Merry Prankster’s “Acid Beach”..So Near, So Far…Our Intrepid John Vonderlin’s Adventure


Story by John Vonderlin
Email John: [email protected]


(Photos: Upper right, Arch Rock. At left: Shot from the clifftops about a half mile north of the Scott Beach bridge. Courtesy John Vonderlin.)

Hi June,

I was in a quandary, as to which, of the myriad of metaphors for lack of early success to use, to describe my second attempt to reach “Acid Beach.”

Anything worth having is worth working for,” was a contender, but since in my mind, work is being paid for doing things you don’t want to do, that metaphor didn’t seem right. After considering a handful of others, I settled on the accurately descriptive, but not future predictive,

“So Close, Yet So Far.”


(Photo: ) So Close, Yet So Far” shot from my turnaround spot, Chicken’s Roost. Courtesy John Vonderlin.)

And I was close, like a prisoner staring out at freedom from his cell’s barred window.

After a mile- and- half of beach walking, clambering over numerous algae-slickened rocks, splashing through shallow water between waves in a number of spots, losing Meg, my quest partner’s companionship, at one treacherous spot, requiring me to crush a number of barnacles and mussels while sidling along the cliff to keep from swimming, a stomach-scraping to-my-limit muscle-up from a slippery toehold onto a sheer 8 foot wall’s top, and finally hand and toe-holding my way up a 20 foot cliff to the top of a promontory projecting into deep water, I was stopped.


(Photo: That’s Meg waving good-bye at her turnback spot. I was able to clamber along the slimy cliff along the path indicated by the white dots thanks to the traction barnacles and mussels provided. Sorry guys, I know your life is tough enough as it is. Courtesy John Vonderlin.)

Oh, I probably could have inched along the slimy, narrow, littered with scree ledge under the cliff, rising above me without falling into the unknown depths of the surf waiting below. But, I wasn’t sure I could climb back up when I returned.

Staring at my route forward I was assaulted by other doubts. Could I protect my camera during a fall? Or, after landing in the steep-sided inlet roiling with surging waves? And what about the two other tough spots ahead, still between me and my destination, that I had judged the most impassable when looking at the large photo files on California Coastal Records Project website?

Would descending from the cliff I was standing on just put me between a rock and a hard spot? What if I injured myself? Meg would never get past the muscle-up spot or on top of this cliff I was vacillating on, even if she finally got worried enough when I didn’t return and managed to traverse the area that had stopped her a quarter mile back.

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“Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test”: Proposed New Movie Ressurects “LSD War” Between Kesey & the Beats

Artist Michael Bowen, who lived at Tunitas Creek and hung out at the Abalone Factory in Princeton, brought this colorful incident to my attention and I want to share it with you.

From “Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream” by Jay Stevens, pp. 324-325 (1987)

“The hippies wanted to believe this desperately. But what was Kesey doing putting down LSD in the pages of the Chronicle? And what did he mean when he talked about going beyond acid? Give it up altogether? That was the Establishment’s line and the Establishment had Kesey by the proverbial testicles, what with three felony counts. The Haight hummed with speculation, much of it paranoid. According to the leading paranoiacs, Kesey’s public statements were just a smoke-screen. What he was planning was a monster Acid Test, the biggeest and most powerful one ever, the gorup mind pushed to its omega point. And either the State would shatter or…There was always a long pause as the implications of that sank in. Everyone had heard rumors that the Acid Test had turned fascistic down in L.A. And hadn’t Kesey actually said on TV, when asked what his main message for the graduating acidheads would be, hadn’t he quipped: “Never trust a Prankster!” (9) What kind of a valedictory was that?

Continue reading ““Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test”: Proposed New Movie Ressurects “LSD War” Between Kesey & the Beats”