Hitching Around California With Bridget

Bridget had just arrived in the United States and our first hitchhiking trip had landed us in Sacramento. We got dropped off just south of one of the better beer taverns the country has to offer, Samuel Hornes. This is just where my friends Aaron and Jess were heading to, so they scooped us up and we drove just up the road to Folsom where there were plenty of people roaming about for a tree lighting, Christmas was less than a month away.

It was always good seeing Aaron and Jess, we got to catching up and enjoying some of the tasty beers the busy tavern had to offer. Their draft menu is always rotating, something new to try every time. Some other friends came through, after a glass or three there we headed to the brewery across the street to keep it going a little while longer until eventually heading back to Aaron’s house.

We feasted, talked and drank some more tasty beers. Despite Aaron’s poor choice in basketball teams, he’s been more and more on to it when it comes to beer selection and brewing.

The next day we relaxed, at some point running the dogs around the park and through the river. Aaron, Jess and I ran out to make a high quality beer run. Meanwhile Bridget was behind at the house, which threw off Aaron’s dad when he let himself in waiting for us, not expecting to see an Australian in the house. He waited in the garage until we got back. We all got a laugh about it and spent the night playing ping pong.

The next day being Sunday, Aaron and I were watching football and relaxing. Bridget decided to go for a run around the neighborhood. Aaron took off at some point to run an errand, returning about an hour later or so. By this point I was starting to wonder about Bridget, it seemed like a pretty long run, but as Aaron walked in he commented on how he saw Bridget running by just before he pulled in the driveway, so we both figured she was really going for it.

Close to another hour went by and we figured something might be up, so we hopped in the car to go looking for her. We did just a spin around the block when we found her, sitting in someone’s front yard. She hopped in, saying she’d gotten lost and eager to see the actual way back to the house, we started laughing and wouldn’t let her live it down as Aaron lived just a few houses down around the corner, but we were glad we didn’t have to search the whole town for her.

More football and relaxing, plus the gift of ghost pepper sauce from Aaron’s dad, another night there and the next morning we were up and walking towards the freeway, ready to go to Chico next.

We stood at one on ramp a while, crossed the street to the other northbound entrance and eventually got a ride from an off duty cop. He’d just been helping his daughter beef up her security after she’d had a pretty wild breakup. He was nice enough to get us north of the city to the best spot which I’ve hitched several times, just beyond where I-5 and the 99 split.

We waited a while there, but got a ride to Yuba City from an actor who was telling us he was the host on some sushi smackdown sort of show that may have aired on the food channel. We quickly got a ride there all the way to Chico, directly to the Sierra Nevada brewery. No time for a beer though, my friend came and picked me up, dropping me off at another friend’s house. It was a good night of catching up, playing some darts and trying to share my new ghost pepper with everybody who’d try it.

In the morning we were motivated to go to the red woods. We cleaned up, stocked up on some food and headed to the main road, passing up some other hitchhikers who had either just arrived to town or were on their way out. We didn’t find out, we got a ride right away to Corning from a pot grower and war vet.

From there we got a ride from a guy looking around for trim work, it was marijuana harvest time up in this part of California, he got us to the coast. By this time we were nearing sunset, but managed to get one last ride before dark from a guy named Randall who was from the area. He told us a story about how his dad took him hunting, they killed a deer and his dad made him take a bite of the heart as it was still beating, “and when I take my son bags his first deer, he’ll do the same”, I was cracking up given that Bridget was sitting there in the backseat, a vegan, even she was laughing out of pure shock, disbelief perhaps.

He was a friendly guy, he smoked me up a bit and was happy to go off his route a little bit to the Avenue Of Giants and pull off the road once we said it was cool, disappearing into the woods just a little ways to find ourselves a place to camp for the night.

Bridget was blown away by the impressively massive trees. Many of them were hollow in the middle of the trunk with little entrances, easily big enough cavities to stand and even lie down in. We found ourselves a spot where several trees formed a circled enclosure just big enough to lay our two sleeping bags down. It was a beautiful deep night with the moon peering through the tree tops as our only witness.

We woke up to a chilly morning, taking a walk through the woods down a river and taking in the view. We headed back up we bounced around the woods some more, Bridget took some time to hug a tree for a good while as I kept my pacing around the forest.

