Hitchhiking Stories from Digihitch
By Tim Shey
A Dog Named Patton
Hitchhiking in Wyoming and Montana in 2006.
Dreams from the Lord 2003-2006 (Journal)
21 December 2006
Yesterday, I hitchhiked from Riverton through Shoshoni and Thermopolis to Cody. From Cody I walked a few miles and got a ride with a truck driver named Steve. Steve was from North Dakota and he had spent eight years in the National Guard and had spent time in Kosovo and Iraq as a combat engineer. His job in Iraq was to find roadside bombs and get rid of them. He had been blown up four times in his Humvee. One time his Humvee stopped right next to a roadside bomb and it did not go off. Right then, he told me, he felt invincible — he wasn’t meant to die there and it made him a believer in God. Steve then told me what his grandfather had told him: “If you are meant to hang, you will never die by fire.” Which means: God is sovereign.
Steve also told me that he was raised in the Catholic Church, and before they got confirmed, they had to go to this class — I guess, to explain Catholic doctrine. In the class, Steve told the priest, “If I am sitting in a goose blind thinking about God, isn’t that better than sitting in church thinking about being in a goose blind?” The priest kicked him out of the class.
Steve had his pet dog — it looked like a black lab cross — in the cab with him. He named his dog, Patton, after General George S. Patton of World War II fame. We talked a lot about the war in Iraq.
Steve took me from Cody through Big Timber, Montana and drove north on U.S. 191 to Harlowton. From Harlowton we went west on U.S. 12 where he dropped me off at the junction just north of Two Dot, Montana. It was after sundown, so I walked two or three miles till I found a haystack. I slept in the haystack last night. I believe it got down to 12 degrees F. It was a beautiful, crisp, cold night; there wasn’t a cloud in the sky; the stars were very bright. I was grateful for the haystack.
This morning I walked maybe two miles west on U.S. 12 and got a ride with two women in a van. They lived in Harlowton and were going to do some skiing north of White Sulphur Springs. They were Christians and we had a pleasant conversation. We talked about hitchhiking and living by faith. They dropped me off here in White Sulphur Springs.
[Published by Digihitch.com—submitted October 6, 2011]
Wanderer of the Western Plains
This piece was written by someone who gave me a ride from Togwotee Pass to Jackson, Wyoming in February 2011. I discovered it on the Internet: Poetry Critical: Online Poetry Workshop; the author’s username is Oldshoe.
Tonight I was heading up through Dubois into Togwotee Pass on my way towards Moran Junction and onto Jackson, listening to Ray [Lamontagne].
A man on the first front mile of the pass, hitching, full pack on his back, thumb extended.
I turned the music down and slowed, pulled to the side, he opened, thanked me for stopping, tried to shove the pack in the back but it would not fit with my daughter’s car seat in the way.
Popped the trunk, he managed it in, as I informed him there was no room up front with all my bags in the passenger seat, so climbed into the back and off we went.
I picked up the High Plains Drifter, Tim Shey, who after some brief introductions and inquires started in on his story. Hitchhiking for 14-Years, on a journey following his “Holy Ghost”, a Christian, a wanderer, a vagabond who carries only few dollars and what will fit in his pack and not weigh him down.
An hour drive into Jackson, talking about life on the road, books, written and read, poetry, poems.
His fondness of Faulkner, Joyce, Hopkins and Elliot amongst many others.
He inquired as to my education, spoke as to his… our background, origins… journey.
Together we recited parts of Wind Hoover [“The Windhover” by Gerard Manley Hopkins] from memory:
“I caught this morning, morning’s minion”
“king- dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon”
“in his riding off the rolling level underneath him steady air”
“my heart in hiding! Stirred for a bird…”
So then and back till he began to recite the entirety of Harry Ploughman [“Harry Ploughman” by Gerard Manley Hopkins] aloud in the back, stopping only for a breath here and there.
“Hard as hurdle arms, with a broth of goldish flue
Breathed round; the rack of ribs; the scooped flank; lank
Rope-over thigh; knee-nave; and barrelled shank-
Head and foot, shoulder and shank-
By a grey eye’s heed steered well, one crew, fall to;
Stand at stress. Each limb’s barrowy brawn, his thew
That onewhere curded, onewhere sucked or sank-
Soared or sank-,
Though as a beechbole firm, finds his, as at a roll-call, rank
And features, in flesh, what deed he each must do-
His sinew-service where do.
“He leans to it, Harry bends, look. Back, elbow, and liquid waist
In him, all quail to the wallowing o’ the plough: ‘s cheek crimsons; curls
Wag or crossbridle, in a wind lifted, windlaced-
See his wind- lilylocks -laced;
Churlsgrace, too, child of Amansstrength, how it hangs or hurls
Them-broad in bluff hide his frowning feet lashed! raced
With, along them, cragiron under and cold furls-
With-a-fountain’s shining-shot furls.”
Spoke of will and causality, one tangent to the other against the backdrop of the Tetons.
I offered to buy him dinner, a few drinks, but he declined, having to be on his way back out, hitching up through the Teton Pass to see a friend before nightfall.
So took him as far as I was going, Sidewinders, just outside the center of Jackson.
