The West is Calling, Hitchhiking from Memphis to Boulder

Marilyn and I had kicked off our new adventure together by hitching from what had been her home in Indiana down on to Memphis and New Orleans. Now the west was calling us.

My friend dropped us off in a good spot in Memphis to start hitchhiking, off we went with thumbs blazing, Boulder, Colorado as our new target.

It was a pretty full day, ten different rides in all. A short ride from a woman to kick it off, a dreaded guy talking about crystals and love for hitchhikers, another man to the Interstate 30/40 split, a businessman with a bowl to smoke, a family after a long wait, a guy who moved houses for high up Walmart employees that landed us in Fayetteville, then a lady with her kid sleeping in the backseat.

A police officer came next, wanting to check us out, he wound up driving us to the Missouri border. We stood around for a moment while Marilyn lamented leaving her water bottle in the cops car, then kept moving, getting a ride from a nice woman who drove us out into the hills, still somehow on our way in the right direction.

At that point daylight was running on low and our campsite senses were on alert, before we could find a spot we got our final ride of the day from Lloyd. It couldn't have been a better person, he was a survivalist type who'd just moved to the area and scoped out the whole region for just this sort of thing, he drove us around showing us plenty of stealth camping options.

We settled on a space tucked down a dirt drive near a mini golf course, he gave us juice and tape and a light and trying to give us everything else he could possibly think of.

We set up our tent and happily crashed out, many miles behind us and still many to go.

The next day we'd get eight rides as we inched into Kansas. The day started with a fair amount of walking just to get to a busier spot. We finally got our first short ride from a truck driver, waited a bit in the heat until a hopping in the back of a pickup truck, their truck actually died as they let us out up the road, but it seemed like something they were used to.

Next a construction worker, then a dairy farmer, another cow guy after, a friendly guy towing a car that gave us his number in case we got stuck and needed a place to stay, then a really friendly guy who got us just north of Wichita. It was getting fairly cold and windy there, we got one more ride by a father and son just another town or two north.

We stood there with our thumbs out nearly being blown away by the gusts that were picking up and the sun was getting lower. The thought of setting up the tent somewhere seemed nearly impossible in the conditions, finally Marilyn seemed set on taking advantage of the signs of motels staring us down, so off we went to the shelter of luxury for a night.

Refreshed and satisfied in the morning we kept on moving, heading back to the highway and hopping a small cement wall so all the traffic could see our thumb stuck out.

It was a police officer that stopped for us instead, telling us it wasn't legal to be standing where we were, he decided to give us written warnings and had us get off the highway.

Back down at the ramp there was considerably less traffic, so we taped our warnings together and wrote "Colorado" on the back, our new hitchhiking sign paid for by the state of Kansas.

The sign worked, soon we were in a truck moving right along, dropped off at a truck stop in Salina. On the ramp there a pretty cool gal who decided to give us a ride just for the sake of it, cruising us west for a while until she finally had to turn back. From there we got a ride in a van all the way to Colby, we were cruising.

We walked on the highway there until we got a ride from Zach, a truck driver that would be heaading right up through Denver, we'd hit our golden ride.

He wasn't the typical truck driver, either, he was more like a traveler who used trucking as a way to get around for free, or actually get paid to travel. He had his dog on board and would make a point of going hiking every day. He also had scenic parking spots mapped out all over the country and claimed to only have to park overnight in actual truck stops maybe once a year.

We geeked out on travel and Google Maps, particularly we both complained how the app had taken away the feature to arbitrarily add stars to random points on a map, like starring potential camp spots or on ramps, it now only allowed starring known businesses. As if by magic, while in the truck sill, I received an app update that reinstated this feature that had been missing for months, a feature that I'd only really been able to talk about with Marilyn and this particular truck driver.

He had a plan to build a custom RV style truck and travel around with his lady friend, it sounded pretty great. Past dark we arrived north of Denver and he dropped us off at a gas station where we waited for Marilyn's friend from Boulder to come scoop us up, in no time they were catching up and we were back at her place eating a nice dinner, actually the guest house to a big beautiful house she was house and dog sitting at.

We spent the next few days sampling beers from all the local breweries we could, there are many in the Boulder area. We also ran around while Marilyn shuffled her gear, swapping backpacks and tents searching for the perfect configuration.

One of the days we piled in the car early and drove out to Breckenridge where Marilyn treated me to a day of skiing, something I love to do whenever the opportunity arises, it was a pretty great day and we landed back in Boulder for the night.

Saint Patricks Day arrived in Boulder, oddly the second one I'd spent in that city over the years. The day was started with Whiskey and rolled along with plenty of beers, car bombs, bangers and mash and general good times.

After one more day of relaxing, which means more brewery visits, we got back to the road, Marilyn's friend dropped as at a spot to keep hitching.

A physical therapist, a restaurant owner, a guy from Nebraska in a van and a fourth ride from a stoner from Portland got us to Vail where we had friends to see.

We spent a couple days there catching up with them, grabbing drinks here and there, blazing through a hockey game, crashing a pool and hot tub at some hotel, these sorts of things.

Next we would be on to Utah where hiking and camping in national parks awaited us, among other things. These parts of Utah are unlike any other place in the world, I was always eager to get over there and see something amazing, the next leg of our journey together would not disappoint.

March 10, 2014 to March 20, 2014


  1. Why has this suddenly ended up the top it looks like it was posted back in 2014?

    Some new updates would be cool if you get a chance. Maybe you should get a bluetooth keyboard or some thing so you can type out blog posts on your phone while traveling they only weigh about half a pound.

    1. Yup, I've got the keyboard for that, it's handy. I'm way behind in writing, filling my life faster than I can document it. Maybe I'll go on a binge and get closer to current eventually, but in the meantime the best way to see what I'm actually up to in the moment is through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Not nearly as detailed as these posts, but it's something.


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