Hitch hiking across the country

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic

Below is a true story. When I was 22 years old a girlfriend and myself hitch hiked from Austin Texas to Battle Creek Michigan with the clothes we could carry in some back packs, my guitar in a
guitar case and a packet of my artwork including the painting "The Door" which is on my profile. . It took us 3 days to get there.

This is a true story. 


  A few months after I painted the painting “The Door” (which you can find on my profile) a girlfriend of mine, Robin Kessler and myself decided to hitch hike from my home town of Austin, Texas where we were living at the time to her home town of Battle Creek, Michigan some 1500 + miles away.


  I had a nice job and an apartment full of “stuff” and such and most people would consider hitch hiking across the country with a girlfriend on a lark ias somethingcrazy to do, but I was 22 years old at the time and had a bit of gypsy in me and the thought of hitch hiking across the U.S., appealed to me on several levels. So we bought some back packs and made plans. We had a sale in my apartment to sell off my stuff for extra money for the trip, plus I had my last check from work and so early one morning on a Friday we got a ride out to I.H. 35 and Ben White Blvd and we stood there with our thumbs out. We had the clothes in our two back packs, my guitar in a guitar case and a packet of my art, including the painting “The Door” which I carried with me. We would wait out by the highway and eventually we got a ride.


  The first guy was rather strange. His name I won't mention here for legal reasons. He had a sister up in Sulfur Springs Texas which if you look on the map is up near the Arkansas border (on the Texas side of course). He was strange though and would only go about 50 miles and hour and he took the long way around Dallas and so by the time we got into Sulfur Springs Texas it was pretty late. He offered to let us stay with his sister but by now Robin and myself were ready to be away from this guy. I won't go into details of what he said along the way but let's just say he wasn't right I don't think in his head. It happens I guess.


  We waited until the guy dropped us off at a motel and acted like we were gonna check into one of the rooms and then after he drove off we walked across the street and checked into a room in the motel across from it. That was how freaked out we were by this guy but we had hope that the rest of the way would be better (and it was ).


  Anyways we had a peaceful sleep and it felt good to take a shower and that was our first day on the road.


  After eating breakfast at a Denny's across the street ( I think it was a Denny's, or one of those big chain restaurants) we went back out on the highway and put our thumbs out and the next guy was an off duty cop from Dallas. He was pretty cool. He explained how radars work and was genuinely nice. We enjoyed our time with this guy. He carried us all the way up IH 30 to Bald Knob, Arkansas and was turning off into another direction on another highway. That was as far as he could take us. It was already dark outside and this town is so small the population was about 2000 people I guess (probably much smaller when we were traveling through at the time). There was one little convince store that was closed and this corner was totally dead. We waited for a while at the edge of its parking lot for someone to come pick us up although the traffic here was very slow and the cars were few and far between.


  Eventually a truck pulled over and it was a nice family that was heading up to Illinois. They had a couple of their kids in the back and they offered to give us a ride as far as they could so we climbed into the back and we rode through the night. Robin would fall asleep but I mostly stayed awake and would doze in and out. I remember how cold it was in the back of the truck, trying to stay warm and looking up at the night sky that would eventually turn into early morning.


  Anyways, they dropped us off near another restaurant near Centralia Illinois. It was like 6 am and the sun was just coming up. I remember after they drove off Robin and I stood there by the highway and we went to kiss and the peaks of both our caps bumped into each other. We were both wearing baseball caps and it was one of those funny moments. It was suppose to be romantic you know. Here we are, half way across the US, hitch hiking and we stop to kiss on the highway with NO traffic and we bump the beaks of our caps. We both laughed and we turned our caps around and kiss and it was a sweet moment.


  We walked across the street and went into the restaurant and the looks everyone gave us reminded me of that line from Bob Seeger's song "Turn the page". It felt like that really. We didn't care. We had our breakfast and coffee and after a while we went back out to the same spot we had been dropped off at and after a while another car pulled up and it was a lady who was going up to Indiana. We rode with her down Hwy 44 to St. Louis and then we switched to Hwy 70 past Terra Haut and went around Indianapolis. We got dropped off north of Indianapolis on Hwy 69.


  We waited there a short while and a trucker picked us up and carried us up Hwy 69. His cab was up high off the ground and that was fun to see down into the other cars next to us. But the ride was bumpy, real bumpy and rough on our backs.