So long Tim Shey, drifter, hitcher, wanderer of the western plains.
[Published by Digihitch.com—submitted September 28, 2011]
A Hitchhiking Trip to Kansas
A hitchhiking trip from Wyoming to Kansas and back to Wyoming.
Dreams from the LORD 2003-2006 (Journal)
6 November 2006
I got back this evening from a hitchhiking trip into Kansas. I am here at the shelter in Riverton [Wyoming]. I left Jackson on 26 October thinking that the Lord wanted me to go all the way to Washington, D.C.–but the Lord had different plans (which didn’t break my heart); I really didn’t want to hitchhike all the way to D.C. I made it all the way to the western edge of Topeka, Kansas and then I made my way back west.
The first day out of Jackson [Wyoming], I got all the way to Midwest where a couple let me stay for the night. He had spent 16 years in prison and we had a good talk about the things of God; he told me his girlfriend was schizophrenic–she asked me a lot of questions about the Gospel, but her head obviously was full of demons–I hope that my words were able to penetrate into her spirit. He drove a grader for an outfit in the Midwest area. I then hitchhiked to Gillette, then to Moorcroft and Sundance and made it to Lusk that night where I slept in a junked truck. The next day I hitchhiked to Valentine, Nebraska and then got a ride with a Christian truck driver to North Platte where he gave me forty bucks, so I was able to get a motel room that night.
The next morning I walked south out of North Platte and got a ride with a young Christian named Justin to McCook. He gave me a check for thirty bucks and I headed east to York where I slept in a grain box in an empty cattle shed that night. The next day I got to Salina, Kansas and then got a ride to Junction City, where I slept in a partially finished building that some construction company was still working on. The next morning around six o’clock I was awakened by the Sheetrock crew: they weren’t that surprised to see someone sleeping on their job-site. I then hitchhiked to Manhattan (where I tried to stay at the shelter, but it was full) and then to Topeka, Kansas. It was there that the Lord told me to head back west, so I cashed Justin’s check in Topeka and then headed west on I-70.
This young man and his son picked me up outside of Topeka and took me to the Manhattan exit. He had been in the Army for six years and had spent some time in Iraq. Earlier this year he had taken a .44 magnum and tried to blow his head off, but failed. He was wearing sunglasses and there were some scars on his face and he was minus a few teeth. He said he should be dead, but that some higher power was looking over him. I gave him my CD hoping that some Scriptures might be en-grafted into him. I really didn’t want to dig too deep into his life because I thought that he was going through a lot of stress from the Iraq War, but we did talk about the things of God for a while. He seemed like he was interested in my work on the road. I slept in a building off the interstate that night and then made my way west the next morning towards Junction City.
I was hitchhiking west out of Junction City when this young man picked me up and took me to his dad and mom’s place in Enterprise, Kansas. His dad was involved in a local prison ministry; we had a real good chat. They let me stay with their family that night. We went to a Wednesday night service at an Assembly of God in Abilene, Kansas; it was excellent fellowship. The pastor let me give a little talk on what the Lord was doing in my life on the road. The Holy Ghost was very present in that fellowship that night. The next day I got dropped off in Abilene and visited the President Eisenhower Center for a little while and then headed north.
On Kansas Highway 18 heading west, I got a ride with a guy named Mike who gave me a ride close to Minneapolis, Kansas on U.S. Highway 81. Mike lived south of Leavenworth, Kansas about 15 miles and drove a truck for a living. We stopped and had a short prayer meeting. Mike gave me ten bucks and then I headed north.
I got some rides to Mankato, Kansas, walked west for a while and then found a junked pickup to sleep in. The next day I got a ride to Smith Center with a guy named Joe who gave me 80 bucks. I then hitchhiked to Phillipsburg and got a motel room that night. The next day I walked quite a bit–maybe over fifteen miles. I later learned that there is a prison just east of Norton, Kansas. I got a ride to Norton, got a hamburger and then hitchhiked to Oberlin where I got another motel room for the night. The next morning I headed north on U.S. Highway 83 out of Oberlin, and got a ride to McCook, Nebraska and then got a good ride all the way to Valentine. I hitchhiked west on U.S. 20 and slept in a junked van in Cody, Nebraska.
This morning I walked west a few miles and got a ride with a Christian all the way to Shoshoni, Wyoming. We had a real intense talk about all kinds of things pertaining to the Gospel. I wrote down some Christian websites that I thought he might like to look up. We stopped in Chadron, Nebraska for lunch. He was raised in Iowa and now lives in Nebraska with his wife and son. I should be heading back west to Jackson in two or three days.
[Published by Digihitch.com—September 27, 2011]
Tim! We Thought You Were Dead!
This story reminds me of a John Wayne movie.
Back in August 2004, I was walking west on U.S. 12 from Lolo, Montana. I stopped and put out my thumb. Then I heard someone yelling. I turned around and there was this guy a few hundred yards down the road and he was yelling at me. He motioned for me walk to him.
I ran down the road, and he smiled and asked if I needed a ride. He and his wife had a four-door pickup, so I climbed into the back seat.
They were Kim and his wife, Pat, and they were moving from Hot Springs, Montana to the Kooskia, Idaho area. Kim had a wood shop in Hot Springs; he built furniture for a living.
