Still, with how motivated I'm feeling about my projects in the new year, I'm wondering if I shouldn't tack this one on the end of the list too. :)
That 1998 trip was marked by many frustrating moments in which I disliked my father immensely, and yet the countless exhilarating experiences kept me going from February 2 - May 17 or so, before I finally gave up and fled for home. I skipped the last few stops, which part of me still regrets, and yet I had run out of money, and my emotional breakdown really was the deciding factor in the end. Dad kept going without me.
Anyway, I thought I would share an excerpt, a reflection on some of the characters we met while hitch-hiking down the West Coast of the United States:
Cars’ headlights shone murkily through the falling water, and most of them passed us by without a second glance. I shivered in the cold and wondered if I’d end up dead in a ditch somewhere, just as I’d told mum I might. I had survived this latest encounter with a person who wasn’t scared of hitchhikers, but how long would my luck last? I didn’t really believe that a grisly fate would befall me, so it wasn’t a huge concern for me. I guess you never think it will happen to you, and I didn’t – thankfully I wasn’t disappointed!
After a while a car slowed as it saw us, and swept past gradually slowing further. It came to a halt and Dad and I jogged towards it while trying to balance our packs on our backs. I looked forward to getting out of the rain, but not so forward to sitting next to some stranger for a potentially long ride.
It was a shoddy car, a watery silver-blue colour and probably 15 years old, although it looked like it’d been through the wars. It reminded me a bit of dad’s Suzuki which had transported us through the Australian desert. That had been what felt like a lifetime ago, though it was in actual fact only just over a month. I’d worn shorts and crappy tops during the desert stint. Now I wore torn jeans and Rachelle’s cardigan as I went to meet the first of our saviours for this part of the journey.
I can’t recall his name, but he was relatively young – perhaps thirty or so – and a bit grubby looking. He was skinny with pale hair and a bit of stubble. He told us in his scratchy voice to jump in, and explained the state his car was in – it was choc a block full of assorted items that were being transported down to his new home. We had a bit of a time struggling into the car – we all sat in the front seat, as there was no other option available – but we managed in the end.
I wasn’t as surprised as I might have been that Dad insisted I sit in the middle, next to the guy. My mum had told me how he did that in the past when she was travelling with him – put the young woman beside the guy, to “keep him happy”. I decided I’d insist that Dad took the next turn keeping our saviours happy.
Since I don’t recall the guy’s name, I’ll call him Bob. Bob was a strange man, but quite amusing. At one point during our trip south he asked our opinion of the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky controversy that had gripped the USA at the time we were there. We gave him our input and he said, “Yeah, the way I see it is, I don’t care who he sleeps with, as long as he doesn’t want to sleep with me, ya know?” It was an unforgettable moment.
Bob dropped us off not long after we first met him, and we decided to stop and have ourselves a cup of coffee. Slogging through the wet but no longer rainy landscape, we reached a diner where we took a table for ourselves and ordered coffee and doughnuts. I enjoyed being in the warmth of the diner and didn’t particularly look forward to getting on the road again. But when we finally did, it didn’t take us very long to meet our next chaperone.
Naturally it's completely unedited, and I haven't even finished writing out the whole journey yet. There are large gaps, and sometimes I struggle trying to read my own writing in the original journals. Haha. But I think this would be worth working on, at some point anyway.