Hitchhiking from Wyoming to Indiana For NYE 2015

After spending Christmas with my family in Wyoming, Marilyn and I were getting back on the road, eastbound for New Years. I was considering heading through to NYC on my own for the eve, but she was convincing me to pause with her in Indiana, she'd succeed in this.

First, though, the road between.

My mom gave us a ride just outside of Jackson to get started, specifically to Hoback Junction, the world covered in snow around us. We didn't have to wait for the cold to get to us, as we stuck out our thumbs and quickly yielded ourselves a ride from a beer distributor, although at the moment he was with his chill dog heading to Denver for a concert. Some six hours of conversation later we were in Laramie where he'd be turning south to Denver.

Darkness, it comes all too soon in the winter, shaving some four or five hours off the usable amount of hitchhiking time as compared to undying days of summer, where everything feels closer and movers are on the move. Not this night, though, instead we were in a dark and cold Laramie, all this while still full of energy after an easy one-ride day coming off a relaxing week in Jackson.

The solution: a brewery. A shining beacon of warmth, a place for contemplation, a breeding ground of travel magic, a place to tickle taste buds that trigger inspiration. A place to get buzzed in the middle of a Wyoming winter, anyway.

We had several rounds, even talking with the brewer. Really, though, we were in the midst of a familiar situation together, that where we now had to figure out where the night would be spent. Stealth camping is the default go-to, but this night would perhaps be too cold for that. Staying up all night in a 24 hour diner or truck stop is another option, but no such place was nearby. There's the Couchsurfing website, where locals will put up travelers, one of the best options. It was too late for this too, though, but we tried anyways. Then there's travel magic, when someone strikes up a conversation and simply offers to put you up for the night, be it someone who gave you a ride already or that you meet at the bar, the diner or on the street.

Then there's the last option, which is the most costly, but comfortable, which is the motel room. Out of other options, that became our solution for this particular night.

After a warm night we were ready to brave the cold again, up to the side of interstate 80 we marched searching for that next eastbound road.

It didn't take long before Marilyn had had enough of the biting wind chill blasting us, she wanted to head back to warmth, at least for a little while. I tried to delay as much as possible, but soon our feet were moving. Then, just before we were about to disappear from sight of traffic, someone stopped.

We ran up to the car and met a young, Florida bound Thai guy who'd recently been ordained as a monk. Florida! He'd be going right through Indiana, this was the 1,000+ mile ride dreams are made of, and we'd almost missed it by seconds had we gotten off the road quicker.

We drove and drove and drove straight on. He had zero experience driving in the snow and told us as much, both verbally and with his erratic brake pumping. At one point, while off the freeway having just gotten gas, he even slid into a pole in an intersection. But cruise one, we did, all of us eager to keep moving.

I took the wheel around midnight, about hundred miles west of Topeka, getting us through Kansas City while he slept. I turned the car back over somewhere before Saint Louis, then we finally arrived in Mount Vernon, Indiana moments before sunrise, this is where our roads split.

Back into the cold Marilyn and I were again, although our latest Thai friend wasn't much of a proponent of using heat anyways, so we'd been chilly for most of the past thousand miles anyway, but at least moving and out of the wind.

It took us two short rides to get to the last major interstate junction, first a tired truck driver then a few mile ride from some Kentucky bound guys. Once on Interstate 69 we caught the last ride we'd need, an army guy in a yellow sports car who'd be blowing right through Bloomington on route to a funeral in Michigan.

Our arrival in Bloomington was pretty good, we met up with a couple sets of Marilyn's friends there and spent the night in one of their guest rooms, then the next day was already New Year's Eve.

The day was filled with back and forth brewery, beer bar and party jumping. At one particular spot the bartender overheard us talking and making calls to stores inquiring about Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA, one of my favorite beers and a beer that I'd drank at midnight for several New Years Eves replacing or in addition to champagne. The bartender told us we wouldn't find it anywhere in town, but that he he had a personal stash and could get us a bottle if we came back later.

Despite some mini-drama with his manager finding out about this, we indeed were in possession of the coveted liquid bliss before midnight. At midnight itself, the turn of 2015, we were at Marilyn's friend's radio station on air shouting happy new year and sipping down the 120 Minute. Happiness.

Her friend had an apartment right downtown we could stay at for this night, we went and dropped our stuff off and kept the night going. We hit one more bar, pretty toasty at this point, I faded in and out running around the downtown as I tend to do. Even back at the apartment I ran around, up and down, full of wild energy until finally crashing out.

We slept until afternoon, filling the day with meeting with friends, having some good meals and good beers here and there, watching some football and again crashing at her friend's empty apartment on our own.

The plan was for me to hitchhike on my own in the morning, eastbound again to get my New York fix before potentially heading to South America with Marilyn. Morning turned into another afternoon wake up, a cold shower and downstairs to find Marilyn heating up food and making mimosas. We wound up on the couch as Marilyn soon squirmed into tears, as usual she was picturing me leaving for NYC on my own as a potential for never reuniting with her. She pleaded with me to stay another day in Indiana with her, offering up a bus ticket to NY to save me from the cold hitchhiking trip. Like several other times, her plan worked and I decided to spend another good day with her before journying on.

We scrambled around town again, meeting up with more of her friends and hitting some good spots, stringing together another place to stay the night at a different friend's house. Conveniantly those friends had plans to head up to Indianapolis the next day, which is where the bus would be leaving from towards NYC.

The morning came late once again, then rolled into a lazy afternoon until they were heading up to Indy. I parted once again with a wet-faced Marilyn, riding just with her friends up to Indy and hopping out downtown. I wandered around downtown, popping into a brewery here and a coffee shop there until finally making my way for the chinatown bus.

Next up, a little solo trip to NYC, the last place I lived before starting a life on the move. I was excited to get a trip in to see some friends, family and good spots to kick off the new year, then blast off to the next adventure.

December 28, 2014 to January 3, 2015