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Hitchhiking down to Vegas, then Phoenix, then LA

Some time in Jackson Hole was good, I spent it with the family talking, catching up with relatives I haven't seen in a while, some hiking and relaxing. On the last night I got my Billy Burger in and my Jackson trip was complete.

Some of my family was headed towards Reno on Saturday morning, so I caught a ride with them as far Salt Lake City, a 5 hour head start that left me there around noon, Saint George was my target for the night, another 4 and half hour drive. I walked a ways to a better spot from where I was dropped, eventually picked up by a local guy who picks up a lot of hitchers, he got me closer to the edge of town, I waited again with my thumb out for the next ride.

A woman pulled up, she had the papa johns hat, shirt and everything else, a pizza delivery girl. She didn't have to be in work for a while and enjoyed having someone to talk to, she took me clear past provo and orem, the bigger cities between me and saint george, she left me near a busy gas station. It wasn't too long before a younger guy picked me up and took me another 20 minutes down the road to a Pilot truck stop. It was surprisingly slow, so I walked up on the freeway until another car slowed down and stopped for me, the guy had me sit in the back seat and took me 10 miles up the road to a little town.

I waited in that spot for about 15 minutes until a pickup truck getting on picked me up, a father who seemed friendly, but skeptical and her son the marine. They weren't going more than 20 miles, the truck start to jerk back and forth as we shot down the freeway, we changed lanes and went 30 or 40 miles an hour in the shoulder, rocking all the way to the town of Nephi where they lived. When we came to stop sign getting off and started up again the rocking and jerking went away as if the car was fine again. They drove me across town and left me at the on ramp.

The sun was well on the way down, I'd only gone 80 or 90 miles from salt lake all day and had about 225 left to go, a slow day after my head start to salt lake in the morning. I went up on the freeway and waited in the V between the freeway entrance and the oncoming traffic, thumbing cars, enjoying the sun's last horrah shown in pinks and orange on the mountain face just beyond Nephi.

The sun vanished, the pinks and oranges vanished, just the faint remnants of dim light remained. I scanned my surroundings for the likely next move, where to camp, what gas stations to give a try, and that's when a jeep yielded to my thumb, I ran to the car and opened the door thanking him for stopping, "Where you headed?" I asked, Saint George was the answer, couldn't be sweeter.

The driver was my age, off to see his girlfriend, he asked me for advice. He'd drunkenly slept with another girl, cheated on the girl he was off to see, his longest standing relationship going on 6 months, a long distance one at that. He wanted to tell her and thought she should leave him for being a dog if she had any respect for herself, by the end of the ride he decided giving it a couple weeks before he told her would be best, best not to crush her, let it go where it may. We talked about this and other things all the way down to Saint George, which was actually 15 minutes past where he was really going, but he took me all the way.

He dropped me off at an In-N-Out Burger, I'd called Candice on the ride down but she'd already ran down to Vegas with mostly everyone else except Kayla, but Kayla's phone was off. I had a burger and wandered down the freeway with the faint idea of riding all the way to Vegas that night, it was as dark as a night gets though, no cars stopped. I found a great place to camp for the night, the exit 8 on ramp to I-15 heading south.

In the morning I packed my sleeping bag and got to walking down the freeway, Clyde the cop stopped before anyone else, I was in my own world of delirious singing/hollering as I woke up on my feet. He ran my ID like everyone does, a flicker of interest sparked in his eyes when I told him my destination and the short version of my general story, he told me walking on the freeway was illegal, but said nothing of hitching, so I said I'd walk to the next exit, which I did.

I thumbed out from the next stop until a car stopped, I hopped in and he said "I'm going all the way", I hadn't even told him where I was going, he knew it was Vegas. He was a trucker on his way to his truck. He seemed wholesome, and he was, but halfway through the ride his stories came from his not some wholesome past of various drugs like meth and what he did to finance his habit. One thing he'd do is go to the locker room at hockey rinks when payers hit the ice and pan through their bags and whatnot to score a few hundred or more.

We stopped 30 miles outside Vegas where he had to load up his truck, I waited about 40 minutes and then he drove me all the way into Vegas to the Mandalay Bay where I'd be staying, he grabbed me a burger on the way, another In-N-Out. I checked into the hotel while munching on my burger and fries, then wandered through the casino, up the elevator, and into the first suite I've ever stayed in. There was a living room, a big bedroom, and a couple bathrooms, I took a shower and waited for people to start showing up.

Kayla was first, we started getting hyped for our planned hitchhike from Denver to NYC, she started knitting, a new hobby. Kimmie was next to show up, I met her in running down the hallway fashion between the casino and the elevators. Soon enough we were in a useless bus heading down the strip where we met with Candice and a handful of others at a Thai food place. We had some food and headed back to the room, from there we headed to the New York New York casino to ride the roller coaster, it was a needed blast. The rest of the night was a classic drunken Vegas night, wandering the strip, penny slots, craps, drinking, wandering, slots, craps, getting lost, getting found, drinking, vegas.

