• 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…

  • What does your Wife Think?

    That is the most commonly asked question. There is an alternate phrasing, usually posed to Ellen – how can you let him do this? Her answer – do you think I could stop him? And then there are those people who ask straight up if my wife thinks I am crazy, to which I reply, as does she, that this has been known for quite some  time. I’ve been talking about this trip forever. Any time Joe comes to visit or we see him for any reason references to the summer of ’78 come up. It was an opening up to the world for both of us.  And as I’ve…

  • The Golden Arches

    In my pack I carry raisins, a chunk of summer sausage, and dozens of wild cherry Life Savers. In a side pouch I have a 1.5 liter unbreakable water bottle that my friend William gave me as a parting gift. There have been a few times when nibbling on the sausage has kept hunger at bay. For everything else, there’s McDonald’s. Yes,  I know that I can find healthier food, and I should support local restaurants, but thus far none of those healthy locavores have set up any place near the ramps and roadways that I’ve been practically living on the past two weeks. Right now I am sitting with…

  • You have to Smile and Wave

    It’s part of the deal. “You don’t catch a ride with your thumb,” says Juan Villarino, who has hitched more than 100,000 miles, “You catch it with a smile.” Villarino was profiled in this New York Times story earlier this year World’s Greatest Hitch Hiker and while I agree with his notion of the importance of smiling, I disagree with the Times’ headline – his girlfriend Laura Lazzarino seems to me much more deserving of that title. You can catch her adventures on her blog ViajesDeNena So much in this journey is out of my control. When I spent two days stuck on the side of the road in Omaha,…

  • Peoria and West

    Peoria Video   I decamped from the food court in Peoria’s Northwoods Mall to find the parking lot soaked and still draining from a heavy rain. Toying with the idea of walking up the ramp closer to the highway, I was looking for a way through a fence when the sky lit up. More lightning. It did not seem wise to climb a metal fence in order to stand on the side of a highway where the tallest object in sight would be me. Instead I stepped into the lobby of a roadside Marriot, where the kind lady at the desk let me sit for a bit while I called…

  • A Day at the Office

    Yesterday I was almost gave up at the entrance ramp of 43 North in Indiana. Steven had dropped me off there, but the lay of the land was not in my favor. Most of the cars appeared to be families picking up their sons or daughters from Purdue University, just five miles away. Full vehicles and families are usually not going to stop. Then there was the bend in the entrance ramp, which made it tough for a truck, or any vehicle, to safely pull over. Sometimes you just get dealt bad cards. It was getting warmer, and the shade was getting scarce. I have a  routine when I get…

  • Heroin Highway

    It wasn’t long that I was walking with my sign on Rt. 5 right near Silver Creek, when a very old red Ford pickup pulled over. You can never be sure if they are stopping for you or for some other reason. I had my backpack on already, so I picked up the pace and made my way toward the truck, hoping it would not pull away. The slider window opened. A boot dropped out from the cab into the bed. Then another boot. That was followed by a raincoat, some trash bags, a good number of aluminum cans and assorted other junk. I took this as a good sign.…

  • Practically Pennsylvania

    The Empire State was good to me. I managed to get all the way to Pennsylvania on the back roads. And I only met three cops.   John After coffee and a bagel sandwich, Sean Kirst drove me from downtown Buffalo to the village of Hamburg, and left me at a park just yards from Lake Erie. When you’re with a guy like Sean, who is so full of stories, you feel like you’re sunbathing or soaking in a pond on a summer day – you just want to absorb all the knowledge and wisdom he has to offer. It was pretty much like that from the time he picked…