Hitchhiking through Oregon – Bikers and Christians

Overland travel from Canada to Guatemela

Charlie Bonk
Mar 28 · 9 min read

“I just finished 52 months inside, been out four days.” My new friend told the group.

“I think I’m going to jail tomorrow man, apparently they don’t like it when you punch people in the face here.” The other man replied.

“Yea, I guess not. What were you doing in Paris though man?” I say partly out of interest and partly just trying to diffuse the whole situation.

“Just holidaying man. My parents went down there and they said they’d pay for my ticket if I went with them.”

“Ah, good shout, you’re never gonna turn down a free ticket hey?”

“That’s it. Paris was whack though, I was looking for the junkies everywhere, but it’s all just hash junkies there. I was saving up for 6 months so I could go to Spain but then I went gambling and lost it all before I left. I still had like 500 bucks when I went though, anyway I’m gonna bounce.”

He and his 2 buddies walked off, and I was left with the newly released man who was flying a sign, trying to make some money. He’d been sentenced for assault and bank robbery “I tried to rob a bank, when I should have just asked for a bank loan.” He joked.

The guys who approached us had felt very sketchy, but this fella seemed nice enough. He’d done his crime, done his time, and now said he just wanted a relaxed life for a bit. It was cold here though, being homeless must have been tough…

Perspective was a funny thing.

Just 20 minutes ago I had been sat in a bar having a relaxing pint but feeling stressed because the cheapest place I could find for the night was still far from cheap.

It was a cold night, and I wanted to be inside, but thirty dollars was a lot of money for me.

I ended up booking the place as I didn’t have a tent or tarp. But this left me stuck despairing over how I should have just slept in the park and saved that money. How ludicrous, I should have felt blessed instead that I was able to afford to stay inside at all. I had a warm place to stay tonight, that’s all that really mattered.

I said bye to the man I’d met on my way to buy rolling papers and started the hour walk to where I was spending the night. On the walk I thought back to how I’d got here, it had been a crazy few days…

I’d had a lovely day exploring the beauty of Portland before making it over to Eugene, where my auntie lived. I’d never met her or her family before but bless her, she said I could come over and spend a couple nights recuperating.

Eugene had been interesting. There were stores selling weed on every corner and the place had a good vibe to it.

As I was wondering around I past two men and a woman, all who must have been in their 30s.

“Hey brother, you got any weed at all?” They asked me.

“Ah, I do but I’ve only got the smallest little nug left, sorry man.”

“Wow, your accent sounds great, where you from?”

“South England originally, just south of London. But I’ve been living in Canada the last couple years.” I explained.

Hearing I was from England he and his buddies lit up.

“That’s awesome dude. Me, my wife, and my buddy here, we’re from Texas. Just travelling around here to escape those crazy weed laws over there.”

“That, and the meth too.” His wife added.

“So anyway you staying down here in Eugene? How come I ain’t never seen you before?” The man continued.

“Nah, I wish, I do love this little city, seems like a real nice place. I’m just hitching down the coast, trying to get to Mexico for Christmas.” I explained.

At this the man turned to his wife and just said “Honey, give this man some weed.”

His other buddy goes into his pocket and passes me some too. I get my smokes out and share them around and we all have a smoke and a laugh together.

They were incredibly friendly, lovely, and open-hearted people. None of them had left America before so they were fascinated about the places I’d visited and expressed the strong want to travel themselves.

“Yea, the laws for weed are crazy down south. They’ll lock you up for just having a joint on you.”

“What, that’s crazy, really? Do you know people who’ve done time for smoking?” I asked.

“No word of a lie man. I’ve done 60 days, she’s done 40.”

“Yea, I did 5 weeks for having a gram of weed on me.” His buddy chipped in.

“What the fuck! That’s seriously messed up, I’m sorry, that can’t have been fun.”

“Ah, it’s actually not all that bad being locked up. We smoked weed, took acid, we had fun.”

“Oh my god, that jail acid was amazing!” His wife smiled and gazed off in memory of a good time. “The walls were like golden tunnels, everything was so beautiful.”

“Yea, I really had a true connection to God that time. I saw other dimensions, I saw things that I’ll never be able to properly explain. It showed me that unbelievable realms outside of our imagination do exist.”

We talked about this subject for a while, smoked another cigarette each, and had a few tokes on the man’s weed pipe.

They told me how they wished they could live somewhere, like England, where meth didn’t exist. Here in America it seemed it was everywhere, they’d literally travelled across the country to try and escape it, but even here you could see signs of meth use.

They didn’t seem like they’d been doing hard drugs or anything though, at least not recently. They were just a trio of super nice and friendly street folk.

