Hitchhike or Bust
An English newcomer arrives in the U.S. with a spirit of adventure and an offbeat mission: to thumb a series of rides from San Francisco to Portland in a single day.
Illustration by George Mager
As I lay marinating, an hour shy of the Oregon border – where the Klamath River meets the Pacific Ocean (a region that receives 80.4 inches of rain a year compared to the national average of 36.5) – one irrefutable question cocooned in my thoughts. “Why are you here?” it justifiably reasoned. “Why are you putting yourself through this again?”
I was on a boundless Californian beach, spread-eagled. Postcard-perfect coastline cut the horizon; a star-dappled sky resting on top. The springtime scene had arranged itself before me, a picture of rare seclusion. Except – quite understandably – I couldn’t put my mind to rest.
Maybe it was the gale-force wind battering the gnarly bush I’d taken shelter under. Or the dull, gnawing hunger that had cooly grasped hold of my body. Perhaps it was even the rain gradually seeping through my timeworn sleeping bag, forming an unwelcome, lukewarm footbath. I couldn’t be sure. No answers for this mild existential crisis were immedi…