Hitting a Hitchhiking Wall in Tucson After Mexico Trip

Our time in San Carlos was relaxing, now we were aiming ourselves back to California. My sister was driving from Hollywood to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, we wanted to catch the ride.

One quick meal before we were out the door, then quickly hitched our first ride into town from a vacationing family from Juarez on their way to breakfast. In town we hitched our second ride from a guy who owned a restaurant in town, he drove us to the main road to get us on our way. There we got a ride in the back of an enclosed pickup truck, a friendly group who gave us some juice to sip on for the hot ride up to Hermosillo.

We caught our breathe and a coffee once in the city, then walked to a spot where we could catch a ride and did so easily, a Mexican businessman who dealt in gold and silver heading for the border. Along the way he treated us to a meal, as many tacos and as much horchata as we could stomach at one of his favorite little spots along the way.

Eventually we hit Nogales where he dropped us off just shy of the border. On foot we made our way to the big line of cars waiting to get into the US, off to the side we saw walking-gate which had no line at all.

Unlike coming into Mexico, where we just walked in with less attention than one would get from an old and tired Walmart greeter who stopped paying attention, coming back into the US had a a guy at the gate who wanted to see our passport and had essentially just one question for us that stuck out, "Do you have any pot for personal use?"

Tempted to say "No, not for personal use", we settled on just "No", back in the States we began walking. Phoenix was now our apparent goal, a good place to see a good friend and catch up, rest a night or two before heading to California.

We quickly got a ride from someone who'd just left Mexico themselves and were heading for Tucson. Up the road a ways and we were hopping out of the car just barely north of Tucson, a chunk of day left with just two hours driving worth of road through the desert to Phoenix ahead of us.

The wind began to throw dust around, a light rain taunted us, we got one three mile ride a bit further north and we waited there as the wind and light rain continued to threaten to go heavy. We abandoned the on ramp in favor of walking up on the highway itself, surely half the cars were likely Phoenix bound up there.

First it went dark, the desperate attempt of a flashlight came into play, but before that ridiculous ploy could yield any results the lightning zapped furious and more frequently, instantly the air got thick and within a minute the seal broke, the sky splashed down on us as we made a run back down the onramp to the underpass, the only structure for miles to be seen in the desert.

We huddled below thinking of our options. The storm wasn't going anywhere, there was nothing in sight, darkness, we certainly couldn't camp in the particular spot we were standing.

Marilyn hopped on her phone and began looking at couchsurfing.org for people in Tucson, I racked my brain for anyone I may know in town or people who may have friends there, waving at cars stopped at the light in between to see if they were getting on the highway or otherwise.

Marilyn found someone who had their phone number on their profile and called, she only got a voicemail, but left a message all the same. Out of digital ideas we now stood there, waiting on the miracle.

A cop, this was something, a saw a pivot coming as he rolled up.

"Someone called you in, what are you two doing out here?", he asked perplexed. We began explaining the situation, that we were hitching to Phoenix from Mexico and got caught in the rain. He began offering us a ride several exits south to a gas station or some kind of civilization more manageable than being under a bridge.

As he was saying this Marilyn's phone rang, the Couchsurfer she'd left a voicemail for Bill, he was home and offering to come pick us up, we suddenly had a place for the night.

We split the difference, the cop gave us a ride and we met Bill halfway at some gas station. We hopped out, thanked the cop, then were soon hopping into Bill's car and thanking him, incredibly amazed and grateful that we'd be dry for the night and comfortable.

Bill was older than us by a bit, we talked as we drove back to his house and started telling him our general story and where we'd just come from in Mexico.

"San Carlos?", he asked with more interest.

"Yeah", we continued, "We stayed on this guys boat, but he wasn't there, it's a sort of nomad base he apparently wants to turn into a hostel".

"I've spent a lot of time down there", he said.

"The guys name was Ryan", I said, suddenly he looked like he'd seen a ghost.

"You met Ryan?", he asked, confirming.

"Yeah, wow, do you know him?", I asked in the normal "small world" sort of excitement.

"Yeah", he shook his head, "I know Ryan".

Apparently Ryan had scammed him pretty thoroughly. Bill had invested the money for Ryan to buy a boat and fix it up, but according to Bill just about nothing had been done in the way of fixing that particular boat and in fact Ryan had been selling off parts and acting as if he didn't know the parts ever existed, committed other such thefts and generally had a way of disappearing.

"I haven't thought about Ryan in a very long time, I thought I'd never hear about him again... so he's back in San Carlos?", he asked, almost nostalgically recalling the troublesome days he'd now long chalked up to experience, written off.

Back at the house he pulled up pictures of San Carlos and pictures of one of the boats in question, the fondness of bad memories that only time and perspective can bring.

We got well rested, the morning came and dragged, eventually Bill dropped us off by the freeway and we got sort of a late start to the day to continue hitching. We stood at one busy spot for an hour or so, no rides, we walked to the next one, waited a good while, got a ride for one mile, waited, walked, waited. The way the onramps were design in Tucson did not help, they were very short and left little place to stand and thumb or for cars to pull over.

When we at last went to standing on the highway we were clicking greeted by a town cop who was not happy with us being there.

"You can't be up here, it's illegal to be on the freeway and illegal to stick your thumb out", he warned us, "Somebody got hit by a car back in the 70's doing this, body parts went everywhere", as he cited a forty year old no doubt exaggerated story, yet he still continued, "Tucson has street light laws because of the observatory as well, a lot of accidents because of the dark, you guys aren't safe here".

I glanced up at the sun hammering down on us, wondering if the officer was aware of such a sun, wondering if perhaps that very star had been responsible for frying his brain steadily as a method of hiding itself from his consciousness. Such thoughts are best left in the confines of silent mystery, no good would they be reaching the ears of a man with handcuffs and socially accepted authority.

We left the man to get back in his siren mobile and walked on down the side road, his appearance and wish for us to leave was not a surprise, it was just his delivery that leaned towards comical on the scale between humor and frustration.

We sat at another ramp, no ride was coming it seemed. The energy came to walk to the next ramp, it was there that we realized that we were still south from the furthest point we'd reached the night before when we'd got caught in the rain. A whole day had gone by and we'd made backwards progress, now that same sun was threatening to disappear in an hour or so for everyone in Tucson, not just some fumbling policeman.

We went ahead and called it a day, giving Bill a call to tell him about our lack of movement, sure enough he was around and willing to come pick us up and make another night at his place before giving our thumbs another chance come the next day.

Beer came immediately, a cooked up dinner and a burnt out sleep.

The next morning Bill gave us a ride up north of town, a better start than the day before, refreshed, ready to get on out of Tucson before earning hard feelings towards the innocent city. Phoenix was out of the question now, California was a direct destination, ideas of catching up with my brother there and heading then to Hollywood to meet up with my sister before she drove up to Wyoming, the destination we were most looking forward to. All we had to do was hitch the hell out of Tucson first.

July 15, 2013 to July 17, 2013

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