The Return of Weed and Casino Chaos

In the last half of 2021, I ping-ponged within the United States as far west as California, as eastern as Delaware, north as far as Michigan, and as south as Austin, Texas.

My last post left off with arriving at a pot farm in California, so we'll begin there before diving into all the casinos, a wedding, more weed, and the general travel chaos that's kept me hooked to this indefinite rambling lifestyle of mine.

Somewhere near Ukiah, California: My old travel buddy scooped me up with her dog just north of San Francisco, whisking me on up to an enormous property hosting four marijuana gardens, four greenhouses, and disparate spots scattered on the property for trimmers, buckers, and cloning.

What does that look like? Well, I pulled out the camera and even the drone to make a short video showing off the experience. Just a heads up, because the video highlights the super-sinful marijuana plant, YouTube only lets you watch this video if you're logged in and over 21:

I spent a few weeks watering and nurturing plants, making new friends, and earning a little money to donate to casinos around the country. I'm a very charitable person.

I caught a ride with one of those new friends to familiar stomping grounds in Chico, where I spent a week making the rounds. Chico is a college town where I have plenty of friends and is also home to Sierra Nevada and a growing amount of other start-up breweries.

I hitchhiked a hundred miles south to Sacramento afterward, catching up with more friends.

On my mind was a cousin's wedding across the country in Delaware, just a few weeks away. This allowed me more time to wander, but was close enough that I had to think of angling in that direction.

It took five rides to hitchhike to Reno where I was once again getting comped rooms. What better place to go than a casino town when you've just earned a pile of cash? Don't answer that.

I only spent a couple nights there, losing big, then chasing my losses and actually pulling off a recovery win.

I knew I wanted to go to Phoenix to see a friend, but hadn't decided on a route. Luckily, whichever way I wanted to go would have to start the same way: hitchhiking on the westbound I-80 on-ramp, just a few blocks away.

I have another video that picks up right here if you feel like watching rather than reading:

A girl picked me up going to Palm Springs, California. After an hour of riding with her I decided, screw it, that's the way I'd go. By the time she dropped me off, it was dark in the desert, but I found a single spot barely hidden away enough to stealth camp for the night.

The morning proved easy for hitchhiking; I netted one ride across town and a second from an 18-wheeler going all the way to Phoenix.

Phoenix was great, and not because I care much for Phoenix, but because I have a great friend there. We caught up, drank world-class beers, and I used his sewing machine to make some alterations and repairs on my latest BivyPack prototype I've been traveling with. I also pulled the trigger on a ~$40 flight from Las Vegas to Raleigh, North Carolina - a boost towards Delaware that would save me as much as a week of hitchhiking.

Seeing as I now manufactured some time for myself, I hitchhiked to northern Arizona to see some friends who'd bought some land up there, then hitched the final stretch to Vegas after some days with them.

The room was free, but this time the city got me, as I donated a chunk of my trim money to the blackjack tables. I walked to the airport with slimmer pockets, but my spirit remained high.

The obligatory stop at Able Baker Brewery in Vegas.

Once landing in Raleigh, I caught up with a childhood friend for a night, then started thumbing towards Delaware. I got as far as Ocean City that day, only ten or twenty miles from the wedding and a day early. The last guy to give me a ride rolled back up on me only a minute after dropping me off.

"Here, take a few if you'd like," he said, pushing a bag of gummy worms out the window. "Random," I thought, as I reached in and grabbed a few. I'm not big on these sorts of sweets, but here I was with a handful, so I crammed them all in my mouth as opposed to putting loose gummy worms in my pockets.

Only when I swallowed them did I realize: no grown man gives another grown man gummy worms. These were clearly pot-gummies, and I'd just ingested a whole mess of them at once. Oh well, sometimes you gotta roll with the punches.

I made it through the night without incident, and come morning, I was prepared to simply walk the remainder of the miles. The rain came dumping, however, but along with the rain came a car pulling over, offering a dry ride.

I tracked down the Air BnB some of my family had rented, and before long, they arrived as well, coming in from Wyoming, New York, and North Carolina. The wedding and the surrounding festivities went on without a hitch, good times had by all and I enjoyed catching up with so much family at once.

Drinking some of the best Delaware has to offer.

It took me several days to hitchhike to western North Carolina after the wedding. By this time I'd agreed to help yet another friend (a friend of a friend actually) to trim his weed back in California. I wasn't in a huge hurry, however, and I discovered that the free rooms I'd been getting in Reno and Vegas also translated to casinos in other parts of the country.

So, I first stayed at a casino in Murphy, North Carolina, for several nights, then hitched a short way to a much bigger casino in Cherokee. Thanks to a poker tournament on my last night, I'd be up money for the trip. Besides the casino aspect, these free rooms were a rare bit of luxurious privacy in my line of living.

I decided next to see my buddy in Indianapolis, which wasn't all that far away in my mind, and would also put my momentum towards Michigan, where I could see yet another friend I hadn't seen in a while.

