Hitching through Boise, Salt Lake and Fort Collins to Indiana

After a stint in California it was about time for me to start heading towards Indiana for a lady and a beer festival, but not before having some good times on the road in between.

A new friend dropped me off somewhere between Quincy and Reno where he was heading. Although I was aiming east, I was happy to avoid Nevada and instead go through Idaho. I got picked up by a guy who'd been living in Mammoth and was now moving up to Bend. Somewhere up in Oregon night, before Bend came the junction towards Idaho where I'd hop out on my own.

I walked down the lonely black road with little a set of headlights to been seen heading in either direction. After a couple miles I came across a good set of trees, down a small hill I went on to a sandy spot near a big lake. I unwrapped a pot candy I'd gotten in Chico and cracked open a homebrew bottle of IPA I'd been carrying since Phoenix, happy and peaceful on the start of my journey.

The morning came to start would be a full day of walking. The vast, salty lake appeared to my left and stayed there all day as I gained and lost elevation next to it. The occasional vehicle would pass me, ignoring my thumb and continuing on without me. Usually a solid day without a ride would be one of frustration, while I still became slightly annoyed at times, overall it was a nice day because of the scenery.

I camped just off the road again, waking up with a layer of my own condensation which had turned into frosty snow in the cold night. I was grateful to have been sleeping on a pad for the first time which George from Quincy had given me just the day before.

I continued walking, gaining much more elevation and finally passing the lake having walked some twenty odd miles all together. Then, at last, a ride came. I hopped into the car very happily.

"How the hell did you get out here?", was essentially the greeting from the guy going to Montana for a funeral. He had some stories of walking himself from back in his days of traveling, so he was happy to help. I thought about cruising most of the way to Montana with him, but managed to get in touch with a brewer I'd met in Bend a while back through another brewer friend of mine. The same brewery in Bend my friend worked for had opened a location in Boise and this guy Steve had moved out to get it going.

I hopped out near downtown where there was coincidentally a beer festival going on, but I'd just about missed it. I wandered downtown to check it out with plans to meet up with Steve later. Eventually I walked into a busy beer bar where I saw one open bar stool. A guy at a table saw my eyes looking around for a place to stash my big backpack and said I could set it down by their table. During my second pint of beer him and his lady friend joined me at the bar and we got to talking. He was about my age and had done a bit of traveling himself in similar fashion.

I finished up my beer and paid my tab, still not able to get in touch with Steve, but figured I should get to wandering again before I blew the rest of my cash stack. The guy I'd been talking to then offered me a beer, so I sat back down.

"Are you hungry?", he asked.

Next thing I knew I had a giant burger in front of me, turns out he was a cook there. We talked for a while longer, he said if I didn't end up getting in touch with Steve that I could stay at his place for the night. No sooner did he say that then I got a message from Steve saying he was at a nearby bar. The guy got us a shot of whiskey before I took off, I reached in my bag and grabbed a pot candy in exchange and then got on my way.

I found Steve with his wife and two other guys from the brewery, all drunk from a full day of beer festival action and plenty more since. I joined in as they bought rounds of beers and heckled the live band playing until trying to sing with them and buy them shots, just a routy fun time.

Back at the house Steve showed me some of his medals from beer festivals and shared some homebrews with me before we all finally easily passed out.

In the morning I blissfully stepped along the side of the freeway outside of Boise where they'd dropped me off until a car decided to pull on over to the side for me, a couple heading to a family party in Twin Falls. Before they dropped me off we pulled into town near a big gorge to watch a few people base jumping, then they dropped me off back by the freeway.

I scored another ride from a woman with her dog on a bit of a road trip, I rode with her for about a half hour until the next junction. I quickly got my next ride from a self proclaimed hippy truck driver. That would be the only time so far that I've smoked a joint in an 18 wheeler cruising down the highway.

He was on route to Denver, so I hopped out around Ogden so I could get down to Salt Lake City to visit some friends. I got that Salt Lake City ride fairly quick, hopping into the backseat of a car while the guy in the driver's seat motioned for me to get in while talking on the phone, his young son quiet in the front seat. After a while of listening to one side of a conversation about auto parts, he hung up the phone and told me he was heading to Salt Lake. Besides that him and his son told a series of formulaic racist Mexican jokes to fill the air until pulling into a Toys R Us parking lot somewhere in the city.

