High Plains Drifter: A Hitchhiking Journey Across America
By Tim Shey
Excerpt from Chapter Five:
Psalm 18: 19: “He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me.”
In May of 1997, I hitchhiked west towards Nebraska. I have always loved going through Nebraska. In all my travels, I believe that the people of Nebraska and Texas were by far the best people I have ever met. Nebraska was in my comfort zone. Whenever I had been wandering out west and came out of Wyoming and into Nebraska, I felt that I was back on my home turf. The people of Nebraska are gold, silver and precious stones.
I got some good rides all the way to Osmond, Nebraska. It was getting close to sundown when this guy driving a tractor picked me up.
“You can sit on the fender if you want,” he said.
“Sounds good to me,” I said.
He drove me to Plainview and we talked about the things of God and the Bible. He asked me what I was doing. I told him that I just quit my job and thought I would hitchhike by faith and see where God would take me. He offered me a job right there. He had his own construction company and lived on a farm with his wife and kids. I told him I would love to work for him, but that God was calling me out west for some reason. We stopped in Plainview and we shook hands. I hopped off the tractor and I got a motel room.
The next morning this tractor-trailer picked me up.
“I’m going all the way to western South Dakota,” he said. “I got five drops: three in Nebraska and two in South Dakota.”
We stopped at three places in Nebraska and I helped unload his van–he was hauling some small trees and shrubs. We got to a truck stop near Kadoka, South Dakota and he told me he would buy me some supper.
We were eating supper when he looked at me and said, “You know, right before I picked you up I saw this man pointing at you. It was like he was telling me to pick you up.”
“What?” I exclaimed. “I didn’t see anybody out there. I was alone.”
“I saw him plain as day. When I picked you up I didn’t see him anymore.”
I was flabbergasted. So I sat there and wondered and looked out the window and asked him, “Do you think he was an angel?”
“He must’ve. It was the strangest thing I ever saw.”
On our trip we talked a lot about the Word of God and certain preachers on TV. He lived in Sioux City and was very well self-educated. I enjoyed talking with him. After supper he said he was going back to the sleeper and get some sleep. I took a long walk—for two or three miles—out in the country. Lots of grassland; it was beautiful.
I walked back to the truck and the trucker was sound asleep. He had a double-decker sleeper, so I got in the top bunk and turned on the VCR. From midnight till four in the morning I watched two films. The first film was The Professional—it was about the life of a mafia hit man and a twelve-year-old girl named Matilda. It was very good. I forget the other film.
The next day we stopped in Rapid City and Spearfish and we unloaded his truck. He bought me breakfast and I hit the road.