Tuesday, January 17, 2012

hitching post: Columbia, south Carolina

The heat while I was in Columbia was terrible. Combine that with the relentless humidity and foul air and you had the makings of a miserable place. The light grey t-shirt I was wearing became so grimy from the air I through it away.

I briefly checked out the Trucking For Jesus place. A refurbished long haul trailer that served as office and meeting place. No one home it seems. Nearby was a camper trailer with roll out shade and cheap plastic outdoor furniture. And a picnic table. I dropped the pack and sat on the table while taking the place in.

A group of trucks sat idling on my current side of the little truck stop building. In front of the truck stop was the gas pumps for the four wheelers. A barrier separated that space from a small  fueling line. Beyond that was a large gravel parking area for the rigs. more businesses lay beyond, mainly a large repair shop and slightly above the place in elevation a large building for washing big rigs. the truck stop had the usual set of scales and a small repair facility of its own behind the main building. All in all a typical layout but on a much smaller scale.

A young man emerged from somewhere and approached me. He had red hair and the type of fair freckled skin that is not made for a southern sun. He came up and introduced himself as Dennis from Kentucky.  He claimed that he and his family had been stranded at this place by so-called friends the day before, and where waiting on some help from the Truckin’ for Jesus people. I explained what I was about and he said that most of the trucks that came here were locals. That didn’t sound good. He went on to say that he was trying to make his way to Florida where a potential job was waiting. But he had complained about the friends use of dope around his young daughter. So while he and family had gone to the restroom, the so-called friends had dumped their belongings out onto the parking lot and and sped away, leaving them here without any means.

I went around to the trucks that were at idle and looked to see if there was someone visible. I sure as heck wasn’t going to knock on the doors unannounced. No one showing. Went into the truck stop and moseyed through the little store and the adjacent eatery, then out into the horrific heat and the fuel line. No one there. Went over to the parked rigs. No one stirring. Walked back to the restaurant side and found a patch of shade to sit in. I braced for a long stay. It was a good thing I did. I had no luck at all the rest of the day. My fears of being stranded were beginning to get the best of me.

Just as I was about to get restless, the stranded family came around. The woman was on the large side and the little girl was covered in mosquito bites. They seemed more desperate than I was so I gave them the remainder of the fiver that James had slipped me earlier and I dug out my Burt’s Bee’s mosquito ointment and gave them that for the little one. Apparently they had slept out in the grassy area behind the truck stop and the mozzies had assaulted them relentlessly through the night. More forebodings as it looked I would end up there myself.

As the sun waned a large moving semi moving truck pulled in. As per usual I went over to it and asked if I could get a lift. They were parking for the night so no lift, but, they had some food left over they could not fit into their fridge and I was welcomed to that. Nice. Got to eat a second time that day. After woofing down the BBQ chicken wings and fries, I waited till sundown and found what looked to be a safe place to roll out in some very tall grass. The hill was bermed with old tires. That was where the mozzies were hanging out. I had developed a technique for protecting myself from the biters while on my shakedown run. Tonight would put it to a real test.

I slept in fits. Not because of the mosquitos though. My covering worked, but that irritating whine was in my ears most of the night. I gave up about four o’clock and put my rig back together. The trucks were starting up for the day. I tried all that had anyone around them and the fuel line without any luck. I took a stab at hitching the ramp but the damn thing was laid out badly and the no pedestrian sign was placed in a way that prevented me from being in a good spot. About nine I gave up and walked back to the truck stop and decided to give the Jesus folks a try.

They had gotten the stranded family a place to stay last night, so maybe they would be kind enough to get me down the interstate at least as far as a major truck stop. They hemmed and hawed about it. I gave them James name and number he had wrote on a piece of paper for me. Said they knew him. They claimed otherwise. Getting no where, I thanked them for their time and went back out to the fuel line. Lo and behold, a new truck was pulling in. I went to check it out.

They fellow was putting a hose in the passenger side fuel tank as I walked up. I asked for a lift west. He wanted to know where I was heading. I pulled the atlas from my pack and pointed to the spot where Green River, Utah would be if it was on the map. He said he could get me to Kansas City, Missouri. I was stunned. Did I hear right. Yes I did. Wow. He let me stow my gear and told me to meet him at the diner. A hot breakfast and then the road.

