80 Miles in 26 hours, Sacramento to Berkeley
Walter and I woke up in Sacramento unsure of where we may go next, but eventually settled on hitchhiking together towards Berkeley. Aaron and Jessica dropped us at a gas station by the west bound on ramp, we were off.
We stood with our thumbs out, sometimes holding a sign that read "SF", sometimes playing with a yoyo, chomping on sun flower seeds as we waited. A car swerved to the shoulder behind us and we hopped in, a guy named Joe wearing a cowboy hat. "I'm from the great state of Dallas in the big country called Texas", he proudly told us. He was on his way to pick up his daughter, he took us just about 10 miles down the road.
We waited at another on ramp, still in Sacramento, until a cop informed us we couldn't be on the on ramp. We looked around for better places to stand, but nothing was too suitable. We walked down the road to the next on ramp, We stood by it for just a little while until we decided it was not that great of a spot.
We walked another mile or more to the next one, passing some public transit on the way. We stood by the gas station with our sign, I asked a handful of people filling up their tanks which way they were headed, but no luck there. After standing at one of the two west on ramp together for a good while we decided to split off, so Walter went across the street to the other ramp to see if we'd have better luck individually.
No such luck, we waived to each other and decided to head to the light rail to get as far across town as possible. From the 13th street stop we walked to the very last on ramp before the river to test it out. We stood together for a bit, I walked up the ramp only to discover the absence of space for cars to pull over, and came back down the ramp.
Once again we decided to try going one by one, so I hid behind the bridge while Walter stood on his own thumbing the cars with the sign. I thought I saw someone waive at me from a passing car, 5 minutes later when I came from hiding to talk to Walter and he was gone, turns out he was the one waiving. As it went, he got a ride all the way to Berkeley with some Asian folks who didn't speak english.
I took his place on the ramp thumbing cars, found some paper and made a new sign. I waited close to two hours getting nothing more than a smile here and there, and mostly funny looks.
I walked up to an on ramp further north, only to discover another hitchhiker who'd be waiting in the spot all day. "Two thumbs are better than one!", he said, I joined him for a moment, but the situation seemed grim. He pointed out a foot bridge that wasn't too far away, I walked to it and over the Sacramento River, the sun all but out of sight.
Lot's more walking lead me to another on ramp where I stood under the street light. No luck there either after some waiting, I continued the pattern of walking a great deal, trying a ramp, and continuing to the next one. Soon it was close to midnight, so I found some bushes and passed out in my sleeping bag for the night.
I was up early in the morning, watching the sun rise from the other end of the freeway, my thumb exposed to the cars that emerged from the brightness. After an hour or more a car pulled over, a cop car. He got out and motioned me towards him, "Do you read English?", smart ass remarks loomed in my head, "yes" came out instead. He pointed to the sign that forbid pedestrians on the freeway and asked more questions, like what I was doing and where I was going. He's demeanor changed to a more friendly one after some back and forth, and told me I just had to stay at the bottom or walk along the bike path.
I waited at the bottom for a good while with light traffic at best before opting for the bike path. The path went along the freeway and over the causeway bridge, what felt like a 3 mile stretch or more. It let me out at perhaps one of the more desolate looking on ramps I've seen, the road in fact called "Country Road". I waited for a minute or more there, mostly just to rest my shoulders, then continued on.
More miles went by on foot before I discovered a great looking ramp, but an hour or more there proved otherwise... back to the bike path, many more miles of walking. Water was on my mind, I found myself walking through a residential area that eventually let out to the freeway again. I saw an In-N-Out burger where I intended to get a sip of water, it was closed for Easter. I walked across the street to the ramp, and the second car that came actually stopped for me, I threw my bag in the back and hopped in after 17 or 18 total miles of walking.
The driver was an architecture student from Iran, heading just shy of Berkeley. Half way to where he was going he decided he didn't mind driving me all the way to town, I was grateful for it.
He dropped me right downtown, and I walked from there to the CS basecamp house not too far away. I ringed the bell with no answer, so waited on the porch a few hours until someone came home, Andrew, a CS techie I met in Alaska, was getting back from the slopes in Reno.
I relaxed the night away as familiar faces and new alike, including Walter's, slowly filtered in. I had a great lasagna for dinner, a much needed meal, and finally passed out on an empty futon.
It's not certain what the next move is, perhaps Chico, but we'll see what the days bring.