We walked along the road, coming across the next thing that could possibly be called a town, a couple other hitchhikers going the opposite direction looking to get to Eugene. We got a ride from some local guys who liked our smiles, riding in the back of their pickup truck for a short distance.

Next a guy bound for Santa Rosa picked us up, telling us about his property in Tahoe and ambitions to get the helm of a tugboat on a little property above his that overlooked the ocean, wanting it to be an awesome little guest house. We stopped for gas in Wilits, and that’s where he’d be stopped for a good while, as his car wouldn’t start after filling up. We all tried giving it a rolling push and start to get her moving, but it wasn’t taking. We tired several more times, also exchanging conversations with an old bum who claimed to have the most watched video on YouTube, but at the moment he was just getting his beer for the day to avoid the shakes.

We ended up leaving the guy who had to now call a mechanic, we thanked him for the ride and walked to the spot at the edge of town to hitch a next ride. A Sierra Nevada truck came rolling towards us, I hoped and dreamed, but they passed. Instead, a guy going to Oakland gave us a ride just fifteen miles to the next pass, taking us inland a bit to get past some other people trying to hitchhike.

We waited at an overlook to the lake there, myself practicing my Spanish while teaching Bridget what I knew, waiting for the next ride. We got a ride from a guy a little ways to a pullout near some horses to entertain us, then an older guy to the next town who pushed forth dollars at us when he let us out. We walked through that town, soon getting picked up by a guy who did programming for ultrasound.

He got us to I-5, but it was dark by the time we arrived. We waited under a streetlight, traffic was minimal, I called Donna up in Chico telling her we may not make it. She sent on good vibes, we decided to walk south an exit to the town there and quickly got a ride from a guy going to Orland. Once there we got a ride from a couple going to Chico for their date night. In no time we were in Chico and knocking on Donna’s door. She had rabbit stew hanging out, she always has some amazing food casually available.

“Vegan! Should have told me you were traveling with a vegan!”, Donna exclaimed, “I have nothing for her”, she said, which of course wasn’t true, in typical Donna fashion she glanced in her fridge and suddenly there was a five star vegan meal in front of Bridget.

We hung out for a couple days in Chico. That next day we biked all around enjoying the colors of fall along with the unique houses, trees and gardens around town. We wound up at Sierra Nevada brewery again, this time taking the tour and grabbing some beers and filling up a growler.

Back at Donna’s house she had some people over and a friend cooking up a big meal with salmon and more, something to do with contributing to the local radio station and Bridget and I lucked into two spots of people who couldn’t make it. No one leaves Donna’s hungry, ever. It was a great night catching up with Donna and a few other familiar faces.

We got convinced to stay the next day easily. Towards the afternoon we headed to Amber’s house, an artistic wonder in love with figs, cooking and happiness. I’d once brewed a Chai-P-A with her, yes, it existed. She made up a curry and we caught up, chickens running around her yard outside.

Back at Donna’s, she was ready to head out to the tavern as per the usual Friday night, we did this then it was back to the house for, you know, a feast of duck. This transitioned into wine, popcorn and a movie with extreme hilarity throughout the night between the three of us.

The next day we at last got on the road, after a lap around the farmer’s market, Donna dropped us at the edge of town to start our hitchhike south and eastbound. We got a ride from a dead head, so much so that his son was named Jerry. In Yuba City where he left us we got a ride from an ex-meth head just across town, then another ride into Sacramento from a guy going to Santa Cruz.

That’s where we got stuck, it was Sacramento after all, I had a history of slow hitchhiking there. We waited, we walked, we waited, tried combinations of thumbs, signs and everything else, then it was getting late. Our next thought of a destination was Sedona, probably our last stop until the long haul to New York and Connecticut for Christmas, but we weren’t moving at all.

Aaron and Jess came and rescued us once darkness came, saving us from the hours stacked on hours of insanity waiting, leaf fighting fun and all the other madness. I had a six pack waiting from the store nearby and we cruised back to his place for a great night of ping pong and seeing his dad and some other friends before getting some great sleep.

It was great getting some bonus chill time, but in the morning we’d have to start getting a move on, we had a lot of ground to cover and good times to be had.

December 2, 2011 to December 10, 2011