Saturday, September 19, 2009

regarding hitchhiking

(the following is an exert from an email correspondence to a good friend directly following this hike)

it took about 48 hours to hitch from salem, mass. to columbus ohio

my first night out i made it to northern connecticut by a few short rides and was eventually picked up by an older woman, very christian, and very nice. gave me an umbrella as she dropped me in the rain at an on ramp. after about 30 minutes of standing there with no luck she pulls back up and offers to take me to a truck stop about 10 minutes south. i spend the night huddled in my sleeping bag on the wet ground behind a hotel, transitioning between sweating profusely in my 20 degree bag that doesn't 'breathe at all, and opening it up and being eaten alive by mosquitos. at five in the morning i decide to head back into the truck stop, just as a turrential downpour starts.

after four hours of waiting for another trucker to take me, some bloke had offered the night before, he doesn't show up so i head out to the gas station exit and start thumbing the corner where truckers take off. i get picked up by this 65 year old trucker with the most pure southern accent, a texas raised bloke who was a hippie to the 10th degree back in the 60s. we're cruising down through lower new york and into pennsylvania. and i'm laughing and snapping photos from the big rig along the way.

several moderate rides later, about an hour or so a piece, i'm in central pennsylvania and a young college/ army rotc kid sees me with my pack at a truck stop and yells out "hey you wanna ride?" so i get in with him and he takes me to this town equivalent of herrin illinois and drops me at about 9 pm on a friday at the local gas station where all the high school kids cruise town and hang out and drink soda.

i'm sitting out front of this gas station with my bags, smoking rollie cigarettes strung out on no sleep with my cardboard sign dictating "west" and my hopes are low as the locals roll in and out of this place buying slurpies and boxes of fags. despite low hope, lack of sleep i'm in real good humor and am resigned to stay up all night sitting there smiling and waiting. before long two high school girls offer to take me to the local denny's near the interstate where maybe some passers by might catch my sight. after a couple minutes i chat up a local kid who looks kinda rock and roll in a half hour he takes me to another truck stop about 30 minutes down the highway. the place is deserted. but i'm in the smokey mountains at this point, the sky is clear, the stars are shining and the air is crisp. i unroll my blanket and bag and snuggle in for 7 hours of the best sleep in my life. interrupted every hour by the sewage pump engine in the shack i'm sleeping next two, toxic fumes seeping out and clogging my nose but i don't care the ground is dry and i'm out of sight and am happy to have a place to sleep.

the next morning i get quick rides back to back to back and my luck is great and i'm on the road to columbus and out of the western virginia type desolate atmosphere and into the midwestern plains. no more steel mills and depressing tones and into the corn fields of my childhood. back in the midwest.


Michelle "Rusty" Cate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michelle "Rusty" Cate said...

*Inhales deeply and exhales*

Last night I realized, somethings I thought I HAD to do, I REALLY DID NOT HAVE TO DO.

Like have a cell phone every moment of everyday.

Thanks for again exposing how simply limiting a cubical mindset can be.

One can travel anywhere if they have the will and open minded-ness.

Thank you and all the couchsurfers I've met for continuing to break down my preconceptions.

Sonny Thakur said...

Awesome stuff.
Im getting lost in India (hitchhiking, not too sure) this coming January and will make sure I have something interesting after that as well. Life's too short to sit around.