So we drove back to their new home near Kooskia and I stayed there for one or two nights. In the next two or three months, I would hitchhike to their place on a hill overlooking the Clearwater River and stay for a day or two and then hit the road. We even made a trip back to Montana where I drove the pickup; we hauled a bunch of lumber to his new wood shop in Idaho. I helped Kim put the roof on his new house.
Then in November of that year, I hitchhiked from Washington to Texas and I didn’t see them again for at least a year and a half.
It was probably in the summer of 2006, when I was hitchhiking through the Kooskia neighborhood, that I thought I would visit Kim and Pat and see how they were doing.
I walked up the lane that led to their house. I walked up to the front door and knocked.
Pat answered the door and just about had a heart attack. She exclaimed, “Tim! We thought you were dead!”
“Hey, good to see you guys again.” I gave Pat a big hug.
Kim likes to carry his .45 semi auto in a holster under the back of his shirt. I walked into the kitchen and Kim already had his gun pulled.
Kim smiled at me, put his .45 back in the holster and exclaimed, “All right, Tim’s back!” And we shook hands.
We had a great talk. They were concerned about what had happened to me, so they phoned this lady in Lewiston asking about my whereabouts. This lady gave me a ride in the fall of 2004 and made a photocopy of “High Plains Drifter” (the book) and sent it to Kim and Pat. She didn’t know what happened to me.
This incident reminded me a John Wayne movie. John Wayne was riding his horse out of the desert into ranch country; I guess he had been gone for a long time.
This old guy looked up and said to John Wayne, “I thought you were dead.”
John Wayne answered, “Not hardly.”
Back in July 1987, I hitchhiked from Ellensburg, Washington to Ames, Iowa. I walked into Hanson Lumber Company to see if I could get my job back (I had worked there in 1977-1979). I hadn’t been there in eight years, so I wondered if anybody there remembered me.
I walked up to the sales counter and Wally noticed me right away. He said, “Sawman! I thought you were dead!”
I answered, “Not hardly.”
[Published by Digihitch—submitted December 18, 2011]
The Closest I Ever Got To Hypothermia
Getting wet and cold hitchhiking from Texas to Kansas.
I think it was back in the late 1990s when I left Amarillo, Texas. It was around 40 degrees F. I hitchhiked north to Guymon, Oklahoma and got dropped off next to this livestock auction. It was now around 32 degrees F and it was raining/snowing.
I stood in the rain/snow mix for at least an hour. I was wet and cold, and in the beginning, I was shivering quite a bit. After a while, I quit shivering and began to feel a bit discombobulated–something didn’t feel right.
Finally, this car pulled over and gave me a ride. This guy was coming from Sante Fe, New Mexico and he was going all the way to Lawrence, Kansas to see his girlfriend. I was grateful to be inside a heated car, but I was not getting warm very fast.
After a while, I had this guy pull over to a restaurant, so that I could get something to eat. I had some money on me, so I offered to buy him something. I got a bowl of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. We got back in the car and headed north. I still was not warm.
Eventually, he had me drive for him so that he could take a nap. I pulled over twice to get a cup of hot chocolate to help myself get warmed up. After my second cup of hot chocolate, I started to get warmed up.
We made it to Lawrence and I met his girlfriend. She was really beautiful. She made us some supper.
During supper, I told her, “Your boyfriend saved my life.” She gave him a kiss.
They wanted to spend some time alone together, so I walked back outside and got into the car and slept there that night. It rained all night and the windshield leaked, so my legs got wet and cold.
The next morning, I said goodbye to the young couple and walked all over Lawrence looking for an exit to get to Kansas City. This tractor-trailer pulled over and I climbed into the cab.
The cab was nice and warm. This trucker had to go to Kansas City. We drove to KC and he had to stop at this warehouse dock for over two hours–time for me to get dried out. It was a real blessing.
After the warehouse, the trucker dropped me off near I-70 and I hitchhiked into Iowa.
[Published by Digihitch—submitted December 18, 2011]
Stacking Hay in Ellensburg, Washington
Finding work on the road.
In July 1986 I hitchhiked through Seattle and got dropped off in Issaquah, Washington on I-90. I waited there for about three hours and got a ride with a college kid named Mike. He drove me all the way to Ellensburg where he was going to school at Central Washington University. I’m not sure what he was majoring in, but he was an aspiring film director.
On the way to Ellensburg, I recited some of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “The Wreck of the Deutschland” to Mike. He thought that it was an intense poem. I was looking for work, so Mike suggested Ward Rugh in Ellensburg; Ward Rugh exported hay. Sounded good to me. A lot of hay is grown in the Kittitas Valley; there are a lot of ranches in the Ellensburg area. We pulled into Ellensburg and he dropped me off at Ward Rugh.
I walked into the office and got a job stacking hay right away. I told them that I was raised on a cattle farm in Iowa and had baled tons of hay when I was younger. I walked out of Ward Rugh and headed towards the Central Washington University campus to look up Mike; he had given me his address before he dropped me off.
I walked to his apartment, but nobody was home. There was this guy playing basketball nearby and we began to talk. He invited me inside his apartment and made me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I told him that I was hitchhiking and was planning on sleeping outside some place. He told me about this Christian hostel just south of downtown. I thanked him and walked to the hostel.