My friend Cam picked me up and we headed back to his house where he had some friends and family all over getting ready for dinner. Over the feast, a really good one, he told the story of camping the weekend and messing up his car.

Him and his brother and mom had gone fishing and camping a ways out of the city, taken a turn down a dirt road on the way out for one last go, and down the way popped a whole in the oil pan where they became stuck. With no cell service and everyone on low battery to boot, Cam hiked up a steep mountain side until managing just enough signal to call his roommate and try to communicate what had happened and where they were.

The message did not come through that clear, but clear enough for his roommate to know something was up and generally where they were. Amazingly he found them after trying several wrong dirt roads and moments away from turning back when he'd found the right road and not gone far enough. They'd sort of patched the hole, a bit, and drove it out to more of a main road and left it for the time being.

I spent the next day relaxing, then Cam and his brother and I decided the next day we'd go camping and fishing near where the car was while dealing with getting the tow truck out there too.

We didn't actually get moving until the next afternoon, driving a good ways east from Salt Lake, all the way Cam coordinating with the AAA tow truck. We got to the spot and the car was gone. In confusion we thought the tow truck had beat us to it, but he soon rolled up behind us clueless to our discovery. He suggested that maybe it had been towed by another company and knew some in the area. Sure enough, after a phone call or two we found out where it was with some private tow truck guy who wanted several hundred dollars in order to return it.

Cam was furious, it felt like the guy was a crook, it sure seemed that way. We cruised the ways over to his yard with our tow truck guy while Cam tried to negotiate with him and find out why he'd taken the car at all. He wouldn't give and finally Cam had to shell out the money and our tow truck guy loaded it up for the long drive back to Salt Lake City.

The three of us cruised off with obscenity over the shady tow truck driver. All we wanted now was to make our booze run and get to a campsite. Before long, that's what we did. The campfire roared, the feast cooked up and the beers and whiskey flowed in the fever of misfortune in something more of a celebratory mood.

Soon it was light out and we were on the shore with fishing poles. We'd never gone to sleep, instead enjoying the fire and having made another trip to the store to keep things going. Josh, Cam's brother, marched through the icy water, lines cast and no fish to be had. We cruised around the surrounding areas where they tried their lines at a couple other spots, but eventually we packed up the whole thing and decided to drive back to Salt Lake in hazy hysteria, at least Cam and had gotten back to a level where he could drive us back.

After a good night's sleep Cam dropped me off on the freeway so I could keep it moving. A cop was quick to drive by and tell me I wasn't supposed to be up walking on the freeway, but he was friendly and drove me a couple exits down the canyon. As he left he said, "Like I said, you can't be up on the freeway, but I'm heading the other way and won't be back", a wink in the tone. I posted up and waited on the next ride.

A beautiful doctor from New York City picked me up, she was living in Park City and that's where she took me. An odd woman gave me a short ride just a mile down the freeway after that where I began walking along the road down the canyon some more before catching another ride to Echo from a guy who also shoved eight bucks my way when I hopped out.

After that I got a great ride that would prove to be extra awesome. His name was Josiah, a golf caddy on his way back to Virginia. Coincidentally he was heading to a town just outside of Fort Collins on this day, which was where I'd found a couchsurfing host to stay with to break up my trip as well. We had great conversation as we cruised along.

When he dropped me off he said he'd be spending a day or three around the area before continuing on to Virgina and could give me a lift again if our schedules linked up.

I hopped out into Fort Collins happy got in touch with the girl I was staying with, Kelly, and soon her friend came along to give me a ride to the house. Her friend was a ball of energy named Melanie, all explosions of bliss and excitement within laughter and curious smiles.

They were both a lot of fun to be around. We chatted for a while and then all biked and boarded out to the cheap beer spot where I met a series of other roommates and friends all hanging out.

The next day I drove out to the river with Melanie and hopped around with her and one of the roommate's dog we'd brought. Afterwards we had a beer at the New Belgium Brewery, then she dropped me off at a beer bar in town where I met up with some of the other roommates and friends for beer and free fancy pizza. After that I went on a sunset hike turned moonlight hike with Kelly and a friend before heading back to downtown for some spontaneous live music at a cafe in town.

By night the lot of us headed to a concert and jammed for a while. Afterwards we wound up in a car heading to the band's after party for some hours into the night, eventually taking the long walk back to the house. It was a good full day.

