Hitchhiking is a game of odds. Odd people stand at the side of the road, all thumbs and dopey smiles, hoping that an individual slightly odder than themselves might stop and pick them up.
It's a method of travel, but it's also a method of immediate breakdown of personal space. Driver and rider are immediately thrust into a close proximity social scenario. A personal vehicle is an intimate place. Picking up a stranger violates a handful of social and personal norms; sense of privacy, proximity between communicators, and of course, fear of strangers.
Not only is hitching a game of odds, it's also a game of rampant superstition. I believe in a handful of guidelines to increase my odds of getting a ride.
I also believe in a certain sort of "hitchhiking fate", in which there is always a ride out there, somewhere in the world. The exact moment this ride will appear is per-determined, yet unknown to me. The ride and I are both moving vessels. The object is, to reach our point of intersection at the appropriate time. At some point, or paths will cross, but when?
Therefor, in order to score a ride, and decrease wait time, it is of utmost importance that I appear roadside at the proper time. How is it done? By navigating your day, be it a hiking or a town day, in the manner the day is prompting you. You can't rush to be roadside, but you cannot procrastinate, either. You can't attempt to pin point the perfect timing. You simply go about your day, whatever it is that needs to be done before the hitch, and then you do it. If something requires extra attention and time, you can't worry about it, because that is the way the day is unfolding.
I believe there is a zen element to the perfect hitch.
We had our tickets to Burning Man, we had our minds made up, now all we had to do was navigate roughly 900 miles of road. Simple, right?
Analog and I took to the roadside, Reno bound. We've hitched a lot together and while it may be a game of odds he and I did what we could to turn those odds. We were good. We hit the road dedicated to getting this done. Positive energy was in place, as well as a realistic understanding of the distances we were trying to cover. 900 miles is a hell of a trip when you own a car. Without one, and with the reliance of strangers, it was ludicrous.
We reveled in our new found freedom, the absurdity of our endeavors, and the dichotomy between the Continental Divide Trail and what we were now thumbing our way into.
Twenty six hours of consecutive hitching later and we were in Reno, Nevada. Not only were we in Reno, Nevada, but we each had eight more dollars in our pockets than we did yesterday!* It was a hitch hiking record, as far as we were concerned.
There we were, in the "Biggest Little City". Two hikers, two backpacks, two tickets, and two smiles. The change of place was overwhelming and exciting and it would only increase as the week continued.
* I don't generally accept money from strangers while I am traveling, unless I am certain that they understand that I have chosen this lifestyle and I am not, in the traditional sense "homeless" or "in need". However, as we put distance between ourselves and the trail it became next to impossible to explain the nature of our trip.
** Additionally, I've got a second post nearly ready to go. It was all going to be one big ol' post, but they're really two different "chapters" in my story, so it only makes sense to break 'em apart. Stay tuned for Burning Man!