Yesterday went better than expected, and contrary to how the day felt when it started. I slept later than I wanted to, and of course drug- ass getting packed up and out Leah's door. I think it was 10:30 or so when I finally found myself walking toward the West Glenwood on-ramp to I-70 west. I hung out a the little truckstop for a while watching people before I plopped down, leaned up against the pack and waited.
I'm not much of a hitchhiker at all. I don't bother putting my thumb out or anything. I figure if someone cant figure out that I'm looking for a ride-you know, lying on a backpack at an interstate on-ramp and all... It didn't bother me just sitting there. It was a beautiful day, sunny, NO WIND, and I felt like a snake sunning himself by the road. I understand why they do that now!
I did finally get a ride after an hour and a half or so, with a kid fresh out of college from Ogalalla, Nebraska. He was on his way to Rifle, where he lives now working on oil rigs or something similar. He was a pretty cool guy, and loved what I was doing! It seems when I say "I have no idea" when people ask where I'm going, I get the big "WHOA!" of amazement everytime. I forget the kids name, and didn't get a picture, but he was a pretty good guy, and his information on route 13 convinced me to go that way out of Rifle, and get off the interstate.
I walked through Rifle, about 3-4 miles or so, while stopping at a sporting goods store to see about maps. The one I needed was $8.99 so I decided I didn't need it. Getting out of town was a breeze, and when the sidewalk ended, I sat down to take a break. While I was sitting there looking for my gum, a pickup stopped and told me to "throw my shit in the back and get your ass in here!". I was amazed how quickly that happened.
Doug had just finished his 2-week straight work week, and was heading home for his week off. He asked where I was going, and initially I told him toward Meeker; aiming low as always! But then I found out he lived in northern WYOMING, about 50 miles from the Montana line, and 45 miles "east of Yellowstone", as I would heard REPEATEDLY over the next few hours! He told me he'd take me as far as I wanted to go, so after setting my eyes on US 40, I figured I'd see how it went and if it went well, shoot for Wyoming.
"Well" is a relative term, isn't it?
As with Dennis a few days before, Doug was drinking. And I believe he was rather baked. He was trying to show me how much of an outlaw he was at first, naturally assuming that's what I was. I let him go...it was kind of funny. Although he was a bit odd, and his driving was--interesting--I soon figured he was essentially harmless, and probably safe enough to at least get me to Craig.
Our first little adventure was in Meeker, where he decided he needed a beer. We stopped at a neat little bar where he went inside and proceeded to buy the bar a round. There were 5 people there; big spender! A guy was trying to sell a carved wooden dog for $250, and I believe Doug would have bought it if I hadn't asked him "What the fuck are you going to do with that?" "Talk to it!" he said. When I didn't fall over laughing at his humor, I think he realized that he was acting the fool in trying to impress everyone with his little stack of $20's! He quickly finished his beer, everyone thanked him for the drink, and we left to continue up 13.
Doug said he needed more beer when we got to Craig, and it was there that I looked at the map for the first time since Rifle. We were 40 miles or so from the Wyoming line, and he'd agreed to let me drive from there, so I decided to get greedy and stick with Doug to I-80. Plus, I'd actually begun to like the guy. He was a big talker with all sorts of bravado and fronts, but once you got thru all that he was great. I'd find out later HOW great.
The Wyoming line came and went. I got my picture of the sign. Doug peed. I asked him if he wanted me to drive--REALLY wanting him to let me--and he let me know that he was in-charge here: "I'll let you know" in a low, gruff voice. Great. So I kicked back, and watched the scenery, which by the way was magnificent, especially along CO- 13. Better than I even imagined, and ample place to throw the tent down.
By now I planned on getting out where 789 (new name for 13) met up w/ I-80, in hopes of getting a ride, or at least filling my water supply and walking on. Problem though. There WAS a gas staion there 25 years ago, but now nothing but a fireworks stand. And I mean NOTHING. I scoped it out. Doug peed. I decided I'd keep on with Doug east on I-80 toward the next truck stop, or at least semblance of civilization. That turned out to be 25 miles down, here in Rawlins. We took exit 214 to the T/A travel center, and I had my eyes on the KOA across the interstate. Doug insisted I let him buy me Subway. I had been refusing his offers of food the whole way, but by now I was hungry and the thought of a 12" Tuna that I could split for dinner and breakfast seemed smart.
By now Doug had calmed down a bit, and we were getting along very well. He said he was glad he picked me up, and for the last 3 hours had been pressuring me to ride all the way to his house "45 miles from Yellowstone!" I must say I considered it, but the thought of going that far north didn't really appeal to me, plus I still wanted to get to US 191.
While we were sitting there eating, a woman walked over to out table and asked how far Evanston was. Through the coarse of the conversation, we learned that she was going to PORTLAND and was on a limited budget. I offered her $20 and help driving if she'd let me ride, and Doug offered to throw in $50! I thought he was full of shit...but then realized he's do it. She would have taken me, but there was now way I was getting me and my pack into her car. NO WAY. It was stuffed. I would have had to ride like Grandma in "Vacation". Too bad. So Close!! But alas...Wyoming it is.
Doug and I said goodbye, and he handed me a folded piece of paper and quickly got into his truck. I went inside to finish Dinner, and chill out for awhile, opened it up, and inside: $25. I was amazed. This guy had driven me from Rifle, CO to Rawlins, WY...bought me dinner...offered to pay for gas in exchange for my transit...AND given me $25. All I had done was be honest with him and treat him with the resepct I thought he deserved. That's the only thing I can figure.
I hoofed it over to the KOA, got a tent site, talked to Laina and crashed. I woke up coughing in the middle of the night, and today have a sore throat, and a sore shoulder from sleeping wrong! I'm hoping Leah's kids didn't get me sick.
I got up this morning, did some laundry (YES!), took a shower (woohoo!), packed and walked off at about 11:15. I stopped at a little park on Washington St. while I made my way toward the library, and as I was sitting there an elderly lady asked me if I was hitchhiking, I said "sort of", and she came over and sat with me. We chatted while I ate, and she told me she used to hitch all over the place in her younger years. We talked about the town, her son she had just met for the first time, and eventually we walked off together toward the library. She walked me all the way here! She also gave me her address and asked me to call or send a post card. Nice lady this Jeanette.
The library doesn't have a timer on the computer, so I was able to upload pics, send Couchsurf requests for Lander, WY and update this.
I think I've decided to hoof it up 287 toward Lander, then take 28 southwest from there. I really want to avoid Rock Springs, which I keep hearing nasty stories about.
Over 200 miles yesterday. Not too bad!