HITCHHIKING STORIES

What I want to do on this page is collect hitchhiking stories,from veterans to"hippies",anybody who has ever hitchhiked. I would like to put together enough stories to be able to see how hitchhiking has changed over the years.What I would like contributors to include is basic information about themselves,approx. dates,ages,places, and memories of thoses trips good or bad.My own version below is an example.
Send me your story..................................................................................................................

jeff s/w/m 17-24 years old, 1973-79,hitched:new jersey,new york, conn.vermont,florida,california,one big hitch from california to new jersey(or.,id.,ut.,co.,ks.,mo.,il.,in.,oh.,pa.,nj.,) Its easy now to gloss over the bad times of hitching, i would still say overall it was a good thing.
  • 1974-Conn. heard reggae for the 1st time,"the harder they come" been a fan ever since.
  • 1975-Florida-rode thru a swamp in the rain in the back of pickup filled with sweet potatoes.
  • 1977- 1979 California-arriving in san francisco from the north at dawn with the fog nearly to the top of the bridge. Outside Delano CA. put my sleeping bag down in the dark not realizing i was next to the railroad track. Awakened by a train hurtling past. Willits CA. put my sleeping bag down in the dark in a park, not realizing the automatic sprinklers were going to come on. Williams CA. easily 100 degrees, waiting hours for a ride,some jerks rode past me and threw an ice cube i was so hot i picked it off the road and ate it. Eventually i was picked up by an air conditioned tractor trailer, one of the few rides i ever got in a truck.
  • 1979-California to New Jersey -Biggs Or.falling asleep listening to trains along side the columbia river. Aircraft fighting a forest fire in Idaho. A ride in the back of a pickup from Morgan, Utah to Kansas City, MO. by a woman and her daughters. very unusual to be picked up by females. i was broke by this time and they fed me. a memorable ride. after they dropped me off i spent the night in a corn field. a woke up in the dark with a pair of eyes in my face, it was a skunk. the following day while trying to wash the stink out of my stuff at a rest area,i told my story to a man with his family, a short time later i started hitching again , i was suprised when he pulled over and gave me a ride, all the way to penn.

    NEWEST STORIES AT THE BOTTOM


    how the hell are ya I am an avid hitchhiker 22 years old with a degree in criminal justice and sociology. I live in Golden Colorado. I have many crazy stories. Last year I hitched to Montana and back. I was in Billings (shit hole) and was just about ready to go drink with some fellow bums under a bridge. And these girls were looking at me through a window at Burger King me being not too shy went and talked to them. To make a long story short I ended up sleeping with one of the 17 year old Opps at a park. And at 4:00am I felt a tape on my shoulder while sleeping on the merry go round. It was the police they called the girls parents and I was forced to walk 5 miles back the highway at 4:00.
    some time back in 73 or 74 a friend and i drove a car down to florida. a girl we knew moved to lauderdale and her father gave us money to drive a car down to her. we partied our asses off on the way down and fell asleep on the beach the night we got there. the cops woke us up informing us it was illegal to sleep on the beach with our clothes on so we took most of our clothes off so we would be classified as sun bathers. my friend ed got red as a lobster. we hung out down ther for awhile and decided to thumb back to pittsburgh. we knew from the beginning of the trip we would be thumbing home. it wasn't the first time. we got a ride in the back of a pickup truck the first hundred miles. next we had a older lady pick us up in a t-bird. she bought us lunch. she sold adds on bowling score cards. i remember her so well but at the moment her name escapes me. the next ride was from a guy named daryl. he had a van and almost past us up. we knew people in statesboro georgia and stopped there so we could eat dinner and my buddy could get laid. daryl was cool he had been in nam and he told us a buddist monk had taugth himhow to control his mind . he would take a lit ciggeratte and hold it between his thumb and pointer finger and the hot ash would not burn his skin. i saw this with my own eyes. i can still remember him doing this. he drove us all the way to wash. d.c. on the way up he saw a dead opossun on the road and stopped to cut it's tail off. he said it was good luck. he dropped us off on the 495 loop and disappeared down the road in a snow storm. my friend ed was still suffering from his sunburn and was laying on the side of the road in the snow passes out and moaning. i emptied my suitcase of dirty clothes on him and made a teepee over him with the suit case. it was well into the night. the cops pulled over and said we had to get off the highway. we walked off the cloverleaf and found a hotel. i think it was a holiday inn. ther was a barmitzvah goinh on and we walked in and they fed us and let us warm up. we eventually got a ride to pittsburgh. i think of these things from time to time. how lucky we were to grow up in the 70's. as frank zappa said in a song "i was born to have adventure" harry d. nytra
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    charlies story
    I've hitchhiked frigen all over usa/ anyway in 86 i was in cal hitchhiking when i met another hitchhiker named squamy spanish i guess ,oh well we decide to take a bus from la to sandiego we had like 2/3 dollars between us we had to change buses somewhere in between we bought a hot dog each squamy says load up on peppers vitamins anyway we miss the last bus stranded by some beach hungry as hell about 8/9 at night by now. so i figure i'll walk down to the beach,mayby find some food? I walked down to the beach full moon nice night.i saw thousands and thousands of fish on shore,couldn't friggin believe it! so there's me an squamy walking along catching these little fish,putting them in bags we found in the trash can.we must of had twent thirty i dont know how many so we make a fire right there.we found some tin foil in the trash wrap em and baked em god we,re they good!slept on the beach next morning we caught the bus went to san diego we go get food stamps stay in a shelter squamy gets a job and a room from the shelter,so i start heading back north i,m when these two mexicans give me a ride a state trooper pulls them over because they were mexican.he looks at me and say you with them i.m sitting in the back seat yes i said the driver didn,t have a licence so the other one said they picked me up hitchhiking.then the cop says wy did you tell me you were whith them?i said because i,m in the car so i,m with them.anyway he lets us go.so they ask me if i want to go meet there sister family whatever eat and spend the night and start out in the morning.we go to there sisters and she makes us tacos i was amazed at how fast she could make them! i ate about 6/7 tacos spent the night on the couch.the next morning they take me to a family reunion.must of been 50 mexicans and me /white/they were very nice people.so that after noon i head out back to the interstate 15 i think then i get a ride with a carney going to sacremento he says you want a job go to the office tell them i,m looking for work willing to travel so thats what i did the boss says ok put me in the plate pitch that night it poured i was sleeping under a ride woke up half of me was wet half was dry felt like shit is a understatment.then i walked down to the lake seen this duck swim in from the middle of the lake right to me.like to say i,m hungry ,so i went looking in the garbage cans and gave the duck some chips that i found.oh well at least he.s not hungry,then as i was walking back from the lake theres a twenty laying right in the middle of the parking lot! so i went to the store bought my lucky duck a whole bag of chips me a coffee and said thank you and goodbye
    you want a car?
    Hi i have a little story about some good things that can happen when you hitchike. This happened to me in seattle in 1990 I just stuck out my thumb and this car pulls over and gives me a ride .and he says i,m glad i picked u up do you want a car? what ? He explains to me that he has three cars and seatlle is fining him every day one of his cars sits on the road. so i went to look at it it was a datson station wagon. he gave me fifty bucks and a bag of weed to take the car. it drank oil instead of gas bad valve. Thats what the fifty was for probably.So he signs the car over to me and off i go.laughing my ass off driving down the interstate.still cant beleive it. but hell it ran it sure beat walking ..
    Aurora's Story
    I'm a SWF living in Colorado, 21, hitched from Spokane wa to seattle and up to vancouver 98 Not a long trip, but my first and a fun one. First ride scared me a bit (fit the description of a serial killer), but it wasn't bad. Had one ride that told me and my traveling companion that he performed an exorcism on his wife the other night in bed, couldn't wait to be let out of his truck! One ride over in Seattle requested that we drive around with them for about ten minutes, we didn't mind, seeing as how they were looking for mushrooms to harvest! Our ride across the border was in a limo, talk about stylin'. Up in Canada it didn't take long to get rides. One speed-crazed guy and a drunk driver later and we met up with a guy that ended up going to all the bars with us. Got to visit Canibis Cafe in Vancouver. Tried to get back to Seattle but got stuck in a crappy border town. Finally got ride to Ellensburg and slept in a Denny's. Got a ride to Mercer Island and thought we'd be stuck there forever. Everyone drove Beamers and such and looked down at us with disgust. Finally a really nice guy gave us a ride almost all the way back to Pullman, close to Spok. Last ride was with a cowboy wearing a pink sweater and scarf, sort of leary about that one. Slept in the back of the car, friend rode up front. When I woke up my friend and the cowboy were rapping (with the cowboy trying to beat box once in a while) I've never laughed so hard in my life! Can't wait to go again. oh yeah , 90% of our rides were green friendly!!!!
    I hitch hiked to oregon in 78 with two other girls. We moved there that way. And met very interesting people . I sure would like to meet these people again. I have since been to college, career and family but have many very fond memories.
    UP YOURS
    I was in Newcastle, New South Wales, Aus. in Dec. 1978 when the Navy destroyer I was on visited. We were encouraged to hitch. The place was unbelievably safe and friendly. On Christmas Eve, a shipmate and I decided to hitch to the Hunter Valley region to sample some of the wares from the many vineyards. We stood for a good hour on a fairly busy highway and no one would stop. People would pass by and point, which from my American experience indicated that they were going a short distance down the road. My friend had a camera with a strap with him and I told him to put it around his neck so we'd look like tourists. He did and shortly afterwards, a lady pulled up and we got in. I mentioned the trouble we had getting rides and the ploy with the camera I talked the friend into. She said that the camera wasn't it at all. The lady said there, the thumb in the air was equivalent to "up yours." Hitchers pointed down the road. Quite a culture shock. On the way back we pointed and had no trouble at all. I once hitched across Texas to research an article on homeless. But that's a long story. Richard Smith
    ...oo000OOOOO+++++++OOOOO000oo...

