Great people in SLC, a day hitch to Jackson Hole
Everyone I met in Salt Lake City was great, it was Candice's place, I found her through couchsurfing.com, a truly great person. Staying with her was Kayla, a girl enthusiastic about life and the changes happening in hers. Within an hour or so of arriving we were at a bar with great food and a double sided beer menu, I instantly fell in love with these beer loving souls. The whole lot of people were interesting and in love with travel, in love with life.
I decided to stay an extra night to give myself a full day in Utah with everyone, I took the afternoon with Kayla walking around the neighborhood talking about our ideas of life and the way things were going, we were decidedly happy and hungry for more, ideas of hitching from Denver to the east coast sparked our interests.
Kayla went on a cleaning frenzy, and eventually Kayla came home from work, after some praise for Kayla's deep clean (she has a cleaning business back in Rhode Island, so she's pretty good) and a quick smoke, we were off on a beer run, we picked up a couple six packs and some wine. We started with the wine while the beers chilled in the freezer, it was all great. We talked the night away, laughing at one thing and philosophizing about another until we all faded to sleep.
In the morning I woke up early and was ready to go, Candice slept in a bit, it would make her late for work, but it wouldn't matter. I hopped in the car with her on her way to work so she could drop me near the interstate so I could start hitchhiking to Jackson, I wanted to make it in one day, I would. On the car ride we decided a trip all the way down to the lower tip of south america would serve us well come the new year, we talked about the countries we could hitch through, where we could possibly stay, looping back up, our spanish speaking, and the idea that just going was really the thing to do, planning or not, money or not. That's the style I love, it excited her, it excited a lot of people in Salt Lake, it through more fuel on the fire I've been blazing the past year.
I hopped out of the car and said goodbye, her eyes looked back at me something pure, something excited, something peaceful. Eyes like that always get me spinning, so does the beginning of a day long hitch, I floated down the street in search for my on ramp. I'll likely be seeing a handful of these Salt Lake folk in Vegas in a week, my free room there is getting fuller by the day and couldn't be better.
After some weaving through town I found myself thumb out on the I-15 North entrance, it wasn't long before an SUV stopped, a guy who gear to eye doctors. "You're clean shaven, that's why I picked you up!", I have a full beard going, but he knew what he said and I knew what he meant. We made a stop and he got me some coffee and breakfast at a gas station. Back in the car he had more questions about life on the road, "So do you get pussy on the road?!", I started to answer, "Yea, here and again...", he cut me of as he slapped the dashboard a few times, "He's getting pussy, on the road! He's getting pussy on the road!", that was enough for him. He got me a ways up the road and let me out with a ten dollar bill.
My next ride came from a husband wife and daughter in a car seat who sat in the back with me, his english was decent and we talked for a bit, I had some candy from a halloween pumpkin bag and slept in and out of sleep as we cruised up I-15, they dropped me off on the freeway an hour into Utah when they had to turn off. I walked up to the next on ramp and waited for another ride, a cop was the first to stop 30 or 40 minutes in. He ran my ID and asked some questions, the usual deal, then told me passively I couldn't be signally or soliciting rides in Idaho, no thumbing, no signs. I asked if it was ok to walk on the freeway in the shoulder, he said I could as long as I was safe.
Walk I did, careful about thumbing, I didn't want him to drive by again. After a ways of walking and an hour or so ticked off the clock a woman pulled into the shoulder, instantly drunk and out of it, I hopped in and she warned me of the cops that would hassle me, I'd already learned this. She handed me a beer from the center console and I chugged it by the time she dropped me just several miles up the road. I walked some more and a local guy stopped for me, he worked for a company that worked on the engines for a lot of the ski lifts in the area, he got me just a bit more up the road, 45 miles still south of Idaho Falls where I'd want to turn east towards Jackson.
My next ride came quicker than the others, a pickup truck with a woman and her son driving on route to take a urine test with his parole officer in Idaho Falls, he was drinking a lot of water and a special "test clean" kind of drink to hide whatever needed hiding in his piss. They were no strangers to hitchhikers, they were sure to get me into town and well onto the next road I needed to be on in a good spot, a small detour for them that saved me possibly hours of walking through town to switch to the smaller road that leads to Jackson.
I walked down the road thumbing the cars, my shadow stretching half way down the block as a reminder that daylight would soon be gone, along with all hints of warmth. A couple picked me up and took me 10 or 20 miles up to a gas station, from across the street I watched the sun disappear as I thumbed the headlights passing me by, the sky was still reflecting orange and pink remnants for a barely usable dim light, the warmth was completely gone now though.
A car stopped just as darkness was to completely take over, he was headed just about all the way to Jackson. He told me about his oil trucking job he didn't like all too much, he told me about hitchhiking in Argentina where he was from, we sailed over the pass and close to Jackson, he dropped me at Hoback Junction, a spot just outside Jackson. I stood under the street light with my thumb until a guy stopped for me, he handed me a beer and said he wasn't going all the way into town, I was happy to inch closer, he went a little further past his home to get me to a good intersection. From there I was picked up instantly, out of his car and into another before the first pulled away, the driver of this car new my uncle who lived in town, he dropped me just 10 miles or less from where I was headed in Teton Village.
It wasn't long before I was picked up where he left me by a couple seasonal guys about my age working the lifts at the ski mountain, the dropped me right in front of the Teton Club where my folks stay, so I headed up and was greeted by family members I hadn't seen in a while, and it turned out I beat the rest of the family there, hitching is faster than flying as it turns out, but they arrived soon enough. A couple days and turkey in Jackson will do me good, laced with my excitement for the weeks to come, good times yield to great times.