hitchhiking

Stuart Lawrence stuartwl at walrus.com
Wed Jul 30 00:08:08 MDT 2003


Hitchhiking is certainly dead in the northeastern US. Out west, things
are still a little more easygoing, and one does see people thumbing for
rides. I drove 1,000 miles on a recent vacation in California in a roomy
sedan and felt guilty for not picking anyone up, as I might have done
had I been traveling alone. I got a driver's license only in my late
30s, so I have lived most of my life in that state of alienation one
experiences in the USA as a non-driver. Back when it was marginally
possible to travel in the east by hitchhiking I did a fair amount of it,
including a spring when I hiked 500 miles of the Appalachian Trail and
made forays into towns and back home by bumming rides. I can say with
assurance that it is the hitchhiker who has more reason to be fearful
than the driver who picks him up.

In contrast to hitchhiking, hopping freight trains engenders a real
sense of transaction-free Iiving and travel, courtesy of the
19th-century industrial infrastructure that still moves vast amounts of
material. Freighthopping has become more difficult too, thanks to
crackdowns by highly centralized railroad corporations, and similarly
far more common in the western states.

My sense is that the transient homelessness associated with hitchhiking
and freighthopping, as opposed to the grinding urban variety that finds
men and women stubbornly staking out territory on city streets, is both
more common and more viable in places like California and the Pacific
Northwest.

I wish Mac and his companion a safe and rewarding journey. How did they
arrange the one-way paddling trip down the Yukon? Is that by raft or
canoe, and what kind of water is that?

Stuart





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