Crime pays! Within 15 minutes of thumbing it right on the Trans-Canada, I saw a small red car zip across two lanes of traffic and slow. Honestly, I thought he was breaking down but…NO!
Success! I ran towards the car…first time I ran with my pack. Another thing I should have gotten used to. I walked with the pack on several times but didn’t factor in running after cars.
Where you headed? Anywhere East! I can get you as far as Medicine Hat. Thats 278km.
James is an welder in the tar sands of Alberta and often picks up hitchhikers. Mostly to hear their stories. He loved the fact that I am hitchhiking for pleasure and was thrilled to be my first ride. I was so excited that the journey had begun that I, unfortunately, completely forgot to take any pictures or video. So James, if you ever find this, please send me a photo and GOOD LUCK WITH THE BABY!
Amazingly, James bought me coffee. I really wanted to pay but he told me that HE WAS SO GRATEFUL for the company that it was “the least he could do.” I guess that drive back and forth to the ‘Hat can get pretty boring.
He dropped me at a place along the highway called Trukkers. Sounds promising to a hitchhiker, right? I went in the store and bought a couple of thing (new pair of gloves, trail mix then strolled into the restaurant. Truck stop fare is usually excellent. Large portions and, while hardly ever exotic, usually delicious. That is a big USUALLY…because then there is this meal…
It is called the “Trukker’s Scramble” and I’m not sure if it is made with real trucker meat. It sounded delicious when I ordered it but honestly I would have rather ate the paper the menu was printed on. Anywhere else, I would have sent it back but waitresses at truck stops can sometimes be the reference you need to get a ride. Kicking up a stink over a $10 food item might be the difference between catching a lift or waiting it out.
Pack on, I walked back out to the road. The wind picked up even worse within the 2 minutes I was on the road.
Yes….ONLY 2 FREAKING MINUTES.
After only a handful of cars passed by, an 18 Wheeler made a right out of the truck stop and started to pull forward. One of my unwritten rules of the road is when trucks are trying to get onto a freeway, back way off. Truckers are extremely safety conscience and you want them to know that you’re respectful of their space. And the shoulder is there space. They need that area to safely get up to speed or pull over in case of emergency. When I see one pulling, I usually like to back off a couple of steps just so they are aware that I’m acknowledging they are coming toward me and they don’t have to be concerned that I’ll accidentally wander in front of them or worse, decide life on the road isn’t for me and throw myself in front of it.
As the big red truck inched forward, making no attempt to merge, I didn’t realize he was stopping for me unless his hazard lights started blinking. The passenger door stops directly in front of me (NO RUNNING!), the door swings open and I am face to face with Crackles, my driver’s black cat.
“Oh, he likes you! If he didn’t he wouldn’t let you into the cab. Where you headed?”, he asks. “East,” I answer. “Well, I can get you as far as Regina, if that helps.”
I climb up and soon we are chugging down the TCH, 7000 pounds of frozen beef behind us. My driver is an old hitchhiker himself and has been trucking for 30 years. He is pleasant as can be despite complaints of a hemorrhaged disc in his lower back that confined him to the bathtub for two days until his son could help him get out. He loves driving, reggae music and Crackles, his cat whom he calls his co-pilot.
We stopped only once in the 500 kilometers traveled. Cheap roadside coffee and a whiz. He seemed surprised when I paid but if a comfortable ride that far isn’t worth a hot cuppa, what is? He pointed at the vape pens in a display case and told me he’d been thinking of using one to get off the cigs. I explained that I had just bought a new one and, while it hasn’t got me to drop the smokes completely, I have cut back substantially. The conversation reminded me to charge my vape once I was back in the truck.
We rode in relative silence the rest of the trip. About 30 minutes outside of Regina, the rain started in heavy and I suddenly became concerned that I had no place to sleep that night.
Victoria Avenue in Regina. I climb out of the cab, throw on my pack and start heading toward the “Open All Night” sign. I’m homeless, hundreds of miles away from family, caught in a downpour…
And I haven’t felt this good in years.