Dewey was a funny man. When I think back to my teens, he comes to mind again and again, usually in connection with some hilarious event, and he is often the star of the story. This is the story of one of those moments when Dewey brought us to tears of laughter.

His real name was Mike Weber. He surfed, and the surfboard maker Dewey Weber was famous at the time – it was 1966 – so it was inevitable that he get called Dewey by his surfer friends, and it stuck. He was also the drummer in the Mysore Sugundhi Dhoop Factory, our rock band named for the incense company of India. I played the bass, and our two friends Roger Eddy and Brian Smith played the guitars. Roger and Dewey and I had grown up together in Del Monte Park, a woodsy suburb on the outskirts of Monterey and Pacific Grove, California. We had been playmates from infancy. Brian had become friends with Roger at a Quaker School in Grass Valley, California, which they had both attended in their early teens.

Another Quaker community plays a part in this story. In the summer of 1967 the Dhoop Factory, as we called ourselves, entertained a pipe dream to spend some time in the unspoiled quiet of Argenta, a cluster of several houses in the woods at the northern tip of Kootenay Lake in south-eastern British Columbia. Brian and Roger, through their Quaker connections, knew some of the people living there, which also included Roger's half-brother, Dick. We imagined it would be a good place to hang out for a while and make rock and roll – or in any case a good place for a summer adventure. We loaded our hodge-podge of amps, instruments, and drums, some clothes, and a little food into Dewey's Metro van and my old VW bus and headed north. The entourage was the four of us in the band and Brian's girlfriend Debbie.

We took California highway 1 up the coast from the Monterey Peninsula through San Francisco, and stopped at Brian's parent's place in San Anselmo, just north of the Golden Gate. We stocked up on food and a little mooched money, and then proceeded up the coast.

It was slow going. The VW didn't go very fast in the first place, and the wind off the ocean slowed it down even more. We wended our way northward and spent the first night out on the northern California coast. We found a little spur of a dirt road that led to someone's back forty and pulled up onto a flat spot overlooking the highway, where we would be less likely to have a visit from the Highway Patrol. We had put a couple of cans of Dinty Moore beef stew on the manifold of the Metro an hour or so before stopping, and with t-shirt pot holders and a funky old can opener, served ourselves dinner. After, as the summer sun fell into the ocean, we rolled out our sleeping bags and settled in for the night. Just as the sky became dark, we were treated to a spectacular meteor shower, thousands of brilliant steaks filling the sky in all directions.

The next morning we got another bit of unexpected entertainment, a priceless piece of Americana and unintentional humor. As we rubbed our eyes and made ready to resume our travels, a pickup truck with a large camper in its bed (these were pre-Winnebago days) pulled into the vista point across the highway from us. A couple emerged from it and stood looking at the ocean. We had a stadium view of them and I'm sure they had no idea we were watching. They were the stereotypical American tourists, bedecked in madras and pastel knits, tennies and Foster Grants. The man produced a home movie camera, and began filming the scene in front of them. Positioning himself so as to have a wide view of the coast and sea, he then waved his arm in what was obviously a gesture of directorship, and the woman placed herself to one side of the camera's field of view. At his signal, she began to walk across the scene in front of the camera, no doubt to have her pass through the scene in the resulting movie. I could imagine his narration at a dinner party in their suburban home somewhere in Ohio, maybe Florida: "...and here's Eunice enjoying the scenic beauty of northern California, it was just so spectacular..."

But the best was yet to come. As she came into the range of the camera, the man must have given her a cue that she was on film, because she took on a totally different, and very affected walk. She swung her hips as if she were walking a fashion runway, and turned her shoulders in a coy gesture, tossing her hair from time to time as she smiled to the camera. Then, just as suddenly, at the end of the camera's range, she stopped the act and walked, completely without any such verve (indeed, without any enthusiasm) back to the camper. I was not so much amused, funny as it was, as astounded by its contrivance. It was – they were – entirely a fake. They seemed to me the very representation of a plastic lifestyle I was determined not to be a part of, they were polyester and Formica beings, at the opposite end of the world from me. I am now doing my best to avoid such shallow judgements of my fellows, but I was seventeen then, certain that I was within easy reach of having it all figured out, and had no such compunctions.

The next day took us along the Oregon coast and across the mountains toward Portland. The section of Interstate 5 south of Portland had just opened and the signs over the freeway, although installed and finished looking, had no lettering on them. The combination of the perfect highway surface and the blank signs lent an eerie effect and Brain said it was kind of "erky." I don't remember if this was a slip of the tongue combining eerie and spooky, or a word he had made up, but it became our word for the non-destination the signs were indicating...we were on our way to Erky from then on.

We took a wrong turn in Portland and ended up circling the city several times before escaping its freeway interchanges and heading up the Columbia River. There we spent another night on the side of the road, under the giant cliffs of lava along the incredible Columbia Gorge.

Our third day out, we passed the great turn of the Columbia, where its southerly journey veers westward to the Pacific. We stopped at Pasco, which we dubbed "tire-town" for the many trucks and yards of used tires that seemed to abound. We stopped for a milk shake – it was very, very hot – at a little drive-in that boasted that it had more ice cream flavors than anywhere else. They weren't lying. They even had a peanut butter and jam shake. I cannot, I'm sorry, give a report on its tastiness, as I opted for something more familiar.

