Friday, August 19, 2016

Joe Omundson

Hitchhiking from the coast to Portland

I waited about an hour for my ride out of Neskowin. And older guy picked me up (a theme for the day), dressed completely in camo, probably a hunter, smoking a cigarette, taking freely of places he'd lived and things he'd done.

He could only take me about 12 miles up the road, so he dropped me off and as I was crossing an intersection to get to my new hitching spot, I stuck out my thumb and the first vehicle pulled over for me. This guy was probably in his 70s, rather quiet, somewhat pessimistic, but still kind of sweet. He drove me to Tillamook, where I needed to switch highways to get back inland to Portland.

Another hour of waiting before I got picked up by a 60 year old guy who couldn't have been more different from the previous driver. This guy was seriously hyperactive which he blamed on the energy drink he'd had before picking me up. He was very opinionated about politics, an oil industry worker for decades, and also very excited about getting some weed. He was disappointed that I didn't have any but was then elated at the idea of stopping at a dispensary. Hillsboro was his final destination, but he decided to drive me to Wilsonville because he had nothing else to do.

We picked up a gram in Hillsboro and packed a bowl of it on the freeway. He started bragging about his life, his crazy college experience as a football star, his $800k house and $150k car in Anchorage, all his career accomplishments and accreditations. I listened politely and responded, "Wow! Great, sounds like you're really happy with your life!" which immediately caused him to falter and reveal what seemed to me like deep insecurity. He was so used to judging life by the standards of society that he lost track of what real happiness means. He referenced his wife several times, but he also had plans to find a "hot bar" that night and see if he could "get lucky". He made a number of sexist comments along the way. So, I got a ride directly from Tillamook to my mom's house, which was awesome, but I paid the price in the form of remaining very patient with someone who triggered a lot of frustration for me. He dropped me off and gave me a business card, and said I'd have a place to stay in Alaska if I was ever there. I'm not sure I'd want to stay in his house regardless of how much it cost.

Such different characters you meet. Yet they all have something in common, they all decided it was a good idea to give a stranger a ride, and I am always grateful for that.

Now I'm in Portland. Soon I am leaving to go hike my 108 mile PCT section.

A bit of a blog milestone: this is post number 50, after ~6 months of working on this blog. I'm pretty content with that :) I look forward to sharing more thoughts and stories.

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