Eight of us slept in my room that night, myself, Kimmie and Kayla in one bed, Candice, Manya (from Berlin) and Ingrid (from Vegas) in the other, and Zach and Clayton in the living room. The girls giggled through the night, camera flashes went off, we all went to sleep with smiles. The morning decided that we'd go to the Rainbow, a breakfast spot in Henderson about a half hour drive away. We chowed, and afterwards some of us went our different ways. Candice split with thoughts of going south of the border together come the new year, Zach took off loving my traveling lifestyle, I loved his number loving and generosity and interesting in my Trip Hopping venture.

I took a quick a nap once back at the room with Kimmie and Manya, soon enough Charish (ex-Couchsurfing PR girl), Jim Stone and Casey showed up to the room. We had another Vegas night, more subtle, but still slots, drinks and craps, we ended the night with seven of us in the room, Jim and Casey took off in the morning early before I woke up. Manya decided the Tucson was the thing, that made Charish happy, it's where she was staying with her folks and Phoenix was on the way, where Kimmie and I decided to go to see Larry and some of her family. Manya drove straight through to Vegas, Larry and Trish greeted us warmly with a trip to the Olive Garden, paid for by Trish's gift cards she got from doing well at her job at the hospital.

We grabbed beers and wine and watched a movie back at Larry's place, Broken Rake beers. Charish and Manya headed to Tucson in the morning, Kimmie and I headed to her cousin's place, a cousin who could've been an uncle, he was cool, so was his wife, they fed us chicken and scotch, life was good. We met Larry, Trish and other couchsurfers at a local brewery, Four Peaks, Kiltlifter is their flagship, I got a hoppier beer that was decent., we headed back with an extra couchsurfer named Heather from Seattle. Everyone watched a movie, I slipped downstairs to work on Trip Hopping code.

In the morning we ate at Popo's, the best mexican food I've ever had, an accepted opinion from everyone else I've known who's ever ate there, I've ate there almost every time in Phoenix. Kimmie and I were dropped off at a western I-10 on ramp, thumbs out, life is good. We walked up to the freeway after no cars stopped for a bit, eventually a state trooper stopped simultaneously with a pickup truck that intended to give us a ride. We quickly threw our bags in the back and hopped in, the cop never got out, we pulled out, as did the cop, I thought he may of given us a problem and our new driver, but he carried on with his day.

That driver only gave us a ride a little ways, we jumped out, we smashed our Popos leftovers with my bag, we left it for the coyotes. We waited longer on the freeway until someone stopped for us. The guy took us a little ways, he had problems with his wife that he mentioned while listening to ACDC. He eventually dropped us off at a truck stop, police were surrounding a parking lot by the westbound on ramp, so we stayed on the other side of the hill after smoking a joint.

We got picked up by Oscar, a guy from Guatemala driving a truck towards LA, he could take us as far as Blythe. He was a funny guy who seemed reluctant to stop at first, but told us stories of learning english and having sex at the same time, "Fuck me Oscar, Fuck me!" she would say to him, and so he did.  We rolled into Blythe, I noticed that the on ramp was well lit despite the late night we found ourselves in with 200 odd miles to go to LA. The lights in town shut off as we pulled onto the strip before getting to the gas station, a power outage. We parked and waited for the lights to come on, waited for Oscar's boss to tell him if he needed to go to LA or load up in Blythe. The power came on Oscar was to stay in Blythe, Kimmie and I grabbed some food and headed to the once again bright on ramp in hopes for another ride.

We smoked, we waited, we danced and sang, cars looked at us funny. After an hour or two one stopped, a kid named Houston who was only going a little ways locally. He made a phone call to his mom and said he could set us up for the night if we wanted, we agreed and headed to his mom's place. His mom was sweet, she put a small act that she was disturbed about the unexpected company, but it was clear she welcomed us. She rolled around in her wheel chair, the result of quading off a 50 foot cliff 6 years ago. She bantered with her son a bit, when he left the three of us talked a while until sleep took over, I slept like a rock on her sofa.

In the morning she was subway sandwiches waiting for us, then drove us back to the freeway just a short distance away, Kimmie and I walked down onto it until we found a good spot to thumb the traffic. After a decent wait a car honked behind us and we ran to it, a snow boarding guy growing sick of Phoenix and headed to LA to see what ends could be met. He drove us all the way to LA where we got some Thai food and a beer, then he dropped us exactly where we needed to be in Glendale in front of James' place, a friend of Kimmie's.

James is a good guy, we went and played some pool over some beers then grabbed some more wine and beer at the store and enjoyed back at the apartment. Kimmie and James told me about roll playing games they'd been into until sleep and drunkenness took over. The morning has come, laundry and showers prepare me for the hitch towards NYC. The route is through Vegas and on to Denver where Kayala should be, then along I-70 to NYC, that's the idea, we'll see what happens here in the next week.

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