Happy Trails!

It didn’t occur to me to give you my email, but maybe someday you’ll see this – I hope you’ve had a grand adventure!

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Driving home from Florence, Kentucky, Sunday afternoon … after a long weekend of meeting and partying with friends from across the country – I was inspired to pull over for a hitch-hiker walking along the Interstate – no bag, no car *back there*, just a cup of soda, a tank top and cargo shorts.

Me: “What’s up? Where ya headed?”

The Kid: “California. I just lost my job, so I lit out this morning.” “Where are you going?”

I told him, “Indy” – the CYA in my head didn’t want to get stuck with *some weirdo* for 5 hours, all the way to Chicago – so I fudged. (Sorry ’bout that, Kid!)

His name was Vince and he’d set out from small-town-in-Ohio, about 30 miles NE of Cincinnati, to walk to California. His uncle, whose name I simply cannot remember, had walked around the world and was his hero all his life. It would cost too much to put gas in the Jeep, and be boring to sit around home all summer, so he’d gotten up early Sunday morning and “just did it”. Hadn’t even told his Mom he was on the road yet. (The phone was busy when he’d tried calling earlier.)

“My Mom’s been real supportive of the idea, since I started talking about going, and I was planning to go later in the year, like in August. But when I lost my job (the boss wanted to bring in his son, so I had to go) I figured ‘Why not now?'” {KJ goes palm-to-forehead here: Why didn’t I offer to let him use my cell to try again? Vestiges of paranoia, I guess}

A fellow on his way to work had given him a lift to Cincy (and $25! He’d started out with a pack of smokes and zero dollars) that morning, he’d slept for a while under a railroad bridge, and walked north about 5 miles when I saw him.

We talked about his old job (selling used copiers and printers on eBay), what to tell the cop who wants to give you grief for walking on the highway (I suggested “I had a ride, but it turned into a rolling domestic disturbance, so I made them let me out”), what else he’s done and enjoyed (carpentry and handy-man-type things, riding and working on dirt bikes), how to listen to your gut when picking the next ride, where to find same, and what he wanted to do in CA.

We also talked about “Pay it forward” and “What goes around, comes around”, and the adventure of meeting new people and seeing new places and doing new things.

He looked at my atlas, to pick out a “where-to next”, and decided that St. Louis sounded good. (That let me feel a *little* better about fibbing about our destination.) He kinda wanted to avoid Iowa, ’cause of the floods, but then again, there might be work there in the clean-up areas.

I reminded him that “Few plans survive intact after contact with reality” (Badly mangled quote from a WWII general, but he knew what I meant. I have to remind myself of this frequently). Then I told him if he gets to Boulder CO, to look up my brother Gaffer who plays the harp by the Trattoria on Pearl Street!

We parted ways at the Road Pilot on I-74 at Rt.31, and I gave him a long-sleeved shirt to help avoid sunburn. (Also good for pillow or blanket; do-rag or sack).

So …                                                                                                                                                                     If you run into a tall, blond, soft-spoken young man wearing a black tank, khaki cargo shorts, and a “ChiCon 2000” chambray shirt, give him a ride (or work) if you can and greetings from Kharmin with the red diesel Jetta. I’ll think of him whenever I miss that shirt!

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