Sunday, August 24, 2008

A mini trip

Well, today (Sunday) I just got back from a little jaunt in Montana. Specifically I went to Missoula, to visit Heidi.
I rode up with a girl named Chynna, who is a friend of Luke and Hannah's. It was a very nice ride and she's a great person. I love the ride to Missoula. From Coeur d' Alene it's about three hours and it goes through the Silver Valley. The land is beautiful but scarred. You can completely tell that it was mined and logged nearly to death. But it's healing. Trees have come back and while they aren't large by any means they are trees and they are beautiful. A friend (who is older) told me once that when he was growing up in this area the Silver Valley was completely barren. No trees. Just dead land. This was 15 maybe 20 years ago. Hearing that story made me very hopeful. The Earth is resourceful and perhaps, despite our single minded pursuit of wealth, the Earth will recover.
Anyhow i got to Missoula and hung out with Heidi. Seriously Heidi Groover is one of the premier human beings on this planet.
Missoula has a independent theater called the Wilma. Heidi and I watched Gonzo, which is a documentary about Hunter S. Thomas and his journalistic career. It was a very good film and inspiring in some regards.
After the movie Heidi went back to her dorm. I didn't know where I was going to sleep so I walked around U of M's campus for a bit. Then I realized that the best spot to sleep would be up the hill by the giant M. (Missoula has a very large M tattooed onto one of it's hills, Sentinel Mountain to be precise) It was a long hike, probably 45 minutes. I didn't expect anyone to be on the hill but apparently it is a prime make out spot, which I can definitively see. It looks over the city and is very beautiful, but the biggest draw, for couples at least, is its remoteness. So anyways I saw quite a few couples. At first I was very scared (it was 12:30 am) but then I realized that everyone was more afraid of me. A lone male hiking up the mountain in the middle of the night. I guess I can see that as well. Eventually I made it up past the 'M'. I found a level spot and went to bed. I slept very well, but not for very long.
I woke up. Isn't that weird. Everyone 'wakes up' every morning their whole life, until one morning they don't. Or they do and then they're hit by a truck.
I woke up around 7:30 am. I wasn't going to meet Heidi until 10:00 so I decided to hike around and see what I could see. It is beautiful country. I wish I had taken a photo so I could post it but I didn't so rats. Missoula is in a valley. The hills surrounding the valley are treeless except for in the shaded areas, where some trees grow. The main hill by the town is called Sentinel Mountain. Directly behind Sentinel there is a National forest, which one I'm not sure.
Eventually I returned to Missoula and had coffee with Heidi and her roommate. Her roommate is/was very nice. She grew up somewhere in Montana. Her nearest neighbor was a mile away. Her life story and life experience was drastically different than mine, in some regards. However we found common ground when we began discussing the ubiquitous nature of corn in the American economy. Her father is a farmer and a rancher. She didn't know much about politics or other 'hip' things to know about. But she did know a lot about farming, land and nature. I envy her knowledge. Knowing about the various instituitions of humanity is great, but I think that we as modern humans are too immersed in the invisible structures of society that we have erected. I think it's important to remeber that everything we build is built on Earth, however distant and removed it may seem.
After coffee we parted ways. I was on my own and about to hitchhike for the first time in my life, I was scared. I walked to the nearest exit, which unfortunately was the most eastern Missoulian exit, therefor the farthest exit from my eventual destination, Coeur d' Alene. I waited there for probably one hour. The first time I stuck my thumb out, hoping someon would give me a ride, I felt completly vulnerable. Some people stared at me as they drove by. Others avoided eye contact. Some sped up. Some shrugged their shoulders, almost apolegetically. The only constant in their behavior was that no one stopped.
Then a car, a real beater of a car, approached. I told myself (like I had said about countless other cars) this is the one. This time I was right. Two young men were driving. They were Native American and rough. But nice. Within five minutes of getting in the car they asked if I had any pot. When I responded in the negative they asked how much an ounce was in CDA. Again I was unable to help them. They weren't going very far, so they dropped me off at one of the most western Missoulian exits. It was, by my estimations a good exit to hitchhike from. Several gas stations and a truck stop were located within sight of the exit.
And then I wait. This time my wait was much less. In stark contrast to my first ride, my second was an elderly couple. They were visiting their son, who lived outside of Missoula. They drove me about five miles to the next exit.
This exit was a god forsaken hellish place. At first it appeared fairly decent. By this I mean there was a gas station. I figured "oh there will be lots of people stopping and filling up here". I was wrong. At this point it is at least 85 degrees outside. But by the road it was probably more like 95 degrees. I was roasting. The longer I waited, the more hopeless I became. I began singing. I began writing descriptive pieces on the scenery around me. Hardly anyone drove by. And of those that did not a one stopped. Actually that's not true a few did, but they were only going a couple of miles, so that didn't help. Finally I see a Subaru with Idaho, yes Idaho license plates drive toward me. I throw out my thumb, just hoping, praying that they would stop. At first they don't, my hopes die, then, miraculously, they stop. I grab my stuff and begin running toward them, so happy, so relieved.
And then it happens. Both doors open and two obese, sweaty men step out. The driver, he sees me running and he's afraid. He throws up his hand and bellows "No! No!" as if I was a dog, or some other animal that's just barely able to understand. I stop. So much for that. I return to my spot and watch as the two men switch drivers. I can't help but notice there shirts clinging to their sweaty bodies. At this point all I can think is "Fuck, try sitting in the sun for hours". But I can understand, hitchhikers are scary. Especially 19 year old prep school graduates. Seriously though fear is a powerful force. Still I don't feel especially amenable toward those men.
So I continue to slowly roast. At this point my thoughts are becoming muddled and I know that I've been in the sun too long. The songs, poems and stories I'm making up begin to make less and less sense.
I decide that my best course of action is too hitchhike back one exit. Getting back isn't a problem. I find a ride with a middle aged couple. They were kind and helpful.
Now that I'm back at the happening exit I feel better. (Also I changed into shorts) Probably 30 minutes after getting dropped off by the middle aged couple a car stops for me. I run up to it, not hoping for much. But when I ask the woman where she's going she says Coeur d'Alene. I jump and exclaim in joy.
Her name was Ana. She was older. She lived in Billings. She told me she picked me up because of my youth and because she has a son. I was hoping that my youthful innocence and bright eyed smile would pull on some mothers hearstrings. Ana was very kind. We talked on and off throughout the ride. She told me bits and pieces of her life. She seemed very smart, but ignorant. She has lived in Montana her whole life and never went to college. In the back of her car she had a book called "Love Smart: Find the One You Want -- Fix the One You Got" by doctor Phil. I also gathered that she had no husband only boyfriends. I hope someone finds her and realizes what an amazing woman she is. Myabe she's not amazing, maybe she's an alcholic, but I don't think so. She seemed pretty amazing to me. She dropped me off in Post Falls and we parted ways. I will probably never see her again.
Hitchhiking is the way for me to travel. I'm tentatively planning a trip to Boise to visit Greg. Hopefully at least. You meet so many people and you save a lot of money. But your also at the mercy of stranges. I believe in human goodness. Hopefully someone doesn't prove me wrong.


Freek said...

Hey dude,

Those were 10 feel good minutes :) I love the way you tell your story and also love the fact that you just go to one point and don't really care how you get there. Even your sleeping spot wasn't decided :D
Great man!
We'll skype soon
Foreigner Freek

Heidi said...

awesome. you're the best!