Home > hitchhiking, travel > Up North Part 4 – riding and writing

Up North Part 4 – riding and writing

I woke up early, showered (didn’t much need one but didn’t know when I might get another), ate an apple and walked to the highway. You have to maximize your daylight when hitching and early morning is the best time of day to catch rides. No one thinks they are going to get robbed at 7 am. I drew jack-o-lanterns on my sign for luck. A nice older gent who was only going to the next exit to a used tractor sale stopped and picked me up shortly. We barely had time to learn that and to remark on the cold before the ride is done.

I settled my pack made a few smiles and showed the sign. It’s a slow exit though, a lot of dead time, so I  pulled the red steno pad out of my back left pocket where I had jotted down the plate number yesterday. On the first page I wrote: “10/19/01

“Waiting. I am standing next to the sign that says Motor Vehicles Only. My pack is propped jauntily against it. Silent testimony that I’d be walking if it wasn’t illegal. I am in Harrison Michigan, home of Michigan’s first road side attraction. A grizzled old bear baiter whose picture is hanging at the local Burger King. It closed in 1970 and only the ruins remain. My sign reads Up North Please, the please is important. More than once a ride has told me

Two guys in a pickup truck pulled over in front of me, shuffled some stuff and squeezed together to make me room as I tucked away the steno pad and threw my pack in the back. They were enjoying their day off and were on their way to pick up a snow machine. They both remarked on the cold. I told them as long as it doesn’t rain on me I’m fine with the cold. “It thins out the crowds.”  

It was another short ride and I was again dropped in the middle of nowhere so I pulled back out the steno pad and wrote: “Narrative interrupted on account of a ride. A beautiful thing as I was growing tired of Harrison. It was getting hard to smile. Smiling is even more important than saying please. Hitching is like fishing and you bait your hook with your smile, your sign, and your overall appearance. Mostly its only the truly desperate who hitch anymore. Poor guys going to work, looking for work, and the mentally ill.

I wrote slowly stopping to look up and smile at the occasional passing car. I was pleasantly surprised when a brown van pulled over before I could write a paragraph. I walked up to the front and opened the passenger door and was met with furious barking and gnashing of small bright teeth. “Watch out, she’s a biter”, the driver said as he pulled back the ferocious little pudgy daschund. I slipped my bag in the back and we were off.

The driver was a chubby guy in his 50s and his wife had shuffled in the back when the y picked me up. After we introduced ourselves the driver said he wished he had one to burn with me. I concurred and added it’s too risky to carry in these troubled times when you have an ambiguous relationship with the law. He discussed the finer points of probable cause to which I could only agree but I added “Your in jail nonetheless.”

Moving on he asked me where I was heading. I told him I planned to hitch Up North to get away from everything and camp away from “all this” I added at a loss for words. He told me: “Solitude is the essence of sanity.”



Categories: hitchhiking, travel
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