planned on visiting him.
We caught a long ride with two guys that got us stoned out of our minds.
For a short while after they dropped us off, we couldn’t remember who we were, where we were, or why we were there.
I said, “I’ve got an idea, let’s assume they dropped us off where we asked them to.” Jim said, “Good idea, where’s that?” We laughed hard about that for a while, then I decided to check out the phone book in a nearby phone booth. The phone book said Saint Louis, and King’s name came to mind.
We visited King and his family for a day or two. King said, “I’ve been looking for a Instrument Flight Instructor; the job’s yours if you want it.”
Freedom or security, security or freedom; by now you know which one I would pick; my head was in the wind, and I was having the time of my life; – – – no stopping now.
Jim and I must have looked like stoners, because we kept getting rides with people who wanted to party. Sleep was hard to come by because the partying would go on late into the night.
In the morning they would say, “Don’t steal anything Ok, – – – and lock the door when you leave.”
We spent one night sleeping on picnic tables in a park, the next morning we visited the Saint Lewis Arch. You sit in a cage that ratchets to stay upright on its way to the top.
Walking into Indianapolis Indiana, Jim asked, where we gonna sleep.” “Who knows, a park maybe, – – – God will provide,” I said assuredly.
A few minutes later a truck swerved off the road just ahead of us, knocking down a stop sign.
While we were standing there checking it out, a guy walked across the street from a gas station, and started a conversation. He was into rioting at political conventions. Last time he got tear gassed, so he had bought himself a gas mask and some brass knuckles for the Republican Convention.
We acted like we thought that was cool so he asked if we had someplace to stay. Jake and some other hippie types had found their way into an abandoned hotel.
There were lots of drugs but no food, so after wandering around town I found a bus station with a cafeteria. People collected food on a tray and paid for it before sitting down to eat. Then their bus departure would be announced, and they would walk away from their leftovers, and stand in line.
The receipt for the food would be on the tray, but no one seemed to be paying any attention anyway. I told Jim about it and for a while we were eating four meals a day. It was great except for a cigarette butt someone put out in the mashed potatoes.
We called it ‘grubbing.’
We stayed at the hippie hotel for a couple of weeks. I got to attend the Indi 500. Well sort of. I was in the infield, and the race cars were just a noisy blur. People came there for the party, it was something like a rock concert.
We hitch-hiked with Space Rooster to a small town named Carmel, to visit one of his friends. On the way back Rooster asked how we were doing so well on the road. Jim said, “We pray our way along.”
Space Rooster mockingly shouted at the sky; “LORD, WE WANT A RIDE, WITH SOME CHICKS, AND SOME WEED, AND WE WANT THEM TO TAKE US RIGHT WHERE WE WANT TO GO.”
In less than ten minutes a two girls in a car pulled over to give us a ride. After some small talk one of the girls asked. “Do you guys smoke weed?” I won’t repeat what he said, but I’ll never forget the look on Space Rooster’s face.
And yes, the girls drove us two miles off of the freeway to the exact place we wanted to go.
After Indianapolis we hitch-hiked South to Louisville to visit one of Jim’s army buddies.
After that we had our first minor disagreement. Jim had told Jake we would come back to the hotel, and I wanted to go somewhere new.
We agreed to catch a ride North, ask the driver where he was going, and then decide.
After a while a car pulled over to pick us up. John Denver was singing on his radio, “Country road take me home, West Virginia.”
We asked where he was going, and no lie, he said, “West Virginia.”
We looked at each other with a big grin, and said, “Guess we’re going there too.”
CHAPTER 6, West Virginia.
On our way into Charleston West Virginia we got a short ride with Connie, a beautiful blonde by California standards. She came from a religious family and had apparently made it her mission to pick up stragglers and try to evangelize them.
Connie invited us over for sandwiches. Her dad was there, but seemed unsurprised and unconcerned. After lunch Connie showed me two pictures of Robert Redford in her movie magazine, from the movie Jeremiah Johnston, where he leaves civilization to become a mountain man.
One picture clean shaven, and the other with a beard and long hair. I hadn’t looked in a mirror for a while, but Connie said I reminded her of Jeremiah. She asked if she could shave me and give me a haircut. I said, “Sure, whatever.”
This was another important pre-sequential gift.
Connie seemed to be zeroing in on me, and Jim was missing his girlfriend, so he hit the road back to Dallas.
Connie invited me to church with her and her family. A few days later she said, “Let’s go on a hike, I want to show you my favorite place.”
Sometimes I’m a little slow, but when we got to a beautiful grassy meadow in the woods, and I saw the look on Connie’s face, I realized there was more to her mission plan then I imagined.
No, I didn’t go for it, my wife had been unfaithful, but in my mind I was still legally married.
