When I was done it was around 23:00 and it was time for me to find a place to sleep. I headed in the direction of one of the orchards I worked at up on a big hill with train tracks running in front of it. Instead of going uphill I turned left on the train tracks and followed them to find a spot to stealth-camp. I ended up finding a spot that was pretty far and out of sight of any walking paths in the area, and to my surprise I already found a tent set up there, covered with branches.
I decided not to wake up whoever was in there and simply set up camp across from them, and hope for the best.
When I woke up and got outside I was greeted by Kevin, who had been sleeping in the other tent with his girlfriend Jackie. They were somewhere in their late forties and had been camping out here for the past two weeks, having no other place to stay. They had lost almost all of their stuff riding a Greyhound bus and decided to stay in town, panhandle for some money to buy food, and wait for some cheques to come in. They were really nice and I ended up talking to them for the better part of the morning, instead of going straight for the highway in West-Kelowna.
I gave them four packs of noodles to keep them going for a little bit longer and headed downtown to catch a bus to go just out of town.
In the bus I was talked to buy a girl of my own age who was interested in what I was up to, and she seemed really excited to talk to me. Unfortunately the conversation got cut short because I reached my stop, where I had to catch a second bus. That one ended up taking me out of town and to a good hitching spot.
The first people to pick me up were Darcy and Deb, who drove me to the next town down the road. They asked me if I needed a shower or food, but needing neither they dropped me off at a gas station. From there it didn't take long before I got a ride from Andrew, a young guy in ICT who drove me to another town farther down the road. When he let me out he left me his card, and offered me a place to stay if I couldn't get a ride.
It didn't get to that though, because after maybe half an hour Al showed up, who drove me to yet another town which wasn't too far, so we didn't get a chance for a long conversation.
I found this statue in the town he dropped me off in.
My last ride of the day was given to me by Joe, who drove me to Osoyoos, and we did have a chance for a lenghty conversation. Thankfully he was a really interesting guy, sporting a pretty long grey beard. He had been living out in the woods for the past 20 or so years, and he was a deep thinker. We got along really well, talking about all kinds of stuff, but mostly it was pretty philosophic, talking about religion, respect and much else.
He dropped me off a little bit above downtown Osoyoos, where I spent some time on wi-fi before heading down and finding a new spot to stealth-camp for the night.
So I started walking out of the downtown area and into a suburban area, where I eventually found an open spot between houses that didn't belong to anybody, and from where I could walk up to the lake. I walked around a stand of trees there and found a small flat spot on the other side of them hidden between the reeds, which was just big enough to put down my tent.
That morning I woke up under a clear sky and looking out over a beautiful area. Fun fact: Osoyoos is apparently the only desert area in Canada, though it still looked fairly familiar to Kelowna to me.
The view that morning.
After packing up my gear I walked back in to town to switch my Canadian dollars for American ones, and I printed an overview of my bank account to show to the border patrol.
After that I started my walk to the border, which was about 4 kilometers. I figured it would be better to walk, as I didn't want to get into a car that might possibly be trying to smuggle something across and in the attempt get me involved.
The border crossing was surprisingly relaxed. I walked up to the office, showed my passport, and after that I had to wait for a short while as I think the officer checked it out.
Then he told me to wait some longer, after which he walked outside and around a corner. When he came back into view he was walking among a big group of people, which at first glance looked like back-up haha, but they were getting onto a tourbus. The officer told me to pick up my backpack and follow him inside, where I expected some kind of interrogation to occur, but he only wanted to X-ray my backpack. They didn't find anything suspicious, and when I showed him the overview of my bank account he was satisfied and we got my passport in order, and I was free to go.
And so I set my first steps inside of the USA, greatly relieved. After many horror stories it turned out my crossing wasn't so bad after all.
I walked down the road from there and ate the first food of the day outside a gas station, after which I set up shop at the side of the road and started to try and find my first American ride.
That came in the form of Larry, a friendly guy who told me about his travels in Europe, where he chased after a girl he loved. Unfortunately all his effort was in vain, but he ended up with a great experience nonetheless!
He dropped me off in the first town across the border, where I started walking down the road, thumbing as I went. Within the first minute another car pulled over, but unfortunately this was to be my first really awkward experience while hitchhiking.
I ran up to the car and after some quiet whispers from the 80 year old guy inside I put my pack in the back of his pick-up truck. I got into the front seat and introduced myself, and the first thing he said to me was: "I'm gay."
At first I was confused and asked him if that was his name, but he said "No, I'm gay. You know what gay is? I'm gay." So I don't even know his name, and I don't really want to.
His confession wasn't shocking to me or anything, but after what happened next I think I'm entitled to say I don't care to know his name lol. I told him I didn't care he was gay, that it was all fine with me. It didn't trouble me at all. But right after I said that he asked me if I wanted a blowjob, at which point I was in a severely 'what the fuck, are you serious?' mode. All I could say was no.
After that I didn't know what to say and I got out a minute later (thankfully I already knew he was only going to the edge of town).
