Posts Tagged ‘Hitchhiking’

They stopped on top a hill just outside Espanola. The car was packed with stuff but they squeezed me in anyway. They had started at Wisconsin and had just been hitchhiking themselves, across Newfoundland.  Apparently they acquired a car (I didn’t inquire) and were headed for Winnipeg.

The girl seemed tired but they guy was really friendly. Maybe too friendly, were they fighting?

There was a lot of stops at construction sites and I nodded off a few times.  The radio was droning away in a monotone, half AM talk-show half static, that no one was paying attention to, so I offered some tapes for them to choose from.  The girl chose my Mr. Bungle tape because the other side of it was labeled “Make Your Momma Puke Mix”, a mix tape a friend had made for me back in Barrie.  We listened to the whole Mr. Bungle side and they decided it was too weird for them.  I tried to explain the other side was a completely different style but they weren’t really listening due to their stop and go construction malaise.

As the grateful passenger I offered up full control of the music, my scissored and taped Pot o’ Gold chocolate box I’d fashioned into a compact, space efficient tape case and packed with used cassettes at a hock shop in Sudbury (I discovered I could fit in more by crammin them in upside down on the rightside up ones).  They chose Cypress Hill and played it side to side about five times until the machine inevitably ate the tape as we rolled into Sault Ste. Marie.  They apologized profusely but I didn’t really care.  I still had Billy Idol.  I offered the silver lining “Hey, now I got room for a NEW tape”.  They dropped me downtown Sault where I walked to a hostel as they went for dinner.  I ran into them leaving town as I strolled out of the hostel, baggage free-what a luxury.  Maybe I’ll run into them in Winnipeg……

This I wrote in Sault Ste. Marie:

Walkin down the Street

in my bare feet

Left my boots at home to cool down ’cause they were hurtin’ me

Hope you caught the irony

it’s what inspired me

To write a song about

the walk down to the

beach and back in agony

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I was walking up the incline of a bridge a ways out of Sudbury past Copper Cliff. I didn’t even have my thumb out (I liked to start walking if I didn’t get a ride after a while.  I’m the same way with the bus, it makes me late) but he pulled up beside me, beeping his horn until I took my walkman off and saw him. He was headed to Manitoulin Island.. something to do with his daughter, the details of which I can’t quite remember.

He dropped me off at Espanola then showed me some photos of wood carvings he’d done. They were amazing!! And huge! He stood beside them in his pictures as they towered over him.

My destination
perpetually
over this next hill

The sun bakes my skin
My sweat sets the baste
The sunblock starts to run
and drip down my face

My baggage weights more
as my shoulders get sore
My thirst gets worse
til my throat starts to hurt

Take my hat off
Let the wind blow through my hair
I’m always going somewhere
But I’ll never get there

I found that hitchhiking out here by myself really taught me was how to be myself.  No one who picks you up knows what your normally like, leaving you free to be whoever you like and ultimately leading to learning how you act when not obligated to fit into someone’s perception of you.

He picked me up on the entrance to the 400 as I sat playing guitar with a sheet of paper saying ‘Perry Sound’.  The conversation flowed steady for a good hour or two.  He was headed to the Yukon to hold an Indie Film presentation.  He recommended some good indie movies I said I’d check out but forgot about.  He also played in a punk band in T.O.  He gave me some tips having hitchhiked himself.  He dropped me off at the YMCA in Sudbury.  He even got out and made sure I got in alright.

As I wandered around in Sudbury I came to a park on a hill looking over the town.  I’m always writing lyrics to make into songs and this is what I wrote there:

On a road in nowhere

I sit and stare

to catch a glimpse of what I missed and come to grips

that I don’t care

I was so sad to let it go

but here with open hands I know

the sweetness wasn’t having it held

It was breathing it in a blowing it out

Perfected a futilely flawless routine

inevitably becoming monotony

Had no idea what to do, to do better

so I started my story on a fresh piece of paper

Now following the flow

in the unknown

I listen to the rhythms I’m given

to guide, to decide my direction

The passion is pursuit, not possession, of perfection

I spent the whole weekend, my bags already packed, everything I owned on my back, at Freedomfest, a festival near Barrie for local bands.  My old band Settle For Less had played there previous years but we were defunct now.  That was one reason not to stay.

Also I’d moved so many times in the past year that my belongings had been whittled down to just a few things anyway so fitting everything I need in a backpack, rucksack and guitar case wasn’t too difficult.  People think freedom is being able to buy everything but it’s actually not owning anything.

Everyone was there, it was perfect.  It was very sneaky of me to make it my goodbye party.  It was a weekend long party with lots of great bands, some of which I knew and some not.  It was a great time for music in Barrie.