    Greg's Ride Part 1 & 2
    I had wanted to hitch around the US ever since I got out of HS after graduating in 1973. My friend and I were going to go to Macon, GA to live at the Allman Brothers 'Big House" and become roadies or whatever! I was really into the ABB back then, still am but, not THAT much! Never did get there.

    Anyway, I began nagging my buddy ever since I bought my backpack and small tent to take off on our journey. He kept putting it off but, I was restless and wanted to go. I took off with absolutely NO money in my pocket and only 10 peanut butter and marshmallow fluff sandwiches in my old WW2 gas mask pack! Kissed mom goodbye and stuck my thumb out. My first ride was with 4 cute girls who gave me a ride to Boston from Portland, Maine ( my hometown ) and I left my sandwiches behind in their car! Next ride was with a guy my age (18 or so ) who was taking his dad's big Oldsmobile back to AZ for him. That ride took me from Boston to Omaha! Good ride! Got busted smoking a joint in Buffalo though! Well, I had traveled for 3 days now with NO food in my stomach at all! I was starving! I stopped into this gourmet restaurant in Omaha and asked if they had some work for me for just a day or two please. Luck and more was with me as they asked me to go into this room downstairs and to carve up 3-4 big turkeys! "One for them, two for me" is all I said to myself for 8 hours and a full belly of turkey! I made myself $18 with which I got a room in Omaha for the night and took a long bath and still had $9 left! I still remember about 90% of the rides I got to this day some 25 years later! The old hippie/ Buddhist who gave me a ride in New Mexico. The cameraman for Charles Kurault on the Road. The guy who lit up this huge joint when we got to LA and he said "welcome to LA" and dropped me off stoned out of my gourd at the Santa Monica Pier! I fell asleep on the grass overlooking the Pacific and the pier. Everytime I see that pier I say to my kids "I've been there before". One thing that I do remember. Just about everybody wanted to get me high or give me a beer too! I didn't mind at the time though, don't get me wrong!

    Got picked up by this true redneck who asked me why my hair was down to my shoulders and my sideburns were so long. He also showed me the shotgun under his seat too. When I told him that I just signed up for the Air Force ( true too! ) he immediately changed his tune and said "good boy, they'll make a man out of you!!"! Whew! I was nervous that ride! Missouri. 'Misery' I called it!

    I won't bore you with the rest of it but, I will say this. Hitching around the US by myself in the summer of 1974 was a GREAT experience for me. Sure, I could have ended up dead by some serial killer but, I didn't! Most of the people were just great to me I must say. I don't know how many times I got picked up by a carload of young girls but, I was so naive and shy that I'm sure I blew many chances at having a lot more fun than I did. I look back then and say to myself "what was I thinking?"!! There were many times when I was totally alone. Out in the desert by Barstow. In the woods by Flagstaff. Out in the Nevada desert. I liked being alone for the most part. I was never really scared though. Maybe a little nervous but, never scared. I wish I could thank all of those who helped me out back then. I got a little education from each of them now that I look back. All my buddies went to college but, they were so envious of what I did. I feel that I got the better education, not them! It was a fun time back then. I must say that in 1999 it would not be a wise thing to do. Things HAVE changed unfortunately. You know, I still have that backpack in my barn. Took it out the other day and looked it over. Still in good shape. It would still be up to the same trip again. Me? Nah! I'm still on a journey really. You never stop, the scenery just changes that's all!

    Happy Trails, Greg

    Hi Jeff, Thanks for the message. Nice to hear from some old hitchers eh? 'Live At Fillmore" has been heard by these ears at least 10,000 times and I NEVER tire of it! The mark of a great recording and truly fantastic musicians too. You know, during my trip that summer of '74 I had with me a large felt tip marker that was water proof. I have no idea how it was in my backpack either. At most every place I had to stand and hitch, I would draw this picture of a cross with the words "Remember Duane Allman" on it. This would usually be on the back of a road sign and rest rooms, etc; I often wonder how many people, especially HH'ers, saw it on their travels. I'll bet that I left that message in at least 100 different places around the US. It sounds sooo juvenile to me now but, back then I would dream of travelling with the brothers and hanging with them. I found their music at the time ( especially "Dreams"! ) to be very eerie and sort of spiritual. I related to it very much. Anyway, so many more memories of that trip I have but, would take so much time.