I'm just really glad that wasn't my first experience in the USA haha. What came later that day though made up for that experience, and then some.
Finding myself at the edge of town I decided to walk for a bit. Unfortunately it seems my pocket knife slipped out of my pocket but I found out about that too late. But not having had much use for it, that didn't bother me much.
After a while of walking a van pulled over, so I ran over and I wedged my stuff in, which was a bit of an operation. Inside the van were Matt and Jennifer, both of around my own age.
Jennifer had to get out of the front seat to allow my backpack to be pushed in from the front, held by Matt in the driver seat as I climbed in after it, and got my pack handed to me as I sat down.
They had two dogs in the van as well, and they were sitting underneath the bed in the back of the van. Matt and Jennifer were fairly hippie-ish but very cool people. They were planning to buy some land in the area and they were on their way to check it out. They planned to build a place to live there and grow their own food. It was really interesting to listen to their plans.
They drove me to the other side of another town , which I can't recall the name of just now.
I wished them luck with their endeavors and set back out on the road, where I received my final day of the ride.
I had not been waiting for long when Leslie pulled over. At this point I was still not yet sure as to where I wanted to go first, heading either west toward the coast of Oregon and dropping down into California, or eastwards toward Utah. Leslie however was going down to Walla Walla, at the far edge of the Washington state border, from where I could still go either direction. So I decided to join her for the entire ride, which took several hours. We stopped along the way to look at Dry Falls, a canyon that got eroded by a massive flood way back in time.
Dry Falls in Washington.
As we were driving along she mentioned she might be able to find me a place to stay at her boyfriend's parents place, where she was headed. Having been camping out for four nights and not having had a shower for a while, that sounded great and so I gladly accepted, and it turned out it was possible. So that night I met her boyfriend Jared and his parents, and some friends of theirs who were visiting them that night. It was quite the crowd, but they all were very friendly and graciously included me in the conversation. The first few moments in such a situation always make me feel rather awkward, but they made me feel good right away.
They had saved us some dinner too, and we were both pretty hungry. Later that evening I had the chance to take a shower, and they even washed my clothes for me too!
After that we talked for a bit longer before heading to bed. They showed me the room I was allowed to use, and needlessly to say I slept really well that night!
Next morning they let me sleep out. When I got out of bed Jared's parents were just about to leave the house so I thanked them for their hospitality. I had breakfast with Leslie and Jared, and after they drove me across the Washington/Oregon border a bit farther down the road.
I can't thank them enough for their helpfulness and hospitality! I am sad to say I was supposed to sign their wall but in the preparations to leave I completely forgot. It was the least I could do and I am sorry for that!
And so my second day started out in Oregon, a whole state away from the border already!
I was in a good spot for hitching, at a pretty busy intersection. It took about 20 minutes before I got my first ride, given to me by Joe, an older guy who had been hitching in the past as well.
He didn't go too far, but he did drive me to the next town and dropped me off on the far side. Joe was a very friendly guy, his good intentions were almost dripping off of him. A good man.
From my new spot however it took me a while to get a ride, and having waited for nearly an hour I decided to walk further down the road, right onto the edge of town.
I waited in that position for a while longer, but then was rescued by Roberto, a Mexican man who had been living in the area for a long time now, but who had not completely lost his accent.
He was a very friendly guy as well. When he picked me up he was in his work truck and he had to switch it for his own car at home, so that's where we drove first. He was going to drive me to Pendleton, but on the way there he got texted by his daughter who was about to start work but who had forgot some stuff at home, asking if they could be brought to her.
Roberto asked me if I was okay with that, and I ofcourse was: I have no right to demand anything, and besides, Roberto was a guy who loved to talk and was very interesting to listen to, so I didn't mind spending some more time in his car at all. So he turned around and we drove back to the town we had come from, before resuming our way to Pendleton once more.
Roberto told me about his life and his views on life. He told me he was a Christian, but thought there was a lack of respect for other opinions in general and so he kept an open mind about everybody. He loved picking up people who seemed completely different from himself, like metalheads, goth people and who-ever he encountered, sort of to challenge himself to get to know all kinds of people and get along with them. He spent a lot of time talking about various religions and respect in general, and how one should try to get the most out of life, because he felt he had wasted many years doing the wrong things, chasing the wrong things, until he realised he wasn't happy with the way he was living his life. And so he changed his life around to do things completely different, and to try and not to stress too much about work and other stuff, and be as happy as possible.
When he dropped me off at a gas station from where I could get an easy next ride, he stopped and asked me if he could pray for me. I thought it was a really nice gesture so I said yes, and I listened to him pray out loud for my safety and well-being. Then he gave me two bucks and some sweets. Then we said goodbye and he drove off. I decided to sit down for a moment and get something to eat at McDonalds.
Oh, and he had an interesting project as well!
I was just done with eating when I was approached by a young-looking guy who asked me if I was hitch-hiking and where I was headed. I told him I decided on going to Utah, at which point he informed me he was driving to Salt Lake City, and I could hop along.
