October 29, 2017
I did not rise until 8 am, a good half an hour after the sun. I lifted my body and glanced towards the truck stop. To my surprise, I saw two men in neon vests heading towards the field where I sat. When they saw me rise, they stopped in their tracks and turned back around.
Peculiar. I wonder if they were coming to check on me? They probably thought I was dead. I found this amusing.
I packed my things and headed to the bathroom and removed my zillions of layers. I washed my face, brushed my teeth, and braided my hair.
While I was grooming, a lady asked me where I was headed. She wished me luck. It was a much better encounter than the one I had in the restroom the night before:
“You are not riding with truck drivers, are you?”
“Because they are travelling long distances.”
“They are bad people. My friend was killed last week.”
I did not ask for details. She was erratic in her mannerisms. I did not trust her much.
Now, it is 9:21 am. I sit in the McDonalds sipping coffee, sign proclaiming “WEST” proudly, face up on the table.
Two people have engaged me. One, a truck-driver headed west–but only to Nebraska (roughly 40 miles)–to whom I kindly declined the offer. I would no longer be leaving safe places for short distances. The other driver was heading east. He was kind and curious. He just warned me to be safe. He said he did the same thing when he was young.
A part of me hoped that the driver from last night would still be here. He mentioned a 50/50 chance that he would be continuing west. I suppose hitching with new people is part of the adventure, but the back of my mind probes and wonders if I’m not playing with fire.
I watch as everyone prays over their McDonald’s.
The driver I rode with yesterday came in and bought some food.
“Did you find out where you were heading next?”
I told him thank you. He wished me luck.
I sat. I drank coffee. Some people inquired of my situation; where I was headed. It made me feel better when people engaged me, regardless of whether they were able to help.
It began to gently rain. I decided to make moves. I walked around the lot where all the semi-trucks were parked. I approached the vehicles that contained a driver, and stood in front of their window until they sensed my presence, and glanced in my direction. Then, I smiled and pointed down at my sign. Most everyone seemed to be heading east, or were obeying the contractual rule of not carrying passengers.
Some came up and handed me money. Others warned me to be safe. One man called over a speaker system that connected to all the other drivers. He asked if anyone was headed west. Then, he said “This is for good luck, not for you to spend. You put this on your wall when you get home safely.” He handed me a two-dollar bill. I thanked him kindly. I was touched.
Next I stopped by to ask drivers actively filling their fuel tanks. “I just came from California.”
Then I stood, back against the building, sign displayed, waiting for someone to come to me.
A kind, happy looking lady approached me.
“Are you alone?”
“Are you allergic to dogs?”
“We are headed to Salt-Lake City.”
“Salt Lake City! That would be fantastic!!”
Mary was driving with her husband Joe, and two dogs. They would switch shifts, so we would be making miles all through the night.
We stopped and ate overpriced buffet and made conversation. Then on we drove. Later, Mary and Joe switched driving. They offered to let me sleep in the back. “No thank you.” The pillow, however, I accepted.
I slept first on this side, then on that, rotating about every hour or so. I opened my eyes briefly to see a snow flurry in Wyoming. I closed my eyes, thankful for warmth.