  He finally blew into Michigan near Battle Creek way late at night. It was something like 1:30 am when he dropped us off on Hwy 69 where it met with Hwy 94. Now mind you, it was pitch black out and there was NO traffic here. It was like a dead highway and Robin and I were dead tired. We had some flashlights so we started waving it back and forth and luckily for us a highway patrol traveling in the other direction noticed the light moving back and forth in the dark and they turned around and came back for us.


They asked us what we were doing and we told them we had hitch hiked from Austin Texas and this was where we had just been dropped off. They did a radio check on us both and decided they couldn't leave us stranded out on a deserted highway so they drove us closer down Hwy 94 and dropped us off at a truck stop there called T Kie ( I believe that was the name of the truck stop). We were just outside of Battle Creek now but it was like 2:30 am and we were both super tired. I hadn't slept well in a day and a half. We spotted a hotel a ways a way from the truck stop so we walked over to it and got a room and crashed after taking a shower. God that felt good and so did the bed.


  The next day we check out of the motel and walked back over to the truck stop and had coffee. Robin tried to call her mother but she was out, vacationing in their summer trailer which didn't have a phone. So Robin called up a friend but he was at work so we had to wait for him to get off and come pick us up which took all day hanging out in this truck stop. I'm sure the wait staff was glad to see us go when Robin's friends finally showed up. Theydrove us to Robin's mothers trailer in town and we crashed there. The next day we got a ride out to her mother's summer trailer and spent the day there.


  We would both get jobs at a pizza place and I would get my own trailer. Soon afterwards Robin would leave me for the jerk off assistant manager because he had a bigger apartment and a car and I didn't. It was kind of crappy of her to use me like that to get back home and then dump me,  but oh well. Such as life and I had a blast hitch hiking from Austin Texas to Battle Creek Michigan. It took us 3 days and we saw some amazing country. Of course I would never hitch hike these days. That was long time ago and the country was a different country back then and people would pick you up off the highway and just give you a ride. I don't think if I had been by myself though we would have had as much success. I suspect seeing a young couple had something to do with that. Not just a guy by himself.


I would spend a year and a half up there and have many adventures including the motorcycle wreck which I tell about in another story. There was a lot more that happened during that time but those adventures will have to wait for another time and another tale. I grew up a lot in that year and a half and I came back a different person in some ways. I carried my painting The Door back with me. I have it to this day as do the memory of hitch hiking from Austin Texas to Battle Creek.


After Robin and I had split up, I was feeling rather homesick and missing my friends back home. I was sitting around my trailer (shortly after she had left me for Roy ) and I would end up writing a song on my guitar to them called “Passin' Time” which I re post here. 


“Passing Time"
Well here I am fifteen hundred miles away from my hometown
Thinking about my friend’s way back there.
I’m wondering if they’re doing fine, and still remember me.
And thinking about the times that we once shared.
It’s been a while since I have seen the wonder of their smiles
Though the memory is still fresh in my mind
But the road ahead is where I’m bound, and I have come to know
All those ‘yesterdays’ I’ve had to leave behind…
And maybe I’m just a gypsy for doing what I’ve done 
But I took the only road that I could find.
And maybe someday we’ll meet again, and I can play this song my friends.
But for now, it’s all just ‘passing time’.
I met a woman who took my hand and led me down this road.
We hitchhiked all the way with just our clothes.
We rode in the back of pick up trucks with people we’ll never see again.
And how we made it, well, God only knows.
I seen the stars late at night while the wind blew on by
And I’ve seen the sun come up the very next day.
And every mile we traveled down this dusty country line
Was another mile I left you further away.
Well, who can say what tomorrow will bring, or what it has in store
Though its something that we’re all bound to find.
I know deep down inside of me, there ‘s a bright new shiny day.
But for now, its all just ‘passing time’…
So my friends, way back home, or wherever you may be
I haven’t forgotten about all those times.
When we would sit and laugh at life, and takes things as they came
But for me there was simply something else to find.
And please don’t ever forget this ‘boy’
Who somewhere down along the line became the ‘man’ that I am now
I’ve simply got to follow these dreams that have always been in my heart it seems
And I’m headed down that road to where I’m bound…
Well, it’s just a dream that I’ve always had in my heart,
To travel down this dusty country line.
And someday my friends, you’ll see this ‘boy’ again,
But for now the ‘man’ is just ‘passing time’…

Submitted: February 09, 2018

© Copyright 2021 Jim Green. All rights reserved.

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