Hitchhiking Accident and Coast-to-Coast Plane-Pong

After six weeks of filming season two of my Hopping show (the backpacking beer adventure), I was ready to leave Portland for the next trip. My older brother was retiring in North Carolina after twenty years in the Marine Corps, and my friend Christian was looking to scoop me up in his RV shortly after to spark off an unknown adventure.

Being that the retirement ceremony was just six days away, hitchhiking was far too risky. Sure, it's possible to hitch three thousand miles in that time, but that's fairly optimistic, and my brother's retirement was too important to roll the dice on.

The only sub-hundred-dollar flight was on July 4th (retirement was on the 9th), so I arrived in Raleigh with the reverse situation — with time to spare. Hitching the remaining hundred and fifty miles would only require a single easy-going afternoon, but I didn't want to arrive to early.

I spent my Raleigh days getting things done in coffee shops and finding wooded areas to camp in by night. When the day came to hitch, I wound up needing just one ride to get to my brother's. The guy who'd done fishing trips all over the world in remote locations told me his stories from around the world while listening to stories of my own travels. We picked up his daughter's friend in Wilmington, then he dropped me off directly in my brother's town near Camp Lejeune. He even ordered one of my BivyPacks before dropping me off.

I spent the next few days with family and going to the retirement ceremony for my brother and his wife. It was wild thinking that he'd spent twenty years in the Marines; he was in boot camp when the towers came down on September 11th. I used to drop in on him in southern California where he was based out of when my traveling life began in 2007.

Family time was solid, and the first time I had all my disparate siblings in the same room ever.

My next move, which I thought would be rambling in Christian's RV to the unknown, took just a slight turn. I came to find out that he was holed up in Virginia, and still down to pick me up, but we'd be going right back to his girlfriend's family place.

I was still down, and as it turned out I had to hitchhike in an attempt to meet him half-way. I started by getting a couple rides, but things slowed down as I got to some country roads. I did my share of walking, and finally got a ride to the next busier highway.

I stood in the "V" where the on-ramp meets the highway to thumb traffic from people getting on and cars that were already on their way, as I've done hundreds of times. Someone on the highway saw my thumb and started sliding to the right to pull over in the shoulder, but he never saw the van he was cutting off joining the highway from the on-ramp.

The van swerved right and he bumped them, sending them driving down the embankment and into a ditch as my run towards my ride turned into a sprint towards an accident. Luckily, both the guy pulling over for me and the EMS woman he hit were OK, but the van was unable to drive and he just had some mostly cosmetic side damage.

The guy seemed more interested in me and my story than he did the accident, instantly launching into the familiar line of curious questions about my traveling story. We waited over an hour as her EMS friends came to check on her, and eventually, a cop came to assess the situation and whatnot, but finally got on our way.

We drove about forty minutes to the interstate where he waited for the last fifteen to turn the conversation into a Jesus pitch, but at last, dropped me off at a fast-food joint where Christian had just arrived for our rendezvous. I hopped in the RV where his girlfriend and kids were as well and we started catching up as we drove a few hours back to the Virginia spot.

Her family was pretty chill and they lived in a quiet spot in the woods south of Washington DC, but as the days dragged on I itched for the road. Just a couple days in I got word from a friend that she would be working at a cannabis farm in northern California — one I'd worked with her at before — and they could use some more help.

Christian would be driving through Nashville which was also the cheapest place to fly out of. These flights were popping up more and more, but knowing that I'd be making some good coin had me less concerned — I'd make my flight money back in less than half a day on the farm.

The last days with Christian had elements of drama, turmoil, and uneventful boredom that aren't worth getting into, but ended with some Nashville hot chicken and a mad dash through the airport and to the gate to be the last person aboard the plane.

I landed in Vegas just after midnight where I'd have a thirty-hour layover. I amazingly still got free room comps, so I took the hour walk to the Bally's on the strip to lay my head down for the night.

I spent a full day in Vegas winning and ultimately losing money in craps table sessions, but also got some beers in at Able Baker, which is one of my favorite breweries that I featured on the first episode of my Hopping show. 

I was dragging by night, trying to stay up for a 7am flight. I did what I could to stay moving and eventually dragged to the airport to get some sitting-up sleep until security opened, then got to my gate for the same until sleeping on the whole flight to San Francisco.

I public-transitted as far up as San Rafael where I waited it out at a coffee shop until meeting up with my friend who was driving all the way up to Ukiah where the farm was. It was good to see her, and her new puppy.

The pot farm would be an adventure of its own, but I was ready for it to get started.