SoCal Wander Hitching Leads to Lake Havasu Magic

Another harvest season was in the books, my pockets were full and more adventures were ahead as always. My next move was to rendezvous with Marilyn around the Bay Area, then continue on towards San Diego for Thanksgiving before blasting off on some yet-to-be-decided journey.

I was still in Chico, I made my way to the highway knowing I had a day or two of hitchhiking ahead of me. At least two days, as I soon found out, I didn't make it all that far on the first day.

Between waking up late, dragging my feet leaving my friends house, walking to the highway, waiting with my thumb out and finally getting just a couple mile ride, I hadn't gone all that far. A local three dollar bus got me down to Oroville where I knew I wouldn't be getting any further in the dark.

Feeling flush from the harvest I sprang for a motel room and took it easy for the night. In the morning I was getting ready to go, but then got some news I had to contemplate.

I had sent a message out to my sister-in-law saying our arrival was imminent, coming down for Thanksgiving to see her and my brother. There was an issue with Marilyn coming, she'd apparently done something that rubbed the wrong way the last time we'd been in town. I didn't know what that was, I didn't remember any sort of drama, but all it meant to me was suddenly I'd have to alter the Turkey day plans just a couple days before.

I left the motel room and got to walking to the road, wondering what had happened and more so how I'd explain it to Marilyn and make our next move.

I got a ride from a grower to the north of Sacramento, he offered me some work, but I was on a different mission. My next ride came from a lady taking her daughter to the doctor near downtown. I waited for a good while there as cars passed me up.

Meanwhile, Marilyn had managed to score a ride from the person she was staying with to Tracy, that put her right by I-5 and on our path down south. Or at least it was the path, now I wasn't so sure where we would be heading, but I'd at least get to her there.

I finally got a ride to Elk Grove from a guy who used to do a bunch of hitchhiking, not terribly far, but any ride is a good ride after a long wait.

It seemed like I could be in for another long wait, but I was scooped up by a hip woman heading towards the Bay Area that would be going right through Tracy. She dropped me off at the truck stop where a smiling, backpack wearing Marilyn awaited.

We headed to the highway entrance all the same, I figured I'd still point us southbound. Within minutes a girl heading to San Diego picked us up, magic.

I also got in touch with my brother and cleared up the whole no-Marilyn-allowed non-sense, we were back on track and everything was all good.

Hours later Amber dropped us off, the San Diego bound girl with much to say about Chinese and New Age medicine. We settled on Vista and figured we'd just get a motel room for the night and relax before heading to my brothers. Beers, cheers and romping good times.

We made our way over to my brother's the next day, the day following my sister came down and Turkey Day went as awesome as it does. Great food, beer and good times.

Just like that, we were off, the next day getting a ride to the highway in search of the next thing. Our only real planned spot wasn't until Christmas in Wyoming, so we were free to do just about whatever.

Alpine, we decided, home of Alpine Beer, known for delicious IPAs. Good beer is always a good excuse to hitchhike somewhere.

Our first ride couldn't have been a better prerequisite, a ride to Escondido that dropped us off at Stone Brewery. We'd both been there before and happily jumped at the chance to sit in the rock garden and sip some bliss.

Marilyn told me about her week away in San Francisco, getting hit on by one of her Couchsurfing hosts and getting railed at a sex club with someone else she'd recently met, several voyeurs onlooking at the spectacle she spotlighted in. I'd heard of these clubs in SF, Amsterdam and elsewhere, but her story is as close I've gotten to one.

It was dark by the time we left, but we headed to the freeway in a last ditch effort. After waiting for a bit it seemed foolish and we began debating between finding a place to sleep or hitting up some local bus to edge out of the city some more.

Before we could find a solution the solution found us, a guy in a van pulling alongside us to offer a ride eastbound. He was heading to a casino near Alpine and decided he'd do us a favor and take us all the way there, sometimes things work out perfect.

We turned down his offer to rock out on meth all night when he dropped us off, instead we got a beer at the nearby tavern and found a place to camp nearby.

