I’m starting a series about my hitchhiking adventure. People often ask me how I was able to hitchhike from California to Ohio. Most commonly i’m asked if I was scared, how I actually started the journey, what I brought, what kind of people gave me rides, and if I had any bad or weird experiences. This is going to be a series of posts, consisting of my current thoughts, as well as the actual journal entries I made in my notebook during the trip. Any time there is a date noted, it is an exact journal entry from my notebook. I had brought a small point and shoot camera with me, which I unfortunately lost somewhere in Colorado. I had a lot of amazing pictures in there. All I have left are the videos and pictures from my cellphone. I didn’t really think about using my phone too much to document things since I had the camera. Years ago I had watched the movie “Into the Wild”. It might seem lame, but that movie fueled my curiosity for hitch hiking and solo travel, and eventually inspired this adventure.
I didn’t have much time to complete this journey. I was starting an internship on a certain date in August and had to be back before my first day. So I would only have about 3 to 4 weeks. The reason I didn’t think about leaving earlier, was because of a girl I had met that summer. I thought things were going well, and I didn’t want to mess it up by leaving for a long trip. Things didn’t end up working out anyway, and now that I look back, I wish I would have left sooner so that I could have spent more time exploring the country.
Fear held me back. Fear of messing things up with this girl, fear of going on an adventure by myself, and fear of all the things that could go wrong. I had to push myself through the fears. It’s normal to have fear, but if you ever want to accomplish anything big, you have to have the courage to accept the unknown. There was never a moment where I said to myself “Okay this is the perfect time to do this, I feel completely comfortable doing this now.” I think one of the biggest mistakes we all make is thinking that there will be a perfect time to do something. We make excuses for not pursuing the things we are passionate about, today. I am definitely guilty of this, but I’m working on it.
It’s somewhere in the first few days of July 2014. My good friend Ariel is in San Francisco right now, staying at a hostel. He’s working on an app he founded. The past couple weeks I’ve been talking to him about the prospect of my journey. He went on an adventure himself and I wanted his opinion, mostly his encouragement. Everyone else I’ve talked to about it says I would be robbed or killed. I’m sitting at my computer, browsing flights to San Francisco leaving next week. This would be a great place to start my adventure. I could meet him there, stay in the hostel a couple days, and then head off on my own. I stared at a flight available on the 11th, cheaper than the others for some reason. I hesitated and thought of all the reasons that this was completely stupid and insane. I also thought about how much I wanted a change in my life, how I always held myself back because of fear. I wasn’t ready, I was nervous, but I clicked the button to purchase a one way ticket. It was done, I was going to San Francisco next week.
The next step was to make sure I had everything I needed. From the recommendation of my friend, who had done some backpacking before, I bought a Golite Jam 50L backpack. It’s an ultralight backpack. I borrowed a hammock and tarp, and purchased a few supplies that I would need such as water bottles, a small knife, matches, flashlight, and sleeping bag. I also went to AAA with a friend who has a membership and got a few free maps of the west coast, and certain states I knew I’d be passing through. I made a packing list, revised, and re-revised it. I decided on what clothes to take, which ended up being one pair of pants, one pair of shorts, two T-shirts, one pair of shoes, and one sweatshirt, as well as a few pairs of socks and boxer briefs.
Throughout the week, I let a few of my closer friends know about my trip. I knew I couldn’t tell my family, especially my mother. She would be extremely worried the whole time I was gone and probably tell me I shouldn’t go. I decide to just tell her I would be going to San Francisco to meet Ariel to help him work on his app for a few weeks. I hate lying, and mostly never do it, but I felt this would be for the best. I do end up telling her about it when I return, but that’s for later.
My backpack looked too new to me, so I sewed on some random dull colored patches. I got all of my things together and packed it all in there. I made sure I had everything I put on my list. I have my big backpack ready and dressed in the one pair of pants, shoes, and one of two t-shirts i’m bringing. I can’t believe i’m actually doing this. It doesn’t feel real. I have never hitchhiked in my life, I have never traveled alone in my life.
Today I leave on a flight to San Francisco, where I will meet Ariel for a couple days, then I will be hitch hiking back home to Cleveland. I’m nervous, a bit afraid of what I’ve gotten myself into.
To be continued…