Our first trip... Portland Oregon
In no particular order... MDMA, 2CB, GHB, THC, mushrooms, Ketamine, crystal meth, cocaine, heroin, Xanax, Ambien, Adderall, Vicodin, Nitrous... I am sure I'm forgetting a few, but all of these I have consumed at one time or another. But never LSD. Why? Because I was chicken. LSD was intimidating. I also did big wall climbing in Yosemite, but gave up skiing because the risk of injury seemed to high....
Over the last ten years I almost always had LSD on hand. I would give away the tabs and then almost immediately someone would gift me new tabs. But I didn't give much thought to taking LSD. I had taken mushrooms four or five times and never enjoyed it much. My love was MDMA, combined great music, sexy people, and all night partying. My experiences with mushrooms were harsh, with my mind going to analytic places and physical contact with other people was somewhat unpleasant I remember touching a very beautiful play partner and thinking that she felt like a dead chicken... cold flesh with bones underneath.
Plus I was concerned where LSD might take me. I live a good life, and generally am a happy person, but I was concerned with losing mental control, of going to dark places, and afraid of the potential for a dark experience that would last for so many hours and perhaps leave a lasting mark. But for years people with significant LSD experiences encouraged me to give it a try... that my fears were, for the most part, unjustified, or, at a minimum, over-blown.
So on a very beautiful summer day in Portland Oregon I took the plunge.
We started our experience with liquid LSD. We are fortunate to have access to laboratory testing, which we routinely use to test anything before we ingest. Our sample tested at 97% d-LSD, with impurities broadly distributed, close to the margin of error of the testing equipment that was being used. So we knew we had pure LSD. We will do a blog report on the lab techniques that are used to test our equipment in the future.
Four of us were going to share the experience, and for three of us it would be a first. Our fourth companion, Lisa, was experienced, and had flown in from San Francisco to join us on the trip. We started with a good breakfast of chicken and rice, from Love Belizean in SW Portland... a great simple meal. An hour later we started our journey.
Dosing It Up
Our biggest question was dosing. The liquid LSD we had came in a simple dropper bottle and we were told that each drop was 125 micrograms. Was this the actual dose that would come out of the bottle? Who knows. We know the bottles were Thermo Scientific Labware Droppers, a high quality dropper, but the actual amount of liquid dispensed by these depends on the viscosity of the liquid. We hadn't thought to purchase a glass pipette, which we could test the actual amount dispensed. So we were taking a flyer. But since three of us had never taken LSD, the truth was we had no clue what a good dose would be for us. So if it's 75 mcgs or 125 mcg or 175 mcg, it really didn't mean much.
We agreed that it would be helpful to have known the precise dose we were taking for future reference if we were to trip again, and vowed to be better prepared in the future. (Many many trips later we have never actually measured how much is being dispensed out of our little dropper bottle, but have spent a fair amount of time perfecting techniques for others).
Lisa, our experienced user, decided to take a 125 mcg dose, while one of us newbies (a 100 lb woman, Alexis) decided to aim for 100 mcg, one 190 lb male newbie (Kris) decided to take 150 mcg, while your humble author decided to go for the single drop, 125 mcd dose. To divide the 100 mcg and 150 mcg dose, we put two drops 125 mcg doses of LSD into 250 mg of distilled water, with the female drinking 100 mgs of the water and the male drinking 150 mg of the water. This technique is a very accurate way of dividing any small dose of drugs, and works well consistently. Using distilled water with LSD does not degrade the LSD. Tap water can contain a variety of substances that will degrade LSD.
Noon, We Start
At noon we ingested, and went for a walk to start the day out. We found ourselves at Council Crest park, in SW Portland, and park with amazing views of the city, and almost no other visitors. Council Crest sits at the top of the southwest part of the city, and once was an amusement park, but now is a grassy and woodsy park.
We lay on the grass, the ladies chatting and the guys "patiently" waiting for the substance to kick in. And by patiently, I mean entirely impatiently, apprehensively and down right irratiably in the case of your author. Despite my anxiety, I had to admire this gem of a small park and marvel at how few people were there on such a beautiful day.