The girls gave me a ride to the freeway in the morning, leaving me with hugs and a never ending stream of crushes to keep track of. Josiah, the caddy who'd given me a ride, had made his way to Denver to see a friend. If I could make it down there in time I'd be able to ride on at least as far as Kansas City with him some 600 miles away.

I was happy to catch a ride quickly from a conspiracy theorist all the way down to Denver, happy to listen about the "masters" plan for domination, aliens, light being and the rest of it. Soon enough Josiah appeared and I couldn't be happier, it would have been pretty tricky to get as far as Kansas City straight hitchhiking in one day.

I'd already gotten in touch with a couchsurfer there as well who said I could stay the night, she was supposedly getting off work just before midnight. I arrived pretty close to that midnight mark, Josiah dropped me off in the Westport area where the bars were jumping and the streets were packed with people. I found myself a good beer bar and saddled up to the bar to nurse some beers until my host got off work.

Time kept ticking away, one beer, two beers slowly down and still no word from her. Eventually I had to give up on her and figure something else out for the night. In fact it would be a week until I heard anything from her.

I walked for a while, past the nightlife action, into neighborhoods littered with trash, walking east towards the far freeway in hopes of finding something as simple as a patch of trees. Sure enough, there was a big enough area forested on the edge of town close to a freeway entrance where I camped the night away.

A deer woke me up in the morning, followed by a wandering dog. I packed up and got moving to the freeway where I awaited a ride to come. A truck rolled into the shoulder without hesitation, almost as if we had arranged to meet there. The driver's name was Robert, he delivered different trucks all over the country. He told me how he'd spent 13 years in jail, but made it sound more like a retreat or a resort where he got a whole lot of reading done among other things. These days he was constantly on the move and finding girls to keep him company all up and down the road.

We paused briefly to see one of these girls, she'd made up some ham sandwiches and jerky for him and myself, he'd called her earlier while we were cruising. The ham was a nice touch on this Easter Sunday, as it were. We kept cruising until his gas light came on, still trucking forward hoping to find a gas station sooner rather than later, my first experience doing this dance in a big rig. Apparently it's a much bigger deal in a truck to run out of fuel, it messes up the engine pretty good.

We managed to find a spot to diesel up, no worries, moving forward. We passed the arch in Saint Louis and through the city onward until getting to Interstate 64 by Mount Vernon, Illinois where he dropped me off, he was continuing south all the way on to Georgia.

I was able to catch another ride quickly, though, a Mexican born guy who'd since been traveling the US and the world building and maintaining roller coasters. He was on his way to Louisville now to have a meeting about a job in the northeast.

He dropped me off at the recently and partially built Interstate 69 on the way, a highway still in progress that's meant to run from Mexico to Canada running through places like Memphis to my south and Indianapolis to my north, hitting my destination of Bloomington in between.

I walked up the fresh paved shoulder for a ways, aware that sunset was imminent. A cop car eventually rolled up, out stepped an officer that looked young enough that he'd have to arrest himself for drinking a beer.

"It's not legal to walk on the interstate", he said, opening his mouth to expose the braces on his teeth.

For the first time I thought about attacking a police officer, not because he was particularly annoying, not because there was any trouble, just because it seemed funny. It would be more of a headlock noogie situation than a proper beating. I held back, I'm sure this was reserved for the classmates he grew up with.

He asked for my ID and I handed him my passport, "What's your name?", he asked, now studying my document.

"Kenny", I replied.

"What's your last name?"

I kind of smiled with a mild perplexity, "Flannery", I said as I pointed to the name on the passport he was staring at in front of us.

"And your birthday?", he asked.

Again I told him and pointed to the date we were both looking at. If he was trying to trip me up then he forgot that he shouldn't be holding the information in front of me. That or the whole concept of the passport had him confused.

He ended up offering me a ride to the county line just a little ways up, telling me about the Mustang he'd had for just four days before getting into an accident. We chatted for a bit about how he was enjoying being on the force and so forth until we reached the highway median turnaround spot at the county line where he let me out just at the peak of sunset. I thanked him and got to walking again.

Just before it completely dimmed to dark I got one last ride from a student heading up to Bloomington. Before long I was thanking him and hopping out of the car just a couple blocks from Marilyn's house. Off the road, up the steps and knocks on the door, soon inside and right into it.

The days ahead would bring loving, a beer festival and hints of travels to come. All around good times.

March 21, 2013 to March 31, 2013