Bridget Arrives In America

I turned Bridget around, we smiled, we hugged, we kissed, we were back together for an adventure. Earlier that morning I’d woken up in my sister’s car that I was borrowing, parked in front on the Pacific Ocean along the Pacific Coast Highway, now I was in LAX scooping up Bridget after her flight from Australia.

It had been around five months since we last saw each other, all told we’d only spent two or three weeks in each other’s company total. Half of which when I met her on the east coast of Australia, the other half when she’d flown out to the west coast to see me off. We’d hit it off and stayed in touch, now she was in the US and we were set to adventure around together.

The idea was that we’d hitch around the states, showing her spots she’d heard of, spots I knew of, seeing my family around the holidays and then hitchhike down to the Florida Keys where we would look to find a boat to hitch a ride on towards South America, places like Peru on our minds.

It felt good to hold her, it felt good to hear her accent. Straight away I took her to Venice Beach where we walked down so she could dip her toes in the water. She’d recognized the whole area from the movies and so forth, Santa Monica Pier, laughing in amazement at how big and fat the seagulls were as we walked along.

She hula hooped with some people on the boardwalk trying to sell them, we got a free meal that was apparently served towards sunset every night to whoever wanted a free meal, we kind of just stumbled upon that.

We drove through the LA traffic to Hollywood where I dropped my sister’s car off, then we took the subway to downtown LA. We walked along, passing the people camped out for Occupy LA, then finding an Irish pub to grab a Guinness and wait for my brother to come pick us up.

My brother came along and we headed down to his house in Orange County. We talked for a bit, then disappeared into the couch full of pent up love and time missed. We awoke happy to see each other, new lovers with plenty of sparks bringing flames to follow.

After a day of relaxing and letting her get settled into this side of the world, we were ready to start running. My brother dropped us off at an on ramp, northern California bound. Bridget wanted to see the Redwoods, and besides that, I had plenty of friends up there I was looking forward to seeing.

Our first ride came from an Armenian who worked as a tailor at the mall, which is where he was heading. We drove into the mall, he said he just had to make a quick stop at the shop and that if we met him by his car in about a half hour he’d be able to get us a little further north.

We wandered the mall for a bit, but his car was gone when we returned, so back to the freeway entrance we went. We were quickly scooped up by a couple college guys, excited to have an Aussie in the car. They weren’t the most worldly pair, one of them asked Bridget, “Isn’t there a university in Australia?”, she could just laugh and say, “Yes, several”.

They dropped us off in a spot with a shoulder so narrow it was unlikely that we’d be able to get someone to pull over for us, so we started walking the side streets hoping the entrance one tick northbound would be a little better. A Vietnamese guy named Tom saved us the walk, however, noticing us with our backpacks and asking where we were going, then telling us to hop in.

He was excited to have a couple backpackers in his car, he’d done quite a bit of traveling himself. He made a stop at a gas station to fill up and went out of his way to get us up towards Long Beach and really moving.

From there we got a ride from a guy who was a boxer trainer and used to play arena football himself. He told us about his brother, whom he was training, and the various success they’d had to date.

He dropped us off in a spot where yet again we were faced with a narrow shoulder. So again we chose to walk to the next one, encountering the same thing. We thought about walking up to the next one, but knew we could just run into the same thing over and over and we were running out of daylight. We decided we’d just stick our thumbs out there and see if someone would stop anyhow.

It worked, a car with two women paused right on the on ramp stopping traffic behind them, we politely waved to the cars behind us with thanks as they patiently waited for us to throw our gear and ourselves into the backseat and get moving.

It was a mother/daughter combo, the daughter had just arrived for a trip and saw us as she got off the bus which apparently dropped her off nearby, now her mother was taking them back for dinner and to their home in Santa Clarita.

The four of us shared stories and were all comfortable right away, talking travel, hiking and so forth. As they dropped us off, Melany, the daughter, gave us her number and said if we got stuck we could give her a call and we’d have a place to stay for the night. We thanked them and were buzzing off the good ride as we walked up to the next on ramp to keep moving.

It was dark by this point, sunset had just come and gone. We stood under the streetlight for only minutes when I thought out loud, “Forget this, let’s go chill out somewhere and give Melany a call in a bit. Even if we get a ride now it may not be all the way to Sacramento (our next destination), and if it is we’d be getting there in the middle of the night, I’d rather drink wine with Melany and have a place to stay, we’ll get to Sac tomorrow, easy”, Bridget agreed.

We headed to a nearby grocery store which seemed to be a good landmark and waited a little while until calling Melany, who was still in the middle of dinner, but was happy to hear from us and said they’d come and scoop us up as soon as they were done.

Melany and Judy (her mom) were there soon enough and were off. She lived in an apartment complex there and her son (Melany’s brother) also lived several doors down. We headed to his place while Judy cooked up some amazing food that we chowed down on, myself a bit more so since I had no problems eating meat (Bridget was vegan), and they also filled us with drinks as we talked for a while. He was telling us how his daughter was in the military and behind gathering the intelligence that lead to getting Bin Laden, he had a several great stories.

They set up an air mattress for us and all was well, a comfy place to be for the night. They filled us with breakfast and coffee the next morning and got us back on the road. We were buzzing and grateful, but the next ride took a little while to arrive as we alternated between our thumbs, a “Sacramento” sign and finally a “North” sign that got us a ride from a UK woman who got us to the north side of town.

A cop yelled at us briefly because of where we were standing, so we chose a spot just several feet away that seemed to appease him. Shortly after we hopped in a cluttered car that got us into the grapevine to an exit where a truck stop was.

We got picked up quickly there from a guy fresh out of Navy prison who was heading to Sacramento. Apparently he’d mouthed off about some fight that had happened that he wasn’t really involved in, but said the wrong thing to the wrong people about. He was smoking spice, pseudo marijuana, and offered me some as we cruised up north.

He dropped us off just south of the tavern in Folsom where my friends Aaron and Jess would be heading, the timing and location was all pretty spot on. Our first hitchhiking mission was a success, now there was fun to be had and plenty more hitchhiking missions to come, good times ahead.