John was his name. He would not normally be in that area but needed some tires. Guess this was the ride I was kept waiting for. From that time on, I knew to just go with the flow. It always works out. Just be patient. Two days later we rolled into the big truck stop on I-70 outside KC. I had crossed the Big Muddy, seen the St. Louis arch and had been treated to good meals. I couldn’t stop smiling. I was having the time of my life.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

gratitude post

As usual my cup runneth over. I am grateful for:

  • my Higher Power that always takes care of me
  • my one real friend who is always there for me
  • my internet friends for their wisdom and entertainment
  • my health
  • nature
  • a warm shelter
  • warm clothing
  • food and water
  • my netbook
  • Linux and free software
  • free and open culture
  • the internet
  • free wifi and those who provide it
  • my kindle and free ebooks
  • a creek to bathe in
  • money in my pocket
  • happiness and contentment
  • being at peace with life
  • having an open mind and a grateful attitude
  • learning new and better habits
  • a mind that still reaches out to grasp at new and different things
  • preparations for the road
  • all the people that take the time to read my drivel
  • life, freedom, and sobriety

Thanks for reading. May life be all you hope for.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

hitching post: across the palmetto state

 

Traveling in the palmetto state was sweet. But the heat and humidity were near unbearable. While standing on the ramp of Hwy.74/76 across the Cape Fear river from Wilmington, NC, I had a moment where I felt a bit nauseous and thought about retreating to some shade. But I held firm and made it as far a s Supply on Hwy. 17 south before finding a place to roll out by an old graveyard. The inhabitants were quiet and the mosquitoes not too bad.

Next day found me back on the shoulder, thumb out, refreshed with the relative morning coolness. My very first ride of the day was an older man driving an eighteen-wheeler. He was headed to some place I have now forgotten, but he went well out of his way to drop me in downtown Conway. It was a cool way to get going. He went the back roads, which is my favorite way to travel, and we had a good long talk about all sorts of things. I always have good luck with truckers, guess cause my dad was one. The big rigs are like a second home to me.

I walked across Conway after a water refill at a small bait shop. Finally a place came along where a vehicle could safely pull off the highway. The highway was two-laned but the shoulder had a curb that disallowed pulling over. Three good rides and I was almost into Florence. For a state that has made it illegal to hitch the interstate system, the secondary roads are great traveling. Florence is the gateway to I-20 and the west.

I had slogged it out on I-40 back in the tar heel state. It took me nearly a week to cross North Carolina! I am glad I took that shakedown run, it revealed a lot. Now I was taking the advise of a woman who had been part of a husband and wife driving team. She suggested that I take 20 because that is the most popular route for west coast bound rigs. So here I was flying across South Carolina. Nice.

The road system is a bit funky around Florence. I jogged north to the Pilot truck stop on I-95. Go north to go west, weird. No luck on the fueling line and a mouthy yard attendant put me off from the truck stop. It is the only truck stop that I have encountered such behavior. I still wonder why he was not saying anything to two cowboy dressed lot lizards that were working the fuel line!

By the side of the highway where the trucks exit, I made a crude sign from some scrounged cardboard. Tip: always carry a few pieces of cardboard and a fat marker for signs. From a service station across the way I saw the old two-tone Chevy suburban come out and across the lanes. It pulled to a stop by me. A middle aged black man leaned over and spoke across his wife, asking if I would like a ride. II replied I would, but I was heading to I-20. He said they were going to Spartanburg. Yes! And so I met James and his wife Cherese. They were from Fayetteville, NC and were going to visit relatives in Spartanburg. According to James, they tried to perform at least one good deed a day, and today I was it.

James is a preacher who runs a small mission that helps the homeless and downtrodden. They related their stories while carrying me down I-20. At soon as a fast food place came into view they bought me a meal and James slipped me five bucks for the future, “Man gotta eat,” he said. They had both been through a lot, living on the streets. Cherese had been abandoned by her own kin while pregnant. They new what real need was. I instantly loved them. We talked about all kinds of things from todays youth to JC. It was all a great hoot.