12:25 a.m. After 25 minutes had passed, the effects became apparent. Very subtly I noticed that I was focusing on small areas of my field of vision. Looking up at the trees, I focused on small groups of leaves; I watched one woman's hair blowing in the gentle breeze, and looked at the pattern on the side of a water tower. Nothing look very different at first.... My interest was just held by small areas of motion and pattern. In a few moments, my vision seemed to become extremely clear. Like watching a 4K TV for the first time. Depth perception seems someone altered as well, as I perceived exaggerated differences in distances between near and far objections. Soon light coming through the leaves started to look very much like the soft light in a 1970s made-for-tv romance. We all agreed to take a walk through the forest path. While the two women both noted feel a significant effect, myself and the other guy Kris both were feeling only mild effects, and we decided to head back to our home base to split another dose.
At 1:15 pm, after a lovely walk we found ourselves splitting another drop, bringing my total to 187.5 mcg, and his total to 212.5 mcg. As an aside, we normally are cautious about re-upping on any new substance, as onset times can vary significantly, and inexperienced users can easily get over their heads by taking that booster shot without realizing the initial ingestion has not fully hit. (This downs people on GHB at the time!) But with LSD, 150 mcg to 200 mcg are considered reasonable doses for new users looking for a solid trip... doses that will deliver visual hallucinations, but without overwhelming intensity or ego dissolution. So we felt comfortable that the increased dose would still be well within the experience we were hoping to have. [Author's note with a lot more experience under his belt: I no longer would recommend such a strong dose. Instead, for enthusiastic new users, I go for 125 to 150 mcg, and nervous first users 100 mcg or a bit less]
1:45 pm We decided to head back to the park and walk around the woods more. As we started up the hill to Council Crest the second dose started to hit. The well known "breathing effect" kicked in, where the world gently pulses in and out, while trees started to appear to sway gently and rhythmically (read about our common "Phases of an LSD Trip). This all felt very natural, and not disorienting. One of the women became very playful and wanted to swing on a lovely swing in someone's yard... (Hint: this is how headlines like "Four Arrested in Council Crest, Under the Influence of LSD" appear in the local paper). I started to feel winded by the pace up the hill, and was hoping we would slow down, but didn't voice this, feeling it was important in some way to "complete the mission" of getting to the park. (I would never have been short of breath on the hill if not under the influence...) At the park, light became magical....
Walking in the shadows felt almost ominious, whereas patches of light felt wonderful and uplifting. I became aware of feeling tended to by Mother Nature. I suddenly felt that I fully understood Pink Floyd's Obscured by Clouds Album, and realized the album cover was an obvious recreation of the lighting effects of looking at light through trees while on LSD. I looked forward to listening to the album as soon as we returned to our home base after our walk.
After walking for what seemed like hours, we decide to return home. The women were immersed in a serious discussion. I engaged my male counterpart on the most pressing issue for me.... sour patch kids. Specifically, my deep desire and longing to eat sour patch kids. Nothing seemed more important, even as the woods morphed into a dark forest so well depicted in Disney movies.
Home again. It seems that we have been enjoying this ride for a long time, and I'm a bit sad expecting the adventure to be likely ending soon. I voice this disappointment. Kris: "uhh, it's only 2:30 pm," WTF? I don't believe it. I pull out my phone. I can't read it well, but it's clearly 2:22 pm. Less than two hour after our initial dose was felt, and only a little over an hour after the re-dose. I am shocked. Time distortion was real and not subtle. But this was good news.
Oh, This Is So Psychedelic....
The other bit of good news was what happened when I looked at my phone screen. The white screen was rapidly flashing every psychedelic color, as though the phone was literally strobing through a color wheel. The idea of Sour Patch kids was persistent, and I managed to dig up a bag.... And they were great.
