Saturday, October 24, 2009

bus trip & hitch hiking stories

 Not only does my bus commute give me time to read or write, or just gaze out the window, but it also gives me a chance to be with a lot of people where I can hear their stories or watch them with their kids or whatever. I love to observe. 

A few days ago while on my commute, two guys got on at the local bus exchange. At first I didn't realize they were together because one guy got on the bus, wearing a woollen checked jacket and had a blue bandana around his head with his blonde hair sticking out of the top, and took up at least a couple of seats to himself at the front of the bus. He carried a large black umbrella with a curved wooden handle. It didn't seem to fit with the rest of his look, but maybe someone loaned it to him because it was absolutely pouring outside.

His buddy hustled for the bus just as it was about to leave. He unloaded his overstuffed full sized pack (camping gear?) onto the seat next to the bandana guy, and paid the driver. This second guy had long dreadlocks (like the ones db use to have, I thought. hehe) and was already pretty damp from the rain. After getting his transfer he set a sign down, made out of a carboard box, on the seat next to his pack that had printed, in black sharpie, "Kamloops. please." There was a drawing of a friendly looking sun up in the corner with eyelashes, gazing down at the word Kamloops and presumably at the snowcapped mountains and fluffy cloud that was also drawn on the sign.  Who actually made the sign? It looked a bit "pretty" for these two guys, mainly because of the eyelashes on the friendly sun, but then again I could be dead wrong (I often am). I tried to imagine them sitting somewhere drier the night before and constructing their sign for the next day's journey.

As the bus sped along the highway, they discussed ramp exits to the trans Canada. They eyed a couple of spots they might like to try because of its proximity to the bridge. I felt like interrupting to suggest that they wait until the end of the route since the trans Canada exit is really close to the skytrain station, but they didn't seem to be ready to get off the bus so I let it be. Also, I felt like I'd be imposing on their journey and their plans that they made.

I thought about Planetwalker and his incredible journey walking across the States without speaking a word. He didn't hitchhike because he refused to take any vehicle that depended on oil for its fuel. I marvel at his life, and the change it took for him to embark on such a journey. It eventually led him to graduate school, culminating in a job in Washington. One man set out to simply make a pilgrimage to raise awareness about the environment, and ended up determining the rest of his life.

I'm not suggesting that these hitchhikers were on such a journey, but it did also lead me to think about adventure. For a moment I missed my hitch hiking days. It was just some nostalgia I was feeling, but I did enjoy hitch hiking when I was young (sp, the teenage years). I almost always hitched with a friend who was a boy because it felt safer, but I loved the adventure of making a plan to go somewhere with next to no money in your pocket and relying on the kindness of others to get you to your destination.

Growing up in rural New Brunswick pretty much made all roads hitch hiker friendly. In the country, if someone picked me up that I didn't know, they almost always knew who I was (the potter's daughter), and they would dutifully drop me at my house as if giving a friend a ride home.

Outside of that community, I hitch hiked into Saint John, to Moncton, or to Halifax. Those were the big destinations. Saint John was a 20 minute drive. The time went quickly. Moncton could be a little trickier. For some reason it was always a little more difficult to get to. There was one turn off that you hoped not to get dropped at because it was like a no-man's-land. Halifax was a long haul, but it could always be completed in a day.

One time two friends and I had hitchhiked to Halifax to see some friends and go to a concert. One friend thought we'd better go home that night! (He may have been under the influence of something). Why did I go along with this? I don't know. I do remember arguing with him, but eventually agreeing to go because the three of us travelled together and we agreed to stick together. Plus I didn't want to have to hitch alone the next day.

We headed out of Halifax at 10 o'clock at night (foolish kids). We got a short drive to nowhere, and were then stuck out on the highway near midnight. Well done. There weren't a lot of cars passing by, nor a lot of anything. Eventually we did get a ride. A middle aged man in a large warm and comfy car picked us up. When he heard our plan, he tried to reason with us. My one friend was pretty determined to go home that night, but eventually the driver got through to him. He offered to let us stay with him and then would drive us to the highway in the morning. Um...we declined. We may have been stupid enough to hitchhike that late at night, but we weren't stupid enough to go to a stranger's house.

When the driver realized that we weren't comfortable with that. He offered to pay for a motel room for us. Still we were hesitant, but we were also tired. We agreed, but I admit that we did share some concerned looks when he pulled off the highway into Truro.

As promised, he bought us a room. It was big enough so we could each have our own bed as well. It was incredibly generous. We did get his info in case we were able to scratch together the money to pay him back. I doubt we ever did. I still remember the complete relief when my head hit the pillow. I also remember the long walk back to the highway the next morning.

1 comment:

Wandering Coyote said...

That's a great story! I've never hitch-hiked and I don't think I would in this day & age.