They new a truck stop in Columbia. They said there was a preacher for trucker's at that place who could help me. So I reluctantly parted company with my new friends and found myself in a non-descript little truck stop during some of the hottest weather in a long time. It was the beginning of a new chapter in my journey. 

 

Friday, January 6, 2012

weekly gratitude

I have been down this week with a virus, but never-the-less, I despair not, for recovery is now in sight.

As always I have much to be grateful for:
  • the Higher Power that watches over me
  • my one true friend that I can always count on
  • my internet friends who provide me with much wisdom and encouragement
  • having lived to see another year 
  • recovery from my sickness
  • a warm camp
  • warm and lasting clothes
  • food and water
  • a creek to bathe in
  • my netbook
  • Linux and free software
  • my Kindle and free books
  • free wifi and those who provide it
  • a mind that still wants to learn
  • an endless fascination with everything
  • a childlike curiosity
  • a true heart
  • life, freedom, and sobriety
Thanks to those who read my stuff. I hope your lives are blessed in every way.

Friday, December 30, 2011

weekly gratitude

Once more, some time to be grateful.

  • for my Higher Power
  • for the only real friend that I have in this life
  • for my internet friends
  • my health
  • a wealth independent of material things
  • a desire to keep improving myself
  • empathy, intuition, insight
  • food and water
  • a warm camp
  • warm clothing
  • a creek to bathe in
  • my netbook
  • free wifi
  • Linux and free software
  • free and open culture
  • my Kindle and free ebooks
  • sunny days
  • Mexican breads
  • money in my pocket
  • nothing to spend it on
  • prepping for the road
  • life, freedom, sobriety

Thursday, December 29, 2011

hitchin' post: in the beginning

In the beginning there was desire. And from that everything followed.

I could go into all the events that led up to the point in my life where I found myself standing on the shoulder of a highway, thumb out, going somewhere. But that is neither here nor there. I would rather talk about the hitchin' itself.

At 53 years of age,  it is a reasonable guess that not too many folks would consider me a child. But standing beside that highway, cars flying past, sun shining down, I felt like a kid again. I smiled. I laughed. I did the watusi when no one was around. My heart was bright and my life was light as a feather. God, it's beautiful out there.

I had no money what-so-ever. A food stamp card with a final months worth of stamps -$200- was all there was to fall back on. Well, that and a faith in something more. That something you only encounter in tough spots, fox holes, giving up addictions, falling in love. That indefinable something that reaches out to bear you up, hold you close, and provide in ways miraculous.

My feet were shod in desert combat boots. Best boots I have ever owned. The pack was a well worn ALICE. Medium size. Steel frame suitable for sitting on for those extended spells of waiting for the next adventure to start. My roll was a combat poncho and liner. Not much, but it served. The rest of my gear was just as simple. Tools mostly. Multiplier, light sheath knife, folding saw. My roof when required would be a cheap brown tarp, and the stakes where aluminum gutter spikes.  A minimum of clothes, hygiene kit, and writing materials made up the rest. Oh, and lots of socks. I started out with a bottle of aspirin for my heart condition, but lost it somehow in South Carolina. I never found that I needed it though.

And so it began.

My final preparations have begun for a return to the road. Perhaps for a very long period of time. So, with that in mind, I have decided to relate the adventures from my previous time on the road. It was my intention to put this story together for an ebook. They are the in thing now ya know. Maybe I will anyway. But if it does not happen, then at least the posts that I will write here will be my record of something almost too much for mere words. I hope that my skill, such as it is, will be up to the task.

As life, especially mine, is well known for taking sudden unexpected turns, I want this stuff out there. I hope that the wonderful people I met in crossing and criss-crossing my country, will find there way to these words. My drivel may never do them the justice they deserve, but it is all that this poor nomad has to offer. That and my endless gratitude for the absolute best time I have ever experienced in my short spin on planet earth. I hope that you will find the stories as endlessly fascinating and entertaining to read as it was for me to experience them.

Travel in peace.