More than just Hitchhiking to Vegas

I booked my free room in Vegas my second night in Denver, I knew now where I'd be hitching my way next. Meanwhile, I was having a great time at my couchsurfing spot with Dave, his new roomate PJ, and his old roommate Paul.

Communal Denver
PJ knows a good amount about programming and has been brewing beer for a while too, he was happy to share knowledge about both with me. One programming trick he showed me got me excited enough to play with my semi-secret website a lot more. The process of making a home brew also got me going, I've always wanted to know the details about making your own beer.

I spent an unexpected donation on some good beer, and they in turn bought and cooked up a good meal to go with that. One beer was particularly memorable, Left Hand's milk Stout. I recommend it to all.

My last day and night in Denver I spent some time with Paul and Lucy, they had great travel spirit, stories, and tips to talk about. The next morning I took a final shower, and PJ drove me to a great spot along I-70 to start hitching towards Vegas, the only planned stop along the way being Saint George where I had a couchsurfing host waiting.

Working Men
I stood by the onramp feeling as free as one can, bag by my feet and thumb in the air. It wasn't long before a blue pick up stopped, a sign painter at the wheel. He took me just a little ways, and I walked to the next onramp through the increasingly awesome scenery of mountains and trees.

Fairly quickly I was in another pickup truck hearing stories about roofing from a little Mexican guy named Clay. He said there was no shortage of work with Walmart trying to open at least one store everyday, he said last year they opened 200. That seemed like a lot to me, but I can believe it. He dropped me off just up the road, and I waited and waited until walking seemed like the plan.

I walked for a while, west, along the shoulder of I-70 looking at all the junk on the side of the road and the great mountains surrounding me and in the distance. At one point I passed a guy in an orange vest picking stuff up on the side of the freeway. It reminded me of the community service I've yet to finish. As I came up on the second guy doing the same a quarter mile later, he approached me with a gatorade bottle, "It isn't much, but should help. We're picking up cans, I don't have a job, we rake in three or four hundred a week! You saw all those cans back there by the truck, and we're not even done, I saw the mother load just a ways back!", I thanked him for the gatorade and kept moving forward.

Weather or Not
I got off at the next exit, which led me about another mile to the onramp, I waited there a while without seeing a single car. I gave Terry the trucker a call to see how he was doing, he had just passed Saint George. That woman who refused to sign the papers for the car had called the cops, and in short they called her an idiot and made her sign them an take her car.

I got off the phone and started walking again, another 2 miles to the next exit. I saw some big horned sheep along the way, at the time I called them crazy mountain goats. I waited just a bit at the next on ramp before a nurse picked me up. She drove me through the canyon and a decent snowstorm, which was apparently common there this time of year.

She dropped me off in a busy spot with questionable clouds above, but I was picked up again before it broke on me. Another pickup truck, this time a musician who was a junior from the school in Boulder. We talked mostly music and recording for the 100 or so miles he drove me, he dropped me off in a great looking spot.

I went 30 or 40 yards up the on ramp, thumb out for every car. Another hitcher emerged at the bottom, also thumbing for rides. After a couple minutes he happened to turn around and see me, and took a seat in the bushes waiting for me to get my ride, hitchers code, common courtesy.

Beer Me
I got my ride about 5 minutes later, Elliot headed to Grand Junction. I was the first hitchhiker he's picked up, he said he was looking for good karma. He told me to grab a beer from the back, we both cracked a can of coors light and sped down the road, I told him stories about couchsurfing and hitchhiking. When we got close, he offered to let me crash at his place and said he was meeting a buddy for beers and basketball. No one could turn that down, the Lakers were playing.

Old Chicago was the spot, and we drank all night, new beer after new beer, they were happy to pick up my tab. The better beers from the night were 1554 and Boulder's Planet Porter. We laughed and drank all night talking about old school basketball memories and entertaining various girls who kept coming over, some pretty, some not.

I woke up on the couch, and soon enough Elliot was up and driving me somewhere he thought was a good spot closer to the Utah border. It turned out to be a pretty desolate spot, so after an hour or less of waiting I decided to start walking as I often do. I saw weigh stations pretty close, and thought it best to stay off the freeway itself. After ripping my pants jumping a barbed wire fence, I found myself on a scenic bike trails running along side the freeway. I eventually made my way back onto the freeway itself, until I came upon the town of Mack.

I don't speak bueno Spanish
I waited in Mack long enough to see no one really came or left this place, and started down the freeway, once again. I stood in one part for a bit with my thumb out, but only so many cars can whiz by you before walking becomes a better idea. Soon enough a green car pulled into the shoulder in front of me, I ran up and opened the door to release the mexican music blaring from inside, "Hola Senor! Hop in!", I threw my bag in the back and we started cruising.

His name was Simon, he'd picked up a lot of hitchhikers in his day. He had some interesting stories, he picked up one guy with a big pack, and before long a helicopter hovered above him on the freeway shouting over their megaphone for him to stop the vehicle. Turns out the guy had the big pack stuffed with pot and got busted pretty good, Simon was ok though.

He was headed to Salt Lake City, so I figured I'd pop out before he started north pn I-15, but he started taking another route and off I was to Salt Lake either way. He said I could crash with him and his cousin for the night, and he hadn't seen his cousin in 30 years when they were 15 and going to school. He even offered to by me a bus ticket from SLC to Vegas, I couldn't tun that down.

We met his cousin Oscar in a parking lot in Salt Lake, lot's of hugs and shouting, joy, good times, and we followed him back to his place and started drinking beers. Soon enough the grill was heating up and more and more people were showing up. Everyone spoke Spanish, with little bits of broken English to me here and there, but Simon and Oscar's kids seemed the only ones comfortable in my native language.

I watched and listen to Simon telling jokes and cracking everybody up pretty good, I couldn't understand what he was saying but quickly got a hold of his rhythm and timing and knew when the laughs were coming. I passed out earlier then most and got a decent night's sleep.

The morning brought breakfast and then a ride to the bus station, where Simon kept his word and got me a ticket, slipped me a 10 bill, and off he went. I had 6 or 7 hours before the bus would come, and remembered the Lakers were in town and found a good bar full of mostly Jazz fans. I grabbed a beer and watch the Lakers lose in overtime, but had a good time none the less.

Back at the bus station I played with the laptop a bit, and was first on to the bus. We rode into the night, arriving at the station near Freemont in Vegas just past 1am. I met up with Walker at bar nearby, he's a cool couchsurfer who's agreed to get me a ride out of town in a couple days. I stayed at his place crashing on the couch.

This morning we came to the Luxor and checked in using my room comps, they hooked us up with a room in the pyramid itself, a nice bonus. I came down and collected my $60 in promotional chips, but have yet to lose them... er... yet to use them. I'm just here to have a good time, so far so good.