2922.1 Miles by thumb in 7 days plus two days in Quebec City and two days in Sudbury. I arrived in Vancouver with a little over $12.50 Canadian and a blanket. I left Quebec City with $4 Canadian and no blanket. Nice trip.
From the truck stop in Regina I spent all day trying to thumb a ride and finally met up with Gary and Ian. Ian is a punk rock philosopher that did some hard time and now counsels at risk youth, Gary is a surly drug addict that drives a beat up pickup and works in migrant labor. The ride was here and there from Regina to Calgary in about three times the time it should have taken as we made frequent stops.
As we drove, we talked about our various religious philosophies and I was particularly struck by Ian’s punk rock code. Very new age punk rock.
In Calgary they gave me directions through town to the C train that with a bus transfer I found on the ground, and I hitched a ride at 7 am with little to no sleep to the base of the Colorado Rockies. Very glad to be off the prairie. My ride let me out at a very isolated freeway exit after about 45 minutes of driving. I forgot his name but he was a nice guy going hiking. He gave me his consul change to get something cold to drink.
I was picked up 15 minutes later by Ray, a retired forester who drove me from there all the way to Kamloops, British Columbia by way of all the ranges of mountains complete with their names, elevations, and local color he gained from working in the woods for the past 30 years.
Ray asked if I would mind if he showed me Lake Louise and various waterfalls, the spiral tunnels, and more. It was like having the best possible guided tour. I told Ray about my trip and he offered to buy me lunch, then a snack, and finally he drove me 45 miles past his destination and bought me dinner too!
Meanwhile we talked about life, history, and his wife in Thailand and the life they are slowly putting together while he closes up his life in Canada. His wife is 50, he is about 65, she is Thai, he is Canadian. It was nice to hear this old lumberjack speaking to her in Thai on the phone as they planned their future together. Ray and I got along great and even took a little hike on a glacial slope.
I woke at 4:30 am and caught a ride with Dennis, an oilman from Edmunton who just got rid of all his possessions and is on a sort of vision quest after his wife left him and then his coworker who had also been left by his wife hung himself.
Dennis is rearranging his priorities in life. He drove me all the way to Vancouver and told me how he had his wedding ring and watch from his ex wife that he was going to give to the first worthy bum he met. I suggested he give them to an old bum that had been around the block a few times.
I think he wanted to give them to me, but somehow, I felt like I was getting enough with the ride and the breakfast Dennis bought for me. I’ll be fine and that jewelry might make the difference in someone else’s life.
After that I figured out how to take public transport to the U.S. Canada border and had the most hassle free entry into my country of origin that I have ever encountered. I walked across the border and didn’t get my bag checked, the border agent walked me across past the guys that might have searched me after I told him I had hitched across Canada.
Then I called my friend Dave, he offered to come pick me up and give me an accommodation for a night or two and we’ve been hanging out with his lovely wife Lynn in their little house in Bellingham since. Nice steak dinner, great company, and comparing travel stories and pics.
(Originally published 31 May 2009)