She either had more balls than most men or she was crazy. Or maybe she was a crazy woman with balls. How many 19 year old women would hitch hike across the country without a dime and no particular destination? Is it courage or insanity to get into a stranger’s car?
I had to know. I picked her up just North of the California border on the Oregon coast. We were both roaming our way down the coast and heading for the Redwoods.
She struck me as a gutter punk who had couch hopped her way through life. She had a classic stoner laugh and a go with the flow ambience.
When you don’t have any particular destination the journey is the trip. You’re never lost and there is no such thing as a detour.
She told me she had gotten over two dozen rides since she left Portland, Oregon three days before. When you get into someone’s car you get into their world. You become their captive audience – an unpaid sounding board who will carry their secrets down the road.
During her two dozen plus encounters she met a born again who told her of the coming Apocalypse, a soccer mom who confessed that her life was a prison and a Mexican man who offered her $20 for a blow job.
At every stop she was offered food, money, a place to crash and or drugs – without ever asking. As a Christian would say “the Lord provideth”.
Most people admire the traveler who leaps into the unknown. And like spectators cheering on a marathoner, they want to help the traveler to keep on keeping on. When you help a traveler you become a part of their epic journey. She was now a part of my trip and I was a part of her trip.
She asked for little or nothing and got much more than she asked for. She was a pure vagabond, who didn’t even know what the word meant when I called her one. I handed her the bible “Vagabonding in America” by Ed Buryn. She had never read the book. But she had already been living it. It gave words to her experience.
As Hunter S. Thompson would say, she was “out there where the wind blows”. She had no vehicle to maintain or fuel, no money or possessions to worry about loosing. While most would be terrified to be in her boots, she was totally at ease.
She was vagabonding stripped naked. She was warrior in the vagabonding tribe. I call her “Free Wind”.
Free Wind reminded me of how heavy I was traveling. My motor home, with all its life support systems, was a self contained space pod that both sheltered and transported me through the world. And like a space alien, I only encountered the locals when I opened my hatch and stepped out. I was traveling in a protective bubble that sheltered me from discomfort but also from random encounters.
I was navigating across the land. But she was blowing through it like a tumbleweed in the wind. Free Wind was the proverbial “breath of fresh air”.
Next Stop – Free Wind and the Digital Vagabond find members of the tribe lost in the Redwoods.