    I remember this time on Route 70 ( I think it was 70 anyway ) I was standing right on the main highway. An old Chevy wagon stopped and 2 huge guys were in the front seat that had this sort of 'Deliverance' look to them ya' know what I mean? Anyway, the guy in the passenger side got out and said "get in" pointing to the front seat! He wanted me to get BETWEEN the both of them! I said "no thanks" and he said " no, really"! I said " sorry, I'm not getting in" while I was preparing myself to use the old Buck folding knife in my pocket and feeling my knees get a little wobbly. He just turned around, got in the car and left! Just like that! I have NO doubt that if I got in that car, I'd have been killed!

    But, as I said before, almost all of the people were so nice and helpful to me. A lot of folks went way out of their way to bring me to a better spot to HH and some took me away from dangerous areas that I was unaware of. Like the time I was walking through East St. Louis and just sort of saying "Hi" to all the 'brothers' as I passed through the area! This guy stopped and offered a ride even though my thumb was not out at that time.

    I was also really naive about homosexuals and never really even knew one before. That guy that was a camera man for Charles Kuralt's 'On the Road' show I mentioned in my first email to you is an example of how numb I was! He first lit up a big joint for us to share while going through the Arizona desert area. Then he asked me if I ever did "Rush" before. I had never heard of it and said "sure"! I was up for any high back then. Well, it gave quite the rush alright to me! After we both did it and were flying high and he was still driving of course, he began to look at me differently all of a sudden! I kind of knew but, still was naive as I said. I do remember to be wise enough to ask him to let me off at Flagstaff where we just came in to. That was that. I look back now and get quite a laugh about it now! He was hittin' on me and I'll never forget that look on his face!


    Canada- right to left and back

    Name:Philippe V. Age : 20 City : Montreal, Canada

    I hitch-hiked all across Canada in the summer of 1998. I started back in Toronto where two guys offered me a ride directly to Calgary, but only if a share gas , because they were broke. Then i continued west, and was picked up by a cow boy on my way to Banff. I stayed three days in Banff, met a girl there, she offered me a ride to Vernon, and i stayed at her mother's house. We arrived in Vernon in the middle of forestfires, and we were nearly evacuated. For me, the next stop was Vancouver. On the way i was dropped in the middle of nowhere and i had to wait for two hours. The guy who then picked up was the owner of a bar in Penticton BC, and he offered me the product of his commerce...

    I left at 10pm, a little drunk, and was picked up right away by a trucker who gave me a ride for Vancouver, 300km away. We arrive at 1am, there was no place at the hostel so i started hanging around downtown. I ended up walking on hastings street, which is, i read it after, the worst street of Canada for criminality and prostitution. And i was there at 2 in the morning! I was lucky to quit this place without harm. I walked back to the hostel, and spend the night in the hall.

    I left three days later for Vancouver island where every hitch-hikers is picked up after 10minutes, and then i had to came back to Montreal. It took me five days and a half to make it, really fast if you consider the distance (4000 to 5000km). I was picked by hippies who asked for pot in every single town we crossed, and by a trucker who take coke and drive... think it's worse than drink and drive... Oh, by the way, a common caracteristic of people who picked up hitch-hikers : they smoke pot...


    Hitchin Heck

    Hitched through Europe for a year, arrived with $700 Canadian. No rush, no worries, tent was amazing, Swiss Army knife invaluable, permanent magic marker helped. Walked 100-200 kms into Spain from France for a change over the mountains. Met a brit ex Marine, ex French Foreign Legion guy kind of on the run, Philip. Hilarious. He turned out to be a great bodyguard when he beat up 4 Moroccans trying to rob us. Hitchin' thru Spain, when we got off on the wrong side hi-way, waiting forever, when a white Mercedes cleared air passing by us, blue smoke from the tires, turned around, and said, "Where ya goin', eh?" Crazy Canadian Andre from the East Coast, smuggling Mercedes into Morocco, and smuggling hash out. Spent a year in a Moroccan jail for hash smuggling. His eyes showed it. He gave us a free ride including hotel, spending money, beers etc. and took us straight into Gibraltar. His plan was to use us as drug mules, swallowing condoms full of hash in Morocco and flying out. When he left us in Gibraltar with $200each , he looked me straight into the eye and said, "If for some reason you don't meet me in Marrakech, give me your home name and address so I don't have to come back here and blow your head off with a shotgun." Coming from the likes of the truly insane, he was not joking. Hint: Give a fake name. Other tales: After smuggling cigarettes into Spain, I got nailed at the border and had to hitchhike on less than $10 from Gibraltar to London to meet a buddy. French fat guy wanted me to be his bitch; acted even crazier than he was by grunting and slamming my head on the passenger door window (works every time). Too many to mention, I'm probably leaving the best ones out, but quite the rush. I was young, naive, and didn't know much better. I left with one goal in mind: Adventure. But in the process, I almost lost my life a couple of times. (Long stories) Whatever. Great time. Next time, I'll do it just a little differently. Johnny Z


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    THANKS DOC

    It was the fall of 1969 and I just wanted to get home for the weekend . When classes were finished for the day at MUN , I reconnoitered with a friend from home and began our trek up Kenmount Rd with thumbs gesturing our desire to head east. It was not long before our first lift brought us as far as the THE OVERPASS. Once this far it was kind of a point of no return . After thanking our kind chauffeur we gingerly stood about in the cold anxiously awaiting our lift for the long haul to Whitbourne . After what seemed like an eternity we finally got that much desired reprieve from the cold . By then my ears felt frozen ( it was not so cool to wear a cap , despite the weather) . and I was in agony . The heat inside the car only accentuated my misery as they commenced to thaw .

    The driver remarked my discomfort and asked about my situation . I related that my ears hurt and the heat seemed to make it worse. We continued on . A further enquiry from our good samaritan found me revealing that I had placed tissue in my ears while we were waiting in the cold and I was unable to retrieve it .

    At this point , he offers to have a look at it . Despite my buddy being in the vehicle , I still felt reluctant to allow a total stranger to pull of the road and check my ears. No doubt he sensed my reluctance and then revealed that he was a medical doctor and was on his way to visit family for the weekend . With this new knowledge , I gladly accepted his offer to probe my ears , anything to releave the pain . Well , with his doctor bag placed on the seat he began to procure the required instrument that he would use . First a visual , then confirmation that I had indeed sunk the tissue in deeply. He explained what he was about to do and with some trepidation I lay my head back against the seat while he introduced a needle type device into my ear with the caution to remain very still . After a few moments he displayed the tiny balls of tissue that had lodged itself beyond my grasp. Immediately , I sensed a great relief and release of pain . Shortly after we disembarked at our next junction point but only after receiving a gentle admonition not to place objects in my ear and the strong suggestion that in future I try wearing a cap to shelter my hearing devices from the cold. With extra gratitude and appreciation, we bid our benefactor good bye .

    The last leg of our journey lay ahead . Despite a few snide remarks from my traveling companion , we recommenced our efforts to reach home. Luck was with us . Soon we had been picked up by a person from our own hometown. Home in no time !!

