Ok, please DONT FREAK OUT!! I'm ok....no harm done! I promise that I was careful and I didn't tell you until now because I knew that you would all have a heart-attack!!
I picked up a hitch-hiker! Yes! It was SO MUCH FUN!!!
I was driving along I5 somewhere in Southern Oregon chatting with Teresa on the phone and came upon a hitcher. He looked innocent enough...young kid (around Corey's age), clean looking, with a backpack and a guitar strapped on his back. 'OHHHH Teresa!! It's a hitchhiker! Can I pick him up?!' Well, you can imagine what the response from Teresa was, "HELL NO, Are you CRAZY?" As I pleaded with my friends good senses, there was a fuel stop for the Explorer. I took advantage of the stop (as I passed the hitcher), and stopped to feed the explorer and my-self. After eating and taking Aco potty, I hopped back onto the road. I had continued thinking about the hitchhiker and was certain that he would be about at the exit I was on by this time. I was right!! As I approached the on-ramp to the interstate, there he was! Rolling down my window, I shouted "where you headed". He was going my way it seemed so he jumped into the Explorer and off we went!!
Jared is a 21 y/o from Denver on a very similar journey as I am. He left Denver hitching (and his mother is having near daily heart-palpitations), going from one town to the next and staying with friends. Some he knows and other were recommended through other friends. He is playing music along the way and hoping to find work in California to fund his trip for just a little while longer. He loves photography and has a tripod strapped to his pack.
We chatted easily along the drive. He was headed to Ukiah, CA to stay with friends there. Now, Ukiah is a little off the path that I was originally going to take.....but, looking at the map I decided that if I were to drive him all the way to Ukiah, I could then hop over to the ocean and enjoy some great scenery along the way.
We got as far as Willow, CA and I was getting tired of driving and hungry. I got a hotel room and Jared splurged on pizza and beer. Yes, we shared a hotel room and NO, nothing else (except some pizza and beer)!! It was great to have someone else along for part of the drive.
The next morning, after fueling ourselves with the free breakfast we hit the road again. Along the way to Ukiah, Jared got a text about a favorite band of his that was going to be playing in San Fran. He knew that I was headed to SF and asked if he could ride the rest of the way. Of course!
We traveled through a mountainous area with winding roads, great redwoods, and beautiful vistas. Stopped at Sonoma Lake, and finally made it to the coast. It was a long drive but the scenery was beautiful. Along the coast were more beautiful vistas and winding roads.
I was impressed by Jared's courage, attitude about life and personality in general. We had an enjoyable time on the road. It was equally exciting for me as for him when we wandered out to the beach for a little stroll. It's fun sharing new experiences with people. Although I had previously explored California beaches, it seems that Jared had not. It was like seeing everything new again through someone else's eyes.
We made it all the way to San Francisco, then got stuck in traffic trying to cross over the Golden Gate Bridge. With the recent cable breaking on the Bay Bridge, the traffic was horrid! I'm at Peter and Brent's now and was greeted as an old friend.
More on San Francisco later...
(don't forget to check out the gallery for more photos. These are some of the best of the trip so far!)