9.27.2008

Don't Tell My Mom...

…but I spent part of the day riding in cars with people I had never met before.

It all started out very simply, you see. I woke up this morning and had to strike out. Had to eat breakfast while checking the weather forecast for Mount Baker. Had to make up my mind as to whether or not I would really do this. Once the decision was made I had to pack my lunch, some extra clothing and then ride my bike to the beginning of Mt. Baker Highway.

I forgot to mention that I also had to make a cardboard sign with my desired destination point scrawled in black permanent maker on one side with the return on the other.

The ride out to Mt. Baker highway was nice, not too many cars on the road on this partly sunny Saturday morn. I found what appeared to be a good spot to stand, locked my bike to a wooden telephone poll and pulled out my sign.

It read, “Mt. Baker. Please.” Best to be direct and get right to the point. That’s the east coaster in me talking. So with right thumb extended in the direction I wanted to go and the sign in my left hand I stood. And stood. And stood. Car after car passed me by without so much as even a glance. It even seemed as though some folks saw me and stepped on the gas as they went by. Could have just been a coincidence, I suppose.

After 20 minutes and 60 or so cars I was starting to get discouraged. But not a lot mind you, just a little. And then my black stallion arrived. Actually it was a 2000 Mustang but at this point I didn’t care if a manure truck stopped to pick me up. As I climbed into my free ride I quickly assessed the situation; a white, well built man sat behind the wheel with a tendril of smoke curling up from the cigarette dangling from his left hand. He looked like a construction worker and a few minutes into the ride my suspicions were confirmed: he built houses for a living.

We raced along the one lane road as he explained to me that he was heading out to a dot on the map called Deming to collect $500 big ones he was owed by a guy who had damaged his car some months back. He said he could drop me off right in front of the casino and I would be sure to find a ride from there.

He pulled off the road and into the parking lot of a small diner. This must be the place they had agreed to meet. Let’s just say I wasn’t sticking around to see what became of this guy and the money he was owed. I said my “goodbyes” and “good lucks” then started walking down the road. I held out my little sign as I walked and, as luck would have it, the first vehicle that drove by me pulled over and waited for me to catch up.

This story could go on for a while, because there is a lot tell. Let’s just say that Dave the hobbyist blacksmith told me about how he had made some money working for Bill (Gates) down in Seattle and had now retired to another dot on the map called Maple Falls.

Dave dropped me off a few miles down the road and then “the realtors” picked me up. They apologized profusely about the lack of adequate seating in the back of their van. They had been pulling up and putting down “For Sale” and “For Rent” signs all morning.

These wonderful folks dropped me in Glacier. Glacier is the last “town” before you reach the Mount Baker Wilderness area. During the winter it is covered over in snow and snowboarders. When I arrived all I saw were a few hung over, off-season boarders lounging on benches and tables in front of Glaciers only general store.

I went inside,
ordered a whole grain bagel (this was a damn good bagel!) and answered the few questions the girl behind the register asked me. “Where are you coming from?” Bellingham, I said.

Back outside and next to the highway I munched on the bagel and held out my sign. A few cars went by as I stood in the early fall sun hoping to be picked up. A guy in a white four runner that was parked in front of the store said he was only going a few miles up the road but as a consolation offered me a bottle of cold water. I thanked him and took the water.

The door to the Italian restaurant across the street opened and a tall, dark haired woman stepped outside and looked my way. She shielded her eyes with her hand in hopes of getting a better look at me and then called out, “Is that you Doobie?”. Nope, I yelled back. She turned around and disappeared back into the blackness of the restaurants interior.

The clerk from the general store, the one who prepared my bagel for me, came over to me and asked why I was going to Mt. Baker. I played the “man of few words” part and replied back, “Just to go, no reason other than that.” Apparently she liked what she heard because she said that if I didn’t have a ride in thirty minutes she would drive me out there.

I thanked her for the offer and the bagel.

Five minutes after her offer a younger couple with two dogs gave me a ride the rest of the way. I kind of wished the thirty minutes would have passed and found me still stranded in front of that store in Glacier. But Baker was calling and I had to be moving along.

The last leg of this long hitchhike was gorgeous. Clear streams ran down the centers of green valleys while the sun hid behind stands of fir and pine. We cruised effortlessly down the road and talked about whatever came to mind. I dug my fingers into one of their two dogs luxuriant (and shedding) fur as the little car chugged up the incline that would eventually take us to our destination.

After 2 and a half hours I finally arrived at my destination. A quick look at their map, a “thank you” and I was off, down the trail and around the bend. I hiked for hours, stopping only to take in the epic views and forage the wild blueberries that grew all along the side of the trail.

Today was a day of rediscovery.
I got outside, overcame some fears and in the process met some nice people and saw some gorgeous country.

Who knows what tomorrow may bring.





5 Comments:

Blogger elle indsay said...

lovely pictures corey! i've heard that it's harder for a single male to hitchhike than it is for a male-female couple. folks assume men alone are dangerous, but couples are innocent, i guess?

ps - email me your address so i can send you mails!

2:14 AM  
Blogger Arizona Bam said...

Amazing shots. Very enjoyable read. Our lives are sooo different. Thanks, as usual, for the window into yours.

11:53 AM  
OpenID reapingtruth said...

Dude, sweet pics. awesome story, too. Cheers!

7:04 AM  
Blogger aurora borealis said...

those are beautiful. i am missing the mountains. i suppose i could just hitch from here to there too. perhaps?

6:07 PM  
Blogger Angela said...

seriously you are such an amazing photographer! Thanks for the comment on my blog! Hey you know you were part of making this day so so so special for us! We're so glad to have you there with us....and your pics are still a GIFT that keeps going on and on forever - everyone loves them - and me too!

So are you thinking to com visit soon? We'd sure love to have ya!

8:02 PM  

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