I walked through the front door of the hostel and met Jude, who ran the place. I told him that I had a job starting tomorrow; I was going to stack hay for Ward Rugh.
Jude smiled at me and said, “You are the first guy ever to come here who already had a job.”
The next day I walked to Ward Rugh and met another guy and we both drove these gas pots (a smaller version of a tractor-trailer) to a couple of ranches and stacked hay into the containers. It was very hard work. The bales averaged 115 pounds and we had to use hooks to handle the bales and wear leather chaps to protect our pants. The bales I was used to handling back in Iowa were smaller, lighter and we used our hands, not hooks–and we didn’t have to wear leather chaps.
After work, I walked downtown and bought a hamburger at a cafe. I walked to Jude’s hostel and slept there. The next day I stacked hay with another guy; we had to stack bales in a barn.
I was going to hit the road soon, so I went to Ward Rugh the next day and told them that I was leaving soon. They paid me for two days work. I believe I had over a hundred dollars on me–that was a lot of money for a hitchhiker. It felt good to have some money in your pocket.
I ended up staying in Ellensburg for a week, and then I headed east on I-90.
[Published by Digihitch—December 18, 2011]
Al-Qaeda and the Mafia
A ride from Mount Vernon to Long Creek, Oregon.
About four or five years ago , I hitchhiked from John Day, Oregon to Mount Vernon. It was just after sundown and a light rain started to fall. I walked north on U.S. 395 for maybe a quarter of a mile and this pickup pulled over to give me a ride.
It was an older man and his wife. I climbed into the clubcab and we drove north to Long Creek. We had a nice talk.
He was originally from Montana. When he was fourteen, his dad left the family, so he had to go to work driving a logging truck to support the family. He drove the logging truck for four years and then was drafted into the Army.
After he got out of the Army, he got involved in the surveillance industry. He later started his own company which had cutting edge surveillance technology–it was based in San Diego. He had sold his company several years ago and bought some land near Long Creek where he and his wife now lived.
As we pulled into Long Creek, it was still raining. It was probably late in the fall and it was going to get cold that night. So he asked me if I wanted to stay at his place for the night. He had built a new home and a new barn. He told me that the barn had a bedroom in the loft, a bathroom, shower and a washer and dryer. It was fine by me.
So we pulled into his place. He showed me the barn and told me that there were surveillance cameras all over his property. You couldn’t see the cameras; they were the size of a dime. We then walked up to the house and we had some supper. It was a beautiful house; it took them a year to build.
After supper, I walked back down to the barn. I showered, washed my clothes and then went to bed.
The next morning, I walked up to the house. When I got to within twenty yards of the house, the garage door opened. I walked inside and greeted the man and his wife. He told me he saw me walking up to the house on his monitor. We had a real nice breakfast.
He told me that he gets phone calls once in a while from the Director of the FBI and from four-star generals in the Army. He was just in Iraq helping to set up some surveillance equipment for an Army barracks. He almost got killed. He was at a meeting with U.S. Army and Iraqi Army officers and somebody phoned him to meet him some place. Just after he left the meeting, a mortar round crashed into the building and a few people were killed.
He drove me back to Long Creek. He said that, any time I was in the neighborhood, to give him a call and I would have a place to stay for the night.
Thinking about all the surveillance cameras on his place (and it was a beautiful place: six hundred acres of trees and a brand new home) I finally asked him, “You have a lot of cameras on your place. Are you afraid that al-Qaeda is going to come here and try and kill you?”
“Oh, no, no. Not al-Qaeda,” he answered. “I helped but a bunch of Mafia guys in prison.”
Having surveillance cameras on your place could be a good thing.
[Published by Digihitch—submitted December 23, 2011]
People are put in your path for a reason.
From November 2001 to August 2002, St. John, Kansas was my home base. These two guys picked me up near Hutchinson, Kansas and took me home to St. John. Whenever I would stop by, I would do odd jobs and get some rest and then hit the road. I always thought St. John was a nice town; it had a lot of red brick streets.
This one time in 2002, I was with some friends in St. John and they invited a young couple over from nearby Stafford. I told them that I met this young man named David at the mission in Jackson, Wyoming; he said that he knew some people in Stafford. The young lady had this surprised look on her face and told me that David’s aunt and uncle lived in Stafford. She said that David’s parents lived in Colorado and they hadn’t heard from him in two years; they thought he was dead.
I told her that I had a good talk with David at the mission. He had worked a couple of jobs in the Jackson area and seemed like he was doing pretty good.
The young lady and her husband drove back to Stafford and told her mother and David’s aunt and uncle. A few days later, the young lady invited me over to her mom’s house for supper. During supper, David’s mom phoned me from Colorado and was so grateful that I had met her son. I told her David was doing just fine.
Isn’t it beautiful how the Lord puts people in your path?
Last year (2008), the Lord led me back down to St. John and Stafford, Kansas and I looked up a few of the people that I met back in 2002. To make a long story short, David eventually got in contact with his parents and he is now living in Colorado close to his family.
[Published by Digihitch—submitted December 25, 2011]
Talking to a Coyote in the Nevada Desert
I meet a curious coyote while eating a lemon pie.
