Hopping from Phoenix to Salt Lake City
A lot got done in Phoenix as far Trip Hopping goes, we made improvements on the site and everything behind it, but I of course eventually headed for the road heading north. New shoes too, I've finally retired my well served pair of keens and have slipped into the cheap work boots I bought one time at Larry's in Phoenix when I worked construction with his for a couple weeks. The shoes stench reached an undesirable point, and an attempt to clean them with a high powered pressure washer did them in, their time had come.
I was dropped off at an on ramp at the north end of Phoenix, I stood in my new boots with my thumb enticing the cars the drove by. After a bit of waiting, a woman came walking towards me with a purse and a cup, but as she got closer, I was convinced she was a he, but still can't tell. I'll go with he, he gave me a cup of water and waited in the ditch nearby for his turn to hitch. After a while he requested I pour the water while he rinsed his hands, I did this, he thanked me and tried to grab my ass, then strutted back to the ditch with a 24oz Steel Reserve, "You try another hour, then it's my turn", said sassily as he turned around.
My ride came soon enough, two guys headed to Flagstaff, I'd gotten a late start, but this would be a good ride on my trek to, Salt Lake City, that being the first stop on route to Jackson, WY. We talked a bit, they talked amongst themselves about nothing particularly interesting, I slipped in and out of catching sleep in the back seat until they dropped me off in Flagstaff.
I walked a ways up the connection road, I was switching from I-17 North to 89 North. I thought I'd walk a ways to get out of sidewalk/walmart territory, but my casual behind-the-back-no-look-half-mast thumbing attracted a ride before too much walking at all, a young Renaissance fair worker who had his mom's car and no plans, after a bit of talking he said he'd take me a decent ways up the road to help me out, and a several miles later decided he'd drive until his gas tank was down to half. He'd hit the road around the same time I did, July of 2007 give or take, he smoked me out and we shared insights in stories, he dropped me at a semi-desolate gas station way up the road, a town I later learned was The Gap, AZ.
Although it was dark, well dark, I thought I'd stand in the gas station lights thumbing the few passing cars in an attempt to make a little more distance to guarantee a Salt Lake arrival for the following day. A couple Navajo guys came offering a place to stay and word of pot roast currently underway, I turned it down in hopes of another ride, turns out it could have made for a warmer night. They said they'd be back in an hour and see if I was still there.
The woman in the gas station ushered me in at one point after waiting offering warmth for a bit, "I saw you dancing and rubbing your hands together, come warm up for a bit!", so I did. She offered me sodas from the fountain, I grabbed some water. As people came in and paid for gas she questioned their direction and seat availability for me, it was nice, but didn't work out and there were very few people coming through anyhow. I said I'd brave the cold and try a bit longer on the road, I lasted 10 minutes before coming back in deciding to camp in The Gap, the two guys never came back, or perhaps drove by while I was inside and missed me.
I changed into some layers and took the girls' advice and went across the street to some open space where I set up my sleeping bag. I chewed on some trail mix, a treat Nick gave us in Vegas I still had, and started fading to sleep. The dogs barked at nothing, then each other, then faded and waited for the next round, the two Navajo guys warned me of the "vicious dogs", one showed my a rip in his pants. I met a couple of the dogs, they were cool.
I woke in the morning to the gravel crunching near me, footsteps, I popped up and scared two guys who hadn't seen me, the same from the night before, and they told me as much. One asked if I wanted coffee and handed me the one he'd just bought for himself, they took off promising a return with munchies, I down the coffee, and started packing my sleeping bag back up. They never came back, I hit the gas station bathroom and then the road eagerly awaiting the sun to finish squeezing above the mountain.
An hour went by and a couple stopped, Navajos as well, the woman slipped in the back and I took her place in the passenger seat. They told me of Mike from Minnesota, a guy that worked for several months of the year and spent the rest traveling, they said it was the similarities to him that made them pick me up, thanks Mike!
They dove me clear to Page, even bought me breakfast at McDonalds, OJ and all. We sped over the bridge towards a spot outside town they wanted to drop me at, 100 yards before we got there flashing lights pulled us over, I meant it about speeding over the bridge. The cop took his info and my license when he learned I was a hitchhiker, and then came back with a written warning. Turns out my driver had retired a month or so back the town over after 30 years in the force, ending as the chief. The rookie cop was a bit embarrassed, but laughed it off happy he only gave him a warning.
I waited in the spot they left me for some time, I could see nothing but desert, road, and some smoke stacks way in the distance. It took an hour and half, but someone stopped, they always do. A man, who I guessed was his teenage son, and a younger son in the back with me, my pack on my lap. They took me 20 miles up the road, and said if I didn't get a ride in the next 10 minutes or so that they'd pick me up on their way to keep going to Kanab, another 60 or so miles up and into Utah. I didn't get a ride, and hopped back in with them when they came around.
I introduced myself as Kenny to discover I was one of three in the car. We pulled out a pipe and smoked out the car, except for the littlest Kenny. He left me at a good spot on the edge of town, but I wondered if I should have crossed over to the more busy I-15. That wondering was put to rest when a pickup headed past Provo picked me up, 4 or more miles up the road that would get me 30 miles from Salt Lake. We talked the whole way up, he bought me a subway sandwich when he filled up.
It got dark as we pulled through Provo and into Orem, just the last tint or orange remained by the time I jumped out, in shouting distance of Salt Lake. The on ramp was narrow, but I had to go for it, so I put out my thumb for cars to see pretty much as they passed me. Sure enough, a young friendly couple pulled aside and let me in. They were head past Salt Lake City, they offered to drive me exactly where I was going, so I got directions from my soon-to-be couchsurfing host and they dropped me off right at her doorstep 40 minutes up the road and through the neighborhood.
I can tell Salt Lake City will be a fun day or so before completing the hitch to Jackson for turkey day, everyone I've met is friendly and in a generally awesome frame of mind. Another hitch without a hitch, let 'em roll.