NATE AND SETH'S CROSS COUNTRY TRIP JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1999
circles=places we stayed
line=hitch hiking route
dotted line=bus route
As I get older I find the the old adage 'time starts to fly by' to be true. Ten years ago I rarely thought about what I would be doing in six months, not to mention in two or three years. I was a bit of a wanderer and would make decisions about what I was going to do next almost on a whim. The end of March would roll around and I would say to myself 'maybe I will go back to Ketchikan and work this summer' and a week later I would be on my way in the middle of BC somewhere sleeping in my truck. Ten years later, in the present, it is easy to say things like 'I'll just put in four or five years and see where I'm at then' or 'I can't wait until this annoying highway project is done in 2011'. These thoughts would have been incomprehensible ten years ago.
Ten years ago was a fun time for me. Some particular events stand out in my memory with clarity and I realize now that they were moments in time that are meaningful to me for one reason or another. In June of 98 Carlyn Soli, the band I was in while living in San Diego recorded a record. It felt like such a stunning accomplishment. Even if we weren't all too pleased with the result due to budget and talent constraints we were in a real studio going direct to two inch tape we had spent about a thousand dollars on. That tape is somewhere in Jack's place in San Diego just waiting for a remix. I moved from San Diego in December of 98 and spent an incredible month in Ketchikan fully partying. Mom was in Mexico and her car was broke down so I would hitch hike into town. The band New Make Out Order formed and played an epic new year's eve party- including an ear splitting version of 'Party Like It's 1999' which it was.
Then in January my friend Nate and I started a journey we had talked about for a year or so: a hitch hiking trip across the country. Our trip included thirty separate rides. Only two of them I remember as being a little too weird. One was a speed demon Mormon college student who would drive his Saturn at speeds around ONE HUNDRED on the long straight stretches and then try and pass without knowing what's coming. Because of this he would be slamming on his brakes a lot. Every moment I thought would bring us doom. He dropped us off in his hometown of Hildale/Colorado City. This is where Warren Jeffs lived and is the town featured in Under the Banner of Heaven by John Krakaur. Another scary ride was from a young semi-truck driver who was constantly distracted and would almost run off the road at every third or fourth corner. He was the type of truck driver that a different truck driver had warned us about earlier in our journey: 'under trained and dangerous on the road'. I huddled in the back of the truck watching Wedding Singer on an 8 inch tv just waiting to crash as we passed by The Grand Canyon in the darkness. He dropped us off safely right in Flagstaff though.
A few other interesting rides involved getting picked up in Winslow Arizona by a professional marimba player. The Doors came on the radio and Nate said he thought The Doors would have been better off without Jim Morrison as he was highly over rated. The guy got quiet and then told us he was a Morrison expert who was working on a biography of him and that he was a once in a generation talent. He didn't seem amused. Another ride involved us getting dropped off at around eleven pm seven miles from Page Arizona and the Glen Canyon Dam. It is remote there and we walked on the side of a winding highway for hours with our fifty pound back packs wondering why the guy didn't want to run us into town. Another ride got us dropped off in Shiprock, a small town with no amenities (ie hotels) on the Navajo reservation in New Mexico. This was the single most frightening part of the journey for me, as we were yelled at and cajoled and flipped off and specifically told we didn't want to be there after dark. Yikes! We called our friend Jessi and she came down from Durango and picked us up. Nate was more frightened when we were stranded in Kooskia Idaho for three days. A car would journey by every hour or so with no intention of pulling over. Kooskia is a tiny red neck logging town at the base of Lolo Pass. Monster trucks going by with dead deer in the back and glares from the hunters in front. That just felt like home to me!
Our trip started in Eugene. Alex gave us a ride to Bend where we stayed with Justin and Bianca, then we hitch hiked to Boise (a ride with 1970's Olympic downhill skier Dan 'Mad Dog' Mooney), then to Missoula, then to Flagstaff including a ride in Utah with a guy (nick named Sharky!) who was a huge fan of 'Mad Dog' in the day! He had been big into skiing and had even followed Mad Dog and his posse to different races and had seen Mad Dog and other skiers do coke off bar tops and hanging out with ski groupies. This guy was very nice and I had the unfortunate opportunity to blurt out callously that someone he was good friends with some 20 years before (small fucking world, I knew this person in Alaska) had died the year before of cancer. I didn't realize how close they must have been as he actually took it pretty hard. Sharky had been working at Sundance. I've been seeing Sundance stuff on the news and it reminded me of this journey. After Flagstaff we continued on to Durango. From Durango we hopped a bus to Ithica New York, then another bus to Philadelphia, and finally a bus to New York City where we stayed with Nate's cousin Nick for five or six days. After that it was a four day bus ride home. I spent my last two dollars on a cup of coffee in Eastern Oregon on the way home only to spill it everywhere when the bus started moving. It depressed me so! By the way- the bus ride from Ithica to Philidelphia and the bus ride from Philidelphia to New York City were over a hundred dollars each, while the four day bus ride back to Eugene was sixty nine bucks, bought in advance.
All in all it was quite a journey that lasted about five or six weeks if I remember right. In the future I think I would avoid the hitch hiking part of it. It sucks to be stranded for days and it sucks to be picked up by dip shits.
That was ten years ago!
Dan 'Mad Dog' Mooney minivan. Mad Dog still knows how to party- he swilled several Oly's on the way to Boise
Lee in Boise and the 'hotel' we stayed in
Hitch hiking in January
Dancing in Boise
Lee's cool friend Matt
This truck driver hates the inexperienced dangerous truck drivers
camping near Lewiston
sensitive Jim Morrison afficianado
hiking Zion with Sharky. A nice guy indeed!
the southern Rockies
our place in Ithaca on the Cornell campus
the big city- we finally made it
Staten Island Ferry
dancing in the subway
Nate's cousin Nick on the left. A wonderful host!