Madison to Lincoln

It was an easy going morning in Madison, by the afternoon I was standing near the freeway with my thumb out watching the cars pass by. Wisconsin had been fun, it was Hippie Christmas in Madison and the town was alive, now I was heading for Lincoln Nebraska to see some familiar faces in the unfamiliar town.

A car pulled over, a couple local guys, I hopped in, they drove me to the south end of town while telling me a couple stories about hitching to Vegas years ago. From where they dropped me off I was picked up quickly by a former traveler. Similar to myself, he'd lived on the road for about five years. We swapped stories while we rolled through the hills. He was heading for his friends house up the road, we pulled off the freeway at his exit and I hopped out. He watched me walk down the ramp back to the freeway, he said he was feeling nostalgic, missing his days of traveling.

I stood alongside the freeway on this sunny day amidst the rolling fields, awaiting my next ride. A local cop came, I could have guessed, there had been a cop on the other side of the freeway with a speeder he'd pulled over, he'd surely seen me. The officer gave me a ride to and into the next town, dropping me off at the entrance to a bike trail with a warning to stay off the freeway.

I walked a few miles down the bike path, the officer said it would lead to the next town "where's there's shops and things", as he told me. It opened up to a main road and I hiked down a ways looking to orient myself and find the freeway again.

I passed a nice big lawn, a man was down the hill tending to it with a weed whacker. He saw me and shouted up at me with a smile, asking what I was up to. I told him I was looking for the freeway, he had me wait a minute and soon showed up alongside me in his car, he drove me a couple miles or so to the freeway.

From there I caught a ride to a town called Plattsville from a guy who used to hitchhike quite a bit himself. He gave me a bag of trailmix when I got out, on to the freeway for the next ride, which would be a good one.

First though, was the waiting and watching of cars flying by with different types of faces looking out at me, or not at me. I hit a patch of ecstasy for a while, completely content with where I was and smiling widely at the people on the road flying past. One of the cars pulled over, a tall man and his elderly mother coming from a wedding on their ways back home.

They were witty, bantering back and forth about the wedding and other things. The mother got dropped off at her home in a small town, I continued on with Rob. Earlier he'd offered to let me stay in his guest room in Cedar Rapids for the night, halfway to Lincoln with a place to lay my head other than the side of the road. Off we went.

I listened as he went on about his travels and career with food co ops. He was both opinionated and open minded on a wide range of topics. "Fuck your indians", he said this was what Fair Trade was all about. "All it is is one guy saying 'fuck your indians, mine are better'". He wasn't a fan of "shade grown" coffee either.

His house was a good size and mostly empty, furniture was sparse and it seemed as if he was moving out or in. He wasn't though, he'd owned the house for years on top of years. He offered me the beer in the fridge, good New Belgium beer, then he started cooking us up a vegetarian meal.

We talked more into the night, he had stories to tell about his hitchhiking days, some recent, some deep in the past. He talked about the drug war, his least favorite thing in the world due to it's drain on resources. He was also against blame of all sorts and tinkering with people, "Some villages in the world have a town drunk, nobody tries to change him or make him stop, they let him be". He explained this, people are who they are and there's little reason to force something on them otherwise.

In the morning I went downstairs where Rob was already up making coffee and breakfast. We talked some more and then he drove me through town and to an on ramp, Nebraska bound. The ramp didn't seem great so I did a good deal of walking and testing other spots, walking a ways along the freeway.

A long haired guy named Dave finally picked me up, he'd cut out of work early and was heading home. I ended up going back to his apartment with him where we smoked a bowl while he told me about his ex-girlfriend, with whom he was still living with. He was in the process of finding his way out of the lease to cut ties all together.

He drove me a little further afterwards to help me out, getting me onto the next big freeway and going a little ways. I thumbed alongside the road until another car stopped, I ran along the shoulder to get to the car. A guy popped out and waived to me, heading for the trunk for me to put my bag in. The trunk was locked, and he'd locked himself out of the car when he'd gotten out, with the car still running. It reminded me of a trip to Denver with a trucker in a similar situation.

Donny was this guy's name, now the two of us were scouring the area for pieces of metal of anything we could shove down the little crack in the window to try and break into the car. It didn't take us long and we were on the road. He was in a hurry to a meeting, but I wouldn't know it unless he said so, he was pretty laid back and enjoying the day.

He dropped me along the road and I waited on my next ride. I now had maracas with bird feathers hanging off my bag, long haired Dave had offered them to me and I couldn't turn them down. I didn't know if I'd ever get much use out of them, at the moment they increased my ridiculous factor to oncoming cars, I was sure of this.

A packed pickup truck scooped me up next, the guy was heading all the way to Denver with some stops here and there. I only went as far as I-35 with him where he had to turn south, then it was some more walking for me. My next ride was a couple guys with a good amount of energy, excited to had picked me up. They'd already posted to Facebook about it before I'd even gotten in the car, and at one point we even took a group photo in the car that they posted right away.

The guy in the passenger seat worked with Formula D, they were on their way to Vegas for an event. It was great talking to them and cruising for a while, they even gave me a much needed bottle of water. They dropped me off in Council Bluffs near where they were going to spend the night with a friend. I stood on the freeway while light quickly became dark, I was only 60 miles from Lincoln at this point.

I must've been there an hour and a half when a couple rain drops fell from the sky, right as I was noticing this a car actually stopped, barely seeing me in the streetlight up on the freeway. It was two young guys, the driver, about 20 years old, was driving his friend to an Omaha hospital to visit his mother. He offered to take me to Lincoln since it was fairly close and the darkness and now heavy rain was kicking in.

They told me a lot about corn, the stuff was everywhere, the guy driving had done things like de-tasseling and pollination involving hybrids. I was excited, we dropped his friend off and cruised towards Lincoln, our conversation shifted to philosophy and quantum mechanics and fun stuff like this. It was right around midnight when we reached Lincoln, he dropped me off right at the apartment I was aiming for and we parted ways.

I climbed up some steps to the apartment and met Jack, my host there in Lincoln who'd been waiting up for me. We talked a little bit while he smoked a cigarette, telling me about his many new jobs and busy days. He went to sleep and I soon did the same, I was excited knowing I'd be seeing Maggie and Kirby the next day.