“Meeting you was a divine encounter. I’m living on trust, too.” Jacob grinned, as if my existence validated his life.
I had no cell phone service. No way to leave. I had ridden here in the back seat of a minivan, lurching through miles of winding and branching dirt roads, through a night black with trees and dust and stories of fights.
No one believes it. I didn’t believe it, until I grabbed the bumper, tried to lift, and realized I didn’t even know how to grip the thing. I’m writing about an experience I still don’t fully understand, and the sharing of it is even more incomprehensible.
A Volkswagon Beetle never picked me up. Neither did a Mini Cooper, nor a PT Cruiser, nor a Porsche, Jaguar, Beamer, etc. Ironically, I never rode in a VW van, either. After one hundred and thirty-seven rides, I had learned to stop hoping for a lift when certain vehicles approached. Any of the cars above were out. Handicap stickers were a sure bet against me. And RVs—whether motorhomes, fifth wheelers, or any type of travel trailer—were just as hopeless. Another[read more]
I dropped my pack over the barbed wire fence, followed by my sign, and then the sandwich and iced tea my last ride had given me. Dusk had ended half an hour ago, and right now, a spot behind the only tree in sight looked like a good enough place to pitch my tent. The scraggly juniper wouldn’t hide me from any passing eyes, but at least the highway fence would separate me from the road—which, judging by the last[read more]
Five hours in bristling Nevada heat. Five hours of drivers whipping past, unsmiling and unwaving. Five hours of suffering on US50, the “Loneliest Road in America.” Half the vehicles that passed me were semi trucks or white work vehicles with emblems on their sides, driving thirty miles between mining facilities and ruled by their company’s no-rider policy. In no other area have I found such an even ratio of commercial to personal traffic. As for those few personal drivers, at[read more]
Land is abundant in the central western states, but people are scarce, and so roads are scarce, too. Flip through an atlas and compare Utah with Michigan, or Illinois, or even Kansas. In any state east of the Mississippi, cow pathers have options. Roads crisscross to form a grid, and those crossing the state can choose between dozens of US and state highways without so much as even seeing a freeway. In Utah, though, the population and the roads stay[read more]
Hitchhiking is easy in the Colorado mountains. In Dolores, I caught a ride with Kai and Haley, modern-day hippies without peace signs or tie dye. He drove with aviators and a blond goatee, in a 4Runner packed with camping gear, food and beer, guitar and banjo. “We’re gonna check out some hot springs by Rico,” Kai mumbled. I had to lean forward to hear him. “Where are you headed?” Haley asked. She turned around, and I envied Kai. Haley didn’t[read more]
Dustin made me nervous. The combination of a tough-guy goatee, black-on-black sunglasses, and oversized gangster shirt with way too much gold lettering made him someone I wouldn’t have smiled at had we passed on a sidewalk. A cool chin lift, maybe, but not a smile. Certainly not an hour-long conversation. Dubstep blasted from his beat-up Toyota 4Runner as he slammed to a dusty stop beside me. At least there was a girl with him. “Where you headed?” Dustin pushed up[read more]
Through online research and personal experience, I have discovered a few tricks to effective thumbing, so you, too, can hit the road.