RICKTER SCALE: Reflections on trips beyond the great divides

Rock Stiebel || Contributed

If fentanyl had scourged the streets when I was in my teens, the odds of probable cause dictate that I wouldn’t have lived long enough to write this.

The topic came up during a recent discussion with a close friend, one of a group who made the exodus from Montreal to the Wet Coast in 1974.

The fearful foursome of friendships that endures finds us all still alive in the Capital Region. We are a builder of homes, a renovator of houses, a successful salesman and a semi-retired journalist whose musings continue to confuse and dismay readers and editors alike.

Although we survived countless nights of dropping whatever we could stumble upon on any given weekend, we agreed that one of us or all of us wouldn’t have made it if fentanyl had been around. Second chances are fewer and further between since fentanyl found its way into the buffet of today’s drugs of choice.

There was no science to fall back in the days of our psychedelic haze; we were mobile testing clinics haphazardly gathering research on the fly with every trip. The only rule was if there were doubts on the effects of whatever it was we considered ingesting, let someone else try it first. If they were okay after an hour was all the clearance we needed to hop on board for the ride.

In hindsight, it’s hard to fathom how often we plunged off a cliff to wherever the tablet, capsule, gelatin piece of window pane or barrel of sunshine half the size of a match head would take us next.

Those were experiences I will never forget, however, where laughter, music and the company of the best of friends blended together in extended bouts of euphoria, the depths of which I will never experience again.

Almost 50 years later, there are still moments triggered by a tune or circumstance that unlock dusty vaults in my memory bank just long enough to reinforce that I will never regret those amazing midnight journeys wrapped in magic and mystery.

Despite nights spent trapped in the Edge City Hotel promising the good Lord I would never do it again if he would dial me back down to normal, broken promises to higher powers never outweighed the urge to let the good times roll again.

Fortunately, we managed to grow up within the lines, put away our psychedelic playthings and help raise children we’re proud of, due to our good fortune in the choice of brides.

Somehow, we dodged the bullets, pitfalls and collateral damage the collection of chemical-soaked journeys may have wreaked.

The consensus is that despite our common senseless approach, we managed to work our way onto the path leading toward happy endings. Whether we deserve them or not will have to remain for someone else to decide for now, or fodder for a future column.


Rick Stiebel is a Sooke resident.

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