Hitch-hiking

Flirting with the law in a country not built for hitch-hiking

To most Americans, our struggles while hitch-hiking this week will not come as a surprise, but perhaps the manner of our struggles will.

You see, we have had no problem finding willing American drivers. Quite the contrary. Our problems have been a result only of infrastructure and legality.

There just aren’t any good hitch-hiking spots here in the USA. Freeways are fast, highly populated and multi-laned, and gas stations are off the main road. The best alternative we have found is freeway entrances, but these come in all shapes and sizes, and can be very popular or hardly used.

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At one such spot this week, on the edge of the tiny town of San Miguel, we waited for three hours and were assured by two separate passersby that we had zero chance of being picked up in the next two weeks and had better walk on the freeway.

The concept was in no way attractive and most certainly illegal, but we felt we had little alternative.

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An hour later, we were picked up on the hard shoulder by this crazy lady:

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Thanks Caitlin.

Caitlin left us at a busy freeway entrance on the outskirts of San Jose, just 50 miles short of San Francisco. We were feeling much happier.

But then something strange happened… A policeman approached on his bike, dismounted, flicked on the flashing lights and reached for his baton.

“You’re breaking the law,” he informed us gleefully, as he swaggered towards us.

“Oh, are we? I thought it was OK on freeway entrances,” Steve replied.

“Look, we can argue about this all day, but the law’s the law,” he said.

The man’s odious and officious nature was hard to stomach, but we held our tongues and called it a day.

The next day, we found a different freeway entrance and successfully avoided another telling off, but as we approach the beginning of a new week, it is rather discomforting to think that our efforts are almost certain to involve a bit more law breaking. It has never been our intention to break the rules, but here in the USA, it seems our very mission is against the Constitution.

…A few of this week’s highlights:

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Hitting Hollywood Boulevard.

Watching the crazies at Venice Beach.

Watching the crazies at Venice Beach.

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America’s somewhat counter-intuitive signage.

It took us some time to work out that this wasn't pointing out a nearby Chinese school.

It took us some time to realise that this sign wasn’t advertising a nearby Chinese school.

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Discovering that here in California, $40 and a bout of anxiety, or just about any bodily ailment, is sufficient for a cannabis license.

Halloween in San Francisco with our generous host, Vijay.

Halloween in San Francisco with our generous host, Vijay.

And seeing the sights of the City by the Bay.

And seeing the sights of the City by the Bay.

Total number of lifts: 342
Week Thirty-Two distance travelled: 508 miles/ 817 km
Total distance travelled: 21,790 miles / 35,067 km

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