Batman and his couch surfing buddy Maki
The Wondergasm begins!!!!
May 7th, 2010 - I wake from a restless sleep, nervous and still somewhat shocked that I'm about to hitch hike across the country. My friend Matt drives me out to I-25 and unceremoniously abandons me. He didn't even stop his truck! It totally reminded me of that scene in Terminator 2 when the T-1000 jumps from his motorcycle onto the helicopter, cracks through the windshield with his head and then slides in all silver-liquid-like and tells the driver to "Get out." Matt was even wearing the same motorcycle cop uniform (which I thought was odd) with the reflective mirror sunglasses and everything. I was terrified as I leaped from his speeding truck, with my enormous backpack strapped to me and Batman in my arms, but as my feet hit the ground I realized that the truck was actually parked nicely outside of a gas station. The sun was shining and the sky was clear. I was going to be okay. All of my wild imaginings seemed to vanish with one little step down from his truck. (except Matt's motorcycle cop uniform, I still don't quite know what was going on there). And all of my screaming and crying, it seems, had been all for naught. Matt even gave me a hug before he left, and then it was just Batman and I, about to hitch hike almost 1,300 miles across the United States. As I watched Matt's truck turn onto I-25, heading south, there was only one thought on my mind... how the hell am I supposed to do this? I had read up on safety tips, and the what to bring lists, but somehow I had missed the part about what you need to do to get a ride. My first inclination was to sit near the ramp where people got off the highway with my little sign saying Headed to Portland, OR. which Marisa had so kindly printed out and laminated for me. But as I sat and watched the traffic move past and turn either towards Firestone or Longmont, I realized I needed to relocate.
I walked toward the highway on ramp and caught sight of another hitch hiker. He waved, calling out to me and ambled over wearing his over sized backpack. He looked to be in his late fifties, about half of his teeth were missing from his smile and skin was red and ruined. He was exceedingly happy to meet me and offered to make me some coffee, coffee grounds being the only food he had. I instead offered him a granola bar and informed him that this was my first time out hitch hiking. It turned out that Greg has been hitch hiking around America for the past 8 years, ever since he got out of jail for drug trafficking. He ended up being a wealth of information, a vagabonding Yoda of sorts. He proceeded to give me a run down of the tips and tricks that I would need along my journey. His first piece of advice was "Don't talk to folks about religion. That's why I'm here, I couldn't keep my mouth shut on my last ride so they dropped me off early. By the way, do you have a relationship with Jesus?" He continued to give me lots of good and interesting advice, like always wait on the on ramp to the highway where people can see you and have room to stop, and never hitch hike on highway 101, and that my sign was nice but people would be intimidated by long distances (i.e. Colorado to Oregon), and then he stopped for moment and closed his eyes. Almost thirty seconds later, he opened them again and said "Well, God just told me I should move on down to the next exit and let you have this ramp." I didn't quite know what to say other than thank you, and with that Greg was on his way. I almost expected him to vanish into thin air, but no such luck. Batman and I walked up to the I-25 on ramp and sat, stuck out our thumbs and 15 minutes later we were on the road.
As we've journeyed across the U.S. I've been asked one question time and time again. Why? Why hitch hike to Oregon? Why sell and give away everything you own? Why? To be honest, there were lots of motivations, adventure, excitement, experience, meeting new people, seeing new sights, but there is only one real underlying reason. An inadequate self image. That might not make much sense, but hear me out. For years it has been apparent to me that many of the people in my life have grossly inaccurate estimations of what they are capable of achieving. I have friends who barely ever date, and not because they don't want to, and not because they're ugly or stupid, and not because they are incapable of having wonderful relationships, but because they don't think girls will like them, so they don't try. And that is just one small example of the ways in which an inadequate self image can rob people of a life more in line with their desires and capabilities. So to bring this reasoning full circle, I came to the conclusion a while back that I too suffered from an inadequate self image. And if that were true, that means I am capable of much more than I think I am. So I decided to believe in something new, something out of sync with what I usually believe. I decided to believe that I was wrong. I was wrong about myself. Once I started acting on this belief, I found that I stopped asking myself "Can I do this?", and just started assuming that I could. So why give everything away? Why hitch hike across America? It's simple really... I've always wanted to, and until now I was under the impression that I wouldn't be able, but thankfully, I was right about being wrong.
For the sake of not having this entry go on forever, I'm just going to add some pictures, and continue to try and catch up with my experiences thus far in future blogs. Enjoy.
Mount Hood at sunset.
It was cold in Utah and Batman was shivering as we ate breakfast, so I put my sweater on under his backpack. It seemed to do the trick.
Batman in Burger King at 2am. Ask for forgiveness, rather than permission. ;)
The sun reflecting off of Windmills at Sunrise.
Batman running up to get in our next ride.
Batman running free at Mt. Tabor, which is essentially a mountain/leash free dog park. It's huge!.
More fun at Mt. Tabor
Batman waiting for the bus at midnight.
Batman's first tram ride.
Portland's motto is "Keep Portland Weird". This guy in his shiny gold stretch pants with army boot is just doing his part.
Most of Portland's fountains are made to be played in.