I was walking south of Cedarville, California in the fall of 1999 and got a ride or two to Eagleville. There was this convenience store in Eagleville, so I thought I would stop by and get something to eat. The lady who owned the store was very friendly. She said that they were closing the store down in the next few days, so she gave me some beef jerky and a few lemon pies. I was very grateful. She told me that she was going to drive to Fernley, Nevada the next morning, so she would be looking for me tomorrow and give me a ride.
I walked out of the convenience store and got a ride or two south into Nevada and was dropped off in the middle of somewhere. It was close to sundown, so I walked for a short while and then walked out into the sagebrush and slept there that night. I was somewhere between Eagleville and Gerlach, Nevada.
The next morning, I woke up and sat up in my sleeping bag and began eating some beef jerky. Right now this coyote walked out of the sagebrush maybe fifteen yards from where I was sitting and began sniffing the air. He looked at me as if I would throw him a piece of beef jerky.
I looked at him and said, “Listen, coyote, this is my beef jerky. Go catch a rabbit or something.”
He looked disappointed and walked back into the sagebrush.
I am guessing that coyotes have an excellent sense of smell. He either heard me walking around last night and getting ready to sleep, or else he could smell me. I believe he was sleeping very close to my camp site last night — and maybe he wasn’t sleeping — maybe he was watching me.
After I got done with my beef jerky, I began to eat a lemon pie. The coyote reappeared from the sagebrush and began to sniff the air. He may have never smelled a lemon pie before. Not too many lemon pies are being baked in this part of the desert. He was even closer now — maybe ten yards from where I was sitting.
I looked at the coyote again and said, “This is my lemon pie, coyote. Beat it!”
He walked across my camp site, looking at me like a dog, trying to make me feel guilty for not giving him something to eat. He wandered into the sagebrush and I never saw him again.
With my breakfast finished, I rolled up my sleeping bag in my backpack and walked to the road. I may have walked a mile or so and the lady from the convenience store in Eagleville picked me up and drove me all the way to Fernley.
I told her those lemon pies really tasted good.
[Published by Digihitch—submitted December 25, 2011]
Meeting members of the same family on three different occasions.
It was back in 2004. I was hitchhiking in Idaho on US-12 heading east. I was standing on the shoulder a mile from Kooskia. I stood there for a while and got a ride in a pickup. It was a four-door pickup, so I got in the back seat.
In the cab of the pickup was a man, his wife and their daughter — I think she was six years old. The girl’s name was Sophia.
They drove to Missoula, Montana and then took I-90 east to Columbus. They were going to Wyoming to pick up their son. Their son was staying at his grandparents’ place. They were going to bring him back home to eastern Oregon where they lived.
They dropped me off in Columbus close to midnight. I walked to the Timberweld place near the railroad tracks and slept on a lift of lumber that night.
The next morning I hitchhiked to Absarokee. I picked up the rest of my things that I had left at somebody’s apartment and then headed back north to Columbus.
From Columbus I got a ride west on I-90 to Livingston.
In Livingston, I was standing on this ramp and guess who was pulling into Livingston on that same ramp? That same couple that had picked me up the day before in Idaho. It was an unexpected surprise. They stopped and waved at me. I threw my backpack in the back of their pickup and hopped in.
They drove to Bozeman where they dropped me off. If I remember right, they were going to get a motel room for the night, so I continued west on I-90.
Two months later, in October, I was hitchhiking in eastern Oregon. I got dropped off in Enterprise and started heading north on Highway 3. This pickup pulled over and I jumped in the back. It was an older couple.
They drove for a number of miles, pulled off this road and stopped. I jumped out, I walked up to the passenger window and I thanked them for the ride.
We talked for a little while. Then I mentioned that I had met this couple from eastern Oregon that had a daughter named Sophia. I remembered the name Sophia because I thought it was an unusual name for an American girl. It is a very beautiful name.
All of a sudden, they both smiled and the lady exclaimed, “Sophia is our granddaughter!”
The three of us had a good laugh.
I replied, “For some crazy reason I remembered the girl’s name. I don’t think I have ever met a girl named Sophia before.”
“Sophia’s mom works as a waitress at a cafe just down the road. Do you want us to take you there?”
“Yeah, that would be great.”
So I hopped back into the back of the pickup and we drove to the cafe.
I walked into the cafe, stood there and waited for this waitress to turn around. Sophia’s mom saw me, smiled and ran over to me and gave me a big hug. We talked for a short while and then she had to get back to work.
She later phoned her husband, who worked at a nearby ranch. He drove to the cafe and picked up his wife and myself. I stayed at their place for a couple of nights and then headed for Clarkston, Washington.
[Published by Digihitch—submitted December 27, 2011]
Two Nights in Fort Sumner, New Mexico
Getting a ride and helping someone haul railroad ties.
I was hitchhiking in southern New Mexico and ended up somewhere near Las Cruces. It was probably back in 1997. I headed north on I-25 and got a ride or two to a little town called Mountainair on Highway 60. I ducked into this gas station and got something to eat. As I walked east on Highway 60, I had this peace in my spirit that surpassed all understanding. I knew that something good was going to happen.
