Setting off on my journey around the world
Planning this journey for the better part of 6 months, I purchased most everything I would need, and sold, donated, and threw away everything else I owned. I watched many videos on the internet, read many blogs, went camping, hiking, mountain climbing, and many other things to prepare for this journey. Finally ready to go, I said goodbye to my friends, was officially homeless, and with no possessions except the items on my back, I set off to backpack around the world. I started in Orange County, California, went south 100 miles to San Diego to say goodbye to another friend, then headed north to my first destination 1,200 miles away in Washington state.
With no source of income, no credit cards, no bank account, I was living on the money I received from selling all my belongings. I didn’t want to spend money on expensive airplane flights, or a train – which was fairly expensive, so I checked the rideshare section on Craigslist (which I do very often to get around – it’s a great way to carpool and travel around on a budget, at least in America). I found a guy who was towing a boat from Los Angeles to Seattle – perfect, since that’s essentially the trip I’m taking. Since I was in Orange County, I found a ride from a woman who was taking some fresh Hawaiian-imported leis to a Hawaiian concert in Monterey. She agreed to take me part way to meet the guy in Los Angeles.
The great thing about rideshare on Craigslist, is most people just ask for a contribution towards gas, sometimes you can barter, occasionally you can get a free ride. I’ve only gotten a free ride once – which was actually the trip I took to San Diego from Orange County. The guy was very nice and generous. He picked me up late at night from my door, and went out of his way to drop me off at my friends door. And we had an awesome conversation on the way there. He has good karma coming his way.
After the woman delivering the leis dropped me off in a very small town just north of Bakersfield, California, I waited at a Denny’s restaurant for my ride to Seattle. It would be about 3 hours before my next ride would meet me, so I got comfortable, sat at a booth in the back, and did some reading. While waiting, I was thinking about the journey I had set out on, and was very excited about it – traveling the world, living in many other countries and experiencing different cultures and customs, learning about farming, and much more. The sense of adventure, exploration, the challenges, and self discovery.
Since I didn’t have a cell phone, I was able to use the Denny’s phone to call my ride. He said he was on his way, and should be there by a certain time. While I waited out the next few hours, I decided to try my luck hitchhiking at the truck stop. Before I left, I read a lot about hitchhiking on a hitchhiking forum (www.digihitch.com), and read it’s more difficult to hitchhike in the USA than it is in many other countries. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a ride, which was fine because I already had a ride lined up. Though, if I were able to get a ride hitchhiking, I would have called to cancel the rideshare just so he’s not wandering around looking for me.
Once our meeting time had passed by 30 minutes, I called again, from the front counter, and he said he had been sitting at the booth by the front for 20 minutes. I looked around, and didn’t see him, until he stood up and turned around – he was literally sitting in the booth right next to me, less than three feet away! I sat down and introduced myself to Richard and to his other rideshare passenger, Rina, who had made a long trip hitchhiking from Texas, Arizona, Nevada, being stranded in California, and now heading to Washington. We (they) ate some food, and got ready to go.
Richard explained that he travels all over the country with his truck and transports boats, cars, and other cargo all over as his business. On this trip, he was hauling a boat from Los Angeles to Seattle. He had a new, heavy duty, full size Dodge truck, with a quad cab (four doors). All our stuff was in the bed of the truck, Rina sat up front, and I had the entire very large back seats to myself. The entire ride, I was laid out across the seats, sitting very comfortably. It was a very comfortable and convenient way to travel 1,200 miles.
After about 350 miles and 6 hours of driving, we decided to pull off into a rest stop just outside the small town of Willows, California (halfway between Bakersfield and Redding), to sleep for the night. It was 10pm, and Richard and Rina slept in the truck, and I got out my sleeping pad and sleeping bag, and set up a spot in an opening between the trees with a view of the stars. It didn’t really cross my mind until later, but everything I owned was inside my backpack, though I did feel confident that I won’t be left stranded while they drive off with my stuff; plus, the truck is loud, and I would have heard it start up.
A few days before I left, I had bought a new 10°F down sleeping bag, which was far too warm for the summer heat. I ended up sleeping with the cover open, and enjoyed the view of the stars. Close to midnight, I was awoken by a being bitten all over by mosquitoes. I was getting bit all over, and it was far too hot to cover up and hide in the sleeping bag (though I did try). I finally fell asleep close to midnight after fighting off the mosquitoes, when just after 4am Rina woke me up to tell me we were going to hit the road again. Good, I can get better sleep in the back of the truck.
Continuing on, I don’t know how it started, but we told stories about Sasquatch, while driving down the country road in the dark of the night. I got some more rest, then later in the morning, Richard said he knew of a good spot to eat in Oregon, and he would treat us both to lunch, which was generous of him. We stopped at a restaurant with a big sign saying, “Heaven on Earth Restaurant, Home of the Famous Cinnamon Rolls”. Hmmm… too bad I don’t eat cinnamon rolls. It did smell delicious inside, like fresh baked pies and cookies. Since the United States had an upcoming presidential election, we talked about what we would do if we were president. I won’t go into the details here, but there were some pretty interesting thoughts.
While on the road, I often look for places with free wifi connection (since I don’t have cell phone connection), and I usually find many places that provide it. While on the road, there are many truck stops managed by Love’s, and since they provide their own wifi subscription program, the businesses within a Love’s truck stop don’t provide free wifi.
Since it was hot when I left, I was wearing my flip flops, and left my shoes in a friend’s car (how does one forget to bring shoes??). So I decided I’ll stop by a store and buy a temporary pair while I have that friend ship them to me – which later ended up turning into an unnecessarily complicated issue. We decided it would be better if I went with the WWOOF hosts as it may take too long to find a suitable pair of shoes.
We finally made it near Portland when I called the WWOOF host I was going to visit, and let her know that I’m getting close. Our meeting point was just outside Vancouver, Washington, which was close to Portland, Oregon. Throughout Oregon, and Washington, I could see significant amounts of trees covering the hills and mountains in the distance, as well as the trees along the highway. Mostly Douglas Fir, Cedar, Alder, Maple, and more. Very beautiful to see so many trees covering the land. Occasionally, there would be a bare patch of land in between the dense trees that were obviously where the tree farmers had harvested the trees. These spots were a bit of an eye sore on the landscape.
Nearing my destination, I was excited about my adventure and journey. I was dropped off in a shopping center where I was to meet the WWOOF host, thanked Richard for the ride, and wished Rina good luck on her travels. As for me, welcome to Washington – the Evergreen State!