We said our byes and went our separate ways.

The next day I was dropped off by my auntie at the on ramp, and I was excited to be back on the road again.

My first lift greeted me by saying

“You’ll have to sit in the front as there’s a baby in the back, you don’t have any weapons do you?”

I couldn’t help laughing and assured her I didn’t. At first she told me she was just driving to the next town but after we’d gotten to know each other a bit she told me really she could take me further. Apparently she always told people she was only going a short distance so she had an opportunity to suss them out first.

She was a very lovely women, we talked about the differences between America and England, and I found myself not being able to remember a lot about England now.

She was the kind of awesome Christian American woman that made me feel like I could love living a American Christian life. She was a true good doer, and her church had started a refugee center helping house people after they were released from prison. You can say what you want about Christians but they do a hell of a lot of good. It was a lovely journey with her and the little one, and after an hour or so she dropped me off at a gas station.

I tried hitching here for a while, and wasn’t having much luck when a teller came out and started walking towards me.

“I’m not allowed to hitch here am I?”

He smiled at me. “No, you’re on private property, but if you walk just past the stop sign there you can do whatever you want.”

Amazing.

I wandered down past the stop sign to the on ramp of the I-5 so I could catch all the traffic going my way. I stood, sat, danced, and waved but to no luck. It seemed everyone was going north, and the few that were going south gave me the universal signal for a short distance, the thumb and forefinger held close together. Either that or they had their cars jam packed full.

It was sunny and a beautiful spot, but it had been 2 hours and I needed a smoke so I started to pack my things up and walk to the gas station up the hill to get some papers. As I was doing this a pickup pulled up right next to me and stopped, yes!

I threw my stuff in and jumped in beaming. I look over to see who my driver is and am greeted by a big bearded biker man covered in tattoos, smoking a cigarette. He was on probation after being caught smoking weed in Texas, and was a super cool guy. We clicked a bunch, talking about the PCT trail, live music events (he’d won over 40 radio competitions), family, trimming weed, and other random bits.

He explained how he had been medically prescribed weed but because of his parole couldn’t smoke it most of the time.

“I served in the air force in Nam, and got some major PTSD. Then when my wife died I just lost it, I went crazy. They prescribed me pot to help with my PTSD, but now because of being caught with it in Texas I can’t smoke it. That shit stopped me going crazy and killing someone and the judge says to me, I know it helped you, and I don’t know how you’re going to handle it now.”

He paused, realising what he was saying might be a bit worrying to me.

“Not that you’re in trouble or anything. Don’t worry, I’m in a good headspace, I haven’t killed anyone yet so I’m good.”

Some of the words sounded scary, but the man was not one bit. He seemed truthful, he seemed in a good place, and he seemed mentally aware.

I made a joke, pretending to panic and to try to break out the vehicle, and we both laughed.

It turned out he’d passed me while he was driving north for a trimming job, but the guy had kept delaying on him.

Deciding he didn’t want to wait any longer, he thought screw it, I’ll go on an adventure south, visit a burger joint I’ve always wanted to visit, and pick that hitchhiker up on the way.

Lovely man, he sincerely said how if he could legally leave the state he would have given me a lift all the way down to Sacramento and surprise his daughter there.

As it was he dropped me off at Grants Pass. I was surrounded by mountains and mist and it was a lot colder. I walked to the on ramp and went to put on a song to dance to as I waited, but before I could put my phone back in my pocket a car had pulled over for me.

What perfection…

Inside was a tall, well built guy in his mid 30s. He was wearing a tracksuit, and some gold chains and was leaned back in his chair, looking very relaxed.

He didn’t talk too much at first but when I asked what he did for a living he really opened up.

He was a pure hustler, in the best kind of sense. He told me about ten different side hustles he did, like buying and selling phones, or amazon fire sticks, as well as how he started his own gardening company.

He gave me lots of advice on little things I could do to make money on the road, but to be honest I was happy with street performing and writing.

Driving into a small cute town he dropped me at a bus stop with a little change and instructions on how to get the bus to the next slightly bigger town, which would be easier to hitch from.

Waiting for the local bus in small town America, I sat and looked around me processing the day.

The bus turned up and I started chatting to the older gentleman opposite me. Somehow the conversation turned to snakes and he told me of a time he was bitten by a cobra.

I wanted to question him further about this event but we were at his stop, and as a few others get on he gets off.

I start talking to someone else that’s just got on the bus and it turns out he has a pet cobra.

Two very different interactions with two very different people.

I got off the bus as night was falling and went to the pub to get a drink and work out where I was going to sleep…

Carry on the story here – https://link.medium.com/BzQVNxlsh5

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