Solo Hitchhiking to Wyoming then West to Oregon

My next destination was one of my favorites, Jackson Hole, Wyoming. To make things more interesting, my mom would be moving there soon from Connecticut, which would make Wyoming all the more magnetic in the future.

This trip starts in Boise, Idaho, however. Marilyn had just flown to the Midwest for a wedding, leaving me with a few weeks to travel on my own and get to California to reunite with her later. Jackson seemed like a good detour before heading back west.

My friend in Boise dropped me off by the interstate in the morning, I got right on the freeway and started walking, thumbing, looking for that first ride of the day.

The first ride came and it was a great one, the guy driving worked for a big company and was dealing with alfalfa seeds, we was heading all the way to Montana. He cruised and chatted, we'd both done some hitchhiking and beer brewing, besides that I picked his brain about GMOs and the like.

He bought us lunch on the way, then eventually our roads split at Idaho Falls. It was a massive jump start to get me to going to Jackson. I started walking from where he dropped me off to get to a good spot when another pickup truck pulled up alongside me.

"Are you walking intentionally?", the guy asked. A pretty good question, I suppose. He was local and happy to give me a ride to the edge of the city where it breaks off into wide open, heading towards Jackson.

A couple in a van with there dog scooped me up next, lots of talk about there work in North Dakota when it was booming, which they claimed now was on the decline. They dropped me off where I quickly scooped up again, this time by a cowboy returning from some bull riding endeavors.

My last ride came from a couple from Beijing heading straight on into Jackson for the first time. They dropped me off at a grocery store in town when I waited until my mom's boyfriend came by and dropped me off at the house, but he was quickly out the door heading for a jam session.

I was seeing this rental house for the first time, even before my mom had. She'd soon be flying in to see it first hand herself, but would be staying out in the village this trip around. I made myself comfortable, I was gonna be happy to hang around Jackson for a little bit before turning back west.

The next week or two was spent catching up with my mom when she arrived, making trips to the great Melvin Brewery in town, discovering another new brewery, playing disc golf, fooling with some camp counselor girl, going to open mics, jumping off the mountain, late night hitchhiking back from town, watching 4th of July fireworks and generally relaxing.

I was ready for the road again when the day came, time to start heading west, I figured I'd head to Bend, Oregon before dipping down to California. I walked out of the village and towards the main road where I quickly got a ride from a mother who was visiting her son in town for a couple weeks. She got me down the road to Wilson where I hitched my next ride over the pass from a couple guys from New Hampshire who were visiting the area.

An older couple drove me a few miles next, then a guy making a run to Idaho Falls, he got me to the west side of the city. I got just a five mile ride after that from a guy who talked about how dumb he was, with a goofy grin he left me with the parting words of, "If you get a chance to annoy someone, do it!"

I'd chosen to go on route 20 instead of the interstate, I'd never been there before and figured it would be worth checking out. It was a little slower of course, but I scored another ride from a guy living in a town called Arco, then got picked up by a guy heading all the way to Boise. We cruised along, passing through the unique landscape of Craters of the Moon, eventually getting to Boise where the driver dropped me off at my friend Kyle's, a guy from Beer Camp I'd stayed with a few weeks prior as well.

I scooped his bike and met him downtown, an evening of sampling beers around town ensued, a great way to break up the trip to Oregon. In the morning he gave me a ride outside of the city and began trucking west again, walking down the freeway, thumb out to anyone willing to stop, the welcome extra weight of a homebrew four pack in my backpack.

An arguing couple gave me a short ride to the next truck stop, there I got picked up by a guy going to see his girlfriend in Ontario, the last city on the interstate before I had to bank west on the smaller road heading to Bend.

I walked for a ways until a couple scooped me up and gave me a short ride to the last little junction, still a good 250 miles from Bend, but more or less a straight shot now. A cowboy passed me then changed his mind and spun around to give me a ride, getting me just another 10 miles down the road to the little town of Vale.

I walked to the edge of the town, a familiar spot. The Bates Motel was the last anything until the road stretched out into desert for ages. Marilyn and I had stood there for hours once hitchhiking to Bend then as well, eventually we'd started walking down the road to nowhere just to change the scenery, the heat beating us down, but eventually it paid off with a good ride to Bend.

This time was becoming quite similar, except the heat was worse and I was on my own. Very few cars were passing, none succumbing to my momentarily powerless thumb. The heat was getting to me, a lack of hydration wasn't helping. Eventually I headed over to the diner in town where I chugged down water after water, eventually getting suckered into a slice of delicious lemon meringue pie.

Feeling slightly rejuvenated I headed back to my spot across from the Bates Motel, waiting on that ride to come. The sun was burning me good, cars were infrequent and they kept passing, time was stretching on, energy was low. Finally I couldn't stare at Bates any longer, I walked across the street, got myself a room and instantly fell into the bed. After a couple hours of sleep I woke up and ate whatever food I had in my backpack at the time, now feeling the sun burn that had kicked in, then falling right back to sleep for the night.

It was a reasonably rare occurrence for me to get a motel room by myself, and in fact that might have been the first time I'd done so with any ounce of daylight still lingering, but I'd been exhausted and it really paid off. I woke up still sun burned of course, but well refreshed otherwise. A shower and I was out the door, now equipped with a cardboard sign I'd cut in the shape of Oregon and wrote "BEND" on.

I waited only a little bit in the early morning, then got a ride a couple dozen miles from a guy who worked the BLM land emptying the toilets. He dropped me off on the road along with a couple sandwiches and some snacks, I walked along into the beautiful day waiting on the next ride.

It only took one more ride, a guy in a sprinter van coming back to Bend after a month long road trip that was spurred by a divorce from his high school sweetheart. He'd gone as far as Savannah on his journey, clearly he was feeling enlightened from the trip and excited to get back to Bend with a clear head, motivated.

When we finally rolled into Bend he dropped me off downtown and I went to the 10 Barrel taproom to grab a beer and contemplate my next move. I hadn't heard back from my friends in town yet, so I also sent out a message to a couple couchsurfing hosts as a fallback.

I rolled around town for a little while, took a nap in the park and just relaxed. I ended up getting a message from one of the couchsurfing hosts I'd sent a message to, her name was Karen and she was painter. Specifically she painted with coffee and now beer, she had some really cool art to look at when I made my way over to her place.

It was a pretty chill night getting to know her and relaxing, the next morning she took me to her studio and showed me even more of her art, pretty cool stuff. Bend is a pretty big beer town, so her new medium was an obvious hit.

We hit up a couple breweries after that, then took her tubes to the river for an afternoon float. I'd heard back from a friend by the time we got out, she gave me a ride just out of the city and dropped me off at his farm.

I spent the night catching up with him and some other folks he had over, it was a good night of drinking home brew, cigars, general good times.

In the morning he gave me a ride to the freeway, it was finally time to start getting on down to California. I'd had a nice little reprieve on my own for a few weeks, but I was excited to get down and link back up with Marilyn. Only 350 miles in the way, time to get thumbing.

June 24, 2014 to July 16, 2014