The Glimpse Traveler

The Glimpse Traveler

The Glimpse Traveler

The Glimpse Traveler


When she joins a pair of hitchhikers on a trip to California, a young Midwestern woman embarks on a journey about memory and knowledge, beauty and realization. This true story, set in 1971, recounts a fateful, nine-day trip into the American counterculture that begins on a whim and quickly becomes a mission to unravel a tragic mystery. The narrator's path leads her to Berkeley, San Francisco, Mill Valley, Big Sur, and finally to an abandoned resort motel, now become a down-on-its-luck commune in the desert of southern Colorado. Neither a memoir about private misery, nor a shocking expose of life in a turbulent era, The Glimpse Traveler describes with wry humor and deep feeling what it was like to witness a peculiar and impossibly rich time.


No plan that Thursday but a big breakfast—eggs, toast. the classic college boyfriend’s apartment: milling about and underfoot, one or two other boys and their maybe girls. a straggly neighbor born Harold, called Chug, forever turning up to make a point then stopping mid-sentence. Someone’s cousin crashed there for week. Someone’s half-sister from Cincinnati figuring out her life. Not to mention the dog, the cat, and nothing picked up off the floor, no sink or toilet cleaned in how long. Books read and loved and passed on, dope smoked or on a windowsill, nesting in a small plastic bag. Jokes bad and repeated, nice talking to ya, we’d say to end any blowhard’s rant, laughing.

Then my boyfriend Jack, at the stove, frying potatoes, onions for omelets: meet Frances, she’s the one—I told you—hitchhiking west. Day after tomorrow. Early Saturday, right Frances? For a week or so. Then coming back.

She turned to me, this stranger: hey, want to go?

What? Was it a thought before I said it? No, my yes. Which—in the parlance of the day—was a shrug and a sure.

Almost spring, 1971. I couldn’t look her in the eye.

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