But better still, I found a huge container of citric acid, the dust on the outside of sour candy. I mixed this in a bowl with white sugar, recreating the coating of the Sour Patch Kids almost perfectly. We had previously sliced large bins of watermelon, and other fruit, which I grabbed and carried with pride outside to a blanketed area the rest of the gang was reclining on. The watermelon almosted glowed red in my hands and when dipped in the sour candy powder, became magical. The flavor literally seemed to explode when eaten. It was quite possibly the best thing I had ever tasted. This was the first time on any drug I had enjoyed eating. It opened an entirely new dimension of sensuality in a drug experience. I was blown away.
At the same time one of the women started blowing bubbles toward me, and I positioned myself so the bubbles were coming straight at my face and hitting me. The sheen of the bubbles took on a powerful psychedelic glow, and the bubbles hitting me in the face and eyes, left a soapy sheen. And while the experience of soap in the face wasn't pleasant, it seemed important and I persisted. I knew we had purchased three bottles of bubbles and I was surprised that we hadn't run out, as it seemed the bubble adventure was continuing for a very very long time with a massive amount of bubbles. When the experience was over, I learned that we went through less than a quarter of a single bottle... I was again shocked at the time distortion that had occured!
We continued to lounge outside in a semi-secluded area in an upscale neighborhood, blowing bubbles, eating fruit, listening to soft music and relaxing. The house we were staying in, while being in a suburban neighborhood, is surrounded by trees and has a small but beautiful garden, and the feeling of communing with nature was very real. One person commented that the entire house felt like a tree house to her, and the house itself was alive. At one point she also commented on the beautiful and uplifting music we were listening to.... Mad World from the Donnie Darko soundtrack was playing, but even the very dark song felt spiritually uplifting and blended with the overall experience perfectly.
5 p.m. Dusk
With the sun getting lower in the sky, the mood of the afternoon started to change. Although the outdoor temperature must have only dropped a few degrees, I could feel notably colder, and the very upbeat "summer of love" feeling outside was transitioning to more subdued conversations. I also became self-conscious that neighbors could potentially be watching and I was became concerned what the scene would look like. The next day I reflected that had seen no one had been on the street the entire time we were outside, and I suspect nothing would have looked particularly odd if anyone had been watching.
Inside I turned music up louder, and was amazed at the details I was hearing in familiar songs. As a guitar player I was particularly surprised that I could hear extremely subtle sounds such as fingers touching strings before a chord was hit, the sound of the pick attack with absolute clarity, and ambient studio noise. The music was being played on a high end sound system, which also probably helped. But to hear something new in a song I've heard 100+ times was delighting. And when sober I can continue to hear the subtle noise, although I have to listen for them far more carefully.
While the colorful psychedelic phase of my trip was winding down, I was having more intense hallucinations than I had experienced before. Paintings were floating across the walls, and morphing from their normal appearance to cartoonish representations of their actual appearance. The wood finishing in the house also had an unnatural appearance, with an unnatural three dimensionality, similar to a photoshopped "button" effect.
I began to perceive the experience as "epic" - not only did it feel like is was lasting a very long time, I was becoming aware that there were very distinct phases of the trip. And each phase was quite distinct from the last. In addition, there were moments where I felt close to sober, and falsely perceived the trip was ending, only to have it come back full force. I also started to conceptualize the experience to be as though Mother Nature (cough...god) was setting up playgrounds for me to play in during each phase. And I felt a sense of control, because I could do anything I wanted with the playground, but also a clear sense that I had to play with the toys available, and that aspect was entirely out of my control. I had a clear sense that a benevolent force was watching over me. At while not everything was wonderful and beautiful, everything was ok. Some things were fabulous, others were dark, some euphoric, some more sad. But I could accept everything. (This later would become a central theme for me in trips, leading me to believe LSD could be an amazing drug for psychotherapy.)
A Glass of Wine?
The experienced tripper Lisa, who had been lingering outside with Kris, came in and suggested we have a bottle of wine. This sounded like a terrible idea to me...almost repulsive. She brought out an "earthy" wine.... and poured us each a glass. And with the first sip I was transformed. With the first drink I could taste the earth from which the grapes grew. I could taste complex flavors appearing and disappearing in waves. Mind you, I am not a wine guy. Not at all. I'll take a Coke over a full bodied wine almost any day. But this opened my eyes to why people could love wine. I suddenly craved a cigar to further connect with the earth, and had this occurred early in the day, no doubt I would have dug one up. But instead we sipped wine, and one of the women played some brazilian lounge music, which fit the mood perfectly. Abruptly the evening had transformed from a hippy psychedelic experience to a feeling of a sophisticated cocktail party, possibly in New York City, possibly in 1953.
