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Author Pens Tales Reminiscing from the Road   7 comments

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April 25, 2012

By Ryan Bonham

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Eat your heart out, Jack Kerouac.

Self-professed hitchhiker Tim Shey, whose traveling path often passes through Lake County, published his second book earlier this year, a work filled with tales reflecting his experiences in hitchhiking across the country over the past 16 years.

Shey, who often works as a laborer for friends living in the Cedarville/Surprise Valley area of northeastern California, said his travels have taken him far and wide through the years.  His first trip to Lakeview occurred in 2004 while hitchhiking from Cedarville, Calif., to Washington state.

His newest book is entitled “The First Time I Rode a Freight Train,” and features stories inspired by his many years traveling a solo journey in and around the United States, in which he proselytized his Christian faith.

Born and raised in Iowa, Shey graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in English literature in 1995.  He published some of his short stories on the online blog Ditchhitchhike.com, as well as the Ethos (italics), a publication of the University of Iowa’s journalism department.

After finishing college, Shey worked full time in lumber yard until 1996, when he considered, applied for and did not get accepted into law school.  The allure of the open road came about that year, Shey said.

“I’d say I’ve been hitchhiking 80 percent of the last 16 years,” he said.  “I’m a Christian, and I’m hitchhiking by faith.”

Shey said that he’s putting each and every day’s provisions into his faith in God, and writes about his experiences and encounters from this travels.

He published his first collection of reflections from the road, “High Plains Drifter: A Hitchhiking Journey Across America,” in 2008, which traced his travels from earlier journeys of 1986-87 as well as those spanning 1996-99.

“You see a lot of nice country, but mostly it’s the people you meet (that leaves an impression),” Shey said.

Shey acknowledged the social stigma associated with hitchhiking, particularly in the United States, but he said he mostly faced occasional warnings by Johnny Law and recalled mostly positive interactions; sometimes they even helped him get to his next destination, he said.

“If you’re not causing any trouble, they’ll cut you some slack,” he said.

Shey said that the first book was put together within 10 days, but his newest effort is the culmination of two years of work.

Lake County Examiner [Lakeview, Oregon]

Copyright 2012 Lake County Examiner

[Corrections:  I received a BA from Iowa State University,  not the University of Iowa.  It is Digihitch.com, not Ditchhitchhike.com.  Ethos is published by the Journalism Dept at Iowa State University.]

The First Time I Rode a Freight Train & other hitchhiking stories
A Short Hitchhiking Trip
Providence

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A Short Hitchhiking Trip   7 comments

Oregon Highway

Last Thursday, Susie gave me a ride over Cedar Pass to U.S. 395 north of Alturas, California.  I walked a mile or so and got picked up by a tractor-trailer.

The driver was Ken and he said that he had picked me up before a few years ago.  He drove me to Lakeview, Oregon and dropped me off near the library.

I walked into the library and asked the librarian if there was a barbershop close by.  She said there was a barbershop on main street.  I spent some time on the Internet and then walked to the barbershop.

I was sitting in the barber’s chair getting a haircut when this older man and woman walked into the shop.  Before they walked in, I gave Diane (the lady giving me a haircut) my card.  Diane gave my card to the lady who had just walked into the barbershop.

The lady looked at my card and we started talking about my hitchhiking travels.  Then she said, “I’ve read your book.”

I said, “High Plains Drifter?”

“Yes.  A friend of mine bought your book and then gave it to me.”

This was quite a surprise.

She later told me that I should go to the local newspaper and maybe they would do a story about my travels.

After my haircut, I walked to the offices of the Lake County Examiner.  I talked with Ryan Bonham, who is a reporter for the Examiner.  He told me to come back at 2 PM.

I walked to this motel in Lakeview and got a room.  I made some money working for John and Susie, so I thought I would get a motel room.  I ended up staying in Lakeview for two nights.

I walked back to the Examiner and talked with Ryan Bonham for about an hour.  The last time a reporter interviewed me for a story was in Hamilton, Montana in 2008–the Ravalli Republic Newspaper.  That reporter interviewed me for about a half hour.

After the interview, Ryan told me that the article would come out the following Wednesday or in the next two or three weeks.  We shook hands and I walked back to the library.

On Saturday morning, I left Lakeview and walked north on U.S. 395.  I thought that I would go to Burns and then head north to Washington state or head east towards Boise.

This guy named Chuck picked me up and took me to Bend and then to Redmond, Oregon.  He had pruned some trees for John and Susie a few years ago.  From Redmond I walked a couple of miles and hitchhiked to Prineville.

I got a room at the City Center Motel in Prineville.  I watched Road to Perdition starring Tom Hanks and some other Irish gangsters while I was there.  I have always thought that Prineville was a real nice town.

The next day, I got two rides to John Day.  From John Day, I got a ride to Seneca with this old codger in a beat up pickup.  He was wearing a worn out cowboy hat and had a few bags of groceries in the cab of his pickup.  I asked him how old his pickup was and he said that it was a ’63.  He said it was built before I was born.  I told him that I was born in 1960.

In our conversation, he said that he had spent some time in prison years ago.  When he got out of prison, he did some hitchhiking.  For some reason, he thought that I said that I was born in 1946.  I said, no, I was born in 1960.  He said, you look like you are 46.  I then asked him if he was born in 1946.  He said, no, that he was born in 1929.  Yeah, I probably said, you look older than 46–you look older than your ’63 pickup which makes sense if you were born in 1929.  1960, 1946, 1929:  I guess it’s all the same thing–especially if you were born after 1990.  Sometimes details get confused when a hitchhiker who was born in 1960 talks to an old codger who was born in 1929 who later spent time in prison who thinks that the hitchhiker is 46 when in fact the hitchhiker is 52 . . . . .I think I’ll stop here before I paint myself into a corner.

The old guy then proceeded to tell me how I could steal gas out of other people’s cars with this device that you plug into your dashboard cigarette lighter–which didn’t make a whole lot of sense because I didn’t have a dashboard cigarette lighter and I didn’t have a car and I didn’t need gas.  Some people don’t make a whole lot of sense.  He was an old ex con who probably drank too much beer, stole too much gas and spent too much time in the pen.  He dropped me off in Seneca and I hit the road.

I walked a couple of miles and got a ride to Burns with a guy who was born in Massena, Iowa.  I told him that I was born and raised in Iowa.  He went to school at Iowa State and worked for the U.S. Forest Service.  I told him that my grandmother was born and raised in Massena.

I got dropped off at this truck stop on the west side of Burns (Hines).  I hit the road and got a ride to Riley with a couple of guys going to Bend.

From Riley, I walked a couple of miles south on U.S. 395 and then the sun went down over the western horizon.  I laid out my sleeping bag in the sagebrush near this fence line on the east side of the road and went to sleep.

Sometime after midnight, I woke up and the night sky was overcast.  It started to sprinkle a very light rain.  I packed up my things and walked back to Riley.  I walked to this horse shed next to the gas station and laid out my sleeping bag in the shed and slept there the rest of the night.  It began to rain much harder and I was grateful to be out of the weather for the night.

At sun up, the rain had stopped and I walked to the gas station and got something to eat.  I walked back to the intersection and got two rides to Lakeview on U.S. 395.  From Lakeview, I got two rides to Highway 299.  From Highway 299, I got two rides over Cedar Pass to Cedarville.

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