Hitchhiking to Idaho After Beer Camp Adventures

We hitched our first ride nearly instantly, it wasn't going far, but it was going south. Marilyn and I had woken up in Bellingham that morning, a fellow beer camper had put us up for the night, he'd been the last stop on the beer tour we'd concocted which had us hitchhiking up and down the west coast the past couple months.

All together we'd been back traveling together since March when we left her home in Indiana, now home was different every night. This coming night we were aiming to be in Leavenworth, a little town in the center of Washington I'd stumbled upon a couple years back, beyond that we had to get Marilyn to Boise to catch a flight.

Our second ride of the day came quickly as well, an older couple, then a third ride that barely went far at all, but we were off the interstate now and on the little highway heading inland.

A yellow jeep pulled off into the shoulder of the road, we ran up to it to see the window crack down just a couple inches on the passenger side. There was a young guy in a suit behind the wheel, eighteen years old, give-or-take.

"Where's your car?", he asked softly.

"We don't have a car", I told him, "We're hitchhiking, we're heading to Leavenworth". I smiled, some people stop to pick up travelers, some people stop because they think there's a problem and some people stop because they're confused, something beyond curiosity pulls them over.

"Leavenworth... how far is that?", he asked, I told him it was around a hundred miles. "I'm going to Monroe", he replied.

"That'll work!", I beamed back, it was just a town or so over, but every ride helps.

"Can I think about it?", he asked.

"Sure!", I said pretty smoothly. He then closed his eyes and looked down. I responded pretty smoothly, but it was actually a pretty odd thing in the moment. Marilyn couldn't quite hear his side of the conversation, now suddenly I was just standing there, we were all just silent, me looking around, Marilyn looking confused, the driver with his head down.

For what seemed like a good while this went on, then suddenly the door unlocked and he was letting us in. I pulled the seat forward and let Marilyn hop in back, then hopped in front myself. He was visibly nervous right away, I just smiled and thanked him, hoping my ease would rub off.

"Are you two married?", he put the jeep in gear and we were eastbound. We told him we weren't.

"There's a law of chastity", he started, "chastity is very important... ", he continued, getting off another sentence or two, "I love the law of chastity", he finished. It seemed like he was about to preach something, he had some of the buzz words down, but it just fell short like that.

I said something along the lines of, "cool", then there was a pause which stretched for a couple beats, "Are you from around here?", I asked him.

He didn't respond. Perhaps I mumbled. "What kind of work do you do?", I asked consciously clearer and more directly. Still nothing. OK then, got a silent one, I started staring out the windshield, looked like this was an odd one.

Five or ten minutes of silence went by, and so did Monroe, we'd driven right through the town he'd said he was going to. He was sweating, literally dripping in his full suit, staring straight forward.

A ways past Monroe he broke the silence, "Sister, do you have a cell phone?", looking at Marilyn in the backseat.

"Yes", she replied.

"Please don't use it in the car", he asked.

The silence became a bit thicker after that. Now this guy was breathing heavy, still sweating, grasping the steering wheel with tunnel vision down the road. I began the Sherlock Holmes anticipation sequence in my head, taking note of my left arm, his arms, the parking brake, the handle to move the seat forward, the car door handle, our surroundings outside... all the same, though, we were still on the road to Leavenworth, just with a lunatic until proven otherwise.

We passed another town or two, then took a left off the main road which perked the senses some more, we immediately pulled into an empty church parking lot and slowly went around to the back. As soon as he stopped the car I had the door opening and the seat pulling forward, Marilyn didn't hesitate in making her way out.

We thanked him and suddenly he was able to speak again, asking us where we were going, as if we hadn't already told him, then started in on us finding a Mormon church along the way. He asked for my phone number as well, I scribbled something and we were happy to part ways with the guy.

I chalked it up to a nervous and socially inept kid grasping to a religion he was unable to communicate despite being programmed to, the same religion that dragged him far out of his comfort zone to pick up a couple backpackers on the highway to the point of near physical breakdown.

He probably thought we were the danger, meanwhile Marilyn's chastised phone activity in the car had been the flipside, she'd been texting a friend with a description of him and the vehicle as a precaution.

We rolled over those events for a while with our thumbs out waiting for the ride, maybe we'd get another odd one.

Nope, instead we got a sprinter van with a traveling band headed for Leavenworth, they had joints to smoke and instruments they jammed on as we cruised on down the road. The road, the road, the road, where all of it flows and goes and goes, you never know who's next to show, cruise on, cruise on, cruise on.