The next day we wandered a bit, eventually hitting the brewery when it opened. We sampled some beers and relaxed in the back chatting with people around us. One of those people, a teacher named Chris, offered us a ride a couple towns over to another brewery. We had some drinks over there and another spot before seeking out a campsite.

The campsite search was a failure, however. We were in a pretty thickly urbanized area, so I'd gotten on my phone like I usually do to look at the satellite view of the area and find a wooded area. We walked a good ways to that area, only to find that it was swamped out.

We caved and wound up at a nearby motel again for the night, sometimes that's the way it goes, but at least we were both feeling pretty paid.

The next day was a Sunday, which meant that I left the motel first and booked it for a bar nearby that had the games on. Marilyn joined me eventually, we both benefited later from the free pizza they doled out.

We made a lazy effort in between games to try and hitch, but instead wound up at another bar to watch the night game. It was dark when we left, but this night we managed to find a place to tuck away and stealth camp just across the street.

By this time we'd decided on Las Vegas. I've had my history there, many, many a crazy time, but Marilyn had never been. She was somewhat skeptical, a little nervous, but mostly game to check it out.

We also weren't in a hurry, so we decided to put Palm Springs on our route and found ourselves a Couchsurfing host there. With our thumbs no pointed in a definite direction the rides began rolling in.

First was a bartender girl with a couple of her friends that got us to Poway. Next was a Turkish girl who got us an exit or two, then a guy in his pickup truck to Escondido, he did an errand there and picked us up again, taking us on up to Temecula.

From there we got a ride all the way up to higher elevation in Anza. It got a little nippy going over the pass, but before the coldness took over we scored our final ride from a couple heading down the hill on to Palm Springs.

They dropped us off and we soon met Gary, the guy who'd be hosting us for a couple nights. We chatted with him a while and then got a good night's sleep.

We checked out the town for a day and spent another night hanging with Gary, then the day after that we got moving once again. A local bus got us to Indio to boost our hitchhiking. We got a short ride from a guy there, but to a truck stop.

Sometimes those short rides are the best, as that set us up to get our next ride, which was from a car transporting truck driver on his way to North Carolina. While we didn't get the full 2,000 mile value out of the ride, we very happily too the 100 mile chunk to our junction in Blythe, all the while listening to his stories of delivering high end cars to the rich and famous.

We turned our thumbs north in Blythe, Vegas was suddenly seeming close. We got a ride north a bit from a man on his way to bingo night, then a nervous 71 year old lady who first was just checking if we were ok. She'd never picked up a hitchhiker before, so we were her first. She was smiling by the time she dropped us off at Parker Dam.

It was getting dark by then, but we managed to get one last ride that night from a girl cranking Christmas music on her way to Lake Havasu City. She dropped us off in the best possible place to be dropped off in an unfamiliar town, the brewery.

I've always like breweries as a landing spot. Obviously I love beer, so there's that, but it's also a great place to meet people and get a vibe for the city. The potential for travel magic is also high, and this night would be a great example.

We sat at the bar and soon a guy next to us struck up a conversation. We were about a half dozen sentences into the conversation when he asked, "Where are you guys staying tonight?"

We kind of looked at each other smiling and shrugging.

"You're staying with me!", he declared with a grin.


Next thing we knew there was chili in front of us. Another local guy to the right of me got in on the magic, ordering us up some samplers of beer. Before long we were out the door with Perry and his friend, riding in the back of their pickup truck on route to a karaoke bar. The singers there were actually world class, Perry himself got up and sung and the beers flowed and flowed. Marilyn danced her way around the bar in ecstasy.

At some point we wound up at Perry's big house with a pool in the back and a view of the town. The night went on and on until finally hazy eyes were easing open to morning light, the nights memories trickling back.

Coffee and leftovers from the night before made the day become more of a reality. After some showers Perry got us on down the road a little bit, ready for more of whatever the road wanted to dish out. Next stop, Las Vegas.

November 24, 2014 to December 4, 2014