    The adventure was still not over . The pain was diminished but still present . By the time of arrival at home the pain had intensified . In the house , into bed , lots of aspirin . It seems that at some point during the night I was delirious , was taken to hospital , received a booster shot in the derriere and from that moment onward my ear no longer bothered me . The pain had transferred to a new location . The injection was the more painful , and the area surrounding my that invasion had become intolerable and not until three days later was I able to resume a normal day and return back to MUN .

    My adventures at Hitchhiking ended with that weekend . Nothing has been placed in my ears and I wear a cap when the air emits its warning signals regarding frost. Occassionally , when any ear issue arise I think of the good Samaritan


    Four Corners
    In October of 1993 I hitched from Jackson Hole,WY to Moab, UT and then in a circle across Utah to St.George>ZionN.P.>Kanab>Grand Canyon>Flagstaff AZ>GallupNM>Navajo Nation>TellurideCO and back to Moab. I was out for a month and there was only one night I had to sleep on the side of the high-way, outside of Cedar City UT. I had been let off on the Interstate in the dark and nobody would stop to pick me up,the town was visible from where I was, but quite a distance away, so I crashed among the sagebrush. The next morning I woke up with frost on my sleeping bag. I was in a bad mood and just started walking down the interstate, not even trying to get a ride. Then from out of nowhere this soft angelic voice "Hey, do you need a ride?" . I turned around and there was this Toyota not three feet behind me, slowly creeping up on me. Where did it come from? I didn't even hear the damn thing. It was this young couple from SLC on there way to some reggae show in the vicinty of Zion park. I got in and they gave me a ride to St George. They were true road angels.

    That trip was amazing, I basically didn't know where or how far I was going. I just picked destinations that I thought were about a day away and stuck my thumb out. I was doing a tour of the national parks in the southwest and there were a lot of European tourist on that same circuit which made getting rides a piece of cake.I stayed in campgrounds and hostels.

    One other moment really sticks out, I was outside of Gallup, hitch-hiking onto the Navajo Nation, it was my birthday, I was going north on route 666 and no one was stopping for me. I look down on the highway and there is this huge tarantula spider slowly crossing the road. It was beautiful. -Shepherd


    Joe's Story
    1979 - Left Home...16 years old....tired of the home life...had to be free...East Coast...Maryland...Blizzard of 79-80...3-4 feet with up to 6 foot drifts....no place to live...broke into peoples cars and slept in the cars...no one could get to their cars at the time...too much snow...almost died in that snow...next year...I was not about to sleep in that shit again, me and a friend of mine (Lee...he was like 16 years older than me but was like a brother I never had) stuck our thumbs out headed for Fla...I had long black hair down to my ass, a guitar, and a duffel bag...friend of mine dropped us off at a rest stop on 95 South..we walked down the ramp...got down to the end of the ramp, I stuck the cardboard sign I had made up with BIG LETTERS... FLA on it...I swear, we didn't stand there more than 5 minutes when a Yellow Volkswagen Bus pulls over....of course he blew past he was going so fast, but when I saw his tag, it was a Florida Tag...we got a ride from a rest stop in Northern Virginia to Orlando...two stops...lunch and dinner...this was one of the luckiest rides but I'm not sure what happened to my buddy that I hitched with...his first name was Lee...he was like 16 years older than me....we got busted for vagrancy in Fla and I went to juvy and he went elsewhere....I sure would like to say "Hi" to him if he ever gets the chance to read this story....Lee....this is Injun Joe in Maryland...Remember Big George Haystack...R S Willard....this is me dood....
    *****OOOOOOO*******