Next Connie wanted to stop at a local pizza parlor. When we left she took the receipt, she said she wanted to tell her dad we just went out for a pizza.
The last thing she said to me was, “I’ve never met anyone on a trip like yours.” Soon after that she seemed to lose interest.
Being a pilot I usually gravitate to the local airport. I saw a guy loading boxes into a limo, and asked for a ride to the airport. He said, “Sure, help me load these suitcases.”
On our way he said, “Guess who’s in the front limo.” “I have no idea.” “It’s Sonny and Cher.”
When we got to the airport he dropped me off at the terminal. I walked over to a big plate glass window to see if I could spot them boarding their private prop jet.
“Guess who that is,” I said to a guy standing next to me. “Who?” “Sonny and Cher, I just rode to the airport in one of those limos.”
His name was Bob, he was scheduled for a flight lesson in his Cessna 172, but his instructor had cancelled on him, because of the weather.
I said, “I’m a flight instructor, and the weather doesn’t look that bad to me.”
The black guy with the Bonanza had simply taken my word for it, but Bob was skeptical.
“Ok, let me see your certificate.” I pulled out my instructor’s license and medical.
After a short conversation Bob said, “Tell you what, if you’ll help me pass my private pilot written exam, I’ll give you free room and board.”
He wanted to get his private license before his vacation, so he could take his girlfriend on a flying vacation.
While driving to Bob’s apartment we passed the local court house, there were some long haired hippie types sitting on the steps. Bob exclaimed, “Good for nothing lazy longhaired hippies.” I smiled to myself, because I had looked just like them two days before.
When it was time for Bob’s vacation, he was ready to take his written test, but hadn’t had time to take it, or his flight test; so he asked me to please go along with him and his girlfriend on their vacation.
We flew to Myrtle Beach, then down to Florida, and over to the Bahama Islands. While eating steaks at a Hawaiian Luau, I thought of my brother who’d been to the Bahamas and said how beautiful it was. I sent Wayne a blank post card from the Bahamas.
Later on Wayne said he knew it was from me.
On the way back to West Virginia we stopped in New Orleans and Atlanta Georgia.
A short time later Bob and I were visiting one of his friends, talking about our flying adventure, his friend had a Watts line, and offered me a free phone call; so I called a close friend of my wife.
Teresa said Loretta had a chance to sell a lot her and I owned in Spring Valley, and needed my signature. Loretta and Gene had decided to move to his place in Sacramento. Loretta was ready for a friendly divorce; and the company stock issue had gone out successfully.
CHAPTER 7, Heading back.
I loved the freedom of the road, but there was still an invisible rubber band attaching me to San Diego. Unfinished business, I had real estate papers to sign, and needed to finalize our divorce.
I decided to head back, and close out all of my accounts, so I could pass through San Diego anytime, as freely as any other city.
My first ride asked how far I was going. I said, “California.” He said, “I have always wanted to go to California.” “Just keep pointing West and we’ll be there soon,” I replied. He said, “No, I can’t really afford a vacation.” I said, “I only have eight dollars, and fifty six cents, and I’ll be there in three days.”
My next ride was in an eighteen wheeler; all the way to Dallas. He hired me to help him unload. The boxes were light, full of stuffed animals.
I spent the night in the hippie hotel, but everyone was gone.
I spent a day at a Christian gathering in Bolder Colorado. In a few more days I was back in San Diego, attempting to gather the pieces of Vance’s life.
I worked part time for the family flying service, doing some flight instruction and flying the mail run, but my life has never really been the same. I had gained my come and go privileges, and I’ve been coming and going ever sense.
Four years ago, twelve years after my second divorce I was living in a Motor Home and driving a Honda Prelude.
The Prelude caught on fire somehow, a short in the battery or something, a neighbor showed me a video of the firemen putting out the fire; and the roof on the Motor Home was leaking badly.
I was living on my Social Security checks. Wayne said my life style would catch up with me when my vehicles started to break down. His prediction seemed to be coming true.
But then God impressed Santa Claus to buy me a Honda Mini-Van.
My friend, Skooby Doo Jim, was now a professional Santa Claus.
Jim and Brenda had retired, and planned to sell their house, buy a motor home and become full time travelers. Their house sold almost instantly for their original asking price, and now they were saying God impressed them to buy George a vehicle.
I was always George, to Jim and Brenda.
I choose a 2003 Honda Mini-Van, because I could sleep in it, it blended in, and got good gas millage. I’m still traveling around in it today.
As I said, Jim died three years ago. Brenda mailed me Jim’s laptop, my last gift from Jim.
The laptop I’m typing on this very minute.
I hope you enjoyed my story. Did you spot any miracles?
In retrospect, (I’m 80 now by the way) it seems like God had been preparing me for this transitional event.