From there we headed north-east across the flat, impossible-looking landscape of basalt beds and wheat fields that occupies the eastern half of Washington state. Until then, I had not had the vaguest idea that such a place might exist in the northwest, where I had only ever pictured mountains and evergreen forests. I was blown away, both by the amazing terrain and by the heat.

We pushed on through that long hot day, excited by the conquest of new territory perhaps, but more likely propelled by fear of stopping, as our only air conditioning was the breeze created by our motion. On reaching Spokane, we decided to try for the Canadian border that night. Our path was now due north, up the Washington-Idaho line toward the border crossing at Nelway. This put us, about dinner time, in the little burg of Newport, whose claim to uniqueness is that it is split more or less in half by the state line.

On the corner where the highway branched off toward Nelway, the last leg of our journey within the U.S., we spied a drive-in burger stand. It was the Grizzly Drive-In – 'Home of the Grizzly Burger' the sign read – and despite a slogan that seemed more a warning than an enticement, we pulled in for some dinner. It was an ordinary roadside drive-in, other than its name – a squat, flat-roofed, white building, at one side a covered patio with picnic tables and benches – but as it turned out, it was destined for another of Dewey's hilarious performances.

We were the only cars there, and we pulled into a couple of parking spaces directly in front of the large windows. Dewey and Roger got out of the Metro and joined Brian and Debbie and me in the VW. As we sat there, pooling our scant funds and eyeing the menu board, I began to notice the girl at the order window. She was probably fifteen or sixteen and had that kind of mid-teen vapidity, which, combined with a small-town-country-girl sort of simplicity, completely occupied her face as she stared out at us. It occurred to me that she had never seen anything like us before. Not surprising. Here we were, in serious cowboy country – before the back-to-the-land hippie exodus that was to come in the next few years – in full California Hippie splendor: long hair and beads, colorfully attired in thrift store eclectic, traveling in a green and purple-flowered VW bus and an old Metro delivery van with 'Mysore Sugundhi Dhoop Factory' hand painted in psychedelic lettering on its sides.

It also occurred to me that she hadn't paid attention to anything much beyond her immediate little world, either, and could be easily baffled by anything unusual we might do or say. I said to Dewey and Debbie, who were in the front seat with me, "you know, if you said something to that girl that was just not quite normal, but sounded close to normal, she'd think she was the one who heard it wrong, she wouldn't think it was you." "What do you mean?" asked Dewey. "Like changing the words just a little, saying 'poopsi' instead of Pepsi," I ventured, "you could place your order and she would know it was close to what she expected to hear, but wrong somehow, and would wonder what was happening to her." It was a little mean, perhaps, to imagine messing with her mind that way, but when I came up with a sample script of such an order, it did sound funny. "I could never do it," I told them, "I'd crack up half way through, and it would have to be done totally straight, as if it were the most normal thing ever." "No problem," Dewey said, and we set to work on the plot.

A moment later he was at the window, and she was asking him for his order. He said "I'll have a Grizzly-Gurgle, a large Poopsi-Cokla, and a side orderly of flash-flies." He didn't flinch or smirk, just rattled it off like it was what he said at every drive-in he ever went to. Her head tilted to one side, like a dog confused by hearing its name spoken from a loudspeaker. There was a pause. She asked for the order again. He put a bit more emphasis in his voice this time – maybe she just hadn't heard him – but gave no indication in his tone or expression of anything unusual. "A Grizzly-Gurgle, a large Poopsi-Cokla, and a side orderly of flash-flies," he repeated. Her head tilted to the side again. She went blank. There was a longer pause. She turned and said something to the other girl at the grill, probably "can you take this order?"

The other girl came to the window. Dewey, in fine form, gave her the order straight, no twists. "I'll have a Grizzly-Burger, a large Pepsi-Cola ..." and so on. Everything was quite normal. The girl turned from the window to prepare the food, unaware that anything odd had taken place, and probably wondering why she'd been asked to take over. The first girl still stood there, head atilt, staring at Dewey. In the VW, the rest of us were attempting, with only minor success, to keep from blowing his cover with our laughter – we were practically peeing our pants. Just as funny as the look on her face and the bewildered tilt of her head, was the total deadpan that Dewey had maintained throughout his performance. Eventually, the rest of us, still barely concealing our amusement, went to the window and ordered. We didn't do any more funny business, but I'm sure she went home that night thinking she must be losing it.

Three decades later, on a road trip in that part of the country and remembering Dewey and the Grizzly-Gurgle, I took a little detour through Newport. The Grizzly Drive-In was, to my amazement and delight, still there. It had been expanded to include what was the open patio, and the outside had been remodeled in a very seventies style. But the sign was the same, still proclaiming it the home of the Grizzly-Burger, and the order window and menu board were still much the same. I didn't go up to the window to see if there was a middle aged woman at the grill with a combination of adolescent vapidity and small-town-country-girl simplicity to ask her if she remembered a skinny young man with shoulder length blond hair, whose order didn't seem quite right. I just thought back on my adventures with the Dhoop Factory, the spontaneous and irreverent take we had on the world, and how Dewey was a very funny man.