I walked for a while and this four-door pickup and trailer pulled over. I got in the back seat. In the pickup was a man, his wife and two kids.
He worked for the Santa Fe Railroad as a welder. It was his day off, so he was going to drive some place and pick up a load of railroad ties (I believe these are also called “sleepers”). He asked me if I could help him out. I said, no problem.
We drove for a while and then turned off the highway onto this gravel road. We drove close to these railroad tracks to a pile of railroad ties. He bought the used railroad ties from the Santa Fe Railroad and then resold them to people who did landscaping work. We loaded his trailer with railroad ties, strapped it down and headed out.
We got to his home in Fort Sumner that evening. We had a nice supper and then watched a movie. They had this couch that folded out into a bed; I slept there that night.
The next day we delivered and unloaded the railroad ties some place. Then we drove to another place and loaded up his trailer with some more railroad ties. I think we hauled two or three loads that day.
After we were done with the railroad ties, we picked up his wife and kids and visited a friend and his wife. This guy also worked for the Santa Fe Railroad.
As a welder, he worked on the railroad tracks. He welded “frogs” on the tracks (I am not sure how to describe what a “frog” is, but they are made out of steel and go between the two rails). He told me that it can be dangerous work because you can’t hear the trains coming down the tracks. The diesel engines are built behind the cab, so the sound of the engines goes out from the sides, not from the front. Once he and his fellow welder were busy working on a “frog”. This train almost ran them over because they couldn’t hear it coming down the tracks. They barely had time to throw their welding equipment off the tracks.
He said he liked being a welder. He made enough money to take care of his family. I was grateful that he picked me up. He gave me a ride even though his wife and kids were in the pickup. Some guys would not like the idea of having a hitchhiker and their family in the same vehicle. Staying with that family for two nights was a pleasant memory.
My second evening there, the welder and I practised hitting a target with his bow and arrow. The next morning we had breakfast and his wife gave me some food for the road. I thanked them for their hospitality and hitchhiked to Lubbock, Texas.
[Published by Digihitch—submitted December 27, 2011]
Bike Race from Logan, Utah to Jackson, Wyoming
Helping a couple of guys in a bike race.
A few days ago [September 2009], I was walking east on U.S. 89 out of Montpelier, Idaho. There were all kinds of people in town; the U.S. 89 and U.S. 30 intersection was blocked off for this bike race. It was a race from Logan, Utah to Jackson, Wyoming. I later learned that the first groups of bicyclists left Logan around 6 AM.
I walked two miles or so and this van pulled over to give me a ride. The driver’s name was Lee and his son was participating in the race. Lee’s son’s name was Tanner and he was fifteen years old. Lee and Tanner lived in Logan with the rest of their family.
So Lee and I would drive for a while and wait for his son to catch up on his bike. When Tanner caught up to our van, he would stop, get something to eat and drink and Lee would ask him how he was doing. Lee stopped at Geneva, Idaho and at this pass between Geneva and Afton, Wyoming. We stopped again in Afton where there were a lot of people gathered to help out the bicyclists — I guess you could call it a pit stop.
Tanner hit the road from Afton and Lee and I drove to Alpine where he met up with some friends at Yankee Doodles Restaurant. Lee bought me a cheeseburger and fries and we watched BYU play Tulane (college football) on the TV.
After the restaurant, Lee drove back to Etna where he met up with Tanner again. Tanner said he was getting real tired. So Lee had Tanner get in the van and get some rest while Lee put on his bicycling clothes and put his bike together.
We were there for maybe twenty minutes and Lee encouraged his son to hang in there tough and finish the race. Lee and Tanner then took off and I drove the van.
I stopped in Alpine, and later, at Hoback Junction; they rode on by, which showed me that Tanner was doing just fine. I then drove through Jackson and then to Teton Village where all these people were waiting at the finish line. There were vehicles parked everywhere.
I waited for Lee and Tanner to finish. I think they finished the race at 7 PM. The three of us climbed back into the van and drove to the Motel 6 in Jackson where they had a room reserved.
Lee gave me twenty dollars for helping out during the race. I was very grateful. Lee then drove me to downtown Jackson and dropped me off. I slept on my friends’ couch that night.
[Published by Digihitch–submitted December 27, 2011]
A hitchhiking trip from Dubois, Wyoming to Northern California.
I am visiting a friend here in a small town in northern California who helped me out back in September 1999 when I was hitchhiking through town. Susie and her husband run a motel here, and when I walked up to her, she said that she was just thinking about me this past week. When the Lord puts something or someone on your mind, it usually means something.
I left Dubois, Wyoming yesterday [March 2009] at around 9 AM. I then got a ride to Jackson. From Jackson, I got a few rides to Rexburg, Idaho. These two students at BYU-Idaho (Cody and Matt) picked me up and drove me from Driggs to Rexburg and bought me a meal at Wendy’s — it sure hit the spot. We had a great conversation about the Gospel. Cody had his room mate take a photo of Cody and myself before I hit the road.
From Rexburg, I got two rides to Pocatello. I walked maybe two or three miles through Pocatello and then got a ride with this old guy all the way to Northern California. He told me that he had worked for Dr. Edward Teller in Nevada years ago. I got dropped off at around 6:30 this morning. I walked around town for a short while and then hitchhiked to where Susie and her husband lived.