There is Nowhere to Hide
Throughout the afternoon and now early evening I began to perceive that I could see people in a true form. That there was no where for anyone to hide. Every intention was transparent. And I also had the sense they could also see me clearly, flaws and strengths. And all of this was perfectly ok. I began to carefully observe each person. Suddenly I understood the relationship between the women (best friends) in a new light. The woman who I knew the least well, Lisa, I saw in an entirely new light (neither good nor bad, simply no judgment, purely insight). The guy Kris, a close friend, I saw in the same way as I had before, but I saw to different aspects of his personality in more iconic terms. I saw the very laid back, entirely ernest, trustworth and transparent friend, and I saw the merry trickster, a benevolent glint in his eyes. And I saw the other woman, Alexis, my romantic partner, in exactly the same light as I always saw her... nothing changed. In the weeks following the trip, I continued to test my theories about my perceptions, to try to confirm whether I had gained insight, or was simply under an LSD fueled delusion of false insight. Everything I saw that evening continued to ring true. I do believe I gained genuine insight into the other participants, in a non-trivial way.
8 pm Winding Down
Eight hours into our trip, my hallucinations were essentially over. I had minor visual distortions, and music remained very beautiful. I had a strong sense of well-being. I also became aware of the potential for sexuality, something that had not even occurred to me earlier in the experience, except for a brief moment around 5 p.m. when Alexis commented, "I wouldn't be opposed to sex".
At the point Alexis commented on sex earlier in the evening I was literally looking at my hands and trying to see if I could make flesh melt off them, as though I was in a 70s "bad trip" movie.... turns out I could do exactly that, and after doing so I immediately thought "OK, that's enough of that!" and went to a happier place. So sex wasn't my top priority. But by 8 p.m. sex became intellectually interesting. But not compelling.
This is really odd for me, since on almost every drug sex seems like a must do, and often the primary reason I would take drugs. So instead we all moved to another room. The others started to do some NO2, but I was still content listening to music, and observing.
11 p.m. It's Over
Twelve hours in my trip was essentially over. The world seemed like a normal place again. I was left with a very strong sense of well being. Alexis and I retired to our bedroom, while the other two stayed up talking. We did end up having sex, which very enjoyable and very connecting, and then went to sleep.
The next day we headed out for breakfast. We placed such a large order, the waitress suggested we might be overdoing it. But in the end we finished everything. I realized in retrospect I probably had consumed less than 800 calories the day before, almost all of which was before the LSD experience. This was very odd, because I felt like food was a huge part of the experience. But I was eating tiny pieces of food and savoring each bite. The watermelon in particular was amazing, but I discovered the next day that all four of us had eaten around two cups of fruit the entire day, plus finished a single bottle of wine. We had also eaten a small package of nuts. Virtually nothing.
I was amazed that I felt no drug hangover. I felt wonderful, so different than the typical day after an all night MDMA session, and the resulting day lounging around the house eating pizza. Food continued to feel wonderful, and I felt connected with the group due to the shared experience, but lacking the intense sense of connection following an MDMA experience. The complexity of the experience stuck with me. The many phases, the nuances in emotions and the intellectual component was different than any drug I had taken before.
The impact of food was extremely surprising, and I continue to remember fondly the experience of first tasting fruit and sour flavors on LSD. So different than the experience of munchies on THC, where I feel I consume a lot of food, without appreciating anything other than gorging myself. And I was left struck both by how much control I felt I had over the experience, and how quickly even extreme hallucinations seemed normal. The entire experience felt extremely natural, and the role of light and the outdoors were impactful.
I knew I had found my new favorite drug, and that this wouldn't be my last experience. It wasn't. Not by a long shot.
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