Sunday, 31 March 2013

Travel Series: U.S.A. part 5 (final)

By the end of my last Globetrotters post, U.S.A. part 4, we were in Oregon with family after a long trip across the country (Washington D.C. to Salem, OR). I forgot to mention, though, that we had had to do a bit of hitch-hiking to get there.

To get to Salem we got rides from the following folks:

  1. Two African American guys, one of whom asked, "You got black people in Australia?" We responded with, "Yes, the Aborigines! Ab-or-IJ-in-eez!"
  2. David, a publisher and poet who drove like a maniac but took us all the way to Portland
  3. "2 semi-weirdos", according to my travel diary, one of whom had emphysema (or maybe just sounded like it?). They took us right into Salem

A little bit of Salem, OR.
Once in Salem, Dad's fabulous Aunty Roma came to pick us up and that was the beginning of our brief stint of R&R. It was really nice hanging out with this part of my family I hadn't met before. I also learned some of my family history that I hadn't known before. Pretty soon though, it was time to get back on the road...

For yet more hitch-hiking.

It was kind of miserable for me as a 17-year-old, standing on the side of the road begging for a ride. It wasn't that I was scared of who would pick us up, though there was no doubt a vague element of that. It was more that I felt like a complete bum. Here is a little excerpt from my travel diary to illustrate how I was feeling:

"Hitchhiking. I imagine them saying, "Yeah right!" or "Fuck off!" or "Not on your nelly!" One guy up-yoursed me, and I felt like crying 'cos it was SO HUMILIATING." (April 8, 1998)

Dad is a born hitch-hiker! 

But we did meet some entertaining and generous people during our trek down the west coast of the U.S.A., for e.g.:

Me in the Christian truck.

  1. A guy in the shittiest car known to man (passenger side window covered in plastic and taped up, flapping noisily at high speed) who had rather strong opinions about the Clinton/Lewinsky affair of the day. "I don't care who Bill sleeps with, as long as he doesn't want to sleep with me, you know?" He took us to Ashland where his girlfriend and eight children lived.
  2. A born-again truck driver who played nothing but Christian music but also told funny stories. He said that when he was still a cop, his boss called him in one day and said, "Now look, you're really out of shape." He responded with, "Since when is 'round' not a shape?" He invited us to stay at his place, though when Dad asked if his wife would mind, he said, "I don't need to ask, it's MY house!"
  3. A middle-aged man who looked a little red-eyed, who it turned out was on his way to a good friend's funeral (the friend had committed suicide I think). He had the nicest car out of anyone we had hitch-hiked with, until San Francisco at least
  4. A young university student who took us all the way from Sacramento to the outskirts of San Francisco. He played good music and we thanked him for it as we parted ways.

By the time #4 dropped us off, we only had $20.00 left (still suffering from expired card/not-working-Visa problems), and…this is what happened next. Since I've written about it before, I figured I would just link back to that past entry. I'm pretty sure I've never showed off the moldy cheese photo before, though, so here it is:

Dad and the moldy cheese.

So, after that mighty adventure in San Fran, a member of my U.S. family flew me back to L.A. (SO. GRATEFUL.), while Dad hitch-hiked his way back down the Pacific Coast Highway (his preference). I spent my last few days in the U.S. relaxing, and one day I visited Disneyland. I also enjoyed the letters that had been waiting for me, including the one containing my shiny new NON-expired keycard!

Back in L.A., chillaxing.

With that, the mighty U.S.A. leg of the journey draws to a close. It really was an incredible experience, criss-crossing such an amazing country, and someday I wouldn't mind retracing my steps just to refresh my memory. No doubt things have changed since 1998, but wow, I'm sure it'd still be an incredible journey.

Next time I post for Globetrotters, I'll write about the next leg of the journey…England!

Flying out of L.A.


  1. What an adventure. I'm not made for hitchhiking. :) What a gorgeous picture from the plane.

  2. Sounds like a huge adventure.

  3. I have always wanted to hitch hike around the country, but have heard so many horror stories I have been scared to do it. I may have to reconsider.

    1. Dropping by from A to Z Challenge. This is my first year participating.

      Brett Minor
      Transformed Nonconformist

  4. You guys were brave! You were also in Oregon a scant year after I moved back to Colorado from there. I lived there from 96-97. And you bet it's changed!

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse


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