What happened in September 1999 is a pleasant memory. I was walking up U.S. 395 east of Susanville, CA when these two guys picked me up. They were working on a road crew and it was their day off. They said I could hang out with them for the day, so we drove to this dude ranch and killed some time there. They then drove back to their camp where we had supper and watched “The Man from Snowy River” in his camper. I slept in one of the guys’ pickup that night.
The next morning, they dropped me off somewhere near Ravendale, and this guy picked me up and asked me if I could do some carpenter work for him; he lived near Madeline. He had a bad leg and I did some of the heavy lifting for him. He gave me breakfast and a backpack he had bought in 1979. I gave him my traveling bag and he drove me to the next town north on U.S. 395 where I hit the road.
I walked a ways and this guy picked me up and asked me to do some yard work for him. I worked for him for a few hours and had supper with he and his wife. They put me up in a motel in town and that is where I met Susie. The next morning, Susie and I had a great talk and she gave me a hooded sweatshirt and some apples and something else to eat. I later got a ride into the San Francisco area and worked for an environmental engineer for a few days. We then drove back to his home where I met his wife and son. A couple of days there and I moseyed into Nevada.
It is amazing who the Lord puts in your path. There was this movie that I saw this past year, “The Four Feathers”, starring Heath Ledger. There is a scene in the movie where this British soldier meets this African warrior. The African warrior told the British soldier, “God put you in my path.”
Today I am 49 years old.
[Published by Digihitch—submitted January 1, 2012]
Hitchhiking from Tennessee to California.
High Plains Drifter: A Hitchhiking Journey Across America
By Tim Shey
Excerpt from Chapter Nine:
I walked down the road for a mile or two, and this truck driver saw me and took me to a truck stop in Tennessee. He preached to me in the power of the Holy Ghost all the way to Knoxville. At Knoxville this guy picked me up and took me all the way to Fort Smith, Arkansas. We stopped at a truck stop in West Memphis, Arkansas around midnight.
This twelve or thirteen-year-old kid walked up to me and asked me to give him a ride to California. I told him he had to ask the driver. The driver got pretty upset and told the kid to go home to his parents. The kid walked off. He was pretty young-it would be dangerous for him to be on the road. I sure wasn’t thinking about hitchhiking when I was that age. Maybe he didn’t have much of a home life.
I got rides from Fort Smith to Amarillo to Lubbock and then to Roswell. From Roswell I got a great ride from a truck driver all the way to Antonito, Colorado. I got to Alamosa and this lady named Nancy picked me up and she gave me a sandwich and something to drink. She let me off north of Alamosa and then I got rides to Salida and then to Canon City. There I slept under a doublewide home in a sales lot.
The next day I hit Pueblo, then Walsenburg and headed back west on US 160. I got into Del Norte and I went to the sheriff’s office to see if someone would put me up for the night. A local church put me up in a motel. Nancy told me she lived in Del Norte, so I went to look her up. She lived close to the sheriff’s office and she was surprised to see me. We talked for a while and then she drove me to Pagosa Springs.
I got rides to Durango and Cortez and then I was dropped off near Dove Creek where I slept in somebody’s machine shed. It rained hard that night and I was grateful to be warm and dry. I woke up around four in the morning and began walking down the main street of Dove Creek. I found an old Kenworth or Peterbilt tractor and crawled into the sleeper and slept for two or three hours. The mattress of the sleeper was more comfortable than the dirt floor of the machine shed.
It was now daylight and I thought I had better get out of the truck before somebody walked up to it and drove off with it. That reminded me of the time back in July 1980 when I hopped a freight train in Fremont, Nebraska and I rode it all the way to a place called Chapman-near Grand Island. This cop saw me riding on a flatcar and unfortunately the train stopped. The cop drove his car to where I was sitting and told me to get off the flatcar. So I jumped off the train and got in the police car. To make a long story short, the cop dropped me off at the county line and I had to walk six miles that night to the next town. The name of the town was Duncan and, by the time I got to Duncan, I had developed a pretty bad attitude. I was tired, thirsty and I got caught riding a freight train–I was not a happy camper. Anyway, I saw this pickup parked by the railroad tracks and slept in the cab that night. I woke up and walked to US 30 and stood there thumbing for a ride to Columbus. About a half hour later, I saw this guy walk up to the pickup and drive off in it. Sometimes it pays to get up early in the morning.
From Dove Creek I walked to a truck stop, got something to eat and walked several miles west. A truck driver picked me up and we drove through Utah up to Salt Lake City and then east to Wyoming. We drove north of Rock Springs and unloaded his trailer at a gas field. We then drove to northern Utah and loaded his trailer with steel. We drove back to near Farmington, New Mexico to his ranch where he and his dad lived. I stayed there a few days and helped do cleanup around the place. We then drove to Albuquerque where he dropped me off.
From Albuquerque I headed west on I-40 and got a motel room in Grants. From there I headed south and west on Highway 53 and then south on US 191 near the Zuni Indian Reservation in Arizona. I walked several miles and found this abandoned building by the side of the road. I jumped the fence and walked behind the building about fifty yards and camped there that night. I slept there in my sleeping bag and listened to the coyotes yelp and howl.
