ShowsBefore You GoBulletin BoardContactAboutSearch
Show and Features |
Culture Watch | Question of the Week | Letters of the Week |
Traveler's Aid | Library | Host's View

Northern New Jersey to Cheyenne, Wyoming

On the show broadcast Sept. 25 in NYC, Rudy said that no one hitchhikes anymore. Not so. In late August I went on a 3600-mile trip to and from Cheyenne, Wyoming from Northern N.J. I am a veteran of about 25,000 hitchhiking miles logged from 1969 to 1976 and wanted to see if my thumb still worked. As a driver these past twenty-some years I had seen very few hitchhikers, even away from large cities. I never believed that hitching was dangerous, although almost everyone else (including Hollywood) does.

Calling my August trip "the mid-life crisis tour," I set out early one Friday morning intending to hitch to the West Coast and fly back (because I needed to be back the following Thursday). With 40 more pounds (under my belt), and a lot less hair than I had in the "old days," I started on Route 80 about 35 miles west of NYC, carrying a small, expandable suitcase. I admit to being nervous in the beginning, mostly concerned about my stamina and the embarrassment of failure. Now firmly ensconced in the middle class (I am a lawyer/small businessman), I had enough money and credit cards to eat well, sleep well and treat my rides to whatever they might need. I was prepared to quit if I got stuck somewhere.

In just five rides and 2 1/2 days I was in Cheyenne, WY. I detoured in Cheyenne to the Badlands and Mt. Rushmore via a rental car for two days. Because my trip west was so easy, I decided to hitch back home. My return trip took another 2 1/2 days and 10 rides. Except for one three-hour wait in central PA on the westbound leg, I never waited more than 30 minutes for a ride. I even snagged one ride (in Iowa City from a transgendered person who took me to the Indiana border) while talking on my cell phone (in my left hand while thumbing with my right). All in all, it was a pleasant trip with no problems, no danger and only two encounters with the police (in Pennsylvania and Wyoming), both of whom could not understand why I was hitching.

I saw only a few other hitchers during my trip and they looked pretty bedraggled. I picked one up in SD on my detour to the Badlands. He was headed to Rockford, IL from Casper, WY and was in bad shape. I gave him money for food and skin creme for his bad sunburn (from waiting hours for a ride).

In most respects this trip was as uneventful as my earlier 25,000 miles. The people who gave me rides were all decent folk who were not persuaded by the current stereotype of hitching. For about half of the recent miles I was in a truck and only one ride (from the transgendered person) was from a woman. One difference is that there are no wildly painted VW mico-buses on the road anymore and no one under 28 picked me up. I suspect that my less than frightening appearance accounted for much of my recent success, although one of my good friends (an one hitching partner) remarked that seeing a "normal" person hitching would make him even less likely to pick up someone.



{ This Week's Index | Next Letter }

{ Main Letters Page }

American Public Media
American Public Media Home | Search | How to Listen
©2004 American Public Media |
Terms of Use | Privacy Policy