Story by June Morrall
Do you know Collin Tiura? You’ve got to meet him. Yesterday he visited us at our home. He’s an adventurer with the best stories to tell—a man who’s done and seen everything and could survive anywhere he wanted to be.
When he was 20, and “this close” to being drafting into the Vietnam War, he asked the draft board how much time he had left before being called up. He was gonna go but he and his two buddies wanted to see Europe first.
He wanted to play by the rules. He asked the Draft Board if he could go on his trip to Europe for
Heck, Collin just walked out of there, screw the draft board, and, with his pals, sold what they had, which wasn’t much, maybe $120 bucks of stuff total, so they could hitchhike from California to the East Coast and board a German tanker for Hamburg.
It took a lot of hitchhiking to get to the East Coast. And some of the drivers were, well, I don’t have to tell you that some of the drivers shouldn’t have been driving, and, Collin and the boys were ready to grab the steering wheel should the sudden need for it come up.
This was the mid-1960s, the cultural revolution was upending everything stodgy, and it was fun and Collin and his friends were really free and nobody was going to stop them from having the time of their young lives.
You can imagine the good times a trio of clever, strong “go-for-it” 20-year-olds had in a tanker, the cheapest way to get to Europe, a two week trip by water. There were a total of 9 passengers on aboard, including a couple of pretty American girls—and, when they got tired of looking at each other’s faces, there were enough cases of Beck’s Beer on board to drink as well as squirt at each other, apparently some sort of German tradition.
In Europe they hitchhiked and rode the train to France, to Spain and finally settled down in the Canary Islands, where they got paid to teach tourists to water ski and learn the finer points of underwater diving.
There was just one thing: Only 1 of them had ever water skied and it wasn’t Collin: truth be told, they were learning on the job but you can bet the tourists got their money’s worth.
The boys stayed in Europe a year-and-a-half and when they got back to California, the Draft Board was waiting with orders for them.
I, like Collin, have always enjoyed traveling to places few have seen. In a way, Europe was still like that in the 1960s—the continent was not a place where everybody traveled as if they were commuting to their daily job—as they do today in this global economy.
The only places I can think of that remain mysterious as a travel destination are Outer Space or Beneath the Sea.
I’ve only touched briefly on the flavor of Collin’s stories; we are hoping Collin will share his adventures with all of us in a book, or a movie—. Be sure to ask him about Alaska…