    THE WEDDING RING Walter Carpenter
    It was late August 1977. I was standing at the intersection of Interstate 5 and Route 126 on the Pacific Coast, hitching a ride to Florence, Oregon. I'd come from New England to the Pacific Northwest to attend an alternative college in Washington State, first hitchhiking to Montreal from Boston, then riding the Canadian Railway for four days across the vastness of Canada to British Columbia. From Vancouver I'd ridden my thumb to Oregon. A friend of mine from New Hampshire, a Vietnam War vet, was stationed at the huge naval base in Bremerton, Washington, across the Puget Sound from Seattle. He was getting married a couple weeks before my college started, and I was destined as his best man, my role to give him the ring. With time to spare I thought it a good idea to explore the territory before academics confined my travels to the classroom and the library. Various rhapsodies of the coast's amazing beauty convinced me that I shouldn't miss it. Rocky cliffs with the ocean smashing against them and tall Douglas fir trees clinging to the stone and the hills, deep gorges slashed into the rock, and sleepy fishing villages in the bays and coves awaited me. First, however, I had to get over the mountains and into the coastal plains where lay the vast forests, the main mast of the Pacific Northwestern lumber culture. It would, I guessed, require about four hours of traveling to get there, not to mention the waiting time, and I only had a week since starting the trip into the northwestern deserts a few days before. Route 126 went to Florence, a town on the coast. From there, I proposed to hitch up Oregon's coastal highway to a town called Astoria. From Astoria, on the northern tip of Oregon's coast, I had to double back to Portland and proceed north on Interstate 5 again to Bremerton. I could see the orange Volkswagon on the highway. It stood out among the legions of rushing cars and trucks. Its directional was on and I watched the car turn off Interstate 5 and come down the exit ramp toward me. I stood at the bottom of the ramp where it merged with Route 126. When I saw it coming, my hitchhiker's instinct guessed that this would probably be a ride. In the hitchhiker parlance of the day, the driver was probably a brother or sister hippie. The Volkswagon was more or less the flagship car in those times. I stood straight and held out my sign: the rough side of a cardboard box with the words "The Coast" painted on it. I had been picked up by all kinds of people, from cultists and homosexuals seeking to fulfill fantasies to judges and legislators, had listened to good stories and sad ones, and seen slices of life I would have missed by staying home. Yet, none were or would ever be quite as poignant as the orange Volkswagon. Sure enough the car slowed down and pulled over to the side of the road. In a ritual I had repeated hundreds of times before, I gathered my backpack and ran up to meet the car. How many times would I do this again, I wondered? The color was faded and the body dented in several places. The engine chugged along, however. It had Oregon plates and, much to my surprise, the driver was a woman. For obvious reasons, women rarely stop for a hitchhiker. This was true even in those days before trickle-down economics made the roads the last place to go for the desperate-the dregs that trickle-down hadn't trickled to. Yet, some women do pick up hitchhikers and the rides were good ones. One woman in Jefferson County, Colorado, picked me up in Durango. I was going to Telluride, nearly two hours away. She wasn't going far, but Colorado's law against hitchhiking had just been repealed the day before, and this woman was afraid that the local gendarmes had not yet grasped this. She drove hours out of her way to, as she put it, "protect me." Outside San Francisco another woman, an engineer on vacation, invited me into her Porsche. I was hitching south on California's famous Highway 1, making for Los Angeles after passing through the city by the bay. It was my first time in California, the counterculture's holy land, and I was racing against time because of a commitment. Appalled that I had come all the way from New England to simply pass through the city of Haight-Ashbury and the People's Park, shrines of the revolution, I became her guest while she spent her vacation showing me the city that had captured a generation's imagination. But there was a dangerous side to getting a ride with a woman. I had heard stories of a woman driver suddenly screaming for no reason--a guiltless, hapless hitchhiker in the passenger seat destined for charges of rape and a certain prison sentence. Within seconds I had to balance these twin possibilities. This woman, however, didn't look like she enjoyed putting hitchhikers in a cell. She owned a thin and earthy face with freckles, had long brown hair with a white kerchief holding it back behind her ears. She wore farmer's overalls over a dirty white T-shirt. Her eyes, I noticed, were deep brown and had a profound look of resignation or sadness. "You're going to the coast," she asked in a soft voice when I got in the car. "Yes," I replied, "going to see it for the first time. Never been out this way before." "Where are you from?" "The East Coast, Boston." She smiled at my noticeable New England accent. "I have never been to the East," she said. Her voice was soft and sensitive. When I had maneuvered my pack into the back and occupied the passenger seat, she looked over her shoulder, slung the shifter into first, and I was in motion again, heading west toward the wall of the Cascades. Eugene is in farming country, east of the mountains. The endless farmlands, the gas stations and fast food joints, the cars and trucks passing us, the stores trying to lure the unwary with promises of discounted gifts rolled by the windshield. It felt nice to be moving again. "You'll love the coast," she said. "It's really gorgeous. I live there." I almost leaped from the seat with happiness. Once more that lucky ride had found me, with a seemingly kind woman no less. This was ethereal luck. Who could ask for better I thought? I looked forward to a pleasant four or five hours. We began with questions. I asked her about the coast. She confirmed what the elegies told me. She lived on a dirt road a few miles outside Florence. It was a quiet place, she said, the way she liked it. She suggested places I should see if time allowed, then asked me about the East. How many times had I gone through this, repeating my past, trying to erase whatever fears the driver might harbor about me and build that trust to carry us through a long ride? Building this trust was essential to being a successful hitchhiker. I never thought of it as merely a free ride. The hitchhiker had a job to do. Every hitchhiker worth his or her salt knew this. Most drivers stopped because they sincerely wanted to help or desired a companion to ease the loneliness of a long trip. Sometimes, I found myself in the role of confessor, listening to a driver unburden himself from whatever tormented him. Usually the anguish resulted from a lost love or one going sour that the driver could not comprehend. Sometimes the person needed solace for a rebellious child or getting fired or, in one man's case, a struggle over whether he was gay or straight. So with the motor purring and a Rolling Stones cassette in the tapeplayer, I brought her 3,000 miles back East to places she had never seen. She seemed to enjoy it. "I'm going to college near Seattle," I said. "I came out early for a friend's wedding. I'm the best man and have to give the ring." At that moment tears came to her eyes. She started to sob, almost imperceptibly at first, as if fighting it, but then the urge won. I apologized immediately for whatever it was I had said. She tried to gain control of herself. When she finally could manage it, she spoke so softly I barely heard it. "I just got out of the state penitentiary." My heart sagged. My mind assumed full alert. Was I sitting beside yet another crazy driver? Would she suddenly start some antics that would land me in the prison she just left? The unending flatlands rolled past. It was clear and dry, though I saw low clouds on the mountains. They must mean rain on the other side. I stared out the window (keeping one eye on her) at the fields, the signs, and mile markers and wondered what the next few hours held for me. "What did you do?" I asked cautiously, feeling for the door handle in case I needed to make a quick escape if she got crazy. I wondered how I could get my backpack out too. "It's not me," the driver replied, in between her sobbing. "It's my fianc. He's the one in prison." More tears slipped out of her eyes. I felt so helpless. Listening to someone else's grief is probably the most powerless feeling there is. "He got ten years, ten years for robbery, armed robbery." Jesus, I thought, what did he do? "Was it a bank?" I asked. It was difficult for her to talk. "Almost," she said. "It was a jewelry store up in Portland. He ripped off a diamond ring." The talking and crying ran simultaneously. It was difficult for her to drive, though surprisingly we had no close calls. She knew the road. Cars passed us, not knowing the grief inside the orange Volkswagon. Without my asking, she took me on her journey. Once it found an outlet, the sadness could not stay in. While I listened, she told me they would have been married already if he had not foolishly gone to Portland. Both children of the counterculture, they loved each other, she said, with a love that seemed natural. They had met at a commune on the California coast and, like so many of our disillusioned and rebellious generation (she was about ten years older than me), disavowed the pursuit of prosperity. They grew much of their own food. Several months before she saw me standing on the ramp to Route 126, they decided to go to the altar. Yet, for some reason, a reason she could not divine, the carpenter felt she had to have a ring. "How many times," she cried, "I told him I did not need a foolish ring. I didn't give a damn about that." The flatlands butted against the mountains and we started climbing. The Volkswagon's engine pushed harder, its cadence getting deeper the more it pushed. The woman hit the curves right and, without breaking stride, shifted to meet them as the road curved up the steep flanks of the Cascades. I remembered my Navy friend boasting how he had spent over a thousand on the diamond I would give him to adorn his wife when the minister asked what token they had to show. The last thing she cared about was an expensive, glittering rock mined in South Africa by abused miners under apartheid on her finger. Because he could not afford one of these, her lover had gone up to Portland one afternoon. With a mask on and a camping axe, he filched an expensive diamond for his beloved, who had no inkling what he had done. With the fourteen-carat lump in his hand, he went back home down the coast, believing he had escaped. But some detail was overlooked or forgotten. Soon her fianc was in prison stripes before a judge. He got ten years without parole. The woman begged the judge to lessen the sentence, even promising to pay for any additional damages. But the judge was adamant. Perhaps, she said, it was because he had a long-haired man before him and wanted to make an example. She didn't know. "Why?" Tears streamed down her face. "Why did he do it? I had him and didn't need a ring. Why wasn't that enough?" What could a ring do that she could not and had not already done with her spirit? All she wanted was to be with him. I felt mute and stupid, not knowing what to say. The woman hovered between lucidity and tears yet maneuvered the Volkswagon with precision. We had crossed into rain country and rain spattered the windshield. I thanked god she was bringing me all the way to the coast; I wouldn't have relished standing in the rain. Water dripped from tall ferns, some as high as corn stalks. Moss hung ghostlike from the trunks and branches of the majestic Douglas fir trees, which receded into the mysteries of the fog that surrounded them. There was something surreal about this northern jungle. Perhaps the past lived here. "Ten years now, ten years and we could've been married two months ago. All for a goddamned ring. Why? What is it about a silly rock?" She hit her fist against her lap. I wanted then to hold her, to hug her, to wring something out of somewhere that would help her, comfort her. The Volkswagen's lights peeked ahead in the deep fog and rain, while other lights coming east found us. "I'm sorry," she said after some silent moments. "I really shouldn't be hitting you with all this. All you asked was what I had gone to prison for." The rain fell thicker and the clouds hovered low. The fog hid the forest in smoky veils. We were in the foothills now. We drove through small logging towns nestled in the valleys between the hills, some almost shantytowns with few modern conveniences. We stopped in one of those forlorn and infinitesimal logging towns with a gas station, diner, and convenience store. We needed something to eat and pulled into the diner. Huge logging trucks were parked in the yard, their engines idling. We had some lunch and coffee. The woman tried to eat but wasn't in the mood. Our waitress, quite plain and very young, seemed pleased to serve us. We were new faces in her otherwise narrow existence. She sported a diamond on her left hand and saw me looking at it. "It's from my husband. He works in the woods. Can you believe how nice it is?" she asked, pouring our coffee. Outside, the driver broke down again. "Why was he so stupid? I'm not one of those stupid women who need a ring. Is it like a collar for a dog? You have to have it to show you belong?" I tried to say something soothing, but the usual platitudes seemed inadequate and inane. So, ignoring that hitchhiker's caution about being forward with a female driver, I offered my shoulder. The woman leaned against it and wept. I hugged her lightly. Watching us through the window, the waitress smiled. After a few minutes, she said, "Let's go." The orange Volkswagon rolled out of the diner and continued westward. In the thousands of miles I had traveled in my hitchhiking years I had heard many painful stories. But this woman's pain was especially poignant. I railed silently against the carpenter's stupidity in not seeing what he had and a system of values that required a ring. Now this woman was forced to come to terms with what she had lost by an act beyond her control. She was stuck and there was nothing I could do to help her. It was still an hour or more to Oregon's Highway 1. We passed through one rainy lumber town after another, each hardly distinct from the other, each with its own sense of helplessness against what was using it up. The rain beat down harder; the wipers worked hard to keep the windshield clear. Logging trucks growled past, leaving a cloud of spray in their wake. We rode on in silence. When I thought it proper, I tried to perform my function as confessor and offer her some hope. "I know a thing or two about this," I said. "He could get his sentence commuted for good behavior." She smiled a little and shook her head as if to say that, yes, she knew that was a possibility. But it was a long one. She had used up her tears. When we finally reached the town of Florence, nearly four hours later, I was sad to have to leave her. I wanted to stay, to help see her through the ordeal she now had to face by herself. We went through some lights and she turned south. My destination was north; she let me out in a convenience store parking lot. We said our good-byes, and I watched the orange Volkswagon disappear into the maze of traffic. I could forget her and go on; she had to live with her suffering. But I couldn't forget her. It took some time for me to turn around and walk to the northbound side of Route 1.
    \\\\\\\\\\\oooo//////////

