Through Connecticut to Rhode Island
Just after 2pm I was standing on I-95 with my thumb out, a bit of a late start, but only 2 hours drive time ahead. My mom dropped me off with a mom look on her face, my phone now mildly charged and in my pocket.
My first ride was a guy from Hati, from Bridgeport now, and that's where he was headed at the moment. He worked installing solar panels, we was friendly and took me further past Bridgeport to West Haven to help me out a bit more. There I was picked up by a snow plow that wasn't going far, Don was the driver, he gave me the last of the fritos he was eating and commented on the overall state of societies fear he felt was the reason for fewer people picking up hitchhikers, I was in fact one of the few hitchhikers he'd seen in quite some time anyhow.
He dropped me off near the water, it wasn't a busy on ramp, but I munched the last of the fritos in between cars. I took a couple steps in the direction of the freeway when a young guy on his phone stopped, he'd hung up by the time I got to the window. He took me a little ways, out of his way, "I always said I'd pick up a hitchhiker, if I saw one, I always said I would!". He flunked out of UCONN, the news came just the day before, he had a brief phone call with his "whore" girlfriend about a swim meet and wasn't happy with it all. He was curious to hear stories of hitchhiking and travel in general, he was ready for a change, I told him what I could.
He picked an exit and dropped me off there, then turned back around home. It wasn't dark, but the sun was absent, few cars passed, Connecticut cars. I walked the long hooking on ramp to the freeway, just as I made it to the main flow of traffic a cop flew by and pulled into the shoulder a football field's length ahead, I continued to walk toward them, it backed up, a woman with short hair jumped out asking for my license before anything else. I fumbled for it in my pocket, "Where are you coming from and where are you going?", I told her and handed her my license, she slipped back into the car to check it out. She came back a few minutes later with an order to walk back down the on ramp and a comment about my lack of warm clothes, away I walked back down the on ramp.
A car full of high schoolers slowed and looked at me, then laughed and sped up. I waited at the bottom of the on ramp while the sky got a darker, a pickup truck stopped for me with a guy about my age at the wheel. He drove me a ways up the road sharing stories of his dad making wine in their basement.
I got picked up right away from where he dropped me off, a short ride. The next ride was an older guy who took me a little further up and dropped me off up on the freeway, there were no on ramps in sight. The same guy picked me up 20 minutes later and took me another few exits up, just 3 miles shy of the exit I needed, exit 92. I walked down the freeway, it was dark now, past the mystic seaport exit, exit 92. I figured a cop would spot me before anyone would stop and maybe give me the short ride, I was right, he ran my license like every other cop with a few standard questions, I waited in the spot light in front of the cruiser as traffic flew by.
He finally motioned for me to get in the car, the front seat even, I hopped in and we started to roll. "How many officers have stopped you today?!", he asked, a peek at his screen showed the last officer must have noted her stopping me, "Just one, she told me I couldn't be on the freeway, my last ride dropped me off right up on here and I've been trying to get off". He was driving me to exit 92 as I'd hoped. He flashed his spot light on a car pulled over in the shoulder as we rolled by, "That guy again? That guys weird, stopped him earlier, something just doesn't seem right with that guy...", we kept rolling. A call came over the radio, he repeated it like a cop, "Aggressive driving..." with an unspoken "Oh yea!". He dropped me off at the exit, I waived goodbye and started thumbing in the same motion wondering which car in traffic would be keen on picking up the backpacker emerging from the flashing blue and reds. No one.
I walked a ways, it was dark, but street lights popped up every here and again, I finally made it to a bright area, an on ramp to the route 1 heading towards Wakefield. Traffic was decent for the time of day. One car slowed down as if to stop with the window rolled down, "PSYCH!" was screamed in a rumbled tone from the passenger and they cruised by. Shortly after a car with a couple in it stopped, really stopped, I hopped in back saying I was headed to Wakefield. They laughed a bit, they were only going a few miles up. After a few miles of conversation and a wink of agreement between them they decided to take me all the way to Wakefield.
We rolled on talking, they picked me up a meal at Wendy's even and told me about their gambling habits at Fox Woods and Mohegan Sun nearby, I told them a few of my Vegas stories. They drove me right to Kayla's front door, or what we thought was the front door and left me with their number and a promise to let me use their room comps at the casinos if ever I found myself there, then drove off back home.
As it turns out, it wasn't Kayla's house, I'd confused the streets, I was at Edgewater instead of Edgewood, but with the last of my phone battery I discovered I was only a mile or so away, so I walked it. Her actual house was great and surrounded by a big yard, a note on the door welcomed me in, after a phone call Kayla was on her way back and standing in front of me in no time with smiles, I met her sister as well and then we were off to Mews, the local bar.
Mews was great, 60+ beers on tap, different rooms and floors, Kayla bought me a beer and introduced me to her brother and various friends. We talked for a while about nothing and everything over more beers until we were headed back to one of her friend's places where we stayed for a glass of whiskey. We had the idea to get a fire going and headed back to her place, instead of fire we created smoke, and a lot of it, the basement filled up and started spilling into the upstairs, her brother coughed in his sleep. We put it out completely and talked some more over wine until sleep was the thing.
The next day Kayla was busy preparing for the night's holiday party she had planned, in the evening friends and family started filtering in, increasingly more food appeared on the table to pick at. Everyone who came in was friendly with something interesting to say, one of her brothers offered me a great beer, dog fish's chicory stout. We drank, we ran around in the snow falling outside, we talked by the fire (not smoke), and finally went to sleep as the sun came up.
The next day we took it easy, laughing in the morning with her friends and some siblings over beer, coffee, and hard cider. We eventually took a drive out to see some boats and walk down the beach, then drove back home.
Today was laid back, Kayla had papers to write, I relaxed. Tomorrow will bring a new location, although I'm not certain where, likely Providence, and eventually on to Portland with the possible stop in Boston, the casino stays also sound tempting, free always is.