The brewery was our first stop, this should be no surprise, I can think of no better place to go to start executing the lack of a plan. I'd been dropped off at this same particular brewery the first time I'd come to Leavenworth, because of it I wound up on a week long keg scavenger hunt and become familiar all over town, even met a couple girls who put me up for the week and became friends I'd later visit in Colorado several times. One of those girls would end up accompanying Marilyn on a trip around New Zealand in fact, but that's a story a ways down the road, just another example of a chain of events that can be triggered from simply getting a pint of beer.

Anyhow, this time around there were beers indeed, a trip for food, then a relocation to the loft bar where we made friends with the bartender and a guy named Matt for a while. Before dark set in we got moving, a stop at the gas station for some camp beers, then a little walk down the road to set up said camp.

I took us just a pinch out of town to an area I'd camped in last time, but being that I was solo camping in a bivy I didn't venture all that far off the road. This time we walked a little further off the road and it was well worth it, we found a great campsite and made an evening of it.

Come morning we packed it up and walked back into town. Matt from the bar the night before saw us, he pointed us to a little diner where we got a bite before our next leg of the trip, we were aiming for a brewery on a hop farm about a hundred miles south around Yakima.

Our first ride out of town came from a van, the driver was a bartender from the brewery, the type of coincidence that no longer surprises me, but still entertains. He got us to the junction heading south where we hitched our next ride from a snowboarder who was making a million dollars a month in the marijuana industry.

He got us a little ways, then our last ride came from a woman who had harvested some cherries in the area, she was taking them to Yakima to a place that tested them for pesticides. I played with her big fluffy Samoyed dog while we cruised, she dropped off the cherries and then took us straight to the brewery, Bale Breaker.

The brewery was indeed right on the hop farm, we were excited to have some tasty beers and geek out. Unfortunately, the girl bartending knew almost nothing about hops or even much about beer which was surprising. The only information we got out of her was that the hops from the farm were shipped to a major company that distributes hops to many breweries in the country, including this very brewery. So the brewery on the hop farm shipped hops away only to ship them right back. Efficiency.

All the same we had some beers, soon enough some other people filtered in. A guy next to us started talking to us and offered to buy us a pint, we carried on for a while. Marilyn kept talking to him and then someone else to my right offered me a pint as well and I was chatting with them. After several beers the original guy, Tom, offered to give us a ride back to the main road so we could keep hitching, on towards Idaho.

We were only in the car a couple minutes when Tom offered to let us spend the night at his apartment since he didn't have his kids at the moment and had the space. We thought about it for a half of a second and agreed. It ended up being a chill evening, he had a salt water swimming pool in his complex we all swam in then had a big pasta dinner and some more beers.

Morning, showers, coffee and eggs and finally a ride back to the road from our latest travel magician, Tom. Next stop, Boise. First a ride from an older couple who gave us a bunch of cherries before dropping us off. Next was an attractive school principal, she dropped us off and we got our next ride from a guy hauling a trailer, then a ride in the back of a pickup truck, then a ride from a friendly cop who got us over the border into Oregon.

We started walking on the highway there, an RV pulled over ahead so we ran up to it, but it turned out he'd only pulled over because he'd broken down. We kept walking and waiting for a bit, but finally got a ride from a woman just a few miles up to the next junction, we also got some melting ice cream sandwiches out of the deal.

We got a ride pretty quick after that from a guy heading all the way to Arkansas where he was going to grab what he could and turn right back around to move to Portland. That worked out well, as he was going right through Boise and even dropped us off at our friend's house.

We caught up with our friend that night and more so in the morning. She had some chickens in the backyard we played with before heading into town on our own. We started at 10 Barrel, a friend's brewery, then eventually met up with Kyle. He had gone to Sierra Nevada Beer Camp when I did, he'd just been in the second group. His group had brewed a different beer and luckily it was on tap in town, so we went to the bar and drank it up, a cedar IPA called Grandma's Closet.

We had some more beers around town until he dropped us back off at our other friend's place for the night where we had a big dinner and talks of travels past and travels to come. In the morning Marilyn cut my hair out back by the chickens, then Kyle picked us up and we headed to the airport. We dropped Marilyn off there, she was eastbound for the wedding.

I spent the day touring around with Kyle as he tried to take me to every brewery and beer bar possible, biking to this one, strolling to the next, trying to sample everything Boise had to offer. At the end of the day we had some dinner at his place and I checked out his brew setup and sampled the homebrew he had on hand, always a good thing.

The next day I'd be getting on the road, hitching on my own for the first time in a little while. Marilyn would be flying to California in a few weeks, so I'd have until then to cruise around solo. No rush to head west, so instead I'd go a little further east, next stop - Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

June 19, 2014 to June 23, 2014