Monday, August 26, 2019; day 37
By 0825 I had my thumb out. I was hungry.
The traffic was fair, but all cars zoomed by. Most cars seemed to be heading east. Republic was about 17 miles west of Sherman’s Pass.
I watched as one man’s vehicle swerved in to the neighboring lane as he glanced back at me. Some people are really so surprised to see a hitchhiker.
An SUV pulled in to the empty lot. I hurried over to it. They had not pulled over for me. This is always a sad experience.
An hour passed.
Then a man pulled in with a cement truck. I began chatting with him. He said that some other guys with the state were headed over to assist him and that one of them may be able to give me a lift.
We talked briefly about the trail. I could feel him sizing me up, looking me up and down.
“You must be pretty strong then, huh?”
He then reached in and squeezed my upper thigh.
Darn it! I knew he was going to touch me. I could sense it.
It was not exceptionally creepy, but it was: Not Okay. You don’t just reach in and grab someone’s thigh. What do I do? In avoidance of awkward air, and desperate for a ride in to town, I pretend it never happened. Responding to these situations in the way they deserve is one of the most challenging lessons I have been working to honor. Never give up.
One of the men that came to assist the cement-truck driver, did in fact give me a lift to Republic. He was very kind. We spoke of the trail and of the bushwhack in Idaho. He said that with that sort of determination, I should go far in life. This pleased me. We pulled in to a gas-station on the outskirts of town. He offered me a cold bottled water. I thought of all the cow patties near the water sources on trail. I gratefully accepted the water, surprising myself when I called it “fresh”.
I made my way towards the center of town. A man recognized me as a hiker, and offered me a ride to the post-office, where I had a package.
After collecting my goods I sat cross-legged on the sidewalk just outside of the post-office to repackage my things from their original cumbersome packaging to ziploc bags. I tried to be as unobtrusive as possible. I inevitably always spill something.
I chatted with a kind lady named Kim, who was walking a small dog. She was planning to move to Republic. She was staying in a nearby hotel, until she found a place to rent. The conversation was exceptionally pleasant. Soon she went on her way, and I finished packing up.
“Hey ma’am. Can you come here for a minute?”
I looked up to see a lady calling from a vehicle.
“Hold on a moment, let me throw these things away.” I moved over to a dumpster to toss all the plastic and cardboard packaging from my re-supply.
I met the lady in the parking lot. She told me that she had a bounty of raspberries and would like to give me some.
Oh, how wonderful!
Then I was off to get a meal, and supplemental food-stuff. I stopped at the bargain food store. The man there was so kind. There were bins of food including Lara Bars for 25 cents!
Next was the Ferry County Food Co-op. I sat at a store-front counter space to eat a meal of avocado and rice-cake, while my devices charged inside.
A woman spoke to me kindly in passing. Upon her return, she said that I could come to her place if I needed somewhere to stay that night. Her name was Carrie, but her friends call her Care Bear. She told me where I could find her apartment. She told me that her door would be open. I told her that I planned to head to the library after my meal, but that after that I may stop by. I thanked her.
I headed to the library. Just as I walked up, I spotted Kim. She looked as though she was about to get in to her vehicle. “Oh. I have been looking for you! I have something for you.” she said. She presented me with a pair of hand-knit wool gloves, a small piece of religious literature, and two packets of hand-warmers. I was touched; most especially by the wool gloves. “They will keep you warm, even when they are wet.” She paused. ” I still need to figure out how to knit the fingers.”
“No. These are perfect! It will allow me to manipulate things!”
I hold all hand-made gifts so close to my heart.
We hugged. She told me to come find her if I needed help getting back to the trail.
I went inside and got a guest number to use the library computer.
The library closed at 1800. I shyly walked over to Carrie’s apartment. There were some people conversing casually outside her door. She overheard me speaking to them, and called me in.
The apartment was small, simple, and extremely welcoming.
I had the opportunity to meet Carrie’s grandson, and her sons girlfriend. I sat at a chair and watched them all interact. I chimed in once in a while. They were very lively and entertaining. I would be sleeping on the mattress where Carrie’s grandson sleeps when he stays over. It was small and tucked away cozily in the closet. After Carries company departed, we stepped outside to socialize.
I was introduced to Dave the Mountain Man, Caveman, and Ramon. We all chatted for a while. The conversation was comfortable and interesting. I felt very at ease with them. They understood the transient lifestyle.
As night was falling, Carrie mentioned she was going to wind down for bed. I followed suit, first taking advantage of her offer to use her shower. Dave slept over as well, sharing the bed with Carrie. Everytime anyone came by, Carrie asked them where they planned to sleep that night. She truly had an open door policy. Her home was a safe refuge. I found this to be so incredibly amazing. It warmed my heart.
Before we all fell to sleep, Dave pointed out a gold metal hanging on the wall. Carrie had received that metal after being declared the strongest woman in the world. “Wow!” I said, smiling widly. I was impressed.
Tuesday, August 27, 2019; day 38
Dave was up early, smoking cigarettes and making hot water. I rolled around a bit, then got up and packed my things. Ramon stopped in with some Folgers coffee packets. He took a cup of hot water for his own, and left two packets for us to enjoy. I was beginning to see the true nature of Carrie’s open door policy, and what a loving group of people I have found myself amongst.
As I was packing up, Carrie told me that I was free to leave my pack there as I did what I needed around town. I thanked her, and headed to the co-op for a cup of coffee and conversation, and back to the library. The hours turned. I headed back to Carrie’s. She told me I was welcome to stay one more night.
I graciously accepted.