    Howdy. I did a lot of hitchhiking back in the late 60s and 70s. I was a
    conscientious objector, refused my military order to go to Nam, was
    court-martialed, and spent time in a military brig. After I got out, I
    lived the hippie life for a number of years and did a lot of rambling in
    search of my identity. Ended up in Japan in 1983 and have been here
    since. I've written two novels and a novella, "The Many Roads to Japan,"
    which was published as a textbook for Japanese universities. I recently
    put "Roads" on the Net as a free online textbook-reader for ESL
    students. It"s too long to include here, but readers can find it at
    
    http://www2.gol.com/users/norris/roadsdownload.html
    
    where you can read it online or download it in PDF and HTML formats.
    Chapters 3, 4, and 5 detail a journey hitching from California to New
    York, then riding cheap trains and hitching around Europe, and finally
    hitching from New York back to California. I think I set a hitchhiking
    record for fastest time from coast to coast--three and a half days. Got
    a ride in Pennsylvania from a military medic who was being transferred
    from the East Coast to the West Coast. He had a bag of goodies that kept
    us both awake for most of the trip while we alternated driving. I'll
    never forget that experience. 
    
    Robert W. Norris
    http://www2.gol.com/users/norris/
    Author of TORAWARE, LOOKING FOR THE SUMMER, and THE MANY ROADS TO JAPAN
    
    
    

    it was maybe 1998 or '99, took off for vancouver with some guy i'd met the 
    night before
    while drinking.  it was  the month of May i think, still bloody cold in the 
    mountains
    (blizzarding ect), we had zero dollars and were coming from saskatoon.  we 
    had excellent
    luck, people bought us food the whole way down, a few people let us stay at 
    their
    place...lots of weed along the way, at the time i was mentally 
    unstable...like out of it and
    paranoid.  but yeah, we got good rides...
    this German dude picked us up and he was just downing the beer, cruisin' 
    around the curvy
    mountain roads, while the guy i was hitchin' with played his mixed tape 
    including 'nazi
    punks fuck off' by the dead kennedys...
    out of kelowna some guy picked us up, told us he was an alcoholic who 
    sometimes blacked
    out and woke up two weeks later in another province, driving, told us about 
    this mission
    place we could go to and get a lot of f*cking bread, and named all the kinds 
    of bread in a
    hysterical voice.  said his brain was flippin' around in his head, while my 
    friend and i were
    thinking about what to use for a weapon, i'd decided on a pen...
    last year we had even better luck, only took 26 hours to get to chillliwack 
    from saskatoon!!
    and no creepy rides :)
    
    THE ROAD TO LIVE BY!
    In the time that ended with the Disco and the beginning of the Reaganeconomies. I was in the middle of High
    School and the fact that I was trying to fine myself,(at being a gay male) in a world of discontented people of
    walking the land with know were to go. I knew I had to go myself to a happier place then the one I was lving in,
    so I left home thumbing thru the southwest. I found that the people that I would meet along the way were in
    need of a happier times then me. So I started to write down the story's of my journey's of the people, places,and
    the thing's that brings all of us together in this world that is'nt even ours to begin with. I had left my home town
    of Haslett, Mich. to head south to Fla. were I thought that most people would start at but that prove to be
    wrong way to go and so I headed down highway 10, to the southwest and found a place in the sun that was
    warm to my liking,(unlike alot of the folks that were colder then any winters I had spent in the north) so I found
    myself heading to Palm Springs, Ca. and I had a job doing dishwashing work. Ones Igot some money in my pockets
    I  ended up in Memphis, Tn. driving for a dealership,(delivering auto parts around town) it turn out to be a real
    paying job tell I lost my license in a drunk driving accident. So I started thumbing all over again. And I'm still on
    again, off again  hiking thru this life that I'm still trying to make sense out of this wondering life that I have made
    of myself.    
     
    Hi, I would like to include my experiences with hitchhiking way back when.... The very first time I hitched a ride was when I was a teenager. We were at a slumber party and decided to hitchhike from Tulsa to Oklahoma City late one night so we went to the Turnpike gate and got a ride with a trucker who was driving a large flat-bed truck. I rode on the back with a couple of other girls with 2 in the cab with him. The minute we got to OKC the police caught us and called our parents and back home we went with a lot of reprimanding along the way.
    Another time....
    My boyfriend and I were unable to find jobs in Las Vegas and dead broke. We had both left good paying jobs in big hotels in Dallas and being informed that we could get better jobs in Las Vegas really sounded good to us. BUT, we were not in the Union so there was no hope for us. We pawned everything we had and finally decided to hitchhike home to Tulsa As a woman hitchhiking even with a male was a very scary experience that I would not like to repeat. We tried EVERYTHING to get a ride outside of Las Vegas, NV and finally my boyfriend hid behind a large rock leaving me at the shoulder of the road until we got a ride. The guy who picked us up was very quiet and took us all the way to Oklahoma City. We were afraid of him and I think the feeling was mutual. My friend told me not to say a word and let him do all the talking which I did. I had no makeup on and an old scarf on my long blond hair. I am a friendly sort of person and that was the most difficult thing for me to keep my mouth shut for that many miles. There were a couple of other hitching times from Las Vegas to Los Angeles but nothing special. This is it for my travels... Thanks for being here and allowing me to do a little reminiscing. I am almost 65 years old today and have a car and a van BUT if needed I could always hand my sign out again.
    ****^^^^^****

    Hi mike204,
    
    
    @important!
    a part of my story has been translated by software so be
    patient. I hope you'll get a message
    
    
    Galloping over Europe
     
    How it got rolling 
    It all happened quite spontaneously. I even did not think about hitch-hiking. I called a friend
    of mine, we chatted for a while and he told me that he had just returned from England. He
    worked there as a seasoned farm-worker. I liked that idea and decided to try my luck. I got my
    documents ready, packed my knapsack, and, knowing absolutely nothing, hitch-hiked to England.
    