I had a bad habit of pushing my luck. No one would sell me life insurance. I flew for a living, rode a motorcycle, and sky dived on weekends.
I crashed a car, a motorcycle, and an airplane in fairly quick succession, and walked away each time without a scratch. At first I thought I was good, then I thought I was good, and lucky, and finally I decided, no one can be that lucky.
In my spare time, I had been investigating some different religions.
Recently I was involved with a religion called Huna.
“Huna is a Hawaiian word adopted by Max Freedom Long in 1936 to describe his theory of metaphysics. Long cited what he believed to be the spiritual practices of ancient Hawaiian kahunas as inspiration.”
I was taught to hold a simple pendulum (like a ring on a piece of thread) over my hand and ask questions.
Back and forth means neutral, or ready to play. Clockwise means yes, counterclockwise means no.
There was also a variation in the degree of swing from a small weak circle to a larger more enthusiastic circle.
I found out recently this is called “ideomotor movements” – muscle movements caused by subconscious mental activity.
Anyway, I tried it and the pendulum started answering my questions.
This was a new and surprising experience, so I spent some time attempting to understand how and why it worked.
When I watched my arm holding the pendulum closely, I could see muscle twitches that were causing the pendulum movements.
I could knew I wasn’t consciously willing the movements, and the answers were different than what I expected.
I was told that I was communicating with my subconscious, so I named him George.
When I asked George, “do you like Ben?” (a close friend of mine) George swung the pendulum counter clockwise for “no.” I asked if that was because of what Ben said yesterday, George signaled, “Yes.”
Like a big brother I had a talk with George about Ben’s motives. Then I asked again, “Do you like Ben?” And George answered, “Yes.”
WARNING: A pendulum works on the same principals as a Ouija board and a Dowsing Rod; the subconscious mind can be childlike, it loves to play games, it seems to be open to possible outside influences, so it could lead you on some wild goose chases, if you let it; some that could be hazardous to your mental, and spiritual health.
My advice is to stick strictly to private conversations within your own experiences.
Anyway, the pendulum was a primitive means of communication, it will still work for me, but I switched to inner verbal conversations.
It seemed like George was like a younger brother, who seemed to mature over time.
Eventually George became more my age, and we became close friends.
One of my favorite quotes comes to mind.
“There’s a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line.” ~ Oscar Levant
When I was facing my double dilemma, and approaching a possible nervous breakdown, Vance threw up his hands saying, “I have absolutely no idea what to do next!” I asked George, “So what would you do?”
George said, “Let’s just walk away, and take a vacation; remember the message of the miracles, we will be just fine.”
George seemed to have a more solid connection with God.
So the wallet and the note went in the desk drawer, we walked to the freeway and stuck out our thumb.
Thoughts about stress and nervous breakdowns:
A predominately left hemisphere person runs up against a stressful situation they cannot rationalize their way through, and flips to their right hemisphere, and if that side of their brain is immature due to lack of use, the person may become suicidal, or begin to react in irrational and childlike ways, with a need to be institutionalized until that side of their personality has time to mature.
I believe the goal is a balanced mind, with both hemispheres working in unison.
– – – – – – –
Here’s some information I found on the internet:
“In the simplest sense it could be said that, mentally speaking, a nervous breakdown occurs when an individual finds that the number of things that they are able to cope with is lower than the number of things that they have to cope with.”
In my own words, stressed out, and overwhelmed.
The following information seems to indicate that my ‘walkabout’ was just what the doctor ordered.
– – – – – – –
One of the most important things you will learn is how to change your lifestyle to reduce stress and minimize the chances of having a nervous breakdown, including:
1. Changing what causes you stress, such as your job or a bad relationship. (CHECK)
2. Cutting back on responsibilities that may have become overwhelming. (CHECK)
3. Asking people close to you for help with responsibilities you cannot totally eliminate, like child care. (CHECK)
4. Spending more time doing things you enjoy and relaxing. (CHECK)
5. Quitting smoking and reducing or quitting drinking or other substance use. (Well)
6. Eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise. (CHECK)
7. Getting enough sleep every night. (Well)
8. Talk to a close friend who is a good listener. (CHECK)
9. Spend more time outside breathing fresh air, and walking. (CHECK)
My favorite songs were, ‘Don’t fence me in,’ ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow,’ ‘I was born under a wandering star,’ ‘Like a Rolling Stone, and ‘Free Bird, so the road felt like home to me.
I had the time of my life. I learned that all of my basic needs would always be provided for, and my relationship with George and God improved, balancing my mind in the process.
And everything worked out as originally planned.
Wayne found a way to issue the stock without my signature, my Father’s health was back to normal, Loretta and I had our friendly divorce, and her and Gene moved to Sacramento.
Plus I had escaped from the rat race, saved my sanity, and earned my come and go privileges.