My Way IS the Highway

By Cynthia Johnston

Dream Lodge

I was on the phone with Linda Kelly, Editor in Chief of the Haight Street Voice. We were brainstorming for our respective writing projects, hoping to spark creativity. 

When I need inspiration, I often turn to my dog-eared deck of Medicine Cards. The cards are beautiful and come with a book: Medicine Cards –The Discovery of Power Through the Ways of Animals by Jamie Sams and David Carson. “Shall I pull a card?” I asked. “Sure,” she replied. I shuffled the deck and picked a card: BEAR.

We had to laugh. The Grateful Dead connection was so obvious. But according to my book, Bear reminds us to go inside, listen to the silence, and know. 

The Pineal gland or mid-brain is referred to as the Bear cave in many shamanic traditions. Also known as the third eye, it’s seen as a link between the physical and spiritual. From the Bear cave, located in the West on the Medicine Wheel, one may enter an inner space many tribes call the Dream Lodge. Bear had invited us to enter the Dream Lodge, the great Void where goals become reality. Of course we would follow Bear’s advice. After we hung up, I closed my eyes…

Drifting off into the Void, I’m suddenly driving south on the Pacific Coast Highway in my Dad’s 1965 Mustang with Linda Kelly and Dr. Timothy Leary. It’s sometime in the ‘90s and we are on a mission. A vague one, at that. We are looking for a place along the coast. A little town. Starts with P. “I’ll know it when I see it,” says Tim. So we start in Pacifica, a string of small coastal communities just south of San Francisco. The southernmost community is called Pedro Point and after a few minutes wandering around the raggedy cluster of surf shops, bars and restaurants, it’s obvious. This ain’t it. 

Further south, past Devil’s Slide, Point Montara is just a lighthouse with a hostel. We keep moving.

“There’s a hotel,” Tim says. “She used to work there.”

It’s not clear who she is but it’s becoming very clear that Dr. Tim is determined to find her, to find the place he remembers from long ago. 

I have a spot in mind but I can’t remember the name. I know how to get there and I suggest we check it out. But first, we have to investigate every nook and cranny along the glorious California coast, with no luck.

Tim finally surrenders. We were planning to have lunch anyway, so we decide to just enjoy the day. “I know a place I think you’ll like,” says me. And we drive a little further south towards Half Moon Bay to a quaint little harbor. As we pull in, Timmy sits up and looks around, blue eyes flashing. “This is it!” he exclaims.

Princeton-by-the-Sea. Pillar Point Harbor. The restaurant is right there on the water: Barbara’s Fish Trap. Our mood is suddenly upbeat again.  As we park, Timmy’s attention is laser-focused on a tidy little Inn across the road from Barbara’s. That’s it, he says again. The Pillar Point Inn.

We park and get a table at Barbara’s. Before we order, Tim gives me an assignment: Go to the front desk at the inn and ask for so and so. Tell her Mr. X is waiting. (Sorry, it’s been over twenty years and I can’t recall the code names.) My mission is successful and we are joined by our mystery guest. A forbidden guest, as it turns out. It seems Dr. Tim is legally prohibited from having contact with this person who is as happy to see him as he is to see her. It appears that they may have been married at one time. They clearly still adore each other and a lovely time is had by all.

Mission accomplished. Tim found his long lost friend and I found my inspiration in the Dream Lodge. Aho! Mitakuye Oyasin.

In 1980 Cynthia Johnston was NORML’s Marin County coordinator for the California Marijuana Initiative. She needed help producing a concert and met Steve Brown, the new NORML production guy and a former staff member of Grateful Dead Records. They hit it off and for many music-filled years—especially Grateful Dead—co-produced shows at Pacifica Community Television in Pacifica, California. She was an active member of BAWIM—Bay Area Women in Music. Her first Skull and Roses Festival was 2018, and she’s stayed hooked. “It was like the beginning of the whole hippie thing when there was room to dance freely and take pictures of the band close-up. And the music blew my mind! What had been lost was now found. I needed a miracle and this was it.” She began blogging before even hearing the word “blog” and currently has a website, My Way IS the High Way