• The Nobody Hitchhikes Anymore Guide to Holiday Shopping

    When I set out to cross the country by thumb earlier this year, almost everyone I know was convinced that harm would find me out there on the road. One dear friend followed up on every post before I left by pleading with me not to go. He was certain that I would be assaulted, probably killed, maybe dismembered. So pervasive is our fear of the unknown. What, you may wonder, does this have to do with holiday shopping? Lately I’ve been bombarded with ads for a device that promises to assist me in escaping from a car before it sinks in a pond (this scenario presumes I have recently…

  • Close to Home

    John held on to the grocery cart with both hands. He stood by the automatic exit door at Wegmans Onondaga Blvd, off to one side. He spoke in a voice barely above a whisper, so softly that I was out in the parking lot before I realized what he was saying. “Can you give me a ride home? I’m right nearby.” I must have heard him because I heard myself, saying, automatically, accurately, but not truthfully, that I had to get back to work. Before I reached the car, I started to ask myself if I really was in such a hurry. As I unloaded my necessary but certainly not…

  • Some People Pick you up Without Giving you a Ride

    June 1, 2018 After you spend enough hours on the roadside, you can start to feel a need to shake it up a little. You can start to get superstitious, like a gambler who fingers a button on his sports jacket or a ballplayer who circles the plate before stepping into the batter’s box. You start to glorify rituals. Posture. Positioning. The angle of the hat. Am I squinting? Why do they keep driving right past me? If I can just figure out what’s in the mind of each of those drivers passing by, maybe I can alter my routine and magically, the next car will stop. And if that…

  • With a Little Help from my Friends

    May 18, 2018   A Little Help From My Friends   When you’re at the edge of Omaha watching the parade of cars go by or standing by the ramp in Peoria as a thunderstorm approaches, you realize something. You were dumped here by chance. In those towns where I had friends, I had an advantage. Not just a warm shower and a cold beer, but knowledge of the territory. In Buffalo, in Cleveland, Lexington, and now in Fort Collins, I’m able to rely on friends or family who can get me from the highway when I arrive and drop me off at a good hitching location when it’s time…

  • Steamboat to Craig

    May 31, 2018 One way to look at this day is to say that I covered 41.7 miles from the time I woke up in Steamboat Springs at 4:30 AM until the time I gave up on the side of the road on Rt. 40 West, in Craig, CO, a coal and ranching community of about 8900 souls, and called it a night. I’m still 120 miles from Vernal, Utah, which is 172 miles east of Salt Lake City. Once I reach Salt Lake I’d kinda like to truck on to San Francisco, a mere 735 miles further along. And I’ve got a sunburn. And I ate potato chips and…

  • On the Edge – From Craig to the Western High Plains of Colorado

    Whoever it was that called Colorado the easiest state for hitchhiking has never been to Craig. Craig, I was told by a fellow in Steamboat, is down on its luck. It’s coal country and proud of it. The local paper had a story this morning about a budget crisis in Moffat County. Craig is that county’s seat. Funding for the Museum of Northwest Colorado may be on the chopping block. The largest source of funding comes from the mineral leases that the Museum owns and sublets to what they refer to here as “extractive industries”. So if your Eastern ears reflexively shut down and dismiss concerns of people who make…

  • Gracias

    Rob, Kim, Mark, Rick, Steve, Dave, Rogo, Sean, John, Portia, Karl, Jim, Gordon, Lydia and the kids, Morgan, Mike and Nancy, Pat, Karin, John, Ricardo, Deb, TJ, James, Steve, Adam, Scott, Rob, Rick, Danica, Ron, Officer Mejias-Stevens, Naz, Jamie, Richard, Val, and Casey, Tom, Jeff, Will, Tara Lee and Jesse. Thank you. I didn’t set out for California. I didn’t set out to prove anything. I just set out to find you, and I did. So I thank you. And to my constant companion on the road, Caroline. I couldn’t have done it without you. I’m flying home today. I promised someone a new lawnmower. And I have to honor these people by telling their…

  • Rocky Mountain Hitching

    Yesterday started and ended beautifully. My morning began in Fort Collins, the lovely college town on the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains where my son Rob has been working on his PhD in plant physiology for the past four years. He studies the impact of drought and changes in precipitation patterns on different species of grasses. In between publishing articles with titles like, “Trait selection and community weighting are key to understanding ecosystem responses to changing precipitation regimes”, in the journal “Functional Ecology,” Rob finds time to hike and camp and rock climb, and has a number of very cool friends. He also lives in a home with a…