His name was Jason. He was really into ski-ing and outdoor sports and we had an interesting conversation about all kinds of stuff. We kind of had to as well. We started driving at around 17:00 and we made it to our destination at 03:30! He offered me a place to stay as well. He had a room at a ski-resort where he worked each winter, and there was a spare room left that I could use.
The next morning he even hooked me up with a new sweater and wanted to give me a new sleeping bag as well, but finding none that looked significantly better than my own I decided to pass on that one. There isn't much room in my backpack for a second sleeping back to crawl into, and the other one I tried didn't seem warmer than my own. But it was a really gracious offer, and I really appreciated it.
Next morning he woke me up. He was going kite-surfing with a few friends and asked me if I wanted to hop along, to start hitch-hiking from where they were going. I accepted and so I packed up my stuff and hopped into his friends' car.
It took nearly an hour to get there, and it was there we said goodbye. I resumed my position on the road, and after five minutes I was on my way again.
The people who picked me up were Alex en Chloë, brother and sister heading to school in Provo.
They were very nice and dropped me off at another McDonalds. Provo wasn't very far.
I sat there for my sunday talk with my parents on Skype, and then walked across Provo to find the way out. It was quite the walk but very doable. I found a piece of cardboard at a gas station and made a sign, because it was an urban area and it's easier to get a ride if people know what you were up to. So my sign said Moab, hoping people would figure out I wanted to go hiking there.
Thankfully it didn't take long to get a ride from Rick and Catherine, who drove me out to Spanish Fork, which was a short drive away. But this was the main intersection, going straight toward the Moab area.
I sat down at another McDonalds to eat (I need to cut down on this stuff, but it's easier when you are in a heavily populated area then to find a place to pull out my cooking stove and cook food myself). This is where I met Brett, another hitchhiker who arrived shortly after I did.
He's somewhere in his forties I think, and we got to talking. He told me about a good camping spot in town, and after offering to travel together for a while I decided to trust him and we set out to find the park he was told about. We didn't find it but we did find another good spot, and so we threw down our sleeping bags and went to sleep under the open sky, right next to a parking lot surrounded by buildings. He had been doing this for years and said nobody would bother us, and I was pretty tired so I decided to not think about it too much and go to sleep.
He was right though, and we woke up undisturbed at sunrise, packed up our stuff and set out to find the highway again.
Once there it didn't take long for us to get a ride, given to us by Bonnie. I got into the back seat, from where I couldn't hear much of the conversation going on in front, so I focused on the changing landscape which by now was turning into a real desert, unlike the area at Osoyoos (in my humble opinion anyway).
She drove us out to Price, a small town about 50 miles away from Spanish Fork. Here we ran into trouble though, as we didn't get a single ride from that spot for the biggest part of the day.
We decided to start walking and follow the highway to the turn-off point going south, where we tried again. Unfortunately a state trooper pulled over to check us out, but after running our I.D's through the system he moved on again, telling us it was illegal to hitch-hike on the highway in Utah but that he would simply drive on, letting us to decide what to do.
We decided on walking down the highway instead of trying to hitch it, and we walked for about 5 miles to get to a place called Wellington. There, around 18:00, we finally got another ride.
This time it was by two girls, Sheena who was 27, and Chloë, who was 18. That was certainly unexpected, but we were glad to be moving again. They told us they could get us out to Moab for 20 bucks for gas, or to Green River, whichever we preferred. I decided to pay for some gas, but that never happened. As we were on our way to Green River they decided they still had some stuff to do, and so they were driving back and around the town area, eventually even heading back to Price.
At this point, as before they had already visited a friend's house, and now they were picking up another two friends to drive them somewhere, and we didn't have a clue what exactly they were doing, Brett was starting to get a bad vibe and wanted to get out. So we got out of the car, and were back where we began. They came back a minute later to talk about other options but we declined them, as I got Brett's point. If we had been pulled over by a cop and they had illegal stuff on them, we would be in a lot of trouble, so we decided to evade that situation.
We found another place to lie down for the night, which was last night.
This morning there was some dew before sunrise, and right after it started freezing. When I woke up I had ice particles on my sleeping bag and my backpack was frosted over.
My sleeping back is starting to outrun it's use in this temperature, and I need to find a warmer climate or get a new one soon. Anyway, we got back on the road and it took another two hours before we finally managed to get a ride from this spot we had been in for so long.
I didn't catch the guy's name, but he did drive us back out to Wellington, where he dropped us off at the edge.
From there we decided to walk further down the highway to a large truck stop, where we would have a better chance to get a ride. But it again took the better part of the day for us to get a ride.
We did meet another hitchhiker called Ira who had been traveling for several years as well, but he was closer to my age. He managed to get a ride before us, and we were left to wait for several more hours.
In the end though we succeeded, getting a ride from Corey, who was from New Brunswick in Canada, heading straight to Moab to go climbing. And so I finally made it to my destination and one of my biggest goals of the entire trip: the first of the Utah National Parks, Arches, just outside of Moab.
Tomorrow I hike!