I got a ride from my old guitarist Dave’s drummer from his new band Junior (later to be renamed Fight Like Gentlemen).  They dropped me off on the TransCanada highway, said goodbye and drove off.  I wonder if everyone was expecting to see me back in town the next week.  I sat there, not even accustomed to hitchhiking at all, wondering if I’d get picked up and thinking about this being my last opportunity to waffle and just go back to Barrie.  But I couldn’t.  There was nothing left for me there…

Of all the strokes of luck!  I’m conversing about how I was looking for a nice place to rent and this guy (who was going all the way to Victoria. sweet) is looking to sublet his apartment in Vancouver for $650 which is more than I was looking to spend but it’s got a pool, hot tub, great view, nice neighbourhood on beach street and is actually supposed to be $800 a month but the guy wants to use the mailbox and parking space.  The apartment the next floor up is $1200 so it seems like a pretty sweet deal.  He says how he’s moving onto his houseboat to live year round for cheaper.  I got his number and I’m pretty sure I’ll take him up on his offer.

He seemed like a cool guy too.  I told him the weed story from earlier and he whipped out his pipe and we smoked some up.  Man did I get stoned.  I must have walked around Victoria in spirals for 5 hours.

So that’s it.  Now it’s seven years later and I’m still in Vancouver.  I only lasted in that beach ave. apartment a couple months before I got kicked out for “having a party” which was actually just me listening to music, actually I was writing lyrics to songs by this band I joined and didn’t stick with.  Anyway, the dude was pretty mad ’cause he wasn’t supposed to be subletting.  I got fired from The Doghouse, the restaurant I first worked at in Van, for unclear reasons besides that I was the youngest.  The manager said, usually he loves firing people but he hated to fire me.  That’s around when I wrote Oh Well.

But yeah, that’s all 47.  Although there is one more that’s relevant…..

I wasn’t waiting even five minutes when a guy stopped and said, “I can’t take you far but this place is no good for getting picked up.”  So he drove me to the other side of town while talking on his phone to his buddy who was asking him to bring over beer and food.  “Good day for some beer and Barbeque” I said.  It sure was..

I’ve waited for busses longer than hitchhiking on Vancouver Island.  A hippie lady picked me up and drove me down the road a ways towards Victoria.  She didn’t look too old but she had kids around my age she said.  She told me I’d get to know about “Island time” which sounds like the clock I run on.  People are really laid back here.  She said I got here at a good time for weed harvesting.

I got dropped off at a place she said her daughter told her was a good hitchin spot.

I was walking down the highway, still the TransCanada even out here on Vancouver Island, just out of Nanaimo when a small blue jeep type car (I don’t know) pulled past me turning onto the highway as I looked at my map to make sure I was walking in the right direction.

The guy reminded me of Jack Black and he offered me a ride after I asked him for directions.  He piled the boxes in the passenger seat into the back and we were off.  He said, “I’d smoke you a J if I wasn’t working.”  Real friendly.  We talked about the forest fires and whatnot.  When he dropped me off, about half an hour down the road, he gave me to nice sized buds which was sweet because the night before, as I walked from the ferry terminal to Nanaimo, some speed freak with a bag of golf clubs sold me a dime bag, when I only wanted $5 bucks worth, and it felt small so I was like, “I want my ten back” and him and his crackhead girlfriend screamed “Fuck off!!”  I didn’t want to get beaten by golf clubs and have my guitar stolen so I let it slide.  The bag he sold me turned out to be just leaves he picked off a tree or something.

I told Jack Black the story and thanked him for returning my faith in good people.  “Karma,” he says, “what goes around comes around.”  I got his # call and party sometime.

After asking around I found out I was right near the ferry to Nanaimo which I could catch and hitch down to Victoria tomorrow.  I stood at the side of the road, shivering in the setting sun and glancing at my watch, unsure how far of a drive it was and sure the last ferry was at nine.  A taxi van pulled the bend with it’s four way flashers on and I pulled out my wallet and waved it in the air.

The driver was a beturbaned middle eastern dude.  He said how he’d seen me on his first pass and radioed someone to pick me up and saw me still there on his way back.  He was talking on his radio in his own language and I thought about how different the sounds of the words were from english.  I think it uses less sharp sounds.  It makes me think of how much people that get frustrated by people with accents makes me sick.

He said it would be about $40 but it was only $20.  Still, my poor visa.

I made it to the last ferry with a few minutes to spare.

Just when you thought it was over.

You’d think I’d be used to that good feeling every town has when you arrive but nope.  It fades after the first day.  I lay awake last night in the Same Sun Hostel listening to the sound of buskers and hustlers in the streets calling out in the night and thought twice about living in the city.  Today I checked out a few slums that weren’t bad until I checked out this one way out of town.  The whole way there I was like, “No I can’t live here.  It’s too far from everything.” but the view was beautiful and the area was peaceful.

The guy didn’t seem to want me there, eyeing the guitar on my back for fear it would disturb his peaceful little household.  I told him I’d think about it then walked off with no money for the bus to get back into town.  Having no money to get somewhere seemed like a silly problem after getting here from Ontario without paying for rides.  I came to the sudden decision to go to Victoria and back on the road I was.

It didn’t take long.  Roger pulled up, sipping a beer and sweeping the garbage off the seat with his arm.  He offered me the choice of cd and I picked Cake which we grooved down the road to.  He took me to North Vancouver and was like, “Dude!  I think I just took you way out of your way.”  He showed me on my map where we were and where to catch the ferry to Victoria and they were pretty much opposite sides of the map.  He said he’d like to help me out but he had to go fight with his girlfriend.  So he left me at a gas station across from a KFC.