Vagabond: Touring the Wine Country

On August 16, 2017, in Uncategorized, by Kevin Sysyn

I had an old guitar, nylon stringed, no case, that I had picked up in Seattle and I came into Northern California. I was eventually going to make it to Berkeley and San Francisco when I decided, instead of the coastal route, to take a hike down through Lake and Napa Counties, or “wine country” as I later found out it was called.

Some folks, a family of four, picked me up on the road. They were fascinated that I had hitchhiked 3,000 miles to where they found me and were quite impressed with my singing as I played a few songs for them. After a time they pulled into a winery. Not having any other plans I went into the reception building with them. It seemed a castle to me. There was a fantastic Cornucopia of a cheeseboard, and small samples of every wine and vintage they had to offer; all free and served by lovely hostesses. I am no drinker being prone to debilitating hangovers. But I had quite a few samples and a belly full of food.

My family of friends went on their way and I staggered out of the place into the perpetual summer day that is California and once again onto the road that runs thru that wondrous green lush part of the world. From wine castle to wine castle, vineyard to vineyard I went, for several days. Strange days they were. Totally drunk and well-fed I found that “the hair of the dog that bit ya” was actually an effective, if only delaying, treatment for drunkenness. Stay drunk as long as the weather holds.

I’d go into a garage restroom and wash, shave etc, wash my sox and one shirt. I kept up a decent appearance. The deep blue pea-coat never lost it’s “military” bearing.

It must have seemed strange to some that I was carrying a guitar though I would stash it in a corner quickly upon entering the place. Hardly anybody seemed to take notice. Except one time I was asked, by a customer, to sing Happy Birthday to a young woman for which I was handed twenty bucks. The management applauded with everybody else. But I must have seemed out-of-place to them as indeed I was.

I would sleep right off the side of the road. Lay out my xxx plastic bag and using my rolled up dirtiest shirt as a pillow I’d just lay down right under the California sky, my pockets fulls of hospitality edibles, strumming my guitar, until I drifted into a drunken sleep. Next day I’d hitch and ride until I got hungry and stop at another winery. Seems like I meandered a hundred miles or more thru there. So for the only drunk I ever went on I accidentally imbibed the best booze on Earth. For free!


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