24 Feb 2014

“I was discontent . . . ,” he states. “. . . [S]o I just threw in the towel and took off.” For a South San Franciscan city boy, this was a monumental decision. Leaving behind his hard-won position as a color-tester at DuPont Paint, he partnered up with a fellow San Franciscan named Ed, purchased some hiking boots, and set out for New York.

As he boarded a turbo prop plane to Iceland in February 1967, Dennis Del Greco embarked on a hitchhiking journey across Europe that would change his perspective on relationships and the world. Upon landing, Dennis relates how little he knew about travel – particularly the sharp contrast between European and Californian winters. “I got travel-wise real quick,” he admits matter-of-factly. He and Ed hastily journeyed south to England, then France and Spain. Armed with his travel bible, Europe in $5 a Day, Dennis adapted to seeing drivers on the left side of the road and taking speedy showers when charged for hot water by the minute.

21 May 2013

“Hey buddy, you lookin’ for a ride?”

With his thumb pointed skyward, saying ‘no’ would be an insult to the speaker’s intelligence. He was looking for a ride, just not from this bearded monstrosity of a man.

“I’m headed east on the 10 to Juntura,” the driver continued.

In his 22 years, Keenan Recker had heard enough gruesome campfire stories to know the fate of hapless hitchhikers. He imagined the horrors in store should he join this stranger. Torture. Decapitation. Ritual sacrifice.

“Be dark bout’n hour or two,” offered the grizzly. Keenan looked at the horizon, looked at his watch, and opened the car door.

The act of bumming a ride has existed ever since people discovered modes of transportation superior to ambulation. The history of the word ‘hitchhike’, however, is as bewildering as the identity of those who pioneered the tradition.

8 Jul 2011

The hills are filled with rust and gold.
It’s funny how one has a tendency to become the other, in a roundabout way.

Not so long ago passage across this Great Basin was a risk that claimed many. A landscape that is both enigma and canvas, intangible and predatory. Using stillness as barrier – anything that intrudes upon its terrain must be willing to endure time. Summers its heat can turn glass to liquid, winters can fall like a blanket, perfect and absolute.
To walk in this desert is to feel suspended within a held breath, a landscape mercurial – solid and definite until one tries to grasp it.

27 Jun 2011

I was in Spain on my way to the 2010 European hitchfestival when two nice fellows stepped out of the car to inspect my papers. They informed me I couldn't hitchhike here.

I contested. They double-checked and wished me a nice ride. The same occured a couple of months later, with different police but again in the same country.

In some countries police can give you a hard time. They send you away for example, or even want to check your bags and everything. But most of the time you are fine. I generally just stay nice to them. I think it is easier that way.

14 Jun 2011

I was hitchhiking in beautiful South Spain this March for almost 3 weeks with an experienced traveller friend. The most inspiring ride was a Portuguese couple who picked us up with a camper-like something, in which we shared the small space with 2 sweet dogs. Ana and Joao are really awesome people: they write poems and short stories, and they sell them. I will learn Portuguese one day to read them.

They made us green leaf-tea in the back of the car, so we were slurping delicious tea while the camper moved under us. When our lifelines crossed we were on the way to Madrid, they were on the way to France to do some fruit-picking.

2 May 2011

“I usually don’t pick up hitchhikers. But you don’t look like the usual hippie… “

The 40-something man opens the door of the fancy car he drives to make an impression on his clients.
I’m in. comfortably sitting in the rear, with my shoulders finally relying on something smoother than a rock.

It was fun to sleep for few days in a tent under zero degrees and winking stars fighting to be brighter than the orange moon. Listening to the birds talking to each other the whole night.

Fun and humid. the surface of the tent was frozen every morning we woke up. Sometimes I dreamed I would lose my legs since they were so cold. But as far as my body is warm, legs and arms are not a big issue. I’m fine with it.

I don’t look like a hippie, you can say so. I shaved in the morning, before hitting the road. And worn the jacked my mother hand-made for me. Maybe my hair are a bit ruffled by the wind. It’s not my fault if they are curly. If they would be straight, I guess they’d look dirtier. who cares, anyway? the only important thing now, is hosting these random travel-mates in my life. and understanding theirs.

27 Apr 2011

Hvor skal i hen? I asked when I opened the door of the white transporter that dared to pull over on the narrow on-ramp close to Hjørring, in North Jutland.

In the van was a young and seemingly hip couple. Sitting next to the door I had opened, the guy looked at me with a cell phone glued onto his ear, ignoring my all-important question that was still awaiting an answer. From the other side of the cabin, the girl at the wheel, whose arms were covered with gross home-made, heart-shaped tatoos, threw a weird, interrogating glance at me, but then she got it and replied in Norwegian Vi skal mot Tyskland: we are heading to Germany. The guy, who was still talking on the phone, and was evidently greatly annoyed by it, made some room for me in the front, I hopped in and we set off.

20 Sep 2010

I sat in the back of the speeding pickup surveying the desert in the direction the other hitchhiker was pointing. “There’s water in those mountains,” he said.

I wasn’t so sure. There wasn’t anything green as far as I could see. The truck was approaching a gas station where the guy wanted to be left off.

“You see this green part on the map? That means there’s water out there.”

I looked at the green areas that said National Forest on them and thought the guy would be lucky to find even a single plant in those mountains, let alone water. Those green spaces only meant it was national land.

“Are you sure?” I said.

“Yeah. I’ll be all right.” He waved to the driver to pull over.

I’d been weighing whether I should go with him. I had always wanted to learn to live off the land. That’s what the guy planned to do. He said he’d learned how to do it from a book by Chief Eagle Feather or somebody. I had read several of those types of books, but never expected the advice to actually work.

19 Jun 2010

Trains and Snow

Submitted by xo

December 14th. I spent the day today on the train, another stupid decision that weighs on my morals and will further reduce the time I spend with the people I love.

I am alone in this car, and the snowy landscape rolls by more and more slowly as I approach the station at Modane. The snow I've dreamed of for the first time in years, is finally here. She appeared a little earlier, in the early afternoon on the edge of the railroad tracks. Already she seems to want to fade all traces of humanity, the landscape of roads and parking lots disappear, leaving only the small trees without any leaves, like death.

After the landscape, it is the sky the snow is set to invade. Mountains begin to appear, yet these mountains seem to be a trap to keep in the oppressive haze. My eyes try desperately to find a path that will take them past the infinity of the railway tracks. In a few minutes the train will stop at Modane, near the Italian border. I will have to close my book again, and leave this train where I've had to shed tears of melancholie. Once again I'd be alone as I have always been, but it doesn't matter as I'll soon be far away.

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