    Impressions. 
    I did not even expect what adventures I would have to endure. The only thing, which
    disappointed me, was inability to go straight from Riga city but from Poland. Almost everybody
    tried to talk me out of it, Go to Berlin and start hitch-hiking from there. After getting
    advice from everyone I did exactly the same. I got to Berlin, stuffed my belongings into a
    cloak-room and went to hang around the city. 
    
    There one can make subway ride virtually for free. I do not mean there are no ticket collectors
    but you simply dont face them too often. And on weekends (from Friday midnight until Sunday
    midnight) you can travel all over Germany just for 35 euros. By the way, for only 20 euros you
    can cross entire Poland, for instance from Warsaw to Berlin.
    
    By the way, for example, from Warsaw up to Berlin you can cross all Poland for 20 $. Next day
    having reached up to Potsdam I have quitted on a road and have become to vote, then I and not
    , that there is an Autobahn. In 50 minutes the first machine has stayed, I attempted
    to explain to the motor-man where to me it is necessary, but he in English did not perceive,
    then I have got a map, have indicated a direction and already went to the dream further. On a
    road we have fetched to his{its} son in University, then to it{him} home to Brandenburg, there
    we were waited with a dinner which was very opportunely.
    
    Some time later I stood not farly from the Autobahn. I was knocked with quantity of the
    machines passing by me I has decided: " What for to stand on a porch to the Autobahn if it is
    possible to go endways on the Autobahn ". In that moment I did not know, what is it it is
    FORBIDDEN. Has not passed also three minutes as the auto truck has approached{has dropped in},
    generally motor-men of auto trucks are very enterprising, having driven by you (as on the one
    hand roads, and with other), they on a radio broadcast, that on such plot costs{stands}
    , who wants to take a mole. Help. Thus I have reached Hannover and further changing
    to many  have reached up to  , that in France.
    
    Why I went through Paris, instead of have picked more short path{route}? At first: when you go
    somewhere for the first time it would be desirable to see and embody all at once; second: when
    you go the Automatic stop - short roads do not happen. For example, today thee have scheduled
    to go endways, stand, persistently wait the machine, and on course other motor-men offer to go
    in a bypass road, i.e. not there where thee have scheduled, and it appears, that in a bypass
    road on 2-3 machines it is faster and more interesting to reach, than on one, but endways. In
    the Automatic stop it is impossible 100- to schedule a route, it is necessary to keep
    an element of chance.
    
    Country of dreams 
    In   I sat on the ferry and have safely reached up to . And me as (especially
    in a profile) the visa is not necessary for the citizen of Latvia, and the officer of
    immigration has arranged such interrogation... Having kept me about one hour, in wash 
    the seal{printing} has been put, that I have the right to be in England already the whole 6
    months.
    
    As against all European countries Englands differs very inclement regulations of entry. As soon
    as I have quitted from a port I was stunned, as though in other world have hitted. Machines go
    on a left side of road, the distance is meant in miles. I have arrived late at night, have
    quitted on a road and in 5 minutes the police approaches{drops in}. Have verified documents,
    and I ask them: " Where you go? ", they is amazed look at me: " And we for thee wanted to ask
    it ".  have taken exchange to the nearest city of 12 kms. On the Auto station. There I
    have spent the night and by the first bus have gone in the London. In the London practically
    looked nothing, at once has gone to International Student's Camp.
    
    I arrive in camp I go to reception to the secretary, and me as an eye-bolt on a head: " the
    Young man you have no right to work in England for you the visa tourist ". Well for exchange
    was address one clandestine camps... There Was I here for one night, to people in camp 1600
    person (400-500 only one Russian), cheerfully to rest is where - a bar, basin in the open air,
    football, tennis, a pool, on days off a discoteque and flock of fines breezes.
    
    For a following morning I have departed to a path{route}, it was necessary to drive 70 kms. Is
    a nonsense, but on cross-country roads  it is hard. After a dinner I have come in
    clandestine camp. Conditions there normal - you want live in a hostel, you want - in a tent
    small town (the tent can be hired), every day bring and bring from activity, feed in a dining
    room some times in day, since evening all are briefed about a volume where they will work next
    day. Activity basically on fields: to retract salad, a potato (on ), a hautbois
    strawberry to tear weeds to collect apples, plums and many other things; it happens and at
    factories: packing of vegetables for supermarkets.
    
    The unique case is that work the first week, money for it{her} receive{obtain}, only when will
    fulfil the second week, etc. Thus in camp of all made a fool, therefore as there is 1
    outstanding week, the person leaves to him speak: " You be not stirred we to you money we shall
    send in a week home ". As they say write letters... 
    
    In total I worked in this camp 3 months. On course of business while there was, has purchased
    machine Ford " Granada ", on that moment of 10-years limitation. The price ridiculous - 80
    pounds. Traveled on her across England on how much it it was possible. First it was unusual to
    sit at a control surface on the right, but through a pair of hours has had, by the way, before
    leaving I of her{it} have presented guys in camp. 
    
    And so, when leaved, as well as all has said - home, but not here that was, has decided to see
    Scotland, has reached Petersburg, has parked on parking about a supermarket and further has
    gone the Automatic stop in .
    
    For the second day by the evening I mastered city.  I have not found, but passing through
    one park have seen a brome grass, the hugest tent and the cheerful company (they had any
    share). They exchange have well accepted, so I for them have lived 3 days, and I was knocked
    with their fairness, leaving on all the day to walk I abandoned all things in tent: and nobody
    tampered with them.
    
    Happy end 
    What surprise of a host of camp was when I have returned back, visors the salary and have
    successfully returned to Riga.
    
    original is here http://www.kembr.com/en/story.htm
     
    -- 
    Best regards,
     Alex                          mailto:kembr@mail.ru
    Visit my website                http://www.kembr.com

    ``````````UUUUU`````````

    Hi Mike,
    
    My story is from my blog, www.projecthitchhiker.com  
    
    - Michael Henman, age 25, Osaka, Japan
    
    Upon Meeting The 100% Perfect Moncton Girl 
    
    Summertime when you're nineteen. A beautiful thing, that. 

