Home > hitchhiking, religeon, travel > Up North part 1: getting started

Up North part 1: getting started



On Thursday morning I had Amee drop me off on what I thought was 27 North, just north of the I-69 loop. Turned out it was Old/Business 27. I found out at the Marathon Station 27 was a mile East of there up 69. I stood by the on ramp for about half an hour watching the commuters tear by with looks of disdain on their faces. The gas station attendant had said Old 27 rejoins 27 about 2o miles north so I started walking.

About 11:00 I was getting pretty tired and hungry when I spied the Knob Hill tavern. They were just opening up for the day and the smell of bleach was strong in the air. I ordered a Coke, lit a smoke and looked at the menu. I had been a vegetarian again for a couple of years but I ordered the half pound Olive Burger with some fries, as a grilled cheese was not going to cut it, and honestly I was a little mad at the world.

I was the only customer and management was cleaning and putting things out so I turned my attention to The Price is Right, my eyes drawn to the light gleaming from Bob Barker’s feaux leather shoes. The hand woven rug I nailed at $1,400 and knew I was in the zone, had found the flow. Hitchhiking can do that, even when you haven’t gotten a ride. There’s a spirit to it, a survival focus, a different way of looking at the world, of looking at life.

I turned my attention to the second customer of the day who entered large. He ordered “liquor” as a beer would not warm him up as he had already tried that. As the barmaid poured a shot I set aside the fact that the gentleman was on his second drink, at least, at 11:15 and struck up a conversation in hopes of humanizing myself enough to be offered a ride. I said I’d been walking and worked up a sweat and now I was freezing. A hustler I am not but I have come to terms with putting myself in a position to be offered things I would like to have.

He didn’t offer me a ride but he mentioned he’d seen 14 deer that morning and I reflected on my long morning walk through deer country without spying nary a one. I did see two big dogs about half an hour later. You see what you’re looking for mostly and my gaze was mostly within. I also spied a sign St. Johns 5 Miles. That meant I had walked nine miles and impressing a passer by with my diligent walking was not going to catch me a ride on Old 27 so I headed off down a country road the sign said led to US 27. In a couple of miles it did.

There was a sign, Sleepy Hollow State Park 6 Miles, with an arrow to the East so I figured I’d give it a couple more hours and then hoof it down to Sleepy Hollow. I was hitchhiking Up North to camp and if I only made it 15 miles, and walked all of that, so what. I sat down on a guard rail near the sleepy on ramp and decided to jazz up my hastily drawn sign I’d whipped out at the Marathon Station back in Lansing. I drew thick black lines around UP North and I squeezed in a small please at the bottom.

As I filled in, a wild eyed but gentle young man walked up. I had just come to terms with never getting a ride and saw my chances plummet as it is more than twice as hard for two gents to get a ride than one, especially for we of the wild eyed sort. Then I remembered I didn’t need to get a ride and no cars were coming to this dead exit without services anyway. He asked me for a cigarette and said he was out walking picking up butts off the side of the road. My heart softened as I thought about this young madman isolated in the country without even the dubious comfort of a cigarette.

I said, “in that case you’d better take two.”

He asked me where I was headed and I told him I was hiking north to camp and write poetry. He told me he liked riddles and puns and word games on account of his name being Dan. Not following I asked him to explain.

“You know in Yankee Doodle Dandy, he calls a feather a macaroni”. He went on to say Daniel was a hard name to live up to meaning blessed by God. And then there was Daniel the prophet who gone and got himself thrown in the lion’s den and all that. In the pause as we drew on our smokes I told him I had been reading Daniel chapter 7 the night before last and it was some pretty heavy stuff.

“You see Daniel has this dream of four ‘great beasts’ that are really empires with iron teeth who eat their victims, crushes them, and tramples the remains underfoot.” I quoted: “The fourth beast is to be a fourth kingdom on earth, different from all other kingdoms. It will devour the whole world, trample it underfoot and crush it…. He will plan to alter the seasons and the Law.”“And that’s what we’ve done Daniel, altered the seasons, we’ve broken the weather”.  He sagely agreed but it appeared neither of us felt much a part of it, though we talked freely of living in a great beast. There is a separation that comes with madness, much akin with the disengagement Buddhists seek, I believe. The conversation moved on to the meanings of our names by our second smoke, until it was interrupted by a late model sedan pulling over to be my first ride of the day, and I said goodbye to Daniel Thomas Faivor, truly believing he was blessed by God and praying this increasingly cruel world would be gentle with him.

Categories: hitchhiking, religeon, travel
  1. redred
    October 8, 2009 at 1:17 am

    Daniel Thomas Faivor is my brother. He lives about a mile douwn the road from where you met him. He was quit normal entill he graduated from high school, then his mind went. He scares alot of people but he is quit harmless, enless he feels threated. Ciggs. are his life. We don’t give him any because he will chain smoke entill they were gone, reguardless the amount. If you went to the same spot tomarrow there, is a very good chance you would see him again doing the same thing. Its a sorry life. Thank you for being kind to him.

  2. Mike
    October 8, 2009 at 2:21 am

    Thank you for the comment Redred. Thomas really made an impact on me and really set the tone for the whole trip/writing experiment. He added this spiritual development aspect that i really needed to not just fall into a petty self pity. My grandmother had severe and mostly untreated schizophrenia and i know how difficult it can be for families and painful for the individual. When my madness set in i took a lot of solace in cigarettes and chain smoked any i could get my hands on. I quit smoking 8 months ago. Tonight i did a training on recovery from tobacco addiction and learned 90% of individuals with schizophrenia smoke. Your comment also raises a point i wrestle with which is using people’s names in my writing. mostly i do it to honor the truth. daniel i think is a pretty exceptional guy that people should know about. i appreciate the back story and the care you have looking out for your brother. please give my regards to daniel and thank you for reaching out.

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