The Real Hitch

Trip Start May 15, 2004
Trip End Aug 09, 2004

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Flag of United States  , Illinois
Tuesday, July 6, 2004

So here was the real test. The only hitch I had done was a 3 hour car ride on a single interstate. Now I was heading east a thousand miles. Nell was nice enough to drive me up to Cheyenne so I could be on I-80 and just try to catch a ride east. We parted ways at a truck stop on the interstate.

We had decided to take a last minute trip up to the Rockies again that morning. That's when we shot those yoga photos. So it was after 3:00 in the afternoon when Nell drove off. I was armed with a piece of poster board that said "EAST" on one side and "CHICAGO" on the other. I had also purchased a tent and a sleeping bag in case I spent a night or two on the side of the road.

I was too stupid to be very nervous. I knew I led a charmed life and that everything would be fine.

After 30 minutes of trucks ignoring me on their way out the truck stop, I got a little worried. But just then a guy pulled in and motioned me over.

I asked him if I could catch a ride, he said sure. He asked where I was headed, I said Chicago. He nodded. I asked how far he could take me, he said "All the Way."

See. Charmed. We drove all the way to Iowa that night. I learned all about trucks and my new buddy Rex. Rex. Isn't that a great trucker name?

This guy had done it all. He had worked on a tobacco farm, been in several bands, built peers on Lake Michigan, traveled with the carnival. Yep. A Carnie. Fantastic.

I told him I was in college and traveling around the country. He told me I should take some time off and work for the carnival for a year. He said that's where all the chicks are at (not in those words). I didn't realize that Carnies did so well with the ladies.

So Rex pulled into a truck stop at about 10 p.m. I mentioned that I had my tent and would need a place to camp. He pointed to the extra bunk bed in the cab and said I was welcome to crash in it. I thought about all the stories I had heard of hitch hikers disappearing or being murdered. I thought about how everyone I had told of my plans to hitch around the country had assured me I would die.

I thought about how Rex hadn't shaved or bathed in quite some time and I hoped he wouldn't climb into my bunk and want to cuddle. Yeah...cuddle.

But I didn't want to turn down his hospitality. He seemed like a good guy. Plus, like I had told my mother, "You have faith in God, I have faith in humanity." Only time will tell how misguided either of us is. But since I was about to sleep in the cab of a strangers semi-truck in Iowa, I might find out sooner.

Well, the bed had a lot of dirty clothes in it and I didn't sleep real well. But I did sleep enough. And I did live to see another day.

See. No worries.

Rex drove me all the way into Illinois on Intersate 80. He had to turn north and head toward Green Bay, Wisconsin. So I called Ed and had him head west on 80 an hour and pick me up. So I hitched 1000 miles east, it took less than 24 hours, and I was alive and had a new story to tell. What are the chances?
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