From Indiana To The California Harvest Season

Marilyn and I had just spent the summer traveling together, her introduction to my brand of freestyle travel and a break from a her life as a nurse in Indiana, a life she would now be returning to.

I had some time before the harvest in California, the time of year where I usually find a way to get some dollars to use towards the rest of the year's beers, meals and other such expenses, so in the meantime I wound up spending about a couple weeks in Indiana with Marilyn as she eased back into her old routine.

Over the days she began going back to work, but we still managed to discover new beers and even brew one I'd leave fermenting with her. We got to zip around the lake on a friend's sailboat, swim, finagled our way on another boat another day, swam some more, drank some more and touched base with just about all her staple friends in town. We climbed a fire tower to watch flying squirrels at sunset, I finished filming and editing a video for my entry into a beer camp contest and I experienced my first fantasy football draft.

Lazy days, busy days, soon it was time to get moving. After a couple false leaving days, stifled by hangovers or pleaful tears leaking from Marilyn, sad to see me go as if it signaled the true end of her adventure, I at last got moving.

I didn't get all that far on day one, considering I was aiming for California. Marilyn dropped me off in a good spot to get moving, I got a short ride from an ex-army guy to the next town, a ride in a minivan to a farm in the country and then a ride up to Interstate 70 where I thought I'd really get moving.

Instead the only moving I did was by foot, nine miles along the freeway as day faded to night, eventually finding a section of the highway the formed a slight bridge in the midst of rolling country, I tucked a way and slept for the night.

Morning came along with more walking, I hit a needed rest area to hydrate, then walked further still. It all paid off when Leo came along, a truck driver headed for Albuquerque. New Mexico was not exactly the direct route, but I happily took the ride and the slight detour.

We rode until Joplin the first day, I got a shower in the truck stop and camped just outside the truck so he could have his privacy. In the middle of the night his engine ticked on and I hopped back in, we cruised through the tail end of night into sunrise, through the day, through the rainstorm in Amarillo, finally arriving in Albuquerque by dark.

That night he let me sleep in the truck, in the morning we rolled to the truck stop on the far edge of town, that's where we parted ways. I noticed another hitchhiker standing on the road near the westbound ramp, I leap frogged him, crossing the highway lanes from the other side to get straight to the shoulder of the road where I began walking along, wide open all around.

I felt lucky when Harold scooped me up, an ex-prison guard who was now hauling odds and ends in his pickup truck for people, his current destination was Los Angeles. We zipped down the highway swapping stories. At one point we stopped for gas, getting back in the car he pointed someone out as we drove away, apparently it was an ex-inmate that had stabbed him in the leg during a riot at one time. He seemed to get a kick out of it, but he also seemed happy to have not been recognized himself.

We arrived in Barstow just at sunset, the junction town where our paths split. I stood under a streetlight hoping to catch a ride and begin my way north, but after a while I began walking in search for a campsite. I didn't walk far, a couple picked me up before I could find a spot and they were Fresno bound.

We got there in the middle of the night with threats of rain coming in. I caught another break there, they dropped me off at a bus station and a now distant Marilyn phoned in a ticket to Chico for me. I nodded out in the station until the bus came towards morning, I rolled through the rain catching sleep, a layover in Sacramento, then another couple hours of road before I was hopping out onto wet Chico streets.

In a matter of days I was shuttled up the hill, shy of an hour outside of town, into the woods to Jerry's place. I'd met him earlier in the year, he grew pot and hops, I'd been enlisted to help with harvest as well as be an extra body around in the unlikely event that someone turned up to rip off the garden.

So went the next several weeks of the season, up the hill during the week, trimming away or brewing the odd beer, most weekends back down in Chico, planted at the same bar on Sundays watching football and otherwise running around town finding beers in one spot or another, playing disc golf, poker, then back up the hill, rinse, repeat.

Halloween day would be my last day on the hill. At this point the results were in, myself and my friend were among the few to win the contest for Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp, we had about a month until that would begin, right back in Chico. There was still a lot more of California to bounce around in the meantime, good times to be had.

August 31, 2013 to October 31, 2013