My favorite from my friend's houseplant shop in Lansing.

It took a couple days to hitchhike to Indy where I caught up indeed, then just one full day of hitching to get up to Lansing in Michigan. After a day or two with my friend there, I found yet another inexpensive flight. This involved a flight from Chicago to Vegas, a multi-day layover, then a flight to Sacramento. I'd then have to hitch from the airport to Chico where I'd do some more trimming.

I yet again had a free room to stay in during my nights in Vegas, where I yet again donated money to the casinos. I placed 27th in a poker tournament that started with 165 people. However, only the top 26 places got paid. Bummer.

No matter, I landed in Sacramento and hitched four rides from the airport on my way to Chico. I spent just shy of a month there helping out a new friend with his weed, all the while catching up with friends, enjoying Halloween, and otherwise having a great old time.

By this time, a friend of mine had been concocting a plan to start a YouTube channel he'd maintain on his latest travels and wanted me to lend a hand. I had plans to see family in Wyoming for Thanksgiving, so he bought me a plane ticket to see him and his producer in Austin, Texas for a few days, then fly me straight to Wyoming before Turkey Day.

Once in Austin, I met his guy out there and went over the project he was putting together. In between, we smashed world-class brisket, went kayaking, and bopped all around Austin getting our kicks.

Straight fire.

Thanksgiving was brief, but as always, it was good to catch up with family. The secondary reason I was there was to help drive with my sister, as she was moving out of Wyoming and back down to Los Angeles, where she'd lived previously. What's on the way to LA from Wyoming? Freaking Vegas.

At least this time in Vegas I had a more legitimate reason to be there: my old buddy Walter was flying in from the Netherlands for a conference. This would be just about the longest straight Nevada casino run I've made to date.

For the first week, I gambled, spent as much time with Walter as possible, and went up and down money like the typical roller-coaster ride that is Vegas. When Walter left, I too left, but I hitchhiked just down to Laughlin where I could get another free room for several nights.

It was my first time in Laughlin and not a place I'd recommend to anyone. Unlike Vegas, there was no real people-watching value or non-stop action to surround you. Just an isolated casino. I took my biggest hit there, probably due to the lack of other things to distract myself with. Oh well.

I hitched just one ride back on up to Vegas once I was able to book another room there. A day or two later I was joined by my friend who I'd just seen in Austin; he'd drove his camper to this part of the country. We kicked it in my free room, I then got some free nights at a separate casino off the strip, but there would be one night without.

We hopped in the camper to drive into the desert for a night, but along the way, my friend got word that he had a free place to stay in Big Bear, California. Off we went.

We spent the night hitting a couple of breweries, then crashed out in the little cabin they had offered him. Then, just like that, we turned right back up to Vegas. A couple nights in the casino off the strip, then checked into the Flamingo where I had yet another five nights.

My friend had girls set up here and there, coming and going. I had a friend in town, a guy I'd met earlier in the year on one of the pot farms. I filled the days with Irish coffees, poker, and bouncing around the strip.

Before I knew it, nearly a month had flown by, and I'd be flying back on up to Wyoming for Christmas.

Melvin Brewing, a critical stop in Wyoming.

Seeing my family, yet again, felt great. My mom had just published a book, and that got my creative writing juices flowing again, rekindling my interest in a screenplay I'd been rolling around in my head.

While I was there, I actually got some words on paper and felt in the zone. I wanted to continue. I posted on Facebook to see if anyone knew a place I could hunker down for a few weeks and pour my attention into the screenplay. I got a hit from a friend in Vermont and decided that was the move.

Once again, I scoured flight deals (to avoid a freezing January hitch to Vermont), and once again, Vegas was involved. Flights in and out of Vegas are always the cheapest, and for somewhat obvious reasons. In this case, I could get down to Vegas just in time for New Years Eve, fly to Orlando (random, I know), and have a day-long layover before flying up to Burlington. My ninja skills for finding cheap flights often require a tolerance for such inconveniences.

This five-day stretch in Vegas involved many all-nighters, as I had friends in town again. I arrived just as the midnight fireworks were going off, then tracked down some friends for a long night and morning that involved off-kilter girls, poker, and partying between the casino and quick trips to their room at Caesars.

At one point in the trip, I spent a solid thirty hours in the poker room. It was all pretty ridiculous. In the final hours before heading to the airport, I heroically (also read: foolishly luckily) turned $40 into $1,500, making up for some of the previous damages.

So yes, the latter part of 2021 and the entry into 2022 involved quite a bit of casino shenanigans. Here I sit now, in central Vermont, chipping away at that screenplay.

Vegas is smart, however. Recent emails have dangled a free 7-day cruise and other such goodies enticing me back. And I'll be back. For the past couple of weeks, though, I've been enjoying productivity (along with brewery visits and the like) here in Vermont. All that changes in a week. On to the next adventure.