It's true. I don't know what came over me, or why I decided to stop for THIS particular transient, but I did. He was just sitting on the side of the on-ramp holding a sigh saying I-70 West. I pulled over and sat while he opened the back door. And for someone without a home, he was not lacking in supplies! He launched a backpack in that was at least the same size he was and then his black lab pup bounded her way into the back seat. He went back to his spot and grabbed another bag and an energy drink.
He stuck his hand out and said, "Hi. My name's Travis. Thanks."
And thus was my introduction to the hitch-hiking world!
I was only able to take him a few dozen miles, but he seemed grateful to save his sneakers a few steps. He was bright and energetic and yes, he needed a bath in a bad way. Nothing that a little fresh air couldn't fix.
He told me how he has traveled from California to New York all through the generosity of people he's met along the way. He told me stories of the beautiful countryside and pleasant people. He explained places that he finds shelter and how he still keeps in contact with his family along the way. Sometimes he'll travel alone. Sometimes he travels with people who happen to be heading his way. Friends come and go and new ones replace the old. He is currently heading back "home" to California to spend time with family.
I'm sure you're thinking, what has happened to this poor man that has left him homeless? Nothing. It was a choice. His friend asked if he'd like to go along on this grand adventure, and apparently nothing else was going on in his life that was important enough to stay for. So, he packed his things, grabbed his dog and off they went.
And it's not that he "can't" do anything else, either. He has proudly served his country in the military, he has formal education in business and sales marketing and is a Jack-of-all-trades as well.
I can't help but admire his no-fear attitude. I am jealous of the up-close and personal relationship that he has found with this beautiful, amazing country. And while I am not ready to give up all the cushy comforts of home, you all know how much I love to travel, (and talk about a different perspective!!), I am happy that I was able to join him on an itty-bitty potion of living out his dreams. Our trip was over too soon and if I could have, I would have been happy to take him even further.
I dropped him off at the McDonalds so he could use their wi-fi and unfortunately, I had no money to give him, so I gave him my intended dinner and sent him and his pup on their way.
Not once was a afraid for my life. Not once did he behave inappropriately. And I enjoyed our conversation immensely. If I had more time, I would have been happy to take him further down the highway. In just our short acquaintance I have learned to look at the side of the highways in a different light, and to not judge another's idea of what "living a dream" should be.
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