| Vagabond Lifestyle Adventures by Ken Birks
While talking to various people we were meeting on the streets of San Antonio, we began hearing about a Rock Festival that was to take place northeast of Austin, Texas, in a place called Gatlin Creek. Even though our plans were to get through Texas as fast as possible, it couldn’t be all that bad if they were having Rock Festivals here.
Within an hour or so, we were on our way hitchhiking to Austin as vagabonds. This was the aspect of living on the road as a vagabond that I would really come to love. We could simply drift with the flow and not have to worry about where we were supposed to be since there was no place in particular we were supposed to be—a rolling stone with no direction home.
We would discover over the next several months that this type of thing would be quite normal for us. This would be part of our mode of survival. We would meet people and party with them, basically eating their food and using their drugs until they got tired of us and told us to leave. Once we had worn out our welcome, we’d be on our way to the next destination, wherever that might be.
Living the life of a vagabond was really quite a carefree lifestyle in which every day was a new adventure with new experiences. Many times we’d never know from one day to the next what city we’d be in or, for that matter, what state. We were simply traveling through our nation’s cities, mooching off of whatever people or resources came our way.
Later in our travels we found ourselves in a place where we had no idea where we were until we got off the train and asked one of the workers in the freight yard. To our surprise, we were in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Talk about being in the middle of nowhere! This was one of the hazards of riding freight trains, but we had learned to simply adjust to our circumstances and see where the next adventure would take us. We were still on our way to New Orleans and Mardi Gras, but now detoured. Our attitude was, “Well, we might as well enjoy the detour and see where it takes us.”
This was the type of thing Hobo and I had learned to thrive upon—going into a situation that was completely unknown to us, yet being very comfortable with it. It was simply the matter of allowing fate to be our guide. We used our wits and knowledge of street life to afford us the opportunities to enjoy the lifestyle we had now chosen for ourselves. We were a couple of Freaks traveling through our nation’s cities as vagabonds or rolling stones looking for our next free ride to nowhere in particular. All the while we mooched off of whatever resources or people who happened to come our way.
We soon discovered it was only about 35 miles to Little Rock where we would be able to catch another freight train to Memphis, Tennessee. We had never been to Memphis, so we were looking forward to the trip. It was another 140 miles or so from Little Rock to Memphis. This meant that if all went well we would be in Memphis by early evening. It was still early morning, so we had a good chance of making it.