Start Of West To East Hitchhiking Trip (Sacramento to Bakersfield)

“There, now you can at least say you got out of Sacramento”, laughing, he gave us each a pair of gloves as he let us off, “Stuck in Lodi again, how’s that song go? You know the one, you gotta hear it, look it up”, that’s where we were now, Lodi.

After hitching around Northern California with Bridget, we’d gotten stuck in Sacramento on our way south the night before, luckily rescued by my good friends Aaron and Jess in town to spend the night with friendly faces and tasty beers. Aaron’s dad had offered to give us a ride this particular morning, it was an early start and he’d taken us clear past the Sacramento County line.

Buzzing off our great fortune we walked along the ramp to stand at a good spot. A group of street folk in tents behind bushes waved at us from behind a fence a ways away, it seemed like they may have been motioning for us to join them, but we were on a mission.

Our idea was to go to Sedona, Bridget had heard great things and I was reinforcing them, from there it would be a haul to get to New York and Connecticut in time for Christmas, which was in just fifteen days.

We squeezed into the backseat of a car that stopped, a Mexican couple with their two kids in the back that got us across town. We got a ride quickly from where they dropped us off, a mother and her daughter who were excited right away to hear our story, especially since Bridget was Australian. They’d just been the host family for five Australians visiting the US.

They were so excited and nice, they offered to take us back to their house for a quick feed, we accepted the offer. At the house the mom made me a BLT and kept offering more and more food, her husband was there and just as generous, as was their son. Before they’d let us leave they kept filling a bag with more and more food to go; fruit from their trees out back, everything from the cupboard, just all kinds of stuff.

The mom became suddenly emotional, giving Bridget a big hug as tears came to her eyes and contagiously to Bridget’s as well, “Be careful!”, she said wiping her tears, it was the mother in her and she was nervous, as many people are who are still unfamiliar with the realities of hitchhiking. This was the norm for hitchhiking; generous, loving and interesting people sharing a time together, moving each other forward.

Her husband gave us a ride to a freeway entrance on the south part of town after we said our goodbyes, she said it would be too much for her to drop us off herself, primarily Bridget.

We waited a while, turning down a ride from a cool looking couple going to San Francisco, then at last hopped into the car of a younger guy who was going a little ways south. He ended up taking us clear to Fresno just because he had the gas to do so. We didn’t talk too much, it seemed he was just in the mood for a quiet drive and happy to help. As we’d find out later, this guy was best friends with the son of that previous family. Bridget had gotten the woman’s email, that guy had been talking with the son later that day and mentioned giving two hitchhikers a ride and they put it together that it had been us, funny how those things happen.

A couple Mexican guys gave us a ride a few miles through Fresno, then we got picked up by a guy and his niece, he said it was her who said they should give us a ride. They got us just a few gas stations up, but we were feeling pretty good despite the sunset ending our daylight quickly. We raced to the next freeway entrance from the gas station knowing we were on a roll, we got picked up again quickly by a mother and daughter who got us a few more exits still, now dropping us now well past daylight..

We stood under a street light as it got colder and colder, Bridget was shivering and we were dancing to keep things warm. We waited a good while, perhaps we would have called it a night if it was warmer and there looked to be somewhere to camp out, but it’s a good thing we kept hitching. A guy stopped and picked us up who was heading to Los Angeles, he was full of energy.

Bakersfield would be the town where we’d get heading east from before Los Angeles, so I of course thought of my friend Kindra who lives there and sent her a message. Even late and with less than an hour’s notice, she was happy to say we had a place to stay for the night and I was excited to see her, it had been a while.

The energetic guy dropped us off right near her house and we paced around staying warm for a short while until she got back home from some awesome toy store. I was surprised to see how tall her daughter had gotten, it really had been a while. We talked into the night catching each other up the missed time, then Bridget and I got some much needed sleep.

The next day we relaxed rather than get back on the road, I was fine with that, more time to catch up with Kindra. We also got to spend some time with her dad after wandering around the downtown while she was at work. He picked us up there and we headed back to his house for a short while for dinner. I’d stayed at her dad’s house once or twice when I’d first met her some years back, an easy going guy with good stories and insight.

Kindra picked us up from there and we headed to the zoo which was currently decked out with Christmas lights to the extreme, trolley rides and music and so forth, it was pretty fun walking around seeing all the decorations, even riding the merry-go-round for kicks.

Kindra took us to her boyfriend’s garage afterwards where he did printing work and had cool cars and toys that he tinkered with. We even made the stop to the Bakersfield arch before heading back to the house.

The next morning we'd keep it going, still the bulk of the country to get across and plenty of fun to be had.

December 11, 2011 to December 12, 2011