Being a hitchhiking hobo was not bad, in fact, I think we liked it a little too much. No one judged us for eating half-eaten cans of tuna off their car floor, and we could swing wearing the same t-shirt for weeks.
Though it was a comfortable lifestyle (except for the death ride with Tim, that sick, sick human, oh my god was he a wierdo), it was time to join the American squad of Charlie, Marty and Ira—three spirited Americans who seemed as eager as us to do it all in NZ. We met up in a Macca’s for some free wifi, and they showed us a loose itinerary that looked phenomenal (glaciers, trust-falls, arm wrestling Billy goats, and bungee-jumping). Also, they just seemed like good dudes—some people have radars, some people have gay-dars, I have a good-dude-dar, and my ability to pick out ‘good dudes’ from a crowd is unparalleled.
Our conversation about road tripping went something like this:
“Dude, can we maybe like road trip with you bros?”
“Yea man, I feel like that’d be chill.”
“Dude. That’s what I was thinking!”
“Tight. Maybe we can hotbox the car with chillness?”
“O for sure man, hope you have some Counting Crows on the pod.”
Doug and I grabbed our backpacks and followed them to their car (a 1994 Toyota Corona), Pompey, named after a promiscuous lady in the NZ army—these boys had been camping at R&V with a bunch of army kids, who were described as real nut jobs, in the best way.
The five of us forced our backpacks in the trunk, and squeezed in. It was a real meat-wagon—the trunk road real low, to the point where it would bottom out more than Hook and Shmee (a little known affair).
It felt good getting on the road with some stable humans; stories were Ping-Pong’d and we felt like we could relax, where as, when you hitch, you feel like you have to be on top of your game, as Jack Kerouac beautifully details, “One of the biggest troubles hitchhiking is having to talk to innumerable people, make them feel that they didn’t make a mistake picking you up, even entertain them almost…”
The best part about riding with this new squad was they would stop anytime they’d see something cool, which is about every five minutes in NZ. We crossed over a bridge (which are all one-lane in NZ) and saw a glorious river, rocks ledges, and a sprinkling of humans.
“Let’s stop!” Ok!
Sure enough we hopped out, and the watering hole was perfect—crystal clear, refreshing waters, tall cliffs to hop off, and a father getting badgered by his two, 9-year old sons. The dad was on a rock, fully clothed, watching his sons jump from cliff to cliff, innocently enough. His chubby kids apparently wanted him to join them.
“Jump in ya fahckin’ poof!”
“Stop being a little beech ya poof!”
Turning to me, “Tell my Dad to stop being a little beech!”
No thank you! He seems like he’s got his hands full!
We frolicked in the water, enjoyed some more heckling, then headed back to Pompey… thinks are looking up!
(They also enjoy good music, bumped some Beirut, which I love on the road… makes me feel like a gypsy!)
Moral of the Story: Being a Hobo was the great, but this was the start of something good, perhaps even the best, nay, the chillest!