The next day I got to St. Johns, Show Low and then to Globe where I slept out in some bushes on a hillside. The next morning I got a few rides to downtown Phoenix and then I started walking. I must have walked ten or fifteen miles and slept somewhere off the road someplace. The next morning I reached Litchfield Road and got a couple of rides to Blythe, California.
It was a hundred and ten degrees in Blythe. In Phoenix the day before, it was a hundred degrees-I stopped several times to fill up my water bottle. After an hour wait, this guy in a van picked me up. I got in the van and looked at the guy–he was rubbing the back of his head.
“What’s wrong with your head?” I asked.
“I got robbed by a hitchhiker,” he said.
“What?” I exclaimed.
“Yup. He hit me over the head at a rest area down the road and stole four hundred dollars I had on me.”
“Then why did you ever pick me up?” I asked completely dumbfounded.
“I needed all the good karma I could get.”
I sat there in disbelief as we drove up US 95 to Vidal. He was hoping that I had some money on me to help pay for gas. I told him I was sorry, but that I was broke. We talked for a while and then he casually mentioned that he had a box of Poptarts in the back seat. I hadn’t eaten in fifty-two hours; those were the best Poptarts I ever had.
We drove to Vidal and we stopped at a gas station. There I talked with the kid that worked behind the counter. I told him that a hitchhiker robbed this guy, and that he was trying to sell some camping equipment so that he could buy some gas and get back to Ridgecrest. He said, no problem. He bought thirty dollars worth of equipment and we were off.
We drove north to Needles and headed west on I-40. Somewhere near Ludlow we stopped at a truck stop. He slept in the van and I slept on the ground. The next day we made it to Ridgecrest and I headed north on US 395.
[Published by Digihitch—submitted July 18, 2011]
Miguel the Chef
Hitchhiking from Bozeman to Big Sky, Montana.
Yesterday I was walking south of Four Corners, Montana (west of Bozeman) and this guy picked me up. His name was Miguel and he was driving to Big Sky. He was born in Santa Monica, California; his parents were from Spain and England, respectively. He did live for a time in Newcastle in northern England; he had a slight accent.
We had a good conversation. Miguel is a chef and he cooks for people in their homes. When I met him, he was going to Justin Timberlake’s house to cook for twenty people. I guess Miguel has cooked for some very wealthy people at the Yellowstone Club in Big Sky. He has cooked for Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.
One time Bill Gates asked Miguel to cook for he and his friends at his house at the Yellowstone Club. Miguel showed up and Bill Gates handed him a hundred-dollar bill and told him that he didn’t have to cook; they were going to McDonalds to get some hamburgers. So Bill Gates and his friends took Gates’ helicopter and flew through the canyon that goes from Big Sky to just south of Four Corners, flew to Belgrade to the airport, hopped in a car and drove to McDonalds. They got their food, hopped back in their car, drove back to the airport, hopped back in the helicopter and flew back to Big Sky.
I guess that is all fine and dandy, but if Bill Gates EVER borrows MY helicopter without MY permission so that HE can go to McDonalds, I might get a bit grumpy.
Now that I have heard of everything, I can die happy.
Without McDonalds we will be a people no more.
P.S. After Miguel dropped me off at the gas station in Big Sky, he gave me some money; I was very grateful because I was broke. I bought a sandwich and then hit the road.
[Published by Digihitch—submitted July 18, 2011]
A Ride on the Reservation
Hitchhiking in South Dakota.
This morning I was walking a mile or two south of Mission, South Dakota on U.S. 83 when this vehicle pulled over to pick me up. This guy was from the Lakota Tribe on the Rosebud Reservation. It was really windy and cold, so I was grateful to be in a heated vehicle for a short while. I believe it was below zero with the wind chill.
This guy told me that he a had dream a short while ago and in the dream he saw a guy walking down the road, so he picked him up. When he saw me walking down the road, he had to pick me up.
I told him that I have had a lot of dreams from the Lord and that some of these dreams have come true. He then told me that back in 2000 he had a dream about an airplane that crashed into two tall buildings. I said that the Lord does show things to people in dreams or He warns people in dreams pertaining to future events.
The Lord can give dreams to believers and unbelievers. The Lord gave dreams to Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar. He gave dreams to Jews and Christians. I have heard that the Lord is giving dreams to Muslims about Jesus and they are getting saved. Praise the Lord!
God is sovereign; He rules in the affairs of men.
A few days ago, I hitchhiked from Bozeman, Montana to Bismarck, North Dakota. Two days ago, I hitchhiked from Bismarck to Pierre, South Dakota. Today I made it to Valentine, Nebraska. Later this afternoon, I may visit a friend who lives just east of Valentine.
Just remembered: yesterday I was walking a few miles east of Bismarck, North Dakota on I-94 when this guy pulled over to give me a ride. He dropped me off at Sterling, North Dakota. He told me that he picks up every hitchhiker he sees because it might be Jesus walking down the road.
[Published by Digihitch—submitted July 22, 2011]
“But how could you live and have no story to tell?”
Tim Shey Hitchhiking in Western Wyoming
The life of a hobo