    I was hitchhiking to Montreal, but I left so late the first day I only made it to Moncton, a two hour drive away.

    No money, no ATM card, and definitely no credit card. That was what I had decided for the trip. For some reason, I felt like I needed a challenge. Hitchhiking to Montreal every couple of weeks was starting to feel routine. The adventure was wearing off a little. I decided I would bring only my guitar and clothes. If I was going to eat, I had to play my guitar busk for it.

    It was about seven p.m. when I got dropped off in Moncton. I walked down Main Street to the underpass, where the down town seemed to peter out, then back where I started the restaurant with the big lobster in front. There wasn't much going on in this town. It looked like it might be a difficult night to busk, and I thought about the possibility of a hungry night without dinner. Was it a bad idea not to bring money? I was starting to doubt my adventurous side.

    I sat on a rock wall in the busiest section of the street (which was far from busy), and people-watched, until the darkness brought a little nervous energy to the street. More people started walking by, and a vendor even showed up to sell hotdogs near where I was sitting. He asked me about my guitar: "You gonna play that thing, or just sit there doin' nothing?" My body language must have given away my reluctance to play. I pulled out the guitar and asked him what he wanted to hear. "Play some Guns and Roses something off the Illusion albums." I opened up my songbook and played a poor rendition of Don't Cry, with the vendor joining me on the chorus, and mumbling through the rest. I stopped after the second chorus and he seemed pleased with my playing.

    "Not bad. My name's John. Here, have a hot dog, on the house." I thanked him, and told him about my plans to go to Montreal, and about how I left too late in the day to get any further than here. "Bad place to get stuck in Moncton. But it is Friday night, and there's a big concert down the road there, so come midnight there'll be quite the buzz downtown." He pointed to a road that went down to the water.

    John was a burly man, probably around 35, with a strange air about him that sometimes showed confidence, and other times timidness. Like he had been confident, but was humbled by something or someone, and hadn't quite recovered.

    John and I had a pretty good setup. I would play a song, usually something he chose, and a few people walking by would slow down enough to ponder how good John's hotdogs smelled. He would reward me with another hotdog whenever I would take a break.

    At about 11:30, sure as John had said, all the people we had seen driving down the side street near us a few hours before, suddenly appeared. Traffic was wild, and the streets were suddenly filled with people. Most of them drunk. That suited me just fine, people were dropping in toonies, loonies and an occasional fiver into my guitar case. I gained confidence, especially when people saw my song book, a compilation of lyrics from songs that friends had asked me to learn in the past few years. I started telling people who stopped that I was hosting street karaoke "I play, you sing!" It was great. A twenty something couple did Mr. Jones by the Counting Crows his singing was in key, hers was more like a dog's squeaky toy, but they had fun. Three college guys did a great job of a Blue Rodeo song, Five Days in May and each threw in toonies and thanked me.

    Why had I been scared to get started? Business was great. A few people had gathered around some buying hotdogs, and others looking through my songbook for a song to sing next. I started into one of my favorites, while I waited for the girls to pick the next song..

    I played the opening chords to Bobcaygeon by The Tragically Hip. "I left your house this morning." and I happened to see something out of the corner of my eye. A girl crossing the street. Not just any girl, she had an energy about her walk in her eyes that hit me hard. I choked out the rest of the first line as she approached the group "about a quarter after nine"

    She was smiling with her whole face. Not really with her mouth, more with her eyes. She was staring at me, not dropping her eyes for a second, as she walked through the semi-circle of music fans. I didn't dare break eye contact. She stopped less than a meter away, now face to face, and sang a beautiful harmony on the second line: "could have been the Willie Nelson could have been the wine" I don't remember anything about her clothes, only that her eyes, her smile, her voice, were the most fascinating things I had encountered in my 19 years.

    The rest of the song passed like a split-second, and I don't think we ever lost eye contact. It was like I was in a trance. I didn't have to think about the lyrics like I usually did, they just came out when I opened my mouth. It was like the song was just flowing.

    Went back to bed this morning

    and as I'm pulling down the blind

    The sky was dull and hypothetical

    and falling one cloud at a time

    Then it was over, the last line of the song: "Cause it was in Bobcaygeon where I saw the constellations.
    reveal themselves, one star at a time" Our eyes still on each others, she smiled a nervous smile as I ended on a resonating G chord.

    The crowd clapped. She looked at the ground. I had been lost, looking at her eyes, and my face turned red when I realized there were other people watching us. It was like we had shared an intimate moment, and then found out someone had been watching through a keyhole. She looked around at the people watching, looked back at me quickly and then to her wristwatch. "I I've got to go" She said. "Thanks for that." and she walked quickly past the watchers. I stood speechless as she picked up her pace to a hurried walk down towards the underpass.

    John walked over quickly from his hotdog stand. "Man! Did you know her? That was some chemistry I've never seen anything like that! Why didn't you say anything to her?!" I stuttered. "No, I don't know her WowUm, what just happened?" I was confused. John grabbed my guitar. "What are you doing? Go run after her! At least find out her name!" Startled, I walked off quickly the way she left, before he finished his sentence. I picked up speed, but could hear the small crowd talking to John as I walked off, "man, that was the most amazing thing I've ever seen on the street" and "What a beautiful song they must have known each other "

    I walked faster, my mind racing, doubt creeping in. What was I going to say when I caught up with her? What if she told me to get lost?

    What if we fell in love? I stopped. I looked around, down the side street that I thought I had seen her turn down, away from the river. Nothing. I looked quickly further down Main Street, and couldn't see her. I ran down the sidestreet, and yelled "wait!" An older couple turned and gave me a look like I was crazy. She was gone.

    I turned and walked back to the main street. John was there, talking with a happy young couple, who looked like they'd had a few beers, and putting their hotdogs on buns. As soon as he saw me he ignored them. "Mike! What happened? Did you get her name?"

    I kept walking over and sat on the rock wall beside him. "She was gone. I don't know. I should have said something Anything Fuck."

    John finished serving his customer, walked over to me and sat down next to me on the stone wall. "Man. I don't know what to say. I don't think I've ever seen anything like that in all my days of selling hotdogs. She was something else, that one."

    "Yeah" was all I could say.

    I have a theory about relationships that I've adopted from a girl I once dated. I call it vase theory. I imagine a small room, and all the walls in the room are shelves. Each relationship I've been in, from a one-night stand to a long-term partner, is a vase on the shelf. Some vases are bigger, and easier to reach, some are high up on the shelf, and others are just cracked pieces on the floor, and every one is different. The vase for my Moncton girl is on one of the highest shelves. From where I'm standing, it looks small and perfect, but I can't really tell from so far away. It's painted with little intricate designs in dark blues and rich reds. The other vases I can take down and look at, but not this one. I can't reach it.

    When I told the story to my friends in Montreal, they told me I should put an ad in the paper or online, so she might see it and we could meet. I never did. I think I just like having that one perfect vase, up on the shelf and no ladder to ever reach it.



    --
    "You can't wait for inspiration, you have to hunt it down and flank it with a club" -- Hunter S. Thompson  (also variously credited to Jack London; either way, it's a sound quote)

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    last up date 9/30/07

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